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"The runeblade is an extension of your being. A death knight cannot battle without a runeblade."[1]
Instructor Razuvious

Runeblades are blades inscribed with runes, symbols that hold magical power.

Death knight runeblades

Death knight runeblades.

The single most important piece of equipment to a death knight is the runeblade. It is through the runeblade that a death knight commands the powers of frost, blood and the unholy. The runeblade also acts as a vessel to store the death knight's runic power.[1]

Some death knights were bestowed with black, vampiric runeblades by the Lich King himself to serve as the Scourge's mightiest generals.[2] Frostmourne was the most famous of these runeblades, having been wielded by Arthas Menethil and having contained thousands of souls trapped over the years. Frostmourne itself was a cursed sword that had also stolen Arthas's soul, and while it is presumed the runeblades of the other death knights worked similarly, it is not confirmed in any canon source. Frostmourne was generally unique among its kind, even displaying a form of intelligence.[3] It is notable that, while the Corrupted Ashbringer acted like a death knight runeblade, it wasn't one.

The Knights of the Ebon Blade themselves were similarly each bestowed with a runeblade, but it has been shown that some of them can discard their weapons at will to get another and inscribe it with runes, while others are still keeping the same blade they began their undeath with. Marduk Blackpool, a death knight that served the Scourge during the Third War, had his runeblade shattered and yet continued to operate, although he may have kept its hilt.

As weapons:

As animated objects:

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft RPG and is considered non-canon.

The vampiric runeblades are empathic weapons given to new death knights by the Lich King Ner'zhul or one of his designates to turn them into death knights. Once the runeblade is used to turn a hero into a death knight, it becomes that knight's personal weapon and is slowly charged with the life energies of those injured and slain thereafter.[4]

Death knights are now few and far between, but their legacy lives on. The runeblade is one example of their terrible power. It channels life force, which bestows a kind of life upon the blade itself. Though not very intelligent, the runeblade has a strong survival instinct.

When a death knight who owns a runeblade is destroyed, the sword dampens its powers, taking on the appearance of a nondescript magical weapon. It uses its empathic powers to manipulate its next owner — encouraging feelings of possession and anger, discouraging kindness and altruism. Once it gains enough control over its owner, it encourages him to seek out the secret places where death knights still dwell. Only then can the runeblade accomplish its goal of gaining a new master.[5]

Other runeblades

Felo'melorn as an Artifact.

Runeblades are not unique to the Scourge. Felo'melorn, the former sword of the Sunstrider dynasty, is quite a famous one.

See also