The Simic Combine is Ravnica's steward of nature and the wild; its mission is to preserve the natural world even as Ravnica's cities continue to grow. The guild seeks to protect the elements of the plane that are incompatible or mutually exclusive with its overpopulated, urban conditions. This is not easy, of course, because the forces of civilization are so prevalent on Ravnica that they threaten to subsume anything that runs counter to them. But the Simic practice a strange combination of detachment and holism that provide a kind of separation from the larger urban systems—a separation on which their conservation mission depends.
Simic Guild Structure Edit
A zonot is a huge sinkhole that leads all the way down to the Ravnican oceans, and each serves as a distinct Simic habitat—sort of an oversized, inverted skyscraper. Each zonot has a different culture, ecosystem, and racial distribution, as well as a speaker.
Zonot One Edit
The first to open, Zonot One appeared in a remote area far away from the Tenth District. This is Speaker Zegana's home zonot, although she spends most of her time in Zonot Seven, where the Simic main guildhall is located. Zonot One is the smallest zonot and has a somewhat somber feeling compared to others.
Zonot Four Edit
The largest of the zonots has the marine troll Trifon as its speaker. The culture here is more brutal and direct than elsewhere, and the residents are larger on average, too.
Zonot Five Edit
The Simic tend to be insular, but this zonot has become a tourist destination—a place where the guildless can come to see the ocean as well as to observe Simic life. Rather than discourage this, the Simic created the Helical Stair here to draw more visitors.
Zonot Seven Edit
The only zonot inside the boundaries of the Tenth District, Zonot Seven is home to the guildhall, the Zameck. As one would expect, this is the busiest and most densely populated zonot.
Simic guild members are organized by clade rather than by species, role, or caste. Each clade is the natural-world equivalent of a project team: diverse individuals adapted to different tasks, yet related by a common goal. Clades often exist solely within a single zonot, but they need not do so, and large clades span two or more Simic communities. Some of the clades include:
Hull Clade Edit
This clade's focus is on protection, defense, durability, and the like. Its projects range from the strengthening of exoskeletons to the stabilization of zonot walls.
Fin Clade Edit
The study of movement is this clade's focus—both literal movement of creatures (especially flying creatures) as well as, for example, movement of resources through systems.
Crypsis Clade Edit
This secretive clade develops strategies for obscuring other guilds' views of the Simic. This includes literal camouflage as well as magic designed to hide knowledge or operations.
Gyre Clade Edit
Cyclical patterns and metamagic are this clade's specialization. Projects include finding ways to redirect or nullify magic and advancing nature.
Simic Philosophy Edit
The Holdfast Principle Edit
A holdfast is a biological structure that kelp and sponges grow on to anchor themselves to rocks or other objects on the sea floor too heavy for currents to move. In the Simic context, this structure has inspired a philosophical dogma that advises guild members never to stray so far from nature that they become "adrift"—a veiled warning against the excesses and ambitions of the guild's previous iteration. The Simic guild rank and file tends to stay close to their zonots for this reason, and Simic forays into city life are generally shorter than those of other guilds. The zonots themselves are sort of huge columns of sea grass or kelp in negative space, and the ocean far below is the object to which they are "anchored."
The Upwelling Edit
The Holdfast Principle doesn't mean the Simic are isolated or xenophobic, however. The opposing idea, stronger in Simic culture, is that of the Upwelling. In science, upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon in which nutrient-rich water moves toward the surface, replacing depleted water. For the Simic, this is a spiritual concept that bridges disciplines and pursuits. The return of the deep creatures to the surface, the birth of ever-larger organisms, the pursuit of natural science and understandings, the slow addition of new zonots... all are upwellings. The new and enlivened replace the old and depleted, and that replacement is cyclical.
Speaker Zegana Edit
The regal and reticent merfolk woman named Zegana is the current guildmaster of the Simic Combine. She is the speaker for Zonot One, the first to emerge on Ravnica, and she delivered the Fathom Edict that declared a new beginning for the Combine. Zegana is quick to point out, however, that she speaks at the discretion of the Speakers' Chamber, a secretive body of all nine of the zonots' speakers. She claims that the Chamber can revoke that status, at which time another speaker would replace her as the guildmaster. Many outside the Simic believe this is false modesty, however, and that Zegana controls the Chamber—if it meets at all.
Simic Locations Edit
The Simic guildhall is not a particularly ceremonial or celebratory place. In Zonot Seven, a huge chamber just below the surface has been cleared of debris and serves as the gathering place for all the speakers, as well as a place where non-Simic visitors can meet with Zegana or other Combine emissaries. The roof contains many openings to the sky covered over with plax to create opalescent skylights, which makes the chamber seem almost as though it's underwater. Thick cords of kelp buttress the walls of the huge chamber, and algae cakes the corners and edges of walls and floors. But the main chamber floor is clear, with the exception of a large table in the shape of a loose spiral, with a slightly elevated podium at its center.
The Helical Stair Edit
At Zonot Five, an enormous column of marine plant matter has been coaxed by magic to grow steadily up the walls of the zonot in a gentle spiral. Stairs have been carved in the spiral (and de-slimed), forming a long path by which surface dwellers can walk down to sea level. This is a Simic outreach to the people of Ravnica—a place where its denizens can see, touch, step into, and even swim through the cold oceans they forgot millennia ago.
Jezeru, the Lake District Edit
In recent years, the sentient among the Simic have collectively realized that they risk over-isolation in their zonots. In an effort to increase relevance and visibility, the Simic have made conscious efforts to bring their guild aboveground. The most dramatic example of these efforts is Jezeru, an entire district that now lies underwater. The water is only several feet deep in most of this shallow, natural valley area, although at its deepest it reaches forty feet or so. Terrestrial creatures can navigate the district via flying Simic "ferry" creatures as well as by stone walkways kept afloat by oversized pneumatocyst growths.
Any Simic hybridized lifeform is called a krasis, the catch-all term for such creatures. The new Simic Combine is careful not to repeat the mistakes of Vig and his bioengineers, but the guild still uses magic to coax new morphologies from existing creatures, as well as to combine traits from multiple organisms in one. Some of these are unique creatures that can't reproduce. A few multiply and become part of the guild's fabric.
Simic Attitudes Toward Other Guilds Edit
- Azorius: "The Senate is well intentioned and far-sighted. But its insistence on caution and control paralyzes it. This is unfortunate, because the surface world needs its leadership, even if we do not."
- Orzhov: "No other guild poses so great a threat to us and our mission. The Orzhov replace intellect with obedience and strength with money. They are the greatest enemies of nature and Ravnica's people."
- Dimir: "Such a disappointing waste of knowledge and insight. They do nothing but transform information into a currency with which to buy power and privilege. In time, life will conquer their deathly, shallow machinations."
- Izzet: "Their efforts are to be admired and learned from, but their disregard for natural systems reveals the short-sightedness of their thinking. Life will in time devise smarter solutions than the Izzet could ever concoct."
- Rakdos: "We must strive not to understand them, but to understand why they are allowed to persist—what needs they fulfill for the citizenry. In the meantime, treat them as rabid animals. Keep your distance."
- Golgari: "If they desired allies, we would be their closest. But they focus too much on the viciousness of natural cycles, even turning against their own. They have no patience for anything that doesn't yield power."
- Gruul: "Their base desires keep them at the fringes. Our patient, measured adaptation will prevent us from suffering the same fate. When they come to us for aid, we will not turn them away."
- Boros: "A dangerous combination of emotion and organization. Whether acting of their own accord or under the influence of an external force, the Legion turns its fears and desires into effective aggression."
- Selesnya: "The Conclave understands holism but impedes progress with a layer of mysticism. We admire their collectivism but not their dogmatism. We strive to retain specialization rather than suppressing it."