Over the last few months, we’ve been working on something very exciting: Old School RuneScape’s first ever new skill!
Sailing is a new, open-world utility skill that lets you experience exciting new content only found at sea. It’s non-instanced, traditional MMO exploration at its finest, with an Old School RuneScape twist. Expand the vast world of Gielinor with new islands, creatures, and mysteries to uncover. Build and customise your own ship with upgrades and facilities that will let you explore ever more dangerous areas of the ocean. You’ve seen ships in Old School before – but for the first time, Sailing will let you captain a ship of your very own, command your NPC crew, and sail into uncharted waters…
Sailing could launch as early as 2024 – but to make that happen, we need YOU to cast your vote! In this blog, we’ll summarise everything we’ve spoken about so far so you have all the information you need to decide – should Sailing be Old School RuneScape’s first new skill?
Integration & Lore
When we asked whether you’d like a new skill, a whopping 80.9% of you said YES. We’re not surprised – after all, who doesn’t want more skilling content? A new skill has value for every type of player because it enables us to add all kinds of new content – from new training methods, to new quests, to new places to explore. Whether you’re a casual player or a completionist achievement hunter, a new skill will add hours of enjoyment to the game.
But a new skill isn’t just for existing players. Chances are, you have a friend or two who would love to come back to the game – or start playing from scratch – to find out what this new skill business is all about. We’d love to make that happen!
When we first began this journey, we never imagined how awesome it would be to work alongside our passionate community to design the new skill. After six months of refinement, working closely with content creators and the New Skill Refinement Discord, we’re incredibly proud to show off our final Sailing design.
We have confidence in our proposal because it’s been shaped by you. At every stage, we’ve consulted with players from across the community to make Sailing the very best it can be. Your fantastic insights are the backbone of this skill – and all your hard work has definitely paid off.
Below you can find the final, fully fleshed-out Sailing design. It’s grown a lot since we first pitched it back in March, so if you haven’t kept up with our refinement blogs, you’re in for a real surprise.
Bear in mind that this is still only the beginning. If you vote ‘yes’ to the poll and make Sailing happen, we’ll be able to delve into the nitty gritty details. Rest assured, if you have questions, they’ll be answered once development work has started. There’ll also be multiple betas where you’ll have the chance to get hands-on with Sailing as it develops.
For now though, the below information is a summary of everything we’ve discussed during the refinement stage.
The prototype video below shows how this could work in-game:
On the course of your journey to Sailing 99, you’ll obtain many different ships which you’ll have the ability to customise and tailor to your needs. Ship sizes range from small, to large, to colossal vessels, each of which will help you navigate different kinds of waters:
- The Shallow Seas are accessible for small and large ships. Colossal ships are unable to sail here, because the waters aren’t deep enough. Small ships will find it easy to zip around the various obstacles, but large ships will need to go slowly and carefully. Most areas around the coastline will be shallows.
- Open Sea waters are a little bit further out than the shallows. They’re mostly found between islands and landmasses that are close together. All ships can sail here, but large ships will be the fastest.
- Deep Sea is the most dangerous part of the ocean, where the wind, currents, and waves are strongest. Colossal ships will find navigation easiest, although large ships will also find conditions tolerable. Small ships, however, will likely not be able sail to here at all – it’s too dangerous!
Thanks to your feedback, we’ve identified two islands in starter zone areas which can be moved to create more space for ships to sail – Tempoross Cove and Tutorial Island. This won’t affect gameplay, only where these islands are placed on the World Map.
Initially, we were unsure about moving these iconic locations further out to sea – but your feedback has assured us that the community is enthusiastic about having a larger Sailing area, and they’re happy to move these specific islands to achieve that.
Facilities will unlock new ways to interact with the ocean. For example, the Salvaging Hook will let you retrieve treasure and resources from shipwrecks. Just as lighting fires grants Firemaking XP and planting vegetables grants Farming XP, Sailing awards XP for interacting with any of the facilities on your ship. This is the core gameplay – but what else can you get up to at sea?
Primary training methods only provide Sailing XP. This will be the core of the skill – interacting with facilities on your ship.
We’ve already discussed the mighty Salvaging Hook, but here are the other primary activities that’ll net you that sweet sweet Sailing XP:
- Chart the Sea: Document the points of interest found within Gielinor’s ocean on your personal Map.
- Shipwreck Salvaging: Use Salvaging Hooks to recover treasure and resources from shipwrecks.
- Port Tasks: Undertake Courier, Protection, or Investigative Port Tasks to earn gold at sea.
- Barracuda Trials: Test your mettle in high-speed trials with the Barracudas, a group of thrill-seeking sailors who run Trials for all skill levels.
- Note that the Barracuda Trials are races against other NPCs (not other players), so you won’t have to worry about others ruining your progress.
You’ll be pleased to hear that each and every one of these activities will be available at launch!
We’d briefly like to touch on our approach to balancing XP rates between methods. In the Core Gameplay Blog, we gave ballpark estimates of how each training method stacks up. However, the ‘meta’ way to train is still undecided. Generally speaking, we like high-intensity activities (like the Barracuda Trials) to award more XP, to make up for the time and effort it takes to do them. If Sailing passes the poll, we’ll run plenty of betas to see how each training method performs in practice. The beauty of a new skill is that we can keep a really close eye on the meta and perfect it based on your feedback – so don’t forget to make your voice heard when the time comes.
This was a much-requested feature, so we want to look at it in detail!
Some Facilities on your ship are weapons which let you take down deadly enemies at sea – from amateur pirates to sea monsters, and even the elusive Sea Legends…
To attack something at sea, you’ll need to have a weapon Facility installed, and enough ammo to use it. Then, simply get into range and click your weapon to select a target.
Ship combat is completely optional – you don’t have to engage with it to train the skill. Building the weapon facilities could still be useful – you could fire a projectile as a deterrent, for example.
Obviously, ship combat is not the same as swinging a sword, casting spells, or even shooting a bow – so you won’t get combat XP. Instead, you’ll gain Sailing XP, as ultimately, you’re still interacting with a facility on your ship.
Sometimes, though, you’ll find yourself in situations where your character is fighting enemies while on the ship – perhaps some cheeky pirates who’ve tried to board! To clarify, you’ll still get regular combat XP for this.
During development, we’ll develop Ship Combat further, including death mechanics, capsizing at sea, and much more.
Secondary training methods provide XP in both Sailing and other skills. Don’t let the name fool you – they’re just as viable as primary methods, although some of them are focussed on material rewards rather than just XP.
These training methods aim to make players feel rewarded for their mastery of existing skills. They include:
- Sea Monster Hunting: Use Hunter and Slayer to track down elusive sea monsters.
- Coral Farming: Use Farming to cultivate rare and beautiful Corals.
- Deep Sea Trawling: Use Fishing to catch exotic fish with the new Trawler Net Facility.
- Mineral Dredging: Use Mining (and a special Mineral Dredge) to recover precious minerals from the seabed.
Since these activities affect existing skills and will undoubtedly provide rewards which affect the wider game, our plan is to poll them individually during development. Depending on the results, they might not all be available at launch – but we’re sure we can prioritise your favourites!
Tertiary training methods relate to the skill but in a much broader way. Raids and minigames are a good example of this. In Sailing, tertiary gameplay has a lot of overlap with its reward space.
Here are some examples:
- Expeditions: Instanced, randomly-generated areas of the sea or individual islands. While smaller than a Raid, expeditions have a similar premise. You’ll venture into an enclosed space to undertake a series of challenges before emerging with a reward.
- Ocean Raids: This has been a popular player suggestion. We love the idea of getting together with your friends to take on a series of challenges at sea, and while the proposed Sea Monster Hunting activity captures some elements of this, we think we could go even bigger. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ocean raids, so we’d love to hear your ideas!
- Ship PvP: Another popular suggestion – if a somewhat controversial one. Parts of the sea are so far out that the laws of the land don’t apply any more. Sink other players’ ships and claim their bounty or fight back against opportunistic pirates to defend your own loot. The big opportunity here is to introduce a new kind of PvP that’s completely different from the Wilderness combat we know and love. Instead of fast-paced gameplay that relies on a mastery of the combat triangle, Ship PvP would be determined by how well you and your crewmates sail. Just like other kinds of PvP, this activity would be completely optional. We realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea!
- Treasure Hunting: An ocean-based expansion to the Clue Scroll system. Follow the map, find the X that marks the spot, and dig up -or dredge up – the treasure!
- Aquariums: We’ve already mentioned Coral Farming, but we think the Aquarium system could be expanded to include rare fish and a way to show off your Sailing achievements when you’re back on land.
As you can see, tertiary gameplay involves big, sweeping content. Some of the content described here could be years into the future – but the potential is huge!
As you can see, Sailing has something to offer every type of player. We’re so excited to expand on this core structure and come up with lots of interesting ways to train during development.
Like all skills, Sailing comes with an internal reward space. Just as higher Construction levels let you build more useful furniture, higher Sailing levels will let you deck out your ship in all the best Facilities and Upgrades.
Ship upgrades make your ship better in a linear fashion. Just as Rune armour is always better than Bronze armour, higher-level Ship upgrades are always better than the one before.
Here are some early examples:
- Hull/Keel: Affects sturdiness and improves durability, meaning that your ship is less likely to take damage and can take more damage before sinking. Also lets your ship pass over more dangerous reefs.
- Sails/masts: Affects speed. Better sails let you go faster and are less likely to get ripped in storms. They also luff less frequently.
- Rudder/wheel: Affects turning. Better rudders improve turning speed. They also let you utilise currents more easily and enable your ship to take advantage of natural phenomena to increase speed.
While upgrades make your ship better in general, facilities are swappable parts that allow you to access new activities at sea.
We expect players to swap their facilities out depending on the activities they plan to try. The Facilities hotspots will behave just like the ones in the Player Owned House, with a variety of different Facilities for each spot.
Here’s how many Facilities we plan to cram into each size of ship:
Facilities are loosely grouped by the kind of activity they enable:
- Salvaging Station/Crane: For Salvaging sunken ships and other supplies picked up from the water.
- Fishing Station: A place for traditional fishing. You may be able to attach Rods or Fishing Nets here.
- Harpoon: Used for Sea Monster Hunting.
- Enchanted Metal Detector: For locating minerals at the bottom of the sea.
- Weighted Dredging Net: For Mineral Dredging.
- Range: For cooking food while at sea.
- Personal Storage Chest: A personal Inventory to store a few belongings while at sea.
- Crow’s Nest: Lets you scout a given distance away from the ship in any direction. Only available for large and colossal ships.
- Lantern: Grants special effects such as letting you find your way through fog, repelling enemies or luring out certain sea creatures.
- Cargo Hold: A place to store resources and loot gained at sea that won’t fit in your regular Inventory.
- Spear/ram: Allows your ship to deal melee damage to enemies.
- Ballista: Ranged weapon. Accurate and long-range.
- Cannon: Primarily a ranged weapon that could be upgraded to other damage types. Very strong, but short-range.
Ships aren’t just a reliable new way to travel the world – they’re also prime fashionscape territory!
Take Sails, for example. You could unlock and combine different colours, patterns, and icons to make your ship your own. You could even use your Clan symbol – imagine a whole Clan armada out at sea!
We’re keen to tie cosmetics to achievements, so that you’re flexing your in-game prowess as well as your sartorial elegance. The myriad Max Cape variants have shown us that you love showing off, so let’s create more opportunities for you to do so!
Upgrading your ship and adding new facilities is a reward in itself – but it will also let you discover new content, including islands. Even more excitingly, they’re full of rewards, too!
You’ll use your souped-up ship to voyage to new and exciting places – Islands or other points of interest! These hitherto unexplored landmasses filled with new activities to try, new resources to utilise, and new friends to meet!
Every island is different, and if Sailing passes the poll we’ll spend a good chunk of development designing unique and engaging locales for you to visit. Since islands are packed full of new content, the content will be polled to make sure it’s something you want to see.
If you survive, you’ll probably want to spend some time at the Great Conch’s many bountiful gathering nodes. How about Woodcutting a bit of Rosewood to upgrade your ship?
As you can see, there’s no limit to the kinds of content you might encounter on an island. For more information about the Great Conch and its inhabitants, check out the Rewards and Lore and Integration Blogs!
We don’t yet know how many Islands you’ll encounter out at sea – but the team has agreed that we’d like to provide you all with multiple small islands rather than one big one with nothing else surrounding it. Our design goal is to bring Gielinor’s ocean to life!
As an example, check out these fan-made maps by GentleTractor and NinjaPig, covering the western and eastern seas, respectively.
If Sailing passes lock-in, we’d love to bring more of you on board to design islands – whether that’s sharing ideas, or holding a competition!
Sailing will give you access to new resources that can only be found at sea or on islands.
Don’t worry – you’ll still encounter the familiar resources you know and love, and Sailing might even give them fresh purpose!
We’re aiming to make these new resources useful and profitable. Whether you’re a seasoned GE merchant or a resourceful Ironman, you’ll want to set sail and find some of these goodies for yourself.
Here are a few of the resources we’ve considered so far:
With loads of Sailing activities to choose from, we expect Sailing to introduce a slew of unique items. While the specific buffs and benefits they’ll provide have yet to be decided, we’ll work with the community to balance these items during the development phase. In line with our Polling Charter, rewards that are likely to have a wider effect on the game, like Potions or legendary Jewellery, will be polled separately.
Skill Cape Competition
In the spirit of our community-led development process, we’ve committed to running a player competition to design the Sailing skill icon and the iconic Skill Cape.
For inspiration, check out our mock-up design!
For more information about Reward Space, please check out the full blog here or catch up with the video by ScreteMonge.
Ports are where every Sailing voyage begins. They’re the bustling heart of ocean life, filled with Port Tasks to take on, NPCs to recruit to your crew, and ships to admire… or ‘borrow’ for yourself.
There are three existing ports which will be especially relevant:
- Port Sarim: A natural starting point for your journey. This is where you’ll learn how to Sail, and likely do a bit of your early levelling.
- Catherby Port: A wealthy port in the Kandarin Bay which supplies both Catherby and Seers Village. Their biggest exports are wood and Flax. The Shipwrights particularly like Catherby because it provides easy access to materials.
- Rellekka Port: The home of the Fremennik, situated in an area rich in minerals and fish. Access to this port must be unlocked to sail Fremennik-style ships.
Here’s what you can get up to at port:
- Access your ship: Ports serve as a gateway between the land and the sea. If you want to sail your ship, you’ll need to make your way to a port, first.
- Obtain a ship: Ports are areas where you can obtain a ship if you don’t already have one. Ships can be built, bought or ‘borrowed’ (stolen).
- Upgrades: You can upgrade your ship yourself if you have the Construction or Crafting levels required, or you can hire a shipwright to help you out.
- Customization: A port is a safe haven where you can change how your ship looks. Similar to upgrades, you may require levels and materials for especially fashionable changes.
- Trade: A port is a natural hotspot for trading! You can expect to find merchants here with goods that other ships have brought in, or local treats that you can’t get anywhere else. Of course, you can also sell some of the loot you’ve accumulated on your own voyages.
- Make Friends: Every sailor needs to visit a port at some point, so it’s a great place to meet like-minded players. If you’re looking for a crew for your next voyage, flexing your new ship, or just hoping to chat before you head back out to sea, then ports are the place for you!
- Store Your Ship: Your ship needs a place to stay when you’re back on land. Ports are a good place for that! Consider it a parking spot for your ship.
- Undertake Tasks and Contracts: Ports are a great place to earn a little extra gold. There are no shortage of NPCs offering Port Tasks!
- Manage Your Crew: As the captain of a Large or Colossal ship, you’re going to want a crew to help you out. You can recruit new crew members and manage your existing ones at a port!
To make room for all this new activity, we will have to change up the look of the existing ports. During development, we’ll work closely with the community to ensure that these familiar spaces retain their Old School charm!
While captaining larger ships, you may find you need a little help. If your friends aren’t up for crewing together, you can always hire NPCs to join you on your voyage!
When the skill is ‘locked-in’, we’ll work with the community to flesh out the NPC crew system, pick some NPCs for you to hire, and decide how complex it should be.
While no decisions are final yet, there are plenty of NPCs who would love to join you, provided you’ve impressed them first. For example, with a high enough Slayer level you could recruit Vannaka or Duradel. If you’re truly EVIL, Evil Dave might be tempted out of his Mum’s basement. And if you’ve completed Song of the Elves, Elena might fancy a new adventure.
Naturally, having an NPC in your crew won’t alter their game functions. For example, hiring a Slayer master won’t lock you out of Slayer until you set them back on dry land.
In the same vein, there are certain NPCs you won’t be able to hire because they’re too busy being part of the story. Cabin Boy Jenkins, for example, is currently busy being a pile of ash.
We’d really like to hear which NPCs you’d most like to see in your crew!
Existing Skills and Resources
Sailing will utilise Construction, Crafting and Smithing to build facilities on your Ship, although you can bypass these requirements by paying an NPC at Port to create facilities for you.
As we saw in the Rewards section, some Sailing-exclusive items will have applications in the wider game, which will be polled individually.
Sailing will also provide new uses for existing items – although we’re keeping these under wraps for now. We don’t want anyone hoarding Doogle Leaves for an advantage!
To find out how Sailing integrates with other skills like Hunter, Mining, Slayer, Farming and Fishing, zip back to the ‘Gameplay’ section and check out the secondary and tertiary training methods.
Iron players might walk alone, but we don’t think they should have to sail alone too! We’ve seen that multiplayer Sailing is important to you, so during refinement decided to let Iron players sail as part of a group.
We’ll decide exactly what Iron players should be able to do while onboard someone else’s ship during the development phase. Rest assured, the core goal is still to maintain the integrity of Ironman modes by ensuring they cannot use other players to gain access to content they haven’t unlocked.
He comes for us all eventually… even if he has to get a bit damp in the process.
We’ve seen one question pop up time and time again, especially among Hardcore Iron players – if your ship sinks, is it considered a death? In short, no – but there are serious consequences for sinking your ship.
In the Navigation refinement blog, we talked about capsizing, and how it could potentially work differently to player death. Although you’ll be rescued and returned to port, you’ll still have to pay to retrieve and repair your ship. On the plus side, you won’t lose any items… just a little GP.
That said, we’re open to further discussion on this topic during the development phase. We’re especially interested to hear whether the rule should be different for Group Hardcore Iron players.
Other deaths at sea, however, are more straightforward. Basically, any time your character’s HP drops to 0, you are dead. Oh dear! This might happen if you’re attacked by pirates, fall foul of a sea monster, or encounter something nasty on an island.
In short, there are consequences to setting out on a voyage unprepared – just like in the rest of Gielinor!
If Sailing passes the poll, we’ll keep a close eye on how players are doing during betas to ensure that Sailing-related death rules remain consistent and fair.
Using Slayer and Hunter to track down a monstrous sea beastie might be fun, but is it efficient?
While we don’t want all the Slayer content at sea to be unavailable at launch, we recognise that sometimes players would prefer to unlock certain tasks rather than run the risk of getting an unwanted one.
We’ll be considering Slayer Tasks at sea on a case-by-case basis for each creature we introduce. If we’re only giving you gryphons, a single unlock makes sense. If we’re adding three new creatures, a different solution might be better. You can rest assured that we’ll be discussing this at length in the development phase.
If you watched the prototype video above, you’ll have already seen that we’ve made huge strides towards the engine upgrades required for the Sailing skill. This means we’ll have the tech to do all kinds of cool stuff, including giving players full control of ships using the familiar click-to-move system.
You’ll also be able to see and interact with NPCs, objects, and other players both on and off the ship. Telegrab a banana from an unsuspecting trader. Chat to friendly NPCs. Ask the folks at Catherby for their Fishing levels. The possibilities are endless – although naturally, you’ll find it difficult to follow or trade with a player on their ship while you’re stuck on land.
This tech opens up a world of possibilities that we could also use in other parts of the game. A ship is, in theory, not too different from a mount… or, you could have an epic battle on the back of a dragon as it flies over familiar scenery. In short, this tech is super exciting – not just for Sailing, but for the future of the game – and we can’t wait to explore it more in the development phase!
If you’re still on the fence, be sure to watch the Sailing Q&A before you cast your vote!
All that remains now is for you to take the final step and cast your vote.
If Sailing passes the lock-in poll, the skill will be coming to the game. We’ll continue to work with the community to iron out specifics and look at all the details we couldn’t cover during refinement. To save you from scrolling all the way back through this blog, we’ve summarised a list of topics we’ll address during development here:
- Secondary and Tertiary hybrid training methods, which will be polled individually due to their impact on the wider game.
- Rewards and their effects, including those of legendary jewellery and new Potions. Again, these will all be polled.
- Specific item buffs and bonuses.
- The Sailing Skill Icon and Cape, which will be decided by community consultation.
- Ship capsizing and death mechanics.
- Individual islands and the content found there.
- NPC Crew System complexity.
Lots to look forward to!
You’ve seen the amazing gameplay, rewards, and integration Sailing has to offer, and if all goes well, you’ll get to see it firsthand in a beta. But first, Sailing needs to pass the lock-in poll… and whether it passes is all up to you.
Are YOU ready for Old School’s first new skill?
If you are, then it’s time to go and cast your vote! The lock-in poll is live right now, so if you want to see Sailing in-game as much as we do… vote YES!
Should Sailing be added as Old School RuneScape’s first new skill? Community collaboration will continue throughout development in subsequent polls and betas.
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