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Monsters are neutral units in League of Legends. Unlike minions, monsters do not fight for either team, and will not automatically attack a champion unless they are attacked (with the exception of the Rift Scuttler, which simply runs away).
Historically, the forest where the Rift resides was the site of several battles between the Protectorate (Stag crest) and Magelords (Owl crest) summoners, two sides who sought out to use the natural magical energy of the area for their personal use.
The large amount of concentrated magic has it mutated the local wildlife. From giant frogs, giant birds to two-headed wolves it has also attracted the attention of powerful Dragons who currently reside in one of the battle torn ruins. Sentinels, Bramblebacks and Krugs are creatures made from local flora and earth infused to construct a magical being. The Rift's unstable magic has inadvertently cause the reemergence of Baron Nashor, a large Serpent/Worm largely believed to be dead for centuries. It has his corruption affecting the land around him.
After the fall of the Shadow Isles, the islands inhabitants were changed by the Black Mist. Numerous individuals and creatures now serve the Harrowing's will.
Vilemaw is an ancient spider of unknown origin currently residing in the cursed forest. The "Cult of the Spider" has most of its followers located in Noxus and Demacia. Elise serves as its High Priestess, traveling to and from between the two nations and the Shadow Isles, bringing her followers to live with the Spider God, Vilemaw, for eternity, or so they believe.
Monsters reside in the jungle between the lanes, and will not move from their designated camp until attacked. When attacked, the monster will move towards and attack the nearest champion who recently dealt damage to it, up to a certain distance from its spawning point (its "leash" distance). If the monster is unable to attack any target or reaches its leash range, it will walk back to its original spawn point, regenerating to its full health within a few seconds. If attacked on its way back to its spawn point, this health regeneration will cease and it will resume trying to attack the champion who most recently dealt damage to it. Since monsters attack the nearest champion, they can select a new target after having attacked. There is an internal counter for these target changes, and after having changed target 6 times, a monster will return to its spawn point and fully regenerate even if attacked.
Monsters do not immediately "forget" champions that hide in bushes, and try to walk into the bush to attack champions who recently damaged them, up to their leash range (Leash range: 700).
A monster that can see a champion provides vision of this champion to all of the monsters in its camp.
The practice of "leashing" monsters when they spawn for the first time at the start of the game is an important component of jungling. Leashing involves two or more allied champions (one of them being the jungler) attacking the same monster camp at the same time. When the monster's health is low, the non-jungler champions will cease their attacks and head to their respective lanes, allowing the jungler to last hit the monsters for the experience and gold reward. If done correctly, this allows the jungler to take less damage from the first monster camp he fights thus making his first jungle run quicker and safer, and allowing him to have the maximum amount of health if the jungler goes to gank a lane afterwards.
After a camp has been completely cleared, it will remain empty for an amount of time specific to that camp (its "respawn time"), then all of the monsters will reappear. If at least one allied champion is able to witness the death of an entire monster camp that provides buffs, either by being present for it or by seeing it with a ward, then they will have knowledge of that camp's respawn timer, visible by pressing the TAB key.
A monster camp will not respawn until all of the creeps inside of the camp have been slain. For example, if the Greater Murk Wolf has been slain, but at least one of its two Murk Wolf companions has not, the camp's respawn timer will not start until the last Wolf has been slain. Those invading the enemy team's jungle may deliberately do this in an effort to slow the opposing jungler's gold/experience income.
This tactic can be counter-productive if :
The enemy team immediately kills the leftover monsters; in this case, not killing the last small monster is merely a loss of gold/xp.
You plan on regularly invading the enemy jungle, and expect to steal the enemy camp again when it respawns.
As a general rule, killing a monster rewards its killer with gold and experience points. The experience is split between allied champion within a 400-unit range, while the gold goes to the last-hitting champion. And like minions, the gold and experience rewards from slaying monsters increases as the game progresses.
Additionally, certain large monsters offer greater rewards when killed, such an individual buff, a team buff, or a global gold reward. Some rewards go to the entire team, whereas others are only granted to its living members.
The Crest of Insight and Crest of Cinders buffs respectively may be transferred to another champion by way of killing the buff's current possessor, which resets its duration in the process. These two buffs disappear entirely if the champion holding them is executed by a minion, monster, or tower, and wear off on their own after 90 seconds.
The stacking Dragon Slayer buffs acquired for slaying the Dragon are applied to all team members, whether living or dead, and last indefinitely. The exception to this is Aspect of the Dragon, which is only granted to living teammates and lasts for 120 seconds.
The Hand of Baron buff is only granted to living teammates when Baron Nashor is killed. The buff lasts for 210 seconds and is lost upon death.
In addition to the above buffs, which are acquired by killing their respective monsters, large monsters heal any champion who casts the Smite spell on them for 100 (+ 10% maximum health).
Jungle monsters now have a Patience characteristic. Monsters no longer reset their aggression based on distance or positioning - Instead, once the monster’s Patience is reduced to zero, the monster will reset and return to their original position. During this reset, they rapidly regenerate health and do not respond to further aggression.
Monsters lose Patience under the following conditions:
When a monster is in an aggressive state but can’t find any targets to attack (ex. its target died or became untargetable)
When a monster’s target is too far away from the monster’s initial spawn location or the monster is VERY far away from its initial spawn location
When the monster is forced to switch targets
Large monsters display their Patience in a meter above their heads.
Once a monster has recovered to 90% health, they regain all of their Patience.
Abilities that pull or displace monsters no longer completely reset the monster’s aggro if they already had a previous target.
Upon killing Vilemaw, champions become ghosted, ignoring all unit collision for the duration of the buff. Additionally, nearby minions gain aura bonuses, and briefly terrorize nearby enemy minions on first contact.