Briar, the newest League of Legends (LoL) champion from Noxus, is probably the most hyped champion in recent history thanks to an unstoppable flood of leaks from players who couldn't wait for her official release.
By now, you may have already seen her splash art, along with the conversation around her feet among the League community. Sadly, most of her abilities have slowly been leaked online in the past few days as well.
But who is she? Why does she always have a pillory restraining her? How was she conceptualised? What might the future of the game hold for her?
Yahoo Gaming SEA had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with the team that worked on Briar, including Lexi Gao, Product Lead for the Champs team, August "August" Browning, Briar’s Champion designer and the Champions Design lead, as well as Sunny Pandita, Concept Lead and concept artist, and Max Folkman, the Senior Writer who crafted Briar's narrative.
Here, we were able to learn all about the newest champion, the challenges of creating her, and more. Let’s dive deeper into her lore and everything else behind the scenes that were thankfully not leaked.
Briar’s Lore: The Restrained Hunger
In the depths of a forgotten, decrepit asylum, there lurked a creature unlike any other — a young girl with an insatiable hunger. Since the time she failed the missions that the Black Rose made her for and was captured by Swain’s forces, her existence had been confined to a macabre cell, restrained by a relentless pillory designed to contain her insidious cravings.
The device had been secured by a hemolith, a magical gemstone tasked with quelling Briar's unruly tendencies and redirecting her thoughts.
But she liked that the pillory could keep her somewhat lucid, instead of in a constant frenzied state where her intelligence basically dwindles down to only wanting more blood. Briar found solace in the clarity of thought that the pillory provided.
Briar cast aside her former identity as a mindless killing machine, earning for autonomy and a fresh start. She couldn't remain in the facility any longer. This marked the beginning of Briar's journey, poised for a new and potentially bloodier chapter, but most importantly, ready to embrace the world.
Who was Briar before she became a monster?
According to August, there was no Briar until the Black Rose created her. Unlike Singed’s experiments, she wasn’t a human or any other being that have been experimented on and turned into a monster. She was made to be a living weapon, constantly hungry for blood.
This proved to be both her strength and her flaw — she killed enemies and allies alike. This was why she was restrained with a pillory — which she broke in her second mission before she was caught by Swain’s forces.
What was the inspiration for creating Briar?
Lexi previously mentioned that August was “passionate about a certain mythical creature”, and while August did mention “Vampire Loli [lolita]” at one point in the past, August clarifies that he’s changed the inspiration to a vampire child, since he “didn’t fully grasp the implications” of the previous term.
But Briar isn’t a child, according to August. He’s always thought that “vampire” is a cool trope.
“In contrast to Vladimir's [who isn’t a vampire] aristocratic, blood-wine-sipping vampire archetype, Briar embodies a more physical, brutal vampire, tearing opponents apart and drinking their blood on the battlefield.”
According to the Champion Insights, they were inspired by Eastern European vampires, not Western vampires who cunningly drink blood wine in their castles. With Briar's gameplay, they wanted to capture the monstrous, terrifying blood-hunters who destroy villages for food.
August also added that he’s been drawn to the vampire trope's juxtaposition between humanity and monstrosity—balancing the desire to interact with people, whether for malevolent or benevolent purposes, with an insatiable hunger.
"An exciting twist that Sunny and Max have executed is inverting this trope," he said. "Many vampires struggle with their transition from human to monster, but Briar, who was never human, grapples with her longing to become more human and connect with people. This exploration raises questions about what it means for a monster to desire humanity."
Sunny also said that a lot of the jungle characters were either “very edgy or very dour,” like Maokai being pretty sad in the forest and evil characters like Nocturne and Fiddlesticks, who is “pure terror.”
“It was pretty refreshing to say, ‘Hey, let's make like a fun kind of wacky goofball type character,” Sunny said.
“We wanted a character that juxtaposed some of that grim, darker side with that light kind of fun side. And so yeah, we all, we all brought our ideas and our backgrounds into the project, and then we tried to see which ones worked together.”
Ultimately, he added, “who Briar is doesn't come from a single idea from someone” but from an entire team.
Loss of Control is what makes Briar unique
According to Champion Insights, Briar always had a “willful loss of control” in her toolkit. This mechanism was already in the design team's arsenal thanks to their previous work on another recent bloodthirsty champion, Naafiri.
This didn’t seem to fit Naafiri’s kit as an assassin, so instead, they created an ability kit around this mechanic.
"From the start, she had her bleed, berserk/frenzy, and targeted stun," August explains. "Her E, ultimate, and parts of her passive came later.
The team added her E to give her control over her W (Blood Frenzy) and avoid overcommitting to every rampage. Briar's unique healing mechanic requires her to deal damage or consume blood to heal, with her healing rate increasing as her HP decreases.
For her ultimate, various ideas were considered, including marking a target for a rampage or an Aatrox-like revive mechanic, where she could drain enemies to resurrect with high health."
The challenges of balancing Briar
According to August, her "frenzy mode" presented some technical challenges. “Originally, we used a taunt mechanic similar to Shen's, which made Briar taunt enemies but also caused some unintended effects like crowd control originating from them.”
To address this, the team had to we had to create a unique form of berserk, similar to Renata Glasc's ultimate, to make her taunt mechanic function correctly.
At one point, August laughed as he recalled playtesting incidents.
“Briar's original W used to just straight up taunt the nearest unit, whoever it was, including allies, so she could straight up kill her entire team,” he said.
It’s fair to say that it only lasted a couple of playtests. "Imagine thinking, 'Oh boy, here comes my jungler',” August adds, “Wait, she’s killing me?!”
She also had excessive power, including a 300% boost in movement speed and attack speed, making her nearly impossible to escape from. While it was an intriguing concept to explore, it didn't align with fair gameplay and was problematic for her teammates.
August closed the conversation with a few more clarifications about Briar.
"One thing I really appreciate about Briar is her unapologetic authenticity." He emphasized that Briar doesn't shy away from her monstrous nature but adheres to her own moral code, including a commitment not to harm her friends. "She fully embraces her inherent need to consume others," August added, "and is on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth."
He highlighted that Briar's character isn't one to restrain herself; she genuinely embraces her identity while aspiring to better herself, build friendships, and find her place in the world.
For more about Briar’s kit and gameplay, check out the official LoL website.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.