The following is a video transcript
Todd Kenreck: Today, I'm talking to Ari Levitch about one of my favorite guilds in all of Ravnica, the Golgari Swarm.
Ari Levitch: So, the Golgari Swarm is a very fascinating guild, in that if you think of Ravnica as a plane-spanning city, it is tens of thousands of years old. That means that there are layers of the city as well, so it goes deep as well, so the city is built ... Like, the surface of the city is only a fraction of what the city actually is. So beneath that is what's called the Undercity, which goes on for miles, and it can go on very deep.
Ari Levitch: The Golgari are a guild that primarily dwell in the Undercity, and they kind of have this ... There's this Seelie Court type vibe to the Golgari. There's the sense of when you go down to the Undercity, into Golgari territory, which really, to a lot of people of Ravnica, that means like going down to the sewers, and into the muck, and all this kind of stuff, so there's a sense of, well, that's just gross. But what the Golgari have done is that they have created a kind of like otherworldly, almost like their own kingdom beneath the streets of the city. They embrace this concept of life and death as a cycle, that when things die, they do rot, so if they're in the Undercity, and things kind of come down through the sewers, that's something that they won't shy away from. They're not very squeamish. They all understand that death is just another part of life, and life comes from death, and death from life, this kind of thing.
Ari Levitch: So their whole society is built on embracing the whole cycle, so they will have ... One of our new subclasses is the druid of spores, and so they really gravitate toward this idea of they look at fungus. Fungus thrives from rotting organic material, and that really sums up who the Golgari are. If you look at a lot of their costuming, they have this kind of gorgeous, almost ... They could have these almost ballgowns, but when you look closer, it's like, "That's made of mushrooms. That's a little strange." So there is this kind of Unseelie Court quality to going into Golgari territory.
Ari Levitch: It could appeal to players who want to be maybe a little bit off-putting, maybe a little bit mysterious, or just want to really notice what is it to play a druid that embraces necromancy. Like, that's something that seems taboo to most D&D, but when you look at it from the Golgari perspective, it's not doing ... It's not a profane way to deal with death. Death is a part of life, and it's something that can be used.
Ari Levitch: So, some of the races that gravitate toward the Golgari, it has more elves, probably, than any other guild, and there are humans there as well. There are some other kind of more monstrous races, that are not playable, but that also occupy the guild, which are these insectoid race called the Crawl. There are medusas that are affiliated with the Golgari as well, and so in terms of classes, again, they have the druid of spores. They might have necromancers. They will have rogues who might be assassins, so I mean, again, every guild has its own kind of suite of races and classes to fill out a full D&D party.
Ari Levitch: Though I find the Golgari fascinating as villains, they are the ones that actually also have a long view of things. Because they see things as the cycle of life and death, they know that everything that has grown will eventually die and rot away. That includes all the edifices that people think will last forever on the surface. They know that if they play the long game, or even kind of nudge things along, all of the things that people care about on the surface will crumble, and that will be the time for the Golgari to kind of move into the surface world, and it'll be their time to shine.
Ari Levitch: The other guilds often see the Golgari as just kind of muck dwellers, and people who just kind of root around in the sewers, but they know that there is a danger there. Because they occupy vast parts of the Undercity, they can kind of emerge anywhere, so they know that they are something to fear. One of the things that has kind of halted their grand ambitions is that ... or their larger ambitions as a guild, is that individuals in the guild also have their own ambitions, so there's a lot of leadership churn among the Golgari. There are a lot of elves who are clamoring to take that top seat, so that's been one of the things that might have slowed them down as a guild for their larger goals.
Ari Levitch: So, in D&D terms, it's an interesting thing if somebody new either takes over the guild. Right now, it's currently Jarad, who is an elf lich who commands the guild, but imagine either he's able to quell all of his rivals, and now they can act in a kind of uniformity, and actually start what they call reclaiming the surface, and you can imagine all of a sudden unleashing all of these kind of fungal spores and terraforming this place to be ready for Golgari annexation.
Todd Kenreck: Thank you, Ari Levitch, for talking about the Golgari Swarm in Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica. That book is available right now for purchase, on dndbeyond.com. I'm Todd Kenreck, your host. Thank you so much for watching.