Raven Guard: The Legendary Masters of Stealth and Shadow Warfare

Raven Guard – The Emperor’s Hidden Hand

The Raven Guard are a First Founding Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, the legendary XIXth Legion of old, created by the Emperor of Mankind Himself from the gene-seed of the Primarch Corvus Corax. Masters of the unseen war.

The Raven Guard is a Chapter like a whispered threat in the darkness, fighting with unrivaled stealth, speed, and precision while avoiding direct engagements.

Key Takeaways:

  • Specialize in guerrilla warfare, stealth, infiltration, and precision strikes
  • Skin grows pale while hair and eyes darken as they age due to a unique flaw in their gene-seed
  • Prefer hit-and-run assaults over frontal attacks
  • Recruit from the hardy people of the moon Deliverance
  • Suffered grievous losses in the Drop Site Massacre but continue to serve as the Imperium’s hidden blades

The Emperor’s Hidden Hand

The Raven Guard’s roots stretch back to the Unification Wars on Ancient Terra, where the XIXth Legion acted as the Emperor’s hidden hand.

Drawn from the technologically-adept Xeric tribes of the Asiatic Dustfields, the Legionaries specialized in infiltration, sabotage, and sudden precision assaults on the Emperor’s foes, acting as a scalpel to eliminate threats with terrifying, surgical brutality before fading back into the shadows.

This penchant for stealth and guerrilla warfare over frontal assaults would become the Raven Guard’s calling card. During the Great Crusade, the newly christened XIXth Legion fought with distinction in the Unification of Luna and Jupiter’s moon of Lysithea under the Terran-born Legion Master Arkhas Fal.

But the Legion wouldn’t truly come into its own until the discovery of its Primarch – Corvus Corax.

A Raven Lord Rises

Corax’s story began in the nightmarish dungeons deep beneath the surface of Lycaeus, moon of the tech-oligarchy planet Kiavahr. There the young Primarch led a slave uprising against the tyrannical guilds, honing his skills as a liberator and insurgent.

This background would shape Corax and his Legion profoundly. After Corax took command, he purged the old Terran commanders and reshaped the XIXth Legion in his image – masters of stealth, infiltration, and asymmetric warfare.

Under names like the Pale Nomads and Dust-Clad, the Raven Guard won Compliances through rapid, precise assaults, rarely engaging in the grinding wars of attrition favored by some Legions.

Two key episodes stand out in this period. In the Carinae Compliance, Corax used a horrific psyker weapon to wipe out the population of a recalcitrant urbe, slaying millions to save billions in a typically ruthless Raven Guard calculus.

Meanwhile, tensions boiled over with Horus at the Battle of Gate 42, where the Warmaster’s reckless plan led to devastating losses for the XIXth Legion and Corax swore to never serve alongside Horus again.

This bitterness would later spare the Raven Guard the fate that befell so many brother Legions in the Heresy to come.

The Ravenspire Falls

No event would shape the Raven Guard more than the infamous Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. Assigned alongside the Iron Hands and Salamanders to assault the Traitor position, the Raven Guard fought bravely, Corax himself engaging Lorgar in hand-to-hand combat.

But the second wave revealed their own treachery, and the three Shattered Legions were brutally massacred. Ferrus Manus fell and Corax only barely escaped.

The Battle of Istvaan V saw the XIXth Legion suffer horrific losses, reduced from their peak of 80,000 Legionaries to perhaps a few thousand. With his forces in tatters, Corax resorted to desperate measures.

Using knowledge granted by the Emperor himself, Corax accelerated the development of new Astartes. But these warriors were hideously unstable, and the Alpha Legion’s sabotage turned many into mutated monsters. Corax, faced with no other choice, gave all the twisted Raven Guard the Emperor’s Peace.

With his attempts to rebuild his Legion ended in tragedy, Corax led his remaining warriors in a campaign of vengeance against the Traitors.

The Raven Guard harried Horus’ forces as they advanced on Terra, yet could never recover their pre-Heresy glory. Broken in body and spirit, Corax locked himself away after the Heresy, eventually vanishing into the Eye of Terror haunted by guilt and shame, never to be seen again.

Wings in the Dark

In the millennia since the Heresy, the Raven Guard have endured as the Imperium’s hidden blades. Though still under-strength even after Primaris reinforcement, the Raven Guard continue to prosecute the Emperor’s wars with the cunning, stealth, and merciless precision Corax instilled in them so long ago.

From the Hunt for Voldorius to the Raid on Kastorel-Novem to the Targus Campaign, the Raven Guard range ahead as scouts and infiltrators, or suddenly fall upon the Imperium’s foes in precise, lethal assaults.

Though they no longer practice the large-scale campaigns of terror and assassination common in the Legion’s early days, the Raven Guard endures as a byword for Astartes stealth and guile, the hidden hand of the Emperor reaching out to assassinate His enemies unseen until it is far too late.

Beliefs and Culture

Central to the Raven Guard’s beliefs is the supremacy of speed, stealth and precision over brute force and attrition.

This is reflected in their gene-seed, which causes the skin to whiten and the hair and eyes to darken, an adaptation many among the Raven Guard believe Corax intended to enhance their ability to strike unseen.

The Raven Guard see themselves as liberators first and foremost.

While they are less concerned with civilian casualties than some Chapters, they will rarely deploy massive firepower against population centers, seeking instead to cripple the enemy’s command structure and eliminate key leaders and infrastructure targets to topple a foe more cleanly.

The Raven Guard are a brooding, solitary lot, as befits their tactics and tradition.

They maintain closer ties to the mortal population of Deliverance than many Astartes Chapters, but are slow to build ties with outsiders – and are particularly distrustful of the boisterous White Scars and glory-seeking Raven Guard.

Another key element of Raven Guard culture, originating with Corax himself, is that even the most senior officers are expected to lead from the front and by example. Many Shadow Captains and the Chapter Master bear the scars of frontline action, and are expected to plunge into the thick of the fighting and slay the enemy themselves.

Personal heroics are less important than the achievement of objectives – but the Raven Guard have plenty of both to their name.

Homeworld and Recruitment

Far out on the northeastern fringe of the galaxy lies the Forge World of Kiavahr and its airless moon of Deliverance – homeworld of the Raven Guard.

The Ravenspire, the Raven Guard’s vast fortress-monastery, dominates the skyline, a constant reminder of the Legion’s ties to the planet.

Deliverance’s history is even darker than most worlds in the grim darkness of the far future.

Originally a mining moon ruled by brutal Kiavahran tech-guilds, Corax led a slave uprising there long ago, eventually bringing the guilds to heel and freeing Deliverance – a story enshrined in Chapter legend.

The Raven Guard still recruits primarily from Deliverance’s population, hardened by generations of oppression in the dark tunnels beneath the moon’s surface.

These hardy people produce recruits well-suited for the Raven Guard’s punishing training methods, which stress infiltration, survival, and unarmed combat against vicious Lyceaun predators.

In recent centuries, the Raven Guard’s recruiting base has been sorely taxed by the need to replace ongoing losses.

The Raven Guard rarely takes to the field at full Chapter strength, and recruiting and training new Aspirants takes far longer than for many Chapters due to the Raven Guard’s genetic instability and exacting training.

Still, Deliverance continues to provide a slow but steady stream of recruits as the Raven Guard ranges across the stars.

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Organisation and Combat Doctrine

The Raven Guard broadly adheres to the Codex Astartes, with a few key differences. Due to their smaller size, the Raven Guard maintains closer ties between companies, each led by officers known as Shadow Captains.

The Chapter Master, rather than a single permanent appointment, is elected from among the Shadow Captains, and expected to serve a term of a decade or a century before passing the title on.

Each company maintains a high degree of autonomy and flexibility.

While the 1st Company consists of the Chapter’s most veteran warriors and the 10th of Scouts as dictated by the Codex, each Battle Company is expected to be able to rapidly reorganize and deploy as an independent demi-Chapter depending on the needs of a particular mission.

In keeping with their training, Raven Guard place a much higher emphasis on Scouts, Assault Marines, Land Speeders, and gunships than many Chapters.

Rapid insertion, targeted assassination, and exfiltration back to the shadows are key to the Raven Guard’s way of war, as is a mastery of small unit tactics and squad-level fire-and-maneuver rarely seen outside the Adeptus Astartes.

This is exemplified in one of the Chapter’s core doctrines: the Trifold Path of the Shadow. Consisting of the Path of Ambush, the Path of Stealth, and the Path of Vigilance, each Battle Company specializes in one of these facets of war – only coming together as a whole to deploy utter mastery of all three and visit comprehensive destruction upon the Emperor’s foes.

While the Raven Guard maintain less heavy armor and Terminator units than many Chapters, when they do commit to battle they do so completely, rapidly redeploying from guerrilla assaults to all-out conventional attacks intended to eliminate the enemy in a single knockout blow.

It is this sudden escalation and ruthless mastery of asymmetric warfare that makes the Raven Guard such a deadly – and feared – enemy.

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Notable Campaigns

From the Great Crusade to the 13th Black Crusade, the Raven Guard have fought in some of the Imperium’s greatest campaigns. A few highlights:

  • Istvaan V: The infamous Drop Site Massacre saw the Raven Guard betrayed and nearly destroyed, but Corax escaped to carry on the fight.
  • Targus VIII: Shadow Captain Kayvaan Shrike made his name expelling the Orks from the Targus System in a grueling twenty-year shadowwar.
  • The Hunt for Voldorius: Shrike pursued the infamous Alpha Legion Daemon Prince in a battle of wits and stealth across the stars.
  • The Battle for Quintus: The entire Third Company deployed to assassinate Warmaster Horus’ Chaos-tainted allies on the daemon world of Quintus.
  • Prefectia Campaign: Chapter Master Corvin Severax lost his life battling the Tau Commander Shadowsun, passing the title to Kayvaan Shrike.
  • The Raid on Kastorel-Novem: Shadow Captain Korvydae lead the 10th Company in a daring strike on the Ork empire of Waaagh! Garaghak.

Notable Raven Guard

  • Primarch Corvus Corax: Liberator of Lycaeus, master of stealth and infiltration. Missing and presumed dead after plunging into the Eye of Terror.
  • Kayvaan Shrike: Current Raven Guard Chapter Master and a legendary tactician and strategist. Wields the Raven’s Talons, a pair of master-crafted Lightning Claws.
  • Aajz Solari: Captain of the 2nd Company and the Chapter’s preeminent assassin.
  • Korvydae: Shadow Captain of the 10th Company and Master of Recruits. His Ork-hunting exploits are legendary.
  • Nykona Sharrowkyn: Heresy-era survivor of Istvaan V. Sharrowkyn was one of the deadliest swordsman of his time and a peerless infiltrator.
  • Ardaric Vaanes: Disgraced Traitor who turned Renegade and joined the Iron Warriors before meeting his end battling Uriel Ventris.


 What are the Raven Guard’s specialties?

The Raven Guard specialize in speed, stealth, and asymmetric warfare. They favor infiltration, sabotage, and lightning assaults over grinding attrition or frontal attacks.

How did the Raven Guard fare in the Horus Heresy?

The Raven Guard were nearly destroyed in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V but Corax escaped to carry on a guerrilla war against Horus. They never regained their pre-Heresy strength.

What is the Raven Guard’s homeworld?

The Raven Guard hail from Deliverance(Formerly Nocturne), the airless moon of the Forge World Kiavahr. Their fortress-monastery, the Ravenspire, dominates the moon’s skyline.

How do Raven Guard recruit new Astartes?

The Raven Guard recruit from the hardy population of Deliverance, who endure grueling training on the moon’s barren surface. However, their recruiting base is smaller than many Chapters.

Who is the Raven Guard’s current Chapter Master?

Kayvaan Shrike, a legendary strategist who ascended to the rank after the death of Corvin Severax battling the Tau. Shrike wields the Raven’s Talons, a pair of master-crafted Lightning Claws.

Raven Guard


From the dust-swept dunes of Istvaan V to the shadowed halls of the Ravenspire, the saga of the Raven Guard is one of stealth, perseverance, and cold, calculated lethality.

They are the hidden blades of the Emperor, the unsung and unseen heroes, striking from the shadows to bring His wrath to the enemies of the Imperium.

Though brought low time and again by treachery and the schemes of the Archenemy, the Raven Guard endure. Indeed, millennia after their founding, the sons of Corax remain a potent and feared force, their mastery of asymmetric warfare and ability to bring precisely targeted destruction to their foes as devastating as ever.

The Imperium’s enemies may sleep securely, never knowing the Raven Guard are near.

They may believe themselves safe behind high walls or mighty armies.

But no matter how deep the darkness, how thick the walls or well-guarded the gate, when the Raven Guard strike, all the guns and guards in the galaxy will not save them. For when the sons of Corax emerge from shadow with lightning claws extended and bolters raised, it is already far, far too late.

Interested in learning more about the Raven Guard? Checkout the Wiki for a much more in depth overview of the chapter!

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