[personal profile] follower_ofthe_beacon
The Night Ravens are a smallish chapter, descended from the Raven Guard.

They were established in M38 (that is, the 39th Millennium) based on Strategic Prognostication; the divine whisperings of card-readers and priests swathed in holiness (and the Warp, let’s not lie to ourselves). The Raven Guard were not exactly happy that their Chapter was chosen, as they are still under-strength and regularly need to derive geneseed from the vaults the Adeptus Mechanicus hold, but their successor chapter has proven to be both useful and willing to lend their aid whenever needed.

Despite cleaving close to the Raven Guard in their ways and appearances, the Night Ravens are not quite the same in demeanor- they are far more friendly with their Astartes brothers than their progenitors, and more prone to jokes and trickery (as much as an Astartes is capable of). They still share the beliefs of see, but do not be seen; they are secretive and prefer quiet to noise, and prefer the company of other Ravens over the other Chapters.

They have no crippling flaw like the Black Rage or the wolf-like qualities of the Space Wolves, but are prone to fits of melancholy. These feelings are easily anticipated by experienced marines (with the Chaplains aiding in newer members’ understanding of the early-warning signs), and last from a few hours to a few years in a few extremely rare cases, all of which involve very senior Librarians. They have no formal name for these black moods, and have no real need to, as they are capable of functioning in the field just fine- it is literally just having a bum day, but in an Astartes manner. They do not consider it a flaw, but more of an emotional 'quirk' of their Chapter’s culture. When given the chance, though, a Night Raven so afflicted will spend his time alone as he can be, reflecting upon his place in the world and other similarly deep matters. There is a lot of sighing and looking out windows wistfully, while reading and writing poetry. These moods are worked around by Night Ravens and whenever possible, they allow the marines so caught up to work it naturally out of their systems instead of forcing them into the field, believing it to be more healthy for their psyche (Of course, when they are needed, they muster themselves- and these moods only rarely strike those already out- it isn't a physical problem and should not be treated as such by the rules. It's Astartes being poor at emotions :V).

They share the same defects in the geneseed as their predecessor, despite the work of the Adeptus Mechanicus’ Magi Biologis; when they are not armored, the Night and Guard are very hard to tell apart. The Night Ravens have the same defective Melanchromic organ that causes their skin to slowly pale to alabaster (or perhaps marble. Chalk, in some unfortunate cases.) and their hair to blacken. Unlike their fore-bearers, the Night Ravens have normal-colored eyes, but pay for it with a nominal (non-rules-affecting) sensitivity to light. They also have the same non-functioning organs- the Betcher’s gland and the Murcranoid are both superfluous. They have the zygotes for them and implant them, but they do nothing for the Astartes. To the Adeptus Mechanicus (and the Chapter itself), this is still a success, for the Raven Guard lack these two completely, and there is hope that one day, they might become viable.

In other words: A Night Raven can't spit acid, nor can they 'sweat a substance that coats the skin and offers resistance to extreme heat and cold and can even provide some protection for the marine in a vacuum'. Gross. They can still totally eat your brain and learn from it, though.

Their armor is mostly a deep, dark red, with black boots and pauldrons. When they decide to use precious metals, they prefer gold. Piercings and other such body modification is very rare in the Chapter, outside of liturgical tattoos and the occasional raven. Their symbol is a black raven on a white moon; Librarians and Chaplains use a double-headed raven clutching a crescent moon.

A great hero of their chapter is the second Chief Librarian- the first one that was truly Night Raven, and not Raven Guard-with-a-paintjob. His name is lost to the ages, but his great feat was defeating a Daemon Prince of Tzeench through trickery and deceit, utterly destroying its essence and leaving nothing but the empty, lifeless skull behind, which is still proudly displayed in their Monastery-Fortress. To this day, that Daemon’s followers gnash their teeth at the thought of the Night Ravens, and their hatred for the other still burns bright; the Night Ravens especially loathe the Changer of Ways and his followers, but all followers of the Ruinous Powers draw their ire.

The Night Ravens make their home on the Hive World of Surplice- a darkened world with only a few scant weeks of sunlight. The rest of the year is dark as night and choked with dust and mist, made worse by the deep mines and factories that come with hives. They are slightly unusual for a hive world in that they have many smaller hives rather than only two or three large ones, spread wide across the planet. It is rich in gems and valuable elements, but there is no real Imperial presence; the Night Ravens have made it well-known that Surplice is theirs to control. The local moon is where the Imperium touches their home-world; nothing leaves or comes to the planet without their knowing it. Other than this stranglehold on in/out, the Night Ravens are distant, making their home in the tall, stark mountains. Most of the population know them only as the twinkling lights nestled in the Spires; they only make formal contact to inform them that they are prepared for Aspirants for conversion. The occasional Scout or Marine will make his way down to observe the people without being spotted himself; they consider it another way of training and a chance to make observations of base humanity.

They have these chances to leave their fortress-monastery (dubbed 'Apean Lenore’ after the lovely spirit of some ancient Terran poet’s work)- because the Night Ravens disregard large parts of the Codex Astartes. They have the proper number of Astartes- a thousand- and they do have the proper offices of Librarium and Armory, Fleet Command and Reclusium. They even have proper Companies of a hundred marines each. Notably, the first Company is not the exclusive home of the veterans, and the tenth is not the home for Neophytes. Within each company, things are very fluid, with squads forming and un-forming as needed for each particular deployment and situation. Unlike many of their fellows, a Night Raven has a minor amount of choice and agency; he may choose which squad he deploys with, and therefore what assignments he performs. He still must choose- there is no option to forfeit his work- and an Astarte’s natural drives and beliefs drive him to follow his battle-brothers ninety-nine out of a hundred times. Veterans are the ones who lead squads, and Captains are the ones to inform the members of his Company exactly what their options are. Captains also have the power to deny and compel his men’s choices and assign them to their missions, in case he feels a marine’s particular talents are necessary. They tend towards a slightly smaller squad than standard, often shedding the heavy weapons to increase stealth. The Night Ravens value a little skill in all things, and while there are still circles you can draw around an Assault Marine and a Devastator Marine, they both can operate at least a little of the other’s work.

Neophytes are spread throughout the companies evenly as possible, and are trained by their more knowledgeable battle-brothers. They are often deliberately kept apart from the other Companies’ neophytes, out of the belief that total immersion in the 'culture’ of being an Astartes and training from all of his brothers rather than some singular trainer will produce a better-rounded marine. Scouts still make up the 10th Company, but these are dedicated scouts instead of marines in training. They are quiet and even introverted. These marines are elected to the 10th company by their Captains, on the advice of their squad leaders; they are usually glad to be apart from their more gregarious brothers.

Most strangely of all, the Night Ravens have no Apothecaries. They have split this most holy office into it’s component parts; giving the Librarium the duty of collecting and maintaining the geneseed, and to the whole of the chapter the duties of care and healing. They have found that the lack of formal squads necessitates that each marine be capable of healing one another, though this leaves them without the more esoteric knowledge that an Apothecary gives them, and they have more Aspirants die in the process of becoming a marine than a normal Chapter would. Their Librarians are deeply respected as repositories of story and power, holders of life and death. Their particular beliefs hold that the Warp is a place where the mind is reflected, and to control one’s mind is to control the Warp- and the easiest way to control the mind is with ritual and story, with meditation and brotherhood. Librarians sequester themselves from all this fluid Company nonsense, and a squad (as a whole) must petition one for their help- it is almost always given, as the Librarians enjoy going out into the world and working their talents for their brothers. The Techmarines are almost as respected because, to be honest, the Night Ravens are not a very technical chapter, and regard their techpriest-brothers to be working as much wizardry as the Librarians. The Techmarines, for their part, are ever-patient with their battle-brothers, but deploy more often to protect their precious machinery and vehicles than out of brotherhood- despite the riches of Surplice, they are not near any Forge Worlds, and new materiel comes rarely. Techmarines also shepherd their Dreadnoughts.

The Night Ravens do know the reasons behind the Codex Astartes. They simply prefer to follow only the parts they find useful, which has caused some friction with the Raven Guard (which is strictly Codex). They are perfectly capable of forming up and looking sharp, if only for a little while, especially if it aids them in some grand plan or trick against the Great Enemy.

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Cpt. Jack Cammish

August 2015

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