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@Kitae: Questions about Karthus and the Shadow Isles

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Grand Viper

Senior Member


Kitae, I would like to ask you a few things. (I posted as Weapon Brown in Reddit, and I just want to be sure that both reddit and our lore forums see what I have posted.)

First and foremost: Why the drastic change with Karthus? It seems very unnecessary, and it changes the overall character of the lich most players have become accustomed to. He was ambiguous evil before, he was not the sort of fellow you would have tea with but he seemed like the sort of person who had been there, had done that, and knows more than you: A grandfather with a shotgun on his porch as many have equated him.
He was one of the characters that the Journal of Justice had developed more or less, while keeping his ambiguous background. The reason I am saying this is a drastic change from the original Karthus is because it does not keep the same themes save for he is a lich. It is not even that he is more stereotypical and archetypical evil, which truth be told we have plenty of champs that follow this and do so successfully (Hecarim. He is quite evil if I do say so myself, he is War personified, and he wants to inflict war). I have provided a side by side comparison of old Karthus and new Karthus:

Old/JoJ Karthus
It is thought that Karthus was a mage who, in life, was foolish enough to enter the fetid waters seeking his fortune, and that he was forever transformed by whatever dark magic permeates the swamp. Karthus now rules over his swampy dominion with an iron (albeit skeletal) fist. Visitors are not welcome, and those who are not scared away by the lich's terrible power most likely end up as one of the undead themselves... skeletons and zombies in Karthus' growing army of eternal servants. On the darkest of nights, Karthus is said to sing the tales of those who have succumbed to the swamp, past and present.

Karthus' tenure in the League of Legends is one of the more unusual ones in the history of the League. First, it is highly unusual that a lich who was known for isolation and hatred of life would even be a willing part of an organization which promoted the preservation of life. Next, Karthus specifically eschews the accrual of power and influence gained through service to the League; he is essentially an unpaid volunteer. This behavior is completely different than what his life outside of the League would have onlookers believe. Karthus has never spoken about his intentions in being a champion of the League, and in fact becomes quite agitated when asked about it. In the interests of not aggravating a lich, most sensible people subsequently drop the issue.

*“In life, there was one worth singing for forever. I have kept my promise, though to some now the song is not as lovely as it was once meant to be.”*
-Cited from the JoJ

Updated Karthus

Karthus is a terrible creature who was once a mortal so obsessed with death that he eagerly embraced the gift of undeath. Now in his unlife as a lich, Karthus is closer to his beloved grave than he ever imagined. He commands magic with oblivion as its source, and seeks to bring his grim truth to the rest of the world: only in death does life gain clarity and purpose.

Even as a boy, Karthus was different. There was a darkness within him that could not be denied. The young child clung to the shadows and shunned the company of others. He snuck into the funerals of strangers, and spoke to their tombstones in the cemetery. He sought out corpses of animals to preserve and memorialize them, creating a grim collection of morbid art. Karthus volunteered to tend to the sick and dying, though his intentions were not to help, but to closely witness the passing of those who were beyond help. Ultimately, he went so far as to elaborately stage his death, and he secretly observed his own funeral with intense fascination. When others discovered what Karthus had done, they were so shocked and disturbed that, in a way, he became truly dead to them. Karthus found himself fully rejected by the living.

His isolation only served to fuel his obsession. Karthus delved further into his exploration of death, and became fascinated by the legends of the Shadow Isles. There, it was said, the specters of the deceased continued on in unlife everlasting. Possessed by these tales, he knew he had to discover for himself if they were true. Journeying to those dreaded isles, Karthus soon found himself wandering through the mist, overcome by the surreal beauty of the place. He felt as if he had finally come home. He had always chased the elusive purity of the moment of death, when life passed and in a single instant achieved meaning. Karthus saw that undeath was like that moment, preserved in dread stillness forever.

He had discovered his destiny, to cross over the veil and leave the living behind for eternity. Something awoke in the Shadow Isles that day, when Karthus did something no other creature had ever done: he willingly gave his life over to undeath. When he reentered the world, Karthus had become the embodiment of his own obsession. An undying lich with the keys to life and death, he seeks to bring his dark requiem to the world.

Old Karthus

''Come visit my home, and I shall sing a dirge of your life as it once was.''

New Karthus

"There is no sweeter song than the last breath of the dying."


These are two separate people. One is a mysterious figure with hidden, if not deadly, intentions while the other one became obsessed with death and the idea of it. One would sing outside of destruction and sang for someone he loved while the other seemingly cackles as he sings your demise. One is ambiguously evil while the other is undeniably evil because he wants everyone to see that only in death do we gain clarity, so his resolution is to kill us all.

Even then, the problem I find here is that Karthus is undead. That means he is not dead, especially if he himself is the conduit to his own unlife. He is almost like a walking paradox if he wants everyone else to die, but he himself is not dead. If he thinks being undead is, " like that moment [death], preserved in dread stillness forever," then he's quite wrong. It is not the Princess Bride where you're nearly dead, and all dead. Karthus still has his soul, hence his passive "Death Defied," hence why he could be killed in the JoJ by Malzahar and Kassadin (Albeit it was easy to reconfigure him), and then comes a really big problem as to why him wanting to kill everyone is silly: Why should he? We're all going to die, whether by him or by age, so why does he feel the need to go out of his way and kill people? It's established by the new lore that he does not care about the living, or else he would have felt pain for being ostracized by them. This seems very unnecessary and only serves to actually complicate matters further than the ambiguous background that he had in terms of storytelling.

With the release of Elise, you have a full set Shadow Isles' team (5 members) with every position filled without Karthus. It seems redundant to make him allied to the Shadow Isles to have a complete Shadow isles team when with her release, you have the Shadow Isles team assembled. Heck, you do not even have a new skin for him for this Harrowing so there is no advertisement benefit to having him join the Shadow Isles.

Was revealing Karthus' past really needed? I'm going to say maybe. Perhaps a poll for the community, "Does the LoL community want to know who Karthus was? Yes, No, Doesn't Matter," would have been the way to go for Karthus who was established as a mysterious character. Perhaps that is something to consider, ask the community: Do you think [CHAMPION] needs a rewrite? We're more than happy to say yes or no.

The second question I have is this: Is the new map going to still be called the Twisted Treeline? That seems a bit...silly. A new location, a new name makes sense. Wuthering Woods is what one friend suggested to me. Not sure how good of a name it is, but the point is there. Why not make a new name for a new location, and say that the Twisted Treeline was retired due to rampant magic going wild (This is from a lore standpoint)? New location, new name, and it simplifies matters on a lore scale drastically. Instead of causing a chain event of rewrites, you can say, "Twisted Treeline exists, not used anymore, why is this place used now?" With the introduction of Elise, I can see a very clear reason as to why such a thing can be done, and it would be perfectly sensible in story telling terms.

I would like to also note that many of friends, myself included, enjoy the new map. However, they all say the same thing: It doesn't feel like the Twisted Treeline. It feels like some place completely new to them. They don't feel renovations were done, they felt it was a complete overhaul of the map. With the introduction of a slew of new items, map size, objectives, the inclusion of Vilemaw who is a much harder fight than Ebonmaw, the overall aesthetic look, it does not feel like the Twisted Treeline. It feels like it is a new map save for the basic outline of it. If this map is kept, why not retire the name "the Twisted Treeline" and make a new name for it? It shows the idea of progression, and it would help people differentiate the fact that it is not the old Twisted Treeline.

Truth be told, there is more reason for its name to be changed. If it remains as the Twisted Treeline, many players are going to feel as if you slapped them. This is because it will be followed by the inevitable change with Maokai's lore since he did not come from the Shadow Isles. Maokai's introduction was an RP'ed event that had the RIOT staff and the LoL community participated in and was held in the Twisted Treeline, they witnessed the birth of Maokai and the ensuing slaughter of champions he caused. If you continue with it being named the Twisted Treeline, it will slap not just the Lore community's faces, but essentially the Roleplayers and everyone else who was a part of the LoL community from the early stages up to now.

My final question is actually short: Why is there no AMA on the Lore forums as well, or a link to it or something? I'm sure they would like to ask questions and know what's up just as much as Redditors do!

I apologize for the amount of words in my two questions, but I wanted to assure that they had ground to stand upon, because you asked us to trust you: We need to read the reasons as to why you are doing the changes you are. If you say trust us, we need to understand why we should because change is a scary thing for many people. People are happy with the norm, with the medium, so if you change it without an explanation and out of the blue, people will want questions, and answers.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

~If anyone else has information that Kitae had answered on the AMA in regards to what I've asked, post it here please.

***Edited: I actually forgot to include the last part of new Karthus' lore. Its absence actually made him not look like someone who was obsessed with everyone else's death, but then I realized that it needed to be included. My bad.

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Senior Member


I agree with the last point. I freaking hate reddit but it seems like reddit gets more Lore love than the official lore forums, which is BS.

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Grand Viper

Senior Member


I would dearly like this answered, or if someone could disagree with what I've said here.

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Grand Viper

Senior Member


Alas, not replied on reddit or here. What can I do?