Death to Saradomin!
I have just completed the newly released quest, “The Death of Chivalry”. If you haven’t finished it yet, you might want to stop reading till you do. It again is a nice rework of an old quest that slots in nicely with the ever more logical and expanding lore. It's great to see Jagex making one all-encompassing storyline as a backbone for this game, but like the quest before it this one opens up the possibility of divergence also.
What if the game truly, permanently changes depending on the choices you make?
Imagine how different the world can be for two players, one who choose Saradomin, the other who opted to aid Bandos. Falador could be in ruins or the majestic seat of a world government. There could be shape shifting Mahjarrat to answer to everywhere. I can imagine my friend logging in to a Runescape with darker red tones and a feverish atmosphere of strife, while I log in to a bright, ordered world, where everyone does as told. My fiancé will find a purple glow to her game after choosing to align with Zaros with no other reason than her choice of colors.
Your Runescape, my Runescape, will it happen?
During 'The World Wakes' quest we had several choices, but the adventurers log after had the same message for all players, regardless of the choices made, making me believe that us siding with Guthix will be considered 'canon' (the true story). Providing a truly personal Runescape, while still letting us interact fully with each other, as players, could be a bridge too far, if only technically.
Look at the new battlefield it is, kind of disappointingly, too even and static. It would look so much better if it was not mirrored and perfectly circular, with an animated beam that shifts and moves. A more dynamic battlefield which changed form based on the influence being exerted by each Gods’ side would be so much better but also so much more demanding on servers and computers. Let me also point to my earlier article 'Stretch' and say how this battlefield makes the map even more crowded. So how much choice will we really have? I think it will be a bit of both, little personalization to a strong central storyline that ultimately does not differ a lot, regardless of who we support. I have said it before, it is also highly unlikely one god will ever totally win, since this would basically end the game and cut off a lot of future storyline possibilities.
But, hang on, maybe no God will win—maybe they will all lose! I can dream, can't I?
Death to Saradomin, death to Zamorak, death to Bandos, death to them all… or at least banishment. I choose to be godless, not so much because Guthix seems to want this, but because in the end I am human and I believe in self-determination and I also firmly believe all the Runescape Gods are and cause evil. Look at the piles of bones you encounter in our latest quest, even Sir Owen seems to pause at the loss of lives caused by the Gods. Even so, I do realize that humans are just as violent, look at 'Dawn of the dead'. She is a human witch, yet rather evil and destructive. Is this because it is her nature or because Zamorak corrupted her? A bit of both perhaps? Then there is Saradomin, who seems truly contrite about the bad consequences of some of his decisions. Does this mean I read him wrong all the time, when thinking he is all-powerful, but callous? Is he maybe a lot less strong and flawed, but still basically good?
You know what... it doesn't matter, I WANT to determine my own faith regardless of the consequences.
I do think there is a distinct possibility we are heading towards our player-character gaining godly powers, some say we will even replace Guthix, which is a bridge too far for the same reason that no God will win. What is the fun in playing this game if we are that powerful? The fun quickly disappears in any game where you cheat and turn God-mode on… doesn't it? If this happens though, we will be just as potentially dangerous to the world as the current crop of beings we call Gods! Maybe it is my distinct atheism (on Runescape) that makes me think that now we have seen some of the Gods, 'in the flesh', Saradomin mostly, it does demystify them and make them less of a god. Also, what about the 'Elder Gods'? Are they the new unseen power replacing the traditional ones as Jagex's ultimate ''Deus ex Machina”?
Back to “The Death of Chivalry”, the title itself is intriguing. It can mean the end of an era, Runescape moving on to more modern times, more technology, less unknown. It can also mean the end of behaving honourably in battle. Doing what is needed to be done to win. This motif comes back several times. Sir Owen using guerrilla tactics, frowned upon by his fellow knights, but appreciated by our resident spymaster Tiffy. Owen seems to still hold firm to his chivalrous nature, until the end when we see a much more determined man bent on completing one last task. The same thing we see with Fern and her sister, who loses herself in winning at all cost.
All in all, it seems that Jagex has some clever storytellers working for them. There were some brainzz involved in the naming of Dawn, I wonder if George Romero would approve, I certainly approve of the direction Jagex is taking with quests, lore and story lines.