In real life, our social status is determined in a large part by luck of the draw. You could be born into a wealthy family that can easily pay for your college tuition, fancy car, Nintendo Wii, plastic surgery, and of course, most important of all, Runescape membership. You could also be born in a poor part of Somalia and die of pneumonia before age three, never even coming close to that runecrafting skillcape. There's definitely some disparity there.
In Runescape, however, aside from the occasional pneumonia-related real-life tragedy, every character begins on equal footing. Sure, we may not have played the exact same tutorial, and we may have had varying amounts of external aid (such as this very website) available, but we all first ventured into Lumbridge with our pockets nearly empty. No trust funds, no wealthy estate to inherit, no rich uncles to send us wads of cash in the mail every Christmas--just a handful of coins, a few basic tools, and our wits. Compared with reality, the playing field in Gielinor is level enough to make Guthix himself break into a violent fit of balance-induced hiccups, which, incidentally, would explain a lot of the crazy stuff in this game.
Why is it then that, after a few months, some of us will adorn ourselves in skillcapes and godswords while spamming our "Headbang" emote on top of a massive pile of gold, but others will wear only rune scimitars as they struggle to fund their goal of level 40 construction? What sets the rich apart from the poor?
Perhaps an occasional soul will receive a lucky party hat in a drop party, but for the rest of us, wealth and power are a matter of choice. The difference between Mr. Moneybags and the n00b in Lumbridge begging for free st00f pl0x is that Richie McFancyPants decided to have money and Nooby McNoobster decided to be broke.
I can hear some of you protesting already. "That's ridiculous," you're thinking. "If being rich was only a matter of choosing to have money, why isn't everyone rolling in millions?" Well, dear reader, it's because Nooby McNoobster didn't put himself in a position to earn money. In less than ten minutes of farming herbs, buying broad bolt tips from a slayer master, and managing Miscellania, for example, it's a simple matter to earn a good half-million gold a day with minimal effort. On top of that, any skill can be trained at a profit should one wish to use a slower method or supplement training with moneymaking to cover any losses. Any second-rate n00b can go from rags to riches in a matter of less than a week--all he needs to do is say to himself, "I think I'll go earn a little money today." So if you're not already buying up those dragon bones for your prayer skillcape you've always wanted, ask yourself why not.
This applies to more than just money. I've had people come up to me in my fishing cape and say, "Wow, lucky." I roll my eyes at this--apparently they believe that one day, a magical fish floated out of the sea and announced, "Troacctid, congratulations! You are the one millionth visitor to this dock! Eat this enchanted sushi and you will gain twenty million experience points in your fishing skill. It also contains many essential vitamins and minerals." I have 99 fishing today because back in February of 2008, I decided that as long as I was going to be playing Runescape for the next couple months, I might as well have a skillcape in my favorite skill to show for it--luck had nothing to do with it. It would be a simple matter for anyone else to make the same decision, not just for fishing but for any skill. Think about it: what is stopping you from getting 99 summoning? A few months from now, any Runescape member could be showing off a pet dragon to awed onlookers in Edgeville bank. Who's to say it couldn't be you? Well, I'll tell you who's to say. You are. There is no list in an office somewhere at Jagex HQ banning all but a few thousand of us from collecting charms and using summoning obelisks. If you want to be kicking butt with steel titans and pack yaks by next Christmas, then the only thing in between you and that pwnage is your own resolve.
Those of us familiar with the classic animated film The Iron Giant will doubtless remember its timeless moral: "You are what you choose to be." In few places does this mantra ring truer than it does in Runescape. Our characters can be set to practice any skill we want them to for as long as we want them to, however we want them to. Our control over their futures are absolute. Even the most luck-based rewards in the game--finding a King Black Dragon Heads trophy, for example--come as a result of choosing to place our characters in a position where it's possible to receive them.
Sure, you can loaf around in Varrock West Bank chatting with friends all day. And you don't have to do everything at peak efficiency. I'm not going to come out here and say the game isn't about doing what's fun for you. Feel free to aimlessly fool around in Castle Wars or beg for free stuff in Lumbridge all you like if that's what floats your boat. I'm not going to deny you any of that. But when you do, you should understand that you are making a conscious decision about how to develop--or not develop--your character. Runescape is about fun, and if you choose to be poor, it's your own business; just remember that it is a choice.