In honor of the Howling Abyss' upcoming one year anniversary, we're opening our art vaults and delving into the mysterious and magical origins of the map's most-loved inhabitants: poros! RiotOtown, RiotEarp, and RiotCaptainLx have emerged from the art pit to shed some light on the adorable furballs and tell us how they brought them from concept to life!


First off, what do you guys do at Riot?

We're on the environment team! RiotOtown's a lead environment artist, RiotEarp's a concept artist, and RiotCaptainLx is a senior animator. We're just a few of the many creative minds that designed the Howling Abyss!


Where did the idea for poros come from?

While wrapping up the Howling Abyss, the entire team was on the lookout for something to balance out the Abyss' cold, serious atmosphere. Unlike our other maps, the Howling Abyss had a very structural, linear cadence--it was literally a bridge without any fantasy elements, which didn't feel very League. To counter this, the whole team brainstormed about cute and fun things we could add that would remain true to League and not take away from the map's epicness. It was sort of tricky because whatever we added had to be noticeable without being too distracting--we didn't want players confusing our little critter for a minion or monster they should kill!    

We wanted to create something furry that looked like it could survive through harsh weather, so RiotEarp looked to mountain goats, reindeer, and polar bears for inspiration. He sketched the initial poro concept art based on a cuter version of all of those things and we ran with it! Howling Abyss is the coldest and harshest place in all of Runeterra, so you can think of poros as the manifestation of whatever warmth, happiness, and love that still exists.

After RiotOtown modeled and textured the very first poro, he and RiotCaptainLx decided to add a super huge tongue because the little guy reminded them of a puppy. Then, during the animation phase, RiotCaptainLx took it a step further and had the poro lick its whole face in one shot! With the tongue mechanic in place, he also animated the poro to run around panting with its tongue hanging out. We totally agreed that poros should pant just like that--they radiate with love, so they're extremely hot despite the Abyss' bone-chilling temperatures!


How'd you decide on the name "poro"?

RiotCaptainLx needed a name for the animation file that went up on the Public Beta Environment (PBE), so we tossed around a few options until we decided on poro, the Finnish word for reindeer. It sounded cute! It was supposed to be temporary, but we were stuck with it thanks to a small oversight on our part. Basically, a player posted online that he'd discovered the file name after pinging a poro in-game on the PBE. Players liked it, we liked it... so we kept it.


How long did it take to create poros?

About eight hours from concept to in-game on PBE. No joke. We never expected poros to become so popular or we probably would've overthought them!  


What else can you tell us about poros?

Hmmm...let's go over some fun tidbits!

  • Poros are equal parts truth, valor, and innocence
  • The color that best describes poros is "very light blue, like Freljordian snow" (Pantone P 121-3 U)
  • Poros have a heart-shaped underbelly because they're made of love
  • A poro's horns perk up when it's excited and droop down when it's scared
  • Poros paddle through deep snow with their front paws
  • Some believe that poros are indestructible--though at one point we animated poros to keel over and twitch if they ran into the Abyss' fountains
  • Poro-Snax are frosted with Freljordian ice crystals
  • Due to recent heroic deeds, Braum is a friend to the poros

Born out of love, blinded by glee;

Innocent, pure, magic and free,

Faithful, trusting; often na´ve,

Soft, furry; their hearts hold a key.