dnd 5e undying warlock


The Undying seeks to make the Warlock survivable, but hardly manages to do so any better than other patrons. Most of the options are situational and reactionary, and grant the Warlock very few options to actively address problems. You do get a few options to heal yourself and your allies, but they’re underwhelming on their own and they feel laughably weak when you compare them to the Celestial Warlock‘s Healing Light feature, which already isn’t great.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.

Undying Warlock Features

  1. Expanded Spell List: A few options are good, but most of the options on the Undying patron’s spell list don’t add anything important to the Warlock’s existing abilities.
    • 1st-level Spells: False life is a bit silly considering you can get Armor of Agathys or Fiendish Vigor. Ray of Sickness is passable, and scales with level, but it isn’t very exciting, and poison resistance/immunity is very common, so you’ll probably replace it very quickly.
    • 2nd-level Spells: Two options for debilitating foes: one more martial foes, and one for spellcasters.
    • 3rd-level Spells: Two situational options, but Speak with Dead is extremely useful in a game where you frequently kill things with useful information.
    • 4th-level Spells: Death Ward is a powerful defensive buff, and with an 8-hour duration you can use all of your spell slots to cast it on multiple members of your party, then immediately take a Short Rest to regain your spell slots and get right back to adventuring.
    • 5th-level Spells: Contagion is versatile and very powerful. Legend Lore is situational, but it’s essentially “Ask the DM About the Plot” as a spell, which makes it very potent.
  2. Among the Dead: A free cantrip (albeit a bad one), and perpetual Sanctuary against a common creature type.
  3. Defy Death: This is really cool, but only works once per Long Rest. You generally want to save this for when you are dying because the healing will bring you back to consciousness, but it’s not enough healing to use it if you just want to get back to full hp. Using it when you stabilize an ally just gives you normal, boring healing.
  4. Undying Nature: Very little in-game effect. Holding your breath indefinitely may mean that you can safely fight underwater, but as a DM I would rule that performing Verbal spell components would require inhaling and exhaling for races which need to breathe.
  5. Indestructible Life: Not a lot of healing. Compare this to the Fighter’s Second Wind feature, which provides more healing and is available at level 1 rather than level 14 where most warlocks are getting their subclass’s “capstone” feature.

Undying Warlock Ability Scores

No different from a typical warlock.

Undying Warlock Races

No different from a typical warlock.

Undying Warlock Feats

No different from a typical warlock.

Undying Warlock Weapons

No different from a typical warlock.

Undying Warlock Armor

No different from a typical warlock.

Undying Warlock Multiclassing

No different from a typical warlock.

Example Build – I’m Everyone’s Problem Now

The Undying attempts to make the Warlock durable, which is really not a thing that warlocks are good at. So we’re going to cobble together some odd choices and turn our Warlock into a Defender. We’ll get damage and durability from unusual places and make ourselves both difficult to escape and punishing to attack.

We normally avoid multiclassing in subclass handbooks, but when the subclass is this bad, sometimes we need to think outside the box to make the build worth reading. As such, we’ll be starting with one level of Fighter.

This build assumes that we’ll be using all of the Warlock’s Optional Class Features.

Ability Scores

This build is weird for a Warlock. Normally we’re in light armor and built around Charisma and Dexterity. But we’re basically building a Paladin, so our ability scores will look similar to a stereotypical Paladin. We’ll use our Variant Human feat to get Heavy Armor Master, which includes a +1 Strength increase, then put our two racial increases into Constitution and Charisma to start with 16 in all three.



Variant Human. We need all the help we can get, so we’re choosing a safe, powerful option.

With our racial feat we’ll take Heavy Armor Master. The flat damage reduction is going to add a lot of durability, allowing us to serve as a better punching bag for a longer period of time.


Soldier. That gets us Athletics and Intimidation, which works weirdly well for this build. If you’re feeling fancy, you can customize the background and drop the gaming set and vehicle proficiencies in favor of two languages.

Skills and Tools

Since we’re starting with a level in Fighter, we pick our class skills from the Fighter’s list. We’ll take Insight and Intimidation. We get Athletics and Intimidation from our background. We’ll take Beguiling Influence to get Deception and Persuasion. That leaves us with one additional skill proficiency from our race, which we’ll put into Perception.


At 5 we’ll take War Caster.

At 9 we’ll take Slasher for the speed debuff and Strength increase.

At 13 we’ll take Guile of the Cloud Giant for the Strength increase and the ability to mitigate damage.

At 17 we’ll increase Strength to 20.

At 20 we’ll increase Charisma for the first time.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1 – Fighter 1Fighting Style: Interception
Second Wind
Take the scale mail and get a two-handed weapon. At some points you may want to stay in scale mail or downgrade to ring mail in order to keep your AC low enough that enemies hit you and trigger Armor of Agathys, but doing so is very risky.

Interception allows us to mitigate damage to allies, which encourages enemies to attack us instead. Second Wind stretches our HP a little further between rests.
2 – Warlock 1Otherworldly Patron: The Undying
Among the Dead
Pact Magic
Spells Known:
– Armor of Agathys
– Hex
Cantrips Known:
– Spare the Dying (free)
– Blade Ward
– Booming Blade
Among the Dead exists. If you ever encounter undead enemies, it might even matter.

Armor of Agathys is central to our build, and it will likely be our main source of damage output. If it’s down, cast it again. Heavy Armor Master will reduce incoming damage from most weapon attacks, allowing us to stretch the effect of Armor of Agathys a bit.

Booming Blade is our go-to offensive option. Remember that its range is only 5 feet, so even if you’re using a reach weapon, you’ll still need to get in close. This encourages enemies to stay still and attack us instead of our allies.

If you’re being swarmed or if an enemy is happy attacking just you, cast Blade Ward and let enemies flail against Armor of Agathys’s retaliatory damage. Remember that flat numeric damage reduction applies before Resistance, so Heavy Armor Master is subtracted before halving incoming damage.

We’re not taking Eldritch Blast. I can hear the Fun Police sirens outside my house.
3 – Warlock 2Eldritch Invocations
– Beguiling Influence
– Eldritch Mind
New Spell Known:
– Any
Without Eldritch Blast, most of the good low-level invocations are off the table. We’ll take Beguiling Influence for the skills and Eldritch Mind to help with Concentration temporarily.

Most of the time we’ll be concentrating on Hex. The ability to cast it once and use it all day means that we can get a lot of mileage and still leave our spell slots for Armor of Agathys.
4 – Warlock 3Pact Boon: Pact of the Blade
Retrain Invocation:
– Eldritch Mind -> Improved Pact Weapon
New Spell Known:
– Hellish Rebuke
2nd-level spells improves Armor of Agathys considerably, but damage from enemies also scales, so it may still go down to one attack sometimes. We’ll take Hellish Rebuke, but only use it if you expect a rest immediately after your current encounter.

Improved Pact Weapon keeps us on the Fundamental Math with our weapon attacks.
5 – Warlock 4Feat: War Caster
New Cantrip Known:
– Green-Flame Blade
New Spell Known:
– Any
War Caster replaces Eldritch Mind’s benefits to Concentration. Between proficiency, 16 Con, and Advantage on the save, our Concentration is nearly unbreakable.

Cantrips improve at this level, which is great timing because we’re now using Booming Blade as an Opportunity Attack in addition to using it on our turn when we’re not re-applying Armor of Agathys. Remember that effects don’t stack with themselves, so if a creature already has Booming Blade’s secondary damage in place, you can’t double it by hitting them again.

This puts enemies in a difficult position. They can stay and hit you, but they’ll take automatic damage from Armor of Agathys if they do and Heavy Armor Master will further mitigate the damage. Or they can try to move away, and you’ll hit them and punish them for moving. If an ally is within your enemy’s reach, you’ll mitigate the damage with Fighting Style (Interception).
6 – Warlock 5New Invocation:
– Cloak of Flies
New Spell Known:
– Any
3rd-level spells improve Armor of Agathys again.

I’ve never put Cloak of Flies on an example build before because most melee warlocks take Thirsting Blade at this level. But we’re getting our damage output from places other than our attacks, so there’s room or Cloak of Flies. The automatic damage isn’t much, but it’s completely automatic. We’re building ourselves so that it’s very hard for enemies to get out of melee with us, so we can expect this to deal damage consistently.
7 – Warlock 6Defy Death
New Spell Known:
– Any
Defy Death is the first interesting thing that our subclass has given us. It provides an insurance policy in case our extremely annoying Defender tactics ever get us beaten down to 0 hp.
8 – Warlock 7New Invocation:
– Sculptor of Flesh
New Spell Known:
– Shadow of Moil
I’ve never put Sculptor of Flesh in an example build. If things are going badly for you, forget about Armor of Agathys and polymorph yourself into a t-rex.

4th-level spells improves Armor of Agathys again. Shadow of Moil gets us consistent Advantage on our attacks, Disadvantage on attacks against us, and 2d8 retaliatory damage which will stack with Armor of Agathys.
9 – Warlock 8Feat: Slasher (Str 16 -> 17)
New Spell Known:
– Any
Slasher makes our Defender tactics even more frustrating because when we hit an enemy, we can now debuff their speed. We are slightly behind the Fundamental Math, but we now have Shadow of Moil, so we can turn that on to get consistent Advantage on our attacks.
10 – Warlock 9New Invocation:
– Any
New Spell Known:
– Any
There are no obvious Invocation choices for us at this level. Thirsting Blade is a decent choice. With consistent Advantage from Shadow of Moil, we can reliably hit enemies with Booming Blade as an Opportunity Attack, so it may be less crucial to hit them with Booming Blade on our actual turn.

5th-level spells bring Armor of Agathys to peak effectiveness: 25 temporary hp and 25 retaliatory damage when we’re hit in melee.

If you want to multiclass more, this is a good level to end the Warlock portion of your build. From here on we’re little different from any other high-level warlock. Despite our best efforts, Armor of Agathys will inevitably lose effectiveness as enemies’ damage improves and Armor of Agathys remains static.
11 – Warlock 10Undying NatureUndying nature is neat, but has almost no effect on the game.
12 – Warlock 11Mystic Arcanum: Investiture of Ice
New Spell Known:
– Any
New Cantrip Known:
– Any
3 spell slots! Woo! Time for even more Armor of Agathys and Shadow of Moil!

Investiture of Ice makes it even harder for enemies to get away from us.
13 – Warlock 12Feat: Guile of the Cloud Giant (Str 17 -> 18)
New Invocation:
– Lifedrinker
Guile of the Cloud Giant allows us to give ourselves Resistance to damage from an attack and then teleport. This is great for keeping Armor of Agathys running, but it also allows us to quickly get into melee with enemies attacking us at range.

Lifedrinker adds even more damage to our weapon attacks.
14 – Warlock 13Mystic Arcanum: Forcecage
New Spell Known:
– Any
I’m not trapped in here with you. You’re trapped in here with me and my cloud of murder flies.
15 – Warlock 14Indestructible LifeOh look, it’s Second Wind but with a smaller die!
16 – Warlock 15Mystic Arcanum: Any
New Spell Known:
– Any
New Invocation:
– Any
17 – Warlock 16Ability Score Increase: Str 18 -> 20Finally 20 Strength fully 8 levels later than expected. You might go for Charisma instead of Strength if you’re relying more on spellcasting at this point.
18 – Warlock 17Mystic Arcanum: Any
New Spell Known:
– Any
19 – Warlock 18New Invocation:
– Any
20 – Ability Score Increase: Cha 16 -> 18
New Spell Known:
– Any
Finally better Charisma!