Karmic Dice have a big impact on the gameplay in Baldur’s Gate 3, but the toggle for this option isn’t particularly obvious in the game. Tucked away in a settings menu, a checkbox switches between options for how Baldur’s Gate 3 handles dice rolls, with the choice to have Karmic Dice activated selected by default. The stated intention of this selection is to reduce strings of failed rolls, which can certainly be frustrating at the wrong times. It’s not particularly surprising that Karmic Dice are enabled at launch, as bad luck rarely makes games fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best option.

Dice rolls have always been a part of the Baldur’s Gate franchise, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is the first game to place them front and center. The first two Baldur’s Gate games hide rolls by default and mostly use them for combat calculations, with an action system that attempts to translate elements of the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons to the video game sphere. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a more direct recreation of fifth edition DnD, putting rolls front and center for combat and interactions alike, and utilizing turn-based encounters that follow the same basic rules as the tabletop roleplaying game.

Disabling Baldur’s Gate 3 Karmic Dice Mimics D&D

Shadowheart of Baldur's Gate 3 looks in thought at a mysterious artifact.

Although Karmic Dice may seem more fair than fully random rolls at first glance, fairness has never been the point of playing Dungeons & Dragons. Random disasters and surprising successes are the bread and butter of relying on a d20, bringing an element of chaos to the game table. In Baldur’s Gate 3, this element of chaos may be more important than ever, as replaying a singular campaign benefits enormously from the whims of chance. Even the most charming bard could fail five Charisma checks in a row, potentially ruining a planned strategy and introducing the need for improvisation.

Karmic Dice aren’t intended to remove this aspect of play in Baldur’s Gate 3, with the brief blurb on the toggle offering the reassuring note that rolls are still largely random. Even so, leaving the setting checked alters the odds in some cases. This can also lead to rolls feeling less legitimate in game, as a high roll after a couple of bad ones can feel like a pity offering instead of a true swing of fate. It’s difficult for a natural 20 to have the same magic that it does at the game table if the system is even slightly rigged.

Random Dice Are Better For Baldur’s Gate 3 Save Scumming

Game Over screen in Baldur's Gate 3.

Accepting the cruel whims of fortune admittedly isn’t for everyone, but Karmic Dice may also be a worse option when it comes to tipping the scales in the Baldur’s Gate 3 protagonist’s favor. The best way to ensure that bad luck doesn’t have disastrous results is to engage in the practice of save scumming. By saving before key junction points or encounters and reloading these files when things go south, the odds can be rearranged until they start looking favorable. Save scumming gets even further away from the Dungeons & Dragons experience than Karmic Dice do, but it’s also more effective for committing to this opposite ideal.

Although it’s not currently entirely clear whether save scumming works better with Karmic Dice on or off, leaving the setting unchecked seems like a safer route to level up fast in Baldur’s Gate 3 for the time being. Karmic Dice underwent several revisions in early access, and developer Larian Studios hasn’t explicitly stated whether the current iteration has an equalizing effect on high rolls alongside low ones. If it does, it could stonewall attempts to save scum after too many successful rolls, potentially forcing the scale back toward equilibrium. Good karma is all well and good, but bad karma has no place in a mercilessly optimized playthrough.

Karmic Dice Can Work For A Balanced Playthrough

Baldur's Gate 3 Astarion reaching out a hand in an expressive gesture.

Turning off Karmic Dice isn’t completely mandatory, as the setting could still be the right choice in some situations. Although the midpoint between accepting fate and optimizing save scum techniques has more limited appeal than either extreme, it’s a comfortable entry point to the Dungeons & Dragons experience that replicates the feeling well enough without focusing on punishment. If there’s anything less fun than a total party kill at the game table, it’s the dead-end of a game over screen in a video game, which can break immersion if it pops up with too much frequency.

The best argument for Karmic Dice comes from looking at the limitations of randomness in Baldur’s Gate 3 compared to a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. The biggest one comes from the lack of a Dungeon Master, a presence that can help move a campaign forward even when players are bombing roll after roll. Although some DMs can be adversarial toward players, most adapt progression to fit around failure in a way that a pre-programmed game can’t replicate. Karmic Dice can be seen as a similar softening factor that may not betray the original system so much as attempt to translate it into a new medium.

Having Dice Options In Baldur’s Gate 3 Is Good

A natural 1 rolled in Baldur's Gate 3 with Lae'zel in a cage in the background.

Even if Karmic Dice are usually not the best way to play Baldur’s Gate 3, it is commendable that the setting is included in the game. Appeasing fans of Dungeons & Dragons is an important task for a series long upheld as one of the best video game translations of the game, but bringing newcomers into the fold is an equally significant goal. Karmic Dice is a Baldur’s Gate 3 difficulty setting that might make adapting to the cruelty of natural ones a bit easier, even if turning it off is frequently the best path to truly nail-biting rolls.

The world of the Forgotten Realms is full of danger and opportunity, and the most exciting way to experience both ends of the spectrum comes from allowing the pendulum to swing. All the same, controlling the experience by reloading files and choosing to let Karmic Dice balance the odds are still valid ways to play. The best Baldur’s Gate 3 option is to turn Karmic Dice off, but there’s nothing wrong with rejecting this path for another.

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