Oooh! Riot are prepping for a major overhaul of League of Legends' [official site] most clunky features: Rune and Masteries! Runes Reforged is the name they're giving to the project and the devs are hoping it will make the whole arcane faff of that extra layer of customisation into something players won't refer to as e.g. "an arcane faff" or "League of Legends' most clunky feature". Allow me to explain!
Runes and Masteries are extra layers of customisation which affect how you play League of Legends. Runes apply little boosts, so +1.5% increased health here or +0.22% attack damage there. On their own these are generally pretty minor in how they affect play, but you plug them into spaces on a Rune Page to create a cumulative boost to a particular playstyle. When you play the game you pick which page you want to use in the game but you can't customise it in accordance with how you suspect the game will go based on the specific champions who will be played. In my experience people tend to just set up rune pages, often based on templates other people have put online, and then don't really interact with them on a granular level.
Masteries are skill trees you put points into as another way of building around a playstyle. They actually got simplified from a multi-branch tree to a three-tier thing already. As a result it's clearer what you're picking and the strength of the impact it will have on the game but it's still another level of faff to deal with.
AND SO! The preseason will bring with it this Runes Reforged effort. The preseason is the bit of time after the annual World Championship and before the Spring Split of the next season of professional play. Because no srs bsns is being conducted at this point in time the development team are able to make the big changes to the game without ruining pro leagues. This year the preseason will kick in from November and will combine Runes and Masteries into a single system.
"Instead of many, mostly incremental, choices about stats, new runes concentrate the power down to a more focused set of choices that have a greater impact on gameplay," is the way League of Legends' lead producer, New001 phrased it.
It's a work in progress so the details might change but the current idea is to make the most important and impactful choice be the keystone rune you use and then you augment/refine that with your other decisions.
One example is to build around the Berserk keystone rune. That one would give you a 60% attack speed boost and temporarily raise your attack speed cap after your character has spent a few seconds in combat. Another example is a Perxie build - Perxie being the name of the fairy-like companion it bestows on you and whom you can deploy to shield allies or do additional damage to enemies. A third mention went to Overheal which takes any healing above and beyond your usual maximum and converts it into an overshield.
The latter would be useful as a response to a draft where teammates have picked champs like Soraka or Sona and healing is going to be flying around like gnats on a summer evening. With that in mind the idea is to have this new system be fully editable from the champion select part of the game. Instead of having those rune and mastery pages where you need to build in some flexibility in case the champion draft is weird, you'd be able to use them to respond to the specific game.
The other big thing to note here is that Riot want to make the runes free of charge. At the moment you need to pay to unlock them with one of the in-game currencies (the one you get from playing games) so runes are things you need to budget for alongside (and sometimes instead of) champions and other digital doodads. The intention is that a) it's easier to try out new builds because you're not having to do that at the expanse of anything else and b) if players aren't needing to chuck currency at runes they can chuck it at champions thus beefing up their available champ pool faster. In anticipation of the tsunami of "BUT I HAVE SPENT ALL OF MY INFLUENCE POINTS EVER ON RUNES AND LIFE IS AWFUL HOW COULD YOU DO THIS RITO PLS" New001 notes that
Rito Riot have a plan to take care of players who spent their points on runes before this new system. They do not detail the plan so I'm assuming details are being hammered out and hot Reddit takes may or may not guide the company towards a preferred solution. It'll also probably necessitate some changes to the economy around that particular form of currency.
Also mentioned in the video and worth a nod because I like that stuff is the Honor system changes. That's the one where you reward other players for not being jerks.
The Honor system change is coming a lot sooner - hopefully the upcoming 7.13 patch after a bit of time on the beta environment. The thinking there is to make good behaviour rewards far more visible as well as being more desirable. To that end when someone's nexus explodes and the game ends you'll immediately get prompted to honor teammates. The flavours of honor are Shotcalling, Not Tilting, and Being Nice To Play With. That should tell you something about the basic challenges of online multiplayer if you are unfamiliar with the delights it can offer. Your honor stat can go up as well as down which is an interesting touch, and high honor levels will make you eligible for exclusive rewards. Perhaps a "NOT A JERK" hat or all of the ward skins because GOOD PEOPLE WARD.