Kalista, the Spear of Vengeance revealed

Treacherously murdered, Kalista Kalista rose as a specter, twisted by the horrific power of the Shadow Isles. In death, she offers Runeterrans a proposition: surrender your The Black Spear item.png soul to the Spear of Vengeance and she will exact retribution on your betrayers. [1]

Abilities

The Black Spear
The Black Spear item

Active: Kalista offers a pact to an allied champion. Should they agree, the item is consumed and the pair are Soul-Bound for the remainder of the game. When accepted, the binding enables Sentinel.png Soul-Marked, a passive on Sentinel.png Sentinel, and allows Kalista to use Fate's Call.png Fate's Call when she unlocks it.


Martial Poise
Martial Poise

Rather than cancelling the basic attack animation, a move order hops Kalista in the direction of the click after she completes her attack. Kalista leaps farther when moving away from her target.


Pierce
Pierce

Kalista hurls a spear, damaging the first enemy struck and adding a stack of Rend.png Rend. Pierce also procs Martial Poise.png Martial Poise.


Sentinel
Sentinel
  • Passive - Soul-Marked: When Kalista and her bound The Black Spear item.png ally attack a minion, monster or enemy champion at the same time, they deal bonus magic damage.
  • Active: Kalista commands a sentinel to keep watch over an area. The sentinel patrols back and forth in a line a few times. Vulnerable to attacks from behind, sentinels see in a cone in front of them and scream if they Sight icon spot an enemy champion.


Rend
Rend

Kalista's basic attacks and the spear from Pierce.png Pierce lodge in their target for a short time. Rend causes her to rip the spears from her enemies, Slow icon slowing them and dealing increased damage for each spear rent from the target. Rend's cooldown resets if it secures a kill on an enemy unit. The spears stack infinitely, only disappearing if Kalista fails to keep up her assault.


Fate's Call
Fate's Call

Kalista repositions her bound The Black Spear item.png ally next to her, making them untargetable and disabling their spells. During Fate's Call, Kalista's The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound gains a new ability, which allows the The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound to dash in a target direction, Airborne icon knocking up enemies they strike.


Gameplay
Kalista Screenshots

Kalista is a marksman who cooperates with her The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound to deal substantial sustained damage, access her full repertoire of abilities and wither her enemies under her relentless assault. Kalista's potential is unlocked by solid communication and cooperation with allies rather than raw mechanical skill. While still capable in her own right, Kalista misses out on Sentinel.png Soul-Marked's bonus damage and effective use of her Fate's Call.png ult without direct cooperation from her The Black Spear item.png ally.

Laning
Kalista concept 2

In lane, Kalista follows the familiar marksman pattern of farm and harass with one important difference: Martial Poise.png Martial Poise makes kiting part and parcel of her kit. With it, Kalista can reposition after every basic attack, hopping in and out of danger to attack opponents and gain superior positioning. Sentinel.png Soul-Marked allows Kalista and her The Black Spear item.png ally to speedily crush down each minion, forcing their opposition to farm under turret and nearly guaranteeing a level two ding ahead of their opponents. With the lane pushed, Kalista can send a Sentinel.png Sentinel up the river to keep watch for incoming threats. This ability takes some vision pressure off her support, allowing both to spend less time at base and more time dictating the pace of the lane.

For trading, Kalista lands Pierce.png Pierce to proc Rend.png Rend, poking with terrifying speed. While Kalista decides when to answer Fate's Call.png Fate's Call, her The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound, often a support, ultimately decides where it'll make its impact. If either Kalista or her The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound land significant crowd control on an enemy champion, Fate's Call.png Fate's Call makes the perfect tool to damage and lock down enemies, setting Kalista up to sling the fatal spear.

Teamfights

Without massive range or a reliable escape, Kalista relies on backline positioning and attentive protection from her allies. Before any teamfight breaks out, Kalista should use Sentinel.png Sentinel to try to spot out sneaky enemies on the edges of the fray. With the battle underway, Kalista metes out strong, consistent punishment with basic attacks, staying safe with precise management of Martial Poise.png Martial Poise. Given time and dependable peel, Kalista's spears rocket from the backline of every skirmish and teamfight. The damage and Rend.png stacks add up quick, making Kalista a decisive executor with Rend.png Rend.

Fate's Call.png Fate's Call

The Fate's Call.png ult's versatility makes it good for peel, a wombo starter or a rescue for your The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound - used to its full potential, it can be all three. Against dive comps, a timely Fate's Call.png Fate's Call stops a chase dead in its tracks and serves as a counter-engage for your team to follow up. If Kalista's The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound is caught out, a quick Fate's Call.png ultimate spirits them to safety, burning whatever crowd control the enemies expended and offering the option of dis-or-re-engage. Brave Kalista players (and braver The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound) can kick off wombo-combos or follow up on a hard initiation, creating the space Kalista needs to clean up the fight from the back lines.

Kalista concept 3
Synergy
Works well with: Struggles against:
LeonaSquare
Leona - the Radiant Dawn

Tanky supports like the Radiant Dawn are perfect for Fate's Call.png Fate's Call. After being tossed into the fray by Kalista, Leona can hang onto Zenith Blade.png Zenith Blade to zoom around teamfights applying crowd control where needed. Bonus points for proc-ing Sunlight.png Sunlight and Sentinel.png Soul-Marked at the same time.

ZyraSquare
Zyra - Rise of the Thorns

Kalista's slow basic attack leaves her vulnerable to the lockdown of Grasping Roots.png Grasping Roots. The Spear of Vengeance must carefully manage Martial Poise.png Martial Poise to survive this lane opponent.

JannaSquare
Janna - the Storm's Fury

On face, it may not seem like a great idea to toss the fragile Janna into the enemy team, but Fate's Call.png Fate's Call and Monsoon.png Monsoon combine to split enemy teams asunder.

EzrealSquare
Ezreal - the Prodigal Explorer

Ezreal's kit dulls the edge of Kalista's spears: He outpokes her with Mystic Shot.png Mystic Shot and can escape the danger posed by Rend.png Rend and Fate's Call.png Fate's Call with a quick Arcane Shift.png Arcane Shift.

MalphiteSquare
Malphite - Shard of the Monolith

Imagine Fate's Call.png Fate's Call and Unstoppable Force.png Unstoppable Force smacking sequentially into the enemy team - the area of effect knockup double tap will win you most fights.

Master YiSquare
Master Yi - the Wuju Bladesman

Highlander.png Highlander causes problems for Kalista since her primary Rend.png escape tool applies a slow. If Kalista and her The Black Spear item.png ally can't nail Master Yi with Fate's Call.png Fate's Call, she's likely to be chopped up, Wuju Style.png Wuju Style.

Champion Insights
Kalista, game design by CertainlyT

Champion diversity helps us accomplish one of our key goals, that each game of League feels different than the ones before it. Just as important as champ diversity is player diversity. Some opponents are risk-averse, some fight early and often. Adjusting to the unique rhythm of each game is critical to success. But League is a team game. Reading and reacting to your allies' demeanor is equally important to victory. Kalista Kalista is for players who enjoy or want to improve at taking the pulse of teammates and working together toward a win.

As designers, we are constantly trying to help players succeed. Building scenarios that overwhelm or confuse players is simple, laying the foundations for success is the challenge. As such, Kalista highlights the cooperative end-state in which she and her The Black Spear item.png ally are most likely to succeed and offers a tool kit to enable players to reach that state.

Kalista concept 4

It is important to light up the right paths for players, to make the unseen momentarily visible. A champion's focus is an opportunity to let the player grow their general skill in that area so that they can bring that strength to bear in other contexts. Consider the jungle for a new player: they're not likely to see the value of farming it, of denying farm from the opposing jungler and of doing all this while controlling larger map objectives. Nunu Nunu's Consume.png Consume is an amazing tool for jungling that emphasizes a successful way to play. Mastering Nunu Nunu teaches the player how to jungle, enabling him to succeed on other champions in that role.

Now think of this in terms of Kalista's focus on facilitating cooperation:

Sentinel.png Sentinel
  • Passive - Soul-Marked: If Kalista and her The Black Spear item.png ally attack an enemy within one second of each other, they deal bonus magic damage to their target.

Sentinel.png Soul-Marked is designed to reveal effective duo-lane teamplay. Often in bot lane, a fight devolves into two 1v1's happening near each other, rather than a 2v2 that's won through cooperation between allies. Sentinel.png Sentinel's passive emphasizes what's often the optimal play in these situations: focused fire.

Equally important to helping the player understand the criterion for success is giving them the tools to get there. Tools to cooperate are interesting in that they include more than just formal power. In this vein, Kalista's kit endeavors to facilitate teamwork by resolving incentives for selfish play and visually communicating intent.

Think of the active on Sentinel.png Sentinel, it relieves your support (and likely The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound) of some pressure to keep up vision. That way they'll more often be available to work together to deal bonus damage and wreak havoc with Fate's Call.png Fate's Call. This sort of design allows us to emphasize tighter, more consistent teamwork without making Kalista so communication dependent that you practically need to play in the same room as your The Black Spear item.png Soul-Bound.

Kalista concept 5

Champion Insights: We are the Spear of Vengeance

By Riot NaKyle [2]

Baby Steps

Kalista Kalista began development just as the smoke cleared from Jinx Jinx's launch. The champion team faced a new challenge. Years of female marks(wo)men featured similar shape language and gobs of guns, bows and even bow-guns. A consensus formed: the time had come for a different approach to a female marksman.

Most champions begin life as an amorphous idea blob. Someone's inspired and does what inspired people do: bring their thoughts to life and share them like crazy. If that idea resonates, artists draw, designers noodle and storytellers write. When that happens, a new champion is on the way to becoming an identifiable embryo.

Concept artist Larry 'TheBravoRay' tackled the post-Jinx Jinx conundrum. Inspired by Zeus and his lightning bolts, he imagined a tall, athletic woman throwing a spear over and over again. But given that marksmen attack repeatedly all game, every game, he needed a conceit that kept her spears supplied.

Kalista Insights 1

Larry spoke about his approach to the issue: "I wanted to do the archetype of the fallen warrior." He sketched a few undead representations of martial females to explore the idea. "I wanted players to think, why is she in this state? Why does she look like a wraith and how'd those spears get in her back? What's the major momentum for this character going forward? From there I think we kinda knew. Brad 'CertainlyT', the champion designer, started talking and throwing ideas in and that helped drive the concept as well."

In early days, in-development champions earn codenames by what makes them stand out. Shortly after Larry's concepts began making the rounds, Spectral Legionnaire entered active development.

Teams in teams

Champions spring from tight-knit teams of craft-experts, where two people rarely have the same skills and expertise. Within the broader champion team, there are multiple, fully-functional teams and each is focused on one particular new champion at a time.

Even if these teams carry the responsibility to understand exactly who, what and why the champion should be in the game, they share their work widely, soliciting opinions and expertise from tons of Rioters. Even Ryze and Tryndamere pop in to see what's being cooked up.

Defining Kalista

Kalista was still taking her first steps when Anthony 'Ant in Oz' joined Riot's narrative team. She'd be his first project and he leapt right onto a charging train. "We sort of knew she was betrayed and that was like a quarter of who she was. So my first task was to try and write a few stories to flesh out some ideas and see which of those stories resonated with everybody working on the champ. You can see very quickly when people get excited about a story and that gets them re-enthused about the champ... that's when you know you've hit a good mark."

On Brad's (design) side of things, he'd been prototyping cooperative gameplay designs with the hope they'd find their home in Kalista's kit. In co-op, the fun's in accomplishing objectives together, not simply doing similar things while standing near each other. This rule of thumb meant the relationship between Kalista and another champion required shared purpose and an even footing. The idea thematically lined up with Kalista's martial bearing. Soldiers train to fight as a unit with common objectives - similar to the peer relationship in duo lanes.

When Anthony saw the early designs, he jumped. "This was a good example of the background and the story getting inspired by the gameplay direction. I think that goes back and forth between gameplay, narrative, and all the different artists. We all feed off each other. I think that's a really healthy, natural way for things to work."

What began with Brad's exploration of how players could cooperate evolved into The Black Spear item.png The Pledge that allows another champion to yield their soul to Kalista. With a thematic and narrative conceit in place for Kalista, Brad solidified how duo lane players could best work together to farm, score kills, and save each other's butts.

Kalista Insights 2
Problem Child

One particular problem still hovered over Kalista's gestation. There was consensus that she would be a wraith, but striking the balance between who Kalista once was, a proud warrior, and who she is, the Spear of Vengeance, proved difficult.

Larry talked about a particularly dark time: "There was a lot of feedback when people (internally) started seeing the character... they said, 'She looks too much like a zombie'. And that was the key word, 'zombie, zombie, zombie'. It was okay that she was undead, because that was the point, but the non-intelligent zombie was not what we wanted." The artists on Kalista's pod cooperated with illustrators on the splash team to rejigger her face, helping her become the purposeful, relentless hunter they imagined.

Kalista Insights 3

Anthony spoke about another breakthrough on the identity front. During VO (voiceover) development "there was a realization that she wouldn't say 'I' very much because she's more than one entity, really. So it became 'We are the Spear of Vengeance'." This shift allowed the team to make a clearer statement about who she is and explore the relationship between Kalista and the souls she The Black Spear item.png bonds with. In seldom instances, when she remembers her past life, she still says 'I', providing a small glimpse into her harrowed past.

Fate's Call.png Fate's Call

Brad emphasized trust as the key to navigating Kalista through difficult challenges and into the game. "We were constantly faced with problems. Solvable problems that we worked through together, but meetings were less jokey. There was more spit-balling, more discussion on how to solve things... if I list the things that I'm proud of this team for, it'd be a long list for this champion in particular."

Larry continued the line of thought: "It's all a bunch of professionals collaborating together... every guy and gal is a pro at what they do and when we get tough feedback, we trust. Like if it's gameplay feedback, I trust Brad is gonna understand and act and do things properly. Same thing with stories, or art or animation... " Offering a final comment, Brad said "It's just something you have to be really excited about, you know? Not making a champion, but making this champion."

Media

Kalista, the Spear of Vengeance - Login Screen02:25

Kalista, the Spear of Vengeance - Login Screen

Kalista's Theme



The Pledge - Kalista01:37

The Pledge - Kalista

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References