Baldur’s Gate 3: Why Astarion is more than just a handsome vampire 

Editor’s note: This is only a fragment of Astarion’s character being explored in the following article.

With the release of the award-winning and hugely popular Baldur’s Gate 3 by Larian Studios, we saw the introduction of new characters that immediately gained thousands of fans. Of course, as expected, some stood out above the rest with the one and only Astarion Ancunín stealing the poor hearts of many gamers and non-gamers alike.

And although Astarion has a great story arc as we’ll discuss below, it’s his appearance that made a big splash. I mean, who’d say no to a sexy vampire with luscious white curls and stunning red eyes? Well, not most of us it seems. But there’s so much more to this character than meets the eye and we’ll take a deeper dive right into that aspect. But first a small yet important introduction.

Warning: talk of abuse and PTSD below.

Who really is Astarion?

Astarion is a vampire spawn turned by his vampire master Cazador Szarr about 200 years before the events of Baldur’s Gate 3. Before that, he was a wealthy young magistrate in Baldur’s Gate. After being turned, he and his vampire-spawn siblings stayed at Cazador’s Palace in the city. The unfortunate thing is, Cazador had complete control over the bodies of every vampire-spawn he had created, therefore Astarion was pretty much a puppet his master used to lure in more victims for his dark purposes. As if being tormented isn’t enough many were the times Astarion would be tortured and abused by his master, with the most significant case being when he carved a cursed rune on his back using a dagger.

Now when you meet Astarion in the game he is kinda free from Cazador (but not completely) due to the tadpole but he also seems extremely uncertain, cunning, and calculating. He is looking for a way to be forever freed from his master but he also doesn’t trust anyone and uses his body as a means of getting stuff in return. And this is where we jump in to talk about why such a character is so important and has great value and meaning behind him.

The rune carved on Astarion;s back.

Portraying trauma through Astarion

Abuse is certainly an extremely important topic and Astarion’s portrayal greatly depicts how abuse can affect someone’s life and personality at its core. You see, Astarion has learned to use his body to lure victims for his master and has endured a great deal of abuse. This has been engraved in his character, therefore he still thinks of his body as worthless and a means of getting his way through seduction. Through Astarion’s character, the topic of abuse is greatly portrayed and analyzed. Dealing with PTSD is very much real and we see that through his actions as well as the hard ways of recovering from abuse and getting past it.

PTSD can take many forms, and Astarion’s mannerisms could be interpreted as some of them. He is always alert to his surroundings and avoids others. He doesn’t trust a soul in the game and uses the seductive ways he’s known for 200 years to get you on his side. It’s all a facade, but this is the only way he’s known for such a long time. He also has a sarcastic and detached demeanor, as well as a profound emotional numbness.

He is also very reluctant about his past. If you don’t develop a close relationship with him he doesn’t even want to talk about the scar on his back, a very harsh reminder to him of his abuse. All of the above could be interpreted as signs of abuse even though this is not explicitly referenced in the game at all. Still, there is no denying Astarion’s story is truly heartbreaking.

Recovery and growth

Despite Astarion’s trauma, his character also symbolizes growth. As you progress through the game (if you build a good relationship with him) he opens up and talks about his feelings as well as starts seeing the value in himself as a being. Talking about his past becomes an easier task as he opens up and shares dark memories and incidents.

An unforgettable line of his for me is when he is holding up a mirror even though he cannot see his reflection, and says he’d want to know what people truly see when they look at him. Boy, this scene touched me… Talk about finding your true identity as a person and who you truly are through the eyes of others. I cannot stress enough the strength such a character can give to someone who’s been through similar experiences (or even not!). His story and growth are truly inspiring.

Aspects and Character Complexity

And I must specify that we’re not only talking about sexual abuse like Astarion’s case. His character could relate to many others who have experienced different types of abuse such as verbal abuse in a toxic relationship. Everyone can identify with this character in so many different aspects and that is another reason why he is so complex and well-developed. Recovering from abuse is not easy and Astarion shows us in a beautiful way that the impact of abuse in someone’s life is very real and immense, but finding the strength to recover and heal is also possible through human connection, trust, and love.

Astarion’s true value in the narrative

There is no denial Astarion is a greatly developed character with immense depth and a fully detailed arc. The depiction of abuse and recovery through him is exceptionally well-portrayed as well as that of finding one’s true identity. You can see his growth and evolution through his mannerisms, actions, and speaking. He truly is, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most inspiring video game characters ever created.

If you ask me, Larian did a great job creating and adding such a character to the rest of the cast, as together they work as vital pieces creating a complex and detailed puzzle. In other words, a cast of characters with different personalities and backgrounds is essential for reaching variety and realism. Astarion depicts a tragic character with a dark past fitting with the rest of the characters each with their own story, goal, and aspiration. Some are searching for heroism or revenge, others are trying to simply survive… Together all these characters, different as they are, create the complex and vast world of Baldur’s Gate 3 as we’ve come to love it.

Greta Giatsou

Posts published: 46

Since 1999. MSc in New Media & Digital Marketing. Gamer, manga artist, editor in chief & escape room addict. Wears headphones 24/7.