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I Left My Wife for God’s Favorite Princess Shadowheart

A study by Dr. Gregory Van Larson, Gaming Psychologist

Hello, come on into my office. I am The Gamer Psychologist, Dr. Gregory Van Larson. Have a seat.

As a happily married man with several kids, a vacation house, and a fairly high end boat, I often find it difficult to relate to my younger patients who are falling into parasocial relationships with digital characters. I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life studying relationships, but I’ve never seen anything like this uptick in what many call “NPC Simping.”

The only NPC I simp for is my wife, Veronica.

But I have a responsibility to help my patients. And boat payments to cover. So I won’t be an armchair academic. It’s time to get my hands dirty and walk a mile in my patient’s pathetic little shoes.

I have begun an experiment to see what it would be like to date one such character, the alleged ‘perfect goth gf’ Shadowheart of Baldur’s Gate 3. What follows below are my notes.

I modeled my character after Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. – a real man, unlike my sick little gamer cash cows who keep falling in love with a few curvy pixels on a computer screen.

Magnum was a Vietnam veteran, so I chose the Ranger class with the soldier background. A little testosterone never hurt. I also took proficiencies in Intimidation and Investigation as he is a Private Detective.

Time to meet my digital bride.

The Meet Cute

 

Shadowheart: You! Get me out of this damn thing!

 

We meet Shadowheart trapped inside a pod on a Nautiloid, a mindflayer ship. I am given the option to try and save her, or leave her for dead on the advice of my capable new friend Lae’zel. It seems the three of us share the same affliction of being infected with mind flayer tadpoles eating away at our brains, nasty business.

I decide it’s time to act. I’m not like these kids who come into my office crying because their NSFW Simp Twitter Accounts got “ratioed.” When I see a woman in distress, I help her.

 

Shadowheart: One thing, just before we go. I wanted to thank you again for freeing me.

I’m happy to have saved a stranger in need and gained another new companion in my quest to rid my brain of this disgusting mindflayer parasite, however I worry the dynamic between us may already set a dangerous precedent. It’s possible (almost reasonable) she may see me as a hyper masculine hero who bravely saved her from certain doom.

Or perhaps she could fear in the future I may create a harmful situation from which I would have to swoop in boldly and save her. Though how could I want any harm to come to my new companion? I find such mysterious comfort in her soft face… Well not so much comfort, she’s just an empty husk designed for me to project my own feelings onto… right?

The First Test

After Escaping the Mindflayers and devils on the ship I meet Gale and Astarion, two new friends who seem to be real strapping young men like myself. 

There’s no sign of Lae’zel until we find her trapped in a cage by some tieflings. Lae’zel of course asks me to free her. However Shadowheart suggests an alternative: kill her right now. Surely this is a rash decision. Or perhaps not?

Maybe I don’t need Lae’zel. Maybe I don’t even need my sweet wife Veronica. Maybe I only need Shadowheart. I should listen to her. Lae’zel is Githyanki after all and all of the literature says they don’t work well with others. I can’t have that, I need a cohesive party if we’re going to get through this experiment with me learning enough about my sick little freak clients. I will do what must be done.

Laezel lies dead before me. She came between me and my Shadowheart. I feel like I’m making good progress on this purely academic study, so I’m canceling the rest of my appointments and social engagements for the week and will finish up this story line.

Besides, I got this very useful gityanki armor for killing my friend. I’d probably have to listen to four hours of little shut-in freaks whine about Instagram finding their inappropriate drawings to afford something like this in real life. It was the right choice.

Getting To Know Her

Shadowheart: There’s something I’ve been wanting to share with you, if now’s a good time…

If this relationship is going to work it’s important I learn more about Shadowheart or at least for the purpose of this experiment and not because every time I look at her I see everything I could have had in life and lost by playing it safe.

Shadowheart: I suppose if we’re to continue together, I may as well tell you. I serve Shar. My home is a secret cloister in Baldur’s Gate.

After traveling with her and talking to her she tells me she’s a follower of Shar, Mistress of the night and Lady of loss. I’ve never been one for religion but for some reason when she talks about this stuff it all makes a lot of sense. Maybe I too should dedicate my life to this set of ideals. Not just to get closer to this beautiful perfect woman but solely for my own benefit.

Basically she’s just really into darkness and shadow it seems? I don’t really know. Completely unrelated, I have chosen Gloomstalker as my subclass.

GLOOM STALKER – Emerging like a horrible gift from the envelope of darkness and shadow, you ambush and put down foes before they can even scream.

She goes on to educate me a little more on Shar’s teachings:

Shadowheart: Pain is sacred to followers of Lady Shar. Pain will give way to loss, and then to the peace of her eternal darkness. You can tolerate a great deal of suffering so long as it has meaning.

Pain is sacred? I hope she’s not expecting me to endure much of that for this courtship. Veronica and I have always shown each other proper respect in the bedroom – politely refusing to express any of our deepest desires.

Shadowheart: We shed those cloaks. Before Shar we stand gloriously naked, beyond the vanities of mortals.

Naked? Both of us? Normally Veronica will keep her shirt on. I will as well. I haven’t seen her topless since the ’90s. Hold on, what’s this guy Abdirak over here talking about?

A Worshiper of Loviatar? Goddess of pain? He wants me to strip down naked and whip me? Gale is Shadowheart watching?

Where were we Shadowheart?

Shadowheart: I think I know what you mean. There’s an undeniable rapport, and yet we haven’t made time for each other. Time alone.

I just put my phone on mute and locked my office door. It’s time to do this Shadowheart.

Shadowheart: Not just yet – let’s choose our moment. Some quiet night, when the others are asleep and there’s no distractions, I’ll come for you.

Um… Sure okay. Yeah that’s fine, I can wait no problem. I mean I don’t really care right? This is just a dumb experiment. I’m not one of those losers who would fall in love with a video game character after just a few small interactions. Whatever. Let’s camp.

Our First Date

After defeating the goblin leaders and saving the Emerald Grove yada yada yada it doesn’t really matter we made it back to camp finally. A few people wanted to talk and congratulate me on my success today but that’s not really important. Shadowheart!? Can we pick up where we left off? Oh after everyone’s gone to bed…

Shadowheart: Best not keep me waiting. I’d prefer not to entertain myself…

Of course not, I don’t want to keep you waiting. I’d never keep you waiting. I don’t even want to wait until everyone’s gone to bed. If these people won’t leave they can watch. They can all watch. I mean why don’t we drink that win right now you know? If you already opened it we might as well drink it up right now gluck gluck gluck.

I’m fine. I’m chill, I’m cool. Let’s see what Astarion is up to.

Astarion: It’s easy for some. You and Shadowheart seem to have a connection. It looks very sweet.

Really? You think we’re sweet together? I haven’t been with anyone else since I met Veronica in high school. I mean she’s just a collection of pixels on my screen. Not like I’m forming an actual connection with her. You’re probably pretty tired huh, pal? Why don’t you and everyone here go to sleep right now.

Finally the two of us have some alone time. It’s at this point I learn that Shadowheart has no memories of her past and doesn’t even know why she gave them up. That’s okay though we can make new memories together! Here under the stars. Just me and her and the parasites living in our brains.

Oh my god we kissed. Am I blushing? No I couldn’t be. Is my office door locked? Maybe I should just put this game down for a while. Or maybe not. I feel so naughty. I should really stay and help Shadowheart get her memories back and finish her mission in Baldur’s Gate. Oh and I guess the fate of the realm is at stake or something. We can get to that too if we have time.

Taking an Interest in Her Hobbies

Shadowheart: The Gauntlet of Shar. This place is legendary – even with half my memories locked away, I still remember the stories…

I’m in the middle of something and Veronica busts into my office without knocking. Is it possible to get a little bit of privacy? I am working. She tells me to turn the game off and pick up our filthy children from school. As if I have any time for those frivolous monsters. They can walk.

I took a lengthy 15 minute break from playing so I feel confident I’ll be able to proceed professionally. Let me just check in on Shadowheart and see how she’s doing since I’ve been away.

Shadowheart: You know, I’ve been catching myself smiling more lately. I think that’s your fault.

Oh huh that’s so funny of her to say that. Wow okay, um anyways so a bunch of people have been asking me to go to this temple to stop some guy named Ketheric or something? I wasn’t really going to go but Shadowheart wanted to so it must be important. I mean where wouldn’t I go with her? I’d travel to the ends of The Sword Coast if she wanted. Would that I be sucked into the game à la Tron so I could be with her fully and deeply.

Shadowheart: I’ve dreamed of this place. This is my destiny – I must complete the trials.

According to her this place is called the Gauntlet of Shar and it’s a sort of holy place where acolytes like her go through these trials so they can become Dark Justiciars. I’m not entirely sure what any of that means but she’s just so precious when she talks about Shar. Veronica hasn’t been passionate about anything in years.

I mean it’s a little concerning how she talks about her Goddess controlling her and taking everything from her. Her memories, her freedom, what else has Shar taken from Shadowheart? Have I been enabling a toxic relationship while trying to form my own absolutely perfect one with her?

Sooooo, things take a turn when it turns out Shar expects Shadowheart to kill “The Nightsong” which is actually an aasimar being held prisoner by the cult named Dame Aylin. Apparently that’s the only way she can become a dark justiciar. I’m not quite sure this is the right thing to do. I worry this is a bad idea, but she’s just so hot when she gets all zealous and emotional about something.

Nightsong: The fate you seal is your own. To be a Dark Justiciar is to turn your heart from everything but loss. You will know no love, no joy – only servitude.

Hmmm I feel like this may kind of get in the way of what we have going on here Shadowheart.

Shadowheart: If I have to step over your corpse to fulfil what Lady Shar asks of me, so be it. Your choice.

Okay fine yeah it’s your choice I get it. If you want to kill this helpless innocent would-be ally and plunge your soul into darkness I understand.

No, this is wrong. How are we going to tell our future children about the time their mother killed the Nightsong? It’s far too dower for my taste. Also probably morally wrong I guess.

Me: Don’t do it, Shadowheart. Don’t kill her – you’ll regret it.

I’m glad she’s willing to listen to me after the time we’ve shared together and formed a special bond. Or because I have really high charisma, either way.

Going Steady

Shadowheart: I… I can’t believe I just did that. Lady Shar will disown me… what will happen to me?

After betraying her Goddess and freeing the Nightsong she’s understandably upset. It’s a good thing I was here to help make this decision for her and irrevocably change her life. It’s for the better though because now we can finally physically express what we’ve been feeling inside for so long.

Me: You’re not alone. You have me.

Besides, she never needed Shar anyways. She has me and that’s all she needs. Shar didn’t save her from that Mindflayer ship, I did. I’m her God!

Shadowheart: I suppose I do, don’t I? You’ve done more to help me than my faith has in recent times, if I’m honest. Thank you.

I’ve haven’t done more for you than your faith. Don’t you see?! I am your faith! I am the alpha and the omega! You exist in this little world for my benefit and mine alone! I am your savior and your protector Shadowheart. 

Shadowheart: I’ve squandered too much time already. I want to be with you. Now and always. Do you want the same?

YES! I mean, yeah sure if that’s what you want. Ahem. I mean yes of course for the purpose of this experiment. To help my patients, really. I’m sorry I need to step away for a minute. I’m just sort of short on breath here. Not sure if I’m getting sick or something.

I’m filing for divorce in the morning. What I had with Veronica may have served a purpose, but it was never real. I settled for our relationship because I thought that’s what everyone did. I thought love was something people made up to sell Valentine’s Day cards. Now, for the first time, I see. I see what drives people to write love songs. I see what inspired man to write his first poems. In one sweet, brief, fleeting moment, I understand it all.

You are everything to me Shadowheart.

Meeting The Parents

Shadowheart: My parents are alive and I have to save them. I think a part of me always know that – a part that Shar denied to me.

So after all of that back at the gauntlet we learned that Shadowheart’s parents are still alive somewhere. Also we killed that Ketheric guy and some big skeleton creature but I’m not sure that really matters to the rest of the game. Better make finding her parents top priority.

Shadowheart: Considering all we’ve been through, I think I was very lucky to find such favorable company. And attractive company too, no less.

Also she changed her hair! The guys in my Shadowheart discord are going to love it. I’ve done a lot of reaching on how the stereotype goes of changing one’s hair after a breakup — it’s often a cry for change. The literature is unclear if it applies to breaking up with one’s deity.

After scouring all of Baldur’s Gate we find the House of Grief. 

It made me realize I’m grieving in a way. I’m grieving the loss of my beautiful wife Veronica being the most important woman in my life. Those days are behind me now. I’ll always remember the times we had together on my rather high-end boat, but I need to make space for my beloved Shadowheart — who by the way has forgotten literally every detail of her life.

We will start fresh together.

Shadowheart: Mother Superior…Viconia DeVir.

We quickly meet Shadowheart’s mother superior Viconia DeVir, not to be confused with her mother Shar. Neither of course being her real mother who I presume is being held prisoner here somewhere.

We quickly butcher everyone here including Viconia. She reminded me of my soon to be former wife Veronica. She had to go. Though I’m not sure if murdering one matronly figure and being covered in blood is the proper way to meet your partner’s parents but I think given the circumstances they’ll understand.

Wow there they are. What an honor. Not sure I expected it to be this way but moments are what you make them. Should we all get out of here and grab dinner?

Shar. You see? It matters not if you raze this place, if you slay every one of your brothers and sisters. That was never where my power resided.

So, bad news. Looks like we’re not going to make that dinner reservation because we have to kill Shadowheart’s parents in order to free her from Shar’s control and end everyone’s suffering. Boy this is a lot to unpack.

Me: You should end their suffering, and yours.

In psychology school they don’t exactly tell you how to handle a situation where one person tells their partner to kill their parents in any context. How am I to be expected to make this decision for anyone, let alone someone I love? I mean uh a character in a game you know? Ah screw it I can’t lie to you people anymore. I love this woman and I can’t stand to see her or her parents in pain any longer. She has to kill them now so we can be together. That feels really dangerous to say I’m worried I may have crossed a line.

It’s done though. They’re glowing balls of light now. Which is good I think?

It’s Finally Happening

Shadowheart: Wait until the others are asleep, then come with me. There’s a place we can go, down the coast a litte.

After a day or so of processing killing her parents, it seems Shadowheart is finally ready to take our relationship to the next level. It’s what they would have wanted, babe.

Shadowheart: I can still feel the Shadowfell all over me…still hear her words in my ear. I feel…unclean.

She tells me that she wants to wash away all the memories and dark feelings of her past serving Shar. Not only that but she needs my help and she wants to meet “down the coast a little” when “the others are asleep.” I’m closing the blinds in my office..

What a beautiful night. Her silver hair glistening in the moonlight, it just feels like this is the right moment everything has been leading up to.

Shadowheart: This will do. Take off your clothes.

You don’t have to tell me twice. Let me just close my office door real quick, wouldn’t want Veronica walking in. I’ll tell her that it’s over in the morning. She can have the kids, I’ll keep the boat and my sweet beloved Shadowheart.

A perfect evening. Except for the weird glitch where Shadowheart’s hair switched back to black, absolutely perfect.

If making love to my reformed goth gf who I assisted in committing patricide 15 minutes ago is wrong then I don’t wanna be right.

In Conclusion

Clearly Shadowheart and I have a special and deeply ardent love for eachother. This goes beyond any sort of boyish crush my patients may think they have with some random video game floozy. They’re just a bunch of pathetic incels too sad to go out and find a real partner. Shadowheart and I are different, I know that more than I know my own boat’s name. Which I’m now changing to The Shadow Sailor.

In fact I dare any of my loser patients to challenge me with any other so called romanceable companion in a game and I assure you I won’t share the same bond as I do with God’s favorite princess. Just don’t pick anyone else from Baldur’s Gate right away, I do unfortunately have clients to see eventually.

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