Do you hate heretics?! Then we have the perfect class for you, introducing the Baldur’s Gate 3 Paladin! Because strength and a sword aren’t enough, sometimes you have to tell your god(s) that you hate that one particular target and that they should as well so that both of you can gang up on them with smites. If that’s what you want, then this is the definitive Baldur’s Gate 3 Paladin build guide for you.
It also just so happens that the Paladin is the most popular class in Baldur’s Gate 3. It combines tankiness, damage, healing, roleplaying, and party support—definitely not an over-tuned D&D 5e class. Crafting the perfect Paladin build can be challenging due to the various options available, but we’ll guide you through selecting the best race, subclass, background, skills, and more.
Choosing your Paladin playstyle
As is the case with all martial classes, we recommend Great Weapon Fighting once more for your fighting style and weapon of choice as soon as you hit Level 2. Two-handed weapons have the highest damage dice in the game, and they scale with Strength, which is a Paladin’s ideal damage stat.
Moreover, the highest-damage weapon in the game is a greatsword that doubles your Strength modifier when applying damage, so you’ll want to be ready for that item somewhere in Act 3. The sword’s name is a bit of a spoiler, so we’d rather not mention it in full detail.
But in any case, here are all your options:
- Archery: Perfect for ranged weapon enthusiasts, this style grants a +2 bonus to ranged weapon attacks, ensuring accuracy and damage from a distance.
- Defense: If you prefer to be a durable tank, go for this style. It offers a +1 bonus to Armor Class while wearing armor, enhancing your survivability.
- Dueling: Ideal for those who favor one-handed melee weapons, this style adds two additional damage when wielding a melee weapon in one hand without a second weapon.
- Great Weapon Fighting: Designed for users of two-handed melee weapons, this style allows you to reroll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for better damage outcomes.
- Protection: A supportive style that requires a shield, imposing a Disadvantage on attacks against your allies when within 1.5 meters, provided you can see the attacker.
- Two-weapon Fighting: Enhances your off-hand weapon attacks by allowing you to add your Ability Modifier to the damage.
Best subclass for a Paladin
At Level 1, Paladins must choose a subclass known as an Oath. The Oath you select defines your character’s role and abilities. Here are the Oaths to consider:
- Oath of the Ancients: This Oath focuses on kindness, light, and joy. It grants Healing Radiance, allowing you to heal yourself and nearby allies.
- Oath of Devotion: Devotion emphasizes courage, compassion, and duty. It’s an excellent choice for those who want to protect their allies and uphold justice.
- Oath of Vengeance: The Vengeance Oath is all about fighting evil relentlessly while maintaining high moral standards. It excels at dealing damage to foes and seeking retribution.
- Oathbreaker: The Oathbreaker is a unique path for those who have broken their sacred Oaths. It harnesses the powers of darkness, death, and evil, offering a different playstyle altogether.
Now, all those Oaths are really great. But if you want to maximize your damage (and be the star of the whole party) while also still retaining healing, then you can either go Oath of Vengeance or Oathbreaker.
Vengeance Paladins have a Channel Divinity spell that lets them attack with advantage against one target, perfect for boss killers. Meanwhile, Oathbreakers at level 7 get an aura that adds their Charisma modifier to their damage, and it also Frightens enemies, opening them up to Advantage attacks.
Keep in mind that being an Oathbreaker is a costly endeavor and is surprisingly more high-maintenance compared to other Oaths.
Ideal race, background, and skills for Paladins
Paladins have a wide array of weapon and armor proficiencies and spells, making them versatile on the battlefield. Choosing the right race, background, and skills can significantly enhance your Paladin’s options both in and out of combat. Here are the recommended choices:
Best race to choose for a Paladin
Selecting the right race for your Paladin in Baldur’s Gate 3 is crucial to optimizing your character’s abilities. Paladins rely on Strength for melee combat and Charisma for spellcasting. Here are some of the best races to consider:
- Wood Half-Elf: Wood Half-Elves make excellent Paladins due to their martial weapon proficiencies and additional movement speed (almost mandatory for melee-inclined classes).
- Half-Orc: Half-Orcs are great melee all-rounders thanks to their Darkvision, innate Savage Attack, and their resilience in combat.
Best background for a Paladin
Choosing the right background for your Paladin can enhance your character’s abilities and role-playing experience. Here are the top background choices:
- Soldier: The Soldier background grants proficiency in Athletics and Intimidation, which complements the Paladin’s strengths in combat and leadership.
- Outlander: Outlanders focus on Athletics and Survival, making them suitable for Paladins who wish to excel in outdoor environments and survival situations. This one might be more ideal if you went with Half-Orc as a race since they can already Intimidate effortlessly.
Skills: Persuasion and Deception
If you picked either Soldier or Outlander as backgrounds, then you most likely don’t need Athletics anymore. You’ll be free to pick whichever you want, but Persuasion opens up many non-combat avenues in the game and is ideal for roleplaying as a Paladin.
Meanwhile, Deception functions similarly and plays off of the Paldin’s high Charisma stat.
You can also consider these other skills:
- Perception (helps in detecting traps or hidden objects)
- Insight (so you can weed out liars and extract secrets)
Best Ability Score Allocation
Optimizing your Paladin’s Ability Scores is crucial for their effectiveness in combat, conversations, and spellcasting. Here’s the recommended min-maxed allocation:
- Strength (16): Strength is your primary stat for dealing damage in melee combat. You’ll want to increase this further as you level up.
- Dexterity (10): Dexterity is less critical for Paladins but can be useful for Initiative and certain saving throws.
- Constitution (14): A higher Constitution increases your hit points (HP), making you more tanky in battle.
- Wisdom (10), Intelligence (8), Charisma (16): These stats should be balanced, with a focus on Charisma for your spellcasting abilities and also for social interactions.
Since the Paladin relies on three main stats, namely Strength, Consitution, and Charisma, it’s a bit harder to focus on optimizing this class. But keeping your Strength and Charisma set at 16 should help you until the end of the game.
If possible, you can also choose to pump up your Strength to 18 if you went with Oath of Vengeance or Charisma to 18 if you went with Oathbreaker.
Best Paladin Spells
Paladins have access to a limited but potent selection of spells. Here are some of the best Paladin spells categorized by spell level:
- Cure Wounds: A crucial healing spell to restore HP to yourself or allies.
- Bless: Grants an advantage on attack rolls and saving throws to you and your allies.
- Compelled Duel: Forces an enemy to target you in combat, protecting your allies.
- Aid: Increases HP for you and your allies.
- Magic Weapon: Enhances your weapon’s effectiveness in combat.
- Protection from Poison: Provides resistance to poison damage and advantage on saving throws against being poisoned.
- Blinding Smite: Deals extra radiant damage and blinds the target.
- Elemental Weapon: Adds elemental damage to your weapon attacks.
- Revivify: Resurrects a dead creature if used within a minute of their death.
Paladin leveling guide 1-12
Here’s a recommended leveling progression for your Paladin character:
- Level 1: Lay on Hands, Divine Sense — Subclass: Oath of Vengeance or Oathbreaker
- Level 2: Spells: Cure Wounds, Bless, Compelled Duel — Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting
- Level 3: Spells: Aid, Hunter’s Mark (Oath feature), Magic Weapon
- Level 4: Spells: Protection from Poison — Ability Score Improvement: Strength +2/Charisma +2 (if you went with Oathbreaker)
- Level 5: Spells: Blinding Smite, Elemental Weapon, Hold Person (Oath feature), Misty Step (Oath feature)
- Level 6: Aura of Protection
- Level 7: Spells: Revivify 8 Ability Score Improvement: Strength +2 / Aura of Hate (if you went with Oathbreaker)
- Level 9: Haste (Oath feature)
- Level 10: Aura of Courage
- Level 11: Improved Divine Smite — Spell: Blinding Smite
- Level 12: Feat: Mobile/Great Weapon Master (for more attacks)
It’s a slightly different progression for Oathbreaker since you get different spells, and you also lose the Haste spell from Oath of Vengeance (which is huge for running solo one-man parties). But you get Oathbreaker’s Aura of Hate as a tradeoff, which is awesome for adding to any damage instance.
Best multiclass options for the Paladin
While Paladins are powerful on their own, multiclassing can further diversify your character and might even cover their weaknesses. Here are the two most compelling multiclass options for the Paladin:
- Paladin and Warlock: The Paladin’s biggest weakness, apart from the low Initiative bonus, would be his reliance on regular spell slots. These need long rests in order to replenish. Dipping around 2-5 levels in Warlock fixes this issue since Warlock spell slots replenish on short rests, giving the Paladin more stamina and readiness for multiple or protracted fights.
- Paladin and Fighter: If you want even more smites, then look no further to the Fighter class and its Level 2 Action Surge. It allows you to attack again and in turn, add more smites to the damage pool. That’s why Fighter is a popular multiclass option for just about most classes.
We’d like to reiterate that there’s no need to multiclass, as Paladins are overpowered either way and might even kill a boss or the toughest enemy in the room in one or two turns.
But you can experiment around with multiclassing with either Warlock or Fighter if you want a one-man party Paladin build that can kill the most durable dragon in the darkest dungeon in the game, sometimes in just one turn if you’re lucky.