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World building is often the hardest part of any roleplaying game. Modules make that so much easier, but getting started is as easy as looking at source material you find fascinating. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cross-over Dungeons & Dragons with my favorite Magic plane.
Ravnica is one of the most interesting planes in Magic: The Gathering and I have used it as a reference point several times in my career as a GM so I am utterly delighted that there will be official content (to be released this November). A world comprised of guilds with various goals, a city built like a maze, and interesting social dynamics and policies make for an exceptionally dynamic setting.
Where do you begin?
The beginning is a good place. What does the world of Ravnia look like? The plane of Ravnica is comprised entirely of a cityscape. It just so happens that the major city known as Ravnica became the name of the plane as it became consumed by metropolis. Tall buildings pierce above the fog at various points allowing the rich a sense of separation from what they consider filth below. Lush forests on the edges of town have grown through the long-abandoned housing and broken apart the cobblestone roadways with their gnarled roots. Rivers of slow-moving, viscous sludge waft toxic fumes over stone bridges and inhabitants walk through wearing gas masks and treated leather to protect themselves. Goblins skitter into gutters with materials for their next great experiments. In the shadows and back alleys, Gorgon’s speak of an uprising and no longer being considered the dregs of society.
Soon, a revolution will come if something is not done.
Everyday life is regularly involving the 10 Guilds: Azorius Senate, House Dimir, Cult of Rakdos, Gruul Clans, Selesnya Conclave, Orzhov Syndicate, Izzet League, Golgari Swarm, Boros Legion, and Simic Combine. While most inhabitants do not belong to any guild, the Guilds play a major part in how the law is decided and enforced to the daily routine of surviving. There is a living Guildpact in the form of Jace Beleren where the Guilds cannot actively interfere in one another’s work, though that does not stop them from scuffling or performing all-out war.
What do the players look like?
If this were the Magic storyline, this would be The Gatewatch and natives to the plane. For you as a player or GM? That’s a little bit harder to say.
While jumping planes hasn’t been a consideration for most Dungeons & Dragons modules, it very well could now that they’ve dipped outside of the Forgotten Realms. If we were to consider the Gatewatch in D&D terms, we might say that Liliana is most definitely a Warlock given her deal with demons for power. Gideon is likely just a Fighter that chose the Eldritch Knight archetype. Tamiyo is very likely just a Bard of the College of Lore. Figuring out what character classes a fictional character might be from another game paradigm is phenomenal. As for a standard Dungeons & Dragons party, I cannot venture to imagine what Wizards of the Coast has cooked up as plot hooks.
Who is the Villain?
I always like to have options based on the playgroup, but given the nature of Ravnica, the big-bad really depends on the levels being played. If the content follows the current Magic: The Gathering storyline then we’ll be seeing the one-and-only Nicol Bolas. Nicol Bolas is easily on the level of Tiamat in terms of power and destructive force. He is a centuries-old dragon that came about before most things.
For lesser villains, we could see anything from a mad Izzet Scientist, a Simic shaper having horrible biological experiments, a bloodthirsty clan of Gruul warriors, or simply Rakdos Carnival goes committing wanton murder in the streets. Ravnica is such a diverse landscape that anything is possible. Personally, I’d go with some kind of Golgari necromancer working against the new Guildmaster Vraska. Perhaps they’ve begun killing members of the city and pulling them under their thrall. Likely it’s some kind of zombie workforce and given the toxic nature in parts of the city they can go by seemingly undetected. In doing so, they rely heavily on charm magic to take control of key officials in the town, perhaps infiltrating their control into the various major factions that exist within the town.
Outside of that, maybe we have an Azorian Judge who has decided to dispense justice in their own fashion, Judge Dredd style. They could be going around sentencing people to death instead of detaining them, being hunted by their own guild. Any kind of trope involved with the multitude of Guilds can be turned on its side to be made into something more sinsister. Additionally, working for one guild as a free agent to work around the Guildpact can be its own hook! As is often said, when asked how much power is required, Izzet mages always answer “more.”
What’s the takeaway?
Ravnica is ripe with story hooks from countless angles. With 10 different guilds all involved in the politics of the city from one form to another, there is never a shortage of plot nor opportunity for mischief. As noted above, the players could be involved in guild squabbles, hunting down unseemly elements of the city, to even handling multi-versal threats such as mind-breaking god dragons. No matter what Ravnica has to offer, you can be sure that it’ll be electrifying.
What source materials do you think would make for a great D&D campaign? What classes do you think Jace chose to take? What other planes would you like to see made into Let us know in the comments!
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Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast