I'm trying to create some house rules to run a Pathfinder campaign in Ravnica, a M:tG plane which has 10 guilds, each one with a very specific philosophy and societal role.

I wish guilds to be :

  1. flavorful mechanically-wise
  2. optional (I guess I could make them mandatory, but it would be my last choice)
  3. enforcing/rewarding guild's specific behaviour (roguish for dimir, violent for gruul, etc, but by rewarding, I don't mean offering reward, but "helping the PC as long as he acts this way") but...
  4. allowing some room for different interpretations (not all dimirs are alike)
  5. (more or less) balanced
  6. offering increasingly powerful bonus/powers over time

Considered but rejected solutions :

  • full classes, because Pathfinder punishes multi-classing, and I think it would tend to violate my 4th bullet
  • feats, because they would be either not enough powerful to be flavorful, or too powerful to be optional

Considered solutions :

  • a bloodlines-like system (note : sorcerers are inexistants in Ravnica)
  • a 5-level class with prerequisites at every level, making them reachable at given levels if the PC took some feats and / or skills his guild favor

Is there any other rpg trying to do something similar ? Maybe Vampire : the Requiem ? I don't know it very much.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How tied to pathfinder are you? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 10:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite tied. I would consider other system propositions, but I'd like Pathfinder answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trajan
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 10:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting idea. I would consider the Ravnica Guild system a combination of character preference, family and associate bonds, and socio-economic reality. You could join the Guild because of family, association, colleagues, residence, aptitude/skills/profession and preference. Class (profession/avocation) contributes something to the choice, but more from an exclusionary bias. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to look at the Planescape campaign setting's factions. It's not too dissimilar to what you've got planned, and it's always worth looking at how what you're doing has been done before. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 3:24

5 Answers 5


Pathfinder has several placeholders for class customization within the existing framework. Let's work through them:

Feats & Traits

Many races & classes gain access to specific Traits and specific Feats. In fact, in the Golarion world, humans from different regions have specific Traits and Feats.

Adding a set of specific Feats / Traits for each guild seems entirely reasonable.

Favored Class

The default "favored class" bonus is +1 skill point or +1 HP / level. However, several races have special variants on Favored Class. For example Human Sorcerers can get extra spells instead of HP.

Providing such tweaks for guild members should be very reasonable. For example:

  • Selesnya Druid: Add +1/2 level to the druid's caster level for summon spells. (go tokens)
  • Dimir Wizard: Add +1/2 level to your caster level on Illusion and Necromancy spells.
  • Boros Fighter: Add +1/2 damage on charge attacks (i.e.: +2 dmg at level 4)
  • Rakdos Barbarian: +1 rage rounds / day

Archetypes, Domains & Bloodlines

Pathfinder has lots of "twists" on common classes wrapped up via Archetypes. The premise here is that you trade off certain class abilities for other class abilities.

For example the Thug archetype loses "trap sense" but gains "brutal beating".

So a Dimir Rogue might gain Passwall 1x day instead of Evasion, give them an incorporeal attack as a rogue talent, something that bypasses DR for a certain number of rounds. This would echo the "unblockable" stuff from MTG.

Most classes have a tremendous number of Archetypes. Making a "Rakdos Rogue" or a "Selesnya Paladin" Archetype is totally reasonable from a balance perspective.

For Clerics, Pathfinder has created Domains. Customizing a Domain for a given Guild would give each guilds Clerics a distinct feel without breaking the world. And it would fit with the premise that Rakdos cleric would be completely different from Simic cleric.

For Sorcerers, if you allow them, you can force a specific Guild Bloodline. Again, this would make Sorcerers distinct between guilds without really killing them.

Prestige Classes

Prestige Classes are a really big flex space. As written in Pathfinder they don't see a lot of use as they tend to be very specific and often sacrifice flexibility.

However, it's quite possible for you to develop some Guild-specific Prestige classes that maintain most of the normal level progression with reasonable class trade-offs.

So you could develop a Simic Prestige class that allows a user to continue to progress their Caster Level, but also gives them some abilities to grant conditional buffs to their party. (think +1/+1 counters)

What to choose?

Based on your criteria, Archetypes/Domains achieves your goal.

It is (1) flavorful, (2) optional, (3) rewarding guild behavior, (4) allows for different classes within a guild, (5) balanced (balanceable), (6) can level up over time.

Please note that Archetypes can be a lot of work. If you do 3 archetypes / guild * 10 guilds that's 30 archetypes! That stated, anything you do times 10 is going to be a lot of work. I mean 3 custom feats + 3 custom traits + 1 favored class bonus = 70 things you needs to create.

So lots of work, though, it could also be lots of fun if that's your cup of tea :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't thought about alternative bonus for favored classes by guild, that's neat ! And Guild Archetypes... There are definitely existing archetype that fit better to some guild than others (i.e. Hungry Ghost Monk for Rakdos). I'll consider this option, and guildfeats as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trajan
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 8:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's true, you could probably leverage several existing archetypes. Also note that there are variants for Ranger that have city as favored terrain. Given that Ravnica is a giant city, this may be reasonable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 21:05

I would actually vote for feats. Using feat chains or trees lets you retain the standard class system, saving you a lot of work, as well as balancing advancement in "Guild" benefits and abilities. Dragonmarked Houses from the Eberron campaign setting use feats in a very flavorful was and they are very similar to the Ravnica Guilds.

Some members of certain races are born with Dragonmarks, strange sigils that give them spell-like abilities. The Mark of Making allows creating or fixing material goods, the Mark of Healing grants, healing abilities, etc. Those with Dragonmarks have organized into Houses, which make up a huge part of the economy of Khorvaire, one of Eberron's continents.

Dragonmarks are taken by player characters as feats, which come in three levels of power. Each feat grants spell-like abilities that the character can use. (Such as mending, and so on.) You start by taking a Minor feat, then a Lesser feat and finally a Major feat. Each level of feat roughly equates to a spell level of the spell-like ability. (Minor is 0th or 1st level spells, etc.)

Modeling the Ravnica Guilds would work much in the same way. Each Guild would have a short (or long) feat tree. Minor feats could give skill bonuses or additional class skills, plus social effects. I'd probably create each feat to allow the choice of a couple skills to apply the bonus to. So the Selesnya feat might allow the choice to give a +2 bonus to Healing or Handle Animal. Each feat would also allow you to access Guild Resources, like safehouses, labs or Rakdos parties.

From there, the next feat in the chain could give a spell-like ability or an actual mechanical ability (something like Power Attack, Sneak Attack, etc.) If you really liked the idea, you could design combat-based feats and spell-based feats, allowing someone to play an Izzet fighter, if they really wanted to.

Of your listed criteria, feats could meet:

  • 1) The feats can contain as much guild flavor as you can come up with.
  • 2) They would certainly be optional, and if you chose, you could give the appropriate 'minor' Guild feat for free to each player.
  • 3) They would help PC's act in a manner consistent with their Guild, by giving them bonuses to doing guildly things.
  • 4) If you offer options on each Guild feat (a list of skills to add bonuses to, a choice of additional class skills), then this one is met.
  • 5) Balance is going to be a little harder, with the feats being home-brewed, but you could try to follow the spell levels that the Dragonmarked feats used.
  • 6) Going back to the Eberron example, I believe that taking the second feat in the chain gives you the ability to use the first feat in the chain additional times. (For example, the Minor Mark of Creation lets you use mending 1/day. When you take the Lesser Mark of Creation, you get a new spell-like ability, plus you can now use mending 2/day.
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Beat me to the punch on using Dragonmarks as an example. I think these feat trees meet exactly the qualities you're looking for. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanadu
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not confortable with granting spell-like abilities to everyone, but I'll probably work on some feats. Is there any online source for these dragonmarks ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trajan
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 8:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you go to the bottom of the page here: eberron.wikia.com/wiki/Dragonmarks, there are links to each of the Dragonmarks at the bottom. The individual pages detail which abilities are given out at each "level" of the feat. (Here's the Mark of Warding link: eberron.wikia.com/wiki/Mark_of_Warding) \$\endgroup\$
    – Discord
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 13:00

What you're describing sounds a lot like the Factions from the Planescape campaign setting. Here's a link to what has been done regarding Planescape factions for D&D3.5 : http://www.planewalker.com/pscs-chapter-3

The above document defines some PrC that are only open to members of a specific Faction, and introduces a 3-level Faction Fanatic class.

As an alternative system, it presents the possibility of considering Factions as bloodlines from the Unearthed Arcana book.

The Faction-specific feats are defined in this document: http://www.planewalker.com/pscs-chapter-4

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Planewalker version of the PCS is designed for 3.0rd and 3.5rd editions of D&D, not Pathfinder. Not that that's a huge issue, of course, but it's something to keep in mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 3:31

How about making each guild have a list of Favored Classes? Pathfinder has a fairly robust system of bonuses for taking your favored class, which are small but enough to count. Tell players that they may join a guild; if they do, they use the guild’s favored classes instead of their race’s. Or just remove them from the races altogether, so they only way to get them is to join a guild (and match the guild’s style).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought about that, I came up with a list of class for every guild, I'd expect a more game-changing system. More a RavnicaD20 than a Pathfinder-in-a-mtg-setting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trajan
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:09

Not quite Pathfinder, but Wizards of the Coast (finally) released an official campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. I never played DD5, so I wouldn't know how easily it would translate to pathfinder, but I'm sure this would contains pretty interesting stuff.



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