The Undead Warlock is feared by all. These Warlocks have made a pact with a creature that has either accepted death or found a way to ignore it entirely. These creatures are Demilichs, Vampires, or some other powerful undead.
Undead Warlock Overview
The Undead Warlock has several abilities that alter their shape and form with powerful buffs. They can alter their form to make themselves horrifying to other creatures or even project their spirit outwards in a ghost-like form to float about and attack their enemies.
Undead Warlock Abilities
As you may imagine, the Undead Warlock’s Patron gives them quite a few varied abilities. They’ll have access to new necromancy spells as well as necrotic damage. The feature ability of the Undead Warlock Subclass is its Form of Dread.
Form of Dread
As a bonus action, the Warlock turns into an aspect of their patron. It could be a ghost-like visage, rotting flesh, or even a wrapped mummy. Whatever dreadful form your Warlock chooses, they gain a decent health boost (1d10+Warlock Level). They can also inflict fear when attacking and are immune to fear effects.
As an ability, this is actually a nice buff. It’s a bonus action, so it doesn’t waste a player’s turn as well as a decent amount of bonus hit points. It only lasts a minute, but the Warlock can use it a few times before needing a rest.
The fear effects are another nice bonus. The target will need to perform a Wisdom save to avoid being frightened, but it’s a nice crowd-control ability.
Grave Touched gives the Warlock access to necrotic damage. This can be useful when facing creatures with odd resistances, but they already have access to Eldritch Blast so it’s not as useful as you might think. When combined with Form of Dread, the Undead Warlock does get extra damage dice which is never a bad thing.
Grave Touched gives a little bonus with extra damage and it does add some RP flair since the Warlock no longer needs to eat, drink, or breathe. Not having to breathe basically gives the player an unlimited ability to breathe and in a water campaign, that’s actually really impressive.
All in all, the Grave Touched ability is a solid addition. It’s not groundbreaking but everything it offers is a nice-to-have.
Necrotic Husk is my favorite Undead Warlock ability. The Undead Warlock now gains resistance to necrotic damage and when using their Dread Form they gain immunity.
That’s not the best part, though. The Necrotic Husk ability turns the Warlock into a literal explosion of death energy. When they are reduced to 0 hit points, they instead retain 1, but then explode in death energy hitting all enemies within 30 ft (2d10 + Warlock level).
It’s a pretty fun strategy to suicide run into the center of a group of enemies when near death to wipe out everything in a death bomb. The Warlock does suffer from exhaustion, but it’s too cool and fits so well with the class.
This actually has some very useful applications. The Undead Warlock detaches their spirit from their physical body and can fly around. They gain resistances in line with their form (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing), can cast necromancy spells without components, and can fly.
If they are using their Form of Dread and deal Necrotic damage they can regain half the damage as hit points once per turn.
This gives the Warlock a lot more longevity on the battlefield and lets them regain hit points basically once per turn.
It’s an all-around useful skill, but there’s one more thing that I think has fantastic utility. The Warlock also gains limited teleportation with their Spirit Projection. When it ends, the Warlock’s spirit is teleported back into their body, or their body is teleported to their spirit and materializes.
Best Races for Undead Warlock
Thematically speaking, it’s probably best to choose one of the additional races from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. Since the Undead Warlock is attempting to hide from death it only makes sense to have them be a Reborn or Dhampir. It just works so well thematically.
However, there are some overlaps in abilities, like the ability to not breathe. If you’re looking for a race purely based on stats, anything that boosts Charisma is going to be your best bet.
Pros of the Undead Warlock
The Undead Warlock is relatively easy to use for new players and the tactics are pretty simple. Use your Form of Dread and then spam your Eldritch Blasts. It’s pretty simple.
It does have some extra bonuses like necrotic damage and abilities that give extra hit points or regain hit points. These definitely add to the overall longevity of the Warlock on a battlefield without adding too many bells and whistles to manage.
The class is good overall. It’s not the best, but new and veteran players will be able to roll one of these characters up and start having fun with it right away.
Cons of the Undead Warlock
The main feature of the Undead is its Form of Dread. There is a downside to it, though. It has limited uses which isn’t great. The Undead Warlock will typically shift and then start blasting away with their spells or Eldritch Blast, but after all the charges of Form of Dread have been used, they’re basically stuck with standard Warlock spells and abilities.
Because of the Necrotic Damage attacks, you could try and add physical weapon proficiencies into the mix, but it just doesn’t seem cost-effective to me.
Is the Undead Warlock Good
The Undead isn’t the best Warlock subclass that’s available, but it’s pretty good. I would rate it upper mid-tier. It’s got a fun set of abilities that are easy to use and thematically, they work extremely well together. It’s going to be a good starting point for a beginner. All they need to do is keep using their Form of Dread and spamming Eldritch Blast.
For veterans, they still have some fun abilities like the limited teleportation offered by Spirit Projection and removing the ability to breathe with Grave Touched. A smart player will always find interesting ways to use this to their advantage.
At first, I thought it was a bit of a throwaway Patron subclass, but the more I looked into the Undead Warlock and the more I played it, the more I appreciated the simplicity of the class.
Done with the undead? Next, be sure to check out our Warlock 5e Class Guide, Warlock 5e Spells, and our complete guide to Warlock 5e Subclasses.
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.