Hi hi! Lexi “Riot Lexical” Gao back with another Champion Roadmap. There’s lots of information in this one—though some might be slightly beneath the surface. I’m super excited to unveil a bit more of the upcoming champions. Since last time, both Naafiri and Briar dropped into the Rift with their vicious bites and hangry attitude.
As we said previously, this year we wanted to increase our spread of champion complexities for the year. So far we’ve shipped Milio and Briar who are medium-complexity champions, best-girl Naafiri for simpler complexity, but we’re still missing out on our high-complexity champion. Which brings us to our next champ...
An artist’s journey usually can be summarized in three stages. First, they must follow the principles of masters before them, learning the rules and intricacies. Then, they can diverge, explore, and break principles to find their own path. And finally, only after exhausting the exploration of their craft can they transcend to a new level of artistry.
Hwei’s dedication to his paintings allows him to express himself in a variety of ways. There are three specific subjects he seems especially interested in expressing. And make no mistake: though the artist is very much somber, his art is visually stunning.
Hwei’s use of deeply complex artistic tools and styles should lend mage lovers a blueprint to their big moment with finesse and tact.
Isa Mari “Riot orkidian” De Leon, Hwei’s narrative writer, has some more to share:
“Writing Hwei has been an emotional journey, one that’s shown me more than I could’ve ever imagined. He’s the first new champ I’ve worked on, so making the right choices for him was challenging, even overwhelming, at times. But fortunately, Hwei himself has been really understanding! Or at least he’s trying to be. After all, art requires a certain… empathy.”
Move over Naafiri, there is a new creature coming to the Rift and this one is much much cuter! Or… should I say smoldering with power! He may be smol now, but we know one day he will have a mighty roar! For now, he is learning and growing as he tries to find his way home.
You can track his progress through how his fire breathing techniques have improved. Just don’t underestimate him! He might be young and smol, but small for him is literally …quite big!
He walks around with the swagger given only by an heir of royalty, which just comes so naturally to him. Perhaps that confidence comes from knowing that there is something lurking not too far in the distance, always watching, creating a safe space for our young dragon to grow?
Andrew “Riot Ubysi” Raabe, Producer:
Generally, the Scorpiones order in the Arachnida class have eight legs, two pincers, and two chelicerae (little mouth hands). However, having 12 appendages as well as 3 tails really clutters the read of the character—especially considering gameplay clarity. After testing and discussing the upsides and downsides, we decided Skarner should have six legs, with two positioned underneath his front bulk to help support his new gigantic status to give his silhouette some breathing room. Which, fun fact, makes Skarner a Hexapod (think flies, earwigs, or bees)!
The team is very confident about this direction—there’s nothing more terrifying than Skarner galloping out of a wall, boulder in hand, to gank your lane…
That also led us to wondering how his new form would interact with his new Ixtali earth magic thematic. But before we could answer that question, we needed to understand how his magic even worked to begin with.
We looked at numerous sources for ideation, finding elements of creatures both magical and physical, and finally settled on the ability to manipulate and control the very ground on which you stand. It made sense to express that earth power in a similar way that Milio focused on fire, but in a manner that felt different enough to distinguish him from Taliyah.
Skarner isn’t pulling up a boulder with magical earth bending, he is reaching in and grasping it with his full body. His magical elements pull and release the earth so he can seize his prize: a gargantuan boulder to dissuade would-be attackers. The more we ingrained this mechanic, the more it became a core part of Skarner’s new kit and fantasy, resulting in something that I hope will become players’ favorite.
So to answer our original question of how his new form would work with his powers... We needed to make sure that Skarner’s silhouette stayed readable when holding a rock, without him just looking like a rock with legs.
Jacob “Riot Llama” Crouch, Game Designer:
Skarner has a really powerful and cool ultimate. Impale has been a clear asset that the scorpion brings to the League roster, and something we identified as high-value to keep. While its gameplay power and uniqueness are top tier, Skarner’s Impale does have some areas for improvement that we focused on:
Breaking from the gameplay talk for a second, I have fallen in love with this scuttling scorpion boi and
while I would have loved to personally carry him across the finish line, a difficult hand surgery will prevent me from doing so. But he has a great new home and fantastic tech designer Brad “Riot Hoboboy” Gaffney, who will take this kit the rest of the way. As always, keep scuttling out there, my scorpions <3.
Brad “Riot Hoboboy” Gaffney:
Hi friends! I’m here to chat a bit about where Skarner’s abilities are currently. Just a quick note that everything is still work-in-progress, but we love the chance to give you a little peek behind the curtain.
We’ve been trying to stick to Skarner’s primordial monster theme in the rest of his kit.
“Skarners core three abilities do the heavy lifting of making Skarner feel like he can really stomp all over Tokyo... Or Piltover.” - Riot Llama.
It’s a fun image, and it’s really been the driving logic behind how we try to shape what Skarner’s kit can do. Skarner is a powerful threat that performs unreal feats of strength bending the earth to his will.
Speaking of stomping, I’ll let Skarner’s new W speak for itself:
Skarner’s Q is his moment-to-moment combat ability. Skarner tears a piece of terrain from the Rift itself and carries it around with him. We want this moment to be a bit costly for Skarner so he can then have a very forceful ability. We’re looking at a longer-than-average cast time to allow us to animate an awesome moment of him rending this boulder from the earth with his bare… claws?
Skarner’s boulder empowers his auto attacks, but he can also throw the boulder for a slow and a big chunk of damage. It’s great for maneuvering through his clear and gives him one last shot at picking off the escaping priority target. A skillshot might feel too fine and precise for our forceful monster, but this boulder brings its full weight to bear.
The real skill expression of using this ability is picking the moment to get the boulder and navigating the gameplay tension between holding the boulder or throwing it.
Skarner's new E ability is particularly gripping, well, at least to his victims. Skarner continually gains movement speed with limited controls and tries to collide with a target. If he finds a target to grab he has a short window to pin them to a wall for a stun and bonus damage. Skarner likes to think of terrain as merely a suggestion and will plow through any of it between him and his targets during this ability. Also, while he’s in there, why not grab another rock?
We’re toying with A LOT of the levers on this ability to make sure we get it right. It’s bringing together a few elements other champions have played with but we’ve never had it all in one ability before so we want to make sure it gets the satisfaction that “rip through a wall and smash an enemy into another wall” promises.
We’ll have more about Skarner to share as we get closer to his release, but that’s it for now. As a reminder, this is all WIP and subject to change!
Looking further out, there is another Vastayan solo laner not too far away in the alpine forest of the Freljord. Her passion led her to travel, discover, and investigate across her home. She has a natural ability to see what others think is not there. Not too many spoilers this time. :) Stay tuned!
That’s it for now, we’re headed back onto the Rift with our scorpy to polish these abilities to the best shape possible. Thanks all!