CAUTION: Minor Sixth Age storyline spoilers are imminent. Ye be warned.
For those of you unfamiliar with the reference and/or American cable television from the 1970’s, the term “jumped the shark” refers to a point where something once great has reached a point at which all following events will steadily decline in quality. The term finds its origins in an episode of Happy Days wherein the beloved “Fonzie” jumped a shark on water skis, leading fans to eventually mark this as the turning point of the series with regards to show caliber.
Now you’re likely wondering at this point what in the world this has to do with the world of Gielinor, and this is the part where I tell you why. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I present for your consideration the Sixth Age storyline. It all began with the eradication of the one true sense of balance in the world. It made lorehounds around the world gasp, and wonder what would come next. One by one the gods have slowly returned to our world, making their presences known in various fashions. As they returned, another storyline cropped up: the Stone of Jas/Missing, Presumed Death quest series. In Missing, Presumed Death (MPD), Sliske made it known he had possession of the Stone and set up a Battle Royale of sorts between the other gods. The winner would be the one who killed the most of his comrades. Although this quest was captivating and daring, there are only a few ways this line could find its end, and most of them seem rather… undesirable.
Months after MPD, the second world event began. Killing gods certainly sounds cool on paper, but when it actually happens, story gets thrown out of whack. Bandos, for all intents and purposes, was a relatively minor deity and is now gone. Probably forever. All of his lore and those who follow him now seem meaningless. What did this sacrifice add to the story of the game and what would it add if more gods were killed off? What would the game be if Sliske had his way and all but one god was dead? Zaros, Saradomin, Seren, Zamorak, Armadyl, and all the rest. If the killing continues, one could argue the lore would become narrow and boring. Clearly the end of these quests, then, cannot be to let Sliske win.
As an alternative, someone could simply kill Sliske. When Dishonour Among Thieves was released just recently and the end presented the option to help Zamorak defeat Sliske, the idea crossed my mind that the one pulling the strings might be taken down in order to save the other gods. But if that were to take place, wouldn’t his killer just take over in his stead? What would stop them from seeking absolute power? The only way this could end cleanly would be in a stalemate between all the gods. That, or a peace treaty. Doesn’t that sound riveting?
Ok, so we probably can’t kill everyone, and we shouldn’t just cut the story off, so how could all this end without breaking the lore or falling flat entirely? At this point, the only way I could see this all coming to a satisfying end would be to tie in the storyline of the Elder Gods. As of now, we know that the Elder Gods lie sleeping on Gielinor. If and when they wake, they are likely to begin their cycle of destroying worlds to create new ones as they have done before. If we look back at Fate of the Gods, Zaros points out the imminent danger these beings pose as their revival would likely result in the destruction of all life on Gielinor. Because of this we now are seeking out more information regarding the Elder Gods (beginning with Heart of Stone), and Zaros has asked specifically for the help of the World Guardian in order to make a plea to the elder gods before it’s too late.
The Elder Gods, in this case, would act as the classic existential threat that we see all through fiction. For example, aliens (or the Others for my ASOIAF/GoT fans out there) invading causing all humans to group together with the uniting factor of a common enemy. In this case, the normal gods would likely group together, throw away their personal battles, and fight as one. But again, I ask, what happens when this threat is gone? Do the gods just… leave? Is it a constant “battle” for power that never goes anywhere? And if, somehow, Jagex is able to bring all the god storylines together to a satisfying and fulfilling close, where else is there to go in the lore but down? How do you trump encounters with beings capable of making and destroying entire worlds? Are our characters just supposed to go back to the drudgery of sheering sheep, catching imps, and assisting cooks after witnessing and facilitating the rise and fall of gods? Somehow I find that hard to believe and although I have every confidence that the moderators (I’m looking at you, Dave Osborne) vested in the lore of the game will do their job to the best of their abilities, I can’t help but wonder how this could end up. Has a hole been dug deep enough so as not to allow us to climb out? Or am I just a pessimist? Only time will tell.