Death knight abilities are abilities used by death knights. Most abilities are shared between all specializations, while some are only specific to one (or two) specializations.

Death knight abilities use either runes (as part of the rune system) or runic power and are divided into the trees of Frost, Blood and Unholy.


All death knights automatically learn the following spells at the specified level, regardless of specialization.

Ability Level
[Death and Decay] 8
[Death Coil] 8
[Death Grip] 8
[Death Strike] 8
[Mind Freeze] 8
[Rune Strike] 8
[Veteran of the Third War][1] 8
[Dark Command] 9
[Raise Dead] 12
[Chains of Ice] 13
[Anti-Magic Shell] 14
[On a Pale Horse] 22
[Path of Frost] 27
[Lichborne] 33
[Control Undead] 37
[Icebound Fortitude] 38
[Raise Ally] 39
[Death's Advance] 42
[Anti-Magic Zone] 47
[Sacrificial Pact] 54
[Death Gate] Quest[2]
  1. ^ Pandaren and allied race death knights have [Veteran of the Fourth War] instead.
  2. ^ Core races (besides pandaren) learn Death Gate from N Death Knight [8-30] The Light of Dawn. Pandaren and allied races learn it from B Death Knight [8-30] Defender of Azeroth.


The three death knight specializations are Blood (tanking), Frost (melee DPS) and Unholy (melee DPS). For an exploration of each death knight specialization, see Death knight specializations.


Talents become available at level 15. Only one talent can be chosen from each tier.

They can be swapped out any time outside of a rested area using  [Tome of the Tranquil Mind].

Death knight talents
Level Choices
15 Blood [Heartbreaker] [Blooddrinker] [Tombstone]
Frost [Inexorable Assault] [Icy Talons] [Cold Heart]
Unholy [Infected Claws] [All Will Serve] [Clawing Shadows]
25 Blood [Rapid Decomposition] [Hemostasis] [Consumption]
Frost [Runic Attenuation] [Murderous Efficiency] [Horn of Winter]
Unholy [Bursting Sores] [Ebon Fever] [Unholy Blight]
30 Blood [Foul Bulwark] [Relish in Blood] [Blood Tap]
Frost [Death's Reach] [Asphyxiate] [Blinding Sleet]
Unholy [Grip of the Dead] [Death's Reach] [Asphyxiate]
35 Blood [Will of the Necropolis] [Anti-Magic Barrier] [Mark of Blood]
Frost [Avalanche] [Frozen Pulse] [Frostscythe]
Unholy [Pestilent Pustules] [Harbinger of Doom] [Soul Reaper]
40 Blood [Grip of the Dead] [Tightening Grasp] [Wraith Walk]
Frost [Permafrost] [Wraith Walk] [Death Pact]
Unholy [Spell Eater]
45 Blood [Voracious] [Death Pact] [Bloodworms]
Frost [Gathering Storm] [Hypothermic Presence] [Glacial Advance]
Unholy [Pestilence] [Unholy Pact] [Defile]
50 Blood [Purgatory] [Red Thirst] [Bonestorm]
Frost [Icecap] [Obliteration] [Breath of Sindragosa]
Unholy [Army of the Damned] [Summon Gargoyle] [Unholy Assault]

PvP talents

PvP talents become available at level 20. Up to 3 PvP talents may be active at any given time (with additional slots becoming available at levels 30 and 40).

These talents are active in the open world with War Mode turned on, as well as during instanced PvP. They have no effect in dungeons and raids.


Runeforging is a skill that allows death knights to augment their weapons with various runes at any runeforge. A weapon can only have one rune at a time.

Name Level Weapon type Description
[Rune of Razorice] 8 Any Causes 2% extra weapon damage as Frost damage and has a chance to increase Frost vulnerability.
[Rune of the Fallen Crusader] 8 Any Has a chance to heal you for 3% and increase total Strength by 15% for 15 sec.
[Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle] 8 Two-handed Increases Armor by 5% and all stats by 5%.
[Rune of Unending Thirst] 20 Any Increases Movement Speed by 5% and grants healing and extra Haste and Movement Speed on kill.
[Rune of Sanguination] 32 Any Increases the damage of [Death Strike] based on the enemy's missing health and heals when falling bellow 35% health.
[Rune of the Apocalypse] 44 Any Has a chance to apply one of four debuffs on ghoul attacks.
[Rune of Hysteria] 46 Any Increases Runic Power by 20 and has a chance to increase Runic Power generation.
[Rune of Spellwarding] 48 Any Deflects 3% of all spell damage and has a chance to create a shield that absorbs spell damage.


Glyphs are items that can change a spell or ability's visual appearance. Most glyphs are crafted by scribes, are color-coded by class, and can be applied as early as level 11. They can be removed at any time outside of combat using  [Vanishing Powder].

Glyph Used on
 [Glyph of Cracked Ice] [Path of Frost]
 [Glyph of Foul Menagerie] [Army of the Dead]
 [Glyph of the Chilled Shell] [Anti-Magic Shell]
 [Glyph of the Crimson Shell] [Anti-Magic Shell]
 [Glyph of the Geist] [Raise Dead]
 [Glyph of the Skeleton] [Raise Dead]

See also