Smashing and pillaging their way across Ravnica, the Gruul Clans live only for today, reducing buildings to rubble and surviving only on what they fund in the ashes.
The Gruul Clans celebrated base urges and lived by instinct, considering all of civilization to be an elaborate cage that suppresses desire. Once a powerful guild, the Gruul were an assemblage of beggars, gangs, and raiding parties, with the largest of their gangs led by the cyclops Borborygmos.
The Gruul are a loose affiliation of savage clans who squat in Ravnica’s alleyways, abandoned zones, and overgrown ruins. Many Gruul warriors and shamans have come to occupy the Rubblebelt, a broken thread of war-ruined land and settlements that begins near the outskirts of Ravnica’s Tenth District. Warfare among the Gruul is constant and almost ritualistic; the Gruul believe that only the strong should survive and rule. The Gruul are the most anti-civilization and disenfranchised of all of Ravnica’s guilds, and as such are the most ill at ease in a world covered by city.
The last refuge for civilization's castaways, Gruul forces include beings as diverse as misshapen humans, bloodthirsty goblins, and wurms and beasts that trail their armies, eager to dine on fallen armies and nest in the piles of rubble left behind. The Gruul's power lies in their sheer destructive force. Whole city blocks have been destroyed by just one war clan, and their splintered nature means that dozens of raids can occur at once, making it a lot harder for the "civilized" guilds to stop the threat or destroy the Gruul entirely. Though the Gruul have no one leader, they respect power, and Borborgymos is the most powerful chieftain of all. He is one of the Gruul's fiercest fighters, leader of the largest war clan, and is rumored to be a descendant of the Gruul Parun. Thus, this savage cyclops is usually at the head of the largest, most destructive raids.
The Gruul are not a gang of thick-headed fools with nothing better to do than to beat people up. They are also not a pack of wild animals with running on attack instinct. They are exploited, downtrodden, disenfranchised and brushed aside. They have an axe to grind and they choose to do it on your skull.
10,000 years ago when the Guildpact was signed, the Gruul were the guild of the wild, a noble guild charged with keeping civilization in check and maintaining the wilderness spaces where many of the (then) Ravnican races made their homes. Over the next 10 millennia, the unstoppable inertia of civilization, progress, and nine greedy guilds pushed the Gruul aside and mowed down the wilds. The other Green guilds began to scavenge on the Gruul's piece of the Guildpact pie, claiming bits of “nature” as their own. The Simic claimed to be stewards of nature's future, while the Selesnya preached about nature in attempts to pull the last remnants of the wilds into their fold. The old Gruul identity was slowly wrested from their hands - leaving them with no official duty to the Guildpact. Without a part to play, they were seen only as outlanders and savages by the other nine. The Azorius began to exclude them from written law and official guild conventions, and the Boros began to see them as rabble-rousers to be put in their place. The worst came from the Orzhov, who took advantage of their falling status and put many to labor and others into slavery. The new laws did not include them, and therefore could not protect them. They were ostracized.
With their official guild leadership no longer recognized, the guild decentralized. Leaders were built up and torn down often, as power struggles ravaged the guild. The somewhat “recognized” leader of the guild is usually the biggest, angriest, most vocal badass on the block – or the latest one to rally interclan support by smashing down an Azorius courthouse or newly-built Izzet foundry. In most respects, the Gruul have fallen apart, hardly a guild at all. But, through all the years of pain, oppression, and ostracism, there is one thing that binds this guild together like no other. Revenge!
After thousands of years as the red-headed stepchild of the Guildpact, the Gruul have acquired a universal taste for revenge. They may not have a strict code to follow, or a regimented chain of leadership, but they've all got payback on their minds. Nothing brings people together more effectively than a common enemy. When everybody is the enemy, you've got yourself a bloodthirsty band of raging red-heads.
Gruul guildmages pass on the lore and the tradition of rage to the downtrodden masses. The guildmage's focused anger and charismatic fire whip the guild into a frenzy and point it at the right things to smash. Whether from the guilds or oppressive royalty, the Gruul aim to "take the power back!" But the guildmages are not the only source of Gruul fanaticism.
When the Gruul raid the territories of the other guilds, they employ ferocious beasts and monsters like a combination pack animal and battering-ram. Some Gruul clansmen specialize in handling these raiding beasts. Wurms in particular are employed by the Gruul as a kind of living explosive device.
The Burning Tree clan, led by Borborygmos, is the most fearsome and powerful. This clan is also the largest and most diverse, having branches in several districts of Ravnica. The fear and awe inspired by Borborygmos himself allows this clan to keep a strong reign over diverse and geographically separated members. The symbol of the Burning Tree clan has come to be regarded by the Ravnican populace as the symbol for the entire Gruul guild. They are the proud and angry zealots who make sure no one forgets the old heritage of the guild. Tattooed with the guild insignia, they talk of what the Gruul has lost and who must be crushed for taking it away.
The Ghor Clan are the berserkers, the around-the-bend, truly-gone-fishing psycho-warriors whose main combat discipline is the desire to really, really hurt people. These warriors hear the world differently, a strange taste in music that resembles the crunching of bone and snapping of sinew. The Ghor clan is led by Ruric Thar.
The Bolrac clan is made up of large lumbering brutes, primarily cyclopes, ogres, trolls, and giants. The clan's leadership changes almost daily, since brutal battles for supremacy are as common as meals. The word "bolrac" is an old Ravnican word meaning "heavy hammers," and the Bolrac specialize in bringing down massive structures using mauls and battering rams. The only thing the Bolrac love more than destroying something smaller than them is toppling, crumbling, and then destroying something that was once larger.
Perhaps nothing typifies the essence of the Gruul more than the Scab Clan. This is not a clan that angles for guild power. It is not a clan that needs to hear the fervent rhetoric of the Burning-Tree clan. This clan does not need to hear about the history of the downfall of the Gruul to get hyped up for revenge. The Scab Clan is the most vengeful and violent of them all because their rage is born of their own suffering. The Scabs are the aptly named clan of mutilated, tortured, crippled, blinded, and enraged victims of the other nine guilds. While most of them were maimed by Orzhov hands, there are those who have been broken by the serene Selesnya and the law-abiding Azorius. No, the ragged, rancorous Scabs do not need to hear about 10,000 years ago. Their hatred is as fresh as the lashes on their shredded backs, as blinding as their burnt-out eyes.
The Scab clan is made up of a variety of races, including minotaurs, centaurs, ogres, and goblins. They are easily distinguished by their beastly looking scars and body mutilations. Scab clan warriors despise pretentiousness and false airs. They believe that the body is the outward form of the spirit, and that the more maimed the appearance, the more authentic the warrior. The Scab have engulfed or destroyed several clans in recent years, but the leader of the clan, a corpulent giant known as Narbulg Nine Fingers, has not yet deigned to challenge Borborygmos or the Burning Tree. Many Scab Clan enemies have learned the hard way not to underestimate them. Yes, they are all physically deficient, but they make up for this with a cooperation born of necessity and rage against a common enemy.
The Slizt clan is a clutch of sly, stealthy, mostly viashino warriors, although they have been known to accept the odd "pinkskin" (human). This clan has survived in the Rubblebelt by using three tactics: stealth, high ground, and ranged attacks. The Slizt settle in the highest portions of ruins and ambush foes with a flurry of arrows from above. Other Gruul clans regard the Slizt as skulkers and cowards, but all are cautious when entering areas with elevated ruins. The home ground of the Slizt clan is The Husk, an area at the center of the Rubblebelt that has many large and ancient structures that have somehow remained standing for many generations.
The Zhur-Taa clan, also known as the "skull bleachers," is the only Gruul clan that claims to follow "the old ways." The Zhur-Taa are very close to their beasts; their shamans are adept at summoning and training beasts for war-companions and mounts. The Zhur-Taa worship the Utmungr, "gods of the deep earth," and await the awakening of an ancient boar god who will mount a fiery rampage and raze the over-civilized world once and for all. The Zhur-Taa stack large piles of skulls, humanoid and animal alike, as offerings to these believed gods. Their Zhur-Taa leader, Nikya of the Old Ways, is a powerful shaman who, it is said, can summon massive vines from the ancient layers of Ravnica's crust.
In the time before the guilds of Ravnica were formed, the Gruul were a collection of druids and shamans who celebrated and claimed the wilds of the plane. Obviously, the Gruul failed at this task. Some sages surmise that it was the moment when a Gruul shaman saw the last towering druid-tree fall, and the last sacred grove was dug out for a stone quarry, that the spark of outrage was kindled. That spark became an all-consuming need to take vengeance on civilization and those who worked for "progress."
In this current age, most Gruul clans simply live by the rule that "the strong survive, the strongest rule," but there is still a small spark of the old ways left in certain Gruul clans. The Zhur-Taa believe that the quakes that rumble across the Rubblebelt are a sign that the gods of the deep earth are awakening and preparing to rise up and destroy the "cobble roaches." The Zhur-Taa believe that the first sign of this apocalypse will be the coming of Ilharg, the boar-god.
The Gruul observe few consistent traditions but love to celebrate Rauck-Chauv, an irregular, calendar-mocking festival characterized by several days of rioting, feasting, looting, and destruction. Scholars note that Rauck-Chauv honors the principles of the Gruul's anti-intellectualism, having its roots in an ancient druidic promise to root out the artifice that underpins the unnatural institutions of city life, but the Gruul just revel in the excuse to smash things.
Breaking of the Guildpact
Freed from the magical shackles of the Guildpact, Borborygmos leads his guild with more ferocity deep into the civilized world, smashing and pillaging where he can while brutally snuffing out any attempts to usurp his dominance over the Gruul. Claims into the Utvara region by the Izzet League cause turf wars between the two guilds, with some new Gruul clan leaders rising to the forefront for their skill in combat—namely a two-headed leader of the Ghor clan, Ruric Thar.
|Borborygmos||Alpha of the Clans||Cyclops|
|Narbulg Nine Fingers|
|Ruric Thar||the Unbowed||Ettin||Warrior|
|Ulasht||the Hate Seed||Hydra|