Champion Reveal: Kayn
A peerless practitioner of lethal shadow magic, Shieda Kayn battles to achieve his true destiny—to one day lead the Order of the Shadow into a new era of Ionian supremacy. He audaciously wields the sentient darkin weapon Rhaast, undeterred by its creeping corruption of his body and mind. There are only two possible outcomes: either Kayn bends the weapon to his will... or the malevolent scythe consumes him completely, paving the way for the destruction of all Runeterra.
- THE DARKIN SCYTHE
Kayn wields an ancient weapon and fights the darkin within it, Rhaast, for control. During each game, one will consume the other. Kayn hones his shadow skills by hunting ranged opponents, while Rhaast fuels his bloodlust by going toe-to-toe with melee enemies. If Kayn wins the struggle, he ascends to become the shadow assassin. If Rhaast is the victor, the darkin consumes his host and takes center stage.
- Shadow Assassin:Deal bonus magic damage during the first few seconds of combat with champions.
- Darkin:Heal for a chunk of all spell damage dealt to champions.
- REAPING SLASH
Kayn dashes forward, striking nearby enemies at the end of the dash. Both the dash and the strike itself deal physical damage. Reaping Slash deals bonus damage to monsters.
- Darkin:This ability deals bonus percent-health damage against all enemies except minions.
- BLADE'S REACH
Deal damage in a line that significantly slows all enemies hit.
- Shadow Assassin:Leaves behind a living shadow that casts Blade’s Reach in Kayn's stead. The living shadow's Blade has increased range.
- Darkin:Blade’s Reach briefly knocks up struck enemies.
- SHADOW STEP
Kayn gains a burst of movement speed and the ability to walk through walls for a few moments. When he first enters a wall, he'll heal for a small amount and the duration of Shadow Step will be greatly extended. Kayn won't get the duration extension if he's in combat with enemy champions.
- Shadow Assassin:Gain additional movement speed and immunity to slows when activating Shadow Step.
- UMBRAL TRESPASS
Kayn may infest any nearby enemy champion who he has recently damaged. Trespassing into a champion makes Kayn untargetable for a few seconds. Reactivating the ability during this period ends the effect early. Kayn then wrenches himself free from his victim's body, dealing a burst of damage.
- Shadow Assassin:Umbral Trespass can be cast from further away and resets the bonus magic damage from The Darkin Scythe after Kayn's exits his victim.
- Darkin:Umbral Trespass deals extra damage as a percentage of the victim's maximum health, healing the Darkin in the process.
- PLAYING AS KAYN
Kayn is a slippery, insatiable nightmare who uses his victims' bodies as a recreational vehicle. The Shadow Reaper's ult is horrifying enough, but even scarier is his tendency to emerge, suddenly, from any wall in the Rift.
Kayn's the only champ in League who can change his class in the middle of a game. If the other team's squishier champs are carrying, he can focus on attacking ranged opponents to become the shadow assassin. If Kayn's team needs a tankier frontline, Rhaast is the darkin for the job.
- TIPS AND TRICKS
- Kayn and Rhaast are hungry boys, and you've got to feed 'em by ganking lanes and dealing damage to champs. Taking too long to transform means you'll fall behind in the mid-game.
- Kayn's two evolved forms have their own unique trade-offs. The darkin has telegraphed crowd control and limited access to enemy backlines. The shadow assassin has very limited sustain damage and no hard crowd control. Peep their team comp, then choose wisely.
- Umbral Trespass has a few very interesting interactions with other mobile champs. See an enemy Shen ulting to bot lane? Get close enough to Trespass aboard the ninja train and enjoy the ride.
Champion Insights: Kayn
The year was 2k17, and League still didn’t have a champion who actually used a scythe in combat. Combine this with a lack of darkin characters, and it seemed like a match made in heaven… or hell. Enter Kayn, a semi-darkin composed of equal parts arrogance, power, and xXedginessxX.
- WAR, CORRUPTION, AND REALLY INFLATED EGOS
Legends whispered across Runeterra tell of a time long ago when the darkin entered the world and wreaked bloody havoc. While what happened during the invasion remains a mystery—for now—it is certain that, in the end, there were some dangerous darkin weapons left behind.
Fast forward to current-day Runeterra, where one of Zed’s disciples learns the whereabouts of a scythe of immeasurable power. This young shadow master decides immediately that he just has to have it. “Kayn is extremely confident in his ability to beat anybody,” says narrative writer Michael “CoolRadius” McCarthy. “And he thinks he can not only wield the weapon, but also destroy the darkin within.”
The instant someone lays hand on a darkin weapon, a battle of wills begins. The darkin trapped inside fights to control the wielder’s mind and body, and it’s a contest the average person can never win. Most are instantly overpowered, their bodies becoming no more than a vessel the darkin occupies while searching for a more worthy host. Many have tried to wield the scythe Kayn seeks, and all have failed. But to Kayn, none of that matters. Those scrubs were all just too weak, and he believes he will triumph where everyone else crumbled.
Kayn finds the weapon and ends up locked in a struggle of wills that’ll end in one of two ways: Either he will destroy Rhaast, the darkin sealed within, and wield the no-longer-sentient blade, or he will lose the battle and become a Rhaast’s vessel.
This conflict became the foundation for Kayn’s transformations in-game.
- CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Unlike most champions in League who have multiple forms—like Nidalee, Elise, and Gnar—Kayn is unable to swap between his during the game. Instead, Kayn begins in his base form, and his actions in-game determine which irreversible transformation he can take. Game designer Daniel “ZenonTheStoic” says, “This is the first time we’ve really bound a champion’s ongoing story to the gameplay so tightly.”
Kayn’s in-game transformation system really needed to do three things. 1) It had to make sense for the story. 2) It should allow players to get better at managing transformations as they play Kayn more. 3) It could not do anything too crazy to the game, such as requiring you to feed your ass off.
The final result, where damaging (or killing) ranged champs unlocks assassin form while targeting melee champs unlocks darkin form, seemed to make sense thematically: The assassin wants to prey on weak yet high-value targets, while the darkin only wants to fight the worthy—beefy, hard-to-kill frontliners. Devs didn’t want the system to be too punishing, especially while Kayn-mains-in-training were still learning, so you can choose to reject the first form and wait out the other one. It’s locked away behind a meaningful timer so it still feels important and rewarding to manage forms properly, but you don’t ever have to be sad for thirty minutes because you accidentally unlocked the “wrong” form first.
Kayn was always designed with the jungle in mind, and all junglers need pretty much the same tools during the early game: a way to get in for ganks and some follow-up CC. Typically their strengths and weaknesses diverge in the mid-game, when tanks start to be able to absorb damage and initiate fights, and assassins can probably start wrecking squishies. For Kayn, this means once he transforms into the shadow assassin, he gets the extra speed and damage needed to threaten the enemy backline, while his darkin form gains the sustain and CC needed to thrive in chaotic fights.
Balancing the two forms against each other means constantly asking, “Are there enough scenarios where each form is clearly preferable?” Even if, say, darkin form generally did more damage to champions, that could be okay. “As long as there are games where you must get to the backline to blow up a fed ADC, and the shadow assassin does a better job of this,” ZenonTheStoic says, “then we can be happy and consider the two forms balanced against each other.”
- TERROR THREE WAYS
Creating concept art for a new champion normally means communicating the story and gameplay for just one character… but not for Kayn. “When we heard he had three forms,” concept artist Hing “Hdot” Chui says, “We were like, ‘Well, that’s terrifying. That’s a lot of stuff!’”
Of the three forms, the darkin one was the easiest to approach. Even though darkin aren’t actually demons in Runeterra (that title is reserved for characters like Tahm Kench), the darkin’s appearances are often inspired by underworldly characters. There’s a lot of familiar visuals to play with that communicate this particular flavor of darkness: massive horns, glowing red eyes, and a face straight out of nightmares. Hdot says, “It was basically like, ‘Take some demons and turn them into a really awesome darkin.’”
Everyone can thank anime for Kayn’s base form—his appearance was heavily influenced by cool and collected anime villain tropes. “I drew a lot of inspiration from the unflappable, super bad guys in anime,” Hdot says. “The ones who are uber badass and not afraid to just stare you down.” Base Kayn also doesn’t wear any armor, which is because he’s so certain he’ll be the fastest one in any fight: If you can’t catch him, what does he need armor for?
Pinning down Shadow assassin Kayn’s visuals proved elusive. Hdot says, “What does a master of shadows even look like?” He needed to seem like a total badass and insanely powerful, but not inhuman or hellish. While he should look evil, it needed to be the controlled type rather than the unrestrained wrath of a darkin.
Shadow assassin Kayn is like a limitless version of himself—a true master of shadow magic. This manifests on his body in the form of white markings, which, in Zed’s Order of the Shadow, indicate one’s control over the shadows. Base Kayn only has a few markings on his hands and forearms, but shadow assassin Kayn is nearly covered in them. His free-flowing hair also reflects the unrestrained power he now possesses, with shadows emanating from the luscious locks. Master the shadows or embrace the darkin: Kayn’s fate is in your hands.
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