KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter
Their origins shrouded in mystery, the Blood Ravens Chapter are ever drawn to the pursuit of knowledge and the acquisition of ancient lore. Guided by their powerful Librarians, the Chapter fights with a precision and calculated fury, able to predict an enemy's plans and thwart them before they come to fruition.
Though the Blood Ravens have a long and glorious history fighting in the name of the Emperor, their exact origins and earliest days are shrouded in mystery. Not even the mightiest Chapter Masters or revered Librarians can say with any certainty where the origin of their Chapter lies. They are a Proud and secretive Chapter, obsessed with ritual, history, and the acquisition of knowledge - most especially for the truth of their beginnings. The majority of the records on the Chapter date back no further than early M37, though references to their service in the litanies of other Chapters and Imperial Organisations prove that the Chapter existed and fought the enemies of the Emperor for centuries before this. This gap in the Blood Ravens history has led to endless speculation as to the exact origin of the Chapter, and what could have happened to expunge such a large and important portion of their history from their lore.
As a result, the Blood Ravens do not know from which Primarch or Chapter they are descended from, and so revere no one as much as the Immortal Emperor, supreme master of all Space Marines. However, the current organisation of the Blood Ravens owes much to a Space Marine named Azariah Vidya, known to the members of the Chapter through an ancient legend known as the Father Librarian, or Great Father.
The Legend of the Great Father tells that Azariah was the Master of the Blood Ravens' Chapter Librarium at a time when the Chapter was still in its infancy. The legend tells of how the Blood Ravens had suffered terrible losses in campaigns fought against a series of warp-spawned rebellions said to have taken place in the Gothic sector - though no corroborating records exist to confirm this. It is told that in the early days of the campaigns, the foul servants of Chaos were widespread and disorganised, with no hope of standing before the might of the Blood Ravens. But the machinations of Chaos are manifold and this impression proved to be horrifyingly false. The cult forces were far more organised than they at first appeared, and the centres of cult activity attacked by the Blood Ravens turned out to be fiendishly cunning traps. Many Blood Ravens were lost in these elaborate ambushes, and in a blow that could have proven fatal to the young Chapter, the Chapter Master and the Master of Sanctity th fell defending the retreat of the remnants of the 1st Company. With their ranks depleted and their Chapter Master dead, the Blood Ravens turned to Azariah for guidance in this terrible time.
Azariah was a fearsomely intelligent warrior who knew much of history and bore the burden of terrible knowledge of the ruinous powers. He was also blessed, or some might say cursed, with tremendously powerful psychic strength. He spent months studying the enemy's movements, tactics and even their histories in an attempt to discern how they might be defeated. While keeping up the facade that the Blood Ravens were reeling from the previous attacks, he utilised his warriors and those of the Imperial Guard to probe the enemy to see how they reacted, gauging their response and reactions. To some it appeared that he wasted his time, that retreating to books rather than steel and courage was no way to fight the enemies of the Emperor.
Eventually, Azariah completed his divinations and studies, declaring that he possessed the knowledge to defeat their enemies utterly. The Blood Ravens launched a sweeping counter-offensive that at first seemed organised in a confusing and uninformed way, hitting areas that were virtually devoid of enemy activity. But each location proved to be a key point where the forces of Chaos were secreting large amounts of supplies and troops, massing for ambushes or raising dark idols to their blasphemous gods. The attacks hit the Chaos forces with a supernatural prescience at their weakest points, smashing their resistance aside with ease. Feted with honours, Azariah insisted that the key lay in researching and dissecting the enemy's movements, but many came to believe that the powerful psyker was reading the minds of the enemy and gleaning the necessary information he needed to defeat them. After the crushing blow of the first offensive, the rest of the campaign was short and extremely bloody, with the forces of the enemy melting before the Blood Ravens' relentless assault. At the conclusion of the rebellion, Inquisitorial Purgatus teams discovered dark writings and abominable idols that pointed to the involvement of the traitorous Alpha Legion, a fact that surprised Azariah not at all.
After the resounding victory in the Gothic sector, the legend tells of how Azariah took the Chapter away to heal its wounds, mourn its dead and reflect on the battles it had just fought. At the insistence of his battle-brothers and the Masters of the Chapter, Azariah took on the dual mantle of Chapter Master and Master of the Librarium, an uncommon occurrence to say the least, and one that was frowned upon by other Space Marine Chapters who believed in a more rigid adherence to the Codex Astartes. Azariah served as Chapter Master for several centuries, and his heroic deeds are told in great prayers committed to the hearts and minds of every one of the Blood Ravens.
While the Blood Ravens follow the Codex Astartes in spirit, if not letter, their passion for knowledge and history was instilled into the Chapter through the Great Father's example. As a result, the Blood Ravens are attempting to create one of the most extensive, well-organised and detailed archives ever seen in a Space Marine Chapter, hoping one day to rival even the ancient records of many of the Founding Chapters. The Blood Ravens thirst for knowledge, understanding that, alongside faith, it is the greatest weapon available to them in the fight against the Emperor's enemies.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Blood Ravens is the large number of Librarians within the Chapter. The Librarians of the Blood Ravens are exceptionally powerful, but whether this is due to the Great Father or a result of the reverence the Blood Ravens hold him in is unknown. However, neither explanation fully explains how the Blood Ravens manage to cultivate such a high number of psykers within their ranks, or how they raise their power to such high levels.
The Blood Ravens do not have a specific homeworld, but whether this is due to its being expunged from their history or some darker reason is unknown. Their Chapter fortress is a mighty Battle Barge known as Omnis Arcanum, and the rest of the Chapter travels aboard a host of Strike Cruisers and Battle Barges that travel as its escorts The Librarium Sanctorum is aboard the Omnis Arcanum and it is here that the Chapter maintains its records of heroic deeds, lore of vanquished enemies and captured heretical knowledge.
While there is no fixed base of operations for the Blood Ravens, there are a number of planets that they consistently draw their potential recruits from, ranging from feral worlds of club-wielding savages to sprawling hive worlds. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to this process, but there are a number of worlds in particular that the Blood Ravens favour over others. Why this should be the case is unknown, but it is speculated by some that these worlds have a higher incidence of psykers than is normal, though such speculation is, thus far unsubstantiated.
The Blood Ravens believe in studying the enemy and predicting their movements before launching any attacks. Not for them the rampaging charge or the spur of the moment, lightning assault. This has led to some friction between other, more headstrong, Chapters who prefer a more straightforward approach to war. One Chapter in particular has branded the Blood Ravens cowards for their precise, methodical method of battle, but nothing could be further from the truth, as once the Blood Ravens take to the field of battle, they fight with a fury and zeal the equal of any other Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes.
In battle, the Blood Ravens destroy enemy units with utter ruthlessness and precision, their battle plan never varying from initial concept to final execution. Such is the depth of planning and thoroughness that every eventuality is planned for, thanks to their Librarians uncanny ability to predict how their enemies will react. They have in the past warned or responded to enemy attacks or invasions well before most Imperial sources have even been aware of them. This has led some puritanical figures to make dark mention of the tale of the fallen Primarch, Magnus, and his ultimate fate - claiming that his path to damnation began with such warnings...
The Organisation of the Blood Ravens follows the standard practices laid down in the Codex Astartes, with ten companies, each of ten squads. The Chapter is made up of the prescribed mix of Battle Companies, Assault, Tactical and Devastator Companies, though the exact make up of these companies can vary quite extensively.
Due to the higher proportion of Librarians within the Blood Ravens, it is rare, but not unknown, for Librarians to lead companies into battle, though this usually only occurs when the Chapter fights alone and unaided. The higher echelons of command within the Blood Ravens reflect the high proportion of psykers within the Chapter and many of the Secret Masters of the Chapter are themselves psykers who lead powerful units of warriors chosen from the Librarium itself. These warriors obsessively study the ways of the Enemy to better fight the Ruinous Powers and are steeped in the all manner of forbidden lore. As a result, they are extensively monitored by the Chapter's Librarium for signs of corruption, as even the mightiest of psykers are not immune to the insidious lure of Chaos.
The Chapter's Librarium Sanatorium is grim testament to this fact, filled with the mad souls who have proven too weak to complete the final transformation into a Librarian. Here, those unfortunate souls are put to final use by the Chapter before being ritually executed as a danger to themselves and others. It is a place of great solemnity, with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, honoured before their deaths with a personal shriving from the Chapter's Master of Sanctity himself.
Like many Codex Chapters, the Blood Ravens do not venerate the Emperor as a god, but as the mightiest of men. This inevitably brings them into conflict with the Ministorum, but this is allayed by the fact that they do not know the identity of their Primarch, which leads them to give praise to the Emperor with a fervour greater than almost any other Chapter. Their quest for knowledge echoes many tenets of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Chapter maintains close ties with the Priests of the Machine God, often joining forces with their fleets of Explorators in their conquest of the unknown quarters of the galaxy.
As part of their obsessive hunt for knowledge and the secrets of their origins, the Blood Ravens are known to seek out sites of lost artefacts and ancient significance to deny what they hold to the Enemy. The Blood Ravens rely heavily on their Librarians to keep the secret arch in order and compile new records, but just as important as their custodial tasks is their duty to seek out new information to bolster the archives and guide the Chapter in its quest for knowledge.
It is not uncommon for groups of Librarians to be dispatched with an army of servitors and a number of squads of Space Marines to uncover a lost artefact whose location has been recently been unearthed or revealed through ritual divination. This has brought the Blood Ravens into direct conflict with the Inquisition on several occasions, as many of the items they seek are touched by the Ruinous Powers. The Blood Ravens insist that it is their duty to hunt out and oppose the forces of Chaos wherever they may be and that by recovering and destroying the tools of Chaos they deny the Enemy their use. However, the Blood Ravens have been less than forthcoming regarding any proof of the destruction of any of the hundreds of artifacts they are said to have procured.
The Blood Raven geneseed is relatively stable, though the high proportion of psykers in the Blood Ravens ranks have resulted in the their geneseed tithe being tested on a more regular basis than most. Thus far, there has been little evidence of mutation, and nothing that points to the geneseed as the source of the Blood Ravens' disproportionate number of psykers or the power they exhibit.
There has been much speculation regarding which of the Founding Chapters the Blood Raven's geneseed is derived from. Both the Blood Angels and Raven Guard have been suggested, but these are likely speculation based simply on the similarity in names between the chapters. Rumour has also persisted that the Blood Ravens may be derived from the Dark Angels geneseed, but no facts have ever been presented to establish a definitive single source of the genetic material that makes up the Chapter. The fact that the Blood Ravens themselves have no record of the Chapter they descended from implies that they could easily have been a Chapter created in anticipation of some threat to the Imperium in centuries past that has since been met and defeated. The truth of their origin is the one piece of information the Blood Ravens seek above all others in their thirst for knowledge and formation.
"Knowledge is power, guard it well!"