The announcement of Baldur’s Gate 3’s official release window of August 2023 was an exciting moment at the 2022 Game Awards. In particular, some attention both in the announcement trailer and in the first half of Larian Studios’ Dec. 14 Panel from Hell was devoted to two new characters: Minsc and Jaheira.
For those uninitiated with the prior Baldur’s Gate titles or Dungeons & Dragons comics, they might just seem like a couple of fresh faces players might either join forces with or roll initiative against. Jaheira and Minsc, described as “legacy characters,” are returning companions from the original Baldur’s Gate and its sequel, Shadows of Amn, so for newcomers to this dusty old IP, a crash course might be in order.
Beware of spoilers ahead for Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2
Who is Jaheira in Baldur's Gate 3?
Unless you go out of your way to get lost after the tutorial of the original Baldur’s Gate, Jaheira and her husband Khalid are some of the first companions who can join your party. The pair are friends of your character's foster father and are even name-dropped shortly before his untimely demise. Aside from coming recommended, Jaheria and Khalid's mission to investigate peculiar matters in the region is also one of the leads you can follow to advance the main story, so for players unsure of what to do next, the pair can be especially useful companions.
Along with her husband and your late foster father, Jaheira belongs to a clandestine organization of do-gooders known as the Harpers, which, while not of any real significance in the first game, accounts for her and Khalid's poking around. Jaheira herself is a half-elf and is multi-classed as a fighter/druid of “True Neutral” alignment. This manifests as her having plenty to say about “maintaining balance” and may cause her to object to excesses of either good or evil behavior, putting on a particularly stern front to that end. In general, though, Jaheira’s a big softie -- though she tends to mask this by being as sarcastic as half-elvishly possible.
Jaheira returns as a companion in Shadows of Amn and is once more among the pool of characters who can make up your first party. Unfortunately, poor Jaheira is having a rough time in Baldur’s Gate II, as not only have she and her husband been abducted along with the rest of your party, but Khalid did not survive the process. Despite this, however, Jaheira is one of the game’s romance options for male characters, which sees her dealing with and growing past her loss.
Even without playing the romance, Jaheira has a number of personal quests the player can take part in during Baldur's Gate II, one of which sees her confronted by an old adversary, and another, brought into conflict with her fellow Harpers which results in her flouncing from the organization. If the quest is completed, she is eventually pardoned and re-admitted, though it is unknown if she will remain a member by the time of Baldur's Gate 3.
If taken in your party through to the final chapter, Throne of Bhaal, Jaheira is granted an epilogue that changes based on whether a romance with her was pursued. All told, Jaheira is a popular character in the Baldur's Gate saga. As a half-elf, she is only a little longer-lived than the average human in the Forgotten Realms, so seeing her alive is a nice surprise, and her being a companion is nicer still. While the original character epilogues of Throne of Bhaal are of dubious canonicity, elements of her involvement in Baldur's Gate 3 could well have been sourced from her original swan song. Clearly, she has returned to the Sword Coast, but only time will tell if Jaheira remains in service to the balance or if age has changed her outlook.
Who is Minsc (and Boo) in Baldur's Gate 3?
Minsc has become a well-known face in Dungeons & Dragons media, appearing in comics, Magic: the Gathering cross-over sets, and even some additional video games. Minsc has sort of become the face of Baldur’s Gate and is fondly remembered for being one of the sillier companions in the series' original lineup.
Minsc is a ranger and in Baldur's Gate, is encountered while on a rite of passage known as a Dajemma: In order to be recognized as a great warrior and admitted into the Ice Dragon Berserker Lodge in his homeland of Rashemen, Minsc has been charged to act as a bodyguard and companion to a Rashemi witch known as Dynaheir while she takes care of matters in the Sword Coast.
Dynaheir is not his only companion, however -- at some uncertain point in his life prior to this, Minsc found a lifelong friend and companion in Boo, a loveable hamster that Minsc swears is more than he seems. This is roughly the point where the player can encounter Minsc, who is mounting a rescue mission to find Dynaheir after her capture by marauding gnolls. After she is freed, the two can then join the player’s party.
Like Jaheira, Minsc returns in Baldur’s Gate II as a fellow abductee of the villain and is reeling from the loss of Dynaheir, who like Khalid, was killed after the capture of your party. As such, Minsc also numbers among the NPCs the player can recruit and escape the starting dungeon with. As a character, Minsc is of “neutral good” alignment, and despite being a ranger, possesses a berserker’s rage ability which may trigger automatically under certain conditions.
Minsc is hearty, kind, and larger than life, though a little naive. He serves as a fast friend to many other companions in the series, even promising to take another potential companion on as his "witch" and protect them to make up for his failure to save Dynaheir. His companionship with Boo remains unrivaled, however: as he and his
miniature giant space hamster friend have remained inseparable. Minsc also receives a touching epilogue if among your number during Throne of Bhaal’s conclusion, though as with Jaheira's epilogue, it is of questionable veracity.
What we do know is that after the events of the Baldur’s Gate series, a statue in honor of Minsc and Boo known as “the beloved Ranger” was erected in the titular city, which, some 10-12 years before the events of Baldur’s Gate 3, was struck by a surge of wild magic, causing the statue to come to life. Whether or not Minsc and Boo had originally been petrified and unknowingly placed in the city of Baldur’s Gate’s market square, or if wild magic has created a new duo, fresh-faced and ready to smite evil as though they had never left, is something of a mystery.
Nevertheless, they have gone on to take part in a number of adventures with the Heroes of Baldur's Gate adventuring company in the Legends of Baldur's Gate comic series, even finding themselves in Ravenloft and Avernus of all places. These legacy characters have traveled all over at this point, and come launch, we will surely find stalwart friends - or deadly foes - in Minsc, Boo, and Jaheira too.