In Swain’s new Champion Insights post, the creative minds behind the Swain rework have come together to discuss how he came to be. But you can’t talk about a rework without at least chatting about how the champion used to be. Or can you? Well, it seems that Riot decided early on that Swain was too much of a jumbled mess to be turned into a normal champion. Instead, they opted to color over him completely.
Swain’s lead narrative writer, David Slagle, starts off his section by stating the controversial fact that old Swain was basically nothing. Instead, the team opted to create the Swain of our dreams, rather than try and resurrect the crusty husk that we have now. The theme they eventually settled on was “ruthless dictator.”
The goal of the lore team is to twist the expected into the unexpected. They have apparently done this with Swain through a reversed Faustian Bargain. This term refers to a pact for power that has gone poorly or has some kind of trick to it. Basically, the way every pact with a demon has ever gone in fiction. However, Swain has apparently tricked his demon rather than he himself being tricked. Perhaps we’ll learn more specifics when Swain’s lore actually hits.
The post continues on with some interesting looks into how they stitched old Swain into this new idea. But as many game development stories go, Swain didn’t come together until a few weeks ago. That’s where art lead Larry Ray and illustrator Victor Maury come in.
Swain’s clothing has changed quite a bit. Ray and Maury discuss the simplicity and function over form design of the new Swain. Earlier in the feature, Slagle mocked Swain’s ridiculously lavish bathrobes. And for good reason. The art team points out that Swain’s only status symbol is his coat, which is fairly plain in comparison to the robes of Azir. They compare Swain to Star Wars’ Darth Vader, saying that he isn’t about the lavish garments as much as he’s about his actual ability to conquer.
The next aspect of Swain that was removed was his age. The team discussed what made Swain, well, Swain. Lots of people said how old he was, which was a pretty distinguishing factor to old Swain. But him being ancient didn’t fit with his overall look. The team instead opted for a “past his prime” look instead. Swain now looks like he may be in his early sixties rather than the soggy old potato sack that he was.
From a gameplay perspective, there were a few things the team was adamant about keeping. Alex Huang, game designer for new Swain, popped into the feature to add his input. The goal was to keep three specific things: keep him a front-line mage, make sure he has a snare, and give him some lifesteal. Other than that, the team was free to dump everything else about his kit.
Swains’ ability to transform wasn’t included in that list but was still a desired feature. Originally, the team opted for putting his old ultimate on his E, which would essentially silence Swain but give him lifesteal and movement speed. They scrapped this because it didn’t feel thematically appropriate and was always either underwhelming or too powerful. When they moved it to his ultimate, they found a more balanced solution while still keeping his transformation in tact.
Finally, the entire group came together to answer our biggest question: what about Swain’s birds? Despite their mission to scrap old Swain, they found that he was boring without his birds. So they decided they needed to stay in some form or another. Sadly though, Beatrice is no longer Swain’s faithful bird. Instead, all of our deepest fears have been made real, and she has fallen into being just another raven for Swain to command.
Swain’s heart is still there but that’s pretty much it. This seems like one of the most “new” reworks we have seen today. What remains of the old man that few loved is buried deep. Instead, Swain feels like a brand new addition to the League family.