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Should You Free Orpheus In BG3 Or Side With The Emperor?


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Summary

  • Freeing Orpheus in Baldur’s Gate 3 can result in the party becoming mind flayers, leading to a gloomy ending.
  • Siding with the Emperor means losing a character and facing a harder Netherbrain fight.
  • The choice in BG3 is a sacrifice, with no real winner, and all options mean losing something in return.


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Baldur’s Gate 3 is full of choices that can affect both players and the world around them, with changes to events and NPC interactions being quite common. One of the most important decisions that occurs late in the narrative is whether to free Orpheus or side with the mind flayer Emperor in Act 3. At this point, the fate of Faerûn is at stake, so making the right choice is paramount to seeing that BG3 ends the way someone really wants.

[Warning: This article contains story spoilers for some endings of Baldur’s Gate 3.]This encounter with Orpheus occurs in Act 3, and it’s important for Lae’zel – who will be insistent that Prince Orpheus gets rescued because of her loyalty to the githyanki royal family. The end result of this questline can mean specific characters – or entire parties – turn into mind flayers, so adventurers should be understandably cautious before proceeding. Players will encounter Prince Orpheus late in the game after they’ve met the mind flayer Emperor in the Astral Plane.

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What Happens In BG3 If Players Side With The Emperor & Don’t Free Orpheus

Although Lae’zel insists the githyanki prince should be freed, the first time the party meets him, the Emperor will warn that keeping Orpheus shackled is the only the only thing preventing the party from turning into mind flayers. The choice then becomes whether to free Orpheus and turn the party into illithids, or let the Emperor use Orpheus’ power, spelling certain doom for the prince.

There are variations in who will become a mind flayer if other routes are taken, but freeing Orpheus will mean that at least one member of the party becomes a mind flayer eventually. Freeing Orpheus immediately will mean the entire party undergoes full-blown ceremorphosis right away, which puts a premature end to the game. And even for those who want this kind of ending in Baldur’s Gate 3, freeing Orpheus will take a bit of work.

However, adventurers who want to side with the Emperor can easily do so. This also makes the Netherbrain fight easier, since the Emperor won’t join the fight on the Netherbrain’s side, so there’s an added benefit. After the party has gathered three Netherstones from Ketheric Thorm, Lord Gortash, and Orin the Red, The Emperor will essentially harvest Orpheus, which means Lae’zel will be extremely unhappy. If her affinity is low enough to begin with, this can cause her to turn on the party completely, challenging them to a fight to the death.

But even so, that’s not the only interpersonal downside to siding with the Emperor, either. Karlach’s quest is also tied to freeing Orpheus in BG3, which means players invested in the happiness of either character may wish to free the gith prince instead. If players don’t wish anybody in their party to become mind flayers at all, though, then they’ll need to side with the Emperor regardless.

What Happens If Players Free Orpheus In BG3 (Orphic Hammer Route)

Baldur's Gate 3 Orpheus Cutscene After he has been Freed

There are various routes for how to free Orpheus in Baldur’s Gate 3. For those who don’t want to become mind flayers, the most enticing route is likely obtaining the Orphic Hammer and using it to free the prince. In order to get the Orphic Hammer, they’ll have to track down the cambion Raphael after finding the Netherstones.

Raphael will offer to trade the Orphic Hammer for the Crown of Karsus, which would effectively allow him to control the Elder Brain. Giving the Crown of Karsus to Raphael, however, results in arguably one of the worst endings in Baldur’s Gate 3, because he’ll use it to take over Avernus and then the rest of the Nine Hells before ultimately setting his sights on conquering other worlds.

The good news is that the Orphic Hammer can also be obtained by stealing it from Raphael, but not without difficulty. This may be the preferred route for characters with high Stealth stats. If players are caught, though, they’ll have to fight Raphael – who will almost assuredly kill them, even at higher levels. The fight against Raphael is winnable, however, with a little foresight and preparation. Freeing Hope can make all the difference in the battle against Raphael.

No matter how it’s acquired, the Orphic Hammer can then be used to shatter the crystals binding Orpheus in Baldur’s Gate 3. The Emperor will be disgusted by this decision, obviously, and will then join the Netherbrain in combat, making that fight much more difficult. However, at least one character will still have to become a mind flayer: it can be the player character, Karlach, or Orpheus. If Orpheus doesn’t become a mind flayer, he can also join the party as a monk who has decent melee capabilities.

What Happens If Players Free Orpheus In BG3 (Taking Orpheus’ Place)

Orpheus In Trouble from Baldur's Gate 3

If adventurers can’t find the Orphic Hammer – or simply don’t want to go and get it – then they can choose someone to take Orpheus’ place. The player character can choose to take one for the team, but Karlach will volunteer to become a mind flayer instead, since due to her malfunctioning Infernal Engine, she has limited time left to live anyway. If they don’t want to lose Karlach, the player character will have to take Orpheus’ place.

Either way, both options mean that the specific character becomes a mind flayer and unfortunately results in them eating Orpheus’ brain, a rather unpleasant outcome all around. Despite the Emperor speculating this plan may work, at the time of this writing, it doesn’t appear there’s any way to take Prince Orpheus’ place and not eat his brain.

If Orpheus isn’t a mind flayer by the end of the game, he may also convince Lae’zel to see the failings of the githyanki queen Vlaakith, which can lead to an ending in which the two fly off into the Astral Plane to liberate their people. If the player character is also a gith and sacrificed Karlach, they can join them.

Is Freeing Orpheus In BG3 The Right Choice?

Freeing Orpheus Seems Logical, But Can Lead To Several Bad Endings In BG3

The Emperor surrounded by swirls of magic in Baldur's Gate 3

Ultimately, freeing Orpheus in Baldur’s Gate 3 may seem like the wrong choice, since it means the party becomes mind flayers and is a rather gloomy end to the adventure. It can also result in Raphael taking over Avernus and the Nine Hells – and it will certainly make the Netherbrain fight harder. However, siding with the Emperor means Lae’zel will turn on the party and likely means losing Karlach, too (she’ll head back to Avernus after these events). This means this choice in BG3 is the definition of sacrifice – there’s no real winner here and all options seem to mean losing something in return.

The biggest deciding factor is really whether players want to become mind flayers or not. If they don’t, then they need to side with the Emperor no matter what Lae’zel says. Passing an extremely difficult DC 30 Persuasion check may convince her to see their point of view, but otherwise, this may mean losing an ally. Since losing two characters is arguably better than the entire party becoming mind flayers, it’s likely preferable to choose the Emperor’s side and not free Prince Orpheus in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Released
August 31, 2023

Developer(s)
Larian Studios

Publisher(s)
Larian Studios

ESRB
M

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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