Death Knight Requirements & Abilities & Types

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Death Knight Requirements

  • Death Knights will start in a floating citadel similar to Naxxramas at level 55, and go through a series of quests that will establish their story and background in the Eastern Plaguelands.
  • All Indications are that Blizzard still plans to allow all races to be Death Knights, as's reporter saw Tauren, Dwarf, Gnome, and Orc Death Knights.
  • You must have an existing character of level 55 or higher to create a Death Knight.
  • You can create one Death Knight per realm per account.
  • You will not need to do any unlocking quests or sacrifice a character before you can create a Death Knight.
  • The Death Knight will start with a wide range of abilities, as it is assumed that someone with a level 55 character has the experience to handle them right off the bat.
  • They will start with a 60% speed summoned Death Charger as a land mount, which be upgradable via quest much like Warlock and Paladin mounts.

Death Knight Abilities:

  • Presences: Much like Paladin Auras or Warrior stances, Presences will be powerful one-at-a-time self-buffs that will probably determine whether the Death Knight is taking on a Tank or DPS role in the group. reported on 3 presences, as follows:
  • Blood Presence will increase the Death Knight's DPS and provide a small healing effect when the Death Knight is hit.
  • Frost Presence will increase the Armor and Threat of the Death Knight.
  • Unholy Presence will provide increased attack speed and decreased global cooldown, and is being billed as the PvP presence.
  • Death Coil: It will not fear like the Warlock version, but will act like the WC3 version also used by Death Knights in that game, damaging enemies or healing friendly undead targets.
  • Army of the Dead: This ability will temporarily summon a small army of Undead that will fight for you. It will apparently be channeled, which makes me think it will be closer to an AE attack like a Druid's Hurricane than an actual pet ability.
  • Raise Dead: This will raise an actual nearby corpse, including one of a fallen ally (even in Arenas) to fight for you as a Ghoul. An ally so resurrected will have the option to control their character as a Ghoul. Ghouls will get abilities to cause diseases, stun, and fear among other things, but it seems like they will be temporary pets all the same - at least, I assume PCs will eventually be allowed to resurrect rather than stay slaves of the Death Knight.
  • Grip of Death: Pulls the enemy toward you and forces it to attack you (Probably a taunt effect, though It'd be great if the pulling effect works in PvP).
  • Blade Strike: Attacks the target and applies a disease.
  • Blood Strike: Deals Damage based on how many diseases are on the target.
  • Chains of Ice: Roots a target, then applies a snare that lifts gradually until the target regains full mobility

Death Knight Types

1st Generation: Death Knights of the Old Horde

A first-generation death knight is essentially the soul, knowledge, memory, and personality of an orc necrolyte or warlock, necromantically bound within the reanimated corpse of a human being. Unlike the Lich King's death knights, these entities retain free will and thus possess the ability to advance their own personal agendas as they please. The corpse may be skeletal or still contain flesh.

Many of these death knights were later transformed into Scourge liches, and acted as Scourge spellcasting hero-class units in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

Due to the ambiguous choice of words by Blizzard when they wrote their original lore, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there may be several first generation death knights who still exist in their original form. Blizzard has recently unveiled the whereabouts of one such original death knight, Teron Gorefiend, a malevolent abomination whose restless and embittered form now resides in the Black Temple of Outland. Others are rumored to be connected to Karazhan as well.

2nd Generation: Death Knights of the Scourge

A second generation death knight is essentially the immortalized body, soul, knowledge, memory, and personality the hero who pledged their soul to the Lich King. However, these heroes may no longer possess free will and may serve their master for eternity. Though many of these death knights aren't too different from other Scourge minions in that they are reanimated from corpses and forced to serve the Lich King unquestioningly (as is the case with player-created death knights), some may even choose to become death knights under their own free will while still alive (Baron Rivendare is an example of this).

In the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion, player-created death knights can revolt against the Lich King and ally themselves with their former factions. A player's free will is restored to them during a Death-Knight-specific quest event involving an epic battle against the legendary paladin, Tirion Fordring, the cleansed Ashbringer, and the forces of the Argent Dawn.

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