The bloodthirsty Cult of Rakdos celebrate their flair for sadistic entertainment, spreading depravity and mayhem wherever they riot. It is a thrill-killing, pleasure-seeking cabal led by the ancient demon Rakdos. Even as a force of chaos, the Rakdos were a resource for the law-abiding guilds; when the denizens of Ravnica needed an obstacle removed or an unsavory client entertained, the minions of Rakdos were happy to oblige.
The Rakdos Cult combines an instinctual bloodlust and desire for power. They’re sadistic and cruel simply for the fun of it. Opportunistic violence is their modus operandi. Mayhem and personal enjoyment is their goal. They want Ravnica to bow to their whims and anything that gets in their way—or happens to be walking by—is fair game.
Rakdos lacks a formal structure. The cult members despise rules or anything that curtails their freedom, so there are no laws other than the precept to please their demonic master. Organized like an out-of-control party, the guild's only structure is determined by those powerful enough to hold leadership. On the surface, the activities of the guild are run by loosely affiliated “Rings,” each led by a Ringmaster, and each with its own sphere of influence, commodities, and cult followers.
Unlike their fellow anarchists the Gruul, the Cult of Rakdos is much more concerned with doing what they want, when they want, than with any loftier goal. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, their idea of a party tends to involve blood, fires, and lots of screaming. If there's a way to make death more painful, or explosions more hazardous, it's certain that a Rakdos cultist is cheerfully using lots of trial and error to find it. Such a masochistic and sadistic group is a danger to themselves and everyone around them, but their Parun's canniness has turned that into an advantage. The Rakdos are known as the "go-to" guild when anyone needs an outside saboteur or assassin. Thus does the Cult mix business with pleasure.
Of course, just because the Rakdos live in the "now" doesn't mean they can't plan ahead, or that they don't want anything more. Rakdos (as in the demonic founder of the guild) wants everyone on Ravnica to share his philosophy. As it turns out, that philosophy also creates the ideal method to spread itself! Surely, once everyone sees what a good time you can have following Rakdos, they'll follow suit... or become part of the evening's entertainment. To accommodate their needs, the Rakdos are always on the lookout for new toys during their raids: caustic liquids, torture devices, exotic beasts thought long dead… If it can kill, it makes for a great time.
The Rings of the Cult
The Rakdos Cult is made up of the Rings, which are shifting conglomerations of people who pay tribute to Rakdos in exchange for protection as well as cult membership. Membership in Rakdos is not a formal arrangement; it's a sense of acceptance, of shared deviance, and communal justification of amorality. Currently, there are nine major Rings of Rakdos, some more depraved than others, each one led by a minor cult leader called a Ringmaster who ultimately answers to Rakdos himself. The number of Rings is malleable, depending on the demands of the Ravnican public, Rakdos's whims, and the power plays of individual Ringmasters.
The Rings have territories based around the physical locations of their clubs, and they enforce their control over these territories with violence when necessary. Many Rings run multiple clubs within them, which sometimes only last weeks or months before they are shut down by a mass murder, major fire, or—sometimes—by the law enforcement of other guilds.
Five Rings service Rakdos-affiliated Diversion Clubs. The clubs sell all manner of food and drink, twisted circus entertainment, bathhouse amenities, and creepy burlesque revues. The bulk of the Rakdos membership is involved in these diversion clubs as workers, performers, or hangers-on. Cult members tend to be young and live a nocturnal existence of revelries and petty crime. There's a lot of violence between cult members, as well as random "family" groups who live nomadic existences in squat houses throughout Ravnica. Most cult members live hard and die young.
Three Rings service Debauchery Clubs, which are usually higher on the depravity scale. These clubs offer a variety of entertainment, tattooing and scarring, pit fighting, and other services. Most do not have an obvious storefront that is recognizable by the general public. Those who wish to frequent them must either pay a high entrance fee or pay special tribute to Rakdos himself.
There is only one torture-oriented Ring, and that is located in the depths of Rix Maadi itself. Rakdos leaves this pain-inflicting "entertainment" up to bloodwitches and their masochistic minions and toadies. This is the most depraved Ring, with sacrificial murders both voluntary and involuntary. One of the caverns off the Lava Pit of Rix Maadi is filled with torture devices of all kinds.
Roles Within the Rakdos Guild
Riot Mages lead Rakdos festivals. They often have dramatic, chaotic personalities and colorful names that rival the pit fighters. They know how to put on a show and incite bystanders into joining the festivities. These festivals are dearly loved by Rakdos members and hated by the general public, who are left to clean up the rubble and hold the funerals afterwards. Rakdos festivals are not only a reward to cult members, but also a pretense for Rakdos thieves to steal anything they can get their hands on while the residents are distracted.
Bloodwitches are a cadre of powerful witches who reside in Rix Maadi and are the closest thing to advisors Rakdos has (or would ever tolerate). Exava currently wields the most power, although she has to work hard to keep it. Most of the political maneuvering that happens in the Rakdos cult happens among these witches, most of whom are female. Rakdos prizes chaos and cruelty, so the bloodwitches cultivate these qualities while downplaying their own aspirations for power and privilege.
Roustabouts are the cult members who staff the diversion clubs and debauchery clubs or assist riot mages during festivals. A roustabout is any cult member who hangs around a club, helping out the Ringmaster with whatever tasks are needed, such as cleaning up blood spills or dragging the dead bodies out and leaving them in a gutter in another district. This is not a formal economic arrangement and a roustabout is usually compensated with something other than cash.
Spikers are the muscle of Rakdos. They got their name from a now-defunct group who killed their victims with spikes, usually through the mouth. Each Ringmaster employs spikers to handle any violence—whether it's controlling it or instigating it. Some of the spikers form gangs with their own hazing rituals. Fighting between spiker gangs is like a Rakdos spectator sport complete with betting and audience participation. Massacre Girl's spikers are particularly notorious for their random acts of violence. There are many ogres among the spikers. In addition to possessing incredible strength, they tend to be good followers, as they rarely show the capacity to think for themselves or even carry out complex orders.
Madcaps are the entertainers of Rakdos. This nickname encompasses everyone from acrobats to cabaret dancers to gremlins on unicycles. Many of the madcaps are homicidal deviants whose acts involve gruesome killing displays masquerading as entertainment. Often, the madcaps are the smaller humanoids who couldn't survive in the Rakdos cult on their own, so they compensate by being "artistic." Being a good entertainer gives you enough capital to stay alive.
Breaking of the Guildpact
As Rakdos slumbers in his lava pit, the acting guildmaster, the bloodwitch Lyzolda, procures dragon spinal fluid and blood from Jarad, and uses both those and the blood of Jarad's son to cast a spell to awaken the demon. Rakdos awakens and smashes his way out onto the streets of Ravnica and right into a fight with Project Kraj. After the fight with Kraj, Rakdos is hauled back into the lava pit of Rix Maadi in a coma. Lyzolda crumples as soon as Rakdos succumbs to Kraj and is promptly devoured by her Rakdos guild members.
After the demon Rakdos finishes healing within his own personal hellpit at Rix Maadi, he reclaims leadership of the Cult of Rakdos. The Rakdos usher in diversion clubs for the twisted and curious of Ravnica as they devise new ways of expressing their own brand of mayhem.
|Exava||Rakdos Blood Witch||Human||Priest|