Thursday, March 16, 2017

An Introduction to Runescape

Two days ago I announced that I would be leaving GW2 and returning to Runescape for some good old questing. To my pleasant surprise Jeromai and Bhagpuss have shown interest in reading about it, and have mentioned there a lack of Runescape blogs, so I thought it fitting to start this with a proper introduction to the game.

Silvertaler has grown a beard! I thought it was time, it's been a solid six years since I last played him.
Note that I am playing the Old School version, also known as Runescape 2007 or Runescape 2, and not Runescape 3. The original version has been subjected to so many terrible updates that it may as well not even be called Runescape anymore. This is not an exaggeration, it truly is unrecognizable.

With that aside, Runescape is an open world MMORPG. By open world, I mean that it's one of those games that will give you a brief introduction on how to play, and then drop you in a world you're free to explore as you please. This is the type of game that I enjoy the most.

The Tutorial Island

The starting area is known as the Tutorial Island. It's a miniquest that guides you through a few of the basic skills and some of the game's concepts. Taking from 5 to 10 minutes to complete, it's short and crystal clear. It also leaves you with an accurate impression of the game's theme: simple, easygoing, sometimes humorous but not unprofessional. The NPCs happily break the 4th wall to explain how things work and will give you a decent amount of starting items.

Chosing what to do

Once you're done with the Tutorial Island, you're free to do whatever you like. So, what do people do in Runescape?

• Skilling: This is probably the most common activity. There's a total 23 skills, ranging from fishing to smithing and even prayer, all of which cap at level 99. Getting a level 99 is a very tedious process that should be considered a long term goal, if even considered at all: it's completely optional. Depending on how much you play, it either takes several months or several years.

• PKing (Player Killing): This is the game's main PvP activity. Runescape is one of those games where you lose all your items when you die, and to the North-East of the map there's an area called the Wilderness where you're free to attack other players whose combat level is close to yours. PKing is very popular, and serves as the central activity for much of the playerbase.

• Questing: My personal favorite. The world map is dotted with quests which are mostly independent from one another. There's 129 of them and they vary tremendously in difficulty. The easy ones only require you to help bake a cake for the Duke or gather wool from sheep, while the toughest involve complex 3 floor light puzzles or solving intricate regicide conspiracies. Of course, it's possible to use guides and get all the answers, but that ruins the fun of it.

• Dungeon bosses: There are a few dungeons with bosses worth hunting for prized rewards, like Waterbirth Island or the God Wars Dungeon. These require very high combat levels and knowledge of the game.

• Minigames: There's various minigames, often PvP, where you may die without losing your items, my favorite being Castle Wars. They're not particularly rewarding, but are great fun and good combat exp.

As a freeplayer you're limited to the "freeplay zone", which by itself has a decent amount of content, and if you've subscribed to the monthly membership you can of course visit the entire map. Some areas will be locked until you've completed certain quests, and some others, such as caves and castles belonging to evil factions, might be too dangerous for a low level player.

The Ambiance

Runescape is an easygoing game with some humor here and there, particularly the British, Monty Python type of humor. Every now and then you'll come across an NPC making references to England, or getting dragged into one of these "random events", such as the one in the screenshot above (lucky that happened to me on the first day!). Fun fact, these random events were originally designed to catch bots and were usually quite deadly.

Personal goals

As for me, I wish to go through all the quests once more. My plan as of right now is to complete one quest per day, no more no less, starting today. My first was Cook's Assistant, and my last will likely be Legend's Quest. There are guides on how to level efficiently and what not, but I do not follow those as I don't want to make of this game a job. I'm treating this as a solo game and doing whatever I feel like. Ultimately, I would love to get 99 Slayer, as it was the goal I was working on before I quit, but it's an extremely difficult task and so I'll have to see about it.

I hope to keep you interested with this new content!


  1. I have no knowledge of Runescape whatsoever apart from its hardcore reputation. I've enjoyed reading your introduction and it already makes more sense to me now! Looking forward to reading more. :)

  2. Runescape has, or had, serious critical mass, enough to generate its own memes. Such as this:

    - Simon

    1. I wasn't aware of that! Thanks for sharing, might consider adding it somewhere...

  3. I did try Runescape once. I wrote about it once so I can check when it was...2011. I imagine that was a fair way into the "terrible updates" period although it seemed fine to me. It seemed like a very solid MMO but it was also plain that it was a big, well-established one that would take some serious time commitment to get into and I didn't have the time.

    I've always been curious as to why it doesn't get more coverage. It's been around for a long time and it's very commercially successful but it barely gets a mention in any blogs, news sites or forums that I read. Given that it's an English-Language MMO and the only one I can think of that's made by a UK-based company I find it quite peculiar that it gets a bare fraction of the publicity that completely run-of-the-mill, badly translated imports get as a matter of course.

    The full loot PK hardcore aspect of RS seem to have totally passed me by, by the way. I had no idea about that when I briefly played it and I can't remember it coming up when I was researching it for the post i did about why no-one blogs about Runescape. Is that only in the original/remake or is the current version also PvP-centric?

    1. 2011 was indeed the beginning of this game's transition from a traditional open world MMORPG to the "modern" on-rails, in-game store type of MMORPG. The company failed to realise that the reason why people played RS was specifically because it offered different content, content that set it clearly appart from WoW. Attempting to become more WoW-like made the fanbase drop from 200,000 players logged in at any time during the day to a mere 100,000.

      There used to be many Runescape bloggers, I was one of them as well (there's some posts I reuploaded from my old blog from 2007 and 2009, but I'm far from being done with that, I'm lazy!). We used to read Runescape Reader's Digest ( everyday and there were famous bloggers like Marlaine from Marlaine's Musings back in the day. The thing you need to know about Runescape's community is that it's very isolationist. It's composed of very dedicated players that don't really venture anywhere else and thus don't get to make connections with people from other MMORPGs. That, and many of the bloggers quit circa 2011 - 2012 when Jagex shot themselves in the foot with those crappy updates (you can see it on Reader's Digest blog, that blog was extremely popular back then and his last posts reflect that).

      I don't know how it is in RS3, I have no interest for that game, but in RS2 PKing is a huge deal. It's all optional of course, but people love it. It's a place where you can either die and lose all your gear, or kill others and get theirs, and logging out during a fight won't save you: your character remains in game even if you log out until it's considered "out of combat". There's clans, betrayals, baits, luring, scams, three-headed dragons and precious resources. I would say half of the community in RS2 play the game with the intent of becoming PKers. I personally don't, I'm interested in doing the quests, but I do go there from time to time to see if I can catch someone off guard.

    2. Wasn't Jagex sold during that time as well? To a NYC investment company if memory serves.

      I used to log into my old RS account every so often, and after the sale I remember logging in to a hideous F2P gift wheel of fortune that popped up into your face.

      It was just so jarring set against RS' old-timey fantasy and community feel.


    3. I remember the game was originally designed by two programmers only, Andrew Gower and some other guy I forgot the name. It was indeed sold at some point.

      I myself quit roughly when that wheel of fortune came out. It wasn't the first of the horrid updates, but it certainly was among those that hurt the game the most.

      RS3 is run by greedy assholes. I strongly recommend RS2007 if you ever play again, it's run by a much smaller team and any updates are voted by the community first. It has a future while RS3 doesn't.

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