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Skull - sign of a pker

Player killing (commonly known as PKing, player vs. player, or PvP), is the act of two or more players engaging in combat against each other. Player killing differs from other forms of combat in that players do not fight against monsters whose actions are defined by RuneScape's game engine.

Combat types

Single combat

Single combat, also known as "1v1" or one-vs.-one, restricts players so that they may only fight one target at a time. However, if a player stops attacking their opponent for a certain amount of time, it is possible for other players to attack one or both fighters.

Popular single-way combat areas are Edgeville and the White and Red portals in Clan Wars.

If a player runs from a multi-combat to a single combat zone, only one of the attackers can attack the player as long as they are in the single combat zone.


A sign indicating a multi-way combat area

Multi-combat areas are identified upon entering by two crossed swords appearing in the corner of your screen. The zones will also have markers made out of rocks, flags and banners near the edges. Multi-combat areas are very dangerous, as multiple players can attack you at any given time

These areas are beneficial to groups of players, as it allows them to attack a single player together which greatly decreases the opponent's chance of escape and/or allows a group of lower level players to fight a higher level player at the same time, thus giving these players a better chance at surviving a confrontation. Multi-combat zones are very common on the east side of the Wilderness, while there are sparse groups of multi-combat zones on the west side.


Main article: Skull (status)

If a player attacks an innocent player in the Wilderness (one that has not attacked them), a white skull will appear above their heads. This is known as being skulled and this will effect the player will for ten minutes. If the skulled player continues attacking other players, the skull's timer will reset.

While skulled, players lose all items upon death. They can keep one or two extra items with the Protect Item prayer/curse and/or after eating a Fury shark.

If a player is attacked by another player, they can retaliate back safely without being skulled. Be careful though, as teams will often try to trick players into skulling themselves against their will. (See Skull-tricking)


Main article: Wilderness

A map of the Wilderness

The Wilderness is the largest and most popular Player versus Player zone in RuneScape. It is divided into multiple zones, both single and multi-combat and is home to different activities, creatures and skilling spots.

A player killed while inside the Wilderness will by default keep their three most valuable items though this can be altered (up to a max of five items kept) by one each, if the player has:

  1. The Protect item prayer active/the Protect item curse active
  2. Recently eaten a Fury shark

A player who successfully kills another player in the Wilderness will immediately be able to pick up their dropped items, and gain a 10 second "grace" period in single-way areas. Items dropped intentionally onto the floor also become immediately visible to other players. This makes the Wilderness a popular location due to the potential to make money. Dying in the Wilderness will always cause the player to respawn in Edgeville. The Wilderness contains multiple levels, from 1-57. Players may only attack each other if the difference between their combat levels is less than or equal to the Wilderness level. This means that a player may be attacked by a greater range of combat levels the farther into the Wilderness they travel. When a player has a Demonic Skull equipped (or is carrying Warbands supplies, a Hellfire bow or Cursed energy), they can be attacked by anyone, regardless of their combat level. Once attacked, however, the player may then also retaliate regardless of combat level difference.


Main article: Minigames

Player killing is allowed in some minigames. In Clan Wars and Castle Wars, it is the main objective of the minigame (alongside flag capturing in Castle Wars). While in some other minigames, like Stealing Creation, it is combined with skilling.

Minigames like Castle Wars, Soul Wars, Deathmatch and White portal make good practice grounds for Player-vs.-Player (PvP) due to them being considered safe. Players in safe PvP situations are more inclined to use higher tier gear without the risk of losing it, making these kinds of minigames useful for practicing strategies for potential Wilderness encounters, however, players usually conserve supplies when there is no loot to be gained, meaning that they tend to not use food or potions.

General tips

If you're traveling to a teleport-restricted area, it is recommended to be well prepared. Here are a few tips that can help you to survive in the Wilderness:

  • It helps to wear armour. Consider wearing affordable and cost-effective armour such as Royal dragonhide armour or Lunar armour as they will dramatically increase your chances of survival with little risk to your funds. However, roaming the Wilderness with nothing equipped can also prove useful, as player killers may hesitate to skull or spend time killing someone who does not appear to be carrying anything of value.
  • If you are using melee combat, a shield goes a long way. Using shield abilities such as Reflect and Resonance are one option when it comes to surviving an attack by another player, especially if you are on low health and/or out of food. A popular and cheap option for those who prefer ranged combat is the Dark bow, which allows you to use both ranged and defensive abilities. Mixing Resonance and a Binding Shot in with your general anti-stun rotation can help to improve your chances of survival.
  • Teleportation gear is a must. You should always have an escape plan. Runes and interruptible items are NOT recommended. This is due to inventory space issues along with spell and teleport limits to level 20 Wilderness. Dragonstone equipment, such as the amulet of glory, allow teleportation from up to 30 Wilderness and are a good option. One of the most efficient escape options is the Saradominist token or Zamorakian token.
  • Fight back. In some cases, the attacker will not expect any retaliation and this in itself may drive them away. If they do persist, having a good understanding of PvP basics can even help you win the fight.

Dangerous mechanics


Rushing is the act of attacking a player without giving him or her the opportunity to be ready to attack back. Many consider rushing to be dishonorable, however, it can be an effective way of initiating a fight to your advantage.

Skull tricking

Skull tricking involves using deception to trick an opponent into attacking first, thus causing them to drop everything should they lose the battle.

A few common mechanics used to skull trick are:

  • Having multiple players nearby to overtake another. The intended attacker will attack the victim while multiple players will follow or stand under the attacker while the victim is fighting them in a multi-way area. When the victim uses an Area-of-Effect (AoE) ability such as Quake, they will skull themselves because the AoE ability will hit the other players that the victim did not intend to hit.
  • Attacking a player with fun weapons, like a Candy floss maul, while equipping a piece of equipment with the Committed perk. This might make you think that they skulled on you, but attacking them will still result in you being skulled.


Macing refers to a group of players or team using the Superior ancient mace special attack to rapidly drain your prayer points and disable your Protect Item. While the success of an attack depends on the coordination of the players conducting it, it can be devastating when done correctly. Macing often happens in frequented areas of the Wilderness, such as the Chaos Elemental, Revenants and lava strykewyrms.

Usually, two players will head to the desired spot, look for any potential victims, and attempt to skull trick them. Once the victim falls for the skull trick, the rest of the team appears and maces the victim to remove any prayers they may use.

If you find yourself surrounded by a large amount of players (who are most likely carrying ancient maces), keep your prayer points as high as possible at all times. Do not attempt to eat (unless you are sure you can get away), as by eating, you allow the PKers to deal more damage, which in turn results in you losing unnecessary prayer points. Be aware that PKers may attempt to use Calorie bombs to forcibly restore your health to drain more prayer points with their attacks.

If possible, try to run to a single-way area. This forces only one person to attack you at a time, which can be easier to deal with than multiple people attacking you.

Event exploitation

Occasionally, events in the Wilderness attract large amounts of players, many of whom are not prepared to combat serious threats. Penguin Hide and Seek, in particular, seems to be a popular target on weeks where penguins wander about the Wilderness. Player-killers who partake in this behavior are considered by most to be griefing, or ruining the fun of others for no other purpose than to be cruel, since the players who go to the Wilderness to spot penguins generally risk very little or nothing at all.

However, the WildyWyrm is one of the more popular and active events in the Wilderness. Randomly spawning somewhere in the Wilderness accompanied by a Server-wide Announcement, it is a group boss and has very lucrative rewards upon its death. This attracts large groups of players, including other PKers who may arrive to kill players after the WildyWyrm has died.


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Prior to the Evolution of Combat, players were able to get combat experience from attacking other players. For a very long time after the Evolution of Combat, player killing did not yield any combat experience. This has since been changed, albeit with slight changes. XP is now given only after either the attacker or victim dies, and is based on damage dealt. Any "damage overkill" is also taken into account, so say if the victim had 100 more LP left and the attack would've done 4,000 damage, that also ends up into the XP calculation. Constitution XP is slightly below 1/3 of total XP gained as well.

For those who do not wish to gain experience while Player Killing for whatever reason, it can be disabled at the Combat Settings tab under the "XP Selection" area.


Originally, after the release of RuneScape Classic, players could select whether or not to play as player killer characters. Players could switch from player-killer mode to non-player-killer mode (in which the character could not attack or be attacked by other players) three times, after which they remained at their chosen setting "forever". The player-killer/non-player-killer modes were, however, removed from the game on 13 August 2001 when the Wilderness was added.

PvP combat could take place at most locations in the RuneScape world. The rules of combat were the same as in modern RuneScape Classic Wilderness. Lumbridge was designated as a neutral area in which players could not attack each other; this was done to prevent a practice called "spawn camping", in which recently killed players were immediately killed again as soon as they respawned. However, it was possible for a character to be attacked in the upper levels of Lumbridge Castle. In addition to this restriction, NPC guards and White Knights patrolled the cities of Varrock and Falador, breaking up PvP battles by attacking the aggressor. These guards were limited in number, however, and if all them in a city were already in combat, PvP combat could go on freely. At this time, the Bank of RuneScape was limited to Varrock and Falador and could only store gold coins. As a result, players would carry their valuables with them.

On 13 August 2001, this system was replaced by the Wilderness, partly due to complaints from many players who were unable to leave Lumbridge without being attacked by hordes of hostile player killers. Later, additional areas where PvP combat is allowed were added.

On 10 December 2007, Jagex made a highly controversial update that made PKing in the Wilderness only possible at the Bounty Hunter, which is unsafe, and Clan Wars, a safe activity. Fist of Guthix, also safe, was not added until about four months after these updates. RuneScape lost a sizeable percentage[1] of its paying players within the following month, although more long-term statistics have never been released. No amount of lost free players is known, however it is possible it was more than the number of quitting members. The exact numerical makeup of quitters (bots versus legitimate players) is uncertain. Many of the quitters were PKers, while others were the leaving accounts of autoers. According to Jagex, almost all of the lost players since the 10 December update have been replaced by new subscribers. Riots started amongst many players after this update.

On 15 October 2008, Jagex reinstated map-wide PKing on designated PvP worlds. PKers could kill other players in those worlds; on other worlds, Revenants wandered the Wilderness as the game's substitute for PKers on those worlds. Essentially in those worlds, the Wilderness was rather safe, as revenants were unable to pick up drops from players they killed, meaning that if the player was fast enough, they could reclaim their items.

On 1 February 2011, the Wilderness and Free Trade update was implemented. This reverted the Wilderness back into its original state. The revenants, who patrolled the Wilderness when PKers could only do so in PvP worlds, were banished to the Forinthry Dungeon.

When entering the Wilderness or other PvP based areas, warning signs will display the dangers of proceeding into the dangerous area.

PvP worlds (historical)

Main article: PvP worlds

PVP worlds, or Player-Vs-Player worlds, were entire designated worlds that were almost entirely Player-Vs-Player combat enabled. Only select areas (such as banks, respawn points, Entrana, and some guilds) were disabled to combat, and were marked by a skull with a cross over it. These worlds were sculpted after the original wilderness; much of the same rules apply, such as level restraints to attack and "skulls", You were "skulled" upon logging in to a PVP world and the Protect Item prayer were disabled. If you died whilst skulled, you would lose all of your items. To begin, one would have simply chosen a world that was marked as a PVP world when logging in. You were warned of the dangers. The first time you entered a PVP world, you were transported to Lumbridge and a manual was given to you explaining much of the concept (you could get a new one from the Doomsayer in Lumbridge should you have lost it). You would have a short immunity period before you could be attacked. After the first time, you had to be standing in a 'PVP Safe Zone' or you would not be able to login. In PVP worlds, you could lose your items, but at the same time, there were great rewards to be had!

While they existed, players had to had a minimum combat level of 20 to enter a PvP world. Their Summoning level did not count towards this requirement.

As of 1 February 2011, PvP worlds no longer exist.

Bounty Hunter worlds

Main article: Bounty Hunter world

Bounty Hunter worlds were released on the 6th of May 2009. These worlds only allowed players to fight each other in the wilderness and travel throughout Edgeville and the Grand Exchange. These worlds were removed with the re-addition of the wilderness.

On 14 November 2016, an updated version of Bounty Hunter was released along with 2 new Bounty Hunter Worlds, one using the Evolution of Combat and the other using Legacy Mode.