Player Characters for your Ravnica Adventure

A few weeks back Wizards of the Coast announced two new settings, Eberron and Ravnica. There’s a significant crossover between the fandoms of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, two of WOTC’s biggest properties, but not everyone is familiar with both. Ravnica is a setting from the collectable card game Magic: The Gathering, and the first to be getting a hardcover D&D book. Ravnica is a planet covered by one megacity, co-ruled by ten competing guilds.

Whether MTG was your gateway drug into D&D or you hadn’t heard of Ravnica until a few weeks ago, this article will take a quick look at each of Ravnica’s guilds, and the kind of characters you might make for a game set in Ravnica.

Update:

WOTC has released some playtest material for races of Ravnica, which you can find here. Includes loxodon (humanoid elephants), vedalken, viashino and Simic hybrids.

Azorius Senate

Azorius are the law enforcers of Ravnica, mostly cops.

 

Races: human, vedalken

Classes: wizard, paladin, fighter

Backgrounds: city watch / investigator, soldier

To me, one of the most iconic Azorius cards is Detention Sphere:

Detention Sphere makes me think of making a control wizard, probably a human wizard with the city watch background and spells like friends, lightning lure, shocking grasp, charm person, color spray, grease, sleep, snare. If you were using the variant human you could choose the moderately armored feat to give your squishy wizard a bit more protection in the line of duty, unless you’re happy with just the mage armor spell.

Boros Legion

Boros and Azorius seem  kind of similar. If Azorius are the cops, Boros are the troops.

 

Races: human, minotaur, goblin, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: fighter, paladin

Background: soldier, mercenary veteran

While they have a lot of human, minotaur and goblin soldiers, they also have fire elemental soldiers. If you wanted to make one of these, I’d suggest a fire genasi fighter with the champion subclass for increased crits, and the soldier background.

Another option is a human paladin (soldier) on a griffin, specializing in great weapon combat.  (Azorius have ‘skyknights’ too, so you could do something similar for an Azorius character.) Obviously you’d want to make sure your dungeon master was on board with this plan.

 

House Dimir

Dimir are Ravnica’s crime syndicate. Most of Ravnica doesn’t know they exist. Some of their most valuable business is information stolen from other guilds.

 

Races: human, shapeshifter (use changeling), vampire

Classes: rogue, wizard

Background: charlatan, criminal / spy, urban bounty hunter

I’d suggest using the changeling race (from the Eberron playtest material) to make a rogue character using the criminal background. One of the quirks of the new changeling rules is that one of their tool proficiencies is enhanced when they adopt a persona associated with it. So, if the tool proficiency was alchemy, they might take on the persona of a member of a rival guild (perhaps Izzet or Simic) in order to steal that guild’s secrets.

Golgari Swarm

Golgari are the castoffs of Ravnica’s society, living in the sewers beneath the city, recycling the city’s waste, creating life out of death.

 

Races: elf (shadar-kai or drow), human

Classes: cleric, druid

Backgrounds: far traveler, outlander, urchin

For a Golgari character, I’d suggest an shadar-kai cleric using either the life or death domain. If you’re creating a zombie, say that it’s being held together by animated vines. If you’re healing your comrades, say that their wounds are filled in with fungal growths.

Gruul Clans

Gruul are the barbarians and anarchists of Ravnica.

 

Races: human, goblin, minotaur, centaur, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: barbarian, druid

Background: far traveler, folk hero, outlander, uthgardt tribe member

This card makes me want to have a go at making a Gruul earth genasi barbarian:

Izzet League

Speaking of genasi, I think they could make good Izzet characters too. Izzet are mad scientists and alchemists.

 

Races: human, goblin, weird (use genasi)

Classes: sorcerer (wild mage or storm), wizard

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, sage

One of the most iconic Izzet creations are weirds – elementals created from opposing substances. In order to make a weird character, I’d make a water genasi sorcerer (probably wild mage) and choose lots of spells that do different kinds of elemental damage.

Orzhov Syndicate

Orzhov is a church ruled by a council of ghosts who worship wealth and power. Orzhov exerts control over the masses through debt and extortion.

 

Races: human, vampire, revenant

Classes: cleric, rogue (spy, assassin, inquisitive), warlock

Backgrounds: acolyte, criminal / spy, haunted one, inheritor, noble

I could imagine running an adventure with three different Orzhov characters:

  • an innocent life cleric whose eyes haven’t yet been opened to the corruption of the church
  • a cynical grave cleric who can’t leave because they’re indebted to the church hierarchy. Maybe they’re a revenant, forced to pay off their debt beyond death?
  • an evil death cleric (perhaps a vampire) on a quest for power
Cult of Rakdos

Rakdos is an insane, demon-worshipping clown cult who provide sadistic forms of ‘entertainment’.

 

Races: human, goblin, devil (use tiefling)

Classes: bard, fighter, wizard (necromancer), warlock (the fiend)

Backgrounds: entertainer, gladiator, haunted one

Selesnya Conclave

Selesnya is a kind of utopian environmentalist collective, led by dryads.

 

Races: elf (high or wood), human, centaur

Classes: druid, fighter

Backgrounds: acolyte, outlander, sage

Simic Combine

Simic are a group of mad bioengeneers who create strange combinations of different creatures. Many of them have experimented on themselves.

 

Races: sea elf, triton or anything that you can reskin as a hybrid

Classes: wizard, sorcerer barbarian

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, far traveler, hermit, outlander, sage

One of my favourite ideas is using existing character races to make characters who are results of Simic experiments. For example, to make a giant predatory lizard-frog, I’d make a bugbear barbarian with the totem warrior subclass. Choosing the tiger totem would allow them to make large jumps between buildings, just like a giant frog mutant. The urban bounty hunter background would help them hunt prey on the streets of Ravnica.

What kind of characters would you make for a Ravnica adventure?

Loot Chest: Coin Wallet

coin

Coin Wallet
This copper coin resembles any other coin, but contains a tiny pocket dimension similar to a bag of holding that can store up to 1,000 coins. People use these coins to carry giant amounts of coins on their person. Users can speak command words to store coins into it or to expel however many coins desired.

Read more from the Loot Chest!

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Frank, Stank, and Krank

FRANK, STANK, AND KRANK

An NPC trio for D&D 5th Edition
Intended for a Level 2-3 Adventuring Party

“Krank, stop! KRANK! Put the cat down! You stupid, bone-brained, knuckle-dragging excuse for a biped! Do you have any idea how much it costs to summon familiars in this economy?” -Frank to Krank

Some villains are crafty. Others are mighty. Yet somewhere in the wilderness lies a trio of villains whose aspirations are still in the planning stage. In the same way that a buffoon “wannabe hero” will admire legends of heroes long forgotten, this trio of bad guys wants to make the kingdoms tremble in fear (like that Acererak guy). Unfortunately, they fight each other more often than they fight their adversaries.

Frank

Not all goblins die in freak accidents on the battlefield. Some goblins can live all the way into their 20’s! Frank has managed to not get his head bashed in from all the wars he’s been in, but most of his success comes from dumb luck and his ability to outwit other goblins. At the ripe old age of 27, Frank has dodged several nasty encounters with warring goblin tribes, typically by flitting back and forth between the winning sides. Frank’s greatest success has been his conniving magical abilities—of which he only knows one spell. After threatening a band of goblins that he would “conjure the most powerful devil to devour you whole,” Frank set up a summoning circle and set his farce into action. He hoped the ruse would scare the goblin band away, but the band was skeptical, and they waited for Frank to produce a result.

And to Frank’s surprise, he did!

The summoning circle lit up in a flash of sulfur and fire, scattering the goblins and flinging Frank onto his back. When Frank woke up, he saw that the goblin band had disappeared, and standing in the middle of the charred summoning circle was a small, gray kitten. Frank’s summoning spell worked, though instead of a demon, he conjured a small cat named Stank. Since then, Frank has been unable to perform any magic besides a basic summoning circle for Stank, though he insists that magical prowess lurks within his blood, ready to be harnessed.

Physically, Frank is an old goblin with a bristling beard. He wears purple wizard robes and a matching hat with golden stars all over. He is temperamental with borderline dementia, but his familiar, Stank, keeps him calm.

Stank

Summoned from the infernal pits, Stank the Ashenborne is a friendly tuxedo cat with a dopey grin that never fades from its face. Though he is a figment from the land of devils, he’s quite friendly and prone to cuddling his master, Frank. Unfortunately for Stank, he constantly finds himself in trouble. Not being the brightest of fiendish animals, Stank commonly wanders off of cliffs or accidentally “explodes” sometimes due to his reactive fiendish nature in the Material Plane. Frank now keeps several summoning reagents with him so that he can conjure his familiar back from the hells to serve again. Stank’s most common method of untimely demise comes from being devoured by Frank’s ogre friend, Krank.

Krank

The muscle in the group, Krank is a dimwitted ogre who serves as Frank’s mount. When a job comes along that Frank can’t solve with his wits. Krank can usually smash his way to success. Krank came across Frank after he ate Stank (he loves to eat cats), and Frank terrified the dumb ogre into a “life of servitude from the disgrace you brought upon the All Powerful Frank!” Since then, Krank has tagged along with Frank, though he sometimes forgets that Stank is not food, and with one big chomp, he lessens Frank’s wallet by another 100 gold pieces due to spell components needed to summon Stank back.

Appearance-wise, Krank stands over ten feet tall. His arms are as large as tree trunks, and his knuckles are covered in scars from dragging his hands over the ground. He wears a leather skull-cap attached to a harness on his back. The harness functions as a litter for Frank, who stays on Krank’s back in a saddle made from a washtub and scrap wood. Frank steers Krank by dangling Stank in front of him via a fishing pole. Sometimes Krank overreaches and eats Stank, forcing Frank to (once again) conjure the devil cat back from the abyss.

Incorporating Frank, Stank, and Krank into Your Game

The trio would make a great side villain. Having them stumble into the party’s campsite and cause a ruckus would be a prime way of creating a random encounter. The party could also hear a rumor about an old goblin who is collecting spell components to summon “the Ashenborne beast from hell,” which is actually Stank. They can set off to stop Frank’s plans, only to realize that Frank is just trying to summon his cat familiar. The funnier the situation, the better the trio will perform. They could also be allies if the party approaches them in the right manner—maybe offering Frank some scrolls so that he can perform “real magic.”

The Technical Side

Frank is a goblin boss, Krank is an ogre, and Stank is a cat. Together, they are a CR of 3 (though more of a CR 2.5). Frank fights atop Krank in his washtub saddle, tossing spears and other ranged weapons while Krank pummels opponents with his fists. Stank mostly just sits there, though he blows up sometimes. The three characters use the same stats as found in their respective Monster Manual entries, but with the following changes:

  • Frank knows the find familiar spell and can cast it at will.
  • Stank is a fiend (devil) in addition to his other creature types.
  • Stank has the following ability in addition to his other abilities: Death Burst. When Stank dies, he explodes in a burst of fire. Each creature within 5 feet of Stank must make a DC 11 Dexterity throw, taking 7 (2d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

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