Selected theory-crafted character designs for League of Legends ◦ 2012
My first foray into thinking about game design came when I read that Riot was interested in hiring designers who had good ideas, even if they didn't have a background in game development. Being a huge fan of their game at the time, this inpsired me to craft some champion designs for it. This leap into even just the idea space of game development is what led to me applying to The Guildhall and fully pursuing a career in the field.
My interest in this game comes from the unique design of the MOBA/ARTS genre. Both LoL and DotA 2 feature a huge variety of characters, but the each hero has a limited set of interwoven abilities and stats. Those mechanics lead to a huge amount of emergent gameplay in 5v5 matches, with each character requiring significantly different strategies to control. A huge draw of LoL for me is how well the character designs connect with their abilities, and in theory-crafting champions of my own, a tight intermixing of themes and gameplay was at the front of my mind.
To feature a breadth of design ideas and a strong comprehension of the game design at hand, I've included a line-up of five champions (mid, top, dual bot, and jungle), originally designed in 2012 but iterated over the years since.
Sath'Ka - The Face of the Void
Mid-Lane AP Carry - Originally designed August 2012
I first designed Sath'Ka back when the League of Legends community was clamboring for more "monsters from the Void." I've always been passionate about illustration as a hobby, and when I designed the kit for Sath'Ka, he inspired me to bring that hobby to the table and create some art for him. This material was very well-received by the community on reddit and the League forums, which gave me a huge boost in motivation towards being a designer.
Since I originally designed Sath'Ka and shared him with the community, League has seen the creation of a variety of champions kits that feature interacting with objects in the environment. With Void Tendrils, the core of this concept, I designed Sath'Ka to be a mage similar to Orianna in the positioning of objects on the field, but in this case they’re his “limbs.” This is the bread-and-butter of the champion, and also acts as his main tool of harassment. It has a higher cooldown than similar abilities (like Karthus's Lay Waste) due to the power that having a Tendril on the field entails.
Whispering Grip shows how the Tendrils can interact on the field. In some ways it’s a lot like Orianna's Command: Dissonance, as it’s an AoE sprouting from Sath'Ka’s “pet.” The ability gives players area-control, but it also allows for counter-play in that the enemy can move out of the Silence range. It can be used at a distance or against close-range enemies depending on where you choose to cast it, so it’s not useless without a Tendril.
For Soul Stab, Sath'Ka players need to think about where to position their Tendrils. As all of the stabs of this ability are on first-unit-hit, it requires careful planning and doesn't allow the player to just spam AoE damage.
Spatial Deprivation doesn’t require the Tendrils to be positioned, but allows Sath'Ka to resposition enemies or escape. Combined with his passive (if he has it up), it creates an amalgamation between Annie's Summon: Tibbers, Morgana's Soul Shackles, and a bit of Shyvana's Fury of the Dragonborn.
Velos - The Chrono Fighter
Top-Lane AD Fighter - Originally designed April 2012
Passive, Accelerating Lifeline
For every 10% of health missing, Velos gains 1/2/3% life steal and 1/2/3% spellvamp.
Q, Lunge (Foretold Strike) - Velos lunges and sweeps his sword to damage foes.
Velos dives a short distance forwards and cleaves his katana to deal physical damage in a cone. When cast after Paradox: deals bonus damage, and the Time Shadows created by Paradox follow all Champions damaged by his sword, allowing activation of Foretold Strike. (~7 sec CD)
W, Distract (Split Timelines) - Velos creates a paradox clone of himself to confuse enemies.
When activated, Velos sends a clone of himself in target direction – it keeps running straight until it fades away (matching his current movespeed), lasting X seconds and taking increased damage. You cannot control the clone after it is created. When cast after Paradox: the clone lasts longer and takes less damage, and the Time Shadow created by Paradox follows the clone, allowing the activation of Split Timelines. (~10 sec CD)
E, Absorb Momentum (Double Time) - Velos steals the speed of his surrounding enemies.
Velos unleashes an AoE of temporal energy, damaging and marking all enemies struck. When Velos attacks a marked enemy, that enemy takes magic damage and is slowed, and Velos gains temporary movement speed and AD. When cast after Paradox: the AoE is much larger, and the Time Shadows created by Paradox follows all marked enemies, allowing activation of Double Time. (~8 sec CD)
R, Paradox - Velos creates paradox shadows to which he can transfer his true self.
When activated, Velos’s next ability will be improved and create Time Shadows (these are particles, not actual clones or units) that grant a tiny ring of vision around themselves. He can then activate that ability again for a secondary effect. (~40 sec CD)
Foretold Strike selects a Champion being tailed by a Shadow and then dashes and deals damage to the target.
Split Timelines causes Velos to channel for 0.5 seconds. He then teleports to his Time Shadow’s location, leaving behind a new clone that whirls its katana to damage all nearby enemies before disappearing.
Double Time causes the Time Shadows to slash enemies they are following, which procs the Momentum marks, granting Velos the same steroid multiplied by number of marked enemies (maximum X).
Sylph - The Gun Mage
Bottom-Lane Hybrid Carry - Originally created August, 2012
Passive, Volatile Weapons
Sylph’s attacks against enemies create stacks of Unstable Energy that lower their magic resistance (up to three). Stacks are reset when Sylph chooses a new target.
Q, Crippling Beam - Sylph focuses the magic of his pistols into one powerful blast.
Fires a skill-shot nuke, damaging the first unit hit and creating a small explosion around them that damages surrounding enemies. If the nuke doesn’t hit a target, it explodes at the end of its path. (~5 sec CD)
W, Plane-Shift - Sylph shifts out of the physical plane to avoid enemies.
For a split-second (~0.5 sec), Sylph becomes intangible – he cannot be targeted, and units/missiles pass through him – but he can still continue moving. When he returns to this plane, the energy of shifting releases a star-shaped AoE (wider near him, then points taper off further away) that damages and slows enemies and hastes allies. (~12 sec CD)
E, Tri-Aether Augmentation - Sylph arms his three forms of enchanted ammunition.
(Toggle Effect) Sylph can choose between three different types of enchanted ammunition. Each type of ammo will appear as a mark over enemies struck by his attacks (lasting X seconds). Any of his three other abilities will proc the mark and activate the associated effect.
Frost Shells: Sylph passively gains bonus AP while these are active. Proccing this ammo will slow the target by (scaling)% for 3 seconds.
Flame Shot: Sylph passively gains bonus AD while these are active. Proccing this ammo will cause the target to take a DoT burn and 50% reduced healing effects for the next 3 seconds.
Thunder Rounds: Sylph passively gains bonus AS while these are active. Proccing this ammo will create chain lightning to 3 targets (prioritizing champions) from his target.
R, Helix Canon - Sylph charges his guns for a uber-powerful barrage.
Fires a long-range, double-helix skill-shot. Each helix is an individual missile and enemies can be struck by both. At the end of the skill-shot (end-point is designated by the user), both missiles collide in a huge explosion. The wind-up (channel) for the skill is longer the further you attempt to fire it. (~60 sec CD)
Lampyr - The Insectomancer
Bottom-Lane AP Support - Originally designed June 2012
Passive, Swarm Maiden
For every champion affected by Lamyr's spells, she gains bonus AP and Mana Regen, stacking up to 2/4/6 times.
Q, Grant the Swarm - Lampyr fires a stinging insect at allies or enemies.
Passive: Nearby spell casts lower the charge time of this ability by 1 second (max 4 charges, base recharge time ~8 seconds). Active: Fires a skill-shot bee. If an enemy is struck, they are slowed a small amount for 3 seconds (stacking up to 4 times). If an ally is struck, they gain a small amount of attack speed (stacking up to 4 times) and all of their basic ability cooldowns are lowered by 0.5 seconds. (~0.5 sec CD)
W, Halting Swarm - Lampyr assaults an enemy with a swarm of biting gnats.
Creates a fog of gnats that deal damage in a targeted circular area and lasts for ~3 seconds. Any enemy within the cloud, or for ~2 seconds after leaving the cloud, is mini-stunned (0.25 seconds) for every 1 second that they are not stationary. Attempting to use mobility spells or abilities while in the cloud cancels the movement. (~12 sec CD)
E, Into the Swarm - Lampyr summons a ring of butterflies to aid allies and harm enemies.
Summons a ring around her that lasts 3 seconds. Enemies that pass through the edges of the ring are damaged and Silenced for 1.5 seconds. Allies inside of the ring gain an on-hit buff to their next attack that deals bonus magic damage. (~8 sec CD)
R, Karma Venom - Lampyr infects all nearby allies and enemies with strange magics.
Unleashes a large AoE of bugs that sting all champions and infect them for 5 seconds. Enemy MR is lowered, and if they lose 25% of their max health while the debuff is active, they are stunned for 1.5 seconds. Ally MR is raised, and if they lose 25% of their max health while the buff is active, they gain 25% omnivamp for 3 seconds. (~100 sec CD)
Utta - The Blood Shaman
AD Jungle Fighter - Originally designed August 2012
Passive, Blood Magic
Utta's abilities apply his Blood Curse for 3 seconds. When Utta or an allied champion is under 30/45/60% health, they gain 5/7/9% of all damage Utta deals to Blood Cursed enemies through basic attacks as health.
Q, Sacrificial Prey - Utta lashes out, using the blood of his prey to power his assault.
The next attack deals [scaling] true damage to a minion/neutral creep or (X% of current health) magic damage to Champions. For the next 5 seconds, Utta gains Bonus AD proportionate to the damage this dealt. (8 sec CD)
W, Feed and Bleed - Utta feeds on the monsters he kills, using their sacrifice to power his ravenous hunt.
Passive: For each minion or neutral monster that Utta kills, he gains 1 stack, which grants him bonus movement speed (max 3 stacks). Champion kills and assists give 3 stacks. Active: Utta expends all stacks of Feed (can still be cast with no stacks) to cause his next attack to slow its target by X% x N% (number of Feed stacks) for Y seconds. (7 sec CD)
E, Wild Curse - Utta curses an enemy with the magic of his blood, tying their fate to his own.
Sends a fast-moving blast in target direction, damaging the first unit hit and granting vision of them. For the next X seconds, that unit takes Y% of the damage that is dealt to Utta as magic damage, as well as Z% amplified damage from Utta’s attacks. (10 sec CD)
R, Rampant Invocation - Utta channels his powers, becoming a rampaging beast that ravages the battlefield.
Channels for 1.5 seconds and then turns into a giant beast, entering a wild rampage for the next 5 seconds. In this rampage, his speed bonus from Feed is multiplied, he is immune to all slows, he ignores unit collision, and he gains temporary AD based off of how much he moves. The first time he attacks any unit, they are stunned and take bonus damage. Any unit he passes through takes minor magic damage. (100 sec CD)