Talk:Death Knight (5e Class)

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Credit Thanks to original creators of the Death Knight 5E classes. I borrowed heavily from their work. This version is significantly toned down from the originals, but I hope you find it more functional and easier to play both from a player's and a GM's standpoint. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Arklorn (talkcontribs) . Please sign your posts.

in 5e a death knight is a monster... in the monster manual. it is created when a paladin dies after commiting an evil act and before it can atone for it. the only way to run a propper death knight is to look in the DMG pg. 96-97 and there are kits for Oathbreaker paladins and death clerics. give them the death knight's curse of undeath which allows it to raise from the dead until the time it finally atones for its evil actions OR Epic content where any class finds the "Book of Vile Darkness" (DMG pg.222) and boom, propper death knight... which might as well be a lvl million character depending on the level they died. in an epic campaign it could be worked around, but making some bunk class that completely disregards actual mechanics of the game is a waste of time. i understand that its fun to make classes, but for god sake never play them... its blasphemy unless you're playing a campaign that is entirely based on WoW lore, in which case shouldn't really be on a D&D wiki and can stay in your notepad or reddit. #DMing #ActuallyadeathknightinWoW #D&DisntWoW #Byefelicia

Is there any sort of picture you were looking for? Like World of Warcraft or D&D 3.5e or 5e Death Knight. Surely I can find a picture for this.

Just saying.... you might want to say how long the profane spells last (nevermind, just realized they are constant auras that last until dispelled or another is cast). Also does the netherblast effect last for one attack, the encounter, or a couple turns? Also also, Defense of Terror as an ability at level 3 is the same as the terror spell but without the specifics of the spell. I don't want to nit pick, because I LOVE this class.... but also how long the undead thralls last would be good too.

Someone please take this over..... I want to see this finished and I don't have the creativity or skill to make it good on my own. :(

I'm unclear what it's supposed to be. Is it supposed to be the death knight of D&D lore ("a paladin that falls from grace that dies without seeking atonement"), an undead creature. Or it a role voluntarily undertaken by a living creature, more like a blackguard? Marasmusine (talk) 09:15, 22 July 2015 (MDT)

Death Knight "finished"[edit]

I have taken up the task of finishing the Death Knight class. I had fun thinking of things for this class as well as tweaking things to make things balanced but also a joy to play. I hope it's satisfactory but if there are inquiries please discuss with me, I really want to make this awesome and usable.

I have taken inspiration from the Death Knights of WoW as well as the Nazgul of LotR.

There are probably still small things i have missed and i will be looking to fixing them.

- Lord of Pringles. 2 August, 2015

What do they get at 9th and 18th level?
With profane proficiency, what does "adding your Proficiency bonus to the spells." mean? Marasmusine (talk) 14:31, 2 August 2015 (MDT)

I was wondering mainly about the Mount Feature and about the Dex checks, when your mount passes a sex check it takes no damage and when it fails it takes half. Does this apply to the death knight riding the mount as well? We have several situations in our campaign that a spell was casted that caused us to make dex saves or take damage and i passed but my DM was wondering if my character takes damage but my mount does not. if you have an answer please email me at At 9th and 18th level, they get stuff from their archetypes... which i will quickly tweak.

Yeah I'm not sure, the creator wrote that one down. But it that statement doesn't really seem to fit there, with how the spells work anyway. I'll just erase that so there's no confusion.

Also if you could find a nice picture to add that would be awesome. I'm not the most knowledgeable at editing wiki pages. And by that i mean you can count many minutes i spent learning how to edit a wiki page in one hand. Also because i only started learning today...

- Lord of Pringles. 17:38, 2 August, 2015.

Death Knight Finished[edit]

So what do you guys think about the Death Knight? Too much, too little? Please play test it like i am and tell me your experience here on the discussion. It's been a joy to play so far. I've just gotten to Level 5 as Dark Horseman. My buddy has used it and his DMs seemed to like it too. However, there's always room for improvement. I hope if the creator sees this you like it too. I'm also very conscious about making this class have its own feel and uniqueness that i can only hope is satisfactory.

- Lord of Pringles. 10:57. 4 August, 2015.

Currently reconsidering the Death Thralls at level 5... it seems to be quite op at higher levels. Thinking of giving it to the Deathbringer but i dont want to remove the taste being able to animate dead from the other two archetypes.

- Lord of Pringles. 12:21. 4 August, 2015.

I'm still looking through the features, in the meantime, let's see a "quick build" section (I'm guessing Strength is primary and Charisma is secondary?) Marasmusine (talk) 01:33, 6 August 2015 (MDT)
I'll get right on that. - Lord of Pringles. 9:50. 6 August, 2015.
Just to let you know, in the graph for all the gained abilities you get over you leveling process, there's an ability at level two that is not an option listed below called "armor master" as a choice. Not sure if that was something intended to be removed or if it was an ability (or feat) that was not added to the list for some other reason. - Azure Dusk 1:39am 28 august, 2015.

Scrammed to fix stuff[edit]

So someone said it was unbalanced beyond reckoning so i went in and did number changes.

Minor grammar/format issues: Class names are not proper names, so throughout it should be "death knight" not "Death Knight". Class feature names should have level 4 headers. Marasmusine (talk) 07:06, 15 August 2015 (MDT)
How about archetype names? They can stay upper cased right?
Actually, I would like to change the archetypes from Dark Affinity to Orders or something similar, and then change the dark horseman to dark dread, deathbringer to unholy death, and the ebon bladesman to ebony blades. Azernath (talk) 00:49, 16 August 2015 (MDT)
Yeah i'll go ahead and do that.

Simple Fix[edit]

The Profane Proficiency part is a little bit how can I say this, unnecessary complication. I think that a simple spellcasting ability that allow the death knight to cast till 5th level spells. So if you don't mind I will fix some things as soon as I can, within boundaries. Azernath (talk) 11:44, 15 August 2015 (MDT)

yea sure sounds good, It was just something that the original had that i felt i should try to keep but if you find that it doesnt work then yeah.
I could add a point system similar to the death knight from world of warcraft, so three point system coming right up. Azernath (talk) 13:29, 15 August 2015 (MDT) --sounds good

Okay, I was going through implementing level 4 headers when I came across the phrase "you may use a swift action" for Netherblast. Woah there, I thought, 5e doesn't have "swift actions". So there's that, and I think we should read through this carefully to catch other terminology issues. Marasmusine (talk) 16:30, 15 August 2015 (MDT)

I did not see that. I just fixed it and i think it might be the only problem. I believe everything else adheres to the rules of 5th edition.
So how does it work now. You use your action to infuse your blade to deal 1d4 damage. But that's not the attack itself, is it? Or is it?
  • It'll be like casting a spell in battle. I think a bonus action would make it more sensible, though. I don't imagine this ability taking 6 seconds to do.
Could it say "When you make a melee weapon attack with the Attack action, you can make this a netherblast strike. If the attack hits, you deal an extra 1d4 necrotic damage. You can use this feature a number of times equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. You regain the use of all your netherblast strikes after a long rest. The extra damage increases at (etc...)"
I'm not sure if a use of this expended before or after you roll to hit. Considering the number of uses, I've written it as the former. Marasmusine (talk) 11:51, 16 August 2015 (MDT)
Actually, i think that's a great idea!
Here's some more.
  • Deathshroud and Unholy Vigor refer to a "profane bonus".
  • I'll look into that.
  • Game of death refers to "passive" resistance and vulnerability (is that different to regular resistance?)
  • oh that's just me using funny language. I'll take that out to avoid any trace of confusion.
  • Rebuke undead: 5e clerics do not have a "rebuke undead" feature.
  • I might just remove this one. I assumed it was a spell but i didn't find it.
  • Detect undead: The 5e PHB does not have a "detect undead" spell.
  • I might make this one a kind of limited ability or maybe among the a death knight exclusive spell.
That's just after a quick sampling. Marasmusine (talk) 01:58, 16 August 2015 (MDT)

I think the dark horseman abilities should be for any archetype because a knight is nothing without his mount. Azernath (talk) 00:49, 16 August 2015 (MDT)

What should i do with it? Just take out the archetype and give the features to the death knight class?
Well i just went ahead and did it. Every death knight should all have a special thing with his mount. Although, i still might do something with the Horsemen.

Profane spells per day[edit]

“You may cast a number of spells (1+Cha) from the Profane Spell List.”

Typically I expect this to mean 1 + your Charisma modifier, but I don't know here. Does anyone know whether this refers to the modifier or the actual ability score? —Proton[talk] 07:09, 1 November 2015 (MST)

  • Profane Proficiency
    • "Casting one disables the one previous" - give the spells a "Concentration" duration, then?
    • "Profane use counts as a free action to cast. " - 5e does not have "free actions"
    • "Aura spells have a 30 foot radius centered upon you" - none of the spells explicitly say they are "aura spells". Are they all aura spells?
  • Unholy Vigor = This gives a +2 to +6 bonus to all attacks of all types for you and all your allies (within 30 ft?) apparently with unlimited duration? Attack bonuses have been carefully managed in 5e design, and this is way out of bounds (even a legendary magic item only gives one character a +3 bonus to one type of attack ).
  • Soulflay = 5e doesn't have a "negative energy damage" type. What is the duration? If it is indefinite, the healing effect removes the need for using Hit Dice during rests, for the whole party.
  • Gravemist = 5e doesn't have a thing called "turn resistance", and neither this class or any of the PHB classes have a thing called "rebuke". Has the author of these spells even read the 5e books? This could be rewritten to say "undead creatures you choose have advantage on saving throws made to resist Turn Undead." (stop using proficiency bonus and start using Advantage)
  • Death Armor = Will delay my comment on this until it's made clear what the durations are.
  • Deathwind = 5e doesn't have "damage reduction". Please look to see how damage resistance works.
  • Etherfloat = Proficiency bonus, a thing that is supposed to be applied to d20 rolls, is being used in some bizarre situations. Is it not enough to just say you float just off the ground?
  • Soulreaver = 5e doesn't have a thing called a "profane bonus". It says the damage bonus is equal to proficiency score [sic], then it says "necrotic energy damage (+1 per Proficiency)"; balance issues per Unholy Vigor Marasmusine (talk) 03:30, 29 January 2016 (MST)

So it seems the duration is indefinite. These really are overpowered. Does anyone want me to do something with these profanities? Marasmusine (talk) 13:13, 28 February 2016 (MST)

Okay, I'm going for it.

We also need to pick a different name for the class, as there is a D&D monster called a Death Knight, and this is not it. Marasmusine (talk) 13:57, 28 February 2016 (MST)

Picking a different name defeats the purpose, this was modeled after the death knight in WoW

I was looking at this page and found one small discrepancy, at Unholy Weapon Flourish it says "This costs a Profane Proficiency point and lasts for 1 + Charisma attempted attacks after casting" except for the fact that the "Profane Proficiency points" were removed, so how would that be restated. 22:32, 10 March 2016 (CST)


"Dark Deal:Starting at 5th level, the overflowing necrotic energy within you starts to take affect your vitality. Your maximum hit points increase by 5, and increase by an additional 1 at every level after."

so how is health added here? it seems unclear to me, do the hit die stay the same and they get an extra +5 then +1 on top of the normal roll at level up or instead of the normal way they just get a +5 at level 3 then every level after they get +1? Template:Monkeysnott

how about it increases 1D8+con modifier (or 5+con mod) then after a long rest they gain 2 times their death knight level in temp hit points? I feel like this embodies the necromantic lifestyle better. bolstering their failing health with their own magic. Template:Monkeysnott IP
The hit points are added exactly as it says. It doesn't mention anything about Hit Die. Your HP max is immediately increased by 5. When you level up your maximum hit points increases as normal, then you add another 1.
Having said that, I prefer your version. Marasmusine (talk) 03:20, 4 April 2016 (MDT)
I was just unclear on if it eliminated the Max HP Roll or if it was in addition to the max HP roll, but you cleared that up for me. also a friend suggested to Maybe make it 2 times the character's level and have it be every short rest.

Or, alternatively, have him roll a 3d8 on long rests and get that many temp HP and have the number of dice go up by one every 5 levels too starts at 2d8 5d8 at level 20

Aura of the Damned is overpowered[edit]

Seriously, 1d4 times your class level is incredible damage for an AOE aura. For comparison, at level 1 Thunderclap is 1d6, and it does not scale until level 5, at which point you're already dealing 5d4(avg 10) per round, to EVERY monster, without using a standard action. The main reason people shit on Thunderclap is the fact that you have to be so close as a caster, but since your Death Knight wants to be in the middle of the fray, this is no problem to you, especially since you have Consitution as a saving throw. Aura of Life is a 3rd level spell that grants resistance to necrotic damage, which means you can have a 5th level cleric negate half the damage for your allies, nevermind the fact that Unholy Vigor can give you extra HP to negate the aura.

Also, why does the Death Knight get Constitution as a saving throw while the normal Paladin gets Wisdom? It's a much better save on an already very strong class that's supposed to somewhat mirror a Paladin.

Speaking of other things that are overpowered, Magic Knowledge lets you cast 1+Cha modifier 3rd level spells at level 6, which means with a Cha of 16 you have more 3rd level spell slots than a cleric will ever have, plus 3 cantrips you can cast as bonus actions. You can cheese this to have advantage on every first attack roll with True Strike easily. This however, balances with how shit the capstone for Order of the Unholy Death is: 4d8 (avg 16) damage to every enemy at level 18? One of the profanities you can get at level 1 gets you 18d4 (36 avg) at this level, although this may just speak to just how OP the Death Knight is.

Regarding the class capstone, what does "can't be killed by non-magical means" mean? Does one need to be killed with a magical weapon or with a spell in order for it to stick? 'Cause if so, this is basically useless, since at this level everything has some form of magical attack that it will try to kill you with, and since profanities require Concentration, you don't even have a field of death around you to protect you while your party tries to get you back. The two profanities thing is nice though. Proctree (talk) 16:43, 8 August 2016 (MDT)

Death knights touch?[edit]

Wheres the touch that was my main reason for taking this path over a lich was it followed my close combat style better. Even the d&d dk has a deadly touch but its absent here. Bloodreaper54 (talk) 18:47, 6 February 2017 (MST)

Balance Issues[edit]

It's been brought to my attention that this class is not at all balanced. The class gets a total of 8 proficiencies, beating the rogue which gets only 5, and it's the most proficient class in the first-party game! The profanities are like a busted version of Channel Divinity, it's more versatile and usable more often, and the power of these combined with being a bonus action breaks the action economy. With Bound Weapon, there's no explanation thematically for gaining the cantrip, the extra damage is too much too early compared to the cleric's Divine Strike, and force-type damage is too good and not thematic; it should be switched to necrotic. I'm also not sure why they gain a second fighting style at 5th level; the only class to get two FS's in official material is the champion fighter, who gets it at I think 10th level?

This class, as it is currently, is way too frontloaded and you would be a fool to play a fighter or paladin over this, or to not take a 1-level dip in the class. And we've only scratched the surface! This class basically needs to be rewritten from scratch to be even remotely balanced. — Geodude671 (talk | contribs)‎ . . 13:55, 9 August 2017 (MDT)

I thought the original author made the second fighting style to make it match fighters? The main point of a dk is to be like a fighter but a little more magically inclined. The proficiencys dont seem anywhere near as bad as what rogues and bards are capable of, bards being able to cheese anything and roll a minimum of 21 up to 65 without even specializing due to insane things, theyre the ones who need rebalance not the homebrew. Some things here and there may be a little overpowered, but since this is a homebrew I think its fair to just work out things you think are to good with your DM, thats what hes there for isnt it? My DM thought it was fine, and the proficiencys dont matter much, storm sorceror or something gets 2 bonus languages and pick a few skills as well, and vehicle proficiencys seem like fluff with how little vehicles exist in most settings. Water vehicle proficiency does seem a little weird though I suppose.

  • It is still incomplete in places. Example, Shadow Meld says you can "take one other creature with you". Which creature, where? Stood next to you? One 4 miles away?
  • The wording is wonky in places. Example: "You may learn to inscribe any spell you have access to." should just be "You can inscribe any spell you know".
  • I actually don't understand how rune magic works. "The runes are not expended as the spell is activated should you have more than 1 spell cast into runes" doesn't make any sense to me.
  • The class seems to have too many features? Marasmusine (talk) 13:54, 10 August 2017 (MDT)

I didnt catch that, assumed shadow meld meant something close like in melee range you could take with you. I agree some clarity may be needed but doesnt seem any better worded then alot of the official materal. I understood the inscribe spell you have access to meaning since your not actually learning the spell but how to inscribe it "having access to it" would mean pretty much anyway a wizard has access to finding a spell to write in his book, either from maybe a magic library or from one of your companions. The main reason to me is because if it was only the spells you know, that would be just the 3 or so spells you get at level 5(?) so why have the runes anyway if it isnt a way to use spells you dont already know since there is no mechanism for anyone other then wizard to learn actually NEW spells. The wording of runes expended seems like it could be interrupted either as its not expended ever unless you want to replace it with another rune, or its immediately expended and then you have to go through the whole hour long process again to have access to it again. Probably should be clarified if its meant to be replaced everytime, or can be reused after short or long rest or something, but I do not know the original author's intent. At least the reminder of DM veto if unreasonable should stop it from getting to crazy? Right? As for features doesnt seem like more then what other casters have as features, except that its not a caster I suppose which may be why it seems like it has to many. Damn this text seemed like alot less in my head.

You may want to go over Help:A Good DM, IP. — Geodude671 (talk | contribs)‎ . . 20:41, 10 August 2017 (MDT)

Fair enough. But I didnt mean a DM needs to balance it, but rather that a DM would decide if its broken or not to begin with and thus in need of balancing. I don't know about others, but my DM thought it was fine.

Why do two orders have the same ability certainty of death, order of unholy death gets it at 18 and order of ebony blades get a better version, earlyer at 15? is that to bridge the gap between unholy death getting access to spells or is it a mistake? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) . Please sign your posts.

Hello. I do not know the answer to your question, but please do not remove the needsbalance template from the page, as it seems people are still working on balancing this (including you!). Also, please pay more attention when you add a question, as you accidentally deleted the above discussion :P (Another user was kind enough to restore it)--GamerAim Chatmod.png (talk) 20:21, 20 August 2017 (MDT)
My bad —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) . Please sign your posts.
Hello, please do not remove the needsbalance template from the page again. If you continue to do so, I will have to semi-protect the page :( --GamerAim Chatmod.png (talk) 10:50, 21 August 2017 (MDT)

Seems excesive to have removed vehicle proficiency and still lower skills from four to two, four doesnt seem like that much

Most classes have two skills from their class: see the fighter and wizard, for example. The only first-party class with four skills is the rogue, which is known for being the "skill-monkey." — Geodude671 (talk | contribs)‎ . . 17:51, 21 August 2017 (MDT)
Thats surprising then I wonder guess my dm didnt catch that
Maybe you don't have a good DM ;) — Geodude671 (talk | contribs)‎ . . 18:24, 21 August 2017 (MDT)

What's going to happen with this race. It has had balance issues for 2 years now, each time I check in I see a different set of problems. Does anyone want to hire me to rewrite this? Marasmusine (talk) 02:08, 22 August 2017 (MDT)

As per Wikipedia policy, I must ask you to please not promote your paid services outside of your user page.--GamerAim Chatmod.png (talk) 05:33, 22 August 2017 (MDT)
That policy, WP:PROMO, is part of the What Wikipedia Is Not policy ("Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion"). It's the same policy that says "Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought". Not sure if you want to start enforcing that? The paid-contribution policy is important in maintaining a neutral-point-of-view encyclopedia. We are not an encyclopedia. Marasmusine (talk) 10:02, 22 August 2017 (MDT)
Please note, that Marasmusine would have to file his taxes as personal income, so he is not really doing any paid service. It's more like an independant artist, but you should word your offers better. Like, "If you do not want to complete this task, you may be looking for my paid services." --Green Dragon (talk) 10:06, 22 August 2017 (MDT)
Thanks, I did word it quite lazily. As it happens, it looks like the anonymous user below might be taking a crack at a rewrite anyway. Marasmusine (talk) 10:14, 22 August 2017 (MDT)

Game of Death Level 7 ability(?)[edit]

At level seven the death knight gets an ability called 'Game of Death' but it's not listed in the page so it doesn't explain what it does. If you can update what it does please do. June 2, 2017

Play Tested at 5th lvl[edit]

I allow homebrew in my campaign and my son was visiting with a friend so we let them roll up some characters and jump in. At level 5, this Death Knight Class put out an average of 36 points per turn (often 55 or more but with misses around 35). Fireballs flew at every encounter. I didn't even let the Death Knight have access to a Rune Forge to use the Rune features of the class. The rest of the party were 6th level and didn't even come close to keeping up. The idea is cool but the real pain is the mechanics. As a DM I had to roll saves for every creature every round! What a pain! If no one objects I'm going to try to streamline this class and tone it down to a usable level. To cut down on confusion I think the name should be changed as there is a monster called "Death Knight." Maybe Death Kin Knight? Or Spectral Knight as that is not a 5e monster.

The name death knight is because its based off the wow death knight, though if your dm or players arent familiar with wow i can see it being confuing
Yes, please do rewrite it. Extra saving throws each round are a definite no-no in 5e design. See also my comments above from 10th August. I mentioned the confusing name at the top of the talk page, but there was no reply. Marasmusine (talk) 10:06, 22 August 2017 (MDT)

I've started work on the class trying to preserve the heart of the efforts of whoever created it. I've redone the runes and profanities. Added spell slots to limit how often abilities can be used. Still a lot to do but making headway. LMK if any glaring mistakes. Arklorn 8:50 PM EST 8/22/17

8/23/2017 8:26 AM I started to shave things down and an anonymous user immediately started beefing them back up... I apologize for changing your work. I will continue my efforts under Death Knight, Variant (this page).

Hopefully addressed Balance and Front Loading issues[edit]

I tried to address all of the concerns and balance issues but it is still a pretty powerful class--- probably on par with Bard.

Feel free to offer feedback/advice: Arklorn (talk)

Order Question[edit]

Is there a reason Order of the Ebony Blades doesn’t have a level 3 ability while the other 2 orders do? Found that really odd. -Hunterreaper

That and the Order gain ability at different level. Dark Cavaliers 3th 5th 11th 15th 20th. Unholy Death 3th 5th 10th 14th 18th. Ebony Blades 5th 10th 15th 18th. Feb 22, 2018

Notes from a Short playtest.[edit]

  • Rune Forging is listed in the table as a 6th level ability, but in the Runeforging feature it says it is a 5th level ability.
    • Can you change the rune on your weapon, or once you choose it is it stuck for life?
  • It looks like They can only use Cleric necromancy spells. The only 1st level spell they have access to is inflict wounds which does 3d10 damage and is a melee spell attack. At 5th level Necro Blast does the same amount of damage with 120 feet range, making your first level slots only useful for profanities.
    • Necro Blast does way too much damage compared to other cantrips at fith level. Dropping it to 2d10, and giving it more typical scaling would make it a lot more reasonable.
  • Overwhelming Strength is literally just Heavy armour master which is okay, but it could also stack with heavy armour master if you took that feat.

2 Questions

So I see that the class has been changed and I’m glad that the Order of Ebony Blades has a level 3 ability now but what there is no explanation for what Aura of Death does and was there a reason for removing the Rune Weapon’s stats? Also noticed that Runeforging has been changed. Should the level 9 and 13 mentions of Improved Runeforging be removed due to its changes?

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