An Ancient Mystery in Runeterra
Normally, I wouldn't ask for help. I've come across a lot of interesting relics in my travels, but never anything like these.
I've gathered everything on my desk for all of you to take a look. The important thing is that these relics were found all over Runeterra, and they date from different and completely unconnected eras. The thing is... they all share one similarity: they show a dark, clearly inhuman, wielding a jagged .
This is a mystery I'm not sure I want solved. From what I can gather so far, this dark figure has been at the center of many bloody conflicts and tales of war.
What do you think? Who is this figure, and what role has he played in Runeterra's history?
Oh, and if you really want to hear some of the stories about these things... I'll tell them, but some of them aren't pretty.
Take a look at this. It's a stained glass window from Demacia.
Don't ask me how I got it. I'm going to give it back, I promise. I'm borrowing it for research, and they'll never know it's missing. Demacians never stop talking about light, so what do they really need a window for, anyway?
Look closely. See the shape in the center with the wings and the jagged? That's the figure I've been seeing everywhere.
This is the first artifact that really got me thinking. It's not that old, and it can't really go back more than a few generations at most. I asked around, and nobody knows what the figure is or if he has a name. They all agreed on one thing though: whoever this figure is, he's clearly someone worth remembering to be immortalized like this.
But why does he appear in so many other places? So many of these artifacts are ancient, and some are from lost civilizations so old they don't even have names.
How is that possible?
This statuette is from Noxus.
Yes, Noxus. You know how I feel about Noxians, but their city is full of history. It'll take more than dark magic, guards with massive axes, and a creepy me from exploring the most important places in Valoran.to keep
Noxus is full of these kinds of statuettes. Usually, they're made as tributes to the nation's greatest heroes, but this one doesn't look like any Noxian war hero I've ever heard of. I know of plenty, too, believe me: pick up any Noxian book and it's probably a way-too-lengthy chronicle of some hero's life, conquests, and the size of their weapon. I wouldn't have looked twice at this one if I hadn't recognized the figure.
Here's the thing that's really nagging me... what's Noxus doing with statues of a figure that shows up in Demacian art, too?
When I noticed the similarities between the Demacian stained glass and the Noxian statue, I had to know more. I pulled as many books as I could out of the library at Piltover's academy. There are some sections there restricted to everyone but academy graduates. I could have gotten in on my own, but I didn't want to burn any bridges, so I had help me out. Everyone loves that guy.
The smaller one is a book of Noxian war poems. Most of what's inside is standard Noxian military fare, but the blade on the cover captured my attention.
The big one right here is an old book of fables and stories. Not all of them are entirely true, but one of them caught my eye. The character in the story is an arrogant general leading his warriors into battle and winning with ease. He has the last of his enemies cornered, but... you know what they say about pride before a fall.
A great warrior - that's right, our dark figure - appears in the battle. The arrogant general's enemies, men on the verge of death, are inspired by his presence. "They rose from their knees as though he'd lit their very blood aflame", it says. "The shamed general watched as his men were cleaved by an army that had begged for mercy just moments before. His enemies had become murderers and butchers. As they closed on him, the general could not be certain whether they were still men at all."
Shurima's been gone for centuries. It's hardly anything but dust now, but the ruins that remain show a massive civilization that once thrived in the desert. I have no idea what happened to the empire. It seems like it without a trace... but that's a whole different mystery.
I found this urn in a tomb there. From the look of the place and some of the carvings on the walls, it was the final resting place of a great Shuriman warlord who led a battle against impossible odds. He and his men should have gone out in a blaze of glory but, somehow, they won. Just a handful of warriors defeated thousands of enemies who rose against them.
It's no wonder they'd immortalize that kind of victory on the walls of a tomb, but what is this dark figure doing on the urn? What part did he play in this battle? I just don't get it.
You can carve plenty of interesting things out of the Freljord's ice. That place has always been a battleground, so I wouldn't have thought twice about digging up a dagger like this one if it weren't for two things. One: check out the etching in the metal. Look closely enough and you'll see the same serrated design found in the rest of these relics. Two, well... the dagger's hilt is carved from human bone.
Here's where it gets more interesting. The tribesmen of that region say the figure on the blade is a legend, a 'warrior-savior' who appeared during a battle against a hated rival tribe several years ago. They'd almost lost the battle, but the warrior appeared and led them to a crushing victory over their enemies. They left no one alive, but when the tribesmen went to celebrate with their champion, he'd already vanished. They say that - in his memory - they took the bones of their enemies as trophies.
It sounds like a similar story to the one from the Shuriman tomb. Both tell of a warrior who appeared and turned the tide of a great battle... but at a gruesome cost.
This Ionian woodblock was carved long before the war with Noxus. They're rare nowadays, but they're always more or less the same. They all depict things of beauty: landscapes, monks in meditation, the stars and the night sky, all of that 'enlightenment' stuff they're always on about. All of them... except this one.
I've never seen anything like it. It's that same dark figure with that same blade - and the worst thing - I don't think those red stains are ink...
I got lucky with this one. I found it stuck between the pages of that huge book. It's not the same paper, and it's pretty damaged. Maybe someone got to this research before me, but they didn't get as far as I did.
In the image, it looks like these men are revering a statue of the dark figure. The statue itself looks like it's half-unearthed. It might not even be something they built, but something they found.
What is it about this figure that drove these people to be so devoted to him?
I won these coins off a certain Card Master whose name I won't say... and whose real name I don't even know. I'd lost every single hand up until this one, and the one time I beat him, of course he'd bet completely useless old coins. I can't spend them anywhere in Valoran. At least I've found a 'use' for them now. It took me a while to realize it, but that's the same jagged blade on these old coins.
Finally, there's this pendant to the right. It's very, very old, and I have no idea where it originally came from. That's the dark figure's face right there in the metal. Whoever he is, he's been around for a really long time.
That's all I've collected so far. So... what do you think? Who is this figure, and what does his presence mean?
I know one thing: I never want to meet him...
By Tyler 'RiotWenceslaus' Eltringham
emerges from the shadows of history to slake his thirst for and battle. This deft warrior cuts down his foes and their life force with his blade. Aatrox's abilities cost health to cast.
- Blood Well
Aatrox stores a portion of his abilities' health cost in the Blood Well, which slowly drains to a base amount while he is out of combat. When Aatrox loses all of his health, he draws on the Blood Well and recovers the amount of health stored.
- Dark Flight
Aatrox rises into the air and slams into a target location. Enemies within the impact zone are knocked up and take damage, while nearby enemies take damage.
- Blood Thirst
Aatroxhimself on every third attack. Activating Blood Thirst toggles .
- Blood Price: Every third attack now deals instead of healing Aatrox. Aatrox loses health based on the bonus damage dealt.
- Blades of Torment
Aatrox fires a line attack that damages and slows enemies caught in its path. Aatrox is refunded a part of the health cost if Blades of Torment strikes an enemy champion.
is a basic attack dependent melee champion who excels as a duelist and team fighter. His built-in and mechanics make him an ideal fit for top lane.
The sustain from Blood Thirst to top off his health. When he's ready to finish the job, adds significantly to an already potent burst combo.keeps Aatrox's health topped off, allowing him to farm throughout the laning phase. Aatrox excels as a duelist, able to switch to for heavy burst damage when trading with his lane opponent. After the exchange, Aatrox can toggle back to
If the lane isn't going Aatrox's way, the knock-up effect from Dark Flight and slow will aid his escape when enemies come charging. Even when things go totally wrong, offers a second chance to secure kills or make a quick exit.can be used to set up ganks for his jungler. Or, if Aatrox has bullied his enemy out of lane, he can push aggressively, safe in the knowledge that the disengage from
- Team fights
Aatrox's mobility gives him an innate ability to pressure enemy carries in team fights. Blood Thirst grants Aatrox plenty of sustain as he tangos with enemy initiators and tanks. When he sees an opportunity to reach an enemy carry, Dark Flight closes the gap and allows the punishment to begin. When Aatrox is in deep, the area of effect burst and extra range from Massacre, and slow on Blades of Torment prevent high-value targets from escaping. All the while the consistent healing from Blood Thirst and resurrection effect from Blood Well keep him alive long enough to cut through enemy squishies.
If Aatrox's team is on the defensive, a well-aimed Blades of Torment can slow multiple enemies and open a window for retreating allies to slip away. Alternately, he can kite enemies with Dark Flight, and create an opportunity for the remainder of his team to turn and counter-initiate. If Aatrox is focused, Blood Thirst's sustain and the Blood Well keep him in the fight, giving his teammates an opportunity to cut through foes as he resurrects and delivers the killing blow.
Return to the Darkin Blade
When Aatrox was released, a ton of players picked him and were super excited to try him out on the Rift. Unfortunately, the promise of Aatrox’s art and theme really wasn’t delivered on in his gameplay. Aatrox continually tops our player request charts for a gameplay update, so we want to take this time to revisit the Darkin Blade and try to truly deliver on the fantasy that Aatrox’s art and theme suggest—a demonic warrior who craves bloodshed.
This will likely be the largest pure gameplay update we have ever done on a champion, with every single ability being evaluated and updated. We’re still early in development on Aatrox but there are already some promising design directions we’re playing with. The update is still a ways off, but we wanted to start talking about it now since we know it’s high up on players’ wishlists.
Diving into the original Darkin
There’s not much new to say about Aatrox, but I thought it’d be good to at least discuss his progress a bit. Aatrox is planned to be our largest pure gameplay update to date and as such we’re still quite a ways off on his release. We’re still in heavy design iteration, but once we get something more solid, I’ll be back to talk a bit more about what direction we landed on. Know that we are working on him, though, and we want to make sure Aatrox finally delivers on the promise of his Darkin warrior thematic.
There will be blood
Next let’s talk about the Darkin Blade, Aatrox. As noted previously, Aatrox’s changes will be the largest pure gameplay update we’ve ever done, and it’s taken us a bit longer than we originally predicted. We think that Aatrox really isn’t holistically living up to his Darkin Warlord theme and needs to be rethought from the ground up.
After many iterations and a lot of experiments, we’ve finally settled on a design direction we’re happy with: “bloodthirsty, greatsword-wielding Warlord.” We want Aatrox’s attacks and abilities to feel very heavy and powerful while still maintaining the duelist nature of a sword master. And he’s definitely gonna have a giant Darkin sword that feeds on the death and destruction of all humanity. You know, typical Darkin stuff.
Death is only The Beginning
The last time I talked about Aatrox, I said he was only going to get a gameplay update, but as we dove further into his new kit’s direction of a “greatsword duelist that relentlessly pursues his foes,” we realized that the feeling of playing the new Aatrox wasn’t exactly matching his current visuals. Aatrox’s new design felt more powerful, more weighted, and overall just more imposing to play against. We felt this called for some model updates to match his gameplay feeling and to make him look the part. That being said, it won’t be a full VGU as we aren’t giving him 100% new animations or remaking all of his skins, though there will be small tweaks to the skins to match his base model update. We will, however, be giving Aatrox all new, brutal VO to bring him in line with our newer champions, because who doesn’t want to hear Aatrox physically and verbally destroy his enemies.
Champion Update: Aatrox
That age is over.
Now, with stolen flesh warped in brutal approximation of his previous form, the Darkin Blade seeks an apocalyptic and long overdue vengeance:
- Deathbringer Stance
Aatrox’s next basic attack has increased range and deals a percentage of the target’s maximum health as damage. This attack also significantly reduces all healing and shielding on the target for a few seconds.
Deathbringer Stance’s cooldown is slightly reduced whenever Aatrox casts a spell or when he lands the edge of The Darkin Blade on a champion.
- The Darkin Blade
Aatrox swings his greatsword up to three times. Each cast increases in damage, impacts a unique area of effect, and can hit with the edge of the blade (a second, smaller hitbox).
Edge of the blade: Hitting enemies at the far end of the first two casts and the center of the third briefly knocks them up and deals significantly more damage.
- Infernal Chains
Aatrox smashes the ground, damaging the first enemy hit and briefly slowing them. If it’s a champion or large monster, they are chained to the impact area.
If the chained enemy is still in the impact area after a few seconds, they are dragged to the center and take damage again.
- Umbral Dash
Passive: Aatrox heals for a portion of the damage he deals.
Active: Aatrox dashes, increasing his attack damage for a few seconds. Umbral Dash can store up to 2 charges and can be used simultaneously with The Darkin Blade.
- World Ender
Aatrox unleashes his full might, becoming monstrous in size and taking flight on massive wings. As he transforms, Aatrox fears nearby minions and briefly increases his movement speed (this bonus is reactivated when out of combat).
While transformed, Aatrox increases his overall damage and gains a Blood Well that stores health over World Ender’s duration, reviving him if he takes lethal damage while in his true form.
- Playing as Aatrox
Aatrox is an infernal warlord who cleaves earth and bone to massacre entire armies. Raze the battlefield with The Darkin Blade, landing precise hits with the edge to utterly decimate your opponents. Aatrox brings more ruin with the blade than basic attacks—focus on cooldown reduction to unleash a constant onslaught. As enemies learn to dodge, bind them in place with Infernal Chains for a guaranteed guillotine, or outplay their evasion with an Umbral Dash as you wield The Darkin Blade.
Umbral Dash’s passive turns bloody teamfights into fonts of health, keeping Aatrox alive for as long as his carnage continues. Allies who shield and sustain him for more swings of The Darkin Blade will be rewarded with a frontline juggernaut who can take as much damage as he deals. Wary enemies will try to slay the darkin before his Blood Well fills, but even death cannot halt his warpath once Aatrox transforms with World Ender. Flee, or die.
- Tips and Tricks
- Keep advancing on the enemy to ensure you catch them with the edge of The Darkin Blade — each cast moves the hitbox closer to Aatrox, with the final swing of his greatsword crushing those immediately in front of him.
- The combination of Deathbringer Stance’s reduction to your enemy’s healing and Umbral Dash’s passive boost to your own means Aatrox can go head-to-head with the biggest, bulkiest foes. As long as you’re dealing damage, it’ll be hell to bring you down.
- Don’t wait to become the World Ender: use your ultimate early to rapidly join the fight from afar and start filling your Blood Well. The longer you wage war in your true form, the more you’ll recover upon reviving—time it right, and your death will give you a second health bar for the final slaughter.