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Developer(s) Jagex Ltd.
Publisher(s) Jagex Ltd.
Release date(s) January, 2001
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Rating(s) N/A
Platform(s) OS Independent (Web Based Java Applet)


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Players meeting to trade in west Varrock.
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Player exploring the Wilderness

RuneScape is a 3D Java based massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), launched by Jagex Ltd. in January 2001. For a full history see History and Development.

The game has a medieval fantasy theme similar to games such as World of Warcraft or EverQuest but often with a less serious tone. One of the more unusual aspects of the game is the ability to do more mundane and non-violent tasks, as well as the more usual RPG fare.

There are often over a hundred thousand players online at once, and on busy weekends, over a hundred and thirty thousand players, spread across its 80+ servers. These servers are located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and The Netherlands, making it one of the largest online Java games in the world. There are also a few servers running the "classic" version of the game (split between free and pay servers).



The game is set in a fantasy world, where each player controls his own avatar. There is no overall objective or end to the game, aside from a general goal of increasing the character's abilities and passing benchmarks. However, there are plenty of tasks that people can perform in the game. For example, players can interact with each other by talking, trading, and even fighting (though fighting is restricted to the wilderness in the free version while the members version additionally has the duelling and Castle Wars arenas). Quests can also be undertaken, such as the Dragon Slayer quest. However, quests are not compulsory and players have the option of not completing any of the in-game quests as they choose. There are many other activities such as fishing, crafting, mining, woodcutting, and smithing. As these activities are performed, a character will become more skilled at the activity.


While there is no true continuous story of Runescape, it does have an extensive history and many developments are made on this overall story as the game progresses. Much of this information is unlocked throughout quests. The world that your character plays in is known as "Gielienor" (Although this name is commonly ignored, the land is generally just called Runescape) it is a vast landscape, with varying climates, you can travel in the pleasant countrysides of the kingdom of Asgarnia, the hellish deserts of Al Kharid, the cold mountains of Trollheim, the underground Dwarven kingdom of Keldagrim, the northerns settlements of Relleka, the swamps of Morytania, the elven forests of Tirrawn, and if you dare, the barren wastelands known only as the Wilderness, where anything goes. A multitude of races live in these climates (although you yourself must be a human), including: Gnomes, Dwarves, Goblins, Trolls, Ogres, elves the ghosts of souls yet to pass into the next world, and even cities of apes! While there are many gods among the world of Gielienor and beyond, many are forgotten in the annals of history, and the three most commonly worshipped today are Saradomin, Guthix, and Zamorak. Saradomin being the god of holiness, and all things good, Zamorak the god of chaos, and Guthix, the god of balance. You will discover much more on the histories of the land and gods as you progress through the game, along with many current affairs threatening your world.

RuneScape humor

While there is plenty of serious content in RuneScape, there are also lots of quirky/humorous things going on too. Some of the more unusual things include: the ability to cook a variety of types of pizzas; pick bananas on a banana plantation; hold parties with balloons; play with yo-yos, spinning saucers, and toy horses; whacking others with rubber chickens; raising a pet cat which can then do things like catching rats; and duelling other players with a rubber chicken (or a bunch of flowers). Around Easter 2005 players had the chance to catch up to the fast-moving giant Easter Bunny (a character no longer present in the game) for a rubber chicken. In addition, if one searches a haystack, one will eventually find a needle. One can also "examine" certain items or people to often amusing results. For instance, when one examines the Head Chef in the cooking guild, the game prints "Despite his name, he in fact only rarely cooks heads." When one examines the Examiner, the game prints "Upon examining the Examiner, you examine that he is indeed the Examiner." This sort of unexpected content cropping up often provides a welcome break from levelling and is one of the things that makes RuneScape unique.

There are also a lot of quests that have humorous parts:

  • A quest to turn Ernest the chicken back into human form (by repairing the poultrifcation machine).
  • A quest that involves shooting your character into a rock.
  • A quest to get some goblins to pick their armor color, and they finally settle on the original color as being best.
  • Part of a quest to get very drunk on a large barcrawl.
  • A quest to catch a wizard's pet scorpions.
  • Bob the Jagex Cat, a black cat that wanders around the world and when spoken to hints at being an ancient almighty god.

Starting out in the game

A player new to RuneScape starts out on Tutorial Island. Although it may seem boring to some, Jagex has determined this to be imperative to understanding future gameplay. While on Tutorial Island, players learn about gameplay, controls, combat, communication, cooking, banking, completing quests, and other skills. Once a player has completed the tasks on Tutorial Island, they are teleported to the city of Lumbridge. From then on, players can upgrade their characters in the fashion they desire. They could travel around the character's world between cities such as Varrock, Falador, Port Sarim, etc. Players can also travel around by raising their magic level to a level high enough to perform a teleport to some of these major cities. In RuneScape, your goal is to develop your character by raising skills, completing quests, et cetera. RuneScape also has a highscores list, where you can view the best 500,000 (or over level 30, whichever comes first) players overall, and in a particular skill of the game.


Players fighting , monsters called Lesser Demons whose combat level is 82, in the  Volcano Dungeon
Players fighting NPCs, monsters called Lesser Demons whose combat level is 82, in the Karamja Volcano Dungeon

Combat is an important aspect of the game, and killing monsters is one of most direct ways of gaining wealth. Combat is also needed to complete many of the quests, and can be used to fight other players.

There are 3 main types of combat in RuneScape: melee, ranged, and magic.

Melee: To do melee attacks you use use weapons such as swords, maces, etc. Players must train their attack, strength, and defense. The attack stat determines the chance of making a hit, whilst strength determines the maximum damage you will do. Defence will determine how much damage you could not take. Attack also lets you wield stronger types of weaponry as your attack level increases. Defence also lets you wear stronger types of armor or shields as your defence level gets stronger. Melee attacks are most effective against ranged players.

Ranged: To do ranged attacks you use a bow and arrows or throwing knives Players must train their ranged stat, which determines the chance of hit and maximum damage. The maximum hit can be raised by using stronger ammo.

Magic: To do magic you use runes. Players must train their magic stat. The higher the stat the greater the number of spells available and the more likely they will succeed.

RuneScape has a 'combat triangle', which is intended to stop any one class becoming dominant. Magic will tend to beat melee, ranged will tend to beat magic, and melee will tend to beat ranged. However it is often argued that the triangle becomes unbalanced at times. Continuing updates attempt to address this problem with varying success.

All 3 combat types also rely on the player's defence and hitpoints stats. The defence stat determines how likely you are to block an incoming attack, whereas hitpoints determine how much damage you can take before dying. The prayer stat, whilst seeming subtle at first, can turn the tide in a fight. Prayers such as the protection spells can render a person invulnerable to enemy attack, and they provide numerous protections.

And of course in addition to that which equipment a player is holding, the potions they have drunk, how much food they have, and countless other factors all combine to determine who will win the battle.

A player's 'overall combat level' is derived from the 7 stats mentioned above: attack, strength, defence, hitpoints, magic, prayer, and ranged. The combat level is designed to indicate a players overall strength and is also used to decide which players can fight each other to stop for example, very high level players preying on very new players. The maximum combat in RuneScape Classic is 123(123.75 including decimal levels), and the maximum in RuneScape 2 is 126 although this can only be achieved by players with a prayer level of at least 98.

Player vs Player combat

Players cannot normally fight with each other in most areas of the map. There are however 3 different areas where player vs player combat is allowed in RuneScape, each with different rules and properties.

The Wilderness

For a long time the only way to fight other players was to visit the wilderness. The wilderness is a large area of map located in northern RuneScape. The Wilderness has great rewards, but also great risks. The wilderness is the most hostile of the PvP types available, because you can be attacked unexpectedly, and if you die you will lose all but your most valuable items to the person who killed you. Exactly how many items you keep when you die depends on your prayer settings and if you have attacked another player recently. Killing another player in this area is referred to as PKing (Player Killing). As one gets deeper into the Wilderness, they can fight with other players further and further away from their combat level, which makes it more dangerous. Half of the wilderness only allows 1-on-1 battles, whilst the other half allows multi-way combat and potentially huge team based wars.

Duelling Arena

The Duelling Arena is only available to subscribers. Located in the Al-Kharid desert it allows a more formal fight where the players can pre-agree the exact terms of combat, and what items will be gambled. It is possible to change a large number of settings to restrict exactly which items and combat styles are required, and players can choose either to duel for fun (in which case no items change hands), or to wager items which the winner will receive. Because of the option to limit the risk to a level of your choosing, this way of testing your combat prowess against other is popular with many players.

Castle Wars


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A player using the Mining skill

RuneScape skills are abilities that enable players do things in the RuneScape game. Some skills are members-only and some skills are only in newer versions of the game. Many of the higher-level abilities in each skill are reserved for members only. Players gain experience in a skill when they do activities, like mining a rock, that utilize that skill. A player's amount of experience determines the level of that skill. New abilities are given to the player when they reach certain levels. Higher-level abilities in turn give more experience to compensate for the roughly exponential increase in experience points needed to reach each new level.

As in a number of games, some players chose to focus on improving themselves in a small number of skills. Players who train only one or a few related stats that affect combat level are known as "pure". Some people may have multiple accounts, one or more of which is a "pure account". The purpose of pure accounts is to try to be the same level as an enemy, or a lower level, but specialize in dealing alot more damage, which is especially helpful in player vs player combat.

Game economy

History and Development

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Player fighting a highwayman in RuneScape Classic (version 3 of the game)

Note: Although the Developer of the original game is unclear, Jagex Ltd did not originally start it.

Version 1: Developer started work on the original game in 1998. This version was very different to the RuneScape of today. It had Isometric graphics, and was original titled 'DeviousMUD'. This version was never released to the public, and only a few people ever saw it.

Version 2: Developer scrapped version 1, and started work on a complete rewrite in 1999. Despite being a complete rewrite, this version was very similar to version 1, with the same graphics and name. This version was released as a public beta for only about 1 week, and then withdrawn again.

Version 3: Developer started yet again with a 3rd attempt starting on Oct 1999. This time the isometric view was replaced, in favor of 3d graphics and 2d sprites. The game was renamed to RuneScape and released to the public on January 5, 2001. This version is still online today and is currently called RuneScape Classic.

Members launch: On February 27, 2002, Jagex launched a new optional 'members service'. This allows players to pay $5 USD a month to obtain access to new quests, features and skills. Paying members have a far greater choice of things to do, but it is still possible to play the game for free, and there is in fact still more free content available than ever before. Whilst not a new version as such (the game still ran on the same version 3 engine), this did significantly change the focus of the game.

Version 4: Developer went for yet another complete rewrite. Version 4 changes the graphics to full 3d and has many other significant improvements. Whilst in development this version was called 'RuneScape 2', but when launched was just called 'RuneScape' (version 3 being renamed at the same time). An incomplete beta of this version was available to members on December 1, 2003, and then the finished version was launched on March 17, 2004. This is the current version of the game being promoted by Jagex. This is the version most people think of when one says 'RuneScape'.


Players represent a wide range of nationalities, genders and ages. However, the user base is predominantly English speaking because the game itself is currently only available in English.

Most players play the game fairly casually spending a few hours a week playing. It is not uncommon for a dedicated player to spend in excess of four hours a day training his character. However, there are a few rare cases of players regularly spending over ten hours a day online.


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A typical clan war

Players often band together to form groups known as 'clans'. Many clans are just groups of friends who help each other in the game, have (in-game) parties, organize events, etc. Others are more focused on player vs player combat, and form armies to gain an advantage when PKing (Player Killing) in the wilderness. These clans often form and break alliances with each other, and fight each other in large clan wars to see which clan is the best. The clan pictured to the right is called The Moriquendi fighting The Unbreakables.

Some clans are often short lived. With some lasting just a month due to wars, in-fighting among members, but mostly due to inactivity. However, some do grow over time and flourish as new members join. Clans like "The Gladiatorz", "The", and "The Sabres" have been around for over 4 years, forming in the first few months of Runescape. As of 2005, it is certain that there are now more than 1000 clans in RuneScape.

The game currently has no formal support for forming clans of players, aside from the special wilderness garments which stop a player from attacking someone wearing the same type of cape and the "clan recruitment" and "clan discussion" forums of the official RuneScape message board. However, it is very difficult to attain enough of the same kind of cape to support a huge clan. A developer news post in 2004 did hint at the possibility of a proper clan system being added in the future. A brief history of clans can be found at Runescape Clan History according to TimmyMWD (

Drop Parties

Occasionally, players host drop parties. They may be quitting, trying to clear out space in their bank, or just feeling generous with their items. They usually pre advertise the party on forums so more people are there. They drop the items and the people try to get them.


Quests in RuneScape are one-time adventures which serve a variety of purposes. The novice quests act as tutorials to get new users acquainted with the various skills and abilities as well as giving them some extra money. More difficult quests serve as a rite of passage which test the player's and their character's abilities. All quests include some kind of reward such as money, rare/valuable items, and increases in abilities. Some quests are part of an overlapping storyline. Each quest also awards a certain number of quest points. 32 quest points will grant access to the Champions' Guild. The members-only Hero's (55 quest points required to start) and Legend's (107 required) quests grant access to their respective guilds upon completion. Quests can be found all over the map, in the game's three kingdoms of Misthalin, Asgarnia and Kandarin, as well as some even more distant lands.


The graphics of RuneScape, while not revolutionary on the whole, are of good quality for a freely available Java game. The latest version of the game is rendered in complete 3D. A lot of emphasis has been placed on allowing players to customize their character. Players are given a wide choice in creating character models, from hairstyle to facial features. Additionally, appearance can be further optimized by wearing/holding different items, with each different weapon having a unique image. There are also many different animations in the game for the variety of things you can do from combat, to magic, to the various quests. The game can be run on high or low detail level. While high detail gives different things more texture or design, low detail gives every thing a cleaner cut look, and reduces in-game latency. The female characters of RuneScape has recently had a facelift, and now are more distinguishable from the male characters. The females are also given more clothing to choose from. In addition to this, certain Members Quests have cinematics, not nearly as high quality as from games such as World of Warcraft, but still relatively good.

Random events

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Tree Spirit random event

A variety of random events can take place in the game. Jagex maintains that this is to help prevent macro programs. They can also add variety to some of the more repetitive activities in the game.

Players must respond to most of these in the correct manner or will receive a negative effect (such as being teleported across the map) Some of these negative effects can be quite annoying, but most can be easily avoided if players are paying attention. Some random events will also give players a reward if they react appropriately. The random events which give rewards are generally far more popular. Some players dislike random events which can give penalties but no rewards and consider them annoying hindrances.

The following is a list of the different random events in the game at the time of writing.


Guardian random events are quite dangerous and annoying; they include the River Troll, Rock Golem, Watchman, Zombie, Tree Spirit, and Shade NPCs. River Trolls generally attack when players have been fishing in the same place for a long time. Tree spirits and Rock Golems may rise when woodcutting or mining. Tree Spirits can attack even if the player is not cutting wood but happens to click on the tree. Zombies and Shades may rise when a lot of bones have been buried. Guardian monsters are always considerably tougher compared to the player they are attacking, but their loot might be worth fighting for.


Some random events monsters are simply annoying. Examples include the Swarm of Insects (only escapable by running away; otherwise it keeps attacking until the player dies), a tree changing into an Ent (causes hatchet to break), finding a Whirlpool in the water (only high level players can fish in these), a Smoking Rock (mining such a rock will cause an explosion which injures the character and breaks the pickaxe, but the pickaxe may be fixed by the pickaxe merchant Nurmof in the Dwarven Mine), Poison Gas, Moving Fishing Spots, Big fish (steals your fishing equipment).


Random breakage of equipment such as pickaxes when mining and hatchets when woodcutting are another type of random events that are simply inconveniences. Players can generally avoid these by not mining a smoking rock, not trying to cut down an Ent, or not fishing where there is a Whirlpool or Big Fish. Damaged equipment is easily repaired though, either by player himself or by visiting certain NPCs with the required skill. Pickaxes can be fixed by "Nurmof" in the Dwarven Mines, and "Bob" at the "Bob's Axes" in Lumbridge can repair your hatchet that was broken by trying to chop down an Ent. When fixing items, a small cost is incurred based on the value of the equipment. Split hatchet and pickaxe heads can be fixed by using the shaft with the head.


Sometimes, the Mysterious Old Man will appear, and teleport a player to a special location. In order to return, a player must accomplish a given task, such as mimicking a mime or navigating through a maze as fast as possible. A generous gift or special ability is granted for the accomplishment.

The Genie also teleports you if the player hasn't talked to him to get his lamp. Also he will drop all items that are on the player, including those that are wielded, randomly across the area.

Gift Givers

Some random events consist of characters that simply give gifts. For example, a Drunk Dwarf may appear with beer and kebab, Genie with a magic lamp, the Mysterious Old Man with a strange box, and Strange Plant. If ignored, even gift givers can hurt a player (Dwarves and Plants), or teleport him to a random location on a map (Genies and Mysterious Men).

When a lamp is rubbed, a menu with all of the available stats is opened, and the player can choose what skill they wish to gain experience in. The player will gain experience equal to ten times their current level in that skill. Note that people playing the free version may not choose to advance member's stats with such a lamp.

The Mysterious Old Man's strange box is a special item, since it can multiply when unattended. Unless a player opens the box and solves the riddle inside, their entire inventory might fill up with boxes. Once all the boxes have been cleared, a small gift is given, usually an uncut gem, an uncut diamond if lucky (or in member's case, a half-key or a cosmic talisman), but only a small sum of money when unlucky.



There are a few "mini-games" that can be played within RuneScape. These are available to members only.

Agility Arena

Navigate through an ancient lava filled cavern through various traps, nabbing tickets that earn you prizes along the way. Rewards include items and herbs found no where else, along with lots of agility exp.

Archery Guild

Members of the Archery Guild pay a small entrance fee and shoot a target. Tickets are awarded depending on how well one scores. These tickets can be exchanged for equipment from a nearby ticket trader.


A way to get some of the best armor at the game, with great challenges, you must travel through shifting tombs, killing the spirits of powerful warriors and the undead minions that inhabit the tombs. Find your way to a chest that can contain extremely powerful armor that these once legendary warriors wore.

Burthorpe Games Room

In the Burthorpe Games Room, one can choose from two classic games, with runes being used as game pieces. Runelink is similar to Connect 4. Draughts is the British name for checkers.

Castle Wars

Duel Arena

Duel arena is a battle zone where players can fight without the risks of the Wilderness. They can choose options such as "no prayer" or "no food," or they can stake items on the fight.

Fishing Trawler

The Trawler is Captain Murphy's vessel, that is full of holes and falling part, and it is your party's job to keep the boat afloat as the net gathers both rare and common fish, along with junk. Keep the boat on the surface by keeping water out with bailing buckets, and sealing holes with tar. Keep the net repaired if you want fish too!


A minigame where you try to score the ball through a goal, but with many gnomes in your way with the intention of stopping you. Trains agility.

Mage Arena

The mage arena is where high level magicians work to receive and learn to use God staves. You need level 60 magic to do this, and have to battle your way through several opponents.

Tears of Guthix

Tears of Guthix is only accessible after doing a quest. The number of quest points a player has determines the length of time that player can spend in this mini-game. The aim is to collect tears from the weeping rocks in a bowl to gain experience to one's weakest skill. The more tears collected, the more experience one gets.

Treasure Trails

Clue Scrolls give members a chance to obtain rare and valuable items by following a series of clues. Clues are mostly dropped by monsters but can also be found in the shade chests. Clues come in three levels, and generally, tougher monsters drop higher level clues. Higher level clues offer the potential for greater rewards.

External links

af:RuneScape da:RuneScape de:Runescape es:RuneScape eo:RuneScape fr:RuneScape he:Runescape nl:RuneScape pl:RuneScape pt:RuneScape fi:RuneScape sv:RuneScape


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