The Rakdos Cult is a large group of hedonists, sadists, criminals, and psychopaths under the leadership of a powerful demon named Rakdos. The Rakdos Cult combines a destructive urge with the desire for pleasure. Its members are sadistic and cruel simply for the fun of it. Extreme entertainments and personal enjoyment are their goals. They want Ravnica to bow to their whims and anything that gets in their way—or happens to be walking by—is fair game.
Rakdos is the undisputed head of the guild, but beyond that, Rakdos lacks a formal structure. The cult members despise rules or anything that curtails their freedom, so there are no laws other than the precept to please their demonic master. They might attack each other on the street during the day and then go to the same revelry at night. On the surface, the activities of the guild are run by loosely affiliated "Rings," each led by a Ringmaster, and each with its own sphere of influence, commodities, and cult followers. Selfishness and hedonism guide cult members' actions, and there is little thought to consequences—ever. Members of Rakdos are driven by a desire to entertain themselves and they don't care who they hurt along the way.
Rakdos the Defiler EditRakdos has lived for thousands of years. When we last saw him, his unconscious body was dumped into his lava pit in Rix Maadi. But now, Rakdos has awakened and is restored to his full power. He's in complete control over the Cult of Rakdos, which is thriving and growing despite the low life expectancy of its members. While the proclivities of the cult members run the gamut between hedonism and destructive evil, Rakdos is at the far end of that spectrum. He embodies destructive evil, all in the context of twisted entertainment.
Rakdos's age and origins are unknown. He is capricious and megalomaniacal. He wants everything to happen on a grand scale. In one moment, he can be seen roaring with satisfaction at the sight of his performers. In the next moment, he might order they be set on fire while he laughs cruelly as they burn to death. He has an uncanny magnetism that draws people to him, and he rewards his followers by catering to their twisted desires. Carnage and carnal pleasures—these are the currencies of Rix Maadi.
When Rakdos is awake, he is the undisputed center of the attention. His whims are catered to, whether it is murder or mutilation, and nothing is spared to please the master. When Rakdos slumbers, which he does for days at a time, the cult members ratchet down the murder and chaos. Instead, the atmosphere in Rix Maadi becomes political and manipulative as the bloodwitches vie for control. Then Rakdos wakes up, and it's an orgy of bloodletting and mayhem again.
The Rings of Rakdos Edit
The Rakdos Cult is made up of the Rings, which are shifting conglomerations of people who pay tribute to Rakdos in exchange for protection as well as cult membership. Membership in Rakdos is not a formal arrangement; it's a sense of acceptance, of shared deviance, and communal justification of amorality. Currently, there are nine major Rings of Rakdos, some more depraved than others, each one led by a minor cult leader called a Ringmaster who ultimately answers to Rakdos himself. The number of Rings is malleable, depending on the demands of the Ravnican public, Rakdos's whims, and the power plays of individual Ringmasters.
The Rings have territories based around the physical locations of their clubs, and they enforce their control over these territories with violence when necessary. Many Rings run multiple clubs within them, which sometimes only last weeks or months before they are shut down by a mass murder, major fire, or—sometimes—by the law enforcement of other guilds.
Diversion Clubs Edit
Currently, there are five Rings that service Rakdos-affiliated diversion clubs. The clubs sell all manner of food and drink, twisted circus entertainment, bathhouse amenities, and creepy burlesque revues. The bulk of the Rakdos membership is involved in these diversion clubs as workers, performers, or hangers-on. Cult members tend to be young and live a nocturnal existence of revelries and petty crime. There's a lot of violence between cult members, as well as random "family" groups who live nomadic existences in squat houses throughout Ravnica. Most cult members live hard and die young.
Debauchery Clubs Edit
Currently, there are three Rings that service debauchery clubs, which are usually higher on the depravity scale. These clubs offer a variety of entertainment, tattooing and scarring, pit fighting, and other services. Most do not have an obvious storefront that is recognizable by the general public. Those who wish to frequent them must either pay a high entrance fee or pay special tribute to Rakdos himself.
The Torturers Edit
There is only one torture-oriented Ring, and that is located in the depths of Rix Maadi itself. Rakdos leaves this pain-inflicting "entertainment" up to bloodwitches and their masochistic minions and toadies. This is the most depraved Ring, with sacrificial murders both voluntary and involuntary. One of the caverns off the Lava Pit of Rix Maadi is filled with torture devices of all kinds.
Rix Maadi, the Dungeon Palace Edit
Rakdos dwells inside Rix Maadi, a guildhall built around a lava pit in the undercity. The most direct route to Rix Maadi is down an immense stone staircase that leads down an ancient tunnel carved deep into the earth by a wurm and enforced with thick stone pillars. Rakdos members call this subterranean passage the Demon's Vestibule. The crumbling walls of the tunnel are covered in colorful banners and old bloodstains. These faded and ripped banners depict all manner of grotesque acts as well as promote diversion clubs and "festivals." This creates a dark carnival tone even before you reach Rix Maadi. As you descend into the undercity, the temperature rises. Everything is cast in a red glow from the veins of molten rock that branch across the walls and ground. Before Ravnica became covered in city, this section was a volcano. The top of the volcano was long ago stripped away and replaced by buildings, but the molten core and lava pits are still intact.
Rix Maadi stands at the far end of a courtyard, its ornate stone edifice flanked by jagged basalt pillars flowing with lava streams. Tattered cloth banners hang limply from metal spikes and ominous red light pours out through the giant doorway. The façade of Rix Maadi is the only part of the guildhall that resembles an actual building. Inside, Rix Maadi is a large natural cavern with a high ceiling where "chimneys" ventilate the immense underground chamber.
The Festival Grounds Edit
In front of Rix Maadi is a vast, derelict courtyard with a large, defaced fountain at its heart. In the center of the fountain, a once-beautiful statue of a rearing centaur is partially smashed and smeared with various substances. The courtyard looks like an acrobat troupe fled without bothering to pack up their equipment. A rickety tightrope is strung across the courtyard. Several trapezes dangle from rusty hooks. Human-size wooden cages lay tipped on their sides and discarded spiky tools with dubious functional use are scattered haphazardly. On closer inspection, everything is blood-splattered. This courtyard is the site of the most notorious—and fatal—Rakdos festivals.
Roles Within the Rakdos Guild Edit
Riot Mage Edit
These mages lead Rakdos festivals. They often have dramatic, chaotic personalities and colorful names that rival the pit fighters. They know how to put on a show and incite bystanders into joining the festivities. These festivals are dearly loved by Rakdos members and hated by the general public, who are left to clean up the rubble and hold the funerals afterwards. Rakdos festivals are not only a reward to cult members, but also a pretense for Rakdos thieves to steal anything they can get their hands on while the residents are distracted.
These are a cadre of powerful witches who reside in Rix Maadi and are the closest thing to advisors Rakdos has (or would ever tolerate). Exava currently wields the most power, although she has to work hard to keep it. Most of the political maneuvering that happens in the Rakdos cult happens among these witches, most of whom are female. Rakdos prizes chaos and cruelty, so the bloodwitches cultivate these qualities while downplaying their own aspirations for power and privilege.
These are the cult members who staff the diversion clubs and debauchery clubs or assist riot mages during festivals. A roustabout is any cult member who hangs around a club, helping out the Ringmaster with whatever tasks are needed, such as cleaning up blood spills or dragging the dead bodies out and leaving them in a gutter in another district. This is not a formal economic arrangement and a roustabout is usually compensated with something other than cash.
The muscle of Rakdos. They got their name from a now-defunct group who killed their victims with spikes, usually through the mouth. Each Ringmaster employs spikers to handle any violence—whether it's controlling it or instigating it. Some of the spikers form gangs with their own hazing rituals. Fighting between spiker gangs is like a Rakdos spectator sport complete with betting and audience participation. Massacre Girl's spikers are particularly notorious for their random acts of violence. There are many ogres among the spikers. In addition to possessing incredible strength, they tend to be good followers, as they rarely show the capacity to think for themselves or even carry out complex orders.
These are the entertainers of Rakdos. This nickname encompasses everyone from acrobats to cabaret dancers to gremlins on unicycles. Many of the madcaps are homicidal deviants whose acts involve gruesome killing displays masquerading as entertainment. Often, the madcaps are the smaller humanoids who couldn't survive in the Rakdos cult on their own, so they compensate by being "artistic." Being a good entertainer gives you enough capital to stay alive.
Rakdos Attitudes Toward Other Guilds Edit
Azorius: "How do you make an Azorius dance? Rip out his spine and make him into a marionette."
Boros: "The only thing angels are good for is target practice."
Dimir: "Not afraid to get their hands dirty, but they need to learn to enjoy life more."
Gruul: "Our poor, stupid cousins. There's more to life than scraps of leather and hunks of flesh. Or at least, more fun things than they use them for."
Golgari: "Anything that spends so much time around fungus should be put out of its misery."
Izzet: "Too stuffy, but making bigger and better explosions is a reasonable way to spend your time."
Selesnya: "Pampered dryads pretending to be selfless puts Rakdos in a very killing mood."
Simic: "Freaky brainiacs that mess with nature for all the wrong reasons."
Orzhov: "The only thing worse than a bunch of rules is a bunch of idiots with the power to force those rules on others. Power to Rakdos!"