Monday, March 29, 2010

Post Chaos Rising Musings: The Future of the Blood Ravens

Early on when I started getting into Warhammer 40K, I went through the struggle of trying to figure out which army to play.  Everyone goes through it, and everyone eventually settles on their army for different reasons:  style of play, fluff, and the models to name a few.  For me it was the Orks, the combination of dark humor intrinsic to the race, some kick ass models, and some fun fluff made them the favorite for me.  But while the fluff for the Orks is fun, it’s the epic fluff of the Space Marines and Chaos Marines that wooed me early on.  Part of that were story arcs like the Horus Heresy, but since my entrance into 40K was through Dawn of War, it was also the Blood Ravens.

First a couple caveats.  This article is full of spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens in Chaos Rising then I suggest skipping it.  Second, while I like the Blood Ravens, my buddy Steve is obsessive about them in a way that if Gabriel Angelos were a real person he would have to have a Personal Protection Order against Steve.  So, some of the insight into the Blood Ravens is fueled by his own personal mania.  Finally I drew a lot from the White Dwarf article by Graham McNeill about the Blood Ravens, but there are continuity issues that do not necessarily jive with the story from the video games.

More after the jump.

The Blood Ravens are the central Space Marine chapter in the Dawn of War video game series.  Created for the video games, they were given table top relevance by the aforementioned White Dwarf article.  They are a chapter that is misunderstood by many because of several things.  First they have no record of their origins.  Without a Primarch to point to, they “revere no one as much as the Immortal Emperor, supreme master of all Space Marines.”  Next is their almost slavish devotion to protecting and finding items and information as exemplified by their battle cry, “Knowledge is power, guard it well.”  To this end they have a high number of powerful Librarians within their ranks – more than other chapters.  These Librarians keep the Blood Ravens archives in order, and provide their psychic powers in the battlefield.  Combining all of this with how the Blood Ravens like to plan for a battle, and there are some chapters who really don’t like them.  According to the White Dwarf article, one unnamed chapter has actually branded the Blood Ravens as cowards.  Most others are very wary of the number of psykers in the Blood Ravens ranks.

With all that in mind we come to the events of Chaos Rising, and your last chance to avoid spoilers.

The events of Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising take place in sub-sector Aurelia where the Blood Ravens draw their recruits.  In Chaos Rising the Blood Ravens are drawn into conflict with the Black Legion (whom they try to avoid contact with whenever possible) when planet Aurelia returns to space from the Warp.  Conflicts are renewed with Lord Eliphas who fought the Blood Ravens in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.  As the Blood Ravens fight they find there is a traitor among them and as they search out the traitor they soon unearth widespread corruption through their ranks on up to their very Chapter Master.

In the end Gabriel Angelos, hero of the very first Dawn of War, is labeled a renegade and traitor and is leading a band of Blood Ravens as they fight for the soul of the chapter.  This opens up a whole slew of possibilities, and what I really want to get to.

The following questions have been rattling around in my brain since I finished the Chaos Rising campaign.  They are fueling my desire to go back and play the entirety of Dawn of War from the very beginning because I can't let go of the story and want to relive it from the very beginning:

How are the other Chapters going to treat the Blood Ravens?  Look at the Dark Angels.  They are ruthless in their cover up of their internal Betrayal.  If a chapter is so willing to go to any lengths to keep internal strife of this nature a secret, how will this be viewed by other chapters?  Will war be coming against the Blood Ravens from the other chapters?  Will they assist in an attempt to remove Angelos and his group from the picture?  What happens when they find out that the Chapter Master is an agent of Chaos?

How will the Imperium deal with the Blood Raven problem?  Is the Inquisition going to step in and deal with the Blood Ravens?  This is assuming that Angelos’ group is able to overcome the obvious heresy label they will receive from the chapter proper.

What if the corruption is more widespread than we think?  What if the majority of the chapter is corrupt?  Will the Blood Ravens become a fallen chapter with the few remaining Blood Ravens starting a whole new chapter?  Or would the remaining Blood Ravens take up a place in the Imperium similar to the Legion of the Damned?

Here then is my wish list I want to see happen.  Obviously I want the next chapter to be epic.  Angelos and his band fighting against and defeating the heresy in the chapter.  That’s a no brainer.  And let's fix the continuity issues.  In the games Angelos is not the Chapter Master, but in the White Dwarf article he is.  Simple enough, have him win and take his rightful place.  Also, it would be very cool to learn the origins of the Blood Ravens.  Much has been speculated about this.  Are they an offshoot of the Blood Angels or Raven Guard?  Are they related to the Dark Angels?  More insidiously, are they an offshoot of either the Thousand Sons, or do they share a bond with the Black Legion.

But what if it was bigger?  I mean what if the heresy in the Blood Ravens wasn’t just in the Blood Ravens?  What if other chapters were corrupted?  What if this led to the biggest threat to the Imperium since the Horus Heresy?  Imagine the game taking place in more than just one sub-sector.  Imagine the game being across the galaxy, even to Terra itself?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see the Imperium fall, but how cool would a shake up be?  Brother against brother again?  Gabriel Angelos leading a fight not just to save his chapter but to save Empire against the forces of Chaos.  Abaddon has interest in the Blood Ravens, what if he was trying to use them to complete what Horus couldn’t?  What if the fight wasn’t just to save the Imperium, but what if it was to save the Emperor himself?  Or more deliciously, what if the Emperor died from the wounds he suffered battling Horus, and the Chaos Marines are right when they call him a false god?  What if the Imperium has been worshiping a dead Emperor for 10,000 years and the heresy in the Blood Ravens revealed that?

Okay I need to get a hold of myself.  Obviously it won’t quite go that far.

But the one thing I don’t want to see is the Blood Ravens become Chaos Marines.  And I don’t want this story to make them an afterthought on the tabletop.  Their story is compelling, and it is part of what drew me into 40K.  It needs to be played out appropriately.  They have set the table well, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

And even more importantly, what do you want to see?  Is there something specific you are looking for in the next chapter of the Blood Ravens?


  1. I'm not sure if another Horus Heresy would be the right path- epic to be sure, but with all of the other threats going on right now I'm pretty sure it would lead to the extinction of Humanity, or at least cause them to no longer be dominant players on the galactic scene.

    Hunting Fallen is really a Dark Angel schtick, so I'd stay away from that unless it turns out that they are a successor chapter. I'm personally leaning towards Thousand Sons, so maybe even though they fight back against corruption and win the Inquisition sics the Wolves on them as they have shown a bit too much weakness...

  2. Quite honestly I don't know. We have a new game coming up where I believe it is set ten years after. Since it is an expansion I think the characters will return, but you have multiple options in that. But also then would we label the Tech Marine that fell to Chaos as the official person in the storyline? Because it would suck if we didn't know what happens to our old buddies such as Tarkus, Cyrus, Thaddues, Jonah, Commander Thule, the Force Commander, or even Avitus. I mean if you have been through 2 games with anybody you want to know what happens right? I think they will be revealed in Retribution do to this trailer

  3. Based on what we've seen from Relic about Retribution I have this feeling that the path of Chaos is the canonical ending they based this campaign on. Which sucks, because I liked the path of righteousness better.