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How to protect Isobel in Baldur’s Gate 3

This quest can go very wrong very quickly, so save often

The Last Light Inn shield breaks in Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

When you first reach the Last Light Inn in Baldur’s Gate 3’s second act, you’ll discover a magic-user named Isobel. She is not only a powerful ally to the Harpers and Jaheira the Druid, but the genesis of the shield that protects the Last Light Inn from the Shadow Curse.

Unfortunately, this makes her a huge target for general Ketheric and his goons. After talking to Isobel, the entire camp will come under attack by some demonic-looking bat guys and Flaming Fist Marcus, who looks vaguely like Hawkman.

The problem with this fight is it’s not only unexpected, but very random, which makes it difficult to overcome. However, it’s also one of the most important battles in the game, as the outcome has serious ramifications for multiple side quests and side characters.

In this Baldur’s Gate 3 guide, we’ll walk you through how to save Isobel, and what happens if you don’t.

How to save Isobel in Baldur’s Gate 3

Isobel talks to Marcus in Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

If you want to save Isobel, the first thing you should do is save right before you talk to her. Now, if you’re here, reading this guide, chances are you’ve already initiated combat or failed it once. Either way, we recommend going back to the closest save you have, talking to Jaheira again, and saving right before you start the fight. Even if you don’t like “save-scumming,” you might dislike the outcome of this fight even more if it goes bad.

When the fight starts, you’ll all roll Initiative, and this is where things can go bad right away — and part of why you should save before the fight starts, if you can. Depending on your Initiative order, it’s possible to lose Isobel before your entire team even gets the chance to move. If you have Initiative-boosting items, these can be great to throw on, but even just bringing Astarion and Karlach — both of whom have high Initiative rolls — will help you get one or two big hits on Marcus before things go south.

Healing and shielding for Isobel is also a big deal. Throwing a Shield of Faith on Isobel if you’re a Paladin or Cleric can increase her Armor Class by +2, making her much harder to hit. Also, keep in mind that you can heal Isobel even though she’s not in your party. While this won’t stop her from randomly getting one-hundred-to-zeroed in a single turn off of some unlucky rolls, it can extend the fight, which gives your party members and the Harpers time to come to the rescue.

If your player character has access to healing abilities, it’s absolutely worth spending their action on healing Isobel rather than dealing damage. Shadowheart is also an appealing option for your third party member slot, as she can dish out a lot of healing in certain situations — just know that she typically rolls very poorly on Initiative. (If you’re really struggling with this fight, we recommend respeccing Shadowheart into the Life Domain subclass, rather than Trickery).

Isobel gets swarmed by some hellish bat monsters in Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

With some forethought, you can also ensure you have an additional ally in the Last Light Inn before the fight takes place: Halsin. If you progress the “Wake Up Art Cullagh” quest to the point where Halsin joins you at the inn, the First Druid will leap to your rescue when the beasts attack. Unfortunately he’s a floor down from where you are when the fight starts, but if he manages to reach you while Isobel is still alive, his bear form can dish out some serious damage.

Another potential move here is that you can intentionally trigger Marcus and company’s Attacks of Opportunity with your characters who act before Isobel. They’ll likely take some damage from this, but Isobel is the one in danger here, not your characters. Isobel loves to run away and get some distance so she can cast spells, triggering every Attack of Opportunity on her way to “safety.” If you can trigger those yourself first, it gives the computer free reign to move her wherever it thinks is best without accidentally tanking her hit points.

Finally, you should be trying to kill Marcus as quickly as possible. The Winged Horrors are rather dangerous, but they don’t have nearly as many tools to take on Isobel. And, in our experience, they have a tendency to spread out and fight the Harpers rather than only focus on Isobel.

All of these tips should help you save Isobel, but be warned that this can be a really frustrating fight, and that you can do everything perfectly only to get screwed over by the dice. We’ve loaded this fight up intending to get Isobel killed for research, only to have the NPCs basically fight off everyone on their own. And we’ve seen this fight end in a single turn when Marcus got a crit on Isobel.

There are absolutely things you can do to ease the burden, but a good bit of this fight is up to the dice.

What happens if Isobel gets taken?

The Harpers get turned into zombies in Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

Isobel can get taken a few different ways. You can either side with Marcus and help him take her, or you can fail to keep her alive during the fight. Either way, when Isobel “dies,” Marcus will grab her body and carry her away to Moonrise Towers. This not only causes a Jaheira meltdown — especially if you side with Marcus — but it also breaks the protective barrier on the Last Light Inn, turning everyone who wasn’t individually blessed by Isobel into a zombie.

This is a major problem, as many of the NPCs you need for quests are in the Last Light Inn. All the Tieflings you potentially saved from the Emerald Grove? Zombies. Dammon, the kindly blacksmith who is helping you fix Karlach’s heart? He’s a zombie now, which causes you to fail that quest entirely. Art Cullagh, who you need to wake up in order to officially recruit Halsin to your party? Also dead.

Failing to save Isobel creates a true nightmare state for your game. Not only do you lose multiple shopkeepers and a place to lay low in the Shadow-Cursed Lands, but you’ll also lose many different characters that you either care about or need because of their quests.

While the game is obviously still finishable in this state, we recommend that you keep trying the Isobel fight until you’re able to beat it, or — at the very least — get lucky.

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