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J.C. Smith's Shadowknight Guide
Shadowknights are evil warriors who specialize in not only the art of weaponry and warfare but in the dark art of necromancy as well. Shadowknights are 3/4 warrior and 1/4 necromancer, a very powerful mix indeed. If one takes a look at all classes and their worth at level 50 the shadowknights are perhaps the most powerful. It is a trade off however because getting that point will be an extremely long difficult road. Shadowknights are not only one of the more hated classes in the game but when you combine that with the fact that the evil races make the best shadowknights you will be killed on sight in most locations of the game. Shadowknights pay a hybrid penalty for experience gained making them the slowest leveling class in the game. Combine that with the fact that you will most likely want to be an ogre or a troll (both of which suffer racial experience penalties) you can more or less resign to the fact that you will level more slowly than most of your comrades in the game.
Shadowknights start slowly and peak late. At low levels they are nothing more than weak warriors who do not have the benefit of kick and generally have 3 hit points less per level. However one ability that shadowknights do get from level 1 and no other class in the game will ever gain is harm touch. This allows you to do (level*10)+1 point of damage once per game day(about every hour and a half). This is the shadowknights reverse version of the paladin's lay hands. The difference is that lay hands can heal most characters to full health(though level 32+ warriors will begin to have need a bit more healing) from level 1. Harm touch is a nice addition to have however though it is much more useful at early levels. For example to a level 4 character 41 points is a lot of damage. A level 50 character isn't going to get too excited about 501 points of damage however. Either way it makes a good last chance spell. If you have it free and are considering running but think you might have a chance to win it is nice to have. It will soften them up and hopefully kill them and save you from zoning.
At level 6 shadowknights get the ability to bash. This is very important because up until this point warriors could kick. This allows them to dish a bit more damage than a shadowknight of the same level because they have an extra attack. Bash however requires a shield which is the biggest reason to choose a troll or an ogre than any of the other available races. Large races(ogres and trolls) have the ability to slam which let's them bash even when wielding a two handed weapon. In the long run bash is better than kick so you will not be missing out on anything. You will also get the leg up on non large warriors who need a shield to bash. The reason behind this is because you cannot kick magical monsters, yet with a magical sword you can bash them. Bash not only does similar damage as kick at higher levels but it also can stun which will allow you to catch up to fleeing monsters as well as interrupting spellcasters.
Upon gaining level 9 make sure to stop by the local shadowknight guild and train a point to all of your spell skills(abjuration, conjuration, evocation etc). If you do not train a point into your spell skills they will not go up and you will be unable to cast spells. We will cover spells in a little more detail in a paragraph below but first I wanted to mention the other skills that paladins gain at higher levels.
At level 10 shadowknights gain dodge. Warriors gain this ability at level 6. Dodge allows you to dodge blows before they have a chance to hit you and is a very welcome addition. When you combine this with Parry(at level 17) and Riposte(at level 30) you will take much fewer blows than most other classes in the game. It should be noted that while you get all of these skills 4-5 levels later than a warrior you do get them. This is important because it goes to show that shadowknights peak later but they do peak and in the longrun 3/4 warrior 1/4 necromancer can be much more effective than 4/4 of either class.
At level 20 you gain the ability to double attack. This is perhaps the most important level in a young shadowknights career. Though you never get dual wield double attack will suffice. By using a 2 handed weapon in addition to slam you will be a force to be reckoned with.
At level 35 you will gain the hide skill. Hide can be thought of as a form of invisibility except that you will be unable to move while hidden. This is a very important skill to use when meditating as it will keep you from getting stepped on by a hill giant or other powerful nasties.
Level 40 sees the final of your melee skill additions in disarm. Disarm rarely works but when it does it is quite useful. Monsters with weapons hit harder than those without them. Disarm might allow you to throw the weapon from the monsters hands and grab it for your own keeping.
Last but not least shadowknights get meditate at level 12. This is an important skill when it comes to spellcasting as it will drastically reduce downtime while waiting for mana.
Now that we've covered the melee end of things let's cover the spells. Shadowknight spells are probably the most varied among hybrids. Rangers get nice outdoor spells with a bit of healing thrown in. Paladins get buffing and healing spells with some undead direct damage spells thrown in for good measure. Shadowknights get a great mixture of different spells. The majority of these spells revolve around undead, summoning undead, finding undead and destroying undead. However it doesn't stop there. Shadowknights also get invisibility spells, the ability to see invisible beings, utility spells such as siphon strength, lifetap style spells which not only damage your foe but heal you, damage over time spells as well as being the one of three classes in the game who can summon pets. We will attempt to describe the different types of spells in the paragraphs below.
First and foremost let's cover shadowknight pets. Before we even get started dispel any thought of using your pet as another party member that will allow you to solo as if you had a tank with you. Shadowknight pets have recently been improved but they are still quite weak. In general your pet will be equal to a monster about half of your level. These pets do not make good tanks and really aren't going to be able to dish much damage to the monsters you will be facing. That is not to say that they are useless however. Shadowknight pets are cheap to summon as they only require cheap components(bone chips). Your pet will never share your experience because it's never going to survive a fight if used correctly. Shadowknight pets can be used to send into battle before you enter the fight. While your pet is keeping the monsters distracted you can go ahead and cast spells on the monster(just make sure you stand back from a safe distance). Use your damage over time spells such as clinging darkness, siphon the monsters strength and if you wish go ahead and shoot off any direct damage spells that might be useful versus this beast(this is good for undead once you get ward). Around this time your pet should will die and the mob will rush you. When it does you melee it to death, gaining assistance from the DoT spells. At level 15 you get the mend bones spell which allows you to heal your pet, however your better off just letting it die.
The Locate Corpse and Sense the Dead spells can be useful in certain scenarios(trying to find a roaming undead in an outdoor area or trying to find your corpse). They are a nice addition to the spell book but you will not be using them very often. Same thing goes for endure cold. This spell is nice to keep up if you make a trip to Permafrost but generally you will not use it very often.
Invisibility spells are very useful especially if you are soloing. At level 9 you will be able to cast Invisibility versus Undead which will be useful in primarily undead zones such as Befallen or Unrest. At level 30 you will be able to make yourself invisible to the rest of the world. This will allow you to be able to travel off the mainland as you will be able to sneak in past the guards. It will also allow you to be able to sneak by the monsters you do not wish to fight and get right to the juicy stuff.
Damage over time spells are the meat of the shadowknights offensive spells. These spells will slowly eat away at a monsters hit points. Not only are these great for finishing off running monsters but also for general combat. Every combat round the monster will take a bit more damage and over the course of a battle these will add up.
Fear spells such as fear and spook the dead can be very useful and very dangerous to use. These spells will cause your target to turn and run away in fear for about 30 seconds. This can be good if you are outnumbered by monsters and would like to reduce their numbers. It can become a problem however if the monster runs and picks up help on the way back because you will now be facing even greater numbers.
The Vampiric Embrace spell is a very interesting shadowknight spell. This is the shadowknights only way of healing themselves. The problem is that it does not let you choose when you need to be healed. This spell has a duration. During the duration of this spell you will randomly lifetap on a successful hit. This has the double effect of not only damaging your opponent but of healing yourself. The higher your dexterity the more often this will go off. This is a nice addition to the spell collection however it can not be relied on to use as healing device as you will be vastly more out-damaged in a fight than you will heal yourself.
The Ward Undead / Expulse Undead spells are your best direct damage spells. These spells have a pretty good mana:damage ratio versus undead foes. When you combine being able to soften up(or finish off) your opponents with these spells and your ability to melee nearly as well as a warrior these spells make you very powerful versus undead foes.
At level 15 you get the Numb the Dead spell. This spell allows you to calm undead beings. This means if there are 3 undead monsters in a room and you only want to fight one of them then you can numb the other two then drag the one monster away to a safe spot and fight him there.
Another useful level 15 spell is Shadow Step. This spell is a mini teleport spell which can be used for escape. This spell will teleport you a short distance away and hopefully give you enough separation between you and the attacker so that you can get away.
So you think you want to be a shadowknight? Trying to decide what race to be? Well in my opinion there are really only two choices and those are ogre and troll. It doesn't really make much sense to be a "good" race because you are going to be shunned by your own people anyway. One could argue that dark elf shadowknights are the best casters and that is very true. However you are 3/4 warrior and 1/4 caster and being such you should concentrate on the warrior end of things. Only ogres and trolls will be able to slam. Without slam you will need to use a shield if you want to use your extra attack(bash). This will make you that much weaker as a melee class and should be avoided.
So which race should you be? My personal pick is an ogre. Not only do they have high strength and stamina(for the fighter side of things) but they also have a higher intelligence(for spells). The only real reason to be a troll is for the natural regeneration. So it really boils down to whether you plan to be a solo artist or a team player. In a team an ogre would be more beneficial and you could let the healers or bards do the healing. Solo you might decide to go with a troll simply because there will be less downtime resting.
All in all the shadowknight is a very powerful class. You can use most weapons, most armor and have some powerful shadowknight only weapons. The ability to cast spells keeps the class from ever becoming boring. On the downside you will be killed on sight most everywhere(unless you choose a "good race in which case you will be allowed to live but will have a hard time finding vendors to deal with you) and your choice of cities to bind in will be limited. However being evil also opens up a whole new area of opportunity to simply kill everything you come across and not worry about factions. Being a shadowknight will not be easy early on as this class really doesn't peak until after level 22. If you don't plan on playing much you will probably be better off with another class. If you plan on playing to the highest levels however shadowknights might just be the perfect class for you.