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Across the many thousands of years of life on RuneScape there have been many races, some wiped out by their enemies or destroyed at the whim of the gods during the horrific God Wars of the Third Age. This cycle of warfare and conflict means that the races that cover the surface of the world - and those that fill the tunnels beneath the surface - are hardy and adaptable peoples who have developed over centuries to fill their particular niche as no other race can.
Main article: Humans
Though ancient legends speak of lost races of incredible power, no modern scholar who has studied in the Library of Varrock could possibly consider any of them a successful race simply because they no longer live upon RuneScape. Equally, most of the scholars of Ardougne consider humans the very pinnacle of the gods' creations for the simple fact that humans now cover almost the entirety of the known world.
The success of the human race does not stop there, of course. In humanity's spread across the world, it has adapted and changed to suit its new environments, hence the people of the Kharidian Desert are better able to survive the harsh desert sun and dry winds that would surely slay a lesser mortal. Our technology, too, though not so creative as the gnomes or the dwarves, is quick to assemble and simple to maintain, enabling humans to use their tools wherever they may be.
The nation of Misthalin is one of the oldest human kingdoms, and its capital, Varrock, has been in existence - in one form or another - for hundreds of years longer than most others. In the later years of the Fourth Age there were many troubles in Misthalin, notably from the dark regions of Morytania, though these troubles are now mostly past. The Wilderness also poses an odd problem for Misthalin, as the lawless territory to the north is filled with the sorts of criminals who would dearly love to take their vengeance upon Varrock and the pastures beyond. Many years ago, Varrock was even assaulted by an undead army led from the Wilderness by a dire necromancer, whose name is now lost to antiquity.
Misthalin is a nation split quite evenly in two. The population outside Varrock is predominantly agricultural, and provides a great deal of food for the capital and for sale to other, poorer nations. The people of the capital, though, are largely tradespeople and artisans, who work with raw materials to produce something more immediately useful. This split in society may seem to work effectively, but the problem can be seen most clearly in the southern parts of Varrock. This is where the rural citizens who have come to the capital frequently end up, unskilled and naive, living off scraps and dressing in the rags of clothes discarded by the wealthy.
Asgarnia is a nation founded on the principles of chivalry and duty, so it is no surprise that one of the largest and most powerful knightly orders makes its home in Falador, the capital. The White Knights of Falador, in fact, have become so prominent and influential within Asgarnian politics that they rule in King Vallance's stead. The White Knights do not rule unchallenged, though, for the Crown Prince, who lives in Burthorpe, favours the Imperial Guard. The rivalry between these two military forces is great, and it is probably only the fact that both are devoted to the royal family that has kept them from trading blows in a very public and very messy civil war.
The White Knights have another foe: the Black Knights. These dark warriors adore havoc and death, and from within the hellish depths of their caverns and the fortifications of their castle they reach out to strike against the White Knights.
The majority of Falador's population is oblivious to this, of course, and are more involved in their own quiet business. In Port Sarim this can involve anything from trading in contraband goods to swapping tall yarns from long years spent at sea; in Taverley, where the druids gather to worship Guthix, most of the trade is in herbs and potions; the dwarves, with their extensive tunnel networks beneath Asgarnia, are openly accepted into Asgarnian society - especially when they bring their ores and their inventions to market.
Though Asgarnia may be a quiet nation, for the most part unbothered by its neighbours, there is within its borders a growing cluster of malcontents and misanthropes, practitioners of the dark arts and those who worship Zamorak. This is the true threat to Asgarnia: the walls of Falador may not fall, but this may only be because the peril comes from within.
Kandarin is the most westerly of the human nations, and by far the most complex. The capital, Ardougne, is divided down the middle and large dark walls mark this clearly. This is the result of the former king's decision to split his kingdom between both of his sons. Now, King Lathas rules the prosperous eastern half of the city while King Tyras has largely abandoned his side to lead a crusade through the Underground Pass.
On top of the feuding of the two kings of Kandarin, the lands themselves are oddly perforated with the outposts and settlements of other races. South of Ardougne is the Tree Gnome Village, an odd maze designed to protect the gnomes within from invasion. Still further south, past Yanille, are the ogre city of Gu'Tanoth and the Feldip Hills; ogres have little concept of borders, though, and can be found in their small tribes dotted around the fields near Yanille.
Despite the odd characteristics that seem to govern Kandarin, it is a wealthy nation and easily as powerful as Misthalin. Ardougne's wealth is supported by the various industries of Yanille, Seers' Village and Catherby, as well as by trading with the other nations around and within Kandarin's borders. There are even rumours that Kandarin has connections with the mysterious lands west of the mountains, where no human has set foot since the God Wars.
The Kharidian Desert is the most inhospitable of all the lands of RuneScape. Even the mightiest warriors, mages and rangers take care to go into the desert with proper preparations. Somehow, against all that the desert may summon up against them, humans thrive even here. Many thousands of years ago, even before the God Wars, these lands were ruled by the ancient Menaphite deities, but now there is little trace of them save for the few pyramids and other monuments erected either by them or by their followers in later years.
The Kharidian Desert is actually composed of two nations, which is apt as the lands north of the Shantay Pass are both more civilised and more agreeable to unprepared travellers. The city of Al Kharid is ruled by the Emir, though no one has seen him in public since his only son, Prince Ali, was kidnapped. Now he leaves much of the duty of running his small nation to Chancellor Hassan.
The lands south of the Shantay Pass are a constantly shifting and changing morass of sand that bears more in common with the tides of the sea than with any land. Thousands have lost their way (and, hence, their lives) within this place, but the sands shift again and their bones are buried for centuries, only to be unearthed, polished and gleaming, for the jackals to gnaw upon.
There is civilisation here, though, and an ancient one it is. The twin cities of Menaphos and Sophanem rule their lands with the priesthood, worshipping the same deities they have for as long as they have been there. In the western desert is a collection of less orderly places. The Bedabin nomads obey no rule except their own, as do the bandits; the Bedabin, though, are friendly and hospitable people, while the bandits spend much of their lives practicing how to slit throats.
In the far northwest of RuneScape, where the land turns to ice and the stone breathes, the Fremennik make their homes in long timber halls lined with furs. They are a noble people with a definite understanding of their corner of the world. They have adapted to their environment as fully as the people of the Kharidian Desert, and have proven their might at arms in battle against the infamous daggermouths of Waterbirth Island, where the aspiring heroes of the modern age go to meet their deaths in hope of finding glory.
Despite their obvious martial prowess, the Fremennik dislike magic in all its forms, and have a long history of fighting their erstwhile cousins on Lunar Isle.
The Fremennik rule their lands and their waters more than any other human nation, for no significant settlement of any other civilised race can be found within their borders.
Many years ago Fremennik sailors discovered these twin islands, and were astounded by the quality of life that they could foresee there. Since then, the two islands have been built up and populated, and now a complex political situation rules their lives. King Vargas of Miscellania and Queen Sigrid of Etceteria, though both lonely monarchs, have developed a particular enmity, so the two islands are constantly on the brink of open war. It is only the fact that neither island actually has anything approaching a military that has kept them from battle thus far.
The Lunar Isle is the home of the Moon Clan, a group of Fremennik that branched from the main group centuries ago due to their acceptance of Magic and Runecrafting. Since then, they have developed the ability to use their magical powers without the assistance of runes. They also built the various Runecrafting altars that can be found across the land, such as the Astral Altar that can be found on the Isle. Other points of interest on the Isle include its Rune Essence mine, Pauline Polaris's Livid Farm, and a heavy population of Suqah.
It is difficult to say that Karamja is a human land, for the jungle fights back at every turn and opportunity. It sends forth legions of hardy, poisonous creatures to slay the humans, and the dense jungle bush wages its own quiet war against the buildings and walls that humans endeavour to build and maintain. Even the native people who live in the village of Tai Bwo Wannai and align their lives with nature as much as possible are forced into fighting this battle. The island, it seems, does not wish to be owned by anyone or anything.
There is evidence of a dark history in Karamja, as the natives know when they speak of the broodoo victims whose death-sleep is as restless as they might expect in Morytania. There are caves and tombs deep in the earth, and mighty beasts that appear once in every few years to terrorise the human population. Karamja may be an island overflowing with untapped wealth, but it is a hard road for anyone who wishes to harness it.
Karamja also plays host to one of the strangest of the races of RuneScape, for beneath the volcano is carved the TzHaar city, where stone and fire find a bizarre life.
Entrana is quite unlike any of the other human lands, it permits no weapons to be brought upon it. Being the home of a devout order of monks, is a fertile and peaceful land that has few fears. The island does not have enough wealth to expect invasion, nor is it aggressive in any way, so it has no foes that do not claim the entirety of humanity as an enemy.
Main article: Dwarves
Dwarves are, obviously, a short race with short tempers to match. They are also blessed with a remarkable ingenuity that surpasses other races. Their particular interest is in engineering, for it seems to them a thoroughly sensible way of doing things that weaker and more foolish races resort to magic for. This mistrust of magic is a long-held conviction for the dwarves who have not used magic in any significant way since the construction of Keldagrim all those many centuries ago. In fact they cannot use magic at all.
The dwarves of RuneScape are an especially economically aware race, as visitors to Keldagrim will notice when they first view the impressive trading floor in the Consortium's Palace. The Consortium, who rule the dwarves, are the most powerful of the dwarven corporations and their wealth is beyond compare even among other races. This is no real surprise, of course, for the dwarves have been mining for gold and precious stones and metals since well before humans abandoned their nomadic existence.
Keldagrim is the massive underground capital of the dwarven nation. It sits astride the Kelda River, with a number of ferries servicing the city and the large mines south of it. These large vessels, like all other dwarven inventions, are impressive feats of engineering.
Keldagrim is connected to the rest of the dwarven nation by means of an extensive mining cart network, the swiftest and most efficient way to get from point to underground point.
The city itself is split in two, with the wealthy elite living upon the western bank, while the poor workers who labour for the great corporations of the Consortium live on the eastern bank. The eastern bank, as you might expect, also plays host to the massive furnaces and other loud, polluting equipment, as well as a variety of unsavoury characters and dodgy bars.
Main article: Gnomes
The gnomes are a strange race, though truthfully not far different from humans. This disguises the fact that most of the gnomes in RuneScape are armed with and trained in the use of a bow. For this reason, it is a bold foe that dares to attack the gnomes - a lesson that General Khazard has not yet learned. The gnomes, like the dwarves, are a race gifted with a particular ingenuity, though the gnomes are usually less practical and more gastronomic.
Until the end of the Third Age, the gnomes lived underground, having delved out caves that served their purposes and allowed them to hide from the catastrophes of the God Wars and to avoid becoming one of those races that we no longer see on the surface of RuneScape. When they reached the surface, blinking against the sunlight, they discovered the spirit trees and became the tree gnomes we know today: bending and moulding the trees around them into shapes that suit their purposes.
The Stronghold is the largest and most powerful of the gnome settlements, and it is literally swarming with gnomes. The gnome race may be of short stature (shorter than even dwarves), but they are probably the most politically-aware race in RuneScape. They have established diplomatic ties with every nation they have ever had dealings with, a sign of their important position within the world.
When at home, though, the gnomes of the Stronghold are keen sportspeople and can frequently be found watching or playing gnomeball, their national sport. They also enjoy indulging themselves in the bars and restaurants, though their particular idea of delicacy is often too 'rich' for human tourists.
Main article: Vampyres
There is little that can be said about vampyres that is not either pure myth or proven terror. It is a dubious assumption that these dark rulers of the lands of Morytania were once human, as they are so filled with hate and malice that they are essentially no more similar to humans than they are to unicorns. The vampyres rule over Morytania with an iron fist and with blood tithes that all the mortals of that land must submit to.
Main article: Werewolves
Located primarily in Canifis, the Werewolf population is smaller than most races.
Morytania is a blighted nation, though until quite recently the north of Morytania was a peaceful land only marred by being so close to Sanguinesti, where Lord Drakan and his vampyre followers and family had established an empire long ago. When Lord Drakan laid his gaze upon the land, though, the swamps turned dark and the woods woke their dead. Morytania is now a land where the dead are lucky to find rest, for the evil that the vampyres have brought make this a place where the spirits and the living share property.
Canifis is a town that, for the most part, looks little different from any other across the border in Misthalin. Later, under the full moon, though, travellers see that its entire population is of werewolf stock. Because of this, the people of Canifis - unlike the people elsewhere in Morytania - like having the vampyres ruling them.
Port Phasmatys is a tragic town doomed by its own determination. When Lord Drakan came to them demanding blood tithes, the people of the town turned to a stranger, Necrovarus, in a dark pact that has doomed them all to an eternity without rest.
The warriors buried in the barrows were once great heroes of the human nations to the west, but now, buried in soil stained with the evil of the Sanguinesti region, they rise again as bitter shades to defend their tombs from thieves and adventurers.
Main article: Trolls
Of all the races of RuneScape, few are as unintelligent as the troll. The trolls have a remarkable lack of rational intellect, but this does not seem to have held back their advancement, much to the puzzlement of the scholars in Falador and Burthorpe who have been studying trolls for many decades. All that any of them can figure is that trolls need no intellect because they are simply massive and durable enough. After all, if they don't know they have a problem they don't need to fix it, right?
Trolls, being hardy creatures more closely related to rocks than to humans, enjoy living high in the mountains where they delve out caves and eat almost everything they can find. The trolls that live outside, meanwhile, take on even more of their local features, become hard and rocky or icy and pale depending upon the weather. The ice trolls are curious creatures that are, if anything, more aggressive than their mountain troll cousins.
Troll society is governed in much the same way that human schools are ruled: the larger and more arrogant the troll, the more power it wields - it could be said that trolls are a race of bullies. Of course, not all trolls are like this, just as some are significantly more intelligent than the majority.
Trolls are most often named for the first thing that they eat (or, if they do not know what to call that first meal, they may be named for the noise the meal made). This method of naming can have some fairly amusing results, but trolls are not noted for their sense of humour, so it's best if you keep the joke to yourself.
Main article: Goblins
Most of the goblins that the humans of RuneScape are familiar with are those goblins that cover the surface of the world. There are few places goblins cannot be found, but there are also few goblins that could not be described as stupid. The Dorgeshuun tribe of goblins are the notable exception to this, as they have been separated from the main goblin race since the times of the God Wars. The Dorgeshuun have since then been hiding themselves away in their underground city, Dorgesh-Kaan.
Were it not for their remarkable stupidity, the common goblins of the surface could cause extreme problems for the human civilisations. The Dorgeshuun, who are nowhere close to as stupid or inclined to bickering as normal goblins, are opposed to violence of all forms. They do not trust humans, though, and it is a rare human that has seen their mines or had anything approaching a decent conversation with them.
A good number of goblins live in Asgarnia's Goblin Village.
Dorgesh-Kaan is the home of the Dorgeshuun tribe.
Main article: Fairies
Though almost the entire population of RuneScape is unaware of them, the fairies are the beings that ensure that RuneScape's seasons are generally regular. Without the fairies crops might fail and the winter sky remain its dull grey a few weeks longer. Though most people happily deny that fairies exist, they are certainly an important race in RuneScape.
Zanaris is a strange kingdom, where all the laws that govern RuneScape are suspended in favour of a set of rules that the whimsical fairies find amusing. Animals here can not only talk, but can make intelligent conversation that would leave even Reldo of Varrock Library looking foolish. The grass grows without sunlight or rain, and seems to have an ethereal glow about it.
The fairies in Zanaris live in small houses high above the ground. Curiously, though, they conduct their business at ground level. Whether this is because they expect travellers from other worlds, or they simply prefer to keep their home and business lives separate is anyone's guess. One certainty, though, is that no human can ever hope to fully comprehend the way a fairy's mind works.
Being an intersection between a number of worlds, the markets of Zanaris offer a selection of equipment enviable in the 'real world' of RuneScape. Of course, this position between realms comes at a price, and Zanaris is constantly in danger from these other realms.
Main article: Ogres
Ogres, like trolls, are noted more for their physical strength than their intellectual might. They are about as stupid as trolls, but they are certainly much more imaginative. The ogres of the Feldip Hills live in a tribal system, ruled over by chieftains and, above even them, the shamans that live in the Enclave within Gu'Tanoth.
The ogres of RuneScape seem attracted to the hills south of Yanille, but there is no rational reason why they should prefer these hills over the plains to the north, or even the mountains to the north-west. The only reason that scholars can fathom is that it simply has not occurred to the ogres that they could build settlements further to the north when they have such perfectly adequate homes in the Feldip Hills (because the Feldip Hills, like ogres, are large and menacing enough to deter any would-be invaders).
Further, for reasons few scholars have even attempted to fathom, ogre society is physically split between the females, who live solely in and around Oo'glog, and males, who live predominantly in Gu'Tanoth. The most reasonable assumption anyone has come up with is that ogre women terrify the males so much that they have driven them to seek solace among the rocks and dragon-filled caverns of Gu'Tanoth.
Main article: TzHaar
The volcanic folk that live beneath Karamja Volcano are surprisingly friendly and, though they have a wide variety of some of the finest weapons in existence, they seem completely uninterested in military might or expanding their borders. Some scholars doubt the TzHaar's goodwill, though, and the publishing houses are often found printing pamphlets warning of the dangers beneath Karamja.
The TzHaar City is built around the lava pit within the heart of the volcano. Most of the city is out of bounds to humans and other visitors, but the part that is open is one of the greatest attractions to those who wish to pit themselves against some of the most dangerous and violent beasts in RuneScape. Travellers be warned: the TzHaar city is not for the weak or inexperienced.
The TzHaar use a currency called TokKul; these odd shards of obsidian have little value in the outside world, but to the TzHaar - who have no interest in gold - it is the only currency worth using.
Main article: Monkeys
Most of the monkeys that any traveller is likely to see are small and insignificant, with nothing approaching a society to speak of. The monkeys of Ape Atoll, though, have established a highly ordered and insular society, complete with an army that any nation would be proud to have. Some of the ruling monkeys are greedy, though, and likely to lead their people into messy wars with no beneficial outcome.
Main article: Ape Atoll
Ape Atoll is the main stronghold of monkey civilisation, and they have some impressive examples of architecture and arts. Marim is well defended, and the ninja monkeys that watch over the town are diligent and watchful. To this day, no human has walked unmolested through the gates of the town.
Main article: Elves
Among the longest lived of all the races of RuneScape, the elves have watched the God Wars come and go, and watched as other races were destroyed. Because they retreated beyond the mountains so many years ago, there are few scholars who know very much at all about the elves, and fewer still who are correct. The elves worship a strange deity called Seren, who communes with the crystal seeds that the elves use to build almost everything. Their society was riven several centuries ago, though, and now skirmishes often break out within the forest of Isafdar as the rebels fight to reclaim their lost lands.
Main article: Tirannwn
Isafdar is a forest completely unlike any that the humans east of Arandar are familiar with. An odd glow seems to permeate the place, as if the trees are sentient creatures and adventurers are intruders of a most unwelcome sort.
The main settlement of elves is Prifddinas, a mighty city that dates from thousands of years ago, and is grown from crystal seeds. Although no human has ever entered its walls, there are rumours of its beauty and the genius of its architecture - rumours which are repeated throughout every text on elven culture that has survived to make it to Varrock.
The rebel elves make a point of moving about, though their current settlement - the lodge at Lletya - has been a reliable base for some time now. No human knows how the civil war began, but all scholars agree that this could easily be the end of this once powerful race.
Main article: Demons
There are many types of demons including greater demons (found deep in the wilderness) or lesser demons (found under the volcano in Karjama). These deadly creatures are also found in Daemonheim and should be fought with care. It is also known that they have a weakness to magic.
Main article: Mahjarrat
The Mahjarrat originate from the war-torn realm of Freneskae. Following their arrival in Gielinor, they have had a turbulent history as befits their combatitive race. Originally serving Icthlarin, they left to join Zaros, before he was attacked with the Staff of Armadyl by Zamorak. Now they are engaged in a long war between the two factions.