"Hm. This is pretty good materiel for a blog, I say."
As I'm sure many of you have no doubt noticed, there have been a great many champions in League of Legends who have seen their biographies rewritten and changed with recent updates, some more so than others and at times to a drastic extent. There's been a lot of conjecture and debates - angry debates - about these, from both why exactly Riot is doing it and why these particular champions are being targeted. I hope to clear up the mess that's been made over it for at least a few people by consolidating core information within this blog.
This entire series of lore rewrites is all part of Riot's creative team's Champion Bio Updates initiative, which they revealed approximately nine months ago with a red post from newly-appointed creative lead designer kitae in the Lore Discussion board. In it, she outlines Riot's plans to overhaul the entire backstory of League of Legends, from the champion bios to the stories behind the maps themselves, and she explains her reasoning for this movement.
The whole post itself is quite weighty to read, so to give a grossly oversimplified summary of it, the Creative team intends to gradually rewrite lores so as to give a more concrete vision of the champion's personality, motives, daily life and origins as well as their relationships and place within the wider world of Runeterra. They plan to completely phase out, or at least significantly cut down on, the number of champions who literally are not from Valoran and are summoned from beyond its borders, such as Morgana, Kayle and Malphite, and also plan to do the same for the champions that seem permanently bound to the League and its estates, such as Nocturne and Cho'Gath, for both kinds of champion often have zero influence on the events on Runeterra regardless of whether their primary motivations are achieved. New champions that are still being released are indeed part of this, but this blog focuses mainly on the updates to existing champions.
kitae emphasized strongly that many of these changes to bios are not intended to be retcons of previously established lore, but merely streamlining them to focus on the champions in question and less on superfluous details. These extraneous characters, where possible, will have their time in focus in other areas of League of Legends, and in more visible ways. The recent threading of lore into much of the gameplay of the recently-released Howling Abyss map is a fine example of this, and there are almost certainly such more of these to come.
To give a little history on lore updates if you haven't been keeping track, the first seen champion bio updates under this movement were those of Shyvana and Fiora, whose rewrites were unveiled concurrently with the initial post by kitae. They can be read here. This was followed about two weeks later with Katarina's rewrite, which was considered part of her relaunch. Notably, fan reaction to this first draft was negative enough to prompt the writer to revise her bio a second time, to much better reception. Then next lore rewrites came out with Soraka's visual update a month later, containing reworks for the lores of said celestial being and Warwick. The first ever large themed update involving a massive fleshing-out of the story of the Shadow Isles came out a month later, and saw reworks for Karthus and Mordekaiser, with particular note being given to the rework for the lich as it was the first rewrite to fully retcon a champion's place of origin (Karthus was originally an overlord of the Howling Marsh). The recent relaunch for Karma also saw a redo of her bio.
The next and most recent rewrites are the ones you've undoubtedly heard about, the rewrites included with the massive Freljord-themed patch about a week ago. Rewrites were introduced for Ashe, Sejuani, Anivia, Olaf, Gragas, Nunu, Volibear, Trundle, Tryndamere, and Udyr. Critical reception to most of these lores has been mixed, running the gamut between hostile to lukewarm to pleased to ecstatic. What generally has been most panned out of all of these changes is that too many champions are now being tied to Freljord, followed closely by the specific reworks of Gragas, Olaf, Trundle and Udyr, all of whom were not originally stated to be from Freljord.
If you're one of those people who are disappointed with the lore changes, I urge you to reconsider them in light of the stated goals kitae outlined in her first post of the initiative. Even if you are unconvinced, I hope you at least understand what stance Riot is taking.
So, with that out of the way, we come to the second point of the blog - who else seems to be in line for a rewrite? For the sake of keeping it tidy I'll only be mentioning or speculating about the more egregious examples. As you'll see, pretty much all of these champions are the oldest ones in the game, which should not be surprising given Riot's new direction.
Daughter of two exiled Noxians of the self-labeled Grey Order, Annie was born with immense magical potential, shown no better than when she enslaved a demonic bear that had ravaged their colony many times before, now carrying it around with her as a stuffed teddy bear.
As one of the oldest champions of the League, I was surprised she didn't get a lore rework alongside her visual update. Her lore is generally... awful, when compared to the high-quality bios for recent champions. Her lore focuses much more heavily on the actions of her parents Grigori and Amoline Hastur who literally are not mentioned anywhere else in the lore. It also doesn't even allude to what she is like as a person or what her motives could be for joining the League. Her massive potential for dark magic is food for a reasonable story, but as it is there is very little involving Annie herself in her own bio.
An extraplanar horror summoned by a rogue mage who now spends his days sitting in the same chamber he appeared in. The League uses him as an impromptu executioner.
Just a flat, dull lore all around. It makes zero references to what Fiddlesticks is like, which can startle quite a few people when they first select him and hear a slightly-deranged 'Your bidding, master?'. He literally doesn't do anything at the moment, though trying to find a place for such an oddball champion would understandably be hard to accomplish.
A high-ranking soldier in the Demacian military, a paragon of Demacian standards who never flees, surrenders or makes excuses. He first met his match in a battle against Katarina. Despite their epic duel leaving both warriors undefeated, Garen was determined to seek out Katarina in every engagement afterwards.
You might be surprised to see this one. As a character quite often mentioned in the lore, he seems to already fit the criteria. He has a position of importance within the massive political force of Demacia. His personality is clearly implied in the lore and his goals are clearly defined as a staunch defender of the Demacian code of conduct. But at the same time, his lore is also a relic of the days when Noxus and Demacia both were less factions in of themselves and more a collection of champions under the same banner. Case in point, his story seems to rely too much on Katarina to let him be a credible projection of Demacian power. The obvious shipping hints between him and Katarina is also rather unsubtle for something the designers seem to want to at least remain somewhat vague, sort of like how the hermit never explicitly makes it clear the relationship between Ezreal and Lux. I would guess his lore remake, if it ever happened, would focus more on what he does for Demacia other than just battling Noxus all day every day (and in the time of the League that isn't even happening).
Upon the cusp of winning their 10,000 year long war, her sister Morgana suddenly found new, powerful allies in the summoners of Runeterra that threatened to turn the tide against them. Offering herself for a millennia of service to the League, she had an embargo placed on all League interference in their war.
Despite already being an active force as the League's emissary, Kayle also seem to be food for a rework, albeit a small one. Her bio makes reference to many superfluous things. Her armor is said to be a relic for a long-extinct race of craftsmen, and the fact that the war itself is said to have last over 10,000 years is an infeasibly long stretch of time by human standards, which badly damages our ability to relate to her. I wouldn't be surprised to see some light modifications to her lore either removing these pointless references or giving them a way to justify her ingame abilities somehow.
Once part of a peaceful hive mind, the Monolith, occuying another distant world, Malphite was torn out of his content lifestyle to attempt to bring about order to the otherwise chaotic world of Runeterra. Despite working out his duties as he was asked, he has already shown change from what he once was.
An intriguing lore, but ultimately one that raises more questions than it answers. The hive mind of the Monolith doesn't really have any significance in anything but explaining Malphite's origins, and Malphite's actions on Valoran aren't well understood. How does he act as a hammer of order on Runeterra? His participation in the events on the continent is never brought up, so we are left in the dark.
A fallen angel cast out from her order and branded a heretic. Nearly at her life's end she was abruptly summoned to the League, where she was swift in striking a deal with them to obtain more power to defeat her sister once and for all.
I believe strongly that if these two sisters were to receive reworks, Morgana would be the one to get the brunt of any retcons that would be done. Unlike Kayle, who has a very long-term link to the League through her 1000 years of servitude, Morgana's affiliation lies purely off-world and ultimately anything she manages to accomplish on that front doesn't really mean anything for Runeterra. While her vaguely alluded to 'deal' which she struck with the summoners of Valoran does not specify its length in her bio, I would at the very least expect her to receive some clarification on the deal to ensure that it is one that she cannot easily undo. Also unlike Kayle (or at least what is implied of Kayle) her daily life within the borders of Noxus isn't well known. At best, she seems to run a bakery in her spare time, which doesn't provide a very good image of an otherwise deadly otherworldly being if it's literally all she has to do.
Abandoned as a child and taken in by a pack of cougars, Nidalee eventually gained the ability to morph freely into cougar form due to the intense magical properties of the area. After ravaging many a Noxian woodcutter group seeking to cut down trees in the forest, she joined the League to protect them and the wild.
Generally speaking, her lore is not very well-written and is a very poor justification for her ingame abilities. Nidalee has no stated point of origin beyond the implication that it is close by to Noxus and even then the fact that the inherent magic of the place is strong enough to grant normal humans magical abilities is glossed over and serves only to give her ultimate a reason to exist. Despite her vague goal of defending the wild, she doesn't even appear much in the lore despite it being very obvious that violating nature happens often and everywhere in the world of League of Legends.
An extradimensional murderous clown who hires out his bloody services as an assassin.
What can I say? It's more or less the same deal as Fiddlesticks except that his personality is probably a little better explained (or at least implied). That said he also has the same problem as Fiddlesticks in that a joke character doesn't really have much place in the serious way the rest of Valoran carries itself.
A fiendish chemist with a fondness for live experiments, Singed concocts all manner of lethal substances which he is happy to utilise to all their gory extent during his work for his Noxian employees. He takes his craft from his old mentor, Warwick.
Putting aside the fact that his lore is no longer canonical due to Warwick's changes, Singed himself depends entirely upon Noxus as a body on Valoran as justification to do anything. While he IS responsible for at least three champions being in the League (those being Master Yi, Riven and Warwick again), we need to remember that Tryndamere's lore was changed from Noxian assassins to an unknown figure precisely because Noxus was a force being used too often to justify a champion's story. While the former two of those mentioned champions may or may not also receive light lore reworks to reduce the dependency on Singed (and Noxus by proxy), Singed himself might also get one simply to make him more independent.
An undead human soldier, infamous for his reckless disregard for safety which eventually cost him his life at the hands of a vindicated Demacian army many years ago. With his body retrieved by Katarina and revived using Noxian necromancy, Sion was placed into the League to represent his city-state.
Pretty much an unspoken guarantee by now. Even putting aside the fact that his gameplay style demands to be split into an AD and AP portion somehow (I don't envy Riot for having to figure that one out), Sion is implied to have little to no freedom outside of the League's jurisdiction and appears to have little weight in events centered around Noxus despite his allegiance to them. He has not appeared in any Noxus-related fluff or stories.
Sivir is a wealthy mercenary once employed in the Noxian military. Now a free spirit, she's one of the richest living beings on Runeterra, let alone the richest champion. Noxus repeatedly tries to have her assassinated, but she sends them back in pieces.
Just a flat character through and through, really. Sivir doesn't really have any stated motives which could possibly justify her being in the League at all, or any indication of what her mercenary work entails, or what she is like as a person. Even her ingame quotes don't make this very clear due to the rather flat voice work and limited quote bank. Her very revealing appearance isn't justified either and doesn't match very well with her mercenary career, unless hired killers are meant to dress in fur bras and sashes and nothing else. I would expect her to get a rewrite when her inevitable visual update comes out.
Taric was, as a young man, fascinated by the precious stones and gems cultivated in his homeland. A distinguished healer, he was pulled from his world into Runeterra, where his unusual appearance have earned him a positive reputation among the populace of Valoran.
This is an interesting one. Taric's personality is... surprising, though not totally unexpected given the info in the lore. His life outside League is well documented (apparently he's the lead theatre director). The problem with it is that his origin story doesn't really appear to have any meaning when it comes to him as a person. The existence of Skarner proves strongly that the magic of gems aren't Taric's world-exclusive, so there may be a decision to base him somewhere in Valoran instead.
Zilean was an old sorcerer from the ancient civilization of Urtistan. While attempting to divine a way to forestall the fall of his city by analysing the threads of time itself, the city crumbled around him, and the incantation left him afflicted with chrono displasia, granting him immortality but condemning him to forever perceive objects as they are at every point in time, at once.
Zilean, while having a tragic backstory, hasn't had much opportunity to flesh out his time in the League thus far. The only large event he seemed to have taken place in was the stasis field placed over Kalamanda during the Crystal Scar crisis between Noxus and Demacia. His origins have no relevance to gameplay or his current actions, and seems to be there solely to justify his control of time.
That's that exhaustive list done! I hope you enjoyed and are interested after the read. Feel free to comment below! Do you agree or disagree? Are there any other champions you feel might be in line for a lore rework? Do you feel as though this initiate by the Creative Team is the wrong direction to take?
Signing off, Shaw Fujikawa