Woman with blue hair in braids closing her eyes next to a woman in armor in a red room in Baldur's Gate 3
Screenshot by Dot Esports via Larian Studios

How to improve Initiative in Baldur’s Gate 3

Increasing your Initiative is much easier than it sounds.

In almost any game that features combat, the character that strikes first almost always gets the early advantage—and the same goes for the massive turn-based D&D role-playing game Baldur’s Gate 3. Getting to go first in combat means casting a spell or performing an action that turns the tide of battle in your favor, so having high Initiative is a tremendous boon.

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Initiative is the deciding factor in determining the turn order for combat. And while you can’t always guarantee that you go first, you can improve your Initiative so that you can increase your odds of getting a preferred position in the turn order for every combat scenario.

Here is how to improve your Initiative in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Initiative in Baldur’s Gate 3, explained

What is Initiative in Baldur’s Gate 3?

Initiative works in Baldur’s Gate 3 just like it does in Dungeons & Dragons. At the start of every combat encounter, each party member and enemy that’s involved in combat will roll a 20-sided die, which determines Initiative, or turn order in combat. The results of those rolls determine the order of combat for each turn for the entire encounter.

The main determinant of your Initiative bonus is your Dexterity ability; your ability score modifier is added to your Initiative roll. So if you have a Dexterity score above 11, you get a bonus to every Initiative roll. If your Dexterity is below 10, you get a decrease to your Initiative roll.

The full table for ability scores and their modifiers for Baldur's Gate 3.
Roll modifiers for every ability score. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Because Initiative is only rolled when combat starts, it won’t come into play while you’re using Stealth unless you attack or are spotted. This means you can still get a successful sneak attack off without having to roll Initiative.

How to improve your Initiative in Baldur’s Gate 3

Dexterity is the main factor that determines bonuses to Initiative rolls, via the ability score modifier.

To increase your Dexterity, you’ll want to:

  • Equip items or gear that improve your Dexterity.
  • Use your Ability points gained at specific levels and assign them to Dexterity.

During character creation, the most points you can assign to an ability is 15. A 15 in Dexterity on its own means a +2 to Initiative rolls but also means you would get +2 to Stealth, Sleight of Hand, and Acrobatics skill checks, as well as your armor class.

Does your race influence your Dexterity?

Woman with blue hair wearing leather armor talking to a person in heavy armor in Baldur's Gate 3.
My character is a Half-Elf that gains two Charisma and two points I can self-assign. Screenshot by Dot Esports via Larian Studios

Your race in Baldur’s Gate 3 does not directly influence your Dexterity. In the early access version of the game, races had bonuses for specific abilities, like Elves, Halflings, and Drow each receiving a +2 to Dexterity.

But that system has been changed with the full release. When creating a character, you get a +2 bonus and +1 bonus to assign to any two abilities, regardless of class or race. Without the bonus, the max for any ability during character creation is still 15, but you can use your +2 bonus to make your Dexterity 17.

Related: All classes and subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3

Your Background and proficient skills determined during character creation will not have any effect on your Dexterity score or Initiative, and the only class that can get improved Initiative is the Gloom Stalker Ranger.

Other ways to improve Dexterity

There are a few ways to improve Initiative as you level up and play the game.

  • Players get two ability points to put into their ability scores every four levels. The maximum ability score you can increase to is 20, which translates to a +5 ability score modifier. A 20 in Dexterity means a +5 to every Initiative roll.
  • Rather than increase your ability score, you also have the option to select a feat upon reaching certain levels. Alert is a feat that specifically adds a +5 bonus to Initiative, on top of the bonus applied by Dexterity.
  • For Gloom Stalker Rangers only: The Gloom Stalker subclass of the Ranger class gets the Dread Ambusher ability at level three. The player gets an additional attack during their first turn of combat and increased walking speed, but also gets to add their Wisdom modifier to their Initiative roll in addition to their Dexterity modifier.

The absolute highest bonus you could potentially have on your Initiative rolls is a +15, provided you are a Gloom Stalker Ranger with maxed-out Dexterity (+5), maxed-out Wisdom (+5), and the Alert feat (+5).

What Dexterity should you aim for?

Depending on your build, you’ll want to aim for a high or average Dexterity. A high Dexterity is best for those wishing to specialize in Finesse or ranged weapons, light or medium armor, and if you want to benefit from Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth skills.

But if you want to specialize in heavy armor and weapons, a Dexterity of 10 would be the route to go. Generally, every character should have at least 12 Dexterity, but anywhere between 12 and 14 is optimal. Still, not all classes benefit from high Dexterity.

What classes require or benefit from Dexterity?

Although increasing your Initiative bonus and, conversely, your Dexterity is essential for several factors in Baldur’s Gate 3, choosing a class that benefits from such a high Dexterity level is also crucial. 

The classes that benefit from the Dexterity ability stat include:

  1. Bard: Dexterity can boost their Saving Throw Proficiencies.
  2. Fighter: Their Primary Ability can be either Dexterity or Strength.
  3. Monk: They use Dexterity for their Primary Ability and to increase their Saving Throw Proficiency.
  4. Ranger: They use Dexterity for their Primary Ability and to improve their Saving Throw Proficiency.
  5. Rogue: Dexterity is the only option for their Primary Ability and one of the options to boost their Saving Throw Proficiency.

With all this in mind, if you wanted an easy way to boost your Dexterity, which in turn will increase your Initiative rolls, choose a race that offers additional Dexterity, get gear that boosts your Dexterity, assign your Ability points to Dexterity, and to benefit from your high Dexterity build, select a class that can benefit from your high Dexterity stats.


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Hayley Andrews
Hayley is a gamer, writer, and author with a background in Business. Hayley graduated with a dual degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management in Australia. She spent many years in business until she found her passion for creative writing and the gaming industry. When she’s not indulging in the latest anime, she can be found reading or playing video games.
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Scott Robertson
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.