|Battle Cry||Victorus aut Mortis (victory or death)! Surprise mutherf**ker (since they are stealthy)|
|Successor Chapters||Black Guard, Carcharodon Astra (partially), Death Spectres, Knights of the Raven, Necropolis Hawks, Raptors, Revilers, Rift Stalkers|
|Chapter Master||Kayvaan Shrike|
|Strength||Codex compliant, (somewhere around 1,000)|
|Specialty||Covert operations, rapid assault deployment, reconnaissance|
|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 (primarch and successor chapters included)
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, as they work together on a few occasions. 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. And yes, we all know how stupid it sounds that the Tau managed to do that to a Chapter mastering stealth, ambush, and so on for TEN THOUSAND YEARS.
In spite of this, they're pretty goddamned awesome and definitely worthy of note, and through named characters like Siefer Zeed and Nykona Sharrowkyn have some of the most badass swordsman in both 30k and 40k.
Shrike has a primaris model now, looks to have been designed based on /tg/ opinion of the Raven Guard, 'emo' hair and all.
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.
There's also the Sable Brand a sort of gene-curse manifested as an emo-tier disregard for self-preservation in the field of battle. These marines turn utterly kill-crazy and are thus marshaled into their own little Death Company. While Corax had the acumen and numbers to afford throwing these guys together as his shadow killers and then use them as an elite strike force, the Raven Guard of the modern day aren't quite as able to do so and began experimenting to figure out why they became so emo. The Brand is a good deal more psychological than matters like the Red Thirst, as Corax reshaped his battle doctrine in order to limit how his men get afflicted - it worked at limiting how many turned super-emo, but this also led to the Brand being a point of no return, whereas before there was at least a chance to come back from the edge. This later resulted in Roboute Guilliman to adopt this into the Moritat after the Ultramarines got their power butts kicked by the Ash Blind during training sessions with Corax and his sons. It is worth of note that the Primarch of the Ultramarines made sure the Moritat would make its way into every Legion, making this one formation the only one that spread unlike the likes of the Fullmentarus Terminators he planned to include into each Legion. They are also noted for going batshit crazy against any of the Legions who did that fun thing on Istvaan called the Drop Site Massacre. Corax also exiled the Terran-born Ashen Claws to Ghoul Stars as they did not fit his visions of the Legion.
"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 (is it getting hot in here?). 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.
Don’t misunderstand. If sneaky tactics are not feasible or a direct approach is better, they’ll come in banners flying and cannons blazing like most other Chapters. They just prefer to strike with quick precision and fade away. Also, they do this with jetpacks, giant motorcycles, tanks, and drop ships. So, their strikes are usually pretty obvious to whoever is being attacked. Their stealth outside or specialized units is more at the strategic level than the tactical (made up for tactically by jump packs and snipers). So, if you’re in a base they’re attacking you’ll probably see and hear them coming. But it won’t matter because their tech and tactics would prevent the people above you knowing the Raven Guard’s movements in time to save your ass.
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. However, they don't refer to the Codex blindly for tactical advice, instead using their own expertise and fuckin' wits where appropriate. Guilliman would have no problem with that, since that's 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. (While not wrong, certainly not accurate either. Such Decentralization was a hallmark of the rebellion during Big Bird's time in prison. A point keenly made by the Raven Guard officer in The Seventh Serpent.) 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. Master of Shadows Shrike has now reinstated their elite infantry Mor Deythan, two Shadow Captains, a sergeant and a Knights of the Raven captain.
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.
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 and therefore the gene-seed produced by those Marines would also be pure. 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. Others preen and play with their pet Ravens.
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. He’s too fast for you.
- 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). His eventual fate is unknown but he was responsible for ensuring that the genetic data used to create the Primaris (the Magna Mater/Sangprimus Portum) was kept safe.
- 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 the 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). He was replaced by 7th captain, Aevar Qeld by M42.
- Aevar Qeld, 5th Company Shadow Captain and Mor Deythan.
- Illith, Shadow Captain and Mor Deythan.
- Artarix, Sergeant and Mor Deythan.
Movie night and other things
As a reward for exemplary service to the chapter, the raven guard high command sees fit to play ancient Terran holo-videos from M3 for the chapter, principally by movie-smith Tim Burton, these include but are not limited to
- Batman Returns, a story about an ancient Terran hive noble most assume to be a proto-raven guard, who hunts down and battles with a mutant known as “Cobblepot” in one of the American hives
- Edward Scissorhands, A story about a young raven guard with an under-active melanchromatic organ and lightning claws whose apothecary died before he could become a full-fledged space marine
- The Crow, a movie most raven guard assume was made in tribute to their primarch. And his commitment to justice on Kiavahr
- The Addams family, a story centering on the return of their pale larger brother with the ability to summon electricity and get headaches, most assume Fester became some sort of librarian to the raven guard after he joined the space marines in Bermuda
- Donnie Darko, a complex allegorical story about a troubled youth, who wants to “find the sparrow” (In other words, take the trials required to become a space marine on Kiavahr (Hint: it involves sneaking up on a little bird)) most assume the character “Frank” is some kind of chaplain in disguise assessing the boy if he is fit to join the astartes.
- Live concerts of an ancient Terran band known as "Type O Negative" for when they want something mildly more jovial and soothing to listen to.