The Gruul are a loose affiliation of savage clans that squat in Ravnica's alleyways, abandoned zones, and ruins. Many of the Gruul clans have come to occupy the Rubblebelt, a broken thread of war-ruined land and settlements that begins near the outskirts of Ravnica's Tenth District. Warfare among the Gruul is constant and almost ritualistic; the Gruul believe that only the strong should survive and rule. The Gruul are the most disenfranchised and hold the most anti-civilization views of all of Ravnica's guilds, and as such are the most ill at ease in a world covered by city.
Borborygmos, the Clan Alpha Edit
Although no Gruul clan leader has ever managed to dominate or unify all the clans, one Gruul clan leader is spoken of in reverential tones: Borborygmos. An unusually massive cyclops and the savage leader of the Burning Tree clan, Borborygmos "smashes his enemies into paste, then uses that paste to polish his boots," as the saying goes. Borborygmos has defended his position as the Gruul's mightiest clan leader for several decades now and has killed many upstarts. But although he's still an extraordinary warrior, Borborygmos is beginning to show his age. The challenges to his leadership have become more frequent and his victories more narrow.
The Clans Edit
New clans occasionally form under ambitious Gruul warlords, and meanwhile other clans are occasionally challenged, defeated, and wiped out. These six, though, have existed stably for some time.
Burning Tree Clan Edit
The Burning Tree clan, led by Borborygmos, is the most fearsome and powerful. This clan is also the largest and most diverse, having branches in several districts of Ravnica. The fear and awe inspired by Borborygmos himself allows this clan to keep a strong reign over diverse and geographically separated members. The symbol of the Burning Tree clan has come to be regarded by the Ravnican populace as the symbol for the entire Gruul guild.
Ghor Clan Edit
The leader of the Ghor clan, Ruric Thar, is a two-headed ogre who rules his clan with barbaric cruelty. He also claims to be the only Gruul warrior to face Borborygmos himself and live, although one of his heads is hideously deformed as a result of the battle. Of all the clans, the Ghor execute the most frequent and savage assaults on Ravnican citizenry. The clan typically creates encampments close to heavily populated Ravnican districts. Ruric Thar likes to terrify the "cobble roaches," as he calls them, with the boisterous, blood-gurgling sounds of his clan's chaotic assaults.
Scab Clan Edit
The Scab clan is made up of a variety of races, including minotaurs, centaurs, ogres, and goblins. They are easily distinguished by their beastly looking scars and body mutilations. Scab clan warriors despise pretentiousness and false airs. They believe that the body is the outward form of the spirit, and that the more maimed the appearance, the more authentic the warrior. The Scab have engulfed or destroyed several clans in recent years, but the leader of the clan, a corpulent giant known as Narbulg Nine Fingers, has not yet deigned to challenge Borborygmos or the Burning Tree.
Bolrac Clan Edit
The Bolrac clan is made up of large lumbering brutes, primarily cyclopes, ogres, trolls, and giants. The clan's leadership changes almost daily, since brutal battles for supremacy are as common as meals. The word "bolrac" is an old Ravnican word meaning "heavy hammers," and the Bolrac specialize in bringing down massive structures using mauls and battering rams. The only thing the Bolrac love more than destroying something smaller than them is toppling, crumbling, and then destroying something that was once larger.
Slizt Clan Edit
The Slizt clan is a clutch of sly, stealthy, mostly viashino warriors, although they have been known to accept the odd "pinkskin" (human). This clan has survived in the Rubblebelt by using three tactics: stealth, high ground, and ranged attacks. The Slizt settle in the highest portions of ruins and ambush foes with a flurry of arrows from above. Other Gruul clans regard the Slizt as skulkers and cowards, but all are cautious when entering areas with elevated ruins. The home ground of the Slizt clan is The Husk, an area at the center of the Rubblebelt that has many large and ancient structures that have somehow remained standing for many generations.
Zhur-Taa clan Edit
The Zhur-Taa clan, also known as the "skull bleachers," is the only Gruul clan that claims to follow "the old ways." The Zhur-Taa are very close to their beasts; their shamans are adept at summoning and training beasts for war-companions and mounts. The Zhur-Taa worship the Utmungr, "gods of the deep earth," and await the awakening of an ancient boar god who will mount a fiery rampage and raze the over-civilized world once and for all. The Zhur-Taa stack large piles of skulls, humanoid and animal alike, as offerings to these believed gods. Their Zhur-Taa leader, Nikya of the Old Ways, is a powerful shaman who, it is said, can summon massive vines from the ancient layers of Ravnica's crust.
Gruul Locations Edit
Skarrg: the reunion turf Edit
In the gutted, cratered remains of a massive palace, a great bonfire burns, marking a place of tradition for the Gruul. Skarrg is not exactly neutral ground for the Gruul clans, as no truce is called and old grudges tend to lead quickly to bloody combat. But Gruul clans periodically converge on Skarrg from every corner of Ravnica. Giant boars are roasted and great battles are fought, and here the Gruul find something akin to camaraderie.
The Rubblebelt Edit
Every district has its share of Gruul squatters and street toughs. But many Gruul guild members inhabit a discontinuous archipelago of wasteland zones outside of the Tenth District. The Rubblebelt is a mass of gutted buildings; transitory shantytowns; and strange, roaming, ruin elementals. "The Belt" is surrounded on all sides by more civilized areas; other guilds often attempt to encroach on this area and try to reclaim it for their own uses, generating endless conflict with the civilization-spurning Gruul.
The Old Ways Edit
In the time before the guilds of Ravnica were formed, the Gruul were a collection of druids and shamans who celebrated and claimed the wilds of the plane. Obviously, the Gruul failed at this task. Some sages surmise that it was the moment when a Gruul shaman saw the last towering druid-tree fall, and the last sacred grove was dug out for a stone quarry, that the spark of outrage was kindled. That spark became an all-consuming need to take vengeance on civilization and those who worked for "progress."
In this current age, most Gruul clans simply live by the rule that "the strong survive, the strongest rule," but there is still a small spark of the old ways left in certain Gruul clans. The Zhur-Taa believe that the quakes that rumble across the Rubblebelt are a sign that the gods of the deep earth are awakening and preparing to rise up and destroy the "cobble roaches." The Zhur-Taa believe that the first sign of this apocalypse will be the coming of Ilharg, the boar-god.
Rauck-Chauv: anarch's "holiday" Edit
The Gruul observe few consistent traditions but love to celebrate Rauck-Chauv, an irregular, calendar-mocking festival characterized by several days of rioting, feasting, looting, and destruction. Scholars note that Rauck-Chauv honors the principles of the Gruul's anti-intellectualism, having its roots in an ancient druidic promise to root out the artifice that underpins the unnatural institutions of city life, but the Gruul just revel in the excuse to smash things.
Gruul Attitudes Toward Other Guilds Edit
- Azorius: "Our world is diseased and the Azorius are the plaguebearers. Once they are destroyed, Ravnica will regain its primal essence."
- Orzhov: "A guild of ghosts and liars. Best not to have pockets for them to pick."
- Dimir: "Weaklings clad in menacing shadow. Hold the Dimir up to the light and you'll see them for the pale, scrawny wretches they truly are."
- Izzet: "While the Izzet fiddle with their theories and cower at the feet of a dragon, the strong carve up the world."
- Rakdos: "The Rakdos know fear is power. They hold no power over the Gruul."
- Golgari: "The Golgari know that to tear down this city, you start at the foundation. But their hearts have been deceived by whispers of power."
- Boros: "We respect the Boros! So their heads adorn our pikes instead of plugging the gutters."
- Selesnya: "A Selesnyan would coddle a wolf, teach it to fetch sticks, and call it a dog. We prefer to starve the wolf, let it hunt for its food, and make a stronger wolf."
- Simic: "The Simic enjoy twisting nature, but they will not enjoy it when nature twists back."