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Too Many Blades: Naming Conventions In League of Legends

This isn't about how the majority of in-game item images feature edged weapons of one sort or another. That can wait.

It is, however, a post about word choice and the consequences of careless use of language. The premise being: there are a finite number of meaningful words and word-pair combinations, and that failure to recognize and plan around this will result in a bland and/or bloated game.

Almost all games that feature special abilities, skills, weapons, resources, characters, or what-have-you, are constrained by their setting, theme, and what the designers can skew to fit flavor-wise. League is fortunate to get away with more than most, but it isn't invulnerable. Once a champion has a named ability, that name cannot be used for any other champion's ability ever. It seems obvious enough. Yet the Reds have shown, in some cases, a lack of ingenuity when it comes to naming conventions.

You could call it a pet peeve of mine, but I feel it's a serious issue. Imagine, if you will, how boring Ziggs would be if his abilities were: (Q) Bouncing Bomb; (W) Bomb Satchel; (E) Mini-Bombs; (R) Mega Inferno Bomb. An exaggerated example, maybe, but we see similar things occurring in other champions. Consider Aatrox, Nami, and Skarner. The word 'Blood' is repeated in Aatrox's abilities three times. The word 'Crystal' is repeated in Skarner's three times, and once in his champion title. 'Tide' is repeated in Nami's three times, and once in her champion title.

Speaking of champion titles, ever notice how Zed is 'the Master of Shadows'? 'So what?', you say. Well Akali, interestingly, is 'the Fist of Shadow', a title that seems to denote allegiance to Zed, despite her being at odds with him. Totally unrelated is Talon, 'the Blade's Shadow'. And coming out of left field is Hecarim, 'the Shadow of War'. Soon we're going to have Kindred, 'the Eternal Hunters', to join ranks with Vayne, 'the Night Hunter', Warwick, 'the Blood Hunter', and Nidalee, 'the Bestial Huntress'.

It doesn't stop there, oh no. It gets worse. Much worse. We have Aatrox, 'the Darkin Blade', Katarina, 'the Sinister Blade', Talon, 'the Blade's Shadow', Irelia, 'the Will of the Blades', and Master Yi, 'the Wuju Bladesman'. I haven't even mentioned the in-game items, but I'll spare you. You can decide for yourself whether League has too many blades.

All I'm asking for are cool, unique names for cool, unique effects. I can't help but think that Aatrox's 'Blades of Torment' would be cooler if it was simply 'Lacerate', or if 'Guinsoo's Rageblade' were 'Guinsoo's Legacy', or if Talon's 'Shadow Assault' were simply 'Eviscerate'. I feel that such names evoke greater flavor and make for a healthier game.

As a brief aside, for those of you familiar with Magic: the Gathering the phenomena of reckless naming has been occurring steadily over the years. The color Red with its iconic Lightning Bolt has warped WotC's notion of what the color means. WotC apparently sees Red as the color of 'fire', so every set has a new 'bolt' (usually using a synonym) that deals some arbitrary amount of damage. But there are only so many ways you can say fire, bolt, blast, flame, etc. WotC, with the model they have adopted for Magic, are rapidly exhausting the number of unique words available for use. With the printing of 'Blastfire Bolt' in one of the latest sets I fear that Magic is becoming stagnant for exactly this reason.

League has one advantage that Magic doesn't have, though. League can be patched and altered - Riot can fix their mistakes and make the game better. The Wizards of the Coast, on the other hand, have to live with their mistakes, and so do we. ;c


As of Oct. 18, 2015, many Mordekaiser mains are complaining on the forums about Morde's new title. He went from being "the Master of Metal" to "the Lord of Death". This is another great example of terrible word choice. It is redundant, generic, and confusing. As one board member pointed out, this change effectively makes him "Mordekaiser: the Mordekaiser". Funny, but this is a serious issue. Another noticed that 'the Lord of Death' was about as creative as something 'an angsty teen could come up with.' I'll hold my piece about angsty teens, but I agree. One member said, (I'm paraphrasing) "If Mordekaiser is 'the Lord of Death' doesn't that make Kindred (and everyone else who is dead / undead) subservient to him? His underlings? His inferiors?" This is the same issue I spoke of when I mentioned Zed and Akali's titles and relationship. Titles that are not carefully crafted to their specific champion aren't titles at all. They're labels.

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