|Marine||Basic Data||Chapter Symbol|
The Blood ravens possess a cadre of powerful Librarians and are noted for their ability to predict enemy movements and fall on them with the precise application of force required. Their origins are unknown and a cause of much speculation to themselves and to others.2d
Currently, the Blood Ravens are reckoned to be on the verge of extinction, having lost their Chapter Master and a good part of their Chapter (either literally or to Chaos) in the decade-lasting Aurelian Crusade.1
The precise Founding in which the Blood Ravens were created is unknown; their own chapter histories only begin in early M37, though other Imperial records contain some small references to the Chapter proving their existence before then. It is important to note that the Blood Ravens' histories are completely absent before the M37 date; they are not just spotty or fragmentary records. As a result, the Astartes of the Chapter know absolutely nothing about their origins, including having no knowledge of their primogenitor legion or primarch. This absence of information about a primarch has resulted in the Blood Ravens focusing their spiritual reverence on the Emperor. However, they do have one particular mytho-historical figure of import in the form of Azariah Vidya, known as the Great Father of the Blood Ravens.2d
Azariah Vidya is reputed to have been a member of the Chapter during its first years. According to the legend (for actual records of this event apparently do not exist), during a disastrous campaign against a Chaotic uprising in the Gothic Sector, their Chapter Master, Master of Sanctity and most of their elite 1st Company were killed in action. The young Chapter, now without much of their senior cadre, turned to Chief Librarian Vidya for leadership. Vidya, already said to be an expert in the ways of the Ruinous Powers, turned to both research and guile to achieve victory; researching and documenting the enemies' movements, tactics and histories for clues, as well as using his Space Marine and Imperial Guard forces to probe enemy lines, strengths and reactions. After some months of such scrying and research, Vidya claimed he had the full knowledge to defeat those arrayed against them, launching a counterattack of surgical Astartes strikes on apparently deserted enemy positions that turned out to be hiding critical Chaos staging bases. The strikes were perfect, sweeping aside those before them, leading to the quick and bloody close of the campaign. In the aftermath, it was discovered that the whole rebellion (and therefore the associated extermination of the Blood Ravens veterans) had been organised by the Alpha Legion.2d
Following the success of this campaign Vidya was asked by the 'Secret Masters' of the Chapter to officially become Chapter Master; something he did while retaining his position as Chief Librarian.2d This resulted in the tradition of the Blood Ravens whereby Librarians are sometimes afforded dual-roles as command officers.2b
The Blood Ravens' 5th company is known as the 'Fated', and though the reasons for this are obscure, it may go back to an incident recorded in the annals of the Chapter's Librarium, but never spoken of openly. In M38 the entire 5th company was recorded as having been lost in the Warp, but the truth of the matter may be far darker; it is whispered that one of the company Librarians was seduced by the lure of the ruinous powers, and turned his fellow brethren to Chaos. This notion is by-and-large dismissed by the Chapter today, but for unknown reasons the current members of the Blood Ravens 5th Company wear badges of redemption, penitence and shame upon their armor suits.2e
The Blood Ravens of fact, not of legend, are driven by the need to discover the truth about their origins, as well as the philosophy of the gaining of knowledge. To this end, they have developed friendly interactions with the Adeptus Mechanicus and have often been assigned to Explorator missions to unknown/unexplored areas of the galaxy as a result. Combined with their own missions to seek out ancient ruins, mythic sites or other sources of information, the Blood Ravens have done much to expand the boundaries of both Imperial knowledge and space.2e
The Blood Ravens have also become notable for engaging their heretic brethren, with some of their most recent campaigns featuring heavy interaction against the forces of Chaos. Of particular import are the actions of the 3rd Company under Gabriel Angelos on the world of Tartarus, where the Alpha Legion (as well as various xenos forces) were combated3, the multi-company force commanded by Captain Davian Thule who had to deal with Word Bearers interference during a complex mission primarily directed against a Necron threat on the world of Kronus4, and perhaps most critically, the failed Kaurava campaign commanded by Captain Indrick Boreale, in which a full 5 Companies of the Blood Ravens were lost.5
This loss was a serious blow to the Chapter, robbing them of half their manpower in one defeat. This resulted in the Blood Ravens being forced to concentrate on building up their numbers and protecting their Recruiting Worlds for some time, although this period did not pass without serious incident. Multiple xenos threats - including a considerable invasion by a Tyranid splinter fleet and a concurrent Ork Waaagh!6 - assailed the Chapter, which eventually found itself combating not only the heretics of the Black Legion, but insidious heretical threats from within its own ranks7, including betrayal by their Chapter Master Azariah Kyras1.
Notionally a Codex Chapter, the Blood Ravens' most obvious deviation from strict Codex adherence is the high number of Librarians in their ranks, as well as the practice of affording Librarians dual-roles as unit commanders (for example, as Company Captains or even Chapter Master as well as their Librarius rank). The actual commanders of the Blood Ravens are known as the Secret Masters, and as befits such a title, little is known of who these marines are or what positions they officially hold within the command tree. Many of these Masters are psykers who specialise in studying the ways of Chaos, so that the Blood Ravens may better fight against the heretics, and who are believed to sometimes form up battle-squads of the Chapter's Librarians to lead into battle.2b
The dangers of large numbers of psychically active members studying the ways of heresy are not unknown to the Chapter, and so the Blood Ravens attempt to self-monitor themselves strenuously against taint. Those souls who fall (for some inevitably do, either in the initiation process itself or after a lifetime of service) are kept for a time in the Librarium Sanatorium, before being ritually executed by the Master of Sanctity.2b Initiates who fail the initiation rites in other ways and that are driven insane and/or mutated by exposure to the warp are led away in pentagrammically warded chains to a chamber simply known as The Tower where they are kept to be studied by the Chapter so as to ascertain what went wrong and how the knowledge of their failure can be put to better use. There exists a rumour of daemons being summoned and placed within these failed initiates, before being banished, a rumour that, should it be discovered to be true, would surely spell the end of the Blood Ravens as an Imperial body.2c
The use of Librarians in the Chapter goes beyond simple battlefield deployment. As seekers and users of knowledge, the Blood Ravens prefer to approach each campaign and mission slowly and methodically, with an emphasis put on a careful planning stage. The Chapter will use its Librarians to the fullest in predicting enemy movements and likely behaviour. Once all possible occurrences have been discerned, the Blood Ravens will strike swiftly and with full force, never varying from the original plan. They are also able to strike before any obvious enemy movements have been made, ending campaigns before they have truly begun. These habits draw criticism from others in the Imperium however, who view their slowness to act as cowardice and their ability to predict enemy action as verging on the sorcerous.2b
Further criticism has been made by the Inquisition, who has issues with the Blood Ravens' practice of acquiring chaotic weapons and artefacts for both study and simply to deny them to the enemy. While the Blood Ravens claim to destroy these recoveries, there is little evidence for this, and it is believed the Blood Ravens have amassed quite the collection of interesting devices.2e
There is much speculation around the exact origin of the Blood Ravens, most specifically about which of the First Founding Legions they are derived from. Several possibilities have been presented by various interested parties, which can be found below.
Argument principally based around the Chapter's name and heraldry.2e
Argument principally based around the Chapter's name and heraldry.2e
Similarities in battle doctrine 2b.
Chapter has been known to maintain Primarch Rogal Dorn's weapon. 5.
Noted Elements of the Blood Ravens
- Alexian's Blade4a
- Azariah's Cincture4a
- Iron Halo4a
- Rogal's Fist5
Unusually, every Blood Ravens vessel is equipped with its own Librarium and a full complement of curatorial staff who record every event that happens on the ship, as well as storing the mission testimonies of the Chapter Librarians who travel aboard. These records are eventually copied to the Librarium Sanctorum, in an attempt to ensure the Blood Ravens have an uninterrupted record of their own history.8a
- Omnis Arcanum - Battle Barge, Chapter Monastery and site of the Librarium Sanctorum8a
- Litany of Fury - Battle Barge assigned to the 3rd Company8b
- The Observer - Battle Barge
- Scientia Est Potentia - Battle Barge
- Armageddon - Strike Cruiser
- Rage of Erudition - Strike Cruiser
- Ravenous Spirit - Strike Cruiser
- Retribution - Strike Cruiser
Notable Members of the Blood Ravens
- Azariah Vidya - Great Father of the Chapter.2d
- Gabriel Angelos - Captain of the 3rd Company,3 Chapter Master1,2a (Possibly; see Notes)
- Indrick Boreale - Brother-Captain5
- Apollo Diomedes - Captain of the Honour Guard7
- Jonah Orion- Librarian.7
- Rhamah - Librarian of the 9th Company.8
- Mikelus - Reclusiarch. 4
- Gordian - Apothecary. 6
- Galan - Apothecary. 7
- Martellus - Techmarine. 1
- Tarkus - Sergeant of the 5th Company, 1st squad.1
- Thaddeus - Sergeant of the 5th Company, 7th squad.1
- Avitus - Sergeant of the 5th company, 9th squad.6
- Cyrus - Scout Sergeant.1
- Davian Thule - Dreadnought, former Captain of the 4th Company6
- Azariah Kyras - Renegade Chapter Master, Daemon Prince of the Maledictum.8
- Isador Akios - Librarian.3
- Seraphis - Librarian; banished from the Chapter for unknown crimes(hinted at that it was because he was looking too much into Chaotic knowledge). Was killed on Medrengard by the Iron Warriors.9
The current Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens (and their general status) varies somewhat on which ending of Dawn of War II: Retribution is considered canon (at this time there is no clearly official reckoning as to the 'true' conclusion of events). For example, Gabriel Angelos is either Chapter Master or deceased.1
Related to this issue, Angelos is explicitly stated to be Chapter Master in the Blood Ravens Index Astartes article.2a However, this article predated Angelos being made Chapter Master in the video game series by some time and was previously considered an example of canon conflict.
Possible Thousand Sons connections
While direct in-universe mentions of a connection between the Blood Ravens and the Thousand Sons is scant, a significant amount of allusion is made to the subject in a variety of sources. A summation of these incidences and their implications follows:
- The Blood Ravens are established to have enough similarities in battle doctrine (i.e. high number of psykers and the use thereof) to the Thousand Sons that it has been noted by observers within the fiction itself.2b
- The pre-Heresy heraldry of the Thousand Sons is similar to the heraldry of the Blood Ravens; specifically the Thousand Sons Corvidae cult, who as well as wearing the red armour of all Thousand Sons, also sport a black raven insignia (though admittedly of just the raven's head rather than the whole bird).12a
- The psyker Kallista Eris had a vision concerning the fate of the Thousand Sons shortly before the Burning of Prospero. Among other things she mentioned "The Ravens. I see them too. The lost sons and a Raven of blood. They cry out for salvation and knowledge, but it is denied!"12b There are several possible interpretations of these words, but the language used is clearly pertinent to Blood Ravens speculation.
- The Blood Ravens' motto "Knowledge is power" was uttered by the Thousand Son Corvidae member Revuel Arvida upon his decision to dedicate himself to discovering the true causes of his Legion's destruction and combat them. Arvida was a member of the fleet-elements of the Thousand Sons who were sent into hiding by Magnus the Red prior to the Space Wolves' attack upon the Legion and therefore did not fall to Chaos during the Burning of Prospero.10, 12c Thus we have a non-Chaos aligned Corvidae Son dedicating himself to fighting the Ruinous Powers in the future. It is also worth mentioning that his name, Revuel Arvida, has certain stylistic similarities to that of Azariah Vidya, Great Father of the Blood Ravens. This motto was also stated by the Thousand Son Mhotep whilst locked in combat with a daemon.13a A counter-point to this potential link is that the Blood Ravens motto is a tenet uttered by various, non-Blood Raven individuals in a variety of other sources.
- The Blood Ravens' Rahe's Paradise outpost was discovered to be built upon the ruins of a previous Astartes structure, one that dated from "ten millennia ago". While no identification markings could be found upon it, a red-painted Astartes shoulder plate was excavated from these ruins. Additionally, these ancient Astartes were revealed to have allied themselves with Eldar forces present upon the planet to defeat a great evil, and to have agreed to maintain stewardship over the world in order to thwart this evil should it return.8c Ten millenia ago references the birth of the Imperium, although the Thousand Sons were not the only Astartes Legion to wear red as their primary colour at this time, seeing as the Blood Angels continue to do so (and one cannot dismiss the notion that this may include the two unknown Legions).
- During an incident on the planet Arcadia, Librarian Rhamah of the Blood Ravens suffered amnesia and fell in with the Prodigal Sons warband of Thousand Sons sorcerer-lord Ahzek Ahriman. Throughout this association Ahriman and his warband referred to Rhamah variously as "Son of Ahriman", "friend of Ahriman" and as a "lost brother". Furthermore, when Rhamah locates an ancient Eldar tome - called the Un-Founding - that bears the crest of the Blood Ravens upon its cover, Ahriman concedes that he once owned a copy of the book and that another one was in the possession of Azariah Vidya (of whom Ahriman states, "I knew Vidya better than you might expect"). He further states to Rhamah "We are not so different, you and I. We were not always so different...there was a time, long ago, before the Change, when the Thousand Sons of Magnus wore the blood-red armour of their Primarch."8d No explanation is given for what any of this means, and it should be noted that Ahriman is a master of deceit and trickery who was attempting to use Rhamah for his own ends.
- 1:Dawn of War II: Retribution
- 2:Blood Ravens Index Astartes entry - GW website
- 3:Dawn of War
- 4:Dawn of War: Dark Crusade
- a Commander screen; Wargear section
- 5:Dawn of War: Soulstorm
- 6:Dawn of War II
- 7:Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising
- 8:Dawn of War: Blood Ravens
- 8c:pp.467-9, 306
- 8d:p.620, 637, 689, 713,
- 9:Dead Sky, Black Sun
- 10:Age of Darkness (Anthology), "Rebirth"
- 11:Warhammer 40,000: Compendium, p. 5
- 12:A Thousand Sons
- 13:Battle for the Abyss