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Best Race and Ability Scores for Paladin in Baldur’s Gate 3

Whether you keep your oath or break it, use this guide for the best race and ability scores for your Paladin build in Baldur's Gate 3.

Do you like smiting evildoers in the name of some ideal or another? How about wearing heavy plate armor and belting out justice to villains and vagabonds? The Paladin class in Baldur’s Gate 3 encompasses all this and more, making for a powerful melee-focused class with a heavy narrative angle. You can, after all, break your oath of choice, which in awesome fashion unlocks a subclass.  This guide will help you choose the best race and ability scores for your Paladin in Baldur’s Gate 3.

A Paladin’s main class feature is Lay on Hands, which heals a creature or cures it of diseases. Furthermore, a Paladin’s Divine Sense gives them an advantage against celestials, fiends, and the undead. They also have Oath Charges that can give them boons depending on which oath (basically subclasses) you swear yourself to. They are, however, fairly straightforward in how they play: smite your enemies and heal your friends in a few different flavors.

Best Races for Paladins in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)

As Baldur’s Gate 3 does away with race ability bonuses, you can freely make a Paladin of any race. That said, two races stand out: Gold Dwarf or Half-Orc.

This holds true for just about any melee-focused class in Baldur’s Gate 3, simply because while the other races provide valuable weapon proficiencies or Cantrips, the Paladin comes with proficiency in all melee weapons and armor; however, you can go with the Elf race if you wish to use shortbows and longbows.

The Gold Dwarf, however, gains hit points upon leveling up, making it much more durable than the other races, and the Half-Orc has the powerful Savage Attacks race feature, which makes critical strikes do triple damage instead of double, and Relentless Endurance, which keeps them alive with 1 hit point if they would otherwise get downed. But if you want to make a sneaky Halfling Paladin that swings its hammer at the kneecaps of his or her foes, all the divine power to you.

All Paladin Subclasses in BG3

Paladins have three subclasses—or oaths— to choose from during character creation that take the class in slightly different directions and playstyles, along with a subclass only unlocked after breaking one of these oaths: 

  • Oath of the Ancients: Your Paladin is devoted to protecting the sanctity of life and the beauty of nature; being otherwise cruel or harmful toward people or nature will break your oath. You also gain Healing Radiance, a powerful healing spell.
  • Oath of Devotion: Quite literally a knight in shining armor. You uphold laws and defend the weak, and doing the opposite will break your oath. You gain Holy Rebuke, which grants an aura around an ally that damages enemies when they get attacked.
  • Oath of Vengeance: You mete out justice to the wicked with no mercy; doing otherwise will break your oath. You gain Inquisitor’s Might, which buffs you or an ally’s weapon with radiant damage and gives it the chance to daze.
  • Oathbreaker: If you break any of the above oaths, you gain this notorious subclass, which provides you with several death-related features and abilities. It’s possible to restore your oath—for a price.

Best Ability Scores for Paladins in BG3

Ability scores give a modifier bonus to your dice rolls, and you have a total of 27 to allocate into six skills. Furthermore, you have the option to grant a +2 and a +1 bonus to two different abilities. For a Paladin, the following spread is recommended for a balanced build that wants to make the most out of the class:

Half Orc

Strength: 16 (+2 bonus)
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 14 (+1 bonus)

Who needs Intelligence when you put your faith in your oath? With high Strength, each swing of your weapon of choice will make short work of most foes; furthermore, a somewhat-high Charisma stat is required for plenty of Paladin spells. Neglecting Constitution and Wisdom for a class that leans into taking is an otherwise bad idea. With heavy armor, your Dexterity doesn’t need to be so high. This build works especially well with Oath of Vengeance or Oathbreaker.

For something more defensive to protect allies further, this spread has you covered:

Gold Dwarf

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 15 (+1 bonus)
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 16 (+2 bonus)

Here you’ll also want to choose Ability Score Improvement at level 4 to increase Constitution to 16 and Wisdom to 14; otherwise, the high Charisma stat and defenses will make great use of the spells acquired by following Oath of the Ancients and Oath of Devotion. Be warned, however, that while you can buff allies and protect those in need, you won’t be dishing out a lot of damage.

As for backgrounds, go for whichever makes the most sense for the character you wish to play rather than the skills you’ll receive. For roleplaying purposes, the Folk Hero background fits this class well, as you’re out to right the wrongs of the world—unless you’re an Oathbreaker (no, not that Oathbreaker), that is. As backgrounds grant Inspiration Points as well as skills, it’s better to choose one that reflects how you wish to play the game; a Paladin with a Criminal past is a pretty cool angle that could lead to much more intriguing scenarios than a regular old Folk Hero.

The choice is yours, though you should make sure you have access to the Athletics skill, along with some dialogue-based options that make use of the Paladin’s generally high Charisma: Persuasion, Intimidation, and Deception—though the last two are markedly not very Paladin-like.

If all this justice-seeking and evil-smiting has you intrigued, this little guide to the best race and ability scores for your Paladin in Baldur’s Gate 3 should have you covered. That said, do remember that you can respec your character in Baldur’s Gate 3, meaning experimentation isn’t frowned upon. As this is a massive game, finding the way that you want to play your hero trumps min-maxing and breaking the game—unless, of course, that’s what you want to do as you explore Faerun.

We also have guides to the other races in the game and plenty other tips as well, so take a look through our archives for more information on the game.

Related: Best Cantrips in Baldur’s Gate 3 on Twinfinite

About the author

Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.