In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Karlach Build Guide, I’ll be showing you how to play Karlach if you want to make her a bit more dynamic than just a Wildheart Barbarian by adding the Battle Master Subclass of Fighter, even though Barbarians are quite strong in their own right. I’ll cover Ability Scores, Class Features, Equipment, and I will provide tips on how to get the most out of Karlach when played this way.
Best Karlach Build Guide – Baldur’s Gate 3
Being a Barbarian, Karlach is a melee-oriented character, that does absolutely devastating damage from close range, and is quite tanky thanks to Rage, which reduces all Physical Damage she takes by half when this is active. However, in this Build we’ll be Multiclassing her with Fighter for even more damage from Action Surge, the Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting, Manoeuvres that deal increased damage and effects, and you still get 3 Feats with this Build.
Karlach Build Guide – Ability Scores
Since Karlach begins BG3 as a Barbarian, her Ability Scores are in line with what a melee warrior might have. However, you will want to respec her eventually to get the most out of her, and this will allow you to take Great Weapon Master for your first Feat without having serious Ability Score issues that need correcting.
Starting Ability Scores
- STR 17
- DEX 13
- CON 15
- INT 8
- WIS 12
- CHA 10
Ideal Ability Scores
- STR 16
- DEX 14
- CON 16
- INT 8
- WIS 12
- CHA 8
Karlach Build Guide – Skills
Karlach has Proficiency in Athletics and Survival by default, and Athletics is good at preventing her from being Shoved and helps with Shoving enemies. I recommend selecting Animal Handling and Perception Proficiencies since she has decent Wisdom, though she will likely not be the best at these in your group. Still her Survival and Perception will help to give you better chances to spot hidden things if the main party member you use for these Checks fails, so it’s not bad to have a back up.
Karlach Build Guide – 6 Wildheart Barbarian
I like to keep my Companions at least the Class they begin the game with, since it feels like that is how Larian intended for them to be played, and it’s no exception with Karlach. So we go Barbarian to begin with and pick up a lot of nice things from this. At level 1, Barbarians gain:
Level 1 Barbarian
- Unarmoured Defence
Unarmoured Defence may not be used early on, and is very gear-dependent, but it’s still nice to have as an option. Rage is great, as this will add +2 to her Melee Attacks and Throwing, and also gives Karlach Damage Resistance against Physical Damage, cutting this damage in half while her Rage is active. She can use this 2x before she must Long Rest (at this level), but it lasts 10 turns, so should get her through 2 combats before running out.
Level 2 Barbarian
- Danger Sense
- Reckless Attack
At level 2 Karlach will gain Danger Sense and Reckless Attack. Danger Sense is great for preventing AoE type damage from many sources, but the big pick up here is Reckless Attack. This will give Karlach Advantage on her Melee Attacks, though enemies will gain Advantage against her when she uses it.
This is a good trade off though since she will usually have Damage Resistance from Rage, reducing the damage she takes by half, and she must get hit or Attack every turn or Rage ends anyway. Reckless Attack also allows her to use the Great Weapon Master Feat more effectively than just about any Class out there when using a Two-Handed Weapon, so it’s a must have.
Level 3 Wildheart Barbarian
- Additional Rage Charge
- Eagle Heart
At level 3 Karlach will gain an additional Rage Charge between each Long Rest, for a total of 3 Rage Charges, and will get to choose her Subclass. We are selecting Wildheart here in order to gain Eagle Heart.
Eagle Heart will allow Karlach to Dash as a Bonus Action, improving her mobility on the battlefield even further. It also makes it so Opportunity Attacks made against her have Disadvantage, which means she can ignore them for the most part. And she can also use Diving Strike while Enraged, which allows her to jump down onto a target without taking Fall Damage, and hit it for Weapon Damage and knock it Prone if she is above the target.
Level 4 Wildheart Barbarian
- Great Weapon Master
At level 4, she will gain her first Feat and we want Great Weapon Master here for the increased damage while using a Two-Handed Weapon, as well as the Bonus Action Attack if she Critically Hits or kills something with a Melee Weapon Attack. This will increase her damage by a LOT, and the Attack Roll Penalty is mostly offset by Advantage from Reckless Attack.
Level 5 Wildheart Barbarian
- Fast Movement
- Reckless Attack
At level 5, Karlach will gain Fast Movement, increasing the amount she can Move each turn by 3m as long as she isn’t using Heavy Armour. She will also gain Extra Attack, allowing her to Attack a second time each turn if she uses her Action to Attack. When combined with Great Weapon Master, this often results in 3 Attacks, since she can Attack with her Bonus Action if she Crits or kills something with the first two Attacks.
Level 6 Wildheart Barbarian
- Additional Rage Charge
- Aspect of the Beast: Stallion
At level 6 of Barbarian Karlach will gain one more Rage Charge for a total 4 uses between Long Rests. She will also get to select an Animal Aspect, and we will choose Aspect of the Beast: Stallion.
This Aspect provides Karlach with Temporary Hit Points every time she Dashes based on her Barbarian level (as of Patch 3). And since we’ve selected Eagle Heart, she can Dash as a Bonus Action, allowing her to still Attack 2x when using this. Note that she doesn’t actually have to move to gain the benefit of the Temporary HP, and she can just refresh this each time she runs out of it.
Karlach Build Guide – 4 Battle Master Fighter
At this point, we’ll take levels of Fighter to pick up things from this Class, and the Battle Master Subclass, before going back to Barbarian. It may not be inherently obvious what you gain, or you might think there is too much overlap, so let’s take a closer look at why this is a good pairing Multiclass-wise.
Level 7 Fighter
- Second Wind
- Fighting Style – Great Weapon Fighting
At level 7, Karlach will take her first level of Fighter, granting her Second Wind and a Fighting Style. Second Wind is a Bonus Action heal that will get stronger as she takes more Fighter Levels, and is usable every Short Rest, so she’ll likely use it once per combat as needed.
For Fighting Style, Karlach will select Great Weapon Fighting to make it so that she cannot roll a 1 or 2 on her Damage Dice when making her Attack Rolls. This all but commits her to using a Two-Handed Weapon, since they are needed to make use of this Fighting Style.
Level 8 Fighter
- Action Surge
At level 8, Karlach will gain Action Surge from taking her second level of Fighter. This allows her to refresh her Action once per Short Rest. This is particularly deadly when combined with Extra Attack, since it allows her to Attack 4x on the turn that she uses it, not including any Bonus Action Attack from Great Weapon Master, so potentially 5x. She should use this each combat when needed.
Level 9 Battle Master
- Superiority Dice
- 3 Manoeuvres
At level 9, Karlach will get to choose a Fighter Subclass and we’re going with Battle Master here in order to pick up some Manoeuvres for Karlach to use in combat. She will get to select 3 from a list of 14, and these will consume a Superiority Die each time they are used. Karlach will gain 4 Superiority Die with this Build which add 1D8 to Damage on top of the Manoeuvre’s effect, and these replenish each Short Rest, so you should not be afraid to use them each combat.
Manoeuvres I recommend are as follows. You’ll only be able to select 3 of these, but there is a case for each:
- Disarming Attack
- Menacing Attack
- Pushing Attack
Disarming Attack disarms the enemy forcing them to spend Actions picking up their Weapon, and then equipping it. This can prevent huge damage to Karlach or your party.
Menacing Attack Frightens the enemy, preventing movement and giving the target Disadvantage on Attack Rolls and Ability Checks.
Pushing Attack allows Karlach to hit the enemy, and knock it backwards 4.5m. This can sometimes allow her to push enemies to their death, and is situational, but can come in handy.
All three of these Attacks add 1D8 damage when used, and do NOT consumed a Superiority Die if they Miss.
Riposte allows you to to Attack as a Reaction with 1D8 increased damage if an enemy misses you with a Melee Attack once per round, costing one Superiority Die. This is extremely powerful if you have high Armour Class, however, enemies are likely to have Advantage when Attacking Karlach, from Reckless Attack, so she is more likely to be hit, so she may not get as much use from this as some Fighters would.
Level 10 Battle Master
- Ability Improvement
At level 10, Karlach will reach level 4 in Battle Master, allowing her a second Feat. Take Ability Improvement here and get her Strength to 18. This will further improve her Hit Chance and Damage.
Karlach Build Guide – 2 Wildheart Barbarian
After reaching level 4 in Battle Master we will swap back to Barbarian for the last couple of levels.
Level 11 Wildheart Barbarian
- Feral Instinct
At level 11, Karlach will gain Feral Instinct, providing her with an Initiative bonus of +3 and making her immune to Surprised, so she doesn’t forfeit her turn when ambushed. This is really good, as it means she will take her turn sooner in each combat.
Level 12 Wildheart Barbarian
- Ability Improvement
At level 12, Karlach will gain her final Feat. Take Ability Improvement here and get Strength to 20. This will further improve her Hit Chance and Damage.
Karlach Build Guide – Equipment
We won’t be using Heavy Armour with Karlach, since she gains increased Movement Speed at level 5 Barbarian when not wearing it, and 14 Dexterity will help to boost her Armour Class higher. She can wear Medium Armour if you find a good one like Adamantine Scale Mail. However, she can also go Unarmoured if you find gear that is more appropriate like: Bracers of Defence or The Mighty Cloth.
Greatswords are ideal for this Build, since they actually roll 2D6. Because Great Weapon Fighting will reroll a 1 or 2 on each die’s Damage Roll (one time), it’s more likely that she will roll a higher average damage. If she were to use another Two-Handed Weapon, like a Greataxe, that rolls 1D12, she can only reroll one time if she rolls a 1 or 2 on the damage die.
Try to get minimally a +2 Greatsword as soon as you can, to help offset the -5 penalty to Attack Rolls Karlach has when using Great Weapon Master.
For the rest of Karlach’s equipment you want to focus on Armour Class, Damage Reduction, Movement Speed, and Attack. All of these things benefit Karlach in some way, but Attack can help further offset the -5 penalty to Attack Rolls Karlach has when using Great Weapon Master.
Karlach Build Guide – Final Tips
The general strategy with this Build is to move Karlach up to any enemy she can reach, use Rage and then Attack the target twice, hopefully killing it. If not, she can use Action Surge if needed. If so, she should move to the next target and use Action Surge to Attack them twice if possible.
On turn 2, she should Attack whomever she can kill, Dashing to give her Temporary HP to protect herself if necessary, or, using her Bonus Action to Attack if she can. Make sure she is using that Bonus Action each turn if possible!
Make sure to setup Reckless Attack in Karlach’s Reactions so that she can be prompted when making normal Attacks, Manoeuvres, or Weapon Actions. This way she can use these together, and only uses Reckless Attack if she was going to Miss. This prevents unnecessary Advantage on incoming Attacks, if you were going to Hit your target anyway.
Don’t forget to use Karlach’s Manoeuvres. This will not only boost the damage of her Attacks, but can cause negative effects on the enemies she hits. Decide if you need the extra damage to kill the target, or if it’s better to use her Manoeuvre on a hard-to-kill target that might need debuffing.
Lastly, you can swap 1 level of Fighter for 1 level of Barbarian if you wish to pick up Brutal Critical, but you will lose out on a third Feat, which is typically +2 Strength. The choice is up to you though, and either are very good for this Build.
That wraps up our Baldur’s Gate 3 Karlach Build Guide! Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we update the other Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch Channel if you have questions about the game. If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day, as well as our Baldur’s Gate 3 Guides.