Ravnica Guild Mechanics as PF / SoMP Bonus Features


Wow. Been a long, long while since I posted anything substantive here on the boards . . . . Anyhow -- to business!

I have been a fan of the M:TG Ravnica setting since the first set's release some 14 years ago. As an EDH player and a d20 gamer, Ravnica and its guilds have been a strong source of inspiration for me over the years. I have recently committed to GMing a game for my local crew set in Ravnica itself, and I'd like to hash out some concepts and suggestions about converting the M:TG guild mechanics to functional parallels in Spheres/Pathfinder.

Guilds, and Their Mechanics

Azorius Senate
-- forecast
-- detain
-- addendum

House Dimir
-- transmute
-- cipher
-- surveil

Cult of Rakdos
-- hellbent
-- unleash
-- spectacle

Gruul Clans
-- bloodthirst
-- bloodrush
-- riot

Selesnya Conclave
-- convoke
-- populate
-- themechanictheynevermade

Orzhov Syndicate
-- haunt
-- extort
-- afterlife

Izzet League
-- replicate
-- overload
-- jump-start

Golgari Swarm
-- dredge
-- scavenge
-- undergrowth

Boros Legion
-- radiance
-- battalion
-- mentor

Simic Combine
-- graft
-- evolve
-- adapt


I'm just going to leave the list here in this initial post, and over the coming days I'll present my brainstorms on a per-mechanic basis. Until my next post, though, I would *love* to read about your ideas!

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Here are some broad ideas that might work well.

Surveil: A divination effect that gives a re-roll, or maybe let's you change feats/spells?

Jump-Start: Basically Pearl's of Power effects, possibly for any ability.

Undergrowth: Get more power the more resources you use. Ex: Higher CL the more spells you have used.

Mentor: Attacking Full BAB classes gives a bonus to attacking 3/4 or 1/2 BAB classes.

Convoke: Ritual spells and/or using multiple casters to cast a high level spell.

The Philosophy Behind the Brainstorms

To be succinct: balanced gameplay is NOT my objective in this endeavor, but effort will be given to keep things from becoming too extreme. And not only is this about finding mechanical nuts and bolts to piece together in d20/PF/Spheres language to evoke the feel of the Ravnican guild mechanics, but it is also undertaken with the understanding that none of these mechanics will be swapped out for others from existing classes -- this is all bonus material for the use of narrative development, at a GM's discretion.

(Yes, for the record: use the material if you like -- I just ask that you mention the awesome discussion about it, and drop my avatar ID, too.)
A Brief Outline of Root Ideas, Part I

Forecast -- use the same sphere ability on two consecutive turns, spending a spell point/martial focus on the second to gain an increased effect
Detain -- effectively blank; all speculations thus far are quite rules-heavy
Addendum -- increase casting/activation time to gain diminished rider effect from a different sphere
Transmute -- a uses-per-day resource that allows a character to emulate another guild's mechanic(s)
Cipher -- temporarily sacrifice the ability to utilize a known sphere/ability to enable an ally to trigger a reduced effect with a successful weapon attack
Surveil -- allows a character to modify others' roll results with a bonus/penalty (similar to the dual-cursed oracle's "reroll it!" ability)
Hellbent -- for spherecasting, an obvious parallel is the Empowered Abilities boon; for martial characters, well . . . a bonus for NOT recovering martial focus??!!
Unleash -- a) free Berserker sphere; b) {oh,ithurtsjusttomentionit!} the advantage mechanic from 5E {ermagerdnessbutmystomachisroiling} . . . . hit harder, be tougher, but EVERYTHING hits you
Spectacle -- another rules-heavy speculation

Forcast would be for spells that while memorized give the character an additional cantrip. I would limit to classes that prepare spells: wizards, magus, cleric, paladin, etc; and keep them away from spontanious casters.

Addendum would gives spells an additional effect when cast using a longer action than normal: a swift action increased to a standard action, a standard action increased to full round, etc.

Cypher could be that after it is cast, choose a weapon within short range. For the next minute, that user of that weapon may use that spell as a Swift action spell-like ability after dealing damage with the weapon.

Haunt would be similar, but choose a target within short range. If that target dies while within range, the caster may use the spell as an immediate action spell-like ability.

Replicate could allow the caster to sacrifice additional spell slots of the same or higher spell level to effectively recast the spell as part of the same action.

Radiance and Overload are the last abilities primarily for spells, I don't know how to make them work in a manner that fits PF mechanics and the original feel.

The Brainstorm Seeds, Part II

Bloodthirst -- at the beginning of a combat encounter, if an ally damages an enemy before the Gruul character takes his/her first action, gain a bonus to attacks, damage, AC, and saves (?) vs that enemy

Bloodrush -- this one is complicated, obviously, but I was thinking it could be something similar to a brief summon: call in a Gruul ally to make one attack/cast in a combat

Riot -- either get to act in a surprise round and then in normal initiative as though having rolled a nat 20; OR get an attack and damage bonus and some temporary hit points . . . . probably limited number of times per day

Convoke -- use a move action and expend focus/sacrifice a spell point to empower an ally's casting

Populate -- similar to the bloodrush brainstorm: use the ability to get one round's worth of attacks from a "companion creature" (somewhat like a spiritual weapon + mirror image hybridization)

Overload is effectively making target spells into mass spell, by paying some cost. Probably best would be add 3 to spell level like quickened.

Radiance sounds like target creature and every creature that shares [group]. It would probably work best for armies, cities, and special squads.

Hellbent: When you dont have any more uses of abilities gain bonuses. So the Barabarian is always raging (does not count as rage) even when he runs out of rage.

Detain == Daze for 1 round.

Extort == really weak life steal on all spells. Probably best to do 1 damage per dice.

Afterlife is tough, probably Auto cast Summon Monster on death.

Brains on the Storm, Part III

Haunt -- rules-heavy, thus far

Extort -- all enemies affected by sphere ability lose 1/2 HP per caster/practitioner level, you gain equivalent temporary hit points

Afterlife -- when your character goes unconscious, attendant spirits make retributive strikes; greater effect when character dies // perhaps better to connect this ability to summoned creatures, companions, or similar

Replicate -- limited number of times per day, when producing a targeted magical effect, you may spend additional spell points to copy it

(Sidebar: for the record -- I am running with Spheres of Power as the baseline mechanical structure, rather than Vancian casting.)

Overload -- needs more refining; too similar to replicate, maybe // replicate can target the same target multiple times, overload should hit each legal target within range only once

Jump-start -- moreso than any other Izzet mechanic, this seems a "prepared casters only" thing, to me; needs work

Dredge -- another prepared caster effect; add a recharge duration to other spheres in order to regain use of an expended sphere ability?

Scavenge -- summons-centric, probably works best with settings in which summon spells access individual, specific creatures; lose ability to resummon that creature for the day to gain some of its ability for the duration of a combat encounter

Undergrowth -- still working on this one

Yep replicate sounds very much like the Echo Spell metamagic while Overload sounds more like heightened/make spell a mass version of itself.

[Insert Goblin Flectomancer Reference Here]

Radiance -- copies a targeted magical effect based upon alignment/creature type/guild membership . . . .

Battalion -- number of times per day, if three allies strike the same enemy in a given round with weapon attacks, produce a sphere effect (maybe a once-per-encounter thing?)

Mentor -- an obvious choice for full-BAB legionnaires: in a round where the same enemy is struck with a weapon attack by the mentoring character and an ally with lower BAB, the lower-BAB character gains an attack bonus and temporary hit points // bonus likely to scale by level, duration of bonus needs to be determined

Graft -- this is the one I've pondered most: basically a cross between a familiar and some free metamagic abilities // cytoplast graft can "bond" to another creature and impart certain bonuses, also allows for doubled effects of certain spherecastings

Evolve -- another tough puzzle to sort

Adapt -- daily limit ability; expend focus/spend spell point to gain BAB and HP for one combat, similar to the divine power/righteous might spells, likely modified with appropriate creature-related abilities

For Evolve, it could be some effect that triggers at the start of your turn. Maybe getting a bonus to stats or getting Eidolon evolutions.

For Graft, PF has multiple "graft" related options already. From Fleshwarped creatures, elixirs and poison; Necrografts (uses undead body parts); Possesed Hand/Countananced Carbunkle; and Elemental Augmentations (uses elemental energy).
Just mentioning them since maybe one of those can give you more ideas.

. . . OR . . . .

I could just grant guild members a bonus talent/feat tree to fill from preselected pools of options . . . .

But that would be a ton of work, too . . . . lol

Because, yes, it *does* make sense to just port options over as much as possible.

Temperans wrote:
Overload is effectively making target spells into mass spell, by paying some cost. Probably best would be add 3 to spell level like quickened.

Quicken Spell is +4, but yeah, something in that range. Overloaded magic missile sounds like a really fun time.

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Heh. A 9th-caster-level magic missile copied for each legal target within range? In an urban environment?

Reminds me of the flavor text on Cyclonic Rift, iirc -- The Izzet specialize in unnatural disaster.

Reminds me of spellcraft shenanigans from Morrowind. "Yeah, let's just do 1 damage . . . to everybody within half a mile."

Umm Widened/Extended Overloaded Magic Missile with Extort just sounds broken (if it were a thing).

There's an interesting line of discussion!

Extort is flavorful in M:TG, but what would it look like in a Pathfinder setting? Every time I consider it seriously, I reach the conclusion that it can't simply be a life-drain effect on all the creatures on an area -- strictly speaking. On an EDH battlefield, it hits the planeswalkers involved (players), and not the creatures in play . . . . Now, obviously that conflicts with what I've proposed above, but:

1) giving individual characters and players a power that blends well with the stylistic elements of their guild is better than not
2) if we let extort function mechanically as it does by linguistic definition, then why wouldn't it just be another resource-grabbing tool?
3) In order to make it close to balanced, one would need to throw a book's worth of addenda and provisos into its rules text (i.e., . . . affected dudes must be suchandsuch CR based on PC's character level, . . . .), and, frankly, while I like the complexity of PF/3.x/SoMP, I dislike bookkeeping as a playstyle.

So, yeah . . . . Y'all smell what I'm stepping in?

So why can't it be an on spell-hit effect? If there is problem of it hits too much than it can just not work on: summons (not really there), undead (do to negative energy), constructs (not alive), and/or mass/AoE spells (too spread to channel currectly).

Otherwise just treated it as a Vampire/Succubuss Mechanic. Aka it only works on direct contact through blood drinking/touching.

Maybe I wasn't as clear as I meant to be.

Since the extort ability only hits *players*, rather than creatures on the battlefield, it seems to me that a . . . "concrete"? . . . "definitive"? . . . "pure"? . . . translation of that ability to Pathfinder play would involve more indirect factors . . . . Like a loss of prestige for the guild or person of interest leading the creatures on the battlefield.

That would fit with a direct mirroring, narratively, I think. A macrocosmic effect, if you would.

As far as PCs go, though, **yes** -- a lifedrain power is called for in order to match the mechanical feel of extort . . . .

Is that any clearer at all? I was talking about the two different categories of extort -- the M:TG global effect as opposed to an effective translation of it to a PC's sphere of agency . . . .

I'm terribad hungry right now, so I may only be worsening any miscommunication . . . . but here's a first attempt.

Question: In attempting to implement these mechanical/stylistic translations to actual tabletop RPG play, would you key the effects off character level, or caster/practitioner level?

Oh I get it nowntgx for explaining it. As for macro vs local effect of extort it's hard to say as most of the other abilities are local. Also designing a macro effect that fits it, while not being broken is kind of weird. The closest I can think off is: When you kill a member of another faction increase the amount of Prestige they lose and your faction gains by X amount. But, for that to be of any worth Prestige needs to have a clear cut benefit.

I think it depends on the effect, but generally based on HD. This would allow for multiclass characters to remain relevant. It also helps vs CL boost abilities ruining things.

Okay -- I might have made a couple of breakthroughs . . . .

Detain: a daily limit ability that can be used one of two ways -- either as a free action upon successfully striking an enemy with a weapon attack or when an enemy fails a save against a spherecasting effect your character produces; or as a standard action (granting a +2 bonus {scaling?} to the DC) --> the target must make a Will save: on a failure, the target loses the ability to expend focus/spend spell points for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your casting/practitioner modifier; on a successful save, the target loses the ability to expend focus/spend spell points for one round

Spectacle: a daily limit ability that allows the character to attempt an Intimidate check after an opponent has been damaged by an ally; if the check is successful, the character gains either a bonus temporary spell point or martial focus that must be expended within the following round and against the Intimidated target; a failed check would garner some small bonus . . . . I'm hunting suggestions!!


I know I've been radio silent on this lately -- just busy. I truly enjoy all the contributions y'all are making! Thank you!

. . . I really wish someone would DM/GM a Ravnica game with these ideas in mind/in play . . . .

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