Why (and how) I would like to see the Nidalee lore changed.

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Prince Kassad

Senior Member

11-30-2012

I would like to see Nidalee's lore to get rid of the "Tarzan" aspect and become more of a "Mowgli" story. There is a tl;dr at the bottom, but please give me time to explain what I mean:

Tarzan, George of the Jungle, and a lot of other similar stories originated back when equatorial areas like Africa and the Amazon were pretty dehumanized by popular culture. Something about the idea of "places that are too wild for people to inhabitat" was an attractive plotline for 19th and early 20th century westerners. Probably because mass communication was rapidly expanding, cartographers had run out of unexplored areas, and people were getting nostalgic about the "adventurousness" of imperialism. The time when Africa could be considered "the Dark Continent," when different anthropologists could keep going into the Amazon and repeatedly find the same "undiscovered tribe" was coming to an end. So they came up with stories of lost children of ill-fated colonists who overcame the odds and learned how to live in a feral land where no one else could survive. These "great white ape" stories are entertaining but of course utterly ridiculous because all tropical areas have existing populations. But they fulfilled a sense of exploration that fit into the pretty ethnocentric worldview of western audiences at that time.

That's why I think Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book" is groundbreaking: because it features the story of an orphaned, feral child who actually came from the local population. This storyline is more believeable, because let's face it children usually get lost around their homes, not on the other side of the world. The idea of having a non-western person of color as a heroic protagonist in a story set in India seems like an obvious choice nowadays but was pretty gutsy back then. But we all love Mowgli from our childhood just as much as Tarzan and G of the J. And this is why I think that it would be good to retcon Nidalee's lore, and more importantly, to populate the entire Kumungu jungle.

I understand that League of Legends champions are supposed to evoke certain archetypes to give players a fantasy to play out, but I also believe that people who create media are in a good position to move past some concepts that are a little backwards. The idea of the the jungle being too dangerous of a place for humans to live, while evoking familiar childhood stories, is a pretty loaded archetype and not in a good way. When Riot chose not to populate the Kumungu Jungle they were following an engrained cultural pattern that has been around for hundreds of years (Think about it: there are two Disney movies that take place in Africa but neither of them feature actual Africans... It seems like people always want to focus on the animals of that continent without mentioning the fact that people have lived there since the dawn of humanity). All the champions from the Kumungu or Plague Jungles are animals, with the exception of Nidalee who seems to be the daughter of explorers from the North. Her lore implies that there is no civilization in Kumungu, or that the people who live there are so sparse and disorganized that they do not deserve to be mentioned. I think now that the game is globally widespread, kitae and the creative team might want to take a second look at this plotline - which I'm sure seemed like an easy route for the original lore. They should change the story so that she comes from an actual local tribe. Most of the GD seems to refer to Nidalee as Amazonian-looking anyway, and I think a lot of people who have not read her lore assume that she was born amongst a tropical population. Also, I feel like Riot Games is the kind of awesome company that should not be following eurocentric 19th century storytelling patterns (which have some pretty bigtoed roots).

I'm not saying stories like Tarzan are inherently racist and I'm definitely not saying that Riot Games has bad intentions. However, book, film, and game companies should take more progressive steps in their portrayal of "savage" areas if we are ever going to break the mold. It is also a good opportunity to expand Riot's lore and introduce more ethnically diverse people into its world. But the main reason is that it would be good to humanize the Kumungu so it doesn't represent outdated concepts about tropical areas.

tl;dr Riot's creative team should rewrite Kumungu to have a human population, because there is a long, dark history of works of fiction ignoring tropical & indigenous peoples, or even worse, blending the lines between them and animals.


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OneSixthIrish

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Senior Member

12-01-2012

Or just stop ****ing retconning.


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Prince Kassad

Senior Member

12-03-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneSixthIrish View Post
Or just stop ****ing retconning.
When the lore team goes MIA for like a year, I'm pretty sure that means retconning is going to start happening whether we want it or not. In this case, I think it is a chance for an improvement.


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OneSixthIrish

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Senior Member

12-03-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Kassad View Post
When the lore team goes MIA for like a year, I'm pretty sure that means retconning is going to start happening whether we want it or not. In this case, I think it is a chance for an improvement.
A story already exists, there's no need to rewrite it. Steer it in a different direction down the road but don't rewrite history.


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Prince Kassad

Senior Member

12-03-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneSixthIrish View Post
A story already exists, there's no need to rewrite it. Steer it in a different direction down the road but don't rewrite history.
A 3 year-old game is hardly "history." You sound like you're upset about the idea of any change at all. A lot of the early LoL lore was obviously thown together pretty fast and I'm sure even the creative team would hardly call Mundo or Annie's lore a work of art. If the people who wrote the lore don't think it's up to their current standards, why are you defending it so strongly?

Retconning can be good, especially early on in the development of a fiction. If it wasn't for retconning, Batman would still say things like "Quiet or Papa spank!" I think we are all glad that's not the case.

Attachment 568172

btw, I never downvoted you. I dunno who that was.


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Galgus

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Senior Member

12-03-2012

You make an interesting point- and I think some lore revision would be ideal- but the area is more than just a dark scary jungle from the outdated world view you described.

Her lore details that it was scarred heavily by the Rune Wars, and that there are some lost treasures there explorers seek.

Could these treasures have been left behind by the Jungle's former residents during the Rune Wars rather than at some ancient time?

Could it be that the local population fled the harmful magic that haunted the area?

If so, could this have been an intentional move by Noxus to depopulate the area to secure their treasures and natural resources for themselves, like the woodcutters mentioned in her lore.


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Wytsfs

Senior Member

12-04-2012

I think the Kumungu is closer to Aztec era South America after the Spanish killed most of the population with disease than India or Africa. Except because what depopulated the Kumungu was a more localized (magical nuclear?) war, rather than a fast spreading epidemic, the people of the Kumungu likely would have become refugees and fled to neighboring nations who were less affected.

Some people don't like Nidalee being a Tarzan expy and others who don't know her lore see her a a racist portrayal of tribal peoples. Myself, I don't think Nidalee or the Kumungu should be altered much and I don't believe Nidalee should represent the people of the Kumungu in the League. Sure, Nidalee's parents could be made to be descendants of the people who fled the Kumungu during the Rune Wars who were looking to reclaim the treasures of their ancestors. And there should be more population in the outer areas of the jungle. But, since Riot is so fond of releasing new champions, I think it would be a a better idea for one of those new champions to be a representative from the descendants of the Kumungu refugees who want to reclaim their ancestral homeland and want nations like Noxus to quit stealing resources. After all, that part about Noxian woodcutters in Nidalees lore shows that at least one other nation clearly thinks they have a claim to at least part of the Kumungu.


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Prince Kassad

Senior Member

12-05-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galgus View Post
Could these treasures have been left behind by the Jungle's former residents during the Rune Wars rather than at some ancient time?

Could it be that the local population fled the harmful magic that haunted the area?

If so, could this have been an intentional move by Noxus to depopulate the area to secure their treasures and natural resources for themselves, like the woodcutters mentioned in her lore.
Yes its true that there is more to the Kumungu than simply being a dangerous forested area, since Runeterra is obviously a fantasy setting. But I don't really like the idea that the Kalamandans or Noxians managed to drive the local people out. That still seems a little too easy. Before industrialism (and I don't think most of Runeterra is industrialized) tropical forest areas were some of the most densely populated places on earth.

The idea that the tropical people were wiped out as collateral damage in the wars among the more technologically advanced northerners... doesn't really rub me the right way. You would never see a fantasy world where the fuedal peoples living in a temperate area were wiped out by wars among jungle tribes. I just think that there are other ways to create international-relations in Runeterra than by off-handedly eliminating the tropical peoples.


To add on to what I have said about Kumungu, I think it is also relevant to mention that both Urtistan and the Shurima desert (more specifically Icathia) are two non-Western-inspired regions that also seem to be depopulated in the lore. So there is a pattern here. Once again I would like to reiterate that I am in no way accusing Riot of racism. They are following storytelling patterns that are nearly ubiquitous in modern media. I just think they could use the inevitable lore rewrites as a chance to be better than a lot of the eurocentric stuff out there.


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Trolosaurus

Senior Member

12-05-2012

Nidalee's lore is standalone and Nidalee has no ties to any League champions.
A retcon would not hurt her one bit.


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Wytsfs

Senior Member

12-05-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Kassad View Post
The idea that the tropical people were wiped out as collateral damage in the wars among the more technologically advanced northerners... doesn't really rub me the right way. You would never see a fantasy world where the fuedal peoples living in a temperate area were wiped out by wars among jungle tribes. I just think that there are other ways to create international-relations in Runeterra than by off-handedly eliminating the tropical peoples.
Where are you getting this idea that the Pre Rune War inhabitants of the Kumungu were inferior primitives caught in the war between two more developed foreign nations? The Lore of the Rune Wars lacks detail, but we have no reason to assume that these people we not just as advanced both technologically and magically as their enemies just because they lived in a jungle, and there is nothing to indicate that they were not involved in the Rune Wars of their own volition.


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