Should you side with He Who Was or Madeline in Baldur’s Gate 3?

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An evil-looking character in Baldur's Gate 3.
September 30, 2023 - We've updated our guide on whether you should side with Madeline or He Who Was.

Can't decide whether to side with He Who Was or Madeline in Baldur's Gate 3? Venturing into the Shadow Cursed Lands has both its benefits and its pitfalls. On the good side of things, you get to progress the story of Baldur's Gate 3 into Act 2 and can pick up a tonne of new quests. However, a few of these characters won't be too nice, and their subsequent quests will make it difficult for you to discern what's right and wrong. One quest that exemplifies this dilemma perfectly is called "Punish the Wicked."

This sees you interact with a shady character named He Who Was, who is trying to torture a dead woman named Madeline for crimes that she allegedly committed at a local tavern. He Who Was tasks you with gathering evidence on these crimes, so you can see what she really is for yourself and judge her accordingly. In this guide, we will show you what happens with both options and give you a recommendation on who's side to pick in Baldur's Gate 3.

For more guides, you're in the right place. Check out our Baldur's Gate 3 race tier list and class tier list, alongside the best builds. We've also got a look at how to use rope in Baldur's Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 He Who Was
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Credit: Image via Larian Studios
He Who Was torturing Madeline in Baldur's Gate 3.

Should I side with He Who Was or Madeline in Baldur's Gate 3?

The start of this quest requires you to head to the Waning Moon tavern in Reithwin Town, which is southwest of your position with He Who Was. At the Waning Moon tavern, you run into a barmaid, named Thisobald Thorm, who is serving some less than tasty drinks. Whether you decide to kill Thisobald or let her live, you can find Madeline's ledger in a cabinet near the bar.

This supposedly has details on Madeline's horrible crimes. However, when you read the ledger, all that will be revealed is Madeline seemingly accidentally got two men killed after they were drunk and rowdy in the bar. Regardless, after bringing the ledger to He Who Was, you will be able to hear from Madeline and allow her to explain her side of the story. This happens during a ritual where He Who Was lets the spirit of Madeline talk through him.

According to Madeline, she only reported the two men at the bar because she was told to report everything to the Dark Justiciar. She claims she did not know that the Dark Justiciar would then kill the two men. When she heard they were killed, she fled because she was afraid for her own life.

Baldur's Gate 3 He Who Was
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Credit: Image via Larian Studios
The fight that ensues if you spare Madeline.

It's here where you have to make a decision. You can choose to spare Madeline, which will make He Who Was furious and cause him to attack. You also have the choice of telling Madeline that she deserves to be punished for her actions. And finally, you can tell Madeline to stab herself, the same way the two men were killed.

I have two recommendations here. If you are playing as a morally good character or simply believe what Madeline is saying, then you should tell her that and fight He Who Was and his pet raven. However, if you want a truly juicy ending, tell Madeline to stab herself, which in turn makes He Who Was stab himself, and then he dies as well.


The stabbing route is ultimately my recommendation, as Madeline is already dead and He Who Was seems too nasty for his own good.

That's it for this guide! For more on the game, read up on whether you can play Baldur's Gate 3 solo, alongside how to change spells and the best Baldur's Gate 3 Steam Deck settings.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Guides and Baldur's Gate 3 page.