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This part of the official manual is copyrighted by Jagex. It is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website and may not accurately reflect the current version of RuneScape Classic.
This text dates to 24 January 2001.

Fighting monsters and peopleEdit

Combat1

To find out what you can fight just point your mouse at the monster or character you wish to attack. If you point at a viable target you will be given the option of 'attack' on your right mouse button. The colour of the word 'attack' indicates the relative strength of your opponent. If it is displayed in red they are stronger than you and should probably be left alone, yellow indicates an equal match, and green indicates that they are weaker than you.

You will find you can't fight all characters and players. Some of the characters are important elements of the games and cannot be attacked. Also you can only fight another player if both you, and the other player chose to be able to fight other players when creating the account. On the other hand, some of the monsters in the game are aggressive and will attack you if you just move near. In general, the further you move from the starting point the stronger, and more aggressive the monsters you meet will be.

Combat2

To initiate combat just right click on your opponent. Your character will attempt to walk to where your opponent is standing and combat will start. Fighting is mainly automatic. You can however choose your fighting style by choosing from 1 of the 4 options which will appear at the top-left corner of the screen.

If you find you are losing the battle, then you can run away by clicking on the ground. You can't run away during the first few seconds of combat, but after that you are free to retreat. If you do retreat it's best to keep moving until you are some distance from your opponent as they may well pursue you.

Combat3

The strength of each combat participent[sic] is indicate by a horizontal bar above their head. If your bar is entirely green you are not hurt, it will turn red as you are hit. If the bar goes entirely red your character will die. A numbers will also briefly appear over you whenever you are hit by your oppoenent[sic], indicating how many points of damage you just sustained.

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