“Ghost Bride Morgana” and the La Llorona Folktale

I said we’d get around to gaming, didn’t I? For those of you who don’t recognize my header image here, this is the latest skin for Morgana, a champion from Riot Games’ League of Legends. This skin is called “Ghost Bride Morgana” and is being released to celebrate the launch of League’s Latin America server. So why am I talking about this? Well, outside of looking awesome, I find this skin particularly interesting, as it is tied to a South American folktale.

This skin is inspired by the legend of La Llorona. For those unfamiliar with it, a woman named Malichina is said to have drowned her own children in order to marry the man she loved. Unfortunately for her, he won’t have her. So distraught is she but what she has done, that she drowns herself in a lake. When she reaches the gates of Heaven, she is not allowed in because she cannot account for the whereabouts of her children. To this day, the ghost of Malichina is said to wander the Earth crying and seeking her murdered children.

League of Legends isn’t exactly a story driven game. It is really a competitive team game and one of the most popular games in the burgeoning world of eSports. Though each character in the game has a backstory, I would be surprised if you could find players who have an intimate knowledge of the characters or the setting, since these things have very little to do with the gameplay. That being said, I find it impressive that Riot has developed these background details and even touched on the folktales of other cultures. Ghost Bride Morgana isn’t the only champion inspired by folktales. Ahri, a character who is very popular in the game, has a backstory that is very clearly inspired by Korean folktales of the kumiho (nine-tailed fox). As someone who is working on a YA novel featuring Korean folk characters (and yes, one of the prominent ones is a kumiho), I find this fascinating, more so because, as I mentioned, League isn’t really a story driven game.

I haven’t looked into every (or even many) of the backstories for all of the different champions in the game, but I’m guessing there are others that draw from non-Western folk archetypes as well. As a writer, I find this interesting, and I tip my hat to Riot’s content writers for looking for things beyond the traditional Western High Fantasy troupes they easily could have mired themselves in.

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