In the dark, slick corridors of the undercity lurks the unfathomable network of the Dimir guild. House Dimir is Ravnica's dark but open secret: the people know Dimir exists but they pretend it doesn't. The Dimir's role in Ravnica is to provide covert services that other guilds can't or won't, using secrecy as both weapon and defense. Dimir is hidden even from itself, using pockets of covert agents who are aware of only a few other contacts. Dimir agents leave no trace, destroying memories of witnesses to their crimes, and even going so far as to eliminate their own memories of assignments.
Backstory: The Fall of Szadek and the Rise of Lazav Edit
At the end of the last Ravnica trilogy, the former Dimir guild leader, the vampire Szadek, was all but destroyed: his physical body was killed, his spirit was banished to the ghostly realm of Agyrem, and his rule of House Dimir was ended. In his absence, the Dimir guild vanished almost entirely. Some guild members defected to other guilds and others rejoined the Ravnican general populace, but all retained their memories of once being part of House Dimir.
Meanwhile, a being of unknown origins took advantage of Szadek's dissolution: a magically adept shapeshifter who calls himself Lazav. In a series of inscrutable steps and using a number of disguises, he claims to have sought out obscure magics that would allow him to commune with Szadek's fading spirit. As the spell came together, Lazav was heard calling out Szadek's name and mumbling about ancient Ravnican history; some believe he attempted to avail himself of the vampire's thousands of years' worth of residual memories. After the ritual was complete, Lazav's behavior became erratic and his schemes for power deepened. Few people, even Dimir guild members, understand what power Lazav has tapped into or what effect it has had on him. But some Dimir agents claim to have heard Lazav's whispers in their minds, believing he is somehow able to create tenuous links to the psyche of any Dimir guild member, past and present.
Lazav: Dimir's New Guildmaster Edit
Lazav may be uniquely qualified to be the Dimir guildmaster: he is a shapeshifting mage whose mysterious genius flashes with telepathic impressions of the entire Dimir network. He shapeshifts into a variety of guises as his needs and plans require; he may step out into the Ravnican streets as an elderly widow to eavesdrop at the bazaar, become a vedalken hussar of the Azorius Senate to sidestep a checkpoint, or transform into a Tin Street merchant to deceive a passing noble. Some Dimir agents believe that Lazav now plots against Niv-Mizzet to discern the dragon's hidden endgame and twist it for his own purposes.
Dimir: Above and Below Edit
There are at least two levels of the Dimir: the overt level, the face of the guild the general public of Ravnica is allowed to see, and the covert level, that which consists of the inner guild and the members Ravnicans suspect exist but rarely, if ever, see.
Overt Level Edit
The Dimir are just like any Ravnican guild, serving a public purpose for the good of the city. They often serve as couriers, investigators, reporters, and archivists. They serve twin purposes: to give the rest of Ravnica a "friendly" face of the guild and to be the street-level eyes and ears of the Dimir. Many entry-level candidates to the Dimir guild begin as overt agents until they can prove their trustworthiness.
Covert Level Edit
The Dimir are a network of agents, spies, assassins, and mind mages. The covert level of House Dimir uses secret symbols, runes, and signals to communicate, often in plain sight. Covert Dimir also employ various mysterious forms of mind magic, such as telepathic communiqués that are erased from memory as soon as the operation is completed.
Clandestine Level Edit
But there is a level of Dimir hidden even from its own members. At its lowest level, the guildmaster Lazav and his direct contacts guide and manipulate the operations of the guild. Members of House Dimir assassinate, extort, and destabilize without knowing who made the order or why. Orders pass through thought trails and mindcouriers, leaving no trace of their connections with this deepest level. This bottommost level of the guild is protected by Lazav's memory wards, powerful one-way enchantments that allow contacts and witnesses to receive their orders but prevent permanent memories from taking hold.
Dimir Locations Edit
Duskmantle: Restored but Undisclosed Edit
Duskmantle, the Dimir guildhall, fell into disrepair after Szadek's fall from power, as the knowledge of how to find it was lost. Duskmantle has been restored deep within the Ravnican undercity, shielded by memory wards so no one really knows if it exists, let alone remembers its exact location.
The Ismeri Library Edit
One of the Dimir's major locations is well known throughout Ravnica: the officially guildless Ismeri Library. The library is open to all citizens and is run exclusively by Dimir guild members. Many guilds—namely the Azorius, Orzhov, and Boros—all know there must be something going on within the library walls, but they have not been able to figure out what. The thought of crimes being committed in plain sight drives them mad as they try to decipher and detect what the Dimir are up to. The Ismeri Library is one of the centers of Dimir communication. Messages are magically hidden within the hundreds of thousands of books stored here. Dimir agents use the library to trade messages, gathering message fragments taken from across several documents. Ravnican citizens never know if the book or scroll they're reading might contain encrypted messages that spell out Dimir assignments, directives, or assassination targets.
Dinrova Heights: Mages' Meeting Ground Edit
On the rooftop of a massive building known as the Dinrova, the highest-ranked guildmages of the Dimir hold counsel. Normally, the rooftop is closed. During the nocturnal rites, though, the roof panels open, revealing the Dinrova's bat-like architecture, as typical of the Dimir. Specters and other unspeakable horrors patrol the skies above the Dinrova to ward off any prying eyes or unwanted visitors.
Bane Alley Edit
For those who have asked the right people and greased the right palms, Bane Alley is most likely the final destination to gain access to the tip of Dimir's massive network of extortion, intimidation, murder, and graft. Many a Ravnican with a problem has wound up in Bane Alley only to walk away several hundred coins lighter, without a clue where he or she just was. But when the person returns home the problem has mysteriously been solved.
The precinct of Nightveil is where the Dimir elite reside. Built on a tract of land that has among its features an elaborate natural system of caverns, Nightveil is an urban adventurer's paradise if one can get past the patrolling spectral guardians. Tunnels and gates twist and turn, leading to sunken crypts and high-walled mansions all in the Dimir style of architecture. Although there is great suspicion about the involvement of the residents of Nightveil in various shady plots, somehow they escape all attempts to pin any wrongdoings on them. This is due to the Dimir's painstaking erasing of any and all memory trails to them but also to their numerous agents planted in the various guilds involved with prosecuting criminal endeavors. Orzhov lawmages, Azorius barristers, and Wojek commanders all have agents of House Dimir among them.
Dimir Tactics Edit
In Plain Sight Edit
Anything predictable can be tracked, so the Dimir have no special days, customs, or rituals. If a gathering at Duskmantle occurs, one can almost be certain another will not occur again at the same time or the same day. Some have even suspected that the location of Duskmantle is never in the same place twice, that the guildhall is taken down and rebuilt again like some moveable fortress. On the surface of the guild, the Dimir are encouraged to live predictable and custom-filled lives, being as normal as possible, holding steady jobs, and taking part in the community, but always keeping their eyes and ears open, absorbing all possible bits of information, and awaiting their moment to finally serve the guild.
Sleeper Agents Edit
When Lazav contacted the spirit consciousness of Szadek, or claimed to, he became aware of several Dimir sleeper agents scattered around Ravnica—even some who are now embedded in other guilds. Szadek's intent was that these sleeper agents would be able to receive missions telepathically, "activate" to undertake those missions, and then magically forget their involvement again. So far, Lazav has only begun to learn how to control the sleeper agents, and he has been able to activate some to gather data about the other guilds. If he learns to control them more deeply, he may be able to destabilize, exploit, and terrorize the other guilds to enact his own schemes.
Dimir Attitudes Toward Other Guilds Edit
- Azorius: "What a waste of knowledge's true power. Let them shuffle their papers some more."
- Orzhov: "Their ostentatious structures are a façade for their rotten, tiny minds."
- Izzet: "They are true seekers of knowledge, but their tools are chaotic and lacking in direction."
- Rakdos: "Their flesh is willing but their minds are weak."
- Golgari: "Take our corpses and our trash, and don't forget to take your stink with you."
- Gruul: "Whenever we need a riot, a scapegoat, or both, the Gruul are always so doltishly accommodating."
- Boros: "Anything so predictable can be destroyed or altered with a minimum of forethought."
- Selesnya: "As soon as we can infiltrate the Worldsoul, they will serve us as no other guild could."
- Simic: "Their minds are alien but their inquisitiveness intrigues us. We must find a way in."