On January 15, Summoning arrived... and there was much rejoicing... as well as much complaining, of course! One of the chief objections on the part of many players is that the charms needed to make pouches are too hard to come by. Well, as I explained in another recent article, higher-level players have nothing valid to complain about here; if they are lacking in charms it is due to their own laziness or lack of creativity in seeking out good charm droppers. But there is one group that has a legitimate beef with the way this new skill is set up: low level players.
Where are the Charms for Newbs?
I think that the combat-orientation of Summoning was a reasonable design choice, but it makes the skill almost completely inaccessible to newbs (not “noobs”, there’s a difference). Obviously, one cannot expect that Jagex would make such a nifty, combat-related skill easy to raise for those with low combat levels, but it should be possible to get it to at least the same levels as other combat skills in a reasonable period of time. And so far, it seems that this is not the case.
I spent an hour or two trying out several low-level monsters that various people had suggested might be good for getting at least a reasonable number of charms. Of the monsters I tried, I found only a couple that drop a charm in even as many as 1 in 6 kills; for most it is 1 in 10, 1 in 20 or even worse. This is very discouraging for low-level players who are excited about this new skill; even players as high as combat level 60 are having a tough go of things. After they chew through the 275 gold charms you start out with, they hit the proverbial brick wall. And most of these are younger players who are low-level because they don't have much play time.
It’s possible that there is some uber-charm-dropping low-level monster nobody has found yet, but it seems unlikely. At the present time, Summoning appears to have the distinction of being the only skill that is nearly completely inaccessible to low-level players. Even Slayer allows you to start out killing chickens and cows!
“Go Beat Up That Little Girl”
It’s clear that Jagex mostly thought out which monsters it wanted to provide charms, and in what quantities, so this wasn’t an oversight. When I thought about the matter some more, it was obvious why Jagex made virtually no low-level monsters drop charms: they were afraid that high-level players would camp out at these monsters for hours on end collecting charms by the bucketload with little effort. And in their defence, that probably would have happened.
In my mind, this is really symptomatic of a much larger problem that I’ve experienced since I started playing RuneScape: high-level players training in a way that makes a mockery of the word. I realize that this is a fantasy game and it has many unrealistic elements, but let’s think about what the words “training” and “experience” really mean. The general idea is supposed to be that you train to improve yourself and your abilities, and gain experience as a result. But is that what really happens in RuneScape?
In implementing Summoning familiars, Jagex said that you get no combat XP from them fighting with you, because “you don't really learn anything about combat from letting your familiar do the killing”. That’s perfectly reasonable, but to that I would respond: how much does a level 120 player learn about combat from one-hitting moss giants or hobgoblins? Sorry, but that’s not “training”, it’s shooting fish in a barrel. Come to think of it, why do I get the same amount of XP for killing a level 13 rock crab as I do for hitting a 50 on a level 304 mithril dragon?
Consider that computer RPGs are based loosely on the pen-and-paper fantasy genre typified by the game Dungeons and Dragons. There, a real human decides what experience your characters will get based on their actions. Would any real Dungeon Master award experience points to a high-level magic user who sat around hurling fireballs at rats or skeletons? Unlikely.
How about in the real world—does a belt contender in boxing train by beating up little girls?
I remember, as a newb, the first time I ventured to the chaos druids in Taverley dungeon. Someone had told me they were a good place to train combat and get herbs and runes as well. I was petrified that those scary animated suits of armor would get me but I ventured on and found the room. And when I entered and prepared to start hitting away with my rune battleaxe, I got a surprise: the place was filled with level 80-120 players “training” on the chaos druids. They were abusive to me for “stealing their kills”, while all I could think to myself was: “why are high-level players training on newb monsters and trying to drive off the newbs who are supposed to be here?”
This problem pervades other aspects of the game as well. For two years, I have tried to point out that it makes no sense for green dragons, the lowest-level ones, to be only in the Wilderness when higher-level dragons are not. (I know there are some in the chaos tunnels now, but they are still dangerous, and they are in rooms with other monsters.) The answer I always received was that they had to be in the Wild to make them challenging because otherwise they were “too easy”.
Easy for whom? Is a green dragon an easier kill for a level 45 player using an addy scimitar than a blue dragon is for a level 120 player using a whip and dragonfire shield? I think not. The real reason the greens were put in the Wild is that Jagex didn’t want high levels farming them. And they were right about that, but the problem isn’t with the dragons, it’s with the system. The ability of high-levels to farm low-level monsters makes it impossible for low-level players to be given combat areas where they can train and get reasonable rewards.
Why Not Areas for Low-Level Players?
I said at that time, and I’ll say again: if we can have areas that have minimum skill levels to enter, why not areas with maximum skill levels? What would be so wrong with a training area containing monsters like green dragons—without the Wilderness or other monsters there to harrass—where only those under, say, level 60 combat could enter? Perhaps with an extra restriction, like needing to complete a quest, or having no combat skill level above a particular level?
And getting back to Summoning, I think many thousands of players would appreciate a place with lower-level monsters that drop reasonable amounts of Summoning charms, with high-level players excluded. High-level players already have plenty of options.
Can We Restore Meaning to the Words “Training” and “Experience”?
I would like to see Jagex consider a change to the way XP is granted, to make experience really mean something. Simply put, the experience you get should have some relation to the difficulty and risk involved in the combat you are undertaking. If you’re a high-level player who wants to plink away at hill giants or rock crabs, have at it, but expect to get much less XP than a player for whom those are level-appropriate. And conversely, if you’re a lower-level player smart enough to find efficient ways of killing tougher monsters, you should be rewarded additional XP for it.
I realize that such a change would require some time and attention to nail down precisely, in order to ensure fairness for players of all levels. The XP system would have to take into account issues such as unbalanced players who have high skill levels in some areas and low skills in others. And there would also be complicating factors such as Slayer, where often you are assigned monsters well below your combat level.
But frankly, anything Jagex did in this area would help. Even though many high-level players would whine at Jagex for taking away their “fish barrels”, it would be good for the game as a whole if training and experience actually meant something.
Some Charm Dropping Ideas for Lower-Level Players
If you’re a low-level player looking for Summoning charms, here’s the best that I have found so far:
- If you have level 10 Slayer, try cave crawlers in the Fremennik Slayer Dungeon; they are level 23 and drop charms fairly regularly, along with lots of herbs. Remember antipoisons, because their poison is deadly: 8 damage! If planning to stay a while, super antipoisons are even better
- Rock crabs take a while to kill but are good for training and drop charms every once in a while; take the boat from Rellekka to Waterbirth Island to avoid the crowds in the usual spot.
- Level 10 thugs (just past the Wilderness gate in Edgeville dungeon) drop them not very often, but they are quick and easy to kill; just watch out for the odd revenant.
- Hill giants (level 28) are not too hard to kill and drop charms. You will have to try these during a quieter time of day, though, as they are always busy.
- Once you advance far enough in Summoning to be able to use crimson charms, try level 35 fire elementals in the basement of the Elemental Workshop building in Seers’ Village.
Did You Know...
... that you always lose your pets if you die?
Do you have any thoughts or comments about what you've just read? Want to discuss this article with your fellow RuneScapers? We invite you to discuss the article in this forum topic.
Letters to the Editor are now being accepted. If you have some thoughts to share with the Editor about this or any other Tip.It Times article, please refer to this forum topic for more information on writing a letter to the Editor. Selected letters will be published in the Times' usual space on the main website during those weeks that no Tip.It Times article is being published.