"To tear out the throat of kings, to cull the weak from the pack. To bring the death of worlds. That is the true way of the Wolf."
- — Jorik Fangfist, Lord of the Crimson Claws
A Blood Claw is a newly inducted Astartes of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter and the equivalent of a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter's Neophytes or Scout Marines. Still struggling to control the spirit of the Wulfen within, Blood Claws are notoriously savage and fiercely aggressive. These hot-headed young warriors cannot wait to prove themselves, charging in howling packs at the frontlines of the enemy in their efforts to garner personal glory. They prefer to fight at close quarters and are armed with melee weapons such as Chainswords and Bolt Pistols. The Blood Claws are the shock troops of the Space Wolves and spearhead the majority of assaults. If they survive to become mature and capable warriors, they will eventually be elevated to the veteran ranks of the Grey Hunters.
As the youngest and most inexperienced warriors within the Space Wolves Chapter, the Blood Claws are the most eager combatants on the field of battle. They are fierce, often fool-hardy warriors, eager to prove themselves and earn the respect of their elders. They will take almost any risk to win the fleeting glory that only youth and courage can bring. Confident and fresh, the Blood Claws are constantly abuzz with the belligerent enthusiasm of youth and the excitement of having ascended to the ranks of the fabled Sky Warriors. Both savage and fiercely aggressive without exception, the Blood Claws have not left heir glory-hunting Fenrisian tribal roots far behind, and are willing to plunge headlong into the thickest of the fighting regardless of the foes they may face. The Blood Claws' infamous berserk charges are known throughout the galaxy, for they believe in their own invincibility and dare anyone to prove otherwise.
Blood Claws are still intoxicated by the opportunity to tread in the legendary footsteps of the giants of the Chapter, and have finally been given the chance to become true heroes themselves. This knowledge, combined with a barrel of mead or two, makes for a fine line between their insane acts of heroism and those of reckless foolhardiness. Blood Claws are always trying to find a way to make a name for themselves, and by doing so, come to the attention of their Wolf Lord, and begin their own personal saga. Unlike their contemporaries from more orthodox Chapters, the Sons of Russ do not train through the predictable logic of the practice cage or assault corridors, for the elder Space Wolves that oversee the Blood Claws' development as warriors believe that the best training ground is the white-hot fury of the battlefield.
Often Blood Claw packs are not discouraged from taking their favoured position at the vanguard of the Chapter's Great Companies, for their elders encourage the young warriors to learn the arts of combat through direct experience. Unfortunately, the Blood Claws' glory-hunting frequently leads them to overconfidence in their own abilities, and because they lack the skill and patience of their Grey Hunter brethren, this results in them often biting off more than they can chew. It is not unusual for a Blood Claw Pack to rush forward to engage an enemy commander or champion, sometimes with disastrous results. For this reason, a wise and experienced Wolf Guard often accompanies the Blood Claws in order to curb their worst excesses and battle lust, with stern commands and the occasional fist to the face. In battle, Blood Claws are formed into large enough Packs (squads) so that they may sustain a few casualties and still prevail. Lapses of martial discipline are usually overlooked by the pack's Wolf Guard mentor until after the battle, for with the proper guidance the savagery of the Blood Claws' charge can turn the tide of a battle.
Blood Claw Specialists
- Skyclaws - The Skyclaws are a subset of Blood Claws. This specialist unit is composed of the most headstrong troublemakers from each Blood Claw pack and are often "rewarded" by reassignment to a Skyclaw Assault Pack and thus serve as the Chapter's equivalent of Assault Marines. Entrusted with a Jump Pack, this vital piece of wargear provides the young warrior with the opportunity to indulge in their desire to charge headlong into the thick of battle. It is said amongst the more experienced Battle-Brothers of the Chapter that if the youngsters wish to slake their reckless bloodthirst, let them, and if they die in the process then they will still learn a valuable lesson. Though considered a dubious honour by their more mature brethren, the Skyclaws are bound and determined to prove themselves in the eyes of their elders. Unafraid and uncaring, they soar fearlessly through the skies in great leaps, taking great joy in watching the enemy crumble beneath the reckless fury of their airborne assault. Truly the most rebellious and free-spirited of all the Space Wolves, the Skyclaws are constantly trying to prove themselves. They are known to compete against Packs of Blood Claws through friendly contests of athletic prowess, drinking and eating. Impetuous and foolhardy, the Skyclaws are known for their fondness for practical jokes. Although transgressions that cost the lives of their fellows are punished severely, even their Wolf Lords admit that they were young once, and so they overlook these offenses. It is rare for a Skyclaw to be exiled for their reckless deeds. But those that push their luck too far and commit an offence that is anathema to their Chapter are assigned a punishment that fits the crime. One who has caused the death of a senior member of the Space Wolves may be struck down, only to awaken to a new life as a Med-Servitor.
- Swift Claws - Another subset of the Blood Claws, the Swift Claws are culled from the ranks of the Blood Claws when the Chapter needs a swift, hard-hitting assault force comprised of Bike Squads or Land Speeders. The young and ambitious Blood Claws are well suited to this role. In addition to forming a lightning assault force, Swift Claws will occasionally be tasked with a dangerous quest to track down and slay a particularly powerful enemy. Given the opportunity to sow the maximum amount of carnage and disruption possible, these young warriors apply themselves with particular relish in the performance of their duties. Some Blood Claws are so taken by this role -- not to mention the opportunities for raising havoc that come along with it -- that they demand the right to a permanent position as a Swift Claw. Unlike other Chapters that use their Bike Squads primarily for forward reconnaissance, the Space Wolves use their bikes in a demolitions and close assault role. If something needs to be blown up or killed in spectacular fashion, there are no finer operatives amongst the Adeptus Astartes than the Swift Claws.
- Power Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Skyclaw Assault Pack (Skyclaws only)
- Swift Claw Assault Bike (Swift Claws only)
Blood Claw Pack Appearance
Blood Claw Packs decorate their right shoulder plates with bright red and yellow tribal patterns with each Pack choosing or being given a different marking. These patterns are retained by the squad as it matures into a Grey Hunter Pack.
Notable Blood Claws
- Ragnar Blackmane - Ragnar Blackmane is the youngest Space Wolf Astartes ever promoted to the rank of Wolf Lord by the Chapter. He is exceptional in every sense of the the word. When Ragnar was a young, impetuous youth he was elevated directly from the ranks of the Blood Claws to the esteemed Wolf Guard of his Great Company. This near-unheard of promotion was accomplished after Ragnar slew the Ork Warlord Borzag Khan in close combat and subsequently dispatched the Warlord's retinue of Nobs one after another.
- Lukas the Trickster - Lukas the Trickster is an unusual Astartes of the Space Wolves Chapter; a raucous and brash figure who defies the authority of his superiors just as willingly as he defies the enemies of the Chapter. The glories sought by other warriors of the Chapter matter not one jot to Lukas, who cares neither for advancement to the Wolf Guard, nor for the approval of his peers. Instead, his greatest desire is the freedom to work his unparalleled mischief upon whomever he fancies, preferably killing as many of the Chapter's foes as he can along the way. The Blood Claws salute his antics, both before and after his initiation amongst the Space Wolves, whilst the leadership of the Chapter recognises him as a free spirit, the very embodiment of the Chapter's independent and anti-authoritarian nature. While Lukas remains the irreverent upstart that he is, he will never achieve advancement within the Chapter and will remain forever a Blood Claw. Such a sentence suits him well though, for Lukas enjoys their youthful company far better than that of the stuffy, level-headed senior members of the Chapter, whose concerns are musty old sagas and the study of ancient battle doctrine.
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 25, 32-33
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), p. 10
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pp. 33, 44, 58
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Background Book)
- Index Astartes II, "Wolves of Fenris - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 259 (AUS), "Index Astartes – The Space Wolves"
- White Dwarf 258 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Wolves of Fenris"
- White Dwarf 244 (US), "Codex Space Wolves", "Sons of Russ - Codex Space Wolves," "Super-Interchangeable Space Wolves," and "The Battle of The Fang", pp. 7-19