Legends of Runeterra 5e

**Update: on 6/19/20, WoTC announced via DNDBeyond twitter that this content will go away on 8/10/20 and was limited time. This post has been left in tact with the exception of the update header and footer posted on 6/19/20.

Legends of Runeterra is a CCG based on the popular MOBA LoL. If I haven’t turned you off yet, congrats. Brace yourself though, because, while about a massively popular game, crossing over with another fairly well known one, this post is going to require a decent dose of nerd culture and acronyms to really understand.

Look for the Skip Section if you want to skip all the nerd history stuff

CCG’s, or collectible card games, are game like Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or Pokemon TCG. I played them heavily in my middle and high school days, but faded out in college so I’m sure I’m missing some big modern ones. Especially because Runeterra is a virtual CCG, positioning itself as a big competitor to Hearthstone, or Artifact.

MOBAs, are Melee Online Battle Arena’s spun out of a mod for warcraft called DoTA. No, not that one, Warcraft 3, a popular enough RTS that came before the big MMO we all know, and some of us love. Warcraft 3 was praised for its story mode, which gave rise to WoW, and its ok enough RTS elements that made it fun enough for the time. What really made it stand out though, was its mod community. Warcraft 3 had a super customizable map editor, and through some basic scripting, and sprite importing, people created unbelievably elaborate games. The most popular of which, was DoTA, or Defense of the Ancients (but anyone remember ENFOs, battleships, or X-Hero?). If you log onto Warcrafts still running battlenet servers, you will still find people playing DoTA Allstars, the sequel mod that came out shortly after Warcraft’s Frozen Throne expansion pack. Blizzard and the mod community got in a fight, and the DoTA name got sold to valve, who now make DOTA 2, and LoL is the very successful coke to DOTA 2’s pepsi. Blizzard realized they missed out, and now makes Heroes of the Storm, which can be the RC cola I guess? Maybe Tab.

One last little bit of background, for the new. Warcraft is really just a re-skinned Warhammer. The setting is very similar, the name is very similar, and if contract disputes weren’t a thing, it would just be Warhammer. A setting strongly inspired by what? Tolkien and Moorcock. What other game do we all know is strongly inspired by these guys? The big one, Dungeons and Dragons.

So Runeterra owes its existence to Lord of the Rings, easy enough. Some guys knocked off a tabletop game to make a video game, and then there was an incestuous circle of knock offs, and then a video game got knocked off to make LoL, who built a CCG based on it. That should tell you a lot about why most MOBAs have very similar sprites, and they all have an elf archer lady, and a giant Minotaur guy who bounces people into the air. League looked around, and saw that DoTA had a CCG, and Heroes of the Storm had one, and realized they shouldn’t be left in the dust.

wc3 reforged press kit

It should also tell you why Wizards, who makes both D&D and MTG, is should be very interested in getting tied into a MOBA, and LoL makes up almost 12% of esports. That level of domination is like back in the 90’s when everyone was a Chicago Bull’s fan, even if they had never watched a basketball game in their life. Don’t believe me? League of Legends finals do better than any sporting event except the super bowl (excluding the rest of esports). The Runeterra CCG tie in makes total sense, as CCG’s are something that WoTC gets. Especially considering their failed outing at esports for D&D a little bit ago.

Stop Skip

Now that we have a little history of LoL, and what Runeterra is out of the way, lets dive into the content at hand. The tie in with D&D 5e. Disclaimer, I’ve long thought League needed to get in on the RPG game. Its setting is very high fantasy, and Fun. Its designed to have easy to learn lore, big iconic characters, and generally up-beat. Even the villains have goofy costumes now and again. Heck, its even got a built in gladiator arena as a big focus, a D&D trope that’s a recipe for a quick good time.

They put together one of these ebook things that, I find hard to read, but it does look pretty slick. It opens with an awesome shot of Bilgewater, and a pirate ship, surrounded by stormclouds. Then we get 7 or 8 paragraphs walking us through what we are playing. This is a setting written for the Bilgewater region of Runeterra, which is fine. Thats where their pirates live, and pirates are another surefire Fun D&D trope.

Chapter 1: Setting Guide

The setting guide actually gives you, well, setting information. Its got how the island was founded, and gives some outlines for governance. What I like though, is they spend as much time talking about governance, as they do outlining the major factions. So we get a little bit about how their is a conclave that runs it, but we also get a lot about how Gangplank founded it, got betrayed and thrown out and now is starting to work his way back in. The nations in League are at constant war, and so we learn a little about two other nations, the Shadow Isles, and Noxus, and how they view Bilgewater. Kind of nice, but I’d want a little more if it were something that weren’t free.

The economy section is great, because apparently the entire economy of Bilgewater is adventurers, and I can’t fault them. You can be a bounty hunter, monster hunter, salvage diver, or pirate. It doesn’t get into more than that, which is the League mindset, and for many players that’s probably enough. For DMs, you may want to know what the common folks do, but this won’t tell you. This section exemplifies the guides mentality. If you’re the sort of DM who wants to know common meals, and where the schoolhouse is, you will find it lacking. If you want to know anything that impacts the players during an adventure? This has it. All hyperlinked and D&D Beyond integrated.

Chapter 2: Heroes and Scoundrels

Chapter 2 is basically the players options part. It has a section on races, and it has 3 new D&D Beyond built archtypes. I’m loving the archtypes, but would have liked to see backgrounds and races. The races section in particular is lacking. No new races, just a bunch about how you have to refluff existing stuff. No Yordel stats, no deal.

The barbarian path, Path of the Depths, makes me feel like I’m playing Nautilus, and that’s what they are going for. I can see it being useful in most games, which is a perk. It gets a swim speed, it has a hook shot you can use to pull people to you, it can dive underwater and burst up on them, gets some tank armor powers, and finally a Depth Charge which blasts anyone near you with force damage and is knocks them prone.

The Renegade is applied to…. Martial Characters? It’s not clear. I checked and the character builder gave it to fighters, so probably them. This is the Miss Fortune and Gangplank class, and its all about building a custom gun that does stuff for you. I wasn’t crazy about it. It seems like they should have just introduced gun rules, but instead these guys build a custom gun and use it. Gangplank and MF aren’t super known for building guns, just using them.

The Wild Card is the rogue path. I want to like it, and its all about game pieces (like twisted fate, their gambit knockoff), but it seems more complicated than its worth. The Wild Card power works like I’d want it to, and it probably captures the feel of playing TF, but I’m left disappointed with the overall execution.

Chapter 3: An Adventure

They include a short adventure for level 3 PCs, which is right when they get the archtype from chapter 2. Its pretty straight forward, and I like that they give an overview at the start of the major plot points. I won’t spoil the adventure, but will say I like the art. It is really lacking maps, and only provides them for one encounter. Probably because maps aren’t pretty, and this documents great to look at. Maps are critical to me as a DM when I’m trying to describe an encounter, and their lack of inclusion is a big letdown. The one they include looks great. The weird netbook is an awkward format for an adventure too, because it minimizes the chapters when I don’t have them open. Its a lot of scrolling back and forth.

Chapter 4: Beasts of Bilgewater

This is the monster manual, and it contains 7 monsters. That’s plenty for a nation book, because you can pull from the monster manual. I’m a little offended at the lack of Poro’s though. That is literally the only thing my wife can name about League. It also includes stats for Miss Fortune and Gangplank, two iconics for the setting who appear in the adventure, and stats for Commander Ledros. I’m not super familiar there as I haven’t played the CCG, but he appears to be a card.

Chapter 5: Booty of Bilgewater

This is a list of magic items, which is great, and they are all directly from the game. We get 7, and its probably fine. They work like they do in LoL as well, which is neat. The Banshee’s Veil, gives you a 1/day Counterspell as a reaction, and the Dead Man’s Plate lets you make a shove action as a bonus action.

Then the book sort of ends. There isn’t a summary or anything, and being a netbook its just sort of the last page.

Overall, I love that this was made, and that’s it’s such high quality. In the end, I’d rather have had a PDF, like they did with the MTG crossover stuff, but it’s solid. I hope they keep this up, and I can fulfill my longstanding back-burner idea of making a LoL setting.

**Update: on 6/19/20, WoTC announced via DNDBeyond twitter that this content will go away on 8/10/20 and was limited time. This post has been left in tact with the exception of the update header and footer posted on 6/19/20.

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