Sailing is a confirmed new skill coming to OSRS sometime around 2024. Once released, the sailing skill will allow players to sail the seas of Gielinor, unlock a ton of seafaring activities, and explore new areas. Sailing officially passed the polls with 80.9% of the votes and is therefore going to be the first skill to come to OSRS servers since the game was established in 2013.
Here’s a full summary of the sailing skill.
As Sailing is now officially happening, and all design blogs have come out, this article now contains everything you need to know about sailing.
Is Sailing for sure coming to oSRS?
Sailing has officially passed the lock-in poll on August 19th meaning it is definitely coming to OSRS.
We’ve come a long way since 2022 when on December 19 the poll asked us if we wanted a new skill. The OSRS team made three skill proposals back then: Shamanism, Sailing, and taming. Sailing reached the majority of the votes. While many were skeptical at first, through months of refinement and updates from the OSRS team, sailing has won over much of the player base and this showed when the greenlight poll came out in August an overwhelming majority voted YES.
Sailing Release Date
Sailing can be expected in OSRS as early as 2024. This Old School team is working hard to make this happen and will update us in case there are any delays.
How is Sailing going to work?
Sailing allows you to navigate the seas of Gielinor and will take place in the main game, also known as the overworld. This means nothing will be instanced. As you are navigating the seas on your boat, you’ll be running into other players’ boats and able to see players roam around in the main world.
To start Sailing, you will have to make your way to the nearest port, these ports are located all over Gielinor. Existing ports such as Port Sarim will become hubs for Sailing but the skill will also bring new ports into the game. Furthermore, you’ll need a vessel to sail. Vessels will range in size from small to colossal, with smaller boats being used in the early game of the skill and the larger ones being reserved for the late and end game of the skill to encourage leveling.
Now that you’ve gotten a bit of an understanding of the Sailing Skill, let’s take a deeper dive into the mechanics with the information we know thus far from past design blogs.
(This article will be updated with each new design blog that comes out)
Sailing Navigation, Mechanics & Sea Expansion
To start Sailing, you will need to navigate toward your nearest port in order to access one of your ships. These ports are already located all over Gielinor (Port Sarim, Port Piscarilius, Port Khazard, etc), and with the release of the skill we might even see some new ports being added to the game.
Smaller islands where it would be silly to add a port, will instead have a mooring port where ships can safely dock, allowing players to explore the islands.
You will not be able to dock on ports if you haven’t yet unlocked the quests behind that content. E.g. if you try to dock a port on Fossil Island but haven’t completed the Bone Voyage Quest, you will not be able to.
What Navigation in Sailing will look like
Boats will work with a point-and-click system to move around, similar to how we move our characters. However, you won’t just be stuck in your navigation interface as you’ll be able to roam freely around your boat as well! The way this will work is you will have to click on the steering wheel to navigate the ship but you can exit this interface at any time to move around.
So don’t worry about navigation being a dull affair! You have the freedom to roam around on your ship and the larger the ship, the more there will be to do on your ship. Another bonus about this movement system is that it will feel old school. It won’t feel out of place.
Sailing is also not just a solo activity as you will be able to invite others on your both and navigate the seas together.
As it stands, ships will come in three sizes: small ships, large ships & colossal ships. With each having a different function. For example, small ships are ideal for exploring shallow waters whereas large and colossal ships are better for the open seas. Furthermore, larger ships will allow for more customization and onboard facilities.
Players will be able to own more than one ship and due to the different use cases, you’ll benefit from owning different types of ships instead of just one ship that is best at everything.
There was also talk about an NPC crew that might function similarly to how butlers work in the construction skill.
Ship Mechanics & Pathing
To make sailing more natural and realistic, the sailing skill will likely have a different pathing algorithm than the ones used by players roaming around. However, nothing has yet been set in stone as the Old School Team is still trying to figure out how to make the sailing aspect look as smooth as possible for every size of ship.
P.S. In the tech demo, the ships move using the same pathing algorithm as players with turns being slowed down. It’s nowhere near finished of course, but it already looks pretty good.
Since sailing will take place in the overworld, there are a lot of questions about collision in-game. Currently, the stance is that there will be no collision at all and that boats will just be able to pass through each other. Otherwise, players (e.g. clans) could cause blockades which is not ideal.
There is some talk about collision potentially being possible in PVP areas.
Another mechanic the OSRS team is looking into is the speed ships will sail, obviously not all types of ships should be sailing at the same speed.
As was always known, the Sailing Skill will come with an expansion of the seas of Gielinor. In the recent design blog, the OSRS team revealed that the Ocean will be divided into three zones: Shallow Seas, Open Seas & Deep Seas. These zones will go hand in hand with the ship-sizes as smaller ships will be better in shallow seas and larger ships will be better for open & deep seas.
Furthermore, the Old School team touched on weather conditions at sea, which will affect your sailing conditions. For example, with heavy wind, your speed might be affected and it could become more difficult to traverse these areas. Such heavy weather conditions will be more likely to occur in open and deep seas.
With the expansion of the ocean, there is a ton of opportunity for skill progression within Sailing. Some areas will not be accessible to players with a lower sailing level, while some areas may just require bigger ships with stronger hulls which in turn will require a higher Sailing level.
As of right now, the edges of the map are black voids, these will likely be replaced with the endless ocean once (if) the Sailing skill is released, to make it appear as though there is no end to the oceans. You won’t be able to traverse these parts of the ocean however, and systems will be put in place to prevent you from going there. For example, you could just be unable to move past the boundaries, or you might take damage for trying to ignore the ocean boundaries.
Sailing Core Gameplay & How Experience will be earned
This section summarises the June 15th Design Blog covering Core Gameplay.
On June 2nd we received some updates on what the Core Gameplay for Sailing could look like. Below are some of the proposed ideas.
These are divided into three categories: primary activities, secondary activities & tertiary activities.
- Primary: main methods of earning experience in Sailing Skill. (e.g. fishing monkfish)
- Secondary: alternative methods of earning experience that involve other skills as well (e.g. Barbarian Fishing)
- Tertiary: alternative methods of training a skill through a skill boss or minigame (e.g. Tempoross)
Experience Earned for Navigating the Seas
Once you have acquired a ship, you’ll be able to set sail on the seas of Gielinor. While you are sailing, the wind will change course and cause your sail to luff, at which point you need to turn your sails to catch the wind again so that your ship doesn’t slow down. Every time you fasten your sails, you will be given Sailing Experience.
Once you get a higher sailing level, you’ll be able to hire NPC crewmates to take over this job from you, allowing you to focus on more important ship interactions!
Now let’s take a look at all the primary activities in which you can gain experience within the Sailing Skill.
Charting the Sea (Primary Sailing Activity)
Become an explorer and stumble upon new areas on the seas. Whenever you explore a new area, this area will make it into your captains log (kind of like your collection log) and give you sailing experience as a one-time reward for unlocking the new area. Charting the seas is just one of the exciting primary sailing activities in which you gain experience. It’s simple, yet very fitting and exciting to unlock new secret locations all around Gielinor!
- Click Intensity: Low
- XP/HR: Low to Medium
- GP/HR: None
Shipwreck Salvaging (Primary Sailing Activity)
The seas of Gielinor will be far from empty. Every so often, you’ll randomly stumble upon shipwrecks on which you can harvest valuable shipbuilding resources, find treasure and more! A Salvaging Hook Facility will be required to partake in this activity. Once you have one, you can navigate to a shipwreck, click on your Salvaging Hook and wait for it to recover the goods from the shipwreck. For each shipwreck you salvage, you will gain experience.
Salvage will fit into the upcoming reward-space, as salvaged items will convertable into specific materials at sailing ports.
While you’ll mostly stumble upon shipwrecks randomly, you’ll also be able to pick up rumours at ports and activity look for shipwrecks if you wish to do so!
This won’t be the best method to gain sailing experience but it’s a fun addition to the skill and should have some awesome rewards that come with it.
- Click Intensity: Low
- XP/HR: Low
- GP/HR: Low to Medium
Port Tasks (Primary Sailing Activity)
Each Sailing Port in Gielinor will be equipped with a task board (similar to a slayer master) where you can get a task to perform at sea, for which you will gain experience.
Here are the different types of tasks:
- Courier tasks: transport goods from one port to another. While this might seem simple, you should know that pirates and sea monsters are always out there to try to rain on your parade. Be prepared to not just be a courrier, but also defend your ship against these unwanted encounters. Furthermore, you’ll also want to have a ship that is capable of delivering a lot of cargo to gain more experience.
- Protection tasks: protect trade routes from danger by saving ships that are in need of your help. This task will require a ship that is ready for combat.
- Invetigative tasks: Locate lost ships and transport their cargo back to the intended destination. But be careful, as these ships got lost for a reason! These tasks will require combat-ready ships that can carry a lot of cargo and also have a salvaging hook.
Task availibility will scale with your sailing level, with the tasks becoming more dificult (and offering more experience) as you increase your Sailing level.
- Click Intensity: Low to Medium
- XP/HR: Low to High
- GP/HR: Low to Medium
Ship Racing (Primary Sailing Activity)
Do you have a need for speed? Then you’ll love the ship racing activity that will be built into the sailing skill! Ship races force you to navigate efficiently, traverse obstacles, and much more! You’ll be able to race alone by doing time trials or race against others to gain experience and sailing-specific rewards!
- Click Intensity: Medium to High
- XP/HR: Medium to High
- GP/HR: Low
Sailing Combat (Primary Sailing Activity)
The oceans around Gielinor aren’t exactly save, pirates and seamonsters are never far away. That’s why combat will be a huge aspect of the sailing skill. (And don’t worry skillers, Sailing Combat will give you Sailing experience, not combat experience)
You’ll be able to customize your ship and add a ton of combat-related facilities such as cannons that allow you to protect yourself against encounters. These combat-activities will be a good way to gain Sailing experience.
Here’s what we know so far about sailing combat:
You will need to have attack facilities on board your ship to attack sea monsters (e.g. a cannon + enough ammunition). To attack a sea creature, simply get within range and click on your cannon to attack them. The first click you will load it with ammo (like you do with the Dwarf Cannon) and the second click will initiate fire. Each succesful hit will grant Sailing Experience.
- Click Intensity: Medium to High
- XP/HR: Medium
- GP/HR: Low to High
Note: Sailing Combat will be optional. It’s possible to avoid sea monsters and still train the Sailing Skill
Now let’s take a look at the secondary activities proposed for the Sailing Skill!
Sea Monster Hunting (secondary)
Sea Monster Hunting combines the Sailing, Slayer & Hunter skills. In this activity, you will track down sea monsters (hunter), slay them (slayer), and do it all while you are on a ship (sailing). This allows for fantastic new combat gameplay that uses a bunch of skills and is skiller friendly since no combat will be earned while engaging on combat at sea.
Deep Sea Trawling (secondary)
This activity combines both the Sailing and Fishing skills.
Imagine you have to locate shoals like a real fisher boat, follow them, and eventually catch them with your huge trawling net. Fishing and Sailing will go hand-in-hand!
Mineral Dredging (secondary)
This activity uses both the Sailing and Mining skills.
Coral Farming (secondary)
This activity uses both the Sailing and Farming skills.
Tertiary Gameplay activities
The Sailing Skill has so much potential it definitely will have some additional training methods beyond the core gameplay and secondary activities. Maybe not as soon as the skill releases, but in the future, we could be seeing Ocean Raids, Expeditions, Ship PVP, treasure hunts and much more!
Similar to the construction skill, you will be able to upgrade your ships as you level up. Here’s an example of what that interface would look like.
You’ll be able to upgrade the ship in general, make upgrades to the hull, add combat facilities, add skilling facilities, utility, and so much more.
This section summarises the July 4th Design Blog covering Sailing Rewards.
Let’s be real, we all train skills for the rewards they offer. Why do we train woodcutting? To unlock quests & get better moneymaking methods. Sailing is no different, but unlike other skills, the reward space potential for sailing is huge! Let’s take a closer look.
Ship Upgrades, Facilities & Customization
As the sailing skill takes place on a ship, it’s only normal that you’ll be able to upgrade your ship, add facilities & personalize your ship as you progress in the sailing skill.
Ship Building & Upgrades
The Ship Building aspect of the Sailing skill directly works together with other skills such as Construction, Crafting and Smithing. However, players who don’t meet skill requirements (except for ironmen) will also be able to ask Shipbuilder NPCs to help them out with specific upgrades provided they have the required materials and payment for their services.
- You can build and upgrade your ship via the Construction skill
- Sails and nets are made via the Crafting skill
- Cannons and cannonballs are made via the Smithing skill
Fun fact: new cannonballs with metal ranges up to dragon will be introduced to the game. These cannonballs will only work with the sailing skill but this could become a great new moneymaker!
Progressing the Sailing skill will enable you to unlock new facilities for your ship as part of the reward space.
These facilities include:
- & much more
Everyone loves a bit of fashionscape, and Sailing will satisfy those needs like no other skill has before! Stand out with customs ships and impress your clanmates while doing team voyages on the seas of Gielinor.
Certain gathering skills such as Farming, Fishing and Mining will be incorporated into the sailing skill and this will come with some new resources!
Here are some examples:
- Coral Farming: Harvest the new Elkhorn, Pillar, and Umbral coral via the Farming skill these can be used as ingredients for new potions with the herblore skill, craft new jewellery via the Crafting skill or make Coral armour via the Smithing skill
- Deep Sea Trawling: Use the Fishing skill to catch larger quantities of fish on your ship via big nets on your ship. Unlock new fish such as Haddock, Blue Tang, and Sunfish which also function as bait for catching large sea monsters! Or cook them via the Cooking skill as a new food source with unique effects.
- Mineral Dredging: Use the Mining skill to mine minerals from your ship! Alongside existing minerals, mine new ores such as Cobalt and Lead which can be used to smith better Cannons or craft better nets for your ship. Furthermore, you can also find new gems such as Agate, Garnet, and Aquamarine which unlocks new jewellery through the Crafting skill!
These resources unlock a bunch of new gear, potions, and money making methods!
As should already be abundantly clear by now, Sailing will function as an expansion of the sea. That means the Sailing skill will unlock a bunch of new areas (e.g. islands) into the game.
And this is not just limited to Sailings release. The new skill unlocks tons of potential for map expansion beyond release as well.
An already confirmed piece of new content is the island known as The Great Conch, which is home to the Oceanic Turtle Tribe.
To unlock the Great Conch, players will have to help out Floopa, an injured member of the Oceanic Turtle Tribe and help her find her way home. Once you’ve accomplished this mission, you’ll have full access to the island which will give access to new skilling methods such as:
- A new Fletching Technique that is more engaging than current options
- A new Woodcutting tree called Rosewood
- A new Slayer monster called Gryphons
Sailing Game Integration & lore
This section summarises the July 25th Design Blog covering Game Integration & lore.
As with many skills in OSRS these days, the Sailing skill will have an introductory quest called “Maiden’s Voyage”. In this quest, you have to help Rob, Captain Ned’s son (remember Ned, from Dragon Slayer?) on his journey to Tempoross Cove. Once completed, you’ll be rewarded with your first ship.
World Map Integration
Oceans around Gielinor will be divided into three types: Shallow, Open & Deep Sea and these will have gradual barriers between them. Different parts of the sea map will also be given a name such as Sarim Bay (around Port Sarim), Karamjan Sea, and so on.
Densely populated parts of the sea map will be classified as shallow seas which are only open to smaller ships to avoid bigger ships taking up too much space.
How Sailing fits in with Quests
You won’t be forced to unlock Sailing to participate in quests such as Dragon Slayer and Bone Voyage which have sea-faring related content. However, completing these quests will grant you Sailing Experience once the skill comes out. Players who have already completed them, can still get the experience through EXP lamps from an NPC at skill release.
However, to keep the launch competitive, these EXP lamps will only come out 2 weeks after launch.
Some quests such as Bone Voyage will also be altered to fit the Sailing skill better.
How Sailing fits in with Existing Skills
We’ve already gone over how Sailing unlocks a bunch of new resources through gathering skills such as Farming, Mining and Fishing which can be used to used for Herblore, Crafting and Smithing. Furthermore we’ve covered how the Construction skill can be used to upgrade your ship and how the Great Conch unlocks a new Slayer monster. It’s safe to say, Sailing will complement existing skills pretty well.
The sea wouldn’t be the sea if it didn’t have dangerous creatures looming around. That’s why the Sailing Update will come with 3 sea legends which you can randomly encounter during your voyages in the deep sea.
- The Sharhai: This legendary sea monster feeds off anything it can fit into its gargantuan maw… and its favourite snack is unwary ships who stray too far from land. Little is known about this beast, as those who’ve encountered it rarely live to tell the tale…
- The Dark Dame: A dreaded pirate ship, wreathed in shadow. This ghastly vessel is said to roam the North Ocean, seeking unwary victims. Those who’ve witnessed the Dark Dame claim it seems to appear and disappear out of nowhere… no wonder the authorities can’t bring its crew to justice.
- Roqar, the Thunder Bird: They say that thunderstorms at sea are… different from those on land. With waves higher than the tallest masts, most sailors are too busy saving their souls to look up during a storm. Those few that do, however, report seeing a gigantic bird circling around the clouds – as though magnifying the power of the storm itself.
The Sea Expansion will come with friendly factions for you to encounter.
For example, the Tortugans which live on The Great Conch will happily let players on their island to help combat the Gryphons who torture their residents.
Next you have the Barracudas, a group of thrill seekers who have mastered sailing and will happily help your improve your sailing skills by letting you take part in the Barracuda Trials.
Then you have the Aliance of Merchants, a group of merchants that can be found on every port of Gielinor. You can work for them by taking on Port Tasks, sell them exotic wares from all over the world or purchase unique items you cannot find elseware (or so they’ll have you believe).
And finally, you have the Shipwrights Association, this is a group of handymen that can help you with shipbuilding or help you out when your ship gets damaged or sunk while on a voyage. Or in the case that you lose your ship, you can always call upon a shipwright to return your ship. If you can stand the embarrassment of course.
Sinking a ship will not count as a death in Sailing as you can be saved by a shipwright, but you will have to pay up for your mishaps. This doesn’t mean that all sailing activity can be considered ‘safe’ however. If you die to sea monster for example, that is most certainly a real death.
Is Sailing a Skill or Minigame?
There’s a lot of discourse around this topic. While Sailing is obviously pitched as a skill and will take place in the Overworld (not an instance like minigames do) there are still a lot of doubters who feel ‘Sailing’ doesn’t qualify as a skill.
Mod Husky has done a phenomenal job at addressing this issue, particularly in the most recent Old School modcast ‘What’s a Skill’.
I’ll briefly summarise what he had to say.
As Sailing falls under the ‘utility’ category of OSRS skills (think Slayer or Construction), it’s a bit harder to define than the classic gathering and production skills. The main issue with Sailing is that there isn’t an obvious set of repeatable actions yet. E.g. in Slayer, you visit a slayer master, complete your task, and repeat. This is how experience is earned.
Saling doesn’t have this. At least not yet, which is why the skill is often misunderstood as a minigame, rather than a skill. However, this is simply because the OSRS team hasn’t yet defined the Core Gameplay Loop for the Sailing Skill. Once this is out (which we can expect sometime in June), we’ll have a better idea of what the Sailing skill will look like and how experience will be earned.
So in short, Sailing is definitely a skill, not a minigame. Sailing will not be instanced, and experience will be earned by participating in the skill While it’s true the Core Gameplay Loop has not yet been defined it’s something the Old School team is working on and we can expect to see a design blog come out sometime in June which will give us an idea of what gaining experience will look like.
If you are super invested in the Sailing skill and want to be kept up-to-date, chat with others about the skill, share memes, and have active input in the direction of the skill, you can join the Official Sailing Discord here.