The Izzet League is one of the ten Guilds of Ravnica. They are responsible for maintaining the civic works of the city: water supplies, sewers, heating, roads and so on. Which is probably not a good idea considering the guild's fickle attention span. Seriously, would you want a guild that needs a giant presumably dangerous spider making buildings its habitat in order for the building to be stable in charge of maintenance? When they're not busy doing this, the magewrights perform magical experiments, often with spectacular (for good or ill) results. This does not really matter to the Izzet, because SCIENCE isn't about "WHY?"! It's about "WHY NOT?"!. Their child-like drive and curiosity, combined with their capriciousness and great intellect, makes them unpredictable at best: they can jump from amicable professor to mad scientist in the blink of an eye.
When the Guildpact was ratified the Izzet were given their task of maintaining the civic works. Unlike the other guilds the Izzet have not tried to expand their territory or increase their power: aside from improvements to their fields of expertise their power has stayed more or less the same over the course of millennia. This is in part due to the Izzet not sticking to one idea for too long and in one part due to the fact that the Guildmaster, Niv-Mizzet, finds the thought of running Ravnica too boring. This is much to the relief of the other Guilds, mainly because if Niv-Mizzet wanted to conquer the plane for himself there would be a good chance of him actually succeeding.
The Izzet League has a rather straightforward hierarchy. At the top sits the Guildmaster, the dragon Niv-Mizzet. His position is a safe one, and all who threaten, annoy or bore him are incinerated by his breath. Below him sit those with access to the Firemind: a link with Niv-Mizzet's consciousness which allows those with the dragon's approval to link with him. This grants those who enter the Firemind access to the Guildmaster's brilliance, greatly enhancing their intellect and allowing them to overcome obstacles encountered during their research. Below this are all the regular members who gather in informal meetings, groups and symposia to study and experiment. The final group consists mainly of goblins who act as servants, test subjects and testers of the Izzet's various spells and devices. High mortality rates are expected, and the Izzet learn what does not work from these tests. But those who are clever and lucky enough can climb the ranks and even gain access to the Firemind, as long as they please Niv-Mizzet.
The guild also employs elementals and creatures called Weirds: elementals consisting of opposing elements. Niv-Mizzet made these to stop the squabbling of various Elementalists, a generous gesture compared to the alternative (setting them on fire).
Finally the Izzet also have drakes that they use as familiars. They also have access to dragons, who might be clones of Niv-Mizzet but intentionally made less intelligent and powerful.
The dragon Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind has ruled over the Izzet since the inception of the guild at the founding of the Guildpact, where he served as one of the ten Paruns who ratified the document. He is extremely intelligent, charismatic, powerful, capricious, demanding and very, very vain. In this sense he embodies the values of the Izzet (which he named after himself, of course) perfectly: his intelligence and thirst for knowledge combined with his destructive power makes him all the Izzet are in one very large and scaled body. The dragon's relationship with Planeswalkers is unknown: he unwittingly has one in his employ, but he could not Planeswalk himself despite his vast intelligence and it is unknown if he even knew about the other planes at all.
He is also one of the oldest creatures on Ravnica, being at least 15,000 years old. As the millennia went on he appeared less and less in public, eventually retreating into privacy about 7500 years after the founding of the Pact. Just after the Decamillennial, the ten thousandth anniversary of the Guildpact he appeared again to fight against the Nephillim, the Old Gods of Ravnica. They injured him and the Firemind retreated towards the north pole, claiming "he was bored of the fight". After this he was never seen again, and many thought he had vanished for good.
Niv-Mizzet had not vanished for good, however, and after the reinstatement of a new but non-magically empowered Guildpact he signed it on behalf of the Izzet. After his return he began to fervently research the Implicit Maze, and ordered Ral Zarek to investigate the leylines and streets of Ravnica. After his investigations were done Niv-Mizzet announced his findings to the rest of the city and started the run for the Implicit Maze.
Niv-Mizzet appears on four cards. His first two iterations, a 4/4 and a 5/5 with flying, both cost 2UURR. Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deals 1 damage to a creature or player whenever you draw a card, and you can draw for 1 when you tap him. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius has you draw a card whenever it deals damage to a player and can ping a creature or player for 1 when you pay UR. His third iteration as Niv-Mizzet, Parun ups the colored man commitment to UUURRR for another 5/5 flyer who draws you a card whenever any player casts an instant or sorcery and pings any target for one when you draw. This means that Niv-Mizzet combos with himself, which makes perfect sense given Niv-Mizzet's vanity: ping a player for 1 with the Dracogenius, draw a card, then ping for another 1 with the Firemind.
His latest incarnation from War of the Spark is a marked departure from all of the other Niv-Mizzet cards. With a casting cost of WUBRG, this version of him represents him embracing the powers of the Guildpact after dying (but getting better) and ascending into a greater being to fight Nicky B. He's a 6/6 Dragon Avatar with flying. When he enters the battlefield, you get to sift through the top ten cards of your deck, and put any cards with a unique color pair into your hand.
Tibor and Lumia are a husband and wife team of wizards: the wise and noble Tibor can grant Flying to a creature whenever you cast a Blue spell while the hot-headed Lumia pings all non-flying creatures for 1 whenever you cast a Red spell. They didn't do anything in the story of Ravnica.
Melek, Izzet Paragon was going to be the Maze Runner for the Izzet but Ral Zarek killed him out of of jealousy and took his place. He lets you play with the top card on your deck revealed, and if it's an instant or a sorcery you can cast it with the added bonus of Twincasting it.
The afore-mentioned Ral Zarek is one of the highest ranking members of the Izzet and reports directly to Niv-Mizzet.
Crix is a female goblin engineer once in the service of the demented magelord Zomaj Hauc. He enhanced her with superior intelligence, speed and flight (by ways of pyromana powered jets in her metal shin bones). She was instrumental in the plan of the magelord to hatch three dragon eggs he found earlier and wanted to use the hatchlings to gain control over the city and defeat Niv-Mizzet. Crix' enhancements proved to be the magelord's downfall when she aligned herself with a group dedicated to defeating him, which netted her a promotion to Master Engineer and access to the Firemind.
As the color of instants and sorceries Izzet League decks employ plenty of sorceries and instants. They are great at removal, either though sheer damage or other tricks. Izzet decks are typically good at whittling down their opponent: pinging a bit alongside damage that is not easily blocked allows for an inevitable victory.
Izzet decks have two weaknesses though: they tend to have a high mana cost while lacking the ability to accelerate their mana. They also don't have particularly good creatures: they are mostly there to improve your spellcasting and perform tricks with their abilities rather than dealing raw damage.
Although thus far the Izzet league has mechanically been associated with instants and sorceries, MaRo has been trying to find a way to make them be an artifacts matter faction, so don't be to surprised if the next time we see them, they focus on artifacts and not instants and sorceries.
Replicate is an additional mana cost you can pay any number of times when casting a spell. This copies the effects of the spell and allow it to be given new targets in addition to the first, widening the effect of the spell.
Overload is a mana cost you can pay instead of the one listed in the top-right. This changes what the spell targets: all instances of the word "target" are replaced with the word "each", effectively targeting every 'legal target' a spell can have (while, for better or worse, by-passing things like heroic, shroud, and hexproof). Some overload cards are similar to non-overload spells. The main difference is that the non-overload spells don't usually specify a player, which in some ways gives the non-overload spells more flexibility. For example, compare Disperse with Cyclonic Rift. You want to save your creature by sending it to your hand and later use it's ETB ability for extra value? Well, Cyclonic Rift can't do that. On the other hand Cyclonic Rift acts either as a Disperse on one of your opponent's permanents, or by paying the overload cost sends pretty much his entire board position back to his hand, causing a huge tempo swing, and flat out eliminating any tokens he had.
A mechanic reminiscent of 2 other mechanics, flashback and retrace. A card with Jump-Start can be cast it from your graveyard (like flashback and retrace). You have to discard a card to cast a card with Jump-Start/retrace from your graveyard (although retrace requires the discarded card to be a land where as any card type can be used with Jump-Start). After you cast the Jump-Start/Flashback card from your graveyard using the mechanic, it goes into exile after it is countered or resolves.
Dungeons & Dragons
Like all of the ten guilds, the Izzet League appeared in the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, a splatbook for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Here, it was handled as a combination of Background and Faction, with the player choosing the "Izzet Engineer" background to certify they have membership, and being able to earn Renown. This is a new system to 5e, and basically is a kind of abstractified experience; you start off as a general worker (Renown 1), and as you complete missions for the Guild or do things that get you noticed, your Renown increases, giving you increased abilities. Of course, if you publicly screw things up for your guild, your esteem will drop and you can lose Renown.
Characters from the Izzet League are most likely to be Humans, Goblins and Vedalken. The most iconic classes associated with this guild are Fighter (Eldritch Knight), Sorcerer (Draconic Bloodline, Storm Sorcery, Wild Magic) and Wizard (Conjurer, Evoker, Transmuter).
Izzet Engineer Background
You have proficiency in the Arcana and Investigation skills, as well as one type of Artisan's tools. You can speak Draconic, Goblin or Vedalken. You begin play with an Izzet insignia, a set of artisan's tools, a hammer, a block and tackle, a set of common clothes, and 5GP worth of Azorius 1-zino coins.
Your background feature is Urban Infrastructure: The popular conception of the Izzet League is based on mad inventions, dangerous experiments, and explosive blasts. Much of that perception is accurate, but the league is also involved with mundane tasks of construction and architecture—primarily in crafting the infrastructure that allows Ravnicans to enjoy running water, levitating platforms, and other magical and technological wonders.
You have a basic knowledge of the structure of buildings, including the stuff behind the walls. You can also find blueprints of a specific building in order to learn the details of its construction. Such blueprints might provide knowledge of entry points, structural weaknesses, or secret spaces. Your access to such information isn't unlimited. If obtaining or using the information gets you in trouble with the law, the guild can't shield you from the repercussions.
To further represent the Guild's training and philosophical impact, spellcasters (that is, anyone with the Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature) gain bonus spells to their spell list based on the guild. For the Izzet Engineer, that's the following:
- Spell Level Spells
- Cantrip produce flame, shocking grasp
- 1st chaos bolt, create or destroy water, unseen servant
- 2nd heat metal, rope trick
- 3rd call lightning, elemental weapon, glyph of warding
- 4th conjure minor elementals, divination, Otiluke's resilient sphere
- 5th animate objects, conjure elemental
Your spells tend to be loud, flashy, or explosive, even when the effect is unremarkable. For example, when you open the portal of a rope trick spell, the portal might be outlined by harmless, showy sparkles.
If you use an arcane focus, it probably takes the form of an intricate device that could include metal gauntlets, glass canisters, copper tubing, and leather straps attaching it to your body. The mizzium apparatus described in chapter 5 is a magical version of this gear.
The chaos bolt spell is a favorite of Izzet spellcasters because of its unpredictable nature.
Izzet League Renown
Like their fellows in the Simic Combine, there's a stark difference in the roles open to members of the Izzet League depending on whether or not they can cast spells. Unlike the Combine, though, higher ranks don't require magical abilities to access.
Rank 1: Researcher (Renown 3, Spellcasting or Pact Magic)
- You've proven yourself smart enough (or at least lucky enough) to be entrusted with access to the League's experimental magitek engineering facilities with acceptable risk of killing yourself. You can access a lab's resources for your experiments, request the aid of 1d4 lowly attendants (commoners) for use in your experiments or missions, and can build a Mizzium Apparatus with access to an Izzet workshop, 10 days of downtime, and, for replacements, a 50GP fine.
Special Role: Scorchbringer (Renown 3)
- The Izzet League may have a reputation as a bunch of crazy arcanists, but they'll happily accept anyone willing to hurl fire at things with minimal provocation. As a Scorchbringer, you belong to the League's basic military division, and are given a free pyroconverger (a magitek flamer of somewhat dubious stability) as your assigned weapon. If it blows up, you can get a replacement for 50GP.
Rank 2: Supervisor (Renown 10)
- Regardless of your particular skill set, you display enough sanity and level-headedness that the higher-ups decide you can be entrustede to try and point the usual cast of screwballs in the right direction. You answer to a director, and translate their commands into concrete tasks for researchers and scorchbringers to undertake. This gives you a salary (Modest lifestyle) and access to an Izzetr Charm when on official Leaguebusiness.
Special Role: Independent Researcher (Rank 1, Renown 10, Spellcasting or Pact Magic)
- Rather than become a supervisor, you've chosen to strike out and pursue your own personal research. As you've managed to last this long without killing yourself, you're considered trustworthy enough to do so. You now have access to a team of 2d6 competent attendants (commoners with Proficiency: Arcana) and can craft an Izzet Charm for your own uses with 5 days of downtime in the lab. You can only have 1 such charm at a time, though.
Rank 3: Director (Renown 25)
- Your uncanny ability to evade death at the hands of your compatriots (and your own experiments) has impressed the higher ranks of the Izzet League, and granted you the right to join the ranks of the Izmundi, the guys who manage the various laboratories of the League, either by taking the place of a dead director of founding your own lab. Whilst you still may be called upon to pursue research and experiments at Niv-Mizzet's directives, otherwise you can pretty much operate your lab as you see fit. You also earn a salary that supports a Comfortable level lifestyle, which is handy.
Rank 4: Advisor (Rank 3 and Renown 50)
- You've got it made in the shade, now; Niv-Mizzet himself has taken notice of you and promoted you to the Izmagnus, the guys who advise the League's Parun (in so far as he takes advice) and run the guild for him. You now can live a Wealthy level lifestyle, thanks to your fine salary.
Niv-Mizzet himself also got statted out for the Guildmaster's Guide (before he became Living Guildpact, that is). As it is, he's a CR 26 Gargantuan Dragon, ability scores ranging from 14 dexterity to 30 intelligence and the spellcasting ability of a level 20 Wizard, plus a helping of other abilities. Also, his Fire Breath is stronger than that of an Ancient Red Dragon.
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