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 Post subject: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:16 pm 
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I am currently planning to GM a campaign set in Ravnica and, if possible, portray its pre-Decamillennial environment. Being the overplanner that I am, I aim to have a working knowledge of the city's dynamics. I hope you may help me with my doubts. Here's a few to start off:

1. Geography. Is the D&D handbook supposed to make sense with any of the information contained on the books, the first cycle's in particular?
-The Ravnica book talks about a center close to Sunhome/Centerfort, which is a wide, flat, elevated and mostly natural stone square. No place in the map appears to fit.
-Meanwhile, the wiki says Districts are numbered one to ten clockwise around the city's center. The handbook's map doesn't look a tenth-slice of anything... or is the Tenth the central district, against all numeration logic?

2. Is it possible to locate the past Guildhalls and other key locations on the modern map?
Novijen and Old Prahv in particular, of course. Placing Grigor's Canyon would also be great.

3. Economy. Since few guilds sell their work or items, do the guilds live off taxes?
Might sound obvious, but I want to make sure. Many talk about Orzhov debt collectors and their racket in general, but not sure anyone mentions taxes once. The word doesn't appear at all in the first book. Sure, the book's more concerned with portraying the Guilds, but naming both in the same sentence wouldn't seem much of a stretch.

4. Meta. How much of the Prism University is an excuse to have PCs cast spells with no regard to mana colors?
It sounds weird to have such a big institution not under a single guild's grubby hand.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:13 pm 
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I think each block has had contradictory information about geography. I would choose what makes the most sense to you. I hate the interpretation I have seen on the Wiki where each district is under a different guild's control; that makes no sense. I would personally go with the map presented in the D&D book just because it is there laid out, but yeah, it would be missing things like Old Prahv. (You could say it was finally torn down in the intervening decades though.)

I think each guild works differently economically, but it is not really stated and I think, again, you have flexibility here. For the Azorius and Boros to work, I would imagine easiest would be some sort of taxation would have to occur, but additional possible income methods include a profitable system of fees (like Azorius court fees, filing fees, etc. that more than pay for its own cost), extensive land leases (Boros over 10,000 years accumulated land that they then lease out for commercial and residential properties, probably through an Orzhov management company), and/or contracts (Boros gets paid to field test experimental Izzet weapons).

Selesnya would work through sweat equity along with tithes. Gruul would just be the clans living in the wilds, bartering, etc. Dimir would get by through ancient investments and theft. Rakdos does traditional commercial business. Izzet probably has contracts with other guilds and fees to users of its services. Golgari are like the Gruul and live underground with their own economy, plus contracts for sewage and waste removal. Simic is probably relatively self-sufficient since the merfolk have been living on their own for millenia, plus fee-for-service healthcare and contracts with other guilds.


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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:43 pm 
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The Boros fabricate coins as means to help people with Orzhov bets, so I think they're allowed to make their own currency.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:28 pm 
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Selesnya would work through sweat equity along with tithes. Golgari are like the Gruul and live underground with their own economy, plus contracts for sewage and waste removal.

I don't really have a problem with either. Both guilds also seem to control the food production in the city; the Golgari have food banks, but I suspect they still have a surplus - or rather, they keep their worst food for the banks, as it's described as rather unappealing. As for waste removal, it's said that corpses found in gutters are just thrown into canyons, so I suspect they get their advantage almost exclusively from very efficient "recycling" methods.

neru wrote:
For the Azorius and Boros to work, I would imagine easiest would be some sort of taxation would have to occur, but additional possible income methods include a profitable system of fees (like Azorius court fees, filing fees, etc. that more than pay for its own cost)

That might work, though to be profitable I think the fees would be so onerous (cards show Azorius as quite dapper in their attire) that commoners would be unable to pay, forcing them into Orzhov debts which in turn would make one guild indirectly dependent on another... I'm not sure if this looks like a weird parasitic dynamic or fitting corruption.

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extensive land leases (Boros over 10,000 years accumulated land that they then lease out for commercial and residential properties, probably through an Orzhov management company), and/or contracts (Boros gets paid to field test experimental Izzet weapons).

So the Boros would gather funds as landlords? Possible, I guess, but... a bit weird?

In the Izzet-Boros relationship I think the Boros are the one paying, from the sheer number of gadgets the common Wojek has on their person - which I don't think the Boros make on their own? Plus I suspect they make extensive use of Simic workforce as off-combat nurses and medics. Can't remember whether teardrops are Simic-made or not, but their shipments travel through enough non-Boros warehouses that criminals are able to steal quite a few of them (mentioned in passing in Ravnica) sooooo

The Boros fabricate coins as means to help people with Orzhov bets, so I think they're allowed to make their own currency.

This sounds like a surefire way to have a wild inflation. Also, from how much it costs to have a standing army around, I'm not sure it's a good long-term solution?

So while the Azorius still raise some doubts, the Boros are the most puzzling to make economically independent to me. Speaking of which:

5. What does the majority of the Boros do?
Ubiquitous flavor states they're the "standing army". The Ravnica book says over and over that the Wojek are only a small part of them. Still, no part of the military is every mentioned in the day-to-day working of the Wojek, despite tackling organized crime and riots that could rightfully benefit from the guild that's supposedly invincible in the open field. Later sources point out that they keep in check the rampaging Gruul and riotous Rakdos, though the first isn't an ubiquitous thread and the second supposedly has a big riot every N years rather than a continuous grind.

6. How powerful was Savra's final ritual?
Savra states that a limited number of people outside the Conclave would be entranced by it. And yet, Agrus laments no one except the Wojek* is fighting the Golgari... which aren't affected either.

*NOT THE ENTIRE BOROS LEAGUE, THE WOJEK. Could the guild sound more useless? I get the angels are trapped, but wtf?

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:42 pm 
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I mean I'm assuming the Boros coin production is restricted at least in their regard since personal wealth is discouraged among them.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:03 pm 
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I mean I'm assuming the Boros coin production is restricted at least in their regard since personal wealth is discouraged among them.

Indeed. Still, the price of having a well-equipped standing army (whether it fights or not) has bent and even collapsed multiple nations in history, and has been one of the biggest expenses in national budgets since they became accessible knowledge. Just coining that much money would have its own problems, I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:00 pm 
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As a note, all my parentheticals are meant to be examples. Also, my job involves a lot of urban politics and policy, so I may be biased in a certain direction for understanding the guilds.

Quote:
extensive land leases (Boros over 10,000 years accumulated land that they then lease out for commercial and residential properties, probably through an Orzhov management company), and/or contracts (Boros gets paid to field test experimental Izzet weapons).

So the Boros would gather funds as landlords? Possible, I guess, but... a bit weird?

I don't think so. Something to remember is that the guilds are over 10,000 years old and have a reach that spans the entire world. This is wealth building over a time span that is incomparable on Earth. Even excluding contemporary exponential income generation technology, all the enfranchised guilds should have some degree of wealth that at this point no longer require active income generation. Over ten millenia, I think it makes sense for all the guilds including Boros and Azorius to just own land that they don't actively use, especially considering their civic activities (e.g., seizure of condemned or criminal property). Simple resale (like police auctions) is possible but also just turning it into passive income is legitimate activity. You would just hire Orzhov property management to make profit, pay the Orzhov some percentage of the profit, then keep the rest for general activities. (Compare to Selesnya probably uses as much of the land they can as possible, as they replant the city and build communes.)

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In the Izzet-Boros relationship I think the Boros are the one paying, from the sheer number of gadgets the common Wojek has on their person - which I don't think the Boros make on their own? Plus I suspect they make extensive use of Simic workforce as off-combat nurses and medics. Can't remember whether teardrops are Simic-made or not, but their shipments travel through enough non-Boros warehouses that criminals are able to steal quite a few of them (mentioned in passing in Ravnica) sooooo

I would argue it's probable they have contracts of both kinds and are paying each other in both directions.

The canon around the Boros has been in so much flux that, like the geography, you should go with your own chosen interpretation. In original Ravnica, Boros is clearly defined as having a large wojek side that serves as municipal police and a military side, while the Azorius have hussars that seem to have some policing power but were mainly like sheriffs that had specific duties like executing judge's orders. The Azorius since then have an increasing policing role with the arresters that seem to conflict with the Boros but I think could make sense if you see the guilds as increasingly uncooperative so there are just two policing forces.

But in the D&D book, it describes the wojek as not police but military police, essentially enforcing internal rules and ferreting out corruption and Dimir. This is a huge departure from the original wojek and would basically abandon policing to the Azorius and leave the Boros to basically just be a military with necessarily internal operations. This is okay if you think of Ravnica less as a modern, sovereign nation-state and more like constantly self-negotiating intersecting polities. For example, the Philippines and Mexico have internal states that claim a part of the larger state's territory and claim sovereignty. The Gruul (and the Golgari) are kind of similar to that, so the Boros being military that help fight and navigate these conflicts where they are hot makes sense. But, to me, that would make the Boros less of a guild with an everyday presence, unless you want to see like the Tenth District as perpetually partially under military occupation to suppress the Gruul.

I like a more political but calmer Ravnica, so I would make the wojek the regular police again, make Azorius military more like sheriffs with some policing power that both competes and cooperates with the Boros, and make the Golgari and Gruul have more tenable relationships with the rest of Ravnica where the Gruul hate the city but aren't constantly trying to burn it down until something pushes them into a riot. But if you want to heighten conflict, the Gruul can be made more of an existential threat to Ravnica, so the Boros does need to have a strong military presence around the Rubblebelt and focuses on that, while Azorius moves into the everyday policing role.


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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:07 pm 
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Not helped is that the Azorius also do root out the Dimir.

In effect the Azorius and Boros overlap in everything except government and coin-production.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:14 pm 
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I am currently planning to GM a campaign set in Ravnica and, if possible, portray its pre-Decamillennial environment. Being the overplanner that I am, I aim to have a working knowledge of the city's dynamics. I hope you may help me with my doubts. Here's a few to start off:

1. Geography. Is the D&D handbook supposed to make sense with any of the information contained on the books, the first cycle's in particular?
-The Ravnica book talks about a center close to Sunhome/Centerfort, which is a wide, flat, elevated and mostly natural stone square. No place in the map appears to fit.
-Meanwhile, the wiki says Districts are numbered one to ten clockwise around the city's center. The handbook's map doesn't look a tenth-slice of anything... or is the Tenth the central district, against all numeration logic?


A thing to think about is the first ravnica block happened ~60+ years before the present with many of them falling into chaos and such. Like much of the city was restricted in the that time as guides lost control of lands or had new lands built ect.

Canon-wise they talk on Gruul and Golgari moving into places and taking over and Orzhov taking lands ect happening a lot of times, so I feel like where and how much each guild owns is always in a bit of flux more so the father from the central power of the guilds.

Quote:
2. Is it possible to locate the past Guildhalls and other key locations on the modern map?
Novijen and Old Prahv in particular, of course. Placing Grigor's Canyon would also be great.


Likely if you looked through stuff (I think the RtR pw guide said New Prahv was built over the ruins of Old Prahv but might be wrong), otherwise up to you to make up

Quote:
In the Izzet-Boros relationship I think the Boros are the one paying, from the sheer number of gadgets the common Wojek has on their person - which I don't think the Boros make on their own?


From the Art book it says their is a section of the Boros that work with the Izzet for gadgets, implying the Boros do somewhat makes thier own stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Ravnica Q&A
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:19 pm 
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neru wrote:
Over ten millenia, I think it makes sense for all the guilds including Boros and Azorius to just own land that they don't actively use, especially considering their civic activities (e.g., seizure of condemned or criminal property). Simple resale (like police auctions) is possible but also just turning it into passive income is legitimate activity.

Quote:
The Azorius since then have an increasing policing role with the arresters that seem to conflict with the Boros but I think could make sense if you see the guilds as increasingly uncooperative so there are just two policing forces.

That would be a good pattern for post-Decamillennial society? Since the Boros aren't compelled by the Guildpact to enforce the law, they can pick their fights and thus rent in Boros-owned neighborhoods would include dedicated Wojek protection. Not unlike some Orzhov-controlled zones, but you go find someone with the guts to tell that to a Boros. In their defense, they would commit resources to territories they don't directly own to curb riots.

...and showing petty turf friction from the supposedly righteous guilds would add weight to the Gateless' plight. Very cool stuff, and I hope to use that, but it all seems to fit a post-Guildpact Ravnica more.

Quote:
I would argue it's probable [Boros and Izzet] have contracts of both kinds and are paying each other in both directions.

For sure, it makes sense, I was mostly talking about net flux of currency.

I'll ponder over the rest of your post. Making the Gruul have a wide spectrum of relationships with the city itself would help to insure every guild is playable, with the die-hard anarchists pounding at the borders of the structured Precincts and the less radical building fiercely independent communities in the city proper and trying to restore some of the curbed nature.

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Quote:
2. Is it possible to locate the past Guildhalls and other key locations on the modern map?


Likely if you looked through stuff (I think the RtR pw guide said New Prahv was built over the ruins of Old Prahv but might be wrong)

The guide states (and wiki also reports, pretty sure) "The site of Prahv's ruins has been given over to nature and has become a wilderness preserve."

...which is a weird throwaway line, since it looks like a weirdly environmentalist decision from the Azorius at best, and an unintentional gift to the Gruul and the Golgari at worst. One can pretend that means it was given to the Selesnya, but...

Also, some of that locations (like the canyon and the very center of Ravnica) are either massive or culturally important landmarks that I find hard to believe they were simply leveled or forgotten over a few decades.

Quote:
From the Art book it says their is a section of the Boros that work with the Izzet for gadgets, implying the Boros do somewhat makes thier own stuff.

Ah, you're right! Still think the Izzet are paid for that, but it makes perfect sense for :w: guilds to have some artifice capabilities.

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