This guide aims to describe the backstory of the characters and regions you will find in the game. It is primarily for those who are new to the universe, but still offers something to players who are familiar with League of Legends or Legends of Runeterra.
It will be spoiler-free.
My name is Fabian, I also go by LordRedStone on the internet. I moderate the Lore of Runeterra Discord server – [discord.gg] , and I am an active community member, supporting the community with datamining, witty banter, and occasionally deep-dive articles like this.
Now that we have that out of the way, in this guide I want to summarize everything in the Runeterra Universe revolving around Ruined King. It is primarily aimed at people new to the game, but even if you know a bit about League of Legends, you may find it useful to look at some stories to refresh your memory.
This guide is going to be spoiler-free, mainly because it was written before the game even came out. I did however use the trailers and other information available, for example to check who is playable and who could be referenced. Due to delays in development, there is material available that indicates how the game might end, but I purposefully ignored it for this guide. Besides, the plot is not the focus here, I merely want to give people an overview of a Universe I still love (despite the best efforts of some people).
Speaking of “Overview”, I will also put an extremely short TL;DR section here that introduces the two relevant regions and the characters. This is for the people who don’t like reading who want to know only the minimum relevant information without engaging with the universe as a whole. I get that not everyone will stick around, but I promise you, both the full guide and the greater universe are worth checking out.
Pirates vs Ghosts
A lot of this information is presented early in the game as well, even in the opening cutscene.
Pirate Crime City on an archipelago settled by the native Buhru. The Harbor City is the only place where they allow outsiders. The economy is based on hunting and carving up sea monsters.
The Shadow Isles
Once an advanced civilization cast down by a magical cataclysm. Now they are shrouded in Black Mist, where spectres roam. Sometimes, treasure seekers or adventurers come here to find riches in the ruins of the Blessed Isles.
Sexy pirate. As a child, her parents were killed by a gang leader, and she eventually took him down and rose to the leader of Bilgewater. However she constantly has to vie for power in the unstable truce formed by captains and gangs.
Tentacle priestess. She had a thing with the old ruler of Bilgewater but abandoned him for her god. Her duty is to fight the undead, and keep the universe in motion. To achieve this, she tests the will of certain individuals, renewing their purpose in life – if they survive.
Undead killer. In life, he was a monster hunter from Bilgewater, jumping into the mouth of catches to carve them up from within. He was abandoned by his crew, and the fish he was in took him down. Under the sea, he was revived by a mysterious force that sends him names on a list to kill.
Sexy Foxgirl. She’s from a half-animal race looking for hints of her tribe, and the latest hint sent her to Bilgewater. She can manipulate emotions and especially charm others while she devours the spiritual essence. She said she doesn’t want to but she can’t seem to quit.
Anime swordsman. He was wrongly accused of murdering his master, and had to murder his brother to escape. He met a few interesting characters on his journey to redemption, but when he met his revived brother, he decided to screw off and leave the country. He was hired by sexy foxgirl as bodyguard.
Folklore hero. He’s come down from the northern continent, but no one really knows why or how he ended up here. He has a big body and a bigger heart, and likes to punch incoming projectiles instead of using his shield. Said shield is an indestructible door forged by an old god.
The world of Runeterra is an incredible diverse setting, supporting everything from classical medieval kingdoms, armies and warfare, through more esoteric reflections on gods and man, lovecraftian existential horror, from tribal societies to steampunk cities, and of course: life, love, death, undeath and magic.
(1) Regions and Realms
Let’s look at the world in a bit more detail:
Adapted and edited from https://map.leagueoflegends.com – [leagueoflegends.com]
That’s the planet Runeterra, where most of the events happen. I say “most”, because the setting not only encompasses the physical realm, but also the Spirit Realm and the Celestial Realm.
A proper explanation of metaphysics would probably go to far here (and quite frankly, the esoteric side of the lore is my least favorite part to document), but the short version is that Runeterra, the planet, was created by a group of cosmic forces (“Celestials”) using the World Runes, immensely powerful artifacts. This creation upset the Watchers in the Void, who had only known nothingness before, and they made it their goal to destroy reality.
Almost everything in the Material Realm is mirrored in the Spirit Realm, populated by spirits, thoughts, emotions, essences, and other whimsical things. It is a realm where perceptions and stories can become reality, where memories float around, and where the true nature of things might be glimpsed.
These three realms (minus the Void, which represents absolute nonexistence) also make up the sources for various parts of “magic”. Sorcerers can invoke elements like wind, earth or light (Material), use or manipulate spirits, e.g. for Necromancy (Spiritual) or channel higher forces from Aspects or Runes (Celestial).
(Source – [twitter.com] )
However I would classify it as a rather soft magic system, where each mage’s experience and skills are different. This is also heavily simplified, for a deeper dive with philosophy, theories and discussions, check out this Reddit Post – [reddit.com] .
Now let’s get back to the physical (or “material”) realm. The map represents not everything on the planet, there are unknown continents to the east, and presumably in the west and south too.
Ruined King is ignoring the main continents, and instead focusing on the eastern side of the world map. It takes place in Bilgewaterand the Shadow Isles, with characters from Ionia and the Freljord joining in. But since there are going to be plenty of references to the world in the game, I will explain all the regions.
(2) The Eastern Islands
|Bilgewater||Tortuga, Nassau||Pirate City, Not-So-Safe Harbor – [tvtropes.org]||Dead in the Water – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Bilgewater is a port city located in the Blue Flame Isles, but the name is also used as a synonym for the entire region. The archipelago is settled by natives called the Buhru, but they allow the city of Bilgewater to exist. It is a lawless place where the only honest people are brutally honest about the knife they are about to stick in your back. It is a cultural melting pot made of exiles, pirates, mercenaries and similar.
Sarah Fortune (Miss Fortune), Illaoi and Pyke are from here, with Miss Fortune being an unelected ruler.
The Shadow isles
|Shadow Isles||Old Devastated Civilization||Advanced Ancient Acropolis – [tvtropes.org]||In Sight of Land – [leagueoflegends.com]|
The Shadow Isles were destroyed by a magical cataclysm called the Ruination a thousand years ago, and are now shrouded in Black Mist. Before, they were called the Blessed Isles, whose capital was Helia, home to a prospering civilisation of researchers. After the Ruination, the benevolent White Mist was corrupted, and all living souls on the islands were trapped in perpetual undeath.
When the Black Mist reaches out across oceans, striking at Bilgewater and other places, it is called a Harrowing. Weaker spirits can only manifest during a Harrowing, while stronger ones can operate independently of the Black Mist, even leaving the Shadow Isles at times.
That’s where the party is eventually heading. The Ruined King is here, presumably with a few other boss fights along the way.
|Ionia||loosely South-East Asia||Magical Islands – [tvtropes.org] , Hybrid Animal Race – [tvtropes.org]||Sisterhood of War – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Ionia, also called “The First Lands”, is an island continent deeply connected to the spirit realm, and therefore magic. People living here value balance over everything, living in tune with nature.
In recent times, Ionia was invaded by the Noxian Empire. Though they have now withdrawn, their influence is still felt by many, and the war took a toll on all of the lands.
Ionia is the region with the most Vastaya, a race of animal-human hybrids.
Ahri and Yasuo are from here.
(3) Valoran, the Northern Continent
|Demacia||Medieval Europe||“Good Kingdom”, Anti-Magical Faction – [tvtropes.org]||Turmoil – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Demacia is a small, militaristic kingdom founded as a refuge from the destruction of the Rune Wars. This history is what lead them to their belief that magic is forbidden inside their borders, and gave rise to their small but well-trained and disciplined army.
They are using Petricite, a magic-absorbing substance, which is also used to reinforce their walls.
|Noxus||Roman Empire||“Evil Empire”, Equal-Opportunity Evil – [tvtropes.org]||The Principles of Strength – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Noxus is the big empire stretching out the eastern side of Valoran. They are constantly at war, with the warhosts expanding the Noxian borders further and further. Noxus values strength above all, and every Noxian is expected to serve the empire to the best of their abilities. For many people, this means dying in endless campaigns.
|Freljord||Vikings||Grim Up North – [tvtropes.org]||The Harder Path – [leagueoflegends.com]|
The Freljord is a harsh land in the frozen north, inhabited by countless clans and tribes. The three main tribes are the Avarosans, the Winter’s Claw, and the Frostguard, each following one sister from legend – [leagueoflegends.com] . In their matriarchal society, they are lead by Iceborn, superhuman warriors whose gift is often passed down from the mother. An Iceborn can also wield weapons of True Ice, which would be lethal to other mortals.
Braum is from here.
(4) Shurima, the Southern Continent
|Bilgewater||Ancient Egypt||Resurgent, Hegemonic Empire – [tvtropes.org]||Bloodline – [leagueoflegends.com]|
The Shuriman Empire once spanned the entire continent, conquering other nations with their mighty armies. The heart of these armies were the Ascended, mortals remade by Celestial power through the Sun Disc. Those that survive Ascension are hailed as God-Warriors, with animal-like bodies, supernatural magic, strength and immortality.
After the failed Ascension of an emperor blasted the sun disc and the capital city, Shurima fell into isolated cities and nomad tribes wandering the desert. Furthermore, the southern deserts near Icathia are infested with Voidborn created by the Watchers, which ambush caravans and overrun cities.
|Mount Targon||Ancinet Greece / Sparta||Star Power – [tvtropes.org] , Journey to the Sky – [tvtropes.org]||The Spear of Targon – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Mount Targon is the place where the heavens are closest to the earth. It is an incredibly tall mountain in western Shurima, inhabited by migratory tribes called the Rakkor. Mortals that climb up the peak are tested by celestial forces, and those that reach the summit can be granted a glimpse into the celestial realm or become Aspects, imbued by an incomprehensible celestial power.
Piltover and Zaun
|Piltover and Zaun||Steampunk City||Bio-Augmentation – [tvtropes.org] , Layered Metropolis – [tvtropes.org]||City of Iron and Glass – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Originally an ancient Shuriman trading post, the twin cities of Piltover and Zaun sit on the isthmus connecting Shurima and Valoran. When the original city of Zaun detonated powerful explosives to open the canal, it’s older buildings partly sunk underground and flooded. Business moved and re-founded the city as Piltover in the north, which quickly expanded. The “new” city flourished with tax gold and now Piltover is the shining city of progress, with Zaun being the nasty undercity where crime and exploitation run rampant.
A recent technological breakthrough from Piltover is Hextech, able to draw power from magical crystals. Zaun uses Chemtech instead, fueled by dangerous chemicals.
|Ixtal||Southern America||Elemental Manipulation Magic, Cities in a Bottle – [tvtropes.org]||The Axiomata – [leagueoflegends.com]|
Thousands of years ago, the state of Ixtal voluntarily joined the Shuriman empire. Ixtal was renowned for their mastery of elemental magic, and they integrated well, so a time of relative peace followed. But at an opportune moment, Ixtal withdrew from Shurima, kept isolating itself in the jungles,and finally all but vanished from maps. The ruling caste, the Yun Tal, now deceives their people, letting them believe that the outside world is overrun by monsters and only Ixtal remains.
(5) Timeline: Ancient History
To give some context on certain world-ending events, let’s examine the timeline of the world as well. The calendar here uses noxian chronology, as that is the one official calendar we have. The periods have been dubbed BN/AN (Before and After Noxus) by the community. Most of the events are adapted from the “official” calendar (p66/67 of Realms of Runeterra – [fandom.com] ), with some known events filled in from conjectures.
Note that it isn’t the complete history of the universe, just the important world events.
|When?||What?||Where?||Ancient History: What happened?|
|~9000 BN||Titan War||Ionia|
|~8000 BN||War of the Three Sisters||Freljord|
|~6000 BN||Westward Migration||Shurima and Valoran|
|When?||What?||Where?||Prime of Shurima: What happened?|
|~5000 BN||Rise of the God-Warriors||Shurima|
|~2500 BN||Icathia’s rebellion||Shurima|
|~2000 BN||Betrayal of Azir||Shurima|
|When?||What?||Where?||Tragedies: What happened?|
|~550 BN||Great Darkin War||From Shurima to the known world|
|25 BN||The Ruination||Blessed Isles|
|13 BN||The Rune Wars||From Valoran to the known world|
(6) Timeline: Modern History
Society begins anew after the devastating rune wars…
|When?||What?||Where?||Rebuilding: What happened?|
|0||Foundation of modern civilizations||Valoran|
|772 AN||Tragedy of the River Pilt||Zaun|
|787 AN||Foundation of Bilgewater||Blue Flame Isles / Serpent Isles|
|When?||What?||Where?||Contemporary History: What happened?|
|984-989 AN||Invasion of Ionia||Noxus & Ionia|
|989 AN||Swain’s Coup||Noxus|
|989 AN||Resurrection of Azir||Shurima|
|995 – 997 AN||Present Time|
Here, I want to introduce the cast of (playable) champions, and some that are important to the background of a region or character. I’ll also give a quick account of where the characters were last seen and how they tie into this story. Finally, I’ll list champions that may be referenced throughout the world such as gods or legends.
(1) Playable Character Biographies
|Sarah Fortune||Bilgewater||The Bounty Hunter|
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Sarah Fortune was born off the coast of Bilgewater to famous gunsmiths. The upcoming gang leader Gangplank commissioned masterwork pistols from her mother, but then stole them, killing the whole family and setting the workshop on fire. Young Sarah survived, recovered the pistols he left behind, and sought bloody revenge.
After earning a reputation as the red-haired bounty hunter “Miss Fortune”, she blew up the ship of Gangplank through a clever plot. However, that left Bilgewater in a power vacuum, and she had to step in, trying to restore control in the city. She fights to defend Bilgewater and her rule, and has brokered an alliance with other captains and gang leaders.
|Illaoi||Bilgewater||The Kraken Priestess|
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Illaoi is the Truth Bearer, the highest priestess of the Buhru. They revere Nagakabouros (The Mother Serpent, The Great Kraken, The Bearded Lady, and many other names), a goddess of life and motion. It is her duty to fight the undead (as they go against the core tenets of Buhru faith) and to drive back the Harrowing when they attack Bilgewater.
It is also her duty to judge if souls are in motion, pursuing their goals. Those who are judged unworthy are often killed, but those that survive are changed forever and find new will to pursue their destiny.
She once was in a relationship with Gangplank, before he turned cruel, but ultimately chose her god over a mere man. When his ship was blown up, he came to her for help. She judged him, and he unexpectedly survived. Illaoi has helped both Gangplank and (reluctantly) Miss Fortune, as her duty is only to her god and the universe in motion.
|Pyke||Bilgewater||The Bloodharbor Ripper|
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Pyke, also called the Bloodharbor Ripper, is an undead killing his way through Bilgewater. He once was a sailor, hunting sea monsters. His job as harpooner was to jump onto – or into – the sea monsters, cutting and butchering them while they were alive and their organs were still fresh. One day, when he was inside a giant Jaull-Fish, their ship was attacked by other jaull, and the captain decided to cut his line, leaving Pyke to die.
Years later, he awoke under the sea, revived by the Swimming City (a mysterious deep sea force that now controls him), and sought revenge for those that left him to die. At first, he started killing those named on the manifest of the ship that abandoned him, but he can never be done, for there are always more names on the list…
|Braum||Freljord||The Heart of the Freljord|
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Braum is a selfless, Iceborn hero, able to withstand extreme cold, wield True Ice, and perform superhuman feats. Legends about him may be exaggerated, but there is no doubt that his heart is the strongest muscle. His great shield is a door forged by an old god for a troll king. It is said that a troll boy was trapped behind that door in a mountain, and no one, not even the mighty Braum, could open it. So instead, he punched through the mountain, saving the troll boy, and taking the door as his shield.
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Yasuo is an Ionian swordsman trained in the wind technique. When war came to Ionia, as a pupil he was tasked with protecting his master, Elder Souma. Instead, he neglected his duty and went to fight. When the Elder was killed, and Yasuo was nowhere to be found, he was accused of the murder.
His half-brother Yone hunted him down, and Yasuo had to kill him. With his Last Breath, he explained that Souma was killed with the wind technique that only Yasuo could know.
Years of alcohol and regret followed, wandering Ionia alone, where he met a
young sparrow – [leagueoflegends.com] , and the person responsible for
the death of his master – [leagueoflegends.com] (but these are stories for another time).
Seeking atonement for the death of his brother, he visited the Spirit Blossom festival to commune with the spirits of the fallen. There, he was ambushed by an Azakana, a demon praying on his guilt, but a masked stranger saved him. This stranger was the returned Yone. Yasuo realized that there was nothing left for him in Ionia, and joined Ahri as bodyguard, embarking on a journey to new shores.
|Ahri||Vastaya from Ionia||The Nine-tailed Fox|
Link – [leagueoflegends.com]
Ahri is a foxlike Vastaya, a diverse race of human-animal hybrids. She grew up alone with a pack of ice-foxes and has no connection to her tribe except for a pair of peculiar stones.
She can manipulate the emotions of others, charming them into helplessness or conjuring visions of beauty even as she steals their spiritual essence.
After learning more and more about the world through stolen memories of mortals, Ahri now seeks to learn about her origins. The latest clue left her with a name and a man that was last seen in Bilgewater.
(2) Events leading up to the Game
So, what were our heroes up to in recent times? In this section, I compiled some stories that show important plot points from the past. Note that I can not put the entire backstory here, since certain characters (looking at you, MF or Yasuo) have far too much content and this guide is long enough as it stands.
Short Story: A Fair Trade
Ahri walks across a market, looking for information on her twin stones. She is lured in by a fortune teller, who wants to take off one of her tails. They’re said to be useful in potions. Ahri however manages to charm her, and drinks her memories. In the memories, she learns of the name “Ymelo”, who supposedly carved her stones, and a man in a gambling den who had another pair. Now she seeks to find that man.
A Fair Trade – [leagueoflegends.com]
An Ionian family celebrates the Spirit Blossom Festival. At the family teahouse, there is a peculiar, charming guest. She talks about wanting to hire a skilled swordsman, but the couple doesn’t want to allow weapons into the teahouse. But through her charming manner, Ahri manages to convince them.
Perennial – [leagueoflegends.com]
Cinematic: Kin of the Stained Blade
Yasuo arrives in Weh’le, haunted by visions of his past. He follows an old man to a secluded temple, to confront his past and let go.
In the post-credit post-logo scene, Yasuo can be seen on a ship, as the bodyguard for a mysterious hooded figure! They talk about sailing to Bilgewater. This reveal was so cool I still giggle when I write about it.
Mega Story: Burning Tides
Burning Tides is one of the biggest stories ever to happen, as it was accompanied with a world-wide event at that time. It tells the story of how Gangplank was overthrown.
The trickster Twisted Fate is hired to break into Gangplank’s warehouse and steal a dagger. Right in the middle, he meets his old partner Malcom Graves. They were part of a group, before Twisted Fate abandoned Graves during a heist that put him into prison.
Burning Tides – Act 1 – [leagueoflegends.com]
Graves chases Twisted Fate through the city as Gangplank sets all his men on them. Tobias tries to explain what happened back then, but Malcom just keeps firing. They are eventually captured and brought before the Reaver King.
Burning Tides – Act 2 – [leagueoflegends.com]
Too late for it all, Twisted Fate and Graves make amends. Gangplank brings out a priced cannon to drown them with it. With a card that Graves stole, Twisted Fate comes free, but he jumps after his partner who is still chained to the cannon. A red-haired woman blows up the ship.
Burning Tides – Act 3 – [leagueoflegends.com]
A battered and broken Gangplank reaches out to Illaoi for help. She judges his spirit, fully expecting him to die, and concludes he is still in motion. She tells him to do something about his arm, and sends him away as she instructs her men to help him.
Interlude: The Burden – [leagueoflegends.com]
The city goes up in flames and violence as a man asks a surgeon to remove his arm.
Burning Tides – Epilogue – [leagueoflegends.com]
Shadow and Fortune
A ragtag band of Lucian, Olaf, and Miss Fortune defends Bilgewater against the Harrowing. They all fight a valiant fight, but eventually choose to retreat. Miss Fortune leads the group to the temple of the Bearded Lady, where they meet Thresh, the Chain Warden, and Hecarim, the Shadow of War. The group splits up again: Olaf goes after a sea monster spirit that he killed, Lucian confronts Thresh, and Miss Fortune leads the rest of the group across Serpent Bridge. Illaoi lets them into the temple, where she prepares a ritual to banish the undead. Miss Fortune and her group of survivors defend the Temple of Nagakabouros, while Illaoi finishes the ritual.
In the end, Miss Fortune and Lucian reflect on what happened. Miss Fortune vows to end the war in Bilgewater and lead the city.
Shadow and Fortune – [leagueoflegends.com] (this version lost some formatting)
PDF link – [akamaihd.net] (use this for better styling and readability)
Ping me if Riot takes down the PDF at that link. I have a copy saved.
Dead in the Water
A few months later into her rule, Miss Fortune attends the sea burial of another captain. She meets the old captain Petyr Harker, who she swore to kill if she saw him again, but can not kill him because of the “Truce of the Sinking Soul”. Begrudingly, they play nice and the party sails out to sea, to put Captain Aligh to rest. Turns out he isn’t even dead, and gathered them all to kill all the important captains.
In the end, the ship is destroyed, Captain Aligh goes down for good, and there are no survivors, except for Miss Fortune, her first Mate Rafen, and the captains Blaxton and Thorne.
Dead in the Water – [leagueoflegends.com]
For Pyke and Braum, there is almost no material available.
I could tell you the legend – [leagueoflegends.com] of how Braum got his shield,
or of the time Pyke killed a man – [leagueoflegends.com] , but that’s not really relevant to the game. How or why they joined up with the rest of the crew is still up in the air, this will probably be explained in the game itself. Yup, it is explained, but I promised no spoilers. Play it yourself, it’s very early in the game.
(3) Important regional characters
They are not playable, but I am certain they play a role nonetheless.
- Previous reaver-king of Bilgewater
- He was in a relationship with Illaoi, but she ended it when he became increasingly brutal. During that time, he killed Miss Fortune’s family on his rise to the top of Bilgewater.
- He likes to practice Scrimshaw: Bone Carving. With living subjects.
- After his ship was blown up and he was presumed dead, he came asking Illaoi for help. She tested him, not thinking he would survive. However, the test gave him new resolve: He promptly went to a surgeon to get his mangled arm chopped off.
- Now, he’s working from the underground to fight against Miss Fortune and reclaim control of the city.
- The titular Ruined King
- He was the last king of Camavor, a kingdom far to the east.
- Nice Guy™
- In an attempt to assassinate him, the poisoned dagger was deflected but hit his love Isolde instead.
- He searched far and wide for a cure, and his advisors found the Blessed Isles.
- When he brought the body of Isolde into the Waters of Life, it caused the Ruination: The queen was partially resurrected, and she stabbed him with his own sword, cursing every living being on the isles.
- Viego was recently awoken again after being unconscious. He controls the Black Mist (which literally pours from his heart like his sadness), and is still searching for a way to revive the love of his life (and death).
- Devious sadistic spectre
- He was a warden on the Blessed Isles, tasked with protecting arcane relics and knowledge.
- When Viego invaded from Camavor, he relished in the slaughter and even led Viego to the hidden chamber with the Waters of Life.
- As a spectre, he tortures all living and unliving beings, often taking things dear to them before finally trapping their soul in eternal suffering in his lantern.
- He was part of the Harrowing in Shadow and Fortune – [leagueoflegends.com] , where the Mist attacked Bilgewater. He was fought by Lucian.
- He seems to be manipulating and scheming behind the scenes: The first teaser – [youtu.be] has his voice, indicating he was the one that woke Viego as part of a greater plan.
- Undead knight fused into a centaur
- He was the leader of the Iron Order of Camavor, a brotherhood of knights.
- Loyal to viego, he led the Iron Order in the slaughter on the Isles.
- In the ruination, he fused with his horse into the new spectral form.
- He was part of the Harrowing in Shadow and Fortune – [leagueoflegends.com] , where the Mist attacked Bilgewater. He was fought by Miss Fortune and her group.
- Generally enjoys trampling over people.
(4) Important backstory characters
Some other characters you should probably know about. They won’t appear in the game itself, but they can be referenced in conversations.
- Demon-hunting revived brother
- In life, he was Yasuo’s older half-brother. He tracked Yasuo down when he fled the village, and was killed by him.
- Somehow, he came back to life, and now hunts Azakana (Demons).
- Yasuo fled from Ionia after meeting him.
- Shuriman Stoneweaver trying to control her powers
- She’s a girl from Shurima that left her tribe to learn about her rare powers. Noxus found her in Northern Shurima and lured her into the Ionian war with the promise of a master to study under.
- When Taliyah wouldn’t use her powers against a peaceful village, she was abandoned on the Ionian coast. That’s where she found Yasuo, who reluctantly helped her.
- They traveled the country, until she heard that the God-Emperor Azir had arisen again, and she turned homeward. Taking a massive detour through the Freljord, she returned to Shurima to see her family safe.
- Noxian Warrior seeking to atone
- Riven proved herself to be an exceptionally strong soldier even as a child, wielding a runic blade larger than herself.
- She was part of the Noxian army in Ionia, tasked with guarding special cargo.
- When they were stranded and surrounded by enemies, their cargo was revealed to be a chemical weapon deployed against friend and foe, and she was caught in gas and fire.
- Shielded by her blade but broken inside, Riven sought out an Ionian elder to destroy her weapon, killing him in the process.
- Trying to forget and atone, she worked on the Ionian fields she once sought to conquer.
- Finally, Noxus found her and took her back to the capital for trial.
- The fire inside is ignited by bloodshed in berserkers from north
- He appeared in Shadow and Fortune and already survived a fight against the undead with Miss Fortune, Illaoi and Lucian.
- He most likely won’t be part of the game, but the earlier battle can be referenced.
- It is worth noting that his allegiance lies with Sejuani and the Winter’s Claw, while Braum is with Ashe and the Avarosans.
Lucian and Senna
- Couple leading the Sentinels of Light
- He too appeared in Shadow and Fortune, where he learned that his wife, Senna, wasn’t dead and only imprisoned.
- Lucian then went on a long journey – [leagueoflegends.com] to fight Thresh and free her. – [youtu.be]
- It is unclear how far along he is at the time the game takes place.
Twisted Fate and Graves
- Partners in crime*
- Twisted Fate is a card magician that can throw exploding cards or teleport with them.
- Graves is a stubborn bastard with a shotgun. When an earlier heist went wrong, T.F. abandoned him.
- They unknowingly helped Miss Fortune to overthrow Gangplank in Burning Tides.
- After that, they made up and went to Piltover to buy a new shotgun.
- They participated in some semi?-legal activities in and around Piltover and Valoran, but eventually returned to Bilgewater.
- Twisted Fate is also called TF, but his real name in-universe was Tobias Felix. He changed that because he felt it was embarrassing. Players use the short name more often, as it is, well, shorter. Also see the section “A note on abbreviations”.
* with homosexual tension and community shipping. Technically it’s not confirmed they are a couple, Riot is rather slow with MLM representation. Yeah, I know it sucks, especially when Riot can and does have some good WLW stories – [leagueoflegends.com] and voicelines.
(5) Possible References and Easter Eggs
Here are some mythical figures that may be legends in Bilgewater. In fact, some of these legends ARE told in the audio dramas (See Audio Dramas in the next chapter). And there are some other characters that I think could appear.
- Spirit-God representing the duality of death
- Taking the form of a lamb and a wolf, they are never one without the other.
- Lamb’s arrow meets those that accept death, while Wolf hunts those that run or fight.
- In Bilgewater, where life is violent, the Lamb is frowned upon, while the wolf is venerated. This culminates in the celebration of All Kindred Eve – [fandom.com] , where the people decide in a rigged contest if they want to be violent or nice in the next year.
- Demon of Addiction
- Also called “River King” or “Two-Coats”, because he is so fat he wears two coats stitched together
- Immensely rich, associated with gambling and riches
- Said to offer the people’s desires, but also to consume them (the people, not their desires!)
- Titan of the Depth
- Big figure collecting the tithe for Nagakabouros.
- A man in a diving suit armed with an anchor, but now he’s extremely large and sinking ships.
- Always pay the tithe, or you’re going to go down.
- Proto-Yordle Trickster
- Called the “Tidal Trickster”, because of his pranks
- Yeah I don’t know what to say here, he pranks people and they don’t always appreciate that
- Living Doll humanified by Magic
- She’s a doll made by Isolde, the future queen of Camavor. A fragment of Isolde’s soul lives on in Gwen, and she became more human in the process.
- She’s not strictly relevant to the plot right now, but we were promised – [youtu.be] an easter egg teasing her. This was annihilated by timing problems, and she’s already out in League of Legends (along with the other champions related to Viego: Akshan and Vex. Care for potential spoilers here.)
- Still, there may be a side quest or item related to her.
- I found the easter egg,it’s much simpler than I expected.
- LOCATION SPOILER: Directly when you arrive at the Shadow Isles.
- Human sorcerer from an order of ancient Helia
- He was the student of Tyrus, a Helian sorcerer who collected, studied and protected arcane relics and knowledge.
- After the Ruination devastated the order, the secret of the World Runes spread across the lands. This led to the Rune Wars a decade later.
- Ryze and Tyrus traveled the world, trying to prevent usage of the runes. Ryze discovered that Tyrus had acquired two World Runes, and had to kill him. He now roams the lands in search of more, trying to keep them out of mortal hands.
- He’s not really related to the story of Bilgewater or the Shadow Isles, but he was teased to go to Bilgewater (Reddit 1 – [reddit.com] , Reddit 2 – [reddit.com] , Reddit 3 – [reddit.com] , Youtube Summary – [youtu.be] ), and even appeared alongside Miss Fortune – [youtu.be] , presumably while searching for a world rune.
(6) The denizens of the Shadow Isles
And finally, some other Shadow Isles characters. You might run into them as bosses or as references.
- Relentless spirit of vengeance
- Once the niece of Viego (his brother’s daughter) and his general, she was tasked with finding a cure for the dying Isolde.
- She discovered the Blessed Isles, and led him there. However, she refused to attack the Blessed Isles on Viegos order, and was slain by Hecarim.
- After the Ruination, she has become a spirit of vengeance which the dying can offer their soul to – Revenge, it is yours but your soul is mine! – [youtu.be]
- Undead trying to undo the curse of the black mist
- In life, he was a strong camavoran knight that came to the Blessed Isles with the army.
- He was in love with Kalista, but due to their positions in court, they couldn’t be together.
- He has faced Thresh and Hecarim, and tried to get Kalista to kill them over the course of the centuries, hoping to wake her and make her remember who she was.
- After another cruel attempt, where he offered himself to be killed by Kalista, he gave up on her and instead started trying to undo the Ruination.
- Deathsinger praising the advantages of undeath
- He was born an impoverished Noxian, and sought out death where he could find it.
- He became a member of the tally-men, working with the dead every day.
- Nothing could still his curiosity, for he wanted to know what wisdom death truly held.
- Eventually, he journeyed to the Shadow Isles to truly become one with death, and was transformed into their emissary.
- A nature spirit nurturing the Blessed Isles
- He’s a treant old as the Isles themself, before even humans settled them.
- He found the Waters of Life with his roots, and with them, planted saplings across the islands.
- After a time, the humans arrived and settled the Blessed Isles, though they were respecting the nature, studying it. Maokai revealed himself to a few, and shared the secret of the Waters of Life.
- When Viego arrived and brought Ruination, Maokai tried to save as much of the sacred waters as he could, drinking it up with his roots.
- Now, he has become vengeful and rages against the spirits, desperately trying to restore the once beautiful islands.
- Gravedigger with an unusual connection to the dead
- His talent to see and speak with the dead was revealed as a child. As he grew up, he guided the spirits, leading them to their well-earned rest.
- Accepted into an order of monks tending to the dead and the living, he was handed a vial of the sacred waters. During the Ruination, these “Tears of Life” protected him.
- He now commands the spirits trapped in the mist to undo the ruin that befell the isles.
- Noxian noblewoman with a few skittering pets
- As a political player, she joined the secret “Black Rose” cabal in Noxus
- Searching for an ancient artifact in the Shadow Isles, she came across the spider god Vilemaw. Vilemaw impaled her, and she herself began to transform.
- Though they did not find the artifact they sought, the Black Rose wanted to use her new powers, and they procured human sacrifices for her.
- Elise’s duty is to travel to the Shadow Isles and offer the sacrifices to her god, who allows her to roam the islands freely. She then steals whatever artifacts she can find and brings them back for the Pale Woman to use.
(7) A note on abbreviations
Due to the origins of League of Legends as a MOBA without voice chat, players often used short terms for efficient chat communication. This facilitated a number of acronyms and abbreviations, which are still commonly used when talking about the characters even outside of the game.
In this guide, I intentionally focused on always writing out the full name, but you might see some characters referred to by their acronyms. I don’t know why, but Bilgewater especially has a lot of champions that can be abbreviated to a two-letter combination. Others are simply referred to by the beginning of their name, often three or four characters.
A non-exhaustive list can be found below. Most of these won’t be needed, but they’re helpful to know if you talk to other players about the universe, and I found it curious how MF, GP, TF and TK may be referenced in the game.
|MF||Miss Fortune||TF||Twisted Fate||GP||Gangplank||TK||Tahm Kench|
|J4||Jarvan IV||Kha||Kha’Zix||Kog||Kog’Maw||Lee||Lee Sin|
Here is a collection of more material you might want to check out. It’s not really part of the guide, think of it more like a “Read More” section if you are interested in other parts of the Universe. I made an effort to link multiple types of media: There are cinematics, comics, audio narrations, cards from the Runeterra card game, short stories and two books, so hopefully everyone can find something they find interesting.
I have the feeling that this is going to be the longest chapter of the guide…
(1) Interactive Map of Runeterra
It is mandatory to look here at least once.
Unfortunately, the map is a bit outdated in some aspects (such as champion affiliations), but the geography and descriptions will be correct. It is fun to zoom around the continents, piecing together various journeys and picturing the intricacies of Runeterra.
(2) Audio Dramas
Great for setting the mood.
A series of legends and stories about certain champions in Bilgewater, including Pyke. There is not much story to them, but they’re still worth listening to. Check out the full playlist here:
(3) DnD 5e Campaign
Another fun game in Bilgewater.
To be completely honest, I forgot this existed until I talked to some friends about this guide. Riot partnered with DnDBeyond – [dndbeyond.com] for this sourcebook set in Bilgewater, but for some reason it was quickly removed from there again. This doesn’t represent canon material, but I know that there is quite a large overlap between League Lore Enjoyers and DnD players – [discord.gg] , so I hope you find it interesting.
Unfortunately, as the source was pulled from DnDBeyond, one has to rely on unofficial copies. But the original was free anyway, so I don’t see an issue going “Arrr” here (especially in Bilgewater). Just be aware that it may be hard to find copies, which could also vanish from the internet at any time.
The best version I found is this: https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/print/76tQWEDr4 – [naturalcrit.com]
If the link doesn’t work, poke me (preferably here or on Discord) and I’ll figure something out.
A Netflix series about two champions.
Arcane is an animated series with the first season set in Piltover and Zaun, exploring the relationship between Jinx and Vi. Definitely recommended if you have Netflix.
Yeah, they made a ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Netflix series, deal with it. I think it was supposed to come out after the game, but you know, that was massively delayed. In the meantime, you must have heard of Arcane?
The marketing budget for this was astronomical. Riot has been historically shy with larger promotions, but this time, they didn’t crank it up to 11, they cranked it up to 111.
- They sold chocolate. – [upcomer.com]
- They redecorated subway stations. – [twitter.com]
- They projected an ad onto the Burj Khalifa. – [youtu.be]
- There were burger king menus. – [afkgaming.com]
- They partnered with Reddit for special avatars. – [redditinc.com]
- They sold cosmetics – yes, cosmetics. – [thegamer.com]
- Crossover promotion with all their games – [riotgames.com]
- and a special website – [riotgames.com]
- and Fortnite – [esports.com]
- and PUBG mobile – [polygon.com]
- and Among Us – [innersloth.com]
- and Magic: The Gathering. – [wizards.com]
- The soundtrack – [twitter.com] features some incredible artists (Riot got Imagine Dragons on board for the title song again),
- and to top it all off, they even made a real-life experience – [secretcinema.org] to play some of the events in LA.
I probably forgot some collaborations, let me know if there are any I missed.
Anyway it’s good, but seemingly set in a slight alternate universe, as is the case with TV adaptations.
PS: At the time of writing, a second season was just announced.
Cinematics are one of the main strengths of Riot Games (and their partners). Great animations, paired with narration and music (another strength of theirs), presented in 2 to 10 minutes in a format easily accessible for gamers.
Descent into the Tomb / Rise of the Ascended
A two-part series where Nasus explains how Shurima was reborn.
Call of Power
A video accompanying Ryze on his quest for the World Runes, features an appearance by Miss Fortune and many more.
The Climb / Awaken / Warriors 2020
Cool music videos, showing different environments and various plot threads. These “Season Start” animations are released every year since 2018, with Ruination – [youtu.be] in 2021 taking a slightly different approach.
Miss Fortune: Fortune Smiles
A comic featuring our favorite captain.
Steadfast Heart (Sentinels of Light)
Issue 1 and 2 show more background of the Ruination. However, the comic is part of the Sentinels of Light event set AFTER the game. Issues 3 and beyond may include spoilers for the game!
Also, the comic and the surrounding event were not exactly received well by the community, but let’s stay neutral for the purposes of this guide.
A longer series in cooperation with Marvel.
The young Iceborn Ashe finds herself between her mother’s expectations and the survival of her tribe.
Other series like this are focused on Lux and Zed.
Darius: Blood of Noxus
Surprising amount of drama as the General Darius brings his childhood city back under the control of the empire.
Many characters have short comics like this, like Ryze, Nami, Poppy, Kai’sa, Ekko, Camille and Taric. However, some of these are only accessible on the
wiki – [fandom.com] ,as they are missing from the official site.
Heartlight / As we Fall / Retribution
A small series exploring the Darkin Varus and the two people whose bodies he took.
This is Riot’s attempt at switching media halfway through a story, and it’s definitely… interesting. Still listening to the song every once in a while.
(7) Legends of Runeterra cards
Legends of Runeterra (LoR) is a game that shows artwork and characters in great detail. Just from how much it contributes to the Universe, it’s a fantastic game. You may or may not like the gameplay, I personally hate meta and ranked play in any game, but I do play it. A big part of the appeal is the artwork and voiceover, which can be found on the League of Legends Wiki even if you don’t play the game.
The game introduces or expands on characters. They’re also neat if you want to borrow assets for DnD, or if you just want a wallpaper. Here are a few characters I selected that show the variety of the regions (aside from their champions). Perhaps some of them even appear in stories in this guide?
Cards: Cithria of Cloudfield, Vanguard Squire, Cithria the Bold, (Cithria, Lady of Clouds)
Stories: Turmoil – [leagueoflegends.com] , The Weight of Expectations – [fandom.com] , First Shield – [fandom.com]
Cithria is a Demacian soldier that quickly rose through the ranks, and even got to join the famous Dauntless Vanguard in a time of need. Will she defend her beliefs in spite of the Turmoil gripping the country?
Card: Scarmother Vrynna
Stories: A Good Day – [fandom.com] ,The Shackles of Belief – [leagueoflegends.com]
Vrynna is from a hardened clan in the Winter’s Claw, raised to do or die. As an Unscarred, she was part of a hunting party gone terribly wrong, where she lost her eye but secured survival for the entire clan. Recently, she found the outsider Sylas and heard his offer to attack Demacia.
Card: Blade Squire
Stories: Sisterhood of War – [leagueoflegends.com]
Erath is a young warrior from a region recently conquered by Noxus. When his tribe was called to war, Erath had a different path to walk. He was to serve a group of warriors on a special mission, hunting a traitor from their ranks.
Card: Yone, Windchaser
Yasuo’s stepbrother, seeking to find the dishonored warrior. This depicts him before he was killed and found out Yasuo was not a murderer.
Card: Raz Bloodmane
Story: With Teeth – [leagueoflegends.com]
Raz Bloodmane is one of the Sandthrashers in the shuriman deserts, who ambush caravans and prey on the weak. One night, when they took over the ruined city of Vekaura, they encountered a living god-warrior.
Tama, Loto (and Nami)
Cards: Marai Songstress, Abyssal Guard, Nami
A group of polyamorous bisexual fish vastaya. Need I say more?
Card: Commander Ledros
Story: The Echoes Left Behind – [leagueoflegends.com]
Ledros is a warrior of Camavor, who arrived on the Blessed Isles with the King’s army. When the Ruination devastated the land, he held onto his purpose. He is focused on undoing this carnage.
Card: Star Shepard
Video: Call of the Mountain – [youtu.be]
Illi is a Vastaya from the Ottrani tribe, living on Mount Targon with Soraka. Together with her trusty dog Osu, she finds and herds young Stellarcorns, until they can fly on their own.
Cards: Corina Veraza & Corina, Mastermind.
Corina is one of the chem-barons that keep the undercity running. She uses poisonous plants to achieve her plans and take on the wardens, ruling clans and even other chem-barons.
(8) Short Stories
These are not all relevant to the setting or plot of Ruined King, but have generally been lauded as (some of) the absolute best that Runeterra has to offer. They are available to read for free on the Universe website.
I did take some input from the community on this, if it was just me, this list would consist of only Graham McNeill. My favorite story is Progress Day.
Where Icathia Once Stood
by Graham McNeill – Shurima and The Void – 22 minutes to read
An Icathian warrior recounts the rebellion against the Shuriman Empire and what they unleashed in the process, before the memories are gone too.
The Echoes Left Behind
by Anthony Reynolds – The Shadow Isles – 17 minutes to read
Ledros, a camavoran fighter trapped by the Black Mist, tries to break through to the spirit Kalista, the love of his life and death.
Art is Life
by Graham McNeill – Noxus – 17 minutes to read
A Noxian painter hurries through the night to portray an ancient man in a mysterious mansion, never to return.
by Graham McNeill – Piltover – 27 minutes to read
An apprenta in Piltover prepares to present her invention to the wealthy clan Medarda, trying for a position like all the others. But not everything is as it seems.
The Eye in the Abyss
by Anthony Reynolds – Freljord and The Void – 35 minutes to read
A group of Iceborn warriors descends into the Howling Abyss to keep the thing that dwells beyond at bay.
by Amanda Jeffrey – Piltover and Zaun – 19 minutes to read
A test subject needs to form an unusual connection to escape from a crazed scientist. They escape to the city…
Bit of body horror warning for this one, but it’s worth it!
From the Ashes
by Aaron Dembski-Bowden – Freljord – 32 minutes to read
Kegan Rodhe studies magic under a purple-skinned master as they travel together, and reflects on his fiery past.
Despoiler of Havenfall
by Michael Haugen Wieske – Demacia and Shadow Isles – 14 minutes to read
A boy from Havenfall is faced with the Black Mist in Demacia and rides for his life. Will he find the courage that he was lacking his entire life?
Piece of Shadow Cake
by Odin Austin Shafer – Ionia – 27 minutes to read
The Vastaya Xayah and Rakan fight back against the humans trying to conquer the wild magic and come across unlikely allies.
Also watch the cinematic “Wild Magic” – [youtu.be] after this! It shows the last fight in the temple.
Destiny and Fate
by Anthony Reynolds – Bilgewater – 27 minutes to read
Graves and his partner Twisted Fate are back in Bilgewater, hired to steal the Abyssal Crown by a certain “Prince”. They have to snatch it from some sea monsters…
After that, Miss Fortune is asked to capture both of them. Watch “Tales of Runeterra: Bilgewater” – [youtu.be] to see how that turns out!
In contrast to all of the free content available online, both of these books need to be bought. If you want another great compendium of Runeterra lore, I recommend Realms of Runeterra, it serves a purpose similar to this guide.
Realms of Runeterra
The first official Lore-Book, Realms of Runeterra serves as a great introduction. It contains depictions and descriptions of the world and its people, and even some exclusive short stories – one for each major region.
Garen: First Shield
A Novella, focused on a squad of Demacian soldiers in enemy territory. It’s a great book, but that’s like the other side of the world from Bilgewater and the Shadow Isles. Still recommend it if you want to see an awesome army in action.
And that’s it! I hope that by now you don’t just know what Ruined King is about, but that you have resources where to find more interesting stuff. And maybe I managed to share some of my passion for the Runeterra Universe with you. If you want to, come chat on r/loreofruneterra – [reddit.com] or our Discord server – [discord.gg] .
If you have questions or suggestions, drop them in the comments!
Enjoy the game!
First Release: 20.11.2021
- Written in the months before release, since September 2021
- Edited and formatted for Steam in the days after the release
- First published on 20.11.2021
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