The League of Legends lore has been ... mostly a downer for the past several years. But 2017 was a bright, shining moment for all of us that care. Threads like the Darkin that we all thought were abandoned returned. But more importantly, mysterious hints were dropped. Local lore nerd Ryan Gilliam brings along Heroes Never Die’s Cass Marshall to weigh in on where League’s story is headed.
Ryan: OK Cass, we could beat around the bush all day here but I wanna get into the big one as fast as possible. The biggest tease we got last year and back in 2013 (another big year for lore) was the Watchers, the evil beings locked under the Howling Abyss. Will we ever see them and what will their invasion be like? Please, start us out here.
Cass: The Watchers are a super interesting plot thread, along with Lissandra, but I don’t think we’re heading there. Everything, especially all the Mount Targon lore we’ve gotten recently, seems to be pointing towards the Void as our number one nemesis.
Now, it’s worth noting that any good franchise has multiple villains waiting in the wings. World of Warcraft, for instance, burned through tons of really juicy villains super quick and then had to make up new ones in their lore books to get us excited for new expansions. I’m sure the Watchers will return, just like Lissandra promises. For now, though, I think we need to get excited for the Void.
Ryan: I love it, you’re already moving on to my next topic. A Void war has been obvious to me since weeks after I first logged in in 2013. We have a whole host of champions that seem to denote the different kinds of species locked away in this dark place. Kha’Zix, Cho’Gath, Vel’Koz, Kog’Maw, Rek’Sai; all of them waiting to unleash upon the world, all heralding something.
It’s exciting and it’s cool as hell. There is already so much great set up for a Void event to occur, some of which has been building longer than anyone I know has played the game. There are other Void related players as well, with Kassadin and Malzahar having visited in one way or another. Even Eduard Santangelo, the man who wrote the research report on the Vastaya has supposedly written a long report on “the Great Void War.” There is so much history here that we know almost nothing about, but the little we know has built immense anticipation.
How do you picture this event playing out? A new champion? An in game event like the Battle for the Freljord? A novel? A movie? Paint me a picture, Cass.
Cass: League’s world-building seems to be moving towards a “universe” model—I mean, that’s literally what their lore site is called—and a universe needs consistent, persistent villains. Look at Warhammer 40k! They set up the Tyranids, and that’s so you can buy boxes of Tyranids, buy a Tyranid codex, play Tyranids against your friends, and so on and so forth. I imagine the Void will never have a conclusion, not really.
(As an aside, that’s something Riot hasn’t really pulled off and it’s something I don’t think they can pull off—a conclusion to any of the stories they’re setting up.)
So, I imagine we’re going to get in game events, maybe a new map, new champions... The sky’s really the limit, here.
Ryan: I would like to see an overall expansion. Now, I don’t mean an expansion in the traditional gaming sense like World of Warcraft or Diablo, I mean it in the literal sense. I want to see the world of League of Legends expand to include more characters and places. Opening up the Void fully to Runeterra, rather than just having whatever tear exists now, seems like the perfect chance for this.
But while we’re at it, let me tell you what I would like to see most from where the lore is headed. No matter where we go, and I do hope it’s the Void, I want NPCs. We, the readers of League lore, need more characters that aren’t champions. League is unique in this way. In games like WoW and Diablo, all of the characters are the NPCs around you. The character you play as is simply the dopey “Hero of Azeroth” that rolls around and manages to actually do everything. League doesn’t have that cast yet, but it needs to create some space for it.
We have champions that we love and we want to see their stories. That’s all fine and dandy, but we need other character’s eyes to see our champions through. Without this, you end up having a protagonist champion that is limited in what they can do. If your storyteller is already a Legend ... where can the story really go? I want to see how cool Garen is through the eyes of some random Demacian who sticks around and grows from watching him. I want to see how cold Darius is from the eyes of his closest Lieutenant.
Watching the way these characters grow from their experiences with our already established champions would be incredible. Then, once their arc is complete, maybe they can actually join the League roster.
Cass: This is something I think Riot is already heading towards. The latest comics with Darius and Miss Fortune have quite the supporting cast (although one of the most interesting characters gets iced, so she probably won’t be coming back.) I think this is also one of the only ways that we can see League lore grow and progress, because, well... the story is kind of stuck.
Let’s look at Lissandra. She was revealed, we learned about her deception, we met her troll army, and the Watchers she served, and then... Braum was released and we got more Freljord info? Taliyah got a Freljord skin that’s canon, I think. Vayne got a Freljord story. But we’re not seeing any progression of main plots, and that’s because these champions are kind of static. Maybe a supporting cast who can evolve, die, make power plays, and so on may be what the game needs to finish one of the stories in progress. That would be ideal.
Ryan: Ornn was the most interesting release last year because he progressed Lissandra’s story! Well, progress isn’t the right word. He certainly gave more context and built the world out more. But I think that’s what we’re both getting at here. The lore is building toward something in multiple directions. Is it the Void? Are the Watchers coming back? Who knows, but those two story lines cannot move anymore until a big event like that happens.
Riot has been building a story dam for years and it feels like the water has really built up behind it. If they want to make people care about this story and keep us engaged, they can’t just keep adding more water. We need the dam to burst.