The School of Necromancy wizard's 14th-level Command Undead feature says (PHB, p. 119):

As an action, you can choose one undead that you can see within 60 feet of you.

If that undead fails a Charisma save, it becomes friendly and obeys your commands.

Unlike the spell animate dead, Command Undead does not specify that it has to be a Small or Medium humanoid. So am I able to attempt to command powerful undead such as liches, dracoliches, death tyrants, death knights, etc.?

I know that they would be hard to keep under control because of the saving throws and their high Intelligence, but can I try to use Command Undead on them? Or does Command Undead not work on them at all?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ladifas They're doubting whether it can be used on such undead at all, so the details of how hard it might be are moot for the question, so long as it's possible to try. (I rearranged the question a bit to emphasise that.) \$\endgroup\$ May 12, 2016 at 14:46

2 Answers 2


The higher their intelligence, the more likely they are to succeed on their charisma saving throw against the ability (DC=your wizard spell save DC).

If the target has an intelligence of 8 or higher, it has advantage on the saving throw. If it fails the saving throw and has an Intelligence of 12 or higher it can repeat the saving throw at the end of each hour until it succeeds and breaks free.

So you're much more likely to succeed on a death knight than any of the other's. Also, if they break free at the end of the hour, they're gonna be pissed at you! Just a thought.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Better not try on a lich. Pissing off a lich is a good way to die. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nyakouai
    May 12, 2016 at 15:50
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good answer (+1). I'd just suggest you add definitive first line like, "Yes, for a limited time" \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    May 13, 2016 at 0:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nyakouai You are correct! But might i add: pissing off a lich is a HORRIBLE way to die. They have all of the intention, plans and ability to torture nearly anything (up to and including demigods) for near-infinite amounts of time. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2020 at 19:10

You could, theoretically, control any of those creatures, but only for a short period of time. Since all of those creatures have 12 or higher Intelligence, you could have control of them for a little while, after which they are free and angry at you.

Now, you could just control minor undead, but by 14th level, that has almost no practical uses.

(Side Note: the most powerful undead you can permanently control with Command Undead is an Ancient White Dracolich, as its Intelligence is only 10. However, they still have a massive bonus and advantage to the save, so have a plan if you try and control it, because you only get one shot at it.)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Feeble mind it first! Then assuming it fails you can remove feeblemind to make it more useful as a pet. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 21, 2018 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that a dracolich "willingly" bound his soul to a phylactery. Therefor you should first convince it that it is willing to do that before killing it. I doubt a proud white dragon would ever do that instead of fighting till death. \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2020 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TomVanNieuwenhoven White Dragons are not known for pride... they're known for their stupidity relative to other dragons. From the MM: "The smallest, least intelligent, and most animalistic of the chromatic dragons, white dragons dwell in frigid climes, favoring arctic areas or icy mountains. They are vicious, cruel reptiles driven by hunger and greed." \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Jun 1, 2020 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ You want ANY undead with intelligence less than 8. Really stupid people turned into vampires, any bodak - and even the Nightwalker work well for this. Get almost any beholder zombie for AT WILL disintegration (and three other eyestalks). Just... not the lich. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2020 at 19:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .