Ravnica

The days have been growing longer, but it continues to grow colder. You work longer days in the hopes that your body will stay warm through the night. At times, your method works, and other days, it does not.

Today, you feel dispirited and can’t imagine anything keeping you warm as you sleep. Instead, you plan a temporary reprieve—a visit to Issar Roon’s study.

You make your way through the icy corridors wrapped in your warmest cloak. Along the way, you can’t avoid a glimpse at the rising snowdrifts beyond the eaves, sending an additional chill into your bones. When you arrive at the old man’s room, you knock quickly and enter without waiting for a response.

Well, hello. I must admit I had not expected a visit from you this week. The weather is much too dismal, and I find it hard to concentrate on anything beyond work. However, I feel I must treat this surprise with the correct courtesy.

The old man turns toward you, pushing aside a few books and papers on the desk to make space for an armrest.

Today requires a light tale—a web spun to make you forget the cold beyond my door. I think it is time I spoke of a plane named Ravnica. You will have need of information about the plane shortly, and its overview alone could take many days. I will do my best to talk solely of the plane, but I make no promises.

You wonder if the old man could ever tell a story without straying, but you keep the thought to yourself.

The simplest method of describing the plane of Ravnica is to call it a city. But that is not nearly enough. It is a plane that happens to also be a gigantic, interconnected city. Do not think of any city you may have seen earlier in your life. It is not like the town of Woodfalls over Green Mountain. That is an ant lost in the sea when compared to Ravnica. If you were to walk from one end of Ravnica to the other, it would take months—assuming you are not harassed along your journey, and that is a vain thought. That is not nearly enough, but it is the best I can do to describe such a place to one so inexperienced.

While the entire plane would be considered a city by any from another world, it is only the central hub Ravnica dwellers call Ravnica City. It is there where all government rule and important commerce takes place. It is there where the guilds stretched their rule out to their respective frontiers, webs and arms reaching far and wide with plots and secrets.

Perhaps I should briefly mention the guilds, though they each have such elaborate histories that they deserve their own tales. The guilds have been around for more than ten millennia, dating back to the same age as the Thran. Yet, for their age, they are no more advanced than the Thran were. Over the millennia, they have grown complacent, and innovation has become stagnant.

The old man pauses for a moment, clearly frustrated.

It is hard telling a tale with so many pieces. If I wished, I could keep you here for days, but I dare not. You have your duties, and I have mine. I will set the Guildpact aside, and as much of the guilds as I possibly can.

The Azorius Senate is what some may call Ravnica’s government, while others may call them rulers of Ravnica. The difference is subtle but important. No matter what position they truly hold, the Azorius Senate could not control Ravnica without the aid of its allies; the Selesnya Conclave, the Boros Legion, and the Orzhov Syndicate. Mostly law makers and readers comprise the Azorius, requiring others to fill the role of enforcers. It is largely due to the Azorius that Ravnica’s culture and technology has floundered since the Guildpact.

The Selesnya Conclave is devoted to peace, though even they have been known to join in the other guilds’ power games on occasion. They help others frequently and attempt to avoid chaos through action rather than speaking directly of Azorius’s law. They are one of the arms that enforce such rules. They are also the main source of religion on the plane of Ravnica, for there is nothing greater for the Selesnya than unity and amity.

The Gruul Clans are everything Ravnica is no longer. They are emotional, wild, and natural. Charged with protecting and growing the now-destroyed wilds of the plane, the Gruul Clans no longer have a place within the Guild structure. As such, they have been excised, and in return, they have grown wild. No guild works with the Gruul, and the Gruul do not work with the other guilds.

The Cult of Rakdos is cruel where the Gruul Clans are wild. Both are violent and antagonistic, but the Rakdos kill for no purpose other than enjoyment. It is they who cause the most trouble on Ravnica, and the Cult is often in contention with many of the other guilds. Yet, for all of their difficulty, the Rakdos have a place within the Guildpact, and they remain important to the plane.

House Dimir does not exist. To all but a select few residents of Ravnica, it is a myth, legend, piece of long-dead history, or paranoia. House Dimir operates in the shadows of Ravnica, most of its members unaware of even working for the guild. Instead, operatives believe they’re working for independent institutions or one of the wilder guilds. It does exist, however, and it is the greatest catalyst for change within Ravnica.

It seems even minute summaries of the guilds is dangerous. I will refrain from describing the remaining five and save that for another day. I shall attempt to finish this tale on the topic I began with—the plane itself.

Ravnica City is the center of the plane, but not all guilds hold sway there. Some are consolidated in their respective territories; the Dimir and Rakdos hidden in the Undercity, and the Gruul roaming wherever they please. While each area has its own qualities and traits that associates them with a guild, each is still part of the larger city. You will not find nature except in a few extremely well-kept gardens and strewn in the wake of the Gruul’s warpath.

Up until now, I have described Ravnica in the present tense, yet I have lied to you. This tale would have been correct had I told it to you decades ago, yet now it is history. The reasoning for my deception is a strange one; much of my tale is relevant today. If I were to take you to Ravnica, you would see a world still ordered by the guilds. Some still stand and others have fallen, but the plane of Ravnica was shaped by the guilds for ten thousand years. That is something that cannot be changed quickly.

Today, the Guildpact is broken, and the plane is in a state of unrest. Yet, it is a great time for Ravnica, for it is reinventing itself. It is not chaos that reigns, but a vigorous energy that will reshape and reform the plane.

The old man gives you a tight smile before turning back to his desk. It is more than he often provides outside of his stories, and you hoard it greedily. Caught up in your thoughts of Ravnica and the old man’s smile, you remain warm on your return walk.