Halsin Build – Baldur’s Gate 3

Halsin, the man-bear (no pig) Druid, is likely single-handedly responsible for millions of Baldur’s Gate 3 sales thanks to some shrewd viral marketing from Larian. As one of our potential companions, he’s positioned as a Circle of the Moon Druid – a natural shapeshifter and a strong supportive spellcaster.

In the current iteration of pen and paper D&D, Circle of the Moon Druids are downright busted at lower levels. But because we get to recruit Halsin to our party well into the mid-game, and due to some Larian-specific adjustments to the class, he won’t be able to carry us through the early levels. And since by that point our party should already be coming together, our Halsin build will focus on some neat Druid-exclusive supporting spells he has, and on his Wild Shape feature.

To start things off, here are our general guidelines for companion builds:

  • The build should be relatively straight-forward so as not to upstage the star of the show – your PC. As such, companion builds won’t be utilizing any permanent bonuses, like the Auntie Ethel boon, and will generally be sticking to more conventional gear.
  • The build will respect the developers’ vision for the character and won’t stray too far from their basic kit. So, if Wyll is known as The Blade of Frontiers, then we’ll make sure he’ll actually be using a blade.
  • The build won’t be using respecs to change the companions’ starting skills and abilities. Them not being optimized is the point.
  • The build won’t be taking advantage of any known bugs regardless of how likely they are to be fixed in the near future.
  • The build will utilize multiclassing sparingly and only if it makes sense or really helps tie the build together.
  • The build should be effective enough to feel useful on any difficulty.

Here’s a quick summary of our Halsin build:

If you haven’t used them yet, you might not realize just how good spells that create Difficult Terrain are. Few enemies are resistant to them. And due to their AI, a lot of the time, they’ll just try to dash through these nasty surfaces very slowly. This gives you plenty of time to thin out their ranks with spells and ranged attacks.

Druids, regardless of their Circle, are the best at covering the battlefield with Difficult Terrain. Essentially, your main challenge when playing with a Druid will be making sure your own allies don’t get bogged down by all the surfaces. You’ll also have to carefully manage your one Concentration slot.

For Circle of the Moon Druids, there’s a greater challenge in maintain their Concentration while staying in their Wild Shape. These generally come with a nice HP pool but low AC. Because of that, the conventional wisdom for Moon Druids is to grab War Caster and Resilient as two of their Feats. But then, Tavern Brawler is a must-have too, because without the extra Attack Bonus it provides, you won’t be able to hit anything after a certain point.

That Feat selection just doesn’t work for a companion Druid with a less than optimized stat spread. But, with some adjustments, and if you use just the right spells, you’ll be able to do everything a Druid should do without going all in on Concentration. And whenever you do use a Concentration spell, you’ll do it as a humanoid Druid with a nice Constitution score, decent AC, and the main effect of the War Caster Feat covered by your gear.

Depending on how you tackle the second Act of Baldur’s Gate 3, you’ll recruit Halsin at or around level 8. He’ll still join your party as a level 1 Druid who you will then need to level up several times in a row. When he just joins you, here’s what you’ll be getting:

  • Race/SubraceWood Elf
  • Starting ClassDruid
  • Abilities
    • 10 Strength
    • 14 Dexterity
    • 14 Constitution
    • 8 Intelligence
    • 17 Wisdom
    • 12 Charisma
  • BackgroundOutlander
  • Skill Proficiencies
    • Animal Handling
    • Athletics
    • Nature
    • Perception
    • Stealth
    • Survival
  • Starting Cantrips
  • Starting Spells
    • All Level 1 Druid spells

This section will highlight all the things we’ll be picking when raising Halsin’s level.

As mentioned earlier, we won’t be going out of our way to turn Halsin into a Concentration machine. Instead, we’ll make him into a great melee warrior when he uses Wild Shape, and a great Druid spellcaster when he doesn’t. Here are the Feats that will make that happen, and keep in mind that by the time you recruit him, you’ll already be able to grab the first two:

  • Tavern Brawler
    • At level 4, we’ll grab Tavern Brawler and put 1 point into Constitution for later. This Feat should be fantastic for his Wild Shapes – it should add the beast shapes’ Strength bonus to their attack and damage rolls. They are unarmed, after all. However, as of live Patch #4, the Feat is bugged and only adds the Strength bonus to attack rolls, not damage. This is unfortunate, but we still get the Feat because without it, after a certain point, we won’t be able to hit anything.
  • Ability Improvement
    • At level 8, we’ll put a point into Constitution and a point into Wisdom, raising them to 16 and 18 respectively.
  • Ability Improvement/Alert/Resilient/Elemental Adept (Lightning)
    • When we hit level 12, we’ll have a number of great options for Halsin. But our default go-to is putting extra 2 points into Wisdom here.

Hitting 20 Wisdom will make some of Halsin’s spells harder to avoid. It will also make him into a better warrior when outside of a Wild Shape thanks to the Shillelagh cantrip.

While certainly nice, it’s not exactly build-defining. As such, you can instead grab Alert – the extra Initiative it provides will work great on Halsin. This will allow him to cover the battlefield in Difficult Terrain before your enemies get a chance to move.

Grabbing Resilient for Constitution can also work out great, as it will add Halsin’s Proficiency bonus to his Concentration rolls.

Call Lightning is a great offensive spell for any Druid. You only need to cast it once, and then you can keep using it for 10 more turns for free. Making this spell do more damage and ignore resistances can definitely be worth a Feat.

Halsin starts out with two cantrips – Shillelagh and Thorn Whip. As he levels up, he’ll get access to two more. Because he’s our companion, we’ll want him to provide as much utility to the party as possible. So, we’ll be grabbing:

Guidance will let you add a 1d4 to your Skill Checks and Resistance will do the same for your Saving Throws. Both of these can be used during conversations whenever you have to roll some dice. This means you’ll always want to have at least one party member with access to these two cantrips.

Halsin will get access to the full list of Druid spells. Moreover, since you encounter him around level 8, he’ll already have access to 4th level spells. He’ll then unlock 5th level spells once he hits level 9, and 6th level spells at 11.

Because we’ll be focusing on spells that will allow our Halsin to become a great hybrid shapeshifting/spellcasting Druid, below we’ll list some spells for each spell level you definitely shouldn’t overlook. His other spells can still definitely be useful.

Also keep in mind that Enhance Leap, Longstrider, and Speak with Animals are Ritual spells. This means you can cast them outside combat without expending any of your spell slots. This is especially great for Longstrider, as you can cast it once per Long Rest on each party member and get completely free movement speed.

Because you recruit Halsin later in the game, by the time you get him, some of his earlier Wild Shapes, including his special bear form, won’t be that relevant.

Throughout the game, his main shape will be the owlbear. Since it has the most Strength out of all the shapes, it has the best synergy with Tavern Brawler. The Enrage ability gives it even more Strength and scares enemies whenever you use it. It can also use Rupture – an ability that deals area damage and knocks its targets back – a great substitute for not being able to use the Shove action when shapeshifted. And Crushing Flight allows you to easily reposition and even knock enemies Prone upon arrival.

The high-level Circle of the Moon-exclusive Myrmidon shapes are a bit of a trap. Not only do they use two Wild Shape charges instead of one, three of them come equipped with a weapon. And since Halsin doesn’t have proficiency with two of those weapons, the Air and Water Myrmidons will have a dreadful chance to hit. The Fire one can be a decent damage dealer, but won’t necessarily be better than your trusty owlbear. The Earth one can be quite interesting, however. Its unarmed attacks can benefit from Tavern Brawler, while its high baseline AC and the ability to further raise it by 2 can make it into a decent tank for your team.

As a Druid who’s going to be extensively utilizing Wild Shape, Halsin doesn’t really need that much gear. Most of it stops working the moment he shapeshifts. There are some items that do work for shapeshifted Druids, but you generally find them so late in the game that it doesn’t make much sense to create a build around them.

Because of that, most of the gear listed below will be aimed at making Halsin a better Druid spellcaster. And as that won’t be his primary job, the gear will be fairly generic and won’t utilize any complex mechanics, like stacking Lightning Charges.

  • Main Weapon – Staff of Interruption
    • Whenever he needs to hit something without shapeshifting, our Halsin will be using a Shillelagh-infused quarterstaff. With its +2 Enchantment bonus, Staff of Interruption is already great for that. But it will also let him cast Counterspell once per Long Rest – a great tool to turn a tough fight around. You get it for completing the Help the Hag Survivors quest in Act 3.
  • Weapon Option – Mourning Frost
    • A +1 quarterstaff that deals extra cold damage (which is added to the Shillelagh bonuses) and makes your Ice Storm slightly better. You get it by combining the pieces found on the three dead drow connected to the Adamantine Forge quest in the Underdark.
  • Shield – Iron-Banded Shield +1
    • Just a simple 3 AC shield. The extra armor it provides is nice for Halsin whenever his Wild Shape drops mid-battle. You can find it in Moonrise Towers around where Lann Tarv, the bugbear merchant, is.
  • Handwear – Gloves of Belligerent Skies
    • Found inside the Inquisitor’s Chamber in Crèche Y’llek, these gloves apply stacks of Reverberation (a penalty to subsequent Strength, Dexterity and Constitution Saving Throws) to your targets whenever you deal thunder, lightning, or radiant damage. Since Halsin will frequently be dealing thunder and lightning damage thanks to Thunderwave and Call Lightning, these are a good option for him.
  • Armour – Armour of Moonbasking
    • One of the rare items designed for shapeshifters. It gives you some temporary health and damage resistance whenever you use Wild Shape. It also raises the AC of your shapes by +2. You can get it from Voiceless Penitent Bareki in the Undercity Ruins in Act 3.
  • Armour Option – Armour of Landfall/Dark Justiciar Half-Plate
    • To make your Druid life easier and gain Advantage on Constitution Saving Throws, you can instead get Armour of Landfall from Sorcerous Sundries in Act 3. Better yet, if no one else is using it, the Rare version of the Dark Justiciar Half-Plate does the same but also grants way more AC, allowing you to become a decent tank. You can find it in the Gauntlet of Shar near where the Spear of Night is.
  • Headwear – Steelwatcher Helmet
    • If you’re going to be using Armour of Moonbasking, you’ll want to get that Constitution Saving Throw Advantage from somewhere. This helmet gives it to you. Grab it when you’re inside the Steel Watcher Foundry in Act 3.
  • Headwear Option – Shapeshifter Hat
    • If you’re good on Saving Throws, this hat will give you an extra charge of Wild Shape per Long Rest. Get it from Helsik at the Devil’s Fee after you unlock her special stock.
  • Footwear – Boots of Genial Striding
    • Since you’ll be creating a lot of Difficult Terrain, it’s nice to be immune to it whenever your Conjure Woodland Being Dryad is indisposed. Boots of Genial Striding, sold by Blurg in the Myconid Colony in the Underdark, provide just that.
  • Amulet – Periapt of Wound Closure
    • Dropping out of Wild Shape in the middle of a fight surrounded by enemies might not be the best thing for a spellcaster. But should this occur, and you take too much damage, this amulet will help you quickly deal with your injuries. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t work for the Lunar Mends you use while Wild Shaped. You can get it from Lady Esther in the Rosymorn Monastery Trail area.
  • Ring – Shapeshifter’s Boon Ring
    • This ring will give you a 1d4 bonus to all your skill checks while you’re shapeshifted. You can get it in Act 2 when you discover the true nature of the Strange Ox at the Last Light Inn.
  • Ring – Ring of Elemental Infusion
    • This ring won’t do too much, but occasionally, after you cast a damaging spell, it will allow your next melee attack to deal some bonus damage. You can loot it from Gish Umr’a’ac inside Crèche Y’llek.

As a Circle of the Moon Druid, Halsin is still a Druid first, a bear (owl or otherwise) second. Whenever a fight begins, his job will be to cover the ground with harmful surfaces that will bog your enemies down. The Plant Growth spell is absolutely fantastic here, as not only does it not require Concentration, it also quarters the movement speed of those inside instead of halving it.

Conjure Woodland Being is another staple. With no Concentration, this summoning spell will last you a whole Long Rest. And it will give you two summons for the price of one. A Dryad that can cast Entangle and Spike Growth (using her own Concentration for that), has a super-charged Shillelagh spell and an aura that makes your team immune to Difficult Terrain. She also can summon a Wood Woad – a very sturdy tank with an entangling attack of its own. To have a single spell do so much is almost broken.

You’ll also have access to some Ritual spells that will cost nothing and make your party better. And some decent healing spells, allowing you to perform a substitute Cleric role.

Your main damaging spells will be Thunderwave (small AoE and a chance to push enemies off ledges), Call Lightning (cast it once, use it ten times), and Ice Storm (huge AoE and leaves behind Difficult Terrain where enemies can slip and fall).

When everything is set up, you’ll be able to shapeshift into an owlbear, enrage and go to town with up to three attacks per action, great baseline damage, and a nice chance to hit thanks to Tavern Brawler. And since your main Concentration spells will be Call Lightning that you won’t be able to use when shapeshifted anyway, and Wall of Thorns that you won’t want to go anywhere near, you won’t have to worry about losing any important Concentration spells whenever you’re doing your bear thing.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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