Come closer, my children, let me look upon you. So many new faces, searching and uncertain. Many find their way to this consecrated land without knowing it to be their destination. But this pilgrimage was no accident; you have suffered, and you seek a convalescence of the spirit. Look around. You are not alone.
We are gathered here this day to mourn those lost to us. To weep, to wail, and cry out for those souls whom we hold so dear, yet who remain out of reach. Speak now and let them hear us. Let them hear our pain! Let them hear our anguish! Let them know in their hearts that they are not forgotten!
These pitiable creatures are pale reflections of ourselves, shrouded in a haze of false light, groping blindly for some scrap of meaning. Shackled to a hollow existence, they languish, unaware of what they are or what they could be. Every second, secretly begging for release.
My children, we are their shepherds. Only when they hear our voices do they stir. So call to them! Raise them up from their aimless stupor. Sing with all your longing, your hatred, your hunger! Fill their empty lives with dread; remind them of their inevitable mortality.
Go forth, you faithful, and offer these wretches freedom from life’s prison. Deliver unto them the word of death, and bring their wayward spirits home.
Death frees us all.
While others are bound by the shackles of death, one man embraced the yearning darkness stretching on beyond life’s boundaries. And though he chose to forgo mortality on the lost lands of the Shadow Isles, Karthus has yet been born anew, and drifts now towards the PBE bearing new-found morbid resplendence.
Next in our sights for a champion update is the Deathsinger himself! Part of League’s launch back in 2009, Karthus has seen almost 80 champion releases since he first graced the Fields of Justice. Over the last five years, we’ve brought in a whole host of tech updates, design improvements, narrative world-building and art upgrades to champions and maps. It’s time to bring Karthus up to date, too.
But how? Well, just as with our previous updates, we had to first identify what the goals of Karthus’ update were. Here’s what we came up with:
Karthus was a champion from the Shadow Isles, or at least created there. Awesome! What did that mean at the time? Very little, honestly. But since then, we’ve taken pretty extensive steps to really define the Shadow Isles. Twisted Treeline’s set there, for example, and we’ve created Shadow Isles champions like Elise, Hecarim and Thresh who each share the same thematic ties and cool blue-green color palettes. Updating Karthus means we can add his own spin on the place while aligning him to the world that we’ve since established.
We’ve also taken the chance to really cement who Karthus is with his update. In 2009, we had just 40 champions, and Karthus had the whole “evil and malicious undead baddie” archetype to himself. He had a whole nine lines of voice over to convey character, too. Now we have close to 120 champions, and old Karthus has had to cozy up with all the half-dead, dead, extra dead and spectral characters we’ve since created. Updating Karthus gives us a chance to expand his breadth of character so he again fills a unique niche. New Karthus has significantly expanded voice over (over 200 script lines, all voiced by a new actor!) and characterful animations that really nail his personality.
Updating Karthus means we can apply all the tech and knowhow that we’ve picked up since launching the game. For example, we’re actually going to animate his robes so he doesn’t look like a jellyfish in his idle state, and we’re building a whole range of Lay Waste animations so he Qs with variety. On top of that, we’re greatly increasing the fidelity of his model. Karthus looks a little different – we’ve made him less bare-bones – because we now have the tech and expertise needed to display the level of detail that a withered necromancer visually demands. In addition, the change means players around the world can enjoy the same awesome Karthus without us having to switch things up for various cultural sensibilities.
Karthus will be on PBE soon. Before he brings death to the live servers, give him a spin and let us know your thoughts below! Also, head over to the Champions & Skins subcommunity if you'd like to hear more about what the Champion Update team is working on these days.