Centuries ago, there lived a race of creatures as ferocious as they were wise. The brackern were unusual beings blessed with the earth's primal magic, embodied in the form of crystals. Their kind knew of an arcane ritual to bind their life's essence to a crystal, communing with the magic embedded in it. With this power, the brackern thrived in the Odyn Valley, protecting both creatures and crystals alike. Despite attacks from those looking to claim the primal magic, it seemed that nothing could get past the brackern's defenses. Nothing, that is, until the devastation of a Rune War.
A vicious battle was fought near the Odyn Valley and the unleashed chaotic magic poisoned the crystals. The brackern began to grow sick and die, and no amount of defensive magic could reverse the effects. To avoid extinction, their only course was to hibernate underground until the wars stopped. The strongest, most intelligent brackern hibernated closer to the surface to awaken first and assess the world's condition for the return of their race. The recent mining operations and violent escalation in Kalamanda were enough to awaken the first of these vanguards. When Skarner burst to the surface, he lashed out in anger and confusion. Reason eventually won out over his anger when he realized that the agents of the League who found him were simply functionaries. Skarner was invited to the Institute of War to share the brackern's story. In return, the summoners told him about the history that his kind had slept through. Much had been done to curb the unchecked use of magic since the Rune Wars, but it was obvious that the world was not yet safe for his kind to reawaken. For now, however, there is a place where Skarner can use his power to change the world into one to which his kind could eventually return: the League of Legends.
"The humans have not yet learned to control their magic - what once was Kalamanda is now a crystal scar on the history of this world."
The silence is eerie. The village was once an endless flurry of activity, with the chorus of pickaxes, rolling mining carts, and shouts of laborers comprising the song of Kalamanda audible during every moment of the day. Now, it is deathly silent, lacking even the far-away cries of birds or the whispers of winds moving through the grass. A blue bubble shimmers overhead, enclosing all life inside without regard to the malice or innocence present in the hearts of the trapped.
Suddenly, the ground in the center of the village bursts upwards. The League recovery crew stationed in Kalamanda is unprepared, staring blankly as a wickedly sharp crystal rises out of the ground. It lingers for a moment, as if tasting the air, and suddenly shoots out towards the humans standing close by. They barely manage to dodge out of the way, stumbling over themselves as the rest of the body attached to the crystal surges through the dirt.
It is a massive creature, seemingly carved out of the earth's most precious gemstones. The light gleams off of each facet of its segmented body, a halo crowning the unnatural creature's birth into the world. Menacing claws lash out towards the humans, snapping at everything in its path. The League crew defend themselves the best that they can, yelling out hopelessly to yield.
The crystal scorpion lets out a guttural roar, one that is as full of anger as it is of sorrow.
Skarner scurried through the Institute of War, his limbs cramped from trying to avoid scraping his sides on the tiny hallways. It didn't help that humans kept cluttering the way, staring at him instead of making space for their unexpected visitor. An escort led him through an enormous set of double doors, where a human was waiting alone in a dark room. He was relieved to be away from prying eyes, though he knew that what was to come would pry into him far more deeply.
The human's honest demeanor betrayed his purpose before he even spoke.
"I am Bertrand Wordsworth, keeper of history in the Arcanum Majoris. It is an incredible honor to meet one of your kind. I have never found any mention of the brackern in all my studies." Bertrand's eyes darted about, taking in Skarner's impressive form.
"So it would seem that humans seek to eliminate our species, but the knowledge that we ever existed at all as well." Skarner replied evenly.
The historian flushed. "I apologize for being so forward. I wasn't thinking."
"No. It is I who should be apologizing." Skarner's jaws clenched. "Forgive me. This new world is so very strange, and the grievances of centuries past are still recent to my memory."
"So, shall we get on with your rituals of judgment, then" The brackern was eager to be away.
"On the contrary, your little show back in the village, in addition to our conversations, has already answered all of our questions regarding your eligibility for entry into the League. Your commitment to fight for your kind to return is honorable. It is also a thrill for us to receive one as unique as yourself into the organization." He hesitated.
"But you want to know the story of the brackern."
"Indeed." Bertrand raised a scroll in his hand. "I have a spell here, one that will take us back in time."
The crystal scorpion did not answer for a moment. The desire to see his brothers again was too strong to ignore, but he knew the cost. He nodded his consent.
A swell of magic flared through the room. Suddenly, Skarner was again seeing the world as it once was.
The cold dirt of the earth surrounded him, a comforting sensation on his tired limbs. He recognized the exhaustion and madness that consumed him he was in the final moments of his life's quest. Skarner had not seen his kind for years, journeying into the depths of the mountains to find the one crystal in the world that would resonate with his life essence. Skarner's desperation threatened to consume him, after unearthing crystal after crystal that was not meant to be his. With his last ounce of strength, he reached out with his claws through the dirt and finally found the Arachia that would bind to him for the rest of his life.
Skarner uncovered it carefully, relief and awe washing over him, leaving him breathless. The crystal was the largest of any that he had ever seen, let alone those that had responded to a brackern. He pored over the intricate carvings sprawled across every gleaming facet, marveling at the residue from the earth weaving its knowledge into the gemstone for centuries. Skarner curled around the crystal as it began to pulse, soothing all his fears that he would die alone in disgrace if he hadn't found his Arachia.
He murmured the words of binding, and felt his soul sing as it became one with the earth. His first meditation with the crystal left him paralyzed for days, the knowledge of eons past flooding into his mind. The voices of the natural world whispered to him, sharing the secrets of primal magic and the history of centuries past. In the decades that followed, Skarner communed with the crystal almost daily, and only barely started to explore all of the knowledge imbued within it. Skarner passed on everything he had learned to his fellow brackern, and each creature in turn fed the knowledge back into his own Arachia for future brackern.
Then, a devastating explosion rocked the land. Skarner knew what was coming next.
Seconds later, a noxious cloud engulfed the valley, and the crystals vibrated with an alien glow. A piercing hum grew in volume to a deafening shriek. One by one, the crystals began to shatter, spraying glowing shrapnel in all directions. The brackern that were bound to the crystals screamed, dropping to the ground in writhing agony.
Chaos erupted. The brackern called healing magics upon their dying brothers and conjured up shields around the valley. But it was all to no avail - the brackern continued to fall until their numbers dwindled. Eventually, the brackern's desperate pleas awoke the ancient magic in the Arachia crystals, who called them underground. The brackern would fuse with the crystals, their mutual strength protecting each other until the world was safe again for both to exist.
Skarner was one of the last to remain awake, assisting the stragglers underground. His last view of the surface was another wave of unnatural energy rippling through the valley, before he plunged into the ground and cast the spell of hibernation, a prayer for his kind on his tongue.
Sleep began to overtake him. Suddenly, a piercing glow jolted him awake, and his eyes flew open. His Arachia crystal was pulsing, and the scorpion knew something was wrong. This had not happened before in his memory. Skarner reached towards the crystal, and he was abruptly tossed backwards in time once again.
The Odyn Valley appeared as it had long ago, but something was wrong. No brackern were in sight, and humans had overrun the gorge, engaged in war. Robed humans surrounded numerous runes meticulously placed in the center of a circle. Their voices rose in unison, and suddenly the runes fractured and disappeared. In their place, an intense concentration of energy lingered for a second before winking out of existence. A second later, the entire valley shook violently, as an entire city in the distance disappeared in a massive explosion.
The earth shuddered and reached out with fingers of magic for help. They found small creatures, fierce despite their own size, and called them to crystals hidden deep underground. There, the earth imbued the scorpions with power from the crystals, and from their union, the brackern emerged.
The scene dissolved around them, bringing them back to the present. Both brackern and human remained silent as the gravity of revelation weighing down upon their hearts.
Human mistakes robbed them of life. Human mistakes raised them out of nothingness.
Consumed with rage and sorrow, he roared, lashing his tail wildly around the room. The scorpion slammed the ground repeatedly with his claws, as if he could knock the vivid images of his dying brothers out of his mind. Bertrand barely managed to dive out of the way, cowering in the corner until Skarner's emotions subsided.
Bertrand eventually spoke.
"I'm so sorry to make you experience all of that. Yet, it was... necessary." The historian made an honorable, yet poorly veiled attempt to hide his excitement over such an amazing reveal of history.
The brackern's voice was gruff and low, the weight of loss heavy on him. "To have the story of our kind told and remembered is worth reliving the sorrow a thousand times. Have you all the answers that you came for?
"Far more than I ever expected." Bertrand was awestruck.
"Then we are done here."
Bertrand made a motion as if to comfort the creature, but he knew no words that could bring any sort of relief. He bowed deeply, then turned and fled from the room in a flurry of robes.
Skarner remained in the room, the bitter sting of realization lingering.
There was so much in this strange world yet to understand. Every breath, every moment, and every fight in this League of Legends would be a step closer to bringing the brackern closer to living once again.
Announcement made in the Sneak Peek by Average Gatsby:
While designing a champion for League of Legends, it's important to ensure that your concept appeals to a broad audience. For instance, if you're out to strike a chord with the monster enthusiasts, amateur arachnologists, and horror movie buffs, it's good to also incorporate something for those of a more refined mindset. And while we're on the subject of multifaceted design, allow me to introduce Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard. One part monster, one part crystal, Skarner is sure to please whether you're wearing a button up or wielding a butcher knife.
Of course, if you're having trouble persuading everyone to agree, keeping a gigantic scorpion waiting in the wings to menace them with the threat of impalement on its massive tail isn't a bad backup plan.
Today, I wanted to give a little sneak peek into the gameplay behind Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard.
The idea behind Skarner is to get on people, stay on them, and really capture that inevitability of being run down by a predatory creature. Additionally, we wanted to avoid an instant gap closing mechanic so there's appropriate counter-play.
The primary way Skarner accomplishes this mission is through his ability Crystal Slash and his passive, Energize. Crystal Slash does a quick, point-blank AOE and empowers the ability if it hits. Empowered casts will do bonus damage and slow (making successive uses really useful for sticking to his target). His passive causes his spells to cool down faster each time he auto-attacks - a natural combination with the empowered Crystal Slash.
Properly utilizing Skarner's passive is central to his gameplay as a whole. For example, Skarner's ability Crystalline Exoskeleton puts up a shield that grants additional movement and attack speed while it's up. The bonus attack speed will help greatly decrease the cooldown time of his abilities, leading to additional Crystal Slashes or more uptime on this steroid.
Skarner's marquee ability is Impale. This ultimate causes him to skewer an opponent with his tail and drag them around for a few seconds. The positional manipulation of the ability can turn a teamfight by peeling an enemy off of a wounded ally, or dragging a greedy enemy into a tower.
Players have been asking for another monster champion for a while, so we're happy to deliver Skarner, our own weaponized arachnid."
Crystal Slash: Skarner lashes out with his claws, dealing physical damage to all nearby enemies and charging himself with Crystal Energy for several seconds if a unit is struck. If he casts Crystal Slash again while empowered by Crystal Energy, he deals bonus Magic Damage and slows all targets hit.
Crystalline Exoskeleton: Skarner gains a shield and while the shield persists his movement speed and attack speed are both increased.
Fracture: Skarner summons a blast of crystalline energy which deals damage to enemies struck and marks them. Any further damage dealt to marked targets by Skarner will allow him to consume the mark to heal himself.
Impale (Ultimate): Skarner suppresses an enemy champion and deals magic damage to it. During this time, Skarner can move freely and will drag his helpless victim around with him. When the effect ends, Skarner's target will be dealt additional damage.
Energize (Innate): Basic attacks lower the cooldowns of Skarner's abilities by 1 second against champions and 0.5 seconds against non-champions.