In the books they were alliance soldiers killed in battle that had the souls of Orc warlocks put inside of them. In the game idk what they are supposed to be. Raised by the lich king maybe?
I believe death-knights are classified as such by the same margin as Arthas was. He never really died but his soul was taken by claiming frostmourne. I believe the Death Knight that we play were once members of the argent dawn who were captured by the scourge to save their comrades and transformed into Death Knights rather than being killed then brought back immediately. With their souls now bound within their weapons.
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They're animated corpses, so undead.
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This generation of DKs are dead, I think, but the last generation aka the mounted necromancer types weren't.
---------- Post added 2013-01-02 at 04:07 AM ----------
you are empty inside, i think thats why the blue fire that comes out of your eyes mean, just magic inside your hallow body.
Whether or not death knights are alive or dead is difficult to truly determine. You have rock solid points proving both arguments.
- Death Knights have blood in their veins (look at the description of Icebound Fortitude), insinuates they are in some way alive.. unlikely after all the combat they endure that they would have any blood left if it wasn't being renewed (+1 for alive)
- Death Knights can FREEZE the blood in their veins (again, read IF), any living creature would immediately die from this (+1 for dead)
I was going to compile a list, but I spent a long time looking for this quote:
"Arthas never died..." -Chris Metzen (http://wow.joystiq.com/2007/08/04/bl...anel-liveblog/)
Death Knights do not HAVE to be dead. At least, not one's personally taken by a cursed runeblade (:P). It is strongly inferred however, that in almost all cases, death knights ARE dead, but their bodies retain some functionality (most likely magically functioning, not traditionally), although the fact that Arthas is an exception to this (at least until he removed his own heart) opens a door for some leeway.
"When you do things right, people won't be sure you have done anything at all."
Also, death knights don't have to sleep or eat. If you were living you would have to do those things, undeads do not.
---------- Post added 2013-01-02 at 04:12 AM ----------
---------- Post added 2013-01-02 at 04:14 AM ----------
also look at sourfangs son and bolver, they both died at the wrathgate then they both game back as deathknights
If you accept the premise that the Player Character is always a singular entity, or that, at the very least, there is only one "lore" Player Character to accomodate every race/class/gender combo, than it's important to note that... the things said about "you" by the voice guy in the character creation fly-in are true if you assume a reliable narrator.
I mention that because the guy flat out says that the Player Character paid with (his/her) life. People may have their own personal/internal RP for their Death Knights that differs, but in the context of the unfolding mythology in the game, the Death Knight characters are undead.
They still have blood pumping through their veins. They are alive.
well based on the book you can find at the dk starting zone they are undead they rot and the worst of all they cant taste alcohol anymore, maybe the method to become undead is different from the usual as it involves more of a spiritual death than a physical one?
They are undead, they are just a different sort than the Forsaken. Just like banshees and liches and val'kyr and Ymirjar and San'layn are all different sorts of undead. The Lich King has/had a very broad and imaginative ability. The Forsaken are pretty much just the come-as-you-are undead, brought back to life pretty much as they died. The DKs we play and all the other unique sorts of undead are all things that some sort of special effort or purpose went into creating.