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The really bad touch.
Shadowknights are a strong hybrid between warriors and necromancers - they are sort of the flip side of paladins, focusing on debuffing enemies, doing damage and getting significant area of effect threat to do their job. They can use a powerful harm touch ability once every 90 minutes that does substantial amounts of instant damage in touch range depending on the level of the shadowknight. They also have access to a weak pet that can do some offtanking and adds damage.
It's a very difficult class to play at low to mid levels that doesn't really come into its own until much later. When it does, the shadowknight is a valuable addition to any group, capable of offtanking, main tanking and doing good damage while having reasonable quality group utility.
Shadowknights can also feign death, making them useful pullers and enabling them to drop threat when they need to. They're one of the only melee classes that can solo well at later levels because of their ability to cast fear on monsters with darkness cast on them already. This allows them to reverse kite in the style of a necromancer, but with somewhat less effectiveness. Their high amount of area threat and mitigation helps them to be very effective tanks, as well as their ability to do damage. In groups without an enchanter, these make for good tanks that can keep solid aggro even if a group is trying to destroy a cluster of monsters using area of effect damage. Shadowknights can also snare, adding to their utility.
They lack significant group buffs, but their debuffs and life drains make up for it. Their most important stats are strength, intelligence and stamina. Shadowknights have a substantial experience penalty, so those that are looking to try to level quickly might want to take that into account.
The race choice for shadowknights is actually quite difficult - Ogres and Trolls have the best physical statistics by far, but they have very weak intelligence scores. As many shadowknight spells are mana intensive, and their mana pools are already relatively small, this can prove to be a significant issue. Dark Elves, Iksar and Humans have more balanced statistics, but they lose out on melee damage and survivability.
If you do choose to pick a Troll or Ogre, it might be best to drop some points into intelligence to get them closer to where the other races are. Troll and Iksar regeneration is also useful for shadowknights.
A overview of the various races of the original classic Everquest MMORPG.