Summoning was a much anticipated and much talked about skill before it was released. Due to the large amount of information available about its history (prior to being released), this article has been created to detail the history of the Summoning skill. The information in this article is what was known prior to the skill's release on 15 January 2008.
Summoning was first hinted at with the discovery of life runes, a rune which was never released, but discovered by players through other means.
Summoning was mentioned in Issue 20 of the God Letters when Saradomin mentions the Mysterious Old Man who apparently roams RuneScape looking for people who are "of such low intellect that they cannot respond even directly to their own name" and would teleport the aforementioned player over great distances (using a mysterious type of rune) if they did not respond in an attempt to "test" Summoning.
On 31 March 2004 a Behind the Scenes-like article was published, which included the updates of the next few years. Within these, there were also "Summoning spells - summon skeletons, demons, etc...!".
Many NPCs summon monsters and other magical energies; for example, Malignius Mortifer summons ghosts, skeleton mages, skeletons and sometimes fungi when he fails to summon another creature, though he will tell you himself, that necromancy has nothing to do with summoning. Wizard Grayzag, at the top of the Wizards' Tower, used to summon imps to fight for him when he was attackable, but according to Malignius, he is also a Necromancer. Strongbones also summons four Skoblins to fight alongside him. And Melzar the Mad summons cabbages from his garden.
On 19 February 2007, the Tower of Life quest and the subsequent Creature Creation activity were introduced, where players could "summon" certain creatures. At the time, some players speculated that this was all there was going to be to players' summoning abilities. After the Tower of Life quest came out Mod Ash stated on the forums that this was not summoning and that it was more of a test to see how the servers would handle summoning. He also stated that there was more to come in this area.
Originally, Summoning was considered as an addition to Magic, leading to the creation of life runes. They were never released, but some players managed to deduce their existence. After the development of alternate spellbooks, Summoning was changed to become a skill of its own, rather than an add-on to Magic as that skills was already "filling out".
In February 2005, Mod Bennett wrote the initial brief for Summoning, which wasn't well-received. The development was halted, but it was revived in mid-2005, after Jagex moved into a new office. A new brief was written by Mod Wilson, this time calling the skill "Animal Lore", and with more focus on non-combat aspects of the skill. Some of the brief was considered technically infeasible by Jagex due to game engine restrictions, and development was again halted. The brief was then modified to use a different approach, allowing the skill to again be named Summoning. Development based on this concept began in September 2006, shortly before the release of the Hunter skill on 21 November 2006.
A large portion of what is known about the development of the Summoning skill comes through the four Development Diaries that have been released on the topic to date. Several desktop wallpapers were also released, but it was not possible to tell much about the nature of the skill from these.
One of the most controversial aspects of the skill is that it increases the maximum combat level to 138. Since it is not available to free-to-play players, many have commented that this is unfair to them, since their maximum level will remain 126. Players once speculated that Summoning would be available to free-to-play to balance this, with a Jagex moderator even "confirming" it, however contradictory statements were given from Paul Gower and at least one other Jagex moderator. The fourth Development Diary, however, confirmed that it was a members-only skill shortly before its release.
It was also known that Summoning would make use of birds' eggs, including those released in a hidden update in late 2007. Over 70 creatures were said to be summon-able in all.
The Development Diaries indicate that Summoning was expected by Jagex to be a difficult skill to understand. A quest, named Wolf Whistle, has been developed to serve as a tutorial for the skill and was released along with the skill, much like the connection between the Druidic ritual quest and Herblore. Its starting point was known to be in Taverley, giving further credence to the confirmation by Paul Gower that Summoning was be members-only.
With the final development diary being released as of the 9th of January 2008, speculation on whether or not summoning will be available for both free players and members ended with the note: "'It's my favourite members' skill that I've helped to release,' says Mod Mark."
If a player stood next to the table on which there is a green potion on the first (American: second) floor of the Magic guild, they could see part of a pet store in Yanille. It could also be viewed from a different angle by standing on the Yanille city wall. This is only visible on low detail. Every five minutes or so, the Pet shop owner would exit the shop and take her bulldog for a walk around Yanille. When you talk to her, however, she would say that she was too busy preparing for the grand opening to talk.
It was possible to summon a Karamthulhu before the official release of Summoning but this "programming oversight" was soon fixed. Anyone trying to summon one using those methods before the skills release will receive the message "Sorry, you'll have to wait a little longer for one of those! :-)" in their chatbox. Mod Wilson explained that this bug has been around since Rum Deal but no one took much interest in it. He went on to explain that the Karamathulu has underwent further developed and that the one from the bug was just a prototype.
Each Summoning-related Development Diary featured a mug that had an image of a quarter circle with part of an image inside it. When these were put together, it was revealed that they formed the head of a wolf. There was much speculation on the nature of this image, and it has since been revealed to be the skill icon for Summoning.
Other hints were given within the Development Diaries and wallpapers, such as the week of the skill's release circled in the final Development Diary. Hints were also given through the noticeboard portion of the Postbag of the Hedge releases made prior to Summoning's release.
On 31 January 2008, Jagex released Postbag from the Hedge 27, which gave some clues for the names of the Summoning familiars in anagram form :
- Kitty Traips - Spirit kyatt
- Iris Tiarapulp - Spirit larupia
- Greg Oftener - Forge regent
- Patti Mawns - Swamp titan
- Roger Vavida - Void ravager
- Tori Fishved - Void shifter
- Gilian Bedooms - Obsidian golem
- Stan Oblate - Talon beast
- Rob A. - Boar
- Dr. O Reply - Pyrelord
Website design changesEdit
- Main page : on the day of the skill's release, the two rock pillars on each side of the RuneScape main page were replaced with totem poles, on which were drawings of summonable monsters (monkeys, vampire bats...). The people representing skills around the page title were replaced by summonable monsters. The banner at the top of the page changed to become summoning related.
- Blinking eyes appeared throughout the page.
- Login screen : vultures, wolves, minotaurs and spirit cobras were added on each side of the screen.
- After logging in, the Message of the Week is Summoning!.
- Chaos Tunnels were added in the Wilderness. They contain many monsters and are multicombat.
- Bank space was extended by 64 slots (for members) "due to the large number of items introduced with Summoning".
Bonus XP weekend Edit
The introduction of a Bonus XP weekend resulted in a large spike in the amount of players with 99 Summoning due to players receiving up to 2.7x more experience per charm then normal. In the three days that the bonus weekend was active, over 1,700 players achieved 99 summoning, or 33% more players with 99 summoning, or 10,000% faster then usual. Jagex received much criticism for allowing summoning to receive bonus xp since a majority of the time spent to train summoning is collecting charms.  As a result, the second Bonus XP weekend has a flat 1.1x multiplier for Summoning experience.