League of Legends’ Star Guardians Return for a Big Summer Event

A big Star Guardians event is coming to Riot Games League of Legends, Wild Rift, and Legends of Runeterra the 14th of July. A host of characters from the various rosters are getting new Star Guardian skins and cosmetics, and new insights into this alternate universe will roll out across two patches throughout the summer. Riot will also release a Sessions album centered around Star Guardian Taliyah.

The Star Guardians subculture is one of the most popular within the great League of Legends traditions. The Star Guardians are high school students with cosmic powers to defend their homes against terrifying threats.

“The last time we revisited Star Guardian, we really saw that our players loved it and engaged with it,” Riot Games Narrative Producer Stephanie Bedford said in a phone call with Polygon. “So we really wanted to achieve that.”

For those just new to these adorable skins, Riot has released a “History So Far” timeline that summarizes all of the established lore about this alternate universe so far. It’s a classic magical girl story, with a force known as the First Star choosing guardians to defend humanity against the cosmos. The Star Guardians are depicted as high school students, balancing a dual identity of teenager and hero.

Previous waves of Star Guardians have had cutscenes, animations, music, a PvE event, and news posted on the Universe website – but the story details were all pretty vague. Players could glean a general setting and a few key events, but not a narrative line. What we knew came mainly from skin biographies and alternate voice lines of legendary skins.

But despite the limited nature of this narrative, fans still fell in love with the Star Guardians. These alternate characters are very forgiving, with the cute costumes, lovable allies, and healthy friendships you’d expect from a team of magical girls.

Image: Riot Games

“It’s one of our most popular themes that we have as an alternate universe,” Bedford said. “Riot really sees our alternate universes as a truly amazing medium for narrative expression and storytelling. So it’s not just about cosmetics or a skin line for us, and we’re trying to create something that has depth, breadth and appeal to players.

The Star Guardians have an enthusiastic fanbase who draw fan art of the skins, ship them with each other, think about where the story might go or what certain clues might mean, and otherwise get excited for the alternate world.

“All of us developers are definitely on the lookout and sometimes we can’t always interact or give things away,” Bedford said with a smile. “But even within Riot, we’re such big fans ourselves that we link it in our off-topic channels and say ‘Look at this amazing art’ and ‘Oh my God, how did they already know? or “They’re going to be so surprised when this happens.”

In main line League of Legends lore, champions live in dangerous fantasy environments that demand excellence from them. It’s, well, a league of legends. The Star Guardian versions of these characters aren’t as battle-hardened or world-weary. Kai’Sa and Kassadin in Runeterra are a tragic father/daughter duo, narrowly surviving a battle against the Lovecraftian Void. Star Guardian Kai’Sa, on the other hand, tells her teammates not to tell her father about this magical girl thing. “He has a lot to do.” (“We love Kassadad,” Bedford laughed.)

Star Guardian is a universe “really concerned with the personal aspects of relationship, identity and friendship – things that are all very important to our players in real life,” Bedford said.

More than a dozen developers all worked on this year’s Star Guardian event, including lead concept artist Oscar Vega and lead writer Jared Rosen. There are two legendary skins, Kai’Sa and Akali, as well as some nasty cast additions from Star Nemesis Morgana and Fiddlesticks. Star Guardian Event Begins July 14 in Riot’s Wild Rift, League of Legendsand Legends of Runeterra.

James C. Tibbs