Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

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Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

Post  Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:37 pm

This is going to be an RP based in the world of Magic: The Gathering, centered specifically around the Ravnica arc. It is open to anyone to join, as long as they read up on the lore so that they know their material. A separate thread will be posted for the profiles soon.

Rules:
1. No godmodding, no OP characters, and you must always get permission from a character's creator in order to kill that character.
2. Please be polite to the other RPers, of course.
3. Try your best to keep within the canon by reading the lore posted here--the occasional slip-up is alright, but please do your best. :3
4. Have fun! : D
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Re: Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

Post  Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:49 pm

~General Info~

The plot of this RP takes place in a world known as Ravnica. Ravnica itself is a single plane of existence, which exists alongside several other planes. There are a few people, known as planeswalkers, who can traverse between planes, and sometimes bring people with them--but for the sake of the RP, the plot will be centered in Ravnica.
Ravnica is a massive world that is entirely a city. The entire world is populated and urbanized. However, different territories will be different from each other. For example, while the Orzhov guild's territory will consist of many traditional European-esque cathedrals and banks, etc., the Selesnya guild's territory will seem much more like a city built within a forest--with much nature worked into the city, while still looking natural.
A good part of the population belongs to the guilds, and people have free choice as to which guild that they would like to be in. A while back, the guilds created a truce known as the Guildpact, which upheld laws amongst the guilds. However, upon the reveal of the House Dimir guild, the Guildpact was broken. The guilds have not resorted to all-out war, but they will occasionally scuffle and butt heads--sometimes being so underhanded as to hire guilds to harm other guilds.

~Guilds (Part One)~

In knowledge of the fact that all of these guild descriptions are very in depth, here, we will put short summaries of the descriptions of each guild--then, RPers can pick which one they find most interesting, and look into the info for it further in the list below. Here are the summaries:

Azorius: The government and law-makers of Ravnica. Generally pretty strict and uptight. Love making rules, and have so many laws that most of the time you'll probably be breaking one without knowing it. Spend more time making laws than enforcing them.
Boros: Large armies that work closely with the Azorius, though they don't fully agree with the policies of the Azorius. They are powerful and consist of many different kinds of soldiers. They are quite noble, and are all about justice.
Dimir: Everyone knows that the Dimir exist--but everybody pretends that they don't. The Dimir are very secretive, and have eyes all over Ravnica. They are often hired by other guilds to do dirty-work for them. Made up of assassins and spies.
Golgari: They are the large agricultural producers of Ravnica, and they believe very much in death and rebirth. They believe that the dead are always useful to the living. The guild is mainly made up of farmers, but the higher ranking members are often necromancers.
Gruul: A loose affiliation of savage clans. They despise civilization and want to bring it back to the bare bones, believing in survival of the fittest. Very belligerent, they often live up to their name as savages.
Izzet: A league of mad scientists who are into experimentation for the fun of the experimentation rather than the results. They often have grandiose plans that never come to fruition, because they either get sidetracked by other plans, or their plans blow up in their faces. Literally.
Orzhov: An organization run like a combination of religion and a crime syndicate. They're basically the mafia-church. They are in charge of Ravnica's economics, the banking and minting of money. Many of their members strive for immortality, in both this life and the next. Their debtors are often enslaved into the afterlife. Don't get on their bad side.
Rakdos: By far one of the creepiest guilds. They are also known as the Thrill-Kill Cult. They are all about partying, hedonism, murder, and just having a good time in general, whether that involves killing people or not. It most usually does. They run the sickest night clubs in Ravnica--go at your own risk.
Selesnya: At first glance, they appear to be as peaceful forest druids--however, they are actually kind of a hive-mind under the consciousness of Mat'Selesnya. They encourage togetherness and discourage individuality. They attempt to keep up an image of peacefulness and pacifism, however, their methods are usually anything but pacifistic. They cherish nature and promote life, as well.
Simic: In charge of protecting Ravnica's wildlife, they are skilled in bio-engineering and the production of medicine. They are fairly peaceful, patient, and a bit isolationist. Don't ask them about their old leadership. Seriously. They promote evolution and are constantly looking for ways to improve living things.



Leader: Supreme Judge Isperia

Also known as the High Judges, the Azorius Senate is Ravnica's ostensible government. The guild considers itself to be the mediator and controller of all other guilds' activities, even though most of its countless decrees are largely ignored. That's not to say the Azorius Senate is impotent, however—its legitimacy and reach wax and wane over time depending on economics, cultural trends, and the reaction to other guilds' overreach. At its best, the ultra-hierarchical Azorius Senate is just, farsighted, and impartial. At its worst, the guild is cold, stultifying, and bureaucratic.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

The Three Columns: The trias politica structure of the Azorius Senate has existed nearly since the beginning of the guild but had been theoretical and unimportant for millennia. With the dissolution of the Guildpact and the rebuilding of Prahv, the Azorius revivified the concept, and it has become deeply meaningful and reflective of the guild's structure and hierarchy.
Sova Column: Comparable to a judiciary branch, this Column adjudicates, arbitrates, mediates, and studies the effects of Azorius law.
Jelenn Column: This is the legislative part of the guild—the actual makers of law, including assessing the need for new laws and formulating their language.
Lyev Column: Putting laws into practice, as well as enforcement of them, is the domain of the Lyev Column.
The guild's uses of magic tend to fall into three functions: establish, maintain, refine (or alternatively: build, defend, improve). Although these functions might seem to map cleanly to the Columns (Jelenn, Lyev, and Sova), all three functions find expression in all three Columns. Examples include:

Hussars and Infantry: The Azorius military, the vast majority of which belongs to the Lyev Column, can be broadly separated into mounted and unmounted soldiers. Mounted soldiers—whether they ride horses, griffins, or large beasts—are called hussars. Griffin-riders, for example, are sky-hussars. All unmounted troops are infantry. Azorius infantry are trained in line formations—phalanxes. Some phalanxes wield pikes, but the all-tower-shield phalanx, backed by mages, is a uniquely Azorius tactic used for crowd control.
Lawmages and Hieromancers: The paradigm shift in Azorius methodology—from laws enforced by magic to laws designed to be followed voluntarily—has made lawmages rarer. But some magic is still required to keep the day-to-day peace on Ravnica. Lawmages create spells that compel or restrain beings and serve a constabulary function in outlying districts. Hieromancers create spells that sanctify or protect places or things. They are called in only for larger-scale challenges, and sometimes to protect wealth.
Konstructors: Azorius builders and architects are among the best in the world, and konstructors are those who enhance and/or accelerate their building projects with magic. The scale and speed of the New Prahv project mandated a small army of guild konstructors. The sheer height of the towers would not have been possible without them.

Elocutors: The Azorius tendency to talk patiently and at length is valued not just within the guild but also by the citizenry and other guilds. The term elocutor covers all communication functions, from simple messengers—who are often spirits—to conflict mediation. Vedalken elocutors are particularly valued in complex negotiations involving resources or property. Human elocutors are favored for conflicts in which emotions run high. The very best of them subtly weave enchantment into dialogue to calm emotions and encourage cooperation.
Arresters: Arresters specialize in preventing or stopping things from happening. Although the Azorius mentality is different than it was in previous centuries, the guild still values the status quo and believes all action is ill-advised. ("Action is but reaction without thought," the Azorius saying goes.) Arresters come in all forms, from those whose purpose is to stop needless laws from being enacted to those who arrest criminals.
Supreme Judge Isperia: The sphinx Isperia is the current guildmaster of the Azorius. The process of convincing Isperia to lead the guild took years, as sphinxes are aloof beings who value solitude above all. As crime and chaos on Ravnica increased in the absence of the Guildpact, however, and as its denizens more vocally demanded laws and their enforcement, Isperia decided her service was needed enough to trump her own preferences.
New Prahv, the Azorius Guildhall: The original Prahv, the so-called Spires of Order, was demolished when the Boros warship Parhelion crashed into it. Years passed in bureaucratic paralysis while the Azorius deliberated how, when, and where to build their new guildhall. Only once popular support built up and Isperia accepted leadership of the guild did the gears of reconstruction begin to turn. The site of Prahv's ruins has been given over to nature and has become a wilderness preserve.
New Prahv, at the other end of the same district, consists of three towering, three-sided columns that form a circular courtyard. The towers of New Prahv are the tallest structures on the ground in all of Ravnica. The three towers literalize the guild's structure: each houses the operations of one of the three Columns (Sova, Jelenn, and Lyev).
The towers of New Prahv also serve as an aesthetic representation of the guild's belief. It is an austere, immaculate structure, elegant but unadorned. White marble, alabaster, and steel predominate. Broad, curving hallways lead to large chambers, each of which has an array of subchambers and offices around it. Because the halls and chambers don't have many distinguishing features, visitors to New Prahv inevitably become lost without an escort.

Forum of Azor: This huge, completely flat, paved expanse is a monument to Azorius patience, tolerance, and outreach. It is a grand public forum where any Ravnican can come and be heard. To show their magnanimity, the Azorius gifted the real estate around the perimeter to the other guilds, and eight of them (excluding the Dimir) have "recruitment centers" of one kind or another in that space. The Forum contains three separate rostra, arranged in a broad, perfect triangle, where speakers can address surrounding crowds. In the middle of the three rostra is a richly inlaid Azorius signet set into the ground, about a hundred feet wide. The Azorius Senate used to enforce the law rigidly in this space, leading to its irrelevance and abandonment. Several years after the end of the Guildpact, Isperia decreed that the magic be lifted from the Forum, and now it is a healthy, chaotic, vibrant place where beings of all kinds gather.



Leader: Archangel Aurelia

The Boros Legion is the guild of righteous law and fierce justice. The most formidable military force on Ravnica, the Boros are efficient, self-assured, and passionate in the pursuit of their ideals. Sunhome, the Boros guildhall, serves as both barracks and focal point of worship. The floating citadel known as Parhelion II, restored from the remains of the destroyed Parhelion I, occupies an awe-inspiring place in Ravnica's sky.
The Boros believe passionately in law; to them it is the structure by which society functions and acts as the road map for the community's health and safety. Anything that violates the letter of the law, threatens the spirit of the law, or obstructs the enforcement of the law is considered an enemy of the Boros Legion. In effect, anyone who disagrees with the Boros is an enemy of the Boros.
The Boros zealously embrace justice and the good of the community, and they are willing to use any means to enforce those beliefs. The structure of this guild is hierarchical and authoritarian. Every Boros member knows his or her place between superiors and those of lesser ranks, and there are protocols for interactions among those different ranks. Ambition toward personal advancement is discouraged. Guild members are taught to respect each other for what service they provide to the guild and to society. In the Legion, everyone has a well-defined function based on rank. From the grunts to the angels, each individual is tasked with particular responsibilities to ensure an efficient execution of Boros ideals. Passion and zeal are encouraged as long as they fit within the belief structures of the guild.


~Important Places, People, and Policies~

Aurelia: The Belligerence Behind the Boros: The current guild leader is Aurelia, a former angel warleader who ascended to the rank of archangel. After the death of Razia, the Boros parun, and the disgrace of the previous angel guildmaster, Feather, warleader Aurelia won authority of the guild. Aurelia challenged Feather's ascendancy, arguing that a disgraced angel couldn't command authority or respect. Many agreed, and the few who didn't were quickly shamed into silence. Now that her authority is secure, Aurelia engenders the same respect and awe as Razia, the original parun. But while Razia was more of a figurehead, aloof and untouchable, Aurelia is an active, forceful leader who is directly involved with her underlings.
Aurelia has reconceived Boros battlefield philosophy and rewritten Boros attack plans that had existed for thousands of years. She has also deployed a new strategic arrangement of the troops, calling for more mass assaults with soldiers in great number. While she continued the standard presence of the Wojek police force and the traditional Boros army in every Ravnican district, she also imposed a superstructure of command divided into "theaters." There are four theaters, each under the command of one of her close advisors. This shift caused some surprise among the commanders of the Wojek and army, although no significant opposition to her decision exists.
Aurelia believes that weakness cannot be tolerated in the ranks of Boros. She espouses new battle tactics and coordinated assault groups. In effect, Aurelia has taken all of the existing Boros ideals and increased their intensity. To outsiders, she is a warmonger. To her devoted followers, she is slicing through old inefficiencies to achieve greater effect while staying true to the impassioned ideals of the guild.
There are so many ranks and tiers in the Boros Legion that most other guilds can't keep track of them all. Some are summarized here.

Warleaders: Angelic Strategists: In the past, this tier of ancient angels comprised the meta-tacticians who created millennia-spanning strategies for the Boros. Despite the scope of their knowledge, they were divorced from the everyday planning of battle or logistics of the guild. Aurelia has changed their focus to more practical implementations of war.
Firemanes: Paragons of War: The firemane angels are holy champions who specialize in single combat. While a firemane can outfight almost any single opponent, she will rarely give or follow orders, preferring to fight alone.
Battleforce Angels: This rank of warrior angels actively participates in maneuvers and the formations of skyknights. Some command their own legions and work in conjunction with generals and commanders. Under Razia, this would have been an unthinkable mingling of ranks, but Aurelia believes this is a more effective way to achieve Boros ideals while still maintaining the rank system.
Guildmages: For the Boros, guildmage is a profession that merges religious devotion, arcane mastery, and military might. It is one of the highest ranks a non-angel can achieve in the Boros Legion. According to Boros tradition, guildmage is the only rank that may initiate contact with angels. However, Aurelia has recently relaxed this restriction, as she believes in effectiveness above historical precedent.
Swiftblade: These are the first soldiers into combat. They're the elite marines of Boros specializing in assault and occupation.
Flamekin: Elemental soldiers made of fire who wear Boros armor. They fight with the rank and file but are also a focal point of valor for the soldiers—a sort of living banner to rally around.
Skyknight: Mounted Boros soldiers on rocs function as Ravnica's air force. They are well loved by most Ravnicans. Many have become near-celebrities, celebrated for their bravery and daring. They are counterparts to the Wojek League's Skyjeks.
The League of Wojek: Enforcers of Order: This is the division of the Boros that enforces law and order.
Wojeks protect property and the safety of citizens, and they investigate crimes and establish cases against criminals handed over to the Azorius. The League of Wojek is tasked with eliminating civil disorder, and its members function as peacemakers in crowded Ravnica. They also are expected to keep the peace between the guilds. To preserve order by any means necessary is the driving force behind the League of Wojek.

Skyjek: Skyjeks are counterparts to the Skyknight legionnaires. They ride rocs to patrol and are a frequent sight in the skies above Ravnica. They do not do investigative work and instead focus on patrolling and keeping the peace.
~The Theaters of War~
Aurelia assembled a special task force of advisors, each overseeing a theater. Each theater is a subdivision of the guild dedicated to a particular project valuable to the Boros.
-Theater of Order-
Overseen by: Commander Grozdan
Headquartered in: Kamen Fortress
Emphasis: Eliminate Rakdos assassins and spree killers
Commander Grozdan: A male minotaur soldier, Grozdan is assigned to arrest or eliminate Rakdos assassins and spree killers. Aurelia's orders state that the threat of random violence is a community-killing disease and must be eradicated. Grozdan's strategy is to target Rakdos locations and hotspots rather than focus on tracking individuals. In the past, the Boros have left the Rakdos pleasure clubs alone until there was a killing or other mayhem that spilled beyond its doors. But now, Grozdan's forces are targeting the clubs—even the ones that make a pretense of being legal establishments. So far, this hasn't affected the Rakdos all that much. Most of their clubs move around so frequently that the Boros can't stamp them out. But Grozdan is very aggressive, even to the point that the Rakdos are getting quite annoyed with him.
-Theater of Integrity-
Overseen by: Lieutenant Anksa
Headquartered in: Zelzo Base
Emphasis: Dimir and other underworld activities
Anksa, investigator of corruption: Lieutenant Anksa is a female Wojek—the youngest ever to reach her rank. She has been placed in charge of a task force to end the criminal activities of Dimir. She is also tasked with investigating the web of crime that extends into the Orzhov and possibly other guilds as well. At the behest of Aurelia, Anksa has appointed a special group to look into a new Izzet invention—part of the Warmind Initiative—that neutralizes spirits. Internally, the group is called the Dead Brigade. Aurelia is paranoid about ghosts, particularly the Orzhov Ghost Council, and wants to eliminate the threat.
-Theater of Fortification-
Overseen by: Advisor Tajic, First Guildmage of the Legion
Headquartered in: Sunhome
Emphasis: Warmind Initiative
Tajic, guildmage: Advisor Tajic is the highest ranking Boros guildmage. He's in charge of the Warmind Initiative, which is an effort to collaborate with the Izzet to increase Boros weapons and battle effectiveness.
The Warmind Initiative:  At Sunhome, the Boros view collaborating with the Izzet as a necessary compromise to achieving ultimate soldiers, ultimate order, and ultimate discipline. Aurelia believes it is through the advancement of the means of war that the Boros will be able to achieve the perfect society. Some of the Warmind Initiative projects currently under way include:
-Using Izzet alchemy to build electrified walls, checkpoints, and warning systems around the Smelting District.
-Enhancing Boros soldiers with elemental-infused steamsuits.
-Developing more powerful armaments for flamekin soldiers.
-Animating stone titans and creating other elementals to serve as city guardians.
-Using Izzet magic to fashion more powerful siege machines, weapons, and battlefield traps.

-Theater of Recruitment-
Overseen by: Commander Yaszen
Headquartered in: Horizon Military Academy
Emphasis: Education and conscription
Commander Yaszen, recruiter of the youth: Yaszen is a male human skyknight who ascended through the ranks based on bravery and strategic thinking. He is now commander of the forces at Horizon Military Academy as well as its superintendent. Aurelia believes that to create the perfect Boros society, the guild must target the young, so while the other military branches have their own training centers, Aurelia has intentionally made this the flagship of their educational efforts.
Overseeing the Skies: Yaszen has established watches and outposts in outlying districts. He has expanded the mounted divisions and encouraged the breeding and training of rocs and griffins. Almost all the Boros's handlers and riders of flying mounts are now based at Horizon. Under Yaszen, at least ten squadrons of skyknights are patrolling the skies at all times.



Leader: Lazav

In the dark, slick corridors of the undercity lurks the unfathomable network of the Dimir guild. House Dimir is Ravnica's dark but open secret: the people know Dimir exists but they pretend it doesn't. The Dimir's role in Ravnica is to provide covert services that other guilds can't or won't, using secrecy as both weapon and defense. Dimir is hidden even from itself, using pockets of covert agents who are aware of only a few other contacts. Dimir agents leave no trace, destroying memories of witnesses to their crimes, and even going so far as to eliminate their own memories of assignments.
After the former Dimir guild leader, the vampire Szadek, was all but destroyed: his physical body was killed, his spirit was banished to the ghostly realm of Agyrem, and his rule of House Dimir was ended. In his absence, the Dimir guild vanished almost entirely. Some guild members defected to other guilds and others rejoined the Ravnican general populace, but all retained their memories of once being part of House Dimir.
Meanwhile, a being of unknown origins took advantage of Szadek's dissolution: a magically adept shapeshifter who calls himself Lazav. In a series of inscrutable steps and using a number of disguises, he claims to have sought out obscure magics that would allow him to commune with Szadek's fading spirit. As the spell came together, Lazav was heard calling out Szadek's name and mumbling about ancient Ravnican history; some believe he attempted to avail himself of the vampire's thousands of years' worth of residual memories. After the ritual was complete, Lazav's behavior became erratic and his schemes for power deepened. Few people, even Dimir guild members, understand what power Lazav has tapped into or what effect it has had on him. But some Dimir agents claim to have heard Lazav's whispers in their minds, believing he is somehow able to create tenuous links to the psyche of any Dimir guild member, past and present.


~Important Places, People, and Policies~

Dimir: Above and Below: There are at least two levels of the Dimir: the overt level, the face of the guild the general public of Ravnica is allowed to see, and the covert level, that which consists of the inner guild and the members Ravnicans suspect exist but rarely, if ever, see.
Overt Level: The Dimir are just like any Ravnican guild, serving a public purpose for the good of the city. They often serve as couriers, investigators, reporters, and archivists. They serve twin purposes: to give the rest of Ravnica a "friendly" face of the guild and to be the street-level eyes and ears of the Dimir. Many entry-level candidates to the Dimir guild begin as overt agents until they can prove their trustworthiness.
Covert Level: The Dimir are a network of agents, spies, assassins, and mind mages. The covert level of House Dimir uses secret symbols, runes, and signals to communicate, often in plain sight. Covert Dimir also employ various mysterious forms of mind magic, such as telepathic communiqués that are erased from memory as soon as the operation is completed.
Clandestine Level: But there is a level of Dimir hidden even from its own members. At its lowest level, the guildmaster Lazav and his direct contacts guide and manipulate the operations of the guild. Members of House Dimir assassinate, extort, and destabilize without knowing who made the order or why. Orders pass through thought trails and mindcouriers, leaving no trace of their connections with this deepest level. This bottommost level of the guild is protected by Lazav's memory wards, powerful one-way enchantments that allow contacts and witnesses to receive their orders but prevent permanent memories from taking hold.
Lazav: Dimir's Guildmaster: Lazav may be uniquely qualified to be the Dimir guildmaster: he is a shapeshifting mage whose mysterious genius flashes with telepathic impressions of the entire Dimir network. He shapeshifts into a variety of guises as his needs and plans require; he may step out into the Ravnican streets as an elderly widow to eavesdrop at the bazaar, become a vedalken hussar of the Azorius Senate to sidestep a checkpoint, or transform into a Tin Street merchant to deceive a passing noble. Some Dimir agents believe that Lazav now plots against Niv-Mizzet to discern the dragon's hidden endgame and twist it for his own purposes.
Duskmantle: Duskmantle, the Dimir guildhall, fell into disrepair after Szadek's fall from power, as the knowledge of how to find it was lost. Duskmantle has been restored deep within the Ravnican undercity, shielded by memory wards so no one really knows if it exists, let alone remembers its exact location.
The Ismeri Library: One of the Dimir's major locations is well known throughout Ravnica: the officially guildless Ismeri Library. The library is open to all citizens and is run exclusively by Dimir guild members. Many guilds—namely the Azorius, Orzhov, and Boros—all know there must be something going on within the library walls, but they have not been able to figure out what. The thought of crimes being committed in plain sight drives them mad as they try to decipher and detect what the Dimir are up to. The Ismeri Library is one of the centers of Dimir communication. Messages are magically hidden within the hundreds of thousands of books stored here. Dimir agents use the library to trade messages, gathering message fragments taken from across several documents. Ravnican citizens never know if the book or scroll they're reading might contain encrypted messages that spell out Dimir assignments, directives, or assassination targets.
Dinrova Heights: Mages' Meeting Ground: On the rooftop of a massive building known as the Dinrova, the highest-ranked guildmages of the Dimir hold counsel. Normally, the rooftop is closed. During the nocturnal rites, though, the roof panels open, revealing the Dinrova's bat-like architecture, as typical of the Dimir. Specters and other unspeakable horrors patrol the skies above the Dinrova to ward off any prying eyes or unwanted visitors.
Bane Alley: For those who have asked the right people and greased the right palms, Bane Alley is most likely the final destination to gain access to the tip of Dimir's massive network of extortion, intimidation, murder, and graft. Many a Ravnican with a problem has wound up in Bane Alley only to walk away several hundred coins lighter, without a clue where he or she just was. But when the person returns home the problem has mysteriously been solved.
Nightveil: The precinct of Nightveil is where the Dimir elite reside. Built on a tract of land that has among its features an elaborate natural system of caverns, Nightveil is an urban adventurer's paradise if one can get past the patrolling spectral guardians. Tunnels and gates twist and turn, leading to sunken crypts and high-walled mansions all in the Dimir style of architecture. Although there is great suspicion about the involvement of the residents of Nightveil in various shady plots, somehow they escape all attempts to pin any wrongdoings on them. This is due to the Dimir's painstaking erasing of any and all memory trails to them but also to their numerous agents planted in the various guilds involved with prosecuting criminal endeavors. Orzhov lawmages, Azorius barristers, and Wojek commanders all have agents of House Dimir among them.
In Plain Sight: Anything predictable can be tracked, so the Dimir have no special days, customs, or rituals. If a gathering at Duskmantle occurs, one can almost be certain another will not occur again at the same time or the same day. Some have even suspected that the location of Duskmantle is never in the same place twice, that the guildhall is taken down and rebuilt again like some moveable fortress. On the surface of the guild, the Dimir are encouraged to live predictable and custom-filled lives, being as normal as possible, holding steady jobs, and taking part in the community, but always keeping their eyes and ears open, absorbing all possible bits of information, and awaiting their moment to finally serve the guild.
Sleeper Agents: When Lazav contacted the spirit consciousness of Szadek, or claimed to, he became aware of several Dimir sleeper agents scattered around Ravnica—even some who are now embedded in other guilds. Szadek's intent was that these sleeper agents would be able to receive missions telepathically, "activate" to undertake those missions, and then magically forget their involvement again. So far, Lazav has only begun to learn how to control the sleeper agents, and he has been able to activate some to gather data about the other guilds. If he learns to control them more deeply, he may be able to destabilize, exploit, and terrorize the other guilds to enact his own schemes.



Leader: Jarad vod Savo

The Golgari Swarm is the guild that fuses the opposite values of life and death, fostering growth in Ravnica's decaying communities but also fostering decay in places of growth. The elves, zombies, insects, and undead-plant hybrids of the Golgari are like one massive, growing, feeding organism, collectively spreading across the plane wherever it can fit. The Golgari provide a necessary service in Ravnica, in that they dispose of the carcasses that civilization leaves behind, and mysteriously they also provide sustenance for the forgotten and the needy. They are the scavengers and decomposers at the fringes of the food chain, but yearn to be the predator at the top.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

The Devkarin, elves of shadow: The Devkarin are a brooding, winsome, and often ambitious race of elves who represent one of the main power groups of the Golgari. Of all of Golgari's factions, the Devkarin press most for the expansion of Golgari territory; they feel that most of the other guilds do not have Ravnica's best interests at heart and that the more land consolidated in Golgari hands, the better. The Devkarin elves are ruled by a high priest known as a matka, sometimes for centuries at a time; Jarad's sister Savra was a former matka. The current matka is Zdenia, a severe, black-haired young woman whose hands and arms are tattooed with images of insects and spiders.
The Lotleth, the ranks of death: The Lotleth are the Golgari's irregular faction of undead, necromancers, fungus-binders, and other members associated with the restless dead. Although most Golgari undead are mindless fungal constructions maintained by necromantic magic, the Lotleth do have some more or less intelligent undead among them, plus a few higher-ranked necromancers who speak for the faction. Generally, the Lotleth serve as a labor force for the Golgari's constant program of reclamation and expansion, or as a weapon for Jarad or some shaman's personal agenda. Sentient beings among Lotleth feel used and underappreciated within the guild, and their numbers are larger than they seem. The current leader of the Lotleth is Wratislav, a skilled but conceited human necromancer who enjoys parading his undead retinue through the streets of Ravnica.
The Street Swarm, shepherds of the cycle: The Street Swarm form Golgari's labor class, which helps drive the cycle of life and death by countless iterations of accelerating decay and seeding new life. This faction includes corpse scavengers, low-ranking street shamans, rot farmers, tunnel trolls, various elementals and fungal horrors, and most of the kraul (an insect-like race). Each neighborhood of Ravnica tends to have its own chapter of the Street Swarm, and each chapter is led by a local swarm-boss.
Jarad vod Savo: The current guildmaster of the Golgari, Jarad is an undead necromancer who managed to revive himself after death. In life, Jarad was an elvish archer and master hunter in the Golgari, and was the brother of the ambitious Savra (now deceased). Jarad learned the ways of necromancy and was able to rise as a lich after sacrificing himself to save his son from the demon Rakdos. Jarad now commands legions of piranha beetles and other flesh-eating pets, and can control the actions of insects and other decomposers. He has survived a number of assassination attempts from various upstarts, using the power of necromancy to feed off the power of his challengers.
Jarad maintains a council of shamans and rogues called the Cilia. The Cilia act as a combination of advisory parliament and spy agency and rarely all convene publicly or together at once. In combination with Jarad's insect minions, they act as his sensory apparatus to know what the outer reaches of Golgari are doing and as a messenger service to deliver instructions. It might be that an individual Cilium might be considered of higher rank than another by Jarad, but none know those rankings beyond the guildmaster.
The Golgari guild might have more changes in leadership than other guilds. The guild believes in the importance of continuous cycles, understands that assassination is a valid means of political conquest, and knows that being alive is not a prerequisite to rule.
The Golgari Swarm is not an easy guild to lead; the unstoppable and constantly growing sub-factions of the guild are like mindless amoebas, each with its own agenda, and almost impossible to control. Jarad has held on to his position by bringing more power to the guild by actively reclaiming derelict districts of the plane. He knows the power-hungry Devkarin elves and the decomposing Lotleth undead will eventually dethrone him; in the meantime, he works to ensure a place on Ravnica for the Golgari and for his own family.

Korozda, the Maze of Decay: Korozda is the new Golgari guildhall, an arched cathedral surrounded by an immense, circular maze of overgrown, fungus-encrusted ruins. Korozda is the lair of guildmaster Jarad Vod Savo and the place where he meets with the Cilia, his irregular court of attendants. Korozda is patrolled by an array of swarming vermin, giant insects, zombies, and gleancrawlers.
Stonefare: The Stonefare is a network of ancient, arched brick tunnels that wind through the Golgari-controlled areas of the undercity, polluted with sticky slime, fungi, and cobwebs. The Stonefare is lined with—and, in places, architecturally composed of—the petrified bodies of gorgon victims.
Deadbridge: At the center of the Golgari-controlled neighborhood of Deadbridge is a sinkhole large enough to swallow a church. Spanning the sinkhole is the Deadbridge itself, a massive platform supported by stone arches that are buttressed by vines, fungi, and bonewood. Deadbridge came by its name in a grisly fashion. After a deadly fire destroyed an adjoining neighborhood, the pit became a convenient, quiet way to dispose of corpses. The Golgari co-opted the sinkhole as a repository of raw materials, and eventually the guild came to be de facto in charge of the region.
Zanikev, the Great Rot Farm: Whenever an area of Ravnica has fallen into ruin, the Golgari seek to sweep in, accelerate its decomposition, drain it of its resources, reseed it, nourish it, and—eventually—claim the revivified sector as their territory. Zanikev is one particularly large Golgari reclamation zone that encompasses several former neighborhoods, an area of moss-coated and slime-choked architectural ruins where many scavenger species make their lair.
Corpsefloat Valves: The marsh-flooded tunnels and chambers of Ravnica's undercity are also a means of transport for the Golgari corpse trade. Valves constructed of fungal membranes close off certain sewerways. These valves open and close by Golgari command, allowing carcasses and other traffic to float through like a logging sluice.



Leader: Borborygmos

The Gruul are a loose affiliation of savage clans that squat in Ravnica's alleyways, abandoned zones, and ruins. Many of the Gruul clans have come to occupy the Rubblebelt, a broken thread of war-ruined land and settlements that begins near the outskirts of Ravnica's Tenth District. Warfare among the Gruul is constant and almost ritualistic; the Gruul believe that only the strong should survive and rule. The Gruul are the most disenfranchised and hold the most anti-civilization views of all of Ravnica's guilds, and as such are the most ill at ease in a world covered by city.
Borborygmos, the Clan Alpha:  Although no Gruul clan leader has ever managed to dominate or unify all the clans, one Gruul clan leader is spoken of in reverential tones: Borborygmos. An unusually massive cyclops and the savage leader of the Burning Tree clan, Borborygmos "smashes his enemies into paste, then uses that paste to polish his boots," as the saying goes. Borborygmos has defended his position as the Gruul's mightiest clan leader for several decades now and has killed many upstarts. But although he's still an extraordinary warrior, Borborygmos is beginning to show his age. The challenges to his leadership have become more frequent and his victories more narrow.


~Important Places, People, and Policies~


The Gruul Clans: New clans occasionally form under ambitious Gruul warlords, and meanwhile other clans are occasionally challenged, defeated, and wiped out. These six, though, have existed stably for some time:
-The Burning Tree clan, led by Borborygmos, is the most fearsome and powerful. This clan is also the largest and most diverse, having branches in several districts of Ravnica. The fear and awe inspired by Borborygmos himself allows this clan to keep a strong reign over diverse and geographically separated members. The symbol of the Burning Tree clan has come to be regarded by the Ravnican populace as the symbol for the entire Gruul guild.
-The leader of the Ghor clan, Ruric Thar, is a two-headed ogre who rules his clan with barbaric cruelty. He also claims to be the only Gruul warrior to face Borborygmos himself and live, although one of his heads is hideously deformed as a result of the battle. Of all the clans, the Ghor execute the most frequent and savage assaults on Ravnican citizenry. The clan typically creates encampments close to heavily populated Ravnican districts. Ruric Thar likes to terrify the "cobble roaches," as he calls them, with the boisterous, blood-gurgling sounds of his clan's chaotic assaults.
-The Scab clan is made up of a variety of races, including minotaurs, centaurs, ogres, and goblins. They are easily distinguished by their beastly looking scars and body mutilations. Scab clan warriors despise pretentiousness and false airs. They believe that the body is the outward form of the spirit, and that the more maimed the appearance, the more authentic the warrior. The Scab have engulfed or destroyed several clans in recent years, but the leader of the clan, a corpulent giant known as Narbulg Nine Fingers, has not yet deigned to challenge Borborygmos or the Burning Tree.
-The Bolrac clan is made up of large lumbering brutes, primarily cyclopes, ogres, trolls, and giants. The clan's leadership changes almost daily, since brutal battles for supremacy are as common as meals. The word "bolrac" is an old Ravnican word meaning "heavy hammers," and the Bolrac specialize in bringing down massive structures using mauls and battering rams. The only thing the Bolrac love more than destroying something smaller than them is toppling, crumbling, and then destroying something that was once larger.
-The Slizt clan is a clutch of sly, stealthy, mostly viashino warriors, although they have been known to accept the odd "pinkskin" (human). This clan has survived in the Rubblebelt by using three tactics: stealth, high ground, and ranged attacks. The Slizt settle in the highest portions of ruins and ambush foes with a flurry of arrows from above. Other Gruul clans regard the Slizt as skulkers and cowards, but all are cautious when entering areas with elevated ruins. The home ground of the Slizt clan is The Husk, an area at the center of the Rubblebelt that has many large and ancient structures that have somehow remained standing for many generations.
-The Zhur-Taa clan, also known as the "skull bleachers," is the only Gruul clan that claims to follow "the old ways." The Zhur-Taa are very close to their beasts; their shamans are adept at summoning and training beasts for war-companions and mounts. The Zhur-Taa worship the Utmungr, "gods of the deep earth," and await the awakening of an ancient boar god who will mount a fiery rampage and raze the over-civilized world once and for all. The Zhur-Taa stack large piles of skulls, humanoid and animal alike, as offerings to these believed gods. Their Zhur-Taa leader, Nikya of the Old Ways, is a powerful shaman who, it is said, can summon massive vines from the ancient layers of Ravnica's crust.

Skarrg: the reunion turf: In the gutted, cratered remains of a massive palace, a great bonfire burns, marking a place of tradition for the Gruul. Skarrg is not exactly neutral ground for the Gruul clans, as no truce is called and old grudges tend to lead quickly to bloody combat. But Gruul clans periodically converge on Skarrg from every corner of Ravnica. Giant boars are roasted and great battles are fought, and here the Gruul find something akin to camaraderie.
The Rubblebelt: Every district has its share of Gruul squatters and street toughs. But many Gruul guild members inhabit a discontinuous archipelago of wasteland zones outside of the Tenth District. The Rubblebelt is a mass of gutted buildings; transitory shantytowns; and strange, roaming, ruin elementals. "The Belt" is surrounded on all sides by more civilized areas; other guilds often attempt to encroach on this area and try to reclaim it for their own uses, generating endless conflict with the civilization-spurning Gruul.
The Old Ways: In the time before the guilds of Ravnica were formed, the Gruul were a collection of druids and shamans who celebrated and claimed the wilds of the plane. Obviously, the Gruul failed at this task. Some sages surmise that it was the moment when a Gruul shaman saw the last towering druid-tree fall, and the last sacred grove was dug out for a stone quarry, that the spark of outrage was kindled. That spark became an all-consuming need to take vengeance on civilization and those who worked for "progress."
In this current age, most Gruul clans simply live by the rule that "the strong survive, the strongest rule," but there is still a small spark of the old ways left in certain Gruul clans. The Zhur-Taa believe that the quakes that rumble across the Rubblebelt are a sign that the gods of the deep earth are awakening and preparing to rise up and destroy the "cobble roaches." The Zhur-Taa believe that the first sign of this apocalypse will be the coming of Ilharg, the boar-god.

Rauck-Chauv: anarch's "holiday": The Gruul observe few consistent traditions but love to celebrate Rauck-Chauv, an irregular, calendar-mocking festival characterized by several days of rioting, feasting, looting, and destruction. Scholars note that Rauck-Chauv honors the principles of the Gruul's anti-intellectualism, having its roots in an ancient druidic promise to root out the artifice that underpins the unnatural institutions of city life, but the Gruul just revel in the excuse to smash things.



Leader: Firemind Niv-Mizzet

The Izzet are obsessive experimenters, the epitome of a keen creative intellect combined with an unfortunately short attention span. The original mandate of the Izzet guild was to provide solutions for public works projects (sewers, boilers, roadways), but their experiments often produce mana geysers, spatial rifts, or arcane portals instead. As of late, their guild leader, Niv-Mizzet, has driven the Izzet to delve deeper and deeper into more dangerous and experimental magic. The purpose of these experiments is unknown.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind: Niv-Mizzet is the original parun of the Izzet League. He is a 15,000-year-old, vain, temperamental, and super-intelligent dragon. Niv-Mizzet has always been known for his unpredictability, vanity, and fiery temper, and these traits have only become more intense. Niv-Mizzet rarely stoops to concern himself with the day-to-day running of the guild, preferring to craft long-range plans and let his underlings implement the details.
The servants of Niv-Mizzet who make up his personal court are referred to as the Izmundi. Niv-Mizzet uses this court to guide his machinations and to keep him abreast of the happenings in the wider world. The Izmagnus are the most powerful members of the Izmundi court, which typically has five to seven members (some members are kept secret). Even members of the Izmagnus are not privy to Niv-Mizzet's highest-level plans and goals.

Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind: Nivix, also known as the "Aerie of the Firemind," is the home of Niv-Mizzet and the central guildhall of the Izzet. Nivix is a massive tower, one of the tallest in Ravnica. Every level houses Izzet alchemists, mages, and sages who are constantly theorizing, experimenting, and tossing miscalculated experiments across rooms. The very top of the tower is the aerie of Niv-Mizzet himself. Every Izzet who lives and works in Nivix has been hand chosen by Niv-Mizzet. Although none of the experimentations in Nivix seem connected, the great dragon treats them all as if they were part of one grand experiment.
The Blistercoils: The Blistercoils appear to be a series of gigantic water wheels, which many assume are used to generate power in some way. In actuality, the interior structure of these wheels are actually made up of mizzium coils that generate copious, and volatile, amounts of mana. The Blistercoils is a recently constructed structure; its purpose (beyond generating dangerous amounts of mana) is unknown.
Boilerpits: The Boilerpits are a series of underground passageways formed by intertwined high-pressure metal pipelines. This twisted maze is so labyrinthine that very few besides the heat-hardy steam goblins can actually navigate them. The Izzet have been criticized in the past for using these tunnels to perform grand (and quite risky) experiments.
Mizzium Foundry: The Mizzium Foundry is the only place on Ravnica where the mizzium alloy is smelted. Mizzium is used for many Izzet inventions, and the foundry is protected by the savage flamethrower-wielding viashino. The heat within the foundry is stifling to most other races, but the viashino feel quite at home in this hot and humid environment.
Chemisters: The chemisters are alchemists who forge mizzium and other elements into arcane tools. They experiment with new alloys, energies, and runic markings. The chemisters are highly competitive, which often leads to spirited rivalries and petty in-fighting.
Blastseekers: Blastseekers are mages who wield and control the arcane tools devised by the chemisters. These tools are not always physical devices or artifacts; sometimes the blastseekers manipulate orbs of elemental energy that float in mutual orbits, crackling concentric disks of power, or streams of lava-bubbling water.
Attendants: Izzet blastseekers and chemisters might have up to forty attendants, most of whom are vedalken, due to their natural focus and organizational skills. An attendant's duties usually include recording and organizing information (often under dangerous circumstances), acquiring rare items or elements (usually under dangerous circumstances), or completing experiments (always under dangerous circumstances).
Weirds: Weirds are the product of yet another Izzet experiment whose goal was to combine two opposing elemental types (e.g., fire/ice, smoke/lightning, or steam/stone). Izzet mages hoped that these contradictory combinations might create elementals that were more stable and easier to control, but, of course, true to form for Izzet experimentation, the actual outcome was the exact opposite. Weirds are even wilder and more unpredictable than elementals of their component elements. However, weirds can make potent guardian creatures or fighting familiars.
The Interlocus: Niv-Mizzet keeps information compartmentalized among the members of his guild. In his head, he keeps various experiments, research projects, and elemental explorations organized so he is the only one who perceives the way all of them intersect. As he receives the results from one line of experimentation, however chaotic its methods, he then orders a new line of experimentation on a seemingly unrelated topic. Niv-Mizzet demands to know the outcome of every concoction and elemental inquiry; even what might appears to be a failed experiment might later prove to be a key ingredient to Niv-Mizzet's larger plans.
Most believe him to be a batty, information-obsessed old dragon, but secretly, Niv-Mizzet is conducting a scattered, grand meta-project he calls the Interlocus. The purpose of the Interlocus—and indeed, its existence at all—is difficult to detect, as the sheer range and number of experiments that feed into it would fail to suggest any kind of pattern to most observers. But to the Firemind, all these lines of research help him get closer to answering the metaphysical riddles that perplex him.


Last edited by Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

Post  Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:05 pm

~Guilds (Part Two)~



Leader: Obzedat Council

The Orzhov Syndicate is the organization that handles most of the economics of Ravnica, and are very tight about their money and spending. They always make sure that debts are fulfilled, whether this involves enslaving souls of the dead or not. They work closely with spirits in that regard. They are also a religious organization, and one of their mottoes is "Entrance is free, but tithing is mandatory." They run many banks around Ravnica, as well as many cathedrals of worship.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

The Cartels: Reporting to the Obzedat is a web of cartels, which are the individually operating units of the Orzhov Syndicate. Each cartel claims different territories and markets across Ravnica, and each has its own internal hierarchy of priests, lawmages, enforcers, and others. Each cartel is ruled by a cardinal or kingpin whose role is somewhere between gang leader, bank manager, and high priest. Cartels quarrel among themselves over resources and markets and how best to curry favor with Teysa and the Obzedat.
Teysa, Grand Envoy of the Obzedat: The greedy, patriarchal ghosts of the Obzedat and the bickering leaders of the various cartels tend to be poor spokespeople for the Orzhov Syndicate. The human Teysa Karlov has taken a special, unprecedented position called "Grand Envoy," serving as the official speaker and ambassador for the members of the Obzedat ghost council. Once an advokist and lawmage who was instrumental in forging the current wording of the Guildpact, Teysa is now of middle age, her youthful resourcefulness streaked with wisdom and perspective. She has grown into her ambition well; her unique position allows her not only to express the will of the Deathless, but also to mold policy for her guild. Teysa is not the official ruler of the guild—the Obzedat still holds that position—but many believe that to cross Teysa is to cross the entire Syndicate.
Orzhova, the Cathedral Opulent: The guildhall of the Orzhov is Orzhova, sometimes called the Church of Deals. It's a lavish cathedral with soaring ceilings, designed to make anyone who enters it feel insignificant and out-of-scale by comparison. Overblown stained glass windows and oversized marble statues depict an array of wealthy bishops, enforcer angels, and ghosts.
Irbitov: the mausoleum district: When an Orzhov magnate is laid to rest, he or she is often entombed at Irbitov, an Orzhov-controlled quarter populated with mausoleums, memorial statues, and underground vaults. Irbitov is patrolled by thrulls, priests, and the occasional practitioner of necromancy. The carvings on headstones in Irbitov are said to change, accurately reflecting the financial status of the deceased.
Vizkopa Bank: The center of Orzhov commerce is Vizkopa Bank, a massive institution encrusted with guardian gargoyles and orbited by the floating spirits of Orzhovan debtors. Vizkopa is not only where the guild keeps the majority of its wealth, but also where most Ravnican money is minted. The core of Vizkopa is protected by a mighty, faceless specter whose voice is said to curse the soul.
Coiner's Row: Several Ravnican neighborhoods are dominated by ostentatious Orzhov churches, but one street contains more Orzhov priests and syndics (administrators) than any other district. Coiner's Row is named in part for an ancient forge on this street where coins were once minted (a function now served by Vizkopa Bank). But now the name has a new meaning, referring to the grandiose displays of coin jewelry and wealth of the Orzhov guild members who conduct business here. Coiner's Row supports many high-end shops and restaurants, and those who do not meet its high standard of decorum are not welcome.
Clerics: Practitioners of the hollow religion. Many of the middle tiers of the Orzhov hold some sort of official religious rank in the guild, from lowly ministrants to high-ranking pontiffs. Orzhov clerics may seem faithless compared to religious practitioners of other planes; they follow their beliefs, but their beliefs center around the distribution of power rather than a divine figure. Clerics are named by their duty. Sinstrikers castigate those who don't follow Orzhov doctrine. Absolvers release followers from their sin, usually in exchange for some lavish gift or favor.
Enders: Professional life-takers. Being a killer for the Orzhov can be a complex duty and can come with many labels. Some are executioners—giants who carry out the righteous judgments of the pontiffs. Some are spectral assassins who "sever business relationships" with snitches and other untrustworthy partners. Others are honorable soldiers who protect the public by eliminating threats. Should the Orzhov decide to end someone—either an Orzhovan or someone outside the guild—the Orzhov like to use the termination to send a message to others. Orzhov killings are often signed with some sort of calling card, or even advertised proudly with a complicated ceremony.
Knights: Paragons of virtue and vice. Knighthood is an honorable status bestowed on Orzhov members who have proven their loyalty and skill in some way. Each time a person is knighted, he or she is becomes associated with a title that expresses some quality of character. This quality need not be a traditionally positive virtue. For example, a Knight of Penance might be a knight who stands for the virtue of atoning for one's past mistakes, while a Knight of Despair might be one who brings woe to the enemies of the Syndicate.
Syndics: Maintainers of the fine print. The Orzhov employ a small army of attorneys, advisors, directors, accountants, counselors, and couriers who manage the business and administrative activities of the guild. Generally, these guild members are called syndics, although they bear a variety of names. Some are powerful lawmages, sometimes called advokists, who are capable of enforcing contracts and creating "verity circles" to encourage associates to speak the truth. Some are coiners, who lend money and keep accounting of the debts of various Ravnican citizens. Some syndics are traffic merchants who coordinate the flow of resources (legitimate and otherwise) and schedule transactions with outside parties. Others, such as fences, hide stashes or carry goods through checkpoints. Although they are not as ostentatious as pontiffs or members of the Obzedat, syndics wield substantial power in the guild, as they often control how the guild interfaces with powerful forces beyond its own membership.
Thrulls: Constructed from flesh, with mask-like faceplates made from devalued coinage, thrulls occupy the bottom rung of the Orzhov status hierarchy. They are magically created to work as servants; they can be found waiting on their masters, fetching messages, or guarding basilica entrances. Skilled death-priests and thrull-fashioners can create larger thrulls outfitted for even stranger purposes—as flying mounts, palanquin-hauler beasts, or walking armored vaults. Some of the Orzhov elite treat thrulls as fashion accessories, parading them around on chains of linked coins like pampered pets.
Angels: Unfettered powers:  Angels are rare among the Orzhov. Angels are traditionally manifestations of faith and community, and so most angels are loath to associate with the guild of wealth and greed. But occasionally an angel becomes disillusioned by the simplistic principles and military strictures of the Boros and desires a place where she can find proper respect. An angel who can aspire to be only a foot soldier among the Boros has the chance to wield the power of an icon among the Orzhov. Orzhov angels can act as executioners, commanders, pontiffs, or other high-ranking officials, but more often they tend to forge their own job descriptions. Angels fly by their own personal codes of order and execute them efficiently and mercilessly.
Spirits: Undead debtors: When an Orzhov guild member dies, his or her debt to the guild is usually not paid. Servitude that persists into undeath is often a condition of membership, allowing the Orzhov to command hundreds of spirit servants at any one time. Note that these spirit-debtors are in a much different plight than the ghost councilors of the Obzedat, who have achieved a state of deathless, autocratic power.



Leader: Rakdos the Defiler

The Cult of Rakdos is a large group of hedonists, sadists, criminals, and psychopaths under the leadership of a powerful demon named Rakdos. The Cult combines a destructive urge with the desire for pleasure. Its members are sadistic and cruel simply for the fun of it. Extreme entertainments and personal enjoyment are their goals. They want Ravnica to bow to their whims and anything that gets in their way—or happens to be walking by—is fair game. The Rakdos do, however, serve a purpose for Ravnican society. They provide labor and entertainment; Rakdos night clubs are renowned as the best, and most exciting, in all of Ravnica.
Rakdos the Defiler is the undisputed head of the guild, but beyond that, the cult lacks a formal structure. The cult members despise rules or anything that curtails their freedom, so there are no laws other than the precept to please their demonic master. They might attack each other on the street during the day and then go to the same revelry at night. On the surface, the activities of the guild are run by loosely affiliated "Rings," each led by a Ringmaster, and each with its own sphere of influence, commodities, and cult followers. Selfishness and hedonism guide cult members' actions, and there is little thought to consequences—ever. Members of Rakdos are driven by a desire to entertain themselves and they don't care who they hurt along the way.


~Important Places, People, and Policies~

The Rings of Rakdos: The Rakdos Cult is made up of the Rings, which are shifting conglomerations of people who pay tribute to Rakdos in exchange for protection as well as cult membership. Membership in Rakdos is not a formal arrangement; it's a sense of acceptance, of shared deviance, and communal justification of amorality. Currently, there are nine major Rings of Rakdos, some more depraved than others, each one led by a minor cult leader called a Ringmaster who ultimately answers to Rakdos himself. The number of Rings is malleable, depending on the demands of the Ravnican public, Rakdos's whims, and the power plays of individual Ringmasters.
The Rings have territories based around the physical locations of their clubs, and they enforce their control over these territories with violence when necessary. Many Rings run multiple clubs within them, which sometimes only last weeks or months before they are shut down by a mass murder, major fire, or—sometimes—by the law enforcement of other guilds.

Diversion Clubs: Currently, there are five Rings that service Rakdos-affiliated diversion clubs. The clubs sell all manner of food and drink, twisted circus entertainment, bathhouse amenities, and creepy burlesque revues. The bulk of the Rakdos membership is involved in these diversion clubs as workers, performers, or hangers-on. Cult members tend to be young and live a nocturnal existence of revelries and petty crime. There's a lot of violence between cult members, as well as random "family" groups who live nomadic existences in squat houses throughout Ravnica. Most cult members live hard and die young.
Debauchery Clubs: Currently, there are three Rings that service debauchery clubs, which are usually higher on the depravity scale. These clubs offer a variety of entertainment, tattooing and scarring, pit fighting, and other services. Most do not have an obvious storefront that is recognizable by the general public. Those who wish to frequent them must either pay a high entrance fee or pay special tribute to Rakdos himself.
The Torturers: There is only one torture-oriented Ring, and that is located in the depths of Rix Maadi itself. Rakdos leaves this pain-inflicting "entertainment" up to bloodwitches and their masochistic minions and toadies. This is the most depraved Ring, with sacrificial murders both voluntary and involuntary. One of the caverns off the Lava Pit in Rakdos’s palace, is filled with torture devices of all kinds.
Riot Mages: These mages lead Rakdos festivals. They often have dramatic, chaotic personalities and colorful names that rival the pit fighters. They know how to put on a show and incite bystanders into joining the festivities. These festivals are dearly loved by Rakdos members and hated by the general public, who are left to clean up the rubble and hold the funerals afterwards. Rakdos festivals are not only a reward to cult members, but also a pretense for Rakdos thieves to steal anything they can get their hands on while the residents are distracted.
Bloodwitches: These are a cadre of powerful witches who reside in Rix Maadi and are the closest thing to advisors Rakdos has (or would ever tolerate). Exava currently wields the most power, although she has to work hard to keep it. Most of the political maneuvering that happens in the Rakdos cult happens among these witches, most of whom are female. Rakdos prizes chaos and cruelty, so the bloodwitches cultivate these qualities while downplaying their own aspirations for power and privilege.
Roustabouts: These are the cult members who staff the diversion clubs and debauchery clubs or assist riot mages during festivals. A roustabout is any cult member who hangs around a club, helping out the Ringmaster with whatever tasks are needed, such as cleaning up blood spills or dragging the dead bodies out and leaving them in a gutter in another district. This is not a formal economic arrangement and a roustabout is usually compensated with something other than cash.
Spikers: The muscle of Rakdos. They got their name from a now-defunct group who killed their victims with spikes, usually through the mouth. Each Ringmaster employs spikers to handle any violence—whether it's controlling it or instigating it. Some of the spikers form gangs with their own hazing rituals. Fighting between spiker gangs is like a Rakdos spectator sport complete with betting and audience participation. Massacre Girl's spikers are particularly notorious for their random acts of violence. There are many ogres among the spikers. In addition to possessing incredible strength, they tend to be good followers, as they rarely show the capacity to think for themselves or even carry out complex orders.
Madcaps: These are the entertainers of Rakdos. This nickname encompasses everyone from acrobats to cabaret dancers to gremlins on unicycles. Many of the madcaps are homicidal deviants whose acts involve gruesome killing displays masquerading as entertainment. Often, the madcaps are the smaller humanoids who couldn't survive in the Rakdos cult on their own, so they compensate by being "artistic." Being a good entertainer gives you enough capital to stay alive.
Rakdos the Defiler: The founder and leader of the Cult of Rakdos, this powerful archdemon has lived for thousands of years. He is in complete control over the Cult of Rakdos, which is thriving and growing despite the low life expectancy of its members. While the proclivities of the cult members run the gamut between hedonism and destructive evil, Rakdos is at the far end of that spectrum. He embodies destructive evil, all in the context of twisted entertainment.
Rakdos's age and origins are unknown. He is capricious and megalomaniacal. He wants everything to happen on a grand scale. In one moment, he can be seen roaring with satisfaction at the sight of his performers. In the next moment, he might order they be set on fire while he laughs cruelly as they burn to death. He has an uncanny magnetism that draws people to him, and he rewards his followers by catering to their twisted desires. Carnage and carnal pleasures—these are the currencies of the cult’s guildhall, Rix Maadi.
When Rakdos is awake, he is the undisputed center of the attention. His whims are catered to, whether it is murder or mutilation, and nothing is spared to please the master. When Rakdos slumbers, which he does for days at a time, the cult members ratchet down the murder and chaos. Instead, the atmosphere in Rix Maadi becomes political and manipulative as the bloodwitches vie for control. Then Rakdos wakes up, and it's an orgy of bloodletting and mayhem again.
Rix Maadi, the Dungeon Palace:  Rakdos dwells inside Rix Maadi, a guildhall built around a lava pit in the undercity. The most direct route to Rix Maadi is down an immense stone staircase that leads down an ancient tunnel carved deep into the earth by a wurm and enforced with thick stone pillars. Rakdos members call this subterranean passage the Demon's Vestibule. The crumbling walls of the tunnel are covered in colorful banners and old bloodstains. These faded and ripped banners depict all manner of grotesque acts as well as promote diversion clubs and "festivals." This creates a dark carnival tone even before you reach Rix Maadi. As you descend into the undercity, the temperature rises. Everything is cast in a red glow from the veins of molten rock that branch across the walls and ground. Before Ravnica became covered in city, this section was a volcano. The top of the volcano was long ago stripped away and replaced by buildings, but the molten core and lava pits are still intact.
Rix Maadi stands at the far end of a courtyard, its ornate stone edifice flanked by jagged basalt pillars flowing with lava streams. Tattered cloth banners hang limply from metal spikes and ominous red light pours out through the giant doorway. The façade of Rix Maadi is the only part of the guildhall that resembles an actual building. Inside, Rix Maadi is a large natural cavern with a high ceiling where "chimneys" ventilate the immense underground chamber.

The Festival Grounds: In front of Rix Maadi is a vast, derelict courtyard with a large, defaced fountain at its heart. In the center of the fountain, a once-beautiful statue of a rearing centaur is partially smashed and smeared with various substances. The courtyard looks like an acrobat troupe fled without bothering to pack up their equipment. A rickety tightrope is strung across the courtyard. Several trapezes dangle from rusty hooks. Human-size wooden cages lay tipped on their sides and discarded spiky tools with dubious functional use are scattered haphazardly. On closer inspection, everything is blood-splattered. This courtyard is the site of the most notorious—and fatal—Rakdos festivals.



Leader: Trostani, the Voice of Mat'Selesnya

The Selesnya guild believes itself to be the voice of Mat'Selesnya—a mysterious consciousness they believe to be the manifestation of nature itself. All within the guild are considered mouthpieces of that singular voice, and they seek to expand their guild by evangelizing their message and adding members. The Selesnya message is personal as well as public; they believe that by silencing the consciousness of the individual, they can become aware of the murmurings of the Conclave, a group of dryads who serve as the spiritual transmitters of Mat'Selesnya's consciousness. The guild's goal is to subsume the identities of individual members, transforming them into instruments of the Conclave. The Selesnyans are organized into vernadi, which are small communes throughout Ravnica. Each is organized around a central tree and led by a dryad leader.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

-Selesnya Philosophy-

The Worldmind: The Worldmind, also known as the Voice of the Conclave, is the subtle transmission of Mat'Selesnya's consciousness. The Conclave also picks up on experiences and wisdom from members of the guild which they then transmit. The clarity of this wisdom is proportional to the depth of a member's devotion to meditation and his or her service to the guild. Through a magical ceremony upon death, a Selesnyan guild member's full experience (spirit) is "uploaded" into the Worldmind. The deeper a guild member's devotion, the deeper his or her access to the Worldmind. Some of the most devout Selesnyans have the capacity to wield immense power thanks to their connection to the Worldmind.
Temptations of Power: In a perfect world, the Selesnyans consider all of their leaders, no matter how tenured, to be fallible and mortal teachers, nothing more. However, some of the Selesnyan elders are prone to a bit of self-aggrandizement, due to their own personal ambition, and take pride in the growth and beauty of their own particular vernadi.
Violence and Hypocrisy:  A not-so-well-kept secret is Selesnya's hypocrisy about the taking of life. Because of their doctrine about the sanctity of life, one might believe that they would be stringent pacifists. On the contrary, they have no problem with throwing away countless lives in combat. One of Selesnya's main tactics in battle is to create a living shield of bodies to stall opponents until one of their massive elementals or avatars can show up to destroy en masse. Post mortem, Selesnyans make a large, ceremonial fuss about the sacrifice of noble warriors and how all life returns to Mat'Selesnya, but a mound of corpses is hard evidence to cover.
Keepers of Beauty: The Selesnya guild is the guardian of natural and structural beauty. There are entire sections of scrolls and codices within Vitu-Ghazi about the correct way to order the landscape, the best stone to use, how to arrange specific kinds of trees, and the most pleasing way to layer foliage. There are some who believe in keeping every stone clean of debris and some who want to arrange without there being noticeable signs, but all agree that beauty is a crucial value of life.
Wurms: Selesnyans are quite proud of their wurms. With Ravnica being a crowded bustle aboveground, travel belowground is something that gives Selesnya an advantage in locomotion about the plane. Wurmcallers are a particular branch of shamans who have found a way to harness and ride upon these massive beasts. On Ravnica, wurms shift the earth with powerful, subsonic emissions that displace the soil, rendering it into a liquid-like state and allowing the wurm to move through it at great speed. Shamans have attached armored chariot cabs to the wurms capable of holding several passengers on a subterranean trip. Mostly, wurms are used for defense, where the shamans direct the wurms' movements from within their armored cabs.
Elementals: Elementals within Selesnya are usually comprised of roots and brambles intertwined together. Sometimes, with the larger elementals, white marble chunks or slabs of limestone are wielded as weapons or worn as armor. If elementals are sufficiently large enough, they are often used as public buildings and temples that can uproot themselves and move to other locations or defend a vernadi.
Living temples: These are moderately sized to enormous organic elementals that dwell beneath the ground and exist for most of their lives as root structures with their aboveground vines and tendrils holding masonry in place. This masonry is often a temple or an amphitheater that Selesnyans use in day-to-day life. If threatened, a priest or shaman can summon the living temple and the whole elemental rises from under the earth, the chunks and pieces of masonry still incorporated into its body for use as armor or weapons. After it defeats its foes, the living temple then returns under the earth and assembles its stonework back into place as if nothing had happened.
Trostani, the Selesnya Guildmaster: The triune dryad, Trostani, rules the Selesnya Conclave. The Selesnyans, however, would say she is ultimately led by the will of Mat'Selesnya herself. Each of the three dryad identities that comprise Trostani embodies a particular Selesnya value. The rightmost head is Order, who speaks in a metered, plain chant. The leftmost head is Life, and speaks in a lilting, singsong voice. The central head is Harmony, who speaks in a silvery whisper. Each head is adorned in its own unique manner, with eyes that range from verdant green to shimmering silver. The central head of Harmony rarely speaks, but when she does, her counsel is considered by all to be sacrosanct.
Vitu-Ghazi, the World-Tree: Although Selesnyans believe that power is not centered in any one location, the massive world-tree Vitu-Ghazi still serves as the focus and guildhall of the Selesnya guild. Vitu-Ghazi's trunk acts as the cathedral where worshippers come from all around Ravnica, and also serves as home to the guildmaster Trostani and the Dryad Conclave.
The Ivory Oaks: This stand of massive trees is guarded by an order of albino loxodon warrior-priests. The priests wear silver armor with green tabards emblazoned with the insignia of their order. Their weapons are generally blunt and made from the Ivory Oaks themselves. The strength, purity, and longevity of the oaks are the reason why they are considered sacred. Oaths and ceremonies are conducted among the gleaming limbs of the Ivory Oaks. Marriages, treaties, rites of passage, and contracts take place within the grove under the auspices of the priests. The cleric who oversees the entire site is Troslon, a rugged loxodon who is a bit of a rebel by Selesnyan standards in that he puts the natural world before the desires of the guild. This is illustrated in his defense of the sacred tree of Belokos. High ranks in Selesnyan leadership would love to claim this tree for their own, but Troslon adamantly keeps the tree open to all Ravnicans, guilded or unguilded, who wish to pay respects to the tree or utilize the properties of its magical auras.
Sumala, the Topiary Grove: Imagine a massive, dense forest that has been meticulously kept so that every plant and tree is left in place but has been manicured and sculpted so that it is not entangled or encroaching upon the space of another. Sumala is a giant meditation garden and home to some of the most magnificent Selesnyan architecture and scenic artistry. The Topiary Grove of Sumala is known across Ravnica and is the masterwork of an elf woodshaper named Sadruna. Sadruna's designs and techniques are sought after, copied, and duplicated throughout Selesnya and other guilds.
The Great Concourse: This is a massive series of interwoven roadways that are elevated through and high above the forest canopy. Built from polished Bijan limestone (the purest and whitest), the Great Concourse gleams in the sun. Inlaid with dark granite into the central hub is the symbol of Selesnya, and this marks the area where massive gatherings of devotees are held as well as some high religious holidays. On most days, the concourse is just used as a marketplace and highway to transport goods and move enormous beasts without destroying the immaculately manicured forest below.



Leader: Prime Speaker Zegana

The Simic Combine is Ravnica's steward of nature and the wild; its mission is to preserve the natural world even as Ravnica's cities continue to grow. The guild seeks to protect the elements of the plane that are incompatible or mutually exclusive with its overpopulated, urban conditions. This is not easy, of course, because the forces of civilization are so prevalent on Ravnica that they threaten to subsume anything that runs counter to them. But the Simic practice a strange combination of detachment and holism that provide a kind of separation from the larger urban systems—a separation on which their conservation mission depends.

~Important Places, People, and Policies~

The Holdfast Principle: A holdfast is a biological structure that kelp and sponges grow on to anchor themselves to rocks or other objects on the sea floor too heavy for currents to move. In the Simic context, this structure has inspired a philosophical dogma that advises guild members never to stray so far from nature that they become "adrift"—a veiled warning against the excesses and ambitions of the guild's previous iteration. The Simic guild rank and file tends to stay close to their zonots for this reason, and Simic forays into city life are generally shorter than those of other guilds. The zonots themselves are sort of huge columns of sea grass or kelp in negative space, and the ocean far below is the object to which they are "anchored."
The Upwelling: The Holdfast Principle doesn't mean the Simic are isolated or xenophobic, however. The opposing idea, stronger in Simic culture, is that of the Upwelling. In science, upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon in which nutrient-rich water moves toward the surface, replacing depleted water. For the Simic, this is a spiritual concept that bridges disciplines and pursuits. The return of the deep creatures to the surface, the birth of ever-larger organisms, the pursuit of natural science and understandings, the slow addition of new zonots... all are upwellings. The new and enlivened replace the old and depleted, and that replacement is cyclical.
Zonots:  A zonot is a huge sinkhole that leads all the way down to the Ravnican oceans, and each serves as a distinct Simic habitat—sort of an oversized, inverted skyscraper. Each zonot has a different culture, ecosystem, and racial distribution, as well as a speaker.
-Zonot One: The first to open, Zonot One appeared in a remote area far away from the Tenth District. This is Speaker Zegana's home zonot, although she spends most of her time in Zonot Seven, where the Simic main guildhall is located. Zonot One is the smallest zonot and has a somewhat somber feeling compared to others.
-Zonot Four: The largest of the zonots has the marine troll Trifon as its speaker. The culture here is more brutal and direct than elsewhere, and the residents are larger on average, too.
-Zonot Five: The Simic tend to be insular, but this zonot has become a tourist destination—a place where the guildless can come to see the ocean as well as to observe Simic life. Rather than discourage this, the Simic created the Helical Stair here to draw more visitors.
-Zonot Seven: The only zonot inside the boundaries of the Tenth District, Zonot Seven is home to the guildhall, the Zameck. As one would expect, this is the busiest and most densely populated zonot.
Clades: Simic guild members are organized by clade rather than by species, role, or caste. Each clade is the natural-world equivalent of a project team: diverse individuals adapted to different tasks, yet related by a common goal. Clades often exist solely within a single zonot, but they need not do so, and large clades span two or more Simic communities. Some of the clades include:
-Hull Clade: This clade's focus is on protection, defense, durability, and the like. Its projects range from the strengthening of exoskeletons to the stabilization of zonot walls.
-Fin Clade: The study of movement is this clade's focus—both literal movement of creatures (especially flying creatures) as well as, for example, movement of resources through systems.
-Crypsis Clade: This secretive clade develops strategies for obscuring other guilds' views of the Simic. This includes literal camouflage as well as magic designed to hide knowledge or operations.
-Gyre Clade: Cyclical patterns and metamagic are this clade's specialization. Projects include finding ways to redirect or nullify magic and advancing nature.
Krasis: Any Simic hybridized lifeform is called a krasis, the catch-all term for such creatures. The new Simic Combine is careful not to repeat the mistakes of Vig and his bioengineers, but the guild still uses magic to coax new morphologies from existing creatures, as well as to combine traits from multiple organisms in one. Some of these are unique creatures that can't reproduce. A few multiply and become part of the guild's fabric.
Prime Speaker Zegana: The regal and reticent merfolk woman named Zegana is the current guildmaster of the Simic Combine. She is the speaker for Zonot One, the first to emerge on Ravnica, and she delivered the Fathom Edict that declared a new beginning for the Combine. Zegana is quick to point out, however, that she speaks at the discretion of the Speakers' Chamber, a secretive body of all nine of the zonots' speakers. She claims that the Chamber can revoke that status, at which time another speaker would replace her as the guildmaster. Many outside the Simic believe this is false modesty, however, and that Zegana controls the Chamber—if it meets at all.
Zameck: The Simic guildhall is not a particularly ceremonial or celebratory place. In Zonot Seven, a huge chamber just below the surface has been cleared of debris and serves as the gathering place for all the speakers, as well as a place where non-Simic visitors can meet with Zegana or other Combine emissaries. The roof contains many openings to the sky covered over with plax to create opalescent skylights, which makes the chamber seem almost as though it's underwater. Thick cords of kelp buttress the walls of the huge chamber, and algae cakes the corners and edges of walls and floors. But the main chamber floor is clear, with the exception of a large table in the shape of a loose spiral, with a slightly elevated podium at its center.
The Helical Stair: At Zonot Five, an enormous column of marine plant matter has been coaxed by magic to grow steadily up the walls of the zonot in a gentle spiral. Stairs have been carved in the spiral (and de-slimed), forming a long path by which surface dwellers can walk down to sea level. This is a Simic outreach to the people of Ravnica—a place where its denizens can see, touch, step into, and even swim through the cold oceans they forgot millennia ago.
Jezeru, the Lake District: In recent years, the sentient among the Simic have collectively realized that they risk over-isolation in their zonots. In an effort to increase relevance and visibility, the Simic have made conscious efforts to bring their guild aboveground. The most dramatic example of these efforts is Jezeru, an entire district that now lies underwater. The water is only several feet deep in most of this shallow, natural valley area, although at its deepest it reaches forty feet or so. Terrestrial creatures can navigate the district via flying Simic "ferry" creatures as well as by stone walkways kept afloat by oversized pneumatocyst growths.

~Guildless~

If one so desires, they do not have to join any one guild in particular. If they want, they may remain unassociated to any guild. However, of course, while this gives them a certain degree of freedom, it also means that they will not be granted the boons that members of guilds would be granted normally. Some people, however, are brought into guilds simply by being born into it. However, those who are not born into guilds have the choice as to whether they would like to join a guild, or not. On top of that, those who travel with planeswalkers from other planes to Ravnica of course will not be associated with any guild. If they plan to stay for an extended amount of time, they may choose to join a guild or not.
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Re: Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

Post  Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:09 pm

~Mana Types~

There are five different types of mana usable in Ravnica--red, blue, white, black, and green. Different kinds of mana in particular are used by different guilds--and mana must always be used to cast spells. The mana itself is drawn from the land in Ravnica. Blue mana is most plentiful near bodies of water, red mana is most plentiful near mountains, white mana is most plentiful near plains, black mana is most plentiful near swamps, and green mana is most plentiful near forests. Individuals will store mana inside of themselves for later use, and may recharge their mana when they are in any area that they can draw mana from. The colors of mana that the guilds specialize in are as follows:

Azorius: White and Blue
Boros: White and Red
Dimir: Blue and Black
Golgari: Green and Black
Gruul: Red and Green
Izzet: Red and Blue
Orzhov: Black and White
Rakdos: Black and Red
Selesnya: White and Green
Simic: Green and Blue

These colors are the colors most usually used by the respective guilds, and also the types of mana that defines the types of spells that the guilds will each use. Every person in Ravnica has the potential to use mana. Mana can be drawn from anywhere, but will be most plentiful and easy to get in their respective areas.
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Re: Ravnica: City of Guilds (Lore)

Post  Akikazemoon on Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:22 pm

There are many different kinds of races living in Ravnica. RPers can pick from any of these races while making their characters. These races are races that are naturally found in Ravnica--if your character is from another plane, you'll have to explain it and list the race and plane they are coming from. Also, those characters will need approval from the mods.
Here are the races to pick from, from Ravnica:

-Humans (found in every guild)
-Elves (mostly found in Selesnya, Golgari, and Simic)
-Angels (mostly found in Boros, occasionally in Orzhov) (females only)
-Vampires (sometimes found in Dimir and Orzhov)
-Gorgons (mostly found in Golgari)
-Vedalken (hairless, human-like beings with blue skin) (mostly found in Azorius)
-Merfolk (amphibious humanoids) (mostly found in Simic)
-Imps (mostly found in Rakdos)
-Centaurs (mostly found in Selesnya)
-Dryads (mostly found in Selesnya)
-Devils (mostly found in Rakdos)
-Demons (mostly found in Rakdos)
-Minotaurs (mostly found in Boros and sometimes Gruul)
-Loxodons (elephant-people) (mostly found in Selesnya)
-Sphinxes (mostly found in Azorius)
-Spirits (found everywhere, but especially Orzhov)
-Zombies (found everywhere, but especially Rakdos and Golgari)
-Trolls (found mostly in Gruul and Golgari)
-Ogres (found mostly in Gruul)
-Cyclopes (found mostly in Gruul and sometimes Boros)
-Viashino (lizard-people) (found mostly in Gruul and Boros)
-Fairies (found mostly in Izzet)
-Goblins (found mostly in Rakdos, Izzet, and Gruul)
-Kraul (insect people) (found mostly in Golgari)
-Elementals (found mostly in Selesnya, but also in Izzet and Boros)
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