The Wrath of the Lich King website has been updated with a new Design Team Q&A regarding the Death Knight. That's not all though; that lovable subject you've grown to love over the past few weeks on the official forums - Death Knight Lore - has been touched on with the new lore section.
Some snippets from the Q&A:
One of the biggest news at this year’s BlizzCon was the announcement of World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, and the introduction of the game’s first hero class, the death knight. What made you choose this particular class?
One of the things we knew very early on during development of Wrath of the Lich King was that we wanted to add an entirely new class to the existing ones. We actually considered several other class candidates before we decided on the death knight, but we felt that this was the perfect fit for the theme of Wrath of the Lich King for a lot of reasons.
Since the expansion is set in Northrend and you’ll be fighting the Lich King, it makes sense to add a class that is directly connected to the coming conflict. The death knights you will be able to play are no longer allied with the Lich King; instead, they have joined forces with the Horde or the Alliance to fight against Arthas. So by playing a death knight, you’re engaged in the story of Wrath of the Lich King right from the start, which makes the death knight a logical class choice for the expansion from a lore point of view. And since we’re designing this class to be able to fill a tanking role in groups, death knights will also be a viable and interesting choice for them, since the tank is one of those absolutely vital group roles.
One of our main goals for the death knights is to make them mesh well with the game both in terms of the expansion’s lore context and also in terms of being a valuable addition to the current class lineup, and so far we’re really happy with how the class is coming along.
While death knights are new to World of Warcraft, they are already a pretty well-established part of the Warcraft universe. Can players expect to see the return of some classic death knight spells and abilities?
Absolutely. One thing that is very exciting about the death knight character class is that we have a ton of really cool material to work with. Just looking at the many manifestations of death knights in previous games and in Warcraft lore provides a lot of ideas for spells and abilities that will give players a feeling of familiarity with what the class is about. At the same time, the way we introduce this class gives us an opportunity to add some awesome new stuff to the “modern” death knight’s bag of tricks.
What we want to accomplish with the new class is to make players who are familiar with Warcraft lore feel right at home with the death knight, while at the same time creating a truly unique, interesting, and fun set of completely new spells and abilities. For example, the death knight’s spells and abilities will be fueled by a new type of resource mechanic – the rune system – which will be different from mana, energy, and rage. This rune system is highly original and unlike any other class in World of Warcraft, but at the same time it is very consistent with the lore and core abilities of earlier incarnations of the death knight in previous games. It’s still a bit too early to talk in detail about it, but hopefully we’ll be able to reveal more about the rune system in the not-so-distant future.
And of course, that tasty Death Knight Lore everyone has been craving, direct from the source itself.
Shadows of Justice
Orgrim Doomhammer's first act as warchief of the Horde was to crush the orc warlocks of the Shadow Council. He grudgingly spared the council's former master, Gul'dan, in exchange for the warlock's servitude; in turn Gul'dan promised to create a host of powerful new warriors to serve the Horde. After experimenting at length with the souls of the recently slain council members, Gul'dan successfully instilled the spirit of the necrolyte Teron Gorefiend into the corpse of a fallen knight of Stormwind. Thus, the first terrifying death knight was born. Gul'dan transformed other council members as well, creating unholy warriors who sowed chaos and fear throughout the land of Azeroth during the Second War.
Following Gul'dan's desertion and death, part of the Horde, including the death knights, retreated through the Dark Portal to Draenor. Most of the surviving death knights disappeared after Draenor's destruction, with the exception of Teron Gorefiend, whose restless and embittered form resides now in the Black Temple of Outland.
Champions of the Lich King
Years after the destruction of Draenor, the immensely powerful Lich King created a new breed of death knights: malevolent, rune-wielding warriors of the Scourge. The first and greatest of these was Prince Arthas Menethil, once a mighty paladin of the Silver Hand, who sacrificed his soul to claim the runeblade Frostmourne in a desperate bid to save his people.
Unlike Gul'dan's death knights, modern death knights consist mainly of paladins who lost their faith and pledged their souls to the Lich King in exchange for the promise of immortality. Death knights who fall in battle are soon raised again to continue in their master's service.
In the years since Arthas shattered the Frozen Throne and merged with the Lich King, the power and fury of the death knights has only grown. Now these unrelenting crusaders of the damned eagerly await the Lich King's command to unleash their fury on Azeroth once again.