Ready for something a little different in the Warlock class? The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide holds the current final Patron for a Warlock to pledge themselves to; the Undying. These beings include liches, Wizards who have escaped death, warriors who have eternal life, and gods alike. Any Warlock wishing to invest themselves in eternal life will find a Patron willing to teach them, and through their eternal will, they will become immortal. Join us today, as we investigate what becoming immortal truly requires. Learn more with our Undying Warlock 5E Guide.
Live Life Eternal: The Undying Warlock 5E Guide
It requires you to take the least powerful Patron in the game. Sure, some patrons can be less focused or do their jobs in weird ways… But the Undying just does so little. Its in-game effect is next to nothing. The flavor is pretty neat, and the spell list is actually solid, but otherwise… You’re going to be dead weight…
Or should we say, undead weight.
Expanded Spell List
The spell list is actually one of the more redeemable parts of the Undying. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily good, but you get some decent options for dealing with dangerous creatures.
False Life is kind of overdoing it; take Fiendish Vigor as an invocation instead. Ray of Sickness is good early on, but gets overshadowed by later levels, so replace it when you can.
Blindness/Deafness and Silence counter martials or casters, respectively. Both are actually extremely potent counter-spells. Blindness/Deafness especially scales super well with spell slots, so that’s a definite take! Silence doesn’t technically scale, but you can sometimes negate encounters with it.
Feign Death is as hilariously useless as ever; If you really want to spend your low number of spell slots on falling over really well, then this spell has you covered. Speak with Dead, however, can be used to interrogate units and get information about the dungeon. That’s not bad; a good consideration.
Aura of Life and Death Ward can both be somewhat useful; Aura of Life can stop undead fights from dealing quite so much damage, and Death Ward is a quite potent… Ward against death. You can set up both of these before a fight. If you want one, Death Ward tends to be useful in more situations.
Contagion is a massively versatile spell that makes good use of your 5th level spell slots; take it, it’s super useful. Less useful is Legend Lore… Unless you’re playing a non-combat campaign. It’s essentially asking the GM for what to do next, so… If they’re being coy about it, it might be worthwhile.
Not terrible! Level 2 is god-tier, and you get at least one good spell per level. This is an acceptable spell list!
Among the Dead
And it actually keeps staying pretty alright! At level 1, you get Spare the Dying for free, get advantage on saving throws against disease, and finally;
…undead have difficulty harming you. If an undead targets you directly with an attack or a harmful spell, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC (an undead needn’t make the save when it includes you in an area effect, such as the explosion of Fireball). On a failed save, the creature must choose a new target or forfeit targeting someone instead of you, potentially wasting the attack or spell. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours. An undead is also immune to this effect for 24 hours if you target it with an attack or a harmful spell.
That’s quite a list!
Spare the Dying isn’t fantastically useful, but a free cantrip’s a free cantrip. And you get a ranged option for stabilizing people in case your Cleric is busy, so that’s nice.
The advantage against disease will either never come up or be a life-saver. You won’t get this applied to you in too many situations. But against rodents in the early game or mummies in the late game, rolling that Constitution save twice will feel super good. Especially since Warlocks don’t get natural proficiency for Constitution.
Finally, you get a permanent Sanctuary effect against Undead… The most prominent enemy type. This is insanely useful, especially if you’re slow to the draw. The fact that it’s attached to a Wisdom save isn’t too bad; most Undead don’t have insane Wisdom scores. Try to fight either one Undead at a time, or only fight the ones that have already saved against your Among the Dead. This’ll cause you to be one of the tankiest members of the party against Liches or Necromancers.
Now, things start going downhill.
Starting at 6th level, you can give yourself vitality when you cheat death or when you help someone else cheat it. You can regain hit points equal to 1d8 + your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 hit point) when you succeed on a death saving throw or when you stabilize a creature with Spare the Dying.
This is only once per long rest.
Now… Okay, this looks worse than it is. Since you can heal yourself when you succeed on a death saving throw, you can easily pick yourself off the ground and get right back into combat. That’s actually really good, and can swing fights back into the favor of your party.
However… If you use it just for the heal, that’s a maximum of 1d8+5. Even at level 6, that’s not exactly awe-inspiring. And it’s highly conditional, requiring you to stabilize a creature with Spare the Dying. Does that make Spare the Dying more efficient? Kind of, sure, but you really want to save this for when you’re unconscious and need a pick-me-up.
Save this for when you’re unconscious. Even if you could have used it and don’t end up falling unconscious, it just isn’t worth using for 1d8 + Constitution.
Oh no… Now we get to the problems. We get to the part that is really, really not good.
Beginning at 10th level, you can hold your breath indefinitely, and you don’t require food, water, or sleep, although you still require rest to reduce exhaustion and still benefit from finishing short and long rests.
In addition, you age at a slower rate. For every 10 years that pass, your body ages only 1 year, and you are immune to being magically aged.
That all seems great, right? You get so much survivability.
Okay, so, your GM has to be a really particular kind of person for the food, water, or sleep thing to come to pass. Food only costs copper in town or Nature checks while in forests. Water is assumed to be in your inventory at all times. Not needing sleep is actually a really great ability… But you could just get an Invocation for it. The holding your breath thing only comes up against the Cloud spells, or if you need to swim for a long time. And there are spells that your Wizard or Bard can learn to replicate the effect.
And for aging… Most campaigns take place – in-universe – over the course of a few months to a year. You’ll see the benefit, sure, but… Not to the extent that this ability wants you to. Preventing magical aging can be hilarious – like if your GM has an enemy wizard cast Time Ravage on you – but if that ever comes up in your campaign, there’s probably better ways to stop it.
Overall, this ability does so little to affect the game. The flavor is absolutely incredible… But if you get a class skill that you can replicate with an Ion Stone, then it might be weak.
Your level 14 ability, the entire reason you’ve leveled up this class so far. The absolute pinnacle of your spellcaster’s abilities…
When you reach 14th level, you partake of some of the true secrets of the Undying. On your turn, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d8 + your warlock level. Additionally, if you put a severed body part of yours back in place when you use this feature, the part reattaches.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
As a bonus action… You heal 1d8+20. At level 20. Once per short rest.
That’s your capstone.
Okay, so, bright sides. This is a bonus action, so you’re not spending your whole turn to heal 1d8+20. That’s pretty okay! And hey, if your GM does dismemberment rules (for some reason) you’ve got a really easy way to sew it back on. Recharging on a short rest is an upside, too! This is basically another spells slot; around 2nd level in power, but still!
The downsides might be a little bit obvious. 1d8+20 averages 24 health. For a capstone ability… That’s kind of pathetic. Sure, getting bonus hit points is never not good, and that 24 health can easily keep you in the fight.
But… Really? If you compare this to the level 14 ability of the Fiend, this heals for half the damage that it deals, takes any kind of action, and does so little to affect the battlefield. You could even argue that a level 1 Healing Word outclasses it, since you can use that to pick people off the ground.
This capstone should not be the reason that you take the Undying.
Pact Boon Synergies
All Warlocks gain access to one out of three pacts. These pacts all have synergies with the subclasses, though two of them are slightly above the third in terms of power.
Pact of the Blade
Even though you’re called a Warlock of the Undying, you’re still a Warlock – The frontlines just don’t really work too well for you. If you do choose to pick up a weapon, consider either heavy feat investment to get armor, using Finesse, or multiclassing. Otherwise, Eldritch Blast just does far better damage at a much better range.
Pact of the Chain
Ever wanted a little friend to help you out as you age super slowly? Well, Pact of the Chain can give you one! Realistically, the Pact of the Chain is quite useful as a scouting tool, and delivering touch spells – like Death Ward – to allies. It also offers an expendable frontliner in the early game, if you’re feeling somewhat cruel. The Imp is perhaps the best familiar of the four offered by the Chain, and actually has a bit of flavor to it; what is more hellish than living forever?
Pact of the Tome
The safest pick for most Warlocks, the Book of Shadows gives you some good utility cantrips. Try to choose ones that don’t deal damage; Eldritch Blast can handle the damage front quite easily. However, there’s some anti-synergy; don’t take the Aspect of the Moon invocation, since you already don’t need to sleep. The Book of Ancient Secrets invocation, however, is quite a potent ability.
Best Race for The Undying Warlocks
The Undying Warlocks are a rare breed that want Charisma and Constitution the most; Dexterity is somewhat of an afterthought. Charisma and Constitution is a rare combo, so focus on Charisma and get Constitution either through ability score boosts, or other means.
One race that has both Charisma and Constitution? A Scourge Aasimar. This Volo’s Guide race has some useful Charisma, a boost in Strength, a few damage resistances, the ability to get extra Radiant damage against your opponent… The list just goes on and on. If your GM lets you use them, the Aasimar is a potent race, especially for this subclass.
Another Volo’s Guide race, the Triton gets increases to Strength, Charisma, and Constitution; a pretty good spread, especially if you want to try out Blade Pact. Add in some utility spells and some okay resistances, and you’ve got yourself a decent choice if you plan on swinging some swords.
Special: Hollow Ones
If your GM is feeling rather accepting of new ideas, you could try to get this Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount supernatural gift. As a basically-undead, you do waste your age ability with the Ageless bonus. But otherwise, you’d get the ability to force save disadvantage on a target, while being the delicious flavor of an Undying Revenant. This is definitely a “talk-to-your-GM” thing, though, and you’ll still need a baseline class.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Undying Warlock 5E
This is the worst Patron. By far. There’s so many abilities that just barely do anything, even in the perfect situations for them. If you really, really want the flavor of searching for immortality, than more power to you. Consider multiclassing; the first level ability actually isn’t all that bad. If you’re looking for a way to heal yourself and party members, and get bonuses for doing so, consider the Celestial Patron. For more information on the class in general, see our Warlock 5E Guide.