Baldur’s Gate 3: Should You Let the Emperor Evolve You in BG3?

The Emperor offers you a choice to evolve in Baldur’s Gate 3, and this guide shows you what happens with both decisions.

Screenshot by Gamepur

Following your first encounter with The Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3 and learning that your Dream Guardian is a Mind Flayer, your party might have doubts about who to trust moving forward. During this critical interaction, The Emperor also offers you a choice to evolve yourself and become more of an Illithid.

The Emperor tells you that you and your party members will eventually become an Illithid, regardless of their choices. Believing this, he offers you a chance to expand your powers and enter a halfway point between your current form and that of an Illithid. Should you let the Emperor Evolve you in Baldur’s Gate 3?

What Happens If You Evolve in Baldur’s Gate 3

Screenshot by Gamepur

Should you accept to eat the evolved Tadpole from The Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3, your character goes through a physical change they will have for the rest of the game. You can choose to eat the Tadpole or decide to open your mind to it. If you choose to open your mind to the Tadpole, the Astral-Touched Tadpole enters your inventory, and you can offer it to your party members at a later point.

Screenshot by Gamepur

Alternatively, if your character decides to eat their Tadpole, they go through a much more dramatic transformation, and no one else can acquire the Tadpole or connect their mind to it in Baldur’s Gate 3. Still, your character becomes Half-Illithid, with a heavy transformation on their facial appearance. This unlocks the Illithid Powers Tree if you have not already done so, and you can upgrade these trees based on how many tadpoles your character has acquired and consumed.

The only way to unlock the outer Illithid Powers for your character is by going through the evolution. This is the only way to reach these more helpful and amplified powers in Baldur’s Gate 3. The decisions of this route also come into play during the final part of Baldur’s Gate 3 story, where your party will be forced to decide if they want someone to become Illithid, give the Emperor the Netherstones, or if they’re going to free Orpheus.

What Happens If You Don’t Evolve in Baldur’s Gate 3

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For my playthrough, I decided not to evolve my character and refused the empowered Tadpole from The Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3. Although The Emperor agreed with my character’s decision and respected it, they still handed my character the empowered Tadpole that would go into my inventory, which I can use at any time. I’ll decide to evolve my character later, should I choose, but for my current playthrough, I’m doing my best to avoid using any tadpoles I find, thus not pushing into the Illithid Tree.

It is important to note that during this conversation, The Emperor strongly encourages you to take the Tadpole as quickly as possible. They continually tell you that your character, and your party members, will eventually become Mind Flayers, regardless of their choices, and that eventually, they’ll have to face these facts, especially when attempting to fight against the Absolute and the cult. This encouragement is meant to push you and your party to make the tadpole choice sooner rather than later.

However, I can confirm that this is not true. When you reach the end of the game, although one of your party members or companions needs to be Illithid to beat the game, not everyone needs to go through this decision. The Emperor only believes this to be the best route because he has been an Illithid for so long, but you can choose not to give the Emperor the Netherstones, set Orpheus free, and work with him to come up with a plan. Regardless, someone in your Baldur’s Gate 3 party needs to be Illithid to complete the game.

For anyone who would prefer to have their main character make it to the end of the game and become the Illithid, taking the Tadpole earlier does give you access to a variety of powers. However, these powers are not required to complete Baldur’s Gate 3. They make it much easier to achieve specific tasks and survive the harder difficulties.

Should You Evolve or Refuse the Emperor in Baldur’s Gate 3?

Screenshot by Gamepur

For my playthrough, I’ve been hands-off with all of the Illithid powers, trying to avoid using them at any cost, and my characters have not eaten any of the other tadpoles or used them to advance their powers. I want an entire playthrough where I never give into these powers and avoid them entirely. I have completed this playthrough, and it did seem like an easier path for my character to unlock the Illithid Powers using the tadpoles, but if they were to evolve, it would make much more sense for them to side with the Emperor over Orpheus at the end of the game.

Related: Baldur’s Gate 3: How to Find The Nightsong in BG3

From what I can tell from my time at the end of the game, this decision is mostly preparing you for the final confirmation of the end of the game. I recommend against becoming half-Illithid if you plan to destroy the brain, but these powers are extremely helpful if you’re looking for an easier playthrough.