|Space Wolves / Vlka Fenryka|
|Battle Cry||"For Russ and the All father!"|
|Successor Chapters||Wolf Brothers
|Chapter Master||Logan Grimnar|
|Strength||2-3000, fluff is vague|
|Specialty||CQC, shock assaults, infantry, encirclement tactics|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Grey-blue and Yellow|
"Let a man never stir on his road a step without his weapons of war; for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise of a spear on the way without."
- – Havamal
The Vlka Fenryka (Internally called The Rout, known to the wider Imperium and most of the fans as the Space Wolves) are a loyalist Chapter of Viking-inspired Space Marines. They're as manly as the Angry Marines are angry. Big fans of wolves. Extremely Nordic, very melee oriented, and often found drinking and feasting when not at war. Given that they're honor and legacy obsessed Nordic melee powerhouses, one can draw many parallels between the Wolves and Dwarfs and Warriors of Chaos from Warhammer Fantasy. The chapter is traditionally rivals with the Thousand Sons, though one might see the Wolves as a direct loyalist counterpart for the World Eaters and Night Lords due to their penchant both for suicidal, berserk charges and individualistic, undisciplined attitudes. However, the Wolves fight to protect people and do their duty to the Emperor, not for the hell of it. They're as cunning as the Raven Guard and as bold as the Blood Angels, with fierce pride in their culture and individual prowess. More so than any other chapter, every Space Wolf is a unique and proud hero of the Imperium.
That said, they aren't all fun and bar-room games, as they have their unique flaws. These are elaborated on below.
They're one of the more "controversial" chapters, because fans will circlejerk them to death about how amazing the Chapter is, though the chapter's numerous detractors will rant endlessly about how the Chapter are all furries. Much of this conflict comes from GW's dissonance between the Vlka Fenryka of the books, and the Space Wolves of the tabletop game. The Vlka Fenryka of the Black Library books are a chapter with many different tribal and historical inspirations, drawing on Viking and Germanic culture along with their favorite totem and symbol, the wolf. The Space Wolves of the tabletop game ride wolves into battle, adorn themselves with wolves, name their gear and vehicles after wolves. That said, this difference is only bad translations and cultural changes over 10,000 years.
Ultimately, what defines the Space Wolves isn't their predatory, barbaric instincts- it's how they accept and use their savagery without being controlled by it or forgetting its downsides, pretty hard to do in 40k for various reasons. Fenris is a world of constant warfare, where resources are scarce, monsters are omnipresent, and other humans constantly threaten every potential Space Wolf. Their initiation ritual involves implanting the candidate with the Canis Helix, then leaving them out in the wild to fight their way back to the Fang. To become a son of Russ, one has to make it back without giving in to their inner beast. They're fully aware of their own potential for senseless violence, and choose to fight the biggest monsters and save the people of the Imperium rather than giving in.
Brief History and Main Overview
Before Russ was discovered, the Wolves were a bunch of dicks. They were uncontrollable bullies. They were developed in isolation along with the Salamanders and Alpha Legion, and were considered a fractious and undisciplined force, to the degree of officers losing control of their troops in the middle of a battle. To make matters worse, they often slaughtered civilians who had no way of fighting back. Their geneseed was also extremely difficult to implant in aspirants, often killing them.
Leman Russ was basically Viking Mowgli, being raised by wolves before he was captured (or possibly chose to/was talked into joining them, fluff varies) by the humans of Fenris and became adopted son to Jarl Thengir. When Thengir passed, Leman became Jarl by virtue of being the biggest badass on Fenris. And that's saying something. Ol' Empy came along and said 'JOIN ME!' in his typical dickish fashion. Leman then called him out to
three contests (STOP! RETCON TIME!) a combat (double retcon: the Horus Heresy book Wolfsbane brought back the drinking contest as canon). The Emperor agreed to the duel and they went at it so enthusiastically they wrecked the feast hall they were in pretty thoroughly as Leman gave a good account of himself. In the end, Big. E (rather unsurprisingly) proved the better warrior and he knocked Russ out. When he finally woke up from his pummelling, Leman recognised the Emperor as a worthy master, and agreed to serve.
(Older fluff had Russ call Emps out to three challenges: drinking, eating, and fighting (though goodness knows why they didn't do the fighting bit first. If your fighters are drunk and stuffed, the fight will be less interesting). Leman showed up the Emperor in the first two contests, supposedly eating an entire ox and drinking a dozen barrels of mead. When the two of them fought, though, the Emperor was the victor, punching Russ out fair and square on the spot. But a one-shot knock out didn't make for a great story so it got changed into a proper fight.)
Leman very much remade his Legion. The Wolf King used a combination of myth-as-metaphor, genuine superstition, and the influence of Fenrisian veterans to promote discipline and obedience. He taught his warriors to control their bloodlust and kill who they had to rather than butcher everything in sight. That said, the VIth Legion would cross any line and kill any traitor for the Emprah. They fought to make the galaxy safe for humanity, but they were willing to accept the loss of human life. After Yarant and the battle with the Alpha Legion, they started to reevaluate this attitude. It was a process rather than a sudden snap, but they gradually focused less on punishing oathbreakers and more on protecting innocents.
One further thing of note is that it is implied by an offhand comment of Russ's in the Horus Heresy books that the two missing legions were destroyed or at least broken by the Space Wolves, so if it is true then that brings their legion kill tally to three.
The Space Wolves are another example on how Games Workshop lusts after medieval Scandinavian history and mythology. As if the Warriors of Chaos weren't already enough of a tip off to that. Given that they are the only Space Marines to have wolves, beards, wield axes, laugh boisterously, and act like something more than sombre, grim assholes, and because they have names like 'Ragnar' and 'Bjorn' they are instantly considered manlier than all other Spehss Mehreens, including the Chaos ones.
The Space Wolves also have a complex relationship with religion. The people of Fenris had several deities and considered the Fang to be a hall of immortals where the valorous dead went even during the Great Crusade, which Big E overlooked because the results produced in the form of the Space Wolves were worth it. After a Fenrisian warrior proves his mettle while a Wolf Priest (equivalent to a Valkyrie except it's a power-armored old man instead of a sexy shieldmaiden) is watching, he gets taken to the Fang (which is the equivalent of Valhalla) and given superhuman abilities and immortality to feast and train for the final battle; so this is true, in an Obi-Wan Kenobi sort of way. After becoming a Space Marine, they take on a more secular worldview, though superstition and storytelling remain. However, even though they describe Russ as performing impossible feats or act like talismans will protect them, many of their stories are in point of fact allegorical, and their superstitious beliefs are implied to be more of a subconscious way of steeling themselves against the possibility of death. So at the end of the day, your average Space Wolf (if such a thing is possible) believes that his necklace will ward off bad luck and the runes on his armor will protect him from sorcery while saying that Russ defeated the two-headed god of death and made him work for him, he's using the necklace to make himself more willing to risk death, a belief in runes to help resist psychic powers, and really saying that Russ harnessed the bloodlust of the VIth and gave it purpose. That said, he probably believes that Russ literally wrestled Morkai into submission too. Which means the Wolves of the novels have a rich cultural depth, while the Wolves of the tabletop are wolfy wolves who wolve wolves.
Based on their characterization in Prospero Burns and Battle for the Fang, they hold relatively little regard for "mortals" but without ignoring them outright or being dicks to them, and they highly respect bravery in battle. On top of all that, they happen to have the most compassionate and bro-tier Chapter Masters ever, Logan Grimnar. Logan is known for being famously sympathetic to the common man of the Imperium, defending his mortal charges with a passion beyond reason. This attitude has earned him a somewhat mixed reputation among the upper echelons of the Imperium, because while Grimnar is much loved by the people of the Imperium, he also has a bad habit of leading his chapter into conflict with other factions of the Imperium when he deems it necessary.
If they were in a vidya game, they'd probably be voiced by Brian Blessed, or his royal Cinemaness CHRISTOPHER LEE, may he glory and feast forever in Valhalla.
They also once managed to kill an entire VOID WHALE! (If a hideously malformed one) Scary Badass Grampa Werewolf Viking FTW!
In older codices, Leman Russ also killed and skinned a colossal deepsea creature that was confirmed to have Tyranid DNA, before the Emprah showed up. Like with a spear and wooden boat. Suck it, Macragge
Spess Wohlfs, if not already obvious, draw upon a heavy Viking theme, an equally heavy werewolf theme, and wolves in general. As such, the Space Wolves, Black Templars, White Scars, World Eaters and Khornate Worshipers in general, are the few people to realize that they all live in a fantasy universe with spaceships.
Another question that might come up if one thought about it is what happened to all of their extra marines. Even between the Burning of Prospero, a brutal void battle with the Alpha Legion straight afterwards and the rest of the Horus Heresy, the Wolves and their descendants were reduced to a chapter strength of about 1200 marines by the 41st Millenium. Even with attrition over the years, they should have been left with thousands of marines to split into different chapters. The main school of thought is that the Wolves split into two chapters, the original Space Wolves as well as the Wolf Brothers. While the Wolf Brothers would eventually be disbanded due to genetic instability, it would still leave the Space Wolves several thousand marines strong. It's thought that the rest of the Sons of Russ would eventually be brought down to close to Codex Chapter strength by attrition, as their numbers were overcome by casualties, the rise of the Mark of the Wulfen, and alcohol poisoning. Another hypothesis is that there would be other chapters that would split off from the Wolves, albeit unofficially or by their origins being proscribed for...whatever reason. However, if the Wolves were indeed left to be several hundred strong after Guilliman got his reform on, it would mean that after Russ's disappearance, the wolves were slowly dying out after their recruitment numbers dwindled to the dozens per year. (Though the natural ratio of recruits-to-casualties probably reached an equilibrium point at some point a few centuries afterwords, and has hovered right around that point for a long time. Grimdark doesn't always mean Grimderp.)
In M32, a small but influential faction within the Rout started experimenting on the Canis Helix, trying to make it less wolfy but preserve the general badassery of Russ' gene seed. This was aimed at realising Russ' dream of Wolves descendants - the reformers saw their Chapter becoming steadily more isolated, making it harder for them to defend the Imperium. Some even claimed that the Imperium would start to question the Wolves' loyalties because of the wulfen issue, putting their existence at risk. They faced lots of internal opposition, but the gene-splicing began to pay off and the Legion's "apotheosis" was looming. Then this usually level-headed guy heard about it, didn't like it and attacked Fenris with extreme prejudice. Magnus' attack left the Fang all but broken and the current Great Wolf dead, along with most of the reformers. Magnus took a thrashing from the bear guy in a Dreadnought in the process, but finally had a comeback to all Russ' "forever alone" jokes (fuck, even the Salamanders probably have successors these days). As predicted, although the Wolves are still revered throughout much of the Imperium, they're also mistrusted by its rulers and institutions. Inquisition tried pretty hard to bring them to heel over the whole Armageddon fracas - it's a fair bet that they wouldn't have tried this if the Wolves had a few successor Chapters to call on. Oh, and their attack on the Fang did a similar amount of damage to what Magnus managed.
Skip ahead to current time and the Space Wolves are still on edge with the rest of the Imperium, though mostly due to their refusal to back down when taunted and by getting confrontational with all of their allies. Despite the Wulfen then becoming a pretty overt thing with the return of the 13th Company from the Eye of Terror (all of whom had become Wulfen), the Space Wolves remained out of the Inquisition's ire due to the 13th Black Crusade. Que the Thousand Sons, however, as Magnus bee-lined straight for Fenris and the system goes to hell. Fenris, despite fighting off Magnus' advances, then gets butchered by the Grey Knights and the Inquisition because the Fenrissians had been exposed to Chaos. Unable to really do anything about it, the Space Wolves take it on the cheek as they're too busy trying to stop Chaos from fucking everyone else over and avenging their fallen. They send men to Cadia to stop Abbadon, but ultimately; Cadia breaks.
Eventually Grandpappy Smurf wakes up and takes charge of the Imperium and dishes out his new shiny Primaris Marines to everyone who needs them. This bolsters the Space Wolves' numbers after they were clusterfucked by basically everyone possible, and the Rune Priests declare Fenris' spirit to be renewed, even though their system is basically ripped in half. In addition, the whole forever alone thing is in question now, since they were given a new successor chapter, the Wolfspear (because naming them something without 'wolf' in the name wouldn't be possible). Since the Wolfspear are all Primaris, Cawl has modified their genetic structure, they seem to be immune to the Canis Helix going extreme and turning them into monsters like the Wolf Brothers; though it's yet to be seen if the Space Wolves will actually accept them as kin. In fact, the Wolfspear have severe daddy issues in the idea that they believe their Primaris status would make the Space Wolves see them as lesser (despite acknowledging the fact that the Space Wolves themselves actually took in a bunch of Primaris into their own chapter).
Relationship with the Thousand Sons
Space Wolves have a talent for rage, and it is thought by some that they pride themselves with the sheer number of enemies they have. But the Thousand Sons Chaos Legion is by and large their greatest enemy, at least that's what they think. The fact is that the rivalry began when the Space Wolves (with help from Custodians and Sisters of Silence) kicked the living shit out of the Thousand Sons on their home planet, which is like having your country host the Olympics and then getting last place in every event (much like Canada in the 1976 Summer Olympics and again in the 1988 Winter Olympics). Before that, Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, broke the back of Magnus the Red, who is Primarch of the Thousand Sons. TO BE FAIR, Magnus felt that he deserved it and therefore ordered his warriors to deactivate all planetary defenses (he actually deactivated it himself and even killed one of his own captains to hide the coming of the invasion fleet). If the Thousand Sons had their defenses active, the Wolf of the Wolf Wolf Wolves probably would have had a much harder time of it. As it is, even with all the backup the Wolves had, once they ran out of planetary defense forces in parade uniforms to slaughter, and came across the Thousand Sons, the Wolves/Custodians/Sisters were slowed down a little until Tzeentch pulled the troll lever (though he might've been bolstering the Sons' powers already, which the Ruinous Powers later did with Horus, and this was just a side effect) and the Sons' greatest psykers started mutating and exploding like Tetsuo from Akira.
Considering the Emprah basically just asked for Leman Russ to give Magnus a ride to Earth, this is more like your parents asking you to tell your younger sibling to come out of their room and clean up the mess they made, only for you to go in there, shoot off both their legs, take a dump on the floor and set the room on fire, chase them out into the streets, murder his best friends, and then tell your parents that the brat suffered for not taking responsibility for the five or so school books on the couch. Of course, Horus helped that all along, having already went full daddy hate:he twisted Big big E's orders into "rape prospero, k tnx", being a loyal lapdog Russ just rolled with it. Just as planned. Chief Custodian Valdor also urged Russ to curbstomp Magnus for good, presumably because he was concerned what kind of damage Magnus could do in person, given how much trouble he caused from millions of light-years away.
This set the tone for the rest of their unhealthy relationship. The Thousand Sons do something to piss off the Space Wolves, usually some brilliant, convoluted plan, and the Space Wolves just charge and beat the living shit out of them and laugh in their faces when they find out how much work those Tzeentchies put into their plots. Sadly, this usually comes at a staggering toll in Space Wolf lives. So grimdark. Oh, and the Thousand Son's usually accomplish some underlying secret objective.
Many theories are abound as to why the Space Wolves hate the Thousand Sons and their sorcery so much. The most popular amongst fa/tg/uys is that the Thousand Sons Primarch, Magnus, being aware of Russ's bestiality, was always watching him from his magical lookout, riding up and down his sorcerer's tower to observe Russ from every height and depth, intently channeling the power of his one-eyed cyclops to pierce into Russ's most intimate chambers. Understandably, this left Russ very (literally) butthurt indeed and eager for vengeance. Or because Magnus is a NERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD.
One theory disclosed to the Khan, admittedly from the probably-not-very-reliable source of a shade of Magnus left behind on Prospero, suggests that there could be an even more sinister reason for the hatred, suggesting that there is a dark reason why the Wolves put runes of protection on every part of their wargear (other books suggest the Wolves place huge importance on runes and symbolism).
Also while it may seem laughable that the axe dragging wolf-fucking barbarians continually thwart the plans of the hyper-intelligent sorcerers, the wolves are actually probably the most ideal chapter to fight them (except, perhaps, the Grey Knights, for obvious reasons). They have the Canis Helix which causes them to wolf out rather than be corrupted by chaos, and the Rune "Magic" that their Rune Priests use is literally the closest thing to sorcery used in the Imperium. Add to that the fact that they have one of the most impressive fleets in the entire Imperium, making them somewhat less worried about warp storms, and you have a group almost tailor-made to resist the Thousand Sons.
Other people believe that Space Wolves are indeed a traitor legion and the Thousand Sons a loyal one. Think a second about it. What are the benefits of the Mark of Khorne? Rage and counterattack, exactly the same rules Blood Claws have. Why Russ destroyed completely Prospero if Magnus was not defending himself and his only sin was warning the Emperor about the Horus Heresy? Why Russ went to the Warp? To become a Daemon-Prince? Why they don't recognized Guilliman as their spiritual leader? Why they don't follow the codex who has given so much prosperity to the Imperium? What are those mutations wulfen have? Gifts of Chaos? However, these people are idiots who don't read the lore and have bad grammar, so you shouldn't listen to them.
Perhaps the best example can be found in The Space Wolf Omnibus, in which Ragnar Blackmane, who is at that time a Bloodclaw (neophyte), not only fucks over a Sorcerer, but Magnus the Red himself. The Sorcerer, Madox, is so pissed at being foiled by Ragnar that he bitches about it to other Thousand Sons, who find this hilarious, and goes around making plots, which Ragnar manages to fuck up nicely, thereby saving the galaxy. Ragnar even took the spear of his Primarch and hurled it into the eye of Magnus the Red. Do note that this is as much canon as other BL anti-fluff shit.
Because of this, the Blood Ravens forge a weapon named after Ragnar, who tells them to keep their toys because he doesn't need it (though in all reality he had a suspicion that they were trying to 'fence' their 'gift' by giving it to him to evade Imperial authorities).
He and his pack (and about 30 Militarum Tempestus Stormtroopers people somehow always forget to mention (because theyd all be dead before they got to attack obviously)once fought off 40 odd genestealers in close combat. In the actual game and fluff; fighting this many 'stealers in melee is a one way ticket to massive rending claw induced ASSRAPE for anything short of a vehicle with AV 14 on its backside, and a roughly equal number of Genestealers tore apart Marduk's Terminator Armoured Wordbearers and accompanying Khornate Berzerkers and Possessed Marine and wiped out more than half of the strike force he took. Yet somehow he managed to avoid being torn into gory paper thin pieces and come out on top (like this kind of thing is really uncommon with book marines). He manages this
without by being a Mary Sue. Why?/How? It's because he's a motherfucking Space Viking. Also they were helped by about forty Militarum Tempestus Stormtroopers and two Inquisitors, so it wasn't quite as one sided as it sounds.
The Fate of Leman Russ
Of Leman Himself, you ask? Legends state that after a great feast, He said unto his warriors:
"Listen closely Brothers, for my time is short. . There shall come a time far from now when our Chapter itself is dying, even as I am now dying, and our foes shall gather to destroy us. Then my children, I shall listen for your call in whatever realm of death holds me, and come I shall, no matter what the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime."
And so, Leman departed, with his closest retinue... No, not you Bjorn... Some say he searches for a means to revive His God-Emperor.. But despite the efforts of the Great Hunt, Leman remains beyond the reach of Man... Who knows what great feats of Heroism he undertakes....
. . . Oh, who the fuck are we kidding? Leman got lost in the Warp and became a Daemon Primarch of Kho-
//Historitor 188.8.131.52 decommissioned by Inquisitorial decree.//
He was, in fact, turned into a small girl. (Holy shit! A change like that can only mean that Magnus must have gotten revenge.) And if by that you think we mean, "Russ had a shitton of bastard children everywhere and one was a mutant that could shapeshift" then yes; only because Russ's kids turning into wolves is nothing new. Nobody really knows if this had happened before he went to Warhammer Fantasy and made the Norscans or not, but since they aren't vikings out of a shoujo anime, we can make a pretty good educated guess. Somehow, he found his way back to the Dark Millenium, still stuck in the form of a small girl.
(But seriously, we have no idea. There HAVE been sporadic reports of sightings of the 13th great Company with Russ leading them, for what that's worth. And Magnus has mentioned that he knows exactly what happened to Russ, but it's not like he'd ever tell them.)
Actually he has entered Slaanesh's realm of eternal yiff, meaning we will never see him again.
Until GW releases him, because they've said at least 2 more loyalist Primarchs are coming and its obviously the Lion and the Wolf since Guilliman can kind of stand in for the space marines covered by the regular space marine codex while Russ' legion really could use him back after the ass kicking they got from Magnus and the Inquisition, and the Dark Angels' storyline is rather clearly leading to the Lion's reawakening.
Since they only see the Codex Astartes as a source of toilet paper (when they bother to wipe), the Space Wolves have roles and titles far different from the standard Space Marine chapters. Additionally, while traditional chapters each hold ten ~100-strong companies, the Space Wolves instead have 12 autonomous companies, each of which is in varying strength and since they aren't bound by the Codex, each company may have more than 100 marines on hand (in fact, a full list of the members of Grimnar's company gives them a strength of nearly 200). However, the Space Wolf legion were never particularly numerous following the Horus Heresy in the part due to their unstable gene-seed and the fact they they were restricted to recruiting from one world (The fact that Magnus the Red destroyed the long-sought cure to this during his attack on Fenris for this didn't help, but it should be noted that it wasn't that big of a victory for Magnus, as Bjorn made it quite clear he would have destroyed the project when he found out about it) but also the battles of the Horus Heresy hurt the Space Wolves legion badly; culminating in the Battle of Trisolian which effectively ended their existence as a "Legion" altogether.
Even so, with 12 independent Great Companies (each with their own fleets, logistics support etc), this means that even if each Great Company had 100 brothers, they would outnumber a normal codex-compliant Spess Mehreens chapters by at least 20%. This is corroborated by the 7E codex which has rules for playing a Great Company on its own; consisting of eleven squads of varying size.
However since each Great Company doesn't bother to limit themselves to 100 (some Space Wolves great companies sometimes number over 300 brothers) it means that they outnumber codex chapters by an even greater degree, so with that said, the Apocalypse formation for the same thing has no hard limit on the number of Blood Claw squads that may be taken, so will probably represent a good period of recruitment for the Chapter. Therefore the total numbers will vary over time in response to casualties and recruitment rates but can reasonably reach estimations of 3000 marines or more; several times the official codex strength at peak times.
As of 998.M41, Logan Grimnar's own company was the largest in the chapter and it totaled 200 exactly (not counting the "Great Wolf" assets like Dreadnoughts & Priests) whilst Ragnar Blackmane's was said to be second, sitting at 162 marines. Following the return of Magnus and the battle of Fenris this number would undoubtedly be diminished, though after the Ultima Founding, the number probably remains about the same if not slightly higher as the chapter would be bolstered with Primaris reinforcements. Guilliman probably has more sense than delivering 1000 new warriors to a chapter which already "should" have around 1000 warriors; for excess Primaris Marines we have the Wolfspear Chapter.
The different ranks and assignments for the Wolves are the following:
- Great Wolf: The Chapter Master of the Space Wolves, the Great Wolf (also known as the High King by people who want to tone down the overwolf (i.e. everyone)) is chosen from among the Wolf Lords by virtue of
having the most furry pornbeing the most badass of an army of space vikings. The Great Wolf is effectively the First Captain of the Space Wolves, commanding an elite Great Company that includes the members of the three Priesthoods and the Chapter's Dreadnoughts. Logan Grimnar serves as the current Great Wolf.
- Wolf Lord: The Brother-Captains of a company in Codex Chapters (although more like a watered-down vanilla chapter master), Wolf Lords (AKA the Jarls) lead their Great Companies and charge the Iron Priests with maintenance of its motor pool and the Wolf Priests with recruiting new Astartes.
- Wolf Guard: A cross between Veterans and Honour Guard, Wolf Guards (Thanes) serve as the body guard of the Wolf Lord and leading packs in battle, serving as the Space Wolves version of a Brother-Sergeant. They also get Terminator armour. In Second Edition they also got to take any weapons they liked and could be built from stock parts with an Assault Cannon and Cyclone Missile Launcher. This led to many games being won as Assault Force Dickhead rampaged across the table murdering everything.
- Wolf Priest: Combining the role of Apothecary and Chaplain, the Wolf Priests do the standard roles of preaching and medical duties, but are also charged with recruiting Aspirants for their companies. Plus they have a secret role on the battlefield, trying to prevent their battle-brothers from turning into Wulfen.
- Iron Priest: The Iron Priests serve the role of Techmarines, overseeing the motorpool and equipment of the companies they belong to.
- Rune Priest: Taking the role of Librarians in Codex Chapters, Rune Priests are the psykers of the Space Wolves. However, instead of seeing their powers as coming from the Warp, they hold that their powers come from the world spirit of Fenris, and consult the runes in a means to divine the future. Trying to explain to the Rune Priests that they're drawing power from the Warp, and that they cannot "draw their powers from Fenris" while being half-Galaxy away from it will usually result in the non-Space Wolf getting a month's stay in the Apothecarion. The ultimate irony of this is that they are, in reality, Sorcerers, the very thing they denounced the Thousand Sons for being. Whether they are psykers or not. Besides, if Fenris has a world spirit, it is something akin to a Daemon World...
- Wolf Scouts: Each Great Company will have members who shun their pack brothers and are shunned in return, preferring the company of more somber individuals, Wolf Scouts serve to scout out enemy positions and terrain. As opposed to the regular codex, Wolf Scouts tend to be veterans of battle able to rein in their savage rage.
- Lone Wolf: Space Wolves who are the last of their pack. The loss of their brethren drive them to seek a glorious death in combat at the hands of some form a fell enemy. Think of Dwarf Slayers only a few metres tall with powered armour and weapons of doom and destruction. Often the only way out of the Lone Wolf lifestyle is managing to kill something that the individual shouldn't have survived killing and being elevated into the Wolf Guard.
- Skyclaws: Skyclaws are the trouble makers among a Chapter of trouble makers, forced to wear Jump Packs. The Space Wolves view Jump Packs as an insult, reasoning that if the Emperor wanted them to fly, he would have given them wings. Snide comments regarding Sanguinius result in a short game of tug-o-war involving the offending battle-brother's beard.
- Thunderwolf Cavalry: Space Wolves who function in a manner similar to a Bike Squad, but instead of actual bikes, they use Thunderwolves, which can be the size of a small car.
- Long Fangs: Taking the role of Devastators, Long Fangs are veterans who have grown long in the fang. No pun here - Space Wolves' teeth actually lengthen as they age, as an effect of a mutated Betcher's Gland.
- Grey Hunters: Having the role of Tactical Marines, Grey Hunters are those Marines who have survived long enough as Blood Claws to quell the worst of their ferocity and blood lust (read: wear a helmet in battle). Their new found experience and control allows them to shoot and fight better than their younger brethren.
- Blood Claws: Neophyte Space Wolves who serve in the Assault Marine roles of Codex Chapters.
The Space Wolves have an impressive number of other gadgets and gizmos going for them.
Not least the fact that the Fang (Aett) is one of the three most defended locations in the entire Imperium (the other two being the Imperial Palace on Terra and the Keep Inviolate on Kolossi the homeworld of House Raven) and is tall enough that entire battlefleets can dock with the fortress.
Speaking of battlefleets; the Wolves themselves have a navy to rival most others, with eight Battle Barges and more than thirty Strike Cruisers, which in terms of logistical support could accommodate over 5400 fighting men. As well as this, they have TWO Star Forts and over forty escort squadrons. To let you know how much firepower this counts as, some lesser known chapters would consider themselves fortunate to have even a single battle-barge. Even the Grey Knights have only four Barges and twelve strike cruisers, so basically when Fenris held off the Grey Knights during the Months of Shame, they had plenty going for them. They used to have even more ships, and a star-fort network that could put the infamous Iron Circle of Badab to shame before the Thousand Sons attacked Fenris in M33.
They also have over one-hundred Dreadnoughts stored in stasis vaults within their fortress depths, where/how they accumulated them is uncertain and considering that most other chapters tend to have around two or three Dreadnoughts per company, they likely outnumber nearly anyone else by a considerable margin. (For comparison, the Blood Angels have 35 dreadnoughts listed in their rolls of battle) This can likely be traced to their viking tendencies to super pillage everything they come across. I mean Logan's got a daemon axe so I'm just assuming they are just ripping daemons out of chaos dreadnought hulls, slapping a new coat of paint, some wolf sigils and motifs on and dropping their wounded brothers in and no one will ever know.
Not to mention the packs of feral wulfen that they can scrounge up... Yeah they might happen to have a shit ton of unregistered mutated werewolf murder machines lying around as 'failed' aspirants. That said, Fenris is far less populous than the likes of Macragge, and feral Wulfen are basically wildlife, so this is a moot point.
Oh, and all the "actual" Fenrisian Wolves & Thunderwolves that the chapter can muster.
They also uniquely possess Helfrost Weaponry thanks to rare, Fenrisian crystals.
"The best way to defeat a Space Wolf is to wolf his wolf. You must be careful, though, because if the Space Wolf wolfs your wolf first, then your wolf is wolfed."
- – Attributed to Wolf Rider Volk Wolfclaw, On the Weaknesses of the Space Wolf Doctrine
"A good way to get into a state of pure wolfness, would be that you shall wolf the wolf until the wolfing wolf wolfs. Then, when the wolf wolfs your wolfness, the wolves of the wild will wolf your wolf up. Wolf!"
- – Attributed to Wolf Master Jonal Wolfhand, "The Call of the Nightblizzard
"Wolf wolf wolf wolf wolfity wolf. Wolf wolf, wolfo wolfy wolf wolf wolf. Wolf? Wolf!"
- – Attributed to Wolf Lord Egil Ironwolf, On the Intricacies of Tactical Wolffare
Jokes aside, the Space Wolves are rather unusual when it comes to organisation and tactics. Contrary to what many fans will tell you, they do actually study the Codex Astartes's points on combat, though they completely reject it from an organizational standpoint. In battle the warriors of the Rout will usually work on their own initiative and experience, but at the same time, they don't disrespect or ignore the lessons of the codex. Their battle strategies tend to be neglected in favor of localized battlefield tactics. They keep to their wolf theme by working as a "pack", with very "make it up as we go along" tactics. This doesn't bite them in the ass as much as it would other space marine chapters, because they can "smell the plan" (I can't make this shit up). The books try to base this off of how normal wolves coordinate hunts, with nonverbal cues being premium. The idea is that the wolves can read the situation by smelling their pack member's moods and thoughts, using natural pheromone cues (and a few added by the Canis Helix) to anticipate the moods of those around them. This is actually why most wolves prefer to fight without helmets: you can't smell anything in the sealed environment of closed power armor.
As many on /tg/ will happily tell you, the Wolves are far from perfect. Where the Imperial Fists are inflexible and stubborn and the Dark Angels are unreliable and austere, the Wolves are boisterous and arrogant. During the Heresy (and/or when Chris Wraight is writing them) they were incredibly brutal toward those they saw as oath-breakers, even if the oath-breaker in question was a fleeing, defenseless civilian. The Ragnar Blackmane books further emphasize this and also portrayed the Chapter as willing to ignore the misdeeds of their heroes in spite of the importance they place on honor. This, combined with the Wolves hating the Thousand Sons for being psykers while also using psykers led many to label the Wolves hypocrites, especially since the Space Wolves pick a fight with the Flesh Tearers for killing civilians in spite of their own troubled history in that regard. Fans are quick to point out that the Rune Priests are much more cautious than the Thousand Sons, who actually used Goddamn Chaos familiars during the Great Crusade, and newer fluff further emphasizes that the Wolves hate the Thousand Sons for having no control while pretending they have a better understanding of the Warp, NOT just for being psykers. Furthermore, by the 41st Milennium, the Wolves nearly always stuck out their necks to protect the people of the Imperium, and actively stopped the Flesh Tearers' rampage. Now, everyone including Wolves players admit that the Sons of Russ are entirely too short-sighted and prone to making enemies for their own good. During the Heresy, almost nobody liking them bit them in the ass at Alaxxes Nebula, but fast-forward to M41 and they're happily pissing off the Inquisition, Ecclesiarchy, Dark Angels, Ultramarines, etc. During Warzone Fenris, the galaxy at large is only too ready to write the Wolves off as heretics. Fans and detractors alike also note that it's arguable whether being so quick to make enemies and disobey orders to save civilians really saves more people in the long run, especially at Armageddon, where the Wolves' actions backfire badly.
Of all the inconsistently written aspects of the Chapter, this is by far the worst offender. Sometimes, the Space Wolves are written as brutal and merciless, giving zero fucks about collateral damage or civilian casualties. On the other hand, sometimes the Wolves put their lives on the line to protect the innocent. This can induce Rage in just about any fan, because some people get into the Space Wolves seeing them as heroes while others prefer their more savage, bloodthirsty tendencies. The best fluff attempts to find a middle ground by presenting them as violent and pragmatic, but disciplined during the Heresy and increasingly heroic over time. By M41, the Wolves actively stop the Flesh Tearers from murdering Imperial civilians at Honour's End, disobey orders to protect the settlers at Thressiax, and play chicken with the Inquisition to save the people of Armageddon : this example is particularly notable, because the Wolves didn't just attempt to save the civilians from the Inquisition, for the first few months of the conflict they did so with passive resistance, defending civilian transports with the shields and hulls of their own ships, never firing back. This paints a picture of a Chapter that actually becomes MOAR independent and heroic as the galaxy goes to shit around them. Then Warzone Fenris happened. In it, the Wolves pretty much abandon their allies to focus on the Wulfen. On the plus side, they send warriors to Cadia and Maccrage in spite of the mauling the Thousand Sons hand them.
Daily rituals of a Space Wolf
13:00 - Wake Up with Hangover - The Space Wolf awakens from his booze-induced coma and begins the day. Headaches abound. Aspirin is consumed by the ton.
13:10 - Morning Piss - The Space Wolf empties the alcohol that has accumulated in his bladder(s) in the Sacred Alcohol Excretion Grounds.
13:11 - Morning Fart - The Space Wolf empties his intestines. Pissing without farting is like going to a holy site without praying to the Emperor, which is heresy.
13:20 - Morning Piss Ends - The Space Wolves have finally finished urinating.
13:30 - Ritual Intake of Alcoholic Beverages - The Space Wolf now cracks open his first cold one of the day. The first of many. Cheerios may be consumed as well.
13:45 - Firing Drills - The Space Wolf consumes another liter of alcohol before going out back and shooting empty beer bottles with his bolter. This takes place far away from the Alcohol Excretion Grounds, after that one time Brother Brynjolf accidentally lit his own piss on fire, and ended up in the sickbay until his beard grew back and he was thus fit to be seen in public again.
14:00 - Freeze your Gonads - The Space Wolf sheds his armor and most of his clothing to wander around Asaheim for an hour.
15:00 - Feeding of the Land Raiders - Space Wolf observes a feast with his brothers in honour of the chapter's revered battle machines. Blood Claws are still wandering around outside naked in the snow.
15:30 - Boozing of the Land Raiders - No feast is complete without shittons of liquor. Ale and beer are poured and scrubbed all over the most honoured of the chapter's war machines. Many still have bullet holes, sometimes allowing beer to get into the exhaust ports and make for kickass explosions later. Blood Claws are still wandering around outside naked in the snow.
16:00 - Wolf your Wolf - Grey Hunters and older Space Wolves take this time to play with their favourite 4-legged companions. Blood Claws are still wandering around outside naked in the snow.
16:30 - Save the Blood Claws - Blood Claws are brought in from the cold. Most are frozen blue or black - and hungry for more.
17:00 - Evening feast - Eat. Drink. Start brawls. The usual non-warzone Space Wolf thing.
18:00 - Try to wake up Bjorn.
18:10 - Give up, try to find something fun on the Vox Saga.
19:00 - Night shitter break.
20:00 - Night firing drills - Much to the Iron Priest's dismay, the Space Wolves practice writing their names in the snow with bolters. In runes. In the dark.
21:00 - Ritual Intake of Narcotics and Purging of Testicles - bitches and blow.
05:00 - Daily Rest - The Space Wolf passes out.
A Quick Word Out of Character
The true reason for all this, is that, we at /tg/, in our pathetic, low-reaching mastery of comedy, have seen how idiotic it is that every goddamn Space Wolf codex unnecessarily uses the word "wolf" as a prefix or a suffix every 3rd sentence (similar to the Tyranid codex shoe-horning the prefix bio- into every 3rd sentence). Since /tg/ is an easily angered monster, not unlike an Angry Marine, we furiously attempt to link Space Wolves to furries (it's really fucking annoying), as we are as fucked up as Chaos Pretty Marines.
It has been established in the Horus Heresy series that the VI Legion doesn't employ the word "wolf" as much as they appear to do. Wolves are readily apparent in their motifs, such as Leman Russ's titles as "Wolf-King" and "Great Wolf," as well as in the formal name of the Wolf Guard, but it's not as overblown as it's made out to be. Apparently, whoever did the Fenrisian-to-Gothic translation made a few errors. First off, they don't call themselves "the Space Wolves." When speaking formally, they refer to themselves as the Vlka Fenryka, which we can look at a few ways. "Fenris" is easy, a reference to Fenrir from Norse mythology. "Vlka" has a couple options; if you walk it backwards through the Germanic Volk you get "Folk of Fenris". This supports a common theory on 1d4chan where a bunch of colonists landed on a planet, bred giant dogs from their great, great, grand-children (more on that in a minute) then thought, "You know what's better than planet Unicorn? Planet fucking Fenris". So the the Vlka Fenryka are literally the folk of Fenris. Alternately Vlka can be translated from Slavic to get the "Wolves of Fenris" again.
No matter what you conclude on, you get Dan Abnett using linguistics to reinforce his theme that the Space Wolves are misunderstood by the rest of the Imperium - calling the Space Wolves because of a mistranslated word. One could even argue they are actually called "Space People", would make sense since Ragnar referred to them as "Star warriors" in the William King novels and their Fenrisian Kaerl auxiliaries call them "sky warriors," but the lore from these novels has been left by the wayside so take that as you will. When speaking informally, they refer to themselves as "the Rout", solidifying their purpose as the Emperor's executioners/snowflakes. Additionally, the post of "Wolf-Lord" is also a mistranslation, as they refer to their Company commanders as Jarl. Finally, they don't call their fortress-monastery the Fang, but rather the Aett, which can be literally translated as "clan home." There's also this in-universe meme "there are no wolves on Fenris." At all. This was started by one of the primarchs remarking that they should be called xenos, because they're natives of an alien planet, and it quickly morphed into a joke. As it turns out, this is literally true.
With regards to the Fenrisian wolves, the origin a little more freaky than expected: they're not wolves, but descendants of human-wolf mutants. Back when Fenris was first settled, the colonists had the Canis helix added to help them adapt to the harsh environment by adding wolf genes to their genetic-makeup. Unfortunately, it worked a little too well--the canix helix caused a number of settlers to degrade into wolfmen and wolfwomen. Following this, they bred and produced a new strain of wolf into the environment. So there are no wolves on Fenris. They're just the descendants of human mutants. Which might explain why, post-Heresy, only Fenrisians can become Space Wolves (assuming that's why the successor chapters couldn't handle Russ' gene seed).
So yes, naming the planet after the wolves means we really do just end up all the way back at Wolves of Wolves after all. Whelp.
Of course, that means that the Space Wolves are wearing pelts made of human skin, but lets not dwell on that - after all it's fairly common in the Imperium to wear human skulls... WolfyWolfWolf *BLAM*.
Space Wolves? Using stealth? Heresy.
- Bjorn the Fell Handed
- Tactics/Space Wolves
- Warriors of Chaos - With whom they get into bar brawls and drinking contests to see who is moar Viking
- Skyrar's Dark Wolves - Before calling your Dark Angels brothers traitors read this first to understand their rage.
- Legion Consul - The old "Commissars" of the VI legion.
- Space Wolves theme song
|Forces of the Space Wolves|
|Command:||Wolf Lord - Wolf Guard|
|Priesthood:||Iron Priest - Rune Priest - Wolf Priest|
|Troops:|| Blood Claw - Fenrisian Wolf - Long Fang - Skyclaw |
Swiftclaw - Thunderwolf Cavalry - Wulfen - Grey Hunter
|Vehicles:|| Bike Squad - Rhino - Razorback - Land Speeder |
Predator - Vindicator - Whirlwind - Space Wolves Dreadnought
Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader
Land Raider Redeemer - Wrath of Mjalnar)
|Flyers:||Stormfang - Stormwolf|
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|