House Dimir is Ravnica’s worst kept secret. A secret society of spies and thieves and assassins that operate from the shadows, they don’t operate with power; knowledge is their weapon. They use subtlety and subversion to put themselves into positions of power and pit the other guilds against each other. They hide in the shadows, away from the prying eyes and ears of the rest of the city, actively encouraging the bizarre urban legends that are, at times, far more frightening than the actual House Dimir, and at others, far tamer.
ORIGIN AND PURPOSE
House Dimir is named for its founder and guild leader, the psychic vampire Szadek. An ambitious, conniving man always looking out for an angle to work, Szadek knows that any system of structure can be exploited, and the Guildpact was no exception. He joined the Guildpact under one condition; that House Dimir not officially exist in a legal capacity.
As a Guild, the Dimir primarily exist for one reason; to destroy the Guildpact. Their purpose was to constantly push the boundaries of the enchantment, trying to expose weak points and loopholes so that they may be repaired. Should they go far enough to successfully destroy the Guildpact, then it didn’t deserve to exist in the first place.
Thus House Dimir came to be, the Guild that was not, existing to destroy itself. Years turned into decades turned into centuries, and more and more people who remembered the conditions of Dimir’s origins grew old and died. The Dimir slid into the shadows and faded from memory. They came to be regarded as Ravnica’s boogeyman, something that existed at one point, but died out ages ago. They became the stuff of ghost stories, spooky tales parents would tell their children to make them brush their teeth and eat their vegetables. And the Dimir would encourage these myths; they blurred the line between fact and fiction. They use such methods even amongst themselves, secrecy as both sword and shield. Many agents only know of those they directly control or directly report to, and many agents have their minds wiped of missions so they cannot spread their secrets.
When they weren’t pushing the limits of the Guildpact, they were pushing the limits of the other Guilds. They gathered intel on the other guilds, and would make a living buying and selling secrets to and from anyone willing to pay for them. They were Dimir’s black market, anything you wanted to know or anything you wanted to have done, but didn’t want anyone else to find out about. The Dimir could do it, and do it well. They specialize in magic of the mind, reading thoughts and tearing them out. Magic of the shadows and death, to slip in and out of places unnoticed, leaving the bodies behind only when they will it. The magic of shapeshifting, so as to better practice their trade.
At their best, the Dimir might believe that they were servicing the greater good. They were finding and exposing the worst parts of the other guilds, and fighting to maintain balance in a world teetering on the brink. At their worst, they are thugs who think themselves above the law and will do anything for power.
THE SECRET’S OUT
Szadek enjoyed what he did, without a doubt. The political world of the Guilds was a game, and he was very good at playing. But it wasn’t enough to push the other guild’s buttons; he wanted real power, real control. He wanted it all, and he had a plan.
Szadek coordinated efforts with men and women in several other guilds to kill Mat’Selesnya, the Selesnyn parun and avatar of Magic. Her death would unbalance the guild structure and deal a deathblow to the largest guild. Thanks to the efforts of many, most notably the Boros Wojek officer Agrus Kos, Szadek was arrested.
Exactly as Szadek planned it.
By arresting Szadek, the famed historical founder of House Dimir, Agrus inadvertedly proved that House Dimir still existed. This was something contradicting the binding contract that was the Guildpact, and with that, the Guildpact was destroyed. Though he was executed for his crimes, there was now nothing left to maintain the balance between the guilds, and no magic strong enough to keep Szadek from his ambition.
He maintained his consciousness as a spirit and managed to run amok, bringing the city to its knees and killing anyone who got in his way, including several other guild leaders. Through the united efforts of those who would stand against him and against the plots of several of Ravnica’s other schemers, Szadek was eventually stopped and banished to Agyrem, Ravnica’s ghost district. But the damage had been done, the guildpact was destroyed, untold damage had been done to the city, and many of the higher ups of all of the guilds had lost their lives in the carnage.
A HOUSE DIVIDED
With Szadek’s absence, and the lack of a proper guild structure, House Dimir effectively disbanded. As a secret, they were able to escape the wrath felt by many of the more public guilds, and its members found homes elsewhere. Many of them returned to civilians lives, or joined other guilds. Others still, too entrenched in the lifestyle, offered their services as private contractors. The Dimir would remain nonexistent until they were reunited by the leadership of a man named Lazav.
Lazav was uniquely qualified to lead the Dimir. A shapeshifter with the ability to communicate telepathically with all those under his employ and immune to psychic intrusions himself, Lazav came to power after a complicated ritual where he claims he was able to commune with the spirit of Szadek himself. No one quite knows for sure what happened, but those closest to him say that the process triggered a most unbecoming change in personality. He became paranoid and crazed, and his lust for power deepened the likes of which no one had seen before.
Under his leadership, the Dimir gathered together again. There was no point in hiding, and the Dimir accepted a ‘poorly kept secret’ public persona. They adopted the appearance of semi-legitimate information brokers, publically rendering their services to all as private eyes, librarians, and mass media. Below the surface, they still functioned as the black market, spies and assassins they always had, but now they could be more direct with their actions and the additional funding and public-friendly persona afforded them even more power.
THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL THAT CAN NOT BE CONTROLLED
As a leader, Lazav has a very simple, straightforward mission statement; the complete and utter annihilation of everything not under the control of House Dimir. Quite frankly, he was completely insane, and when rumors began circulating about a maze the Izzet parun Niv-Mizzet had uncovered, possibly with an ancient secret source of power at the end, Lazav was sure to be in the know. He tasked his best agent, the thought-sucking vampire Mirko Vosk, to learn more from various sources, chiefly a young mind mage named Jace Beleren, who could not help but stick his nose where it did not belong.
While Mirko did this, Lazav got to work himself. As a shapeshifter, Lazav had a preferred activity he enjoyed; murdering people and taking their place. He had done this dozens of times with dozens of people in dozens of positions of political power throughout the other Guilds. As more and more information about the Maze and its workings became clear, he began whispering deceptions masked as advice to the guild leaders he advised. He was, however, careful to avoid direct confrontation with Beleren after discovering that although Jace could not read his mind, the lack of a mind that Jace could not read itself made Lazav detectable to Jace, even when shapeshifted.
He came to learn that the Maze was not actually a race; it was a test. A test to see if the Guilds were capable of cooperating without having their hands forced by the Magical guildpact. Should they succeed, a new, more flexible guildpact would be their reward to help maintain the delicate balance of power. Should they fail, the entire tenth district, the political center of Ravnica, would be annihilated by the Supreme Verdict. This was as good a chance Lazav could ever hope for. He began goading the guilds into military conflict and convinced the leaders that the other guilds were doing the same. When the guilds came to run the race, they did not do so for glory, but for bloody conquest over their age old foes.
Lazav came mercifully close to his goal of forever removing the competition from the picture except for the last ditch efforts of Jace Beleren. Using a spell to link together the minds of all the participants of the running of the maze, he was able to convince them that their destruction would be mutual and peace was the best option. For passing the test, Jace was chosen by the Arbiter of the maze to become the new living, breathing Guildpact. To pass judgment upon the guilds and to mediate peace between them. Lazav failed his task that day, but his ambition now lay behind a man. A simple man who could be threatened and blackmailed and tortured like any other.