Z'rell in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

How to defeat Z’rell at Moonrise Towers in Baldur’s Gate 3

The Cultists are an 'Absolute' pain to deal with, that's for sure.

There are many boss fights to strategize your way through in Baldur’s Gate 3, with some being trickier than others for various reasons. Among the more difficult fights is the one against Z’rell and the Cultists of the Absolute at the end of Act 2. While this is one of the bigger combat encounters across the Act, there are several different methods that you can use to make your time navigating the fight much more efficient and less difficult to complete.

Recommended Videos

How to Defeat Z’rell in BG3, Explained

Upon heading to Moonrise Towers for your final fight against Ketheric Thorm, you will first need to clear out the foes on the main floors of the tower. This will trigger a large fight against the Cultists of the Absolute, led by Z’rell. Many players have found this fight to be a struggle to get through due to the sheer number of enemies within a crowded space and the repetition of AOE moves. These can heavily punish your NPC allies, causing them to die quickly and leaving you to make due against their larger forces.

However, there are several different methods that you can use to help make your time with this fight much less of a hassle. We’ve covered them all below, so be sure to consider these options if you’re struggling to take down the pesky Half-Orc and her allies.

Control Jaheira Alongside Your Party

Image Source: Larian Studios

If you choose to save the Nightsong, Jaheira and the Harpers will be waiting for you at the entrance to Moonrise Towers to take down the Cultists and Ketheric as your allies. However, many players have reported issues with Jaheria in this fight, stating that the AI controlling her often plays far too aggressively which results in Jaheira getting herself quickly killed by Z’rell’s forces.

This is a huge nuisance, especially if you want to permanently recruit Jaheria to your camp. Withers can’t revive deceased NPCs, and won’t be able to revive Jaheira until she’s officially a member of your party.

Thankfully, there is an easy fix to this issue. You can have Jaheira join your party as an additional companion to your team of four, which allows you to control her during her turns of combat. To do this, you must first speak to Jaheria outside Moonrise Towers, and select the right dialogue choices. Here is a complete breakdown of the dialogue options you’ll need to select in order:

  • First, you’ll need to select “We move in and secure the ground floor first – cut off all exits.”
  •  Follow this with “Actually, I’d rather you join my party, Jaheira.”
  •  Lastly, you can select either “Ketheric is a formidable foe. I have need for a formidable ally.” or “Your Harpers are big boys and girls. They can take care of themselves.”

Jaheria will then join your party, attached to your character’s portrait on the left sidebar in the same way a Mage Hand, Familiar, Elemental, or various other summons would be linked.

Make Use of Quartermaster Talli’s Best Inventory

Quartermaster Talli in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

Quartermaster Talli is a character aligned with Jaheria and the Harpers. Upon your arrival, she will be collecting loot from the various corpses in the courtyard and has many useful items that you can purchase for the big battle ahead.

Interestingly, depending on how much time is taken between freeing the Nightsong and your arrival at Moonrise Towers, her inventory will change. If you are too slow in making your way to the battle, Quartermaster Talli will lack several strong items ranging from Scrolls to Armor, which is a significant loss.

Here is a comparison of her inventory if you arrive quickly (left), as opposed to arriving later (right):

Quartermaster Talli's inventory comparison in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

If you arrive too late, you’ll miss out on a chance to purchase important items that can give you the upper hand. The best items are power scrolls such as Scroll of Cloudkill and an extra Scroll of Conjure Elemental.

For this reason, it’s important that if you wish to secure these items, you fast-travel to Moonrise Towers immediately after exiting the Nightsong’s Prison. Even if you have low HP and need to rest, do not stop at your camp or pay a visit to Isobel at Last Light Inn, as these events will affect the timing in which you arrive. Instead, fast travel to Moonrise Towers and secure your items from Quartermaster Talli. Then, take a long rest if you need to, as you won’t miss the battle against Z’rell or Ketheric by doing so.

Prepare With Pre-Casted Spells

Moonrise Towers fight in Baldur's Gate 3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

Thanks to Baldur’s Gate 3’s versatile Spell List and use of Scrolls, there are some Spells that you can pre-cast during the fight to buff your party and give yourself a boost in battle. Within the various choices available, the following Spells may be worthwhile if you have access to them. Do be aware, though, that some may require maintaining your Concentration, so keep this in mind for the battle ahead.

  • Mirror Image – Used to temporarily buff the AC of yourself or an ally. Perfect for giving your squishier party members such as a Rogue more survivability for zipping in and out of enemy reach, or allowing your delicate Spellcasters to take some extra hits if the enemy rushes your backline.
  •  Conjure Elemental – This lets you summon one of four different Elemental beings to fight beside you, much like a familiar. These Elementals are capable of dealing some very solid damage, and each has a unique utility they bring through their special attacks which may involve pushing an enemy back or creating difficult terrain. These Elementals are active until killed or your next Long Rest, so you can utilize the being for both the fight against Z’rell and the battle against Ketheric.
  •  Mage Armor – Lets you temporarily change the AC of yourself of an ally to 13 + the target’s DEX modifier. This is perfect for squishy yet dextrous characters such as Rogues, Bards, Monks, or Rangers.
  •  Blur – All attackers will have Disadvantage on Attack Rolls against you. This Spell can last for 10 turns if Concentration is maintained, which buys you time to do serious damage to Z’rell’s forces.
  •  Armor of Agathys – This will cause you to gain 5 Temp HP and will enable you to inflict 5 Cold Damage to any creature that hits you with a Melee Attack. it’s a great Spell for dealing extra chip damage due to the number of enemies in the battle.
  •  Shield of Faith – Allows you to boost the AC of yourself or one of your allies by 2 points, which can make all the difference in an attack missing or hitting. It can last until a Long Rest if Concentration is maintained.
  •  Longstrider – This lets you increase the Movement Speed of your party member by 3, and lasts until a Long Rest. It’s great for giving extra movement to characters that you need to quickly get to the frontline such as Fighters, Paladins, or Barbarians.

Aim to Take Down Z’rell First

Z'rell in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

Z’rell should be your priority in this battle. If you fail to take her down quickly, she will unleash the Black Hole Illithid Power. This is an Attack that can affect pretty much your whole party at once if you haven’t moved too far apart from one another, sending everyone crashing back into the point where she aimed it and applying the Slowed status effect.

This will cause all affected targets to lose the distance they had made toward the enemy, receive -2 to AC, have their Movement Speed halved, receive a -2 to DEX Saves, become unable to take Reactions, be forced to only make 1 Action or Bonus Action rather than both, only make 1 Attack, and have the possibility of Spells being delayed.

In a nutshell, Black Hole is a huge nuisance in this fight, especially since the battle is contained within an enclosed area. To avoid Z’rell getting a chance at casting it multiple times, you’ll need to prioritize attacking her with your team to take her down as quickly as possible.

Focus The Enemy Spellcasters (Adept) As Second Priority

Moonrise Towers Spellcasters in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios

The second priority in the Moonrise Towers fight is the Spellcasters, which can be identified by the title of Adept. These enemies have access to AOE Spells such as Hunger of Hadar, which can slow down the battle and make things much harder for you. Hunger of Hadar can affect multiple targets, force creatures within the AOE to take damage whenever they start their turn, create Difficult Terrain to slow your Movement Speeds, and cause all affected enemies to become Blinded, which all stacks up to become a huge problem.

For this reason, you should prioritize killing off the Adept Spellcasters as soon as you’ve beaten Z’rell, especially because they become more of an issue the longer the battle lasts. There are only a few of them in comparison to the Melee Attackers, so if you can pick them off ASAP, you will gain the upper hand for the rest of the battle.

Use the Ceiling Beams to Your Advantage

Moonrise Towers Highground Beams
Image Source: Larian Studios

On Moonrise Towers’ main floor, there is a ladder on the left side of the room leading up to some ceiling beams. You can position your strong ranged party members here, such as Rangers, Wizards, or Sorcerers, and have them shoot down onto the enemies on the floor.

Not only will the enemies beneath you have more difficulty consistently hitting your allies on these beams, but you will also gain a +2 to your Ranged Attacks due to High Ground rules which is extremely valuable in a combat such as this encounter.

Utilize AOE Spells to Deal Damage to A Crowd of Enemies & Play Around It

Wall of Fire AOE Spell in BG3
Image Source: Larian Studios via Twinfinite

Initiating this fight and setting up with AOE Spells can allow you to hit multiple enemies, as they tend to be grouped up to begin with. You can implement terrain effects and even induce de-buffs through certain AOE Spells, and then play around them, which can make things easier for your party.

Keep in mind, however, that Z’rell does have Counterspell, so you’ll either need to stand on the top of the stairs and cast a Spell to avoid triggering the conversation before battle or bait out her Counterspell Reaction by firing a less powerful Spell as a decoy. After doing so, you can safely light her up with your AOEs.

There are plenty of AOE Spells that will work nicely in this battle due to it taking place in an enclosed area, but these are some of the best options you can consider:

  • Cloudkill
  • Hunger of Hadar
  • Wall of Fire
  • Ice Storm (which Jaheira has by default)
  • Fireball
  • Slow

That’s everything you need to know about how to defeat Z’rell at Moonrise Towers in BG3. Given what you’ll be up against next, why not check out our guide on how to defeat Ketheric Thorm? This will provide you with information on how to clear the second stage of the boss battles, allowing you to conclude the story ark of Act 2. We’ve also got some relevant articles down below which you can peruse at your leisure.

Twinfinite is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Grace Black
Grace Black
Grace is a writer and digital artist from New Zealand with a love for fiction and storytelling. Grace has been writing for Twinfinite for one year and in the games industry for two years. She's an enthusiast of everything spooky, an occasional anime enjoyer, and a die-hard Ghost-Type Pokemon fangirl. Her favorite video games include Overwatch 2, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, Baldur's Gate 3, and Pokemon - all of which she will never tire of.