Karlach is one of the tankiest origin characters in the game and the one who can output the most melee damage. That makes her an excellent addition to any team that needs a powerful vanguard. Here’s my best Karlach build guide in Baldur’s Gate 3.
How to Make the Best Karlach Builds in Baldur’s Gate 3
Karlach is a fiery rage-fueled machine, and we’re tapping into that frenzy to make her a lethal melee combatant. Barbarians are already great at soaking up and dishing out damage, and the Frenzy and Wildheart subclasses just crank this up to 11.
Rage will grant you resistance to all physical damage and Reckless Attack will boost your offensive power. That’s why we’ll have two build options described below and we’re going full Barbarian with a multiclass deviation at the end. Strength is our priority with Constitution being second and Dexterity third.
Karlach should be paired with some kind of healer, whether this is Shadowheart from range or a melee one like Minthara, a Tav Paladin, or a War Cleric. In addition, it helps if you have some sort of artillery support from Gale or any Sorcerer Tav.
Furthermore, her Tiefling ancestry allows us to use neat combat spells when not raging, such as Searing Smite and Branding Smite. The former is some extra fire damage, while the latter is for marking foes so that they can’t go invisible. Use these whenever you’re not raging as soon as possible since you can’t cast spells when frenzied. Lastly, don’t forget to utilize Shoves with your Athletics skill whenever there’s an enemy near a ledge to push them off.
Karlach Berserker Barbarian Build: Best Subclass and Feats
This route relies on the incredible offensive power of the Berserker subclass at Level 3:
For our Subclass, pick up the Berserker subclass granting you Frenzy, a modified Rage. During Frenzy, you can make an additional Bonus Action attack with your weapon which should be a two-handed one like a Greataxe, Greatsword, Halberd, or Glaive.
Each time you make this Bonus Action attack you get a stacking -1 penalty to attack rolls. But unlike the Exhaustion from D&D5e core, this is almost negligible as combats don’t usually last that long and the penalty goes away at the end of the fight.
For Enraged Throw, the Frenzy Enraged Throw is also useful as a pseudo-ranged attack. Note that if a skull icon shows up on your pointer, the object or weapon you’re throwing will be destroyed, so be careful with weapons. Additionally, it’s also useful for repositioning key enemies like Mages and Healers closer to your team to focus them down or more dangerous foes away from your team. You can throw Goblins around easily but humanoid characters can only be thrown at Strength 20.
For Feats, I highly recommend picking up Great Weapon Master at Level 4 and then Strength increases at Level 8 and 12. Alternatively, you can pick up feats like Polearm Master or Sentinel at Level 12 to grant you an additional attack with your Reaction.
This is a simple damage-dealer build where your three attacks per round with Frenzy will all add +10 damage from Great Weapon Master. Reckless Attack will give you Advantage on all three, thus minimizing the penalty from GWM. Additionally, each time you kill an enemy or land a critical hit, you can make a free attack with a Bonus Action. That way, you don’t have to suffer a penalty from a Frenzied Bonus attack. Lastly, Barbarians also have problems with crowd-control spells but Mindless Rage at Level 6 helps with that making you immune to Charmed, Frightened, and the Calm Emotions spell.
Karlach Wild Heart Barbarian Build: Best Damage Option and Feats
Alternatively, this Karlach build focuses on melee AoE damage with the option of greatly increasing your tanking potential:
For our AoE damage option, the first route is picking Wild Heart and then Rage: Tiger Heart at Level 3, and either Animal Aspect: Tiger or Wolverine at Level 6. The Tiger’s Bloodlust will allow you to attack three melee enemies at once and apply a Bleeding condition to them that does damage.
Each attack will be boosted by effects like +10 damage from Great Weapon Master. Additionally, the AA Tiger will increase our attack roll on Bleeding targets offsetting the penalty from GWM while AA Wolverine will lock their movement down for one turn.
For the Tank option, we’re picking Wild Heart and the tank option is picking Rage: Bear Heart at Level 3 and then Animal Aspect: Honey Badger at Level 6. This will grant us damage resistance against all damage types except Psychic and allow us to heal during Rage. Furthermore, thanks to Honey Badger, there’s a 50% chance for a free Rage if we’re Poisoned, Frightened, or Charmed at the start of our turn.
For Feats, your priority is Great Weapon Master, Strength Increase, then Sentinel.
This build is all about surrounding yourself with as many foes as you can and then hitting them all with a Tiger’s Bloodlust and Reckless Attack and Great Weapon Master-empowered hits. Your Tiger or Wolverine option will complement the Bleeding effect nicely as you mow down hordes of enemies.
Alternatively, the tanking option makes you nigh unkillable and you should generally pair this Bear build up with a Rogue like Astarion or a Monk that can use the protection in melee. And if the attacker ignores you, then the Sentinel feat shines as you get a free attack against them.
Best Ways to Multiclass Karlach in BG3
There’s nothing wrong with going full Barbarian, as you’ll get that Level 11 Relentless Rage ability that lets you ignore dropping to 0 once per Short Rest. However, if you want to up your Karlach game with some nice utility and CC option, then we’re going to multiclass to Fighter at Level 8 and finish our build with four levels in that class until Level 12.
First off, this will allow us to get Second Wind for valuable healing and more importantly Action Surge for an additional Reckless Attack Great Weapon Master-fueled attack Action. Moreover, we can take the Battle Master subclass which provides us with useful maneuvers like:
- Goading Attack: Excellent in the late game as it makes enemies more likely to focus on you which you want, especially with the Wild Heart Bear build.
- Precision Attack: Helps with landing GWM attacks, especially if the Frenzy penalty has stacked up a bit.
- Trip Attack: Allows you to turn off Reckless Attack thus increasing your defenses as your attacks on a prone target will get Advantage.
- Sweeping Attack: Similarly to the Tiger build, this grants us some nice melee AOE potential.
- Menacing Attack: Allows us to apply some nice CC to a target which Barbarians don’t often get to do in combat outside of the max-level Berserker.
Last but not least, since we’re multiclassing four Levels into Fighter from Barbarian Level 8, we don’t lose a feat. This is where you can grab that Sentinel, Polearm Master, or an additional Strength increase if you haven’t already.
Best Equipment for Your Karlach Builds
The neat thing about Karlach is that she can utilize various magic items to great effect. For weapons, you have two options depending on if you’re using regular two-handed weapons or Reach ones with Polearm Master. Regular two-handers include Balduran’s Giantslayer, Sussur Greatsword, or the Hellfire Greataxe. Reach options include The Dancing Breeze, the Monster Slayer Glaive, and the Halberd of Vigilance.
Other useful gear includes the Gauntlets of Hill Giant Strength, the Disintegrating Night Walkers, the Ring of Protection, Crusher’s Ring, the Fey Semblance Amulet, and of course the Horns of the Berserker.
This concludes my best Karlach build guide in Baldur’s Gate 3. No matter which option you pick, make sure to reach your targets as soon as possible in combat and have your healer allies support you. You’re not immortal despite your various damage resistances. For more guides, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 library.