The work of gravediggers is essential amongst the living, but invaluable in the Shadow Isles. There are many shades of death there, and each is embraced rather than feared or reviled. One can only ascend from one state to the next with the magical aid of a skilled professional. At the end of the first Rune War, Yorick Mori made his living as a gravedigger. His family owned and maintained the Final Rest Memorial, one of the oldest cemeteries in Valoran. The shovel he employed for his work had been passed down for generations. Each gravedigger taught his son that this shovel was imbued with the spirit of every forefather, and that those spirits would protect him during the long lonely nights amongst the tombstones. To his eternal regret, Yorick died without an heir, bringing the proud Mori line to a close. His body was interred with his shovel in the family mausoleum, and the Final Rest Memorial soon fell to ruin. Death, however, was not the end Yorick had expected.
Yorick emerged on the haunted shores of the Shadow Isles – not quite dead, definitely not alive – still clutching his beloved shovel. He soon learned that with it he could act as a ferryman for the Isles' undead denizens, helping them climb death's many-tiered ladder. This proved a curse, as a gravedigger must "bury his quota" before he too can ascend, or so the legend goes. No one knows what "his quota" is. Yorick dug tirelessly, waiting in vain for the day when he would be freed of his burden. As decades turned to centuries, the shame of his failures came to a head. He returned to Valoran to find his corpse, convinced that salvation might be buried with it. When he arrived, no trace remained of either the mausoleum or the memorial. Hope nearly lost, he discovered the League of Legends, and there saw an opportunity to immortalize the family name he allowed to be forgotten ages ago.
Yorick finds the mountain's entrance after tireless searching. He has learned about the League in fragments; the unusual nature of death on the Fields of Justice intrigues him. He has no interest in games or politics, but a selfish impulse compels him.
He is hunched, built to purpose, strong. He clutches a shovel always – it is this grip that has held him to this world. He is at once terrifying and pitiful, an aged corpse which cannot rest. He ambles to the space designed for his Judgment, stone doors at the edge of the mountain. The darkness wraps around him as he enters. Its color suits him.
Darkness didn't bother Yorick. He'd spent most of his life in darkness and, more significantly, countless lifetimes beyond.
A lifetime... hmph. Warmskins have such narrow scopes.
Yorick could barely recall his early years in the Shadow Isles, diligently tallying the passing days, then months, then years. When the inner walls of his cave were nothing more than a maelstrom of crooked lines, he stopped. There was no more point to counting days in death than counting breaths in life. He wondered briefly how many lifetimes he might have tallied – another utterly useless exercise.
The chirp of crickets penetrated his thoughts. It was the kind of sound that softly framed deep contemplation, but became piercing madness when focused upon; more life fretting its hour, grasping for purpose, like flames dancing on their coals.
The smell of damp soil greeted him like an old friend, sprawling out around him. Yorick appraised his surroundings.
He stood amongst rows of gravestones which stretched in all directions seemingly without end. There was a pregnant stillness in the air that characterized places that bridged life and death. It was a quality that permeated every inch of the Shadow Isles, though life had long since abandoned its shores. Yorick once mused that these gardens of fresh death were lumps caught in the throat of existence, stale with unease as they contemplated their crossroads.
Now he merely wondered why there was a corpse here.
The body was laid out on a wagon next to a new but nameless tombstone. Bodies didn't bother him – quite the contrary. The prospect of ushering souls through the many rungs of death was one of the few thrills permitted to a gravedigger from the Shadow Isles. Rather, it was the fact that dead bodies (not to be confused with undead bodies) rarely presented themselves so conveniently for burial.
There was a time when Yorick would have questioned this, when he would have tried to identify the cadaver, speak with its family, ensure its name and some pertinent trivia were etched into its tombstone. Now he simply plunged his shovel into the soil, happy to be done with the ghost of curiosity.
With each passing shovel-full, Yorick felt a growing sense of remorse. In some ways he was enchanted by it. Emotions were the liquor of the living. As one crosses his third or fourth century of undeath, the memory of emotions becomes so faded that one wonders why he cares to remember them at all. This is where the disconnect between warmskins and the undead occurs. A gravedigger has a schedule to maintain and warmskins are just so deliriously attached to their lives, even despite decades of preparation for the inevitable. It is, after all, the inevitable.
Yorick had tried to compromise once or twice, burying people alive so they could savor their precious lives to the very last moment, but that was generally twice the headache and nobody ever appreciated his efforts.
By the time he'd dug the plot, Yorick's mind swam with somber anticipation. For reasons he couldn't fathom, this burial meant something. He simultaneously wished it could last forever and that he could be done with it already.
The latter felt more practical. He heaved the body unceremoniously into its plot, then clambered down to refold the arms and arrange it with some semblance of dignity. There was something eerily familiar about it. All the faces he'd buried – the countless faces – bled into each other by this point, why was this one different?
He climbed out of the hole and stared down at it one last time. He hadn't wondered about the life of one of his wards in centuries, but he couldn't help but feel a sense of unfulfilled purpose radiating from this one. Just as he was ready to pile the earth back atop the grave, he slipped. The shovel clattered into the hole.
Yorick hadn't lost grip of his shovel...ever. Panicked, he chased after it, but he slipped again. The soil he'd mounded next to the grave started to slide in on its own, an unprovoked avalanche. Yorick tried frantically to hold it back, but it flowed past him unhindered. He glanced down and it finally came to him.
The shovel rested neatly atop the body, clasped beneath its folded arms. The face -- that face he should have known -- was his own. It was the face of innocence, hope, sadness. It was a face so early on its journey, already convinced it had seen the end.
And Yorick didn't even recognize it.
The soil was falling in a torrent now, it had completely obscured the body and the last bits of the face were disappearing. Yorick dove into the hole and began tearing the dirt frantically. The motion was alien; he was completely lost without his shovel.
When the last grain of soil stopped, Yorick was buried to his elbows.
He hadn't felt anything – let alone this unyielding sadness – so acutely since he could remember.
"Why do you want to join the League, Yorick?"
He looked up. A man stood over him in a robe, some sort of mage. The face was concealed.
"Who are you?" Yorick asked.
"I'm employed by the League of Legends, that's all you need to know."
"I don't care about your League now. I just want that body."
"The body isn't real. It's forged from your memory. A mirage. Normally, I would stand here wearing the face of someone you once knew, but it seems you've forgotten everyone."
Yorick thought about this. It could only be true.
"Why do you want to join the League?" The man persisted.
"I want to do... something else. I want to remember... and be remembered." Yorick felt like something was guiding his tongue. There was water on his face.
What is this? What's happening?
"We can provide that opportunity, Yorick, but we need to know some things from you." The voice never faltered.
"About where you come from."
"I don't remember."
"Not where you were born. I'm referring to the Shadow Isles." Yorick let the words hang in the air.
"How does it feel, exposing your mind?"
The man was gone before Yorick could answer. Yorick felt truly alone, yet somewhere on the fringe of his awareness, excited. This League of Legends would soon taste the allure of death.
Yorick's kit was designed by Coronach, but his concept was designed by RiotBear.
E3 2011 work-in-progress
Undertaker Yorick concept (by Riot Artist The-Bravo-Ray)
Pentakill Yorick concept (by Riot Artist The-Bravo-Ray)
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Champion Sneak Peek
Announcement made in the sneak peek by Average Gatsby on June 7, 2011:
The true sign of a master is when you’re able to impress everyone with your execution of a skill that might otherwise be considered mundane. So it’s probably quite safe to say that in order to dazzle anyone with your skillful shoveling, you’re going to have to be rather good at it. With this in mind, allow me to introduce Yorick, the Gravedigger. In addition to being more adept in the art of entombment than any who have come before him, he makes a point of keeping good company… or at least ravenous undead company. One of those two.
Announcement made by Morello on June 14, 2011:
We wanted to give a sneak-peak into Yorick’s gameplay in a quick mini-update.
Yorick is our first champion that utilizes the creation and use of summoned minions. All of Yorick’s spells have varying immediate effects, but each leaves behind a different minion of the appropriate type. For example, Omen of Pestilence creates an AOE explosion at the target location that does damage and slows, and leaves behind a Decaying Ghoul. This ghoul will then slow targets adjacent to it during its lifespan. All Ghouls have a constantly draining life bar that limits their lifespan to a short duration, and enemies attacking them will shorten it even more.
Yorick isn’t some frail, weak Necromancer that just commands minions though – he’s a burly fighter who can dish out punishment on his own. This was done primarily to make his play more consistent (as frail summoners typically have really binary PvP gameplay on if their minions are up or not). Yorick can get into a fight and go toe-to-toe with enemies while commanding an ever-changing army of undead Ghouls.
Omen of Death is his trademark ultimate that brings players back from the dead to exact Vengeance. Yorick can use this Omen on an ally, which creates a revenant of that champion. If that champion is killed while the revenant exists, then the target gains temporary undeath, coming back from the dead at full life which drains on its own rapidly. After the risen ally runs out of health again, they collapse once more.
We really hope you enjoy our new master of undeath in the upcoming patch!
Yorick's next attack will deal bonus physical damage and summon a Spectral Ghoul that deals additional damage and moves faster than Yorick's other ghouls. While the Spectral Ghoul is alive, Yorick moves faster as well.