||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (January 2013)|
Minsc as he appears in Baldur's Gate II
|Series||Baldur's Gate series|
|First appearance||Baldur's Gate|
|Voiced by||Jim Cummings|
Minsc // is a fictional character in the Baldur's Gate series of Dungeons & Dragons role-playing video games developed by BioWare. Minsc originated in pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons sessions held by Baldur's Gate's Lead Designer James Ohlen, and was expanded upon by the game's lead writer, Luke Kristjanson. First appearing in Baldur's Gate, Minsc later appeared in its sequel, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, and expansion, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, as well as in promotions relating to the titles. Minsc is voiced by Jim Cummings in all appearances.
Minsc is a ranger, originally tasked with serving as a bodyguard to the witch Dynaheir as part of a rite of passage. After assisting the protagonist defeat his brother, they are captured alongside him. After Dynaheir is killed by the mage Jon Irenicus, Minsc offers his services to the protagonist in the pursuit of justice. A berserker, Minsc has a strong desire to uphold good and be heroic, though with an extreme fervor that causes those around him to regard him as possibly insane. His animal companion is a hamster named Boo, whom he believes is a "miniature giant space hamster" and consults for advice. Boo's actual nature is left for the player to decide.
Since his introduction, Minsc has been regarded as one of the best and most popular elements of the Baldur's Gate due to his demeanor and attachment to Boo, according to sources such as IGN, GameSpot, and Eurogamer. Others such as CVG have regarded him as one of the greatest aspects of PC gaming, while game developers have noted a preference for him. The web comic Megatokyo adapted Boo to appear in their publication, while the protagonist took on aspects of Minsc. His absence from subsequent gaming titles has also been lamented by sources such as UGO.com
Conception and creation
Minsc and Boo originated in pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons sessions held by Baldur's Gate's Lead Designer James Ohlen. Played by Cameron Tofer, associate producer and lead programmer of MDK2, Minsc was conceived as an unstable comic relief ranger who carried around a pet hamster named Boo in the Dark Sun campaign setting. The lead writer for Baldur's Gate, Luke Kristjanson, expanded upon the character and created dialogue intended to make Minsc funny and memorable to the general audience. During development, Minsc's lines were modified in accordance with his voice actor Jim Cummings. As this progressed, the writers noted they were able to interject dialogue more freely for Minsc into the script in a tone suitable for the character. Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka has stated that out of the Baldur's Gate series, Minsc is his favorite character.
The notion of Minsc's animal companion Boo as possibly a "miniature giant space hamster" originates from Dungeons & Dragons source material, first mentioned in the Spelljammer campaign setting which described them as giant hamsters bred to paddle wheels for flying ships, which can alternatively be bred in miniature form, looking like a normal hamster. The possibility of Boo as such was purposefully left up to the player to determine, though senior designer David Gaider noted that regardless Boo had no powers or abilities beyond those of a regular hamster. He also noted Boo was handled differently from the standard concept of familiars as creatures that fought alongside their owners, due to both the frailty of hamsters and the impact Boo dying would have upon Minsc in the game. In an open discussion with BioWare developers, scriptwriter Drew Karpyshyn described Boo's role in the game as "[providing] wisdom and moral support to Minsc".
In video games
Introduced in Baldur's Gate, Minsc is a bald, purple-tattooed ranger from the Forgotten Realms country of Rashemen. Originally a berserker on his "dajemma", a rite of passage to gain entrance to the prestigious "Ice Dragon Berserker Lodge", he swore to guard the witch Dynaheir. When introduced to the player, the duo has already been ambushed by a group of gnolls, who took Dynaheir back to their stronghold. Ordering them to halt so his hamster may judge them, Minsc introduces himself and his source of advice, the hamster Boo. He requests their help, and if they accept he will hold them to their word, to the point of using violence if necessary. Once rescued, both characters will assist the protagonist in defeating his brother, the antagonist Sarevok.
In Shadows of Amn, it is revealed shortly after the close of the previous game the group was captured and imprisoned by the mage Jon Irenicus, who seeks to tap into the protagonist's power for his own goals. Dynaheir is slain, and Minsc offers his services in the name of good to strike back against Irenicus. In Throne of Bhaal, Minsc is one of several character that can be summoned to assist the protagonist in a similar fashion. In the game's epilogue, it is revealed Minsc returned to Rashemen and gained access to the lodge, having become a renowned hero due to his experiences with the protagonist. Forming his own adventuring company, he continues fighting against evil until when well advanced in age, Minsc and Boo set out and disappear.
Though not appearing in any later games in the series, Minsc and Boo are referenced in other Bioware titles. In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, an "Astral Rodent totem" can be found, with the words "For M" carved on it. In Mass Effect 2 a purchasable "space hamster" that gives the player a "knowing smile" when observed can be purchased; in another instance, one of the game's non-playable characters, Tali, will shout a modified version of one of Minsc's battle cries, instructing her combat drone to "Go for the optics!" Later, in Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC, Commander Shepherd finds their hamster being thrown out by one of their foes, and tells the hamster 'Sit tight, little guy. If anyone gives you trouble, go for the eyes!' In Dragon Age: Origins, the loading screen sometimes displays the advice "If all else fails, go for the eyes" (a reference to Minsc's battle cry commanding Boo to "go for the eyes"). Another Bioware game, Dragon Age Legends, also references Boo by directly quoting Minsc's battle cry of "go for the eyes" as a battle cry for random NPC's that fight alongside the player
In other media
Minsc appears in the 2000 novelization of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn with a heavily changed design, which describes him as a well-built man with long red hair, a patchy orange beard, and a jagged scar along the right side of his head. In addition Minsc is no longer a warrior, portrayed as much smaller with the novel's protagonist, Abdel, who is described as much larger than him. In contrast, Boo is left unchanged, still referred to by Minsc as a miniature giant space hamster. Held prisoner alongside Abdel at the start of the novel, Minsc is set free and accompanies Abdel until they reach an inn, at which Minsc opts to work. Abdel repeatedly shows discomfort for his presence, using Minsc's employment as an excuse to leave him behind and steal his sword, though later returns for his help in securing travel aboard a ship. Minsc makes a final appearance in the novel when Adbel returns to kill his employers; understanding that the inn will be permanently closed soon, Minsc tells Boo as they leave that they will have to find another place to work.
Boo appears by himself in the webcomic Megatokyo, wearing strapped on wings and serving as secondary protagonist Largo's conscience, though can't be readily understood due to only being able to squeak. Largo himself quotes Minsc, though adapts the battlecries to his own needs. At one point in the comic, Boo attempts to leave Largo and return to BioWare's employment, only to be turned down. BioWare's Ray Muzyka praised Boo's appearance in the comic, describing it as an "anime-style" depiction of a favorite character. For a limited time Boo plush toys modeled after his appearance in the comic were sold by the artists through the website, though production was initially delayed due to manufacturer error.
Promotion and reception
GameSpy held an interview with Lukas Kristjanson who, while speaking as Minsc, gave background information on the character. When asked about the possibility of Minsc and Boo making cameo appearances later BioWare titles, lead Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal developer Kevin Martens stated "Well, Minsc is popular. You like Minsc. We like Minsc. Neverwinter is so far away. That is all that I have to say."
IGN named Minsc's return in Baldur's Gate II as an aspect of the game they looked forward to, stating "How can you live without Minsc?!" Dan Tudge, project lead for Dragon Age: Origins, noted that prior to working for BioWare he would rush home after work to use the character. Minsc placed seventh in a "Reader's Choice" edition of GameSpot's "Ten Best Sidekicks" article, which noted that readers commented on the character's demeanor and attachment to Boo as reasons for his appeal to them. UGO.com described Minsc as "a beloved game personality", lamenting the absence of similar characters in later BioWare titles. Eurogamer named Minsc the best male supporting character in video games for 2001, noting him as additionally one of the most popular characters of the original Baldur's Gate. Computer Games Magazine called him the favorite character of many players of the original Baldur's Gate, citing his strengths and "appealing personality" as reasons for his popularity. Calling him "everyone's favorite lovable oaf", they praised his early presence in the game's sequel. CVG listed him as one of their two-hundred reasons to "Love PC Gaming", quoting one of his battlecries for their reasoning. GameDaily named him one of the Most Lovable Lummoxes in video gaming, stating "Every good party of adventurers in a CRPG needs a tank...In Baldur's Gate, the human ranger Minsc is that tank, and a valuable asset to the player's quest." In 2011, Empire ranked him along with Boo as the 11th greatest video game character, addding that "Few names bring a wistful smile to the faces of aging PC gamers like that of Minsc and his trusty hamster companion".
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- BioWare. Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. (Interplay). PC. Level/area: Epilogue. (21 June 2001) With the saga of the Bhaalspawn closed, Minsc fulfilled a long promised oath. He returned to Rashemen, hoping to regale the Icedragon Berserker Lodge with the tales of his deeds, and earn a place within its hallowed halls. His words were not needed. Every tavern in Faerun had a bard singing of the valiant ranger, and he was welcomed as a hero. Eventually he formed his own adventuring company, the Justice Fist, striking fear in the hearts and faces of evil until, in his advancing age, he again set out across the Realms... and disappeared. And what of Boo? Well, what is Minsc without Boo? The two would never be separated, and some say they are together still, up amongst the stars where hamsters are giants and men become legends.
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