Coming This Preseason: Runes Reforged

By RiotWrekz

Runes and Masteries have problems. These systems are complicated, hard to balance, and don't give you enough room to customise your playstyle or adapt to the situation in champ select. Recently, we've been talking about our plans for preseason and why we're combining Runes and Masteries into one streamlined pre-game system. Today, we'll dig into the specifics of how the new system will work.

Combined and Streamlined

Forging a better Runes system first means concentrating the system's power into fewer choices so that each selection matters more. In the current Runes and Masteries systems, there are roughly 60 distinct slots, but very few of those choices have a significant impact on how your champion plays. Most of these slots are used up equipping your character with "required" stats like attack speed, armour, and magic resist. This makes much of Rune/Mastery selection more of a chore than a choice. Additionally, splitting all of the power across so many pieces prevents us from making any of your choices important—or powerful—enough, to really be cool.

With this in mind we're moving those “required” stats into the background so you can focus on the parts that matter. Keystone Masteries were our first test of this new theory, concentrating more of the power into individual choices. As with Keystone Masteries, the new Runes system will focus less on passive stats (although there will still be some of that) and more on playstyle-defining effects.

How does it work?

You’ll head into each game with six Runes. These break down into three types: Keystone, Major, and Minor.


You only get one Keystone Rune, it’s the strongest, and a direct evolution of Keystone Masteries. It shows up on the loading screen, the scoreboard, and will be most impactful in your moment to moment gameplay. Keystones are big, powerful effects that can shift what your champion does. Do you want to play patiently in fights and then explode with a burst of attack speed to crush the enemy team? How about having a pet that follows you around and helps you attack enemies or protect allies? Those are examples we're currently testing.


3 seconds after damaging a champion you go Berserk, gaining 60% Attack Speed for 3 seconds. You can extend the effect to 10 seconds by attacking an enemy champion. Berserk lets you transcend the attack speed cap.


Your attacks and abilities send Perxie to a target. Perxie shields allies by 40 - 120 based on level (+0.3AP or +0.3 bonus AD) or damages enemies for 10 + 40 based on level (+0.1AP or +0.15 bonus AD). Perxie cannot be sent out again until she returns to you.

Major Runes

Major Runes are the next tier down in power, and this is where we see the biggest break from the old Runes and Masteries systems. Here you’ll see effects that aren’t quite as tactical as keystones, but are much more potent than the types of things we’ve been able to do before. Major Runes will have visual/audio representation in the game, so you’ll be able to have feedback when they are happening and recognise their impact. We’ll look at two examples here. Both are still in progress but we really want to share these even though they’re still being worked on.

First, a tamer option, Overheal:


Excess healing becomes a decaying shield, for up to 10% of your total health.

Overheal gives you strong synergy with champions that can heal you, or with your own healing/lifesteal. It can change the way you view fights as trying to poke or waveclear will keep your shield charged and give you that extra edge of durability for the next fight.

Next is a pretty different choice, Zombie Ward:

Zombie Ward

After killing an enemy ward, a friendly Zombie Ward is raised in its place. Zombie Wards are visible, last for 180 seconds and don't count towards your ward limit.

Zombie wards changes how you play the counter-vision game. As you go clear enemy vision, you'll leave your own vision behind, breaking your own ward cap.

Minor Runes

Minor Runes are quieter effects—they have a smaller impact on moment to moment gameplay but give you fun ways to specialise your champions. You’ll see effects of all kinds here, including things that help you scale, increase damage or defence, or give you free items, among many other options. Each minor Rune can help you to double down on a strength, react to an enemy matchup, or shore up a weakness.


+1% CDR per level, up to +10% CDR at level 10. Each percent of excess CDR is converted to +2 Ability Power or +1.4 Attack Damage, Adaptive.

Overcharger grants cooldown reduction as you level up and converts any CDR beyond the cap into AD or AP. This opens the door to brand new item builds.

Essence Thief

Gain 1 permanent max health when enemy minions die near you. Range: 1400 units

Essence Thief is an investment in late-game durability. Every nearby enemy minion that dies grants you a bonus, even if you aren’t the one that killed it.

Paths and Slots

We’ve been over the different types of Runes but not how you actually make your selections. Runes are assigned to Paths, each with its own theme, identity, and set of mechanics to explore. The Domination Path, for example, is about hunting down and blowing up targets. Inside each Path you’ll find a collection of choices, or slots, where you select one Rune from around three options. Each slot has a purpose for what you’ll be getting from it. Overcharger, for example, comes from a damage focused slot and is one of three damage oriented Runes.

Each Path has one Keystone slot, one Major slot, and two Minor slots.

Each Path has its own unique theme, identity, and set of slots. Runes are still a project in progress, but below is some concept art for the new Paths.

Here is an example of what a full slot might look like from the Domination path.

We’re trying a spin on an existing classic, Bounty Hunter. Bounty Hunter has been a popular mastery, but it’s difficult to give it an effect more specific than damage due to some of the limitations of current masteries. All three of these new Bounty Hunter options use the same stacking pattern (get a kill or assist on each enemy champion) but offer different rewards that let you adapt to what you anticipate your needs will be in that game.

Relentless Hunter

10 out of combat Movement Speed per Bounty Hunter stack. Earn a Bounty Hunter stack the first time you get a takedown on each enemy champion.

Ingenious Hunter

5% Active Item CDR per Bounty Hunter stack. Earn a Bounty Hunter stack the first time you get a takedown on each enemy champion.

Ravenous Hunter

2% Spellvamp per Bounty Hunter stack. Earn a Bounty Hunter stack the first time you get a takedown on each enemy champion.

By making what we call “apples to apples” comparisons like this the decisions are easier to understand and adjust on the fly, while still asking deep, predictive questions about the game to come and what rewards you’ll need.

Not all of the slot comparisons are as direct as Bounty Hunter. Here is an example from the Resolve path showcasing a set of utility options.

Essence Thief

Gain 1 permanent max health when enemy minions die near you. Range: 1400

Don’t Panic

Heals and shields are 5% stronger, increased to 10% on targets below 40% health.


Gain 10% Movement Speed towards nearby allies that are CC'ed or enemies that you CC. Range: 1500

Here you'd select between two situational defensive runes and Panic!, which increases your ability to stick to enemies or reach your allies who are in danger. The tradeoff is that opting into Panic! means sacrificing durability by not taking Essence Thief or Don’t Panic.

Each Rune page lets you fill out one complete Path while also choosing some elements from a different Path. We’ll talk more about how that aspect of the system works later.

Looking Forward to Preseason

These are big changes, and we think any new Runes should be more accessible than today's Runes so you can really explore the system. You shouldn’t have to choose between trying out a new rune build and buying a new champion. So the new runes will be free. This is a change that should positively affect everyone, since it allows us more freedom to tweak and balance Runes—something we were always hesitant to do with the old system. You'll also be able to freely edit them in champ select.

Runes today are a significant portion of what players unlock with IP, and making them free will have ripple effects on a lot of other things. Our current earning and rewards systems have a fair share of problems: new players face a huge grind before they can be competitive, and many veterans have piles of IP without anything to spend it on. So we’re going to take a step back and look at our earnings and rewards systems as a whole. We'll talk more about that stuff as we get closer to preseason.

This change has been a long time in the making, and the whole team is thrilled to discuss it with you now. Please let us know what you think and reach out with any questions you have. We'll share more details on Runes Reforged in the coming months.

2 years ago

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