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Joined: Nov 2020
stranger
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stranger
Joined: Nov 2020
This is something I originally posted on Reddit a few days ago. Decided to crosspost it here in case some get a kick out of it, and to highlight some problems/workarounds you might experience attempting a similar challenge. Apologies if this has found its way into the wrong forum, but be aware: from here-on-out this post is going to assume some level of familiarity with the game's quests, and won't be shy about spoilers.

Killing in video games: the ultimate sin. At this point it's become something of a hobby of mine to try full non-lethal or non-combat runs of RPGs, partly to poke at the boundaries of a game and experiment with its mechanics, and partly to try and call the bluff of games that let me put all my points in Speech and Charisma. Among others, I did most of the Fallout games, Arcanum, and for some reason 2017's Prey.

Some of those were more technical than others, although in others I could hold up my head up high: yes, Mook #849 would see his (presumably identical, equally hostile) wife again. Or just walk around a room forever, I guess. Brings a tear to the eye.

So, you know, when Baldur's Gate 3 put in a Knock Unconscious button I was bound to try and start abusing that function at some point. Then I played the game as a Wizard, realised the Invisibility spell existed, and let out a big "Welp."

Enter my fourth or so character: a poor lightfoot halfling who's much more suited to cajoling than to this whole 'adventuring' gig. Fortunately they're so good at cajoling that they'll use it to get around goblins, devils and gnolls, and might have just used it strike up a bargain with Cthulhu to help with the whole ordeal. The rules of the challenge: don't kill anything, and as a bonus, try to keep indirect deaths to a minimum.

I was, broadly speaking, successful, more than I would've expected -- although I had to skip some content. I did reach the end of Early Access without having to kill anything.

(Psst, for a slightly different take on the challenge, while I was attempting this someone beat the game only getting into two fights. You can read that here. This isn't an idea particularly unique to me, and I see there's a pretty thorough pacifist treasure-hunter playthrough going on in this forum.)

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So what build did you go with, exactly?

Race: Lightfoot Halfling

Why?: Wood Elves, Wood Half-Elves and Lightfoot Halflings all get proficiency in Stealth and useful stat bonuses, but Wood Half-Elves have the best stat line-up. So why not pick them? Answer: because, although I didn't take advantage in the end, I wanted to leave open the option to do a bit of testing with Priestess Gut. More on that later. Second: halflings get a lot of ridiculous dialogue options that do not help you in the slightest, but are also pretty stupidly fitting.
Quote
"Bow to me, worm!"
"[Halfling] Lae'zel, that's not very nice."

Stats: Str 8, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Cha 16, Wis 11

Class: Warlock (Great Old One)

Background: Guild Artisan (Persuasion, Insight)

Other proficiencies: Stealth, Investigation, Deception

Important spells: Invisibility, but please, please keep Shadowheart around for Guidance or find some other source of it.

Invocations: Beast Speech, Mask of Many Faces

Character appearance: Obviously very important.

Why?: So, Warlock is nice because it's a Charisma-based caster with access to at-will Speak with Animals and Disguise Self, which'll situationally help you talk your way around things -- but there's a reason Invisibility is 'the' must-have spell. You'll have proficiency in Stealth for when Invisibility temporarily breaks, such as when grabbing an item, but generally Invisibility is going to let you get away with a whole lot more. Once applied, there's little stopping you just waltzing around openly. Just be aware it can be broken by tunnelling bulettes in the Underdark if you're not careful and don't stick to the edge of the paths. Note that once Bards are implemented, they'll very likely be worth a look.

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What does Knock Unconscious do, anyway?

Essentially, knocking someone out grants you the XP for killing them, but leaves them lying on the floor at 1 hitpoint. After you call it a day they'll be back up and moving, albeit still at 1 HP, but further KOs or outright killing them won't grant any extra XP.

Once every enemy is down -- either killed or KO'd -- combat should end. But that doesn't mean a KO'd person is completely out of combat. NPCs not sharing your moral considerations can still target and kill them, and even if not directly targeted they can still be hurt by AoE damage. Watch out for fragile ol' Gale.

One buggy exception is the early fight outside the Druid Grove, where combat isn't meant to be ended until all goblins are dead -- and the game starts getting weird if they're just KO'd. When I first KO'd some enemies on my first playthrough, it kept trying to repeatedly exit and re-enter combat, until slowly the remaining refugees fit in a turn and killed anyone left.

A warning about non-lethal tactics, though: since you're limited to taking foes out with Knock Unconscious, you need to be a lot more careful about Opportunity Attacks and the like. Anything other than your Knock Unconscious button will be lethal if it does damage that reduces someone's HP to 0.

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What quests did you do?

Most, really. There are only a few that outright demand killing in their objectives. If I don't mention a quest, you can probably assume I just did it through some combination of stealth / passing a dialogue check. For the most part, I preferred not getting into combat unless it was mandatory. That said, there were some things that were doable, but took some careful doing or some workarounds:

  • The Githyanki Warrior: Make sure to pickpocket the gith for the creche's location first. Then disguise yourself as a githyanki so you only have to roll one Deception check to get rid of the lot. This quest doesn't ever complete, but that's as far as you can take it for now.

  • Save Mayrina: You want to trigger Ethel to flee into her lair, but you probably don't want to start a fight in her hut because of all the nearby redcaps. Easy. Just sneak behind her fireplace into her lair, then loudly traipse around. She'll pop up in hag form and demand you leave, but then teleport to Mayrina's location.

    Then it's all about inflicting fright and pouring on the damage before the hag can summon up duplicates of herself. Once below 10HP, she'll surrender. I was feeling pretty ballsy at this point so I demanded she both free Mayrina and give me her sweet loot. Suddenly realised I'd need to roll a 20. So I just rolled a 20, duh. I don't know how smart it was to let a hag go freely, but no one dies today.

  • Find the missing shipment: So, you could probably do this pretty easily, really. Just talk to the gnoll, get them to attack the guys, then tell them to leave. Speak with Dead to get the passphrase. But that sounds lethal to me. What would Batman think? No, go for the full assault. You want to ensure the two guys *don't* join the fight, because they don't share your devotion to non-lethality. Once all gnolls are KO'd, the guys will come out and thank you. Don't convince them to give you the chest.

  • Investigate the Beach: Dealing with the harpies is a pain when you're limited to melee finishing blows (Knock Unconscious), but it's doable. Once they're all down, the boy'll speak up and flee to safety.


In case you're wondering, after all the questing I did... I was 270 XP away from level 4. I guess you could run around beating people up for XP if you really wanted to reach that mighty level 4. Your heroism inspires me.

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What quests didn't you do?

In some cases, quests were doable, but for one reason or another I chose to skip them. I stopped Sazza's murder, but didn't free her because she would've given the grove's location away. And remember when I mentioned elves and Priestess Gut? If you're not immune to her sleeping potion, you can just play a complete rube, at which point an NPC will step in and pity-kill her for you. But I left Gut and her ogre guard standing.

I decided not to do the Expose Kagha or the Steal the Idol quests, because they tend to lead to fights that I'm not sure can be resolved easily without death, given the NPCs going nuts and all. Likewise, I didn't rescue Halsin because I was pretty sure he'd just run around killing people during his initial breakout, although maybe it'd be possible (if frustrating) to work around that with Hold Person and Sleeping spells.

Others were just impossible:

  • Explore the Ruins: I spooked the mercs outside away, then lockpicked my way into one of the alternate entrances. Then I had Lae'zel toss all the bodies far away. When I pressed the button, accordingly, all hostiles were far away and I didn't enter combat. But the hooded figure was still insistent that I should go "see to the dead" rather than cheese my away around them. You should still be able to pick up the Speak with Dead amulet this way, though.

  • Hunt the Devil: Kill either the innocent, or three fake paladins. KOs don't work.

  • Protect the Myconid Circle / Avenge the Sovereign: Technically, you probably could just help Glut do the killing for you. I decided it was against the spirit of things.

  • Some main quest stuff: Speaking of...


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Main quest blues

First, the initial assault on the grove can only be skipped with some Find Familiar bug-abuse. So during that, I just stood around taking hits, putting people to sleep, generally mucking about without actually dealing any damage. Eventually the refugees killed all the goblins without having any casualties on their side. If you just sit out the fight completely, probably everyone dies but Zevlor, so I justified stepping in as "keeping deaths to a minimum". Again, knockouts aren't an option during this fight.

Past that, you can't resolve the goblins / tieflings / druids without sort of getting your hands dirty, to my knowledge. You can defend the grove or join up with the goblins, which can be done relying on ally-kills; the refugees will need you stepping in and assisting, but the goblins should have it in the bag if you side with them. Maybe it's possible to defend the grove and leave the goblins knocked out? My expectation would be no.

If you want to avoid a full-scale battle, you can bite the bullet and eliminate the goblin leaders. Cast Invisibility and you can just shove Mithara and Ragzlin into bottomless pits, and you can actually kill Mithara in this way without turning any goblins hostile. I tried just knocking out Gut and Mithara, but while the quest log updates, you can't actually progress until they're properly deceased. With the alternate way of dealing with Gut, this lets you resolve things with only two direct kills to your name.

Ultimately, I just skipped to the Underdark without taking any of those options. There's nothing stopping you, although your companions are probably wondering why you're suddenly taking a boat to Moonrise Towers. You dirty metagamer.

Last edited by Lavaeolus; 14/11/20 12:50 AM.
Joined: Oct 2020
enthusiast
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Nice. I love challenge runs. I put up a challenge run thread in the general forum for game breakers such as yourself https://forums.larian.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=731765

Joined: Oct 2020
addict
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This is sooo cool. May have to try it.

Joined: Nov 2020
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Wow, never knew halflings got such amazing lines. Wish every race was capable of playing the bright-eyed good guy.

Joined: Mar 2020
old hand
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old hand
Joined: Mar 2020
The big problem with these kind of things to me is that there is no story benefits whatsoever to this playstyle. It is nice for people looking to make the game more challenging, but without real consequence on the story it is kind of useless neratively.


Larian's Biggest Oversight, what to do about it, and My personal review of BG3 EA
"74.85% of you stood with the Tieflings, and 25.15% of you sided with Minthara. Good outweighs evil, it seems."

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