Characteristics of Ravnica
1. The World Is a City
The world is a vast network of massive cities and civic centers, but through the millennia, these providences have fused and confused themselves to other districts to the point where the old concepts of “borders” and “civic-planning” has been completely abandoned. The largest of these centers was the precinct of Ravnica, and the merging of these areas have spread this name to simply be synonymous with the entire plan of existence.
To simply assume Ravnica to be a monotone collection of consistent buildings however could not be further from the truth. Forgotten, catacombed foundations, uncharted sewers, massive furnaces, confused pipe and metalworks, wide and wild canal systems, make the geography of Ravnica dynamic and dangerous. Nature still exists, doing its best to keep its tentative foothold in the city, evolving with the growth of the city as best it can, but only with the help of some attention of some nostalgic Ravnican residents.
2. The World Is Ruled By The Guildpact
The Guildpact, an ancient magical document, was drafted by powerful individuals nearly ten thousand years ago, to generate a unifying law and created nine guilds to rule the newly merged city centers. Each “guild” fulfills some necessary role to run the city, like the Azorius Senate rules as the Judicial and Legislative branches of the government, judging and creating laws, while the Boros Legion acts as the police or standing armies to neutralize conflicts between guilds.
The actual document is literally a binding draft, written in blood and magic by the “Paruns,” the founding parents of the ’Pact. It was drafted to be a living, evolving document, but hard rules have often come in conflict with various guild interests. Still living Paruns and current guild leaders after thousands of years have found a whole host of loopholes to progress their interests without violating the ’Pact, however their are some laws that these leaders do not even dare flirt with.
One such entry in the document, legend has it, hints at a secret tenth guild; House Dimir. While ALL the other guilds officially deny the existence of a tenth, rumors and controversy can’t help but be spread in the social hubs of the hundreds of marketplaces.
3. Magic And Wonders Are Plentiful
Not only do the citizens of Ravnica rely on the Guildpact to keep civility in the vast metropolis, but the entire plane itself depends on the magics of the Guildpact to keep the plane alive and healthy. Because of this, each guild has learned how to tap into the infused magics in their landscape, as towering cathedrals slowly became pylons for red mana and massive social plazas the centers for white mana. Some depend on it more than others; the Izzet League being the front of major magic research while the Gruul Clans only tap into it when communing with their primal side. At any rate, if the Guildpact was every to be dissolved, the damage to all that is Ravnica would be apocalyptic.
4. The Gods And Planeswalkers Are “Silent”
While several guild leaders and legends claim themselves or their heroes as divine deities, there is no overarching religion across the guilds. Similarly, the existence of planeswalkers, which is a normal occurrence of normal MTG planes, are eerily absent. Whenever theologians and philosophers of guilds like the Izzet League ever hint at the possible existence of other planes, they are quickly silenced by an unknown force.
5. Fierce Monsters Roam the World
The city planet has its own deadly ecology, even with the reduced influence of Mother Nature. To combat the city sprawl, normally diminutive creatures like spiders and lizards grow to gargantuan sizes to combat the oppressive stress of the city. Add the fact every alleyway can easily hide a cutpurse who values your life less than the coin you carry, only a fool or a lunatic travels alone or unarmed.
6. Familiar Races Aren’t What You Expect
Typical fantasy stereotypes don’t apply to Ravnican heroes. In many Dungeons & Dragons settings, elves are wise, benevolent forest dwellers who guard their homelands from intrusions of evil. On Ravnica, with forests thinning and dying, elves are desperate and reckless to protect their sacred trees. Other classic races like dwarves are simply non-existant, while new, unfamiliar races like the vedalken have found a place inside the massive cityscape. As a whole, most these races are a small minority compared to the human population, and thus an adventuring party must reflect this limited diversity.
7. Lifeforce is Strong and Persistent
Whether it is because of the excess magic propagating from the Guildpact or simply a characteristic of the native plane, citizens of all races tend to have longer and more vital lifespans than other planes. A vibrant Selesnyan human shaman who appears to be no more than 40 could easily be celebrating her centennial birth year, and other massive sentient creatures like giants or dragons can live for millennia.
In addition, a creatures eventual passing often proves not to be the end of their existence. Due to Ravnica’s unknowing separation from the rest of the Multiverse, this means Ravnica has no proper place for entities to pass into an afterlife. Guilds like the Orzhov Syndicate use this for their benefit, debting souls well beyond their death or, even more vile, commerces in their dead flesh like the Golgari Swarm. While some guilds find life as a priceless thing to protect like the Selesnya Conclave or the Boros Legion, every Ravnican knows the others may prefer them dead.