In February 2013, in order to build hype for what would be the biggest quest of the year, Jagex released several teasers. The first was a miniquest that involves helping an old friend gain his lost memories back while the second involves taking a trip down to the recently unearthed dungeon where the quest will take place. A third update, which they (possibly intentionally) failed to mention, is the person◊ who begins stalking you the moment you step foot down the stairs into the dungeon.
Senntisten, the ancient Zarosian city where Eldritch Abominations, vampyres, demons, and humans all lived together under Zaros's rule in harmony (for the most part, anyway). After Zamorak's betrayal and Zaros's disappearance, Senntisten was put under siege and eventually razed by the combined might of Saradomin's and Zamorak's armies, unfortunately for pretty much everyone else in the area, it turns out a few of its inhabitants weren't killed, so much as they were Buried Alive. This, in turn, has led to Senntisten and its surrounding area becoming a hotbed for horrifying events long after its destruction, from children being warped into Eldritch Abominations themselves, to an insane Eldritch Abomination escaping an ancient asylum and devouring the souls and staff of the mansion built above it. Word of God confirms that there is more buried beneath the surface than what we've seen, and that the Dig Site staff "are dicing with death every day".
The Broken Home quest. It's an adventure through a haunted house (the aforementioned mansion), and during your quest, you can find various servants dead, tortured, or horribly damaged (one even lost her damn face). Not to mention the purple energy filling some of the rooms and the constant threat of the ghost of Ormod, the previous owner of the mansion. And the ambiance in some of the rooms is just so unsettling that it makes you want to get out of this living hellhole as soon as you can. Oh, and have we mentioned the demonic Lovecraftian creature that swallows the servants, the ghost of Lenian (Ormod's son), and possibly you if you're too slow or confused as to where to go? It says a lot when the only ones who remain alive at the end are you, the demon (who thankfully becomes sane and helps you to solve the ghost problem at the end), and the maid who asked that you investigate the mansion.
The Mahjarrat Memories miniquest tells you what one of Sliske's hobbies was during the Second Age. He was a playwright, like Shakespeare. People in his plays died a lot, like Shakespeare. To get actors, he grabbed lower class humans off the streets, put wooden masks on them that controlled their bodies, with the actors literally stabbing each other in the finale of the play. Eventually he got bored with this, and moved on to other hobbies.
Speaking of Sliske, he's normally very goofy and lighthearted, even when he's talking about serious things. Then, in Fate of the Gods, after he is excommunicated by Zaros, he drops his usual demeanor to deliver a chilling threat to the player character.
Sliske: 'As you command... my lord.' But don't think this is over, World Guardian. I'm just getting started with you. Where I'm concerned, Zaros's protection of you no longer applies.
Player: Protection? What protection?
Sliske: Between you and me, all bets are off. Be seeing you.
After the quest, he turns up in the Empyrean Citadel, and seems to be back to his usual self...except for his final line.
Sliske: Hahaha! Your face! I'm not trying to 'collect' you anymore, silly. You're already mine! My gift allows you to see into the Shadow Realm without need of that scrawny ring. Next time, I want you to see me coming...
The Zarosian Empire also had a nobility which consisted of demons and vampires. The Mahjarrat Hazeel noted that while it was illegal to eat humans, these rules were broken frequently. Much like the horror movie The Purge, the victims tended to be lower class, homeless people.
During the saga Vengeance, the player controls a forgotten warrior whose friends and brother are all slaughtered by a quartet of adventurers (long story). The ghost of Taevas, her brother, comes back to haunt her and to encourage her to exact ruthless vengeance.
"Gut her. Rip her in two. Make her suffer...When she least expects it, crush her. Let me hear her. Let her screams comfort me in the darkness."
Another Dungeoneering saga is Nadir, featuring Lucien's half-human daughter. Zemouregal is interested in "the creation of mongrels such as these". Was Moia created in a test tube, or did Lucien mate with a human female?
According to Jagex, Moia's mother was indeed a human, and apparently a powerful spellcaster at that.
When controlling Moia, examining Zemouregal gets the message that Moia often finds him looking at her.
Speaking of Daemonheim, we now know more about the backstory of the place, which leaves a lot of deeply unsettling mysteries. The Dishonor Among Thieves quest confirmed that the whispers in the place (which may have been what affected the protagonist of the aforementioned Vengeance saga) are not from Zamorak, and that he actually protects his followers from them...... so who is whispering?
The Sea Slug quest line:
After you stop Kennith's glowing rage against the poor little girl, he says, with a maniacal portrait box to boot, "Mother Mallum's coming for you!".
Where you're talking to the little girl in the same quests, and the zombie-like villagers claw at the house, saying they want to play with her, come outside, etc...pretty friggen' creepy.
Pretty much Kennith himself. Kennith can float in a glowing red rage, control the slug infected people, and is probably in cahoots with Mother Mallum, if it wasn't stated in the quest. And he's a kid. A FREAKING KID. His parents are afraid of him. That's pretty nasty. At least he eventually grows out of it and helps you take down Mother Mallum in a later quest.
"A Soul's Bane":
In Tolna's Rift, in the second dungeon, you have to look into dark caves to find monsters. If you don't know whats going to happen, a giant cloaked banshee bounces up in front of the screen. It looks a lot like "The Scream." It's even Lampshaded when the hero screams "AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" the first time. The hero, though, gets more and more confident, until they conquer the fear, and clears the room.
Tolna was trapped underground, isolated and going insane, for twenty years. Until he morphed into that ... thing, and transformed the entire cave system into a warped manifestation of his madness. He was a child.
The diary of the current owner of the lighthouse in Fremennik Region. It mentions noises from beneath the lighthouse, hearing the waterlogged voice of the previous owner in his dreams, and then he goes to investigate the basement, which is the source of the sounds. There's a reason why the journal ends there. Sweet dreams, dear reader. On the upside, you do end up successfully rescuing the person in question, who is simply trapped.
While fighting Dagannoths (a race of sea dwelling monsters based partially off of Lovecraft's monsters), they will often drop armor and swords made by the Fremennik tribe. This makes sense, since the Fremennik send warriors to Waterbirth Island to fight the "daggermouths". Dagannoths also drop civilian clothing as a common drop. Yeah.
The entire plot of "Blood Runs Deep", the current most difficult quest in the Fremennik lands, can be summed up as Dagannoth Apocalypse. You start by entering the dreams of the lighthouse keeper mentioned above, only to find out that the dagannoths possess intelligence and are planning to build an army, traits they have never shown before. Then they attack you. Inside the man's dream. Then you head back to Rellekka, which is the main Fremennik city, only to find the dagannoths swarming the docks. After killing several of them, you have to flee the city. Then you find out that the King of one of the Fremennik Islands has been kidnapped (which the Dagannoth Mother from the lighthouse keeper's dreams mentioned doing), and you have to rescue him from a chamber filled with eggs and escort him through the most crowded dungeon in the game.
During the Desert Treasure quest, if you have one of the diamonds in your inventory, you could get attacked randomly by a stranger with a poisoned dagger. And he's no pushover either - he has a tendency to spam the dagger's special attack, and can quickly kill you if you're not paying attention. The worst part is that it can happen anywhere, from the Grand Exchange, to Lumbridge Castle, and even inside your own housenote Though if he kills you there, you won't lose your items unlike anywhere else.
The Tourist Trap quest, in which humans are captured by bandits and are being forced to work in a mine. Fortunately, you manage to rescue Ana from this fate.
The Underground Pass quest. It's a long twisting tunnel, filled with various creatures, a supposed demigod of evil, and every so often you get an ominous message. In order to defeat the demigod and stop the voices, you need to make a voodoo doll of him, and throw that doll down the Well of Damnation, which sends people straight to Zamorak himself. When you do so, he will be sent down the well.
The very disturbing messages that appear in your chatbox during your adventures in the Underground Pass. Yep, traps that kill you, monsters that want you for dead, and Mind Rape!
I'll swallow your soul.
At the very end of the series, you find out what was talking to you. It wasn't Iban after all. It was an aspect of a goddess known for being benevolent.
The quest also features Koftik, who is slowly driven mad the farther you progress through the pass.
When the quest was first released, the sight of humanoids in cages were said to actually give some players nightmares.
Most of the middle of The Branches of Darkmeyer is this, along with large doses of Tear Jerker. To gain the vampyres' trust, you'll essentially be forced to do Zamorak's bidding as you:
Mock and torture an imprisoned widow. Did we forget to mention you killed her husband? You do have the option of freeing her later... unless you tortured her so much she becomes suicidal, and decides she'd rather wait for the end to come.
Drink human blood. And yes, you get hit for a hefty amount of damage.
Beat a desperate blood tither and then sentence him to death.
In the followup quest, Lord Of Vampyrium, Lord Drakan decides to stop sitting on his throne and hunt down the Myreque himself. And it does NOT bode well for them, with him bringing his Venators to join the hunt, one of which kills Kael and drinks his blood.
The Boss Banter before fighting Leeuni, where she will gleefully describe crushing the monkey colonists' heads and drinking their intestines, before attempting to do the same to you.
Tormented Demons. Think about it. Their flesh is constantly regenerating and burning at the same time. There's metal sealed over one arm, one leg, and their face. The metal has to be excruciatingly hot. Made worse by the fact that in a letter to a player, the Demons actually seem to be pretty good guys, but apparently whatever magic causes them to be in such excruciating pain also causes them to attack wandering adventurers.
Even though it's more due to Gameplayand Story Segregation, they are still alive and suffering even after Lucien is dead, while summoning magic dispels when the master dies.
"One Piercing Note." A previously-stable woman goes insane, believing herself to be the incarnation of a saint, and starts murdering people. With claws. She kills a totally innocent applicant to the order for no other reason than that she wants to cover her tracks, and ends up mutilating the corpse beyond recognition so people think the corpse is her. She kills another sister for the crime of having an affair, and murderers an innocent novice in front of you for the crime of dancing. Yes, dancing. The ending? She either gets kicked off the tower by the player, throws herself off the tower, or falls off it after thinking she can fly.
The description of the victim's body.
The victim's face has been horribly mutilated. The front of the skull has been bludgeoned in, and the skin of the face has been removed. On the back of the head you find a blunt force wound, as if she was hit by a heavy object. There is a roe of three deep stab wonds in the victim's chest, one of them piercing her heart. The victim's feet have been heavily mutilated. Several toes have been cut off.
"Spirit of Summer." The ghosts in this quest look torn and tattered, inhabit a Dark World version of Wilderness ruins, and they can barely communicate with you even with your ghost speak amulet, so there's a sense of wrongness through the whole quest. Finding out what the problem is makes it less scary but also introduces a soul eating Eldritch Abomination to compensate.
Three words: Queen Black Dragon. She looks like some sort of Leviathan, is known to be evil, and Jagex noted it that more than ten King Black Dragons can fit into her mouth alone. Made more terrifying how by she used a siren named Remora for unknown reasons, then torched her alive at point blank range. She has obvious connections with the Dragonkin based on their symbols being seen often on the way to her. Yes, this Eldritch Abomination is serving the ones that curb-stomped Lucien in an earlier quest. Keep note that she is a solo-only boss.
There used to be a line for NPCs in West Ardougne that said "Get me out of this hellhole!" to show the player how awful living in a town where a fake plague is tormenting the citizens and causing real effects to them. Worse still, the Mourners have complete rule over the entire town and occasionally condemn citizens to death in a house with a black x marked on it as a sign that nobody can enter unless they're a Mourner. Just to keep up the facade and torment the villagers. Even worse, the villagers have only one way out: the horrifyingly sadistic Underground Pass. Even if they somehow manage to get through that, chances are they'll be killed by either the elves working for the one who "created" the plague or fall victim to its traps, both inside the Pass and within the forest.
The Order of Ascension runs on this. Their motivation is that they're trying to kidnap humans in the hopes to make a fake Guthix as a replacement after his death. But it gets more horrifying. As you collect the pages of the book and read the the rather robotic dialogue, you learn the being behind them spent multiple generations experimenting on humans and leaving piles of crystalized mummies in their wake. And then, after some exploring, you find a giant statue of Guthix that radiates some unnatural energy and seems to be lacking a mouth. These beings still believe they are doing their duty to Guthix. And the being behind them? Ocellus, a freaking Guardian of Guthix who went completely off the rails.
During the "Death of Chivalry" quest:
The "Examine" text for Sir Owen once he has been revived as a zombie says "High-Octane Knightmare Fuel", referencing this trope. Puns aside, the whole quest is this as Owen, one of the Signature Heroes, has essentially been turned into a zombie. So imagine fighting your friend and ally, who is now a mindless creature, along with other black knight zombies. And when Saradomin resurrects him again, he is brought back with a corrupted arm. Yes, he Came Back Wrongtwice in the same quest.
On top of that, try reading Captain Dulcin's diary and finding Lensig's lovingly detailed account of how she killed him by dissolving him down to the bone, before impersonating him to the rest of the Black Knights, sleeping in his own quarters, and hiding his bleached bonesunder the same bed. "Creepy" would be a huge understatement.
In the finale of the Rise of the Red Axe quest series (the dwarf quests), when you invade the Red Axe base, you find that Hreidmar wasn't planning to attack Keldagrim. No, he had given up, and had constructed his own royal palace as a monument to his delusions of being king. Seeing the Chaos Dwarves brainwashed to act as Consortium heads serving Hreidmar in a building which looked exactly like the actual Consortium palace was creepy. And then, during the boss fight, Hreidmar picked up a certain magical weapon...
Remember back when we found out the fate of Kethsi? How their use of the Stone of Jas brought the Dragonkin upon them, causing them to suffer a Class 5 Apocalypse? Turns out Kethsi is close to Armadyl's home planet, and he is aware of what happened. Imagine our astronomers discovering a world filled with intelligent life, being ravaged by unstoppable monsters. And humanity being utterly powerless to help them from so far away.
By the end of the quest "Bringing Home the Bacon", it's all but verbally confirmed that you, the player, just helped Eli Bacon poison a number of "bacon addicts" and feed them to his pigs. This includes crates full of human bones that quietly appear around his basement.
Kerapac's laboratory is filled with the remains of creatures he has experimented on. To put it into perspective, Kerapac is a creature enslaved by the Elder Gods to protect an Amplifier Artifact, and is driven insane by hatred of "false users". He is trying to figure out a way around the curse. During the associated quest, the player finds out about some of his cruel Mad Scientist experiments. The metal dragons which the player is used to fighting, for example, were created by pouring molten steel on their eggs, which was every bit as painful as it sounds. Then there is what Kerapac did to the White Dragons - he tried to merge them with abyssal energy, which had some unpleasant side effects. And to think the resulting Celestial Dragons actually looked beautiful.
As of Fate of the Gods, we have a wide variety of goodies. For starters, there is the Cradle, a massive volcano where Mah, a half stillborn, brain-damaged god-fetus is constantly having nightmares. Whenever she does, hordes of lesser monsters spawn from her dreams. Beneath her, we have the Elder Halls, essentially a nest for Elder Gods. When the "eggs" start to "hatch", they drain the soul of the world the nest is on, turning it from what Gielinor is now to the Death World that Freneskae is now. And Gielinor's Elder Halls are apparently due to hatch soon. Runescape has gone from being a Medieval Fantasy game to a Cosmic Horror Story.
In Dimension of Disaster, an alternate universe where Zemouregal took over Varrock and turned everyone into zombies, because you were never born and thus did not thwart his plans. Oh, you also learn that every other city and region you saved was taken over by other villains (such as the population of Draynor being turned into vampyres by Count Draynor, or Hazeel conquering Ardougne post-resurrection), turning Gielinor into a Crapsack World. In the end, you do help to kill Zemouregal and save the city, but without Zemouregal's magic to sustain them, the zombies all crumble to dust.
Among the many gruesome deaths in the alternate timeline are those of the Signature Heroes. With the exception of The Raptor (whose armour is found in Zemouregal's treasure horde, with the examine text suggesting he might have survived given its pristine condition), they've all been killed, and their severed heads are stuffed and mounted in Zemouregal's bedroom. And they're not the only ones, as the Wise Old Man's taxidermied body and the stuffed and mounted head of Kara-Meir can also be found in his treasure room.
During one part of Desperate Times, you have to make your way through Sliske's citadel the same way you did in Missing, Presumed Death. One room has Gielinor in it, and while the 'god' doesn't attack, no matter where you move in the room, it always moves so it's staring directly at you.
Kindred Spirits is filled with moments that would be horrific to experience in real life, Dharok getting attacked my 'crusaders' of Saradomin, and he kills them all because he was a bully in life, but to end it he needs to let them kill him; Ahrim wandering a maze and having to decide whether he gets hurt or someone else instead, all because he murdered someone who rebuffed his advances in favor of his brother Guthan; Verac having a key stuck in his abdomen, which you need to wrench out to free him, all representing him being torn between two gods; and Guthan is revealed to have betrayed them all by signing them up to Sliske's plan after murdering another soldier, with him being stuck in a ball which could crush either his brothers or the soldier. Sliske reveals that the entire quest was a trap for the World Guardian, so he can finally turn him into a wight. He tries to steal their soul, being able to look through their memories and point out their dark secrets. Then it ramps up when Sliske discovers the World Guardian knows of his true plans. He completely loses his composure, beats them to within an inch of their life with his bare hands and would have killed them immediately had it not been for the brothers' protection.
How do you top all of the above entries? Sliske's Endgame. Examine text aside, it is heavily implied that Jas is Sliske's mistress from the scene in Kindred Spirits, with him acting as the Elder God's agent on Gielinor. The magnitude of her powers becomes heavily apparant in hindsight when she singlehandedly renders all of the gods mortal during the final contest, including Zaros and Seren, as well as teleport the previously immune-to-God-Magic World Guardian to her. And to top it off, she issues a challenge to the Guardian: show her life is worth keeping, or she unmakes the universe. And with the Stone of Jas destroyed, there isn't a power capable of stopping her.
For additional fun, if your Player Character chooses to insult Jas in the confrontation, despite a warning thrown in that this is Schmuck Bait, Jas instantaneously smites them to death on the spot. And this is an "unsafe" death by the game's mechanics, in case you were wondering.
Even better: even though you manage to finally kill him, in a fit of Joker Immunity and Karma Houdinipar excellence, Sliske takes advantage of the Staff of Armadyl to transfer his soul, or at least part of it, into the Player Character before his physical body dies, and from later evidence seems to be able to pull a Grand Theft Me at will on the World Guardian. As obvious of a Sequel Hook as it is, one has to wonder just what nefarious plans this will enable in the future ...
During the quest, as previously mentioned, all the gods are rendered mortal. Most of them were humanoid before ascending, so it's not much of a bother. Icthlarin, however, started out as a dog- so as the quest wears on, he loses his memory and rationality, becoming less sapient and more like a simple dog. Seeing the smart, brave god reduced so is terrifying, and Icthlarin describes the experience as indescribably horrific.
Xau-Tak manages to be this, which is quite an accomplishment for an entity that hasn't actually directly appeared in the game yet. It's an evil god associated with undead and the oceans, who was worshipped by the civilisation that became the cave horrors, and is presently worshipped by Rabid Jack. Xau-Tak has an interest in the player, speaking to them through people, texts and spirits in quests that are completely unrelated to the pirate quest series, often with zero warningnote For instance, it addresses the Player directly through one of Sliske's diaries in "Kindred Spirits", making it a message sent to the player through Sliske long before Sliske even knew who the Player was— and as it's all-but-stated that the anecdote dates back to the Second Age, it's likely from a time thousands of years before the the Player Character was even born!. It may have been possessing the Skeletal Horror that the Odd Old Man was carrying around on his back, making him obsessed with bones. During Pieces of Hate, the player finds that Xau-Tak has some involvement with a kind of black stone that, when mixed with 'rum', can turn humans into undead thralls. Later in the quest, Xau-Tak aids Rabid Jack in the form of a giant black hand, and the player has to keep drinking just to avoid going insane at the sight. Possibly the most ominous part is its Arc Words: "Do you really think you can save them, [Player]?", given that Xau-Tak is associated with the undead...
The third Elite Dungeon, the Shadow Reef, shows just how far Xau-Tak's influence has spread over the centuries. To whit:
The first possible miniboss you can fight is a Moai statue named Hanto. In the Wushanko Islands, Moai are the islands that they are named after, and there's an island named Hanto in the Skull region, a little east of the explorable Arc that appears in the game. Hanto begs you to kill it, saying that it's infected, and that it might spread to the 'others', as in the other islands of the Skull. They also die if they're separated from their island's soil, so what is it doing in the Cursed Archipelago?
You encounter several sea horrors in here— essentially stronger versions of the Jungle and Cave Horrors that live on Mos'le Harmless. One of them is named Quetzathog, and it talks— up to this point, it was assumed that they weren't capable of talking. They are, and they are working for Xau-Tak in the hope that the mwanu (the race that became the horrors) will rise once more.
You know Oreb, the Magister? Nomad's teacher and the source of the corruption present in Sophanem and Menaphos? He appears in the Shadow Reef. Thankfully, he doesn't have all of his attacks at his disposal, and you don't need 115 Slayer to kill him, but he is probably the most powerful necromancer alive on Gilenor at the moment, and he's collaborating with the Ambassador so that he can return to his home plane of Teragard to rule over House Charon.
The Ambassador himself has quite a few pages of lore associated with him— Kranon attempted to summon Xau-Tak in an effort to free the Dragonkin from their ties to the Stone of Jas, but the ritual failed, killing all but Kranon in the process. The lore pages then go on to describe how, after meeting Xau-Tak, Kranon cut out his own lungs and heart and merged his soul with some of Xau-Tak. The Shadow Reef as a whole is probably one of the darkest versions of Lovecraft Lite seen in an MMO, and the Ambassador is a crown jewel of that.
What happened to the elves on Tarddiad after Seren left. She took most of the elves with her, excepting those who refused to leave (mostly the Cywir, a clan of traditionalists) and those who were too old, young or frail to make the journey. However, once she was gone, the remaining elves developed what they call the Sickness, an agonising longing for Seren caused by her tying their lifespans for her. Many committed suicide from the pain; the others found a solution in the crystals of Tarddiad, which contained just enough of Seren's essence to numb the pain. However, by merging the crystals with their bodies, they simply swapped one addiction for another, becoming addicted to the crystals. Most of them are now wholly insane addicts, not even capable of speech; the one lucid elf on Tarddiad, Angof, is perfectly coherent but freely admits that she craves crystal more than anything and suffers greatly by the second.