Right in the middle of our “Ten Weeks of Ravnica”, Ken Newquist from Nuketown is hosting November’s RPG Blog Carnival. The theme? “All these worlds” invites us to write about our favorite destinations to play in… and if by any chance you have been reading my last articles, you know how much I love Eberron, but the timing is perfect to summarize Ravnica as much as I can. Ravnica saw the light in October 2005 as a Magic: the Gathering set. It has inspired me greatly to create D&D elements since I saw it for the first time, which explains my full-on nerdgasm when it was announced as the very first hardcover Magic: The Gathering × D&D crossover.
Fans of D&D, welcome to the world of Magic: The Gathering. Likewise, Magic players, welcome to the D&D Multiverse. Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is the newest D&D setting book, and this is a basic primer on the plane so you can slide right into your first campaign in the city-plane of Ravnica with the help of this sourcebook.
Ravnica is inspired in Eastern Europe culture, language and flavor (as a matter of fact, Ravnica means “plain” as an adjective synonym to “flat” in Serbo-Croatian). As the setting of three (so far) blocks of Magic: the Gathering cards, Ravnica is a full-world cityscape; just like Coruscant in the Star Wars universe, it is an ecumenopolis consisting of a patchwork of civilization. In this case, though, it’s all about gothic grand halls, dark alleys, and ancient ruins, with a myriad of layers made of stone.
Of the world’s countless civic centers, one looms large above all others: the City of Ravnica, a metropolis so vast that its name has long since become synonymous with the entire plane. Prior to the events of Dissension, during the first block os story in this world, the city had been ruled by the Ravnican guilds and governed by the Guildpact for more than ten millennia.
These guids are what ties Ravnica together in terms of a MtG setting mechanically, but were at the same time the basis for its entire flavor. Each of them has mastered two of the five colors of mana (the concept in which the game is based upon), resulting in dramatically different cultural identities and functions.
The military guild of the Boros Legion believes righteousness is fire, shining with the light of justice. The dragon-led Izzet League fuses elemental magic and technology, making its members the undisputed masters of innovation. The exclusive members of the Selesnya Conclave honor selflessness, nurturing, and spiritual congregation—while outsiders see them as brainwashed nature cultists. The death-worshiping Golgari Swarm controls a vast undead army and labor force in the city’s underbelly. Secretive House Dimir fuels ghost stories of necromancer advisors, phantasmal assassins, and black horrors slithering in the sewers.
The Orzhov Syndicate is a rigid hierarchy of pomp and ritual, slaves to deals and coin. Gruul Clans compose a guild of beggars, gangs, and raiding parties, all driven by base urges and instinct. The Azorius Senate are the primary lawmakers on Ravnica, in contrast to the demon-led Cult of Rakdos, who delight in thrill-killing and pleasure-seeking. Amid all this politics and chaos, the researchers of the Simic Combine work industriously to maintain nature, even modifying it to survive.
The power of each guild had been kept in check by an ancient agreement known as the Guildpact. But as this agreement dissolves, conflict once again flared just by the time it reached 10,000 years old.
And well, the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica has everything a DM needs to run a campaign based in this spectacular setting. As I write these lines, I’m waiting to pick up my own copies of the corebook, the map companion and the set of dice (along my alternate-cover corebook set! Christmas came early this year!). Review is coming next week!