When you observe the history of online gaming, one subject comes to mind in particular: trolls. Those awful gamers who insist on ruining a good time for everyone else. They’re delighted by the misfortune and misery of others. I’ve both been trolled and have been the troll myself, but rarely do you ever encounter a tale in which you are both. This is one of those tales.
It started in autumn of 2012. Jake and I were in college together, and our modest young adult income had finally allowed us to do something we’d always wanted to achieve: become paid RuneScape members. Becoming a member meant accessing scores of unexplored content, including the illustrious Clan Citadels, which had been introduced to the game the previous summer. We were eager to rally a team of rogues, thieves, bandits, and overall degenerates to join our ranks in a clan we named The Sacred Skull. We even made t-shirts via the RuneScape shop decorated in our clan’s colors and logos.
Slowly but surely, we assembled enough founders to access our own citadel. We immediately got to work with managing its upkeep. For those of you who’ve never played or experienced this specific content, the Clan Citadels act as a place for developing a club of sorts, in which you can partake in various skilling and combat activities. If done properly, a clan can be a social hub that connects players through the bond of something they founded and built together.
The appeal is obvious, and the early days in The Sacred Skull were some of the best I’ve ever had playing RuneScape. We’d schedule regular meetings to get together and make sure the clan citadel’s resource requirements were met week to week. Upgrading and improving the citadel depended entirely on the teamwork of the clan’s members—and this would prove more troublesome than any of us ever could’ve predicted.
As time stretched thin, it became difficult to keep up with the demands of the citadel. Meetings were held to address members who weren’t pulling their weight. One member, in particular—a young man by the moniker ImCool9000*—began to create a divide within the clan.
Jake and I have never taken anything very seriously, and though we loved to joke around with our fellow clan members, we also swore an oath as the primary founders of the Sacred Skull to uphold and protect the best interests of the clan at all costs. ImCool9000 sought to destroy it. He sabotaged our regular meetings with crude humor, often making fun of me or Jake for trying to act as leaders. He mocked our commitment to the citadel’s upkeep and nearly never participated in the necessary chores and tasks required for improving the grounds.
ImCool’s behavior put a large amount of strain on the clan. Rifts began forming—a black cloud seemed to hover above the citadel, casting endless shadow and misery. The darkest era of The Sacred Skull was upon us, and something had to be done.
And so, in the fall of 2012, a meeting was held in secret, consisting of all founders of The Sacred Skull except for one…
Prior to this meeting we considered ourselves prey to a mighty troll. After all, ImCool relentlessly teased us; he made fun of the clan and its workings. But now, the hunter would become the hunted. In the meeting hall of the Sacred Skull citadel, Jake and I put forth the motion to have ImCool assassinated and exiled from the clan for eternity.
Even though there was a convenient button at our fingertips that would boot him from the clan without any trouble, we strongly felt a message needed to be sent. This troll had to learn his actions would have consequences, and considering Jake and I fancied ourselves master trolls, we figured we could concoct a plan so devious and vile that no player in the entirety of RuneScape would ever cross us again.
The plot came to me as I worked my job at my college’s convenience store. We would lure ImCool out into the Wilderness (the only PVP area of the world map) under the guise we were doing a simple group activity: combat skilling. But of course! What else would we be doing out there? The plan was genius. Considering we did group activities all the time, he wouldn’t think anything of it, and ImCool frequently called for more combat-related activities. This plot played directly into his interests and almost guaranteed his attendance.
But where in the Wilderness would we do it? The Wilderness itself is the most dangerous place in the game. With other high-level players roaming about and equally high-leveled monsters at every turn, we’d need a secluded, secure location to execute the actual assassination. That’s when it hit me: The Chaos Temple. The ruins of an old place of Zamorakian worship, with a prayer altar at its center. It was the ideal location to carry out the plan. We’d need our protective prayers turned on as we explored the Wilderness, and as our prayer points drained, we’d need to find an altar to restore them. ImCool wouldn’t suspect a thing.
The plot was pitched to the other founders, all of whom unanimously voted to carry it out. The plan was praised and lauded by the fellow founders. Once approved, we began working out the finer details. At the time, my account had a relatively low combat level, but I did have a fairly high Magic level. This can be deceiving, because while my overall combat level would suggest I wasn’t much of a threat, my advanced Magic level would allow me to cast spells that would ultimately allow this plot to happen without a hitch.
And so, the blueprint for the plot became clear: We would lead ImCool into the Wilderness as a “combat-skilling clan event.” From there, we’d go to the old church to restore our prayer points and rest up before hunting some monsters. Once ImCool felt safe enough to rest his character, I would say the designated code word: “apple.” Then, we’d launch our assault.
One member of our killing party would guard the entrance, while I would cast my Entangle spell on ImCool—restricting him from moving for 20 seconds. While frozen, the rest of the group would form a circle around him and immediately thrust their weapons into ImCool until his demise. As a bonus, I asked the other members of the assassination party to say things like, “Who’s COOL now?” and simply, “I’m Cool, 9000” as we robbed him of his life. The other founders applauded the insult.
All in all, the assassination plot and final execution of ImCool9000 took beyond a full week to carry out. It was one of the most coordinated gaming experiences I’ve ever experienced, and it was also an absolute blast. I’ve often looked back on my history of trolling and felt some amount of guilt or remorse for having been such a nuisance to fellow gamers, but this instance I relish, only because the subject in question was so horrible.
Without further ado, let’s get to the juiciest part of our tale: the assassination.
It was a cool, breezy New England fall day. The crisp smell of pumpkin was in the air, and fallen leaves scratched across cement. It was time…
Prior to my night shift at work, I reached out to the other founders of the Sacred Skull. ImCool had seen his last days as a member of our club, as Caesar had once seen his last days in Rome. We prepared our proverbial knife as we sat through our classes. Only one thing crossed my mind as I sat in my lecture halls: spilling ImCool’s totally not-cool blood. I thirsted for my revenge! He had brought shame and dishonor to a clan we worked hard to build. It was all falling apart because of ImCool. I could not bear another day of his intrusion!
ImCool was marked for death. I opened my laptop as my night shift at work started. Customers came and went, taking note of my disinterest as I focused solely on my computer. We gathered briefly at the citadel to prepare for our “monster hunt.” The air was charged with excitement and anticipation, ImCool blissfully unaware of the secret we all held. We nervously stocked up for the hunt of a lifetime. ImCool continued to vex us, even in his final hours.
“It’s about time we did some combat!” he exclaimed. “We always do boring stuff.”
If only he knew of the thrills awaiting him. Boring? Oh, I think not.
We set off for the Wilderness. We picked a low-traffic server to ensure we wouldn’t encounter too many other players, and as we crossed the threshold of the Wildy, a terrifying moment struck.
“I bet you guys are taking me out here to kill me,” ImCool suddenly exclaimed.
“Hahahaha, yeah right!” someone chimed in. Inside, we began to panic. I had set up a private in-game chat between me, Jake, and the other founders that would allow us to communicate about the plot. The chat was alight with last-minute doubts and fears. Was ImCool onto us?
“Nonsense! You’re a much higher combat level than the rest of us; that would be stupid on our part to even attempt!” I pointed out, hoping to quell his suspicions.
“Yeah, true,” he replied. Deep breaths. It seemed to have worked.
We approached the old church, and as predicted, our prayer points were soon to expire.
“Let’s recharge our prayer points at this altar!” I suggested. The other founders agreed, and we entered the premises. It was cold and desolate inside the church. Totally abandoned and disconnected from everything. We were in level 38 Wilderness, which would allow us to attack ImCool despite major differences in our combat levels. The plan was working perfectly.
One founder closed the doors behind us as we entered and stood guard. The others prayed at the altar before resting their characters in the middle of the room. The private chat was exploding with messages as we all waited for the perfect moment to strike.
I prepared my Entangle spell.
“I could use some more food before we set off. Does anyone happen to have…an apple?”
SWOOSH! Out shot my Entangle spell, wrapping around ImCool and ensnaring him instantly. The other members of the clan acted swiftly.
“I knew it!” ImCool shouted, terrified for his life.
We circled around him and began slashing and thrusting our weapons into him.
“Who’s cool now!?”
“I’m cool 9000!”
Everyone was yelling as instructed. ImCool cursed us, vowing his vengeance. We attacked him in unison—it was as graceful and beautiful as a ballet. And it was over much too soon.
His lifeless corpse fell to the floor, and his items spilled out. We greedily collected everything we could and quickly left the Wilderness. It was over. It was done. We had rid ourselves of the enemy, and the clan was thriving once again. We all felt a collective weight lift from our shoulders as we officially exiled ImCool from the clan for good. He was no longer a member of The Sacred Skull.
“Hey, thanks for the stuff!”
“Nice stuff! Glad it’s ours now!” We taunted, becoming the very thing we sought to destroy.
In the days following the assassination, ImCool reached out to various members of the clan, including myself. He mostly taunted us for not succeeding in robbing him of his best items and challenged us to duels to reclaim his honor. But we knew as long as we stayed south of the Wilderness border, he could never touch us.
“Hey bitch,” he opened with once. I would receive that greeting every time I logged into the game for the next few months before his account went silent for good. Whether he blocked me, or simply just moved on from the game remains a mystery.
Despite having rid the clan of its scourge, it would never be the same. A time of decline fell upon The Sacred Skull, and it was never able to recover from the unspoken curse that lingered following the assassination. Such dark acts breed a sullen and ill-tempered climate. We went our separate ways: Jake and I parting together, and the other founders drifting slowly into the obscurity of Gielinor.
All in all, we regret nothing. A message had to be sent, and it was. Balance was restored, and a troll was forced to swallow his own bitter medicine.
*Actual username has been slightly altered out of respect for the dead.
Want to read more RuneScape stories? Check out: “A RuneScape Story: An Innocent Stroll Through the Wilderness.”