|Battle Cry||Victorus aut Mortis (victory or death)! Alternatively: Surprise Motherfucker|
|Successor Chapters||Black Guard, Revilers, Raptors, Death Spectres, Carcharodon Astra (probably), Swords of Corvus, Rift Stalkers (ultima founding), Knights of the Raven, Necropolis Hawks|
|Chapter Master||Kayvaan Shrike|
|Strength||Approximately 1,000 Marines|
|Specialty||Covert operations/Rapid Deployment|
|Colours||Black and White|
"A battle can be won with brute force, or random luck. But a war? A war is won with cunning and waged without mercy. For the noblest of goals one must sometimes commit ignoble acts. So ask me not to justify the Raven Guard's ways. The carrion worlds in our wake should make a statement eloquent enough"
- – Corax, speaking at the Eurydicus Hearing.
"Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands."
- – Sun Tzu
"No one understands me"
- – All of them.
The Raven Guard are a Space Marine Chapter that loves them some covert ops. They also have the highest concentration of Beakies of any Chapter, so you know they mean SRS BSNS. Their second founding chapters include the widely-regarded Raptors chapter, which saw use in Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior and several other works of import.
Their Primarch is Corax and they have a 10,000-year-plus rivalry with the White Scars. Note that this is more of a competitive rivalry and not the internecine kind of rivalry. Another good example is the rivalry between the badass bearded axe-swinging vikings who drink alcohol that would kill ordinary people twice over and the
semi-traitorous LOYAL guys who will rain down a storm of rape and plasma on you if you so much as look at them funny.
Whilst /tg/ jokes they are emo (mostly because of their mutation and poetic references), they're actually pretty bad-ass, with a decent history and considerable use of initiative, something a lot of other chapters lack. They hold the record for being the second-most dicked-over in-fluff army, with only the Lamenters routinely getting dicked harder. A Fine example of them getting owned badly can be seen in the Damocles books, where they lose their Chapter Master to a Tau counter-ambush, so yeah.
In spite of this, they're pretty goddamned awesome and definitely worthy of note.
Mutations and Origins of the Emo meme
The Raven Guard suffered low-level gene-seed deterioration (due to Corax's attempt to bolster the legion's numbers at any cost, which was cloning a few hundred thousand Space Marines that turned into genetic rejects), which means that like Matt Ward's brain, several of the unique organs of the Space Marines no longer work entirely properly. Raven Guard Marines do not have functional Mucranoids (glands that helps them survive space vacuum without protection) or Betcher's Glands (which allows them to spit acid). Additionally, the Melanchromic Organ has a unique mutation that causes the skin of the Space Marine to grow paler with age. This imbalance eventually causes each Raven Guard Marine's skin to become bone-white while their hair and eyes darken, becoming pitch fucking black. So grimdark.
"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."
- – Henry Ward Beecher.
The Raven Guard are a Space Marine chapter which actually eschews the usual Space Marine tactic of charging recklessly into the enemy ranks. Instead, they are as analytical as the Reasonable Marines, and they target weak points in enemy defenses and launch lightning strikes deep into the enemy's rear and penetrate through holes in the enemy's defense after thrusting through critical locations. Usually they use their Scouts to move ahead and mark good drop-sites after eliminating specific threats such as anti-air weaponry before the sneaky Beakies strike hard and fast. Because of their distinctive hit-and-run combat style, they also make a fuckton of use of fast-moving units like Assault Marines, Land Speeders, and Bikes, often dropped from Thunderhawks or Drop Pods, if not booted from the back of a fast-moving Metal Box and into cover.
Fighting at first mostly under Horus, they started off as a pretty brutal bunch, wiping out their enemies wholesale and using repression tactics. This didn't play too well with old Papa Emo, who'd spent his whole life fighting to liberate his adopted people, and found the XIX a little too reminiscent of the regime he'd overthrown. Corvus set about moulding his legion into a more humanitarian outfit - just as well, or the Ravens would've basically been a less crazy version of the Night Lords. This resulted in a disagreement with the Warmaster, which nearly led to Corvus and Horus coming to blows. This might have pushed Horus towards the less aggressive tack he tried in the months before everything went down the shitter. Corvus' reforms even extended to telling the then Legion commander (who was a tad too set in his ways) to take a nomadic fleet and piss off to the galactic fringe along with those that wouldn't comply.
The Raven Guard agree with Roboute Guilliman's organisation of Spess Merheens in Chapter/Companies/Squads etc, they only refuse to refer to the Codex blindly for tactical advice and use their own expertise and fuckin' wits instead (Which is how it's supposed to be used). The chapter almost never engages as a whole, and individual companies of Raven Guard marines openly lend a hand to Imperial Commanders of all stripes, from fellow Marines to the Inquisition (though especially Imperial Guard) all across the galaxy, with ostensibly nary a shit given to what their Chapter Master wants. Such behavior has led certain chapters to question the Raven Guard's tendency towards insubordination, but in truth the Raven Guard simply picked up tactics that worked from studying Alpharius after his legion sent the Ultramarines packing - basically, the Raven Guard learned well that a decentralized command structure allows them to get shit done. The Chapter Master gives general instructions to his direct subordinates and free rein to fulfill those as they see fit. And it works pretty damn well, too! Basically, they all know what they're doing and how to do their jobs without being micro-managed, so the Chapter Master leads, not rules.
They also effectively use color-coding for easy identification of their troops - green trim on the right shoulder is for tactical squads, red trim on the right shoulder is for assault squads, yellow trim on the right shoulder is for devastators, and black trim on the right shoulder indicates a veteran. Scratch that, Gee Dubs changed it up AGAIN, and now Battleline Troops are yellow,Rapid Response Fast Attack are blue, Fire Support Heavy Support are purple, and Veterans are Red. which is weird because they have all their Primaris Marines painted with yellow trim in the codex, even Inceptors? The left kneepad always displays their company number. Although, it's still much more reasonable than giant signs on the pauldrons and colored helmets for officers and veterans, which is just a Christmas present for enemy scouts and snipers. People always get this wrong. The Raven Guard use standard Codex colors for their companies, and have done so since at least 7th Edition. The weird colors mentioned are irrelevant, look at the picture again. Most people would notice that the symbols on the shoulderpads are different and that is what is being referenced, NOT the color. The yellow trim? That's because it was the 2nd Company. The traffic light scheme hasn't been used since 5th Edition. The left kneepad displays their squad number, not company.
The Last Ones Standing
The Raven Guard got its ass kicked in the Drop Site Massacre during the Horus Heresy, the battle of Isstvan V reducing the Legion's strength from over 80,000 Astartes to a little less than 3,000. Whilst the Salamanders and Iron Hands took heavier losses, the Raven Guard lost a bigger percentage of its troops. Its primarch, wishing to do his part to stop Horus from ass-raping the Imperium, resorted to cloning technology provided by the Emperor to replenish the Chapter's numbers, which went well in the first few stages.
However afterwards, due to some dickery by Alpharius and the Alpha Legion with the gene manipulation gizmos in the cloning process, which they corrupted with Daemon blood and proceeded to take the pure sample for themselves, a sizable proportion of these clones were flawed and degenerated into shambling, inhuman creatures. The Raven Guard herded them up and led them into battle regardless, however, arming the strong ones and using the weak ones as meat-shields. The tactic proved brutally effective and succeeded, most notably, in pushing the Iron Warriors off a valued forge-world.
Sadly, Corax did prove too stupid to simply fix the damn cloning tech that had been sabotaged with new parts and use his fresh gene-seed instead of more of the corrupted crap. I mean, really. Perhaps this was foreshadowing of just how horrific Imperial incompetence would later become. Wait, daemons don't have blood...so whose blood is it? Maybe it is better if no one ever knows.
Owing to the instability of the Raven Guard gene-seed and the experiments of Corax, a big portion of the chapter's genetic stock has been irreparably damaged. Now, most of their genetic material comes factory-direct from supplies held on Terra. This means the cycle of recruitment for the Raven Guard is notably slower than other Chapters and fewer Raven Guard candidates for the Chapter prove able to survive their training and genetic modification. In essence, this means the chapter is constantly short-handed, though it's recovering, albeit slowly. That said, they recovered enough to sire at least two successor chapters. How they could have problems is unclear, since their gene-seed all comes from pure stock kept in stasis and so is not corrupted. Most likely, the Mechanicus is just messing with them for giggleshits. That, or the High Lords are just really, really senile.
04:00-Morning Prayer: The Raven Guard are roused from their nests and assemble for prayer.
05:00-Morning Firing Rites: The Raven Guard practice their firing drills. Interestingly, Chapter serfs have never actually seen them utilize the firing ranges, but smoking targets are seen by the end of Firing Rites.
06:00-Battle Practice: The Raven Guard head to the battle cages to practice in live fire exercises. Interestingly, the Chapter serfs never witness the Raven Guard enter the cages, but smoking servitor ruins are almost always found by the end of practice. When they aren't found, that's because the servitors themselves have disappeared.
09:00-Morning Stalking Practice: The Raven Guard begin stealth practice, trying to sneak up on their fellows without being seen. Anyone who fails to ambush a single Raven Guard is assigned penitential duties.
12:00-Midday Meal: A light meal is prepared by the Chapter serfs. Interestingly, most Chapter serfs discover that the plate has been picked clean a moment after turning their back.
12:30-Tactical Indoctrination: The Raven Guard assemble for briefings on the enemies they will be facing, and given important information, such as the what visual spectrum the enemy can see in, traditional blind spots, and how easy it may or may not be to sneak up on them.
15:00-Evening Firing Rites: The Raven Guard assemble for their firing drills. By this point the Chapter serfs will be actively attempting to sneak up on the Raven Guard and trying to spot them shooting targets. If any succeed, the Raven Guard in question is assigned to three days of fasting.
16:00-Evening Stalking Practice: Any Raven Guard member that has not been ambushed at least once is targeted by the more advanced members. If he maintains his record he is promoted.
19:00-Evening Prayer: The Raven Guard assemble for prayer.
20:00-Evening Meal: A feast is prepared by the Chapter serfs. Somewhat relaxing for the serfs, the Raven Guard actually drop the stealth act long enough for them to enjoy the meal.
21:00-Weapons Maintenance: The Raven Guard clean and polish their wargear. Some of them may take the time to alter its colour scheme for impending missions.
23:00-Free Time: The Raven Guard are given free time. Some reflect on their duty to the Emperor and Corax. Others practice their stealth by sneaking up on the Chapter Serfs in full armor.
00:00-Rest: The Raven Guard retire to their nests for the evening.
- Corax (Primarch of the Raven Guard)
- Captain Shrike, a humanitarian badass and the current Chapter Master. His statline got upgraded in the 8th edition Codex.
- Corvin Severax, mysteriously absent and non-existent Chapter Master of the Raven Guard. Speculated to be nothing more than a pseudonym used by the Raven Guard Force Commanders in lieu of having an actual Chapter Master give them orders due to their highly decentralized command structure. According to the recent 7E Warzone Damocles campaign, Severax was in fact real ...with emphasis on "was," thanks to a thorough blamming courtesy of Commander Shadowsun.
- Nykona Sharrowkyn, coolest of the Heresy-era Ravens. Separated from his Legion during the Drop Site Massacre, but rescued by an Iron Hand, Sabik Wayland. The two rapidly became the Galaxy's most effective buddy cops and proceeded to harass the shit out of the Emperor's Children. His deeds include sniping Fulgrim and being the first person to kill Lucius (without feeling any satisfaction as he considered killing Lucius to be equivalent to putting down a rabid dog).
- MURDERWINGS, a Raven Guard character who is widely considered to be the killier cousin of SMASHFUCKER.
- Korvydae, Shadow Captain of the 10th Company who joined Deathwatch for 2 years to atone for his failures in the Raid on Kastorel-Novem of 992.M41. Has a Forgeworld mini.
- Ardaric Vaanes, a former Shadow Captain who joined Honsou's Grand Company.
- Kyrin Solaq, 5th Company Shadow Captain, the only other Raven Guard captain to get a mini (...of the captain from Company Command).