GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Ever since its release on August 3, 2023, Baldur’s Gate 3 has taken the gaming community by storm. The game has gained many accolades for its storytelling, gameplay, and beautiful worldbuilding.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is based on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, and one of the most fun things about that ruleset is putting together thematic and powerful character builds as you progress through the game.
While Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t go all the way to level 20 like Dungeons and Dragons does, the 12 levels the game offers you are plenty enough room to come up with interesting and powerful multiclass character builds.
It’s important to note that certain abilities and feats do work differently in Baldur’s Gate 3 as opposed to their original D&D 5e counterparts.
So, with all that being said, let’s take a look at one fun and popular character build for Baldur’s Gate 3.
One of the most popular is a hand crossbow build that dual wields hand crossbows to get a lot of attacks with them.
Every build starts with class and race choices. Thanks to Baldur’s Gate allowing you to choose your racial stat bonuses, the choice of race is largely aesthetic here, so pick your favorite. Our starting class is going to be Ranger. For the attribute point buy, the most important thing is to make sure you start with 17 in dexterity (the maximum you can have at character creation). After that, constitution is a good choice (more hit points is never a bad thing), as well as wisdom (as a ranger, your spellcasting is based off of wisdom).
For starting spells, Hunter’s Mark is decent (although it becomes less useful later because we ideally want to be using our bonus action for off-hand crossbow shots). Ensnaring Strike and Longstrider are both great options here, and if you don’t plan to have a cleric in your party, Cure Wounds is there if you need it.
Once we get in game, we’re looking for light armor since we’re a dexterity build. The main thing to do is try and find a pair of hand crossbows so we can start dual wielding them as soon as possible. There are a few vendors in the early part of Act 1 that might have them in inventory, namely the tiefling smith Dammon in the Emerald Grove. They don’t always show up right away though, so you’ll want to keep checking. His inventory should refresh after each long rest. It’s worth checking the other vendors too.
Dual wielding hand crossbows will allow you to make an attack with your off-hand crossobw as a bonus action whenever you attack with your main hand, and this is the core mechanic that makes this build work.
Now let’s cover the subsequent levels. Level 2 will be Ranger 2. At this level we get to choose a fighting style, and we’ll choose the Archery fighting style which gives us a +2 bonus to hit with ranged weapon attacks, making our shots even more accurate.
At level 3 we take Ranger 3 and this gives us our subclass. For that we’ll be taking Gloom Stalker. Gloom Stalker gives us a number of powerful abilities, including a free extra attack that does extra damage that can only be used in the first round of combat, as well as some other useful tricks (like the ability to turn invisible if we’re obscured).
At level 4, we’ll take Ranger 4. This is a big spike in power, because at Ranger 4 we get to choose a feat. There are a number of good ones available, but for this particular build we’re going to take Sharpshooter. Sharpshooter gives us the option to take a -5 penalty to our ranged attack rolls but inflict +10 damage if we hit. This effect can be toggled on and off at will, so there may be times where you want to toggle it off if the enemy you’re trying to shoot has a particularly high armor class. This is one of the reasons we chose the Archery fighting style at level 2, since the +2 bonus goes a long way towards offsetting the Sharpshooter penalty.
Level 5 will be our last level in Ranger. This is another big power spike because it gives us our Extra Attack class feature. This means when we take the attack action, we can make an additional attack.
At level 6 we’re going to multiclass into Rogue. This gives us sneak attack dice that will be added to our damage as long as certain conditions are met (namely either that we’re hidden or we have another ally that is engaged in melee with the target we’re shooting). At level 7 we get Rogue 2, which gives us a number of useful tricks including the ability to dash, disengage, and hide as a bonus action instead of as an action.
At level 8, we take Rogue 3, and we get to choose our Rogue subclass. There are two strong options here, but for this particular build, we’re going to take Thief. Thief gives us a number of things but the one we’re interested in is an ability called Fast Hands. Fast Hands gives us an additional bonus action. This means that we can now take two bonus action off-hand crossbow shots every turn. At this point we get to make 4 attacks every turn, with another attack on top of that in the first round of combat. It also gives us another sneak attack die (so we’re up to 2d6 sneak attack dice now).
From here, we have a number of options for the last four levels. More Rogue levels means more sneak attack dice, which adds nicely to our damage. We can also get another feat if we take just one more Rogue level, at which point you can take Crossbow Expert (if you feel like you get stuck in melee a lot) or just increase your dexterity.
Another popular option is to take at least two levels of Fighter in order to get Action Surge, which essentially will let you take an extra action once per short rest. Very useful if you find yourself really needing to lay down the burst damage in the opening round on a tough battle.
The core functionality of the build comes from Ranger 5/Rogue 3, though, so after that, feel free to try different things to see what you like.