It's an opportunity to test the young men, while also "weeding out" the undesirables to appease the Wild Hunt and keep them away from the villages.
As the act of "weeding out the undesirables" may weaken Imperial authority over the planets, and ultimately enable and/or outright create Chaos cults seeking to overthrow the Imperium, I think it's best to minimize the planetary governors' role in the Wild Hunts. My proposal:
A courtier with an urgent message, barges into a planetary governor's office. The governor's anger at the interruption, turns to fear when the courtier tells him WHO the message is from. The Red Ravens arrive shortly to see the governor groveling before them; they ignore the governor's attempts at charming them, and state the Chapter will conduct a Wild Hunt over certain regions of the planet, to gather resources they need for their war efforts. The governor argues those regions provide vital resources already promised to the High Lords of Terra, as tithes; the Red Ravens decide to humor the governor's efforts to maintain the illusion he has any say in this, and make the "concession" of seizing 90% of available resources instead of 100%, state the governor's private stores can compensate for the lost tithes, and then leave.
The governor issues a warning to the affected regions, telling its inhabitants to stay indoors during the Wild Hunt; though the Red Ravens can easily jam the transmission and intercept the messengers, they allow the warning to go out, as hunting those in hiding is good practice for counterinsurgency. Some towns see the Wild Hunt as an excuse to purge themselves of "undesirables"; the purged return after the Hunt, intending to steal food and clothing, only to find their hometowns emptied of people and stripped of resources, seemingly as punishment for challenging the Emperor's will. Other towns see their youths disobey their parents' orders to stay indoors, the youths determined to prove their courage by going out to witness the Wild Hunt; these youths disappear without a trace.
After seizing the resources they need, the Red Ravens leave. The governor asks his subjects to join him in prayer, dispatches trusted lieutenants to help rebuild regions the Wild Hunt affected, and warns his subjects to be mindful of the Emperor's will, which His angels of death (Red Ravens conducting the Wild Hunt) embody.
It is my intent that The Wild Hunt refers only to the Red Ravens Space Marine chapter, and absolutely nothing else. Since my inspiration for this derives from folklore, and in order for the Norse inspired worlds to feel authentic, this is not something that will change, and I would appreciate it if you would stop proposing that the wild hunt is some trial to be passed. There is only one Wild Hunt. The Red Ravens don't conduct a Wild Hunt. They ARE the Wild Hunt, their hunt is eternal, and their prey is all enemies of humanity and the Imperium. With that said, Here's my counter:
The only worlds which wouldn't understand their place in the Imperium would be the feral worlds, which don't have planetary governors. Those are the ones which fear the Wild Hunt, as opposed to fearing the Astartes of the Red Ravens. The feral worlders do not understand the concept of Space Marines, and only know of the massive ghostly grey warriors who have claimed many sons and visited punishment upon the worshipers of the dark ones. On the last night of the harvest festival the young men go out from the villages to face The Wild Hunt, in a test of cunning and courage. They attempt to test themselves as hunters by stalking the wraiths, in a challenge know as the "The Hunter's Rite". Those who return are welcomed back into the village, as they survived the night, proving that they will be worthy hunters for the coming winter.
The truth is that the young men are not the hunters, but the hunted. It is only when the warriors of the Villta Veiðin (what the rest of the cluster knows as de Vilda Jakten) show themselves to the aspiring hunters that the choosing truly happens. Only those who show no fear when faced with what they believe to be the incarnation of death itself; are deemed worthy by the Red Ravens, and taken. Furthermore, the Red Ravens appreciate the chase. The Choosing rarely only lasts the night. Stories tell of sightings of the Villta Veiðin as much as a week after the end of the harvest festival. The "Hunter's Rite" is what demonstrates a recruits potential, and the longer the recruit can prolong the chase, the more the Raven's interest grows. There have even been cases where the intended recruit comes back to the village half starved and exhausted. The recruit believes that they are safe, but then the Wild Hunt comes in the night, to claim what is theirs, no soul shall escape them...
The Fortress world understands their duty to the Imperium, and happily surrenders their second born sons as tribute, as well as providing soldiers and support personnel to the Chapter. The Fortress World will send a training cadre out into the wilderness, where the "Second Sons" are subjected to raids and forced to survive and fight. The Red Ravens observe this military exercise, which takes place twice a year, during the harshest conditions. These cadets are pushed to their physical and mental limits, and only those who can surpass those limits, though cunning, tenacity, and sheer will are selected. It is considered an honor for these boys to be selected. In their culture, a firstborn son is expected to serve in the home guard, and inherit the family legacy, while a second son is often expected to be tithed to the Imperial Guard, and win glory for the family out in the galaxy, no greater glory can be won than as an Astartes.
The Forge World dedicates a full 40% of its production to the Red Ravens to keep their war machine running, an arrangement with which the Red Ravens are more than pleased. The Forge world also serves as a recruiting ground for the Chapter's techmarines and vehicle crews. None understand the engines of war better than those who build them.
The Agri-worlds are simple folk, happy to provide for the Emperor's avenging Angels and equally happy to supply the Fortress World and Forge World. Each Agri-world supplies 15% of their production to the Red Ravens, which more than meet the Raven's needs.
On all the Imperial Worlds of their home cluster, save for the one hive world, the Red Ravens are beloved protectors. On the Feral Worlds the primitive inhabitants see them as servants of the gods, but an ill omen regardless. For the Feral Worlds, the appearance of the Wild Hunt heralds some catastrophe.
The Hive world is the source of the most trouble. The Feral Worlds are rich in minerals and ores, and the mining concerns of the hive world have made use of it. This has made the hive world quite wealthy, as it is the source of all trade within the cluster. The Forge World depends on the raw materials from mining, and the Fortress World and Red Ravens are dependent upon material provided by the Forge World. The Hive World's cultural elites use their wealth to secure a comfortable life for themselves, while the inhabitants of the underhives toil in the foundries and mines, both on and off world. The workers live in near slavery, and suffering. It is not uncommon for a Chaos cult to spring up among the discontented masses, a situation which is quickly remedied by the Red Ravens. The Veiðimaður (Lit. "Huntmaster" The Chapter's name for the Chapter Master) has grown weary of these conditions, as they threaten good order within the cluster, and divert precious resources. The Fræðimaður (Lit. "Loremaster", the Chapter's name for Chief Librarian) has chronicled the decadent lifestyles of the nobles of the hive world, and the notably uncooperative nature of the hereditary governors. In the past The Chapter has dealt with these governors, usually by very public displays of brutality, but the Fræðimaður advises a more direct approach. The Villta Veiðin will cull the aristocracy. Their Firstborn sons shall be taken to become serfs of the chapter, and a sizeable portion of their wealth seized. Following the example of their primarch, the downtrodden will be uplifted, and the overlords punished for their greed, for the Nobles know that their sons have lived far too soft a life to ever be fit astartes, and are to be relegated to being menials...
Edit: I was perhaps too harsh in my words towards Bjorn's suggestions. There are elements of folklore to which I wish to remain faithful, and I became heated. for that I'd like to apologize.
Edited by Ulrik_Ironfist, 24 May 2020 - 03:32 AM.