Blood Ravens are a Space Marine Chapter that was created for Dawn of War and subsequently included in official Warhammer 40,000 source materials as well. They are featured in every game of the series except for Winter Assault, the campaign of which features the Ultramarines as an unplayable faction (though both can be played in Skirmish mode).
The Blood Ravens Chapter is best known for hoarding information and relics, as well as its large concentration of Librarians. Otherwise they are quite standard in composition. Their history is mostly unknown, though there are hints that they are a group of Thousand Sons marines who stayed loyal to the Emperor.
On the surface, the Blood Ravens are a relatively unremarkable Chapter, organized according to the standards set out by the Codex Astartes with little apparent deviation, although they have an unusually high number of Librarians. This high frequency of psykers has resulted in increased testing of the Blood Ravens genetic material that is submitted to the Adeptus Mechanicus, but all tests have found their geneseed to be stable with no aberrations.
There is a minor mutation in the stage 6 implant (the catalepsian node, a brain implant controlling the Marine's circadian rhythm and sleep functions) of Blood Ravens that results in eidetic memory and inability to experience REM sleep.
The Blood Ravens have no knowledge of their original founding Chapter, Legion, and Primarch. The date and purpose of their founding is unknown but it is speculated that it may have been to confront a specific threat that is now dispatched or in a period of great upheaval in the Imperium that has since been forgotten, or redacted.
There is much speculation as to which First Founding Legion the Blood Ravens actually descend from. Attempts to link them with the Blood Angels and Raven Guard seem to be due to similarities in their names and heraldy, but the Chapter suffers neither from the Blood Angels' psychotic tendencies nor have the pale skin and black eyes and hair of the Raven Guard. Some speculate that the Blood Ravens are loyalist descendents of the Thousand Sons. As the fleet-based marines of the Thousand Sons were not present for the burning of their homeworld Prospero and thus were not transported to the Eye of Terror, their fate remains unknown. Both chapters have a large number of psykers, as well as a similar color pattern between Blood Ravens and pre-Heresy Thousand Sons. In addition, there have been comments by both Eliphas the Inheritor and Farseer Taldeer which imply a connection between the Blood Ravens and Chaos. In the (canon) Space Marine ending of Dark Crusade, Captain Davian Thule was said to have found artifacts that provide insight to their heraldry, yet he destroyed these artifacts before they could be taken back to the Litany of Fury, implying a shameful secret that could be damning to the chapter.
Early stories of uncertain authenticity mention four great heroes and leaders of the Chapter. One who has been named was Alexian, whose name is found on many wargear items in Dawn of War games. The first recorded Chapter Master, however, was Azariah Vidya, the first Blood Raven known to have combined the roles of Chapter Master and Chief Librarian. Azariah was an exceptional Psyker who was serving as Master of the Librarium during a campaign which saw both the Chapter Master and the Master of Sanctity dead, with the Chapter suffering heavy casualties. Azariah rose to leadership and saved the Chapter from the brink of extinction. The victories he achieved by meticulous study of his enemies started the Chapter's obsession on gathering and guarding information. Azariah is since honoured as the "Great Father" of the Chapter.
The Purge of CyreneEdit
Captain Gabriel Angelos led the Blood Ravens to his home world of Cyrene to comence the Blood Trials and to add a number of possible Aspirants to the Blood Ravens Chapter. However, during the Trials Captain Angelos somehow discovered that the planet had become tainted by the forces of Chaos. Even though the method of how he deduced this wasn't revealed, he belived that the taint had worked its way so deep into the planets populace that the only way to cleanse the planet was by requesting the Ordo Malleus to comence an Exterminatus of the planet. This resulted in the death of every man, woman, and child that resided on the planet. Although most of the specifics of the incident remain in secrecy, Captain Angelos carried the burden upon himself and could not forgive himself for what he had done to his home world.
Tartarus was an Imperial world besieged by Orks, and at one point, five different factions clashed on the planet: Orks, the Tartarus Planetary Defence Force and Imperial Guard, Chaos Space Marines of the Alpha Legion, Eldar of the Craftworld Biel-Tan, and Blood Ravens Chapter of Imperial Space Marines. The world was the setting for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.
It was on Tartarus that Gabriel had unleashed the Daemon of the Maledictum on accident. It was this daemon that would eventually corrupt Kyras in Dawn of War II.
The Space Marines had entered the Dark Crusade to find holy relics on Kronus. One of the three main leaders of the search was Captain Davian Thule. As commander of the Blood Ravens 4th Company on Kronus, he fought all the other races stationed there. Before the battles and skirmishes between the races began, Davian asked the Imperial Guard Commander stationed on Kronus, led by Governer-Militant Lukas Alexander, to evacuate all civilians and Imperial personnel.
When Alexander refused to give up his mission, Thule had no choice but to attack the Imperial Guard stronghold at Victory Bay, slay the Governor, and conquer the area. The remaining Imperial Guard troops of the 1st Kronus Liberators were awarded for their duty on Kronus and "served their people well". The rebels of the Fifth Company, who sided with the Blood Ravens after the death of Commissar Anton Gebbet, were executed for betrayal despite having rebelled to assist the Astartes.
When Thule attacked the Tau Empire's Stronghold, and killed the Ethereal there, Shas'O Kais managed to take the Ethereal's body so he could have a proper funeral.
Thule's conquest of the Necron Stronghold was not an easy one. There, they fought in the darkness against Necrons. While fighting the Necron Lord, Chaplain Mikelus, who was stationed on Kronus to fight alongside Thule in his conquest for the planet, was killed in action. Thule himself lost his right eye in the battle. The Space Marines planted a bomb to destroy the catacombs, taking all the Necrons in the area with it. They escaped and the Necrons were buried in their tomb.
Ultimately the Space Marines purged Kronus of all resistance, including Eliphas the Inheritor and his Word Bearers, as well as Farseer Taldeer and Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter. The relics recovered were so damning that only Thule and Angelos learnt of their nature and proceeded to have them destroyed.
When fierce warpstorms erupted in the Kaurava system the Blood Ravens immediately responded. Captain Indrick Boreale was dispatched with five whole companies to bring the system to order. The campaign for the Kaurava system saw the Blood Ravens pitted against the Imperial Guard stationed in the system and a Holy Crusade of the Order of the Sacred Rose of the Adepta Sororitas. Despite the presence of more than enough enemies in the form of the Orks of a WAAAGH! led by Gorgutz, who had survived an assault by the Blood Ravens at Kronus, Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwe, the Dark Eldar of the Kabal of the Black Heart, Chaos Space Marines of the Alpha Legion under the command of the Khornate Chaos Champion Firaeveus Carron, and the Tau, the Imperial forces present in the system wound up engaged in brutal infighting. To make matters worse, the Necrons had been slumbering under the sands of Kaurava III a Necron Tomb World, for millions of years and were now led by the newly awakened Necron Lord of Kaurava on yet another campaign of destruction of all life.
The campaign proved to be a disaster for the Blood Ravens, though how events unfolded remains uncertain in Imperial records. What is known is that the Blood Ravens established their presence in the Kaurava System on the second world, Kaurava II. Recognising the strength and potential of the local inhabitants of the inhospitable mountains in which the Blood Ravens established themselves, the Chapter decided to examine the possibility of recruiting from these fairly barbaric inhabitants of the system's backwater. However rumours hint that the Space Marines were given binding orders from their Chapter Master that severely restricted their ability to wage the campaign, resulting in Captain Boreale ignoring the advice of his sergeants and making foolish errors. Unfortunately for the Blood Ravens, Captain Indrick Boreale was subsequently killed along with all five of the Blood Raven companies under his command, essentially costing the Chapter half of its manpower in a single campaign. The few survivors of the Kaurava Campaign in the Chapter would speak of it rarely and when they did they laid blame for the disaster on mistakes made at the highest levels of the Chapter's leadership.
The Aurelian CrusadeEdit
The Crusade can be broken into three distinct campaigns that over the course of 10 years, changed the face of the sector and the Blood Ravens Chapter itself. Although many men and women took part in the many actions of the action, the main focus of the Crusade revolved around a small group of Blood Ravens:
- The Force Commander
- Sergant Tarkus, a 4th Company Tactical Sergeant, veteran of the Kronus Campaign
- Sergant Cyrus, a 10th Company Scout Sergeant, veteran of the Kaurava Campaign
- Sergant Avitus, a 4th Company Devastator Sergeant, veteran of the Kronus Campaign
- Sergant Thaddeus, a recently promoted 4th Company Assault Sergeant
- Captain Davian Thule, 4th Company Captain and the commander of the Kronus Campaign
- Librarian Jonah Orion, a 3rd Company Librarian
- Techmarine Martellus, a Techmarine aboard the Armageddon and Retribution strike cruisers
- Captain Apollo Diomedes, Captain of the Chapter Honor Guard
- Captain Gabriel Angelos, 3rd Company Captain
The next campaign (in Chaos Rising) revolves around the mysterious Planet of Aurelia. Once the crown jewel of the sector, Aurelia was thrown out of its orbit by a Warp Storm and was swallowed into the realm of Chaos. For a thousand years it remained in the hold of Chaos, but two years after the Tyranid invasion, it has mysteriously returned. After detecting the planet, the Force Commander and his team are tasked to be the first Blood Ravens to investigate a mysterious distress call. When the team arrives at the broadcast array they are attacked by a rogue force of Guardsmen that are later identified to be the private militia of the deposed Governor Vandis. After the Force Commander leads his team out of the trap, he is joined by Librarian Jonah Orion and together they learn that House Vandis is working with a foul Chaos Space Marine Lord believed to have been killed years ago during the Kronus campaign: Eliphas the Inheritor. After a few engagments between the Force Commander and the Black Legion on Typhon, Meridian, and Calderis it is revealed that someone within the Chapter has given communication access codes to Eliphas; there is a traitor among the Blood Ravens. After a fight on Calderis the leader of the Chapter Honor Guard comes to take command of the Aurelian Sector. Captain Apollo Diomedies assumes full command of all the Blood Raven forces in the sector as instructed by the Chapter Master Azariah Kyras. He then orders the Gabriel Angelos, Davian Thule and the unnamed Force Commander to withdraw. Both Gabriel Angelos and Davian Thule do not understand why the Chapter Master does this, but Gabriel orders the Force commander to continue fighting the Black Legion while Angelos confronts Diomedes. Eventualy they discover Techmarine Martellus has survived alone for years on Typhon, and was only now able to send a signal calling for rescue. They rescue him from the Tyranid and Black Legion Forces that have also converged on his signal. Martellus joins the Force Commander and learns that a Space Hulk known as the Judgment of Carrion is due to arrive in the system. Martellus belives that ancient but powerful cogitators located within the space hulk could help decrypt the traitor's transmissions and help discover who within the Chapter is the traitor. As the Force Commander's force enters the Judgment of Carrion they soon discover bodies of Blood Raven space marines from an earlier expedition led by an Apothecary namned Galan. After the team finds the Cogitators they also locate the logs left by Galan, and what they discover is terrifying. Not only did the survivors from the expedition fall to the powers of chaos, Azariah Kyras had led them to their downfall. In an earlier conflict Azariah along with a number of Librarians attempted to banish a powerful Nurglite daemon, named Ulkair. Although they are succesful, Azariah is convinced to serve Ulkair and betray the Emporer. After discovering this information the team heads to Aurelia to kill the leader of the Black Legion detachment, a Chaos Lord known as Araghast the Pillager. After a small engagement on the planet's surface, Eliphas betrays Araghast and leaves him to die by the hands of the Force Commander. After the battle Captain Diomedies declares Gabriel Angelos a traitor and orders all other Blood Ravens to pursue him. Knowing full well that Gabriel is not a traitor, the Force Commander and his team break into Firebase Argus and confront both Galan and Diomedies. After a brief battle with the Apothecary, who turns out to be daemon-possessed, the wounded Galan tells the Commander that Diomedes is not a traitor, but that many of the Honor Guard members are, and thanks the Force Commander for freeing his soul to the Emperor by slaying him. Eventually the team kills the remaining trators and Sergant Tarkus reveals to Diomedes the truth about Kyras and about Ulkair. After telling the truth to Diomedes the Force Commander heads back to Aurelia to meet up with Gabriel Angelos and destroy Ulkair.
Though the identity of the traitor in the game differs (based on the player's choices), it is revealed in Dawn of War: Retribution that, canonically, the traitor was none other than Sergant Avitus. As the Strike Cruiser Retribution enters orbit around the planet Martellus uncovers the traitor. As Avitus is discovered he escapes the ship in a drop pod and heads toward the planet below. It is revealed that Avitus became corrupted after the Battle of Victory Bay on Kronus, where killing so many loyal Guardsmen caused him to question his faith. it was then that Azariah had contacted him and set him on the road toward corruption. The Force Commander and the team head toward the planet to kill Avitus for his betrayal. After killing the traitor, Gabriel Angelos and the Force Commander assault the planet and after an epic battle, they banish Ulkair. Although they defeat and wound Eliphas, he escapes before he can be killed, where he is found and tortured by Abbadon the Despoiler as a punishment for his cowardice and incompetence.
The Third and final campaign in the Aurelian sector takes place 10 years after banishing Ulkair and is the most important part of the Aurelian Crusade. With Ulkair banished, more Black Legion forces and Cultists arise and cause havoc all across the sector causing the Imperial Segmentum Command to send more Imperial Guard forces to the sector in an effort to stablize the situation. Unfortunately this backfires, as many of these new arrivals fall victim to the dark promises of chaos and cause defection within the ranks. This results in constant war within the sector. Gabriel Angelos relizes that he cannot directly confront Azariah Kyras, the corrupt chapter master, so he must have some of his loyal men find incontrovertible proof that Kyras is a traitor. Unfortunately for Gabriel, the leader of the team is Captain Apollo Diomedies and he still belives that Kyras is still loyal. In the beginning of the campaign, Diomedes, Martellus, and a space marine known only as the Ancient, fight their way across Typhon to root out and destroy Eliphas the Inheritor.
Legendary Blood RavensEdit
- From Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Chapter histories speak of the "Great Father" Azariah Vidya, first Blood Raven to combine the roles of Chapter Master and Chief Librarian. No official records exist of any leaders before him.
Apocryphal stories recur, however, about four great Blood Ravens who led the Chapter at an even earlier date. One is Alexian, the mightiest warrior in the chapter's history.
Some say Alexian and Azariah are one and the same, and that their legends are simply mixed together by the millennia.
Suspicions Continue to GrowEdit
- From Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
During the Dark Crusade the Blood Ravens annihilated an entire regiment of the Imperial Guard for refusing to abandon their own mission on Kronus, a world the Blood Ravens had unilaterally quarantined.
The reasons for the quarantine were never fully explained, and some called the destruction of a loyal Imperial regiment to be outright treason. This, combined with the Blood Ravens' mysterious past, has caused some elements of the Imperial government to view the Blood Ravens with suspicion.
The commanding officer of the Kronus expedition was Davian Thule.
- Alexian, an ancient hero
- Azariah Vidya, the Great Father, the first recorded Chapter Master and Chief Librarian
- Azariah Kyras, Chapter Master and Chief Librarian, later turned to Chaos, killed during the Aurelia Crusade
- Apollo Diomedes, Captain of the Honour Guard, former Captain of the 1st Company, later Chaplain
- Gabriel Angelos, Captain of the 3rd Company, later Chapter Master
- Davian Thule, Captain of the 4th and 5th Companies, later a Dreadnought in the 4th Company
- Indrick Boreale, Captain of a mixed force, killed during the Kaurava campaign
- Aramus, Force Commander of the Aurelian Crusade, later Captain of the 4th Company
- Mikelus, Reclusiarch, killed during the Kronus campaign
- Isador Akios, a Librarian of the 3rd Company, turned to Chaos, killed during the Tartarus campaign by Captain Angelos
- Jonah Orion, a Librarian of the 3rd Company, killed on Cyrene, later Chief Librarian
- Martellus, a Techmarine
- Galan, an Apothecary of the 5th Company, later the Honour Guard; possessed by a daemon before his transfer
- Gordian, an Apothecary, participated in the Kronus campaign, killed during the Aurelia Crusade
- Avitus, a Sergeant of the 4th Company, turned to Chaos, killed in the Aurealia campaign
- Tarkus, a Sergeant of the 4th Company
- Thaddeus, a Sergeant of the 4th Company
- Cyrus, a Sergeant of the 10th Company
- McNeill, Graham. "Index Astartes: Knowledge Is Power – The Blood Ravens Space Marines Chapter", White Dwarf 305. Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2005. 84–89. Print.