I've been spending the last week poring through all the new materials that have come out for the Space Wolves and working on adding them to the Comprehensive History article. Entire new sections have been added, more than a dozen new sources, scores of characters, new Fenrisian words, tribes, regions, political relations, tons of new battles, relics, ships and much more. The article now stands at a whopping two hundred and eighty seven pages, single spaced! A testament to the sheer depth of background material to our favorite chapter. So please dig in and enjoy!
++Primarch: Leman Russ++
Where the majority of Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes are organized into ten companies of roughly a hundred warriors each the Space Wolves instead retain the structure of the VI Legion from before the dark days of the Horus Heresy. Since the early days of the Great Crusade the Space Wolves have maintained thirteen Great Companies, each differing in size from somewhat smaller than a Codex Company to nearly twice the size of a Codex Company, depending on the reputation and accomplishments of each Wolf Lord. Though the Grand Annulus in the Fang retains the thirteen great carved slabs for each of the Great Companies the thirteenth stone stands blank, representing the Lost Companies of the Chapter and the 13th Company from the days of the Horus Heresy who vanished into the warp after the traitor legions. Unlike in Codex Chapters there is no scout company within the Space Wolves and no Battle or Reserve Companies, there is not even a Veteran company. Instead, the command structure and organization of each Company is more fluid. Each Company takes the name and iconography of the Wolf Lord chosen to lead it, along with his personal styles and tactics. In this way, every time a new Lord is chosen, the company is re-invented. Additionally the Great Companies are not constrained to a set size, the number of warriors in each company growing or diminishing with the fame and reputation of the Wolf Lord leading them. The largest Company in the Chapter currently is Logan Grimnar's Night Runners, followed closely by the Blackmane Great Company standing at nearly two hundred warriors strong, roughly twice the size of a Codex Company.
The Chapter is led by the Great Wolf, who is chosen from amongst the Wolf Lords and takes the iconography of Leman Russ, the rampant wolf howling at a single star, upon his appointment. As the Great Wolf is chosen from among the Wolf Lords each Wolf Lord is chosen from the ranks of each Company's Wolf Guard Veterans. The Great Company commanded by the Great Wolf 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 the recruits and veterans of the Chapter are spread fluidly throughout the twelve Great Companies.
During the glory days of the Great Crusade the Thirteenth Company was composed composed of the Wolf Brothers, the Fenresian warriors of Russ too old to undergo the full transformation into post-human Astartes, but who still desired to join Russ in the Great Crusade. In time the Company came to include 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 First Siege of the Emperor’s Palace, Leman Russ dispatched the Thirteenth Company to hunt down the heretics, the entire company vanishing into the warp after the traitors, not to be seen again for ten thousand years. Since then, the Thirteenth 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. The Thirteenth Company itself has been encountered several times in the millennia since the Heresy, most recently during the 13th Black Crusade, even as the forces of chaos emerged from the Eye to assail the Imperium the 13th Company has followed, ever ready to deliver the Emperor's vengeance upon the traitors.
Bran Redmaw's Great Company – The Bloodmaws
-The Great Company of Bran Redmaw often utilizes a hammer and anvil strategy. The furious assault of Bran's Company forcing an enemy to retreat into the grip of more Grey Hunters laying in wait behind them. Savage fighters all, the Redmaw Great Company will tear apart any foe unlucky enough to face them into shreds.
Engir Krakendoom's Great Company – The Seawolves
-A very fast and mobile Great Company, Engir Krakendoom generally prefers to deploy his company in transports, with Swiftclaws and Skyclaws acting as outriders to the main body of the Company. The Krakendoom Great Company also has a reputation for proficiency in ship-to-ship combat. It is usually the packs of Engir Krakendoom that are called upon to lead the way when the Space Wolf fleet goes to war.
Erik Morkai's Great Company – The Sons of Morkai
-Easily the most unusual Wolf Lord in methodology, Erik Morkai and his Great Company specialize in covert and stealth operations. None are more cunning or crafty than the warriors of Erik Morkai's Company. Morkai employs many Wolf Scouts who infiltrate enemy positions and lay the ground work for devastating ambushes and multiple pronged assaults or counter-offensives. Erik Morkai is even reputed to have stalked and ambushed the dreaded Dark Eldar. Surely any commander who can out maneuver the dreaded raiders of Commorragh is an opponent not to be taken lightly.
Gunnar Red Moon's Great Company – The Red Moons
-Gunnar Red Moon's Great Company exemplify the traits most common in the Space Wolves. Loud, raucous and straight forward. Wolf Lord Gunnar Redmoon favors the veteran Long Fangs, reasoning that the seasoned warriors make for the best companions on the battlefield and off, a traditional and completely Space Wolf approach to combat and revelry.
Logan Grimnar's Great Company – The Champions of Fenris
-Known as the Night Runners, the Company of the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar have both honor and responsibility without compare. Fanatically loyal to the Great Wolf and ever vying and competing for positions in the vaunted Wolf Guard, the Space Wolves of Grimnar's Great Company are ever trying to earn the favor of their lord.
Harald Deathwolf's Great Company – The Deathwolves
-Harald Deathwolf rides the mighty Thunderwolf Icetooth and his Great Company as a whole is accompanied by a veritable horde of Fenrisian Wolves and Thunderwolf Cavalry. In contrast to the seemingly feral composition of his Great Company Wolf Lord Harald Deathwolf is a trusted and respected lord of the Chapter, entrusted by the Great Wolf with missions of much import to the Chapter including tracking down and slaying the traitor Wolf Lord Svane Vulfbad.
Bjorn Stormwolf's Great Company – The Stormwolves
-The Stormwolf Great Company are primarily employed as frontline assault troops, Lord Bjorn Stormwolf favoring anything that makes a lot of noise. As a result the Stormwolf Great Company employs many Vindicators, heavy weapons, bikes and other weapons and wargear that can cause a lot of destruction and havoc.
Egil Iron Wolf's Great Company – The Ironwolves
-The Iron Wolf Great Company goes to war as a rolling mass of Astartes armor, Egil Iron Wolf himself riding at the head of his Company's heavy armor in his own personalised Land Raider. Swift transports full of Space Wolves cut off escape and retreat while Egil leads a crushing hammer blow of armored might down upon the enemy. In his youth Egil Iron Wolf, then Egil Silverhand, showed promise at the forge and was tested by the Iron Priests as an aspirant to their order. However Egil was too unorthodox in his methods, too willing to try new methods, to experiment and innovate. This attitude conflicted with the traditional values of the Iron Priests and prevented Egil from joining their ranks. Instead he was taken into the Great Company of Osric Three-Fists. As Wolf Lord of the company Egil Iron Wolf recruits only battle-brothers who show some skill at the forge, this policy has led to the company possessing fewer warriors than any of the other Great Companies but this is counter-balanced by the greater number of armored vehicles the Ironwolves field. The Wolf Guard of the Ironwolves are known as the Iron Guard and stand as ever vigilant bodyguards of their Jarl.
Krom Dragongaze's Great Company – The Drakeslayers
-The Dragongaze Great Company is one where talent and valour are rewarded regardless of source and every opportunity for challenge and glory in battle is seized. Because of this attitude the Drakeslayers have a larger contingent of Wolf Guard than any other Great Company save that of Logan Grimnar.
Ragnar Blackmane's Great Company – The Blackmanes
-The Blackmane Great Company contains more Blood Claws than any other and at almost two hundred warriors strong, the Blackmane Great Company is second in size only to the Great Company of Logan Grimnar himself. Ragnar's Company excells at planetary assaults and his Company is often picked to spearhead an invasion or rapid counter-attack. The Blackmane Great Company's packs have become experts of a form of Drop Pod Assault called the "Claws of Russ."
Sven Bloodhowl's Great Company – The Firehowlers
-Fierce in appearance and nature, the marines of the Bloodhowl Great Company tattoo themselves with scenes of their accomplishments and Fenresian runes. Sven himself is covered from head to toe with tattoes depicting scenes from his personal Saga. It is said that Sven has gone so far as to tattoo his latest deeds upon the skins of his enemies for he has completely run out of space on himself. The Bloodhowl Company as a whole nurturs a virtual obsession with flames. The marines of the Company perform daring acts of fire-breathing and fire-swallowing at feasts and it is rumored that the vanguard forces of the Bloodhowl Company will breath flames upon their foes in battle. The Wolf Guard of the Bloodhowl Great Company are known as the Bloodguard and favor the use of astartes jump packs over the heavy and cumbersome Terminator Armor favored by the Wolf Guard of other Great Companies.
Kjarl Grimblood's Great Company – The Grimbloods
-The Grimblood Great Company are fierce competitors with the Bloodhowl Great Company and boasts no less than twelve Land Raider Redeemers along with many other flame weapons. Kjarl Grimblood is said to have extremely accurate foresight, seemingly reading future events in the flickering of flames. In addition the Grey Hunters of the Grimblood Great Company have a special rite where warriors who have slain a foe with flame will paint their faces with blood before each battle and become known as "Red Hunters."
Jorin Bloodhowl’s Great Company – The Wulfenkind
-The 13th stone of the Grand Annulus once featured the heraldry of Wolf Lord Jorin Bloodhowl, Jarl of the Wulfenkind. During the Great Crusade the most feral of the Space Wolves, those who openly bore the Mark of the Wulfen, invariably found their way into the ranks of the 13th Company, a brotherhood of savage but noble fighters. At the height of the fighting during the Scouring of Prospero the Thousands Sons fled through warp portals to a daemon world deep in the Eye of Terror, unwilling to let the traitors escape unmolested the 13th Company were ordered through the portals after the Sons of Magnus. Since that day the 13th Company has maintained that duty, hunting down the traitors wherever they try to hide. Unlike other companies that go missing or are destroyed the 13th Company has never been replaced or rebuilt, for it is not truly lost. Now the final spot on the Annulus is marked by a blank stone of dark red marble, a marker that stands for every band of wolves who have ever been lost to the warp, to treachery, or who have chosen to turn rogue over the long centuries of the chapter’s existence. One day, when the last of the traitors is run to ground, or when the final battle of the Wolf Time draws nigh, the 13th Company may return and take their place alongside their brothers once more. Since Jorin Bloodhowl now Wolf Lord has taken the sign of the Wulfen as their personal heraldry or company badge.
-Exact strength as of the Stormclaw Strike Force deployment to Alaric Prime in 998.M41. The Blackmanes stood at exactly one hundred and eighty eight battle-brothers, making the company the largest in the chapter at the time after the Champions of Fenris. The Blackmane Great Company possessed a surprisingly large number of Blood Claws, Skyclaws, and Swiftclaws, at eighty-five strong nearly half the company is made up of the youngest of the Space Wolves packs, an unusual composition for a Great Company. The Blackmane Great Company specializes in planetary assaults; Drop Pod assaults in particular, and is often called on to serve as the spearhead of chapter assaults. To facilitate this specialty the Blackmane Great Company occasionally utilizes modified Thunderhawk Transporters who can carry and deploy Drop Pods in place of Rhinos or Land Raiders. This allows the company to rapidly recover or redeploy already landed Drop Pods and launch a secondary assault on additional targets or initiate surprise assaults from low altitude without giving an enemy the advance warning of the pods making atmospheric entry.
-Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane, the Young King
-Wolf Guard Battle Leader Olvec the Wise
-The Blackpelts, Ragnar’s Wolf Guard – Tor Wolfheart, Alrydd the Bard, Uller Greylock, Hrolf Longspear and Svengril the Younger
-Asgeir’s Allslayers – 10 Blood Claws
-Einar’s Glorywolves – 10 Blood Claws
-Merec’s Bane – 10 Blood Claws
-Hostor’s Spear – 10 Blood Claws
-Maegar’s Pack – 10 Blood Claws
-The Thunderfists – 10 Skyclaws
-Dreskor’s Skybolts – 10 Skyclaws
-The Twice-Proven – 10 Skyclaws
-Ornolf’s Giantslayers – 5 Swiftclaws
-Graegor’s Battleborn – 10 Grey Hunters
-Thierulf Bloodhanded’s Pack – 10 Grey Hunters
-Soergar’s Swordkin – 10 Grey Hunters
-Dolfen Wyrdbane’s Pack – 9 Grey Hunters
-Graehar Slyaxe’s Pack – 9 Grey Hunters
-Raegrec’s Blades – 8 Grey Hunters
-Drekka’s Nightblades – 10 Wolf Scouts
-Olovec’s Deadeyes – 10 Wolf Scouts
-Wyvald’s Wyrmblades – 6 Long Fangs
-Sunprowler’s Whitebeards – 6 Long Fangs
-Ashenbeard’s Wise Few – 5 Long Fangs
-Thorfinn Doomseeker – Lone Wolf
-Skolgrim of the Black Brow – Lone Wolf
-Korvoc of the Red Mist – Lone Wolf
-Exact strength as of the Strike Force Stormclaw deployment to Alaric Prime in 998.M41. Now known as the Champions of Fenris and bearing the sigil of the Wolf that Stalks Between Stars the Great Company of Logan Grimnar was known as the Night Runner Great Company before his ascension to the position of Great Wolf. Battle-brothers of the Champions of Fenris may wear either the icon of the Wolf That Stalks Between Stars or the Night Runner, usually those who bear the latter have served with the Great Wolf since before his rise to Great Wolf though these battle-brothers are now few and far between. At exactly two hundred brothers strong the Champions of Fenris are the largest Great Company in the Chapter, followed closely by the Blackmane Great Company. The Champions of Fenris possess more Wolf Guard than any other Great Company and many of the Great Wolf’s elite guard, known as the Kingsguard, have the honor of wearing suits of Tactical Dreadnought armor and utilize a number of special formations that take advantage of the Terminator Armor and the deadly weapons the Wolf Guard have access too. The Shieldbrothers and Void Claws both specialize in close combat, the former wielding Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields and forming a bodyguard for Logan Grimnar with the Champion Arjac Rockfist at their head while the Void Claws are elite warriors wielding pairs of matched Wolf Claws.
-Great Wolf Logan Grimnar, High King of Fenris
-Wolf Guard Champion Arjac Rockfist, the Anvil of Fenris
-Wolf Guard Battle Leader Torfin Daggerfist
-Jorn’s Giant-killers – 5 Wolf Guard Terminators
-Gunnar’s Huscarls – 5 Wolf Guard Termnators
-Wulftongue’s Shieldbrothers – 5 Wolf Guard Terminators
-Ironfang’s Claws of Grimnar – 5 Wolf Guard Terminators
-Daggerfist’s Void Claws – 4 Wolf Guard Terminators
-Horgoth’s Allslayers – 10 Wolf Guard
-Shadowstalker’s Snowdevils – 10 Grey Hunters
-Tormund’s Icewalkers – 8 Grey Hunters
-Lenold’s Wulfborn – 10 Grey Hunters
-Wulfsons of Lorkir – 7 Grey Hunters
-Kjarl’s Slayers – 9 Grey Hunters
-Korvald’s Fangbrothers – 14 Blood Claws
-Jarn’s Unblooded – 15 Blood Claws
-Fjyr’s Stormbringers – 12 Blood Claws
-Alrik’s Reavers – 10 Blood Claws
-Skarnel’s Youngbloods – 12 Blood Claws
-Ulnar’s Skybrothers – 10 Skyclaws
-Orlof’s Thunderstorm – 5 Long Fangs
-Vorgard’s Longclaws – 5 Long Fangs
-Haakon’s Wyrmslayers – 5 Long Fangs
-Fenryd’s Felleyed – 4 Long Fangs
-Svenvar’s Blizzardwalkers – 5 Wolf Scouts
-The Frozen Shadow – 5 Wolf Scouts
-Norgir’s Trollkillers – 5 Wolf Scouts
-Jorund’s Farstriders – 8 Wolf Scouts
-The Grey Walker – Lone Wolf
-Jor Frostbeard – Lone Wolf
-Ashergor the Broken – Lone Wolf
-Wyrdfang the Wanderer – Lone Wolf
-Haargen Deathbane – Venerable Dreadnought
-Svendar Ironarm – Venerable Dreadnought
-Exact strength as of the Battle for Luetin Hive in 822.M41. Led by Wolf Lord Erik Morkai the Sons of Morkai Great Company has a highly unusual composition. A very large number of Wolf Scouts serve Jarl Morkai and half of his Wolf Guard choose to deploy in Carapace Armor rather than Power Armor and none of his company wear Terminator Armor. At 119 strong the Morkai Great Company is larger than a Codex company and includes a very large number of specialist formations and comparatively few line troops. This composition makes the Morkai Great Company an incredibly rapid formation with nearly half the company troops infiltration specialists able to lay in wait and ambush the enemy while the remaining force of the company is possessed with significant speed, with 20 Skyclaws, 10 Swiftclaws and 10 Thunderwolf Cavalry.
-Wolf Lord Erik Morkai
-The Blades of Morkai – 8 Wolf Guard
-Morkai’s Teeth – 60 Wolf Scouts
-Shields of Morkai – 10 Grey Hunters
-Stormbearers – 10 Skyclaws
-Thunderhands – 10 Skyclaws
-Winter’s Wrath – 10 Swiftclaws
-Jaws of the Maelstrom – 5 Thunderwolf Riders
-Wolfkin – 5 Thunderwolf Riders
-Hellfangs – 15 Fenrisian Wolves
-The Ice Claw – Drop Pod
-Hammer of Fenris – Thunderhawk Gunship
The second way in which a Company becomes lost is by choice. This seems strange to some in the Imperium but to the Space Wolves it can be a matter of pragmatism. Sometimes a Great Company will find itself so far afield that to return to the Fang would take years, if not decades. Occasionally a warp storm might block any hope of return. In these cases some Lords choose to forgo any attempt at a return and simply soldier on, campaigning until the last Space Wolf falls. At other times a Wolf Lord may have a fundamental disagreement with the current Great Wolf, and rather than continue in his service, will opt to take those warriors and vessels loyal to him and leave to fight the enemies of the Emperor in whatever way he chooses fit until his warriors strength is expended.
The last and most insidious way a Company can become 'Lost' is to turn its back on Russ and the Emperor, becoming pirates, renegades and traitors. The worst cases are when a Lost Company wholly embraces the corruption of Chaos. No Chapter speaks easily about those of their number who have fallen to the grip of damnation but it happens to them all, only the secretive Grey Knights of the Ordo Malleus can claim to have never had a marine fall to chaos. Traitor warriors are hated and reviled by the rest of the Chapter and no sacrifice is too great to see these heretics destroyed and the honor of the Chapter restored.
Several notable examples stand out in recent chapter history. During the capture of the Wolf of Fenris the Red Corsairs managed to sway a number of the Space Wolves crew to their side, these Oathbreakers turned against their brothers and helped the chaos marines seize the ship. It is believed that these traitors have now formed the band of renegades known as Skyrar’s Dark Wolves. Whether this is the truth or not the chapter will nevertheless take any opportunity to hunt down these renegades and slay them in the name of the Allfather.
More recently a small pack of Grey Hunters from the Blackmane Great Company chose to go rogue, stealing the Ryza-pattern system-runner the Hlaupnir this pack of six battle-brothers sailed out on their own. These battle-brothers have chosen to hunt down leads on a secretive organization within the greater adeptas of the Imperium known only as the Fulcrum; a group they believe is conspiring to destroy the Space Wolves chapter. If they prove successful in hunting down and eliminating this threat they will no doubt be welcomed back to the Fang with open arms and sagas will be sung of their great victory, of their boldness and bravery. Should they fail they will die as Oathbreakers, their names stricken from the sagas of the chapter. Yet such a decision is not unusual, for the desire to be the outrider, to strike out on ones own has forever been strong amongst those who bear the Canis Helix. The ultimate gamble of not only life, but honor and legend is one that few Sons of Russ can resist.
Once chosen the aspirants are taken to training camps such as Russvik, Grimnir and Valksberg. At these camps the aspirants learn and train, engaging in gruelling challenges of skill, endurance and cunning designed to weed out the unworthy. 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 of Fenris. The aspirants are forced to train as teams, working together as packs to succeed or fail together. These training packs must face the harshness of nature, the depredations of the wild monsters of Asaheim, and the exacting expectations of the training officers. Only those who have proven themselves worthy are at last brought into the Chapter as Blood Claws.
Taken by Thunderhawk to the Fang the aspirants travel deep into the ancestral fortress monastery of the Chapter to a mighty protal known as the Gate of Morkai. Passing through the gate is the next test each aspirant must pass, for not only do they have to master their own fear of the looming gateway enough to pass through, they also have to face the brutal scrutiny of the Chapter's Rune Priests. Even as an aspirant braves the chilling gateway the Rune Priests pry open the young boy's mind, delving deep into his darkest secrets and desires, searching for any flaw, any weakness that might damn the aspirant in the future. Temptations, offers of power and glory, of life eternal and pleasures beyond imagining bombard the aspirant, testing his resolve and courage. Should the aspirant pass he will awaken on a cold stone slab with his fellows, ready for the next test, should he fail he will never be seen again.
Next an aspirant drinks from the Cup of Wulfen, an ancient relic of the Chapter reputed to date back to the Great Crusade when Russ gathered the Legion's first recruits from Fenris and bade them drink from the cup. According to the legend, Wulfen, the first warrior to drink from the cup was prideful and unworthy. Upon drinking from the cup the warrior transformed into a feral beast of fang, fur and claw. Ever since aspirants that drink from the cup receive the first implant of their transformation into a post-human warrior of the Adeptus Astartes, the Canis Helix. Unique to the Space Wolves the Canis Helix is the source of the Chapter's greatest strengths and it's most damning weaknesses. The Canis Helix grants the Space Wolves enhanced senses of smell and hearing rivaling those of the deadly Fenresian Wolves, however the Canis Helix is also the source of the Curse of the Wulfen. Should a Space Wolf succumb to his more bestial nature he will transform into a slavering monster with elongated, razor-sharp claws, fangs and wild growths of hair across his body. Once the aspirant has drunk from the cup and received the Canis Helix he will fall into unconsciousness and is then placed in a medical sarcophagus wherein he undergoes the surgeries and implantations necessary to transform him into a Space Marine.
Once the aspirants emerge from the sarcophagi they are placed in isolation cells while they become accustomed to their new bodies. Initially the cells are locked for this isolation serves a second purpose. Those aspirants most succeptible to the Curse of the Wulfen are likely to deform into their more bestial state during this initial period of acclimatization. Those aspirants who devolve into feral beasts are removed from their cells, their ultimate fate unknown to their fellow aspirants. In time, as the remaining aspirants grow into their new bodies and the likelyhood of succumbing to the curse decrease, the cells are left unlocked and the aspirants are free to move around unattended. When all the aspirants have either been removed by the Wolf Priests or become tolerably familiar with their new forms they are gathered together to face their final challenge, the test of the Blooding.
In a test known as the Blooding aspirants are given nothing more than the hunting knives they were issued with at the training camps and are taken deep into the wilds of Fenris, tasked with returning to the Fang on their own. Should the aspirant survive exposure, starvation and the manifold predators native to Fenris long enough to make it back to the Fang they are accepted fully within the Chapter and become Blood Claws. Inevitably a number of aspirants fail to return, perishing in the wilds or perhaps, finally succumbing to the call of the Wulfen.
Blood Claw packs are not like the Scouts of other Chapters. Fully armored in Astartes power armor and implanted with the Black Carapace, the 19th Implant of the transformation process, the Blood Claws are full Adeptus Astartes in body, if not yet possessed of all the skill. Other Chapters prefer to keep their recruits on the sidelines of battle, performing reconnaissance, forward observation and other support roles. Such caution is not for the Sons of Fenris. Blood Claws are typically unleashed into the heat of battle, given freedom to loose their youthful battle frenzy. Hot headed Fenresian youths as they are Blood Claws are prone to acts of reckless bravery bordering on the suicidal. In time, should he survive, a Blood Claw will eventually temper his hot-headedness with wisdom and patience and join the ranks of the Grey Hunters. Inevitably the attrition rate of Blood Claw packs is terrible, relatively few surviving long enough to become Grey Hunters.
After their initiation new Blood Claw packs remain at the Fang and further hone their skills until they have the opportunity to join one of the Chapter's Twelve Great Companies. Assignment to a Great Company is not the standard logistical affair of a Codex Chapter, rather the reputation of a Wolf Lord will determine how many fresh recruits flock to his banner more than the current fighting strength of his Company. At times the Great Wolf will assign fresh Blood Claws a challenge to determine which company they will join. Most often this challenge is to raid the lair of a Great Company and steal some particular item of worth, such as a war trophy.
From the moment a battle-brother is assigned to a Blood Claw pack he joins a brotherhood that will only end with death in battle. As a pack gains greater battle experience and begins to take casualties the pack will slowly erode in numbers while simultaneously rising first to Grey Hunters and eventually, should they live long enough, the pack will become a hardened squad of Long Fangs. Only through promotion to the Wolf Guard or assignment to the Wolf Scouts or one of the chapter’s priesthoods will a battle-brother voluntarily leave the brotherhood of his pack. Should all but a single member of a pack be slain and the survivor has not yet earned a place in the Wolf Guard the survivor will become a Lone Wolf, destined to seek out either death or glory in battle against the greatest of foes, to avenge his battle-brothers or die trying and should he survive earn a place within the ranks of the Wolf Guard. Recently however this standard progression has been suspended and it is now common for battle-brothers to be promoted from one pack to another on an individual rather than a group basis. The chapter has simply taken too many casualties and is too hard pressed in recent times to rely solely on the old way. Whether the chapter will resume the old practices once the situation in the Imperium stabilizes or will stick with the new system is yet to be determined.
-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 through the trials of combat. 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.
-A subset of Blood Claws, the Swiftclaws are called up from the ranks of the Blood Claws when the Chapter needs a swift, hard hitting assault force. The young and ambitious Blood Claws are well suited to this role. In addition to forming a lightning assault force, Swiftclaws will occasionally be tasked to track down and slay a particularly dangerous enemy.
-Skyclaws are another subset of the Blood Claws, formed from the most troublesome and headstrong members of the Blood Claw packs. Promotion to the Skyclaws is considered at best a dubious one. Russ was always content to fight with his feet firmly on the ground and no self respecting Space Wolf would fight any other way.
-The backbone of the chapter are the Grey Hunter packs. Grey Hunters are experienced marines who have gotten over their lust for battle and tempered their souls with age and wisdom. Grey Hunters are skilled combatants in close quarters fighting, whatever they lose in frenzy and bloodlust they make up for with skill and experience. Versatile in their combat roles Grey Hunters are traditionally armed with bolter, bolt pistol and chainsword, making them deadly opponents at any range.
-A specialized subset of Grey Hunters the Sky Hunters are those battle-brothers devoted to piloting and crewing the chapter gunships. Recruited from those who have already proven themselves in battle and learned to temper the hottest fires of their battle fury the Sky Hunters are skilled and tenacious pilots who mark themselves with a badge of outspread eagle’s wings, often marked upon a knee pad. Typically Sky Hunters bear cranial jacks to facilitate a direct interface with the controls of the chapter’s gunships.
-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.
-Over time as Space Wolf packs take cassualties and gain experience they pass through the ranks, eventually the last few survivors making it into the vaunted ranks of the Wolf Guard. However sometimes a pack will suffer particularly harsh cassualties leaving a lone survivor who has not yet earned a place in the Wolf Guard, or if he has, is too ashamed to accept it without exacting vengeance for his fallen comrades. These last standing Lone Wolves will take on an air of vengeance and doom, determined to regain the honor of their pack in combat or die trying. Those who succeed in their quests to seek out and slay dangerous or potent enemies and survive are accepted into the Wolf Guard, the rest have at least earned an honorable death in combat.
-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. As suits their lofty position as veterans of the Chapter Wolf Guard have access to all manner of weapons and armor including suits of ancient Tactical Dreadnaught Armor. Wolf Guard perform a variety of roles within the Space Wolves chapter such as forming a bodyguard for their Wolf Lord and other officers and specialists, leading other packs into battle, or sometimes taking command of battles or even entire campaigns in place of the Wolf Lord.
-Thunderwolf Cavalry units are a sub group of the Wolf Guard. Veterans of the Chapter able to capture and tame the mighty Thunderwolves native to Fenris are able to ride these mighty beasts into battle as mounts, similar to the Rough Riders of the Imperial Guard. By themselves Thunderwolves are deadly fighters capable of carving through entire formations of enemy troops and shrugging off all but the most severe of injuries. With a veteran Space Wolf mounted on their back, armed with the best weapons of the Chapter armory, the Thunderwolf Cavalry becomes something even more dangerous. The Thunderwolf Cavalry are perhaps the most unorthodox formation within the entire Chapter and according to official Imperial records they don't exist. The Space Wolves keep the Thunderwolf Cavalry as a closely guarded secret.
-The majority of Space Wolves share the raucus, rowdy spirit of the Fenresian tribesmen, quick to anger and quicker to laugh. For some Space Wolves the Canis Helix leads to a more solitary, brooding existence. Such warriors may be destined for the ranks of the Wolf Scouts, should they survive to earn their place. Far from the raw recruits of other Astartes Chapters, Wolf Scouts are grizzled veterans who opt to go without their full suits of power armor. Deployed to gather information on battlefields before and during a campaign Wolf Scouts provide vital intelligence to their brethren as well as undertaking missions of sabotage, assassination and infiltration.
-The Chapter Master of the Space Wolves is known as the Great Wolf. While some Chapter Masters command the unswerving loyalty of their brethren the Great Wolf is generally considered to be a mere steward awaiting the return of Leman Russ, an attitude shared by a number of the second founding chapters. In addition to commanding one of the Chapter's twelve Great Comanies the Great Wolf leads the chapter in both war and diplomacy. Each Great Wolf is chosen from among the Wolf Lords, much as each Wolf Lord is chosen from amongst the Wolf Guard. If a consensus is not reached the favored candidates may choose to decide the outcome with ritual combat, the victor earning the right to assume the mantle of Great Wolf. The current Great Wolf is Logan Grimnar, an ancient and legendary warrior who has lead the Chapter for over eight centuries.
-The war leaders of the Great Companies, the Chapter includes eleven Wolf Lords, one for each Great Company save the company of the current Great Wolf. Much of the time the attrition rate for Wolf Lords is fairly significant due to the Space Wolves inclination towards close combat, however some Wolf Lords have seen their thousandth year pass. All Wolf Lords are experienced and skilled warriors who will have led warriors into battle thousands of times on hundreds of worlds and faced virtually every threat known to mankind. Youngest of the current Wolf Lords is Ragnar Blackmane who, despite his youth, is considered by many to be the likely successor to Logan Grimnar should the old wolf ever die.
-The Iron Priests are the chapter’s equivalent of Techmarines. Sent off for training at Mars the Iron Priests maintain the Chapter's equipment and are responsible for forging replacement wargear. Iron Priests are traditionally attached to the Great Wolf’s Company and assigned to other fighting forces on a situational basis. Iron Priests are also partly responsible for the transformation and initiation of new recruits. Young battle-brothers who show promise at the forge are put through the Test of the Iron Gauntlet and given various tasks of repair and forging to test them in a variety of ways. Should the aspirant pass these tests they will be sent to Mars to learn from the Adeptus Mechanicus and in time return as fully-fledged Iron Priests of the chapter.
-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 Chapter’s warriors. It is also the sinister skull helmed Wolf Priests who choose the aspirants to the chapter from among the tribes of Fenris. Perhaps the most renowned and respected member of the Wolf Priests is Ulrik the Slayer, for not only is he a hero of the Chapter with many legends to his name he has also mentored many notable members of the Chapter over his centuries of service including the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar and Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane. Wolf Priests traditionally bear the symbol of the Great Company to which they are attached on their left shoulder pad and an icon of the Wolf Priesthood on the right. The exact nature of a Wolf Priest’s symbol can vary but most take the form of a white wolf’s head on a black field. Wolf Priests may also retain the markings of their old pack, often displayed on a knee pad, however the markings are changed to white on black.
-The Space Wolves do not have Librarians as such, instead the Chapter maintains a number of Rune Priests, potent psykers who maintain a vigilant watch of the Chapter for signs of corruption or taint as well as giving guidance and foresight to the officers of the Chapter. One of the greatest responsibilities of the Rune Priests is the task of examining the minds of all aspirants to the Chapter for any sign of taint or treachery. Armed and equipped differently from traditional Librarians the Rune Priests of the Space Wolves do not wear Psychic Hoods and do not wield standard force weapons. Instead Rune Priests bear unique Runic Weapons that can take the form of swords, axes or staves. Rune Weapons function similar to Force Weapons but also bear inscribed runes of power from the native traditions of Fenris. Rune Weapons are capable of warding against dangerous psychic powers and act as conduits for the powers of the Rune Priests. Of course Rune Weapons are also dread weapons in close combat rightly feared by any foe unfortunate enough to come within range of a wrathful Rune Priest. Rune Priests typically bear personal pack markings in the black and yellow colors of the Wolf Guard.
-The Dreadnoughts of the Space Wolves are ancient and wise warriors who spend a great deal of time in dreamless sleep beneath the fang, only awakened in times of dire need. The Venerable Dreadnoughts of the Space Wolves may sometimes even lead forces of wolves into battle in the absence of another capable war leader, or in deference to their ancient wisdom. Oldest of all the Venerable Dreadnoughts is Bjorn the Fell-Handed who served in the Wolf Guard of the Primarch Leman Russ during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. When Russ vanished Bjorn was named the first Great Wolf of the Chapter. Every thousand years or so Bjorn awakens to test the priests on the lore of the Chapter, ensuring that the knowledge and traditions of Fenris remain true.
-The Thralls make up the majority of the Chapter's serfs and include the many mono-tasked servitors used by the Iron Priests.
-Grooms are a sub-set of the Chapter's Thralls.
-The Kaerls are the armed serfs charged with the defense of the Chapter's vessels and holdings.
-The Huskaerls are the field officers of the Kaerls.
-The senior officers of the Kaerls, each Rivenmaster commands a force of five hundred armed Kaerls.
-The mortal commanders of the Space Wolves vessels are known as Ship Masters, charged with commanding the Chapter's warships in the absence of the Space Wolves themselves.
-The Astropaths in service to the Space Wolves are known as Star-speakers.
-Like all vessels the Space Wolves ships require Navigators to travel the tides of the warp. The Space Wolves have a long standing alliance with the Navigator House Belisarius to provide guides for the Chapter's ships. Twenty four Space Wolves are assigned to House Belisarius as guards and officers in exchange for the service of an equal number of House Belisarius' most skilled Navigators.