"While Guthix Sleeps", the game's first Grandmaster quest, sucker-punches the player about two-thirds of the way through. After the player character recruits a party of eight heroes (almost all of whom were important quest NPCs from the many prerequisite quests or Slayer Masters who the player has most likely interacted with dozens of times each) to fight Lucien, they attempt a stealth operation against him. When the player's cover is blown, the heroes rush in to try to distract Lucien and save the player's life. In the resulting battle, all but two of them are killed.
Cyrisus, the former adventurer who the player nursed back to health and helped overcome their depression in "Dream Mentor", and whom wouldn't even be questing again without the player's help? Dead.
Duradel, the highest level Slayer Master (at least, at the time of the quest's release), who most players who had a high enough level to unlock the quest had trained under dozens if not hundreds of times? Dead.
Ghommal and Sloane, the doorman and World's Strongest Man of the Warriors' Guild respectively? Both dead.
If losing them doesn't twist the knife enough, statues memorializing the fallen appear in several places across the world upon completion of the quest. The pond in the park in Falador has a statue for each of them, while Turael and Duradel have memorials placed outside of the Morytania Slayer Tower, Ghommal and Sloane have statues placed at the entrance of the Warrior's Guild, and Hazelmere has a statue erected in the Tree Gnome Stronghold.
Last but not least, most of the fallen heroes have NPCs that replace them, and (with the exception of Duradel's Obviously Evil replacement), still mourn for them in their dialogue.
The Vengeance!saga is a surprisingly poignantPerspective Flip from the view of a female Forgotten Warrior in Daemonheim. The saga begins with you in control of a normal adventuring party comprised of a few player stereotypes (one who's obsessed with killing, a role-player, a rule breaker, and their sane team leader); after entering a room and seemingly killing everyone within it, you then take control of one of the victims who's Not Quite Dead. She awakes, poisoned, and surrounded by her dead comrades and her dead little brother (Taevas). She continues to wander through the dungeon, the poison slowly killing her, as she runs into more dead friends, and they each have unique examine texts, like "She was about to retire," "He knew more dirty jokes than anyone," and "He could out-drink anyone," and that's when you realize exactly how many of these people that you've killed in proportion to your Dungeoneering level. It quickly becomes Nightmare Fuel as the warrior confronts and kills the members of the adventuring party that attacked them, and struggles with her own madness as her thirst for revenge begins to warp her mind, turning her into oneof the very killers that she hunts...
The music Newbie melody, specially the older version. In every YouTube comment section, old players will cry of nostalgia and remember the good memories of the game. It was the main theme of the Tutorial Island, the first song of many players and the introduction of the game, now symbolizing a bygone era.
The music also starts very happily and ingenuously, but ends fading away in a sad and heartwarming way, as if it were a last goodbye to the players.
At the same time, some veteran players joined the game even earlier, before Tutorial Island ever existednote at that point, the game just plunked you right down in Lumbridge Castle — so for them it just doesn't hold the same impact.
At the end of the quest A Void Dance, the player defeats the boss and found the "culprit" of the mysterious plague, a pest used by the black knights for its live-draining abilities. While killing it is the best way to prevent it from being used again, the music is determined to scar you for life.
The fate of the dragon riders. They were a humanoid race from another dimension that lived in complete harmony with wildlife surrounding them, but were seemingly cursed with infertility. As their numbers slowly died out, Zaros appeared to them, and offered them the chance to give birth again if their served him in the God Wars. They accepted and followed him into Gielinor, but no matter how loyal they were, Zaros refused to grant them their fertility again until he won the war. Their numbers began to dwindle even faster now, thanks to the casualties they were suffering, until only five remained. Two of them were fed up with the lie Zaros had fed them, and wanted to side with Zamorak, while two wanted to remain loyal, and the last was indifferent, believing that they should sit back and just side with the winner. They argued for quite a while, up until the point where Zaros was finally banished, and Zamorak had won. Unfortunately, all of Zamorak's warriors believed the dragon riders were still loyal to Zaros, and all of Zaros's warriors believed that the dragon riders had abandoned them when they needed them most, so the remaining five are all hunted down and killed, one by one (and in gruesome detail), until only one remains. The last dragon rider flees into a cave deep until the wilderness, and spends his last days alone with his mount (The King Black Dragon), writing down the fate of his people before he wastes away.
It might not be so bad. One of the recent future update hints involves a television character named Hannibal. The most relevant Runescape character to that is Hannibus, the aforementioned last Dragon Rider, so he might still be alive and appearing in a quest where Zaros gets his body back.
Partially confirmed. In a February 2014 Grandmaster Quest, Hannibus will indeed be appearing as the Last of His Kind. Zaros won't be involved, but the quest will involve the player helping Hannibus adjust to the world.
The fate of the first wizard tower. Originally it was fully integrated and incorporated wizards who were aligned with all the gods, but a particularly bad instance of Poor Communication Kills left only two people remaining, one of whom eventually destroyed the first wizard's tower.
The backstory and death of Guthix. He was the last survivor of a god war on another world, and sought to make a peaceful society with no godly intervention. However, given that by this point he had become a god himself, it was doomed to failure. And then new god wars started, ruining the perfect Gielinor forever. By the end, he does nothing to prevent his own death, despite being perfectly capable of it.
Extra mention should be given to how the only casualties we see are farmers, craftsmen, and Guthix's friends and family. The only warrior in that entire area belonged to, and was created by, a god.
Guthix wanted to see his family again when he died. In a later quest, Death reveals that when a mortal becomes a god, they give up the ability to go to the afterlife. Instead, their energy is scattered throughout the world. And, indeed, Guthix's energy and memories are what the Divination skill revolves around.
In addition, the music track that is unlocked during your voyage through the memories of Guthix is a very melancholy tune that further compounds the sadness of the event.
From that very same quest, if you side with either the Guthix or Saradomist sides, Azzanadra's reaction is quite jarring. Despite his intense loyalty to Zaros, so intense that that's why he became borderline immortal, Azzanadra is visibly saddened at the thought of fighting you. After witnessing the Puny Earthling attitudes that many other Mahjarrat have towards humans, the thought that one of them considered you a friend was touching. And then you betray him.
In the dwarf quests, you already knew that Colonel Grimmson had likely been brainwashed into joining the Red Axe after he'd been detained by Veldaban following the defeat of the trolls at Barendir. Turns out that when he went berserk at Barendir, Grimmson had accidentally cut down a dwarf (possibly more). This caused him to enter a Heroic BSoD, which led to him letting the Ogre Shaman mess with his mind so that he could sleep at night. During the final confrontation, Grimmson is offered the chance to go back, and replies that he can't go back, he is the "butcher of Barendir", and wants to die a warrior's death at Veldaban's hand like he should have back then.
When King Bolren describes the loss of his wife and children in the quest Tree Gnome Village.
The end of One of a Kind. Kerapac offers to cure Hannibus of his infertility, but there is no guarantee, and it will require decades of Hannibus being in stasis (did I mention he's been Taken for Granite since the Second Age?). While taking a walk outside to consider, Hannibus is approached by the White Dragon from earlier in the quest who went to his home world and brought him his grandchild. It turns out the remnant of the Dragon Rider race is preparing for extinction in a vaguely Circle of Life way, and is guiding the creatures of their world so that another will become the soul of their world. The player must decide whether Hannibus should accept Kerapac's offer, or be with his family.
For years, one type of high level ranging armor says it is made from White Dragonhide, which at the time didn't exist outside of finding that armor in a Treasure trail. Some players speculated about introducing white dragons so they could be killed. Be Careful What You Wish For. One of a Kind revealed that only one, Therragorn, is left. The others were either killed to make armor (which is why some players wanted them introduced), or were experimented on by Kerapac to create Celestial Dragons. The process was apparently painful. Made far worse when you realize that unlike every other dragon species, the White Dragons were not vicious monsters.
The end of Salt in the Wound. Mother Mallum's host (before she attempts to possess the player) is an old woman named Lucy who, by this point, is clearly on her deathbed. After Mallum is killed, you find out that Lucy has been possessed since she was a child, and - because victims of the slugs' mind control don't remember anything that happened during possession - she still has the mind of one. She mistakes the player for one of her parents, and cries about a "nightmare" involving slugs. The player must choose to tell her the truth about her possession, or to comfort her in her final moments by assuring her that it was indeed All Just a Dream. In either case, she dies at the end of the conversation. The lullaby-like music-box tune that plays during this scene really drives home the point that a little girl just died of old age after being trapped in a nightmare for decades.
Many of Runescape's pantheon of gods have, in some way or another, been Jerkass Gods. Not Jododu Otoku. He devoted his existence to keeping a planet alive, despite the fact that the spell sapped his strength and paralyzed his body, and he could have left for another world at any time. Such a feat borders on And I Must Scream, but guess how it ends? One of the mortals Jododu Otoku tried to protect kills him just because he can. Bandos even knows it will undo everything Otoku has devoted his life to.
Seren, like Jododu Otoku, is benevolent. Literally, she is the embodiment of empathy and light (as opposed to the young gods who are ascended mortals). Naturally, this means lots of horrible, heartbreaking things are going to happen to her. When she tries to help her elven followers live longer, she accidentally robs them of free will, which she immediately regrets. Her attempts to fix things.... don't quite work. Fridge Horror dictates that this was in effect even before then: just like Zaros compels people to be loyal just by being geographically close to them, even if he doesn't want to, it follows that Seren compels love in the same way.
From the Mighty Falls quest, we have the final fate of Zanik. Either the player kills her in cold blood, or she is doomed to die anyway with her life force fading away as a result of Bandos dying.
Crosses into Heartwarming at the conclusion of Nomad's Elegy, where Ictharin and Death can allow her to live free of any divine influence in the mortal realm, and you can meet her again in her new job as the Custodian of the Soul Obelisk.
Your mileage may definitely vary, but Yelps. He is a weakling among goblins who found prosperity through his brains rather than the methods goblins traditionally favor. During the Kyzaj tournament, the goblins pick him as their champion specifically so that he will die. And most players do kill him.
Book of A Thousand Songs. As its name might suggest, it's Runescape's 1000th song. What makes it a tearjerker is the last line. This song brings up thoughts of the thousands of people who swore off Runescape entirely after updates like the removal of PVP and free trade or the update to the combat system. For them, their journey in this game, one that they probably loved, ended years ago, and, more than likely, the game is still ruined for them and they're never going to come back.
So now, book of a thousand songs, how so, I find you pretend? For you are more than a thousand songs, and there'll never be an end. No, there'll never be an end.
If you're aligned with Bandos and killed Zanik in the Mighty Fall, there's unique dialog with her in Nomad's Elegy, where the player tries to justify their actions. It is not taken well.
The Lord of Vampyrium, full stop. At long last, you are ready to take down Lord Drakan. You've fought alongside the Myreque for years now, done so much together, seen so much evil, and now, finally, is your big moment! One by one, all but you and Safalaan, Veliaf and Ivan fall to Drakan. When you finally kill him, Vanescula betrays you by (seemingly) killing Safalaan by draining his blood, stating that with it in her, she can cross the river Salve, and she can use haemalchemy to transfer that resistance to every vampyre. And the worst part? She doesn't go Card-Carrying Villain on you, she says that she can force Misthalin to give them blood, thus requiring humans to give less blood less frequently, freeing her race from starvation and the humans from mistreatment. She killed Safalaan and is going to invade humanity, but.... what if she's doing the right thing?
If the player executes the Head Mourner after defeating him during "Plague's End", his widow can be found perpetually weeping in the Iorwerth district of Prifddinas. Despite all of his atrocities, the player cannot talk her out of believing that he was on a mission as a "emissary of peace".
Tarddiad, the world Seren and the elves used to live on. It was formerly a beautiful world full of life and civilisation; centuries after Seren left, it's a ghost world, now populated by the few elves still living- but they've become so addicted to the crystal they used to stop the pain of Seren's absence that they're completely insane and possibly beyond help.
The Black Marketeer in the player-owned port's backstory. He was once a simple merchant living in the Pincers region with his wife and two daughters. But one day, slavers attacked his island and took his family. They demanded a ransom from him, and he paid it... only to receive another note. He's been paying their ransoms ever since, and when the player asks if he's never considered that his family could be dead, he says that if he considered that, he'd lose everything he had to live for.