The History of the in-game world of RuneScape spans six distinct ages (roughly just over 12,000 years in total), the sixth of which is currently taking place. Transitions between ages are made when major events occur, such as the discovery of Rune essence. Currently, it is year 1 of the Sixth Age.
The First Age age starts when a god named Guthix discovered the last creation of the Elder Gods: a perfect and lush world, which he called Gielinor. On it he found several Elder Artefact, among which the Stone of Jas, he used this to shape Gielinor further to his liking. He saw fitting, and created savage life forms, like the Light creatures. It was Guthix who brought Humans, and other peaceful beings - like Dwarves, Gnomes and Fairies - to Gielinor from another worlds. He then created Runes for the Humans using the Stone of Jas. Gielinor was thus dubbed RuneScape by the Humans after Guthix created Runes for them. Later, more races followed, through the gates Guthix created: World Gates. One of these were the Elves. They supposedly arrived in Gielinor through the World Gate, being led by the goddess Seren. After completing Guthix thought is work complete, he kindly asked Seren to join him in leaving Gielinor to the mortals, free from divine intervention. She was visably saddened but Guthix believed she would follow him. After this he went into a deep "slumber", hoping the new races would live in peace, without the intervention of gods. Unaware of what was going on for the next few thousand years, Guthix slept.
While Guthix slept, several gods also entered this world, signaling the end of the First and start of the Second Age. The First Age lasted roughly 4,000 years, from the finding of the perfect world to the deep slumber of Guthix.
It is not certain who were the first gods to arrive in Gielinor, after Guthix and Seren.
It is likely that one of the first was Tumeken arch-father of the Desert Pantheon. One of the gods in this pantheon, named Icthlarin, brought a group of powerful long-lived mortals to Gielinor from a place called Freneskae. That were the Mahjarrat. There got nick names like "The Stern Judges" and held important places under Icthlarin's rule.
With the coming of other gods like Zaros, Saradomin, Bandos and Armadyl a struggle unleashed: for power and most notably the Elder Artefacts found on Gielinor. Mortals were used to fight for the wishes of gods, some as nigh mindless slaves (like Bandos' Goblins) others with devotion (like Saradomin's Icyene). During this ongoing God war uneasy and shaky alliances where forged and broken between the gods and their fighting fractions.
Sometime in this age, the Mahjarrat abandoned their ruler, Icthlarin in favour of this more powerful god named: Zaros, one of the most powerful known gods. Zaros built up an empire. He managed to control a great deal of races, nations and lands; with seven major fortresses scattered across the land. These fortresses were built on the sites players are still able to teleport to by using the teleport spells found in the Ancient Magicks spellbook.
This empire lasted about 2,000 years. Until a group warriors lead by Zaros' Mahjarrat general Zamorak, began a revolt against Zaros in order to seize power for themselves. Shortly before this uprising, Zamorak managed to get hold of the Staff of Armadyl, an Elder Artefact also named a "God slayer". During the ensuing battle, Zamorak accidentally impaled both Zaros and himself, causing most of Zaros' godly powers to run through the staff and be transferred to Zamorak. Before Zaros left his physical body and retreated to another dimension, he uttered a curse that should have fell upon all those involved in the revolt, but effected only noticeable humans like Viggora. Shocked at what had happened, it is thought that the other gods banished Zamorak. This marked the end of the Second Age.
We are told by Juna that the Second Age was a time of higher culture, before civilizations were wiped out or geared towards full war. Of some of these races there is no trace and almost no memory, like the White dragons. Surviving members include the Light creatures which are said to be the remnants of a long dead race.
Due to the power vacuum caused by the sudden passing of Zaros and his empire, the Gielinorian God Wars escalated, and got more chaotic. Not much is known of the Third Age, as during this era there was not much stability, and many things got lost or were destroyed. The Third age lasted 4,000 years: from the betrayal of Zaros by Zamorak, to the end of the God Wars and the creation of the Edicts of Guthix. Although only Saradomin, Bandos, Armadyl and Zamorak were recorded, many more gods participated. After nearly 4,000 years of constant war, Gielinor was on the verge of complete destruction. When the world, through the Anima Mundi (life force), cried out to Guthix, he awoken, looked down and saw the devastation created by the war. Sad, enraged and decisive, Guthix banished the gods out of Gielinor. He established the Edicts of Guthix, preventing other gods from entering Gielinor and making it very hard for them to hold contact with their followers.
Not all gods were banished by force. Some of the more noteworthy exceptions are Seren, Armadyl and the Desert pantheon. Seren and Guthix have seemed to had a happy relationship, being good friends and respecting and understanding each other well. But apparently Seren never left, and was still not expelled like the other gods. It seems that Armadyl had a chosen himself to leave, as he was so saddened by the suspected complete eradication of his beloved Aviantese, he left Gielinor to never come back and mourn his followers extinction. And lastly, the Desert Pantheon, they were a scattered and internally divided group of smaller deities, they did not have much effect on the world and lives of mortals and were allowed to stay.
After banishing the gods, Guthix closed the world gates, and made sure no gods could come in. This ended the Third Age.
With the God Wars over, mortals were able to live in relative safety once again. Many races went to great lengths for control over valuable land and resources, however, leading to fighting between them and little progress. There are also tales of undead necromancers raising armies to obliterate everything in their way, making things yet more dangerous.
One of the most powerful races of the Fourth Age were the elves. Upon discovering the God Wars were over and there was a great power vacuum to be filled, the elves quickly sent the Cadarn Clan, the clan that was the military force of the elves, to investigate. Upon discovery of the resources available, the elves built Arandar, a pass over the mountains, to give quicker access. Before the seclusion during the God Wars the elves were friends with the gnomes, who gratefully accepted an alliance, as did the humans.
In 1930, the eastern elves lost contact with their brethren in Tirannwn and found that Lord Iorwerth had betrayed them all and taken control of the Tower of Voices. After the Baxtorian Campaign to attempt to reclaim their homeland, all was lost as the leaders of the Cadarn Clan were either dead or too young to rule. This ended the reign of the elves in modern day Kandarin.
Between the year 1225 and 1645, the Mahjarrat Bilrach discovered the Dragonkin castle now known as Daemonheim and began his descent deep into the depths below the castle. Leading a group of zealous Zamorakians through a series of tunnels, Bilrach sought at the bottom an ancient power for himself and Zamorak.
During the early part of the age, humans were nomadic, travelling from place to place to survive. Eventually, permanent settlements were built, although they were still often attacked by enemies. In the year 1937, a bridge was built over the river Lum, and the town of Lumbridge was founded.
During the latter part of this age, humans began to build towns and cities, eventually establishing rudimentary feudal economies in much of the South-East of the world, although the kingdoms could not be considered "nations", and the continuing struggle with Goblins, or in wilder areas, Trolls and Ogres meant that progress was limited.
Even Goblins eventually started to build settlements of their own, but even today they cannot be considered anything near civilised. It is during this age that the Dwarven Kings were replaced by the "Consortium", and the Gnomes (who had suffered due to the hunting by humans) retreated to isolated, yet civilised and culturally advanced settlements.
At the end of the age, Humans stumbled upon a site of magically absorbing rocks, known as Rune essence, which could be used to create Runes. The site was the location of the Stone of Jas. As such, the Stone has imbued the surrounding rocks with its power, making it capable of storing vast amounts of magical energy. In addition to this, the Moonclan, after splitting from the traditional Fremenniks, travelled the known world and set up the multidimensional runecrafting altars that still remain today; despite the best efforts of the traditionalist Fremenniks. This enabled many to make use of powerful Magic, instead of being limited to studied mages, such as those of the Wizard's Tower. Runes spread among the human civilizations, and were powerful enough to hold other races back. This led to human dominance throughout the world.
Thus ended the Fourth Age.
The Fifth Age is the age of the dominance of Humans. This age started when Rune essence was discovered, allowing ordinary humans to learn Magic. This lead to the rapid expansion of Misthalin, and the founding of Kandarin and Asgarnia, and the eventual dominion of humans in most of the world. They also occupied Varrock, which was originally part of the great Zarosian city, Senntisten that was razed to the ground nearing the end of the God Wars.
The only major catastrophe for humans was a brutal invasion of Kandarin, Asgarnia and Misthalin by the Fremennik tribe, who believed that only the Gods should have the power to create runes. They were eventually defeated before they reached Varrock, capital of Misthalin and largest city in RuneScape, and settled down into a small village, but the Imcando Dwarves were very nearly wiped out, due to their use of human-crafted runes. Some Imcando dwarves still live today, most notably Thurgo. The Wizards' Tower was built as a place to research Magic. In the year 70 of the Fifth Age, there was a schism, and a ritual to create the present power beam and solve the teleportation problem went wrong. The members of the four orders could not agree and did not perform the ritual correctly, which caused an explosion that destroyed the tower. The destruction of the tower was blamed unfairly on the Zamorakians, where the Saradominists and Guthixians were actually equally to blame. The Tower was soon rebuilt by Archmage Perien, who also sealed the ruins of the old one and banished Zamorakians forever. It is falsely believed that the Tower was burnt down by Zamorakians, who had been denied entry due to Saradominist views of superiority. After this event, knowledge and understanding of Runecrafting was lost in the destruction of the Wizard's Tower library.
In year 169, King Roald of Misthalin renovated a once ruined town in north-west Misthalin. The town's former name was Paddewwa, once a fortress of the former god Zaros in the Second Age. It came to ruin and destruction during the God Wars and has since been rebuilt and renamed Edgeville. Another Ritual of Rejuvenation took place, notable for including Mahjarrat that had not attended last time, such as Azzanadra and Akthanakos. Lastly, Guthix was assassinated by the Zarosian Mahjarrat Sliske. The Anima Mundi proceeded to mourn him.
Thus ended the Fifth Age after only 169 years.
The Sixth Age commenced with the assassination of Guthix by the Zarosian Mahjarrat Sliske and the nullification of his Edicts. The age began with the druids of Taverley and the Anima Mundi itself mourning Guthix. The game is currently in the year 1 of the Sixth Age. Apart from its violent initiation, nothing notable has happened as of yet. The death of Guthix made the Fifth Age extremely short, lasting only 169 years.
- In "Betrayal At Falador," Edgeville is mentioned, despite the fact that it was rebuilt one year after the time the novel is based; this is likely an error on the author's part.