The Simic Combine is Ravnica’s steward of nature and the wild; its mission is to preserve the natural world even as Ravnica’s cities continue to grow. The guild seeks to protect the elements of the plane that are incompatible or mutually exclusive with its overpopulated, urban conditions. The guild uses magic to coax new morphologies from existing creatures, as well as to combine traits from multiple organisms in one. Some of these are unique creatures that can’t reproduce. A few multiply and become part of the guild’s fabric.
The emotionally distant relationship that the Simic biomancers have with the rest of Ravnica’s society makes the common man wary of the guild, thinking of them as crazy mutant makers. Even so, the Simic make up the physicians of Ravnica and so injuries and illness are taken to the reputable doctors.
Where other cultures are divided by species, caste or role, within the Simic Combine, members are divided by Clade. A Clade is a group that’s focused on a specific aspect or project. Some of the clades include:
- Hull Clade, focussing on protection, defense and durability.
- Fin Clade, focussing on movement of creatures (especially flying creatures) as well as, movement of resources through systems.
- Crypsis Clade, focussing on camouflage and magic designed to hide knowledge or operations.
- Gyre Clade, focussing on redirecting or nullifying magic and advancing nature.
Independently from the Clades, some factions operate with different interpretations of Simic philosophy: the Utopians focus on a harmonic union between civilization and nature, where evolution is a slow, guided process; while the Adaptionists believe that the guilds exist in a fragile ecosystem in which the slightest imbalance can have cascading effects, and thus seek to make steps that will ensure their survival. It is likely that Momir Vig’s followers constituted their own faction, the Vigians, who saw nature as something to be molded and subdued in order to enhance civilization.
In recent years the Simic Combine has extended its research to humanoid subjects, magically transferring the traits of various animals into human, elves and vedalken. This endeavour was created by the Speakers’ Chamber, a secretive body composed of all nine Zonot speakers (being the Prime Speaker considered to be the guildmaster of the Simic). The goal of the Guardian Project is to build an army perfectly adapted to a variety of combat situations. These hyper-evolved specimens are called Simic hybrids, though they sometimes refer to themselves as guardians.
The original purpose of the Simic Combine was to preserve the health of all Ravnican life-forms. They were devoted to the study of life, medicines, and biomancy. But just as life can adapt, so did the Combine. Momir Vig, the Simic guildmaster, was dissatisfied with this original purpose and formed a new purpose: to improve upon life-forms of Ravnica. Unfortunately for him, the people of Ravnica did not want to be improved or to undergo the surgery required to receive the benefits (except Simic members and people requiring prosthetics). Vig allied with Svogthir and planned to create and activate his Project Kraj to cleanse Ravnica and start over, and when discovered, he was consequently killed by Agrus Kos. With the fall of Momir Vig, the Simic were left in disrepair, until Ravnica’s subterranean merfolk emerged.
With the reemergence of the guilds and the rediscovery of Ravnica’s long gone oceans, through the sinkholes known as Zonots, the Simic were remade from scratch. Embracing long-gone spiritual and holistic concepts of the reappeared merfolk, they rejected Momir Vig’s corrupted philosophy and focused on advancing nature through purely magical means. Because of their new focus on the oceans, their philosophy revolves around principles applied to sea-life: the Holdfast, the anchoring, isolationist motion; and the Upwelling, the expansive, upwards-going motion. With this, they form a compromise between isolation and influence on Ravnican society, preserving nature and allowing at least one spot of access to the underground oceans. The merfolk Zegana became the guildmaster and speaker of Zonot One, the first to open. The nine Zonots are the focus of Simic activity, with Zonot Seven being home to Zameck, the new guildhall.
After Golgari incursions began to threaten Zonot Four, Zegana was replaced as Prime Speaker by Vannifar, a member of the Adaptionist faction who stood for a more practical leadership. Under Vannifar rule, the Simic started the Guardian Project to mutate their more intelligent members into super soldiers. Most Simic scientists and their creations now have gills, and have their experimental units in underwater labs called holdfasts, deep within the zonots.
And about that Guildmaster’s Guide…
We need to start saying that the Simic Combine is an ideal guild for artificers and wizards of neutral alignments with a knack for creation endeavours. The things we got in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica are:
- A background: the Simic Scientist
- A location: A growth chamber
- Magic items: a keyrune and a signet
- Monsters: Hybrids, krasis of three different categories, biomancers, skyswimmers and Zegana herself.
The things we didn’t get and that we will eventually create here are:
- A subclass: the Biomancer, a new archetype for Artificers; and the School of Biomancy for Wizards.
- A feat or a spell: Graft, Evolve and Adapt resemble evolution by making creatures stronger, but only the first one is indicative of cytoplasts, specifically, the “newer” ones of Momir Vig’s design.
- A location: In Zonot Seven, within the Tenth District, a huge chamber just below the surface has been cleared of debris and serves as gathering place for all the Speakers. The roof of Zameck contains many openings to the sky, covered over with an aether-infused organic material known as plax to create opalescent skylights, which makes the chamber seem almost as though it’s underwater.
- NPCs: Momir Vig, the elven guild leader until the Decamillennial; Doctor Nebun, viromancer and citoplastician; and Vorel of the Hull Clade, the guild champion.
- More monsters: Experiment Kraj, omnibians, hydropons, and aeromunculi.
- An artifact: the Evolution Vat.
What else would you like to see from the Simic Combine to play in D&D?