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Karlach, full name Karlach Cliffgate, is an Origin character and a recruitable companion with the Outlander background. She is a Zariel tiefling and a Barbarian first appearing during Act 1.

Once a soldier in Zariel's army, she has been given a new chance at life after the recent events. Now, freed from Avernus, she will make the most out of it, and no one will get in her way. She can be found and recruited on The Risen Road during Act 1, and romanced by characters of any gender.

In multiplayer sessions, if Karlach is chosen as an origin by a player, Wyll will be locked as an option to any other players.

Avernus was never my home. It was my prison. I'm free now. AND I'M NEVER GOING BACK.
— Karlach, confronting servants of Zariel.

Overview[edit | edit source]

For a full overview of Karlach's starting features, see the articles Barbarian and Zariel tiefling.

Background[edit | edit source]

Trapped in Avernus under Zariel's banner due to the machinations of those she trusted the most, Karlach has been fighting in the Blood War for a decade, away from all that she loved. With the incursion of the nautiloid to the Nine Hells, fate would smile on her and give her a way out, only to turn on her just as quickly. Now, free at last, though with an unwelcome guest in her head, she must protect her hard-won liberty with her life as she seeks revenge on those who betrayed many years ago. With a malfunctioning engine for a heart, and a burning desire to live, will she be able to save herself, or will the Hells catch up with her sooner or later?

Starting class[edit | edit source]

Karlach starts as a Barbarian, with a focus on two-handed weapons. Upon reaching level 3, she will default to the Wildheart subclass, granting her access to a variety of animal-themed class features and actions.

Special features[edit | edit source]

  • Karlach can use Soul Coins to power up her mechanical heart, giving her the passive Infernal Fury, granting her additional 1d4Damage TypesFire damage on her attacks when raging or when her hit points drop below 25%
  • Karlach's mechanical heart can be upgraded twice while progressing the story:

Personal quest[edit | edit source]

Karlachs's personal quest is Our Fiery Friend, spanning all acts of the game. Throughout it, Karlach's past will attempt to catch up to her as she is just beginning to enjoy her freedom.

One more sub-quest ties into her personal quest: The Hellion's Heart. In it, Karlach and the party must deal with her mechanical heart and the problems it causes her. Furthermore, Hunt the Devil will have her hunted by Zariel's agents, and Wyll's companion quest, The Blade of Frontiers, also features her as an important character.

An origin Karlach replaces Our Fiery Friend and The Hellion's Heart with Servant of None and Forging a Heart, respectively.

Recruitment[edit | edit source]

Karlach will refuse to join the party if they have sided with the goblins and laid waste to the Emerald Grove before meeting her. She will also abandon the party if they decide to side with goblins while having her recruited.

Act One[edit | edit source]

  • Karlach can be found on The Risen Road, on a road near the Toll House, precisely at X: 111 Y: 503. Cornered by Zariel's bloodhounds, she can be found nursing her wounds after the recent encounter. The party can talk to her and recruit her, provided they agree to help her get rid of the pursuers. Returning to Anders and his team with Karlach in the party will ultimately result in battle.
    • If Wyll is brought along for the first meeting with Karlach, the two will confront each other. Wyll reveals that Karlach is the quarry he's been hunting for his patron, while Karlach claims to be a victim, not an agent of Zariel. Either of the parties can be sided with, though siding with Wyll results in battle with Karlach. The situation can also be defused by convincing Wyll that Karlach's words are true, as backed by the vision everyone shares during the dialogue thanks to their tadpoles.

Approval[edit | edit source]

Main article: Karlach/approval
Karlach Approves

Karlach has a very strong sense of right and wrong. She enjoys helping innocent people with their troubles and not expecting anything in return, something she finds in common with Wyll after their rocky first meeting. She approves of kind interactions with those in need, standing up for what's right, and being decisive with enemies. Setting her up for some fun, such as carousing or making some mayhem, also earns her approval, and being a compassionate friend to her, or a kind partner, is the easiest way of earning her trust and love.

Karlach disapproves of indiscriminate violence, being insensitive to the plights of others and dismissive of her own when she attempts to get closer. Dealing favourably with villains doesn't sit well with her, and siding with Gortash, even if strategically sound, earns her disdain. Minimising her problems, especially that of her malfunctioning mechanical heart, is a sure way of earning her contempt.

Romance[edit | edit source]

Main article: Karlach/romance

Karlach can be romanced by characters of any gender. When romanced, Karlach's inability to touch her partner, and the pain of being physically isolated from everyone for so long, are issues that would have to be explored and overcome together.

Description[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Karlach is tall and well-built, her muscle-bound body toned after many years battling in the first layer of the Hells. Her vermilion skin is covered in scars and burns received in Avernus, with tattoos adorning her left arm and parts of her abdomen. Small exhaust vents on her shoulders billow steam whenever her ersatz mechanical heart flares up, clearly visible under her chest.

Despite her intimidating presence, Karlach has a soft and amiable face, with an easy smile on her lips. Her pointed ears stick out and her left horn curves backwards and out, while the right one seems to have been broken off some time ago. She keeps her hair, dark-brown with reddish accents, long and messy with some simple braids adorned by metal discs, falling on the right side of her neck, below the trimmed side of her head. Her eyes are dark yellow, with the distinctive tiefling slit pupils, and light moles and freckles mark her nose and upper cheeks.[note 1]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Karlach is an extremely passionate individual who strives to live life to the fullest. She tends to speak excitedly regarding any of life's simple pleasures, whether that be food, drinks, friends, or intimacy. Her demeanor is generally joyous and very forward, having no fear of loudly proclaiming her love of being alive and how much she cares for those close to her. Her positive disposition and infectious energy seem to allow her to make friends easily, even if her honesty can cause her to come off as somewhat naive at times.[note 2] Karlach is also very protective of her friends and companions, taking a genuine interest in them, especially with Wyll should he have been transformed into a devil after defending her.

Though oft friendly, Karlach is a very physical person and is not above getting into a brawl if provoked. She can be impulsive and easy to goad, and will lose sense and reason when confronting people she despises. Years in Avernus have made her lonely, compounded by the fact that her mechanical heart kept her from having physical contact with others, let alone intimacy. When talking about Gortash, beneath her outward rage, lies deep pain and a sense of betrayal, making her wary of trusting others as she once did. Despite the moral differences, she gets along well with Astarion due to them both wanting to live their life outside the shadow of their abusers.

History[edit | edit source]

Life in Baldur's Gate[edit | edit source]

Born to Pluck and Caerlack Cliffgate,[1] Karlach was raised in Baldur's Gate in a modest, but happy household in the Outer City.[2] Young and restless, Karlach would often work odd jobs as a means to support her parents, often getting into trouble in the meanwhile. Even as a child, she was joyous and full of life and, despite the hardships, she loved her life in the city, surrounded by family and friends.

At some point, Karlach got hired by Enver Gortash to act as his bodyguard. Rising quickly through the criminal and political circles of the city, Gortash was beginning to paint a target on his back, and Karlach seemed like the ideal person to protect him. Lured initially by the money and a chance to support her parents financially,[3] Karlach eventually developed deep respect for Gortash, not only because he trusted her enough to put his life in her hands, but because he also made her feel valued.[4][5] The pair worked well together for a while, until Gortash made a deal with the Archdevil Zariel, and sold Karlach to her for a grand sum of money in order to fund his plans for domination of the city. Zariel's interest in the tiefling was to test her new infernal machine,[6] and Gortash was confident Karlach could handle it, that she would serve as a great prototype for his dreamed infernal automatons.[7]

Avernus and the Blood War[edit | edit source]

Betrayed and sold to the devil, Karlach was taken to Avernus and quickly worked on. Happening faster than she could process it, Zariel ordered her heart to be replaced by an infernal machine, aimed to test the limits of machine and soldier. The archdevil quickly put Karlach and her new mechanical heart to work, conscripting her into her army to fight in the Blood War. Trapped and without any other choices at hand, Karlach would fight for ten years in the war, surviving day by day fueled by both vengeance and a desire to live free. She would prove to be an exceptional soldier, slaying great demons and becoming one of Zariel's prized fighters.[8] Both prisoner and champion of the archdevil, throughout it all she was alone, surrounded by devils and demons who offered no comfort, away from home and everybody she held dear.

Escape aboard the nautiloid[edit | edit source]

After ten years in the Hells, the sudden appearance of a nautiloid presented itself as a chance for escape, and Karlach made good on the opportunity. Cleaving the devils around her, she made her way towards the hurtling ship before running into Wyll, brought to Avernus to hunt her.[note 3] The two battled briefly, Wyll giving chase as Karlach desperately reached for the ship, until they made it to the nautiloid before being separated during the siege. Captured by the mind flayers as the ship escaped Avernus, Karlach was tadpoled just as all other uninvited guests, and awaited a slow transformation via ceremorphosis.

Involvement[edit | edit source]

Our Fiery Friend[edit | edit source]

Karlach Icon.png
See main article: Our Fiery Friend

Our Fiery Friend is Karlach's personal quest. It is added to the journal upon recruiting her and spans all three acts of the game.

Act One[edit | edit source]

After the crash of the nautiloid, Karlach can be found at the The Risen Road, near the Toll House occupied by paladins of Tyr. If Wyll was recruited to the party, his quest, The Blade of Frontiers, will add a map marker that pinpoints Karlach's location, otherwise the party will have a vague idea of where to find her. Anders, leader of the paladins, reveals they are hunting a dangerous devil who has been hurting refugees, and that they must bring it to justice.

When found, Karlach explains that she too was on the nautiloid and was infected with a tadpole, but that she's not the monster she seems, and that her current priority is to get rid of the paladins hounding her and spreading lies. At odds with what the paladins, or Wyll, told the party about her, the group can press her further. Karlach explains that she escaped Avernus and the archdevil Zariel, and that the paladins in the toll house are nothing more than bloodhounds sent to bring her back to the Hells. If Wyll was brought along, he confirms she's indeed his target and attempts to convince the party to aid him in slaying her. Karlach pleads that she's no agent of Zariel but rather her victim, and that she took the first opportunity she had to escape Avernus and return home. The tadpoles infecting the group will react to this, prompting Karlach to share her memories of recents events, seemingly confirming her story. Regardless, the party can decide to side with Wyll, and indirectly with the paladins, and kill Karlach claiming her head, or take her for her word and agree to spare her. Though initially intent on killing her, Wyll can be convinced to spare her after the visions were shared, and he will direct his anger at his patron for deceiving him.

Karlach offers to join the party, and taking her to the paladins leads to a confrontation where Anders eventually drops the act and confirms Karlach's words as true: the paladins are servants of Zariel, and the archdevil wants her favorite attack dog back. After slaying them, a frenzied Karlach rages around the toll house, setting it ablaze. When talking to her after she cools off, she confesses that she has an infernal engine for a heart that allows her to burn as hot as the Hells, though it's been running overdrive since leaving Avernus. She wants to find someone who has experience with infernal machines, and that she heard one of the paladins let slip that one is in the area. This begins The Hellion's Heart.

This infernal mechanic turns out to be Dammon, a tiefling from Elturel that learned his trade when the city was taken to Avernus by Zariel and was forced to work on infernal engines for her army. Dammon explains that in order to stabilize her heart, the party needs to find some infernal iron for him as it's the only material able to withstand the heat of the mechanical heart. When delivered, Dammon upgrades Karlach's heart, stabilizing it while still providing a boost to her abilities. He warns, however, that the solution is not perfect, and that he needs more time to research and prepare a more permanent repair. Should they cross paths again, he promises to have a solution by then.

Act Two[edit | edit source]

Should Dammon have survived the events of Act 1, he will be found at Last Light Inn in the Shadow-Cursed Lands, aiding the Harpers in their stand against Moonrise Towers. Karlach can speak to him, and he explains that after further tinkering, he can give her heart another upgrade if the party has some more infernal iron to spare. Dammon will tweak Karlach's heart for a second time, adding an insulation chamber to cool it to the point that she can touch others once more, something poignant for Karlach who hasn't been able to achieve physical contact with others for the last ten years. He also bears unfortunate news: her heart can't keep going outside of the Hells. Too hot to exist in the material plane, the heart will burn her from the inside and consume her if she doesn't return to Avernus soon. Karlach dismisses the idea of ever returning to the Hells, content to celebrate her newfound ability to touch others for now.[note 4]

When the party finally confronts Ketheric Thorm, the battle eventually takes them down to the hidden Mind Flayer Colony beneath Moonrise. There, they spy Thorm consorting with Enver Gortash and Orin the Red, with the latter two leaving for Baldur's Gate to continue with their plans. After dealing with Ketheric, Karlach confesses that she has history with Gortash, letting out that it was due to him that she was sent to the Hells and had her heart replaced with a mechanical heart. Hell-bent on revenge, Karlach urges the group to hurry to Baldur's Gate and chase after her previous employer.

Act Three[edit | edit source]

After reaching the Wyrm's Rock Fortress outside Baldur's Gate, the party will be notified of Gortash's grand ascension as Archduke of the city taking place soon. When approached, Gortash will briefly interrupt the ceremony in order to parlay with the party, and greets Karlach nonchalantly. Karlach immediately wants to get back at him, and if not stopped, will be seized by Steel Watchers and thrown into the dungeon. If convinced to stay cool, the party can listen to Gortash's proposition to an alliance. Karlach will be against it, but can be persuaded to check her hatred for the good of the city.

If the partnership with Gortash is mantained up until the first encounter with the Netherbrain, he will be killed as the party attempts to control the brain. Karlach will let out a celebratory laugh and mock his ignominious end, but the threat of the Elder Brain forces her to focus once more.

Should the party antagonize Gortash, ally with Orin instead or simply wish to help Karlach get revenge, it will have to face the Archduke and his minions. When confronted with Karlach, Gortash will coldly dismiss any of her grievances with him further incensing Karlach, until the quakes caused by the Netherbrain's attempt at freeing itself force Gortash to attack the party for their netherstones in order to subdue it. After the battle, Karlach will come down from the excitement and be visibly upset. Though she finally managed to kill the person who betrayed her and caused her so much pain, she doesn't feel any better: Gortash isn't any more sorry dead than he was alive, and her mechanical heart was still set to combust at any time. Her impending doom and difficulty in coping with a feeling of senselessness will drive her to rage at the circumstances, and she will leave for camp.

Back at camp, some time alone allows Karlach to better come to grips with her situation, and though still very desperate, she's positive and decides to focus on the present and the time she has available instead, poised to save the city she loves.

After the initial confrontation with the Elder Brain, it is made clear that the only path to success is to harness the true power of the netherstones, which only an illithid can do. Though it's possible for the Emperor to do so, the player or Orpheus can sacrifice themselves and undergo ceremorphosis to become illithid instead. If Karlach is present during the discussion, she will volunteer, arguing that she is on borrowed time either way, and that this way her death would have meaning. If agreed, she transforms into a mind flayer and aids the party in the final battle against the Netherbrain.

Endings[edit | edit source]

A Blazing End[edit | edit source]

After defeating the Netherbrain, Karlach's infernal engine will finally begin to overheat, signaling her end. With the setting sun on the background, Karlach thanks the player for being there with her, and mourns not being able to join them in the celebrations and further adventures. If her wishes not to return to Avernus are respected, they can stay with her until the engine finally combusts, leaving nothing but ashes where she once stood.

Return to Avernus[edit | edit source]

When Karlach's heart begins to enter its final stages after defeating the Netherbrain, players can attempt to convince Karlach to return to Avernus before it's too late. Though initially against it, she can be persuaded if the player offers to go with her, so that she may not be alone again. Likewise, if Wyll has completed his personal quest and became the Blade of Avernus, he too will offer to go Avernus with her.

Back on the first plane of the Hells, Karlach and company prepare themselves to face the servants of Zariel. No longer alone, Karlach welcomes the challenge and readies her weapon in preparation of advancing imps.

During Withers' gathering six months after the events of the game, Karlach mentions she and Wyll recently felled a high ranking cambion who carried blueprints for what could be a possible solution to Karlach's mechanical heart. Though the forge they intend to raid is likely well-guarded by Zariel's forces, she has an old contact, a guard named Flo, that might be able to help them. Regardless, she expresses joy at being able to see her companions once more, happy to receive the opportunity of a night's rest without the danger of being ambushed by devils. She also comments how after spending months together in the Hells, she and Wyll have grown closer.[9][note 5]

Life as a Mind Flayer[edit | edit source]

If Karlach sacrificed herself and became illithid in order to defeat the Netherbrain, she will remain at Baldur's Gate, hidden and feeding from the dying patients of a local healer who wish to die with dignity instead of suffering. When spoken to at Withers' gathering, she explains that she still remembers parts of her, even using some of the expressions she once used in her tiefling form, but with every brain she feeds, she gains all the memories from it, slowly erasing her original identity. Still, she expresses gratitude and happiness at seeing many of her former companions, and bids the player a good evening.

Quest rewards[edit | edit source]

Karlach does not receive any particular items as reward for completing her quests.

Interactions[edit | edit source]

Companion interactions[edit | edit source]

Karlach has unique dialogue interactions as a companion available after certain events. Whenever one is available, she will have a floating [ ! ] icon above her.

Act One[edit | edit source]

  • After killing Anders and his group, Karlach will rage inside the Toll House. When she cools off, she'll tell the group about her mechanical heart and how she needs to find an infernal mechanic.

Act Two[edit | edit source]

  • After upgrading Karlach's heart for the second time, she will express her joy and share her plans to celebrate.

Act Three[edit | edit source]

  • After finally killing Enver Gortash, Karlach will be overwhelmed by emotion and rages at Gortash's complete apathy until the very end, and the imminent loss of her own life and freedom.

Unique interactions[edit | edit source]

Either as an origin, or in the party as a companion, Karlach has unique interactions and special dialogue with the following characters, listed by the act they are first encountered in.

Act One[edit | edit source]

Act Two[edit | edit source]

Act Three[edit | edit source]

Loot[edit | edit source]

Karlach can be killed and looted, and drops the same loot as her starting equipment.

Starting equipment[edit | edit source]

Achievements[edit | edit source]

A-Hot Date.jpg

Hot Date
Go on a date with Karlach - now that's playing with fire.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Related literature[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Throughout development Karlach had multiple design changes. In Early Access she only had a placeholder model created with the same assets as a custom character, with two horns and no scars and was a Fighter (with a datamined tag of a Paladin). Concept art shows different proposals for her face, initially planning to give her more scars and more aggressive features. She also had a few different starter armour designs with one repurposed to become Unwanted Masterwork Scalemail. Her other concept armour can be seen on her Magic: The Gathering Card.
  2. Interactions with those who knew her prior to the events of the game's story imply that she has always been this exuberant, even as a poor child growing up in Baldur's Gate.
  3. It's never made clear when exactly Wyll arrives to Avernus or who really sent him. Though shortly before the events of the Prologue, Wyll couldn't have been hunting Karlach for long, as the time the nautiloid spent there before teleporting away is brief and Karlach's escape was an opportunistic decision. It's possible Zariel sent Wyll after Karlach via Mizora, but as Karlach herself says, she's largely inconsequential in Zariel's grand design. On the other hand, it's possible Mizora took the opportunity to remove Karlach as they both were in Zariel's inner circle and Mizora likely saw her as a rival.
  4. In the end, despite having access to Dammon, a surplus of infernal metal, Gortash's schematics and the help of the Gondian and/or Ironhand gnomes, there's currently no way of permanently fixing Karlach's mechanical heart.
  5. Karlach's quote about Wyll isn't elaborated further, and can be interpreted as platonic or romantic love.
  • Karlach was originally voiced by Shala Nyx in Early Access but was replaced once she became an origin and companion in the main game release.
  • Can be spoken to with Speak with Dead Speak with Dead.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Graveyard, Lower City, lines spoken by the narrator when inspecting her parents' graves.
    "Here lies Pluck Cliffgate - beloved husband and father."
    "Here lies Caerlack Cliffgate - beloved wife and mother."
  2. Campsite, line spoken by Karlach when recently recruited and asked about her past.
    "The year? Ten ere. The place? A sleepy little town called Baldur's Gate. Our hero? Karlach, a knock-kneed delinquent from the Outer City with everything to give and nothing to lose."
  3. Campsite, lines spoken by Karlach when talking to her after she's disclosed her relationship with Gortash.
    "One of my mates got wind of a bit of work guarding some indoorsy type with lots of enemies. Seemed like easy money, so I went in for it. (...) I kept him safe, and he paid me well. Well enough to move my folks to a better neighborhood and put something away for the future. My future."
  4. Campsite, lines spoken by Karlach when talking to her after she's disclosed her relationship with Gortash.
    "I respected him. Trusted him. And he returned that trust, that respect. His life was in my hands, and I took that seriously."
  5. Wyrm's Rock Fortress, lines spoken by Karlach when confronting Gortash after antagonizing him.
    "You make it sound like we were lovers. Or friends. But that wasn't it. I trusted you. I respected you. It was my job to protect you, and that's what I did."
  6. Campsite, lines spoken by Karlach when talking to her after she's disclosed her relationship with Gortash.
    "Zariel laughed. Said she paid him well for my services. She'd wanted to test her new machine, and he said I'd be able to handle it."
  7. Wyrm's Crossing, dialogue exchange between a Steel Watcher and Karlach.
    Steel Watcher: "Your unit is a highly outdated model. The ra-gnax casement protecting your metallurgised-ised valves is burning well outside the recommended temperature. Please report to the Steel Watch Foundry for dismantling."
    Player: "It thinks you're one of them, Karlach. Why?"
    Karlach: "(...) If it turns out I'm the fucking prototype for these things, I'll dismantle every single one of them.
  8. The Risen Road, lines spoken by Karlach when initially encountered and spared.
    "You already know I fought in the Blood War. I was good. Really good. Turns out I've got a knack for killing demons. That made me a valuable asset. Zariel - the archdevil herself - made me as her personal attack dog."
  9. Epilogue, lines spoken by Karlach during Withers' gathering when both she and Wyll ended up in Avernus by the end of the game.
    "Wish Wyll and I had more time to reminisce, but surviving Avernus is just non-stop. Still, having him there has been incredible. You really can get through anything with someone you love at your side."

External links[edit | edit source]

Karlach on the Forgotten Realms Wiki