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Monday, July 18, 2011

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 5

It's time for Agrus Kos' first day in his new job. Time to see how he'll fit in this whole new world.

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 5

Don't wake me for the morning brief.
                                          -Epitaph of Wojeck Sergeant Yrbog Vink
                                          (2525-2642 Z.C.)


It's the morning briefing, the first that Kos gets to lead, and it is not brief. With a quietman off in the corner, Agrus Kos makes his opening speech, tries a few hit and miss jokes to warm up the crowd (more on this later), and then gets down to business. It's time to figure out who's investigating what, who's patrolling where, and which areas are potential trouble spots. Some wojeks are assigned to training duty, there are some Roc problems for the Air Commander Wenslauv to deal with, a case nearly ready for trial, and one last thing. Kos assigns his partner (that he refuses to call a partner) to begin lieutenant training under his direction. And with that we close the circle and are back to status quo.

...Just outside the briefing room...

Phaskin, the former lieutenant whose shoes Kos is now wearing, yells out and dumps a civilian in Kos' lap. He needs to get all fancied up now that he's been promoted to better things so he doesn't have time to handle a case. That civilian happens to be Wenvel. (And naturally with a lieutenant-in-training by his side, it's Borca that does the note-taking while Kos does the questioning.)

Wenvel manages to stumble over his words and confuse them thinking he's going to them about a domestic dispute or missing persons case. As he tries to get the right words out, Yertrude's spirit appears, and she's not happy. Kos recognizes this variant of spirit to be a woundseeker, a particularly violent form of spirit that can arise when someone's been taken before their time in an act of violence. While everyone freezes or runs, he manages to impress all with his taming of the vengeful spirit with just a mirror and a few calming promises that she would be avenged until Wenvel manages to screw things up by yelling at her to leave him alone. Yertrude turns back up the rage dial and most certainly grounders would be of no use, so it's time to pull out the big guns. Kos twists the hilt of his baton until he hears two clicks, waits for the mana to build up inside, then unleashes a bolt of power and the spirit that was Yertrude was no more. With that taken care of, Kos turns back to Wenvel and suggests he start again from the beginning.

...A few minutes later...

Kos was convinced that Wenvel hadn't murdered his own wife, and was desperate to have the murderer put to justice. Unfortunately there wasn't much justice to be had. In most cases, murder wasn't a crime, especially if the victim wasn't part of one of the Guilds. Murder was just one of many categories of business, usually under the Orzhov's or Golgari's umbrella. At least that's how it was in Ravnica proper.

Elsewhere in the guild territories or the free zones, things were a little bit different. The Guildpact still held sway, to be sure, but there were certainly different forms of justice out there. Sometimes Kos would dream about joining up with the Hazda, a volunteer group that served as lawmen out in the rest of the plane, but that was just a pipe dream. He was already 110 years old, he's never left in all that time, and he wasn't about to now.

* * *


On the one hand, we see Agrus Kos doing his duty as his newly promoted position requires. On the other hand we know he wouldn't accept the promotion until he was told he could still walk the streets and here we see that he even finds a way to keep Borca on as his partner. Seems like Herdon went and pushed the reset button on us.

It does make sense from a character perspective at least. He's an old, albeit very physically fit for 100, man set in his ways. He likes what he does and want to just keep on doing it. But my question is if it's going to just be the same... why have that promotion set up for us at all? Was it just exposition to explain the structure of the wojeks to us or will this lead somewhere else?

Bad Jokes

While Herndon intentionally writes jokes during Kos' speech that are given pity laughs, Herndon himself wrote a joke that just make me groan. Kos is standing before his men, and he notices the quietman in the back of the room and its mere presence is enough to help make his stage fright even worse. Then Herndon writes:

He had to get through an hour of the most painful mental torture ever devised by teh Azorius bureaucracy, and those people knew mental torture. The morning brief.

Thank you folks. Don't forget your two drink minimum. Herndon will be here all night.


I thought the joke about the morning brief in the beginning chapter excerpt was great. I thought that writing about Kos' dread of it within the chapter was too much.


Bad jokes aside, I can understand the purpose of something so mundane. The message is loud and clear that this is a different type of fantasy book. We have us here a police investigation sprinkled with the trappings of fantasy, enough so that it bizarrely makes sense that murder isn't illegal. That certainly flips things on its head in a good way.

Ravnica Proper

More and more we're reminded that Ravnica the planet does not equal Ravnica the city. That's a shame. I'm sure there could have been ways for him to have his grass is greener moment without making it sound like beyond the "city" it's like the wild west out there. I wanted my planet city like I was promised!

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