Duelist in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a peculiar fighting style. If wielding a one-handed weapon in one hand and keeping the other empty or simply equipping a non-weapon e.g., a shield, you gain a +2 damage bonus with your main weapon. Only 4 classes are capable of this style, and for this guide, we will be focusing on a Paladin Duelist build in BG3.
The idea is to make use of the extra attack feature, and Divine Smite’s solid damage capability to capitalize on various debuffs the paladin can incur for sustainable DPS.
Starting abilities and skills for Duelist
Race: Dwarf, and for subrace, Shield Dwarf.
This is because the racial perks for this race are spectacular. Dwarven Resilience for poison resistance, CON +2 for increased HP and overall sustain, Darkvision to avoid impairment in the dark, and various weapon proficiencies, primarily Light Hammer proficiency which lends itself well to the duelist build going forward.
Add on the +2 STR bonus from the Shield Dwarf subrace bonus with the increased Racial Speed, and you have a solid base for your build already.
Ability Point Distribution: STR 17, DEX 14, CON 16(+1), INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 8(+2). Rest is default.
Strength, Constitution and Charisma are your main stats. While Strength is your main DPS stat and Constitution helps with your HP and concentration, Charisma is important in that not only does it impact your saving throws, but a key paladin DPS skill i.e., Divine Strike also scales with STR and CHA while some spells scale with CHA. Keeping both high will have a considerable positive impact on your DPS capabilities.
Skills: Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion.
Background: Soldier for Athletics and Intimidation proficiency.
Best Feats for Duelist Paladin build in BG3
Heavy Armor Master at Level 4: Grants you a +1 to STR while also granting proficiency in Heavy Armors.
Defensive Duelist at Level 8: Use your reaction when attacked to add a proficiency bonus to your armor class and potentially avoid the attack.
Ability Improvement (STR) at Level 12: In order to hit the level 20 STR mark by endgame as it benefits your main damage.
Oath progression perks for BG3 Duelist
Level 1 Actions: Inquisitor’s Might (Bonus Action), Oath of Vengeance Tenets
Level 3 Actions: Abjure Enemy which frightens foes and prevents their movement. Vow of Enmity which grants you an Attack Roll advantage.
Spells: Hunter’s Mark which bolsters your single target damage against a marked foe. Bane debuffs a maximum of 3 enemies with a debilitating condition putting a penalty on their attack rolls and saving throws.
Level 5 Spells: Misty Step for terrain traversal and positioning. Hold Person for crowd control and increasing critical hit rate against the targeted foe.
Level 7: Relentless Avenger Subclass feature which
Level 9 Spells: Protection from Energy to boost resistance to a specific element. Haste which you can cast to receive the hastened buff, boosting your movement speed, AC, but most importantly, granting 1 extra turn.
Best Spells for Duelist build
Level 1 Spells: Bane, Hunter’s Mark, Shield of Faith, Wrathful Smite
Level 2 Spells: Aid, Branding Smite, Hold Person
Level 3 Spells: Crusader’s Mantle, Haste
Best armor and weapons
Helm: Helm of Balduran: Stun nullification, healing per turn and +1 to armor class and saving throws are very great boons.
Back: Vivacious Cloak: Since you have many melee range spells at your disposal, the HP boost can come in handy.
Armor: Helldusk Armour: This armor grants you a flat 3 damage reduction from all damage sources while also making you resistant to fire damage and immune to the burning effect. Beyond an innate counter for succeeding a saving throw which triggers burning on the enemy attacker, you also gain access to the spell Fly, for better positioning and flanking the enemy.
Hands: Gloves of Belligerent Skies: Synergizes with your radiant damage output to apply reverberation on foes.
Amulet: Amulet of Bhaal: Proc bleeding if attacking a full health foe. Given your movement capabilities, this synergizes well.
Melee weapon: The Blood of Lathander: A great mace with the sunbeam spell tacked on, dealing damage and blinding foes. Lathander’s Light is a nice benefit too, acting as a light source to overcome impaired vision during darkness.
For early game, Adamantine Longsword is a solid stand-in.
Off hand: Shield of Devotion: The Aid spell for Duelist build in BG3 is good for team sustain while the Shield Bash ability is also useful to knock enemies prone.
Rings: Killer’s Sweetheart (For killing bonus per mob) and Shifting Corpus Ring (for Blur spell).
Baldur’s Gate 3 Duelist build level progression
Level 1: You unlock the ‘Lay on Hands’ Action. Beyond that you also unlock the Divine Sense Bonus Action, Channel Oath Charges Class Feature and you get to pick a Paladin Oath. For this, pick the Oath of Vengeance build for some of the specific domain perks down the line.
Level 2: Unlock the ‘Divine Smite’ action to boost your DPS, as well as a choice in Fighting style, so pick ‘Dueling’ here for Duelist build in BG3. You also unlock 2 level 1 spell slots.
Level 3: You unlock the ‘Divine Health’ Class Feature. You also unlock one more level 1 spell slot.
Level 4: You unlock the ‘Lay on Hands Charge’ Class feature. You also unlock 1 ‘Feat’, mentioned prior.
Level 5: You unlock the ‘Extra Attack’ Class Feature. You also unlock 2 level 2 spell slots for your Duelist build in BG3.
Level 6: You unlock the ‘Aura of Protection’ Class Feature.
Level 7: You unlock 1 extra level 2 spell slot.
Level 8: You unlock 1 ‘Feat’, explained before.
Level 9: You unlock 2 level 3 spell slots.
Level 10: You unlock Aura of Courage; another Lay on Hands charge as well.
Level 11: You unlock ‘Improved Divine Smite’ to bolster your damage, as well as 1 extra level 3 spell slot.
Level 12: You unlock 1 ‘Feat’, explained earlier.