Should You Help Auntie Ethel In Baldur’s Gate 3?

Should You Help Auntie Ethel In Baldur’s Gate 3?

Auntie Ethel seems to be in some distress when first encountered in Baldur’s Gate 3, but deciding whether to help her is a very complicated choice.

Summary

  • Meeting Auntie Ethel in Baldur’s Gate 3 presents an interesting choice that leads to branching paths in the game’s story.
  • Helping Auntie Ethel has certain benefits but also has a major drawback.
  • It is possible to still work with Auntie Ethel to some degree, but it’s also a major moral decision.

Meeting Auntie Ethel in Baldur’s Gate 3 offers players an interesting choice to make, providing one of the many branching paths in the roleplaying experience. Auntie Ethel can first be encountered at the threshold of the Sunlit Wetlands, a swampy area found just outside the Blighted Village in the first act of the game. At first glance, she appears to be a helpless old woman being harangued by a couple of younger men, but it’s also immediately obvious that something seems just a little off. Choosing to help Auntie Ethel takes the story down an interesting path, as does siding with the men instead.

The dispute between Auntie Ethel and the men is over their sister Mayrina, who they insist is with the old woman. Ethel plays the victim and asserts that she doesn’t know where Mayrina is. Although it’s possible to toe the line for a couple of dialogue choices, both sides are quick to react negatively to the protagonist leaning in either direction. Choosing to help Auntie Ethel will result in aggression from the men while supporting their argument opens up a long rabbit hole.

[Warning: This article has spoilers for Baldur’s Gate 3.]

You Shouldn’t Help Auntie Ethel In Baldur’s Gate 3

Auntie Ethel in her teahouse in Baldur's Gate 3

Helping Auntie Ethel in Baldur’s Gate 3 isn’t without its benefits, but it also incurs a major drawback that generally outweighs the advantages it offers. Supporting her and fighting the men will put the protagonist in Auntie Ethel’s good graces, securing an official invitation to her teahouse in the swamp. Upon arriving at this location, Auntie Ethel acknowledges the mind flayer parasite specimen affecting the protagonist and offers to remove it. However, attempting this method comes with a major cost. Ethel asks for one eye in return for the favor, a significant price to pay even if the operation was fully successful.

Accepting the offer will result in Auntie Ethel revealing herself as a hag and proceeding in an attempt to fulfill the bargain. The player character can offer either the left or right eye for the exchange, with the offered eye being exchanged for a Hag’s Eye. This offers a +1 bonus to intimidation checks, but disadvantage on perception checks, which weighs significantly heavier on dice rolls. It also makes attacks on hags have disadvantage, so deciding to go to battle with Auntie Ethel after this point will result in a tougher fight than before.

Most importantly, Auntie Ethel aborts the removal of the parasite, rendering the main draw of helping her in Baldur’s Gate 3 moot. She becomes unwilling when she realizes that other parties have interfered with the parasite besides the illithids, knowledge that is interesting to learn but certainly inferior to removing the parasite outright. As a consolation prize, she does offer the protagonist Auntie Ethel’s Charm, which can be broken to activate all benefits from the Enhance Ability Spell until a Long Rest. This is a powerful trinket, but as a one-time-use item, it doesn’t make up for the overall impediment enforced by the Hag’s Eye.

Pretending To Be On Auntie Ethel’s Side Can Still Work

Monstrous hag in a dark lair in Baldur's Gate 3.

Although going all the way through with helping Auntie Ethel and accepting her “favor” in return isn’t the path to the best rewards in Baldur’s Gate 3, cooperating with her to some degree can still be an effective plan. Siding with her in her argument with Mayrina’s brothers and incurring their attack doesn’t force her brothers’ death, as turning on non-lethal attacks and hitting them only with melee weapons can leave them merely unconscious. This might even save them from Auntie Ethel’s deadly plans for them otherwise, although they can still be killed in the swamp, so there’s no option that guarantees their safety.

Auntie Ethel can still be attacked after going down this path in Baldur’s Gate 3, resulting in a similar situation to initially siding with Mayrina’s brothers. Near the end of a fight with Auntie Ethel, there’s another chance for some degree of reconciliation, as she will offer both power (one ability point) and Mayrina in exchange for abandoning the kill. A successful roll can persuade her to offer both, a bargain that can be struck without the same side effects as her other offer. At this stage of the game, killing her will not significantly change the overall narrative, although some loot can be acquired from her corpse.

Helping Auntie Ethel In BG3 Is The Wrong Moral Choice

The protagonist speaking to a visibly tear-stained Mayrina in Baldur's Gate 3.

For characters concerned with following good ideals, helping Auntie Ethel in Baldur’s Gate 3 can be an ethical concern. Her manipulation of Mayrina has horrifying implications when everything is finally revealed, and standing against the hag to save the woman should be the primary goal of a character with any form of good alignment. Evil characters or those following the worst tendencies of the Dark Urge origin character could, of course, embrace these wicked designs, although there’s ultimately more to be gained from turning against Auntie Ethel. Making whichever roleplaying choice seems suitable is a reasonable way to approach the situation, and there’s no path that offers only downsides.

Defying Auntie Ethel in Baldur’s Gate 3 still won’t set everything to rights straight away, as Mayrina’s story is innately tragic even when saved from the clutches of the hag. It does, however, open up interesting avenues for her narrative to progress, as well as giving characters a morally dubious opportunity to recruit a temporary undead follower. Choosing not to rescue Mayrina dooms her to an unhappy fate with less hope than any other outcome for the situation. Since the fight with Auntie Ethel can be challenging, it’s better to complete a variety of other encounters in the area before tackling this doozy.

Helping Auntie Ethel has its upsides, but the cost of her favor makes it hard to recommend as a particularly attractive path. With other great options to walk away from the situation with better stats and a cleaner conscience, it’s best not to turn the other cheek to this particular villain. Although Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game that’s all about choice, some decisions are worse than others, and siding with Auntie Ethel is one that just doesn’t make the most sense.

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