The Cult of Rakdos
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Magic: The Gathering plane known as Ravnica, allow me to give you a brief intro that will help you better understand the succession of reviews that will be posted over the next few months. Ravnica is a city that sprawls to the corners of the plane it exists on, an ecumenopolis, if you will. Very few have been close enough to the border to even have a chance at just spotting the city limits. At the time of this post, there are 10 active guilds who have each carved out a section of the city-proper. The guilds are bound by magic to obey laws, but a law abiding city wouldn’t make for a great story, now would it? There are of course loopholes, the major one being that the upholder of the magical laws is a planeswalker named Jace Beleren, who isn’t always on the plane of Ravnica. This leads to skirmishes, plots and subterfuge between the guilds, who are all jockeying for control of the city. The Cult of Rakdos is but one of the 10 guilds, but we’ll have spotlights for the other 9 guilds coming your way soon. Please enjoy some pics of the new miniatures from Wizkids that go with this set as well!
Rakdos, the demon, founded the Cult of Rakdos over 10,000 years ago, well before the guilds were defined in Ravnica. He is a literal demonic fiend, standing 30’ high, who leads his chaotic troupe from below the cult’s guildhall in Rix Maadi, often staying there for months or even years at a time. When he emerges, it is only to satisfy his desire for a truly unique and spectacular performance. I’d offer a word of caution to any who may be on stage at the time of his arrival, for his temper is short and his appetite very specific.
The cult was solidified as a guild when the Guildpact was enacted, and the Cult of Rakdos was designated as the official entertainers, miners and laborers of Ravnica. The guild itself is comprised of jugglers, anarchists, musicians, seductresses, acrobats, puppeteers and other performing misfits. These aren’t your standard shows, of course. You are sure to find a juggling act, but make no mistake, those skulls are real. No Rakdos performance would be complete without chains, fire, iron, blood and hell beasts. It goes without saying that you should keep your distance if you happen upon a “show” in the 4th or 6th precincts. There are rumors of onlookers being tempted by promises of fulfilling their darkest desires, then being swallowed by the riotous crowd, and never heard from again.
“Against the wall stood an enormous sentry, somewhere along the spectrum between rotund man and compact giant, dressed in what looked like the motley of a harlequin jester cross with barbed wire.” - Doug Beyer, Return to Ravnica: The Secretist
That quote is a head nod at the two Rakdos Ogre minifigures that I received when opening my Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica booster brick. These guys look absolutely punishing! They fit the bill for Rakdos cultists, that’s for sure. The sheer number of spikes and protrusions they have on display is enough to make me second guess handling them.
Demons come in all shapes and sizes, and in stark contrast to the Rakdos Ogre, we have the diminutive Cackler. A Cackler is classified as a small fiend, and it gets its name by its unique ability to evoke laughter, even from the most unwilling participants. This guy is tiny, but still packs a punch! He can swing on you with his spiked chain even if you’re 10 feet away.
I’ve included the Human Sorcerer miniature from the Companion Set Starter Two here as well, because she has been designed with the Rakdos theme in mind. You’ve got the iconic red and black, as well as some dangling spiked chains and an impressive barbed helmet. What could make you want to tangle with a Rakdos cultist less than if they happened to wield devastating and enthralling magics?
Lastly, I thought it fitting to include some of the Wall of Fire environmental spell effects that were recently released by WizKids as well. They help elevate the fire element that the Cult of Rakdos possesses. Rest assured, if my players happen across a Rakdos carnival, these flames will be the perfect accoutrements to set the mood.
When I see these minis, I can’t help but think of the Diablo franchise, especially the Butcher from Act 1 in Diablo III. Whatever the inspiration, these impeccably painted figures evoke all of the right emotions for me: fear, wonder, intrigue and revulsion.
This entry is part one of a multi-part review series exploring the new Icons of the Realms: Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica (Series 10) miniatures and tabletop accessories by Wizkids. Check back frequently as we will revisit Ravnica for more guild spotlights!