Zoe, Character Depth, and Future Direction

What does Zoe want? I understand the 'happy child trying to amuse herself' angle, but I still feel that something is... lacking. Like, I'm not feeling any reason to become emotionally invested in the question of 'will this character achieve her goal'. For comparison, look at Ryze. He has a clear, tangible objective: find the runes before someone else does. He has a personal connection: his master was corrupted by the runes. And there are major consequences if he fails: someone else could use the runes with devastating results. For a less world-shattering example, look at the new Ahri lore from last spring. She has a specific goal and path she is following: learn more about where she came from and the medallion thing she carries. She has a personal reason to undertake the challenges in that journey: her memory-consuming ability is addictive and destructive to those around her. Now, the consequences of failure are not going to destroy Runeterra, as with Ryze, but the success or failure of her quest will have tremendous consequences for Ahri's future. In both of these cases, we have... -Clear, specific objectives with significant benchmarks or potential developments along the way. -A personal connection to the challenge and motivation to undergo the trials of the quest. -Clear consequences of failure. (Admittedly, Ryze's story would be even stronger if there was a specific force or antagonist he was working against; Ahri's story is more of an internal conflict.) For another example, look at Lux. IIRC, she doesn't have a specific goal that she is pursing, but her situation - 'mage trying to survive in a society that hates mages' - has all kinds of inherent potential conflicts with major consequences, especially once you include conflicts with people she cares about, like Garen. That is interesting conflict. And it's somewhat relatable. I'm just not seeing this in Zoe. Her goal seems to be 'to have fun', but that is more of a state-of-being than a tangle objective. Like, you don't have specific challenges and benchmarks showing progress towards achieving 'fun'. There's no personal growth there. Also, there's no compelling reason for her to be pursing that goal. She's acting on impulse. Like, why should I be emotionally invested in whether or not Zoe achieves anything? And finally, what would happen if/when Zoe achieve did her goal? As far as I can tell, nothing - she would just reset to the same goal 20 second later. Even Jinx has more story and depth than Zoe does at this point. We know Jinx is driven by a desire for chaos and mayhem, which on the surface might appear similar to Zoe's pursuit of fun and enjoyment. Sure, Jinx can be impulsive, but she can also see a plan through if she wants to. There's planning, attempt, and possible failure that goes into what Jinx does, like cracking that safe in Piltover while Cat and Vi were guarding it. If nothing else, Jinx needs to at least have the focus to keep her weapons maintained, whereas Zoe can just snap her fingers and open a portal at will. We know Zoe has the magical capabilities to do... perhaps anything, but so far, it does not appear that she has the interest or attention span to accomplish anything. Now, we know she's the Aspect of Twilight, which is a messenger heralding important events. But, it seems Zoe has no say or control in how this happens. Her story even says "The holy mathematics wanted to advance, and the messages generally fell into place shortly after she arrived." This portrays Zoe as a VERY reactive character. She is not consciously driving events for anything outside her own whims and immediate interests. As far as we know, she's not being directed in any way to deliver these messages; they just happen on their own. Even the bit of conflict we see in her story - the people in the village refusing to talk to her - is simply brushed away and rendered moot when she decides to just go somewhere else after obliterating the town with a comet (does she feel bad about that? Is she ever going to?), and has no bearing on her role as cosmic herald. Based on the information provided so far, she's a static presence in Runeterra, more of an NPC than a main character. I want to like this champion, to care what happens to her, to become invested in her story the way I am for Ryze and Ahri and Lux, but we haven't been given enough information to make that happen yet. --- Now, all that being said, there are a number of ways forward that could make Zoe more interesting. For starters, there are two things that could have been included in her story which would have made it stronger, and foreshadow future development. -One, Zoe could have learned a lesson about how the overt use of her powers makes it difficult for her to interact with people. This would have put her on the road to wanting to be more careful or nuanced with her abilities, if she wants a more positive outcome. Instead, she is exactly the same coming out of the story as when she went in. (For contrast, Ahri's story about the Garden of Forgetting has Ahri learn an important lesson about holding on to the past and being able to let go of pain.) -Two, Zoe could have had some negative reaction to being rejected by the children. She's still a kid, and having people that she's trying to befriend run away instead would be kind of painful. Especially if it happens a lot. This would give her a _reason_ to want to be more careful with her powers. Now, we instantly have a conflict for Zoe: will she be able to control her abilities and be able to make friends, or will she continue to be hurt by rejection and isolation? We see the kind of challenges she's having, and wonder if she can overcome them. As the story is, her response to the challenge is to run away from it. 'Just go to the next town', not 'this is something I need to overcome'. There's not even an indication that she sees this as a problem. The above could be grouped under 'Zoe trying to get along with normal people'. Her challenges there could be complimented with another set of conflicts involving the Targonians and the Aspects. IIRC, Pantheon, Leona, etc. all became aspects willingly, with some understanding of the challenges it would entail. Now, considering Zoe's personality, if there was anyone who would try to resist the responsibilities of being an aspect, it would be her. This would not be malevolent opposition to Targon, but more of 'resistance to being controlled', similar to Star Guarian Ahri wanting to control her own destiny. (An aside, what would Leona or Pantheon think of an Aspect who was simply given her powers, or seemed to not be taking her responsibility seriously?) Even going back to 'Zoe wanting to have fun', there could be some specific person preventing her from accomplishing this. As is, she has minimal reactions with anyone else, apart from thinking of Aurelion Sol as a pet. But what if Leona or Pantheon or some other specific, nameable cosmic presence were trying to encourage Zoe to take her responsibilities more seriously? That way, you've introduced some interesting conflict, and maintained the light-hearted atmosphere of this champion. [The idea of Bard and his meeps trying to keep Zoe out of trouble is particularly amusing.] In general, if you want to add depth, add some connections. Other champions would be ideal, but other individuals who had an influence on Zoe - whether it was a childhood playmate sharing his dreams, or an instructor that let her sneak mooncakes into class - would make her more relatable. --- So, Zoe has a solid foundation, but nothing has been built on it yet. She could be the story of a child struggling to adapt to the responsibilities of having cosmic magical powers thrust upon her, while still trying to maintain the kinds of friendships and fun that she had before. Or she could be a kid determined to make her own way in the universe, despite the attempts of the cosmos to make her conform to a specific role. But whatever she is, she's still in the prologue right now, and we have no idea where this story will go. Looking forward to further updates. {{sticker:sg-ahri-2}}
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