Space Wolves: A Comprehensive History
The Space Wolves organization, doctrines, and history are very different from the majority
of Space Marine chapters, this is one of the reasons the Space Wolves are such a unique force among the Adeptus Astartes,
and why they can be an enigma for new players, so here is my attempt to give some insight into the history, and organization
of the Space Wolves, one of my favorite chapters and a characterful and interesting organization within the forces of the
The Codex Astartes is the holy tome of the Adeptus Astartes. However not all
chapters adhere to its tenets completely, and there are a few who do not follow it at all. The Space Wolves are one such chapter.
In their organization, recruitment, markings, equipment and even many of their tactics, the Space Wolves function very differently
from the codes laid down in the Codex Astartes.
The Space Wolves are not organized along the lines of the Codex. Instead the Space Wolves have 13 Companies in their
organization, though only 12 Companies have been maintained in the Chapter after the Horus Heresy. The Companies of the Space
Wolves are known as Great Companies, and are not structured along the parameters of the Codex. There is no scout company within
the Space Wolves. There are no Battle or Reserve Companies, there is not even a Veteran company. Instead the command structure
and organization of the Companies is more fluid. Each Company takes the name and iconography of the chosen Wolf Lord, along
with the personal styles and tactics of the chosen Wolf Lord. In this way every time a new Lord is chosen the company is re-invented.
The Wolf Lord is also elected to the rank from among the Wolf Lords. The Great Company commanded by the chosen Wolf
Lord becomes home to the Chapter specialists, such as the Iron Priests, Wolf Priests and Rune Priests. This means that the
Company of the Great Wolf is changing just as much as the individual companies change with each new Wolf Lord that takes command.
With the lack of a Scout Company or a Veteran Company that means the recruits and veterans of the Chapter are spread fluidly
throughout the Chapter.
The 13th Company during the Great Crusade was made up by those battle brothers who showed
a manifestation of the Curse of the Wulfen. A ferocious fighting force the Company saw a great deal of combat during the Crusade
and the Heresy. As the heretics fled from their defeat at the 1st Siege of the Emperor’s Palace, Leman Russ dispatched
the 13th Company to hunt down the heretics. Since then the 13th Company has been a blank spot in the organization of the Space
Wolves, representing all those Companies that have been lost or abandoned their oaths since the Horus Heresy. However the
original 13th Company has been discovered to still be at large in the Galaxy, and we will get to that in more detail later.
The Space Wolves recruit exclusively from Fenris. Those chosen
by the Space Wolves may often have been mortally wounded, and are repaired by the Chapters technology. To be reborn and have
a chance at becoming something more, a Space Marine, a Space Wolf, a son of Russ. The aspirants are taken to training camps
where they will learn and train in the hopes of becoming worthy. Where other chapters simply have aspirants fight until only
the strongest stand, the Space Wolves set a more exacting standard. Skill in battle is important, but it is not the only thing
that matters in becoming a Wolf. The Aspirants are forced to train as teams, to work together as packs, to succeed or fail
together, put up against the odds. To face the harshness of nature, the depredations of the wild monsters of Asaheim, and
the exacting expectations of the training Sergeants. Only those who have proven themselves worthy are brought into the Chapter
as Blood Claws. Given the implants that transform them into Adeptus Astartes and trained further still in the facilities of
the Fang the Aspirants face one final test. To master themselves, and the gene-curse of the Chapter, the Mark of the Wulfen.
Aspirants in their final stages of implantation are taken far from the Fang and left in the wilderness with little to aid
them. If they can make their way back to the Fang without succumbing to the call of the Wulfen or falling to the predators
of the wild then they will become full members of the Chapter, as Blood Claws.
Blood Claw packs
are not the scouts typical of other Chapters. Fully armored in power armor and implanted with the Black Carapace, the 19th
Implant of the transformation process, the Blood Claws are fully Adeptus Astartes. However they have yet to master their skills
and their lust for battle. After their initiation they are assigned to a Great Company. Should the Wolves survive to temper
their lust for battle they will ascend to the rank of Grey Hunter, and cease their existence as initiates, and become veterans
of the Chapter. Because of the ferocious lust for battle held by all Blood Claws, their attrition rate is terrible, and not
many survive to become Grey Hunters.
The Packs of the Space Wolves
Instead of organizing
into the Tactical, Assault and Devastator squads as the Codex Astartes dictates, the Space Wolves form their troops into Packs.
Each pack will generally be made up of warriors who have fought together for some time and will work together as a pack of
wolves on the hunt. For the Space Wolves their senses of smell and hearing are just as important to them as their keen eyesight.
Packs will work together to sniff and sound out their foes, hunting their prey like the wolves of Fenris, identifying the
locations of their comrades as much by smell as by any technological means. The Space Wolves have four primary organizations
of packs. Blood Claws, Grey Hunters, Long Fangs, and Wolf Guard. There are also Wolf Scouts, which are an oddity among the
-Blood Claw packs are the initiates of the Space Wolves, the youngest members
of the Chapter fresh from their transformation into Space Marines. Blood Claws have yet to fully contain their lust for battle
and so are simply encouraged to let it out, and get over their battle frenzy, allowing that in time, those who survive will
temper themselves and become Grey Hunters, blooded and experienced warriors of the Chapter. In battle Blood Claws are armed
to fulfill their battle frenzy, given a variety of close combat weapons and armed with bolt pistols the Blood Claw packs are
usually at the vanguard of any Space Wolf charge.
-The backbone of the chapter are the Grey
Hunter packs. Experienced marines who have gotten over their lust for battle and tempered their souls with age and wisdom.
Grey Hunters are nevertheless still skilled combatants in close quarters fighting and almost always are armed to do battle
both at range and in the teeth of the enemy.
-Long Fangs are small packs of aged Space Wolves
who have lived long enough for their canines to grow exceedingly long, hence their name. Long Fangs are armed with a variety
of heavy weapons and led by a veteran pack leader who can carefully and expertly direct their firepower to the best effect.
-Wolf Guard are the last variety of Space Wolves packs. The equivalent of veterans in other chapters,
Wolf Guard form the bodyguard of their Wolf Lord. Armed to the teeth with all manner of weapons and sometimes even wearing
suits of ancient Tactical Dreadnaught Armor. Wolf Guard perform a variety of roles within the Space Wolves chapter. Forming
bodyguards for Wolf Lords and other officers and specialists, but also from time to time leading other packs into battle,
or sometimes leading smaller operations in place of the Wolf Lord.
-Wolf Scouts are attached
to the Great Company of the Great Wolf and follow his orders, dispatched where and when he wills. Not the recruits of other
Astartes Chapters, Wolf Scouts are grizzled veterans, who opt to go without their full suits of power armor to better scout
out the galaxy for their chapter. Deployed to gather information on battlefields before and during a campaign Wolf Scouts
provide vital intelligence to their brethren.
Officers and Specialists
Wolf is the Space Wolves equivalent of the Chapter Master, generally considered a steward awaiting the return of Primarch
Leman Russ. The Great Wolf leads the chapter in Russ’ absence. Chosen from among the Chapters Wolf Lords, the current
Great Wolf is Logan Grimnar, who has lead the Chapter for over eight centuries.
-The war leaders
of the Great Companies, the Chapter includes 11 Wolf Lords. Much of the time the attrition rate for Wolf Lords is fairly significant
because of the Chapters disposition towards close combat, however some Wolf Lords have seen their thousandth year pass. Ragnar
Blackmane is one of the Chapters current Wolf Lords and is in fact the youngest Wolf Lord in the Chapters history.
-The Iron Priests are the chapter’s equivalent of Techmarines. Sent off for training at Mars the Iron
Priests maintain the Chapters equipment, and forge replacement wargear. Iron Priests are traditionally attached to the Great
Wolf’s Company and re-assigned to other fighting forces on a situational basis. Iron Priests also have a place in the
transformation and initiation of new recruits.
-Wolf Priests 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 and also choose the aspirants to the chapter from among the tribes of Fenris. Ulrik the Slayer
is a famous Wolf Priest who mentored many notable members of the Chapter including Logan Grimnar and Ragnar Blackmane.
-The Space Wolves do not have Librarians as such, instead the Chapter maintains a number of Rune Priests, potent
psykers who examine the minds of all aspirants to the Chapter for any sign of taint or treachery. Armed and equipped differently
from Librarians, Rune Priests do not wear the psychic hoods of Librarians, and do not always carry force weapons, what the
Space Wolves call runic weapons. The Rune Priests however are potent psykers in their own right and fierce warriors as are
all men of Fenris.
-The Dreadnaughts of the Space Wolves are generally ancient and
wise warriors, who spend a great deal of time in dreamless sleep beneath the fang, only awakened in times of great need. The
Venerable Dreadnaughts of the Space Wolves may sometimes even lead forces of wolves into battle in the absence of another
capable war leader, or sometimes in deference to their ancient wisdom.
Notable Chapter Artifacts, Wargear and Vehicles
-Frost blades usually take the forms of chainswords or chainaxes. Ancient and masterfully artificed weapons
made from the teeth of Ice Krakens Frost Blades are potent weapons unique to the Space Wolves, that can carve through the
heaviest armor with ease.
Belts of Russ
-Each Great Company has in it’s armory a single Belt of Russ.
Powerful girdles incorporating potent forcefields that protect the wearer. Forged by the master Iron Priest Stef Blacksoul
after the disappearance of Russ the belts are important relics of the Chapter.
Wolf Helm of Russ
Helm of Russ is an ancient artifact of the Chapter said to have been worn by Russ himself. The Helm is awarded to a great
company after a tournament of champions, the last winner was Ragnar Blackmane who then presented the Helm to the Wolf Priest
Ranek as a sign of respect.
-Runic Staffs are mighty artifacts carried by Rune Priests that are imbued with the most powerful
wards the Rune Priests can devise that protect the wielder from the psychic attacks of his enemies.
-Normally Space Marines do not have access to Leman Russ tanks, however in honor of their Primarch the
Space Wolves maintain a small number of Leman Russ Exterminators.
The Fang- Fortress of Wolves
is the Fortress Monastary of the Space Wolves. Each Great Company keeps a headquarters in the Fang, and the Fang is where
new recruits are transformed into Blood Claws. The Fang is also home to many of the facilities of the Chapter including the
majority of the most sacred places to the Chapter, ancient artifacts and mighty forges. The Fang also happens to be the single
tallest mountain in the Imperium, one of the greatest fortresses of mankind. The Fang is so tall that its highest observation
room is actually situated above Fenris’ atmosphere. Considered the mightiest bastion of the Imperium outside of Terra
there are few enemies indeed who can challenge the Fang.
The Fang is encased in immensely thick
armor, with powerful defense lasers as ancient as the Space Wolves themselves and powered by long lost technology. Void shields
superior to that found on even the most magnificent of Imperial warships protects the fang and the mountain is so vast that
its upper reaches actually form docks for space craft used by the Chapter. The Fang despite it’s immense power has nearly
fallen several times in its history, but despite the desperate hours the Fang has encountered in its long and glorious history
the Citadel of Wolves still stands testament to the power of the Space Wolves, the Adeptus Astartes, and the Imperium.
Fenris is the homeworld of the Space Wolves. A planet locked in cold much of each year
and wracked by tectonic shifts that change the landscape of the planet greatly each year. The constant shift and harsh conditions
shape the people of Fenris into a hardy and strong breed. Tempered for battle in the constant war for survival against the
elements, the monsters of the great seas, and competing tribes, and that is the way the Space Wolves like it. Instead of reforming
the society of their homeworld as most Legions did, Leman Russ kept Fenris the same, kept the various sea going, island living
tribes the same as they had always been, to keep them hardy and strong. As the tribes war the Space Wolves monitor their efforts,
and every so often when two tribes wage war against each other, a wolf skull masked priest will appear on a fiery chariot
in the sky to watch. Whenever the Wolf Priests of the Emperor’s warriors is watching, the tribes of fenris cease what
they were doing and re-form their battle lines. If a tribe had been raiding an enemy in swift and merciless butchery, they
will instantly cease and allow their foes to be armed. For only in true battle can the Emperor’s chosen see the warriors
of Fenris at their best, and choose those worthy of ascent.
The seas of Fenris are home to creatures
that seem to be straight from the legends and nightmares of the people of ancient Terra, yet they are very real to the inhabitants
of Fenris. Enormous and deadly Krakens, sea Dragons that could swallow armored tanks whole and massive predatory sharks. Once
an outsider has seen the fury and power of such creatures, one gains a new respect for the people of Fenris, who challenge
such beasts with iron spears and axes, aboard simple longboats called Dragonships, that are much of the time barely a fraction
of the size of the mighty sea wyrms that the people of Fenris hunt.
In opposition to the chaotic
change of Fenris’ mighty seas, the massive continent known as Asaheim is home to the Space Wolves themselves. Populated
by mighty Ice Trolls and Fenresian Wolves and other monsters the Aspirants and Space Wolves often test their skills against
the various beasts populating the glaciers, ice plains, and mountains of the continent.
The Chapter Fleet
Space Wolves maintain fifteen ships in their fleet, one for each Great Company and three in reserve. Each of the fifteen ships
is unique unto itself, the fleet including many different classes and configurations of vessels. Two of the Chapters ships
are massive warships akin to Imperial Navy capitol ships. The Fist of Russ is the ship of Egil Ironwolf which he claimed in
combat when his Company’s own ship was badly damaged. Slightly larger the Pride of Fenris is the personal ship of Logan
The Space Wolves are a curious Chapter when it comes
to Imperial politics. Logan Grimnar is completely unafraid to defend his Chapters autonomy and will wage war even against
other Imperial institutions if he feels it is just. Most particularly Logan Grimnar has very strained relations with the Inquisition
after the 1st war for Armageddon saw the Inquisition round up the planets populace in isolated labor camps at the conclusion
of the campaign.
The Space Wolves are also notable in that they have a firm alliance with
the Navigator House Bellisarius that predates the foundation of the Imperium. House Bellisarius provides the Space Wolves
with 24 of their best Navigators in exchange for 24 Space Wolves known as the Wolf Blade, to serve as a bodyguard for House
Bellisarius’ leadership. A significant number of Space Wolf heroes have at one time or another been part of the Wolf
Blade. Since House Bellisarius is an ancient and powerful Navigator house, they maintain a headquarters on Terra, and thus
service in the Wolf Blade provides the Space Wolves with inside experience into the politics of the Imperium. Some of the
current heroes of the Chapter that have served in the Wolf Blade include Ragnar Blackmane and Logan Grimnar.
Gene-seed of the Space Wolves contains the flaw known as the Curse of the Wulfen. This genetic heritage of Leman Russ gives
the Space Wolves continuously growing canines, heightened senses of smell and hearing, but also a terrible curse. For those
battle brothers that cannot contain the beast within them, they transform into monstrous werewolf creatures, half man, and
half wolf. For this reason the gene-seed of the Space Wolves is never used in the creation of new Chapters and no known successor
chapters are known. The only chapter suspected to be descended from the Space Wolves, known as the Wolf Brothers, is a mystery
to the Imperium. Some theories suggest the Chapter had some sort of genetic mutation due to their distance from Fenris and
had to be disbanded and cleansed. Others suggest that the Wolf Brothers may actually be the personal bodyguard of Russ appearing
alongside the 13th Company in battle. The truth is still a mystery to the Imperium at large, though there are certainly those
among the Inquisition who would dearly love to know the answer, if only to use it against the Space Wolves.
Space Wolves are brought up believing in mystic legends and sagas of star striding wolves, horrendous monsters and mighty
heroes. Mistrustful of technology and sorcery the people of Fenris are a brutal but noble people and this bearing is brought
to the Chapter by the recruits. Central to their belief system is Leman Russ and the Emperor, whom they see as the greatest
pinnacles of mankind and heroes to inspire valor and honor.
The battle cries of the Space
Wolves varies from company to company, however a common battle cry is simply a blood curdling howl the Space Wolves let loose
when they charge into battle.
The Space Wolves have no Chapter symbol,
instead the markings of each company take on the symbol chosen by each Wolf Lord and as such are constantly changing. The
symbols will usually be significant from the sagas of Fenris and usually include some form of wolf iconography. The markings
for squads have to do with their type and are also varied from squad to squad and company to company. Some traditional colors
however are red and yellow for Blood Claws, red and black for Grey Hunters, white and black for Long Fangs, and black and
yellow for Wolf Guard.
History of the Space Wolves
Primarch Leman Russ
The sagas relating to Leman Russ are known to the galaxy largely due to the efforts
of one Gnauril the Elder, a contemporary of Fenresian King Thengir. The sagas tell how one of the infant Primarchs came to
rest on a distant world from Terra known as Fenris. Given the harsh climate it is unlikely that any lesser man would not have
survived, but Leman Russ was a Primarch, and no lesser man. According to the Sagas Leman Russ was taken in and raised by a
Fenresian she-wolf. Russ’ companion wolves Freki and Geri are believed by many to be his original pack brothers, raised
at about the same time as Russ himself. Russ even attested at times to his “lupine parentage,” which can perhaps
attest to some of the traditions and unique organizational aspects of the Space Wolves themselves.
the real tale of Leman Russ begins with Gnauril’s saga “The Ascension of the Wolf-King” which tells the
tale of when Russ first met the nobility of Fenris. The tale tells that one fateful Hellwinter, when the young Primarch went
with his pack to raid a nearby human settlement. The young primarch smashed through the village, breaking into the store house
to steal great slabs of salted meat and fighting with immense ferocity against the villagers to allow his pack to escape with
their spoils. The villagers were astounded by what they had seen and petitioned their king, Thengir of Russ. The King sent
a hunting party within the week armed with the best weapons he could muster, razor sharp blades and drake-poison tipped arrows.
The hunters tracked down and slew many of Russ’ pack, including the venerable she-wolf herself.
Russ was found defending the body of his pack Alpha against the hunters, even pin cushioned with poisoned arrows. Despite
his insane constitution Russ succumbed to the sheer quantity of potent poison and was subdued and gagged. Bound and gagged
Russ was brought before the King. That evening the wolf-man was brought before King Thengir and told to grovel for his life.
Instead Russ raised himself to his full height and let out a roar that was so loud and lasted for so long that many had to
leave the Kings hall rather than hear any more of it. Then Russ spat a huge gobbet of blood and poison straight at the King,
un-cowed and with golden eyes shining with pride.
After that night Russ was taken into the personal
care of the king and was taught to fight and fish, and very quickly to speak. Russ showed a great aptitude with weaponry and
indeed anything he did. Before long Russ even bested the Kings champion in a contest of battle axes. It was then that the
King deemed Russ worthy to receive a name, and so Leman Russ was born.
The next years of Leman Russ’
life are mostly hearsay and legends, some of the legends tell of Russ tearing up Oaks with his bare hands, others of wrestling
a Fenresian Mammoth single handed and roasting it whole, and of sending armies of King Thengir’s enemies fleeing without
sustaining a scratch. Whatever is really true, the fact is that Russ’ fame spread far and wide and when Thengir died,
there was no question as to the succession. King Leman Russ took the throne.
The remainder of the
saga has never been written, but kept alive through oral tradition within the Space Wolves and every member of the chapter
knows the tale by heart. On every Allwinters eve the Rune Priests tell the tale of Russ. It was during one such feast that
Inquisitor Chalfont snuck a vox-recorder to the feast and at the table of Great Wolf Cormack Wolftongue, a record of the tale
In short time Russ was hailed as King of Fenris, his armies unbeatable and his wisdom unquestionable none could best the
Wolf-King. Within Russ’ kingdom men and wolf lived in truce and his court was attended by both the fiercest warlords
and the fairest maidens. With his deeds spreading to legends it was not too long before Terra came to call on the King of
Fenris. So it was shortly after Russ became King that the Emperor came to Fenris. Cloaked in disguise, both physical and psychic
the Emperor came to Russ as a cowled and bent wanderer, appearing in the great hall of Leman Russ his aura of power shrouded.
The great wolves slunk away at the Emperor’s approach however and he walked up to the throne where Russ slouched leisurely,
feasting on the roast leg of a boar and with a flagon of fine mead in hand. Freki and Geri lounging at his feet and a pool
of blood around his throne. Having recently returned from a hunt Russ was not pleased to have his feast interrupted and the
feast hall silenced at his growl. Freki stood at his master’s sound but Geri did not, noticing that the stranger met
their master’s gaze unflinchingly.
It was then that the stranger gave Russ his challenge.
Russ would decide the contest, and if the stranger won he would sit at the right hand of Russ during the feast. Russ proclaimed
that if he won, the stranger had to serve him for a year. Grimly the stranger agreed. The first competition Russ decided would
be an eating one. With great quantities of roast meet brought forth on brass shields Russ and the stranger set to eating.
The Stranger ate a great deal indeed, consuming more than any of Russ’ warriors, but when the stranger looked at Russ
he saw that the Primarch was finished with his third Auroch already, not a scrap of meet left on the scattered bones. Bowing
his head to Russ the stranger accepted defeat. But Russ was enjoying his sport. So Russ called for a drinking match, but before
the contest could be concluded the entire feast had been drunk dry. It was then that the wanderer had a gleam of anger come
to his eyes. Calling Russ a drunkard and glutton, at which the entire court went silent. Russ drew his great sword and stepped
onto the feast table with a growl to issue the consequences of his last challenge.
At the challenge
the wanderer threw off his disguise to reveal his golden form, clad in baroque armor the Emperor drew forth a shimmering blade.
Russ roared and charged, clashing with the wanderer in a titanic clash of arms. The Emperor’s golden armor reflected
the glow of a thousand torches, and Russ’ skin glistened with sweat and blood, his matted hair flying wild as he charged
with fury and passion. Russ fought with speed and precision, countered by the liquid grace of the wanderer. The tempered fury
and skill of Russ, learned from a lifetime of living by his skill and wits proved without a doubt to be one of the Emperor’s
lost sons, displaying a martial skill beyond that of any mortal. Finally convinced the Emperor brought his Power Fist in a
glittering ark to connect squarely with Russ’ face, sending the Primarch straight into unconsciousness. Nevertheless
within the hour Russ was back on his feet, his head cleared. Bloody and with broken fang, Russ smiled and swore fealty to
Within weeks Russ had learned all he needed too and was proclaimed fit to lead his
legion in the Great Crusade across the stars. The Emperor introduced Russ to his legion and quickly Russ settled into the
role of leading the Space Wolves. Soon the Legion’s marines became as sons to Russ.
Russ was gifted a magnificent suit of armor thrice blessed by the Emperor, and his sword was replaced by the magnificent Frost
Blade Mjalnar, forged from the teeth of the mighty Ice Kraken Gormenjarl. The blade was said to be able to split the mountains
of Fenris in twain.
Russ joined the Great Crusade enthusiastically, throwing himself and his legion
into the forefront of every battle, striding at the fore of his warriors slaying all before him and his presence heralded
by the howling of his pack.
Not all was well with the Great Crusade however. Tension between the
Legions was ever present, sometimes resulting in more than a little hostility. One such conflict occurred between the Space
Wolves and the Dark Angels, but particularly between Leman Russ and Lion El’Johnson.
world of Dulan, a traitor commander named Durath insulted Leman Russ, calling him the Emperor’s lap dog. Enraged Russ
vowed to take the head of Durath for his insult to the Space Wolves honor. Russ demanded that the Dark Angels who were also
participating in the engagement stand down and allow the Space Wolves to destroy the traitor. However Lion El’Johnson
had reconnoitered the fortress of the traitor extensively and had already formed a complex and precise attack plan. Loath
to let Russ spoil his plans Johnson attacked at dawn and slew the traitor Durath in full view of the Space Wolves embattled
below the fortress battlements. Furious Russ confronted Johnson after the battle and punched him, beginning a wrestling match
that lasted several days, before Russ realized how ironic and foolish the fighting was and stopped to let out a raucous laugh.
Not amused Johnson sucker punched Russ, knocking him unconscious and swept away. By the time Russ awoke the Dark Angels were
long gone. Since then the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves have fought duels of honor over the long standing feud.
event of rivalry between the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels occurred while both legions were on their way to Terra after
hearing the news of the Horus Heresy the Space Wolf and Dark Angels fleets encountered the world of Kalidus Secundus. The
traitors had captured the orbital defense station and had proceeded bombarding the loyalists on the planet below. Russ wanted
to assault the orbital while Johnson argued they should proceed to Terra. Arguing and fighting over the subject after interrogating
a fleeing survivor named Tarus, they only ceased their combat when a marine named Hrothgar blew off Tarus’ head and
revealed him to be a daemon.
The Horus Heresy saw the Galaxy drenched in blood and war,
as Horus and no less than nine of the Space Marine Legions descended into treachery. As the galaxy was thrown into chaos the
Space Wolves were however not involved in many of the terrible fighting at Terra. Nevertheless the Space Wolves were heavily
involved in the foundations of the Heresy, when they forged their ageless feud with the Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion.
Texts and accounts recovered both from the libraries of Prospero and the histories of the Space
Wolves have been pieced together to provide accounts of what followed.
As the Horus Heresy
ripened Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons, sent a psychic message to the Emperor warning him of Horus’ betrayal.
However in so doing Magnus revealed the extent of his pursuit of sorcery, affirming Russ’ deepest suspicions about the
cyclopean Primarch. At Russ’ insistence the Emperor agreed that Magnus must be brought to account for his betrayals.
Gathering his entire legion Leman Russ traveled across the stars to bring down the Thousand Sons. His suspicions further affirmed
by half-truths and lies spun by Horus, Russ swept down on Prospero with the weight of his entire Legion. Bombarding the planet
mercilessly and tearing a bloody swath across the planet to the very citadel of the Thousand Sons. Prospero had been a paradise
of a world, ice and ivory towers scraping the sky, vast man made lakes and reflecting pools, and magnificent libraries and
places of learning. Nevertheless Russ felt it was simply a veneer of civilization over a tainted heart. The Space Wolves assaulted
Prospero without mercy and the fighting against the Thousand Sons was fierce indeed, lasting many days at the cost of thousands
No matter how wise the Thousand Sons were, or how potent their sorcery was, they could
not stand against the sheer fury of the Space Wolves on the field of war. At the center of the Space Wolves battlelines was
the 13th Great Company lead by Jorin Bloodfang. The 13th Company was comprised of those battle brothers who manifested the
curse of the wulfen, transformed into half wolf beasts in the heat of combat. Against such fury and bestial ferocity the Thousand
Sons could not hold, eventually a massive hole was torn in the lines of the Thousand Sons and slowly but surely the warriors
of Prospero were culled, cut down by the Space Wolves sheer fury.
The loss of every single Space
Marine of the Thousand Sons is recorded in Prospero’s Lament, which while certainly suspect, is the only account of
Magnus’ terrible bargain. Watching his legion torn apart by the bestial Wolves, Magnus roared to the heavens for salvation
and help came. Magnus’ body was warped by insane power, and ten fingered hands shot from the soil of Prospero to defend
it’s fortresses, the screams of Magnus drove hundreds of Space Wolves insane and still they fought on, their fury and
willpower alone driving them on.
It was then that Magnus charged forth and laid into the Space Wolves,
his horrific gaze petrifying anything it fell on, turning even the stoutest Long Fangs to dust, unstoppable the Giant crashed
through the Space Wolves. Leman Russ disengaged from the swirling melee and lifted a Thousand Sons marine bodily and threw
him into the face of Magnus. Temporarily blinded by the attack Russ smashed into Magnus. Somehow the giant did not fall and
instead delivered a crushing blow to Russ’ chest, sending splinters of Ceramite into his heart. Nevertheless Russ grabbed
Magnus’ arm as it drew back for another punch and kicked the Primarch in the eye. Howling in pain Magnus stumbled back
and Russ took advantage of his opponent’s weakness to lift Magnus from the ground and break Magnus’ back over
his knee. Seeing their Primarch broken the Thousand Sons turned and fled but as Russ prepared to execute Magnus with Mjalnar,
Magnus gasped a word of power and vanished into the ground.
The reports on how the Thousand Sons
escaped Prospero are many and varied. What is certain is that the Thousand Sons were not destroyed, as they continue to plague
the Imperium to this day. Magnus himself even managed to survive somehow and even managed to save a great deal of the Thousand
Sons learning and knowledge. However the Thousand Sons escaped, the 13th Company, the Wulfen-kind, pursued them. To this day
the fate of the 13th Company is not known. However rumors from the 13th Black Crusade and some few eye witness reports indicate
that strange half wolf marines bearing the colors and iconography of the Space Wolves have been seen appearing on various
battlefields to tear into the forces of chaos before disappearing once more.
In honor of the lost
13th Company however the Space Wolves keep one stone blank in the Grand Annulus, the circle of stones depicting the Chapters
Great Companies, and the 13th Company has never been replaced.
the Horus Heresy the Imperium set out to quell the uprisings and restore itself. The Space Wolves continued to wage the Emperor’s
Wars. But at one particular “Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension” in honor of the day the Emperor defeated
Horus and ascended to the Golden Throne, Leman Russ quieted the great hall to speak, but then froze. In horror the Space Wolves
watched as their lord fell to his knees and called his closest companions and advisors to him, all save the youngest, Bjorn.
Giving his closest companions his instructions Russ turned and left the hall with his bodyguard in tow, leaving only Bjorn
behind. For seven years the Space Wolves waited for their lord to return, but when he finally did not, Bjorn was elected Great
Wolf and led the Chapter on the first Great Hunt. The Great Companies dispersed among the stars searching for their lord and
Bjorn took his search to the Eye of Terror itself. There Bjorn was mortally wounded and entombed in a Dreadnaught as the Space
Wolves returned. Over the various Great Hunts many glorious victories have been won, each hunt beginning when Russ speaks
into the mind of a Rune Priest, granting his sons his wisdom from time to time and sending them on new Great Hunts. None have
succeeded in their final goal, but Russ has assured his sons with his final words that he will return to them for the final
battle, for the wolf time.
The Great Hunts
-While not battles in their own right, the Great Hunts are a significant part of the Space
Wolves history and each has accomplished some great good. Occasionally the Great Wolf or Rune Priests will see a vision of
the lost Primarch, and declare a new Great Hunt. While none of the Great Hunts have resulted in the discovery of Russ each
has accomplished some significant feat. The 2nd Great Hunt saw the recovery of Russ’ armor from the Temple of Horus
on the world of Rudra situated near the dreaded Eye of Terror. The 4th Great Hunt lead to the uncovering of the Corellian
Conspiracy, which had been close to taking over the Administratum in a bloody coup for power, while the 9th Great Hunt saw
the destruction of the Genestealer infestations in the Gehenna systems. Every time a Great Hunt is called it seems that the
lost primarch has a task in mind for his sons.
1st Battle for the Fang
-In the 32nd Millennium, Magnus the
Red and the Thousand Sons launched a series of devastating raids in the regions around Fenris. Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm rallied
the Space Wolves in retaliation to hunt down the raiders. Yet Ironhelm met with no success as he chased the elusive raiders,
until he became obsessed. Taunted in visions by Magnus himself Harek began to search worlds around the Eye of Terror until
he found the planet of Gangava, what he believed to be the Thousand Sons secret base. Launching a full scale attack Harek
committed his entire force. This however was a ruse, for while Gangava was held by allied chaos forces, the Thousand Sons
fleet took orbit over Fenris itself and launched an all out attack. With the Fang held by a skeleton force of thralls and
marines, the hour was desperate indeed. Awakening Bjorn the Fell-Handed from his slumber to take charge of the defense, Bjorn
instructed the Scout Sergeant Haakon Blackwing to take a squad and get word to Lord Harek. Succeeding in their task while
Bjorn lead the Space Wolves into the innermost fortifications of the fang, Haakon rushed to Gangava to bring the Great Wolf
news of the attack, and for forty days and forty nights the Space Wolves held against the Thousand Sons, despite all odds.
Overcome with rage at his own folly, Harek rushed back to Fenris and met Magnus in battle on the slopes of the Fang. While
harek was a magnificent warrior, he was no match for Magnus and fell in battle, but not before delivering punishing wounds
to the Primarch. Forced to withdraw before the frenzy of the Space Wolves the Thousand Sons fled the field. It is said that
Bjorn carried Harek to the upper slopes of the Fang for burial personally, and his tomb is a pilgrimage spot for Rune Priests
undergoing their initiation. Where they learn from Harek himself the dangers of trusting chaos granted visions.
War for Armageddon
-The Space Wolves fought in the 1st War for Armageddon through to it’s conclusion. However
it was following the war when the Inquisition rounded up the surviving population of the planet into labor camps to keep them
from spreading tales of the horrors they had seen that Logan Grimnar took offence to. Having fought so hard to defend the
people of Armageddon Grimnar was enraged at the actions of the Inquisition. Since then the Space Wolves have had little but
hostility to show to the Inquisition and few indeed are the Inquisitors allowed into the Fang in recent times.
2nd Battle for the Fang
-During the Age of Apostasy Bucharis of Gathalamore launched
an invasion of Fenris on his way to Terra. For 3 years Bucharis laid siege to the Fang after the Space Wolves fleet waged
furious battles against the Imperial Navy forces of Bucharis, some of the Space Wolves ships break through, such as the Cruiser
the Claw of Russ. However the fighting saw millions of Fenresians fall to the invaders as the people of Fenris, the Space
Wolves and even the Fenresian Wolves of the wild waged war against their attackers. Despite numerous efforts to break the
siege the Space Wolves could not break through, until returning from a 5 year expedition to the Eye of Terror, Kyrl Grimblood
and his Great Company smashed through Bucharis fleet and then launched a devastating assault on the rear of Bucharis' siege
forces, killing thousands and sending many fleeing into the wilds of Fenris to die horribly at the unforgiving hands of the
planet. With Kyrl's efforts weakening the invaders, the Space Wolves launched a break out and broke through their attackers,
routing them. Bucharis was forced to flee and while his defeat at the hands of the Space Wolves did not end him, others fought
against the Plague of Unbelief and Bucharis and eventually defeated him. Yet it is due to the efforts of Kyrl Grimblood that
the ambitions of Bucharis were brought to a turning point and the 2nd Battle for the Fang was won.3rd War for Armageddon
the outset of the 3rd War for Armageddon the Space Wolves answered the call to arms. However the tales of glory and battle
are too many to recount here. The 13th Black Crusade
-As Abaddon spilled forth from the Eye of Terror the
Space Wolves me the challenge. Logan Grimnar and the Space Wolves were among first to arrive in the Cadian system to stem
the tide of filth. The entire chapter of the Space Wolves arrived to support the Cadians. Grimnar dispatched the Great Companies
across the sector to put their skills to best use and took his own Company to Cadia itself, at the height of the space battles
raging around the planet Grimnar descended to the planet to bolster the defenders against the inevitable chaos attack. As
Grimnar was among the oldest and wisest Space Marine commander in the Imperium and with a stalwart reputation he was elected
overall command of the Imperial defenders, particularly the various Space Marine Chapters arriving to fight the despoiler
and his forces. Some chapters such as the Dark Angels and the Relictors refused to follow Grimnars orders but the majority
of Chapters followed the Old Wolf into battle. Logan Grimnar decided that the efforts of the defenders should be focused on
the Cadian, Belis Corona and Agrippana Sub-sectors, and with over 30 chapters either already embattled or en-route the 13th
Black Crusade is to date one of the largest and most desperate engagements in Imperial history since the Horus Heresy itself,
and at the forefront was Logan Grimnar and the Great Companies of the Space Wolves. Famous Characters of the Space
WolvesBjorn the Fell Handed
- The most renowned of the Chapters dreadnaughts is Bjorn the Fell Handed,
the first Great Wolf of the chapter following Leman Russ’ disappearance, Bjorn fought during the Horus Heresy and the
Great Crusade. Every one thousand years Bjorn awakes from his dreamless slumbers beneath the fang to test the Rune Priests
of the chapter in their knowledge of the Old Sagas to make sure the Chapter History has been kept alive and accurate. Bjorn
has also defended the fang in many a desperate hour, particularly against the ancient rivals of the Chapter, the Thousand
Sons. Logan Grimnar
- The current Great Wolf of the Space Wolves, Logan Grimnar has commanded the Chapter
for more than eight centuries and been at the forefront of many of the Imperiums greatest wars in recent history. An implacable
and independent defender of mankind Grimnar is truly a legend of the Imperium. Logan Grimnar caries the potent Frost Blade
the Axe of Morkai, a weapon he tore from the grip of a chaos champion and had re-forged into a mighty double headed axe. Ragnar
- The youngest Wolf Lord in the history of the Space Wolves, Ragnar Blackmane has made a legend for himself
among a Chapter of legends. Specializing in rapid strikes Ragnar Blackmane and his company has been at the front of many a
campaign by the Space Wolves, leading the chapter’s forces at the vanguard. Armed a the ancient and potent Frost Blade.Ulrik
-A legendary Wolf Priest within the chapter and mentor to Ragnar Blackmane and Logan Grimnar, Ulrik turned
down a chance at leadership in the Chapter to become a Wolf Priest and has been a powerful and stoic figure in the chapter
for centuries. However it was as a warrior in Wolf Lord Kruger’s Great Company fighting on Armageddon against the forces
of the World Eaters that Ulrik first made a name for himself. During the fighting Kruger was cut down, possessed of a mad
desire for revenge Ulrik threw himself at the World Eaters, slaying three of the terrible Khorne Berserkers in close combat
defending his fallen Lord and earning the unusual accolade of a salute from Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters himself,
as a sign of respect for martial prowess. Ulrik refused to take the place of Wolf Lord Kruger and has since then gone on to
win even greater fame within the chapter as a Wolf Priest. Ulrik wears the legendary Wolf Helm of Russ, given to him by Ragnar
Blackmane in a sign of respect to the old Wolf Priest. Berek Thunderfist
-Wolf Lord of the Great Company
to which Ragnar Blackmane was originally assigned and served as a teacher and as inspiration for the young Blood Claw at the
time, Berek was a legendary warrior within the Chapter, named after his bionic hand and power fist. Wolf Guard
Durfast of Mordrak
-A legendary Wolf Guard leader of the Chapter, Durfast gained his reputation on the ancient world
of Mordrak. A dead world that once supported an extremely advanced alien civilization, when discovered by exploratory fleets,
armed expeditions were immediately launched, and a force of Space Wolves was set to defend them. However the planet lay in
heavily Ork infested space and it was not long before the green skins descended on the world, drawn to combat like a shark
to blood. With many important sites to defend the Space Wolves were stretched thin and it was in this deadly combat that Wolf
Guard Durfast excelled beyond expectations. Durfast even led the remainder of Hurgarl’s Great Company deep into an ancient
facility, recovering a great deal of valuable technology and escaping before the facility destroyed itself. Later going on
to lead his Great Company in many exploits, and to this day one of the artifacts he recovered remains in the Fang. Known as
the Helm of Durfast, the helm allows the wearer to see a short distance into the past and future, granting an immense advantage
in combat. Wolf Guard Ranulf
-Supposedly the largest Space Wolf in the chapter’s entire history, said
to have rivaled even the mighty Leman Russ in size. Ranulf was a legend in his day and remains a legendary figure in the chapter
even now, and his Terminator Armor rests in the Hall of Heroes, towering over all who view it. Most inspiring of the battles
in Ranulf’s saga however is that of his death. On a distant battlefield a force of Space Wolves was retreating after
a defeat at the hands of the Orks, rare as that may be. With tens of thousands of Orks closing on the column as the Space
Wolves retreated through a mountain pass, Ranulf and a force of Wolf Guard turned to hold a narrow pass against the Orks.
With the narrowness of the defile the Space Wolves could take on a few Orks at a time and the numbers of the Orks were worthless.
Hundreds of Orks fell to the guns and blades of Ranulf and his Wolf Guard warriors as they defended the rear of the Space
Wolf force, piling the corpses of the Orks so deep that the defile was nearly walled off. Yet nevertheless Ranulf and his
warriors could not last forever and the Orks eventually whittled them down till Ranulf stood alone. Even Ranulf could not
survive the fight and eventually fell. However most unusual for the Orks when the Space Wolves retook the pass later they
found the bodies of Ranulf and his warriors had not been defiled. Instead to their surprise the Orks had hastily constructed
a cairn for the fallen Space Wolves and seated the dead warriors on it, surrounded by immense piles of Ork wargear. To the
Orks Ranulf was nothing short of a god. Njal Stormcaller
-The Saga of Njal Stormcaller begins on the raging
world seas of Fenris. Njal’s tribe lost their lands to the seas during the trials of Fire and Water. As his tribe sailed
across the oceans they finally found new lands freshly risen from the turbulent seas and waged a great sea battle against
other would be claimers. During the battle Njal jumped across ships to slaughter entire decks of men, until at last as the
battle ended Njal lay exhausted, and pierced by a spear. His efforts were noticed however and his life was saved by the Space
Wolves. As he fought battles on distant worlds as a young member of the Chapter Njal’s powers began to manifest and
he was brought into the fold of the Rune Priesthood. There he learned under the ancient Rune Priest Heimdall. Learning quickly
Njal became a skald to the Rune Priest and fought at his side many times. It was during one particular battle where Heimdall
fell to a Bloodthirster that Njal earned his name, defeating the Bloodthirster and calling up a raging storm that broke the
enemy, he was given the name Stormcaller. Later in Njal’s life he saved the life of a legendary Iron Priest Ulf Blackbrow.
Blackbrow was a proud warrior and to repay his dept he fashioned a psyber raven to guard Njal and protect his life. Wolf
Lord Kyrl Grimblood
-A Wolf Lord in the Space Wolves during the Time of Apostasy, when the Imperium was set to crumble,
beset by all sides and from within as numerous dictators, heretics, and traitors subverted control and sought to usurp control
of the Imperium. As Goge Vandire swept the Imperium into anarchy other despots rose as well. One such heretic was the rogue
Cardinal Bucharis of Gathalamore. Bucharis brought entire systems of the Imperium into complete anarchy, bringing about a
time known as the Plague of Unbelief. Bucharis lead massive armies in a crusade towards Terra, perhaps in an attempt to sieze
the reigns of the Imperium from Vandire himself. However Bucharis had to pass through Fenris first. So the despot laid siege
to the Fang for fully three years, as the Space Wolves, the people of Fenris and even the monsters of the wild waged guirilla
wars against the invaders. Millions died but the defenders did not give up. Till finally the Great Company of Kyrl Grimblood
that had been on a mission into the Eye of Terror for five years returned. Launching an attack on the rear of Bucharis’
lines Kyrl slew thousands of Bucharis’ soldiers and scattered more into the wilds, where the cold and the wolves and
monsters of Fenris tracked them down and slew them. With Kyrl’s attack weakening their enemies the Space Wovles launched
a break out and smashed through their attackers. While Bucharis was not finished, his efforts were greatly set back by the
actions of Kyrl Grimblood and he would be eventually brought down.
The 13th Company
The 13th Company is a force shrouded
in mystery, wearing the looted armor of chaos marines to replace damaged wargear, showing the bestial signs of the curse of
the wulfen and appearing at seeming random to wreak havoc among the forces of chaos, the 13th Company is at the same time
a terrifying and inspiring force.
Legends tell of the time before the Horus Heresy when the 13th
Company had been part of the Space Wolves legion, though little remains of that time but the names of famous battles such
as the First Siege of Methrix and the Battle of the Plains of Mo-Shan, the Fall of the Paramours of the Morpheus Rift, and
the Crossing of Hangman's Void. The 13th Company are said to have chased the fleeing Thousand Sons into the Eye of Terror
where they hunted the forces of chaos for 10,000 years, somehow surviving in the depths of the Eye of Terror despite the odds.
Each marine in the company having acquired the skills of a Wolf Guard, and showing signs of the curse of the wulfen are both
terrifyingly brutal and skilled warriors on the battlefield.
The 13th Company’s organization
is little known, who leads them is unsure. Whether Jorin Bloodfang, the leader of the Company in the siege of Prospero still
leads them is unknown, some wild theories even suggest that Leman Russ leads the Company from the depths of the warp, having
manifested the true form of the curse of the wulfen as a giant werewolf of awesome power. However such theories are unsubstantiated
and the truth may never be known. All that is known is that the 13th Company has several distinct groups that are as follows.
-While it is certain that all members of the 13th Company have likely attained skills equal to those of Wolf Guard,
the Storm Claws are equipped to fully utilize their ferocity and skill in close combat, both noble and stoic in their manner
the Storm Claws tear into the forces of Chaos with skill and fury.
-The backbone of the 13th Company
warbands the Grey Slayers are akin to the Grey Hunters of the Space Wolves, though the formation appears to have been created
when the 13th Company faced questions of rank, with all survivors beginning to reach the skills of Wolf Guard and with no
new influx of Blood Claws the 13th Company re-organized it would seem and Grey Slayers were the result.
-During the Great Crusade the Space Wolves went to battle alongside packs of Fenresian Wolves. Since then the
Space Wolves have taken to bringing the wolves of Fenris to battle only as the guards of officers. The 13th Company however
still maintains whole packs of Fenresian wolves that will take to the field with the company, bounding alongside the marines
to rend and tear the forces of chaos apart.
-The 13th Company includes entire packs of Wulfen kind,
battle brothers that have fully succumbed to the curse of the Wulfen and manifested as bestial werewolves. Lead into battle
by Wolf Priests the Wulfen Packs are deadly adversaries, utterly vicious and brutal in close combat and nearly unstoppable.
The 13th Company still includes Long Fangs, Rune Priests, Wolf Priests and Wolf Lords, and somehow
the Rune Priests of the Company have learned to transport the warbands of the 13th Company through the warp with their psychic
powers, how this is done is a mystery to the Imperium and there are many who would dearly wish to know the secret, and others
who want to see the 13th Company purged as heretics and mutants.
I hope this article has proven useful to anyone who reads it, I have
tried to present a comprehensive guide to the core of the Space Wolves background, for those of whom wish an ease reference,
or others who perhaps are reading this information for the first time as an introductory into the history and organization
of the Space Wolves. To all of you, thanks for reading. List of References
Codex: Space Wolves 3rd Edition
Space Wolves 2nd Edition
Codex: Sisters of Battle 2nd Edition
Codex: Eye of Terror
Index Astartes: 13th Company
Index Astartes: Emperor’s Shield
Index Astartes: Eye of the Storm
Astartes: Humanity’s Shield
Sons of Fenris