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Index Astartes: Timberwolves (WIP)


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Hey all, I've spent time this weekend writing my thoughts into a more coherent form. Still heavily WIP, but with nearly 4000 words I think there's enough meat here to get feedback from those whom are both better writers and more in-tune with the lore than I. Please let me know your thoughts!





The Timberwolves are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter created during the Ultima Founding in response to a direct request by Inquisitor Ra’lesh for a protective Astartes force at the western edge of the T’au Fifth Sphere of Expansion.


Initially made in haste from Primaris of various lineages to serve the immediate needs of the Canidae system, much of the original “Greyshields” force was decimated in the first T’au invasion of the tribal world Canilus before they could establish a foothold in the region. Only a miraculous, mysterious, assistance prevented the nascent force from being erased almost before it could be recorded in the halls of Terra as an official chapter. Through the subsequent rebuilding, the chapter’s genetic makeup has been established to be of Raven Guard lineage.


The Timberwolves are one of the rare chapters who integrate with the local human population, its brothers sitting in council positions and heads of families in the local tribes from which they recruit. While maintaining an incredible stronghold on their home world, the Timberwolves also act partially as a crusading fleet, cycling battle companies between defense of their homeworld and crusading throughout the local region.



“Our chapter is young, but our skill belies our meager speck in the annals of history on Terra.”
— Chaplain Lycaon, First Company

After being cut off from the rest of the Imperium following the opening of the Great Rift, resources in the region had become increasingly scarce. Recognizing the dire situation, Inquisitor Ra’Lesh turned to the iron-rich Canidae System to evaluate the potential for establishing a Mechanicus Forge World to the existing expansive mining operations to directly support the region. Due to challenges navigating to the sole inner planet, little had been known of Canilus itself. Scouting the planet to evaluate its potential as a forge world in the system for the Imperium, Inquisitor Ra’lesh discovered an eviscerated T’au scouting team within the immense timber forests of the southern shores of Equitus, the massive circumferential ocean. The T’au had clearly been caught off guard by some local predator, but the Inquisitor rightly judged that the T’au would soon return and would be better prepared. Recognizing the great strategic importance of the mining worlds, Ra’lesh immediately requested an Astartes force in the region to protect the system and prevent a full-scale invasion by the T’au.


Canilus was initially as much an adversary to the chapter as the many xenos threats would be. Fending off the local Lupine populations and assimilating the tribal communities, while building a permanent presence on the planet, proved a large challenge. Early on, many brothers were lost to the intense storms and the canids, while the tribes proved reluctant to allow their people to be taken for service in the chapter. There were hushed wishes within the ranks to abandon the world, though knowing a T’au invasion force would likely arrive kept the chapter locked to its duty.


The T’au threat was grossly under-estimated, and the initial Astartes numbers proved insufficient for the actual T’au invasion forces sent to take the system. The Astartes were likely only able to hold for as long as they did because the local surface storm systems eliminated the T’au air superiority and significantly hampered their battle drones’ ability to scout and record the Astartes’ numbers.


Upon the conclusion of the first Tau Invasion of Canidae, it was decided that the Timberwolves chapter would take the inner planet Canilus as their homeworld, while the planet XXXX would be turned into the new forge world.

The Archeon Miracle

In the closing stages of an intense war of attrition during the first T’au Invasion of Canidae, what remained of the nascent chapter was locked in a brutal battle with the last elements of the T’au invasion force in the Archeon sector of the North Continent on Canilus. Both sides committed in a fight to the bitter end. To add to the confusion, a large pack of previously undocumented Lupine creatures descended into the melee, attacking warriors on both sides. Just as it seemed the planet’s extant fauna were prepared to eliminate both forces specters of death appeared from nowhere, decimating the T’au forces with a ferocity that gave even the Lupine creatures pause. Disappearing as quickly as they arrived, the ethereal forces left a grizzly scene in their wake. Battered bodies of T’au lay strewn across the battlefield in the middle of a newly exposed rocky, red battlefield—all the snow cover in a perfect circle of 10km in diameter being vaporized, presumably by the mysterious battle force upon their arrival, or departure.


Taking a moment to evaluate the situation, the Lupine creatures seemed to look at the marines with a newfound understanding that they were here to protect the planet, as if the Emperor’s will itself had instructed them to accept the marines. Without so much as a huff, the wolves, one by one, broke off their gaze and walked back into the storm from which they came.


At the site, named the Archeon Circle, no flora has ever grown back. No snow has ever touched the red surface again. Most curiously, no fauna have come to feed on the bodies of the slain T’au, nor have the bodies appeared to undergo any sort of decomposition. The morbid killing field exists in the same state it did when the spectral forces blinked from existence, a time capsule of immense horror.


Devoid of any consensus, a myriad of theories have arisen as to what actually happened. Some suggest that the Lupine creatures and the ethereal warriors were the Emperor’s will manifest, simultaneously evaluating the new chapter and accepting their valor, preventing their total extermination.


Some suggest that the wolves and ghost marines were nothing more than an apparition, the collective fever-dream of marines pushed beyond their breaking point and descending into an uncontrolled rage.


Some believe that the specters that appeared that night were none other than the Legion of the Damned, whose presence terrified the wolves enough to think better of attacking the marines proper.


Some deny the story at all, even going as far as to suggest heretical events on the part of the new chapter.


Whatever the cause, or reason, the chapter’s light was not snuffed out, and the subsequent rebuilding efforts were paramount to the protection of the region. The T’au forces would be back, and now they knew of the chapter’s presence.


Totally off limits to the local tribespeople, the Archeon Circle is now a hallowed site which is used only in part of the Timberwolves initiation rituals, and its preservation is the charge of the chaplaincy currently standing watch on the planet.


Notable Campaigns

The First Invasion of Canidae (009.M42)

  • The threat for which the chapter was founded, the First Invasion of Canidae, was a T’au attempt to seize the valuable system during the Fifth Sphere of Expansion. The first test of the newly minted chapter, it was nearly the last. Were it not for the events of the Archeon Miracle, the chapter would have been snuffed before its existence even recorded in the high halls of Terra and the system would have fallen easily to the expanding T’au Empire.

The Siege of Simensis (011.M42)
Battle of Deal’s Gap (025.M42)

  • The bloodiest battle of the Timberwolves’ Zeta Crusade, it was the first time the new chapter had fought the ferocious xenos hordes of a Tyranid Hive Fleet. Through sheer luck a massive blizzard rolled into the area just before the Timberwolves’ Third Company commenced their offensive. By funneling the confused horde into the gorge known as Deal’s Gap, the Timberwolves were initially able to successfully mitigate the sheer numbers of the Tyranid swarm.

    The operation appeared to be going very well, until an adjacent line being held by local Imperial Guard forces capitulated, resulting in a large portion of the third company getting encircled. As losses in the group were quickly mounting, a splinter of the still mobile third company was able to close the line again to stem the tide, buying time for their beleaguered brothers. Quick thinking by several squad leaders allowed the third company to turn the tide back in their favour, and cleanse the rest of the sector of the xenos.

    While the day was labeled a victory, it came at significant cost to the Third Company, and sowed doubt in their minds as to the efficacy and dependability of the unaugmented human forces for the first time.

Crusade Aureus (099.M42)

  • To date still the most significant crusade by the Timberwolves, the chapters sixth and ninth companies assisted in the defense or liberation of 12 systems at the northern edge of the T’au Fifth Sphere of Expansion, stalling their growth.

    While a significant victory for the Imperium, this operation is often looked at as the moment the T’au turned their attention back to Canidae itself, realizing that the Timberwolves were a significant threat to their expansion.

The Second Invasion of Canidae (110.M42)

  • Not content with their defeat, the T’au returned to take the system a second time. The intense fighting led to the recall of two crusade fleets. Nearly the entire chapter has been pressed into service throughout the system to drive back the invading T’au forces. This operation is still in full swing. Fighting is mostly focused in the outermost regions of the system, though the T’au have launched probing raids on Canilus itself forcing the Timberwolves to defend multiple fronts concurrently.




“We are maker-warriors, a glorious forge world is right on our doorstep.”
—Techmarine Rufus, Second Company


The Timberwolves organize each company into its own self contained fighting force so that any one company can be deployed on a crusade without needing to consider extensive reassignments to ensure it can handle all potential situations. Veteran and specialty formations are not linked to one specific company, but rather elements are assigned to crusades irrespective of the company selected to partake. The chapter command exists outside of the company formation, attaching itself to active forces as deemed necessary.



To this end, new scouts are typically integrated into squads with their direct mentor who is a full battle brother. A brother marine can only achieve the rank of sergeant when their scout appointee is promoted to a full brother, and then the pair form a new squad with the mentor now in the rank of sergeant, the rest of the squad being composed of marines who do not have a charge under their mentorship. The pair will continue to fight together until one of them dies, whereby the remaining warrior is then tasked with mentoring a new recruit of their own. This system was designed to provide an avenue for squads to be shuffled and reassigned to allow all warriors to learn from others, as well as to establish a tight brotherhood between some marines simultaneously.


With a background as tribal members, all battle brothers exhibit a high degree of skill in fashioning items to help survive harsh climates and situations. As such, the Timberwolves marines each typically maintain, and modify, their own equipment. Combined with the expertise present in the newly established Forge World XXXX, this has resulted in the Timberwolves fielding a high number of customized implements of war, far greater than the average seen in most other chapters.



Warmly referred to as “whelps” or “pups” by the marines, new initiates are recruited directly from the various hardy tribes of Canilus, on recommendation from veterans that serve among the tribes’ elders.


Upon promotion to scout, all initiates are assigned a direct mentor—a full battle brother who has proven themselves in at least 2 crusades. These pairs are deployed on the next crusade, being reassigned to a new company if required. If the pup survives the crusade, they will be taken to the Archeon Circle immediately upon their return to the homeworld. This harrowed ground produces visions in prospective recruits deemed worthy, manifesting as some form of possession of the initiate. Many initiates experience temporary blindness, their thriving bodies jerking and contorting while their pupils disappear from their eyes. Scouts that do not experience the visions are immediately redeployed with their mentor, either to die in battle or to prove themselves worthy to visit the hallowed grounds again.


Upon conclusion of the visions, scouts are then sent into the storms without any armor or weapons to find, and ritually slay, one of the world’s Lupine creatures. Once the scout returns to their tribe with the complete carcass of a wolf, the tribe then conducts their own ritualistic ceremony whereby every single part of the wolf is consumed or repurposed to aid the tribe. These ceremonies are a time of great joy for the tribes, being the very first time their chosen sons return since their recruitment. The day after these festivities, the initiate returns to the stronghold to receive their black carapace, and a position within the chapter as a fully fledged battle brother. Together with their mentor they spend the rest of their time training at Solace, awaiting the next crusade to begin. They will not return to their tribe until they achieve a veteran status, and then serve as an elder when not actively deployed in service to the Emperor of Mankind.




As befitting their early mentorship by the Raven Guard, the Timberwolves have adopted a slightly more pragmatic approach to combat than many other chapters.


Founded initially to root out a would-be T’au invasion force, the Timberwolves are experts at stealth, speed, and melee combat. Particularly as a result of their experience defending their homeworld, the Timberwolves excel operating in extreme conditions, using climatic events as cover to advance before smashing an unprepared force and departing back into the blustering storms as quickly as they arrived.


The Timberwolves employ a large number of rapid assault tactics, getting themselves into battle as quickly as possible lest they offer a window of opportunity to their opponents. To this end, they make extensive use of jump packs, drop pods, and outriders with custom snow adaptations. They’ve even mastered using the drift of hovering vehicles from intense winds to their advantage, making their Repulsors very challenging to hit, especially at range.



While primarily a surprise attack force, requiring silent comms, the Timberwolves may employ mixed howls from different directions as a method of coded communication, or to confuse and obfuscate enemy forces.



“Service in His honor is a sacred call to duty, and a needless
death is a cowardly escape from that duty. There is no honour
in a wasted marine, only in a meaningful death.”
—Chapter Master XXXX


As a young chapter, the Timberwolves fight with the ferocity of a force seeking to prove itself, especially in light of their near destruction in the early days. To that end, the chapter accepts the Codex as guidelines, or suggestions, eschewing the dogmatic approach so common within the Imperium. Victory is paramount, and the Timberwolves do not send their forces simply to die. Battles are carefully considered to ensure the greatest possible success with the lowest possible casualties. While a death in battle is seen as the highest honor a marine can achieve, a needless death is seen as a cowardly dereliction of duty and a waste of the immense resources invested in each marine.


The chapter’s split stalwart defense and crusading nature mirrors the culture of their homeworld’s tribal population, where excursions are a rite of passage for all individuals approaching adulthood. All chapter neophytes first serve in crusading forces before being given the honor of defending their homeworld proper and earning the right to return to their tribal families.



“This rock’s hostility is the reason for its beauty. It is among the least
hospitable planets I have seen that are still capable of harboring life.
There is much to be learned from the people who have called it
home for thousands of generations, and we’d be fools to discount them.”
—Chaplain XXXX


The Timberwolves have chosen the scene of their first great battles—the ringed, ice-clad planet Canilus, in the Canidae System, Imperium Nihilus, Ultima Segmentum—as their homeworld. The only non-circumbinary planet in the Canidae System, Canilus orbits Canidae A while the other 11 planets in the system exist at a distant circumbinary orbit from the pair of stars. The Timberwolves levy this advantage, utilizing these distant mining worlds as early warning detection for incoming invasion forces.

As Canilus was selected to be the homeworld of the Timberwolves, the new forge world was established on XXXX; the first of the outer planets. Of the other 10, 3 planets and many of their moons, have all been designated mining worlds to feed the new Forge World.

Canilus, like much of the rest of the system, is extremely iron-rich, resulting in its distinctive red mineral colouration.


The combination of the binary star pair and the large, brilliant rings of the planet wreak havoc with the global climate, belying their immense beauty. With an axial tilt of 28.3 degrees, the rings cast vast shadows across the winter hemisphere of the planet, reflecting that light into the summer hemisphere. The result is an amplified hemispherical temperature difference that generates intense, unpredictable, often centuries-long storms on the surface of the planet. None-the-less, many life forms cling to survival on the harsh world, especially near the equatorial regions bordering the great circumferential ocean Equitus.



The most notable of these extant creatures are a small variety of cold-weather quadrupeds similar in appearance to the legendary old wolves of Terra. Various populations have been documented around the planet, including the brilliant white Lupus Polaris of the far northern regions, the ferocious Lupus Aquis of the bioluminescent southern shores of the Ocean Equitus, and the indomitable, ethereal, Lupus Timbus of the giant carmine timber forests on the north shores of Equitus, for which the Timberwolves get their name. These Lupine creatures are universally gargantuan in stature, standing some 3 meters at their shoulders at full size while on all fours. Some appear even larger due to their impressive manes, or mohawks of fur running from their brows and down their spines, depending on the species.


A notable feature of much of the local flora and fauna is bioluminescence. For many creatures this acts as a guiding light so they can track each other within the intense storms on the planet, preventing a youngling going stray. Most of the glowing flora is edible, at least for the local fauna, with the light making it easier to find in the storms. Some of the prey species exhibit an ability to selectively glow with light in various directions of polarity, presumably as a communication method that isn’t snuffed by howling winds, or to alter appearance to predators without polarity control of their ocular senses.


Perhaps the most impressive flora on the planet are the immense timber forests of extremely hardy trees that dot the landscape, particularly the Carmine Forests along the north shores of Equitus, where the iron-infused trees of reddish bark and deep purple foliage can reach over 150 meters in height and 20 meters wide despite the incredible force of bitter winds that batter the region.



Upon its (apparent re-) discovery, Inquisitor Ra’lesh would note a healthy tribal population in various regions of the planet. The tribes appeared to be healthy, hardy human populations, presumably descended from a failed colonization attempt millenia ago, though no such records could be uncovered.


While little understood by the inquisitor, the chapter has come to admire the synergy and pragmatism that the tribespeople seem to have with the harsh environment. Having survived thousands of generations on this world, the people have developed methods and rituals that allow them to thrive.


Notably, all of the tribes have some sort of mythology relating to a pair of ancient wolves. While the story varies considerably from one tribe to the next, all of them involve some variation of intense competition between these wolves that leads them into a perpetual chase around the equator of the planet. Their determination to catch each other in this endless race kicked up so much snow and rock into the air it formed the planet’s rings, and the friction melted the ice forming the equatorial ocean of Equitus, drowning them both as a result of their singular focus. The lesson gleaned is one of adaptability, observing your surroundings, and the merits of understanding all perspectives less you fall victim to your own hubris. A lesson passed on to the marines of the Timberwolves chapter.



The chapter keep, Solace, is embedded deep into the iron-rich rocky shield of the southern pole, under several kilometers of solid ice. A tactical choice, the keep is nearly invulnerable to most conventional orbital bombardments and has key tunnels through the ice to reach its gates. At a moment’s notice, the torches lighting these corridors can be snuffed out, allowing the desolate chill to quickly freeze over the passages to deny any would-be attacking force access to the stronghold. Auxiliary tunnels allow any present marines to depart the keep to flank a force who has suddenly found its route forward iced over, and its route of escape now blocked by ferocious Astartes.



All traditionally trained marines in service of the Timberwolves chapter are born of Raven Guard Gene-Seed, though they do not appear to have the same pale skin and black hair of their progenitors.


Being a very young and purely Primaris chapter, observable mutation is quite limited. While all brothers experience temporary blindness and disappearance of their pupils during the Archeon Rituals, most brothers never regain a visible pupil despite their vision returning upon the conclusion of the ritual. Those that do usually exhibit a form of complete heterochromia, with their right eye displaying a red or brown pupil, and the left eye displaying ice blue. Some of these marines modify their helmets to reflect this specific mutation.



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Timberwolves’ nominal armor is white, with silver arms, thighs, face and shoulder pad trim, with deep red insignia and textiles. The chapter’s badge is displayed on the left pauldron, while the unit role and squad number is displayed on the right. Some of the more experienced warriors may add additional personalized markings often resembling various patterns found on the local lupine populations.


Much like their tactical mentors, the Raven Guard, the base armor scheme allows them some degree of stealth within the environment of their homeworld. Some specialist recon and stealth squads may opt for a silver pauldron with white insignia for better visual congruence with the local setting.



The standard chapter badge of the Timberwolves is a deep red geometric shape with a silhouetted lupine visage knocked out.



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