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Golgari Swarm

The Swarm

A small crowd of pale elves and humans stepped into the light. Bits of bone and detritus woven into their matted hair clicked lightly. Their chitinous armor swarmed with tiny, riotous insects that moved in and out of the sheen of moss growing on their shoulders -- a bed for sprouting fungi. Whether it was the Golgari themselves who had made the chittering sound or their bugs. Ral could not be sure.

The embodiment of life and death.



The Golgari Swarm is the guild that fuses the opposite values of life and death, fostering growth in Ravnica's decaying communities but also fostering decay in places of growth. The elves, zombies, insects, and undead-plant hybrids of the Golgari are like one massive, growing, feeding organism, collectively spreading across the plane wherever it can fit. The Golgari provide a necessary service in Ravnica, in that they dispose of the carcasses that civilization leaves behind, and mysteriously they also provide sustenance for the forgotten and the needy. They are the scavengers and decomposers at the fringes of the food chain, but yearn to be the predator at the top.


The Golgari guild is organized more like a single organism than a collective: it has a nucleus or nerve center that drives the direction and growth of the guild; elements that collect nutrients and convert them into usable resources; defenses that resist and fight off foreign bodies; and an instinctual drive to survive, reproduce, and overcome. To enhance the guild's progress, the guild consists of many subfactions, each with own agenda that uplifts the collective as a whole. However, the unstoppable and constantly growing factions of the guild are like mindless amoebas, becoming almost impossible to control.


The Golgari guild might have more changes in leadership than other guilds. The guild believes in the importance of continuous cycles, understands that assassination is a valid means of political conquest, and knows that being alive is not a prerequisite to rule.
"Cremation of the dead is not a religious ritual in Ravnica. It's a business designed to keep the Golgari from growing in numbers."
— Boros Sergeant after a bloody raid on a Golgari Necropolis.

Golgari Farm

What one might expect to see should they stumble across a Golgari mushroom farm.




A council of shamans and rogues called the Cilia. The Cilia act as a combination of advisory parliament and spy agency and rarely all convene publicly or together at once. In combination with insect minions, they act as his sensory apparatus to know what the outer reaches of Golgari are doing and as a messenger service to deliver instructions. It might be that an individual Cilium might be considered of higher rank than another, but none know those rankings beyond the guildmaster.


The Devkarin are a brooding, winsome, and often ambitious race of elves who represent one of the main power groups of the Golgari. Of all of Golgari's factions, the Devkarin press most for the expansion of Golgari territory; they feel that most of the other guilds do not have Ravnica's best interests at heart and that the more land consolidated in Golgari hands, the better. The Devkarin elves are ruled by a high priest known as a matka, sometimes for centuries at a time.


The Lotleth are the Golgari's irregular faction of undead, necromancers, fungus-binders, and other members associated with the restless dead. Although most Golgari undead are mindless fungal constructions maintained by necromantic magic, the Lotleth do have some more or less intelligent undead among them, plus a few higher-ranked necromancers who speak for the faction. Generally, the Lotleth serve as a labor force for the Golgari's constant program of reclamation and expansion, or as a weapon for some shaman's personal agenda. Sentient beings among Lotleth feel used and underappreciated within the guild, and their numbers are larger than they seem. The current leader of the Lotleth is Wratislav, a skilled but conceited human necromancer who enjoys parading his undead retinue through the streets of Ravnica.


The Street Swarm form Golgari's labor class, which helps drive the cycle of life and death by countless iterations of accelerating decay and seeding new life. This faction includes corpse scavengers, low-ranking street shamans, rot farmers, tunnel trolls, various elementals and fungal horrors, and most of the kraul (an insect-like race). Each neighborhood of Ravnica tends to have its own chapter of the Street Swarm, and each chapter is led by a local swarm-boss.

"We traffic in flesh, not souls. Still, it's a shame to let anything go to waste."
— Cevraya, Golgari shaman



The guild started as an army of elves and outcasts that Svogthir had united, but most importantly were the undead legions Svogthir himself had raised. Svogthir fought in the name of chaos, but when the war came to a stand still, the paruns of the guilds came together. Svogthir was instrumental in convincing the forces of chaos in becoming signatories of the pact. He remained in charge of the Golgari for thousands of years, surviving through his mastery of necromancy, which he used to become a lich. Eventually, Svogthir was overthrown by five gorgons, the Sisters of Stone Death. Although he managed to kill two of them, the other three were able to rot away his body and then sealed his head inside an ancient tomb that came to be known as Svogthos. There Svogthir remained for over a century.


At the turn of the Decamillennial, the Devkarin, led by matka Savra, who, with the help of the House Dimir parun and guildmaster Szadek, overtook control of the guild. Savra resurrected Svogthir, whom she used to overthrow the Sisters of Stone Death, and then used ancient, powerful matka magic to liberate his spirit from his head, so that she could add it to her scepter. Subsequent to this, Savra proclaimed herself as the new Golgari guildmaster. Power-hungry as always, Savra then attempted to infiltrate the Selesnya Conclave with her quietmen and tried to subtly sieze control of the Conclave; but, she was double-crossed by Szadek, who snapped her neck so as to weaken the Conclave.


Jarad, a Deckarin Elf Lich, was the next guildmaster of the Golgari Swarm. After the dissolution of the guilds, the Golgari had stayed more or less as they were. For 10,000 years, they had been the silent machine that kept the unsavory but essential parts of Ravnica running and knew no other life apart from the dank tunnels of the undercity. Jarad maintained his power, quelling without mercy any rumblings of mutiny or dissent from the Teratogens. He bided his time, knowing that the surface world was suffering without the structure and support of the guilds, and it was only a matter of time before things returned to business as usual. At an unspecified time, Jarad was taken captive in a sparsely populated corner of the city and later assassinated by the current guildmaster, Vraska.


Vraska, a persecuted Gorgon, learned Jarad's whereabouts and vowed to being justice to him and replace him with a worthier guild leader. She killed him in his cell, and assumed control of the Golgari soon after, leading ever since. The Golgari see her as a useful enigma: a shadowy death specialist who only responds to the jobs she wants in exchange for strange favors and obscure trophies. Vraska stays largely out of guild politics and cares little about the inner workings of the Golgari Swarm. She gets the job done and departs again, not to be seen until another mission interests her.
"Let the rest of Ravnica sneer. One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity."
— Jarad

Golgari Locations


Korozda is the new Golgari guildhall, an arched cathedral surrounded by an immense, circular maze of overgrown, fungus-encrusted ruins. Korozda is the lair of the late guildmaster Jarad Vod Savo and the place where he met with the Cilia, his irregular court of attendants. Korozda is patrolled by an array of swarming vermin, giant insects, zombies, and gleancrawlers.


The Stonefare is a network of ancient, arched brick tunnels that wind through the Golgari-controlled areas of the Undercity, polluted with sticky slime, fungi, and cobwebs. The Stonefare is lined with—and, in places, architecturally composed of—the petrified bodies of gorgon victims.


At the center of the Golgari-controlled neighborhood of Deadbridge is a sinkhole large enough to swallow a church. Spanning the sinkhole is the Deadbridge itself, a massive platform supported by stone arches that are buttressed by vines, fungi, and bonewood. Deadbridge came by its name in a grisly fashion. After a deadly fire destroyed an adjoining neighborhood, the pit became a convenient, quiet way to dispose of corpses. The Golgari co-opted the sinkhole as a repository of raw materials, and eventually the guild came to be de facto in charge of the region.


Whenever an area of Ravnica has fallen into ruin, the Golgari seek to sweep in, accelerate its decomposition, drain it of its resources, reseed it, nourish it, and—eventually—claim the revivified sector as their territory. Zanikev is one particularly large Golgari reclamation zone that encompasses several former neighborhoods, an area of moss-coated and slime-choked architectural ruins where many scavenger species make their lair.


The marsh-flooded tunnels and chambers of Ravnica's undercity are also a means of transport for the Golgari corpse trade. Valves constructed of fungal membranes close off certain sewerways. These valves open and close by Golgari command, allowing carcasses and other traffic to float through like a logging sluice.

Golgari Rot Farm

A risen skeleton at the Great Rot Farm



Similar to a swarm of insects, the Golgari collectively behave more like a single organism than a scattering of individuals. New members aren't recruited or initiated into the Golgari Swarm; you have been absorbed and incorporated, and the biological system of the swarm funneled you to where your talents are most needed to contribute to the health of the guild. Your position within the guild is defined by your capabilities. You might act as a shaman of the Golgari if you are a spellcaster—perhaps a wizard specialized in the School of Necromancy, a druid of the Circle of the Land, or a druid of the Circle of Spores. In this revered position, you teach and advise other members of the swarm, keeping them attuned to the natural cycle of death and regrowth. You might manipulate that natural cycle by wielding the magic of death, snuffing out life and reanimating the dead. Or you might wield your magic to spread fungal rot and noxious gases, preparing parts of the city for annexation. If you aren't adept at magic, the swarm still needs you. Golgari warriors both defend the guild's territory and, when necessary, take offensive action. If you are a fighter, you can serve as a shock trooper, perhaps fighting alongside kraul and trolls on behalf of the swarm. If you are a ranger or a rogue, you are more of a skirmisher, scout or spy.


New members are given a Golgari insignia, a poisoner's kit, a pet beetle or spider, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 100 sp worth of mixed coins.  


Every member is given and taught extensive knowledge about the underground pathways that you can use to bypass crowds, obstacles, and observations as you move through the city. When taking these passages, the time taken when going between locations is usually halved, but the Undercity is haunted by dangers that rarely brave the light of the surface world, so one's journey isn't guaranteed to be safe.  



A freshly joined recruit. Consider yourself being watched at all times to make sure you get your tasks done, and to see if you are truly fit to be one with the swarm.


You have distinguished yourself from the mass of your peers. Guildmaster Jarad might not know your name, but he knows that a member of your group is reliable and effective, and his high chancellors single you out for specific missions. The guild provides you with supplies you need to complete those missions (within reason).


When you reach this level of renown in the Golgari Swarm, Vraska knows your name and appreciates that you can be relied on to help fulfill the guild's objectives. Thanks to this prominence, you can get away with begging a favor from the guild's more monstrous members. You can ask an undercity medusa, a troll, or a kraul death priest to help you with a task that benefits the Golgari Swarm. The creature is not obligated to help you, but it holds you in enough esteem to at least consider it—in exchange for the promise of a favor in return.

In addition, you receive a Golgari charm at the start of each mission you undertake on the guild's behalf.


Having achieved considerable renown within the guild, you can choose to become a member of the Ochran. The Ochran often serve as stealthy bodyguards, lurking out of sight until some danger threatens their wards. The Ochran are also sent out as assassins or burglars to further the guild's goals.


Although you aren't yet one of Vraska's personal counselors, your value to the guild is clear. The high chancellors regularly call on you to perform tasks for the guild and to share your insights. You can be sure that anything you say to a high chancellor will pass quickly to the ears of the guildmaster.


Vraska seeks out the most powerful, effective, and loyal members of the Golgari Swarm to serve as his high chancellors. At this point, you certainly qualify. The amorphous nature of Vraska's council means that you don't need to wait for a vacancy to open up; Vraska summons you to her presence, and you are expected to appear and accept the new position offered to you.

As a high chancellor, you advise Vraska in her decision-making, keep her informed of happenings throughout the guild, and convey his instructions to the various parts of the guild's "body."


You are eligible to fill the role of matka, the high priest of the Golgari elves. You can attain this position only if the previous matka has died or stepped down. Becoming matka requires you to claim the position and maintain your title against any challengers. It isn't unusual for competing claims among would-be matkas to be resolved by combat... or assassination.

As matka, your status among the Devkarin is comparable to that of the guildmaster's. Even high chancellors who are Devkarin attempt to balance their loyalty to Vraska with their loyalty to you.  


What the guild offers its more loyal and trusted members. Upon reaching that status, members may be given one of the following gifts.


The Golgarian begins a transformation process of flesh, bone and mind. Their body becomes infused with the very fungi that they cultivate, causing terrible mutations along the body as mushroom caps grow from skin, their veins become like roots and their blood turns a poisonous green. With this terrible curse come blessings. The body of the Golgarian becomes immune to poison and disease and their life is extended beyond that of any mortal. Their mind is infused with the spores of the Undercity, granting them domination and complete control of Saprolings, a small fungus-based life form that quickly overwhelm their enemies.


The Golgarian becomes death incarnate, a ticking time bomb waiting for the exact moment to unleash a miasma of skin rotting, lung burning and plague bringing noxious clouds. Upon choosing this gift, the guild member's skin builds up microscopic pores and fungi across his entire body. When the Golgarian chooses so, his pores open up and the fungus release their spore into the open air, creating a heavy fog of death in the immediate area. Everyone but the Golgarian caught in the mist begin suffering the ill fated effects of the cloud. Exposed areas of the body sizzle and melt as tiny necrotic bacteria begin eating away at the flesh. Lungs are slowly liquefied, and even if the victim survives, they are treated to a myriad of terrible diseases. Death is more preferable in this situation.

From Death, Life

The Golgarian is given the chance of new life should they perish. Once death has taken the guild member, and their body recovered, necromancers use their magic in a ritual to revive the fallen member, renewing their life cycle once again. The Golgarian is not undead, but completely resurrected as they once were. This process is taxing, and can only be applied once every couple of weeks, so should the risen guild member find themselves dead once again, they will not be able to be resurrected until the ritual can begin anew once again.  


Rules that members must adhere to.
  • Do not waste anything.
  • Do not fear death, take comfort that your body will give life to generations of decomposers whose spawn will rot the bodies of the Undercity for millennia to come.

Species and Races

Species and races typically associated with the Golgari


A broad category that would include creatures such as the hypocritical Quillspikes to the enormous mushroom finding Baloth Nulls


Unlike simple water or fire elementals, the Golgari can utilize beings composed entirely of the bones and flesh of the dead, or even bring to life the vines and mushrooms of their territory with a thirst that can be only quenched with blood.


These are the dark elves of Ravnica. They make up one of the two elite classes of the Golgari, the other elites being the teratogens. They are presided over by their "Matka", a high priestess.


Fungus creatures are plant-like denizens that thrive and feed on decaying matter. Extremely simple organisms, they possess vast regenerative properties and are capable of asexual reproduction through the sowing of spores. While several varieties of fungus exist, the thallid sub-tribe is vastly the largest possessing several varieties among its numerous species.


Gorgons, also known as medusae, are snake-skinned humanoid women with hair made of snakes or snakelike tendrils, and have the ability to calcify organic entities that look at the gorgon's face. Incredibly deadly, these creatures are rare across the various planes.


Fiends and beings that defy normal descriptions. Horrors originate from different sources such as nightmares, scientific experimentation and hellish planes. The Golgari have command over Horrors wrought from plant matter and mutated insects that are able to spread on their own by infecting their surroundings with their essence like the Woodwraith Corrupter.

Golgari Horror

A Slum Reaper, one of the Horrors Golgari use to guard the outskirts of their territory.


The most prevalent species in Ravinca. They are four-limbed bipedal primates of the mammalian class.


Crawling or flying little creatures, as well as larger and/or humanoid variants thereof such as the Kraul. The secretive Kraul inhabit the undercity, far below the main streets of Ravnica. Many feel a sense of loyalty and kinship toward the Golgari Swarm, while others reject the guilds, organizing themselves according to their own mysterious caste system.


Cultivated, fungus and/or plant-based, green-aligned lifeforms. Sapro-ling literally means “putrid thing” or “thing from rot


Large, bestial, ill-tempered humanoids that usually dwell in forests and have regenerative powers.


Skeletons, thralls, zombies. Anything that was once dead could be brought back to life, only to add to the expansive ranks of the Golgari.

"Some Golgari insects live for centuries—and they never stop growing.

Foreign Relations

Azorius Senate

To the Azorius, we are background processes. We are stomach sounds and effluvia. Yet we are the foundation on which their power rests.

Cult of Rakdos

The Rakdos understand the proximity of death, but seek to hasten its cycle for petty ends. What the demon destroys, we nurture back to life again.

Gruul Clans

The Gruul are our brethren in the untamed wilds of the city, but they lack the vision to perceive the greater cycles at work.

Selesnya Conclave

The Selesnya strive to respect nature as we do, and their devotion to living systems is commendable. But they are night-blind necrophobes, useless in the face of unvarnished death.

Orzhov Syndicate

The Orzhov are despicable ghosts, always seeking to circumvent the cycles that welcome us back to the loam. Their arrogance in seeking power over decay can only last so long.

Izzet League

The Izzet's methods stink of societal progress; they're ignorant of the cycles they destroy. But they manage the city as we do, providing useful magics to maintain the structures beneath the structures.

House Dimir

The Dimir share our tunnels and mine our secrets. They believe they rule the undercity, but they only rule those who care for possessions or status.

Boros Legion

The Boros speak a language we will never understand. Their militant dedication to words and slogans confuses and disturbs us.

Simic Combine

The Simic have spent generations scraping at the edges of a truth that is plain to any worm.

"Depending on your point of view, the seal represents a proud guardian of the natural cycle or one who has sold her soul to darkness for eternal life."

Civil Services


Skills held important by the organization which it both teaches and may require as part of the promotion process.

Standard Skills

Deceit, Endurance, First Aid, Locale, Perception, Stealth, Willpower    

Professional Skills

Craft(Poisons), Healing, Lore Undercity, Navigation (Undercity), Streetwise, Survival, Track.    

Combat Styles

Undercity Sniper
Combat Style
Combat Style


Magic related to, or often times exclusive to a particular guild which can be taught to members for a small fee. Not all spells are available right away, many might be reserved for more skilled, loyal, and/or trusted members.

Folk Magic

Show Spoiler
Beastcall(X) (Saproling)
Find(X) (Dead)


Golgari allow animist to control Bane Spirits, Death Spirits, Haunts, and Predator Spirits.    




Insect Swarm

Show Spoiler
Dominate(Creatures) (Insects)
Draw(Creatures) (Insects)
Enslave(Creatures) (Insects)
Enhance(Characteristic) (SIZ)
Shapechange (To Creature) (Deathbridge Goliath)
Switch Body
Wrack (Substance or Harm) (Insect Swarm)


Show Spoiler
Abjure (Substance/Process) (Decay)
Animate(Substance) (Bone)
Dominate(Creatures) (Undead)
Sculpt(Substance) (Corpse)
Sense(Object, State or Substance) (Death)
Wrack (Substance or Harm) (Undeath Grip)


Show Spoiler
Abjure (Substance/Process) (Breath)
Animate(Substance) (Plant Matter)
Neutralize Magic
Sense(Object, State or Substance) (Fungus)
Wrack (Substance or Harm) (Spores)


Erebos, God of the Dead

Pharika, God of Affliction

Rhonas, God of Strength

Golgari Magic

A Golgarian casting magic  
Golgari Elf
A Golgari Elf.

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