- This article is about the hero class in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. For other uses, see Death Knight (disambiguation).
- "DK" redirects here. For the old PvP mechanic, see Dishonorable Kill.
- See also: Starting a death knight
This article concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
Death knights (introduced in Wrath of the Lich King) boast powerful melee abilities as well as plate armor. These warriors supplement their strength with dark magic. Calling upon a rune system of magic, the death knight may summon unholy, blood, and frost spells. The criterion for creating a death knight previously required the existence of a level 55+ character on the player's account on any realm. However, as of December 2014, that requirement has been removed.
The death knight is the first hero class in World of Warcraft. Death knights start at level 55 in Acherus: The Ebon Hold over the Eastern Plaguelands, with multiple spells and abilities ready to use, and a set of uncommon gear. When departing Ebon Hold, they have a full set of rare gear ready for Outland. Through the death knight-specific quests in this necropolis and the surrounding areas, they learn to master the power of the death knight and learn to use this new power for the will of the Lich King. Quests take them outside the necropolis and into an area within the Scarlet Enclave.
Before Patch 5.3.0, players could only create one death knight per realm, so long as they had a level 55 character already and Wrath of the Lich King on their account. Now players are able to create multiple death knights on one realm. As of patch 8.3, the Pandaren and the recently introduced Allied races are now able to become death knights.
- Main article: Death knight (lore)
Death knight is a name shared by several organizations of powerful necromancers. These orders share a few things in common, including riding horses with horned skulls and many of the same abilities. Playable death knights, however, are specifically death knights of the Scourge.
- Main article: Death knight (Warcraft II)
The original death knights were created for Orgrim Doomhammer by Gul'dan as powerful soldiers of the Horde. These death knights were created by placing the souls of slain Shadow Council warlocks into the corpses of fallen Stormwind knights, the first of whom was Teron Gorefiend. Unlike modern death knights of the Scourge, these ghoulish fiends were not battle-hardened warriors; they were insidious necromancers who possessed superior intellect and tremendous magical power. They often favored the use of terror tactics and reanimated the corpses of enemy soldiers who fell in battle to serve them as mindless undead minions.
Champions of the Lich King
Years after the destruction of Draenor, the immensely powerful Lich King created a new breed of death knights: malevolent, rune-wielding warriors of the Scourge. The first and greatest of these was the Lich King's chosen champion, Prince Arthas Menethil, once a mighty paladin of the Silver Hand who sacrificed his soul to claim the runeblade Frostmourne in a desperate bid to save his people. The rest are primarily made up of other fallen paladins whose souls were twisted and bound to the will of the Frozen Throne .
Unlike Gul'dan's death knights, these dark champions possess unholy strength; however, they do not possess free will and their minds are inexorably entwined with and dominated by the Lich King's vast consciousness. Despite the potential loss of free will, some powerful mortals are intrigued by the promise of immortality and pledge their souls freely into the Lich King's service to achieve it. Baron Rivendare is an example of this.
In the years since Arthas shattered the Frozen Throne and merged with the Lich King, the power and fury of the death knights has only grown. Now these unrelenting crusaders of the damned eagerly await the Lich King's command to unleash their fury on Azeroth once again. Unlike death knights of the Old Horde, the Scourge's death knights are not limited to their use of ranged spell casting abilities. In addition, these tireless death knights are considerably stronger, faster, and more agile than they were in life. However, both generations are equally destructive and terrifying to engage in the field of battle.
The Ebon Blade
A new group of death knights, the Death knights of Acherus, was later created by the Lich King to garrison the necropolis of Acherus: The Ebon Hold for the ultimate purpose of assaulting Light's Hope Chapel and destroying the Argent Dawn. In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, these death knights are freed from the will of the Lich King and ally themselves with their former factions. Working closely under the guiding blade of Highlord Darion Mograine and the bolstered Argent Crusade, the newly-freed death knights have begun their march to Northrend.
The Knights of the Ebon Blade is a faction consisting of the renegade death knights that broke free of the Lich King's control after the battle of Light's Hope Chapel (in other words, player-created death knights). Led by Highlord Darion Mograine, the Knights of the Ebon Blade have allied themselves with the Alliance and the Horde with the help of Highlord Tirion Fordring of the Knights of the Silver Hand, and have pledged to do their part in defeating their former master, the Lich King. Their main base is Acherus: The Ebon Hold, taken from the Scourge after breaking free. It should be noted that the Knights of the Ebon Blade are not a separate player faction such as the Alliance and Horde. For the purposes of gameplay, player-created death knights still belong to either the Alliance or Horde depending on their race/faction.
Notable death knights
- Main article: Death knight races
The death knight class can be played by the following races, with the following stats:
In general, the death knight can be considered a hybrid melee class that combines damage dealing and tanking, somewhat akin to warriors. They wear plate armor and are able to dual-wield or use two-handed blade weapons (and maces, as revealed later). Like druids and monks, they tank without shields. Their tanking mechanics involve high armor and a high chance to parry. Death knight tanks depend on a combination of high damage abilities, in addition to high threat abilities.
The death knight has three different specializations; the differences between them are not as clear-cut as those of other classes, both for PvP and PvE environments. Notably, death knights can tank or deal damage regardless of specialization, although a careful selection is still required to bolster their preferred role. In Patch 4.0.1, the roles became more defined, with Blood becoming the Tank specialization tree, and the others being DPS.
Blood enhances the death knight's melee abilities and damage and vastly improves the ability to heal itself. Blood also provides healing utility to party and raids and has some very useful buffs and debuffs that the death knight can cast on others. Blood is considered the tree for soloing and should be given a thought when it comes time to level your death knight.
Frost enhances melee abilities and focuses on increasing both AoE and single target damage. It provides some very powerful direct damage abilities.
Unholy enhances the death knight's diseases and damage over time spells, making them effective at AoE DPS. It also provides the death knight with a ghoul who is a permanent pet, a gargoyle guardian he or she can summon, and stronger diseases.
The Rune System
Death knights use a unique rune-based resource system to govern their spells and abilities. Using certain abilities exhausts one or more runes, starting a cooldown of 10 seconds. After the cooldown, the runes refresh. The haste stat reduces the cooldown of runes.
In addition, whenever they use a rune ability against a foe, it builds up a certain amount of Runic Power. Runic Power is consumed by certain abilities, which the death knight can use while his/her runes are on cooldown. All abilities that use Runic Power use a set amount.
The original player frame for death knights shown at BlizzCon was changed as feedback showed it was not ideal for displaying rune power for players.
- Stat priority
- Bonus Armor
|Heart Strike||Starts with|
|Veteran of the Third War||55|
|Death and Decay||56|
|Dancing Rune Weapon||57|
|Mastery: Blood Shield||78|
- Stat priority
- Mastery (dual-wield) / Haste (until 600, two-handed)
- Critical Strike
- Haste (dual-wield) / Mastery (two-handed)
|Dual Wield||Starts with|
|Runic Empowerment||Starts with|
|Empower Rune Weapon||57|
|Pillar of Frost||57|
|Chains of Ice||63|
|Mastery: Frozen Heart||78|
- Stat priority
- Critical Strike
|Festering Wound||Starts with|
|Runic Corruption||Starts with|
|Death and Decay||56|
|Chains of Ice||63|
|Army of the Dead||82|
- * Quest rewarded abilities.
- † New with pre-patch systems Patch 7.0.3.
|On a Pale Horse||61|
|Path of Frost||66|
- Main article: Runeforging
Runeforging allows the death knight to permanently enchant their weapon with enchants that are typically more powerful than enchants available to other classes. The enchants work just like the permanent weapon enchants provided by Enchanting, but are self-only and are designed specifically to benefit the death knight class. These are independent of the rune resource system.
A weapon can have an enchant from either runeforging or from Enchanting, but not both. A player will have to be near a runeforge in order to forge a rune onto their weapon. Once a weapon has been engraved with a rune it is impossible for the rune to be removed, though it can be changed at a runeforge. Also, even if it is not soulbound, once a weapon has been engraved with a rune it is impossible for that weapon to be traded.
|Rune of Razorice||Frost||55||Any|
|Rune of the Fallen Crusader||Heal||70||Any|
|Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle||Armor, Stamina||72||Two-handed|
|Level||Abilities (choose one)|
All Will Serve
|57|| Rapid Decomposition
| Spectral Deflection|
Horn of Winter
Blighted Rune Weapon
| Blood Tap
Hungering Rune Weapon
| Anti-Magic Barrier|
|60|| Mark of Blood
| Red Thirst
Winter is Coming
|75|| Tightening Grasp
| Tremble Before Me
| March of the Damned|
|90|| Will of the Necropolis
| Rune Tap
| Foul Bulwark|
| Blood Mirror
Breath of Sindragosa
|Glyph of Cracked Ice||All|
|Glyph of Foul Menagerie||Unholy|
|Glyph of the Blood Wraith||All|
|Glyph of the Chilled Shell||All|
|Glyph of the Crimson Shell||All|
|Glyph of the Geist||All|
|Glyph of the Skeleton||All|
|Glyph of the Unholy Wraith||All|
|Glyph of the Wraith Walker||All|
|2||Relentless Assault, Hardiness|
|8||Unholy Command, Deathchill, Crypt Fever|
|10||Last Dance, Tundra Stalker, Unholy Mutation|
|16||Murderous Intent, Reinforced Armor|
|25||Walking Dead, Frozen Center, Pandemic|
|28||Blood for Blood, Overpowered Rune Weapon, Reanimation|
|34||Softened Blows, Sparring|
|43||Strangulate, Delirium, Wandering Plague|
|46||Death Chain, Chill Streak, Necrotic Strike|
- and are logical choices for any Plate armor wearing class. This allows crafting decent armor as one levels and sometimes good weapons. Death knights need to play catch up usually, since they start leveling from the mid 50s. So, they have to visit several low level zones to build up their Mining skill.
- and can be useful for death knights with non-Blood specialization who need quick potion heals and various buffs from elixirs and flasks. These professions are also good all around for making money and supplying guild runs.
- is good for any non-healing class for non-combat health regeneration and provides good buff foods.
- is good for any non-healing class for in-combat health regeneration and low downtime regeneration.
- is good for leveling cooking.
- Blizzard's original death knight concept was that of an undead spellcaster unit that made its initial appearance in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. This death knight could be more accurately described as a horseback-mounted lich rather than the traditional undead warrior.
- Years later, Blizzard introduced a new death knight hero unit in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, and this second rendition was revised to reflect the general characteristics of the more traditional death knight design.
- The death knight was later adapted as a prestige class within the Warcraft RPG and they were former paladin warriors. ( It is the Warcraft III version of the death knight that became the first )hero class in World of Warcraft and was introduced in the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
- Official art
- Fan art
- Patch 7.0.3 (19-Jul-2016): Runes are more straightforward by removing their division into separate Blood, Frost, and Unholy types. Death Knights now have six unified Runes to spend, with a maximum of three recharging at any one time.; Reducing ability overlap between specializations, giving each a single disease with a unique trait and creating a talent tree that’s largely populated with spec-specific talents to better distinguish them.
- / Patch 4.0.1 (12-Oct-2010): See Death Knight/Cataclysm changes.
- Patch 3.0.8 (2009-01-20): All multi-rune abilities generate 15 runic power.
- ^ http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/wrath/features/deathknight/gameplay.xml
- ^ Nethaera 2014-12-12. Death Knight Creation Change. Official World of Warcraft Community > General Discussion forum (US).
- ^ a b Death Knight. Warcraft III. Retrieved on 2009-06-20.
- ^ Death Knight Lore. Blizzard. Retrieved on 2009-06-20.
- ^ Gerald Villoria 2008-05-09. Enter the Death Knight. GameSpy. Retrieved on 2009-06-20.
- ^ Cody Bye 2008-05-09. World of Warcraft: An In-Depth Look at the death knight. Ten Ton Hammer.
- ^ Ghostcrawler 2008-07-22. 10. Rune Configuration Swapping: What's the plan?. Forums.WorldOfWarcraft.com. Archived from the original on 2008-08-31.
- ^ Death Knight. Blizzard. Retrieved on 2009-06-20.
- ^ A&HC, 24