Mordekaiser, The Iron Revenant: A character Study

Some might have shared my disappointment in the recent Champion roadmap, especially the lack of a certain Undead Warlord, even though he has been listed as a tier 1 VGU priority for the past few years. But him not being chosen for a VGU is not surprising since Riot does not operate on a checklist. They only rework champions they have a solid direction, a core theme, for that allows them to push it to the limit and truly create something outstanding. So Akali was chosen, since her theme is a simple, yet resonant one. Fair enough, but it made me think... What **IS** Mordekaiser's ONE core theme anyways? ______________________ Let's take Swain for example. He had a LOT of themes and character traits, some of them clashing, some of them not even explored fully. He was a Bird mage, a grizzled battle commander, some weird bid guy, a monster, a sorcerer, a guy who doesn't like showing his face and has a peculiar choice of hairstyle. And yet instead of trying to keep all of these intact, Riot chose ONE resonant character trait and just built from there. They are very alike, Swain and Mordekaiser, with them having the potential to be awesome characters but having way too many clashing identities that makes it hard for Riot to just pick ONE and base their entire VGU off of that. And this is what inspired me to conduct a little thought experiment to maybe give Riot some ideas for what Mordekaiser IS, what he SHOULD be and what he COULD be! So, without further ado, this is a Character study of; #Mordekaiser, The Iron Revenant! _________________________________ **Indiana Morde and the raiders of the lost Theme** Mordekaiser is a very old champion with several themes that seem core to him, but in the end make him a blurry mess in terms of actual character cohesion. He is; -A Necromancer -Undead -A Mage -A Mace wielder -Somehow controls Metal? -Is Sauron -Is an ancient evil entity -Is an old suit of armor -Overlord of...something? From that alone Mordekaiser seems somewhat of a thematic mess, with the only pointers to what he's supposed to be being sprinkled in here and there with snippets of new lore; {{champion:50}} "A King remains in the Isles, and an other marches." {{champion:57}} "Just another pile of bones wearing a crown." {{champion:83}} "My army will soon storm your gates, Revenant!" Mordekaiser is painted as the current de facto leader of the Shadow Isles, an ancient evil that reigned over most of old Runeterra, and was only brought down by the combined effort of the human well as being backstabbed by his advisor {{champion:7}} This provides a good starting point for Mordekaiser's ONE core theme. He **dominates**, he **enslaves**, he wants to once again **reign** over the known world He is **CONQUEST** We have the grand visionary dictator with Swain, but Mordekaiser is an entirely different Monster. Mordekaiser is, what I could best describe, an **OVERLORD** character. Tyrant {{champion:50}} "Men are too weak to rule, but I am no man!" Mordekaiser is no longer human, he has lost his humanity to endless reincarnations, he is solely one Will, an entity anchored in this realm because of simply the desire to Conquer. He is prideful, he sees everyone else as lesser beings, he is a force of nature. And with that in mind I tried bringing forth this beast through Riot's preferred way of storytelling; Visual language! _________________________________________________ Reimagining Mordekaiser's overall appearance was harder than I initially thought because a lot of people think he does look pretty cool in theory. But I have to disagree to notions of simply copy pasting the idea unto a new rig since while Galio, Swain and co. had a distinct appearance, they did not speak of their place in the world as well as their new look. Enter new Mordekaiser! The first thing someone might notice is the lack of spikes, which was a deliberate move. Spikes are a cheap way of making something appear evil or wicked, and I tried straying away from it due to its implications. Instead I tried focusing more on the **Overlord** angle by making Mordekaiser appear eerie and commanding, making him look more like an ancient conqueror King and less like some cheesy WoW character. The main thing I focused on in his visual design was to settle on ONE silhouette that would make him instantly recognizable in game. Morsekaiser was always a "big" champion, he had to be like that to seem imposing and tough, yet unlike things like Sion the thing that made hims appear so large wasn't bulk. It was his especially broad shoulders and his mantle! His Pizza feet are a meme and do add to his mass, but in the end I settled on this aesthetic of Neck->Shoulder->Cloak, a Bust so to speak, as Mordekaiser's core visual cue. _______________________________________________ Finding a suiting color was a tricky thing. A lot of people, myself included always liked the red and metallic hues of his but in the long run I think they do need to go for one main reason: Undeath Yes, while people are attached to Mordekaiser's metal fantasy, it is just one aspect of many clashing themes that still stand in the way of a unified Character Identity. Instead I focused on the cold, haunting hues of undeath, trying to bring forth shapes and colors that speak of "Cruel, Ancient Witchfire" more than just "Look, red eyes, he must be eeeevil!" In the end I think it does make Mordekaiser fit more into the Shadow Isles while still retaining his more "pure" undeath due to the way his color seems stronger and more powerful than the other undead palettes. __________________________________ **Shapes, Poses and PRESENCE!** Next up was finding a movement/pose pattern that fit Mordekaiser's reimagination of this kind of Overlord character. For this I looked for inspiration in other, similar characters. The most fitting one being Sauron in all his various appearances in movies, games and artwork, as well as his big boss Morgoth. I emphasized his shoulder area and him standing tall, looking down on everything around him. Nightfall is still an important aspect of his but instead of carrying it around on his shoulder all the time to show off its weight, I thought making it less clunky of a tool more akin to a scepter would be the right call. In the end this would translate very well into practice as it gave Mordekaiser the presence he needed. It also made the line between Necromancy/Dark magic and Physical prowess more flexible and flow more naturally since his new shape did invoke feelings of dark power and more sorcerous tones due to the emphasized mantle. ________________________________ **"Kleider machen Leute!" aka Armour galore!** Lastly, Skins were also extremely interesting to try reimagining to this change of silhouette and theme! First off! #Infernal Mordekaiser! With Mordekaiser's core theme as an Overlord, Infernal instantly clicked. Enter the King of Hell himself! The emphasis on demonic armour designs and jagged ends made this skin a blast to redesign as I tried bringing the whole "Demon Armour" aesthetic out of it. Thus making hims appear inhuman with a less practical, more mask-like helmet, the "hellish pit" kind of neck guard, as well as the visage on his chest piece! __________________________ A Dragon Master himself! #Dragon Knight Mordekaiser! there was a thread a while back where a Rioter asked if people would be alright with DK Morde being more of a "Dragon Slayer" aesthetic but with the reveal of Dragon master swain i though of a better way of including him in this skin canon. This Mordekaiser skin tries being more of a "mediaeval" style and truly bring out the KNIGHT in him. Not a white knight of course, no. A Dragon Knight. One that subjugates Dragons instead of slaying them and uses them to wage war, making their power his own! ___________________________ Just a Sauron reference! #Lord Mordekaiser! I have to admit, it was hard finding ONE good direction to take this skin in but in the end I thought paying homage to this well known overlord was the way to go! I tried styling the armor similarly to Sauron's own and made him appear more unquestionably evil and inhuman than the other skins. ____________________________________ He is numero UNO! #Pentakill Mordekaiser! This skin was a no-brainer seeing that we already know what it should look like! I tried pushing this to eleven though by adding a few more Metal references like the hands on his shoulder pads and the black, death metal fingernails! _________________________ But that's about it for my little brainstorming session on Mordekaiser and the ONE THEME TO RULE THEM ALL! Everyone's entitled to their own opinion and views on the matter but I just wanted to conduct a little experiment to mimic Riot's own process of refining a champion's core identity and building a VGU off that! Thoughts? Let me know what you think about this!
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