Guide Fallen Light - An Eagleheart Barbarian Build
“If thou beest she; But O how fall'n! how chang'd From her, who in the happy Realms of Light Cloth'd with transcendent brightness didst out-shine Myriads though bright.
From what highth fall'n, so much the stronger prov'd She with her lightning: and till then who knew The force of those dire arms? yet not for those, Nor what the potent victor in her rage can else inflict on her foes.”
A new patch deserves a new build! Honestly, I’ve been testing out several new builds for the Barbarian, but this is the first one that just clicked. This build uses the new Eagleheart subclass in combination with a curated set out of items to rain lightning down from on high! And if there isn’t somewhere high to reign from, we can make our own throne.
If this is the first build of mine you are reading, I always write a unique character with a connection to the original Baldur’s Gate series, or Forgotten Realms lore in general, to fit all of my builds. Each character has their own themes and open questions that I leave for you to decide on your own runs. If you are interested in the build I hope you will check out the character as well!
Typically, what gets me interested in a build is a set of interesting mechanical interactions which might be hard for most players to notice. This build isn’t quite like that. Its central mechanics are less hidden, but do involve several new class features and items so for many players I am sure the combinations will be new.
Long time followers of my work will know how valuable lightning and frost damage are in BG3, thanks to Larian’s interpretation of the spell Create/Destroy Water. The wet condition from Create Water inflicts vulnerability to these two damage types and vulnerability, it turns out, is a very potent debuff. Last patch I released a build centered around maximizing retaliation frost damage from Armor of Agathys in combination with Create Water. This build, similarly, maximizes the Lightning damage on wet targets in combination with highly accurate great weapon attacks for very high DPR.
Primarily, our lightning damage for this build will be coming from the interaction between a new enchanted set of boots – The Speedy Lightfeet – and the low-cost dashes we get from the Eagleheart barbarian subclass.
The Speedy Lightfeet are part of a set of items that use a unique resource called “lightning charges.” While your character holds a charge, they get +1 to hit on their attack roles and deal +1 lightning damage on hits. Moreover, if they hit an attack while holding 5 charges or more, they will deal an additional 1d8 (4.5 average) lightning damage, consuming all of their charges. There are several ways to build lightning charges that correspond to the different items. The Speedy Lightfeet give you 3 charges whenever you dash, and that’s where the Eagleheart subclass enters the picture.
Eagleheart barbarians gain the ability to dash as a bonus action while they are raging. They also impose disadvantage on all opportunity attacks against them while they are raging. Their niche is blitzing past the front line of combat into melee range of priority backline targets. Besides all of that, we want this subclass so we can spam dashes for lightning charges to empower our attacks. If you use dash every round, you can be dealing, on average, 6.5 lightning damage every two rounds, or 3.25 per round. This is just the start!
We can add another 3.5 lightning damage per hit by wielding Light of Creation! This is a weapon a lot of folks seem to overlook. I don’t blame them; I overlooked it for a long time too, because if you just read the description it seems like it's bad when in fact its quite good! It’s a +1 Halberd that does an additional 1d6 lightning damage each hit, however, there is also a chance (around 20%) that the wielder will be stunned when they hit a target. Losing a turn is not worth all the damage this weapon deals, or at least it wouldn’t be IF you lost a turn. The thing is you don’t. There is no way to know this without testing, but the stun condition ends as soon as you start your next turn. And remember, it triggers after you hit an attack, so the only action you risk losing from the stun is, possibly, your bonus action. Of course, until you next turn enemies do have advantage on attacks against you, but that doesn’t matter to our barbarian who spams Reckless Attack. Enemies have advantage to attack us anyways, and advantage never stacks!
So, adding it all up, we’ll deal around 7 extra lightning damage every hit. Attacking wet targets makes that 14! Add the +2 from Rage, +3 from strength, and base weapon damage and we average 25.5 damage per hit, attacking with advantage on every strike, and without any lost accuracy from Great Weapon Master. We’re going to combine this with an overload of Mobility for a blitzkrieg assault. We will run in, dish out our 25 damage, then retreat out of range of any attacks, and we can do this every round.
Race: Barbarians want as many physical attribute boosts as they can grab, with a priority on strength, then constitution, and lastly dexterity. Resistances are also very valuable for barbarians, because resistances are a multiplier on health, and barbs have a lot of health. These conditions narrow down our list to a few top options:
Shield Dwarf, gets the best possible physical attribute boosts for the barbarian. They also get poison resistance, which is probably the best resistance outside of the physical damage types, which barbarians have anyways. Shield Dwarf is the optimal choice for every barbarian build, and likely will remain that way.
However, there are other racial choices which are almost as good. Humans are great for barbarians because of the 16 in all three physical stats. Strongheart Halflings are great too, also getting the poison resistance and a +3 total bonuses to physical stats. Finally, Zariel Tieflings make great barbarians with their +1 strength and fire resistance.
Nevertheless, I chose to go with Wood Half-Elf for this build. Half-elves can get a 16 in strength and constitution, keep them on curve with those stats, but they also get bonus movement speed, which are always great on strikers, and gets doubled on this build from the dash spam. It's not the optimal choice, but it was still strong.
Str: 16 Dex: 14 Con: 16 Int: 8 Wis: 8 Cha: 10
Background and Skills: The only mandatory skill is Atheletics. Intimidate is also good for barbarians, they will get a lot of opportunities to use it. You can get both from soldier background. I went Outlander. If you want to solo with this build, take Charlatan.
There aren’t any decisions to make at this level. Just collect your Reckless Attack and Danger Sense.
Here is where we choose our subclass, and, of course, we will be taking Eagleheart. This is also the level where we can get our first key item – The Speedy Lightfeet – which can be found under the windmill in the Blighted Village.
There is another item worth mentioning just a stone’s throw away from the village, and that is Reason’s Grasp, a new pair of gauntlets exclusive to the Barbarian. These gauntlets give you 15 temporary hit points whenever you choose to end your Rage and ending it automatically after a fight counts! In my runs, I never have fights go long enough for my Rage to actually time out, so this is a practically guaranteed 15 temporary hit points per rage, or 45 extra hit points total. That is doubling our hit points! I hope you weren’t wanting to die at all because it won’t happen now.
The big decision at this level is what feat we want to choose. We’re going to take a rare feat option: Mobile. This feat adds 3m to our movement speed, makes us immune to difficult terrain when we dash, and makes us immune to opportunity attacks on rounds where we move after we attack. Congrats, you are the flash now! With this feat and a few other buffs we can reach 39m of movement per round while raging. Yes, you read that right, that’s 39m, not 39ft. With this amount of movement we can run in, attack, then run out while still being far enough away that the average dashing enemy can’t reach us.
If you would prefer not to go Mobile, Great Weapon Master and a +2 strength ASI are also good choices.
Now that we are at max level we can collect all of our key items. The easiest to grab is the Ring of Crusher, which we can get off of Crusher’s corpse in the goblin village. This ring increases our movement by 3m.
The Light of Creation can be found in the Mage Tower in the underdark. You’ll have to take it from Bernard, which can be a tough fight. There is a trick to make it much easier, but I won’t spoil the fun for you. While we are at the tower, we can pick up Sparkswall, a nifty ring that does synergize a ton with this build, but fits with it thematically.
Finally, there is the question of our helmet slot. The Helm of Grit is the go to for martials, and with it we can double dash in a round, adding even more lightning damage! However, there are a lot of builds that want the Helm of Grit, and the combination of our overloaded mobility and durability makes it so we are seldom below 50%. For those reasons, I’m going to recommend you take Lifebringer (which can be bought from Blurg in the Myconid Colony). This is another item that works off of Lightning Charges, giving us 3 temporary hit points every time we gain charges, which for us is every turn. These temp hit points stack with the ones we get from Reason’s Grasp, and actually “heal” up the overall pool for some reason, so you can think of it as a 3 hit point regeneration effect, which is awesome!
Those are the key items.
Notes on Tactics
This is a textbook hit-and-run build. Take out targets that have ranged attacks or crowd control first. Always run away and end your turn far enough from the melee enemies that they have to dash to reach you. With good positioning, they will waste a lot of their actions just dashing around the fight.
Don’t forget, you are also extremely tanky, so if enemies do attack you, it's not the end of the world. Sometimes it is worthwhile to let them reach you in order to split their position. Splitting enemy position is when you lead one group of enemies more than their standard movement in distance away from the rest of their group. After doing this, you can leave them to attack the other enemies. The distance you can cover with one movement might take them three of four, so they will waste their turns just moving while you attack their allies. These are the kind of opportunities you should look for.
Here is a little trick. I am not sure where to put it, so I will just put it here. You can use Diving Strike without needing the elevation if you carry a few boxes along with you at all times. Just stack them up, make steps to the top if you need. It's like a portable perch! You can use it to get an extra 9m of movement on your turn if, for some ungodly reason, the 39m you have wasn’t enough. I believe the prone condition automatically breaks concentration, so you can use it for that as well.
I did make this build with a team in mind. For example, to reach the 39m move per turn, you’ll need Gale to cast Longstrider, and you will need Shadowheart to cast Create Water. Try to build your team composition with mobility in mind as well. Basically, make sure the other three members of your party are good ranged attacks. I still recommend Lae’zel, but don’t rush her in right away. It's okay to stay hidden to force aggro on Tav for a round or two. Doing this will give them no option but to chase Tav all over, making it easier to split them.
As is tradition, let’s see how this build compares to my builds in the past:
In this graph you can see two curves, one for how it does when attacking normally and another for how it does when attacking wet targets. Its damage curve just gets better the higher AC the enemies get. In this regard its like The Brand build, only it performs better.
As I noted in the build overview the Knight of Faith build also got a significant boost to DPR from casts of Create Water, so let's look at how Fallen Light compares to Knight of Faith specifically:
So…. The Knight of Faith did a lot of damage with Armor of Agathys. Fallen Light has an advantage in its target selection and consistency, but is it enough of an advantage to outweigh the sheer volume of damage the Knight of Faith puts out? Probably not. It's honestly hard to judge because of how these builds function so differently. The Knight of Faith was a Juggernaut of tankiness and damage, whereas Fallen Light is all about fast attacks and gaining positional advantages through movement.
My judgement right now is that Fallen Light is somewhere between The Brand and The Knight of Faith in power. In a lot of ways, it’s a better version of The Brand as far as its tactical niche goes. I think it's possible that this build could be an S-tier, but until I have more experience with its unusual tactics I will be ranking it an “A.” It is a better A-tier build than The Brand though.
From Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal epilogue:
"Aerie and Charname would prove inseparable, their adventuring careers becoming secondary to the raising of their son, and eventually a daughter as well. Their later years would hold one last great trek, however, as Aerie still suffered a sadness from her time enslaved and the loss of her wings. Together she and Charname sought the avariel of Faenya-Dail, the winged elves she was stolen from so long ago. They discovered not only her people, but loving parents that had spent years searching for their lost child. With no more mystery or confusion to cloud their lives, it was there, among the clouds, that Aerie and Charname would finally be married. Their union, it is said, was blessed by visions of Aerdrie Faenya and Baervan Wildwanderer both."
These heroes fought through the depths of hell to the heights of the heavens. Yet hell stains even the virtuous. Can it be that the son of Bhaal carries not the seed of murder whither he goes? Thus he foretold, “which way I fly is hell, myself am hell; and in even the glorified heights the lowest deep still threatens to devour me: that the hell I suffer seems a heaven…”
And thus he departed the marble palaces of Faenya-Dail; with his right shoulder to the rising sun and his back to his family he descended. So it was that bitterness entered the heart of Seshtali, the seed of Bhaal on Toril, just as bitterness is the seed of wrath.
The peaks of Faenya-Dail embraced the highest clouds of the heavens. There the avariel erected empyrean palaces of a hundred pilastered arches. At its center, nestled in a cleft of the marble cliffs, an arcadian colonnade served as the community's public square. There the pastoral avarial traded their works of art amongst each other. Food was neither scarce nor abundant, for the marble cliffs, while glorious, were barren. Nevertheless, the avariel needed little for food, and their winged hunters labored well, and much time remained for the enjoyment of art, and song, and sport.
The young Seshtali longed to hunt, but she could not, for she had no wings. Her time was spent in study, which she detested, tutored by her mother in the hallowed halls of the Vaunted Basilica, which perched on the highest peak of the mountain. In the evenings, she would climb the cliffs, looking for prey until the sun set. There the young avariel would tease her, and Seshtali felt wrath welling up within her. Wrath, yes, and hate, and… desire. Visions disrupted her sleep; nightmares of bone and blood. Or were they dreams?
She was still an adolescent when she fell. It began with a storm, rolling in from the south as she climbed. She hastily made for home, a group of boys watched on, mocking her. Their jeers made her lose focus, and she slipped, falling gracelessly and landing hard on her back. She tried to gasp, but her breath had left her, so she sputtered and choked for air while the boys laughed and flew away. She was lying there crying when rain began to fall.
The climb back was dangerous in the wet, but Seshtali’s grip did not slip. It could not slip. Her rage drove her, strengthening her arm and sharpening her focus. She gloried in it. And just as she scaled the final face, she spied her tormentors alight on the steps of the basilica. They go to pray to Aerdrie for protection, she thought. It was customary for the young boys to pray for safety for their fathers who were hunting during a storm. Seshtali grinned, laying hold of a loose rock, and stalked them into the temple. The rage rushed up to her again, and the hate, and the desire. Brutally she slew them, and she reveled in it, the blood and bone. It felt to her at that moment that she was born for blood as the avariel were born to fly.
“Sesh! What have you done…”
She turned. It was Quayle, her brother. “What are you doing here?” She asked.
“I came to pray for father.”
“He is not out hunting. He left us,” she responded bitterly. Quayle did not approach her, he looked to the bloodied rock in her hand.
“Did you do this? You killed them…” She could see fear and confusion in his eyes at first, then there was something else there, something she had not seen in him before. After a moment, it dawned on her: disgust. She gripped the rock tighter. Rain poured onto the vaulted dome above. Quayle tensed, turning to flee, when a clap of lightning struck nearby, startling him. In a flash, Seshtali launched the bloody missile and with a snap it struck his skull. He crumpled to the marble floor and she knew that he was dead.
Seshtali fled Faenya-Dail that day, under the cover of the storm no one could track her. She lived in the wild, instinct her tutor and wrath her terrible weapon. Thus did she wander, with her right shoulder to the rising sun.
Role Playing Notes for Seshtali
I of course wrote Seshtali to be a direct continuation of the story of the original Baldur’s Gate series. Similarly, she directly continues the themes of both Aerie and the main character from those games. Aerie was fallen in the literal sense, a winged elf who had lost her wings and had to come to terms with the ugliness of earth. She was fragile, like a bird, and had to become strong. The player character from Baldur’s Gate was fallen in a metaphorical sense. Or, at least, he struggles not to fall, depending on the choices you make. The point is the ever present allure of violence and power; you decide whether you fight it or succumb. Its not meaningless that the entire series began with this quote from Nietzsche: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Seshtali has the same blood of Bhaal, and thus suffers the same allure, something the game writers themselves bring up when Quayle is born in Throne of Bhaal. For Seshtali in BG3, there are a lot of ways this allure can play out concretely.
First, through the mechanics of the barbarian class. Barbarians are all about violence and rage, and for Seshtali we can view this as tapping into her birthright of murder, like the Slayer form in BG2.
Second, in our reaction to the Cult of the Absolute. It is clear that the resurrected Bhaal is tied to this new cult. How will the granddaughter of Bhaal react to that? Does she hate Bhaal? Is she loyal to him? Perhaps she wants to replace him.
Third, in our interaction with the tadpole powers. How will Seshtali react to the seductive powers the tadpole offer us? Its a mirror, in a way, to the seductive powers of her bloodline.
All of these questions bring us to the driving question of the entire character: why did Seshtali run? Or, the same question another way, how does Seshtali feel about murdering her brother? Clearly there is a part of her - the Bhaal part of her - that savors it, like (her uncle) Sarevok. Did she embrace murder and flee her home to be free of their repressive constraints? Or is murdering her own brother the moment that snapped her out of her bloodlust and she fled because of her guilt and shame? I leave that for you to decide!
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