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
When the Lich King's control of his death knights was broken, his former champions sought revenge for the horrors committed under his command. After their vengeance was won, the death knights found themselves without a cause and without a home. One by one they trickled into the land of the living in search of a new purpose.
Pilt:Death knight crest.png

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 is the existence of a level 55+ character on the player's account on any realm[1].

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.

Players can create one death knight per realm, so long as they have a level 55 character already and Wrath of the Lich King on their account. Currently the Pandaren cannot become death knights.

Lore Edit

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.

Immortal Soldiers of the Horde Edit

Pilt:Dwarf death knight.jpg
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 the slain warlocks of the Shadow Council 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.

Most of these death knights were destroyed during and after the Second War, either killed by the Alliance or transformed into liches by Kil'jaeden.

Champions of the Lich King Edit

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 [2].

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.[3]

The Ebon Blade Edit

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 Edit

Horde Horde
Ebon Blade Knights of the Ebon Blade
Shadowfang Keep

Races Edit

Main article: Death knight races

The death knight class can be played by the following races, with the following stats:

Sortable table
Race Strength Agility Stamina Intellect Spirit Armor Health** New Health
Alliance DraeneiDeathKnight maleDraeneiDeathKnight female WotLK 109 70 99 29 44* 140 2169 2939
Alliance DwarfDeathKnight maleDwarfDeathKnight female WotLK 113* 69 100* 28 41 138 2179 2979*
Alliance GnomeDeathKnight maleGnomeDeathKnight female WotLK 103 75 99 33* 42 159 2169 2939
Alliance HumanDeathKnight maleHumanDeathKnight female WotLK 108 73 99 29 43 146 2169 2949
Alliance NightElfDeathKnight maleNightElfDeathKnight female WotLK 104 77* 99 29 42 154 2169 2939
Alliance Worgen maleWorgen female Cataclysm 111 75 99 25 41 0 2169 2949
Horde BloodElfDeathKnight maleBloodElfDeathKnight female WotLK 105 75* 99 32* 40 150 2169 2929
Horde ForsakenDeathKnight maleForsakenDeathKnight female WotLK 107 71 99 27 47* 142 2169 2959
Horde GoblinDeathKnight maleGoblinDeathKnight female Cataclysm 105 75* 99 32* 40 0 2169 2949
Horde OrcDeathKnight maleOrcDeathKnight female WotLK 111 70 100* 26 44 140 2179 2969
Horde TaurenDeathKnight maleTaurenDeathKnight female WotLK 113* 69 100* 25 44 138 2246 3117***
Horde TrollDeathKnight maleTrollDeathKnight female WotLK 109 75* 99 25 43 150 2169 2959

Role Edit

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, they tank without shields. Their tanking mechanics involve high armor and a high chance to parry.[4] Death knight tanks depend on a combination of high damage abilities, in addition to high threat abilities.

Like every other class, 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. As the name suggests, the special abilities it grants through talents are based on the Blood Runes. 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. Many 80-85 dks suggest to start as unholy and then switch to your blood spec depending on what suits you best.

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 Edit

Death knights use a unique rune-based resource system to govern their spells and abilities. Three rune types exist: blood, frost, and unholy, each with an attached color and symbol. Using certain abilities exhausts one or more runes, starting a cooldown of 10 seconds. After the cooldown, the runes refresh. Death knights can use spells to turn a rune into a Death Rune, which can be used as a blood, frost, or unholy rune. In addition, whenever they use a rune ability against a foe, it builds up a certain amount of Runic Power. This Runic Power is only used by few abilities.[5] All abilities that use Runic Power use a set amount. Death knights cannot reallocate the number and type of runes - they are fixed to two runes of each type.[6]

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.

Specializations/stats Edit

A dark guardian who manipulates and corrupts life energy to sustain himself in the face of an enemy onslaught.
- Official description
Stat priority
  • Mastery Rating
  • Hit Rating and Expertise Rating (until 7.5% of each)
  • Dodge Rating and Parry Rating
  • Haste Rating
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Blood Rites] Starts with
32px [Vengeance] Starts with
32px [Veteran of the Third War] Starts with
32px [Dark Command] 58
32px [Heart Strike] 60
32px [Scent of Blood] 62
32px [Improved Blood Presence] 64
32px [Rune Tap] 64
32px [Rune Strike] 65
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Blood Parasite] 66
32px [Scarlet Fever] 68
32px [Will of the Necropolis] 70
32px [Sanguine Fortitude] 72
32px [Dancing Rune Weapon] 74
32px [Vampiric Blood] 76
32px [Bone Shield] 78
32px [Mastery: Blood Shield] 80

An icy harbinger of doom, channeling runic power and delivering vicious weapon strikes.
- Official description
Stat priority
  • Strength
  • Expertise Rating (until 7.5%)
  • Hit Rating (until 7.5%)
  • Mastery Rating (2H - Haste)
  • Haste Rating (2H - Critical Strike Rating)
  • Critical Strike Rating (2H - Mastery)
  • Hit Rating (past 7.5%, up to 26.5%) (Dual-wield only)
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Blood of the North] Starts with
32px [Frost Strike] Starts with
32px [Howling Blast] Starts with
32px [Icy Talons] Starts with
32px [Obliterate] 58
32px [Unholy Aura] 60
32px [Killing Machine] 63
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Improved Frost Presence] 65
32px [Brittle Bones] 66
32px [Pillar of Frost] 68
32px [Rime] 70
32px [Might of the Frozen Wastes] 74
32px [Threat of Thassarian] 74
32px [Mastery: Frozen Heart] 80

A master of death and decay, spreading disease and controlling undead minions to do her bidding.
- Official description
Stat priority
  • Strength
  • Hit and Expertise Rating (until 7.5% of each)
  • Haste Rating
  • Critical Strike Rating
  • Mastery Rating
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Master of Ghouls] Starts with
32px [Reaping] Starts with
32px [Unholy Might] Starts with
32px [Scourge Strike] 58
32px [Shadow Infusion] 60
32px [Unholy Aura] 60
32px [Festering Strike] 62
Icon Ability Min Level
32px [Sudden Doom] 64
32px [Unholy Frenzy] 66
32px [Ebon Plaguebringer] 68
32px [Dark Transformation] 70
32px [Summon Gargoyle] 74
32px [Improved Unholy Presence] 75
32px [Mastery: Dreadblade] 80

Skills/Glyphs Edit

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 together (the runeforging enchants are always better for the death knight). 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.

Runeforges can be found in Acherus: The Ebon Hold or in some of the Icecrown questing areas inside of the metal dams.

Icon Rune of Type Level Weapon Type
32px [Cinderglacier] Frost 55 Any
32px [Razorice] Frost 55 Any
32px [Spellbreaking] Unholy 57 One-handed
32px [Spellshattering] Unholy 57 Two-handed
32px [Lichbane] Blood 60 Any
Icon Rune of Type Level Weapon Type
32px [Swordbreaking] Blood 63 One-handed
32px [Swordshattering] Blood 63 Two-handed
32px [Fallen Crusader] Unholy 70 Any
32px [Nerubian Carapace] Frost 72 One-handed
32px [Stoneskin Gargoyle] Frost 72 Two-handed

Tag Source
16px [Book of Glyph Mastery] (requires 425 inscription skill)
T:# Learned from a trainer with # Inscription skill
M:# Minor Inscription Research (requires # Inscription skill)
N Northrend Inscription Research (requires 385 Inscription skill)
V:# Vendor (requires # Inscription skill)

Major Glyph Source Major Glyph Source
16px [Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell] N 16px [Glyph of Chains of Ice] N
16px [Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon] Blood 16px 16px [Glyph of Dark Simulacrum] 16px
16px [Glyph of Dark Succor] T:275 16px [Glyph of Death and Decay] N
16px [Glyph of Death Coil] T:275 16px [Glyph of Death Grip] T:285
16px [Glyph of Enduring Infection] N 16px [Glyph of Icebound Fortitude] T:265
16px [Glyph of Icy Touch] T:280 16px [Glyph of Mind Freeze] T:350
16px [Glyph of Outbreak] T:320 16px [Glyph of Pestilence] T:300
16px [Glyph of Pillar of Frost] Frost (Death Knight) T:305 16px [Glyph of Shifting Presences] T:270
16px [Glyph of Strangulate] T:375 16px [Glyph of Unholy Command] T:310
16px [Glyph of Unholy Frenzy] Unholy N 16px [Glyph of Vampiric Blood] Blood T:345
Minor Glyph Source Minor Glyph Source
16px [Glyph of Army of the Dead] N 16px [Glyph of Corpse Explosion] T:340
16px [Glyph of Death's Embrace] M:75 16px [Glyph of Death Gate] M:75
16px [Glyph of Foul Menagerie] T:330 16px [Glyph of the Geist] M:75
16px [Glyph of Horn of Winter] M:75 16px [Glyph of Path of Frost] M:75
16px [Glyph of Resilient Grip] M:75 16px [Glyph of Tranquil Grip] 16px

Notes Edit

Blizzard's original death knight concept was that of an undead spellcaster unit that made its initial appearance in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.[7] 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.[2] The death knight was later adapted as a prestige class within the Warcraft RPG and they were former paladin warriors.A&HC 24 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.

Media Edit

Art Edit

Videos Edit

See also Edit

Patch changes Edit

References Edit

External links Edit


da:Death Knight de:Todesritter es:Death Knight fr:Chevalier de la Mort (Classe jouable) it:Death Knight pl:Death Knight