A vampire appeared out of the darkness, as quiet as a breeze. He was stripped to the waist despite the chill underground, and his eyes reflected light like a cat’s. He floated effortlessly down from the upper reaches of the chamber, and alighted on the chamber floor near the two of them.
— Doug Beyer, Return to Ravnica: The Secretist
House Dimir is Ravnica’s dark secret: behind a facade of respectable messengers and reporters lurks an association of spies and assassins whose existence is barely suspected by the populace at large. Secrecy is both House Dimir’s best weapon and its best defense, and much of the guild’s work is hidden even from other members. Dimir agents leave no trace of their covert activities, warping the memories of witnesses to their crimes and even wiping their own minds to remove any evidence of their completed assignments.
The first guildmaster of House Dimir was a vampire named Szadek, whose organization agreed to serve as Ravnica’s couriers, information brokers, and librarians. But Szadek also used his guild’s expertise at gathering information to build a vast spy network, and before long, the secret operations of the guild vastly outweighed its overt ones. Eventually the guild disappeared into the shadows, and most Ravnicans came to doubt its existence. An immortal entity, Szadek ruled the guild for ten thousand years until he was arrested and killed in the turmoil of the Decamillennial Celebration.
Inside the House
House Dimir has a clandestine aspect hidden from all but its most important members. The guildmaster, Lazav, and his direct contacts guide and manipulate the covert operations of the guild. Members of House Dimir ultimately receive their orders from this source without having any idea of who issued the order or why. Messages to agents are funneled through thought strands (see “Spell: Encode Thoughts” later in this section) and telepathic couriers.
By design, you don’t have much interaction with other members of your guild. You might never meet your primary guild contact face to face, instead receiving assignments and sending reports by way of secret message drops and codes.
Goals of the Dimir
House Dimir is all about secrets and misinformation, even where its own members are concerned. Any given Dimir agent knows of no more than a handful of alleyway contacts and dossier drop spots. One agent knows another only by a code name, or receives communications only at a particular meeting spot at a specific place and time. Every self-proclaimed expert with an opinion on the matter has a theory about the guild’s intentions, and all those guesses about Dimir’s motivations and pursuits contradict each other, frustrating any attempt to get to the truth of things. The public face of Dimir remains inscrutable, which some interpret as the best evidence that the guild’s true plans mean something dire for the Ravnican populace.
To House Dimir, knowledge is power. The guild hungers to learn everything it doesn’t already know, especially the weaknesses of its adversaries, and to exploit those weaknesses for its own gain. Conversely, the house holds its own secrets tightly, because it doesn’t want its enemies to turn the tables. The Dimir lurk in the shadows, methodically gathering the knowledge they need to remake Ravnica to their advantage.
House Dimir’s progress toward its goals depends on a web woven from meticulously gathered intelligence. Unpredictable behavior by other guilds can destabilize that web. When the Boros take sudden, forceful action inspired by an unexpected burst of zeal, the Dimir can be caught off guard. The Selesnya behave predictably on the whole, but the members of the conclave are so numerous that it can be hard for the Dimir to keep track of their activities. Of all the other guilds, the Izzet and the Gruul concern the Dimir the most; their erratic methods of decision-making, combined with their unflinching approach to danger, can quickly undermine any Dimir strategy designed to contain them.
Alignment: Usually neutral, sometimes evil
Suggested Races: Half-elf, human
Suggested Classes: Monk, rogue, wizard
If the following sentences describe you, you might enjoy playing a character who belongs to House Dimir:
- You love subterfuge, intrigue, and deception.
- You like to play rogues, spies, and assassins.
- The idea of stealing thoughts instead of treasure has a special appeal to you.
- You want to deceive your fellow players without necessarily betraying them.
Joining House Dimir
You began your career in House Dimir as part of the legion of shopkeepers, librarians, couriers, and traders who maintain the deception that the guild has become civil and tame. Without any exposure to the guild’s more covert activities, you helped to discredit those who believe that the Dimir are plotting to control the city, painting them as delusional conspiracy theorists. But at some point your gifts were recognized and you were invited into the deeper mysteries of the guild. Your training focused on stealth, espionage, and infiltration. As a Dimir spy, you might bring a variety of talents to your work.
In your guild role, you engage in surveillance, theft, sabotage, infiltration, and other kinds of espionage. You work in a pocket or sleeper cell, unaware of the identities of most other agents or the guild’s leadership. You might be a rogue of the Thief, Assassin, or Arcane Trickster archetype, a monk of the Way of Shadow, or even a cleric of the Trickery Domain.
If you are a spellcaster (perhaps a wizard specialized in the School of Divination, Enchantment, or Illusion), you have the skills needed to join the ranks of the most feared spellcasters on Ravnica: House Dimir’s mind mages. Your basic work and role is the same as any other spy’s, but you can learn to pull thoughts and memories from a person’s mind, use a target’s own thoughts against them, attack your foes’ psyches directly to create delusions, or scour enemy minds clean.
Background: Dimir Operative
You’re a spy. Secrets and misinformation are your stock in trade. You skulk in the shadows, infiltrate other guilds, and steal the most precious secrets, whether they’re written in locked journals or hidden away in someone’s mind. Even you might not be aware of all the reasons behind the missions you carry out. Sometimes a mission’s sole purpose is to conceal the motivation behind another strike performed in a different part of the city, or simply to spread fear.
As part of your covert work for House Dimir, you maintain a false identity as a member of another guild. You can choose your secondary guild or roll to determine it randomly. This secondary guild membership determines a portion of your starting equipment and is also where most of your contacts come from. You infiltrate your secondary guild to learn its secrets, keep tabs on its activities, or perhaps undermine it from within.
Tool Proficiencies: Disguise kit
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: A Dimir insignia, three small knives, a set of dark-colored common clothes, and the starting equipment of the background described in this chapter for your secondary guild
Feature: False Identity
You have more than one identity. The one you wear most of the time makes you appear to be a member of a guild other than House Dimir. You have documentation, established acquaintances, and disguises that allow you to assume that persona and fit into the secondary guild.
Whenever you choose, you can drop this identity and blend into the guildless masses of the city.
Consider why you’re embedded in the secondary guild. Create a story with your DM, inspired by rolling on the following table or choosing a reason that suits you.
|d8||Reason for Infiltration|
|1||My parents belong to this guild, and I let them think I’m following in their footsteps.|
|2||I’ve been assigned to track this guild’s activities.|
|3||I’ve been assigned to get close to an individual in this guild and learn their secrets.|
|4||I’ve been assigned to recruit a new Dimir spy from the ranks of this guild.|
|5||I was a member of this guild before the Dimir recruited me.|
|6||I don’t like what this guild stands for and want to destroy it from within.|
|7||I secretly wish I could leave the Dimir and join this guild, but there is no escaping the Dimir.|
|8||I chose this guild at random or on a lark.|
Dimir Guild Spells
Prerequisite: Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature
For you, the spells on the Dimir Guild Spells table are added to the spell list of your spellcasting class. (If you are a multiclass character with multiple spell lists, these spells are added to all of them.)
Dimir Guild Spells
|Cantrip||encode thoughts, mage hand|
|1st||disguise self, sleep|
|2nd||detect thoughts, pass without trace|
|3rd||gaseous form, meld into stone, nondetection|
|4th||arcane eye, freedom of movement|
Your magic is meant to be subtle and undetectable, but it might pull shadows or clouds of mist around you as you cast your spells. Using the encode thoughts cantrip described below, you can turn a creature’s thoughts (including your own) into a thought strand that others can potentially read, share, or steal. These thought strands are treated as valuable currency among the Dimir.
Spell: Encode Thoughts
Casting Time: 1 action
Duration: Up to 8 hours
Putting a finger to your head, you pull a memory, an idea, or a message from your mind and transform it into a tangible string of glowing energy called a thought strand, which persists for the duration or until you cast this spell again. The thought strand appears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you as a Tiny, weightless, semisolid object that can be held and carried like a ribbon. It is otherwise stationary.
If you cast this spell while concentrating on a spell or an ability that allows you to read or manipulate the thoughts of others (such as detect thoughts or modify memory), you can transform the thoughts or memories you read, rather than your own, into a thought strand.
Casting this spell while holding a thought strand allows you to instantly receive whatever memory, idea, or message the thought strand contains. (Casting detect thoughts on the strand has the same effect.)
Skilled at infiltration, disguise, and deception, members of House Dimir appear inscrutable. Your true personality and ideals might never manifest, or they might mark you as a quirky member of your secondary guild.
|1||I’m good at hiding my true thoughts and feelings.|
|2||When I’m in doubt about revealing something, I assume it’s a secret, and I don’t share it.|
|3||I like to sound mysterious, because wisdom hidden grows deeper with time.|
|4||I have no patience with people who get in my way.|
|5||I love hearing about other people’s nightmares.|
|6||Combat is meant to be quick, clean, and one-sided.|
|7||I like to stick to the shadows.|
|8||I never show my anger. I just plot my revenge.|
|1||Guild. My true guild is all that really matters. (Any)|
|2||Control. I like pulling the strings. (Lawful)|
|3||Secrets. I collect secrets and never reveal them. (Any)|
|4||Knowledge. I want to know as much as I can about this city and how it works. (Any)|
|5||Independence. I value the freedom to pursue my own goals without interference. (Chaotic)|
|6||Nihilism. I don’t believe in anything, and anyone who does is a fool. (Neutral)|
|1||I discovered a secret I can’t let anyone else uncover — including my guild superiors.|
|2||I formed a close friendship or romance with someone in the guild I’m infiltrating.|
|3||The Dimir agent who recruited me was unmasked and killed. My revenge on the killers will be thorough and painful.|
|4||I spend as much time as I can in the Ismeri Library because I’m certain an information hub operates behind its facade. I want its secrets!|
|5||I’m utterly loyal to my superior in the guild, more than to the guild or its guildmaster.|
|6||Someone has discovered my true identity.|
|1||I like secrets so much that I’m reluctant to share details of a plan even with those who need to know.|
|2||I would let my friends die rather than reveal my true identity.|
|3||I have trouble trusting anyone but myself.|
|4||I have a particular vice that puts all my secrets at risk if I’m not careful.|
|5||I’m pretty sure I’ve done something horrible that I can’t remember because of the guild’s mind magic.|
|6||I put too much trust in the people who give me orders.|
As an agent of House Dimir working undercover, you have limited contacts within your guild. Your relationships within your secondary guild, in the guise of your false identity, are usually more extensive.
Roll once on the Dimir Contacts table, giving you an ally who serves as your contact in Dimir. Then roll twice on the table for your secondary guild. The first roll gives you an ally there, and the second roll gives you a rival.
|1||I know a Dimir courier who relays messages to me from someone higher up the chain of command.|
|2||I get orders from a shapeshifter I recognize only through a series of code phrases we exchange.|
|3||An ostentatiously wealthy vampire is my secret guild superior, summoning me to a luxurious estate by means of coded messages.|
|4||I have never met my guild contact, but I receive telepathic messages, usually in my dreams.|
|5||I’ve never met my guild contact, but I get coded messages from a pattern of street lights and graffiti.|
|6||I didn’t discover the identity of my guild contact until after we had begun a romantic relationship.|
|7||My superior maintains an elaborate identity as a young street urchin … unless it’s all a lie, and I’m being sent on ridiculous missions by a twisted child.|
|8||My sibling and I both get telepathic orders from a mysterious contact, and I’m starting to question the authenticity of my sibling’s orders.|
How Do I Fit In?
As a Dimir adventurer, you are a member of the guild’s network of spies, thieves, assassins, and mind mages that lurks behind the facade of the public guild. On the surface, House Dimir presents the appearance of a network of couriers, investigators, media reporters, and archivists, dealing in information and spreading news. But you and your peers trade in secrets. You use secret symbols, runes, and signals to surreptitiously communicate with other Dimir agents, often in plain sight.
Like any good spy, you have multiple identities: your true face as an agent of House Dimir; a guildless identity; and a role as a member of another guild. Within that secondary guild, you might already be on a mission for House Dimir, assigned to spy on the guild, collect information about a person, or recruit another spy from the ranks of the guild. Or that guild could be a launching point for your real mission. Perhaps, for example, you were ordered to infiltrate the Azorius in hopes of gaining access to a notorious inmate in an Azorius prison.
A Dimir Party
House Dimir might send an adventuring party on missions focused on stealth and subterfuge. Such a team might be made up mostly of rogues and perhaps monks, with a mind mage (wizard) providing magical support. Potions help to offset the group’s lack of healing ability.
Rank and Renown
As you gain renown within House Dimir, you will be rewarded with missions of increasing importance. No formal ranks exist for you to progress through, but certain thresholds of renown indicate improvements in your standing within the guild. Perhaps most important, according to the philosophy of House Dimir, higher standing brings greater knowledge of the inner workings of Ravnica and the guild.
At the start of your career, your orders include step-by-step instructions — or they consist of just a single task. You receive these instructions from your guild contact.
Prerequisite: Renown 3 or higher in House Dimir
As an independent agent, you have considerable latitude in the way you choose to implement your mission goals.
You acquire a spies' murmur (described in chapter 5) — a magic device that allows you to communicate telepathically with other Dimir agents who wear similar items. If this item is lost or destroyed, it’s up to you to secure a replacement.
Collector of Secrets
Prerequisite: Renown 10 or higher in House Dimir
By the time you reach this level of renown in House Dimir, you are amassing a significant collection of secrets about the people and places around you. You know the location of a hidden safe house where you can take shelter in case of dire need. At the DM’s discretion, you might also know (or be able to find out) a secret about a person or group who lives or operates in a neighborhood you’re familiar with. The secret is typically a person’s flaw or details about a dark episode in a group’s past. Whatever it is, the secret is a weakness that can be used to manipulate the person or group to assist you or your associates.
In addition, you gain a Dimir charm (described in chapter 5) at the start of each mission you undertake on the guild’s behalf.
Prerequisite: Renown 25 or higher in House Dimir
At this level of renown, you are responsible for coordinating the activities of several other Dimir agents. You still receive orders from the usual source, but you’re given broad goals and wide latitude in how to carry them out, including delegating specific tasks to other Dimir agents of lesser renown. You are also increasingly trusted with important secrets.
Prerequisite: Renown 50 or higher in House Dimir
Few members of House Dimir ever encounter Lazav, and those who do are often unaware that they are dealing with the guildmaster. You have been admitted to his circle of confidants. He has entrusted you with a wide network of Dimir agents under your command, but you also bear tremendous responsibility for the success of the missions they undertake.
Enemies and Allies
It’s hard for a guild built on stealth and secrecy to maintain a positive relationship with any other guild. All guilds are monitored with suspicion, and they assessed for their current and prospective levels of threat, as well as for their usefulness to House Dimir’s schemes. Each cell may foster its own relationships with the other guilds, but it ultimately defers to Dimir’s enigmatic leaders to steer overarching strategy.
Your missions might put you at odds with any other guild by calling on you to infiltrate that guild and gain insight into its plans, steal proprietary information from its guildhall, or subvert its leadership. For instance, you could be tasked to steal the transcript of an Azorius interrogation, the memories of Golgari spy, or the contents of an Orzhov ledger.
You might cooperate with members of other guilds, openly or in disguise, insofar as their goals don’t conflict with yours. Sometimes, the easiest way to assassinate one of your enemies is to put the forces of law on their trail, so joining forces with the Azorius and Boros, for example, can be a beneficial arrangement for everyone concerned.
THE DIMIR VIEW ON OTHER GUILDS
To House Dimir, every other guild is a potential source of information, its members all potential foils and patsies.
Azorius. “They can’t be allowed to monopolize the flow of knowledge. Clog their networks with misinformation. To stop someone from discerning the truth, drown them in plausible untruths.”
Boros. “Not inherently dangerous. The true danger is that they’ll drag down all we’ve worked for while chasing some romantic crusade. Continue to direct their righteous fury toward our strongest enemy—until the Boros threaten to become the strongest.”
Golgari. “We once appreciated them for their ability to make a corpse disappear, but we found that too many of our victims rose up to face us again. Now we use the city’s fear of the swarm to keep them in their place. The more the Golgari try to rise from the mire of their reputation, the more we make them wallow in it.”
Gruul. “They’ve always been convenient scapegoats, but their recent aggressiveness threatens to become a larger problem. We must thin their numbers—selectively and without confrontation. Catch them alone in the dark, and take them out one by one.”
Izzet. “Even an overloaded, sizzled clock is still right twice a day. When Izzet experiments succeed, they can have unpredictable consequences for active missions. Their activities must be monitored at all times.”
Orzhov. “We’re amused at how well they’ve used their hierarchy to mask the corruption of their organization, but their need for the public’s trust gives us an edge. They can be manipulated by playing on their fear of the people discovering their ruse.”
Rakdos. “They’ve turned pointless activity into an art form, but their performances nevertheless make very useful distractions. Let them be bright and loud, drawing all attention, while we slip quietly through the dark.”
Selesnya. “Strength without guile is perhaps the most dangerous kind. One can’t bluff the player who can’t conceive of bluffing. Currently, the covert war plays to our strengths; we must ensure that the conclave never becomes conscious of the advantages they possess.”
Simic. “They are never short of intriguing surprises, so we know they are gearing up for something. Keep eyes inside their organization to see what their efforts are leading to—but don’t be tempted to partake of their enhancements.”