The Biggest Problem with League Lore: Villains

I want to discuss a problem I have with league lore and something I feel is overall problematic with how Riot writes things. The biggest problem USED to be the overarching lack of retcons but instead, I want to focus on what I feel is more painful: The lack of villains. Please note that some of this will be personal opinion. Mostly on categorizing who I consider a hero/villain/etc. so don't get TOO mad at me if I consider your favorite champ to be a bit mean. #Part 1: Actual Villain Count. For this rundown, I'm going to be focusing mostly on regions that have gotten recent lore updates (Bilgewater-to-Demacia). Some (Ionia etc.) haven't had large scale updates while others (Freljord) might not be canon anymore. We're also going to allow for "recent" champions or champions who recently got lore (Darius for example). So while Ionia hasn't had a large scale update, it doesn't take a genius to know that Kayn's a bit of a bad dude. So let's divide the groups: ##"Good" Guys. These characters are predominantly good and are recognized in-world as "good" people. Maybe not outright heroes but champions who are predominantly viewed as good. (Ornn would go here but no icon yet.) {{champion:34}} {{champion:24}} {{champion:53}} {{champion:51}} {{champion:245}} {{champion:3}} {{champion:427}} {{champion:40}} {{champion:59}} {{champion:86}} {{champion:126}} {{champion:99}} {{champion:267}} {{champion:75}} {{champion:61}} {{champion:78}} {{champion:497}} {{champion:133}} {{champion:102}} {{champion:163}} {{champion:44}} {{champion:254}} {{champion:62}} {{champion:498}} {{champion:154}} ##Neutral Nelsons These are champions who are a bit of a mix. Maybe they do bad but for good reasons. Maybe they've done some bad things but WANT to do good. Maybe they just don't give a shit and live as they live. Either way, these are characters who aren't outright good or bad. {{champion:103}} {{champion:136}} {{champion:268}} {{champion:432}} {{champion:122}} {{champion:131}} {{champion:81}} {{champion:114}} {{champion:150}} {{champion:104}} {{champion:420}} {{champion:429}} {{champion:89}} {{champion:64}} {{champion:203}} {{champion:240}} {{champion:236}} {{champion:57}} {{champion:21}} {{champion:80}} {{champion:33}} {{champion:107}} {{champion:13}} {{champion:98}} {{champion:72}} {{champion:4}} {{champion:110}} {{champion:67}} {{champion:112}} {{champion:157}} {{champion:83}} {{champion:15}} ##Bad Bastards These are champions who are outright evil. They display little-to-no care about doing the right thing or commit pretty shitty acts on a constant basis. Sometimes for an earnest goal, sometimes for their own gain. These are guys who are just jerks. {{champion:266}} {{champion:164}} {{champion:69}} {{champion:36}} {{champion:119}} {{champion:60}} {{champion:41}} {{champion:120}} {{champion:202}} {{champion:222}} {{champion:141}}{{champion:30}} {{champion:82}} {{champion:27}} {{champion:412}} {{champion:14}} {{champion:223}} {{champion:6}} {{champion:45}} {{champion:106}} {{champion:19}} {{champion:58}} {{champion:101}} As an additional disclaimer, I know that some of these are open to argumentation or interpertation. Maybe you sympathize more with Camille and think she should be at least neutral. Maybe you think Sion's more of a tragic figure than any villain. Maybe you think Jayce is a bastard and not a hero at all. Either way, there is a predominant skew to characters who are good and/or do good things. Even among the neutral characters, a lot of them are just good people who do shitty things (Yorick, for example) in the name of getting their hands dirty so others don't have to. #Part 2: Why this is a problem. (Alex Ross is a god-tier artist) A predominant idea of heroes and good guys is that they're often the minority. They're the one upstanding guy vs. a ton of bad hombres. It's why we like seeing heroes be successful; they're overcoming odds. With league, we don't really get that nor is it super apparent in lore situations. Take Camille for example; She's an incredibly skilled, powerful woman who shadowruns all of Piltover and Zaun...but then you realize the deck is stacked against her in terms of heroes. Sure, she might be outright more powerful than any ONE hero but this feels more like a dungeon boss than a threat. One of the arguments people will likely bring up is "That's not good writing though". That villains have to have some redeeming qualities. While this is fair, the idea is that they're still bad guys with pretty heinous plans. Let's use Viktor for example. On paper, Viktor does some terrible things and fucks with peoples bodies to the point that they're more machine than human...yet he does so in the name of progress. Hell, his lore has him as more of a tragic figure than any villain. Any act of villainy in Viktor's lore is a case of debateable (but not outright bad) ethics or silly misunderstanding. But perhaps the greatest flaw that we encounter is that nobody really _wants_ their main to be the bad guy. Sure, some people do, but when it comes down to a neutral character? People often argue that they're not actually all that bad. Hell, how many of you looked at my villain list and went "Bullshit! <champion> isn't a villain!" or that I'm wrong in some regard? Sure, you'll find people who wholeheartedly embrace that their champion main is actually a dastardly, bastardly monster but most champions fall under a neutral or grey area that people will argue about. A compelling villain is just as important in a story as a hero, even if the villain is sometimes a concept or a force of nature. But if there are no villains, the story starts to crumble. #Part 3: Fixing this. Pertaining to what I said above, Riot has actually taken some steps to make some characters more villainous. Demacia, for example (While I consider them good), holds some very backwards ideas about the world outside. Lux is emotionally broken because she realizes her magic is a sin in Demacia, rather than an amazing gift to be honed via talent. This can't always be successful though. Volibear's lore change to a demigod/god of storm and being treated as a battle-hungry monster is a divisive topic among friends of mine. I personally think it's awesome (THOUSAND SCAR BEAST YEAAAAAAAAAH) while others lament that Volibear lost his wise and sophisticated nature in favor of grumble reeee angry bear noises. What I think might be a better solution is to power up the villains and depower our heroes. That's not to say that we can't have a heroic character who can go toe-to-toe with Aurelion Sol but maybe we need more evil characters. More void beings who are on-par with Sol and seen as gods. Maybe we need more villanous figures. Maybe some neutral heroes become less defendable. As an addition, it's also possible to write villainous characters as having masses. Swain, for example, could be seen as a wicked mastermind with an entire nation under his thrall. Sure, he himself is decently strong but the real threat is that Noxus is at his beck and call. Buff villains and nerf heroes. #Part 4: Conclusion. League/Riot is aiming to create a dark fantasy world, from the feel of it. A world of moral greys and questionable politics on both sides. The quality is up for contest and I'm sure we have people feeling both positives and negatives about the new lore, but the goal is quite clear. Yet even in the darkest and most morally grey fantasy, there are certain villains. Villains who can't be redeemed. Villains who we know from day one need to be put out to pasture and removed if there's ever hope for unity and peace. League needs more of that, in my opinion, otherwise we're going to hit a brick wall where we see the likes of Bard, Aurelion Sol, Ornn, Targon's Aspects, Anivia, Janna, Demacia, Piltover, some of Zaun, some of Bilgewater, some of Noxus and more all holding down Kog'maw's daddy and kicking the everloving shit out of him while Kog sobs in the background.
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