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The gates to the plague-stricken city

Sophanem, often referred to as the "City of the Dead," is a settlement located in the southernmost reaches of the known Kharidian Desert. Sophanem straddles the east side of the River Elid, and shares common borders with the neighbouring Menaphite capital of Menaphos. The city is most well known for its ceremonial treatments of the dead, which it performs for the majority of the Menaphite nation. To access it, players must have reached a certain point in the quest Icthlarin's Little Helper.

Sophanem was founded in the Second Age, shortly before the reign of Pharaoh Queen Senliten. It remained a relatively small village well into the Third Age, at which point the Kharidian Desert Campaign forced refugees from besieged settlements such as Uzer and Ullek to flee further south for survival. This re-location of most of the desert's populace essentially left Sophanem at the Menaphite nation's centre, eventually leading to its incorporation as part of a joint-capital with Menaphos.

In 169 of the Fifth Age, Sophanem was beset by a number of plagues, all caused by the Menaphite goddess Amascut. The subsequent quarantine left the city cut off from the outside world in virtually every way. To access the city, players must begin the Icthlarin's Little Helper quest, although the completion of Contact! opens many features such as the city's bank and a number of shops. Amongst players, it is perhaps most popular for the thieving-based Pyramid Plunder minigame, as well as its efficiency as a base of operations for those exploring the southern desert.

Getting there[edit | edit source]

Access to Sophanem requires partial completion of Icthlarin's Little Helper.

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 below the temple in the north-east.

Like all proper banks (as opposed to lone bankers), this bank rapidly heals players to maximum life points, making it very useful for the Pyramid Plunder minigame. Completion of Contact! is not required to receive this healing.

Sophanem Dungeon[edit | edit source]

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

The small Sophanite chapel.

Sophanem Slayer Dungeon[edit | edit source]

The Sophanem Slayer Dungeon is a Slayer Dungeon located in southern Sophanem. Killing monsters within the dungeon requires level 88 Slayer and completion of Icthlarin's Little Helper.

An oasis to the north of Sophanem.

Altar[edit | edit source]

There is an altar where a player may recharge prayer on the west side of the city.

Pyramid Plunder[edit | edit source]

Pyramid Plunder is in the north-west.

Plover Birds hunter area[edit | edit source]

South of the Sophanem slayer dungeon and west of the Luminous Wisp colony. Plover bird can be hunted with deadfall traps. They are used in the Crocodile Tears quest and have a chance of finding the Pygmy giant scarab and Clicker kalphite for the Insects of the Desert

Luminous Wisp Colony[edit | edit source]

Luminous wisps can be harvested at level 90 divination. Prior to the release of Menaphos, the colony was located outside the city gates of Sophanem, but is now located within the walls, south of the Sophanem Slayer Dungeon. Fly dragon and Fruit fly can be found while harvesting here.

Shops[edit | edit source]

Shops opened after the Contact! quest:

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Quests[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Early history[edit | edit source]

The exact date of Sophanem's founding is unclear; although, it is known to have occurred some time slightly prior to Pharaoh Queen Senliten's reign over the Menaphite nation, which pre-dated the conversion of the Mahjarrat to Zaros's forces. This places its establishment during the early Second Age, likely within several hundred years of Guthix's descent into slumber at the First Age's closing.

Despite the Menaphite people's long presence in the Kharidian Desert, Sophanem is comparatively young for a Kharidian settlement. Prior to the construction of Sophanem and Menaphos, the Menaphites lived primarily in settlements along the north and eastern rims of the desert, such as the prosperous metropolises of Ullek and Uzer. According to the religious text Tumeken's Dream, which is apparently held in high regard by the current High Priest of Icthlarin, Ullek was a thriving capital city long before Sophanem was even conceived. These early cities' close proximity to the Eastern Sea gave them the ability to trade with regions such as Misthalin, the Hallowland, and the Eastern Sea islands that even in the early Second Age were being settled in to some degree. Sophanem's location makes it somewhat unique amongst early Menaphite settlements in that it is located far from the Eastern Sea, instead relying on the River Elid and Southern Sea for sustenance.

Sophanem's prominence today is not reflected in its early history, during which it was little more than a small trading settlement on the desert's southern fringe. Like its close neighbour, the prosperous city of Ullek, Sophanem was built in a heavily-wooded area thick with lumber, game, granite, and sandstone. These were presumably its main exports, which it could have traded with ease both within the Southern Sea and along the River Elid. Most of the settlements built along the Elid have long since disappeared, and exactly what exists in the ocean south of Sophanem remains unknown to most modern societies. The only people with whom Sophanem is known to have traded are the Bedabin, who lived in the western Kharid and frequented the area to hunt and barter.

The remains of Ullek, one of Sophanem's Second Age neighbours

Like the rest of the Menaphite settlements, Sophanem was and still is a firm worshipper of the Desert Pantheon. Unlike in later years, however, the Pantheon had little physical presence in Sophanem, instead opting to focus its attention on more established parts of the nation. This idea was further re-inforced when Zaros, a deity of considerable power, arrived in Gielinor from a parallel world in the early Second Age. Zaros waged war on the Menaphites from the area that is now Morytania, which had not yet been settled by the Icyene of the Eastern Lands. The northern parts of the Kharidian Desert became areas of intense combat, as Zaros's vampyre, demon, and human armies attempted to gain a foothold in the region. The Menaphites' human, clay golem, and Mahjarrat forces managed to repel Zaros with comparative ease, eventually forcing him to set his sights on what are now Misthalin, Asgarnia, and the Wilderness instead. Sophanem itself remained relatively uninvolved in the war, its isolation allowing it to avoid anything more than troop and supply provision.

As the Second Age progressed, Sophanem changed little. At some point, the Mahjarrat left the Menaphite people, choosing instead to ally themselves with Zaros, who had, since his failed movement into the Kharid, begun to gain territory north of the desert. With their aid, Zaros managed to expand his sphere of influence to include most of mainland Gielinor east of Lassar. Sophanem itself was mostly unaffected by this, and as the Second Age began to near an end, Sophanem was still a minor settlement at most.

The God Wars and rise in prominence[edit | edit source]

At the end of the Second Age, Zaros was betrayed by the Mahjarrat General Zamorak and subsequently was forced out of the Gielinorian plane. In the wake of Zaros's banishment, most of his empire crumbled fairly rapidly, forcing many refugees to seek survival in the Kharidian Desert. Most of these fled to the western Kharid, where they immediately came into conflict with both the Bedabin people and, eventually, Sophanem. Being disorganised and unaccustomed to desert life, these "bandits" never created huge problems for Sophanem, although their presence disrupted the Bedabin peoples' hunting system.

The Kharidian Desert remained relatively uninvolved in the God Wars, although the Third Age nonetheless brought immediate change to the Kharidian Desert and Sophanem. By the mid-Third Age, climate change began to hit the southern desert hard. What had formerly been lush temperate forests began to heat up significantly, and by Year 3,000 lumber supplies were becoming extremely scarce in cities such as Sophanem and Ullek. Living patterns began to change for Sophanem, which had to gradually shift its industry away from lumber and game. Its dependence upon imports began to grow, causing trade in the Southern Sea to become a necessity.

The Kharidian Desert Campaign, which lasted from 3,000 to 4,000, saw the desert's more prominent participation in the God Wars and the eventual rise of Sophanem. Seeking to gain new land and resources, a number of deities and racial factions set their sights on the northern Kharid, the most numerous of these being Zamorakians and Saradominists. Menaphite control over the northern desert rapidly declined as extremely violent battles destroyed neutral settlements, forcing refugees such as Nardarine to flee further south to escape the conflicts. Lord Lowerniel Vergidiyad Drakan, a mostly independent vampyre lord that had toppled the Hallowland some time after the banishment of Zaros, also sought to extend Morytania into the northern Kharid, although with minimal success. Sometime during the campaign, Uzer fell to the Elder Demon Thammaron, and Ullek was annihilated by the three-faced demon Balfrug Kreeyath.

This violence, and the complete destruction of most of the Menaphite's large cities, eventually forced thousands to seek refuge in Sophanem, one of the last surviving Menaphite settlements. This inflation in population and cultural significance rapidly turned Sophanem into the Kharidian Desert's largest city.

Prosperity and conflict[edit | edit source]

A more bustling market of Sophanem, with the quarantine lifted

In the wake of the God Wars, Sophanem grew rapidly. The Eastern Sea, having lost much of its populace during the Wars, was largely abandoned, leading to greater focus on trade in the Southern Sea. Sophanem became famous for its complex burials, which often occurred in pyramids like Jalsavrah, modelled after the Uzer Mastaba of Queen Senliten. Trade flourished within the city, and scholars from around the world began to visit it for its focus on learning and education. Large public works projects were initiated by the city's leaders, and thousands of slaves were brought in from neighbouring regions to put them into action.

The bridge connecting Menaphos and Sophanem

Sophanem's growth eventually prompted the establishment of Menaphos, a neighbour built on the west side of the River Elid. Initially Menaphos was far smaller than its neighbour, and relied primarily on its trade to survive. Rapidly, though, Menaphos overtook Sophanem in size and strength; a massive port district was established, the Library of Menaphos was built, sprawling slum, market, and imperial districts were built, and trade grew to an unprecedented level. The proximity of Sophanem and Menaphos meant that the two eventually grew into one massive capital city, essentially separate only geographically. While Sophanem continued to trade regularly, it tended to shift its focus on more cultural traditions such as mummification, and so also became somewhat dependent on Menaphos for goods such as spice, chocolate, and flour. Residents of the cities regularly crossed the Elid to shop and visit friends, and ultimately the two accepted each other without difficulty. By the mid-Fourth Age, Sophanem and Menaphos were perhaps the most prosperous cities in the world, far surpassing newer capitals such as Avarrocka.

However, this immense prosperity was not without conflict, and dissent amongst the gods of the Desert Pantheon created issues within Sophanem and Menaphos. In either the late Third or early Fourth Ages, the Menaphite deity of rebirth, Amascut launched a wave of attacks on Menaphite society. "Changed" by her exposure to the Mahjarrat, Amascut dedicated herself to destruction, and ultimately had to be stopped by her own priestesses, such as Neite. Amascut lost her corporeal form, but unity within the Pantheon could never be re-achieved. Shortly after this, the deity Scabaras outlawed the worship of all deities save himself, violating the Edicts of Guthix in the process. After attempting to tunnel under the River Elid from Sophanem, Scabaras was banished, leading to the re-location of the Scabarite race.

The Al Kharid War[edit | edit source]

The dilapidated area south of the temple of Icthlarin.

As the Fifth Age progressed, both Sophanem and Menaphos remained powerful entities within the Kharidian Desert; however, their prominence in nations such as Misthalin, Asgarnia, Kandarin, and Crandor began to diminish. The re-discovery of runes by the Fremennik explorer "V-------" in Year 1 meant that humans in more racially diverse areas were able to defend themselves more effectively. As humanity's overall strength grew, the formerly dominant Menaphite people lost much of their unique status. Events such as the reclamation of the Lordship of the North Coast by Lord Drakan and the destruction of Crandor by Elvarg slowed but did not stop this trend.

At some point during the Fifth Age, the people of Al Kharid and the Menaphite nation became engaged in open war. Open violence, as well as espionage by agents such as Osman, crippled both nations politically. Although details about the war are few, this separation from its neighbours caused Sophanem to become further detached from world affairs, and it fell from importance in the sight of many northern nations. It was not until the year 169 that this war finally came to an uneasy end.

The plague of Sophanem[edit | edit source]

The following takes place during Icthlarin's Little Helper.

However, what should have been a time of increased prosperity in Sophanem rapidly became a time of chaos. Immediately following the end of the Al Kharid - Menaphite War, both Sophanem and Menaphos were placed under strict quarantine. This puzzled the cities' neighbours, who suspected some political implication to the event. However, the quarantine was actually initiated to prevent the spread of a number of plagues caused by the actions of the goddess Amascut. Amascut, hoping to control the soul of a deceased Sophanem High Priest known as Klenter, hypnotised an adventurer so as to make them steal a canopic jar containing Klenter's organs from a Sophanem pyramid. This desecration caused Klenter's spirit to inflict Sophanem with a number of plagues, which in turn caused Menaphos to bar its gate in order to avoid them.

Immediately after the jar's theft, a disease swept Sophanem, marking residents' faces with painful red spots. Swarms of giant locust swarmed the city, eating its limited crops and posing a danger to citizens. The city's cow population, which served as an important source of food, became infected with a disease that left their milk undrinkable and their meat rancid. Finally, bloated swarms of diseased frogs began to wash up on the shoreline of the Elid, posing a threat to the city's people. The city's slaves were left idle and all public works projects were terminated. Word of this reached Menaphos, where a massive slave riot in the city's slum district had to be put down harshly by the city guard.

Sophanem's priestly order attempts to lay Klenter's soul to rest

The adventurer responsible for the canopic jar's theft eventually managed to re-gain control of themselves. With the aid of the god Icthlarin and the city's local sphinx, the adventurer managed to return the canopic jar to its resting place; however, Amascut attempted to intervene and managed to possess a city priest, who was slain in the struggle. Although Klenter's soul was briefly released, almost immediately after this Amascut used a second adventurer to re-take the jar, effectively causing the plagues' return. Because both Icthlarin and Amascut are dedicated to claiming Klenter's soul, The High Priest of Sophanem believes that the city could remain plagued for years, if not indefinitely.

Conflicts with Scabaras and re-opening[edit | edit source]

The following takes place during Contact! and Dealing with Scabaras.

The people of Sophanem, now resigned to the possible long-term presence of Klenter's plagues, sought to adjust to their effects. The lack of plague infection in adventurers visiting the city eventually led to the High Priest concluding that none of the city's plagues were contagious, and that re-establishing contact with Menaphos would pose no risk to either city or the outside world.

Attempts by both the Sophanem High Priest and community leaders were met with violence from the Menaphos guard, led by Coenus. After narrowly escaping a volley of arrow-fire, the High Priest decided that sending a covert agent into Menaphos would be necessary in making contact with the city. To complicate matters, the city's subterannean bank was invaded in the night by an unknown adversary, who destroyed it before fleeing into a tunnel beneath the surface. The Priest recruited the adventurer that had previously attempted to end the plagues for this task. The adventurer eventually entered the tunnel network beneath the city from which the bank had been destroyed, feeling that it was the tunnel reputed to have been dug beneath the Elid by Scabarites in the late Third or early Fourth Age.

Unbeknownst to Sophanem, a massive Scabarite congregation led by none other than the High Priest of Scabaras had settled in the Ullekian cliffs east of the city. The High Priest was visited shortly after his arrival by a vision of Amascut, disguised as a representative of Scabaras. Amascut convinced the High Priest that in order to obtain true isolation in keeping with Scabarite religion, all other races must be destroyed, starting with the people of Sophanem. The Scabarites discovered a tunnel connecting the cliffs to the ancient Sophanem tunnel network, and using Scabaras locusts as mounts, laid traps throughout the caves. Ultimately unsatisfied with this passive resistance and now nearly possessed by Amascut, the High Priest of Scabaras demanded more direct violence, ultimately beginning with the invasion of Sophanem bank and the positioning of a giant scarab near the tunnel's connection to Menaphos. An Al Kharid operative named Kaleef, sent to spy on Menaphos with an operative named Maisa, was the first victim of the guardian.

Upon entering the caves, the adventurer recruited by Sophanem found the area overrun with hostile Scabarites. They eventually found and slew the giant scarab with the aid of another Al Kharid agent, Osman, but ultimately found the tunnel to Menaphos impassable. Upon informing the High Priest of Sophanem of this, it was decided that the city would lift its quarantine and begin trading with neighbouring settlements such as Nardah, Pollnivneach, Al Kharid, and the Bedabin Camp. The city's bank was restored, and Ali Morrisane's magic carpet network was given more support. City residents that had not been able to re-enter Sophanem since its quarantine were now given access. The city's trade revived, and inter-city commerce flourished once more, although not to a pre-quarantine degree. Menaphos, meanwhile, refused to open its gates, and by all accounts is now preparing for what may be an indefinite state of isolation.

Hoping to end the Scabarite conflict, the adventurer eventually managed to locate and confront the High Priest of Scabaras. Through combat, they managed to awaken the priest from his state of possession. The Priest, now in agreement that violence only diluted the Scabarites' isolation further, ordered his people to pull out of Sophanem's caves and cease all acts of war immediately. Although the majority were willing to comply, a handful were driven mad by their willingness to follow Amascut, and remain in both the Sophanem and outer Ullekian caves to this day, making them impassable to outsiders.

Update history[edit | edit source]

This information has been compiled as part of the update history project. Some updates may not be included - see here for how to help out!
  • patch 19 August 2019 (Update):
    • Blocking missing from the Carpenter's house in Sophanem has been corrected.
  • patch 4 June 2018 (Update):
    • A shortcut icon has been added at the east wall of Sophanem.
  • patch 14 August 2017 (Update):
    • Blocking has been added to a wall in Sophanem.
  • patch 19 June 2017 (Update):
    • The mirrors in Sophanem have been graphically updated.
    • The bankers in the underground Sophanem bank have had their models updated.
  • patch 16 January 2017 (Update):
    • Skin tones of some residents of Sophanem have been adjusted.
  • ninja 28 September 2015 (Update):
    • The click area for Sophanem's east gate has been enlarged.
  • patch 17 June 2013 (Update):
    • The click area for the Sophanem gate has been increased.
  • patch 5 February 2013 (Update):
    • A part of the roof in Sophanem is now removed when it is supposed to be.
  • patch 28 November 2012 (Update):
    • Salty water can once again be obtained from the salty lake north of Sophanem.
  • patch 13 November 2012 (Update):
    • Priests in Sophanem no longer look so patchy.
  • patch 24 July 2012 (Update):
    • The area containing the Sophanem obelisk no longer goes bright white with bloom enabled.
  • patch 9 August 2011 (Update):
    • Sophanem city gate's default option now quick-enters the gate, removing the need for a specific ‘quick enter’ option.
  • patch 14 December 2010 (Update):
    • Swamp water has been updated in Soul Wars and the swamp east of Sophanem.
  • patch 3 December 2009 (Update):
    • Adjusted the wield position of spears for Sophanem guards.
    • Fixed the water near Sophanem.
  • patch 8 July 2009 (Update):
    • The sphinx in Sophanem has been reworked. This was one of the oldest models left in the game!

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The plagues happening in Sophanem are references to Exodus, in the Bible.
  • Entering and leaving via the gates mandates a chat with one of the Sophanem guards unless you right-click on the gates and select the quick option.
  • Using an acne potion from the Apothecary in Varrock on any citizen results in a strange chat about spots.
  • Menaphos and Sophanem have the same letters and are spelled backwards, just that the "p" and the "h" are switched in order to make the cities pronounceable. Soph, a prominent piece of both names, comes from the Greek word "sophos" which means "wise". This seems to play on both Menaphos' and Sophanem's (albeit diminishing) scholarly history.
  • If you teleport away from Sophanem while the gates are closed during the start of Icthlarin's Little Helper, one of the guards will shout "That's right, clear off, you're not welcome here!" in the chatbox.
  • The bankers under the broken altar have the same dialogue as the Keldagrim bankers.
  • Another part of the city was revealed on 26 September 2012.
  • Sophanem's layout got changed when the gates of Menaphos opened on 5 June 2017.