5e: Using Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica Content in your Forgotten Realms Game

Yes, yes, I know. I’m supposed to be on hiatus! The fact is though, that there really wasn’t much extra work involved in this post, since I was already thinking about how to make use of the Ravnica guide in my own games.


The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica introduces 5 new options for player character species: Centaur, Loxodon, Minotaur, Simic Hybrid, and Vedalken. Also of note is the Goblin, first printed in a section of Volo’s Guide For Monsters called Monstrous Adventurers which took pains to tell us the species therein might not actually be balanced. Therefore, its inclusion as a core option for Ravnica with nary an alteration makes it slightly more official than it was already. Goblin just made the big leagues.

Of the other five mentioned, you might think only two could fit into a game set in the Forgotten Realms: the Centaur and the Minotaur. But you’d be wrong.


I’m not a historian of Magic: The Gathering, but I believe Loxodon were in Dungeons & Dragons before they were in Magic. Certainly, they existed in D&D before the world of Ravnica was introduced in 2005. You won’t find them if you google, though, because the version printed in 3.5’s Monster Manual II (2002) were called the “Loxo”. They would later be inserted into the Realms in the Shining South (2004) setting book. There is one physical difference between the Loxo and the Loxodon: the Loxo have two trunks. Still, the stats of the Loxodon are pretty perfect. For the purposes of game mechanics, assume a Loxo character uses both trunks for any task that a Ravnican Loxodon would use one trunk for, and the feature remains the same.

Simic Hybrid

To my knowledge there is no Realms equivalent of the Simic Hybrid, or indeed the guild known as the Simic Combine which created them. But let’s look at what the Simic Hybrid actually is: the result of a magical experiment to merge a person with an animal. It’s not really out of the question that such a character could exist in the Realms. Perhaps there’s not an entire species of Hybrids, but a small group or unique individual are certainly not impossible. You could be the result of experiments by an arcane group of your invention, whether in pursuit of an ideology similar to the Simic Combine or for nefarious ends. Or you might be the creation of a powerful being. You might, for instance, have been created by a cult of a Great Old One. Or you could be touched by the “blessings” of such a creature. Either concept that would work particularly well combined with the class features of a Great Old One Warlock.


Vedalken don’t exist in the Realms, at least canonically. However, if you decided to insert them into your version of the world you’d be in good company. Plenty of new races have been added to the Realms after the fact. If you want some kind of explanation for their presence, particularly in an established game, there’s always the option of the Vedalken arriving from another world or plane (whether this means their entire species, a small group, or just your character). This sort of thing is very common in the history of the Realms, where many of the races were not actually native to the world but migrants who arrived and settled long ago. Indeed, the Loxo are one of many examples, having arrived in the 12th Century.


The new Cleric Domain of Order and Druid Circle of Spores will fit in just fine in the Forgotten Realms without any need to explain their presence.


Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica introduces ten new backgrounds, one for each of Ravnica’s guilds. These are obviously highly specialised to the guilds in question. Does that render them unusable in other settings? Not quite, but we have to do some work. Here are my takes:

Azorius Functionary

This background is about being an authority figure and wielder of the law. In the Realms, this background can be converted to make you a representative of whatever the local authority is. In the North, a good choice would be the Lords’ Alliance. The background could be renamed Alliance Functionary.

You are or were a representative of the Lords’ Alliance. If you still are, you receive automatic membership in that Faction (you start with 1d4 Faction renown). If you are no longer a member, the circumstances behind that change will impact relationships with other members, should you meet any. The following changes apply:

Equipment: The azorius insignia becomes an insignia or mark of the Lords’ Alliance.
Feature Changes: Substitute Lords’ Alliance whenever Azorius is mentioned. You have the authority to act on behalf of the local Lord, provided you introduce yourself to that Lord or a higher ranking member of the Lords’ Alliance whenever you arrive in one of the free states of the North. You are intimately familiar with the laws of your home city, but may need to refresh yourself on the local laws when you arrive in the domain of a Lord where you have not previously visited and learned the local laws. The local Lords’ Alliance chapter are happy to help you do so over the course of a week of downtime.

Boros Legionnaire

This background is about being a warrior in a holy order. When you get right down to it, I don’t think it’s that different to the Knight of the Order background published in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and I recommend simply using that background for a character with such origins..

Dmir Operative

A Dmir Operative is a spy. Technically, we have a background for this already (a variant of the Criminal), but I feel that there is value in having a background more dedicated to the specific concept, particularly since the background feature is very useful in supporting the fiction. This background might be renamed Undercover Operative.

If you wish, this background can also confer current or past membership in one Faction of your choice (you start with 1d4 Faction renown), or you can belong to a small guild or be an independent contractor. If you are no longer a member of a Faction you used to belong to, the circumstances behind your leaving either or both groups will impact relationships with other members, should you meet any. The following changes apply:

Equipment: The dmir insignia becomes the insignia or mark of your Faction or guild, if any.
Feature Changes: Substitute your Faction or guild whenever House Dmir is mentioned. Your False Identity can apply to any other group or Faction, to which the false identity is considered a member with all that entails. If you select a Faction, your false identity begins with 1d4 faction renown and can gain or lose renown as normal.

Golgari Agent

The Golgari are fairly specific to Ravnica, a plane which is one sprawling metropolis. There isn’t really a neat, pre-existing role you could slot them into; you’d have to create your own faction.

Gruul Anarch

Similarly, the Gruul Anarch are a unique product of their setting. They make sense in a world where wilderness is a rare sight in a world of urban sprawl, but less sense in a world that’s the other way round.

Izzet Engineer

This background is about creating magical technology. We can definitely find space for this in the Realms. It might be renamed simply Engineer.

You likely belong to an appropriate guild, or perhaps the church of Gond. The following changes apply:

Languages: Choose one of Draconic, Dwarven, or Gnomish.
Equipment: The izzet insignia becomes an insignia of your guild or holy symbol of your faith, if any. Otherwise, you don’t receive one.
Feature Changes: Your access to blueprints requires you to visit local civic authorities or guilds, as appropriate for the city you are in. Members of other guilds are happy to speak to other professionals but understandably wary of giving guild secrets to rivals, and in such instances a small bribe of 5gp is enough to secure access.

Orzhov Representative

Members of the Orzhov Syndicate are criminals in the guise of clergy. Consider using the background essentially as written for a Priest of Mask. Alternatively, strip out the religious trappings and this background makes a good option for members of the Black Network, which we might rename Zhentarim Agent. The latter is described below.

You are or were a representative of the Zhentarim. If you still are, you receive automatic membership in that Faction (you start with 1d4 Faction renown). If you are no longer a member, the circumstances behind that change will impact relationships with other members, should you meet any. The following changes apply:

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Intimidation.
Equipment: The Replace the equipment entry with the equipment of a Faction Agent (see the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide).

Rakdos Cultist

This background is another which is very specific: Rakdos Cultists are part anarchist, part demon-worshipper, part entertainer. I can’t think of a parallel organisation in the Realms. However, their concept is not so intrinsically tied to the geography of their setting, so it it is a lot easier to imagine equivalent groups within the Realms. You’ll likely have to come up with such a group yourself, for which you can use the background essentially as is.

Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of research into powerful entities in the Realms so that I can provide a big list in an upcoming Warlocks supplement, and I can provide three examples of Realms-friendly Demon Lords who might create a cult such as this one:

  • Barbu, Lord of the 307th Layer. She delights in sowing discord and ruining peace.
  • Lynkhab, Lord of the 297th Layer. She tempts mortals to self-destructive behaviours and ultimately leads them to suicide.
  • Socothbenoth, Lord of the 597th Layer. He concerns himself with plumbing the depths of deviance.

Selesnya Initiate

This background is all about harmony between nature and civilisation, and is an easy reskin from the Selesnya Conclave to the Emerald Enclave. It could be renamed Enclave Initiate.

You are or were a representative of the Emerald Enclave. If you still are, you receive automatic membership in that Faction (you start with 1d4 Faction renown). If you are no longer a member, the circumstances behind that change will impact relationships with other members, should you meet any. The following changes apply:

Languages: Choose one of Elvish, Gnomish, or Sylvan.
Equipment: The selesnya insignia becomes an insignia of the Emerald Enclave.
Feature Changes: Substitute the Emerald Enclave whenever Selsnya Conclave is mentioned.

Simic Scientist

This background is perfect for any “mad scientist” or “mad arcanist”. You might rename it to either of those, or perhaps a more general term like “Pioneer of Progress”.

You are trying to push the boundaries of your field, possibly without consideration of the safety and moral and ethical implications of your work. You may have membership in an appropriate guild, though if so you likely hide the extent of your work from your more conservative peers. The following changes apply:

Equipment: The simic insignia becomes an insignia of your guild, if any. Otherwise, you don’t receive one. The rest of your equipment from the background remains the same, except the items you receive don’t have to be derived from sea creatures. For instance you might simply have oil and acid, not blubber oil and stomach bile. Similarly, you may if you wish replace the vials of fish weed, seaweed, and jellyfish stingers with similarly curious materials of little to no financial value derived from other sources of your choice.
Research Options: You are likely not part of a Clade and most likely independent, though your being a current or former member of a larger organisation is possible. If you are independent you can still randomly determine your research focus if you wish. Or you can select one of the six options, or come up with your own.