The Undying Warlock 5e, lives forever.
First, appearing in 2015 in Sword Coast Adventure’s Guide.
Their pact is one, blessed by those that seek to never die.
Meaning, the undying warlock is one destined to live by any means necessary.
As such, they tend to favor those that wish to have a caster that can survive attacks or a caster obsessed with the dead.
The result lead to a caster that is often thrown into the cliche of a necromancer and see’s little gameplay from those that don’t want to play that theme.
How I Am Evaluating The Undying Warlock 5e
For those who have read my previous reviews, feel free to skip this. If you haven’t, welcome!
This is going over how I evaluate how strong a class is.
There are three things that I am reviewing in the in-depth guide.
I look over how strong the subclass is in combat, how much utility it has, and, if applicable, its’ roleplay ability.
This way everyone’s playstyle can be shown to fit their needs.
Now, when deciding if something is good for a guide, I look at what the subclass is trying to accomplish.
Then look at how successful it succeeds in that task.
For instance, in a previous article on the War Wizard, I concluded, attempts to make you a competitive front line.
I then figure out how well that ability succeeds in letting you front line, as well as how soon it comes online.
If it is accomplished before level 6, then it is early game.
Between Level 6-9 is Early-Mid, and Level 10 Late-Mid.
Meanwhile, subclasses that don’t reach thier power till Level 11 or higher is late game.
I rate earlier tiers better as most Dungeon and Dragons Campaigns do not go beyond level 8.
Without further a due, let start this review on the Undying Warlock for 5e.
GOLD– “That’s gold Jerry! Gold!” If an ability is highlighted gold, then this means that this ability not only is what defines your subclasses but accomplishes it better than almost any other subclass. I rarely do Gold ratings, so definitely pay attention to them if you see me do it.
Sky Blue –If the ability is sky blue, it means that this ability is a defining trait in your subclass but for one reason or another is not game-breaking like gold.
Blue– If it is just blue, then it’s a good ability but there are plenty of other abilities that perform better. Still better to have in a subclass than other colors.
Black. Black is ok. These are your more niche abilities that have bonuses in some situations but not useful in others.
Purple – Purple is for very niche abilities. They have times when they are good, but these are rare and almost never come up. Not the best color to see for an ability.
Red- Red is dead. It is the worse color to see on an ability. That said, no matter the color, an ability can work so don’t ignore a subclass if they have a red. Enough imagination and can-do attitude will make it okay but not optimal.
Undying Warlock 5e (Early- Mid Game)
After analyzing the Undying Warlock, they uphold a rather limited selection of options to use in a situation.
Their level 2 ability is the strongest of their abilities, and their level 6 is not terrible.
That said anything after that level is really limited or situational and as such makes this weak subclass.
But the biggest problem with the subclass is no defining trait.
Every ability works in tangent for surviving but nothing stands out as significant.
As such, while the spells and abilities are in no way game-changing, they are a subclass dedicated to the warlock lovers looking to mix things up.
Expanded Spell List
To begin the review let’s take a look at the expanded spell list.
Now Warlocks have very limited spell selection and even fewer spell slots.
As such, having useful spells that level well is essential to a good warlock.
This makes the expanded spell list incredibly important for a warlock since it gives them free spells to add to their knowledge.
The list of spells known is:
A ray of sickening greenish energy lashes out toward a creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 poison damage and must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, it is also poisoned until the end of your next turn.
You can blind or deafen a foe. Choose one creature that you can see within range to make a Constitution saving throw. If it fails, the target is either blinded or deafened (your choice) for the duration. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a Constitution saving throw. On a success, the spell ends.
For the duration, no sound can be created within or pass through a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point you choose within range. Any creature or object entirely inside the sphere is immune to thunder damage, and creatures are deafened while entirely inside it. Casting a spell that includes a verbal component is impossible there.
You touch a willing creature and put it into a cataleptic state that is indistinguishable from death.
For the spell’s duration, or until you use an action to touch the target and dismiss the spell, the target appears dead to all outward inspection and to spells used to determine the target’s status. The target is blinded and incapacitated, and its speed drops to 0. The target has resistance to all damage except psychic damage. If the target is diseased or poisoned when you cast the spell, or becomes diseased or poisoned while under the spell’s effect, the disease and poison have no effect until the spell ends.
You grant the semblance of life and intelligence to a corpse of your choice within range, allowing it to answer the questions you pose. The corpse must still have a mouth and can’t be undead. The spell fails if the corpse was the target of this spell within the last 10 days.
Until the spell ends, you can ask the corpse up to five questions. The corpse knows only what it knew in life, including the languages it knew. Answers are usually brief, cryptic, or repetitive, and the corpse is under no compulsion to offer a truthful answer if you are hostile to it or it recognizes you as an enemy. This spell doesn’t return the creature’s soul to its body, only its animating spirit. Thus, the corpse can’t learn new information, doesn’t comprehend anything that has happened since it died, and can’t speculate about future events.
Life-preserving energy radiates from you in an aura with a 30-foot radius. Until the spell ends, the aura moves with you, centered on you. Each non-hostile creature in the aura (including you) has resistance to necrotic damage, and its hit point maximum can’t be reduced. In addition, a non-hostile, living creature regains 1 hit point when it starts its turn in the aura with 0 hit points.
You touch a creature and grant it a measure of protection from death. The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends. If the spell is still in effect when the target is subjected to an effect that would kill it instantaneously without dealing damage, that effect is instead negated against the target, and the spells ends.
Your touch inflicts disease. Make a melee spell attack against a creature within your reach. On a hit, the target is poisoned.
At the end of each of the poisoned target’s turns, the target must make a Constitution saving throw. If the target succeeds on three of these saves, it is no longer poisoned, and the spell ends. If the target fails three of these saves, the target is no longer poisoned, but choose one of the diseases below. The target is subjected to the chosen disease for the spell’s duration.
Since this spell induces a natural disease in its target, any effect that removes a disease or otherwise ameliorates a disease’s effects apply to it.
- Blinding Sickness. Pain grips the creature’s mind, and its eyes turn milky white. The creature has disadvantage on Wisdom checks and Wisdom saving throws and is blinded.
- Filth Fever. A raging fever sweeps through the creature’s body. The creature has disadvantage on Strength checks, Strength saving throws, and attack rolls that use Strength.
- Flesh Rot. The creature’s flesh decays. The creature has disadvantage on Charisma checks and vulnerability to all damage.
- Mindfire. The creature’s mind becomes feverish. The creature has disadvantage on Intelligence checks and Intelligence saving throws, and the creature behaves as if under the effects of the confusion spell during combat.
- Seizure. The creature is overcome with shaking. The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity checks, Dexterity saving throws, and attack rolls that use Dexterity.
- Slimy Doom. The creature begins to bleed uncontrollably. The creature has disadvantage on Constitution checks and Constitution saving throws. In addition, whenever the creature takes damage, it is stunned until the end of its next turn.
Name or describe a person, place, or object. The spell brings to your mind a brief summary of the significant lore about the thing you named. The lore might consist of current tales, forgotten stories, or even secret lore that has never been widely known. If the thing you named isn’t of legendary importance, you gain no information. The more information you already have about the thing, the more precise and detailed the information you receive is.
The information you learn is accurate but might be couched in figurative language. For example, if you have a mysterious magic axe on hand, the spell might yield this information: Woe to the evildoer whose hand touches the axe, for even the haft slices the hand of the evil ones. Only a true Child of Stone, lover and beloved of Moradin, may awaken the true powers of the axe, and only with the sacred word Rudnogg on the lips.
Now while there are a few pet favorites in the list, these are as I said, “pet favorites”.
All spells are situational with ray of sickness having decent scaling and potential power against strength based monsters.
Blindness/deafness is a prized one for concentration, but since you can only cast 2 spells a rest concentration slots are not competitive for warlocks.
While Speak with Dead is a prized one for parties that are believers in “kill everyone asks questions later”, there are still other routes that this can be achieved.
Meanwhile, Deathward and Contagion can be really powerful but are only useful in battles when you’re about to die or forcing a monster to use their legendary resistances.
The rest, have their uses but don’t come up too often.
As such, a decent list but nothing that stands as deadly.
Among The Dead
The ability is considered one of the stronger abilities for the subclass as it gives you protection from common enemies and gives a class with few cantrips a powerful addition to their arsenal.
Among the dead can be summed up as:
At the first level, you gain access to spare the dying cantrip and when an undead goes to attack you they must make a Wisdom save against your DC unless you attacked them. On a successful save they are immune for the next 24 hours.
Spare the dying is rather straight forward as a great cantrip to prevent people from dying.
Which, is vital for many parties as chances are someone is going to be knocked out.
As for undead, a passive undead sanctuary spell can be pretty big in any campaign as undead is the 2nd most common monster type besides humanoid.
At this time of writing, there are over 47 undead monsters that range from CR ½-21.
This means that this will come into play at every level.
Furthermore, when doing the average wisdom save for undead monsters, they have a 70-75% chance of failing.
That said, while this is useful, it is only reactive and works in limited scenarios, making this a decent ability but nothing strong.
No one likes dying, and this ability will help make sure you or others won’t.
For those of you who don’t know what Defy Death is, it basically states.
Once per long rest, when you succeed in a death saving throw you can choose to heal 1d8+ con modifier, or when you use “spare the dying” on someone, you can choose to heal them 1d8+ your con modifier.
While a built-in heal is always a nice feature, this is rather lackluster for two reasons.
One, it requires someone to already be unconscious for you to use.
Now, going unconscious does happen occasionally, it does not come up every session.
This means that while useful, it is situational at best hindering a favorable rating.
Moreover, being able to use this once per long rest makes this even lower in rating since usually if you are in a situation where you are knocked unconscious it won’t be happening just once.
Meaning while it can be a good panic button once used, you no longer have a panic button.
As such the recommendation is to save this for yourself when you go down unless the actual healer is down.
Because a cleric can bring back more people than you with this ability.
At level 10 you gain access to undying nature; an ability that while fits roleplay wise has little use even in its situational uses.
What it does is:
Once level 10 you can hold your breath indefinitely and require neither food, water, or sleep. You still, however, need to rest to prevent exhaustion. Moreover, you are immune to aging magic and age more slowly, making every ten years that pass having your body age only one.
While this is a cool ability, at level 10, there are much fewer moments where you will need someone to stand guard.
Mainly as you are usually high enough level to not need to keep guard at night.
Moreover, while the ability to hold your breath can be useful in certain situations, there are only 4 spells that this will protect you from.
Finally, there are only three monsters that directly tie into magically aging techniques; The Sphinxes. Because of these factors, Undying nature can fit great thematically, but it’s uses are incredibly situational.
My favorite use of this was for the idea of an elven year old undying warlock who can live over 7000 years because of this trait.
We now come to the last of the 5e Undying Warlock’s ability, indestructible life.
Indestructible life can be found on page 140 of Sword Coast Adventurers Guide for the actual description. However, to sum the ability up, it talks about
At level 14 once per rest you can heal 1d8+warlock level using your bonus action.
The ability is good but fighters get this at level 1 as a class feature.
Heals are rare for many classes though so it’s not a terrible ability.
However, do note that the average DPR of a boss monster at this level is 119.5 points of damage which translates to roughly 39 points of damage per hit.
So, even if you use this ability as your bonus action, you better get away as soon as possible if you are below 40 hitpoints.
All in all, though a nice ability to shore up your survivability, nothing game-changing.
Undying Warlock 5e Suggestions
So now comes the part of this guide where I go over some recommended races, spells, and feats for a 5e undying warlock build.
For the race, you should prioritize ones that give you a charisma and con boost to enhance survivability and power.
As such, half-elf or tritons will be your strongest choice as both provide solid stats to both and some additional utility.
That said my pet favorite would be a half-orc due to their relentless endurance.
As for feats, a focus toward survivability should be your idea.
Thus, feats like tough to get the extra 40 hitpoints, inspiring leader for the temporary hitpoints, or healer for the healing.
Each of these are for boosting your hitpoints or healing others as you might be the only healer in the group and this can net you some extra protection for taking damage.
For spells, Armor of Agathys may not be broken as a level 1 spell, but when casting it at 5th level for 25 hitpoints and a passive ability that deals 25 points to attackers.
It can be very powerful to an undying’s arsenal for surviving and killing.
Finally, while not considered a powerful spell, vampiric touch fits both thematically and well for a warlock since you can keep using the spell after it’s first cast.
If you keep these kinds of things in mind, then your undying warlock should be undying.
Undying Warlock 5e: Invocations & Pact Boon
Next comes my favorite part of the warlock, invocations.
Invocations chosen for this subclass should be aimed at the theme of the undying warlock.
In my opinion, a good panic button that synergizes with defy death is to use “Tomb of Levistus”.
Getting up to 200 temporary hitpoints for one round can be a great move when needing to strategize a plan to save yourself, especially immediately after using defy death.
Meanwhile, a thematic choice that could work well is “Whispers of the Grave”.
This allows you to speak with the dead at will and fits great with the undying warlocks obsession with death.
As for a pact invocation, I would choose Gift of the Ever Living-ones”.
Not only does it sound cool but being able to max any healing to you can be great for making sure you survive a fight.
But, warlocks also get a pact boon at level 3 that further diversifies their playstyle.
While all three can fit for any background chosen.
The one that holds the most synergy is Pact of the Blade.
Undying Warlocks are focused on defenses much like fighters and paladins.
As such they tend to be able to survive a front line battle better than other warlocks.
Therefore, by choosing the pact of the blade feature, you can become a spell-slinging fighter with both magic and the ability to wield weapons once your magic runs out.
Now, one of the strongest abilities for warlocks comes from their large adaptability.
Warlocks fit into the charisma class which amounts to 4 of the 13 classes for synergy.
Moreover, since most of their abilities are in the first three levels, warlocks make exceptional multiclassing classes.
As such a multiclassing option is a must to talk about for warlocks.
For the undying warlock for 5e, survivability and undead are the largest themes for this class.
Because of this, if you wish to lean more of a necromancer build than a necromancy wizard would pair exceptionally well.
Their use of undead and controlling undead fit perfect with their level 1 ability to protect them from undead attacks and requiring only a two-level warlock dip to achieve the best synergy makes these a powerful mix.
As such a recommended build is the necromancer build of warlock-2/Wizard 18.
A more survivable focused build should utilize the fighter class when creating this character.
A first-level dip will not only start you with 10+ hit points but also the full weapon and armor arsenal.
Eventually giving you a 20 AC if strength is high enough.
This build can get a little mad and as such the triton is a better fit for a race than others since it gives you all three stats needed.
As for levels, consider only going 1-3 levels in fighter depending on how heavily you want to lean into the fighter.
My personal recommendation is 1 as it gives you enough power on its own to keep you alive.
That said the second level is for those looking to go more offensive based.
With a third level into the battlemaster subclass is for those looking to add combat utility for themselves.
Therefore Fighter 1/ Warlock 19 is my multiclass recommendation.
Undying Warlock 5e Conclusion
In conclusion, the Undying Warlock is an okay choice for many players intrigued by necromancy and undying.
That said, this kind of warlock lacks an overall power behind it that makes it the undesired choice for many.
Thus, leaving it to waste away in the background until an undead campaign is created.
While it makes for an okay Pact of the Blade Warlock, survivability will still be an issue without a definitive way to making your survival a success.
If you are looking for a survivable spellcaster, then I suggest checking out my guide on the abjuration wizard.
Not only is their health on par with fighters they have a lot of cool features that can protect both you and others.
Let me know what you think below in the comments, is the 5e undying warlock as lackluster as my evaluation or is there a powerful combo that I might have missed when doing the analytics.
Have a wonderful day!
*Note of Thanks*
Welcome everyone to the first installment on the warlock subclass guide from Wizard of the Tavern! Thank you to all people who voted in the polls to decide on which class to choose. If you want to participate in things like that, then check out the polls I put in the P.S. of posts, or email me from my about page to give me your opinions or see if there is something you can do to help! But enough of that just wanted to say thanks to all who are with me!5