Paladins are the epicenter of the battlefield, providing AoE defensive boosts and healing to their team while dealing heavy radiant damage to enemies. My Baldur’s Gate 3 best Paladin build guide will capitalize on their offensive capabilities while keeping their utility skills at hand.
How to Make the Best Paladin Build in Baldur’s Gate 3
This BG3 Paladin build will have two modes as we progress through the class. We’ll start off with a defensive fighter with Polearm Master, a spear, and a shield. Then, once we get Great Weapon Master, we’ll turn into a heavy-hitting two-handed Reach build. While we work toward these goals, here are the important choices we’ll be discussing:
- Race: I suggest the Zariel Tiefling, Githyanki, and Half-Orc for extra spells or the no-die button.
- Subclass & Multiclassing: Oath of Vengeance & Battle Master Fighter (optional).
- Feats: Polearm Master and Great Weapon Master.
- Gear: Early on, the Watcher’s Guide found in Withers’ dungeon is excellent while still in Shield and Spear mode. Then grab either the Dancing Breeze or The Halberd of Vigilance, along with the Gauntlets of Hill Giant Strength. For defense, the Emblazoned Plate of the Marshal, the Shield of Devotion, Helm of Balduran, and Cloak of Displacement are great options. Disintegrating Nightwalkers can be useful with consumables like Potions of Speed.
As for Ability Scores, we want to maximize our Strength first. Then focus on Charisma for Aura of Protection’s boost to ally Saving Throws at Level 6, along with a decent spell DC. Finally, Constitution. We can safely dump Dexterity as it won’t affect our heavy armor AC. I don’t recommend dumping Wisdom since its saving throw is heavily targeted later in the game.
As for base Paladin features, there are three important choices:
- Fighting Style: Grab either Defense for the AC boost or Dueling for that +2 damage boost. We won’t be using Protection as much since our Reaction will be used for attacking with Polearm Master.
- Background & Skills: Grab the background that gives you either Persuasion or Athletics and pick up the other through skills. We’ll be using Charisma-based skills a lot in dialogue, and Athletics is exceptional in combat through the Bonus Action Shove attack to knock enemies off cliffs and ledges.
- Spells: Bless will be our core concentration. Compelled Duel and Shield of Faith are viable options if we’re not using spell slots to Smite. Later on, Thunderous Smite is great for knocking enemies Prone since this gives us advantage on melee attacks, which makes up for the Great Weapon Master penalty. Revivify is always great.
Combine this build with a melee buddy like Karlach or Lae’Zel, along with a Gale or Shadowheart in the backline. Our strategy will be to Divine Smite as much as possible on bosses. For this Paladin build, we’ll be making two attacks at Level 5 thanks to Extra Attack and an additional Bonus Action attack from Polearm Master. This allows us to Smite three times a turn in boss fights.
I highly recommend setting up your Reactions for Divine Smite. Baldur’s Gate 3 will ask you if you want to use it on regular and reaction attacks. On PC, I do this by hitting “L” and ticking each level of Divine Smite “On” and to “Ask”. That’s why it’s important to save up spell slots for a boss fight — except Bless, which should be active for that attack roll boost to help Great Weapon Master later.
Best Paladin Race to Choose
I would suggest the following race choices for our BG3 Paladin build:
- Githyanki: Offers extra mobility with options like Jump and Misty Step.
- Zariel Tiefling: Gives you two extra Smite spells you can use, which is great since we’ll mostly be using our spell slots for regular Smites.
- Half-Orc: You’re already difficult to kill with a high AC from heavy armor and shield. Relentless Endurance simply facilitates this by ensuring you don’t drop to 0 for an extra turn.
I can see Gold Dwarves also being worth it for the extra HP, but ultimately, you want as much movement speed as possible as a melee character.
Best Paladin Subclass, Feats, and Multiclassing in BG3
We’re going all in on the Oath of Vengeance subclass for this Paladin build, as it offers the best offensive capabilities to suit our Polearm Master/Great Weapon Master playstyle. Inquisitor’s Might’s Daze effect is great, as it reduces the enemy’s AC, and Vengeance’s Hunter’s Mark can be powerful with three attacks per round until we get GWM.
Vow of Enmity will compliment our Great Weapon Master later on. Hold Person can be devastating at Level 5 for automatic critical hits. Lastly, Vengeance gives us the Haste spell at Level 9, which just benefits everything we do. We get another attack from it to Divine Smite with.
As I’ve mentioned, our feats will be Polearm Master on Level 4 and Great Weapon Master at Level 8 or Level 12, depending on if you want to increase your Strength at Level 8. That said, our Gauntlets of Hill Giant Strength will ensure we have plenty of Strength in the late game.
Our strategy is to use a Shield and Spear until we pick up Great Weapon Master, where we’ll switch to a Glaive or Halberd. In both cases, enemies provoke an Attack of Opportunity when they approach us, and we get an extra attack with our Bonus Action.
Whatever our weapons are, our goal in boss fights is to cast Vow of Enmity on the boss or Haste later on. Then, we can make three Polearm attacks (Four with Haste) and use Divine Smite on all of them. Furthermore, we’ll activate Great Weapon Master for that +10 damage boost. The Advantage from Vow of Enmity or the enemy being Prone or Dazed will compensate for the -5 penalty. Therefore, this build is a devastating boss killer that relies on Long Rests to reset your Divine Smite ammo.
As for multiclassing, it’s optional. But if you really want to do it, the best jumping-off point would be either Level 9 after the feat or Level 10 after you get Haste. The subclass that works best with this Paladin build is Battle Master Fighter. With the first multiclass route, we can grab 4 Levels into Fighter for an extra feat or wait for Haste and then grab 3 Levels of Fighter just for the subclass while losing an extra feat. Pick up maneuvers like Tripping Attack and Precision Attack, which synergize with GWM and Goading Attack to focus enemy attention on you.