Like any good fantasy setting, Baldur’s Gate 3’s world is full of hidden secrets, accessible only to those with the right ability. There are entire areas and questlines you might miss, for instance, if you don’t have the skills needed to find them, like Feather Fall. But one particular spell that will help you not only find new quests but also just form a greater understanding of the world around you is Speak With Animals, which does exactly what it sounds like.
As you make your way through Faerûn, you’ll encounter all manner of animals, and talking to them can give you some illuminating, funny, sometimes useful dialogue. If you don’t have someone on-hand who can talk to animals, you’re basically missing out on another layer of worldbuilding, story, and possibly even solutions, not to mention just the novel opportunity to make some new furry friends.
One notable chance to do so arrives early in the game when you meet Scratch, a dog standing guard over the body of his slain owner. If you don’t have anyone who can speak to animals, you’ll have to try communicating with him non-verbally. It’s much easier for this interaction to go south if you can’t speak to him, but whether by talking to him directly or otherwise, you can get a pet dog for your journey if things go well.
There’s also an entire secondary plotline in the Shar Temple that involves a pack of rats that you can get some new insight into by talking to the less-than-friendly little guys, which opens up new perspectives and pathways for the quest. All in all, Speak With Animals is just a good tool to have when you’re adventuring because you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a critter or beast who might be more helpful than a human.
Because the spell is so valuable, Speak With Animals isn’t widely distributed among a lot of classes, even magic-using ones. Initially, you won’t be able to speak to any critters in Baldur’s Gate 3 unless your custom main character can, as the ability isn’t available to any of your party members at the start. The base classes that can learn Speak With Animals are Bard, Druid, and Ranger, and since you won’t get Halsin until the end of Act 1, Jaheira until Act 2, or Minsc until Act 3, and there is no Bard party member, your only option from the moment the game starts is to be one of those classes.
As things open up, however, other classes can learn it through subclasses. A Barbarian like Karlach can learn it as part of the Wildheart subclass, a Paladin like Minthara can through the Oath of the Ancients subclass, and a Cleric like Shadowheart can get chatty with the wildlife through the Nature Domain subclass. However, you might need to respec them by chatting with Withers in order to give them those subclasses if that’s the route you choose to go with.
If you don’t want to completely unravel a character’s build to talk to animals, there are a couple of options. Forest Gnomes have an inherent ability to cast Speak With Animals as one of their traits as a subrace. Warlocks, meanwhile, can also use Speak With Animals as part of the Beast Speech Eldritch Invocation. This isn’t tied to any subclass, but rather a custom trait you’ll unlock as you level up. If none of those options appeal to you, there is also a Potion of Animal Speaking that you can buy from Arron at the Druid Grove in Act 1, or in Myconid Village in the Underdark in Act 2. This will allow you to speak with animals until your next Long Rest.
Whatever avenue you take, know that speaking to animals in Baldur’s Gate 3 has been a delight every time I’ve done it. It’s been helpful in understanding different areas I’ve visited, but it’s also just a great example of how much depth and richness Larian Studios’ expansive RPG has waiting for you to discover. If you need any more convincing, look at this good boy, Biscotti, getting so happy when you tell him he’s a good dog.