No beings on RuneScape have been the source of more conflict and deaths than the gods. In the thousand year history of RuneScape nearly every conflict was based, in part or in whole, on religious principles. Some of these conflicts are good, such as the struggle between the monks of Paterdomus and the evil beings east of the River Salve. Some are bad, like the cataclysmic God Wars which nearly destroyed Gielinor entirely. But who are the gods, actually?
The very first gods to ever be on Gielinor were the elder gods. Few people have even heard of these mysterious beings, and even fewer know anything about them at all. They are always mentioned using the plural form, so there must be more than one, yet so far only one of them have been named: Jas. Jas is almost solely known for the powerful artifact he owned, the Stone of Jas. Whether Jas used this stone to get his power or if he supplied the stone’s power is not known, yet when he, along with all other elder gods, left this plane for reasons unknown, he left the stone behind.
The next god to come to Gielinor was Guthix. Guthix discovered the Stone of Jas and used it to shape the world to his liking. After he was finished, he let humans into Gielinor where they established settlements. He directly interacted with them as they were getting used to their new environment, but when he was confident that they were ready to survive on their own, Guthix hid the Stone of Jas and went into a deep sleep.
During this slumber, other gods came to Gielinor, such as Saradomin, Zaros, Armadyl, and Bandos, as well as the Maharrat. These gods started garnering support from the humans around them. Zaros was the most powerful god and had the largest following, however a number of his Mahjarrat followers, namely Zamorak, grew envious of his power and sought it for themselves. Working together a number of Mahjarrat attacked and defeated Zaros with the Staff of Armadyl, a powerful weapon which was stolen from Armadyl and put in the hands of Zamorak.
The other gods were outraged by this and banished Zamorak from Gielinor. This did not last however, and Zamorak was able to return, and when he did, he had somehow taken some or all of Zaros's powers and became a god himself. He quickly consolidated his forces and waged war on all of Gielinor, trying to seize complete control. The battle lasted for centuries and decimated the plane. Guthix awoke in the midst of this chaos and banished all the gods from Gielinor, forbidding them from ever directly interfering with the affairs of mortals again. It is into this post-God Wars time that the player is thrust. No god has walked the plane of Gielinor for centuries, save for the desert gods, who remain in the sands and show no interest in moving beyond that area.
When a player is first introduced to RuneScape, they are told by the Priest in the Lumbridge Chapel that Saradomin was the god responsible for creating everything, probably because this was a story started by Saradomin himself. This arrogance and outright lying is commonplace among gods. Saradomin, when he found out about the Stone of Jas, renamed it the “Eye of Saradomin,” a name that Saradominists still use to this day. Zamorak, when talking in the God Letters, was prideful and arrogant about his position, until someone mentions Zaros, at which point he becomes strangely silent. Even Guthix himself is guilty of the sin of pride. He renamed the Stone of Jas as well, instead calling it the Fist of Guthix. He claimed to be the plane of Gielinor's true creator, when instead he just reshaped what already existed.
With no god being completely honest, it is difficult, and often impossible, for anyone to know what the true story behind things. Yet that was, and still is, no barrier to those who think they know the answer. Saradominists and Zamorakians still have a bitter rivalry that often erupts into violence, such as burning down the Wizard Tower or a vicious taunting. A new player could go for months that Saradmoin, Guthix, and Zamorak are the only three gods, and it is only after doing quests that they might learn that things are not what they seem to be, and that some powerful deities have been forgotten by time.
The history of the gods in RuneScape is unique and interesting because it is told by unreliable narrators as well as based largely on myths and legends thousands of years old. Each person will tell you whatever will further the cause of the god of their choosing, and ignore whatever contradicts that viewpoint, often because the god himself told the tale. Players are left to make their own choice as to who, if any, of RuneScape's gods they will follow. Will it be Saradomin because they favor brain over brawn? Or perhaps Zamorak, because they think red looks so fetching? Each god has their own merits and their own shortcoming, and on one god is better than the other. So in this world of smoke and mirrors, where nothing is what it seems and no one is sure what’s truth and just a rumor, which side do you choose?