There are many on Runeterra who are attracted to the study of magic or, in recent times, the emerging field of techmaturgy. For most, pursuit of such knowledge is formalized in a college or university. The halls of traditional study were never for Ryze, however, who felt a more raw and primal connection to the magic of Runeterra than those who tried to teach him. He struck out on his own as a young man to discover what already called to him. Ryze traveled the world, seeking the wisdom of powerful hermits, witches, and shamans - anyone who had something to share beyond what was taught in the city-states of Valoran. When he had learned all he could from these fonts of wisdom, Ryze turned to seek the lost, forgotten, and forbidden knowledge in the world, delving into mystical worlds where others feared to tread.
Ryze's tireless searching for magical knowledge led him to an ancient form of spellcraft known as thorn magic. This art required Ryze to tattoo spells on his body, permanently infusing his being with vast arcane power and finally fulfilling his need to bond with the mystical energies of Runeterra. His travels also led him to uncover the giant indestructible scroll he now carries on his back - the purpose of the inscribed spell remains a secret only Ryze knows. He claims it is an abomination - something that he must safeguard from the world. This has piqued the curiosity of many, though no one is sure how to separate the scroll from Ryze, or if it is possible to overcome the rogue mage to do so. Since then, Ryze has joined the League of Legends to study the magical creatures and powerful will-workers that fight there, in order to complete his exploration of mystical Runeterra.
"Ryze is no longer just a mage - he has become a creature of magic itself."
Ryze strides along the marbles halls; face deliberate, jaw set and determined. His eyes hold a sense of urgency and undeniable purpose that is mirrored in his gait. His simple traveler's clothes pose a stark contrast to the elaborate tattoos that snake their way across his wiry frame, marring every inch of his exposed flesh.
Slung over his powerful back hangs a scroll; precious cargo from how he cradles it. From the embossed spellbook in his grip to the lesser scraps of parchment at his side, nothing is borne with more reverence. He stops for a moment beneath an archway marked by a double door and an inscription: "The truest opponent lies within." The Rogue Mage extends a hand, parting the portal, before striding boldly inside.
Ryze stood for a moment in the dark, calm but alert. He sniffed the air. There was something here... a tangible presence.
"A visitor?" called a voice from the black, "How strange. I loathe uninvited guests!"
Every muscle in his body tightened like a coiled spring. Out of the darkness strode a lithe, beautiful woman, dressed in a loose fitting dress. From neck to fingertips, she was covered in tattoos.
"Lilith?" he gasped, "How did you find me?"
She reached out a slender hand, lightly drawing her long nails down Ryze's bare chest.
"Ryze," she purred, "You cannot hide from me." She drew in closer, catching him in her embrace. "I have a secret," she whispered, pulling herself close to his cheek. "I will never let you go!" she snarled, biting his earlobe suggestively. He shivered.
The pinch in his ear became a sharp sting. He heard an impact and fell reeling to the ground, catching himself on pure, unmarked hands. He recognized them as his own, but that was impossible. He hadn't seen his bare flesh in years.
"Trespasser!" rasped Lilith's voice.
"Pardon, mistress," he started, climbing to his feet on the ramshackled porch of a lonely cabin, "I am weary and in search of shelter for the evening. The Howling Marsh is no place to be caught after dark."
"I do not shelter insufferable wayfarers," she replied, folding her arms implacably. A slight breeze caught her wild hair.
Ryze sneered. "I am not to be trifled with..."
She cut him off. "Trifled?!" she screeched, extending a finger. Energy crackled along the patterns on her arm, racing across the distance between them. First it was just the jolt. The breath rushed from his lungs and for a moment he blacked out. The next thing he knew he was lying on his back in the mud, gasping. His body tingled, and he shook from head to foot. Lilith stood over him, silhouetted in the setting sun, energy still coursing along the ink in her tattoos.
"You will learn respect, vagabond," she said, even voiced once again.
"Please, mistress," Ryze gasped, "spare my life."
She knelt over him, leaning in just inches from his nose, her hair falling into his face. She dug her fingernails into the shirt over his chest, "Why, pretty thing? Why should I spare your life?"
He inhaled sharply through the pain in his chest, "Because I have been searching for you for my entire life," he stammered, "and it would break my heart to die, now."
Lilith sat up slightly. She smiled. "How interesting," she replied. Ryze's strength failed him and he passed out.
He awoke lying face down on a plush mattress, arms and legs spread wide. He tried to move, but found himself bound tightly in place. Next to him on the pillow lay a series of razor sharp thorns and a font of violet liquid.
"Awake so soon," Lilith muttered coyly, entering the room through a beaded curtain. She climbed onto the bed with him, straddling his lower back. "Tell me, wayfarer," she quipped, reaching for her implements, "what is it about me that is so fascinating?" She dipped a barb into the inkwell.
"I have studied magic since I was a boy," Ryze croaked into the pillow. He felt a twinge in the nape of his neck and he winced.
"Don’t squirm!" Lilith shouted, bringing a hand down hard on his shoulder with an audible smack. Ryze gritted his teeth through the pain and continued. The burning sensation spread as she went about her bloody work.
"Always, my masters taught me patience, to remain in control, to never surrender to my passions," she changed needles. He could feel blood and ink pooling in his open wounds. "They called me a liability; refused to finish training me," he went on, "You know another way."
"Charlatans," Lilith spat, wiping the blood from his back with her dress. She bent low over him, her hot breath on his neck. She whispered, "but we know better, don't we. Magic is energy. All our enthusiasm; our rapture; our fury. They are conduits for our power." She licked her lips. "I can show you the way."
She freed his limbs. "Now roll over," she snapped, another needle clutched lightly in her fingers, "I haven't finished."
Ryze grudgingly obeyed, though his body throbbed with pain. Above him in the rafters hung an elaborate scroll on stretched parchment, larger than a tapestry. "What is that?" he asked, remembering himself.
Lilith's face grew ashen. The room around him fell away to darkness. "You stole it from me!" she shrieked, arms flailing, tears streaming down her face, "How could you?! Betrayer! Betrayer!" She struck him a dozen times before he could restrain her.
"I had no choice!" he cried, "You wouldn't listen! You would bring ruin on us all!"
Lilith scoffed. "Why do you want to join the League, Ryze?"
Ryze released her and she pulled away. He adjusted the scroll on his back. "I must keep it safe."
She smiled. "How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
Ryze determined countenance returned. "I will do what I must," he replied.
He raised a hand to shield his face as the doors to the League of Legends swung open, and light came pouring in.
To help you get the week started right, we’ve got a brand new skin for one of your favorite champions of the League. If you’re looking to give that tattoo-sporting Rogue Mage even more of his signature edge, look no further than Dark Crystal Ryze. This truly menacing new look features sharpened black spines and glowing arcane crystals!
Ryze inhabits a unique space within League of Legends. He’s not a standard fantasy wizard with white hair and robe. He doesn’t cast magic using a wand or incantations. We want to make sure his update communicates these traits and reinforces his uniqueness. With that in mind we plan to keep his major reads (blue skin, big scroll, spell book) while streamlining and updating some of his details.
With Ryze’s update we want to better convey that he’s a master of magic (and running) in a way that’s kinetic and physical, almost punching his magic out in the same way an expert martial artist expresses his skill. Communicating the runic element is also important, so glyphs, runes, and other forms of character-based effects are key factors.
Since we’re solidifying Ryze’s identity as a solitary and nomadic mage who’s on the run, we want to make sure that’s reflected in his appearance by playing up a more rugged feel to his gear and clothing. Again, we want to remain faithful to his major reads while injecting a little more grit that shows off his resilience as a hardened spell-slinging battlemage.
Ryze’s kit has a strong identity, but it’s pretty binary based on his distance from you. Get too close and you’re getting hit by the full force of his “always on” kit, every time. This limits our ability to tune him as he’s an absolute terror when his numbers are too strong. Thus, our overall goal is to preserve his particular identity as a "tanky, in-your-face mage" while focusing his power into windows that create more relevant decisions for both Ryze and his opponents.
Essentially, we want to increase the highs and lows when Ryze is in a scrap - bigger wins when he’s skillful, as well as better opportunities for his opponents to interact with his gameplay. To do that, we have to build more unreliability into his kit. Skillshots are one way to do that, with his Q the obvious candidate to become a skillshot in return for longer range. We do like Ryze’s brand of close-range mastery, so rather than turn everything into skillshots we’re building clearer power/timing windows into the rest of his kit.
Finally, we want to better visualize and clarify Ryze’s power as well as what exactly he’s doing to his opponents. Some examples include better presenting his rapid-fire casting and making his E’s behavior more controllable and understandable (again, for both Ryze and his opponents).
One of League’s original 40 champions, Ryze’s gameplay has been largely left alone over the last five and a bit years. Welp, time to change “has” to “had”, because the champion update crew just finished creating a Rogue Mage fit for 2015’s champion aficionados. Alongside his new ability and sound effects, a couple of Ryze’s abilities have undergone some pretty hefty changes. But before we get into how new Ryze plays, here’s a quick look at his shiny new kit:
Ryze builds up stacks of Arcane Mastery as he casts his abilities. After reaching max stacks, Ryze becomes temporarily supercharged and gains a couple of powerful buffs: casting an ability significantly reduces the cooldown of his other abilities. Ryze also gains a shield based on his max mana. Ryze’s damage dealing abilities scale in part with his maximum mana.
Ryze fires a ball of rune energy out in a target direction, damaging the first enemy struck.
Ryze traps a targeted enemy, damaging them and rooting them for a short duration.
Ryze targets an enemy unit, blasting them with a slow-moving ball of energy that, after striking the target, splits to damage all nearby enemies before returning to Ryze’s original target, dealing increasing damage based on the number of bolts.
Passive: Ryze passively gains cooldown reduction.
Active: Ryze channels immense power, gaining significant spell vamp and movement speed and turning all of his abilities into area of effect abilities.
While Ryze’s general role has stayed consistent (he still absolutely has the potential to be a late game powerhouse), our update brings both the blue man and his opponents sizeable windows of power to play around. It’s a term we introduced with Gnar, and basically means that, where old Ryze was largely consistent with his damage output, new Ryze alternates between moments of relative weakness and power. For both Ryze and his opponents, learning to play around Arcane Mastery is crucial: Ryze’s power spike is colossal as soon as it’s triggered, so he’ll likely start to move in to engage as his passive stacks near completion. Once Arcane Mastery kicks in, Ryze can quickly cycle through abilities which, in turn, help reset the cooldown of the spells he's already slung. Provided he has the mana - and this is important - Ryze will at least win the trade, and at best, utterly destroy his target.
Aside from his passive, some of the biggest changes have hit Overload and Spell Flux. Overload is no longer targeted, so while there are benefits to his new Q (its new range is much longer, for example), it’s much harder to land against targets who sit within or behind their minion wave. On the other hand, Spell Flux now works best on targets who’ve buried themselves amongst friends. Essentially, Ryze’s opponents now have to decide if they’re best off hiding behind their minions and dealing with Spell Flux’s potentially brutal damage, or moving off to the side and hoping they can dance around multiple Overloads.
Old Ryze had a number of problems, but first and foremost, he just wasn’t all that interesting. His damage output was predictable and his damage windows were pretty much always open. He’d build a tear and catalyst as early as he could, then pretty much sit back and hope to reach his final late game hypercarry form. This turned him into an all or nothing champion in competitive play - he was either 100% pick/ban or never seen at all depending on where his numbers were - and while consistency isn't usually a bad thing, Ryze just ended up flat and predictable. Changes were needed.
Which brings us to the update. As we mentioned earlier, the update revolves around the notion of windows of power. When his passive is down, Ryze will actually be notably weaker than old Ryze, but by giving him that period of weakness, we’re able to really amp up his power when his passive triggers. These windows give both Ryze and his lane opponent(s) a bunch more to think about, and can even dictate the outcome of entire late game teamfights. We still want Ryze to get into the thick of things and melt faces from his limited range, but now he has to judge his timing and make sure his team fights when he’s good and ready to ramp up.
The halls of traditional study were never for Ryze, who felt a more raw and primal connection to the magic of Runeterra than those who tried to teach him. As a young man, he traveled the world, seeking the wisdom of powerful hermits, witches, and shamans. When he had learned all he could, Ryze turned to seek the lost, forgotten, and forbidden knowledge in the world. This led him to an ancient form of spellcraft known as thorn magic. This art required Ryze to tattoo spells on his body, infusing his being with vast arcane power. His travels also brought him to the giant indestructible scroll he carries on his back. The purpose of the inscribed spell is a secret only Ryze knows. However, he claims it is an abomination, something that he must safeguard from the world. Today, Ryze has joined the League of Legends to study the magical creatures and powerful will-workers that fight there, in order to complete his exploration of mystical Runeterra.
"There is no doubt. Ryze is no longer a mage - he has become a creature of magic."
Rune Prison (Old)
Mana Leach / Arcane Mastery (Toggle): Increase Ryze's maximum mana and his attacks deal magic damage upon activation.
Desperate Power (Innate): While Ryze's health is low, his ability power is increased.