Simic Combine

The Simic representative was a stern-looking mage whose parentage appeared to be partly human and partly aquatic, possibly merfolk; he rode astride a creature that seemed the offspring of a giant, blue-carapaced crab and an irate squid. The Simic squad was rounded out by a host of mages clad in scale armor, and improbable hybrid fusions of scaled, finned, and shelled creatures.

— Doug Beyer, Return to Ravnica: The Secretist

The secrets of life are revealed in the laboratories of the Simic, and their research notes plumb and catalog nature’s wonders. Their original mission was to oversee issues of public health, but the Simic came to believe that complete health — of individuals and of society as a whole — depends on the mutual adaptation of nature and civilization to one another. Thus, biological experimentation has always been among its primary concerns.

Historically, the guild’s approach to its mission has been one of incremental progress toward a utopian ideal of thriving biology, and it remains more aloof from politics than other guilds. Its fundamental mission remains unchanged by the current political instability, and the isolation of its laboratories protects most Simic guild members from immediate harm.

Little is known about the combine’s founder, except that this individual’s first or family name was Simic.

Inside the Combine

Vast sinkholes called zonots are the primary geographic divisions among the Simic. Each zonot pierces layer upon layer of crumbled city as it descends deep below the surface and connects to ancient, long-forgotten ocean waters. A zonot is a distinct Simic habitat with its own culture and ecosystem, as well as a leader called a Speaker. The Speakers of all nine zonots form the Speakers’ Chamber, and they elect a Prime Speaker from among them to serve as the Simic guildmaster. Zegana, the current Prime Speaker, is the Speaker of Zonot One, which is located in a remote, sparsely inhabited part of Ravnica far from the political activity of the Tenth District.

The Simic guildhall, Zameck, is located in Zonot Seven within Precinct Five of Ravnica’s Tenth District. A huge chamber just below the street serves as the gathering place for all the Speakers, as well as a location where non-Simic visitors can meet with the Prime Speaker or other combine emissaries.

Goals of the Simic

Two philosophical principles, in tension with each other, combine to give the Simic Combine its unique approach to science and nature. In traditional Simic thought, these principles are called the Holdfast and the Upwelling.

The Holdfast principle, named for the biological mechanism that keeps kelp and sponges anchored to the sea floor, advises members of the Simic Combine never to stray so far from nature that they become “adrift.” It espouses the idea that nature left undisturbed will evolve toward adaptive traits and increased strength. Nature will flourish and grow, and every creature will find its proper niche in the ecosystem where it can thrive.

The Upwelling principle, named for the phenomenon of nutrient-rich water rising to the ocean surface, advocates that the new and enlivened should replace the old and depleted in an unending cycle, bringing constant refreshment and renewal. This principle accounts for the combine’s analytical bent and its emphasis on knowledge as a means of transformation. Learning the secrets of the universe lets you shape the world as you desire. The Upwelling encourages every creature to discover its full potential.

The Holdfast encourages the Simic to promote nature; the Upwelling urges them to perfect nature. The end result is the same: a hastened system of evolution that brings out the best in every creature’s nature. But different factions within the Simic Combine interpret these principles in their own ways.

The leadership of the Simic Combine represents the traditional philosophy of the Utopians. Their vision is of an ideal world in which nature and civilization exist in balance, in which natural life adapts to life in the midst of modern civilization and the civilized world adapts to accommodate these creatures. Utopians generally interpret the Holdfast principle as being about staying rooted in nature, and the Upwelling as concerned with slow, predictable, cyclical improvement. So they remain hidden in their subaquatic laboratories, pursuing their research while isolated from the volatile interrelationships among the other guilds. Prime Speaker Zegana encourages that isolationist attitude.

At the same time, a growing faction within the Simic believes that an all-out war among the guilds is inevitable, given the growing unrest in the city. These members, the Adaptationists, believe that the guilds exist in a fragile ecosystem in which the slightest imbalance can have cascading effects. With an absent Living Guildpact failing to maintain the balance, only catastrophe can result. The Simic must change in order to survive, and slow, small steps in pursuit of an ideal vision aren’t enough. The future of the guild is in imminent danger, and the Simic need to focus on survival. Adaptationists tend to interpret the Holdfast as being about defense and security, and the Upwelling as a call for sudden, disruptive growth.

As befits members of a guild of scientists, the Adaptationists’ preparations for war include the creation of soldiers that are magically and biologically adapted. The Guardian Project has yielded hybrids that combine human, elf, or vedalken stock with the characteristics of crabs, fish, jellyfish, and a variety of other creatures to give them natural armor and weapons, gills, venomous stings, and other combat-focused adaptations.

Simic Characters

Alignment: Usually neutral

Suggested Races: Human, elf (high), Simic hybrid, vedalken

Suggested Classes: Druid, fighter, monk, wizard

You might enjoy playing a character who belongs to the Simic Combine if one or more of the following statements are true:

  • You are drawn to the image of the mad scientist tinkering with the fundamental forces of life.
  • You like playing curious wizards, druids, or mutants.
  • Prying into secrets and mysteries inspires your curiosity.
  • You want to make the world a better place through research.

Joining the Simic Combine

Many paths lead people to the Simic Combine, all of them guided by the notion that tomorrow can be made better than today. All of the guild’s efforts strive to achieve a utopian future that they believe is within reach. When you join the Simic, choose one of the following roles for your character.

Scientist

If you are a spellcaster such as a wizard or a druid, you can find a natural home among the Simic as a scientist, magically manipulating the forces of life and nature to shift the world toward the guild’s utopian ideal. Most Simic wizards specialize in the School of Transmutation, using their magic to alter living creatures or alter the natural environment. Simic druids often choose the Circle of the Land, putting similar magic to the guild’s service. Those who focus on manipulating life forms are known as biomancers, while those who focus on water, weather, and atmospheric conditions are called terraformers, but you can choose your own path of research.

Guardian

If you are playing a Simic hybrid, you initially became involved in Simic research as a test subject in the Guardian Project. You volunteered to participate, but it’s possible there was some pressure on you, or you viewed it as the only way to be accepted in the guild. Your biological modifications make you ideally suited to specific tasks, and you might come to operate as a spy, an infiltrator, or brute muscle. Good class options include fighter or rogue (of any archetype), or a monk of the Way of the Open Hand.

Deepsage

You might instead choose an ascetic, contemplative life as a deepsage (perhaps as a wizard or monk). You would devote yourself to meditating on the philosophical principles of the Holdfast and the Upwelling, a pair of complementary ideas that describe the Simic approach to nature and the city. Deepsages inscribe short philosophical riddles, bordering on paradoxes, into shells, exoskeletons, and stones, and Simic guild members reflect on these sayings to advance their understanding of the combine’s role in the world. Deepsage wizards typically specialize in the School of Conjuration, and deepsage monks follow the Way of the Four Elements (focusing on air and water over the other two elements).

Background: Simic Scientist

Imagine a perfect world: one in which nature and civilization exist in harmony, adapted to each other; one in which life is shaped to match its environment and the environment is shaped to match life. That’s the world you have been trying to grow in the laboratories of the Simic Combine. Nature is all about adaptation, evolution, and balance — but for it to keep up with the pace of advancing civilization, nature needs some help from biomancers and terraformers. If, along the way, you happen to create super-soldiers and mutant monsters that can bolster the combine’s defenses against the schemes and ambitions of the other guilds, so much the better.

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Medicine

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A Simic insignia, a set of commoner’s clothes, a book of research notes, an ink pen, a bottle of squid ink, a flask of oil (made from blubber), a vial of acid (derived from digestive juices), a vial of fish scales, a vial of seaweed, a vial of jellyfish stingers, a glass bottle of unidentified slime, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp (Azorius 1-zino coins)

Clades and Projects

As a Simic researcher, you are part of a clade — a diverse group of individuals combining disparate talents in pursuit of a common goal — or a researcher on a specialized, short-term project focused on addressing an immediate need. You can roll a d6 or choose from the options in the Research Options table to determine your area of research.

Research Options

d6Clade/Project
1Hull Clade, focused on protection and durability
2Fin Clade, focused on movement
3Gyre Clade, focused on cyclical patterns and metamagic
4Guardian Project, focused on creating guard monsters and super soldiers
5Crypsis Project, focused on intelligence and counterintelligence
6Independent research in a new area

Feature: Researcher

When you attempt to learn or recall a magical or scientific fact, if you don’t know that information, you know where and from whom you can obtain it. Usually, this information comes from a Simic laboratory, or sometimes from an Izzet facility, a library, a university, or an independent scholar or other learned person or creature. Knowing where the information can be found doesn’t automatically enable you to learn it; you might need to offer bribes, favors, or other incentives to induce people to reveal their secrets.

Your DM might rule that the knowledge you seek is secreted away in an inaccessible place, or that it simply can’t be found. Unearthing the deepest secrets of the multiverse can require an adventure or even a whole campaign.

Simic Guild Spells

Prerequisite: Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature

For you, the spells on the Simic 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.)

Simic Guild Spells

Spell LevelSpells
Cantripacid splash, druidcraft
1stdetect poison and disease, expeditious retreat, jump
2ndalter self, enhance ability, enlarge/reduce
3rdgaseous form, water breathing, wind wall
4thfreedom of movement, polymorph
5thcreation

When your magic causes physical alterations in yourself or others, the result often displays the characteristics of fish, amphibians, or other water-dwelling creatures. Blue-green eddies of magical energy sometimes accompany your spellcasting, forming spirals that reflect the mathematical perfection of nature.

Suggested Characteristics

The bizarre science of the Simic Combine attracts a certain type of personality and encompasses a set of beliefs about the nature of life. Simic members’ bonds and flaws derive from their scientific research — including their creation of new life forms, which they can become very attached to.

Personality Traits

d8Personality Trait
1I can’t wait to see what I become next!
2I am convinced that everything inclines toward constant improvement.
3I’m eager to explain every detail of my most intricate experiments and theories to anyone who shows the least bit of interest.
4I assume that everyone needs even the most basic concepts explained to them.
5I describe everything that happens as if it were going into my research notes (and it often is).
6I am insatiably curious about the seemingly infinite forms and adaptations of life.
7I can’t resist prying into anything forbidden, since it must be terribly interesting.
8I employ a highly technical vocabulary to avoid imprecision and ambiguity in my communication.

Ideals

d6Ideal
1Guild. My guild is all that really matters. (Any)
2Change. All life is meant to progress toward perfection, and our work is to hurry it along — no matter what must be upended along the way. (Chaotic)
3Knowledge. Understanding the world is more important than what you do with your knowledge. (Neutral)
4Greater Good. I want to reshape the world into higher forms of life so that all can enjoy evolution. (Good)
5Logic. It’s foolish to let emotions and principles interfere with the conclusions of logic. (Lawful)
6Superiority. My vast intellect and strength are directed toward increasing my sway over others. (Evil)

Bonds

d6Bond
1I helped create a krasis that I love like a pet and would carry with me everywhere … except it’s the size of a building, and it might eat me.
2In my laboratory, I discovered something that I think could eliminate half the life on Ravnica.
3The other researchers in my clade are my family — a big, eccentric family including members and parts of many species.
4The laboratory where I did my research contains everything that is precious to me.
5I will get revenge on the shortsighted fool who killed my precious krasis creation.
6Everything I do is an attempt to impress someone I love.

Flaws

d6Flaw
1I have a rather embarrassing mutation that I do everything I can to keep hidden.
2I’m more interested in taking notes on monstrous anatomy than in fighting monsters.
3Every social situation I’m in seems to lead to my asking rude personal questions.
4I’m supremely confident in my ability to adapt to any situation and handle any danger.
5I’ll take any risk to earn recognition for my scientific brilliance.
6I have a tendency to take shortcuts in my research and any other tasks I have to complete.

Contacts

The fluid nature of clades, whose rosters span different laboratories and change as researchers discover new interests, creates abundant connections among the Simic. The guild members live in watery sinkholes called zonots, and their isolation shelters them from much contact with outsiders. Nonetheless, a fair number of Simic members are former members of other guilds.

Roll twice on the Simic Contacts table (for an ally and a rival) and once on the Non-Simic Contacts table.

Simic Contacts

d8Contact
1My research builds on my parents’ work and takes it in interesting new directions.
2If a serious problem confounds me, I can count on my mentor to provide clarity of thought.
3A former laboratory colleague went on to work on the Guardian Project.
4A former colleague has ventured into fields of research that are possibly immoral and almost certainly illegal.
5A former lover is now the supervisor of a prominent clade.
6My sibling has become an almost unrecognizable mutant.
7An old friend has retreated into a secluded life as an ascetic deepsage, devoted to contemplating philosophical principles.
8My former clade supervisor is now engaged in field research studying some of the largest beasts and monsters on Ravnica.

Non-Simic Contacts

d10Contact
1My older sibling is upset that I didn’t follow them into the Azorius.
2A Boros sergeant is always asking questions about my work, but I suspect they’re genuinely curious.
3A friend in my clade thinks I don’t know they’re a Dimir agent.
4I helped a Golgari spore druid with the fertilization and growth of their fungus field.
5I can’t fathom what could have made my childhood friend run off and join the Gruul.
6I love comparing notes with my friend in the Izzet, though our fields of research are very different.
7I borrowed a lot of money from an Orzhov syndic to help finance my research.
8A Rakdos ringmaster has taken an interest in my research which, come to think of it, might make a nice sideshow act.
9I left the Selesnya — and a lover — behind when I joined the Simic.
10Roll an additional Simic contact; you can decide if the contact is an ally or a rival.

How Do I Fit In?

As a Simic adventurer, your mission likely aligns with the Adaptationist philosophy; the disagreements and tensions among the guilds will soon erupt into open conflict, and your guild needs your help to ensure that the Simic survive. That help might come in the form of defending against Golgari incursions into Simic zonots or shielding Simic research from Azorius intrusion. It could also involve more subtle, diplomatic work to maintain balance among the guilds, or subterfuge aimed at undermining another guild’s grab for power.

Self-improvement is also an important part of your mission. Anything you can do to make yourself more capable — whether learning a new spell or adopting a new hybridizing mutation — gives the Simic a stronger weapon in its arsenal. The combine must change to survive, and that means individual members of the guild must grow and adapt as well.

A Simic Party

An adventuring party drawn from the ranks of the Simic is typically formed around the nucleus of one or two mages, perhaps a biomancer (wizard) or a terraformer (druid). They might be accompanied by a soldier (probably a Simic hybrid fighter) and a deepsage (monk).

Rank and Renown

Tiers of responsibility and importance — functional ranks — create a hierarchy among the scientists of the Simic Combine. A scientist’s course of advancement is the path of increasing responsibility within a clade or project. Guardians and deepsages have more limited opportunities for advancement, though they still gain the benefits of high renown scores.

Rank 1: Technician

Prerequisite: Renown 3 or higher in the Simic Combine, Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature

As a technician, you can begin performing experiments, following the instructions of a researcher as you operate instruments, care for experimental subjects, extract samples of bodily fluids, and run errands up and down the zonot and out into the city. Such errands can bring you into contact with members of other guilds and lead to adventures.

If you have any kind of pet, familiar, mount, or animal companion, you can add one random adaptation to it from the Minor Adaptations table (see the krasis section in chapter 6). Doing so requires 1d6 days of work (8 hours per day) for each creature, and the work must be done in a Simicfacility.

Rank 2: Researcher

Prerequisite: Rank 1 and renown 10 or higher in the Simic Combine

After doing your time as a technician, you are eligible to lead your own experiments. You must be associated with a clade or a project, and must work on experiments related to its primary focus under the general guidance of the clade or project leader. Project leaders are more hands-on, ensuring that your research contributes to reaching the immediate objective. Clade leaders check in from time to time, but they give you wide latitude to pursue your own experiments under the general aegis of the clade’s interests.

If your research requires it, your project leader or clade leader can equip you with a Simic charm (described in chapter 5) before you undertake a mission or an experiment. In addition, you can call on a category 1 krasis (see chapter 6 for the stat block) to assist you on any mission authorized by the guild. You choose the krasis’s two adaptations.

Luminary (Special Role)

Prerequisite: Renown 10 or higher in the Simic Combine

As a guardian, deepsage, or other non-scientist within the Simic, you don’t progress through ranks, but as a luminary you might be entrusted with the leadership of guerrilla or espionage missions, with other Simic hybrid agents under your command. Or you might be respected as a wise and enlightened teacher.

If your work for the guild requires it, a project leader, clade leader, or other superior can equip you with a Simic charm (described in chapter 5) before you undertake a mission or an experiment on the guild’s behalf.

In addition, when you’re on guild business, you can call on the following Simic hybrid agents to assist you: one hybrid brute or hybrid flier, up to two hybrid poisoners or hybrid shockers, or 1d4 hybrid spies (see chapter 6 for these stat blocks).

Rank 3: Project Leader

Prerequisite: Rank 2 and renown 25 or higher in the Simic Combine

A proven researcher, you are eligible to oversee your own project, directing the efforts of other researchers toward the solution of some problem facing the guild. The Speaker of your zonot gives you laboratory space, and you have a staff of 3d12 researchers (which use the stat blocks of commoners or merfolk from the Monster Manual). You can have this staff work on projects for you, which can include the creation of a category 2 krasis (see chapter 6 for the stat block) with adaptations of your choosing, which you can then bring outside the laboratory on important business, ideally under carefully controlled conditions.

Hosting the work of a successful and important project reflects well on the Speaker of a zonot, so your Speaker keeps a close eye on your work. On the positive side, you can count on access to the considerable resources of the zonot as long as your research is going well. On the other hand, you can expect your Speaker to try to meddle in your work to ensure that your efforts remain relevant to the overall goals of the Simic Combine.

Rank 4: Clade Leader

Prerequisite: Rank 2 and renown 50 or higher in the Simic Combine

As a famous researcher or a successful project leader, you stand ready to take on a supervisory role for an entire clade. New clades rarely form, so you must wait for your clade leader to retire (one way or another) before a position exists for you to fill, except in truly exceptional circumstances. Similar to a project leader, you are responsible for directing the efforts of researchers exploring a wide variety of projects related to the focus of your clade. Unless an experiment turns out to be especially interesting, these efforts can carry on without your supervision. If you need to, you can enlist the aid of 5d12 researchers (which use the stat blocks of commoners or merfolk from the Monster Manual), and you can also request the support of hybrids, krasis, or any other creature associated with the Simic Combine (see the list in chapter 6) from the Speaker of any zonot where the members of your clade live and work.

Because most clades span multiple zonots, you have status equal to the Speakers of the zonots. You have no voice on the Speakers’ Chamber, unless you can persuade one or more of its members to speak on your behalf.

Speaker (Special Role)

Prerequisite: Renown 50 or higher in the Simic Combine

You are eligible to become the Speaker of a zonot. The selection of a new Speaker (in the event of an existing Speaker’s retiring, dying, or otherwise leaving the position) takes place through a combination of popular election and the input of the other eight Speakers, with the current Prime Speaker having the final word. If you emerge as the victor after this rigorous process, you assume the leadership of your zonot and are empowered to bring its concerns before the Speakers’ Chamber.

You are a political leader rather than a scientific one, so you have authority over other members of the combine only if they live and work in your zonot. If a clade has a laboratory in your zonot, you have the right (and responsibility) to supervise its activities to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, but not to interfere in its research beyond that point. And if the clade leader lives in a different zonot, you have no authority whatsoever over that person.

Enemies and Allies

The Simic Combine has an affinity for guilds that care for the forces of nature, and as such it has worked alongside the Selesnya, Gruul, and Golgari in the past. To a lesser extent, the combine also has a rapport with the other scientific guild, the Izzet. But overall, the Simic attitude toward other guilds is one of healthy caution bolstered by a general tendency toward isolation.

Any guild could break the peace and send the entire world spiraling into war, so all the guilds are potential enemies — particularly if they direct their aggression at the Simic Combine. The Golgari Swarm has launched a direct attack against Zonot Four (located in the Sixth District), and they could expand that attack to other zonots at any time. Azorius arresters are prying into all the zonots, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Thus, the Simic efforts at preparing for war are in danger, and the need for those efforts to be brought to fruition could arise at any time.

Your most obvious allies are those who seek to restrain the ambition of other guilds and maintain the balance of power. At various times, that category could include members of any other guild, particularly the Selesnya Conclave. Everyone (with the possible exception of the chaotic Rakdos and Gruul) has an occasional interest in maintaining the status quo, no matter how revolutionary that notion might seem at other times.

THE SIMIC VIEW ON OTHER GUILDS

The most insular members of the Simic Combine avoid interacting with other guilds entirely. No one but another Simic scientist could ever fully grasp or appreciate the work of the guild, and too many of the other guilds react with fear to what they don’t understand.

Azorius. “An absurd and inelegant construct, forever trapped in a maze of their own making. They would outlaw evolution if they could. And if any of them truly seek utopia, the rest are far too busy shuffling papers to notice. Avoid their attention at all costs.”

Boros. “They style themselves the agents of ‘justice.’ But the law is no better excuse for aggression than any other.”

Dimir. “We need not compete. Let them be, and they will let us be—but observe them closely.”

Golgari. “Less an organization than an infestation. They are nearly as adaptable as we are, and they seem intent on competition. More than any other guild, they pressure us to improve.”

Gruul. “The Gruul conceive of nature only in terms of savagery and privation. But their ways are no less a response to civilization than our own. They will survive, barely, and perhaps one day they will understand.”

Izzet. “The Izzet have spent ten thousand years mimicking the appearance of research, producing more pyrotechnics than progress. Surely that is a performance to rival the Rakdos.”

Orzhov. “They hoard their treasure throughout their pointless lives and lengthy afterlives. With such riches, we could swiftly bring about a future in which gold is as irrelevant as death.”

Rakdos. “Camouflage, mimicry, resilience, and versatility. If the guilds were species, we would count the Rakdos among the most impressive. But they aren’t, and that makes the Rakdos far more erratic—and dangerous.”

Selesnya. “Like us, they seek a synthesis between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ systems. Unlike us, they wish to achieve it by unconditional surrender. They are adequate partners in stable times, but in the present climate they have little to offer.”