Should You Side with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3?

This late-game choice can heavily influence your ending – find out if you should side with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3!

Should You Save the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3?

In Baldur’s Gate 3, the Emperor is a character who reveals himself in the bridge between Acts 2 and 3. He’ll continue to have a big impact on your story throughout the rest of the game. Moreover, if you follow certain side quests you also have a chance to learn some of his shocking backstory. Towards the climax of the game, there will come a crucial turning point and you will have to make a final choice about whether to side with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3. Has he earned your trust or is he just treating you like a puppet?

Consequently, this post will contain major spoilers for late Act 3 of Baldur’s Gate 3! It will also include information about how this choice can impact the final fight and the epilogue.

Finding the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3

Finding the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3

You will find the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3 by simply playing through the main story quest and reaching the end of Act 2. Before the game opens in the new Act 3 map, there will be an extended cut scene with your party camping outside of the city of Baldur’s Gate. Before you click on the bedroll to go to sleep, make sure to heal up! Your Long Rest is about to be interrupted and you will not receive any of the benefits such as restored HP or renewed spell slots.

In the middle of the night, Githyanki monks will burst through a portal and attack. As you fight them your Spirit Guardian will speak to you, urging you to come through the open portal to help. When you get there, instead of your (presumably good-looking?) Spirit Guardian, you find a Mind Flayer attempting to fight off a pack of angry Githyankis. Before you can take a swing at him, he asks you to wait and claims to be your ally. It turns out that he was the Spirit Guardian all along and he has a whole host of reasons for concealing himself.

You will technically have the choice here to side with this Mind Flayer calling himself the Emperor or to refuse and kill him. However, this is not the moment where you can truly make that choice. If you choose at this moment to kill the Emperor, then you will lose the magical protection that was keeping you safe from the Absolute. Without it, you will immediately turn into a Mind Flayer and your game will be over.

Choosing to Side with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3

Choosing to Side with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3

As you move through Act 3 you will have a few chances to learn about the Emperor’s backstory. When you first visit the city and are walking by the Elfsong Tavern, the Emperor will mention an old hideout and the possibility of supplies. This starts the Visit the Emperor’s Old Hideout quest, and you can find it by going into the wine cellar basement and unlocking a secret entrance.

Inside the Hideout will be the Sword of the Emperor, along with several sentimental mementos from the Emperor’s past. If you interact with each item, he’ll tell you about it and share a memory.

BG3 Sword of the Emperor

Emperor Backstory in the Wyrmway

Furthermore, if you discover the Wyrmway Trials through the secret entrance down in Wyrm’s Rock Prison then you will encounter the former bronze dragon Ansur. Speaking to the dragon finally reveals the Emperor’s major secret – his original name and occupation before he was changed into a Mind Flayer. The dragon was a former friend but insists that the man he once knew is gone. Consequently, you’ll have to fight Ansur and there is nothing you can do to convince him otherwise.

However, the difficult fight is worth it because afterward, you can claim Balduran’s Giantslayer greatsword and the Helm of Balduran. Both are fantastic end-game gear pieces you don’t want to miss.

Baldur's Gate 3 Balduran's Giantslayer

Finally, after you’ve progressed through nearly all of Act 3 and have taken the boat to the Morphic Pool, the final confrontation with the Netherbrain will begin. Your first attempt to use the Netherstones will fail. Thus, the Emperor will temporarily save you by pulling you into the Astral Prism. Now will be the moment of truth. If you’ve obtained the Orphic Hammer while adventuring in Act 3 you will have the option of siding with the Emperor or choosing to save Orpheus instead.

Consequences of Siding with the Emperor in BG3

Consequences of Siding with the Emperor in BG3

The first immediate consequence of siding with the Emperor is that he will kill Orpheus to absorb the Githyanki Prince’s brain and powers. If Lae’zel is in your active party and she has turned from Vlaakith, then unless you can pass a 30 DC Persuasion roll to convince her otherwise, she will leave the party. Additionally, she may also attempt to defend Orpheus and therefore you will have to fight and kill her.

Next, after the Emperor has finished absorbing the Prince, you can loot the Orphic Ring from the Githyanki’s body. Siding with the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3 is the only way to get this accessory as it cannot be pick-pocketed from a living Orpheus.

Baldur's Gate 3 Orphic Ring

Final Fight with the Netherbrain

When you leave the Prism and arrive at High Hall for the final climb, you may be confronted by an angry Kith’rak Voss if you had implied you would save Orpheus to him previously. He may be persuaded to remain on your side against the Netherbrain. However, he will vow to hunt you down after the Grand Design is no more.

As you fight your way to the Netherbrain you can start to become familiar with the Emperor’s combat abilities. As a Mind Flayer, he possesses many common Illithid abilities such as Mind Blast, Levitate, and Domination. Additionally, he also has access to spells such as Slow, Evard’s Black Tentacles, and Chain Lightning.

BG3 Potion of Invisibility

However, your primary focus once you reach the final Netherbrain fight will be to get across the battlefield and safely to the Crown, where he can cast Karsus’ Compulsion. The best way to do this is by using Invisibility spells and potions so that he can move unimpeded. Moreover, once the Emperor gets in place he will need protection because the spell takes a couple of turns to cast. If he’s hit during this time, it will interrupt the spell. The Globe of Invulnerability is hugely helpful here. However, you’ll need a Level 11 Wizard or Sorcerer in your party to cast it.

Is the Emperor in the Epilogue?

Is the Emperor in the Epilogue Baldur's Gate 3

After the Netherbrain falls, the Emperor will join you at the docks as you all reflect on your new freedom from tadpoles. The Emperor does not much relate to all these human feelings and he will shortly after take his leave. He states that he will ‘Miss you,’ but without the telepathic connection, it’s hard to tell if he is being sincere.

Significantly, this is the last time you will see the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3. After you complete the game, the Epilogue will start automatically. This is a reunion party that takes place about six months after the final battle. Withers has arranged for you and all of your former companions to get back together and catch up on what everyone is doing.

However, even if he is alive at the end of the game the Emperor will not appear at the epilogue party. Instead, he will send a letter (as will several other NPCs) letting you know how he is getting along.

My ally,
Inefficient as written communication is, it will suffice to cover the distance between our minds these days. I write to express my regret that I will not attend your celebration – though I thank you for thinking of me. I have not forgotten you. As I move to restore my influence I shall be sure to call upon you when the need arises, and I hope that you will respond to such a call. Ours was a very beneficial partnership, and I see no need to curtail further opportunities to collaborate

Your friend,
The Emperor

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