Hello players and lore enthusiasts! I’m Stephanie “Riot Lady Smalls” Bedford, Narrative Producer on League and Wild Rift and a resident Star Guardian expert!
It has been a minute since the Narrative team put out a /dev blog (Hello 2019! We were all so much younger!). Since then, we’ve been deep in the word mines™, but we’re really happy to speak with y’all today. The League Narrative team has changed quite a bit since we last spoke, and we have a big new cast of Rioters to introduce (including me, hi!) as well as some returning favorites.
When we started on this year’s chapter of Star Guardian, we wanted to make sure we delivered on the commitments made when we reflected on the Sentinels of Light event. Today is intended to give you a peek at what it took to make the Star Guardian event this year.
We were super excited to bring back Star Guardian, and to expand on the story we started seeding in 2019. A lot of players around the world have been fans of this world since then (or even before!), and we were ready to get you all back into this world. Star Guardian is one of our favorite thematics internally for a huge amount of us, and it’s incredible to see how many of you are invested in this story each time we add more.
When thinking about the stories we wanted to tell this year, we had overall goals that we prioritized while crafting the narrative of this next iteration. We wanted to honor continuity, elevate Lux and her team to their well-deserved “legendary” status, reflect the changes that team made on their world, make space for a new generation of Guardians, and ensure the new Guardians reflected and challenged the values instated by the previous Guardians’ successes and failures. In short, we wanted to focus on topics like identity, relationships, and belonging, things that are part of the universal human experience... while also telling the stories of magical heroes who are protecting and saving the world while still trying to pass their high school classes! Things we can all relate to.
From the very beginning of development, the Narrative team created a strategy to ensure the event would be consistent across every game and execution. Because the event was planned for League of Legends, Wild Rift, and Legends of Runeterra, we wanted to make sure that players experienced a unified Star Guardian Universe that was consistent across all of our games.
We also wanted to incorporate learnings from the Sentinels of Light, Spirit Blossom, and RiotxArcane events to make Star Guardians bigger (and better) than other story-driven events we’ve done. With that feedback we felt it was imperative to empower other teams with information as storytelling experts to ensure Star Guardian still felt like Star Guardian, no matter the medium. We wanted you as players to be able to invest in the truth of this Universe and the stories we are telling. This led to a strategy that became our North Star (hehe) in many conversations along the development.
The following are the Narrative pillars which were the foundation that let us bring Star Guardian to life:
Narrative cohesion was our top priority for Star Guardian, and the League Narrative team (who wrote for both League PC and Wild Rift) worked closely with other teams at Riot to ensure everything for Star Guardian was cohesive and worked together to tell a single story. We also made sure to keep future Star Guardian storytelling in mind, because if one thing’s for certain, we’ll never truly leave Valoran City.
We were also very aware of the need to pay off our narrative debts. Basically, investing in certain character arcs we’d already begun and eliminating some of the unhelpful ambiguity in the stories that previously existed. To do this, we worked with other teams on the campaign to continue stories like Star Guardian Xayah and Rakan’s story arc on Wild Rift as well as keeping Star Guardian’s core truths of friendship and chronology in mind in things like Everything Goes On, the vlogs, comics, and other content all along the Star Guardian Event.
I just want to warn y’all that this part might get a little in the weeds with Narrative processes, but I think it’s important to explain just how much time we spent thinking about this.
We worked closely with all of the various teams on Star Guardian to make sure that every piece of content created worked together to tell the cohesive story. Everything that you’ve seen across League, Wild Rift, and Legends of Runeterra—Star Guardian Seraphine’s Vlogs, Another Sky, Everything Goes On, Shadow of a Doubt, Twin Stars, the skins... The list is too big to name.
We created documentation around the story (the number of documents I’ve seen and maintained...) to present to our partners both around Riot, and externally. Because each decision made in this campaign—even something as small as the publishing date of an editorial article—could impact the overall story and how we told it, we were careful to prioritize narrative outcomes through production details. We wouldn’t want to spoil the end of Another Sky without players having the chance to finish it, after all!
Because of this focus, the entirety of Narrative was empowered to surface opportunities throughout the process of creating Star Guardians 2022 (which we’ve been doing since 2021!) so the story would be stronger for all of you. A lot of this effort is seen in small things, like the art style cohesion from game-to-game, the sound effects of the skins, and the canon-ified Previously on Star Guardian article from before the event started. The goal was to make this event an event that you could jump right into and love, regardless of your previous familiarity. We wanted to invite everyone to come love the thing we put so much effort into creating and lower that barrier to entry where possible.
Internally, we maintained a dedicated weekly Narrative sync that was across all products to make sure all parts of the event were working in concert with one another. There was so much respect from our partners during the entire process, and we worked together to find creative pivots any time we ran into issues. We had a Narrative representative advocating for the story every step of the way, and we hope that is something that our players feel when they look at the cohesion of the storytelling across the whole event.
Our regional teams also created some really amazing ways to honor the Star Guardian Universe and take part in the event in their regions that helped expand on the Universe. It was amazing to be partners to so many globally and support their lore questions and truly unique experiences they created.
Making Star Guardian this year was a labor of love, and it couldn’t have been achieved without so many amazing Rioters who brought their whole heart to the writing. Creating something of this scale takes an army and, even if I’m only highlighting a single discipline here, I’d like to take a moment to list out those contributors who are deserving of all the praise I can muster:
Event Narrative Production: Stephanie Bedford
Event Lead Writer: Jared Rosen
Another Sky Writing: Jared Rosen, Ty Sheedlo, Taylor Dinwiddie
Another Sky Editing: John Chambers, Anastasia Basil
PC Legendary Scripts: Michael Luo, Brooke Jaffe, Nicholas Werner, John Chambers
Nilah (Narrative): Jared Rosen, Elan Stimmel, John Chambers
Previously on Star Guardian: Erika Haas, Stephanie Bedford
LoL Social and Website: Caytie Davenport, Ty Sheedlo
Everything Goes On: Bethany Higa; Supporting writers: Phillip Vargas, Cat Cheresh, Caytie Davenport, Julia Shen, Winnie Huang
Shadow of a Doubt: Brooke Jaffe, Calle C. Miller
Developing the Star Nemesis Villains: Kenny Cameron
Wild Rift Metagame Writing: Ty Sheedlo
Wild Rift Metagame Editing: Nicholas Werner, John Chambers
Wild Rift Legendary Scripts: Kristina Atanasoski, Nicholas Werner, John Chambers
Wild Rift Vlogs: Cat Cheresh, Phillip Vargas, Julia Shen
Wild Rift Comics: Callie C. Miller, Jared Rosen, Sabrina Futch, Molly Mahan
Wild Rift Social and Website: Julia Shen
Twin Stars: Cat Cheresh, Siege Gary, Phillip Vargas
Legends of Runeterra Star Guardian Kai’Sa: Conor Sheehy, Rowan Williams
Legends of Runeterra Flavor Text: Esther Kao
Legends of Runeterra Social and Website: Winnie Huang, Esther Kao
All of this is to say... Star Guardians was, is, and always will be a love letter, by fans for fans. None of this would have been possible without the support and understanding of players around the world. And it’s only because of you that we’re able to do things like this!