Blood Raiders of the Lost ArkMark726
Before CCP released its dev blog on the controversial skill point trading plan (doesn’t THAT already feel like a lifetime ago) that led to calls for metaphorical blood in some quarters, they were already hinting that more virtual blood was going to be spilled. In CCP’s dev blog laying out its plans for the game through next spring, the devs let drop that coming sometime this fall, there was to be a Crimson Harvest. Precious little information was given, but we did get a rather creepy sounding poem out of it:
Bloody Omir ran away,
Hiding from the light of day.
He made a base out in the night,
Far away from the Empire’s might.
Holders think they all are safe,
Protected by the Empire’s grace.
Silly people, you should know…
You shall reap just what you sow.
Bloody Omir is coming back,
With monsters from the endless black.
Wading through a crimson flood,
Omir has come to drink your blood.
So what is this all about? This is actually an old Amarrian nursery rhyme (no, seriously, why are nursery rhymes always about the creepiest things) about Omir Sarikusa, the leader of the Blood Raider Covenant. I’ll leave it to prognosticators better than myself to figure out what this means from the standpoint of mechanics (my personal bet is on Blood Raider incursions), but given the apparent resurgence of the Blood Raiders, this seems as good a time as any for a quick review of Blood Raider lore.
To figure out the Blood Raiders, we first have to figure out the Sani Sabik. In classic Eve nothing-can-ever-only-be-two-layers-deep fashion, in order to figure out the Sani Sabik sect, we have to figure out some of the basic tenets of the Amarr faith, since the Blood Raiders are technically a crazy offshoot of a crazy offshoot of the more mainstream Amarr faith. Which, I probably don’t need to remind you, already condones slavery in the 231st century, so that’s really saying something.
Anyway, one of the central tenets of Amarrian faith is that there are two types of people: those who are True Amarr (who stayed true to God and their faith even in their darkest hour, making them His chosen people), and those who are not (and, because of the sins of their fathers in not maintaining faith, are forever tainted by sin). While the True Amarr can find salvation relatively easily after shuffling off this mortal coil, others must serve the chosen people if they are to have any hope of being saved. Apparently, whether this service comes willingly or not matters little to the Amarr… indeed, this is how they justify the continued use of slavery: they’re helping others to be saved, whether they want to or not. The tenets of Amarr faith are discussed a bit here, though I’ll note that this is a non-canon page of the Evelopedia.
The Sani Sabik are a split-off Sect of the ancient Amarrian faith. While they too believed that there are certain chosen people by God and that all others exist to serve the chosen, the Sani Sabik added their own little twist by introducing the idea that blood had its own mystical powers that can help the chosen to achieve immortality, and blood came to be viewed with quite a bit of reverence. Indeed, one of the marks of a Sani Sabik adherent is the vial of blood that is found around the neck of almost all followers of the faith. With the newfound importance on blood in religious life, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the concept of the Amarrian God changed as well, becoming the Red God under Sani Sabik theology. Exactly how he differs from the Amarrian God is unknown but the Red God is universally acknowledged as unforgiving of transgressions.
Over the millennia, various Sani Sabik offshoots have split off over quite how blood is to be used. Some hew closely to the idea that only True Amarr can be chosen by the Red God, while others believe that anyone who performs the necessary blood rituals can become chosen. Some believe that only a bit of blood is necessary, while others think that the entire body must be drained of blood in a so-called ‘blooding’. Some sects believe merely that the chosen can achieve immortality by willingly exchanging blood with each other, while others believe that the only way for those not chosen by God can serve is by donating their blood, again avoiding that whole “willingness to help” discussion entirely.
Up until about 40 years ago, the Blood Raiders were a fairly rag-tag bunch, and primarily focused on finding and blooding children to get the pure blood needed for their rituals but otherwise not particularly united beyond their own small clan of ships. However, in YC 84, a young up-and-comer named Omir Sarikusa seized control of the organization, and set about unifying the various sects. Omir also set about reorganizing the Blood Raider’s priorities. Under Sarikusa’s dogma, while blood of children was useful, it’s those who have been cloned that have the purest blood. Thus, they turned their attention towards us capsuleers.
Today, the Blood Raiders act as the central theological authority for much of the broader Sani Sabik faith. Eve Source digs into the Raiders’ role quite a bit (though unfortunately uses ‘Sani Sabik’ and ‘Blood Raiders’ more interchangeably than I’d like), but suffice it to say that the Raiders serve as the priesthood of much of the Sani Sabik faithful, as well as almost all positions of authority imaginable in their colonies. They’re strictly hierarchical, and tend to all the necessary bureaucracy in managing a large number of people as well. Similar to the Amarr’s Book of Records, the Blood Raiders also keep Books of the Dead, and threatening to be refused entry into the Books upon one’s death is a serious punishment, as it affects not only the person himself or herself but any family and descendants as well. Needless to say, the Blood Raiders primary role is also collecting blood from us crazy capsuleers and others who make the mistake of getting in their way.
Although technically vilified by the mainstream Amarrian faith, the Sani Sabik in general, and the Raiders in particular, have long been suspected to have support from even the highest levels of Holy Amarr. These suspicions were vindicated when it became known that Court Chamberlain Dochuta Karsoth was a strong supporter of the Raiders. Chamberlain Karsoth is perhaps best known as the person who held up the Succession Trials after the death of Emperor Doriam II in YC 107, preventing anyone from taking the throne until Jamyl’s return over Mekhios 3 years later. After Jamyl appeared and denounced Karsoth for his crimes against Amarr (including his support for the Raiders), he fled for the Raiders, but was captured shortly thereafter and quietly executed.
Unsurprisingly, the Blood Raiders are rather famed for their knowledge of the biological sciences. Although they rarely delve into the cybernetic side of things, their knowledge of how to extend life and perfect the human body is unparalleled throughout the rest of the cluster, which is only mildly terrifying and I’m sure it’s fine.
So there we have the basics of the Blood Raiders. Exactly what this Crimson Harvest will entail is anyone’s guess at this point, but CCP certainly picked the right time of year to re-introduce this particularly creepy cult of New Eden.