• Map exploration in Baldur’s Gate 3 is limited based on character positioning, which can lead to the party unknowingly entering difficult terrain or enemy encounters.
  • One mechanic expands the viewable area and reveals hidden paths, traps, and enemy positions, making it useful for surveying large areas quickly.
  • Caution should be exercised due to the depletion of spell slots.

Sometimes it can be hard to see what’s ahead of the party in Baldur’s Gate 3, but there are ways to make it easier. The game limits how much of the map is visible based on character positioning. The remainder of the area appears dark, the player can’t move the camera over it, and that part of the mini-map is shrouded in fog of war. Interactive objects also don’t appear highlighted outside the visible area, even when the button to reveal them is held down. This can be severely limiting, and can lead the party to wander unaware into difficult terrain, traps, or enemy encounters.

Some problems in Baldur’s Gate 3 have very obvious solutions, while others require a bit more creative thinking. For example, sorting items can be difficult, but there’s an in-game trick that can simplify inventory management in Baldur’s Gate 3. That was definitely an intentional inclusion, if a poorly explained one. Map exploration seems to be limited by design to preserve surprise and create a degree of realism. All this is to say that this map-revealing trick is better seen as a loophole than a feature. And as a loophole, it’s not always perfect – but when it works, it works well.

Related: One Origin Character Feels Like Baldur’s Gate 3’s Intended Main Character

Animals Can Help You Reveal The Map In Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Dire Raven Wild Shape flies in place in camp.

The find familiar spell or a ranger’s animal companion can help reveal more of the map in Baldur’s Gate 3. Familiars are generally thought of as combat companions, and in most cases, that’s basically all they are. However, outside combat, they can be used to expand the viewable area. Familiars aren’t attached to their summoners, and can roam pretty freely under the player’s control. The areas they see are added to both the visible range and the mini-map, much as the same mechanics work for humanoid party members, so they can effectively be used to survey large areas quickly without walking into danger.

There are nine variants of the find familiar spell, but the best ones for surveying are the ones that can fly. That narrows it down to two, find familiar: raven and find familiar: imp. These familiars are among the fastest, and since they’re not hindered by gaps or difficult terrain, they can easily reach areas that might be inaccessible to the walking party. This allows them to reveal hidden paths and other secrets, plus any hidden traps or enemy positions that would otherwise let adversaries get the drop on the party. They’re generally fast and can get around the entire area easily, surveying the whole region and reporting back.

How To Use A Familiar To Survey Maps In Baldur’s Gate 3

A mind flayer from BG3 in front of a map of Faerun.

Naturally, in order to use a familiar to survey an area, someone will have to get one first. Familiars can be summoned with find familiar, a level one conjuration spell. This is accessible to wizards and rangers at level one. Eldritch Knight fighters, one of the best subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3, or Arcane Trickster rogues can take it later at level three. Player characters who have selected the Beast Master ranger subclass can also gain the Ranger’s Companion feature at level three. They can only use it once per short rest, but their companions can level up with them.

A wide variety of characters can learn the find familiar spell at low levels, but just make sure whoever takes it on chooses the raven or imp variety for the best surveying effects. Imps have slightly better attributes overall and can cast fire bolt, but ravens can blind enemies. Ultimately, the choice of which familiar to choose and who to assign it to comes down to preference, since both have their unique advantages. However, find familiar works better than Ranger’s Companion for surveying since familiars can be summoned as many times as the caster has spell slots. Scrolls with the same effect can work too, but are single-use only.

Related: 10 Baldur’s Gate 3 Items Worth Keeping

Outside combat, find familiar can also be cast as a ritual spell in Baldur’s Gate 3. That means it won’t use a spell slot, so it can actually be cast infinitely if need be. Ritual spells’ lack of restriction make them among the best spells in Baldurs’ Gate 3, and find familiar is no exception. Still, since it’s a level one spell, most magic users should have a few slots to spare for using find familiar in combat, especially at higher levels. This way, it can be used to locate distant enemies and become aware of approaching threats before they become an issue.

How To Avoid Detection While Surveying In Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Astarion Using Sneak Attack to Beat Filro the Forgotten Mini-Boss

For an added bonus, it’s possible to disguise a familiar or companion to make them undetectable. This allows them to soar over enemies without alerting them of the party’s presence, surveying the territory without attracting any unwanted attention. This can be done by any of various means that make familiars or companions invisible. Perhaps the easiest and most obvious is the invisibility spell, a level two illusion. Invisibility can be learned by bards, sorcerers, warlocks, wizards, or Circle of the Land druids when they unlock the appropriate spell slots at level three. It’s also a racial trait of duergar characters, learned at level five.

Risks Of Surveying With Animals In Baldur’s Gate 3

Astarion considering a long rest in Baldur's Gate 3.

The main problem with this approach to surveying is the temporary nature of invisibility. It only lasts 10 turns in combat, and roughly a minute out of it. When revealing obscured map areas with a familiar or Ranger’s Companion, just keep an eye on the invisibility timer ticking down, so it doesn’t expire at an inopportune moment. Attacking or casting a spell will also cause invisibility to immediately expire, so don’t take potshots at distant enemies without carefully considering a battle plan first.

Also, since invisibility can’t be cast as a ritual unlike find familiar, it may quickly deplete level one spell slots. That goes double for low-level characters who don’t have many level one spell slots to begin with, and have even fewer (if any) spell slots at higher levels. Essentially, this surveying trick can come in handy, but should be used carefully and sparingly, so the party doesn’t find themselves in a fight they didn’t want without the spell slots they’d need to win it.

Surveying terrain with animal companions or familiars is a useful strategy, even if it feels a little like cheating. It has a few limits, but as long as they’re watched closely and kept in mind, players can reveal large swathes of hidden maps with little risk and even less effort. It’s just one of many ways in which the mechanics of Baldur’s Gate 3 are flexible, with hidden uses that might not be obvious at first glance.

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