Karlach is one of the most popular Baldur’s Gate 3 characters and she’s both a powerful ally in battle and a romance option if players get enough approval with her.
Of the possible candidates in the award-winning Baldur’s Gate 3, romancing Karlach shows the player just how much joie de vevre someone can have despite a rocky past. The internet has imprinted on her and her backstory strongly, loving the barbarian’s goodheartedness and general positivity. Karlach is no stranger to pain and suffering but is much happier seeing the good in everyone. There is also added allure to being with Karlach as she was previously living in Faerun’s version of hell, so she is constantly delighted at even the smallest pleasures of daily life.
Since barbarians are often thought to be tough and simplistic, having a romanceable companion that goes against this stereotype is a welcome departure. Be warned though, that this article contains some spoilers up to act two for Karlach’s personal quest line and romance arc.
How to raise approval and avoid disapproval with Karlach
Karlach’s approval will be raised by acts of kindness, defending the weak, and showing mercy when the opportunity presents itself.
Despite her intimidating appearance and violent streak, Karlach is a big softy. Generally, she appreciates acts of goodwill and sticking up for the little guy, while disapproving of senseless cruelty. Karlach prefers the player character to be an honorable fighter as well, accepting if the enemy surrenders and giving them a chance to repent. Helping fix Karlach’s infernal engine in “The Hellion’s Heart” quest nets a major jump in approval.
She has very little patience for devils due to her experience as Zariel’s attack dog for 10 years in Avernus. Understandably, this means Karlach wants nothing to do with devils and will strongly disapprove of doing anything for the cast of devil NPCs in Baldur’s Gate 3. Karlach does approve of the player character siding with the other tiefling NPCs in the game, as she understands the distrust many have for her and her kin.
Traveling with Karlach, Wyll, and Gale in the party will net the most approval for all three characters as they all value heroic, honorable deeds. If having strong relationships with all characters is a goal, this allows the player to avoid trading approval from Karlach for disapproval with Astarion or Lae’zel.
When doing a good or neutral aligned run in Baldur’s Gate 3, it will be easy to accrue approval with Karlach just by making decisions. This becomes more of a problem when doing an evil run. Karlach greatly disapproves of siding with the goblins in destroying the Emerald Grove, which will cause her to leave the party permanently and nix any possible romance.
How to start a romance with Karlach in Baldur’s Gate 3
Romance with Karlach can begin after gaining enough approval and having Dammon fix her Infernal Engine.
It isn’t difficult to enter a relationship with Karlach, but there are a few steps before players can put the moves on the loveable tiefling. First, understandably, she must not be killed by either Wyll or the Paladins of Tyr. Defending Karlach will gain approval from everyone as well, so wait to recruit Wyll until Karlach is already on the team for an easy boost in approval.
Once her safety from the Zariel-sent paladins is secure, Karlach’s personal quest “Our Fiery Friend” will start. She will discuss with the player character that she was given an infernal engine in place of a heart while in Avernus and whenever she feels any strong emotion, she gets hot enough to burn anyone close by. If asked, she discusses how much she craves physical touch and how desperate she is to have her engine fixed.
To continue her quest, head to Emerald Grove before saving or destroying it and talk with the tiefling Dammon. While living in the hells, he learned how to use infernal ingredients in smithing and is willing to help Karlach once he’s brought some Infernal Iron. The first upgrade doesn’t cool her down enough for touch, but does increase her power and allows the engine to continue working in Faerun without fear of it suddenly burning out.
Dammon tells Karlach he will continue to look into a fix for her temperature control and to bring him Infernal Iron in Baldur’s Gate. Karlach’s romance begins when she wakes the player up at their bedroll during a long rest to chat about how excited she is about being out of the hells. If it doesn’t happen immediately, don’t fret. There might be other cutscenes getting priority during a long rest. If that’s the case, then taking more long rests will most likely coax out the cutscene with Karlach.
In order to continue Karlach’s romance, it’s important to show her you are receptive. She will decline requests for a kiss, as she doesn’t want to turn any lips into charcoal. The player character can then offer to find a way to temporarily cool Karlach down. Karlach is extremely receptive to the offer and waits to hear the suggestion. Using a source of ice or water on Karlach will have her initiate a kiss, which ends with a small burst of flame when lips meet.
Upset, Karlach bemoans that she still is unable to be physical, but remains excited for the possibility once her engine has been upgraded. If the player has been with other NPCs during the flirting stage Karlach will say that she’s ok with the player having their fun for the time being.
Where to find Dammon in act two
Once in act two, Dammon can be found in Last Light Inn where he will tell Karlach he has good news and bad news for her. He reveals he found a way to upgrade her heart so she can touch people again, but also that her heart will one day burn up if she doesn’t return to Avernus. After being given another piece of Infernal Iron he will give Karlach another upgrade which will cool her down for good.
If the player has successfully advanced their romance with Karlach, she will suggest that she’s excited to spend a night sharing a bed. If she instead expresses excitement for being able to touch anyone and may find someone to kiss at the inn, the player has missed their chance.
Talk with Karlach at camp after her upgrade and she will ask if she can visit the player once everyone else is asleep. Agree, and once long rest has been started she will come to you, initiating the first intimate scene with Karlach.
If Karlach does not receive her Infernal Engine upgrade before entering act three, she will consider the player uninterested in a relationship and any chance of romance will end. This means it’s very important to keep Dammon alive and find him again in the Last Light Inn if Karlach is the target of the player’s desire.
Can you be in a polyamorous relationship with Karlach?
Karlach is open to a polyamorous relationship in the early game, but is unwilling after her Infernal Engine is fixed.
With the sheer number of romanceable characters in Baldur’s Gate 3, it seems almost a waste to only be in a relationship with one per run. While some characters are open to the idea of being in a non-monogamous agreement, Karlach is not one of them.
In act one, Karlach will give the player character a “pass” to continue being physical with other NPCs while she is still unable to be touched. This is said with the expectation that once she can be physical with the player herself, other relationships will need to end.
Some characters are open to being physically intimate without a true relationship such as Lae’zel or Astarion. Once Karlach gets her upgrade, the player is forced into telling any other NPCs that they were becoming romantic with that they have chosen Karlach and no longer desire a relationship with the other person.
Without mods, the only romanceable NPCs that are open to polyamory are Astarion and Shawdowheart, and only with Halsin being brought in as a third. Otherwise, the player will have to choose who to woo and who to dump.