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Old 15 Nov 2007, 08:35   #1 (permalink)
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Default Space Wolves: A Comprehensive History

Space Wolves: A Comprehensive History


The Space Wolves organization, doctrines, and history are very different from the majority of Space Marine chapters, this is one of the reasons the Space Wolves are such a unique force among the Adeptus Astartes, and why they can be an enigma for new players, so here is my attempt to give some insight into the history, and organization of the Space Wolves, one of my favorite chapters and a characterful and interesting organization within the forces of the Imperium.

Codex Astartes

The Codex Astartes is the holy tome of the Adeptus Astartes. However not all chapters adhere to its tenets completely, and there are a few who do not follow it at all. The Space Wolves are one such chapter. In their organization, recruitment, markings, equipment and even many of their tactics, the Space Wolves function very differently from the codes laid down in the Codex Astartes.

Chapter Organization

The Space Wolves are not organized along the lines of the Codex. Instead the Space Wolves have 13 Companies in their organization, though only 12 Companies have been maintained in the Chapter after the Horus Heresy. The Companies of the Space Wolves are known as Great Companies, and are not structured along the parameters of the Codex. There is no scout company within the Space Wolves. There are no Battle or Reserve Companies, there is not even a Veteran company. Instead the command structure and organization of the Companies is more fluid. Each Company takes the name and iconography of the chosen Wolf Lord, along with the personal styles and tactics of the chosen Wolf Lord. In this way every time a new Lord is chosen the company is re-invented.

The Wolf Lord is also elected to the rank from among the Wolf Lords. The Great Company commanded by the chosen Wolf Lord becomes home to the Chapter specialists, such as the Iron Priests, Wolf Priests and Rune Priests. This means that the Company of the Great Wolf is changing just as much as the individual companies change with each new Wolf Lord that takes command. With the lack of a Scout Company or a Veteran Company that means the recruits and veterans of the Chapter are spread fluidly throughout the Chapter.

The 13th Company during the Great Crusade was made up by those battle brothers who showed a manifestation of the Curse of the Wulfen. A ferocious fighting force the Company saw a great deal of combat during the Crusade and the Heresy. As the heretics fled from their defeat at the 1st Siege of the Emperorís Palace, Leman Russ dispatched the 13th Company to hunt down the heretics. Since then the 13th Company has been a blank spot in the organization of the Space Wolves, representing all those Companies that have been lost or abandoned their oaths since the Horus Heresy. However the original 13th Company has been discovered to still be at large in the Galaxy, and we will get to that in more detail later.


The Space Wolves recruit exclusively from Fenris. Those chosen by the Space Wolves may often have been mortally wounded, and are repaired by the Chapters technology. To be reborn and have a chance at becoming something more, a Space Marine, a Space Wolf, a son of Russ. The aspirants are taken to training camps where they will learn and train in the hopes of becoming worthy. Where other chapters simply have aspirants fight until only the strongest stand, the Space Wolves set a more exacting standard. Skill in battle is important, but it is not the only thing that matters in becoming a Wolf. The Aspirants are forced to train as teams, to work together as packs, to succeed or fail together, put up against the odds. To face the harshness of nature, the depredations of the wild monsters of Asaheim, and the exacting expectations of the training Sergeants. Only those who have proven themselves worthy are brought into the Chapter as Blood Claws. Given the implants that transform them into Adeptus Astartes and trained further still in the facilities of the Fang the Aspirants face one final test. To master themselves, and the gene-curse of the Chapter, the Mark of the Wulfen. Aspirants in their final stages of implantation are taken far from the Fang and left in the wilderness with little to aid them. If they can make their way back to the Fang without succumbing to the call of the Wulfen or falling to the predators of the wild then they will become full members of the Chapter, as Blood Claws.

Blood Claw packs are not the scouts typical of other Chapters. Fully armored in power armor and implanted with the Black Carapace, the 19th Implant of the transformation process, the Blood Claws are fully Adeptus Astartes. However they have yet to master their skills and their lust for battle. After their initiation they are assigned to a Great Company. Should the Wolves survive to temper their lust for battle they will ascend to the rank of Grey Hunter, and cease their existence as initiates, and become veterans of the Chapter. Because of the ferocious lust for battle held by all Blood Claws, their attrition rate is terrible, and not many survive to become Grey Hunters.

The Packs of the Space Wolves

Instead of organizing into the Tactical, Assault and Devastator squads as the Codex Astartes dictates, the Space Wolves form their troops into Packs. Each pack will generally be made up of warriors who have fought together for some time and will work together as a pack of wolves on the hunt. For the Space Wolves their senses of smell and hearing are just as important to them as their keen eyesight. Packs will work together to sniff and sound out their foes, hunting their prey like the wolves of Fenris, identifying the locations of their comrades as much by smell as by any technological means. The Space Wolves have four primary organizations of packs. Blood Claws, Grey Hunters, Long Fangs, and Wolf Guard. There are also Wolf Scouts, which are an oddity among the Adeptus Astartes.

Blood Claws
-Blood Claw packs are the initiates of the Space Wolves, the youngest members of the Chapter fresh from their transformation into Space Marines. Blood Claws have yet to fully contain their lust for battle and so are simply encouraged to let it out, and get over their battle frenzy, allowing that in time, those who survive will temper themselves and become Grey Hunters, blooded and experienced warriors of the Chapter. In battle Blood Claws are armed to fulfill their battle frenzy, given a variety of close combat weapons and armed with bolt pistols the Blood Claw packs are usually at the vanguard of any Space Wolf charge.

Grey Hunters
-The backbone of the chapter are the Grey Hunter packs. Experienced marines who have gotten over their lust for battle and tempered their souls with age and wisdom. Grey Hunters are nevertheless still skilled combatants in close quarters fighting and almost always are armed to do battle both at range and in the teeth of the enemy.

Long Fangs
-Long Fangs are small packs of aged Space Wolves who have lived long enough for their canines to grow exceedingly long, hence their name. Long Fangs are armed with a variety of heavy weapons and led by a veteran pack leader who can carefully and expertly direct their firepower to the best effect.

Wolf Guard
-Wolf Guard are the last variety of Space Wolves packs. The equivalent of veterans in other chapters, Wolf Guard form the bodyguard of their Wolf Lord. Armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons and sometimes even wearing suits of ancient Tactical Dreadnaught Armor. Wolf Guard perform a variety of roles within the Space Wolves chapter. Forming bodyguards for Wolf Lords and other officers and specialists, but also from time to time leading other packs into battle, or sometimes leading smaller operations in place of the Wolf Lord.

Wolf Scouts
-Wolf Scouts are attached to the Great Company of the Great Wolf and follow his orders, dispatched where and when he wills. Not the recruits of other Astartes Chapters, Wolf Scouts are grizzled veterans, who opt to go without their full suits of power armor to better scout out the galaxy for their chapter. Deployed to gather information on battlefields before and during a campaign Wolf Scouts provide vital intelligence to their brethren.

Officers and Specialists

Great Wolf
-The Great Wolf is the Space Wolves equivalent of the Chapter Master, generally considered a steward awaiting the return of Primarch Leman Russ. The Great Wolf leads the chapter in Russí absence. Chosen from among the Chapters Wolf Lords, the current Great Wolf is Logan Grimnar, who has lead the Chapter for over eight centuries.

Wolf Lords
-The war leaders of the Great Companies, the Chapter includes 11 Wolf Lords. Much of the time the attrition rate for Wolf Lords is fairly significant because of the Chapters disposition towards close combat, however some Wolf Lords have seen their thousandth year pass. Ragnar Blackmane is one of the Chapters current Wolf Lords and is in fact the youngest Wolf Lord in the Chapters history.

Iron Priests
-The Iron Priests are the chapterís equivalent of Techmarines. Sent off for training at Mars the Iron Priests maintain the Chapters equipment, and forge replacement wargear. Iron Priests are traditionally attached to the Great Wolfís Company and re-assigned to other fighting forces on a situational basis. Iron Priests also have a place in the transformation and initiation of new recruits.

Wolf Priests
-Wolf Priests are a unique officer class within the Adeptus Astartes. A mixture of Chaplain and Apothecary the Wolf Priests administer to the physical and mental well being of the Chapterís warriors and also choose the aspirants to the chapter from among the tribes of Fenris. Ulrik the Slayer is a famous Wolf Priest who mentored many notable members of the Chapter including Logan Grimnar and Ragnar Blackmane.

Rune Priests
-The Space Wolves do not have Librarians as such, instead the Chapter maintains a number of Rune Priests, potent psykers who examine the minds of all aspirants to the Chapter for any sign of taint or treachery. Armed and equipped differently from Librarians, Rune Priests do not wear the psychic hoods of Librarians, and do not always carry force weapons, what the Space Wolves call runic weapons. The Rune Priests however are potent psykers in their own right and fierce warriors as are all men of Fenris.

Venerable Dreadnaughts
-The Dreadnaughts of the Space Wolves are generally ancient and wise warriors, who spend a great deal of time in dreamless sleep beneath the fang, only awakened in times of great need. The Venerable Dreadnaughts of the Space Wolves may sometimes even lead forces of wolves into battle in the absence of another capable war leader, or sometimes in deference to their ancient wisdom.

Notable Chapter Artifacts, Wargear and Vehicles

Frost Blades
-Frost blades usually take the forms of chainswords or chainaxes. Ancient and masterfully artificed weapons made from the teeth of Ice Krakens Frost Blades are potent weapons unique to the Space Wolves, that can carve through the heaviest armor with ease.

Belts of Russ
-Each Great Company has in itís armory a single Belt of Russ. Powerful girdles incorporating potent forcefields that protect the wearer. Forged by the master Iron Priest Stef Blacksoul after the disappearance of Russ the belts are important relics of the Chapter.

Wolf Helm of Russ
-The Wolf Helm of Russ is an ancient artifact of the Chapter said to have been worn by Russ himself. The Helm is awarded to a great company after a tournament of champions, the last winner was Ragnar Blackmane who then presented the Helm to the Wolf Priest Ranek as a sign of respect.

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