Creative Writing

Runescape Storytime: How It Works

This’ll be an article just going over the behind-the-scenes actions for my ongoing creative writing attempt at fleshing out and embellishing the main storyline behind all of the quests in Runescape. It’ll set out the limits that I have set myself as far as ‘playing’ this goes and the order I do the quests in, because I have started a new account, with Cassie included in the name, that is going through the quests as I write them. It’ll also set out where I’m going with this, and I’ll start there.

Future of this project and status of my relationship with the game:

It’s something I am aiming to complete, I wouldn’t have started posting it otherwise, but there are things to consider. At the moment, I’m writing it on the fly, but in future I may save up a few in advance. Obviously part of this is free quests versus members. I can afford membership but it has lapsed on my main currently as I’ve been taking a break over the summer (I very often forget about the game over the spring and summer and come back during winter when there’s a near full year worth of updates to enjoy). Justifying two, especially as I’ll be playing slowly on the story account might be difficult, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, at the moment, I’m enjoying playing super slowly and carefully on Cassie. When the time comes that I need to do a members quest next, which will be before I complete all of the free quests, I will evaluate whether I’m able to do that. Of course, as I progress through the quests I’ll allow myself more non-quest things that I can do on Cassie – more on that later.

As far as what this can be considered as, I think it is somewhere between fanfiction and an AAR (After Action Report) of a game. Obviously I am using the story written by the mods and I thank them for that, but I’m also trying to add my own take on things and fit together a few things I thought would be neat. Essentially this is good writing practice for me and I figured it’d be nice to share it.

My accounts:

Of most interest here is the new account, Cassiebyron. She is a normal ironman, mainly because I didn’t have any of those in my roster and because it makes sense with the restrictions that I am putting on her. Ironman is really fun to play. My main account is named Izzy Stars, 2162 total level, highest and future first 99 in Slayer, currently 91. I’ve been playing with that one on and off since 2006, sometimes getting really into the game but obviously never enough to be searching for elite capes or anything like that. She has not completed all of the quests but has done most of them – when I came back most recently I started doing all of the Sixth Age quests in order and it’s taking a while to finish. I also have a hardcore ironman named MCRZizi, who I haven’t played in a couple of years because of only wanting to have one account with membership at one time, but I do plan to get back to her because the added risk with her was awesome.

Cassie’s restrictions:

When I created Cassie I skipped the tutorial and immediately lodestoned to Lumbridge – as if she had started there. She comes from Ashdale because it’s convenient for her being a blank slate with little knowledge of the rest of the world, but the current tutorial doesn’t fit with my vision for this. It’s too set in the Sixth Age, and of course I want to introduce concepts like Armadyl and non-human races slowly through their questlines rather than having some dwarf make offhand references from the start. At the moment, she has only been able to roam around Lumbridge, getting what she needs from that area. She has also not been able to use skills I don’t think would make sense for her to use until she gets to a few starter quests, Let Them Eat Pie for Thieving, naturally Druidic Ritual and Wolf Whistle for those, things like that. The next quest will enable her to move over to Draynor. Every action she does and place she moves to will be considered so that she doesn’t discover something I might want to talk about later. Once I get her to learn teleports then I won’t be so anal about moving around, but for the start, I want her to stay where I can keep a continuing narrative flowing. I’m unsure on how I’ll incorporate lodestones into the story, I’ve always been mixed on their introduction anyway, feeling it devalued the process of unlocking all of the other ways to move around, I suppose I could just treat it as fast travel and move the timer along if I need to use them or I could come up with some (story-only) way where a cost is involved to use them. The Wizard’s Tower could be making a killing if they charged for use.

As an ironman she has some other, natural, restrictions which I’m glad to have, I think as a result, the Grand Exchange won’t exist in the narrative, there’s no need for it. Also I’ve tried to keep her from ‘seeing’ any obvious Sixth-Age changes, like the Lumbridge Crater. As far as she’s concerned that is forest that she’ll never go into and will just skirt around. Otherwise, she will gain levels as I think will be necessary for upcoming quests or because it fits into the narrative, rather than because it will give an advantage. As an example, she will start the next quest with slightly improved combat stats, because the group implied they would go training at the end of the last chapter.

Quest order:

Related to that, I’m carefully considering the order of quests based on what experience it gives you, how difficult it would be for Cassie’s current stats and where it takes me next. As an example for that first point, I know many players love The Knight’s Sword because of its ability to let a new player almost completely skip the lower levels of Smithing, but because I want to advance everything naturally, that won’t be done until a bit later, when it’ll take me from 30 to 36 rather than 1 to 31 or whatever it does. Essentially, I will save quests that give large xp rewards until such time as when they won’t unnaturally advance my character. The first quests will be those with lower experience rewards and most probably novice quests, then slowly moving onto intermediate quests as appropriate. As a rough guideline I’ll be doing quests in order of release, but obviously I won’t stick to that as I’ve already done The Blood Pact, that is of course a fairly safe bet to do early on as it’s meant for new players and luckily is still Fifth Age, and some of the older quests would clash with my Knight’s Sword point (heh, swordpoint). I certainly won’t be doing any hard Sixth-Age quests before The World Wakes (soft ones like A Shadow Over Ashdale or Plague’s End that only make small references or were just released after, may come before, as if I’ll get that far lmao). Updates to new quests will just be the old quests in terms of order of release. For some of those, those are the new signature heroes quests and that presents a bit of a problem, as the Ozan and Ariane ones are Fifth Age and also ones that should be done early, but The Death Of Chivalry is technically a Sixth Age quest and that’s something I’ve always found incredibly awkward. Meeting them too far apart would not feel right. Ozan’s quests will be done when I need to start the desert storyline, and Ariane’s could be done a bit later as I am also including the storyline of the original Rune Mysteries in this despite it no longer being in game as the discovery of Runecrafting was always a little bit I liked. Of course another option would be to cut Saradomin out of The Death Of Chivalry, it wouldn’t need much adjusting and it means the replacement for Black Knight’s Fortress could be done a bit earlier. These are things to consider.

For now, here’s my current list of quests to do next, all easy ones that don’t advance experience too much and ‘unlock’ a few things that are vital to do early. I may well change this so it’s just a provisional list. Chapter lengths will be variable to the length of quest and the extra things I need to do for it:

  1. Cook’s Assistant – unlocked Fishing, Woodcutting, Firemaking and later Cooking, started adventure
  2. The Restless Ghost – unlocked Crafting (from Sheep Shearer, although most concepts of Crafting I’ll introduce later) and Prayer, I wasn’t too bothered about this advancing me to 9 as while that’s several levels, nothing too major was unlocked and Prayer trains so differently (and in a pretty poor way for telling a story) to the other skills that I might just consider that an exception to my ‘avoid huge xp quests’ rule.
  3. The Blood Pact – unlocked all combat skills as well as Mining and Smithing. Group of characters formed, met Xenia.
  4. Rune Mysteries (historical) – no actual quest will be done, I’ll just take Cassie to the Wizard’s Tower, unlocking that area and Draynor. This will unlock Runecrafting for me, and I may get a bit of story mileage out of ‘finding’ each altar, talismans permitting, obviously I’ll have to find most of those through luck drops. (including air as I won’t be doing the actual RM quest until later, for story purposes the ‘talisman’ (as I failed to find one from goblins by leveling) will be handed over to the Wizard’s Tower people which does make more sense in the long run.
  5. Ernest The Chicken – unlocks Draynor Manor for me and with that able to be done I’ll get the beginner Lumbridge Ring after that – Achievement tasks I’ll do in the background but only mention in the story if it’s a particularly specific task.
  6. Demon Slayer – takes me to Varrock
  7. Shield Of Arrav – taking requests already for someone to be a partner. I’ll look for something on the forums. Storyline-wise: Eric/Ilona will do whichever gang Cassie does not end up in.
  8. Gunnar’s Ground – unlocks Gunnarsgrunn and Edgeville for me.
  9. Let Them Eat Pie – will enable me to move over to Taverley and begin using all the good beginner stuff in that town. This is the earliest point I may consider upgrading to members, but if that’s the case I may figure out some early members quests I can do around here. Unlocks Thieving (relevant), Agility, Farming and Fletching (not so relevant but I need to do them at some point and obviously it’ll only be the very basics)
  10. A Shadow Over Ashdale – sixth Age but an important one to do early as it fits with Cassie’s background and I don’t like anything to do with Ashdale or the bizarre sea monsters it attracts so let’s just get this out of the way. I won’t take the Pathfinder armour as I want to try and use the novice, realistic armours while they’re still useful.
  11. Druidic Ritual – lets me start Herblore
  12. Death Plateau – not a necessary early one but it is part of the first lot of Taverley/Burthorpe quests and I may fit starting Slayer in here.
  13. Wolf Whistle – unlocks Summoning, at this point I should have all the normal skills except for Hunter, Construction, Dungeoneering and Divination available. I’m going to ignore the thing about Divination wisps being part of Guthix’ lifeforce so I can do it at a reasonably early point and not spend hours doing nothing but Divination which can really impact on your enjoyment of the game so I may start that in Draynor. Dungeoneering, I’m not sure when I’ll start that. Obviously each set of ‘training’ will require a significant diversion and unlocking too many floors reveals too much, I may just save it as a skill I train for quest requirements as it’s not that necessary until higher levels. Construction will be unlocked whenever members is reached as then I can buy a house that’ll be useful as a storyline place to rest. Hunter I will also only ‘unlock’ when I get members (unlike all the other members skills that I can do so much with in free play), because while yes, there is a training spot in Taverley, I originally liked the skill for the out-of-the-way appeal of the training areas, so I’ll start training it when I first decide I’m able to enter the Feldip Hills. I don’t think there’s a quest requirement before that point.
  14. What’s Mine Is Yours – this might be a good place to fit in Witch’s Potion like I fit in Sheep Shearer with The Restless Ghost, it will unlock Falador and southern Asgarnia necessarily…
  15. Goblin Diplomacy
  16. Pirate’s Treasure – both these two are optional, I may move them down the queue as they don’t unlock much and do technically start off storylines so they might benefit from being closer to their successive quests.
  17. Imp Catcher – I think after this point I will consider members more seriously if I haven’t got it already. This quest is done later as the Wizard’s Tower is too early for it and it requires me to go all over the world.

Free quests that won’t be done before upgrading:

Beneath Cursed Tides

The Death Of Chivalry

Dragon Slayer

Gower Quest (gonna have to come up with a new name for that, I haven’t even done it  though)

The Knight’s Sword

One Piercing Note (wow at this being freeplay now, I guess it does make sense to do that)

Rune Mysteries (new)

Stolen Hearts

Vampyre Slayer (will be done fairly soon after the end of that list but the combat reward is quite hefty for what will still be a low-level character)

Swept Away & Myths Of The White Lands (not sure where to fit these in, they’re quite oddball, I guess I should actually fit in Witch’s Potion with Swept Away, that makes tons more sense than the Doric quest, in which case that might be done around the same time as Imp Catcher to make a proper headstart in Cassie’s magic training). Myths Of The White Lands maybe once I get the easy Lumbridge ring because that gives me another excuse to go to Explorer Jack. Or when it will make sense as the following section will detail. In fact they may be the conclusion to the first year.

Time

This does fit in a bit with the following section but I just want to make a note on time. Currently I’ve been pretty strict about the timing, I started chapter 1 on the first day of the new year of 169 of the 5th age (there aren’t seasons in Runescape, snow only falls for a short time around ‘Christmas’ yanno, although if I go to my Swept/Myths plan I may change that wording such that I start in the middle of the year) and we’ve only gone one day since then. This was in case I wanted to finish all the quests in a storytime year. I don’t think it’s going to make sense to continue to do that, many quests will feel rushed, I do kind of wish Jagex had advanced each year with the real-world passing of time. So what I’m doing is this, I will advance time as I see fit so the quests can be all done comfortably without feeling like there’s a time limit, and we’ll see what year we get to by the time the Sixth Age comes around, it could be 170, it could be 175, it could be 181.

Story Changes:

Obviously a part of this will be me changing and refining certain aspects of the story where I think they can best fit a grand narrative. No disrespect to the people who originally created those stories, this will just be my take on them. Obviously, one big change is that I have created other (imaginary, non-game) characters to bounce off some dialogue on. Cassie moving around on her own would get a little dull to write about. Eric will be the ranger of the group, potentially with a darker moral compass than Cassie although no player in Runescape can claim to have a great moral compass when they will all, except skillers I suppose, be slaughtering countless innocents… Ilona is currently with the group, and she is in game, but I like her as she’s also quite a blank slate character. I may replace her with another, imaginary mage though. Cassie won’t be a close-combat specialist, she’ll be an all-rounder, melee specialists are quite boring characters, e.g. Sir Owen.  Like I said with Divination above, I may change some origins of concepts if they fit better with doing the game and writing a story that makes sense at the same time.

If you are familiar with the incredible Runescape novels written by T.S. Church, you’ll know that they expand the Runescape world to be a properly big world that takes ages to travel across. Shades of this will be present, I’ve already implied that there’s a good distance from Lumbridge to other towns and that gives me more room to add interesting stuff in between. But it won’t be entirely separate from the game as a big part of this for me is the fun I get from laying down to word something I’ve known in the game for ages. Lots of extra farms will be present, is all I’m saying.

As for story changes within the quests themselves, I’m going to take the liberty to do that. I don’t want to expressly copy the quest transcripts as there’s less point in doing that, although important bits of dialogue, like the best jokes, I’ll keep. Where I can fill in plot holes, change the tone of the quest to fit with what I’m going for to keep it realistic, shortcut a few things that would make sense to shortcut, like if the game has you running messages between two characters for a bit, just have them in the same room (clue for where the historical Rune Mysteries will be going), I will change things. Also I’ll change things I wasn’t a fan of if it’s minor enough that I can get away with it.

On that, you might as well hear some of my gripes with the current storyline to give an idea of what I might change or downplay. Firstly and most importantly: the gods being present, physical beings, I suppose there was some progression leading up to it but at times it feels too cheap and unrealistic to have them all chummy with the player and seeing their human-sized models in the game takes away from the majesty over the storyline they are supposed to have. I think it could have been done differently. It’s a trope I dislike, raising the stakes to a world-shattering level all the time, sometimes it’s good to take things down a notch a bit, it’s what made me give up on Doctor Who and I never particularly liked it here, especially with the player now being basically a god, because that limits what we can believe he/she is willing to do on a lower level. There are so many potential quests that could start a new goblin/dwarf/jungle storyline, whatever, or even in new areas, basic quests that would naturally exist in those new areas, but because of the stake raising would now feel out-of-place because they’ve gone too far in a certain direction. Obviously if I get as far as the Sixth Age quests I won’t change it completely, and in fact, I like how it works in The World Wakes, but I may alter it a little. For something like Missing Presumed Death… I have multiple issues with that quest, but one is how the player is teleported into a room with all the gods for very little payoff – at least in that quest. The other issue I have is how it’s something nearly any player can start, and in fact, new members who see the starting location will be encouraged to do it early because of the prominent dead monks, if they aren’t warned against it, and it’ll just thrust them into the middle of an unfamiliar story where they have no clue what the hell is going on. The rewards don’t help new players, I honestly think it should have required The World Wakes at the least and have had the start location invisible to players who had not done that. It’s a fun quest for dialogue and such but it goes a little too heavy on having all the gods be there with the player conveniently also present (ESPECIALLY if they aren’t the World Guardian, another reason it should really require The World Wakes), the story does give a reason but even with the reason I’m not keen. Obviously they can’t have every quest after the Sixth Age requiring The World Wakes but anything that really deals with the future storyline, as much as I would wish they’d downplay the divine involvement in each quest, that should be necessary.

Updates:

Finally, updates. This may take a while. There may be updates that change significant gameplay while I’m doing this. The main one I’m thinking of is the upcoming Mining and Smithing rework. When it occurs, depending on the details, if it clashes with what I’ve written already, I will go back and do minor edits. I’m not relying hugely on those skills for now so it’s only a minor thing but yes, if any future update changes how the game works for something I’ve already done I’ll look at the update and see how I can fit it into the story.

This is good to get down my thoughts on this project, I’ll continue it soon.

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