Posted by: Sean | January 28, 2009

Do It Different: Death Knights

Before, we said that Death Knights were too new to ‘do it different’ – It was just time to do it at all.

Yeah, that’s done now.

So, Death Knights. Since everyone has one and you can even make one as your first character on a server now, how do you do it different? I’m so glad you asked.


The Stereotype: The stereotypical Death Knight is a brooding fellow, dark and gothic. A penitent who has come to realise all the evil he did as part of the Scourge and is now trying to atone in some way, shape or form. He’s a dark spectre within his faction; not truly accepted but determined to defend it.

The Alternatives: The Seeker: A time ago, this Death Knight was killed, and turned into a walking abomination against his people. Now that he has returned, he’s desperately trying to re-establish that connection from the ground up… even if this winds up looking a little silly along the way. The orc strips off his armor and goes back to the Valley of Trials, humbly consenting to training again and participating in shamanic rituals and dances. The human buries herself in the theology of the Light, begging the monks and priestesses of Northshire Abbey to let him study in their library. The night elf bathes in Moon Wells and tries to find animals that don’t recoil at the sight of her. In all cases, the goal isn’t to become good. It’s just to become human. (Or orcish, or night elvish, or gnomish.) Best spec: Could be any, but for sheer irony, I’m going to suggest Unholy – Having a ghoul with you always is a painful reminder that you’re not what you were… and may never be again.

The Time Bomb: And then some never regretted a damn thing. They trampled their way through the battlefield, revelling in the crack of bones, ripping of flesh, the weeping of women and children. Oh, they felt betrayed by the Lich King too; but it wasn’t being sent to die that did it. That battle, that single glorious moment before the shame… that would have been a fitting destruction. No, what offended this one was that the Lich King abandoned them when they were defeated. Now he has thrown his lot in with the Horde or Alliance, but it’s not the same. He wades into battle and slaughters, but he’s directed against only soldiers, taking objectives, limiting his casualties and being responsible. The taste for blood unabated, he gets into endless brawls in the streets (/duels, of course) and drinks to excess. Everyone is afraid that he’s eventually going to snap – but what’s the alternative? Throw him out where he may be picked up by an enemy… one who’ll let him off the leash against them? Best Spec: Blood, of course.

Ronin: Betrayed, abandoned, and lost, this character refuted the claim that she should now serve the Alliance or the Horde. While she has some loyalty to the Ebon Hold, she has otherwise defied the suggestions and refused to join either faction. Instead, she has withdrawn internally, pondering her past and trying to behold her future. She does this not out of contrariness but sincere self-reflection. Having accepted what she did was evil, she now is determined to be good and is as yet unconvinced that the Horde or the Alliance are any better. She refuses to enter their cities, accept their orders, or acknowledge them as enemies either. Instead, she wanders the land, accepting only the quests that she feels make the world better. If what was truly evil about the Scourge was that her free will was stripped away from her, then surely the total command of free will is what will make the world, and more importantly herself, better. Best Spec: Frost, both to highlight the cold inner reflection going on, but because tanking makes sense for someone who has started to devote herself to protecting others.
You get cool points if, after having been ronin for a long time, you finally agree that the Alliance/Horde is a worthwhile endeavour and only now, at long last, enter Stormwind/Orgrimmar and with your head held high offer your blade to its King/Warchief. You get SERIOUS FREAKING cool points if you do it at level 80 with all your new buddies whose trust you have won, walking alongside you the whole way in and shouting down all the people yelling at you and throwing rotten fruit your way.

Keep in mind that not doing the appropriate quest for this until then is doable, but you will only be able to train with Highlord Mograine and you can’t reset your talents until you do so. So it’s doable, but difficult.

That’s why it’s worth bonus points.


  1. This is the best one in the entire series, if you ask me.

    I absolutely love the “Ronin” concept and the “Bonus Scene” you suggested in your conclusion. The inability to reset your talent points isn’t really a big deal, if you’ve used a talent calculator to plan accordingly, prior to L80.

  2. Fantastic article and it got me thinking…

    I also like the idea of a DK with no past – maybe they were a hero of the Alliance or Horde as the introductory voice-over says, but after the DK starting experience is over they don’t know who they are and can’t remember a thing of what they did before…

    Lots of things you can do with this one:

    First up, they could be like ‘The Seeker’ above i.e. they identified with the LC and now that’s been ripped away from them they don’t know who they are.

    Alternately, your DK could actually be a really nice person when they have ended the DK starting experience – but why does everyone hate them? Why does everyone hate them? It wasn’t their fault that the LC made them do what they did. lots of interesting possibilities here i.e. the face of a monster with nasty abilities to match, but with a heart of gold ‘I can’t help what I was made into’.

    And lastly, a scenario a bit like the movie ‘Momento’ – you’re free from the LC’s control, do some good deeds and people feel sorry for you as after all, you used to be a hero of the Alliance/Scourge. But what if you were someone who was actually quite a nasty piece of work before you became a DK and not a hero at all…

    Perhaps you were working for the Scourge or Burning Legion before you died, or perhaps you were a criminal. Your character starts to remember this – or even better, meets others who remember what you once were and what you did before you became a DK… Perhaps your character starts to remember what they did – how do they feel about it?

  3. @ Simon: That’s a great idea!

    Amnesia might also be a really good reason to give the character a “non-traditional” name – something mythical, like “Razorthorn” or “Blackforge” or something along those lines, rather than “Matthias” or “Acturus” or some similar Humanoid name. After all, the character wouldn’t remember who he/she was as a person, so why would he/she remember his/her name?

  4. Have anyone considered the concept of the “Arthas Junkie”?

    Though consciously aware of the Lich King’s betrayal, aware of the horrible actions you took in his name, you find yourself still drawn to Northrend. Arthas used you, you know it. If you could only see him again, maybe it would be explained, maybe you could try to get some kind of closure, make sense of what happened. You did terrible things, but you’re better now, even if you’ll never be able to surrender to his voice… his presence, his commands… You’re dependent on the Lich King still, but you cannot confess your addiction to your companions. You cannot lose what little trust they have in you. If only someone would tell you what to do…

  5. I admit, I never considered the idea before, Ivory. 🙂

    That said, I’d call it: “Battered Death Knight Syndrome”.

  6. Haha … I like the “Arthas Junkie.” If I could just see him one more time … one more time and that’s it, I swear …

    I think the seeker would be very good for my death knight. She ended up looking very similar and having a similar name as another character so I decided they were twin sisters.

    Reading this made me think that perhaps she cannot remember her twin, but she feels compelled to scour the land looking for something she is missing, although she can’t remember what it is.

    Also a good excuse to go for the Loremaster/Explorer titles. 🙂

  7. I love the Arthas/LC junkie idea too – would definitely be good to play the character as an addict i.e. as part of the Scourge they were almost part of a ‘group mind’ (I’m thinking that they’re a bit like the Borg in Star Trek) controlled by the LC.

    You can imagine the trauma of having that ripped away from you i.e. without the Scourge you’re completely alone and all at sea – not to mention undead and outside (and mostly unwanted – see Thassarian’s story in Borean Tundra) of the societies that you used to be part of…

    The desire to go back to the certainty of being controlled by the LC and part of the Scourge i.e. part of a cult – all that you know now – could be very tempting…

  8. Drinking, smoking, other-abuse-of-substances aside, my undead death knight is /very/ much a Time Bomb.

    Out of nowhere, in the midst of a profanity-strewn (yet calm) conversation, he’ll just “snap” and punch a wall (or someone’s face).

    Oooh! A fun idea for the Time Bomb? Figuratively /and/ literally. I could easily see /some/ device that’d “go boom” whenever the T.B. gets too pissed off.

  9. I play a blood elf death knight who falls best into the seeker category. He kinda thinks he’s a paladin of the light (he doesn’t really understand how he got his free will back, and assumed it was the light at the chapel), to the point where he has not only renounced all unholy abilities (including raising a ghoul) except death strike and death grip, occasionally forgets he can’t ressurect people (being reminded of this makes him very moody) or bless them (he’s a scribe to make up for this). He gets very wierd looks when he says things like “Light bless you, child”, or goes all awe-struck at a naaru or a famous paladin’s grave, or gets his nose bent out of shape, so to speak, at his fellow blood elves abusing the light…
    He mostly spends his time hunting demons, crusading (running instances like strath), or just hanging around the chapel in the plaguelands.
    He’s also very much an argent dawn person (he had nobody to follow and was drifting alone at sea – naturally he latched onto the first organization he could find, which was of course, the dawn). This leads to him also being a fairly unique (at least on my area of the server) “I don’t care about Horde Vs. Alliance, we can all serve the light” voice.
    He’s my favorite character for the irony and novelty, and the fact that he’s also a bit of a comic relief character.
    Hope something I said gives someone else some ideas for spicing up their DK, or that they just enjoyed the reading. XD

  10. So I know that this article is, like, a year old, but I looked at your last scenario (the Ronin who doesn’t want any part in the Alliance/Horde) and thought it sounded like a good plan. So… I thought about it some more. I created a Draenei DK, because they seemed the most detatched from picking sides (they’re with the Alliance because that’s where they crashed, and because the Horde had BElves and Orcs – not because they actually think the Alliance is awesome), and I started levelling.

    A friend who was levelling a bit above me tried to not turn in the quest, and found that she was Silenced and Pacified – no attacking, no spells – you can’t even Death Gate back to Acherus. I was disappointed, but when I got to that point, I… couldn’t make Klarah go in. I just couldn’t. It was so antithetical to how I’d created her.

    So I ran to Westfall, on the off chance that maybe once I was out of Elwynn, I could go about my business.

    Lo and Behold, I could!

    So now my goal is to level her to 80 (a feat I have yet to achieve on any toon) or whatever the level cap is when I get there, and only THEN let her take that quest. That’s sort of my rational and summary of what I think. It’s going to be interesting, to say the least. Especially since I am NOT on an RP server.

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