Still, the presentation of Len Lakofka's death master class in issue #76 (August 1983) went above and beyond those of most other classes in terms of making it clear that it was intended only for NPCs. You can see the title of the article in which it appeared above. In addition to the "For NPCs Only" phrasing, there's the subtitle that calls the class a "monster" and notes that one shouldn't consider playing as a death master. Even more notably, the article itself begins with an "Introduction/Sermon" where Lakofka opines
The AD&D game should not have assassin player characters. In fact, no player character should be evil at all unless adverse magic affects him.This is an interesting, though not unusual, point of view, especially as the '80s rolled on. It's also worth noting that assassins were eventually eliminated from AD&D in its second edition, a point of view even Gygax toyed with on occasion, though for different reasons. In any case, Lakofka continues in his introduction to explain that he feels evil is treated too casually in the game. One of his reasons for creating the death master class was to rectify this.
As a way of putting evil in its often without enough of a penalty proper place, here is presented an evil character that makes an assassin look like the boy next door. The death master is meant as a non-player character -- one the player characters and their party have to defeat. Please use the character that way only. If I ever run into a player character death master at a convention, I may turn evil myself. . .Again, it's an interesting point of view, especially when viewed against the changing culture surrounding D&D at that time. Naturally, Lakofka's concerns had zero effect on me at the time, since there was for a brief time a PC death master in my old campaign -- brief, because he was eventually slain by the other PCs, but I allowed the class nonetheless. The PC in question was a formerly good character turned to evil by possession of the Hand of Vecna and who became obsessed with eliminating his former companions in the belief that they would eventually destroy him. He was right, as it turned out, though, ironically, his destruction was more the result of his repeated attempts to slay the other PCs than their own desire to see his life ended. In any event, I didn't heed Lakofka's warnings and I'd be amazed if I were the only one.
The death master class itself is somewhat interesting. It's basically a necromancer, with many powers over the undead and a collection of new spells. Beginning at 4th level, the class also gains the ability to make a variety of "potions, salves, and pastes" that replicate some of his spells and class abilities. At the time, I found it an impressive addition, since it spelled out a bit more explicitly the crafting of magic items than was seen elsewhere. In retrospect, I'm not sure a new class was needed, when new spells alone could have probably sufficed, but that was the style at the time. Regardless, I'm not at all convinced that the death master did anything to advance the notion that evil should be Evil and never an option for player characters.