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Released26 April 2005 (Update)
LocationKharidian Desert
TeleportsPharaoh's sceptre (Jalsavrah)
MusicCity of the Dead, Back to Life
Location on World Map
Agility Pyramid
Menaphos Sophanem Ruins of Ullek

Sophanem, the City of the Dead, is a city located far south in the Kharidian Desert, right on the edge of the map, as well as its second largest settlement. In order to gain access to it, players need to progress far enough into the Icthlarin's Little Helper quest. The city is currently being afflicted by several plagues. Sophanem and its inhabitants feature prominently in the desert quest series. It is connected to the capital Menaphos via a large bridge over the River Elid.

As its nickname suggests, Sophanem's main business is to take care of the Menaphite deceased, erecting large tombs and pyramids and mainly worshipping Icthlarin, shepherd of the souls of the departed.[1][2] Unfortunately for the Sophanites, these treasure-filled tombs are a magnet for graverobbers such as Simon Templeton. It is the seat of the High Priest of Icthlarin, whose duties include the protection of the great pyramids and ensuring that the souls of the dead are protected from the Devourer, Icthlarin's deranged sister.[3] Cats and their protector, the Sphinx, play an important role in this latter task.[4]

As a result of the events of the Icthlarin's Little Helper quest, the city has been stricken by a number of plagues: the people are affected by large, itching spots; a swarm of giant locusts has eaten the crops; a bunch of plague frogs have emerged from the River Elid; and the livestock have become diseased, with the cows producing sour milk. This has greatly affected the economy and caused both Sophanem and Menaphos to be quarantined. The situation improves after Contact!, when Sophanem's market and bank reopen. Withal, Menaphos remains securely locked. The plague is fully cured at the end of Beneath Cursed Sands, with Menaphos due to reopening soon.

Travel[edit | edit source]

The high walls of Sophanem.

Shortcut[edit | edit source]

A shortcut just east of the bank at the wall leads to the camp just north of Sophanem and west of the Agility Pyramid.

Notable features[edit | edit source]

Bank[edit | edit source]

There is a bank in Sophanem for use by anyone who has completed the Contact! quest. It is located underground beneath the Temple of the Lesser Gods in the north-east.

Sophanem Dungeon[edit | edit source]

The underground passage to Menaphos.

The Sophanem Dungeon is under the bank and features heavily in the Contact! quest. It can be extremely dangerous.

Great Temple[edit | edit source]

The interior of the Great Temple.

The Great Temple[5] is a place of worship overseen by the High Priest of Icthlarin. It contains an altar to Icthlarin where one may recharge their prayer points, and several lesser priests.

Pyramids[edit | edit source]

Sophanem is home to two large pyramids in which various figures of importance are interred. Their guardian is the High Priest of Icthlarin.[3]

Jalsavrah[edit | edit source]

The northern pyramid is called Jalsavrah and it is where the ancient pharaohs of Sophanem and Menaphos are buried. Players may rob these tombs in the Pyramid Plunder minigame.

Klenter's pyramid[edit | edit source]

One of the great pyramids of Sophanem, where the priests of Icthlarin are buried.

The southern pyramid is the burial site of the Sophanite clergy, named after its most recent occupant rather than carrying a fixed name like its northern twin. It is a principal location during Icthlarin's Little Helper.

Shops[edit | edit source]

After the Sophanites return from Menaphos, commerce recommences.

Shops opened after the Contact! quest:

NPCs[edit | edit source]

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Quests[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Virtually nothing is known about Sophanem's past. Osman, spy master of Al Kharid, refers to the Sophanites as 'old enemies', implying that the Al Kharid - Menaphos War involved Sophanem as well. This would make sense, as Sophanem and Menaphos as intricately connected to one another. At some point, both cities were connected to Ali Morrisane's magic carpet fleet.

In 169 of the Fifth Age, the High Priest of Icthlarin, Klenter, passed away and succeeded by a fairly weak-willed man quite unlike the stern, cruel and vindictive Klenter. The Devourer orchestrated a plot to hypnotise a passing adventurer, have him break into the Klenter's Pyramid to steal a canopic jar containing Klenter's organs and place her symbol inside for future access so that she could devour his soul. Icthlarin himself interfered at the last moment, releasing the adventurer from his sister's hold (with memory loss as a consequence) and raising Klenter's wrathful ghost to protect his soul.

Following this event, Sophanem was beset by plagues, plunging the city into turmoil. Many Sophanites fled to neighbouring Menaphos before the new High Priest and his clergy decided to impose a quarantine upon the city. Menaphos, likewise, was locked down and heavily barricaded. Its chief gatekeeper Coenus would not allow anyone in or out. The Sophanites began questioning the new High Priest's authority, damaging his self-esteem and exacerbating his panic. The adventurer found himself trapped inside the city with Klenter's canopic jar in his possession, with everyone in the city but the slaves, temporarily relieved of their duties, hostile to him. With the aid of the sphinx, he convinced the High Priest that he had not stolen the jar wittingly, and was instructed to replace the jar in Klenter's tomb whilst gradually regaining his memory.

The jar was returned, but withal the plagues remained. The High Priest, panicking but quickly regaining his calm, suggested that Klenter's soul required a proper burial ceremony for them to abate and started making preparations, whilst the adventurer helped the local embalmer and carpenter with their duties. The ritual was performed, but interrupted by the Devourer, who was able to appear thanks to her symbol that had been hidden inside the pyramid. She demanded Klenter's soul, but the adventurer would no longer obey her and the High Priest vowed to stop her at all costs. She possessed another cleric instead and ordered him to kill everyone else, but he was himself defeated by the adventurer thanks to the holy symbol of Icthlarin in his possession.

Not giving up, the Devourer most likely hypnotised yet another passing adventurer to steal another canopic jar whilst the ritual was correctly performed, as a result of which the plagues still remained.[6] This leaves Icthlarin and his clergy locked in a battle over Klenter's soul with the Devourer, which might continue indefinitely.[7]

The exact source of the plagues remains open to debate. Given the timing of their appearance and the High Priest's suggestion that their continued presence is due to his predecessor's not having been properly buried, it seems likely that they were somehow caused by Klenter's soul. This would fit his vengeful personality and explain his ghost's comment to the adventurer about the latter's not being affected by the plague as thanks for returning the canopic jar. The sphinx speculates that the cause of the plagues may have been human, but also divine.[8] Moreover, there is a discussion amongst some of the clergy of Het, lesser deity of health, as to the cause of the plagues. Some of them think the plagues were sent by Het as a punishment, whilst others disagree and view them as an affront to him.[9]

Gatekeeper Coenus does not wish to talk with the new High Priest.

Although the plagues did not vanish, the spots were realised not to be contagious and the city was reopened. In spite of this development, the Menaphites refused to follow suit. The High Priest led a delegation of townsfolk across the bridge to parlay with Coenus and his guards, but he was repelled and even attacked by the brutal gatekeeper. Unable to inform the Sophanites still trapped in Menaphos that the City of the Dead was safe to return to, the High Priest enlisted the aid of the adventurer once more to find a subterranean passage into Menaphos, suggesting the Sect of Scabaras as a lead. Indeed, the Scabarites had recently broken into the Sophanem bank beneath the Temple of the Lesser Gods from below, causing both structures to be wrecked in the ensuing struggle. With the help of Jex, a friendly priest, the adventurer entered the Scabarite tunnels and made it to the end, where they met Maisa, a spy from Al Kharid, and her deceased colleague Kaleef. The passage to Menaphos itself was not accessible due to a large chasm, however.

Maisa agreed to send word to the Sophanites that they could return if the adventurer would fetch her master, Osman, to help her get out of the quarantined city herself. This was successful, although the Scabarites' giant scarab guardian, already having killed Kaleef, injured Osman before attacking and being slain by the adventurer. Maisa, who had fled out of the cave on the Menaphite side, kept her word and the townspeople returned home. As a result, the High Priest's standing amongst the Sophanites was elevated, and the bustling markets reopened. The economy was boosted further by trading with Nardah, Pollnivneach and Al Kharid (the latter being part of Osman's plan to use the improved relations with Sophanem as leverage against Menaphos, the old enemy), although the High Priest remarks that he should still like for Menaphos to open up again.

Changes[edit | edit source]

Date Changes
30 April 2015

Attempting to open the gates to Menaphos no longer takes you to the gates of Sophanem.

29 January 2015
(update | poll)

Entering and leaving Sophanem is now significantly faster.

26 April 2005

The area was made accessible to players.

18 April 2005

The area was first added ingame.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Sphinx, "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "Sophanem is called the city of the dead because the dead are brought here. Death plays a rather large role in the beliefs of the people and, as a result, the business."
  2. ^ Wanderer, "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "It's the second city of the Menaphites, full of giant monuments to their dead."
  3. ^ 3.0 3.1 RuneScape website - Game Guide - Area Guides - Cities and Towns - Sophanem. “As the leader of the Church of Icthlarin, and the guardian of the pyramids of Sophanem, it falls to the High Priest to ensure that the devourer - Icthlarin's godly foe - gains no foothold in the city.”*
  4. ^ Sphinx, "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "Cats play a significant role in the religion of this area, particularly when it comes to guarding the dead from The Devourer."
  5. ^ RuneScape website - Game Guide - Area Guides - Cities and Towns - Sophanem. “The Great Temple in the west of the city is home to a number of priests, as well as the High Priest of Icthlarin, who is worth talking to if you are confused about the state of affairs in Sophanem.”*
  6. ^ High Priest (Sophanem), "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "Somehow, I don't think this is over. The Devourer will not concede defeat so easily, after all. [...] The only explanation I can think of is that some other adventurer has repeated your mistakes and stolen a burial jar whilst we were here."
  7. ^ High Priest (Sophanem), "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "We must find the adventurer who has carried out the this theft and get him to return the jar. Then, we will have to perform the ceremony again. [...] Well, until one of the sides gives up, that is."
  8. ^ Sphinx, "Icthlarin's Little Helper", Old School RuneScape. "Some irritated god or other...or, perhaps, some peevish human; their grievances interest me little."
  9. ^ Jex, "Contact!", Old School RuneScape. "Also with arguments. They really couldn't decide whether it was a punishment from Het or a curse and an affront to Het."