Guildmaster’s Guide To Ravnica, by Wizards RPG Team
What would a fantasy world be like if it was one giant city filled with quarreling factions? Aside from not seeming all that different from our contemporary world, it would be quite a lot like this book. As far as a book that seeks to present a potential alternate world for one’s gaming, this was an enjoyable one to read. It is not exactly the only book I would want about this particular world, as it would appear that the quests offered in this book are either sketchy or very limited, and would require a GM who was able and willing to create a great deal of the scenario for oneself. This is certainly the sort of task that can be trusted to an experienced Gamemaster, but not most I would suspect. Then again, I imagine that few people would consider a world like this unless they were fairly polished players and figures and were looking for an adventure that offered a great deal new after one had done a lot of the standard quests that are far more common. And for polished players looking to add a layer to their gameplay experience, this book should be welcome.
This book is about 250 pages long and it is divided into six chapters with a lot of sidebars that give additional details about the world the book is attempting to construct. The book begins with an index of stat blocks and an introduction that discusses Ravinca as a global city of guilds with different goals and a precarious peace between them along with a currency and languages. After that the author discusses character creation and the importance of choosing not only a race and class but also a guild and also contains some new options for clerics and druids (1). After that there is a lengthy chapter on the guilds of Ravnica, including their character types and backgrounds and guild spells (2), which give a lot of interesting suggestions as to how campaigns could be run with very specific parties of a faction, some of which are notably imbalanced (missing clerics frequently, for example). After that there is a chapter on the tenth district, which is where the adventures tend to take place, it would appear, and its six precincts and life under the streets as well as above it (3). After that there is a look at the guilds and how they can be used to create adventures by the GM (4). After that there is a discussion about treasures (5) as well as about friends and foes in one’s adventures (6).
One of the most notable aspects of a book like this one is the way in which it can help us to better understand the divide in our own world. A great many people have motivations which are complex and those complex motivations give them a great deal of conflict with others. It is telling the way that the authors of this book view the search for power within government as being a neutral activity (essentially selfish if lawful), while viewing conflict between those seeking after justice and those seeking to preserve environmental balance, and between those engaged in espionage, those involved in technological advancements, those seeking to recycle and deal with the dead, a corrupt religion with heavy mafia elements that seems cribbed from the Roman Catholic Church, and contemporary bioengineers with an unholy perspective on blending life forms together in genetic engineering efforts. This book manages to speak about our times in a subtle but deeply interesting way that demonstrates some of the reasons why we are so divided and so hostile to each other. If this book does not provide any obvious ways forward, it at least does a good job at showing the cleavages that made civilized order difficult to maintain.