Nothing is as complicated as love, it seems, and deciding which of Baldur’s Gate 3’s flamboyant cast of characters you want to hit on–each with their own idiosyncratic charm—can be a bit of a minefield.
While I constantly doubted Astarion’s intentions and couldn’t get a handle on Shadowheart’s aloofness, things were pretty clear when it came to Karlach, however: the Barbarian Tiefling with a heart that literally burns for you from the get-go.
In a world of surreptitious motives and divisive language, Karlach’s declarations of wishing to “ride you ’til you see stars” are as refreshing as they are amusing.
Nevertheless, romancing her isn’t a total cakewalk. A lot happens in her story, and there are plenty of occurrences to drive a wedge between the two of you. In this guide, I’m going to ensure you don’t get your fingers burned.
Note: There will be plenty of spoilers ahead for Karlach’s story, so be warned! If you’re after a shorter, spoiler-free overview of Karlach and the rest of the romantic characters in Baldur’s Gate 3, check out our general romance guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re in a rush, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell.
- Karlach can be found in the Risen Road area on the river bank.
- There are three romance scenes to experience in total, one for each Act.
- She’s a relatively straightforward character to romance in that she responds well to the majority of morally good choices.
- Aside from her personality preferences, the main factor in progressing a relationship with her is completing her personal quest, Our Fiery Friend.
- Both the first and second romance scenes follow having completed upgrades to her Infernal Engine; each upgrade requires a piece of Infernal Iron, which is fashioned appropriately by blacksmith Dammon during Act 1 and Act 2.
- Act 3 is more relaxed, having you and Karlach engage in four separate small scenarios listed in the Act 3 section of this guide. From there, you’ll go on a date while back at camp and experience the final romance scene.
Kalach’s Likes and Dislikes
As is the case with romancing anyone in Baldur’s Gate 3, your success is going to hinge on how much you cause their Approval Rating to rise by performing certain actions, saying certain things, and reacting in specific ways. If Karlach’s in your party, she’ll be taking notes on your every move.
- Being outwardly flirtatious: Having gained a few approvals, Karlach will always be up for a flirtatious chat; don’t shy away from expressing your interest when the time arises — she won’t reject you.
- Helping the weak and vulnerable: Karlach has a soft spot for the underdog. Don’t hesitate to help those in need and showcase your kindness and compassion.
- Violent solutions: While acts of cruelty or mercilessness will be a turn-off for Karlach, she does appreciate the all-guns-blazing approach in situations that warrant it. As long as you are not hurting someone unnecessarily, fighting your way through problems will be a big hit.
- Bigotry towards Tieflings: There’s a lot of bigotry and racism in the Forgotten Realms, and much of it is directed at the Drow and Tiefling groups. Some vitriolic dialogue options will have you engaging in this sort of behavior, and naturally, this will go down very badly with Karlach.
- Malevolent behavior: Showing other vulnerable creatures ill will, taking for yourself at the expense of others, and showcasing a generally cruel personality type will push Karlach away very quickly.
- Cowardice: Karlach is a fierce warrior, after all, so running away from situations or trying to weasel out of things will usually prove somewhat repellent to her.
Important Tips Before You Start
Before we get into the main guide, here are a few tips to remember and traps to avoid as you embark on your quest for Karlach’s flaming heart.
Don’t save the Druids’ Grove before you recruit Karlach
One important choice when trying to romance Karlach is to make sure you don’t save the Druids’ Grove in Act One and then try to recruit or romance her; this quest is a great way to level her up and gain approval from her by helping the refugees, and once the celebration party is over following that quest, you won’t be able to gain help from Dammon to fix her Infernal Engine until way later in the game.
Make sure to recruit Wyll
Wyll is the reason you come across Karlach in the first place, so for optimal dialogue, make sure you have him in your party when you find her: the interaction between the two of them provides you your first chance for an Approval Up.
He can be found at the center of the Emerald Grove sword-fighting with a child, and after a short dialogue, you’ll have the option of bringing him along with you.
Don’t Kill the Strange Ox at Emerald Grove
At Emerald Grove, you’ll likely come across an animal labeled Strange Ox. Passing the right checks reveals that the ox is heading for Baldurs Gate, but beyond that, his significance is anyone’s guess at the time.
Many players have been tempted to kill the cow to see if someone happens, but for the sake of your love life, you must refrain from this: currently, there seems to be a bug where Dammon doesn’t appear during Act 2 if you kill Strange Ox. You’ll also meet the ox again later for a quest, so leave him be.
First impressions are everything, so if you want to woo Karlach, you better make sure you go in ready when you first meet her. Things are a little different than they were in early access, too, so you won’t be able to rely on all the prior knowledge you gained playing the game pre-release.
It’s also important to know that much of your relationship with Karlach is only possible following the two upgrades to her Infernal Engine, in which you need to locate two pieces of Infernal Iron and give them to a Tiefling named Dammon to make the necessary upgrades. Thankfully, you fulfill a large chink of this task in Act 1, so let’s take a look!
You’re given your first tip-off about Karlach’s location through your initial dialogue with Wyll. He’ll explain that he’s hunting a devil, which turns out to be Karlach.
You’ll be given a new marker on your map for an unexplored location off to the left of the Grove called Risen Road. I was a bit confused about how to get here at first, but I found the route by heading towards the Blighted Village. Before leaving for this area, speak to the merchant near the entrance of Emerald Grove to buy some Thieves Tools, as you’ll need them later.
After leaving the Grove through the main entrance, head right towards the Blighted Village. Before you reach the entrance to the ransacked town, venture off into the foliage to the right to reach a stream.
At the point indicated in the image below, you’re able to use the Jump action to hop over to the other side. After crossing the stream, you’ll then be met with confirmation that you’re in the Risen Road area.
Continue right along the edge of the stream, and you’ll quickly locate Karlach crouching on the other side. Pass over the log bridge that leads to her to trigger a cutscene.
When you first meet her, Karlach appears to be having some sort of fiery breakdown, and if you have Wyll in your party, he’ll immediately recognize her as the ‘Devil’ he seeks. It’s not long before you and Wyll come to realize that Karalch isn’t a devil at all, but a Tiefling—the race you’ll recognize as those having trouble back at Emerald Grove.
Having listened to her explanation of how she’d been forced to fight for the real Devils against her will, agree to help her get rid of the immediate threat hunting her (a group you’ll find just up ahead at the nearby Toll House). This conversation represents your first Approval Up from Karalach, and a seminal moment so far as her realization that you align with her values.
The fight beyond will be a grueling task for you at this point in the game, however, so now that you’ve recruited her, I recommend you tackle the Save the Refugees quest line first to gain some experience.
But First, a Quick Detour
You’ll likely have started the Save the Refugees quest already by now having explored Emerald Grove at the beginning of the game, and you can simply hop back across the river the way you came and snake your way up to the Blighted Town to begin.
Before you head straight through the town to the Goblin camp, though, head north at the Waypoint for the town to the large house indicated below.
Inside, you’ll find a large hole in the floor covered with a spider web. Use destructive magic on the web to gain access [I used a fireball], and then jump down to explore the basement. You’ll immediately see a ladder and, having climbed it, a locked chest. Use Thieves Tools on the chest to pick the lock, and you’ll find your first piece of Infernal Iron.
Dealing with the Goblins
You can now head into the Goblin camp by proceeding linearly through the town. To impress Karlach, you’ll need to side with the Tieflings and exterminate the goblins.
Defeating the goblins is the first real fight new players will experience, and it’s a great way to level up. Locate Halsin within the Worg Pens of the main building, and he’ll come and fight beside you; you’ll then be tasked with defeating the three leaders–True Soul Gut, Dror Ragzlin, and Minthara–after which Emerald Grove will no longer be under threat.
Naturally, saving the refugees will earn you big brownie points. Karlach isn’t particularly complicated in that you can always be assured she’ll be wooed by acts of kindness to the downtrodden, so you can never go wrong in lending a helping hand to those in need.
Once you’ve defeated each leader, use the key you looted from Dror Ragzlin’s body and head into the locked room up on the second floor of the room you fought him in. Loot the chests within to find a second piece of Infernal Iron.
After you’ve taken down the last of the three leaders, you’re told to return to Emerald Grove. Don’t go there quite yet, though. Now that you’ve gained some combat experience, this is a good time to fight Karlach’s enemies back at Risen Road.
Taking out the pseudo-Paladins
Having slain all those Goblins, you should have leveled up enough to deal with Karlach’s pursuers. Head into the Toll House up on the hill and enter through the front door: you’ll automatically enter a conversation with Anders, the leader of the so-called Paladins.
He’ll swear they’re not the Zarial pawns Karlach says they are, but you can easily see through him. For an Approval Up rating with Karlach, roll for the DETECT THOUGHTS option to expose him. This leads directly to the fight.
Having finished the fight, Karlach will go into a rage and start smashing the place up. Once she’s calmed down, speak with her and she’ll explain to you the problems with her Infernal Engine (her heart) and ask you to help her fix it.
To get the necessary upgrades, you’ll need to seek out another Tiefling named Dammon. Dammon is back a Emerald Grove and is one of the refugees — you’ll find him down at the blacksmith station indicated below.
Once you get to the Grove, you’ll shortly be accosted by Zevlor, who expresses thanks for your assistance with the Goblins. He’ll also propose a party to celebrate back at camp, but I don’t agree to do this yet. Make sure you talk to Dammon first, because after the party, the Tieflings leave the grove for good and Karlach’s quest won’t be accessible for some time later.
Hand Dammon one of the two pieces of Infernal Iron you found for him to perform the first upgrade, earning you a nice approval bonus. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem possible to give both pieces of iron at once, even though you have them in your possession by this point. You’ll need to wait until you meet Dammon again during Act 2.
Note: There are other pieces of Infernal Iron to find throughout the game, but Karlach only needs two of them for her story progression. If you find more, you can head back to Dammon to have him craft special ‘Flawed Helldusk‘ armor for you.
Your First Kiss
With Karlach’s first Infernal Engine upgrade complete, head back to camp for a Long Rest. She’ll approach you in the middle of the night, and after a brief conversation, you can attempt a kiss.
Unfortunately, she’s still far too hot to handle, but you can remedy the problem by physically cooling her off. The easiest way is to simply throw a bottle of water on her or fire off some ice magic — anything will get the job done, after which you can simply progress the dialogue until you reach that all-important cutscene.
Next morning, head to Emerald Grove to invite the Tiefling refugees back to camp for that party Zevlor mentioned, after which they’ll be on their way to Baldur’s Gate.
Act 2’s Karlach content will have you progressing further with her personal quest to repair her Infernal Engine, which involves traveling to meet Dammon again.
You can locate him and the rest of the Tiefling refugees at a pub called the Last Light Inn during Act 2. Getting here requires you to traverse the treacherous Shadow-Cursed Lands — an area the main story will take you through anyway, and where Act 2 starts properly. You have two separate routes to reach this area: via the Underdark or the Mountain Pass.
I’d argue the Underdark route via the Grymforge is the more lucrative option, and it leads you nicely to the Last Light Inn.
Out of the four options that get you to the Underdark, pick the Defiled Temple route that passes through the Goblin camp’s main building; at the end, you’ll reach the Grymforge and be able to progress through to the Shadow-Cursed Lands.
Having reached the surface following your time in the Grymforge, you’ll have the option of a few different routes: take the one on the right for a straight route to the Last Light Inn (and be prepared for a few tough fights along the way).
Having arrived at the inn, first speak to Karlach and exhaust her dialogue. You then need to head over to the illuminated outdoor forge where you’ll find Dammon. Here, you can follow the same repair process as before, except this time Karlach’s not being able to touch anyone will be cured for good — a very good thing for the two of you.
It’s plain sailing from here: head back to camp to chat with Karalch, and you’ll find she’s eager to jump you as soon as she can. Follow the romantic dialogue options, and the two of you will agree to meet up after everyone else goes to bed to fulfill the deed.
With the most pressing problem with her Infernal Engine fixed for the time being, Act 3 will have you and Karlach go through some more relaxed relationship tests.
There are four of these instances that occur organically as you progress through the main plot and navigate the Baldur’s Gate area, and they usually involve simply picking the obvious dialogue options to strengthen your relationship further.
You shouldn’t need much help on how to progress through these scenarios, but here’s each romance-related occurrence so that you don’t accidentally skip them:
- The Circus of the Last Days: You’ll find the circus to the west of Rivington; meet an NPC called Zethino at the center for a special test.
- Meet Fitz at the forge in Lower City’s Baldur’s Gate: Let Karlach and Fitz speak to each other and don’t interrupt.
- Visit Karlach’s parent’s graves: The graveyard is located in North Baldur’s Gate.
- Meet Gortash with Karlach at your party: Head to Wryms Rock Fortress and choose morally good options during the conversation with Gortash.
Completing these individual elements, along with one other unrelated quest of your choosing after doing so (this can be any quest so long as it’s not something evil), will lead to you and Karlach going on a date once you speak to her back at camp.
So, that’s all you need to know to get a smoking-hot Tiefling girlfriend. Be sure to also check out RPG Informer’s other Bladur’s Gate 3 content, like our House of Greif guide or the Legendary Items guide. Also, make sure to stay tuned to the News section to stay up-to-date with the latest on Baldur’s Gate 3.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: If I romance Karlach, can I also romance other characters at the same time?
Answer: Halsin seems to be the only character who approves of a polyamorous relationship. From my experience, you’ll be able to test the waters with other characters only up until you start fixing her Infernal Engine.
After this point, you’ll find that she’ll break things off because she doesn’t want to share you. This happened when I simultaneously tried to progress things with her and Shadowheart, as neither character was having it.
Question: During Dialogue, do I Always Have to Pick Options that Align with Karlach’s Likes?
Answer: Approval ratings work on a spectrum, meaning that you don’t have to max out a character’s approval to romance them. Getting the occasional disapproval from her won’t totally ruin things, but you don’t want to make a habit of it. Playing the morally good character should ensure you don’t upset her.
Question: Do I Have to be a Certain Gender for Karlach to go for my Character?
Answer: Nope. As is the case with all romantic characters in Baldur’s Gate 3, you’ll be able to romance Karlach no matter what gender you are.