17th November, just two weeks ago, saw an update to both the Magic and Runecrafting skills. The Magic skill has needed an update for a long time now, though I'm not entirely sure the new Surge spells are what people were looking for, nor what they had in mind. Runecrafting however, is a bit of an oddity. It is widely regarded as the most (or one of the most) difficult skills to train, mainly due to the low experience per hour rates and constant running needed. Though of course with difficulty, comes an equal reward, and accomplished Runecrafters with level 91 can find themselves sitting on a gold mine of crafting two Nature Runes per Pure Essence.
Then the new update came. Previously you could only craft multiple runes once you reached a specific level. For example at level 33 you could craft 4 Air runes per essence, but you could only ever get 3 per ess at level 32. But now, when you are between the set levels for "multiple runes", some of your runes might be multiplied. For example, if your Runecrafting level is between 22 (3 Air runes per essence) and 33 (4 Air runes per essence), there is a chance that some of your essences will produce four runes instead of three. This update makes a big difference to Runecrafting - particularly Nature runes - where you would only be able to craft one Nature rune per essence all the up untill level 91. This makes the 'step graph' of what used to be the multiple runes levels into a smoother, progressive curve.
In some ways this update seems rather logical to me. There's no good reason that when you've crafted enough runes, you suddenly realise 'Oh, I can make more runes out of this!' then consistently make multiple runes until you realise 'Oh, I can make even more!'. You might ask 'Well, aren't random epiphanies the way we learn everything in this game?' and to some extent you might be right. Once we reach a certain Woodcutting level we suddenly realise how to chop a kind of tree, or at a certain Cooking level we understand how to cook a shark. But the difference between these sorts of skills and Runecrafting is the consistency. Once you first start to chop Magic trees, you aren't very good at it and it might take you forever just to get one of those wonderful sparkly logs, or you might burn 70% of the sharks that you're trying to cook. As you level up - you get better at the task. Until you're cooking almost every one of those sharks to a delicious perfection. What Jagex has done is give us the curve that these skills have. Your character will craft a load of Nature runes and find that somehow he's managed to make a couple extra. As he does this more and more he gets better at making multiple runes until every single time he crafts a Nature rune he can make two.
Now I don't pretend to know much about the economics of Runescape, or plan to bore you with the dead horse of a topic that it is, but this update has had an undeniable effect on rune prices. I'm going to focus on Nature runes because these are the runes that are most effected by multiples. There are already enough of the Elemental runes, Chaos runes and Cosmic runes for the update not to have a huge impact on their worth. While the update might effect Astrals, it wont be to the extent that it is with Natures, simply because Nature runes are far more widely used. Now the price of Nature runes dropped when the update came out - something that wasn't really very hard to predict. We know that the large influx of people trying out a new update can mess with item prices in the short term, so it's difficult to tell if this update is going to bring down the cost of Nature runes in the long term.
This update can be seen in a different light by different people. For most people it's quite a positive thing. If you're crafting runes for your own uses it just gives you more. If you're training Runecrafting for a profit by selling runes, then you're getting more profit in the short term rather than having to wait until you reach level 91 for the real gold to come pouring in. But for those who already have 91 Runecrafting or higher, this update is a bit of a slap in the face. If the price of Nature runes continues to decline over the next two months, that gold mine they’re sitting on might just be worth that little bit less.
Overall I think that it adds further incentive to progress to higher levels of Runecrafting. One of the things I hate the most, and notice a lot when I'm browsing the Tip.It Forums, is how underused Runecrafting is by normal ‘Scapers. Players will have 70's for most of their other levels but their Runecrafting hangs around a meek level 40. I think that part of Jagex's intention behind this update was in fact to bring the spotlight onto Runecrafting just a little. But the update leaves me with one lingering thought. The update was done with an update to magic - this makes sense since the skills are rather closely linked. But what doesn't make sense is how the update doesn't help in the slightest with providing the Blood and Death runes needed for the new Surge spells. This update leaves them completely untouched, so I'm left with a feeling of uncertainty as to the whole point of it. I can only hope this update is a sign that there is something more on the horizon for the Runecrafting or Magic skill and that all these extra runes we're crafting now are going to come to some use soon.