Herald staff and invited experts critically examine today’s most significant trends.
The Rise of Zaun
by Zinovie Vadim Arkadiy, Summoner of Zaun (retired)
illustration by Summoner DarkbreakerEx, Summoner Mistreiu Z. Ko, and Shadowfox
Once merely a minor ally of the great and feared city-state of Noxus, the city of smog and steel we all know as Zaun has risen to fill the gap in power left by Noxus’ tragic fall to the unleashed creatures of the void.
Known for its questionable ethics, reckless experimentation and not least of all the toxic veil of smog draped across its skyline, Zaun is a battlefield just as much as it is a city, with dozens of megacorporations waging ceaseless wars against each other, in boardrooms and in the streets, constantly jockeying for supremacy over their rivals via any means necessary. Constantly on the lookout for new and advanced technology to give them an edge, there are certain names that resurface constantly in this shifting morass of corporate war: Viktor, Singed, “Dr.” Mundo, Warwick, even the vile Twitch as of late.
For a society built around such ruthless pursuits of science and technology, it could be said that there was literally no other nation in the world better equipped to take advantage of the discovery of a strange new resource: the pyrikhos sand. A peculiar Void-infused mixture of residual Shuriman magic, it is a new and astonishing power source capable of revolutionizing the field of hextech.
For evidence of this, one need not look further than Zaun’s crown jewel of artifice: the mighty HexKorps.
The flashing and crackling of blue and violet energies, the hissing of steam from multiple exhaust vents, and the ominous, metal creaking that accompanies their every movement — the death machines of the HexKorps are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
From the smallest biochemical siege engines of the Armored Divisions, masterpieces of the Mad Chemist, to the building-sized nightmares of steel and thunder that are the crowning achievement of the enigmatic Machine Herald, it is blatantly obvious to anyone witnessing their advance that Zaun has finally stepped onto the world stage as a true power to contend with. Powered by revolutionary pyrikhos-based energy sources, specially augmented with the fiendish brilliance of Viktor’s devices, it is difficult to say whether or not even Piltover would be capable of designing something of this caliber, or at least, something so wholly specialized for destructive military force, for such has ever been a particular specialty of Zaun techmaturgy and science.
None can compare to the twisted genius of Singed. Though his skills lie more in the realms of chemistry, with Viktor’s mechanically minded brilliance crafting perfect “containers” for his creations, it was child’s play for the Mad Chemist to create a new wave of hextech shock troopers, humanoid machines equipped with the most devastating biological and chemical weapons in his arsenal. His successes at Shon-Xan, and even the horrors that wiped out the Noxian exile Riven’s original platoon, pale in comparison to his newest creations. With the aid of the pyrikhos, Singed has crafted more potent versions of his past formulas and uncovered new ways to dismantle the enemies of Zaun with science. One thing is certain: smaller than their colossal Deathmachine brethren though they might be, the Armored Divisions of the HexKorps are no less dangerous.
Their offensive capabilities aside, the incredible resilience and toughness of the Korps are nothing to sneeze at either, with the smallest of units being able to withstand multiple strikes before ceasing function, and the inherent arcane fields of the machines giving them the capability to shrug off conventional spellwork as well, partially a result of Zaun’s successful forays into the recent fields of Void Energy and so-called Extradimensional Theory.
A triumph of modern techmaturgic engineering, a credit to the studies of the most ancient and mysterious of civilizations, and a force that stands ready to crush all those who would continue to look down on Zaun, the supposedly “minor” citystate in the shadow of those its’ so-called “betters”, the HexKorps are a symbol of everything Zaun stands for, and a warning to those who would oppose the pursuit of knowledge.
Chemistry in Zaun — Pyrikhos Potions Abound?
an interview conducted by Summoner Kuronan
illustration by Summoner DarkbreakerEx, Summoner Mistreiu Z. Ko, and Shadowfox
Greetings fellow Runeterrans! It is my distinct pleasure to bring you information from Zaun for our first edition of the Summoner’s Herald! Today, we’ll be looking at perhaps the most controversial science outside of Zaun: Alchemy, or as some call it, Chemistry. Whatever you may prefer to call it, there is no debate who the leading expert is. And with that introduction out of the way, Singed, I’d like to ask about a project you were known to contribute vastly in, which was Pharmakon II.
Singed: Ah yes, one of my finer works. Though I could have done it alone, the assistance of several colleagues of mine helped to streamline the process.
Kuronan: Without a doubt. Can you tell us what kinds of formulas were being considered during the initial stages?
Singed: Well, we did consider [REDACTED] with [REDACTED] and mixing in a minor amount of pyrikhos, but the effects were extremely minor, so we had to experiment around.
Kuronan: Is there any specific way to disposition someone to Pharmakon II, or is it just pure luck?
Singed: At first we thought there might be a certain element of genetic disposition involved, meaning some people died and others picked it up quite well, but we were encouraged to continue experimenting to reduce casualties until we found the current formula. Every now and then a subject’s disposition will still produce an adverse reaction, but it’s no longer lethal to over half of the people who ingest it.
Kuronan: So anyone could just take a bottle and hope for the best.
Singed: With the newer formula yes, it’s quite unlikely for the first-round doses to trigger a fatal reaction, and directly lethal side effects are really rather rare these days. Every so often there’s a report of some arcanovariant incongruity or other.
Kuronan: Do you think it’s worth it though?
Singed: Yes, very much so — Pharmakon II is the only demonstrated method of activating an individual as more than a Tier Two Void-interactive psi-mage.
Kuronan: Several rumors are going around that a few mages have left Zaun and went to other City-States. Are you allowed to discuss this with us?
Singed: [REDACTED] As with any weapon, schematic, or other thing, someone could take it and run off somewhere with it. A few mages have indeed left to parts unknown, though they are very few and between. However, if they tried leaving with only a few batches of Pharmakon II they’ll be disappointed to know it’s not a one-time formula…
Kuronan: Oh? Please, do explain.
Singed: Well, Pharmakon II does allow learning of Void Magics, but the body needs to adjust to it, the physiochemistry needs to change … if you drink or inject it only once, at best you’ll exhibit psi-magery for a few minutes and then the worst “hangover” of your life for a few days. But it appears that a prolonged course of treatment can achieve a permanent rebalancing of the biothaumic field.
Kuronan: I’m sure that’s kept a lot of possible run-aways in check.
Singed: Indeed it has.
Kuronan: I’m sure our audience would love to hear more from you, any parting words for your fans and enemies?
Singed: Take a deep breath…
Warp Gates: Technical Revolution or Harbingers of Despair?
reported by Summoner O. Anarchist
It seems that Valoran has been awash in conflict these last few years, and the heated dispute between Zaun, Demacia, Bandle City, and Piltover over control of the Shuriman Pyrikhos fields is only the latest issue to arise. Unlike the previous conflicts which mar Runeterra’s past, however, the Pyrikhos dispute has been much less an issue of open warfare, and much more a technological race between city-states and nations to advance themselves as far beyond their competition as they possibly can. Much to the growing discontent of the continent at large, Zaun has been the definitive victor of this race to tech and arms thus far. Numerous breakthroughs in a multitude of fields colour the resumes of Zaunite engineers and scientists, resulting in fascinating technology as terrifying as it is wondrous. There is none so fascinating, however, as the recent Zaunite development of the warpgate. Inspired by the unique magical capabilities of the League champion Twisted Fate, the Zaunite warp gate allows for near-instantaneous travel between any number of given points, so long as another gate is present at the desired destination. The consequences of such a breakthrough, unsurprisingly, are nothing less than revolutionary.
Across most of Valoran, transportation still takes place in the form of horse-drawn carriages, sail-powered shipping, and the very rare Piltoverian or Zaunite airship. To travel great lengths through any of the above methods consumes an incredible amount of resources and time. With the invention of the warp gate, Zaun has rendered every other known method of transportation practically obsolete, entirely eliminating the cost necessary for transporting large amounts of shipping, living or otherwise. Naturally, this provides the city with an immense advantage over its competitors in trade, troop movement, and anything else that might require some method of transportation. When combined with Zaun’s recent developments in armoured and mechanized military power (see HEXKORPS), the advent of the warpgates means that Zaun is now unmatched in political, industrial, and military mobility. It’s an ominous omen. With such a powerful transportation network, the newly developed Zaunite HexKorps could strike anywhere, at any time.
During the initial unveiling of the warp gate transportation system, this Summoner had the pleasure of speaking to several Summoners, scientists, and engineers involved in the development of the warpgate, who allowed me to ask them some of these very questions. While they were understandably unable to provide too many details regarding the plans of their government and various research and development sectors, my interviews with the Zaunite researchers and their backers proved to be eclectic, shocking, illuminating, and in almost all cases, more than a little surprising. The first Summoner I managed to get a hold of – the well known Combat Summoner Rahh – didn’t offer much in the way of valuable information. The Summoner looked to me with rather frightening eyes, grinned, and muttered a mostly inaudible statement about something he called “Rahhzilla.”
In hindsight, the pyrikhos-coloured glow emanating from his body should have warned me away before I ever attempted to strike up conversation.
Nonetheless I pressed on, and was rewarded with a much more illuminating conversation by way of the Zaunite high summoner general himself, Naggarok.
“It’s a testament to the forward-thinkingness of Zaun’s scientists and engineers that we could develop the Warp Gate in such a short frame of time,” Naggarok explained. “When presented with the resources they need, a Zaunite doesn’t waste their thinking about little things, like what minor side-effects an experiment might have on the present, or whether a bit of research is perfectly ethical and safe. A Zaunite thinks for the future, and does their research effectively and efficiently. Any problems brought about by the development process can be fixed by the final product in the future.”
To many, this reckless mentality towards research and development of technologies built around a substance as volatile and dangerous as pyrikhos might seem outright suicidal, and indeed many minor disasters (See Void Outbreak/Invasion) have rocked Zaun as a byproduct of their scientific methodology. Yet nobody can argue the end results. Perhaps this is an indication that Bandle City and Piltover should impose looser restrictions on their own scientists? Certain parties would disagree, but the results of Zaun’s research cannot be denied. But I digress.
When asked about the impact the warp gate might have on the world at large, Naggarok simply stated: “The warpgates? They’re going to change everything.” Having seen the magics of the warp gate first hand, it’s hard to disagree with the High Summoner’s statement.
“The warp gate will allow for instantaneous trade between any nations that share a gate. Travelling from city to city will be as easy as walking to the market. And from a military standpoint, it will completely rewrite the book on military tactics.” He continued, “When your enemy can reposition their troops at a moment’s notice, conventional scouting and siege tactics are rendered obsolete. The militaries of the world will need to adapt to the changes. Zaun already has.”
Ominous words, and an obvious indication that Zaun has taken the recent mobilisation of Demacia’s vast and powerful armed forces very seriously. I had hoped to inquire as to exactly how Zaun had made their adaptations, but the High Summoner’s time was limited and I was forced to move on. Luckily, I managed to get ahold of the Summoners Ottoman and Anarchist during a moment of their spare time, and the duo (most famous for negotiating the wartime treaty of the Nefara conflict between Zaun and Bandle) was gracious enough to answer a few more of my questions.
Did Zaun have any big plans for the warp gate, I’d asked, to which Anarchist quickly responded. “Space,” the Summoner stated with a grin, pointing up to the sky. “The moon’s a pretty cool place, we figure. It’d be awfully nice if we could stick a warpgate up there.” I quickly found myself pointing out just how impossibly far away the moon was, to which the Summoner confidently replied, “Sure it’s far, but distance is all relative. We built a cross-continental teleportation grid. Zaun can fly to the moon.”
Ottoman elaborated for him:
“Bandle has a spaceship — we know it’s a spaceship. Who says Zaun can’t build something similar?” Beyond the race for space, though, Ottoman had some rather hopeful words to say regarding the future of the warp gate for the rest of Valoran.
“This doesn’t just have to be Zaun tech,” He explained earnestly. “If we could link up the whole world through warpgates, then not just Zaun, but every other city-state could benefit! Trade would be more profitable, and the economic growth for many industries would be tremendous. I know some people think Zaun just wants to kill you, but the warp gates aren’t a weapon. We built them, so they’re for Zaun first, but once we’ve secured our technological future, the warpgate will be for everyone. This kind of technology, beneficial to all, is the exact type of thing Zaun wants to share.”
It’s certainly a good sign that some of the higher ups in Zaun are looking to share this wondrous technology with the rest of the world, and if anything, Summoner Ottoman and Anarchist’s statements are quite indicative of the “turn over a new leaf” strategy Zaun has begun employing in several of its political actions across the continent.
There’s obviously a future for this technology, but whether that future is as an instrument for Zaunite domination or a method of extending the world trade network, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. On a small note of comfort, I was assured, as I left, to ignore the ramblings of Summoner Rahh — even within the the most twisted sectors of the Zaunite summoning caste his plans for Rahhzilla and consulting with void demons are viewed as insane — so I suppose we can rest easy knowing that whatever Rahhzilla is, we probably won’t ever have to find out.
It’s obvious that with these latest developments, Demacia is certainly on the lookout for even the most remotely suspicious activity, and it’s an unfortunate situation that we may end up bearing witness to the tactical combat advantages provided by the warpgates sooner than we will the socio-economic improvements summoner Ottoman promises … but one can be certain that, regardless of the events which shape the future, the advent of the warpgate will alter our very way of life on Runeterra for the foreseeable future.