English version

The end of the saga of the heroes of Baldur’s Gate
and the final link to the third video game

Fabio Ciaramaglia

With the storyline Mindbreaker of 2021-2022 ends, at least for now, the saga of Minsc and his friends Delina, Krydle, Shandie and Nerys which had begun about four years before. Once again they have to face dangers almost beyond their capabilities yet, though with some loss, they end anyway victorious and nearly unharmed. Some of the narrative threads, as the one related to Delina, had been already solved in previous stories, while only in this finally it comes to a closure the matter of the father-son relationship between Coran and Krydle. The subplot related to the loss of memory of Minsc stays partially open, and we have an important link with Baldur’s Gate 3 with the Cult of the Absolute which is what we fight against for most of the video game.

Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Minsc e Delina di fronte alla grande bilbioteca.
Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Minsc e Delina di fronte alla grande bilbioteca.
Immagine utilizzata solo per fini divulgativi. © degli aventi diritti

Differently from other storylines, Mindbreaker is entirely set in the city of Baldur’s Gate and deals with some of its complex political dynamics. Once back, the group splits, each of them needing to do things they could not while they were in Elturel. Nerys goes to the temple of Kelemvor to speak to her superior Alby who, nevertheless, shows an unusual hostile attitude towards her. Delina, escorted by Minsc, tries to help her friend Matrikay who has some issues with Hayley Kroe, the Head Librarian of the huge arcane library of Baldur’s Gate where some magical tomes have been vanishing and this could be related to strange noises coming from one of the building’s wings: in this case too Hayley shows a hostile attitude. Meanwhile Shandie and Krydle split, with the latter who needs some time alone to ponder on the consequences of the infernal contract he signed in the previous stories. Once they are all together, they decide to help Delina and her friend by trespassing in the library overnight, but they are attacked by a Displacer Beast (the same monster we saw in the latest film). After they enter the library they find out that the strange noises are caused by a group of cultists, as we said followers of the Cult of the Absolute, and surprisingly they are led by father Alby. After a rather difficult fight, our heroes manage to flee to their lair in order to organise the next moves, since they have understood the whole matter is more complex than what they thought. They split again into two groups: while Shandie leads Minsc and Nerys to her shady informer Fetcher to understand what the crime world knows about the cult, Krydle and Delina, using an invisibility spell, enter the Great Hall of Baldur’s Gate to gather some information from Coran. Both groups have however been followed by the Cultists who attack them and specifically Krydle, Delina and Coran find out who the really leader of the Cult is, a Mind Flayer.

A digression is in order here.
The Mind Flayers, also known as Illithid, are beings roughly inspired to the saga of Chtulu by H.P. Lovecraft and they have been among the main villains of more than one adventure of Dungeons&Dragons since the first editions. They are humanoid beings whose face resembles that of a squid, with tentacles placed where their mouth should be, and they have psionic powers, that is they are able to fight using almost completely just their mind. Their society is highly organized and strictly hierarchical where the will of the individual hardly matters because the whole group of a Mind Flayer colony responds to the orders of an Elder Brain, a sort of huge tentacled brain with even superior psionic powers. The goals of the Mind Flayers are always rather unknown, yet they are mostly related to the dominance over other races and species they consider inferior to their own. As a matter of fact, in their colonies a lot of thralls live, and they do all manual tasks for them, sometimes they are used as food, other times for reproduction. This happens in asexual way through the production of tadpoles (some larvae) which after a gestation period are inserted into the brain of a sentient being. The process is named ceremorphosis and, after a variable biological time, turns the creature into an adult Mind Flayer, already linked psionically to the colony and the Elder Brain. As we said their goals are often unknown but mostly related to dominance but this very rarely leads to open conflicts: in fact it happens through manipulation with their psionic powers. The Mind Flayers are also highly technologically advanced and they are able to travel by their nautiloids (tentacled spaceships) throughout the whole universe and the Planes (even in the Demiplane of Ravenloft there is a Dominion, Bluetspur, wholly ruled by them) and this explains why labelling them as simple villains is an understatement. Their main foes are the Githyanki, other beings able to travel through the Planes, who have been in a sort of crusade against them for centuries because in the past the Mind Flayers had subjugated their race. Of this fight we shall speak more in the next articles.

Going back to this story, as we realise that behind the Cult of the Absolute there are Mind Flayers, we also understand that their involvement is related to some dominance plan over Baldur’s Gate itself, since they have inserted tadpoles into the brains of several key figures of the city and so being able to control them. This also explains the strange behaviour of both father Alby and mage Hayley. In particular, the former tries to shield himself with his faith, he escapes to the temple of Kelemvor where he is faced by Minsc, Shandie and Nerys. After having begged for being killed, since he knew about his ceremorphosis, he is at first denied of it. However suddenly Alby turns into a Mind Flayer and Nerys, at first uneasy about killing him, is forced to slay her mentor in a scene which is charged of emotional tension. This is not the only dramatic moment of this story. Krydle, Coran and Delina are caught by the Mind Flayer who decides to operate the ceremorphosis on them, beginning with the first two, but it fails with the latter because struck by a sudden charge of “Wild Surge” and this creates the opportunity for Coran and Krydle to flee. While they are escaping, Coran realises that the process of transformation is particularly quick for him, thus in a highly shocking scene he asks his son Krydle to kill him before it happens. This is the closure of this relationship father-son which has been a subplot since the first issues of the saga: with clear Oedipal hints, we have to stress though it is Coran to ask to be killed and, technically, Krydle should have committed suicide shortly after. Yet, the half-elf wants to use his last moments to help Delina who is still in a psionic battle against the Mind Flayer, so he goes looking for the others. The final battle follows: Minsc and Shandie are made helpless by the psionic powers which overwhelm them with their most intimate fears, but luckily Nerys, once again shielded by her deep faith, resists for time enough to allow a backstabbing blow by Krydle and the coup de grace by a spell of Delina.

Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Il Mind Flayer che intrappola Krydle, Delina e Coran.
Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Il Mind Flayer che intrappola Krydle, Delina e Coran.
Immagine utilizzata solo per fini divulgativi. © degli aventi diritti

The villain has been defeated, however Krydle has a tadpole in his brain and soon can turn into a Mind Flayer. Not everything bad is really such, since shortly before the transformation begins, enter the devil Oreasha. She wants to avoid that Krydle loses his soul in the turning, so she magically removes the tadpole and reminds him that she will come back for him some time in the future. Literally “diabolus ex machina” here. The ending is on Krydle who, after a couple of days, decides to leave the group and travel to undisclosed destinations, in order to prevent the involvement of his friends in his infernal problems. However, the friendship bond is so strong that he is soon reached by his companions and all together they depart looking for new adventures and, probably, to solve his problems.

Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Nerys che ha ucciso padre Alby trasformato in Mind Flayer.
Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. Nerys che ha ucciso padre Alby trasformato in Mind Flayer.
Immagine utilizzata solo per fini divulgativi. © degli aventi diritti

The saga of Minsc, Boo, Krydle, Shandie, Delina and Nerys ends here, after about four years and with a finale which can be considered anyway an open ending. Companions in many adventures beyond their own capabilities, the group has grown gradually in harmony and in their friendship bond to a point where each of them is ready to self sacrifice for the others’ sake. Moreover, each of them has completed a process of individual growth: we think about Delina, from helpless sorcerer with a troubled relationship with her brother to skilled adventurer able to overcome her fears and strike against a Mind Flayer; or we can see Nerys, at first apparently just a religious fanatic, who thanks to her strong faith has resisted lycanthropy, the river Styx and psionic powers. The most complex path is that of Krydle who at first is a simple con man with some Oedipal conflicts: yet throughout the whole storyline he gradually comes to terms with his father Coran and he is ready to die with him because of ceremorphosis, but above all he is ready to sacrifice himself for her friend Shandie by signing the infernal contract. Maybe Shandie herself is the least developed character, in the first stories she repeatedly saved Krydle from dangers and then she ends as the one in danger needing help: yet, her loyalty towards her friend is restored in the last pages where she decides to accompany him to face the hell waiting for him. As far as Minsc is concerned the matter is a little bit more complex because he is the only one of the cast of protagonists who had a fictional independent life before this saga, so, just to say, an unoriginal characterization. At the same time we can state that Zub has completely caught the spirit of the character we had met in the first two video games of Baldur’s Gate, while enhancing his main features, like his goodwill and reckless heroism and the deep loyalty to friends. By the way, Minsc appears also in Baldur’s Gate 3 within a subplot with multiple choices which can allow us to hire him again asa companion. We have to point out there is a light lack of narrative continuity here, because it is not wholly clear what happens to Minsc from the ending of Mindbreaker and the retrospective tale about him in BG3, as we shall see in the next articles.

After about three years no new stories with these characters have been released and the writer Zub has been involved in other projects on D&D comics (the two crossovers with Stranger Things and Rick & Morty) and honestly we cannot know if there may be more sequels, also considering that since November 2023 he is writing the series Fortune Finder (Planescape setting). Though we have highly appreciated his creative skills in the development of characters and plots, we have also pointed out how he has been able to go hand in hand with other D&D materials which were published during the release of his comics. Also in the case of Mindbreaker, Zub links those scheming elements related to the Mind Flayers’ ceremorphosis and the Cult of the Absolute, that is the core plot of Baldur’s Gate 3 which, when the comics were published, had already been in “Early Stage” for a year or so -the opening cutscene of the game is on one of the companions, Lae’Zel, in whose eye a tadpole is inserted. Leaving on a side the comics for a while, we are finally ready to deal with this third video game of the saga and to analyse its main narrative elements, and we are going to start in the next article.

Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. La pagina finale della saga.
Dungeons&Dragons: Mindbreaker, 1-5. La pagina finale della saga.
Immagine utilizzata solo per fini divulgativi. © degli aventi diritti

Further readings

Jim Zub (script), Eduardo Mello (art), Max Dunbar (cover art), Mindbreaker, 1-5, October 2021- February 2022, IDW. In July 2022 the stories were collected in a trade paperback with the same title by IDW.

For more information on the Mind Flayers, we suggest:

A.A.V.V., Monster Manual, Wizards of the Coast, May 2014 (pp. 220-221)

A.A.V.V., Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Wizards of the Coast, November 2016 (pp.71-81)

Another quick reference is on: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Mind_flayer

Finally, you can watch the opening cutscene of Baldur’s Gate 3 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWHEw36gTwU

end of article 17

Biography

FABIO CIARAMAGLIA

With an M.A. degree in English Literature, with a dissertation on Shakespeare and comics (2000) and a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Shakespeare and Italian TV (2004), I have always tried to deal with the complex relationship between literature and other media.

I have written for comics magazines, such as Fumo di China and Fumettomania (in its previous printed version), but also translated into Italian a couple of American comics for the publisher Magic Press and some poems. Meanwhile I have begun teaching English language at High School, at first in Rome and then, after 2015, in Trieste.

I have never lost the nerdy attitude even as a teacher, but since 2006 videogames have attracted me more and in some of them, maybe for a personal inclination, I have found several elements which are worth of being analysed, though before this year I had never dared approaching more seriously.


NOTE EXTRA

Elenco articoli dello speciale Dungeons&Dragons 50th Anniversary:

24-03-24 (16)

16 marzo 2024 (15)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-nuovamente-in-citta-con-evil-at-baldurs-gate/

9 marzo 2024 (14)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-una-digressione-una-prima-eredita-dei-due-baldurs-gate/

24 febbraio 2024 (13)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-fumetti-benvenuti-nel-profondo-nord-di-faerun/

10 febbraio 2024 (12)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-fumetti-shadows-of-the-vampire-le-ombre-del-vampiro/

3 febbraio 2024 (11)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/baldurs-gate-vuol-dire-leggenda-il-ciclo-legends-of-baldurs-gate/

27 gennaio 2024 (10)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-la-trama-principale-di-baldurs-gate-ii-e-alcuni-cenni-sui-companion

6 gennaio 2024 (09)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-la-trama-principale-di-baldurs-gate-e-del-dlc-siege-of-dragonspear/

22 dicembre 2023 (08)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-introduzione-ai-principali-elementi-narrativi-alla-base-dei-primi-due-baldurs-gate

5 dicembre 2023 (07)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-il-viaggio-venticiquennale-di-baldurs-gate/

18 novembre 2023 (06)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeonsdragons-50th-anniversary-tutte-le-strade-passano-da-baldurs-gate/

9 ottobre 2023 (05)

4 agosto 2023 (04)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/la-genesi-del-gruppo-dei-ladri-donore-anteprima-dungeons-dragons-4a-puntata/

7 luglio 2023 (03)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeons-dragons-50th-anniversary-il-passato-di-doric-in-the-druids-call/

23 maggio 2023 (02)

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/dungeons-dragon-introduzione-ai-personaggi-principali-del-film-honor-among-thieves-the-feast-of-the-moon/

ed il 26 marzo 2023 (01)


Dal 30 dicembre 2022 stiamo pubblicando un interessantissimo approfondimento di fabio dedicato a

Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider, dai videogiochi ad altri media (fumetti, cartoni, film)

ecco l’articolo più recente, del 10 maggio

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/tomb-rider-approccio-al-ciclo-conclusivo-di-dan-jurgens/

ed il link della Prima puntata del 30 dicembre 2022


Infine, nel 2022, Fabio ha pubblicato il lungo ed interessantissimo approfondimento dedicato a “DRAGON AGE dal videogame ai fumetti!“.

Sotto riportiamo l’ultimo articolo (il 27°) pubblicato da Fabio del 28 dicembre 2022

ed ecco la PAGINA DEL SITO DEDICATA A FUMETTI E VIDEOGIOCHI

https://www.fumettomaniafactory.net/video-giochi-e-fumetti/

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