Is the Corpse Flower the only creature that isn't the undead-type to be able to make any sort of undead creature?

I mean by means other than the ability to cast spells and one of those spells might be a spell like Animate Dead.

I'm looking for other creature's abilities, lair actions or diseases or magic items that aren't simply vectors for spells like a Spell Scroll of Animate Dead.

EDIT: to confirm what others have deduced, I am looking for more than a sole counterexample but for as many examples as possible of how undead creatures can be made except by the obvious means (undead/spells).

  • \$\begingroup\$ are class features that create undead (whether typical necromancy or a special "variant") an option? Or are you specifically looking for something that is available for NPCs without DM homebrew? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2021 at 2:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi PixelMaster. I'm hoping to establish ALL the obscure rules on undead being in 5e, it's one thing to look through all necromancy spells and all the undead creature's abilities, I stumbled upon Corpse Flower's zombie ability by accident and I don't even know how to find all others. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Mar 26, 2021 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


Class levels

The Hexblade Warlock's Accursed Specter feature allows a hexblade to create a specter once per day.

Magic Items

Magic items are kind of a mixed bag, and once you get up to artifact rarity, basically anything can happen..

The Teeth of Dahlver-Nar, for example, do... a lot of things. Some of them include summoning various undead. Similarly, Luba’s Tarokka of Souls. The Wand of Orcus is more limited (except when held by Orcus, see below.)

The Deck of Many Things can summon an Avatar of Death, which is itself undead. How this can be used tactically is a bit questionable.


There exist several non-undead monsters that can create undead creatures without spellcasting.


It's easy to pass over Orcus for this question, because at first glance the demon lord is just using spells such as animate dead and create undead (and in fact has features that enhance his uses of those spells). However, Orcus also has an action granted to him by his Wand of Orcus:

While holding the wand, Orcus can use an action to conjure undead creatures whose combined average hit points don’t exceed 500. These undead magically rise up from the ground or otherwise form in unoccupied spaces within 300 feet of Orcus and obey his commands until they are destroyed or until he dismisses them as an action. Once this property of the wand is used, the property can’t be used again until the next dawn.

This is a heightened property of the wand itself, distinct from its ability to cast animate dead, since in anyone else's hands it can only create zombies and skeletons. In addition, the regional effects of Orcus's lair and his lair actions can create undead without duplicating the effects of spells.

Shadow Dragons

Any dragon created with the shadow dragon template (such as the eye-wateringly-named Karkethzerethzerus, the Sable Despoiler) can raise creatures killed by its Shadow Breath as undead shadows.

...And Others

Other monsters can reanimate those they kill, such as:

...while others have more exotic methods, such as the Maurezhi's ability to re-reanimate undead that have been killed.


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