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The Bhaalspawn are the Immortals from Highlander.
It adds up. There's a bunch of them, but they keep killing each other and will keep doing so until there's only one, at which point he gets "the Prize", being godhood. All that's missing is the immortality unless decapitated, the inability to fight on holy ground, and the ability to pick other bhaalspawn out of a crowd with just intuition. Didn't stop me from naming Charname "Connor MacLeod" and saying, "There can be only one!" multiple times.

The Main Character from Baldur's Gate is Dexter Morgan.
Let's see. Walking around and slaughtering criminals? Check. Traumatic childhood, including having watched the death of his own mother? Check. Close relationship to his half-sister? Check. Stuck between at least two competing love interests? Check. Dead foster father / mentor figure? Check. Mass-murdering evil half-brother, killed by him? Check. An evil being inside of him, taking possession of him from time to time? Check. So, the Main Character from Baldur's Gate is Dexter Morgan.
  • Wait what? Giving birth to a Bhaalspawn is lethal to the mother, it comes up several times in To B. By all accounts the player character had a peaceful childhood, what with being raised in Candlekeep, which is one of the nicer parts of The Realms. And the Player Character has more than one Mass-murdering evil half-brother. In fact, he's got five of them that are significantly worse than Sarevok.
    • Giving birth to a Bhaalspawn isn't fatal. The quasi-flashback shown to you in Throne of Bhaal revealed that the main character's mother, Aliana, was alive at the same that the main character was a very young child. She planned to slaughter him/her. Gorion saved the main character while killing Aliana.
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    • Strictly speaking, only two half-brothers we can call "worse". Gromnir is equally bad at worst, Balthazar is secretly a decent guy, and both Sendai and Illisera are half-sisters. Only Abazigal and Yaga-Shura have really outmatched Sarevok, and then, mostly because they didn't have Gorion's Ward breathing down their necks in their starting zones.
  • Perhaps Dexter Morgan is a Bhallspawn.

There were only 20 Bhaalspawn, total.
"The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his doom he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny, chaos will be sown by their passage."

Since score means twenty, this guess is assuming that it was used in the literal sense.

  • The ending of Baldur's Gate 1 has statues of apparently every Bhaalspawn ever, and when one of them dies their statue breaks (as seen with Sarevok's). There were a heck of a lot more than twenty Bhaalspawn statues in that huge tower, so it's hard to believe that there were only twenty total.

Only a few people in Candlekeep were killed by the dopplegangers, Not everyone.

  • A theory of mine that knocks around in my head every time I play the first game. Well, first of all, when you run into the dopplegangers masquerading as the people of Candlekeep they are all located in the Candlekeep catacombs and drawing from that, doesn't that mean that they were just about to work their way up and kill the people whose forms they took? Because of course, they will have to take those forms to avoid arousing suspicion when they go through the secret exit I.E the bookcase. And also, most of the people there are located outside of the great library so it would be really hard to get them in the first place and to top it off, the dooplegangers ALSO masqurade as Gorion and Elminster and because of gameplay you know they are not killed by the dopplegangers, so what about the others then?
    • That's what I'd always assumed; that the catacombs were where the dopplegangers waited for the couple who had already infiltrated Candlekeep to dispose of the person they'd be imitating and give them a chance to slip in unnoticed. I was surprised when I found out people thought otherwise; just the way they talked made it seem clear to me that they hadn't had a chance to get a good read of the people they were meant to eventually imitate just yet.
      • And because they are acting out of character attempting to imitate them yet you run into the people they are trying to imitate i.e Winthrop, Dreppin, Reever etc outside acting just like themselves, I can only assume that by killing the dopplegangers in the catacombs and just outside in the libary itself you inadvertently ended up saving their lives, and thus it acts as a subversion to a player punch.

"Boo" is a schizophrenia/split personality of Minsc.

By all rights, Minsc should not be able to cast spells with Intelligence and Wisdom scores as low as his; indeed, there's a question of whether 2e would let him stay a ranger. However, given how sensible Boo's advice tends to be, there's a possibility that Minsc used to have some measure of sense...before his head wound. His head wound ended up slightly jarring the communication between the two spheres of his brain, giving him a case of what some psychologists (usually fringe, admittedly) would call a "bicameral mind". The spheres are communicating, all right, but the perceiving side isn't quite realizing where the reasoning side's messages are coming from, so it projects them to the most likely candidate. In this case, a certain hamster. When viewed in split personality terms, Minsc is a personality that's always forward, but manages to stay in some measure of contact with the other personality, to the point that the Boo personality can even use Minsc as a conduit for spells. Minsc still has the spell-casting requirements; they're just squirreled away in the Boo component.

  • There's no reason he couldn't. The Wisdom chart in 2nd edition goes all the way down to 1 for spell casting purposes (you only need a minimum amount to be a pick a can be modified after the fact without issue (Minsc's lowered stats are the result of his head-wound) though there'll be penalties, such as inability to cast arcane spells with 8 or lower intelligence). The only issue would be a 35% divine spell failure penalty due to low wisdom (hilariously, Anomen's Wisdom is so low it would also have a 5% failure penalty vanilla and he'd still be incapable of casting 6th or 7th spells even if his upgrade succeeds). Divine spells don't require study like Arcane spells do, the cleric simply acts as a conduit for the God's power, though characters with less willpower to channel the energy for spells correctly result in the spells not functioning properly, and the most powerful spells can't be cast at all.

Imoen’s Bhaal-essence is “different” because it attuned itself to that of the main character over their long association.
“We're dead, aren't we? If I'm a Child of Bhaal, shouldn't I be... be gone, then? Just like Sarevok? Irenicus said I was different, but... I don't know. But I know I'll follow you wherever I can.” - Imoen

Instead of her essence/taint being sucked into the black hole that is Bhaal when she dies, facilitating the typical Bhaalspawn disintegration, it stays in “orbit” around the main character until s/he either resurrects her or dies him/herself. This additionally serves as an explanation for why she’ll stay by Charname through thick and thin, even if s/he’s a mass murdering psychopath completely at odds with her own alignment.

  • That is one of the more plausible explanations I've seen. Especially if you consider Bhaal's energy to be prone to 'sticking' to itself (which makes sense, if its designed to accumulate and reform him). Since Charname reportedly has a pretty hefty chunk of Bhaal's power - compared to other Bhaalspawn, anyway - and Imoen has a very small one, it would probably be easier for it to get stuck in his/her gravity than go flying off towards the abyss.
  • I always thought her Bhaal-essence was different simply because of the kind of person she was. It doesn't show much in the first game, but in the second she seems to have a great deal of empathy for people in pain. She might also seem happy-go-lucky in the first game, seeing as how she goes through quite a bit but it's not until Irenicus tortures her that she starts to be affected by anything bad.

Imoen is not your sister, she's your niece
She is actually one of Bhaal's grandchildren/great-however-many-times-grandchild rather than the one of his straight-up kids. Considering that Bhaal apparently managed to produce a dragon Bhaalspawn and that dragon lived long enough to have a grown child of his own, and dragons have ridiculous lifespans, it seems apparent that he really got a headstart on that whole 'score of mortal progeny' deal. It's therefore not unreasonable to think that other early Bhaalspawn managed to get a few descendants of their own, too.

So the reason why Imoen has so much less of Bhaal's 'essence' as compared to Charname and Sarevok is because it's been diluted through several generations. That, combined with her natural optimism and friendliness, means that it never would have even manifested without Irenicus' meddling. Gorion was probably unsure that a Bhaalspawn descendant would even be tied into the whole prophesy gig, and when Imoen didn't show any of the same signs of her heritage that Charname did, just assumed that she was off the hook. Hence his not bringing her along for their ill-fated Fleeing-the-Keep road trip, too.

  • Imoen says in Irenicus' dungeon that <charname> and she are the same age. If she's your niece, then your mother had a child in her teens and then had you in her late 30's or early 40's. It is possible that Bhaal could have gotten your mother pregnant more than once; much harder to do would be for him to get your mother pregnant with you while a previous Bhaalspawn son or daughter impregnated/got pregnant by a spouse or lover around the same time. However, I've always believed that Imoen was "different" as a Bhaalspawn mainly because of her childlike innocence, playfulness, and empathy that she has for others. <Charname>'s personality as a child was of a real troublemaking, willful scamp who would skip lessons and run around naked (much to <charname>'s later embarrassment).

Imoen's mother is Sheila from the D&D Animated Series
There are images of Hank and Bobby from the cartoon, apparently killed by Tiamat. Comparing Imoen and Sheila's character designs- they're both red-headed thieves with purple outfits.

The novels' Kill 'Em All approach was deliberately done to avoid loose ends in Realmslore.
While there are certainly plenty of things to choose from when it comes to disliking the novelization of the games, the fact nobody survives the trilogy was likely done intentionally from the beginning - Having anyone survive the whole trilogy would mean there would be at least one epic-level adventurer lurking around the Sword Coast, enough to call into question a lot of existing Realmslore and make for a few head-scratchers and wallbangers in the future. Also, having too much upheaval among powerful organizations would generate a lot of problems in the future, especially with firmly-entrenched groups like the Shadow Thieves. To avoid this, all the characters from the game were either not mentioned (most of the potential companions), down-written into lesser roles (Ellesime, Bodhi, Aran Linvail, Saemon Havarian), never became adventurers (Minsc), or died (Bodhi, Aran, the whole canon party including the protagonist), conveniently making the entire plot self-contained and having minimal impact on events beyond the times and places they occurred.
  • Which makes it hilarious that one of the things in the novels that ended up explicitly made non-canonical is... Minsc and how he was there (the current canonical stance seems to be that the Bhaalspawn was Abdel Adrian, or at least had that name, but that his adventures were more like the games, seeing as Minsc has a properly bald statue in Baldur's Gate and everything)

Irenicus intended to turn Jaheira into a concubine.
When talking to Jaheira in the dungeon, she will remark that she's only been drugged. Irenicus doesn't kill Khalid in front of her like he did Dynaheir with Minsc, and he doesn't torture her like he does Imoen and <charname>. So why is he so "nice" to her? Because he's hoping that using a real, closer to actual flesh-and-blood person will instill the emotion he's been lacking, like what he was doing with the clones and the dryads.

Tazok killed Kivan in the five months between games.
This isn't my idea, I read a post someone made here. Since Tazok is resurrected after being killed in the first game, the theory goes that he hunted down Kivan to avenge his own death (if Kivan was in your party) or found him in a random encounter (if Kivan wasn't). Obviously, Kivan did not survive this time. Considering how many characters got Put on a Bus and their disappearances never explained, it's kind of neat when someone can come up with a theory on why someone didn't show up in the next game.

A Cleric Bhaalspawn gets their power not from a deity, but from their own divine spark
Not just CHARNAME, but any Bhaalspawn you meet with the Cleric class. Ao decreed, after the Time of Troubles, that none of the other gods were allowed to interfere in the upcoming Bhaalspawn crisis, and Cyric himself admits he's not allowed to help you if you meet him. Granting spells to CHARNAME's cleric followers is okay, because they're choosing how to use them, but giving them to CHARNAME directly is probably off-limits. So all the time CHARNAME was casting clerical spells, they were actually drawing the power necessary off their own divinity. Because they've never actually seen combat before leaving Candlekeep, and because most of the other Bhaalspawn are still alive, CHARNAME's divine spark is initially weak, and they can only cast a few level one spells. As they grow stronger and more Bhaalspawn die, their divine essence grows in size and power, allowing them to draw out more energy in the form of high-level spells.

Similarly, a Sorcerer/ess Bhaalspawn's power also originates from their divinity
...just in the form of arcane talent instead of divine talent. The class description for a Sorcerer in Baldur's Gate II even says that "some are believed to be descended from gods".

Alternatively, a divine-magic-using Bhaalspawn is an attempt to avert The Gods' Hands Are Tied.
As mentioned before, Cyric does mention that the other gods are not allowed to interfere in the crisis. However, the gods could still grant powers to their Bhaalspawn followers as a form of Loophole Abuse. ("I'm not interfering, I'm just doing what I would for any faithful mortal follower of mine!") Bhaal had a lot of enemies among the good-aligned gods, so it'd make sense for them to empower a good-aligned Bhaalspawn as a possible way of preventing Bhaal's resurrection. Even if other gods don't have a beef with Bhaal himself, they might figure it'd be nice to have either an allied deity (if Charname ascends) or a powerful servant (if Charname doesn't).
  • On that same note, that's probably why one or some of them sent the Solar. These sorts of gambits are pretty common for the Realms' deities, and the non-interference proclamation would not stop quite a few of them.

The novels are actually just really bad fanfiction In-Universe
Simply because I refuse to acknowledge such abominations as canon. One day, a bard named Abdel Adrian heard the story of CHARNAME, and, desiring such fame, modified it so that he was the star. All the plot holes are caused by his lack of first-hand knowledge of the events, and all the Character Derailment is him rewriting the characters, particularly Jaheira, to his liking. For whatever reason, CHARNAME didn't stop Abdel's work from being circulated, and so his version of the events are the most recognized one.

Alternately, Abdel was an In-Universe attempt at covering up Charname
Siege of Dragonspear sees Charname disgraced and exiled from Baldur's Gate, after being framed for Skie's murder. Given Duke Silvershield's state of mind, he may very well have ordered all trace of their assistance erased from the records, substituting in a local warrior called Abdel Adrian as the "hero" who saved Baldur's Gate. This leads to...

Abdel is a Bhaalspawn, but not Charname
Going off 5e's "Murder in Baldur's Gate", there are several discrepancies between Charname's story and Abdel's. For one, Abdel has become a well-loved hero and duke of Baldur's Gate, which goes against Charname's forceful departure from the city (but makes sense if, say, he was given all the credit). For another, he still has his Bhaalspawn essence as a plot point, when Throne of Bhaal sees Charname either giving it up to the Solar, or ascending to godhood. In the first case, they should just be a normal human/elf/half-elf/whatever, meaning their death wouldn't have brought Bhaal back; in the latter, they shouldn't have been killed as easily as Abdel was. Given that Throne of Bhaal shows that Viekang can survive without affecting the ending, it's entirely possible Abdel was another Bhaalspawn who escaped death. Hence, while Charname, Imoen, and Sarevok are/could still be alive, they aren't Abdel's half-siblings anymore.

Some justification for the difference between Jaheira's alignment and actions.
As her character entry states, she's widely considered to be Neutral Good in practice, though True Neutral in alignment. Besides Khalid's influence and D&D 2e alignment rules for druids, she might act more Good than Neutral because that's exactly what the times call for. Seeking "balance" is at the top of her priority list, and the Bhaalspawn crisis is threatening to throw that balance out of whack. So she would take Good actions to help rein Evil in. Once things settle down and reach an equilibrium, she could conceivably start acting more Neutral.

Alternative Title(s): Baldurs Gate II


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