The Selesnya Conclave is a green/white guild from the plane and city of Ravnica. Introduced in Ravnica: City of Guilds, the guild is also featured in Return to Ravnica and Guilds of Ravnica. They represent an orderly version of nature quite removed from the shamanistic savagery of the Gruul Clans and are the true religious faction in Ravnica, including the dark side that it entails...
- 1 History
- 2 Guild Members
- 3 Mechanics
- 4 Villians or not?
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Dungeons & Dragons
The Conclave was founded by Mat'Selesnya, a female humanoid elemental formed via the fusion of several dryads. The Selesnya Conclave is a decentralized collective variably described as a "selfless, nurturing, spiritual group" or a "brainwashing nature cult", and involves itself in the establishment and maintenance of peace, life, and unity in Ravnica.
Despite their superficial appearance of being a "good" and "peace-loving", in truth the guild has a nasty history, as hypocritical and as sinister as the other Ravnican guilds. The Conclave employed "Quietmen" and other members to silence the civilians of Ravnica, and once attempted a plane-wide brainwashing scheme. The defenders of the Selesnya are the Ledev guardians. In addition to these guards, the Quietmen used to guard Vitu-Ghazi, but Szadek, Lord of Secrets gained control of them and used them to wreak havoc. Since the end of the original Ravnica block they have been much in the distant background of many of the plane's subsequent events.
The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica book for 5th Edition D&D makes it clear that the average faction agent or Guild grunt doesn't know shit about the Guild's darker history, and mostly avoids any of the more ethically untenable mind control stuff. Of course, the entire senior faction hierarchy are now Lawful Good, too, so maybe they just wanted one unambiguously not-evil faction outside the Boros for the book. It also provided stats for the collective of dryads that run the show, and they're piddling compared to, say, Rakdos or Aurelia.
The Chorus of the Conclave
The first Selesnya guildmaster, debuting in the original Ravnica block. The Chorus is essentially the hivemind of the Conclave and thus is not centred on one leader, but instead on an entire cacophony of dryad voices. Their card in Ravnica block was intended to play into their Convoke mechanic, but the steep mana cost (4WWGG!) prevented it from being played much.
A trio of dryads each representing the ideals of order, life and harmony who took over the responsibilities of the Conclave as Mat'Selesnya's voice. They fell into disunity following Nicol Bolas' invasion of the plane but got better eventually. Their original incarnation in Return to Ravnica was neglected at first but now sees some use in EDH, but their later version is almost complete trash.
A powerful elven healer who has a long history with Magic's blue mascot, Jace Beleren. She was the voice of dissent that tried to persuade Jace from joining the Infinite Consortium, but Jace being Jace he ignored her and went on his merry way to becoming the blue planeswalker poster boy. Meanwhile Emmara continued her work with the Selesnya, eventually becoming Trostani's trusted agent in the race for the Implicit Maze. Her original card was at best a placeholder for a better GW legendary to take her place at the head of an EDH deck, but her War of the Spark version is an interesting change in scope and makes for a decent tempo pick.
One of the Conclave's greatest ledevs (evangelist knights) who rides a giant white wolf named Voja. He returned in War of the Spark to fight alongside the Conclave's forces. Has arguably one of the best token creature companions in the game, and his card abilities buff it immensely.
A sort of self ramp ability, spells with convoke let you tap creatures to cover their mana cost. Colored mana can only be paid using creatures of that color of course. Returned in War of the Spark as the Selesnya core mechanic.
When a populate effect is activated, you can make a token that is a copy of another creature token you control.
Villians or not?
Compared to the other guilds of Ravnica, they are no more or less villianous compared to the other guilds even when taking into account brainwashing schemes (the other guilds, Dimir and Orzhov particularly, would not hesitate to do such a thing), as the creation of the guild system itself could be seen as an unjust act or mistake that inevitably results in tyranny. What sets the Selesnya apart from the other guilds is that they do not actively disdain or ignore the citizens of Ravnica, but instead care about keeping them safe and able to live in a peaceful community. The other guilds certainly do not have this as their goal.
- The Azorious only care about maintaining the status quo, which is them being THE Authority, and writing laws that restrict and strangulate change.
- The Boros are essentially the military arm of the Azorious and the guildpact, too hidebound to see the injustices of overreaching law in spite of their passion for justice.
- The Rakdos only care about their hedonism, murdering people for laughs, and their demon worship.
- The Dimir care only for being on top from the shadows, masterminding and manipulating conspiracies, and blackmailing or murdering any dissenters.
- The Simic care only for playing God with science and biology. Consequences (and lives ruined through "improvement") be damned, as only they know better than anyone else (they especially know better than the last guy who tried before them).
- The Izzet are a cult of personality for an eccentric dragon scientist who cares little for collateral damage.
- The Gruul are angry, hurt, and truthfully wronged outcasts and anarchists that do not care about who they hurt in their rage against the system.
- The Golgari are often-malevolent necromancers and criminals who live apart from the rest of Ravnica in what is essentially their own dog-eat-dog society with a disturbing emphasis on "recycling".
- The Orzhov are an odiously corrupt farce of a religion, being essentially a scientologist-like cult crossbred with a ruthless mafia that will hound you to the afterlife itself with payday-loan shark debts.
In comparison to these often malevolent secret/not-so-secret societies, the Selesnya are practically saints. In essence, the Selesnya function as a mutual defense pact against all these crazy people serving actual demons, Illuminati-vampires, mafia-boss ghosts, dragons, mad scientists, necromancers, and petty tyrannical bureaucrats. Not to mention that the Selesnya Conclave is the only non-malevolent source of spirituality that we know about on Ravnica. In the end, is it really so bad to be in a spiritual and naturalistic community that truly takes care of all of its own? Because that is the question that the guildless citizens of Ravnica have to ask themselves, is it worth being on their own, free and yet at the mercy of the other guilds, having only the indelicate and blind protection of the law to safeguard them and being unable to deliver retribution? The Selesnya Conclave offers safety and community against the lawful lawlessness of the other guilds, being one of the few guilds not made up of crazy people, criminals, wicked sadists, or amoral wannabe-Übermensches certainly helps too.
Dungeons & Dragons
Like all of the ten guilds, the Selesnya Conclave 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 "Selesnya Initiate" 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 Selesnya Conclave are most likely to be Humans, Centaurs, Wood Elves, Half-Elves and Loxodons. The most iconic classes associated with this guild are the Bard (Glamour, Lore), Cleric (Life, Nature), Druid (Dreams, Land (Forest/Grassland), Shepherd), Fighter (Arcane Archer, Battle Master, Champion), Monk (Open Hand), Paladin (Redemption, Ancients), Ranger (Beast Master - prefer Wolves, Hunter), and Warlock (Archfey).
Selesnya Initiate Background
Taking the Selesnya Initiate background grants you the bonus skill proficiencies of Nature and Persuasion, as well as a Tool Proficiency consisting of either one type of artisan's tools or one musical instrument. You gain the bonus language of either Elvish, Loxodon or Sylvan, and start the game with a Selesnya insignia, a healer's kit, a set of common clothes and a robe to wear over them, and 5 GP work of Azorius 1-zino coins.
The background's feature is Conclave Shelter: your guild members will always grant you a place to hide or rest, unless you've proven to be an active danger to them, and this means that whilst they'll defy the other Guilds to shelter you, they won't risk their lives in the effort. It also means you can get free healing and care at any Selesnya enclave, although if you need spells cast, you have to pony up the material components required.
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 Selesnya Initiate, that's the following:
- Spell Level Spells
- Cantrip druidcraft, friends
- 1st aid, animal friendship, charm person
- 2nd animal messenger, calm emotions, warding bond
- 3rd plant growth, speak with plants
- 4th aura of life, conjure minor elementals
- 5th awaken, commune with nature
Members of the Selesnya Conclave refer to their magic as "doruvati," a Sylvan word meaning "gift." When you use these gifts of Mat'Selesnya, graceful swirls of green and silver light dance in the air around you, and phantasmal green leaves might waft through the air. A sensation of gentle warmth and the smell of spring flowers or autumn leaves might accompany your spells.
Selesnya Conclave Renown
Because the Conclave doesn't officialy believe in the idea of a rigid hierarchy, Renown works more as a way of proving yourself worth of belonging to the more specialized roles by which members can serve the Conclave in particular ways. As such, a character can basically belong to as many roles as they want, and even if they don't step into specialized roles, will still earn the right to requisition a Selesnya Charm before undertaking official missions once they reach Renown 10.
Special Role: Evangel (Renown 3)
- Evangels are, as the name implies, the missionaries of the Selesnya creed, speaking out to try and win converts amongst the Guildless and even the members of other Guilds. This gives you a bonus non-Conclave contact, and also means you have much more independence than the typical Selesnya follower.
Special Role: Votary (Renown 3, Proficiency with martial Weapons)
- Serving as the soldiers and guards of the Selesnya Conclave, most Votaries are assigned to guard duty in the vernadi gardens, but are occasionally deployed elsewhere in times when the Conclave needs to flex its muscles. Votaries are taught secret incantations that let them tap into the ambient magic that flows through a vernadi's gardens; in such areas, a Votari can call upon the aid of 1d6 awakened shrubs or 1 awakened tree during battle, although such floral guardians cannot leave their place of origin and remain mobile.
Special Role: Sagittar (Renow 3, Proficiency with Longbow)
- Saggitars are Votaries trained in the use of sharp-shooting above all else, and serve as the primary defenders of key Conclave locations. As such, a Saggitar never needs to pay for arrows; the Conclave provides all the ammunition that they need.
Special Role: Equenaut (Renown 10, Proficiency in Animal Handling)
- Much like the Skyknights of the Boros Legion, the Equenauts are elite cavalry who ride flying steeds to control the sky in military engagements - although, officially, Equenauts are more concerned with scouting to find places to establish new vernadi. An Equenaut rides a pegasus mount, and has much more freedom about where and when to fly it than a Skyknight, but will be punished for letting their steed come to harm, especially through deliberate malice or neglect.
Special Role: Hierarch (Renown 10, Spellcasting or Pact Magic class feature)
- The most skilled and experienced members of the Selesnya Conclave's internal clergy naturally take a leadership role, both in the rites to invoke Mat'Selesnya's blessing and in the day-to-day running of a vernadi. As a Hierarch, you can call upon the aid of 1d4 acolytes, even leading them to missions, and are expected to offer advice and opinions to your voda. You're also granted superior food and lodging, the free equivalent of a Comfortable lifestyle.
Special Role: Ledev Guardian (Renown 25, 10th level)
- The elite champions of the Selesnya Conclave, though the Ledev contain many centaurs, their primary constitutens are humanoids riding dire wolf steeds - as such, a player who joins this illustrious order is given their own bonded dire wolf steed.
Special Role: Dignitary (Renown 50)
- Acting as emissaries to the other guilds of Ravnica, Dignitaries are the highest authority in the Conclave apart from Trostani and the voda themselves. Reaching this elite position grants a player access to the comforts of a Wealthy lifestyle And the ability to call upon Selesnya initiates (acolytes, scouts, or soldiers); 10d10 for a Trostani-given mission, and 8d10 for a mission of their own devising.
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