Specs! I personally think it’s kind of derpy when a character’s entire physical appearance changes based on presence swapping, and I tend to ignore presences in RP unless someone’s profile specifically mentions it (“A chill surrounds her,” and so on). Overall, they’re just a game mechanic, however they’re also a great basis for character design and ability and I find it more fun for a character to have more proficiency in one particular school over another. It gives clearer strengths and weaknesses, room to grow in other areas, and can even influence the character’s physical traits. They don’t have to be inept at things that aren’t their specialty: a warrior may feel much more comfortable with a shield and sword than a large claymore, despite having training in both; a paladin may find their Light shines brightest when helping the sick and injured instead of striking down enemies; a druid may find one form is a more natural shift for them than others, etc.
Sticking to DKs specifically for this, you can see in Acherus that focus on a specific school is encouraged by having their own unique trainers with disciples, and the starting quests even put a brief emphasis on deciding what path you want to take. Obviously not everybody’s DK is going to have the same generic “risen as Light’s Hope cannon fodder” backstory and may have had a lot more time to master a certain school or even two, or perhaps they’re not a master of anything in particular and can utilize several skillsets with some level of proficiency. But here are just a few things that can influence a spec IC!
As I frequently tend to gripe, there’s not a lot of lore on scourge runes or runeblades, but judging from game mechanics, there are specific runes that correspond with the schools of magic. Runes etched into their blade or onto their body could be a huge factor in what their strengths and weaknesses are; perhaps they have separate blades with different engravings that channel different powers (assuming you’re not one of the folk that plays their character being bound to a specific blade, like I do, but there’s nothing saying this must be the case). Whether it was their necromancers or the death knight themselves that decided on these runes, that’s up to you!
- Circumstance of death:
This is one that I personally find a lot more fun, because it can have a lot of influence in the character design itself. A soldier that fell to the icy winds of the north, their final memories shivering and snowblind, might follow the school of Frost because it just for some reason seems “right” to them, associating the strength and terror of the Scourge with the bitter cold. Oliver was risen several days after being killed and was already beginning to putrefy and house colonies of insects, and didn’t have much choice in the matter when his necromancers imbued him with unholy energy and turned his insides to poison sludge; he was made to be a plaguebearer, partially as an insult to his previous nature as a paladin. He can still use a little bit of frost and blood magic, but it’s not his strength.
A death knight’s personality can also impact their school of choice, if they did in fact choose it for themselves. Someone who was very vain in life, for example, may be interested in the school of Blood because of its regenerative properties. Someone that actively embraces their undeath and the power it gives them may choose Unholy, reveling in their ability to raise their fallen enemies as minions and rot people’s flesh off their bones with the wave of a hand. A fallen paladin retaining their faith may choose Frost, as it is the least offensive and brutal of the three and the least likely to cause any lethal accidents if they lose control.
There are pretty much infinite possibilities!
Whether a character is a tank, healer, or DPS in-character… that’s entirely dependent on personality. Despite his OOC spec being DPS, Oliver is very much a tank IC (rip unholy tanking); he was a shieldmaster in life and his need to defend things is what got him killed, and in undeath he places the living at a much higher value than himself, and won’t even stop to think before taking a blade or bullet for someone. My paladin is combat trained, but he’s a complete emotional sap and will drop everything and beeline to help somebody that’s hurting. As much as he hates it and wants to be a Big Damn Hero like his father, he’s a healer.
I hope this gives some good ideas! :X