The Guilds of Ravnica

I like D&D. I like it very much, and it is one of the most enduring pastimes that I’ve had. Unlike nearly every other game or hobby I’ve had, I’ve never voluntarily put it on hold. I also like MTG very much. It’s a game that I can pick up and put down with relative ease, going to pre-release events and playing well enough every couple of months to feel good about playing. 

Well, I’ll be damned if they aren’t going to jam these two right together again with a new sourcebook for D&D – Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

I cannot tell you how excited I am to get this into my hands! 

Introduction to Ravnica

Ravnica is an entire plane that is also a city, where everything exists in an urban environment. Mountains are rising skyscrapers, islands idyllic pools, forests are great urban parks and so on. It’s an interesting take on a plane. This city is controlled by 10 powerful guilds, each with Guildmasters, champions, and heroes of their own as well as the standard foot troops and basic members. These 10 guilds each take their ethos from the combination of two of Magics 5 colors: Red (Chaos and Emotions) Black (Death and Power) White (Structure and Law) Green (Evolution and nature) or Blue (Innovation and Knowledge). The combination of these colors into the 10 unique guilds is the best part of the setting, and what drew me to it as an MTG player when I was starting to get back into the game a number of years ago. 

Those guilds are:

Boros – Red/White: A military guild and zealous army, they are furious, militant fanatics that believe in their righteous cause and their desire to see their form of justice enforced on the populace. They are often powerful fighters, quick to action and unending in their fury. 

Orzhov – Black/White: The corrupt church of Orzhov is of the belief that order brings wealth, and that wealth brings power, and that power is used to create more structure and wealth. It is a self-serving organization of Clerics, Priests, Enforcers and Cartels that further their own ends and aims. 

Azorious – White/Blue: The pitiless Azorious are the police force and the bringers of law and order to the guilds. They roam the city looking for offending criminals and applying the strictest ruling possible upon the unfortunate culprits. They are the diametric opposite of the Boros. 

Selesnya – Green/White: The natural and communal Selesnya are a group of people who have found in nature the strictest and most merciful of rules. They are run by a conclave, voting democratically to see who is in charge and what rules they follow. They are the peaceful nature of a spring clearing. 

Simic – Blue/Green: The mad mages of the Simic combine are forever pushing the limits of nature and evolution via magic and the rigorous study of the world itself. Nature is nothing if not to be improved on and made into the best it can be, and if it needs a little magical nudge than so be it. 

Dimir – Black/Blue: The Dimir are the stealthy and wholly evil underground masters of Ravnica. They are the monsters who steal your thoughts in the night and drive your mind mad with their whispers. Little hides from them, and though they seem lowly, they often wield unseen power. 

Izzet – Red/Blu: The Izzet are inventors and unhinged mages who seek to push the boundaries of magic and invention. They impulsively create, often testing new and bizarre creations at a moments notice, with predictably unpredictable and catastrophic results. 

Golgari – Green/Black: The moldering and decaying Golgari are the kings of filth and rot, living in the middens and practicing a bizarre form of fungal and festering necromancy to bring back those who once served as something a bit improved. They view death as the natural end of all things, though not the end of their nature, so to say. 

Rakdos – Black/Red: The violent, unhinged and sadistic Rakdos revel in blood and gore. More a collection of like-minded psychopaths than a real guild, they will shed blood in the most crazed and deranged way possible, be it theirs or others. 

Gruul – Red/Green: The brutal and savage Gruul are the barbarians and naturalists of the city, not at all a guild but instead a clan of creatures who agree to follow the strongest and wildest among them. They shirk knowledge and law, revel in the natural order, and respect only strength. 

In D&D

This setting shows a ton of promise, and I am very excited to be able to try my hand at an Izzet Guildmage, or a Golgari Filth-Necromancer, or any number of different classes. Following the Video here about the way the book is mostly structured brought me a lot of hope. It adds the Guild not as a class or a race or even another supplemental set of rules, but in place of your background. Its an interesting way to approach the problem of giving a character too much to keep track of, and I enjoy that the Background slot can be used for different and additional elements of the game, instead of being something that is forever cemented into the game. 

Additionally, we saw a look at the races for the upcoming book in a recent Unearthed Arcana Article,  which has some cool concepts. Vedalkyn are rational thinkers pursuing, but never attaining, perfection; the Vashino are a race of quick and fierce Lizardmen; the Simic Hybrids are magical combinations of humanoid stock and animals; and the Mightly Loxodon are elephant men the glory of which I will never stop singing, even if I will likely disallow them in my own games for being too fantastical. Probably. Maybe… 

By combining the rich history of Ravnica from the cards with the powerful imagination that is allowed by D&D, I see a potent and extremely enjoyable setting being explored and created for the first time. Exploring the interaction of the guilds on the plane of Ravnica itself, or even sending a character from Ravnica into another campaign world to interact with the fellows of a typical fantasy world would be intriguing, to say the least. 

While I don’t profess to know that this product will be great, I do think it’s going to provide some very interesting additions to both base game players – Spells, Races, and Guilds are just the barest that I would expect. It has all the hallmarks of a great expansion. There are plenty of holes left in the information still, and there are lots of pages to fill yet. What I would really like to see are paths for each class based on the archetype of the guilds. This is where I would like to see them go: 

Izzet Mage
Simic Sorcerer
Golgari Druid
Gruul Barbarian
Boros Paladin
Dimir Rogue
Selesnyan Priest
Rakdos Warrior
Orzhov Warlock
Azorious Monk

I know it leaves out the Bard and the Ranger, but I don’t know where they fit, per se, in the list here. 

well, overall, I’m excited. I’m going to likely pick this book up right after I start drafting Guilds of Ravnica, the next MTG expansion. Coincidence that these two are coming out within a month of each other? I think not. 


Until Next time.