Warcraft Death Knight (5e Class)
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Heavy plate armor, and honorbound, with greatsword and unholy magic in hand. A death knight is a fearsome enemy and makes for a loyal teammate. A deal struck with one is sure to be completed without fear of being double-crossed.
Creating a Death Knight
It is not uncommon for a race to become a Revenant  while in service as a Death Knight
Group Dynamics: A death knight's word is paramount, once a deal is struck it cannot be broken. Death Knights are almost always Lawful, most are Lawful Neutral and follow a strict code of honor. The more commonly seen death knights have been Lawful Evil, summoning the dead and being generally evil. Lawful Evil death knights become quick targets for adventuring paladins, leading to a deep mistrust between paladins and even the Lawful Neutral death knights. Very few Death Knights have been Lawful Good and are extremely rare. Overall, they can get along with most knights, Monks and sometimes paladins; and they have respect for the fighting prowess of fighter's and barbarians. They are wary of rogues and bards however, as they are deceitful and untrustworthy.
It is easy to think of a death knight as the opposite of a paladin, or a fallen paladin. A death knight's honor is everything, gain this as a personality trait. You may wish to go over with your DM and compile a Code of Conduct appropriate to your race, campaign setting and the like. (Starting Wealth is as paladin however: 5d4 x 10 gp)
To better suit a variety of builds, you may substitute your constitution modifier for charisma where applicable.
- Quick Build
You can make a Death Knight quickly by following these suggestions. First, Strength should be your highest ability score, followed by Charisma. Second, take either the soldier background. Third, bond with your weapons as soon as you can, perhaps your DM might allow you to have pre-bonded with them at the start of the game.
As a Death Knight you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple melee weapons, martial melee weapons
Tools: Vehicles (land)
Saving Throws: Constitution, Charisma
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, Animal Handling, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- Any two martial melee weapons
- (a) scale mail or (b) chain mail
- (a) 4 javelins or (b) 2 handaxes
- (a) dungeoneer's pack or (b) explorer's pack
|Features||—Spell Slots per Spell Level—|
|1st||+2||2||1||2||Rune Weapon, Fighting Style||—||—||—||—||—|
|4th||+2||2||1||5||Ability Score Improvement||3||—||—||—||—|
|7th||+3||3||2||8||Death Aspect feature||4||3||—||—||—|
|8th||+3||3||2||9||Ability Score Improvement||4||3||—||—||—|
|11th||+4||4||3||12||Death Aspect feature||4||3||3||—||—|
|12th||+4||4||3||12||Ability Score Improvement, Netherblast||4||3||3||—||—|
|14th||+5||5||4||13||Death Aspect feature||4||3||3||1||—|
|16th||+5||5||4||14||Ability Score Improvement, Netherblast Improvement||4||3||3||2||—|
|18th||+6||6||5||15||Death Aspect feature, Netherblast Improvement||4||3||3||3||1|
|19th||+6||6||5||15||Ability Score Improvement||4||3||3||3||2|
|20th||+6||6||5||15||Master of Death||4||3||3||3||2|
You learn a ritual that creates a magical, living bond between yourself and one weapon. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour, which can be done during a short rest. The weapon must be within your reach throughout the ritual, at the conclusion of which you touch the weapon and forge the bond. Once you have bonded a weapon to yourself, you can't be disarmed of that weapon unless you are incapacitated. If it is on the same plane of existence as you, you can summon that weapon as a bonus action on your turn, causing it to instantly materialize in your hand, unless it is held by a greater power. In addition, you may also absorb its physical form within your very being, which may act as an effective storage place. You can have up to two bonded weapons, but can summon only one at a time with your bonus action. If you attempt to bond with a third weapon, you must break one of the other two.
In addition all death knights learn the art of rune carving, allowing them to carve mystic runes into their weapons. Carving a rune into a weapon takes one hour and costs 50gp. The cost represents material components that are required in the carving.
New runes are not filled with power. You can fill one of your runes with power over the course of an hour, which you can do during a short rest. You must be touching the weapon that the rune is carved into during this time, and you can only fill one rune with power at a time. Additionally, all of your runes are filled with power when you finish a long rest. Once a rune has been filled with power, you can then later use that rune to cast spells. In addition, any weapon with a power-filled rune carved into it counts as a magic weapon for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunity to non-magical attacks and damage.
Starting at level 1, you adopt a particular fighting style as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can't take a Fighting Style more than once, even if you later get to choose again.
While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
- Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
- Two-Weapon Fighting
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.
As a level 2 death knight, you can use rune magic, allowing you to channel the power of death into powerful, often destructive spells. See chapter 10 of the Player’s Handbook for the general rules of spellcasting.
The Death Knight may have a number of available runes filled with power equivalent to it's proficiency bonus, as shown in the Death Knight table. To cast one of your death knight spells, you must expend the power stored within a rune. To cast a higher level spell, you can deplete the according number of runes to add that level to the spell. The Death Knight table shows what level spell you cast when you use a rune in this way.
- Spells Known
At level 2, you know one 1st-level spells of your choice from the death knight spell list. The Spells Known column of the Death Knight table shows when you learn more death knight spells of your choice. A spell you choose must be of a level no higher than what’s shown in the table’s Rune Level column for your level. Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the death knight spells you know and replace it with another spell from the death knight spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
- Spellcasting Ability
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your death knight spells, since the power derives from your ability to manifest your will over the latent powers of death and destruction that fill you and the world around you. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a death knight spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
- Spellcasting Focus
You can use your rune weapon as a spellcasting focus for your death knight spells.
At 3rd level, you choose an aspect of death to focus your energies towards. Choose Blood, Frost, or Unholy, all detailed at the end of the class description. The aspect you choose grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 11th, 14th, and 18th level.
Ability Score Increase
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the attack action on your turn.
Starting at 10th level, whenever you make a melee weapon attack, you can instead make a netherblast. If the attack hits, you deal an extra 2d6 necrotic damage. You can use this feature a number of times equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier. You can use a filled rune to make another netherblast if all your netherblast strikes have been used. You regain expended uses when you finish a long rest.
At 12th, and 16th levels, the necrotic damage increases by 1d6, totaling 3d6, and 4d6 necrotic damage respectively.
At 17th level, the netherblast die becomes a d8 instead of a d6, totaling 4d8 necrotic damage.
At 18th level, netherblast deals an additional 1d8 necrotic damage, totaling 5d8 necrotic damage.
At 13th level, you can refill two runes during a short rest, instead of one.
Master of Death
At level 20, you gain a special attachment your rune weapon(s). Your learn how to engrave a 7th and last rune on your weapon. This rune is considered as always filled but you cannot use it to cast spells. Decide of a few ingredients hard to gather with your DM to complete the inscription. When this ritual is fully performed, when you die, your soul naturally seeks out your rune weapon (if you have more than one weapon carved with runes, it seeks out the closest) and hides inside of it, rather than moving on to the afterlife. While hidden this way, you cannot see, hear, speak, or take any actions. You are dimly aware of living creatures within 100 feet of you, but cannot discern anything about them. When a creature touches your sword, you can cast the dominate person, dominate beast, or dominate monster (as appropriate) spell targeting them. The spell has a duration of 8 hours when cast this way. If the target breaks free of your spell, you can’t cast it on them again within the next 24 hours. If the creature fails to break free from your domination before the spell’s duration ends, they must make a final Charisma saving throw against your rune power save DC. If they fail, their soul is forcibly removed from their body, and yours leaves your sword to take its place. You use the new body’s base Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores, and any racial statistics, but retain your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores and all of your class levels, including any ability score increases or feats you gained. This ability is extremely powerful so gathering all ingredients is supposed to be a tough quest.
The aspect of Blood focuses on the physical act of dying, and uses the power of blood to fortify the death knight’s body against death and debilitate wounded enemies. Blood knights often seem (and sometimes are) wild and violent as they revel in death and the spilling of blood.
- Vampiric Blood
Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, whenever you hit a living creature with a melee weapon attack on a critical strike, you may heal for half the damage dealt.
- Will of the Necropolis
- Scent of Blood
Starting at 11th level, whenever a creature within 20 feet of you is reduced to 0 hit points, you gain advantage on your next weapon attack, and you regain life equal to the damage done. Doesn't trigger from and on small creatures like rats or flies, insects, etc...
- Blood Tap
At 14th level, you can use a bonus action to channel your own life force into death energy, refilling one of your runes by spending one of your Hit Dice.
- Abomination’s Might
At 18th level, your Constitution score increases by 4. Your maximum for this score is now 24.
The aspect of frost focuses on the emotional aspect of dying, and the sense of loss and emptiness that it causes, and uses this power to hone the death knight’s mental and physical abilities to perfection. Frost knights often seem (and sometimes are) emotionless and uncaring, with little regard for the sanctity of life.
- Icy Talons
Starting when you choose this aspect at level 3, your weapon attacks deal an additional 1d4 cold damage when they hit. This damage is increased to 1d6 at level 5 and upgraded to 1d10 at level 10. At 15th your mastery of ice turns the damage into 2d6.
- Nerves of Cold Steel
Starting at 7th level, you gain resistance to cold damage and are unaffected by cold weather.
- Killing Machine
Starting at 11th level, whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, the next melee attack you make until the end of your next turn is guaranteed to be a critical hit. Doesn't trigger on and from small creatures like rats or flies, insects, etc...
- Hungering Rune Weapon
Starting at 14th level, whenever you score a critical hit with a weapon attack against a living creature, one of your runes becomes filled with power. Doesn't trigger on and from small creatures like rats or flies, insects, etc...
- Winter is Coming
Starting at 18th level, your Strength score increases by 4. Your maximum for this score is now 24.
The aspect of unholy focuses on the physical remains of death, the flesh and bones left to rot after the spirit has left, and uses them to further their quest for power. Unholy knights often seem (and sometimes are) sacrilegious and irreverent, treating the bodies of their friends and enemies alike with little respect.
- Undead Minion
Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain the ability to create a loyal undead minion to serve you. You can raise a minion by spending 10 minutes performing a ritual over the corpse of any small or medium creature. Choose an undead type no larger than medium and that has a challenge rating of 1 or lower (examples include a zombie or skeleton). Add your proficiency bonus to the minion’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your death knight level, whichever is higher. The minion obeys your commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can mentally command the minion to move (no action required by you). You can use your bonus action to mentally command it to take the attack action, dash action, disengage action, dodge action, or help action. You can only have one minion at a time. If you try to create a second minion when you already have one, the old one turns back into a corpse.
- Master of Ghouls
Starting at 11th level, when you create a minion for the Undead Minion feature, you can choose any undead type no larger than medium with a challenge rating of 4 or lower.
At 14th level, you can use your action to reap the soul of a fallen creature, filling one of your runes with power. The creature must be at 0 HP and unconscious, or dead for no more than one minute. Performing the reaping kills the creature instantly if it was not already dead. Once you have reaped a soul this way, you must finish a short rest before you can perform a reaping again. In addition, whenever a creature makes a saving throw against one of your rune powers, it does so at disadvantage. Doesn't trigger on and from small creatures like rats or flies, insects, etc...
- Deaths Embrace
Starting at 18th level, your Charisma score increases by 4. Your maximum for this score is now 24.
Death Knight Spell List
- 1st Level
- 2nd Level
- 3rd Level
- 4th Level
- 5th Level