Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

Jester David

Adventurer
1 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

As a non-Magic fan, Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica was always going to have to work to selling me on the setting. I wasn't coming into the product with established affection. However, I am a junkie for neat campaign settings, and every time I read one I end up thinking of two or three campaigns I want to run in that world. WotC has proven me wrong a few times, surprising me with products I was sure I'd be indifferent towards; while I was initially hesitant (and vocally so) I was prepared to be proven wrong and fall in love with the setting.

In general, I'd much rather have a cool product I can praise than to be right. I desperately wanted this product to be good.

But as I read Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica I found myself left with more questions over the world than I had answers. While I could play or run in the setting with what I was given, I never felt like I was given enough information to manage the setting or accurately portray it, let alone present it as a living place. I never felt like I was given enough information to understand the world and I would either have to invent large swaths of the setting (defeating the purpose of paying $50 for a campaign setting product) or do further research. Lots of research. Likely necessitating the purchase of additional books.

As a small example, the Izzet League is a Guild of magic/steampunk inventors—as seen by the cover illustration—but I have no idea how widespread their technology is. Is it found everywhere with arc lamp streetlights, flying ships, and trains. Or is that localized to their holdings, and the technology seen as proprietary "Guild secrets"? To me that's essential information as it informs how I describe the setting, the potential weaponry of enemies, and even the setpieces of encounters.
Meanwhile, also I prefer to make my own choices over what I find most interesting in a setting. I like to have a choice, to find some small side area to make my own, or small reference that enflames my imagination. This book doesn't give me that. It provides the absolute minimum details for a single small area (that may or may not be representative of the entire world) and assumes I'm playing a Guild-focused game. When given a single non-choice like that I makes me want to rebel and do a game where the Guilds are in the background.

Now, in fairness, the city proper is given twelve pages of text detailing the neighbourhoods, which is probably comparable to the world lore given to Greyhawk in the World of Greyhawk folio that launched a hundred campaigns. So you can very easily run a game just with this book. It just requires some invention and willingness to take liberties with the setting. But if your players are not familiar with the setting, they won't know or care that you're making it all up.

That said, this book feels like it was written for existing fans of Ravnica and not casual fans looking to learn more about the setting. It was designed for those fans who already know how the world works and just need some specifics. It's a book designed to introduce those fans to D&D. It's almost a conversion guide providing the rules for the current edition.

By this metric, how does the book measure up?

The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica certainly gives you the mechanics needed to play in the setting. It doesn't attempt to translate the five schools of magic to D&D (even in a flavourful method) but it gives you everything else. If you are a Magic fan curious about D&D, then this will be a solid purchase, and pair fairly nicely with the Basic Rules, getting you started and playing, with the monsters in that free PDF and this hardcover being all you need to adventure for months.
But if you're not a Magic fan and you just want a new world to play in… this is probably not a good choice. Try the Eberron book on the Dungeon Master's Guild, which is somehow more comprehensive despite being far smaller. Or check out the Midgard Campaign Setting from Kobold Press.

But to me, this book felt incredibly anaemic and probably inferiour in terms of both quantity of lore and mechanics to even the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.


Read my full review here.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
2 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

First of all, I'd buy this book for the art alone. Yes, it's so good. It's a gorgeous piece for my collection.
The authors actually made a good job with the new races and backgrounds. And the monsters are beautiful.
But. As a setting, this is unplayable. The world is irrational (10.000 years and nothing changed? A city big as the entire world? Come on!). Worst of all, there are no villains. The PCs belong to some Guilds (some stereotypical groups), that fight each other for power. But each of them is essential to civilization!
Truly, this is identity politics brought into D&D. Bad!
A DM would nave to work HARD to breath life in such a soulless, joyless, uninspiring setting.

I rate this product 2 stars for the art, and I'm happy to have the book in my collection, but I don't want to play in Ravnica. Ever.
 

Greatwyrm

Been here a while...
4 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

What's in there is very good. I'm just disappointed that it's basically one section of the main city. It's hard to get excited about a world-spanning city, if you're not showing it to me.
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
1 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

This supplement is a let down. Very little of Ravnica is in it (where are the event of its 10,000 years old history?) and even less of Magic the Gathering is in it. A generic book about generic guilds would have been better. It would be less false representation (this is not really a campain setting and iconic MtG material isn't really present either) and easier to adapt to homebrew settings.

This is a weird products and I hope it doesn't represent the future of DnD products.
 

castlewise

Villager
3 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

This book is a great resource for the DM who wants to break away from standard D&D and the Forgotten Realms in particular. The book uses the MtG setting of Ravnica as a springboard to introduce a bunch of alternative takes on existing creatures and archetypes. Its got a handful of new material for players, including two interesting subclasses that popped up in UA, an in depth discussion of the ten guilds of Ravnica, a reasonable introduction to a portion of the city if Ravnica, and some good monsters. The main issue is that the book seems to be targeting someone who already has a reasonable amount of experience with both D&D and Magic (and Ravnica in particular). This is very much a setting source book and not a campaign; it asks a lot of GM's in terms of building an adventure, fleshing out the world, re-flavoring existing monsters and items, etc... I would be pretty hesitant to recommend this book to someone who is new to D&D. On the other hand if a GM wanted to be faithful to the Ravnica setting, and not just flavor their own creation with ideas from Ravnica, then they are going to have to go elsewhere to brush up on their MtG lore because while the book does a very good job of describing the guilds it has significantly less history and backstory than, for example, the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Overall I liked it because the MtG elements add an interesting twist to well worn D&D classics, but don't think everyone will find it fully satisfying.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
3 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

It's no coincidence that my favourite 5E book so far is Curse of Strahd. I love adventuring in various settings, and so products which bring me new settings (new to me, anyway) are always high on my "must-have" list. I enjoy the "arcanomage' feel of this setting, but have a nagging feel that it's a bit too regimented in terms of flavour symmetry, likely due its card game origins. Art is fantastic -- it' the prettiest D&D book by far, with gorgeous colour art every 1-2 pages. Full first impressions "unboxing" in the podcast.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
5 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

First things first, this book is laid out gorgeously. Every page has something visually interesting to offer.

The setting is something very new for D&D, a steampunk, high magic, near-modern, gonzo Ecumenopolitan smorgasbord of kooky action and conflict. The setting is very lightly detailed, with lots of blank spaces: an old school Points of Light campaign improving setting details would work very well here.

The new player options are fun and flavorful, I love the new backgrounds and their creative use of faction rules. The monster section is very crunchy, with some creative reskinning tips and tricks as well as new blocks.

Not for everyone possibly, but it has been fun for me.
 

WebDMJim

Villager
5 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

Before I get started, I think it’s important to note that I've had the opportunity to read through Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica and at PAX Unplugged ran a Ravnica one-shot. My criteria for whether a rpg book is good are based on its utility as a toolkit for helping me run a game; setting lore and mechanical support are both useful in this regard.

Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica is not your typical setting supplement. It's not a self-contained setting book. You won't find detailed histories or lots of lore to dig into and there is no attempt to fundamentally change the core rules or play assumptions of 5e Dungeons & Dragons. However, GGtR does have enough setting detail and lore to inspire dungeon master's willing to fill in the details themselves, and for group's familiar with Ravnica's lore already, there are guidelines for applying MtG's magic to D&D's rules.

The book can be divided into three rough sections: chapters 1 & 2 are player-oriented and focus on helping the player create a character that is suitably Ravnican, the Introduction and chapter 3 are contain the bulk of the setting info, and chapters 4, 5, & 6 are DM-oriented adventure creation toolkits, magic items, monsters, and NPCs, as well as an intro adventure. Each chapter contains useful lore and when I was prepping my Ravnican games for PAXU I referenced all the chapters to help flesh out the adventure.

Here are some highlights from each chapter:
Chapter 1: Provides guidelines on choosing a Guild for individual players as well as forming a group with multiple Guilds. New races include Centaur, Minotaur, Loxodon (elephant people), Simic Hybrid (mutant humanoid), and Vedalken (fantasy Vulcans). Next there are a series of tables which sort the Guilds by D&D sublcass followed by two new subclass options - Order Domain and Circle of Spores for Cleric and Druid

Chapter 2: Details each of the 10 Guilds and how to make a character for that Guild. Backgrounds open up new spell options for casters as well as detail the benefits PCs receive as they advance in faction rank. The NPC contacts generated here are used by the DM to tie together adventure elements generated in chapter 4.

Chapter 3: Covers the six precincts of The Tenth District. This is the lightest chapter and the lore offered provides an overview of each precinct, the people who might be found there, and rumors which can be used to spur further adventures.

Chapter 4: Gives DMs a variety of tables for generating adventures set in Ravnica. Each Guild gets a section with tables for villain motivations and a sample location with potential scenarios a DM could use it for. Generic tables offer guidelines for linking locations together and creating links between villains. The tables are easy to use and within minutes of rolling on them I was formulating a scenario.

Chapter 5: Has tables for what sorts of items each Guild uses and has a list of new magic items specific to Ravnica. A couple of interesting items here: the School of Invention ended up as a suit of magic armor and the Illusionist’s Bracers allow a caster to cast the same cantrip twice at the cost of a bonus action, an item sure to be on every Warlock and Sorcerer’s wish list.

Chapter 6: Tables for which creatures from the MM, Volo’s and MToF go with which Guild, and stat blocks for new monsters and NPCs. I’ve only used a handful of the monsters here, but the selection of monsters looks promising. There is a decent mix of monster types with humanoids, undead, and monstrosities having the most entries.

Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is a true toolkit and it’s closest relative in 5e D&D is probably chapter 3 of the DMG. Those looking for setting books in the mold of prior editions or even SCAG will be disappointed. This isn’t that book, and I find it very refreshing. Within an hour of first opening GGtR I had an adventure ready to play and the longer I spent with the book, the more developed that scenario became and the more I was able to tie in the party’s backgrounds. I’ll take something that useful any day over pages and pages of setting lore and NPC details. I’m glad to see the D&D team experimenting with format and offering up a book that is different from prior 5e releases.

 
4 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

As someone who plays MTG and D&D I was kind of excited about this product. I initially was not planning on purchasing it though. My Wednesday group is at the end of a Tomb of Annihilation Campaign with plans for moving those characters into Against the Giants from Tales of the Yawning Portal. Additionally I am running a long term Eberron Campaign for my monthly Saturday group. I really didn't feel like I needed this book. Then I got to thumb through it a bit at my FLGS, and I knew I had to have this book.

Initially I doubted I would ever run a Ravnica D&D game, but after reading through this book, I have to say I am somewhat intrigued by the idea. This world is unlike any other in the D&D realms, but yet has some familiarity to it as well. There are new races and unique spins on existing races. There are two new cleric domains which I thought was a very exciting edition. A Ravnica campaign can easily support many different group play styles up to and including murder hobo's. (Not a thing I personally enjoy but I hear its a thing for some folks). I particularly liked the parts about how to form a party from a specific guild, giving suggestions about which classes would make up a good adventuring party for that guild.

The whole world is either a city or the ruins of a city (rubble belts). You could literally have a world spanning ultra super mega dungeon. While the book doesn't detail this kind of stuff, it certainly plants plenty of seeds for it.

I also see plenty in this book I can cherry pick, for instance Golgari and Izzet are very likely to find their way into my Eberron game as new organizations in Sharn. Boros is likely to become a sect of the Silver Flame or a totally new offshoot.

The book offers a high level overview of Ravnica and its Guilds. It leaves a lot open for a DM to flesh out, but I am OK with this. If you have hard core MTG players in your group you can either set the expectation with them that things might be different than they expect or you can work with them to fill in the knowledge you may not have. Or... go do some online research. There is plenty enough to work with in this book to get you started, and I for one could have a blast looking at pre-published adventures and trying to figure out how to Ravnicize them.
 

Cyber-Dave

Villager
4 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

I did not expect to like this product. When it was announced, I was disappointed that Dark Sun, Planescape, or Ravenloft were not getting the setting treatment. The races in the book, however, are interesting and unique. The world is exciting and fresh. All in all, I could see myself running games in Ravnica. The setting also inspired to me to create a homebrew race. All in all, I really like what I am seeing. I don't know if I like it as much as I like the other books so far, which is why I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5, but that is neither here nor there. All in all, I consider Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica to be a positive addition to my bookshelf.
 
5 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

There are plenty of good reviews already, both pro and con, so I won't go into much detail - I just wanted to offer this book some much needed love, as it is a great product if you embrace it for what is rather than focusing on what it is not, or how it didn't meet your expectations.

I certainly would have liked more depth on the history, more of the city itself. But a lot is packed into its 256 pages, so really my only complaint is that it isn't 300+. The fact that I want more speaks well of this product and my feeling for it. Great art, tons of interesting ideas, and a nice collection of monsters - can be used as a campaign book or a resource for your homebrew.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

The book gives an in depth dive into each of the ten guilds which are really the lifeblood of the setting. Along with new mechanics in backgrounds, new subclasses, new monsters and new magic items the book plants plenty of seeds to inspire creativity in how to make the setting come alive at the table.
 

Ash Mantle

Adventurer
5 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

I had only recently gotten this book, and I've been slowly digesting its contents ever since. It's only one of a few hardcover D&D books that I've read cover to cover, and yet I find myself getting constantly inspired by what's being included. I really like this book and I'm actually quite impressed with what the devs have managed to do with it. It's really well written and there's so much inspiration in the book that you can use for your own home games, anything from the various guilds, to the two subclasses, to the monsters, to the magic items.

While I've only ever dabbled in Magic, I noticed that a lot of the content, especially the mechanics of the creatures and classes, is written with synergy - especially synergy with allies - in mind, and with effects that are essentially D&D translations of a Magic card. This is excellent. Though to that same effect, it would've been ideal if they could've included more lore overall especially about Ravnica itself as the book focused strongly on the guilds and not on the setting. There are an incredible array of bite-sized plot hooks and little snippets of lore throughout, but ultimately I would've liked more lore overall, to get a better feel of the setting.
 

Parmandur

Legend
5 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

I had never heard of Ravnica before this book, but it does a great job of selling the social setting of the Guildpact. The individual Guilds can be removed and the serial numbers filed off for other settigns as desired, and the PC and Monster options mean there is plenty of use to non-Ravnica tables. This is the future of D&D setting books.
 

EthanSental

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

Like my mad mage, I’ll edit when I have more time. I don’t know much about the setting so I liked how it helped evoke the imagination and the monster were cool to read up on and plan on using them in my campaign. Probably not going to use it as a setting unless the other players are wanting to change it up but plenty in the book to make it worth the purchase.
 

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