Reworking Poppy was a chance to tune up her biggest, baddest character elements while giving her completely new play patterns. We knew the hammer, her signature weapon, would be critical in solidifying her refreshed identity; like Jinx’s rocket launcher, Nautilus’ anchor, or Riven’s sword, Poppy’s hammer is an integral part of both her kit and her personality. We had to get it right for both to ring true.
In short, it was hammer time.
Poppy’s original hammer and shield were designed to fit her small stature. “Before, Poppy had a Yordle hammer and a Yordle shield,” explains concept artist Gem Lim. “But we wanted to do more with it.” The team realized that by choosing one primary item for Poppy to wield and over-emphasizing it, they could create a champion with a silhouette and style different from any other champion in League. “Instead of equal attention for the hammer and shield, we toned the shield down and made the hammer ginormous,” says Gem. “What struck me the most about Poppy was this sense of disproportionate power. She’s a small character who does big things. The hammer should communicate that.”
Poppy’s new champion-smasher wasn’t custom-made to fit her; it’s a regular-sized hammer she wields with incredible power. “The new hammer is more than a weapon,” Gem says. “Its humongous size contributes to her silhouette and her movement. No champion moves like her. When you see her swing that hammer, it’s so different from Sion with his axe or Garen with his sword.” Senior narrative writer John O’Bryan adds, “It’s almost like she puts all of herself into every swing.” The new hammer design contributed to Poppy’s new ult and each of her re-tuned abilities.
When others run away, Poppy runs forward. She’s indomitable.
Gem emphasizes the idea of a tiny character packing a big punch: “We want people to feel that crazy disproportionate power. Like, ‘Oh, look at the cute little—ouch!' It’s over-the-top and unexpected.”
Poppy’s hammer is an important part of her personal journey. “A Hero’s Call,” which offers players a glimpse into Poppy’s world, is centered on the hammer and what it means to her. O’Bryan elaborates, “Even she doesn’t think it’s hers. She thinks it’s a tool for someone else.” Scaling the hammer to make it a normal hammer size helps emphasise the idea that Poppy doesn’t necessarily believe the hammer is hers to wield, that somewhere in the world is a hero meant to carry it. The hammer existed long before Poppy took possession of it.
Though she’s been carrying the hammer for a long, long time, Poppy hasn’t yet realized that she’s what gives the hammer its strength. O’Bryan explains, “If you were to ask Poppy, she would probably think she’s nothing special. Everything she’s doing is because of this hammer she’s carrying around. But really, it’s all coming from her.” Players know one thing Poppy doesn’t: The hammer is right where it needs to be.
Poppy’s new weapon is meant to emphasise core elements of her personality. “She’s purposeful,” says O’Bryan. “Nothing can stop her; if you knock her down, she’s going to keep getting back up.” The team behind the Poppy update wanted to give a sense of solidity to Poppy, the idea that to get to Poppy’s team, enemies have to go through her. “When others run away, Poppy runs forward,” says Gem. “She’s indomitable.”
The hammer is a symbol of Poppy’s strength, her unflinching dedication to her task, and her world view. “Poppy doesn’t think of herself as a small character,” O’Bryan says, “because she really isn’t.” Gem says, “She’s the pebble you thought you could kick, but couldn’t. There’s no one like her.”