Posted by: Jess Riley | December 14, 2008

Theme Week Classes: Concerning Death Knights, or, Hey, Hey, Hey DK, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Death Knights here at Blogatelle, but I think that in light of Theme Week Classes, the issue needs to be revisited a little.

Many of you may remember that the title of this post is taken from Sean’s own ‘pop culture’ reference on the subject of Death Knights. I’d like to (belatedly) go on record saying that I don’t think a reference to the Vietnam War counts as a pop culture reference as much as a historical reference. But, that’s beside the point to a large degree.

The greater issue that I want to talk about is that Death Knights aren’t going to be exactly welcomed back into the fold by a lot of people. Think about when your Death Knight first entered a city, and had things thrown at them and people spit on them, and people shouting at them. Then it was announced that they were repentant and now an ally, and all that stopped.

Stop right there – that’s what I want to target.

Did the shouting and the throwing things stop? Sure, absolutely. But make no mistake – I certainly don’t think that they were adopted into the fold and now everyone is la-la-la happy with them. People are going to be suspicious of them. They aren’t going to be close and happy. By virtue of simply being a Death Knight, it’s going to be that little bit harder to get what you want out of people, because they’re going to remember that you used to work for the Lich King, and a great many of them aren’t going to be so quick to forgive and forget.

Maybe a number of them think that something’s going a bit wrong, and that maybe those in power are being a bit too quick to forgive and forget the Death Knights. After all, do they not remember what the Death Knights did?

Either way, this is going to become an issue whether you play a Death Knight or whether you play someone interacting with a Death Knight. Point number one is that I would really like to see more suspicion of Death Knights and more people who aren’t so keen to extend the hand of friendship to them. I’ve only encountered one of these people so far as my Undead Death Knight, and this is actually a bit disappointing. For the sake of roleplay, I’m assuming that there’s a lot of quite suspicious NPCs running around, but I’m surprised that this is coming out in so few players.

But, really. Step one, I think, is work out how all your characters stand on the subject of Death Knights. Race is going to come into this a lot – there will be a lot of Undead who will remember that the Death Knights were the ones who killed them, but there will also be a lot of Undead who may recall that they, themselves, were a part of the Scourge and mindless for a period of time, and may have some sympathy for the Death Knights on that basis. Maybe they’ll think that the Death Knights had more free will than they did, and so will be more suspicious on those grounds. But it’s something to take into account, whichever way you spin it.

Other races will have their own perspectives, too, but I’ll admit that I haven’t pursued anything in that area yet. When I do, I will try and write a couple of posts on the variation.

Additionally, I just want to make a call-out to the readers; I want to talk about the quests in the starting area for the Death Knights, because I’ve been playing my Death Knight a lot lately. Would people prefer I left it until others have a chance to pursue it at their leisure, discuss it behind a link, or discuss it openly? I know that some people prefer not to be spoiled about game developments if they can avoid it, so I thought I’d gauge the reaction here.


  1. When it comes to this subject of how they be treated, it wouldn’t be too well. I really go into how they be treated, along with warlocks in a entry awaiting approval from you all lol. So I said what I will about this, in that pretty much.

    Also, what’s the status of my undead entry that has been pending for quite awhile? I rather not ask here but with getting no response in awhile via email, I kind of have to ask here.

    And when it comes to talking about the starting area. I say go ahead as long as you warn people of the spoilers. I myself am not even playing right now, and have no death knight to speak of (sigh). But I still read what you have to say, as I don’t mind spoilers too much. What with me being able to purposely not absorb the info enough to be spoiled down the road.

  2. “Maybe they’ll think that the Death Knights had more free will than they did”

    This is one of the key things that makes RP’ing a DK so interesting for me. I was so excited when I started my DK that I didn’t take a lot of notice lore-wise about how much choice she had about becoming one in the first place however the quests in the starter zone make it plain that she was initially a willing participant. It seems to be quite late on that the little prick of conscience happens. I play mine as quite surly and defensive because deep down she’s ashamed of herself – not that she’d ever admit it openly!

    I also play her as having little memory of her life (similar to undead I suppose) although there are some assumptions she can make, eg, she knows she was killed in EPL and was probably a paladin prior to death as she was reasonably skilled arms-wise. i’m certainly enjoying playing her 🙂

  3. Willing participant? I’ve always thought, based on opening cinematic text, that you were raised against your will… /but/ not made into a mindless drone…

    I will admit, though, the twinge of guilt did come in late, but it was played beautifully. (Assuming you’re talking about “A Special Surprise,” most moving quest ever.)

    Also, along the lines of talking about posts: I’d like to apologize for my lack of existing the past few weeks, but a cold and finals had killed me. I’ll have the thing done by Christmas! I promise! ^^;

  4. I was under the impression that it was a voluntary (in a manner of speaking; there may have been plenty of coercion and corruption) pledge to Arthas, but that after that your free will was quite heavily dampened by the effects of Arthas. Not removed completely, like the Scourge, but definitely dampened. A lot of Death Knights may invoke the Nuremburg Defense in response to criticism from others.

    And yes, I want to avoid spoiling it for people (because I was very moved by it), but A Special Surprise was… well, wounding to me, especially as I was playing an Undead Death Knight.

  5. My understanding is that the Lich King’s death knights come in three forms.

    The first is those who pledged themselves to his cause in life for some reason.

    The second is those who were “chosen” and corrupted by him over time.

    The third is those who were slain in battle with the Scourge and reanimated.

    I can’t think of any examples, apart from the obvious, and I have no source for any of this, but that’s what I thought up until now. Do correct me if I don’t have my facts straight.

  6. Yes, please discuss, but warn people re. spoilers!

    I think though that as the game has been released for a month now, most people will have played the 4-6 hours that it takes to complete the Death Knight starting experience.

    Thanks for the article – I haven’t gone too far into Northrend yet (taking my time doing every quest in BT and HF) but I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Thassarian quest line in BT which probably summarizes how most people (certainly in the Alliance) feel about DKs’

    *Spoiler Alert*

    I.e. Yes, people accept DKs as part of the Alliance but would rather they weren’t there & still hate/resent them.

    Hence the Thassarian quest line where the former Scourge Commander – who we met in the Orchard in the DK starting experience – is sent on what amounts to a suicide mission.

    So yes, the Alliance command is taking Wrynn’s command to heart, but are using DKs in very dubious ways…

    ‘OK, so you’re a ‘hero’ are you – well I have a hero’s job for you…’

  7. I play my Death Knight as having been a mercenary, and a very well known one, from Lordaeron who had plotted to assassinate the king and overthrow the kingdom until Arthas beat him to it.

    He’s very matter-of-fact about what he did as a Death Knight, though he offered himself to Arthas from the view of “If I don’t, he’ll kill me and raise me anyway.” Since then, he sought a way to gain his freedom, still intent on killing Arthas and claiming the throne of Lordaeron for himself (putting him well in line with the Alliance vs. Forsaken).

    But that matter-of-fact attitude lends him to “Yes, I slaughtered hundreds. Children included.” without blinking an eye. He was a child of war in life, he states what he did because that’s what happened. Crying and remorse doesn’t change what happened.

    What I’d like to see more DKs play is to avoid this “I’m evil, but still in your fold, so deal with it” attitude I’m seeing a lot. I’ve even considered the stance of claiming to be a warrior, hiding that they were a Death Knight to those around them.

    They are definitely too quickly accepting the Death Knights with open arms in my opinion.

  8. “I’ve even considered the stance of claiming to be a warrior, hiding that they were a Death Knight to those around them.”

    It be very hard to hide your a death knight. What with the glowing eyes and pale skin. Sure you could get away with some hiding but eventually, people notice.

    “They are definitely too quickly accepting the Death Knights with open arms in my opinion.”

    I think their immediate acceptance is a “time of war” issue. Both the Alliance and Horde are going to war with Arthas and as a result, they can’t afford to gain more enemies and desperately need as many allies as possible. So they accept them with ease. Now if this had not been war time, they would of been as accepted as the forsaken are at best.

    Now the question is, what will happen to them once the war is over? And many death knights may be wondering this and if who they side with, is the right choice. As they could easily be betrayed once their services are no longer required. Which could easily make them rejoin Arthas, acting as spies for him amongst the Horde or Alliance.

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