The Space Wolves are one of the twenty First Founding Legions of Space Marines serving the Imperium of Man in the fictional future of the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. They are considered experts at close-quarters fighting, and their warriors compete keenly for glory on the battlefield. Their homeworld is the Ice World of Fenris, (named after the Fenris wolf of Norse mythology).
As their culture and aesthetic designs are based on that of Viking warriors, the Space Wolves place great emphasis on strength and honor. Although they have sworn to protect and serve the Emperor, they have a deep-seated hatred of the Administratum and the Inquisition, as the Codex puts it: "As many administrations have found to their cost, the one way you can guarantee to get the Space Wolves to do something is to order them not to do it." Along with their hatred of the Administratum and the Inquisition, their beliefs and legends of heroes battling monsters are deemed pagan, and "these beliefs are looked upon with scorn by the Ecclesiarchy."
The Space Wolves Primarch Leman Russ, like all twenty Primarchs, mysteriously vanished from the Emperor's laboratories in his infancy. Of the eighteen recorded in Imperial records, he was the sixth to be rediscovered by the Emperor. He turned up on the distant planet of Fenris, a snow-covered world inhabited by fairly primitive, warlike tribes of humans. He was raised by a pack of the massive Fenrisian Wolves that prowl the snowy lands. Among them, he grew to adulthood in only a few short years.
He was eventually discovered by a man named Thengir, King of the Russ. Thengir had organized a party of hunters to clear the wolf packs from his lands. Most of the wolves were slaughtered, and the young man was captured and brought to Thengir. Thengir took the man into his care, giving him the name ‘Leman of the Russ’. Leman learned the ways of man quickly, and many legends sprung up about him, such as how he could defeat a hundred men in only three minutes, or consume an entire aurochs. Upon his adopted father's death, the leadership of the Russ passed to Leman. Leman became a mighty leader, winning many victories, often fighting alongside packs of Fenrisian Wolves, led by Freki and Geri (named after Odin's wolves), two of his Wolf-brothers who escaped Thengir's hunters.
Eventually, word of his exploits reached beyond Fenris, and to the ears of the Emperor. He traveled to Fenris, realizing that the exploits could only be the work of a Primarch. Travelling in disguise, he approached Leman's court during a feast, and challenged the Primarch to three contests of Leman’s choice.
Leman Russ, not recognizing the Emperor due to runes of concealment, boasted that he was far greater than any man, proceeding to win his first two contests (an eating and a drinking competition) by consuming three whole aurochs, then draining the royal cellars dry. Disappointed, the Emperor derided Leman Russ, calling him nothing more than a drunkard and glutton. Insulted, Leman Russ then challenged the Emperor to a fight.
After a ferocious duel in which neither warrior had the upper hand, the Emperor became convinced that Leman Russ was indeed one of his children. The Emperor took off his cloak of deception and showed the room his glory. Struck by the Emperor's immense power, none could look upon him, save Leman. So the duel continued; Leman struck the Emperor clear across the room, the Emperor tried to counter with a shoulder charge but Russ side stepped hammering the Emperor to the ground with an elbow. After many long hours of fighting, the Emperor found a gap within Leman's defenses and hit Leman square in the face with a power-fist, knocking him out with a blow that would have killed a lesser man. After coming to consciousness with an incredible headache (which he blamed upon the alcohol), Russ admitted defeat and swore fealty to the Emperor.
The Great Crusade
Leman Russ was granted command over the VI Space Marine Legion, which he renamed the Space Wolves. The Primarch and his legion fought well during the Great Crusade, gaining a reputation as cunning and fierce, as well as slightly unstable, warriors. Only Lion El'Jonson and Horus had earned a higher tally of victories than Russ. Russ was happy enough knowing that he alone was the only Primarch out of his brothers to defeat the Emperor in two separate challenges and the only Primarch to have bested Horus in single combat during their frequent training sessions and never once lost to any other Primarch. (There is no actual source for this)
It was during the pacification of Dulan that the millennia-long rivalry with the Dark Angels began. The planetary governor, Durath, had denounced Space Wolf Primarch Leman Russ as the Emperor's lap-dog and swore to feed his heart to his pet Grox. Russ, enraged, swore to kill Durath himself and demanded the satisfaction of leading the assault. Jonson, however, had meticulously planned the attack and was not about to let his brother's hot-headedness foil his plans. Jonson led the assault, leaving Russ to watch helplessly as the Lion stormed the citadel's upper levels, and slew Durath in single combat. Enraged at having what he thought as his rightful revenge for a smudge on his pride, Russ stormed the fortress as Jonson was leaving and struck him across the room. A fight ensued that lasted a full day and night. Russ eventually ceased and started laughing, realizing how foolish their fight was. Jonson, who thought that Russ's first blow was treacherous knocked Russ out cold. By the time Russ regained consciousness Jonson and his legion had departed for other fields of battle in The Crusade. It has since been customary for selected champions from both chapters to engage in a duel whenever they meet so that honour may be satisfied. Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane is the latest warrior to win the contest after defeating the most honoured among the Dark Angels.
At the beginning of the Horus Heresy, the Space Wolves conflicted with their brother Marines once more. The Primarch of the Thousand Sons Space Marines, Magnus the Red, had ignored the Emperor's ban on sorcery. Magnus tried to warn the Emperor of Horus's treachery by sending a sorcerous message to Terra. The Emperor ignored the message's contents, and saw Magnus as the traitor, not Horus. Leman Russ was promptly ordered to apprehend Magnus and take as many sorcerers as possible into custody. He was assisted by the Adeptus Custodes and the Silent Sisterhood. En route, Horus countermanded this instruction, and ordered Russ to destroy the Thousand Sons utterly (McNeill, 2006). Ironically the Burning of Prospero took the Thousand Sons by total surprise. The Space Wolves razed the capital city of Tizca and with it the Thousand Sons' hard-won knowledge. In the close-quarter melee that followed, Magnus and Russ met in single combat. It was a battle of titanic proportion, a contest of might between two god-like beings. At the battle's climax, Magnus shattered Russ's breastplate, puncturing one of his hearts. Undaunted Russ smashed Magnus to the ground. He then picked Magnus of the ground and bloodied Magnus's eye, then raised Magnus into the air and brought him down again breaking his back. To save himself, his Legion, his world, and all the knowledge he had accumulated, Magnus pledged himself to the Chaos God Tzeentch. His new patron's response was immediate. The City of Light was transported into the Eye of Terror. While Prospero was destroyed that day, Magnus, his Legion and all their accumulated knowledge survived. By the time the Thousand Sons reappeared they were allied to Horus, and Magnus had become the most powerful of all Tzeentch's servants: The Prince of Change. A raging feud endures between the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons to this day.
After the Burning, the Space Wolves prepared to rendezvous with the nearby White Scars legion in the Chondax system. Before Russ and Khan could formally exchange greetings, the fleet of the Alpha Legion exited the warp, and began to ravage Leman's fleet. The traitors' superior numbers forced the Space Wolf fleet to resort to hit-and-run tactics. As the White Scars began to maneuver to assist them, they received strict orders to return to the Imperial Palace. With great reluctance, Khan forwarded the edict to Russ, adding his apologies, and left for Terra. Russ and his legion stood alone against the traitor fleet, bloodied but unbowed.
Eventually, after aid from an 'unexpected quarter,'Template:Fact the Space Wolves turned the tables on the Alpha Legion, and warp-jumped to Terra to reinforce the Emperor. Also on the way to Terra were the Ultramarines and Dark Angels legions. It was the knowledge of their impending arrival that pushed Horus into making the mistake that cost him the heresy: the decision to shut down his vessel's shields and challenge the Emperor to single combat.
After the Heresy
Leman Russ was devastated by his inability to save the Emperor, and threw himself into a series of campaigns to stabilise the Imperium. During this time Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, was finalising the Codex Astartes, and made ready to incept the Second Founding. The old legions were to be divided into a series of smaller, more flexible formations known as chapters. At first the Space Wolves refused to comply with the order, and neither would Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists, or Vulkan of the Salamanders. With the threat of war between the new chapters and the old legions looming, however, eventually Russ, along with his brother primarchs, conceded to a few of Guilliman's demands, and allowed one chapter to be created from the old Space Wolves legion, the ill-fated Wolf Brothers chapter.
One hundred and ninety-seven years after the Emperor ascended to the Golden Throne, Leman Russ vanished. He was last seen during the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension, where, it is said, Russ climbed onto the oak table on which he had first dueled the Emperor, to give a speech, but then inexplicably froze. After a long silence, where it appeared that he was overcome with a vision, Leman Russ fell to his knees, then turned and issued hushed instructions to his most trusted retainers. He announced to his loyal brothers that he was leaving, but would return "for the final battle, for the Wolftime."
According to Codex Imperialis the last words of Russ were "Listen but closely brothers, for my life's breath is almost spent. 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 death holds me, and come I shall, no matter the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime".
Russ vanished, taking all but one of his retinue with him. It is rumoured that they had made for the Eye of Terror to continue hunting down the traitorous Marines who had turned against the Emperor. A more fanciful tale claims that they ventured into the Eye of Terror to search for the Tree of Life, whose seed would revive the Emperor.
For seven years, Russ's place was set at the banquet table, as his Legion eagerly awaited his return. It never came. The Wolf Lords of the Space Wolves elected the remaining member of Russ' retinue, Bjorn the Fell-Handed, as their leader, or Great Wolf. Bjorn decided that if Russ was not going to return, then his sons would seek him out, so beginning the first of many Great Hunts. These hunts have recovered many relics, including the Primarch’s suit of armour, but none have succeeded in finding their lost father. Whether or not the mighty Primarch still lives remains a mystery.
In honour of Russ rescuing a forge world from the clutches of chaos the forge named the Leman Russ battle tank after him. Just as its namesake did, the Leman Russ main battle tank defends the Imperium from its enemies with steadfast loyalty and courage. Because of this honor, the Space Wolves are given a number of the Exterminator pattern of this tank.
The Space Wolves are known for their fiercely anti-authoritarian behaviour. They strongly resist the central command structure of the Imperium, (organising themselves into packs instead of the normal tactical squad) and refuse the dictates of the Codex Astartes, the standardised guide to Space Marine tactics only accepting some tactics that were considered useful for their style of warfare. As such, they have a reputation for being as ill-disciplined as they are fearless. It is often said that the best way to get a Space Wolf to do something is to tell him not to do it.
The Great Companies
Instead of dividing into Chapters as per the Codex Astartes, the Space Wolves Legion continued to split itself into twelve Great Companies, with a thirteenth named in honour of a large group of Space Wolves who had disappeared after the Great Crusade, and has come to represent all the Great Companies in the Space Wolves history that have been destroyed, lost on campaign or have recanted their oath of loyalty to the Great Wolf. Each of these is led by a Wolf Lord, who answers to the Chapter Master, the Great Wolf.
Each Great Company is a free-standing body of troops in almost all respects; occupying its own territory in the massive fortress-monastery known as The Fang, possessing its own equipment, forges and spacecraft, and following its own customs and heroes.
Each Great Company takes its name from its current Wolf Lord, and also take the mythological Fenrisian symbol the new Lord associates with. When a Wolf Lord dies, another is chosen to replace him from the slain leader's Wolf Guard, causing the Great Company to reinvent itself. Thus unlike Companies in other Space Marine Chapters, the Great Companies of the Space Wolves do not have fixed heraldry, but change through the ages.
The Great Wolf
The current Great Wolf (Chapter Master) of the Space Wolves is Logan Grimnar. He is one of humanities greatest warriors. It is claimed his hunger for battle is as fierce as Leman Russ’s. Along with his own Great Company, the Great Wolf has direct command of the Chapter’s most venerable heroes: the Rune Priests (psychic shamans and seers), Iron Priests (engineers or techmarines), Wolf Priests (medics and religious leaders or apothecary/chaplain) and Venerable Dreadnoughts. The Great Wolf also has overall control of the Chapter's Thralls, its fleet and the Fang.
Progression of a Space Wolf
Most Space Wolves, after receiving the canis helix and the implants necessary to become a Space Marine and completing several trials, are accepted into the Chapter as Blood Claws, hot-headed warriors who cannot wait to prove themselves, and are still struggling to control the beast within which is unleashed by the canis helix. Blood Claws are the close combat troops of the Space Wolves, spearheading the majority of assaults with a joyous ferocity. They are usually equipped with bolt pistols and chainswords, similar to Assault Marines of other standard chapters though Blood Claws do not necessarily have jump packs as standard equipment. Blood Claws also take to battle upon Marine bikes, usually wielding close combat weapons.
If they survive long enough to mature, they are promoted to the ranks of the Grey Hunters, tempered by battle, but always ready to do what is necessary for the Chapter and the Imperium of Man. Grey Hunters serve as the tactical backbone of a Space Wolf force, as they are equipped to serve in a variety of battle scenarios.
When a Space Wolf is fully mature, "their hair grey and canines pronounced", they are inducted into the Long Fangs, veteran soldiers with a reputation for being disciplined and cool-headed in the heat of battle. They are entrusted with the heavy weaponry possessed by their Great Company, watching over and providing fire support for their younger brethren. Long Fang squad members are disciplined enough to choose their own targets individually (they are one of the only units that can shoot at multiple targets).
Some Space Wolves, having achieved feats of exceptional valour and martial prowess, may become Wolf Guards. These mighty warriors lead small forces of Space Wolves, provide a retinue for the most experienced warrior in the force or lead squads. Besides the standard Power Armour, Wolf Guards also earn the right to don Tactical Dreadnought armour. From here, one may rise to the position of Wolf Lord, mighty leaders who command one of the twelve great companies that comprise the full Space Wolf military force. A Wolf Lord may be accompanied by Fenrisian Wolves.
For some, the close knit and boisterous brotherhood of the pack (squad) is not well suited to their personality, yearning for open spaces and isolation. These lone wolves are selected to become part of a Great Company's Scout force, providing reconnaissance and disrupting enemy movements. These Space Marines are often already veterans, as opposed to the raw recruits used in other Chapters.
Furthermore, some Space Wolves are sent to Terra to become Wolfblades. Wolfblades are an honour guard that protect the ancient Navigator House of Belisarius, long-time allies of the chapter. This pact's origins are lost to legend, but the most commonly accepted version of the story dates it from the Great Crusade and the friendship between Leman Russ and Alexander Belisarius. Belisarius was a Navigator of genius, who aided Russ on many of his adventures. On the day of the Feast of the Founding they are said to have sworn a pact of eternal friendship. As a sign of this friendship, the Belisarians agreed to provide Navigators for the Chapter in perpetuam, in return for the Space Wolves' martial aid. An entire pack of Space Wolves would accompany the Celestarch as his bodyguard. Given the fractious nature of the Navigator Houses, and a commercial rivalry which, at that time, could result in conflicts as large as wars, this was an alliance of vast importance.
The Space Wolves still enjoy a close bond to house Belisarius, a trait shared only by the Blood Ravens, White Scars, and Blood Angels Chapters.
The Thirteenth Company
|13th Company Space Wolves|
|Battlecry:||An ancient and feral howl.|
Space Wolf legend states that the group that came to be known as Thirteenth Company was sent by Leman Russ to pursue the Thousand Sons legion, after the failed attempt to eliminate the Chaos-supporting legion. They vanished from Imperial records, and their loss is honoured by a black stone in the Grand Annulus (the record of Space Wolf Great Companies).
'Magnus through his arts, scryed the future, and seeing the treachery of Horus, used his sorcerous arts to send a message to his liege. The Emperor, however, did not believe that his son Horus who was much beloved could betray him, and instead sent Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves to bring the Thousand Sons to account of their actions, now suspected of attempting to spread discord and sedition between the Emperor and his sons. Russ took his Legion, and with all the Great Companies of the Space Wolves, fell upon the World of the Thousand Sons, Prospero, with the vengeful force of a mighty shower of comets.
Space Wolves attacked the Thousand Sons without provocation and on the field of battle, at its forefront was the Thirteenth company who with incredible ferocity fell upon their erstwhile brethren the Thousand Sons. The Thousand Sons could not stand against the righteous force of the Space Wolves, and inch by inch grudgingly gave ground, until they were surrounded in their own Fortress Monastery, and determined to stand to the last man.
Meanwhile Magnus, Giant Cyclops lord of the Thousand sons knelt in his tower and wept as his sons were ripped away from him. In his anger and sorrow he called to all who would listen and one voice answered. Tzeentch the Manipulator, at the moment Magnus gave his soul Tzeentch granted the traitorous Mutant full mastery of the vagaries of sorcery, and Magnus with his new found power took the battle back to the Wolves of Russ.
Appearing amongst the lines of the Space Wolves, Magnus was unstoppable, even the Feral brotherhood of the Wulfen were unable to stand before the heretical might of the Daemonically-infused Magnus. All fell before him until the great Primarch of the Space Wolves, Leman Russ, advanced upon his Brother. The battle between these two titans was fierce, and would fill several tomes. Magnus cracked the breast plate of Leman Russ and gouged a mighty rend in his flank. Russ was by far the stronger and by far the most skilled Primarch in hand to hand combat but still it took two days and two nights of combat before Russ took the battered body of Magnus, and raising him to the storm wracked skies, brought him down upon his knee.
With a mighty crack, Russ broke the back of his foe, and the heart of his enemy. Magnus sunk to the floor, and as Russ raised his fiery sword Mjalnar to strike his enemy's heart, Magnus whispered a single word of Power and sunk into the earth's dark embrace.
As Leman Russ howled his fury to the packs of the Space Wolves, the sorcerous-librarians of the Thousand Sons opened a vast maelstrom of energy, through which their forces fled. The Wolfkin, the Thirteenth Company of the Space Wolves, at a gesture from their Primarch, gave tongue to the chase and followed their foes into the very eye of the Warp. With a blinding flash, the swirling maelstrom of energy collapsed and the Thirteenth Company, passed from this plane and from Imperial history.'
Their reappearance at the beginning of Abaddon the Despoiler’s Thirteenth Black Crusade has brought them back into the spotlight. They appear to still be in pursuit of the goal Leman Russ set for them, and it was believed that Leman Russ himself was their leader, although this was never proven.
The Thirteenth Company's organization departs heavily from Space Wolf norms, due to the lack of reinforcements and 'fresh blood' supplying the Company, the inability to train members in specialist roles, the lack of heavy equipment, and the effect of having to exist within the Eye of Terror for ten thousand years.
The core of a 13th Company warband are the Grey Slayers. Similar to Grey Hunters but far beyond them in skill, they fulfil the same roles in battle.
Because of the impossibility of recruiting new brethren, there are no Blood Claws in the 13th Company. Each and every Blood Claw has long since advanced to a higher stage. The Company's assault specialists are the Storm Claws. They are equally experienced, but still more hot-headed and aggressive than the Grey Slayers.
The key to the 13th Company's movement through the Warp are the Rune Priests. Because the Eye of Terror has unlocked hidden psychic powers in many recruits, the Company has no shortage of these highly gifted individuals.
The Wulfen are the most drastic departure from a normal Space Wolf. The Space Marines who mutate into Wulfen bear resemblance to werewolves in the same way as Blood Angels suffering the Red Thirst resemble vampires. Any marine to suffer as a Wulfen becomes a half man, half wolf creature with a feral mind. The mutation normally manifests itself in the neophyte stage and Space Wolves must spend time in their training in a scenario designed to out those who have become Wulfen.
Though normal Space Wolves sometimes use individual Wulfen in battle, the 13th Company use entire packs. Each and every member of the 13th Company carries the Curse, and it manifests itself in the Space Wolves at different times. Thus even the Wulfen packs do not stay the same. It has manifested itself so strongly and so late because it reacts to the influence of Chaos; because of this side of their nature acting as a kind of spiritual defence mechanism, Space Wolves are exceptionally resistant to the malign influence of Chaos. It is believed that the 13th Company have only been able to survive living as loyalist marines in the Eye of terror so long precisely because of this trait.
The 13th company was introduced into play in the Eye of Terror Campaign. The 13th Company cannot be used with the normal Wolves, but this is only a balance issue. The story "Engage the Enemy" shows the Space Wolves going so far as to lie to the Imperial Guard to protect the 13th Company.
They are said to be lead by a Wolf Priest nicknamed the Sternhammer who can control the Wulfen Guard Packs but only barely.Template:Fact In the book Wolf' Honour by Lee Lightner, elements of the company rescue Ragnar and company on the "shadow version" of Charys by intervening in an ambush by chaos raptors. They are led by wolf lord Bulveye, with Rune Priest Torvald as his right hand man.
In the 41st millennium, Space Wolves power armour is a blue-grey, with other colours as highlights, most commonly red and yellow. The armour is often adorned with tokens taken from wolves, such as pelts, tails and teeth. Great Company symbols vary, but are taken from Fenrisian mythology and are always related in some way to the wolf. 13th Company retain the old, darker grey and red legion symbols, although the different warbands vary their precise markings along (albeit similar) red wolf themes.
- Logan Grimnar - Chapter Master for the better part of the 41st millennium.
- Ragnar Blackmane - Youngest Wolf Lord in the Space Wolves history and protagonist of the Space Wolf novel series. He is the only Space Wolf to become a Wolf Lord without becoming a Grey Hunter. Current champion of the Wolf Helm of Russ, which he presented to Ulrik as a sign of respect. Prevented the return of the Thousand Sons Legion by casting the Spear of Russ into a warp gate.Template:Fact
- Ulrik the Slayer - The Space Wolves' oldest Wolf Priest, and mentor to many of their greatest heroes. Ulrik has had a hand in training both Ragnar Blackmane and (allegedly) Logan Grimnar; however the chronology of the 40k universe actually makes this impossible with regards to Logan, not least because Logan reached the position of Great Wolf (leader of the Space Wolves chapter) before Ulrik was even promoted to Wolf Priest. This could be explained by the mention of a different Ulric (spelt diffenrtly to that of Ulrik the Slayer) though so far games-workshop have not commented on this.
- Bjorn the Fell-Handed - The oldest Venerable Dreadnought in the Imperium. He fought alongside Leman Russ during the Horus Heresy and was the only member of Russ' retinue left behind by the primarch. He predicted that Russ will come again. There are currently no official rules for fielding him in battle, although he is mentioned in the current codex (and could conceivably be represented as a 'regular' Venerable Dreadnought).
- Njal Stormcaller - The Space Wolves' Rune Priest, accompanied by Nightwing the Psyber raven. There are currently no rules for fielding him on the tabletop, and the current codex does not mention him.
They are reluctant to use some forms of 'advanced' technology in a desire to fight in the style of their Primarch and homeworld. This is, of course, reflected in the army list and specialist rules used by Space Wolf players. They are often (mistakenly) perceived to be an all-out assault army, like Blood Angels or Black Templars; this is however erroneous, for they have a much more flexible and balanced play style and a greater behavioural reliability than either of the above mentioned chapters. They do favour shorter-ranged confrontation than the traditional 'shooty' Codex chapters however.
- Johnson, Jervis; Chambers, Andy, and Thorpe, Gav (2000). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Space Wolves. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-010-2.
- The Space Wolf series of novels:
- King, William (2004). Grey Hunter. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-024-6.
- King, William (2004). Ragnar's Claw. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-023-8.
- King, William (2003). Space Wolf. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-022-X.
- King, William (2003). Wolfblade. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-021-1.
- Lightner, Lee (2007). Sons of Fenris. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 978-1844163885.
- McNeill, Graham (2006). False Gods. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-370-9.
- (May 2000) "Sons of Russ". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (245). ISSN 0265-8712.
- (July 2000) "Codicium Imperialis – The Space Wolves". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (247). ISSN 0265-8712.
- (July 2001) "Index Astartes – The Space Wolves". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (259). ISSN 0265-8712.
- (July 2003) "Index Astartes – 13th Company". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (283). ISSN 0265-8712.
- Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete and Kelly, Phil and McNeill, Graham and Reynolds, Anthony (2002). Index Astartes 2. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-345-4.