Creating Champion Relationships and Freljord Lore

Posted on at 7:33 AM by Moobeat
In case you've missed all the journals and updated lore, some serious stuff is going down in Freljord! A war is brewing between the three tribes and several other champions are, based on their new lore, starting to take sides. As a result of this, there are a lot of questions coming out from our fellow summoners and several Rioters have taken to the forums to address them! 
Continue reading for a ton of posts regarding why Trundle's back story was changed and the lore behind several of the other Freljord champions.

( As they are referenced several times in these posts, here links to Anivia , Volibear, Trundle, Sejuani, and Lissandra's updated lore should you want to brush up )

These red posts were all largely from the same few threads but I've separated them into two camps. The first is more about Trundle's lore and how it was changed to create a relationship between him and the other champions, while the second is more general discussion about a few of the other Freljord champions.

Creating Relationships and Why Trundle's Lore was Changed
IronStylus started off by responding to a summoners complaint that many champions have joined the League for essentially no reason.
"That's a problem. It's a big problem. Runaan is going to speak to this, if she hasn't already, but I want to emphasize that this is very much something we want to avoid. This is something we are reconciling as you see to the changes in lore that are happening, the assigning of factions, allegiances, etc. 
We never want to complete out a champion's lore from inception. We want to have lots of room to tell a lot more stories. We don't want to conclude to a hard certainty because that closes the arch of a character. Integration with other characters, factions, etc, strengthens characters because it allows for continuous interactions, cross pollination and alliances. One-off-ism makes things not only confusing, but puts our characters at such distance from each other they may have no way to have a reasonable trajectory with each other. We need opportunities for characters to cross paths, to have relationships, to create conflict.

Again, Runaan will speak a lot to this. I'm not sure if she's gotten a chance to post about Trundle specifically. We've talked a lot about this before, and I'd like us to message why we do the things we do."

Continuing to elaborate on this, he stressed the importance of creating relationships between characters.
"Like I said in many previous threads, this isn't about assigning specific factions for every champion, it's creating relationships. Relationships. That's the key here. 
Diana and Leona aren't factionally aligned, but they are regionally aligned with eatch other, Pantheon and any other Mt Targon champions. Factions, geographical locations, etc, are all mechanisms to drive engagement with other characters. Sometimes existing champions lack those mechanisms to further development.

There needs to be some anchor binding them to the world or else there is no reason for them to affect it. Those anchors can be a family tie, hailing from a particular region, belonging to a religion, anything that allows an action they take to potentially change the world."

RiotRunaan stepped in to comment further on Trundle's recent lore update, saying:
"I'll have more coming on this soon enough, but yes, this is generally in line with some of the trouble we ran into with Trundle's old story. It felt complete--it was a full arc, any tie we could make between it and what we wanted to do with Trundle as a frost troll felt very arbitrary and band-aid plot point rather than meaningful development. Lots of our older champions actually face this problem... their plot arcs are more or less closed off, their motivations limited, their stories more or less one-directional. We want to keep conflict alive, we want to keep the relationships between champions dynamic, contentious, and dramatic. A lot of the updates you're seeing now are made with that in mind.

More on this later, I promise. I'll have a lot more to articulate on this subject soon. We don't mean to leave you hanging. There's a lot to discuss, and a lot of detail we want to convey about our thought process, but please know we aren't ignoring our players."
As far as WHY Trundle was morphed into his this new Freljordian Troll King, IronStylus mentioned part of the inspiration actually came from a skin concept:
"Runaan has more insight into the opportunity for Freljord. Trundle's potential relaunch idea came partially from a skin that was in development a while back, literally an ice troll Trundle. It was an inspiring enough concept to warrant taking a look at reformatting him."

Sharing his own thoughts on this personal lore direction, IronStylus comments:
"I'm not going to speak for Creative but I believe in the value of personal inter-character stories than one driven by a monolithic political force. The Empire gave some fascinating insight to a vast universe oppressed by a harsh regime, but I cared more about whether Han and Chewy were going to make the jump to hyperspace."
He continued:
"Likewise, I'd rather know a faction, group, or area through the stories of it's people than being it told to me by some history book."

To give a working example of this personal, interaction based story, IronStylus shared the original Diana theme and story he cooked up before she was the Scorn of the Moon.
"Something just came to my brain, so.. story time! 
When I was first pursuing Diana, I had some little sketches which started to inform some momentum, but there was honestly no solid direction to go story wise. At the time, the drawings of her had her in armor, but with dual weapons, almost like Akali. No idea where I was going with that design, but whatever.

I wrote this ridiculously elaborate story which I shared with Runaan and Volty. It centered around Diana having been sold into slavery and working at a Zaun strip mine. She would toil day in and day out. Being small as a child she ended up going deeper into the mine than any adults. She grew to know the mine, to know the secret places of the camp. 
The warden, or head of the mining company, or something like that, came out regularly to observe the goings-on at the camp. She would see him parade around with his children, rich, fat, and superior looking. She obviously hated him for being the one in control of the mine, and the ostentatious life he lived. 
So, one day, Diana's sneaking around one of the secret areas in the mine's camp and tumbles through a wall, or some such thing, and finds a prisoner, like herself, who's been there his entire life. The man is bitter, but like her, since he was small, he knows his way around and he's basically built himself up a little home deep in the forgotten mess of the mine's camp. He can't escape, but he has his hovel, and his bitterness to keep him company. 
He happens to be a moon worshipper, and every night, don't ya know, he prays to the moon about getting revenge upon the warden. He sees in Diana a young person who has the chance that he never will now that he's old. She could escape the mine and kill the warden! GASP! 
Oh, by the way, the mine digs up magical moonstone.. 
So wouldn't you know, turns out the old dude has crafted some mighty fine weapons out of this moonstone, and they're unbreakable essentially because as a true acolyte of the moon he has the power to imbue weapons with such awesome. Apparently the moon has also caused him to go all crazy-like. 
Stuff gets very Count of Monte Cristo here and she trains with him, also bows to the moon, learns how to use the weapons, and eventually they formulate a plan to have her escape and hunt down the warden. 
Some stuff goes down, explosions, whatever, she escapes and.. oh man.. gets to the warden and his family. Epic scene happens where she's got one of the warden's kids and is ready to kill him but then BOOM! Leona shows up! Because.. uh.. she's the defender of life or something? She's super good and.. protects people, right? I mean.. that's what she says in her VO. 
Leona stops this madness and is like.. "HEY YOU GIT OUTTA HEER" and Diana is all "OH NO YOU DI-IN'T I'MMA GETCHOO METAL SUN LAYDEE WE R NAO ENIMEEEZ." 
So, Diana forms some hatred for Leona, has moonblades, obviously some **** is about to go down. Scene. 
In conclusion, and that's a terrible story by the way, that puts Diana nowhere really in the universe, or any real good reason to want to have it out with Leona aside from some very superficial reasons. It also pretty much just makes Leona into some weird traveling Superman. Maybe the story is compelling in a way. Yeah, It's taking the revenge aspect, she's from a terrible situation, she's been enslaved, it's harrowing to a certain extent because she's experienced some horrible stuff, you root for her possibly. However, it has no real meaning in the greater affairs of the world. 
I presented this story and it fell flat, to all of us. We all thought oh, ok, decently written (it was ok honestly), and it was a neat story, but it wasn't substantial in terms of relationships with anything really. At that time I was shying away from having too much of a relationship between Diana and Leona at their core because that seemed like a crutch to have one solely exist to foil the other.

We struggled for a while. We thought, well, maybe the Shadow Isles. Maybe something really out there. Maybe risen from the dead. But then another creative designer chimed in and did what we were afraid to do. He suggested we go full on and embrace a heavily entwined relationship. Diana was actually from the Solari proper. She was an acolyte. She was of the same people as Leona.

This actually opened up more opportunities than the original story did, simply because it wasn't fringe. Fringe initially felt like the best way to go because it felt like Diana could "stand on her own". That she had some really nuanced backstory that got you attached to her. Poor girl, she’s been through so much, yeah! Screw that warden! And screw Leona for getting in the way! But it turned out having her part of Leona’s people created so many more opportunities for conflict and eventual possible resolution.

It grounded Diana as a contrast and foil, and since we were leveraging an existing faction and locale, it helped dictate many core pillars in her. She was now part of an orthodoxy which she could rebel against. She was another female paladin-type which we could create contrasts and parallels in visual design. She fit into a larger scheme that not only created her story, but deepened the story of Leona, the Solari and Mount Targon.

That story now has the potential to go somewhere really epic. That would not have been the case if the original fringe approach had been taken. If she was just another girl from somewhere far far away that happened into her circumstances. No. She’s the heretic. An action she takes will ripple through the fabric of Valoran now. She won’t just go after some guy’s family for petty revenge, she will arrive back on Targon, her awakening eclipsing the sun, being the vessel of a power that can sunder earth and blot out the light. She is not a petulant brat who’s out to make a point, she is the nihilist who has no concern for the ignorant who follow what she deems as a false light. She’s not Diana, Girl Who Got Sold Into Slavery and is Now Out For a Reckoning, she’s Diana, Scorn of the Moon, deliverer of the heretical truth, who will go toe-to-toe with The Radiant Dawn, protector of the faith.

In the end we want relationships. They may be heavily entwined, or just a thread of connection. Either way, there needs to be substance that ties this world together cohesively, and ensures that when a champion claps their hands, there is a potential for another to feel a hint of that breeze from a thousand miles away."

Freljord Lore Grab Bag

When asked what Tryndamere is up to and if this Freljord conflict will boil down to one of the leaders allying with Demcia or Noxus, kitae replied:
"Tryn is still with Ashe.

I can see the parallels, but the Freljord tribal leaders are more concerned with internal conflict than aligning themselves with external powers. Neither Ashe nor Sejuani would welcome aid from Demacia or Noxus in their conflict."

In response to this someone remarked that Ashe, when compared to Sejuani or Lissandra, seems to be the the weakest of the three camps, kitae responded:
"Ashe is still the strongest player in the conflict. She has Tryndamere, Anivia and Nunu on her side, a large army, and the most hospitable land. More details will be revealed..."

Regarding Volibear's lore update, kitae explained a bit of the rational between switching Volibear's loyalty from Ashe to Sejuani.
"Part of the concept here is:
  • Ashe is progressive, unifying, peace seeking.
  • Sejuani is traditional, uncompromising, warlike.
We thought long and hard before shifting Volibear's alliance but he seemed better suited to Sejuani. His values of nobility, loyalty, and tradition align well with Sejuani. We kept his core motivation the same - motivated by a vision he has allied with a human leader to protect his tribe. Now Sejuani has a powerful ally which makes her a more legitimate threat to Ashe"

In another thread, someone shared their dismay that Anivia has been changed from an otherworldly being to a Freljord character and accused Riot of having some sort of vendetta against the few champions from different dimensions. kitae replied:
"There is no secret agenda to make all the champions from other worlds be from Runeterra. 
Otherworldly origins are an import pant part of our storytelling. A good example is Kayle and Morgana. Part of what makes this duo cool is not only are they a light-angel and dark-angel sisters, they come from an entire world that mirrors their conflict.
In the case of Anivia, she was an ancient protector who after being summoned chose to take up the role of guardian of Freljord. While her other worldly origin was interesting, we saw an opportunity to create deeper ties between her and ancient Freljord. As the immortal protector of Freljord, we now can include her in those stories, and she becomes a good ancient counterpart to the ancient evil that is Lissandra.

Anivia remains what she has always been - an ancient elemental protector, who is protecting the Freljord. We've just made those lore ties deeper.

TLDR; Champions from other worlds are ok and will remain - in the case of Anivia we made her a stronger character and unlocked additional storytelling opportunities by making her a protector of ancient Freljord."

To clear up Lissandra's back story a bit, kitae compared her to Superman. saying:
"Lissandra = Clark Kent 
Ice Witch = Superman (but evil) (and a chick)"
Although kitae did admit
"The bio actually is not very clear on this so my bad!"

If things are still a little confusion, kitae replied with "Yes this is pretty accurate" to the following FAN summary of Lissandra's lore
  • Lissandra is her actual name from before she became part of the Watchers
  • Once she gained her power and started stealing the identities of the Frostguard leaders she was given the name "The Ice Witch" due to folk lore and stories, of course no one knew she was the Ice Witch
  • Now that it's come time for set her plans in motion for world domination, rather than taking the identity of another successor, she is using her own identity since no one knows who she really is and merely taking on her original human appearance whilst masquerading for the public"

This of course lead to even more questions about the heirs, blood line, and more. kitae, however, said all that can't reveal that just yet.
"These are great questions, but I can't answer most of them right now without spoiling some upcoming lore. 
Lissandra has lead the frostguard tribe for many hundreds of years. They were once noble, but that was a long time ago. 
More information on the blood lines of the three sisters will be coming soon so I am not going to give any information out on that today.

How the Ice Witch chooses her "heir" and assumes her new identity is purposefully being kept a mystery for now. Please feel free to speculate."
Kitae did expand a little bit, saying:
"She named her successor Lissandra so when she took her identity she could reclaim her own name."


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