The City-Plane

The City-Plane

The world of Ravnica is a strange and tenuous equilibrium, ever on the verge of collapse.

For as long as history has been recorded, or any of the long-lived creatures even can remember, the entire plane has been covered with massive sprawls of city. The closest thing Ravnica has to wilderness is the ruin and rubble of recent destruction, and even what passes for an underground is merely structures that have been forgotten and built on top of so long that the light can never penetrate it.

With the high population that goes along with such an urban setting, and the finite resources, huge wars between factions would occur regularly. Some craved order while others yearned for freedom. Some wanted more room for nature to thrive while others wanted to dominate it. Some wanted room for the dead at the expense of the living.

For millennia, the plane was shaken by destruction and death on unimaginable scales. And that is the world that the sphinx planeswalker Azor stumbled upon one day in his travels across the multiverse.

The Guildpact

More than anything, Azor craved order, and more than anyone, he saw himself equipped to impose it. He stayed on Ravnica for many years, studying its ways and understanding its people, until finally, he found a solution to stop the plane from destroying itself.

Azor identified ten primary factions among the citizens of Ravnica, as well as natural leaders who others in the factions looked to for guidance as they pursued their own ideals. He found ways each faction could follow their own paths while contributing to the greater whole of the plane, rather than threatening its very existence. And he found a needle's eye of peace that could be weaved through it all.

And so, with the godlike powers granted by his planeswalker spark, Azor crafted a document known as the Guildpact. The document was part constitution, part treaty, part magical enforcement. It assigned elaborate checks and balances, roles and responsibilities, and peace agreements between the ten factions, known now as the Guilds, and ensured with its own arcane power that those laws couldn't be broken.

Though some still died in inter-guild conflict, the Guildpact brokered an unmatched era of peace and prosperity among the people of Ravnica. For 10,000 years to the day, the Guildpact did its job, ensuring that war would not consume the plane.

The Decamillennial

And on that day, the celebration of the anniversary of ten thousand years of peace, the Guildpact broke. Schemes for power and inter-guild tension finally overcame it, and finally the magic was undone. No longer fettered by the magic of an ancient god from another universe, the people of Ravnica were free again. Free to destroy themselves, if they saw fit.

About 60 years after the Decamillennial, tensions between the guilds had grown high. The plane was on the brink of a war unseen for longer than all but the most ancient of its citizens could even imagine. And in the desperate moments before all-out war could threaten to finally tear the plan to pieces, one last hope was found.

The Living Guildpact

Azor, whatever else may be said of him, had incredible foresight. Knowing that one day his great work might be undone, he had built a backup plan in case the Guildpact should ever fall. A series of magical riddles (known as the Implicit Maze) peppered the plane, and by solving them in a precise order, one could prove their wisdom and earn the power to adjudicate for the plane, becoming the Living Guildpact.

Each guild sent its best runner to attempt the Implicit Maze, hoping to seize the powers that came with influence over the Living Guildpact. But there was a catch there as well: solving the Maze required a runner who could co-operate with all the guilds effectively. Each guild's runner, looking out primarily for their own ideals, failed to complete it, and it went to another outsider, the planeswalker Jace Beleren, who would become the Living Guildpact.

But Jace never wanted to be tied down to one place. He didn't wish for the responsibility of an entire plane on his shoulders. He wanted to travel the multiverse, solving other puzzles and learning all the secrets the planes could hold. It wasn't long before he grew restless, and began leaving the plane more and more to pursue his own interests, leaving the plane once again without the safety net that only the Guildpact could provide.

The Influence of Bolas

At some point in all this, the ancient dragon planeswalker Nicol Bolas discovered the plane. He hated the way Azor went around the multiverse, imposing his will upon others, yet without even ruling them. Then Bolas learned that his treacherous brother, Ugin (another dragon planeswalker) was working with Azor in order to bring Bolas' own downfall.

Bolas learned of a trap Ugin and Azor had set for him, and turned it back on Azor himself, taking advantage of the surprise to slay his brother as well (or so he thought). For over 1,000 years, Azor has been trapped on another plane, unable to travel, unable to check up on his work on planes such as Ravnica. And in that same time, Ugin has slept, healing from the wounds dealt to his very soul by his battle against Bolas.

That wasn't all he had in store for Ravnica. Bolas had other visions for the powers the plane held, as well. Slowly, he began spreading his influence, making promises to certain individuals, nudging fate in certain ways to advantage his schemes. Bolas pinched the tensions between guilds, building up to another huge war between the planes. Over years, those loyal to him raised in the ranks of their guilds. And with the Living Guildpact absent, there may be little hope for the people of Ravnica.

This is the world our characters find themselves in. The Living Guildpact is untrustworthy, at best. The guilds seek to undo each other, and in the process, possibly the entire plane. And underlying it all, the secret threat of an extraplanar genius, manipulating events to his own advantage.