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Baldur's Gate 3

Best Starting Class in Baldur's Gate 3 - Paladin

Nathan Garvin

Paladins are holy warriors, your stereotypical crusading knight motivated not by wanderlust or greed, but rather guided by the oath they swore to uphold. Their attendance to religious matters keeps them from reaching the same martial heights as Fighters, but their devotion is rewarded by access to a variety of divine spells, making the !Paladin something of a mix of a !Fighter and a Cleric, able to cure the innocent and worthy with a touch and smite the wicked and foul.

On this page we will offer reasons why the !Paladin might be the best starting class for you in Baldur’s Gate 3, covering the !Paladin’s class features, Proficiencies and best Origins, Races, Ability Point allocation and starting Skills for !Paladins.

(1 of 2) Paladins can smite their enemies with divine power,

Paladins can smite their enemies with divine power, (left), or heal themselves and others by laying on hands. (right)

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Class Features

While formidable warriors in their own right, it’s the oaths !Paladins take - and the powers they receive from their potent faith - that makes them interesting characters. Without the divine aspect, !Paladins would be little more than second-rate !Fighters. These !Paladin oaths typically revolve around preserving the sanctity of life, upholding justice, and punishing the wicked - sugar and spice and everything nice (with a heaping side dish of righteous smiting).

The potency of a !Paladin’s faith manifests in various ways, but the standouts include spellcasting ability similar to a !Cleric’s (albeit significantly stunted), the ability to perform Divine Smites and "Lay on Hands" iconLay on Hands, as well as various oath-specific powers you’ll gain over time. Without getting too granular, Divine Smite allows you to deal extra damage when you land a hit in melee at the expense of a spell slot, while Lay on Hands allows you to heal yourself and/or allies and even cure diseases and poison after you level up a bit. As a !Paladin levels and subsequently gains more Lay on Hands charges and spell slots they’ll be able to heal more and smite more, while also being able to effect further smiting, healing, buffing and debuffing. They’re no substitute for a proper !Cleric (although !Paladins can take some of the healing burden off the !Cleric’s shoulders), but they’re robust tanks and capable damage-dealers who are happiest when they’re in the thick of things gently convincing ne’er-do-wells the errors of their ways, one vicious rebuke at a time.

You must choose one of three oaths - Ancient, Devotion and Vengeance, which will give you additional class features.

Best Paladin Subclasses - Paladin Oaths

As mentioned earlier, a !Paladin is bound and defined by the oath they take. At launch there will be three !Paladin oaths, which must be chosen at 1st-level. These oaths are binding and can’t be changed later, and give you varying abilities depending on the exact oath you chose:

  • Oath of the Ancients: Healing and nature focused, the Oaths of the Ancients !Paladin can heal allies in a radius with "Healing Radiance" iconHealing Radiance and gain access to spells like "Ensnaring Strike" iconEnsnaring Strike and "Speak with Animals" iconSpeak with Animals.

  • Oath of Devotion: A defensive discipline, the Oath of Devotion !Paladin gains access to the "Holy Rebuke" iconHoly Rebuke ability, causing struck allies to damage their attackers. They also gain access to spells like "Sanctuary" iconSanctuary and "Protection from Evil and Good" iconProtection from Evil and Good.

  • Oath of Vengeance: Focused on punishment and retribution, the Oath of Vengeance !Paladin gains access to spells like "Bane" iconBane and "Hunter's Mark" iconHunter’s Mark - generally more debuff oriented.

!Paladin oaths are more than mere suggestions, and however self-righteous a !Paladin may be, they are not, in fact, the final authority and right and wrong, nor are their precepts subject to arbitrary interpretation. If a !Paladin does something that violates their oath, they may become an Oathbreaker, decidedly darker version of the !Paladin. How, exactly, you go about violating your oath varies depending on what oath you took, but killing helpless or innocent characters or intentionally and directly helping evil beings to achieve their goals are usually good ways to start down the path of an Oathbreaker.

Following your oaths helps shape the role-playing experience, but sometimes the fetters of morality pinch a bit, in which case you can shed your shackles and embrace the badness by becoming an Oathbreaker!

Best Paladin Subclasses - Oathbreakers

Breaking your oath won’t necessarily send you down the path of mustachio-twirling villany, if it was a lapse in judgment, some atonement can set you straight (turns out the gods like money - who knew?). On the other hand, you can embrace your failure and become an Oathbreaker by talking to the Oathbreaker Knight at camp (you’ll need to perform a Long Rest and talk to him at night). This will give you a fourth !Paladin subclass - the Oathbreaker:

Paladins are well-rounded characters who are proficient in all armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons and, oddly enough, Wisdom and Charisma Saves.

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Proficiencies

As a warrior, it only makes sense that the !Paladin is proficient in most arms and armor. Their piety and inner strength gives them proficiency with Wisdom and Charisma saves, as opposed to more traditional warrior fare like Strength and Constitution. They also can choose two proficiencies between a variety of diverse skills that allow individual !Paladins to focus on their athletic prowess, their ability to root out heresy, the studious piety or their knack for healing others.

Type Proficiencies
Saves Wisdom and Charisma
Armor All Armor and Shields
Weapons Simple and Martial
Skills Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion, Religion.

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Ability Points

You usually can’t go too far astray by following whatever proficiencies a class has, but the !Paladin is something of an exception. They’re proficient in Wisdom Saves and Charisma Saves, but Charisma is their primary spellcasting ability, and it also affects various !Paladin class features, while Wisdom contributes very little. !Paladins are also ideal front-liners and their Divine Smite class feature is melee only, so you’re going to want to invest in Strength and/or Dexterity, and a little Constitution never hurt anybody.

If you want to maximize your combat potential and keep your spells up to snuff, Strength and Charisma will be your highest stats, with Dexterity and Constitution being secondary investments. Wisdom should be left at 10, while Intelligence can be a dump stat - you don’t need to be smart, you have faith and violence on your side! Alternatively you can keep Strength at base and focus more heavily on Dexterity if you don’t mind using Finesse weapons and light armor.

While Charisma might not be hugely important to a !Paladin’s prowess, it does contribute to their Intimidation and Persuasion skill scores, so if you want your !Paladin to functionally be your party leader, they’ll be fairly adept at navigating both combat and conversation. On the other hand, a Dexterity-focused !Paladin can invest in skills like Stealth and Slight of Hand… not that you can really take maximal advantage of your penchant for skulduggery, due to your !Paladin oaths (Oathbreakers, on the other hand…). Finally, while Wisdom isn’t a core ability score we typically invest in, getting items to boost your Wisdom can help, or the Dexterity build could take those excess points from Strength and put some into Wisdom. This would encourage you to invest in skills like Insight, and pick up Origins that gave access to Animal Handling and Survival, if you wanted a more inquisitorial !Paladin or a lore-friendly Oath of the Ancients !Paladin.

(1 of 2) A Half-Elf (Wood) makes for a fine Paladin due to their natural ability score bonuses.

A Half-Elf (Wood) makes for a fine Paladin due to their natural ability score bonuses. (left), Wood Elves and other speedy races can make for interesting Dexterity-focused Paladins. (right)

Strength and Charisma Party Leader Tank Paladin

Below is a sample !Paladin using a Half-Elf (Wood) as the base:

Ability Suggested Score Modifier
Strength 16 +3
Dexterity 10 +0
Constitution 14 +2
Intelligence 8 -1
Wisdom 10 +0
Charisma 16 +3

The “standard” Strength/Charisma tank/talker, they get extra movement speed for being a Half-Elf (Wood), which will help them get stuck in, and the focus on skills like Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion and Insight to root out evil wherever it hides. Give her a big sword and some heavy armor and let her get to smiting. It’s about as pure of a !Paladin as you can get.

Dexterity and Charisma Sneaky Nature Paladin

Below is a sample !Paladin using a Wood Elf as the base:

Ability Suggested Score Modifier
Strength 8 +1
Dexterity 16 +3
Constitution 14 +2
Intelligence 8 -1
Wisdom 12 +1
Charisma 16 +3

Their low Strength means you’ll want to use finesse weapons with them, although whether you want to dual wield to make up some of the damage or use a shield to keep their Armor Class competitive with the standard Strength/Charisma !Paladin (their light armor and Dexterity won’t keep up with a stronger !Paladin in medium or heavy armor at the start of the game) is up to you. Their low Strength allows them to invest in Wisdom a touch for skills like Perception (a racial skill), Insight and Animal Handling. Alternatively you could focus on their high Dexterity and pick the Charlatan origin to add both Deception and Sleight of Hand, which will go along well with Stealth (another racial skill). This !Paladin is more lore friendly as an Oath of the Ancient !Paladin if you focus on the aforementioned Wisdom skills, but with light armor and various Dexterity-related skills it can also be something of a scout. Either way, it’s an unorthodox - but interesting - concept.

The Paladin’s high Charisma makes them an ideal party leader, and picking origins that give them proficiency in skills like Deception, Intimidation and Persuasion are all useful.

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Origins and Skills

!Paladins ideally focus on Strength, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma, to varying degrees, and there’s arguably no reason to invest in skills governed by other stats - let your thinkers do the thinking. It’s also debatable whether you should just let "Astarion" iconAstarion or some other Rogue do the proper thieving (Stealth, Sleight of Hand), although a Dexterity-based !Paladin could easily move into those fields. For a more traditional !Paladin, however, we suggest focusing on Charisma skills… !Paladins are frontliners, tanks and frankly, you have to cater to their moral precepts to avoid breaking their oaths at times. That being the case, they’re natural born party-leaders, so they might as well be good at doing your talking, too.

The !Paladin has access to Intimidation and Persuasion by default - you need merely select them - and you can gain access to Deception as well via the Charlatan and Criminal origins. Surprisingly being dishonest for justice isn’t a guaranteed way to break your oath, although Intimidation and Persuasion is usually more than sufficient for most encounters. The Soldier origin will make you proficient in two skills you already have access to - Athletics and Intimidation, allowing you to pick others, Urchin will get you Sleight of Hand and Stealth (both fine for a Dexterity-based !Paladin), and Guild Artisan will also get you Insight and Persuasion.

We’re fine with the bog-standard party-leader !Paladin who focuses on Intimidation and Persuasion, which you can flavor in whatever way you find interesting. Add Deception for an all-rounder in conversations, Animal Handling and Insight aren’t terrible if you can get your hands on gear that boosts your Wisdom (the former is especially lore-friendly with an Oath of the Ancient !Paladin, and the latter for your snoopy inquisitor in general.

Best !Paladin Skills
Animal Handling
Best !Paladin Origins
Folk Hero
Guild Artisan

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Races

Whew. After all the text above, picking a starting race is merely a process of elimination. There are lots of things to look for in a class: proficiencies, ability score bonuses, racial features (cantrips, resistances, etc). Getting 16 Strength and 16 Charisma while still having points left over for Dexterity and Constitution is no easy feat (although it’s not the end of the world if your starting Charisma is only 14-15). The !Paladin also starts out proficient in all armor, shields, simple weapons and martial weapons, so any racial gear proficiencies are bound to be redundant. That said, there are a few interesting choices:

  • Half-Orc: Savage Attacks makes the Half-Orc one the best races for any melee character, as it increases the damage they deal on critical hits. "Darkvision" iconDarkvision and the ability to shrug off being downed don’t hurt, either.

  • Strongheart Halfling: While their lower movement speed (7.5m) is a bit of a downer, that’s countered by the halfling’s ability to reroll natural 1’s once per check (attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws), advantage on saving throws against being Frightened and Poison, and resistance to Poison damage.

  • Wood Elf or Wood Half-Elf: Both of these gain darkvision, advantage on saves against being Charmed, immunity to "Sleep" iconSleep, an increased movement speed (an additional 1.5m will help them engage enemies in melee). In addition the Wood Elf has Perception as a bonus Proficiency, and both races have Stealth as a bonus Proficiency.

Best Starting Class in Baldur’s Gate - Paladin Companions

The !Paladin wants to be in melee combat and most builds will probably have a high Charisma score, making them natural party leaders. Ideally they’ll be a tank and a talker, which means your party won’t need to take one of either along. A Dexterity-focused !Paladin might also be able to handle some traps and scouting, but Astarion is probably a good companion for the Strength-focused !Paladin… even though Astarion will likely bristle at the choices made. Unless you’re an Oathbreaker, in which case you’ll be thick as thieves. While the !Paladin can also heal, they’re not a replacement for Clerics, so you’ll want to take another, primary healer like "Shadowheart" iconShadowheart along. The !Paladin can also spellbuff, but their magical arsenal is mediocre, at best, and they should be considered a tertiary spellcaster. You’ll want to bring a proper arcane caster along to fill that niche, whether it’s a Wizard like "Gale" iconGale, a Warlock or a Sorcerer.

Ultimately the !Paladin needs a character who can take care of traps and engage in righteous skulduggery, another healer (although the !Paladin’s healing aptitude means that your primary healer can perhaps be more militant or buff/debuff heavy) and a ranged arcane spellcaster of some description.

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Baldur's Gate 3 released several days ago with changes to the Race Ability system (race ability points removed, all races get +2/+1 to a chosen ability respectively). All of the guides that include Race Abilities are inaccurate now and need to be fixed. Ability point spread also needs to be redone due to this change.

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Fixed the ability scores and racial suggestions.

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User profile pic

Baldur's Gate 3 released several days ago with changes to the Race Ability system (race ability points removed, all races get +2/+1 to a chosen ability respectively). All of the guides that include Race Abilities are inaccurate now and need to be fixed. Ability point spread also needs to be redone due to this change.

User profile pic

Fixed the ability scores and racial suggestions.

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Guide Information
  • Publisher
    Larian Studios
  • Platforms,
    Mac, PC, PS5, XB X|S
  • Genre
    Adventure, RPG
  • Guide Release
    6 April 2023
  • Last Updated
    14 June 2024
    Version History
  • Guide Author

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Baldur’s Gate 3 is an immersive roleplaying game set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. It features a rich story with multiple outcomes for almost every encounter, and plenty of character customization features including more races, classes, subclasses and party combinations than you are ever likely to explore. The seemingly endless possibilities and numerous choices that you can make throughout your journey make a helping hand always welcome, and that’s where we come in! This guide features the following:

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