Guide to Building a Warlock: The Undead Patron (UA)

Warlocks of the Undead patron serve a powerful undead being, such as an ancient vampire lord.  Consider the following character races and elements:

  • Try a Dhampir or Reborn (UA) character
  • Choose Pact of the Blade for melee build.
  • Eldritch Invocations: Misty Visions, Thirsting Blade, Undying Servitude.
  • Undead Patron abilities
  • Expanded spell list: bane, false life, speak with dead.

Of course, DnD lore gives patron examples such as Strahd, Azalin and Lord Soth.  However, I’m a fan of creating something out of the ordinary.  Perhaps a cursed and powerful mummy lord could be my patron, or the first ghoul to ever walk above ground.

Try a Dhampir or Reborn (UA) character

Obviously, we want to lean into the undead theme with this character.  Therefore, Dhampir and Reborn races can give me inherent vampire or zombie features and cool undead abilities.

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Dhampirs are day-walking vampires—hybrids of vampires and mortals.  With abilities like Spider Climb (like the spell) and Darkvision, I’ll have fun explorative options.  Plus, my Vampiric Bite deals 1d4 piercing damage, which gives me health and a bonus to my next roll equal to the number rolled.  Also, the 35 feet of movement is a nice touch.

Reborn are Unearthed Arcana’s zombie-lite race.  My Deathless Nature makes me a bit more durable than most.  Now, I have advantage on poison or disease saving throws, advantage on death saving throws, and can’t be put to sleep magically.  Plus, I don’t need to eat, drink or breath, with only 4 hours of sleep necessary.  Finally, I can use Knowledge form a Past Life, adding 1d6 to an ability check 3 or 4 times a day (proficiency bonus).

Choose Pact of the Blade for melee build.

With so much undeath, resistances, biting and healing potential, I figure a melee build with Pact of the Blade would be best.  Now, I can get up close and ugly, bouncing back from injury and chasing enemies like a horror movie monster.  However, this means I need to build my Dexterity skill along with my warlock Charisma.  This will help my light armor AC, attack rolls and damage output.

The Pact of the Blade gives me the ability to summon a magic weapon.  I get to choose what my weapon looks like—some wicked looking finesse sword or sickle.  Plus, the weapon counts as magical—essentially silvered for the purpose of overcoming non-magic damage resistance.

Now, I can add Eldritch Invocations to enhance my melee potential and nightmarish play style.

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Eldritch Invocations: Misty Visions, Armor of Shadows, Thirsting Blade, Undying Servitude.

Eldritch Invocations I’d choose for the Undead patron will add melee combat effects and thematic abilities to my creepy warlock.

Misty Visions gives me the ability to cast silent image without using any spell slot or components.  Now, I can create illusions up to 15 feet in size.  However, the illusion can’t make noises.  I like to confuse enemies by making duplicates of myself Naruto style.  Plus, this fits the Dracula theme of a dhampir warlock.

Armor of Shadows in another great starting Eldritch Invocations, granting me the mage armor spell without expending a spell slot or components.  Now, my armor cannot be lower than 16.

Thirsting Blade (5th level warlock) grants me a second attack when I take the attack action.  Naturally, this means I can dish out weapon damage like a ranger, paladin or fighter.

Undying Servitude (5th level warlock) gives me the ability to cast animate dead without expending a spell slot or use material components.  However, I can only do this once per long rest.  Now, I get to spread the undead love around.

Undead Patron abilities

The Undead patron grants gross and terrifying abilities, with a side of the spirit world: Form of Dread, Grave Touched, Mortal Husk and Spirit Projection.

Form of Dread grants me several physical transformations and combat abilities that I can activate 3-5 times a day (Charisma modifier):

  • Gain 1d10 + warlock level temporary hit points on transformation.
  • Once on each of my turns, I can force a creature I hit with an attack to make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, they are frightened of me until the start of my next turn.
  • Of course, I’m immune to the frightened condition.

Grave Touched (level 6) grants me extra 1d6 necrotic damage on successful attacks.  However, the initial type of damage I put out will be necrotic as well.

Mortal Husk (level 10) gives me benefits of zombie-like undeath, such as resistance to necrotic damage (immunity in Form of Dread).  Plus, when I drop to 0 HP, I can explode for a surrounding 2d10 + warlock level damage.  Then, I revive with 1 HP.  I’ll need to finish 1d4 long rests to reuse this ability.

Finally, Spirit Projection gives me the ability to leave my body as a spirit for 1 hour.  I gain several benefits:

  • Resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, piercing damage.
  • Conjuration and necromancy magic don’t require material components lacking gold cost.
  • I can fly, hover and move through solid objects.
  • Form of Dread extra necrotic damage heals me.

Expanded spell list: bane, false life, speak with dead.

Warlocks utilize less spell slots per day than most spellcasters.  However, I have a nice collection of expanded spells to choose from with the Undead patron.

  • Bane: Up to 3 targets in range make Charisma saving throws.  Fails mean they reduce attack or saving rolls by 1d4.
  • False Life: Gain 1d4 + 4 temporary HP.
  • Blindness/Deafness: Target makes a Constitution save or be blind or deaf for up to 1 minute.
  • Phantasmal Force: Create an illusion that fools all 5 senses with a 10-foot cube.
  • Speak with Dead: Speak to a corpse that has died within 10 days.  Up to 5 questions are possible.
  • Phantom Steed: Summon a Large, ghostly mount for up to 1 hour.
  • Death Ward: Touch a target and grant them 1 HP whenever they drop to 0 HP within the next 8 hours.
  • Greater Invisibility: Turn yourself or a target invisible for up to 1 minute.
  • Antilife Shell: Create a 10-foot dome that pushes out creatures other than undead and constructs.  The shell moves with you, but missiles and spells can pass through it.
  • Cloudkill: A 20-foot toxic cloud deals 5d8 poison damage on failed Constitution saves.  Deal half as much damage on successful saves.  Whether the target breathes or not doesn’t matter.


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