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First Impressions – Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

A segment of the Dungeons & Dragons' fan base have been clamoring for setting releases and while Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica won't appease those who want a 5th Edition update of an older setting like Greyhawk, Planescape or Spelljammer, it is a fresh setting that Wizards of the Coast clearly hopes will bring the Magic the Gathering crowd to D&D.


So what's my first impression of Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica? Fresh and familiar at the same time. Now don't take that as an insult MtG players. This is a first impression article. A more nuanced review will follow after I have read the entire book. This is based on an overall skim of the book and reading of selected passages.

For any veteran D&D player, Ravnica is new but has enough overlap with classic D&D that it won't be a shock to the system. For example, races include humans, elves, goblins, minotaurs and centaurs along with new-to-D&D races Vedalken and Simic Hybrid. Charts break down which classes work best with the 10 guilds, though you can be guildless.

Ravnica is a fantasy world with the magical technology flavor of Eberron. That's not to say it's derivitive of Eberron. Both settings offer modern conveniences through magic but get there and express them in different ways.

The introduction and first three chapters focus, understandably, on Ravnica as a setting and how to create a character and it gives you a lot of meat with which to work. Chapter 4 is about creating adventures, with some broad adventure ideas at the start of the chapter and then each guild section has more adventure hooks, specific to that group. I like the “Cross Purposes” charts and “Complications” for ways to make a villain affect the players without doing a blanket “you have to stop X” approach. It feels more organic. Having done similar things in my own home games for D&D and other RPGs, it can work really well.

Guild intrigue is, of course, a part of the adventure seeds. With 10 guilds and Ravnica's backstory, including the broken Guildpact and how things function now that it's been restored, intrigue really should be a key story driver in Ravnica adventures.

One odd note for those who might buy Ravnica on D&D Beyond is that you really want to tap the “View Welcome” button on the upper right instead of diving directly into chapter 1 and the rest of the leftside sidebar links. “View Welcome” actually takes you to the book's Introduction, which has a LOT of useful, downright essential, material for anyone new to Ravnica and even MtG players wanted to learn how the popular setting has been adapted to D&D. It covers everything from the history of Ravnica, both in-game and as part of MtG, to its currency and calendar.

Obviously readers of the physical book will naturally go to this essential chapter and all of the D&D Beyond editions of the hardcover books have the “View Welcome” button that separates the introduction from the chapters, but it's an odd layout issue. I handed my tablet to a friend who has played both MtG and D&D for years but never used D&D Beyond, and he was confused by the lack of introduction until I pointed out the “View Welcome” button.

I like the precinct by precinct breakdown in Chapter 3. The people and rumors tables in each section are a nice way of adding flavor, misdirects and possible adventure hooks as your players wander the city of Ravnica.

The art is very good and provides the context for this new (to D&D) world. It as much as anything helps to set a different tone than Forgotten Realms' adventures.

Really, I'm going to pay Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica the highest compliment I can in a first impressions article – that I can't wait to dive in and read the entire book.

This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!!
 
Beth Rimmels

Comments

Parmandur

Legend
You didn't. Gynor did, and it's an attack I commonly see levelled at game developers and publishers that is never valid.

As for the rest, it pretty obvious that even if you treat the various areas of Golarion as separate campaign settings (a claim I would consider dubious at best) it is pretty easy to travel from one to the other - which is what WotC is trying to maintain by making it possible to travel between Ravnica, Eberron and the Forgotten Realms.

As for your assentation that campaign setting bloat was not a major cause of TSR's collapse, that's irrelevant. All that matters is that WotC/Hasbro believe it to be the case.
While it is true that WotC is being very cautious with their releases, I don't think the current crew is necessarily beholden to Ryan Dancey's analysis at the end of TSR.

The main pillar of their release schedule is adventure books, after all.
 

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GreyLord

Hero
Of interest, there are at least 8 (9 if one includes an adventure supported one) official campaign settings in 5e.

What is different about them is that they do NOT receive the same sort or level of attention that campaign settings may have received in the past with other editions of D&D.

The Forgotten Realms (or more specifically, a certain portion of that world) receives a lot of material focused on that area, but normally also generic enough that it can also be applied to any of the other campaigns out there.

These campaign settings would be Toril, Oerth, Krynn, Athas, Eberron, Aebrynis, and Mystara. Later came Ravenloft and of course Ravnica.

Ravenloft obviously received much of it's support in the CoS. Dragonlance/Krynn, Eberron, and Oerth/Greyhawk have all also received supplemental material in various books since the DMG original release. (Edit: Besides, of course, the Forgotten Realms which have obviously received a LOT of support).

In some ways Planescape and Spelljammer have also had unofficial support to a degree.

Who knows what will be the next release of a campaign type book, but I think in some ways they have been looking at ways to expand their pillars of support. In that light it could be they return to one of the standard campaigns already mentioned, OR they could do another thing like Ravnica where they are expanding into other related areas of cross current players or go even further into other areas to attract new audiences.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Parmandur

Legend
Of interest, there are at least 8 (9 if one includes an adventure supported one) official campaign settings in 5e.

What is different about them is that they do NOT receive the same sort or level of attention that campaign settings may have received in the past with other editions of D&D.

The Forgotten Realms (or more specifically, a certain portion of that world) receives a lot of material focused on that area, but normally also generic enough that it can also be applied to any of the other campaigns out there.

These campaign settings would be Toril, Oerth, Krynn, Athas, Eberron, Aebrynis, and Mystara. Later came Ravenloft and of course Ravnica.

Ravenloft obviously received much of it's support in the CoS. Dragonlance/Krynn, Eberron, and Oerth/Greyhawk have all also received supplemental material in various books since the DMG original release. (Edit: Besides, of course, the Forgotten Realms which have obviously received a LOT of support).

In some ways Planescape and Spelljammer have also had unofficial support to a degree.

Who knows what will be the next release of a campaign type book, but I think in some ways they have been looking at ways to expand their pillars of support. In that light it could be they return to one of the standard campaigns already mentioned, OR they could do another thing like Ravnica where they are expanding into other related areas of cross current players or go even further into other areas to attract new audiences.
Toril, Oerth, Krynn, Athas, Eberron, Plaescape and "Planeshift" (which includes all of the free PDFs for Magic) are front and center on the Settings tab for the DMsGuild. They are also the settings that WotC asked about in this year's marketing survey for which is folks favorite setting. I'd wager that's the shortlist of candidates.
 

I uploaded my last DMsGuild products just some minutes ago, and I confirm that up to now the setting is not available for DMsGuild development.
I will not buy the book until wotc opens it on the Guild. This means that I will not buy it at all if they don't open it.
I guess you will be running out to buy the book now that it will be available to use on DMs Guild starting tomorrow (the 20th). :)
 

D

DQDesign

Guest
as I said, I'll wait until official terms of use are updated, I don't trust wotc relationship with dates so much :)
anyway, running is another thing completely, there are really few things able to have me running, and wotc books are not among them XD
 

D

DQDesign

Guest
I guess you will be running out to buy the book now that it will be available to use on DMs Guild starting tomorrow (the 20th). :)
DQDesign Today 09:05 AM
as I said, I'll wait until official terms of use are updated, I don't trust wotc relationship with dates so much :)
anyway, running is another thing completely, there are really few things able to have me running, and wotc books are not among them XD
 

Azzy

Newtype
DQDesign Today 09:05 AM
as I said, I'll wait until official terms of use are updated, I don't trust wotc relationship with dates so much :)
anyway, running is another thing completely, there are really few things able to have me running, and wotc books are not among them XD
You might want to wait until about noon US Pacific Time. It's still 12:27 AM at WotC HQ. :D
 

The Big BZ

Explorer
Let the DM explain it if they're the rare breed that has campaigns that float between different settings enough to make this an issue. Say the Spellplague and/or Sundering caused a temporal distortion between Forgotten Realms' material plane and the other material planes or something. No need to burden other settings just because Forgotten Realms has to advance their timeline every time someone sneezes.
My characters are Level 10 and have so far:
Started in the Nether Mountains (The Keep on the Borderlands)
Travelled to Avernus (Random Planescape module from the Well of the Worlds)
Explored the North (random third party stuff and bits of Storm King's Thunder)
Moved to Everlund (Bard's Gate from Midgard)
Foiled the machinations of the Cult of Vecna in the Shadowfell (Riddle of the Raven Queen)
Journied south to the Cormantyr Forest (Lost Tales of Myth Drannor)
Retrieved a McGuffin from a vault under Castle Greyhawk (Random Greyhawk module from one of the City of Greyhawk box)
Foiled an Infernal plot in Waterdeep (Dragon Heist)
Fought the Githyanki on the Astral Plane (The Lich Queen's Begotten)

and are currently weighing up an Expedition to the Barrier Peaks or descending into Undermountain.

How much difference has the lack of a unified timeline made? None.
 

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