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The Genius Guide to the Death Knight

publication date: May 8, 2012
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The death knight is a champion of the grave, serving to spread the power of death throughout the lands of the living. Most death knights are the chosen warriors of gods of undeath and decay, evil psychopaths who desire nothing more than to see the “mistake” of life replaced by the glorious, unchanging “blessing” of undeath. Though unquestionably evil, these death knights are often confused as to why anyone would wish to be alive, since life is a condition that leads to hunger, exhaustion, pain, and suffering. Undeath is the perfect state of existence, but even normal death is obviously better than struggling through a life. To these death knights, they are bringing a gift to all living creatures, even if they have to do it one murder at a time.

However, a very few gods of true death also empower death knights specifically to preserve the sanctity of the grave and oppose the forces of the undead. Though the gods of repose have many names in many cultures, the death knights often refer to their divine sponsors as “the Grey Mistress” and see her as a personification of the state of death itself. To these death knights death is a calm, cool mistress who eventually envelops all things, and undeath is an insult to her. Though such death knights have little care for the living, and are not of good alignment, they can sometimes serve as allies to life-loving champions who must oppose a powerful undead force. Though they see life as a lesser state of being than death, they also see it as a temporary one and know their Grey Mistress will eventually enwrap all living things in her pale embrace.

Role: Evil death knights are villains at their most dangerous – cunning and linked to the vast fiendish and eldritch forces of undeath. Though they ultimately slay any living creature that associates with them, they see this as a favor rather than a betrayal. Their dark, powerful, brooding nature often attracts the service of necromancers, cultists of death gods, and evil witches with dread patrons – despite the long history of such death knights killing everyone and everything. Even those death knights unable to lure breathing allies to their side are often seen by undead as worthy equals, and even worthwhile masters.

Neutral death knights are generally agents of supernatural powers that need them to serve as guardians, judges, or avengers. No less able as champions of the grave, neutral death knights see the undead as a violation of the natural order, and are as opposed to them as they are to tomb raiding and desecrations of corpses. Neutral death knights are actually less likely to build organizations of followers or close allies, despite their willingness to let the living come to a natural (rather than untimely) demise. But when a powerful enough undead threat looms, death knights are often willing to submit themselves to the orders of others, albeit temporarily, to achieve their goals.

This 17-page book includes the Death Knight alternate class, three new feats (Deadly Steed, Extra Immunity, Icy Gaze of Death), new anti-paladin spells with deathly themes (death knell, greater; disintegrate undead; grave summoning (I to IX); mask of life; pale mists; spectral eye; take the Low Road; and vigor of the grave), and a brief description of the paths dead spirits use to reach the afterlife - the Low Road.



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