Champion Sneak Peek: Karma, the Enlightened One
If you're a fan of Ionian champions, or just a fan of fans in general, you're really going to take to this next champion. It is my pleasure to introduce, Karma, the Enlightened One, to the League of Legends. Along with a pair of particularly deadly-looking fans, Karma brings an elegant look and a particularly level-headed disposition to the League of Legends. Keep an open mind. After all: we can all use a little enlightenment.
So, about that Karma leak...
Looks like our cover's been blown:
Yep, this is new Karma. Yep, this is a big change. We believe Karma needed a reimagining, and we are going to talk to you about why we feel that's the case. But before we dig into it, there's something you should probably know first - anyone who owns Karma before her relaunch will get this Traditional Karma [ | skin for free:
This is important, because we know there are lots of fans (heh) of Karma's existing look, and we don't want to take that for granted.
We actually have been working on a dev diary that talks about our thought process behind Karma's relaunch, but since the cat's out of the bag we'll share the story and art sections of the dev diary right here, right now.
- Why did you change Karma's look and costume?
Karma's original look had a few shortcomings that we'd like to address for her relaunch. For starters, her aesthetic was hard to read and didn't really convey much about her character. Her fans, dress and posture didn't reflect her playstyle or storyline. There was a lot we could change about Karma to bring a more cohesive vision to the character.
First, we made sure that Karma's new look showed off her status as a paragon of Ionia while appearing unique on the battlefield. Her floating fans weren't cutting it as magical conduits, so we replaced them with a powerful manifestation of her Ionian will. Now, Karma carries the draconic symbol of Ionia with her at all times. We also decked her out in Ionian garb to emphasize her allegiance. We also crafted a new set of animations that emphasized her status as a champion of Ionia rather than a matronly diplomat.
This new approach to Karma transforms her into a badass conduit of inner strength that brings Ionia's strength to every battlefield.
In the past, we've created engaging characters that epitomize the ideals of their homeland. Garen as the Might of Demacia or Darius as the Hand of Noxus are good examples. With Karma, we wanted to capture Ionia, a place of wisdom and great spiritual power.
We also wanted to hold onto much of Karma's characterization. She's a strong leader and a mystic who stands apart from other champions.
- What were we looking to improve with Karma?
The connection between Karma's motif and playstyle was never as clear as it could have been. She didn't have a distinct theme that tied everything together and brought out the badass spiritual leader she is in her lore.
Ionia is a land that has suffered greatly. The ongoing struggle has taken its toll on Karma's calm, composed demeanor. We wanted to evolve Karma's personality to suit her place in a nation filled with internal strife and awakened ferocity.
- What have we done to address these issues?
Karma can now manifest her inner spirit and willpower as powerful magical energy. With her Inner Flame she can inspire and protect her allies, damage foes and manipulate the spiritual bonds between those around her. We've also taken her Ionian ties a step further: her magic springs from the crest of twin dragons in her mantle, literally and figuratively transforming her into a symbol of her homeland.
The changes we've made have given new life to Karma's title, 'The Enlightened One'. In the past, her title conveyed her serenity and calm. Now, it represents the enlightened path she's found for Ionia: a new path, merging the spiritual traditions of Ionia with the nation's newfound strength.
Finally, we've given Karma new VO that conveys her internal struggle and intensity. Karma's attempting to unite a wounded and divided nation, which is no easy task! We want you to believe she's got the inner strength - and Inner Flame - that it takes to persevere.
Karma's now the powerful Ionian leader she was always meant to be. Through her determination and indomitable spirit, she's set to rebuild Ionia and Inspire her people to greatness.
- Old Karma had issues. What were they?
Karma's kit was in a weird place, but her ultimate was especially problematic. Her base abilities didn't feel impactful and only felt effective when supercharged by Mantra. On top of that, when Karma had two charges of Mantra, we had to make both of them weaker to compensate for players double casting empowered spells.
The changes we made to Karma's kit focused on making each decision fun and meaningful while giving her abilities the focus they needed to perform her intended role. We kept the 'empowering'-type gameplay of Mantra, but instead of waiting around for it to recharge, Karma's basic attacks and abilities now lower Mantra's cooldown. This rewards aggressive play so you can 'buyback' her ultimate. Also, we gave Mantra a single charge to pump extra power into each cast. We also made sure Mantra empowers Karma's abilities in drastically different ways, leading to more impactful decision-making and a better feeling of accomplishment when you pull off the right move at the right time.
- Why was she hard to place in team comps?
Karma had the offensive tools to support her team in small skirmishes but not the powerful defensive abilities she needed to protect a team. Also, her all-purpose abilities are so broad they never felt like the right choice in any situation. All in all, Karma lacked direction.
- Why isn’t Karma fun?
The effectiveness of Karma's abilities relied too heavily on your teammates knowing all their nuances. No matter how hard you were carrying with Karma, your teammates had to be just as good with her for you to be super effective. When an ally's confused about whether or not he should run from or pass through your Spirit Bond, we probably made a mistake.
- What did we like about Karma?
Despite all the Mantra hate we've got going on, we actually think the concept is pretty kickass. It's unique and character-defining to old Karma, and augmenting her abilities with an immense surge of Ionian will is visually and thematically fun. We also liked how Karma could turn the tables on her opponents with abilities that provided defensive bonuses and had hidden offensive power. Finally, Spirit Bond's 'clothesline' gameplay is really cool, but it'd work better on a tank champion that has an easier time jumping into the fray.
- Karma's new role
Originally envisioned as a support, Karma's fringe successes actually came from players using her in the top or mid lanes as an AP burst mage with support abilities, much like Zilean or Morgana. We like this direction and want to encourage you to boost both her offensive and support abilities by building AP. We also want to make sure she can hold her own as a solo or with a lane partner.
Finally, we've updated her skills so allies are reliant on Karma, but Karma's not reliant on them. She's got enough power at her fingertips to feel strong as a mage or as a support without teammates having to work in perfect concert for you to be effective.
- So without further ado... here's Karma's new kit
- Gathering Fire
Hitting enemy champions with Karma's spells and basic attacks lower Mantra's cooldown.
- Inner Flame
Skillshot that deals magic damage and slows enemies in an area.
- Empowered by Mantra: Soulflare - Increases damage and leaves behind a zone that slows and, after a brief delay, explodes for AoE damage.
- Focused Resolve
Enemy-targeted tether that deals damage over time. If the tether is unbroken after a short duration, the tethered target is rooted in place.
Shields an ally and grants them a short speed boost.
- Empowered by Mantra: Defiance - Enemies near the shielded ally are damaged while nearby allies are shielded and granted a short speed boost.