A poll on the Baldur's Gate 3 subreddit—orchestrated by user Fable_Nova—gathered over 5,000 votes in under a week, with Paladin hitting the top of the charts. This was followed immediately by three other Charisma-based classes: Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock.
"In terms of Class Paladin was the most popular (16.49%), followed by Bard (14.59%), Sorcerer (11.5%) then Warlock (9.39%). People want to play Charisma characters clearly," wrote Fable_Nova.
This is hardly surprising: in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition—the tabletop system Baldur's Gate 3 is built upon—Charisma governs every skill that deals with talking to people. Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion all fall under this umbrella. The four cool kids of this poll all use Charisma as their spellcasting stat, making them a natural fit for the role of party leader and face.
So why Paladin? Well, it's just a really good class. Even in the tabletop version of 5th edition, there are features that make it a stand-out choice:
- Divine Smite: Paladins can dump a huge amount of radiant damage into their enemies by burning spell slots (a character's reservoir of magic) after hitting with a melee weapon. They can even do this right after a critical hit, doubling all of the damage dice from a high-level smite. At level 12 this can layer on about '8d8' (eight eight-sided dice) onto whatever your weapon's already doing, for an average of 36 extra damage. Ouch.
- Armour and weapon proficiencies: Paladins can use all weapons, armours and shields, just like fighters can. Granted, you won't see a Paladin with a bow thanks to how divine smite works, but this still lets you roll up a Dexterity-based paladin if you'd rather smite with finesse.
- A splash of support: Paladins get access to the Lay on Hands ability, a pool of healing that can also be used to cure diseases or poisons.
- Aura of Protection: The jewel in the crown of Paladin's mid-to-late game toolkit, Aura of Protection lets you slap your Charisma bonus onto every single one of your saving throws—dice rolls you make to dodge fireballs, resist magical effects, shrug off poisons, and more. Oh, and your whole party benefits from it, as long as you're conscious and within 10 feet of them. No big deal.
Fable_Nova also mentioned that the Paladin's Oath of Vengeance subclass—a Batman-style antihero that can mark enemies for holy justice—was by far the most popular, with "more votes than all the other oaths combined". The most popular subclass in the poll overall was the Bard's College of Swords, however, even if Paladins received more votes as a class. People just really like spellblades, I guess.
Granted, while it's a substantial poll, 5,000 players doesn't quite represent the entirety of the game's playerbase. At the time of writing, Baldur's Gate 3 has over three times that playing the early access on Steam. Still, as a long-time player of 5th edition myself, the Paladin getting a gold medal isn't at all shocking. It's a fun, tanky class where you get to hit beasties with a sword so hard they explode into radiant-seared giblets. What's not to love?
I myself will probably rock into Baldur's Gate 3 with a half-elf paladin/rogue split. Or maybe a barbarian with a splash of champion fighter? Oh—but warlocks look pretty fun, though I could always run with an abjuration wizard. Fraser seemed to like the look of the Circle of Spores druid, maybe I'll give that a try. Then there's that druid-barbarian hybrid I've heard so much about, and—shit. I might be here for a while.