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Champion Background Strategy Skins & Trivia

"Death is not the end of the journey, it is just the beginning... " - Karthus Karthus

The harbinger of oblivion, Karthus is an undying spirit whose haunting songs are a prelude to the horror of his nightmarish appearance. The living fear the eternity of undeath, but Karthus sees only beauty and purity in its embrace, a perfect union of life and death. When Karthus emerges from the Shadow Isles, it is to bring the joy of death to mortals as an apostle of the unliving.


Karthus was born into abject poverty in the sprawl of dwellings built beyond the walls of the Noxian capital. His mother died at the moment of his birth, leaving his father to raise him and his three sisters alone. They shared a crumbling, rat-infested almshouse with scores of other families, subsisting on a diet of rainwater and vermin. Of all the children, Karthus was the best ratter, and regularly brought gnawed corpses for the cook-pot.

Death was commonplace in the slums of Noxus, and many mornings began with the wailing of bereaved parents who woke to discover their child cold and lifeless beside them. Karthus learned to love these laments, and would watch, fascinated, as the tally-men of Kindred notched their staffs and bore the bodies from the almshouse. At night the young Karthus would sneak through the cramped rooms, seeking those whose lives hung by a thread, hoping to witness the moment their soul passed from life to death. For years, his nightly travels were fruitless, as it was impossible to predict exactly when a person would die. He was denied witnessing the moment of death until it reached his own family.

Outbreaks of disease were frequent in such cramped confines, and when Karthus’s sisters sickened with the plague, he watched over them intently. While his father drowned his grief, Karthus was the ever dutiful brother, caring for his sisters as the disease consumed them. He watched each of them as they died, and a sublime connection seemed to reach into him as the light faded from their eyes - a yearning to see what lay beyond death and unlock the secrets of eternity. When the tally-men came for the bodies, Karthus followed them back to their temple, asking them question after question about their order and the workings of death. Could a person exist at the moment where life ends, but before death begins? If such a liminal moment could be understood and held, might the wisdom of life be combined with the clarity of death?

The tally-men quickly recognized Karthus’s suitability for their order and he was inducted into their ranks, first as a digger of graves and pyre-builder, before ascending to the rank of corpse collector. Karthus guided his bone-cart around the streets of Noxus to gather the dead every day. His dirges quickly became known throughout Noxus, mournful laments that spoke to the beauty of death and the hope that what lay beyond was something to be embraced. Many a grieving family took solace in his songs, finding a measure of peace in his heartfelt elegies. Eventually, Karthus worked in the temple itself, tending to the sick in their final moments, watching as whatever death had laid its claim upon them took its due. Karthus would speak to each person laid before him, ushering their souls into death, in search of further wisdom in their fading eyes.

Eventually, Karthus reached the conclusion that he could learn no more from mortals, that only the dead themselves could answer his questions. None of the dying souls could tell of what lay beyond, but whispered rumors and tales told to frighten children echoed of a place where death was not the end - The Shadow Isles.

Karthus emptied the temple’s coffers and bought passage to Bilgewater, a city plagued by a strange black mist said to draw souls to a cursed island far out at sea. No captain was willing to take Karthus to the Shadow Isles, but eventually he came upon a rum-sodden fisherman with a mountain of debts and nothing to lose. The boat plied the ocean for many days and nights, until a storm drove them onto the rocks of an island that appeared on no charts. A black mist rolled out from a haunted landscape of gnarled trees and tumbled ruins. The fisherman freed his boat and turned its prow in terror for Bilgewater, but Karthus leapt into the sea and waded ashore. Steadying himself with his notched tally-staff, he proudly sang the lament he had prepared for the moment of his own death, and his words were carried on a cold wind to the heart of the island.

The black mist flowed through Karthus, ravaging his flesh and spirit with ancient sorcery, but such was the force of his desire to transcend mortality that it did not destroy him. Instead, it remade him, and Karthus was born anew in the waters of the island as a fleshless revenant.

Revelation filled Karthus as he became what he always believed he should have been; a being poised at the threshold of death and life. The beauty of this eternal moment filled him with wonder as the wretched spirits of the island rose to behold his transformation, drawn to his passion like predators scenting blood in the ocean. Finally, Karthus was where he belonged, surrounded by those who truly understood the boon undeath truly was. Filled with righteous zeal, he knew he had to return to Valoran and share his gift with the living, to free them from petty mortal concerns.

Karthus turned and the Black Mist bore him over the waves to the fisherman’s boat. The man fell to his knees before Karthus, begging for his life, and Karthus granted him the blessing of death, ending his mortal suffering and raising him up as an immortal spirit as he sang his lament for passing souls. The fisherman was the first of many such souls Karthus would free, and soon the Deathsinger would command a legion of unliving wraiths. To Karthus’s awakened senses, the Shadow Isles was in a state of apathetic limbo, where the blessings of death were squandered. He would galvanize the dead in a crusade to bring the beauty of oblivion to the living, to end the suffering of mortality and usher in a glorious age of undeath.

Karthus has become the emissary of the Shadow Isles, the herald of oblivion whose laments are paeans to the glory of death. His legions of unbound souls join with his funereal dirges, their haunting song reaching beyond the Black Mist to be heard on cold nights over graveyards and charnel houses all across Valoran.

Burial At Sea

The sea was mirror-smooth and dark. A pirate’s moon hung low on the horizon as it had for the last six nights. Not so much as a whisper of wind stirred the air, only that damned dirge carried from who knew where.Vionax had sailed the oceans around Noxus long enough to know that seas like this only ever presaged ill-fortune. She stood on the Darkwill’s foredeck, training her spyglass on the far ocean, searching for anything she could use to plot their position.

“Nothing but sea in all directions,” she said to the night. “No land in sight and no stars I recognize. Our sails are empty of wind. The oar decks have rowed for days, but no matter which way we turn, land never comes and the moon neither waxes nor wanes.”

She took a moment to rub the heels of her palms against her face. Thirst and hunger growled in her belly and the constant darkness had made it impossible to accurately gauge the passage of time. The Darkwill wasn’t even her ship. She’d been it’s first mate until a Freljordian reaver’s axe had split Captain Mettok’s skull and given her a sudden promotion. The captain and fifteen other Noxian warriors were laid within sewn-up hammocks on the main deck. The growing stench rising from the bodies was the only consistent measure of time’s passing.

She lifted her gaze to the open ocean and her eyes widened as she saw thick black mist rising from the water. Shapes moved in the mist, lambent suggestions of clawed arms and gaping mouths. That damned dirge rang out over the water again, louder now and accompanied by the dolorous peals of a funeral bell.

“The Black Mist,” she said. “All hands on deck!”

She turned and vaulted down to the main deck, running for the quarterdeck and the ship’s wheel. Not that she could do anything to move the ship, but she’d be damned if she’d be found anywhere else. A haunting lament for lost souls drifted over the ship as men stumbled from below decks, and even as terror shivered her spine, Vionax couldn’t deny the poetry in the sound. Tears pricked her eyes and ran down her cheeks, not in fear, but from infinite sadness. “Let me end your grief.”''

The voice in her head was cold and lifeless, the voice of a dead man. It conjured the image of iron-rimmed wheels on a corpse-heaped cart, a knife cutting yet another death mark on a staff. Vionax knew the tales of the Black Mist; she knew to avoid the islands brooding beneath the darkness in the east. She’d thought the ship was far from the Shadow Isles, but she was wrong.

She pulled up short as black mist boiled up over the gunwale, bringing with it howls and screeches of dead things. Wraiths spun overhead, a swirling chorus of the damned, and the Darkwill’s crew cried out in terror at the sight of them. Vionax drew her pistol and cocked the hammer as a figure loomed from the mist; towering and wide-shouldered, robed in tattered vestments like an ancient prelate, yet his shoulders and gaunt skull were armored as a warrior. A chained book hung at his waist and he carried a long staff with its haft notched by countless tally-marks. Spectral light shone at its tip and burned like a fallen star in the palm of his free hand.

“Why do you cry?” said the creature. “I am Karthus, and I bring you a great gift.”

“I don’t want your gift,” said Vionax, pulling the trigger. Her pistol boomed and fire exploded from the barrel. The shot struck the monstrous wraith, but passed through it without harm.

“You mortals,” said Karthus, shaking his helmeted head. “You fear what you do not understand and would turn away from a boon that is freely offered.”

The monster drifted closer, and the dark radiance of his staff bathed the ship’s deck in pale, sickly light. Vionax backed away from the wraith’s chill as her crew fell before the light, their souls drifting like steam from their bodies. Her heel caught on one of the laid out hammocks and she tripped, falling backwards onto her haunches. She pushed herself away from Karthus, scrambling over the bodies of her fellow sailors.

The hammock beneath her moved.

They were all moving, squirming and writhing like fresh-caught fish gasping for air at the bottom of a boat. Tendrils of mist rose from tears in the canvas and between the rough stitches the ship’s sailmaker had used to sew them shut. Faces moved in the mist, faces she’d sailed with for years, men and women she’d fought beside. The wraith towered over her and the dead crew of the Darkwill stood beside him, their spirit forms limned in moonlight.''

“Death is nothing to be feared, Mistress Vionax,” said Karthus. “It will free you from all your pain. It will lift your eyes from your mundane existence and show you the glory of life eternal. Embrace the beauty and wonder of death. Let go of your mortality. You do not need it.”

He held his hand out and the light there swelled to envelop her. She screamed as it pressed through her skin, into muscle, through bone, down to her very soul. The wraith clenched his fist and Vionax cried out as she felt herself being unwoven from the inside out.

“Let your soul fly free,” said Karthus, turning to carve another notch in his staff with a sharpened nail. “You shall feel no pain, no fear, no desire to feel anything but the beauty of what I have to show you. Miracles and wonders await, mortal. Why would you not crave such rapture...?”

“No,” she said with her last breath. “I don’t want to see.”

“It is already done,” said Karthus.

Sermon of The Dead

Narrated by Karthus Karthus

"Come closer, my children, let me look upon you. So many new faces, searching and uncertain. Many find their way to this consecrated land without knowing it to be their destination. But this pilgrimage was no accident; you have suffered, and you seek a convalescence of the spirit. Look around. You are not alone."

"We are gathered here this day to mourn those lost to us. To weep, to wail, and cry out for those souls whom we hold so dear, yet who remain out of reach. Speak now and let them hear us. Let them hear our pain! Let them hear our anguish! Let them know in their hearts that they are not forgotten!"

"These pitiable creatures are pale reflections of ourselves, shrouded in a haze of false light, groping blindly for some scrap of meaning. Shackled to a hollow existence, they languish, unaware of what they are or what they could be. Every second, secretly begging for release."

"My children, we are their shepherds. Only when they hear our voices do they stir. So call to them! Raise them up from their aimless stupor. Sing with all your longing, your hatred, your hunger! Fill their empty lives with dread; remind them of their inevitable mortality."

"Go forth, you faithful, and offer these wretches freedom from life’s prison. Deliver unto them the word of death, and bring their wayward spirits home."

"Death frees us all."


Upon selection
  • Karthus Select new
    "Agony, ecstasy, peace. Every passing has a beauty all its own."
Upon beginning a match
  • Karthus.start01
    "So many souls await."
  • Karthus.start02
    "We all have a place among the divine. We have only to accept it."
  • Karthus.start03
    "My pilgrimage begins."
  • Karthus.attack01
    "Join the chorus of death."
  • Karthus.attack02
  • Karthus.attack03
    "Revel in the undoing."
  • Karthus.attack04
    "Your time has come."
  • Karthus.attack05
    "Release your mortal coil."
  • Karthus.attack06
    "Rest in peace."
  • Karthus.attack07
    "Sleep now, child."
  • Karthus.attack08
    "Darkness envelops you."
  • Karthus.attack09
    "Hear my song."
  • Karthus.attack10
    "The rhythm of your life slows."
  • Karthus.attack11
    "I sing the word of death."
  • Karthus.attack12
    "It is written."
  • Karthus.attack13
    "I crave the parting."
  • Karthus.attack14
    "Ah, the kiss of death."
  • Karthus.attack15
    "Die by my hand, and rise anew."
  • Karthus.attack16
    "Sleep without dreams."
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.attack01
    "Silence, groundwalker."
  • PentakillKarthus.attack02
    "Die for metal."
  • PentakillKarthus.attack03
    "Join me in this duet of demise."
  • PentakillKarthus.attack04
    "It's time... to wake the dead."
  • PentakillKarthus.attack05
    "Lights out - forever."
  • Karthus.move01
    "In the end, only the dead shall remain."
  • Karthus.move02
    "We are forever."
  • Karthus.move03
    "Hear the elegy of the lost."
  • Karthus.move04
    "I can give you certainty."
  • Karthus.move05
    "You all die, why not choose how?"
  • Karthus.move06
    "Have you ever felt a calling?"
  • Karthus.move07
    "You are only the cocoon."
  • Karthus.move08
    "Solace comes with a still heart."
  • Karthus.move09
    "Soon, all will wane."
  • Karthus.move10
    "The Shadow Isles sing louder than any siren."
  • Karthus.move11
    "What trickery is life?"
  • Karthus.move12
    "Truth is what I offer."
  • Karthus.move13
    "Death is but a horizon."
  • Karthus.move14
    "Death is a song all will hear."
  • Karthus.move15
    "Follow my voice, and slip away."
  • Karthus.move16
    "You have been dying from your first breath."
  • Karthus.move17
    "The faithful never fear the grave."
  • Karthus.move18
    "Never hunger, never tire, never fear."
  • Karthus.move19
    "May death free us all."
  • Karthus.move20
    "You will forget breath, you will forget love."
  • Karthus.move21
    "Shed no tears for the dead."
  • Karthus.move22
    "You are the candle burning unto nothing."
  • Karthus.move23
    "You are a doomed vessel."
  • Karthus.move24
    "Pain is the herald of your salvation."
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.move01
    "METAL is the only heartbeat I need."
  • PentakillKarthus.move02
    "Amp it up."
  • PentakillKarthus.move03
    "Tower diver! Gotta' get away, get away!"
  • PentakillKarthus.move04
    "We totally topped the charts in the Freljord!"
  • PentakillKarthus.move05
    "Death is blacker than the blackest black... times infinity."
  • Karthus.joke01
    "I'm putting your name in my little black necronomicon."
  • Karthus.joke02
    "Do you have a moment to talk about death?."
  • Karthus.joke03
    "What's the incantation again... yes, erm... oh, right, R!"
  • Karthus.joke04
    "Listen, mortals, as I speak the word of... my cookbook."
  • Karthus.joke05
    "Dear diary, met a wonderful ghoul today..."
  • Karthus.joke06
    "Sorry, I'm booked through... er, brrrr... forever."
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.joke01
    "When the going gets tough, the tough get a Deathcap!"
  • PentakillKarthus.joke02
    "What have I done? Created beauty by simply rocking! That's all."
  • PentakillKarthus.joke03
    "What is that sound? It's the pounding of creation's hammer on the anvil of time!"
Joking near an enemy Urgot Urgot
  • Karthus.jokeUrgot01
    "Urgot, hm, I highly recommend death at this point."
  • Karthus.taunt01
    "I will shred your body, and burn your soul!"
  • Karthus.taunt02
    "Your death will be excruciating!"
  • Karthus.taunt03
    "Life clings like a parasite to a soul!"
  • Karthus.taunt04
    "The song of your life will be brief."
  • Karthus.taunt05
    "To feel the caress of death for the first time... I envy you!"
Taunting an enemy Elise Elise
  • Karthus.tauntElise01
    "You deceive your followers. I will enlighten them."
Taunting an enemy Hecarim Hecarim
  • Karthus.tauntHecarim01
    "Death's horse needs no bridle."
  • Karthus.tauntHecarim02
    "You are but the herald, Hecarim. Remember who you truly serve."
Taunting an enemy Leona Leona
  • Karthus.tauntLeona01
    "Your light is but a candle in the infinite dark."
Taunting an enemy Lucian Lucian
  • Karthus.tauntLucian01
    "Lucian! Join her!"
  • Karthus.tauntLucian02
    "Abandon your mortality, and find your precious Senna."
  • Karthus.tauntLucian03
    "You can always join her, Lucian. It will be bliss!"
Taunting an enemy Mordekaiser Mordekaiser
  • Karthus.tauntMordekaiser01
    "You give the dead purpose, Mordekaiser. I give them meaning."
  • Karthus.tauntMordekaiser02
    "A shell of flesh or a shell of metal? Both ring hollow."
Taunting an enemy Sion Sion
  • Karthus.tauntSion01
    "Sion, we must free your soul from the prison of flesh."
  • Karthus.tauntSion02
    "You are only the echo of greatness, but I can give you a voice again!"
Taunting an enemy Thresh Thresh
  • Karthus.tauntThresh01
    "Death has more meaning than torment alone, warden."
  • Karthus.tauntThresh02
    "You may shackle the living, but the dead must walk free."
Taunting an enemy Urgot Urgot
  • Karthus.tauntUrgot01
    "Abomination, you have cheated death too long."
Taunting an enemy Varus Varus
  • Karthus.tauntVarus01
    "You are on the eve of liberation, Varus."
  • Karthus.laugh01
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.laugh02
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.laugh03
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.laugh04
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.dance01
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.dance01
  • PentakillKarthus.dance02
  • PentakillKarthus.dance03
Upon triggering Death Defied.png Death Defied
  • Karthus.I1
    "I am become death!"
  • Karthus.I2
    "Gaze upon me and despair!"
  • Karthus.I3
    "Behold your undoing!"
  • Karthus.I4
    "The shell means nothing!"
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.I1
    "You can't kill the metal!"
  • PentakillKarthus.I2
    "The sustain! Listen to it!"
  • PentakillKarthus.I3
    "This is eleven!"
  • PentakillKarthus.I4
    "Time for my encore!"
  • PentakillKarthus.I5
Upon using Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
  • Karthus.W1
    "Cross over."
  • Karthus.W2
    "You cannot escape."
  • Karthus.W3
    "Feel the frailty of life!"
  • Karthus.W4
    "Your bodies betray you!"
  • Karthus.W5
    "To flee is to suffer."
Upon using Defile.png Defile
  • Karthus.E1
    "You will not die alone."
  • Karthus.E2
    "Sing, my children."
  • Karthus.E3
    "Behold my chorus."
  • Karthus.E4
    "Feel the spirits."
  • Karthus.E5
    "Rise and sing!"
  • Karthus.E6
    "Countless voices in unison!"
Upon using Requiem.png Requiem
  • Karthus.R1
    "Listen and rejoice in death!"
  • Karthus.R2
    "A dirge for those who remain!"
  • Karthus.R3
    "Hear me, mortals!"
  • Karthus.R4
    "Sing with your final breath!"
  • Karthus.R5
  • Karthus.R6
  • Karthus.R7
  • Karthus.R8
    "Cease to be!"
While using KarthusSquare.png Pentakill Karthus
  • PentakillKarthus.R1
    "I am the lightbringer!"
  • PentakillKarthus.R2
    "Everyone will falter when you die!"
  • PentakillKarthus.R3
    "My son, smite them all!"
Upon placing a Sight Ward item.png Stealth Ward or Vision Ward item.png Vision Ward
  • Karthus.ward01
    "I watch."
  • Karthus.ward02
    "Death sees all."
  • Karthus.ward03
    "Dead eyes never blink."
Upon buying Archangel&#039;s Staff item.png Archangel's Staff
  • Karthus.itemGuardianAngel01
    "Angels too are the messengers of death."
  • Karthus.itemGuardianAngel02
    "Host of angels, or murder of crows?"
Upon buying Rod of Ages item.png Rod of Ages
  • Karthus.itemRodofAges01
    "Its power grows with time... as does mine."
  • Karthus.itemRodofAges02
    "A companion for all time."
Upon buying Tear of the Goddess item.png Tear of the Goddess
  • Karthus.itemTear01
    "A tear of loss, a tear of joy."
Upon buying Rabadon&#039;s Deathcap item.png Rabadon's Deathcap
  • Karthus.itemDeathcap01
    "A crown for the king of death."
  • Karthus.itemDeathcap02
    "Its old master served my patron well."
  • Karthus.itemDeathcap03
    "Ah, the song grows."
  • Karthus.itemDeathcap04
    "I hear the echo of a Rabadon; it is exquisite."
Upon buying Rylai&#039;s Crystal Scepter item.png Rylai's Crystal Scepter
  • Karthus.itemRylais01
    "None can outrun death."
  • Karthus.itemRylais03
    "When death's grip finds you, it clings tightly."
  • Karthus.itemRylais04
    "This crystal will sing with me."
Upon buying Void Staff item.png Void Staff
  • Karthus.itemVoidStaff01
    "No-one can hide from the end."
  • Karthus.itemVoidStaff02
    "It will turn their mantles to shrouds."
  • Karthus.itemVoidStaff03
    "What can protect you from the inevitable?"
Upon buying Zhonya&#039;s Hourglass item.png Zhonya's Hourglass
  • Karthus.itemZhonyas01
    "The grave has all the time in the world."
  • Karthus.itemZhonyas02
    "The sands slip away like lives."
  • Karthus.itemZhonyas03
    "Freeze that moment, on the threshold of oblivion."
Upon buying Athene&#039;s Unholy Grail item.png Athene's Unholy Grail
  • Karthus.itemAthenes01
    "Come, drink of the grail."
Upon casting Recall.png Recall
  • Karthus.recall01
    "Death prevails."
  • Karthus.recall02
    "I go where death bids me."
  • Karthus.recall03
    "When I return, more shall join my choir."

Upon selection
  • Karthus Select
    "Do you... feel a chill?"
  • Karthus.attack1
    "Share... My curse!"
  • Karthus.attack2
    "Their pain... is my pleasure!"
  • Karthus.attack3
    "I... obey."
  • Karthus.attack4
    "Float... on..."
  • Karthus.attack5
    "Your wish?"
  • Karthus.attack6
    "For the unliving!"
  • Karthus.taunt
    "I'll put you... in my book!"
  • Karthus.joke
    "I cannot use your skull. You have a misshapen head."
  • Karthus.laugh1
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.laugh2
    Karthus laughs.
  • Karthus.laugh3
    Karthus laughs.

Co-op vs. AI Responses

Match start

  • "Let me show you an alternative to life."

Player team victory

  • "You have earned a page in my book."

Player team defeat

  • "GG!"


  • "My song is death."

Twisted Treeline Altar Responses

If Karthus Karthus captures the Altars on Twisted Treeline, the Altars may give the following unique responses:

West Altar
  • WestAltar.Karthus1
    "What kind of man embraces death?"
  • WestAltar.Karthus2
    "No good will come from your sorcery, Karthus."
  • WestAltar.Karthus3
    "I also hear the songs of the dead."
East Altar
  • EastAltar.Karthus1
    "A man who chose to join us... glorious."
  • EastAltar.Karthus2
    "Unleash us, Karthus!"
  • EastAltar.Karthus3
    "I serve you willingly, Lich!"
  • EastAltar.Karthus4
    "The dark requiem will be the last thing they hear!"


Karthus Karthus was designed by Guinsoo.

  • 1st Classic Karthus splash art
  • 2nd Classic Karthus splash art
  • 1st Phantom Karthus splash art
  • 1st Statue of Karthus splash art
  • 1st Grim Readper Karthus splash art
  • 1st Pentakill Karthus splash art
  • Old Karthus model
  • Karthus concept art 1
  • Karthus concept art 2
  • Karthus concept art 3
  • Karthus VU concept art (by Riot Artist Larry Ray)

Champion Update (Visual): Karthus

By Ququroon [1]

While others are bound by the shackles of death, one man embraced the yearning darkness stretching on beyond life’s boundaries. And though he chose to forgo mortality on the lost lands of the Shadow Isles, Karthus has yet been born anew, and drifts now towards the PBE bearing new-found morbid resplendence.



Champion Insight: Karthus

By Ququroon [2]

"Next in our sights for a champion update is the Deathsinger himself! Part of League’s launch back in 2009, Karthus has seen almost 80 champion releases since he first graced the Fields of Justice. Over the last five years, we’ve brought in a whole host of tech updates, design improvements, narrative world-building and art upgrades to champions and maps. It’s time to bring Karthus up to date, too.

But how? Well, just as with our previous updates, we had to first identify what the goals of Karthus’ update were. Here’s what we came up with:

Karthus concept 4

A True Shadow Isles Champion

On his release, Karthus was a champion from the Shadow Isles, or at least created there. Awesome! What did that mean at the time? Very little, honestly. But since then, we’ve taken pretty extensive steps to really define the Shadow Isles. Twisted Treeline’s set there, for example, and we’ve created Shadow Isles champions like Elise, Hecarim and Thresh who each share the same thematic ties and cool blue-green color palettes. Updating Karthus means we can add his own spin on the place while aligning him to the world that we’ve since established.

A Unique Lich

We’ve also taken the chance to really cement who Karthus is with his update. In 2009, we had just 40 champions, and Karthus had the whole “evil and malicious undead baddie” archetype to himself. He had a whole nine lines of voice over to convey character, too. Now we have close to 120 champions, and old Karthus has had to cozy up with all the half-dead, dead, extra dead and spectral characters we’ve since created. Updating Karthus gives us a chance to expand his breadth of character so he again fills a unique niche. New Karthus has significantly expanded voice over (over 200 script lines, all voiced by a new actor!) and characterful animations that really nail his personality.

A 2014 Champion

Updating Karthus means we can apply all the tech and knowhow that we’ve picked up since launching the game. For example, we’re actually going to animate his robes so he doesn’t look like a jellyfish in his idle state, and we’re building a whole range of Lay Waste animations so he Qs with variety. On top of that, we’re greatly increasing the fidelity of his model. Karthus looks a little different – we’ve made him less bare-bones – because we now have the tech and expertise needed to display the level of detail that a withered necromancer visually demands. In addition, the change means players around the world can enjoy the same awesome Karthus without us having to switch things up for various cultural sensibilities.

Karthus Skins

Karthus will be on PBE soon. Before he brings death to the live servers, give him a spin and let us know your thoughts below!"

Previous Lore

KarthusSquare.png Karthus is a terrible creature who was once a mortal so obsessed with death that he eagerly embraced the gift of undeath. Now in his unlife as a lich, Karthus is closer to his beloved grave than he ever imagined. He commands magic with oblivion as its source, and seeks to bring his grim truth to the rest of the world: only in death does life gain clarity and purpose.

Even as a boy, Karthus was different. There was a darkness within him that could not be denied. The young child clung to the shadows and shunned the company of others. He snuck into the funerals of strangers, and spoke to their tombstones in the cemetery. He sought out corpses of animals to preserve and memorialize them, creating a grim collection of morbid art. Karthus volunteered to tend to the sick and dying, though his intentions were not to help, but to closely witness the passing of those who were beyond help. Ultimately, he went so far as to elaborately stage his death, and he secretly observed his own funeral with intense fascination. When others discovered what Karthus had done, they were so shocked and disturbed that, in a way, he became truly dead to them. Karthus found himself fully rejected by the living.

His isolation only served to fuel his obsession. Karthus delved further into his exploration of death, and became fascinated by the legends of the Shadow Isles. There, it was said, the specters of the deceased continued on in unlife everlasting. Possessed by these tales, he knew he had to discover for himself if they were true. Journeying to those dreaded isles, Karthus soon found himself wandering through the mist, overcome by the surreal beauty of the place. He felt as if he had finally come home. He had always chased the elusive purity of the moment of death, when life passed and in a single instant achieved meaning. Karthus saw that undeath was like that moment, preserved in dread stillness forever. He had discovered his destiny, to cross over the veil and leave the living behind for eternity. Something awoke in the Shadow Isles that day, when Karthus did something no other creature had ever done: he willingly gave his life over to undeath. When he reentered the world, Karthus had become the embodiment of his own obsession. An undying lich with the keys to life and death, he seeks to bring his dark requiem to the world.

"There is no sweeter song than the last breath of the dying."
KarthusSquare.png Karthus

The vast quantities of physical magic that were consumed and destroyed during Valoran's numerous Rune Wars have scarred much of Valoran. Many locations far from civilization have been morphed into hazardous and dangerous locales. The Howling Marsh is one of these places, and the self-appointed overlord of this land is the lich known as KarthusSquare.png Karthus. It is thought that Karthus was a mage who, in life, was foolish enough to enter the fetid waters seeking his fortune, and that he was forever transformed by whatever dark magic permeates the swamp. Karthus now rules over his swampy dominion with an iron (albeit skeletal) fist. Visitors are not welcome, and those who are not scared away by the lich's terrible power most likely end up as one of the undead themselves... skeletons and zombies in Karthus' growing army of eternal servants. On the darkest of nights, Karthus is said to sing the tales of those who have succumbed to the swamp, past and present.

Karthus' tenure in the League of Legends is one of the more unusual ones in the history of the League. First, it is highly unusual that a lich who was known for isolation and hatred of life would even be a willing part of an organization which promoted the preservation of life. Next, Karthus specifically eschews the accrual of power and influence gained through service to the League; he is essentially an unpaid volunteer. This behavior is completely different than what his life outside of the League would have onlookers believe. Karthus has never spoken about his intentions in being a champion of the League, and in fact becomes quite agitated when asked about it. In the interests of not aggravating a lich, most sensible people subsequently drop the issue.

"Come visit my home, and I shall sing a dirge of your life as it once was."
KarthusSquare.png Karthus

Previous Abilities

Patch History


  • General
    • Bug Fix: The eagle screesh from the dancing animation of the KarthusSquare.png Statue of Karthus [S|L] being heard globally by allies.


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • New Effect: The wall's Slow icon slow reduces to 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% after 1 second.


  • General
    • Basic attack frame improved.


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Fixed a bug where enemy champions could sometimes dash through Karthus' Wall of Pain without being slowed.


  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Fixed a bug where Requiem's team ult HUD indicator would display as available even when it wasn't.


  • Skin
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Bugfix: Fixed a bug where Lay Waste appeared to give more vision than it actually did.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Bugfix: No longer be interrupted by movement commands.
  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Particle effect made more noticeable


  • General
    • Visual upgrade across all skins
    • A new voice over (new voice actor)
    • New lore
    • New icons
    • New classic splash artwork
  • Added team-color indicators to basic abilities
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Added a new indicator that shows the full area of effect
    • Added crit-style combat text and a unique sound effect for double-damage Qs
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Added a visual debuff effect that marks affected enemy champions


  • Stats
    • Base armor increased to 15 from 11.



  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Warning buff on enemy champions now has a duration that matches the impact delay.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Now casts at max range when targeted beyond max range during Death Defied.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Ability power ratio reduced to 0.2 from 0.25.
    • Fixed a bug where cooldown reduction allowed Defile to be rapidly toggled, increasing its damage output.


  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Should no longer have a major FPS performance hit across all maps.


  • Stats
    • Base movement speed increased to 335 from 310.


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • No longer reduces armor.
    • Magic resist reduction changed to 15% from a flat 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35.


  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Cooldown increased to 200 / 180 / 160 seconds from 180 / 150 / 120.


  • On Dominion only, Karthus' respawn timer will now start when Death Defied.png Death Defied ends.


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Wall duration reduced to 5 seconds from 7.
    • Now only affects a target once (instead of reapplying every pass through).
  • Fixed a bug where Leona Leona's Sunlight.png Sunlight and the Dominion Storm Shield could cause an immediate double kill against Karthus.


  • Fixed a bug where Requiem.png Requiem would sometimes not finish channeling when cast during Death Defied.png Death Defied.


  • Death Defied.png Death Defied
    • Duration reduced to 7 seconds from 8.
    • No longer reduces respawn timer.
  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Ability power ratio reduced to (+60% AP) from (+70% AP).


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Clarified tooltip slightly to emphasize that target movement speeds are restored over time.


  • Death Defied.png Death Defied
    • Now allows all spells to be free to cast while defying death.
    • Fixed several usability bugs.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Mana cost reduced to 20 / 26 / 32 / 38 / 44 from 20 / 28 / 36 / 44 / 52.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Cooldown reduced to 18 seconds from 22.


  • Death Defied.png Death Defied
    • Now also grants 20% death timer reduction to compensate for the 8 seconds Karthus is active after dying.
    • The code has been remade to fix some bugs and usability issues.


  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Level up tooltip now correctly states the increased slow amount.


  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • Mana cost reduced to 150 / 175 / 200 from 200 / 300 / 400.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Fixed a bug with the tooltip to display the correct ability power ratio.


  • Death Defied.png Death Defied
    • Updated the icon to be more reflective of the ability.


  • Stats
    • Armor per level increased to 3.5 from 3.0.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Range increased to 875 from 825.
    • Mana cost decreased to 20 / 28 / 36 / 44 / 52 from 24 / 32 / 40 / 48 / 54.


  • Basic attack projectile speed increased to 1200 from 800.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Ability power ratio increased to (+30% AP) from (+25% AP).
    • Damage increased to 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 from 35 / 55 / 75 / 95 / 115.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Ability power ratio increased to (+25% AP) from (+20% AP).
  • Requiem.png Requiem
    • No longer reveals Karthus to enemies when cast.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Ability power ratio increased to (+25% AP) from (+20% AP).


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Corrected ability power ratio.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Fixed a bug where it was slowing units 2 seconds after the particle had faded.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Mana cost decreased to 24 / 32 / 40 / 48 / 54 from 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Mana cost decreased to 30 / 42 / 54 / 66 / 78 from 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90.


  • Updated secondary/critical strike animations.



  • Death Defied.png Death Defied
    • Duration reduced to 8 seconds from 10.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Improved visibility and removed bugs causing it to not appear correctly.
    • Duration reduced to 7 second from 9.
    • Made it more difficult to move through without being slowed.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Mana cost increased to 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90 from 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Mana cost increased to 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65 from 24 / 32 / 40 / 48 / 54.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Mana cost increased to 24 / 32 / 40 / 48 / 54 from 18 / 26 / 34 / 42 / 50.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Mana restored on kill modified to 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48 from 15 / 25 / 35 / 45 / 55.
    • Removed the kill a champion mana regen effect.
    • Increased mana cost to 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 from 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65.
  • Requiem.png Fallen One
    • Ability power ratio reduced to (+60% AP) from (+70% AP).
    • Cleanse.png Cleanse will no longer stop the spell.


  • Stats
    • Base damage increased to 44 from 39.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Range reduced to 825 from 900.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Now shows a new wall targeting cursor.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • No longer costs double mana upon casting.


  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • AoE diameter increased to 200 from 185.

July 10, 2009 Patch:

  • Requiem.png Fallen One
    • Damage increased to 250 / 400 / 550 from 200 / 350 / 550.

June 26, 2009 Patch:

  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Slow reduced to 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80% from 80%.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Cooldown reduced to 0.5 seconds from 1.
  • Requiem.png Fallen One
    • Now correctly shows buff tooltips.

June 19, 2009 Patch:

  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste
    • Damage increased to 35 / 55 / 75 / 95 / 115 from 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110.
    • Corrected tool-tip to say that it deals double damage if it hits a single target (corrected numbers in tool-tip as well).
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain
    • Cast range reduced to 1000 from 1200.
    • Magic resistance and armor reduction reduced to 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 from 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40.
    • Duration reduced to 9 seconds from (and it no longer lingers after the particle fades).
    • Cooldown reduced to 22 seconds from 25.
  • Defile.png Defile
    • Damage increased to 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 from 20 / 40 / 60 / 80 / 100.
  • Requiem.png Fallen One
    • Ability power ratio reduced to (+70% AP) from (+75% AP).
    • Can no longer be cast while dead.

June 12, 2009 Patch: Added

  • Death Defied.png Death Defied (Innate)
    • When Karthus dies, he can continue to cast spells for 10 seconds after death. If he kills a champion in this time he respawns instantly at base.
  • Lay Waste.png Lay Waste (Q)
    • A 1 second cooldown spell which leaves a time delayed mine that deals double damage if it only hits a single target.
  • Wall of Pain.png Wall of Pain (W)
    • Stretches a perpendicular wall through the target location, enemies who walk through it are slowed and take increased damage.
  • Defile.png Defile (E)
    • While toggled on, Defile continually damages nearby enemies. While off, Karthus regains mana whenever he kills a unit.
  • Requiem.png Fallen One (Ultimate)
    • Channeled spell; upon successful cast, Karthus damages all enemy champions in the game.


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