Ten thousand years before the Guildpact was signed, Ravnica boasted untold violence and brutality, with various factions constantly waging war against one or more of the others. Realizing that this neverending war would ultimately destroy everything, a council between the factions involved was held, where the leader Azor I suggested establishing a living, breathing enchantment that would end the violence and ensure the survival of the factions. While some had initial disagreements, they all eventually concurred that such a pact was the best chance of survival. Each of them signed the Guildpact, and over time, these factions became the Guilds of Ravnica.
The power of the Guildpact was subtle; it prevented any guild from dabbling into the business of any other guild or disturbing the stable power balance among the ten by twisting circumstance and coincidence to nullify the disruptive guild’s actions. While the Guildpact was credited with bringing relative peace and prosperity to the plane, sporadic clashes between guilds still occurred. Despite any conflicts between the guilds at a particular time though, the anniversary of the Guildpact’s signing was celebrated every year with a day-long festival, where all the people laid down their weapons and made merry. This celebration was called The Festival of the Guildpact. During the Decamillennial Celebration of 10,000 ZC, the Guildpact was broken. The ancient balance was shattered, and Ravnica was thrown in chaos.
After this event, the guilds were officially disbanded. Many of them were forcefully torn down due to the long simmering unrest the guildless held towards their masters. There were however, remainders of the guilds present. The former guilds, however, were not long to rest, and they reestablished, many under new leadership. Some adopted a new purpose, as the original Guildpact had bound them to a specific task for over ten thousand years, and the guildless had grown weary of some of their morally questionable activities. Most guilds, however, follow the same basic structure they always had, as habit and traditions are forces at least as strong as the Guildpact.
In 10,075 ZC, the Izzet guildmaster discovered that Azor I had created a contingency plan that would take effect if the magic of the Guildpact was ever broken. An intricate network of leylines sprawled across the districts of Ravnica, called the Implicit Maze, offered a test to the guilds. If they could cooperate to solve the maze, they would secure the power of a new Guildpact. That power was eventually bestowed upon Jace Beleren, who became the Living Guildpact. Any law that he verbally confirms becomes legally binding.
As Jace is a planeswalker, his attention never remains focused on Ravnica for long. During his absences, the guilds return to their old habits of fighting with each other over the smallest scraps of influence or territory. Meanwhile an outside influence has taken control over several guilds, for reasons yet unknown. After Niv-Mizzet reveals his knowledge of the existence of other planes, planeswalkers, and the threat of Nicol Bolas, he has Ral Zarek turn Project Lightning Bug into a beacon to call other planeswalkers to help fight Bolas. Ral’s efforts to convince the Ravnican guilds to cooperate with Niv-Mizzet’s plan were met with resistance from every quarter. Even bringing them together for a single meeting seemed next to impossible. Every guild had some members who supported cooperation and others who opposed it. At last, a guild summit was convened at New Prahv to discuss the growing tensions between the guilds. Isperia proposed a radical idea: cooperation. After a contentious discussion, Niv-Mizzet arrived to reveal the real threat they were facing. The Firemind then proposed to implement the “fail-safe” and grant him the power of the Living Guildpact. Although Niv offered to leave the Izzet League and become a guardian of Ravnica, many distrusted his motives. With that, the summit was adjourned until the following morning.
That night, Vraska met Isperia alone in the conference chamber. Simultaneously fulfilling Bolas’s demands and achieving personal revenge, Vraska petrified the sphinx. In the morning, the guildleaders reconvened, only to find Isperia turned to stone. All hopes for cooperation now seemed shattered. Not long after, Ral Zarek activated the Interplanar Beacon and at the same time Nicol Bolas arrived on the plane. As of this, the War of the Spark would begin.
As summarized above and as you may know, there are three main canonical storylines set in Ravnica. Early in January 2019 I started my own Ravnica campaign, divided in five parts, and loosely based on the canonical storyline up to War of the Spark.
- Crime and Prejudice sees a few guild members acting together in order to win some gold and reputation as they track down Krenko, an infamous goblin mob leader.
- In Executive Order #10, the heroes witness the final act of an immersive conspiracy, which shakes every Guild hierarchy and structure.
- When The Cat among the Pigeons start, a few clues start to surface, and the group is led to uncover the 10th guild, unbeknownst to them, breaking the mystical power of the Guildpact.
- Coming soon: The Race for the Maze
- Coming soon: Allegiance