Lore, comparatively

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Montesque64

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Now, obviously a lot of people are displeased by the percieved lack of lore for LoL lately (yay alliteration!). The closing of the JoJ and the changes to various character bios have been met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Riot has said they are working on something, and that "2013 will be a great year for the lore(nerds like me :P )", however, they have not, for whatever reason, seen fit to elaborate or put out updates aside from occasional cryptic statements that are both encouraging in what they hint at and frustrating in their vagueness in about equal measure. This too has led to many people believing the commonly forum'd lament of "The lore is dead."

Regardless of the status of the "2013 Lore Revolution (copyright pending)" this statement just ain't so. Lemme esplain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I have just started playing LoL in the past few months, and am quite enjoying it. However, having seen a couple of forum conversations about other DOTA variants, I thought I would pop over to their sites to see what there was to see, and what types of characters they had, specifically DotA2 and HoN.

The answer was...they don't. The other variants have no characters. They have animated pixels and rendered figures, sure, but not characters. The champions in both games, (as far as I could find) had a single, (usually badly written) paragraph of background, and that was it.

I then got to thinking about how much rage is directed at the Lore writers for LoL and was stunned, possibly even flabbergasted. Is there currently as much as there once was? No, but if Riot is to be believed (and I see no reason they'd lie about it) then that might soon change. Is what lore there is about 3 miles better than any of there competitors? Hell's bells, YES. So maybe let's all chill a little. It's fine to hold Riot accountable and make our desire for more lore known, but at the same time, let's not forget that the lore community for LoL has more going for it than any of the others, even still, and be thankful for that.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

You do realise why LoL's lore is 'better' than DotA 2's, right?

We have a consistent, developed setting where characters can actually be interpreted through their interactions with other characters, city-states and events both past and present. Characters in DotA 2 are frozen as soon as they arrive on the battlefield, their stories having no hope of ever actually being followed up on or contextualised in any way. Regardless of how the guys at Riot are presenting their characters now, and how inadequate such may be, they're still injecting new blood into a framework where we can ask a whole load of questions about how champions fit into the world and deduce reasonable answers ourselves.

I actually feel as though LoL's lore has been gravitating towards DotA's approach lately. Characters come into being from some previously unexplored corner of the world, with some quest at their back, and then disappear into the League with only vaguely defined motivations for doing so. It's very reminiscent of DotA 2.

One thing you're overlooking, I have to say, is that a great deal of the personality of DotA 2's heroes is actually conveyed through their in-game dialogue. Their characters have massively more lines than those in LoL and a great deal of them are orientated around taunting or interacting with other characters. Hardly the deepest of ways to establish character, but it still goes some way to actually convey who they are and how they feel about their peers. Again, I feel as though this is something Riot has been slipping into - leaving it to the voicework to sell the character.

If we're talking about other MOBAs, I actually think Demigod did a rather decent job with its lore.


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Montesque64

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Quote:
I actually feel as though LoL's lore has been gravitating towards DotA's approach lately. Characters come into being from some previously unexplored corner of the world, with some quest at their back, and then disappear into the League with only vaguely defined motivations for doing so. It's very reminiscent of DotA 2.

One thing you're overlooking, I have to say, is that a great deal of the personality of DotA 2's heroes is actually conveyed through their in-game dialogue. Their characters have massively more lines than those in LoL and a great deal of them are orientated around taunting or interacting with other characters. Hardly the deepest of ways to establish character but it still goes some way to actually establish who they are and how they feel about their peers. Again, I feel as though this is something Riot has been slipping into.
Demigod is actually what originally drew me to the genre, for that reason, lol.

I knew about the ingame dialogue, but having not played the game I couldn't present an informed opinion on the subject, but it seems like a less effective vehicle to me, personally, though I have absolutely no data to back up that statement outside of my own opinion.

I disagree, in regards to Riot slipping into that mold. I mean, none of the most recent champions came in from an "unknown corner of the world," they came in from known areas, and some of them appeared already with personal attachments to others, or at least other champions.

Vi came from Piltover, has a relationship with Caitlyn, Thresh comes from the Shadow Isles, and is stylistically similar enough to Hecarim and Mordekaiser(?) that inferring a relationship there is reasonable (show don't tell), Nami is a possible exception, but we already knew that there were undersea kingdoms from Fizz, so having a representative of another wasn't entirely out of the blue (budumtish). Kha'Zix came in with a premade rivalry with Rengar, even though as a Void character, that actually gave him MORE personality than any of the previous Void champs, IMO.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Unexplored and unknown are very different. I said the former.

Vi is a great example of how to introduce a new character as part of an established world. She has connections to characters we already know and further develops the culture of one of the city-states, introducing elements we hadn't seen before. It's very easy to understand her character, and how she relates to other people, because she's clearly part of this world. She came from somewhere we already knew about and both improves our understanding of that place and is herself developed by that relationship.

On the other hand, Thresh serves the Shadow Isles but is such an inhuman character that he does nothing to teach us about that place, nor to further develop its other denizens. The Shadow Isles are one of Valoran's least developed regions and, for that reason, they do little to embellish the character of who is already a spirit that collects and torments souls. As for his relation with Hecarim and Mordekaiser, we know nothing about that either. Nobody actually gains anything from his addition, in terms of character. He simply exists.

Nami served to add a vague bit of background to the conflict to the Lunari and Solari but is decidedly little more than a third-wheel who Diana would simply ignore. She comes from a previously unmentioned undersea society (Its sole inhabitant to take to land for the next century) and does nothing to serve to integrate it with the world. If anything, her quest is intended to further isolate it and keep it from actually being part of the lore at large.

Rengar is of a previously unseen species and hails from an unknown region. He was raised by a hunter of unknown origin. Need I say more?

Kha'zix came from the void but by some unclear means and is an individual in his goals, rather than actually being part of the greater efforts of whatever intelligence lies behind the void. He actually tells us more about the nature of beings in the Void, and we can make more than a few assumptions from him, but he exists for Rengar and Rengar alone. He's pretty well handled, given the scope available with a character driven solely by predatory instincts.

All of these characters, like those in DotA 2, suddenly emerge in the world but don't leave behind an established home or culture that actually helps us contextualise them within Valoran as a whole. They aren't taking advantage of the established world we have in LoL's universe at all and their implementation reminds me a great deal of the way new characters are introduced in DotA 2.


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Montesque64

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Quote:
All of these characters, like those in DotA 2, suddenly emerge in the world but don't leave behind an established home or culture that actually helps us contextualise them within Valoran as a whole. They aren't taking advantage of the established world we have in LoL's universe at all and their implementation reminds me a great deal of the way new characters are introduced in DotA 2.
I would point out that you yourself said that Vi came from "an established home or culture that actually helps us contextualise them within Valoran as a whole" and I would argue that Kha'Zix did as well, inasmuch as he can even be said to have anything to do with Valoran proper.

I agree when it comes to Rengar, and I myself said that Nami's, though not completely without context, was rather weak in that respect.

Thresh though, is an interesting case, in that I feel that his appearance, when considered with other Shadow Islanders, is in and of itself beginning to build a picture of the Shadow Isles, or at least its' major players. The difference being that whereas Demacia and Noxus, (and the other city states to a greater or lesser degree) came with champions and lore attached, the Shadow Isles are being revealed a champion at a time, with the pieces (I believe) to coalesce into a significant whole in the near future.

As to how Thresh contributes to that, you yourself said it: He exists. Now, his lore specifically makes note that he was once a living person, not an elemental or some such. That's very significant, as we had not known that about Hecarim, or Mordekaiser, and that gives some possible data via inference on them. More solidly, we know that both Zaun and Noxus have people of...shall we say, questionable morality who torture people for information or to test chemicals, etc. None of these people have been resurrected as unliving fire beings of evil. That, to me, seems rather significant, and indicitive of certain attributes of the Shadow Isles. I.e. undeadification is much easier there, and possibly even a natural phenomenon, since there's no indication of a Grand Necromancer raising all of these champions.

Finally, and this is most speculative, since Thresh was a torturer/jailer in life, it indicates to me that the Shadow Isles lie under some sort of authority and/or government, rather than simply being a land of roaming undead, as otherwise the profession of jailer seems unlikely, at best.


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KiteMeGood

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Well, they jail souls, Hecarim is the vanguard of death before Mordekaiser and Thresh comes and collects the dead to break their minds to serve the isles without question by inflicting as much pain as possible. Hell their death shows how they "extinguish" when they die.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montesque64 View Post
I would point out that you yourself said that Vi came from "an established home or culture that actually helps us contextualise them within Valoran as a whole" and I would argue that Kha'Zix did as well, inasmuch as he can even be said to have anything to do with Valoran proper.
Yeah, that was just me using a generalisation when I really should've made a point of those exceptions. That's certainly my bad for not doing that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montesque64 View Post
Thresh though, is an interesting case, in that I feel that his appearance, when considered with other Shadow Islanders, is in and of itself beginning to build a picture of the Shadow Isles, or at least its' major players. The difference being that whereas Demacia and Noxus, (and the other city states to a greater or lesser degree) came with champions and lore attached, the Shadow Isles are being revealed a champion at a time, with the pieces (I believe) to coalesce into a significant whole in the near future.

As to how Thresh contributes to that, you yourself said it: He exists. Now, his lore specifically makes note that he was once a living person, not an elemental or some such. That's very significant, as we had not known that about Hecarim, or Mordekaiser, and that gives some possible data via inference on them. More solidly, we know that both Zaun and Noxus have people of...shall we say, questionable morality who torture people for information or to test chemicals, etc. None of these people have been resurrected as unliving fire beings of evil. That, to me, seems rather significant, and indicitive of certain attributes of the Shadow Isles. I.e. undeadification is much easier there, and possibly even a natural phenomenon, since there's no indication of a Grand Necromancer raising all of these champions.

Finally, and this is most speculative, since Thresh was a torturer/jailer in life, it indicates to me that the Shadow Isles lie under some sort of authority and/or government, rather than simply being a land of roaming undead, as otherwise the profession of jailer seems unlikely, at best.
See, I actually feel like the exact opposite about Thresh. Rather than building up a greater picture, I simply see him as another facet of what we've already seen before. I won't deny that the Shadow Isles now have a range of agents at their disposal, each specialising in different fields, but none of them have shown any real leadership, sense of direction or indication that their individual objectives are at all related. Thresh doesn't offer a new angle on what we know because his goal is essentially the same as Mordekaiser, just with souls swapped in for secrets. He 'exists', as I like to say, and perpetuates what we already know, rather than moving things forward in a meaningful way.

Beyond that, I'd disagree that Thresh is really much of a revelation. Typical speculation about Mordekaiser and Hecarim came back to them both having once been human (The former's lore even refers to pain "serving as his last connection to life") so it's hardly that much of a surprise to learn that Thresh was undeniably once mortal. This doesn't really bring anything new to the conversation because we really have no way of learning about the other two unless the guys at Riot spoon-feed us that information.

One comment I would make is that nothing in Thresh's lore says that he was born and lived in the Shadow Isles. The only reference to them is that he " ... drags those he captures back to the Shadow Isles for an unimaginably dreadful fate". At no other point does his lore state any actual details about where he lived or where the prison he served in was. For all we know, he could've been a Demacian.

Karthus wasn't born in the Shadow Isles and, unless I'm reading this wrong, I don't believe Yorick was either. From that I think it's fairly safe to assume that the Isle do not only choose servants from among their own and that we can't simply assume that the Isles have a system of government, just because one of their agents was a jailor in his former life.


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Montesque64

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Before I reply, let me just add that I'm really enjoying this discussion, Exile.

Anyway, I just reread the lore for Yorick, Karthus, Mord, and Hecarim, I think that Thresh's contribution to a larger narrative is a matter of interpretation. I see it as contributing to our knowledge of the Shadow Isles, you don't, and I don't know that either of us is necessarily wrong or right, so I'll just leave that there for now.

In regards to your point regarding Karthus and Yorick's not being native to the Shadow Isles, I agree, but that actually reinforces my position that Hecarim, Thresh, and Mord are. Both of the nonnative champions have that fact specifically stated in their bios, i.e. Karthus grew up in Valoran proper, before becoming uber-necromancer and learning about the Shadow Isles, then heading there. Yorick is a bit more mysterious, as it says he just woke up there one day after dying and being laid to rest in his family tomb, which itself raises some interesting questions (Mostly boiling down to "Why?").

The Apocalypse trio, on the other hand, are specifically simply stated to have "come from" there. There is never any indication that they found themselves on the Shadow Isles via various circumstances, but rather the implication that they are native to the islands, and being used by them (or some organization within them) to further the Shadowy goals of the Islands, or the people who run them. Personally, those facts combined with the hints we got of Thresh's life, are what make me suspect that there may indeed be an organization involved in the Shadown Isles increasing aggression.

Side note: Evelynn may also play some part in all that, though her connections to the Isles are tenuous and "rumor-based." If she does indeed hail from the isles, I feel like she bolsters this theory, as an assassin doesn't generally just go somewhere to kill random people because she feels like it. Usually, someone is giving them missions.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montesque64 View Post
The Apocalypse trio, on the other hand, are specifically simply stated to have "come from" there. There is never any indication that they found themselves on the Shadow Isles via various circumstances, but rather the implication that they are native to the islands, and being used by them (or some organization within them) to further the Shadowy goals of the Islands, or the people who run them. Personally, those facts combined with the hints we got of Thresh's life, are what make me suspect that there may indeed be an organization involved in the Shadown Isles increasing aggression.
One thing I'll certainly give you is that, if the rework of the Twisted Treeline is anything to go by, the Shadow Isles were once a very different place indeed. The altars there possess the spirits of two unnamed figures who died around 1000 years before the present day and one of the potential quotations from the western alter is "This place was once so... beautiful".

Personally I would consider a lack of explicit proof to be more a reason to question whether they were natives of the Isles, rather than to assume they must be. When the only other examples we have are outsiders, and we know absolutely nothing about their past lives, I don't think you've really got solid grounds for that claim. I'm not saying it can't be true, there's just nothing to suggest it has to be.

Regarding the "Apocalypse Trio": Which horseman would Thresh be?


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Birdy51

Senior Member

01-22-2013

I must also say, that I am enjoying reading both sides of this discussion.

To add on to your comment Montesque, I believe that Hecarim has actually been confirmed to have been a member of a long-dead race during one of the AMAs. For whatever reason, his species was completely wiped off the map, perhaps in a way that bears striking similarities to Alistar's tribe.

Regardless, Hecarim is a spiritual holdover from that time. His people are dead and gone, but this pony is still kicking. Mordekaiser is possibly the same way as Hecarim and Thresh, although we have far less information on him to tie him to any past civilization.


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