Shadowheart Build – Baldur’s Gate 3


Someone at Larian must really hate Shadowheart. Otherwise, there’s no way to explain her ability scores, which make her ill-suited to being even a half-decent melee or ranged attacker. Not to mention her haircut. And then her one good offensive Cantrip – Fire Bolt – uses Intelligence for its Attack Rolls. Since Shadowheart starts with a grand total of 10 Intelligence, this makes it pretty much useless for her.

With her Trickery Domain, you would expect her to be directed towards some sort of Cleric/Rogue hybrid. This class combo would theoretically allow her to both support and heal the party with her Cleric spells, and also deal with traps and locked doors during exploration. But with her 13 starting Dexterity and no Proficiency with any of the Rogue skills, that’s not viable either.

In fact, if you want to see what a real Cleric can do, you might just want to check out our Light Domain Cleric build and respec Shadowheart accordingly. But if you’re someone who likes to stick to the developers’ vision for companions, this build will help you make the most out of a bad situation and turn your Shadowheart into a decent tank who will make your entire party sturdier and more accurate.

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 what will make our Shadowheart tick:

No matter how poorly rolled, a Cleric is still a very strong class in Dungeons & Dragons. Divine spells are just that strong. The annoying thing about them in the 5th Edition is that many require Concentration. And since you can only concentrate on a single spell at a time, this limits our options.

With how good Bless and Spirit Guardians are, picking one over the other is pretty much an impossible choice. Luckily, with some specific gear, we won’t have to choose. For any serious fight, our Shadowheart will be concentrating on Spirit Guardians to deal massive damage to all enemies around her. This way she won’t have to attack her foes – just being near them will be enough. Because Spirit Guardians is a Concentration spell, we’ll be getting some Feats and items that make it very hard for Shadowheart to lose Concentration.

And thanks to Hellrider’s Pride and The Whispering Promise, a pair of gloves and a ring respectively, whenever she heals her allies they’ll get the benefits of both Bless and Blade Ward for 2 turns. Thanks to spells like Mass Healing Word that cost a Bonus Action – forget about Concentration – our Shadowheart won’t even be spending an Action to Bless her party.

Since Spirit Guardians will require Shadowheart to be near her enemies, we’ll equip her with a shield and some nice armour. This is also where we’ll get some use out of her suboptimal Trickery Domain. The Mirror Image spell it provides will let our Shadowheart avoid hits with the best of them.

If you’re up for a laugh and a ‘what were they thinking?’ exclamation, this is what you can expect from Shadowheart when you recruit her as a level 1 Cleric:

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

With that mess of a stat spread, Shadowheart will need every ability score we can squeeze out of the game. But since she’ll be using a lot of Concentration spells, we’ll also need to make sure she’s not breaking Concentration after every hit she takes. And that means boosting her Constitution Saving Throws. Luckily, we can sort out Constitution Saving Throw Advantage with a piece of gear – thanks to that we won’t need to take War Caster. We’ll still need to give her Proficiency with those Saving Throws, as she doesn’t get it as a Cleric.

This leads us to the following Feat choices:

  • Ability Improvement
    • When Shadowheart reaches level 4, we’ll raise her Dexterity by 1 to maximize the effectiveness of medium armour on her, and her Wisdom by 1 to make most of her offensive spells harder to avoid.
  • Resilient
    • At level 8, we’ll be picking up Resilient to put 1 point into Constitution (for a total of 15) to become Proficient at those Saving Throws.
  • Ability Improvement
    • Finally, upon hitting level 12, we’ll put 1 point into Strength to help Shadowheart with her melee attacks, and 1 point into Constitution for a round 16.

As you can see, with how messy Shadowheart’s stats are, we won’t even reach 20 in her primary spellcasting attribute. And even come endgame, her Strength bonus to Attack and Damage rolls won’t go past +2. What were they thinking, indeed.

As a Cleric, Shadowheart will get access to the full list of Cleric spells, plus two Domain spells for the first 5 of the game’s 6 spell levels. She’ll start the game with access to 1st level spells, unlock the 2nd level upon hitting character level 3, the 3rd at level 5, 4th at level 7, 5th at level 9, and 6th at level 11.

Because in Baldur’s Gate 3 you don’t need to rest to memorize new spells and can instead freely swap them in and out outside of combat, this section will merely list Shadowheart’s Domain spells along with some of her most universally useful Cleric spells. Just do remember that all her other spells have their own situational uses.

Despite her shortcomings, Shadowheart will become a decent supporting tank for our party. And because of how the game’s second Act is set up, she’ll help trivialize most of its challenges simply by existing. To achieve these goals, here’s the gear our Shadowheart will need:

  • Weapon – The Blood of Lathander
    • You get this legendary +3 mace near the end of Act 1 when you complete the Find the Blood of Lathander quest in Crèche Y’llek. As it is a mace, it’s not the best fighting weapon, but its +3 enchantment will help offset Shadowheart’s poor Attack Bonus. The light it emits will not only illuminate your surroundings, it will blind fiends and undead enemies that get close to Shadowheart. With how often you’ll be fighting Shades and other assorted undead in Act 2, this mace almost feels like cheating.
  • Shield – Ketheric’s Shield/Viconia’s Walking Fortress
    • Ketheric’s Shield you get after defeating Ketheric Thorm in Act 2 will make Shadowheart’s spells harder to resist. And since you’ll be using her anyway, once you complete her personal quest in Act 3, you’ll get a chance to loot the legendary Viconia’s Walking Fortress.
  • Handwear – Hellrider’s Pride
    • A pair of gloves you get from Zevlor in Act 1. Whenever you heal an ally, these will put a Blade Ward on them for 2 turns. This otherwise self-cast Cantrip makes its targets resistant (taking only half damage) to physical damage.
  • Armour – Dark Justiciar Half-Plate
    • There are two versions of this armour in the game, a Rare and a Very Rare one. Which one you get depends on how you approach the Nightsong quest in Act 2. To get the better version, you’ll need to kill Nightsong. If you don’t want to do that, you can find the Rare version around where you find the Spear of Night in the Gauntlet of Shar. Either way, this is the armor you want for Shadowheart, as it provides Advantage on her Constitution Saving Throws.
  • Headwear – Dark Justiciar Helm/Helmet of Arcane Acuity/Wapira’s Crown
    • Dark Justiciar Helm – There are some good helmet options for Shadowheart, and this is one. Found inside Grymforge, it gives you a +1 bonus to your Constitution Saving Throws.
    • Helmet of Arcane Acuity – Stashed away in a secret area of the Mason’s Guild basement in Act 2, this helmet will give you bonuses to your spell attack rolls and spell DC whenever you hit a target with a melee weapon. And while Shadowheart won’t be very good at it, she’ll be trying to hit enemies with her mace quite often.
    • Wapira’s Crown – After completing Zevlor’s Save the Refugees quest in Act 1, you’ll recieve this item, a helmet that will heal Shadowheart whenever she heals a party member. Since our heals will come with a Bless and a Blade Ward, this helmet is a good way to get a two for the price of one deal on those two buffs.
  • Cloak – Vivacious Cloak
    • Found inside the Grand Mausoleum in Act 2, this cloak will give Shadowheart 8 temporary Hit Points whenever she casts a spell in melee range. A nice little boost to her survivability.
  • Footwear – Boots of Striding/Evasive Shoes
    • Boots of Striding are great for Shadowheart. Whenever she casts a Concentration spell, they’ll give her a movement speed boost. And whenever she’s concentrating, enemies won’t be able to push her or knock her down. To get these, you’ll have to kill Minthara when dealing with the Goblin Camp in Act 1. Since she’s a potential companion, you might not want to do that.
    • In that case, the Evasive Shoes you can get from Mattis when you reach the Last Light Inn in Act 2 will provide a nice AC bonus.
  • Amulet – Amulet of Restoration/Amulet of the Devout
    • With how useful our heals will be to the party, even without taking into account the actual healing, it’s nice to have some healing options that don’t require expending spell slots. That’s why we’ll be using Amulet of Restoration on Shadowheart for most of the game. Get it from Derryth Bonecloak in the Myconid Colony in the Underdark.
    • Once you’re in Act 3 and get a chance to burglarize the Stormshore Tabernacle, Amulet of the Devout will be your late-game option that makes Shadowheart’s spells much harder to resist.
  • Ring – The Whispering Promise
    • Sold by Volo or Grat the Trader in the Goblin Camp in Act 1, this ring is the source of our free Bless, and as such a crucial part of the build.
  • Ring – Band of the Mystic Scoundrel
    • Found in the Jungle you briefly visit after hitting jackpot on Akabi’s wheel in Act 3, this ring lets us cast an Illusion or Enchantment spell as a Bonus Action after landing a melee attack. Since many of Shadowheart’s Domain spells, most notably Mirror Image, come from these schools, it’s a great option for her.

The idea behind this build is quite simple. We boost our Shadowheart’s Constitution Saving Throw as much as we can, upcast an instance of Spirit Guardians, and send her into the fray. This will deal a lot of damage to your enemies. And when those enemies are fiends or undead, thanks to Shadowheart’s mace, they’ll also get Blinded.

As a full Cleric she’ll get plenty of heals and supporting spells. And with our gear setup, whenever she heals an ally, they’ll become stronger and more resilient. Just keep in mind that some of your healing spells are cast as Bonus Actions. This means you can buff your entire team with Mass Healing Word and do something else on your turn. A Cleric’s summoning spells like Spiritual Weapon and Planar Ally are also quite strong.

In general, be aware of which of your spells require Concentration and which cost Bonus Actions, as this can feel a bit arbitrary at first. Sanctuary, a level 1 spell, completely prevents your ally from taking damage, and it just takes a Bonus Action and doesn’t need Concentration. Similarly, Mirror Image, a strong defensive option for Shadowheart, doesn’t require Concentration. The same goes for Warding Bond, which can help you make an ally much sturdier.

Conversely, some of the spells you won’t necessarily think require Concentration, do. And when you use them, they’ll break whatever you’re currently concentrating on. A lot of Shadowheart’s Domain spells that help control the battlefield, like Fear and Dominate Person, are like that. So keep that in mind when using them.

While Spirit Guardians will be the bread and butter of this build, don’t just mindlessly use it in every fight. Consider who you’re facing and what the party needs at the moment, then use your precious Concentration slot accordingly. Something like Shield of Faith can help her tank a strong foe. And a well-placed Silence can shut down enemy spellcasters and outright win you a fight.

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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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