Ravnica, a city that stretches on forever. But it was not always this way. 10,000 years ago, long before the Guilds of Ravnica came to power, it was a plane not unlike most others. In the beginning the plane was gripped by war as various factions vied for power. Realizing that these wars would never end and would ruin the land they fought over, the leaders of the ten factions entered into an agreement. This agreement took the form of a magical enchantment that would force them to keep peace with one another. This enchantment was known as the Guildpact, and over time the factions grew into the Guilds as they carved out their influence over the plane, covering it with city walls.
In the coming weeks, we will learn of the Guilds, their history and purpose, and the individuals that drive them forward.
The Izzet League
Origin and Parun:
Each guild was signed into the Guildpact by their leader at the time. This founder is known as a Parun, and are typically the namesake of their respective guild. The founder of the Izzet League is the draconic genius Niv-Mizzet. Niv-Mizzet is a vain, egotistical, tempermental dragon wizard. He’s also the smartest thing to ever draw breath on Ravnica, possibly the entire multiverse. Always scheming, Niv-Mizzet is rarely left without a plan or three.
To keep the peace and to keep the guilds busy, each of them was granted a purpose outlined in the Guildpact. The purpose of the Izzet is public works; the Izzet are responsible for the construction and maintenance of most of Ravnica’s infrastructure. They build the roads, construct the builds, plumbing, sewage, heating. All maintained by the Izzet. They are a guild of scientists. They strive to provide answers, even if no one was asking the question.
On top of this official duty, the Izzet are often commissioned by the other guilds for one thing or another. They build weapons for the Boros, they handle officially sanctioned public works as dictated by the Azorius and everything in between.
Most of this work is done to pay the bills (and because the Guildpact said so). The Izzet tend to attract a certain sort of person; endlessly curious with a thirst for discovery. They are burdened by the constant nagging question “what if”. They occupy their time performing experiments of how things work. Crafting weirds, teleportation, controlling the weather and the earth and time itself.
They are disinterested in the guild politics, and worry not about their placement in the world. Niv-Mizzet himself has never bothered for more power than he has, considering the prospect of taking over the world to be a chore. Too much paper work. Instead the occupy their time finding new challenges to solve. Trying to one up one another for rank within the guild and favor of Mizzet himself.
After the Guildpact
During the previous Ravnica block, the Guildpact was destroyed. The Guilds tried to make due with a non-magical Guildpact for a time, but holding the Guilds to the honor system proved fruitless. Tensions between the Guilds, as well as the guildless masses that outnumber them 10 to 1, tore the guilds apart for a time. This was not permanent, as the guilds were so thoroughly entrenched in the Ravnican way of life that new membership rose up to replace the broken guilds of before.
The Izzet were among the least affected during this turnover time. Niv-Mizzet fled during the events that destroyed the Guildpact, having become injured in the quarrel. Even without his direct presence, the Guild carried on. Having avoided guild politics for so long and keeping to themselves meant that they largely escaped the wrath of rioting guildless.
The Guilds Return
Eventually Niv-Mizzet did return as though nothing had happened. Shortly thereafter he pushed Izzet research into overdrive. The Izzet began establishing labs and conducting experiments of unknown origin across the plane. This sudden increase in activity goes largely ignored by the common folk, but the rest of the guilds take notice. Paranoia and tension grip the other guilds, raising tensions across the plane.
The cause for this rise in activity was nothing so sinister. In an act of routine maintenance, Izzet workers found runes built into the city’s infrastructure. And then more. And more. Niv-Mizzet saw the hint of a pattern in the uncovered runes, and the potential for him to learn about something that had yet to be known was all the encouragement the ancient dragon needed to dedicate the every resource of his guild towards discovering the nature of these runes. This activity is the very catalyst for the entirety of Return to Ravnica’s story.
To find out more about the Izzet, check them out in the Planeswalker Guide and the Ravnica novels.