Monday, June 17, 2013

Suvnica Worldbuilding Survey Results

Things are really coming together for early stage Suvnica design. Over the weekend I went through the survey data and creative visions to date. As of this post, I'm locking in the guild identities (unless we find them completely unworkable as we further develop the block). So without further ado, here's Suvnica:

The plane vision with the highest ranking was the one where guilds are akin to traditional Indian castes. I liked this idea in theory, but I really didn't know anything about it. Because it was much more popular than the other two visions, I did some research, and I think that it could work to inform our vision of the guilds. For those curious, I recommend this wikipedia article.

I think that having a guild structure defined by status, heredity, and profession (this last point especially plays nicely into one of the other planar identity options) would be an interesting way to go, and provide us a lens to focus the individual guild visions in ways that make them much more distinct from their Ravnican counterparts. I am more hesitant about having Suvnica be a "South Asia" plane the same way that Kamigawa was the Japan plane, simply because my knowledge of the region is so superficial that I feel I wouldn't be doing the set any favors by trying to have that inform the creative side of things - at least not without much more research than I have time for.

But that's OK. At this point, we're taking steps away from the role of creative and settling much more into normal R&D shoes. Maybe one day we'll template these cards to look for a more unified creative atmosphere, but for now we have enough information to describe the roles that guilds play and inform certain decisions about the creative identities of each, even if that picture is a little superficial.

I think that we will continue to refer to color pairings as guilds, as that implies more agency in the pairing than does caste or any other synonym I could think of.

Instead of writing lines and lines about guild structure, I'm just going to give quick bullet points, which will make reference much easier.

  • Membership within a guild on Suvnica is generally a function of birth. If your parents were Zhavi, then so are you. 
  • Each guild is considered the master of a number of professions and skills.
    • Practicing a trade traditionally within the province of another guild is considered taboo (although different guilds adhere to this with varying levels of strictness) 
      • Practicing a trade not traditionally practiced by a guild is fair game, although the guildless can be just as protective as some of the guilds when it comes to professions that they were able to thrive with
  • Guilds tolerate interguild romances (again, with varying degrees), but formal unions are very taboo.
  • The guilds are bound by a magical compact similar to the guildpact which, at least in theory, keeps any guild from accumulating too much power over another.
    • Even so, there are still guilds which are clearly dominant over the others.
    • There are also guilds which, over time, have come to see less and less value to honoring any sort of guild traditions

I'll fill this out more as we go along, but this should give us plenty to work with moving forward.

Before discussing the individual guilds, I wanted to address the two other questions on that larger worldbuilding poll.

First, +1/+1 counters were the clear favorite. They definitely have more design space than -1/-1, but I personally think it would have been fun to have that as a clear dividing point between Ravnica and Suvnica. That's ok. The first official rule of Suvnica design is now that any card using P/T modifying counters has to use +1/+1. 

I also asked a question about reader/contributor preference as far as whether I should keep the current random design challenge model, or if we should start thinking about fully developing the Suvnica block in its entirety. When I originally pitched the project, I threw together this little graphic that didn't make it into the final introductory article. 

The original intent was never to draft a skeleton and start filling holes, but rather to take a look at Ravnica and some of its iconic cycles withe a different creative vision. I figure we would wrap up the project somewhere around the time the Theros previews start leaking. That said, clear user preference is to fully develop the entire block. 

At the moment, I don't have the time to do that, but that may change towards the end of the summer, after I've finished the bar exam. I'm not currently committing to doing the entire block, but the fact that you guys are interested in it is definitely something I'm going to keep in mind moving forward. 

Finally, I'm going to just quickly list the final creative visions that we'll be using for each of the guilds. I'll be posting a series of articles over the course of this week that will provide some more detailed information about each (both creative and mechanical), but for now, here are the one-liners describing the guilds of Suvnica, with occasional notes underneath describing why it was chosen and other useful info to have moving forward.

  • {W}{U} Suiroza: Ensuring universal fairness through complete equality in all aspects of early life (guild-run education and cloning programs)
    • This one was actually an interesting choice - it was a tie between three of the four proposed visions. This one was the most divisive, having more higher AND lower rankings than either of the others. At the end of the day, I like the idea that Suiroza is going to be one of the guilds more inclined to complete rejection of the guild structure (tabula rasa doesn't work if major components of your life are products of being born to the right guild) when compared to Azorius' fervent dedication to the guildpact in Ravnica.
  • {W}{B} Zhavi: Protecting society through selective assassination
    • These guys are going to be the top of the guild food chain. They believe that it's an inherent social good (and that they are the ones most benefited by it is of no consequence to this determination), and they are in charge of ensuring adherence to its principles.
  • {U}{B} Rimid: Manic obsession with accumulating knowledge at any cost, hoping to save themselves from disaster
    • This description was the most popular, but it's going to be modified a little bit to match our current guild paradigm (more on this later this week)
  • {U}{R} Tezzi: Guild of thieves, pranksters, street magicians, entertainers, and con artists, in it for the fun
  • {B}{R} Radkar: Guild that is equal parts mob, paramilitary, and dictatorship, ruling over the impoverished areas of Suvnica
    • This one was pretty close between all three options. This one lent itself most to the guild paradigm, although fully expect the other two visions to inform the expanded explanation of this guild.
  • {B}{G} Gilrog: Guild that pursues complete superiority, doing anything to improve themselves and viewing anyone unable to do the same as an evolutionary dead-end
  • {R}{G} Grohm: Guild of adventurers, wanderers, traveling merchants who refuse to adhere to society's rules
    • This one was a clear favorite in the poll. Adventurers, wanderers, etc. is staying in, although the Grohm are subscribers to the guild model (unlike some of the more disenfranchised guilds) in my current model
  • {R}{W} Sorba: Guild of vigilantes, believing legal systems are incapable of protecting the innocent- The "do the right thing guild"
    • Another clear favorite.
  • {G}{W} Sahleen: A guild built around a temple/monastery that has premonitions of champions, trains and protects them to help them fulfill their destiny.
  • {G}{U} Kismi: Guild that has divined fate, and is attempting to change and influence it
    • In my current notes, fate and prophesy definitely play a significant role on Suvnica, especially for a few of the guilds. While a number of the guilds are focused on power and politics, there are at least some to whom all of that is background noise to more important matters.
As I mentioned in the Week 7 Review, I've finalized these as official guild names. Where a reversal of the name wasn't too cumbersome, I stuck with that. When it was unpronounceable, I tried to get capture some of the major sounds and/or feel of the Ravnica counterpart to create the association.

That's it for now. Let me know what you think in the comments.


  1. Thanks so much for running this! It's been great so far and I can't wait to get into more in-depth design.

  2. I'm liking what I see so far! I kinda came back to this blog recently after a long absence and this topic certainly gets my creative juices flowing. I love all the concepts for the guilds as they stand currently. Can't wait to see the next step.

  3. I think we can all agree this project started interesting and has only gained momentum since. Thanks for leading it, Zefferal.

    I can't help but notice that 6 of the 10 castes reject the world's social model...

    1. It might help to make a distinction between opposition to the caste structure and opposition to other social norms. Guilds like the Grohm and Tezzi aren't in favor of an orderly society, but they still subscribe to the caste model ("our kids do the same thing that we do"). On the other hand, the Suiroza guild is clearly working against the caste system, but with the end goal of improving society.

    2. Only three guilds that actively oppose it, three that actively support, and four for whom it's just kind of there.

    3. Care to tell us right now how the guilds are split alongside those lines? Suiroza and Zhavi are the only two that I can clearly and definitely place at this time (well, I can place Tezzi and Grohm, but they are neutral, so not nearly as interesting).

    4. Sure. More guild profiles are coming up soon, but the quick list is




    5. So I guessed the Sorba and Radkar correctly. I thought the Tezzi were more neutrals, though.

    6. Nah - they host the intellectual anarchists. You can check out the guild profile I posted a few days ago on them - it may answer some of your questions.

      They definitely dislike the guildpact, but every time they've fought against it (not an infrequent occurrence)they've been slapped right back down.