Which Space Marine Chapters Best Represent The Garou Tribes of Werewolf: The Apocalypse?
A Werewolf/Warhammer 40k Crossover
They are some of the most powerful beings ever risen from humanity. The few who had the will, and the fortitude, to survive the transformation to become what they are. They are the sword and the shield, the bastion against corruption, and the balance point that will stave off Armageddon.
If you're a World of Darkness player, this sounds like the garou of Werewolf: The Apocalypse who've sworn to oppose the corruption of the Wyrm and fight for the fate of the world. If you're someone who prefers the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, though, it sounds more like a description of the space marines, the God Emperor's angels of death.
For those familiar with my RPG releases, you may have seen installments of my 100 Kinfolk project that I created for use with Werewolf. I spent a good year and a half elbow-deep in the setting, creating a hundred unique NPC kinfolk for each werewolf tribe, studying the culture, history, and strange powers each one is known for. What you might not know is that just before quarantine started I began exploring the dark future of the Warhammer 40k setting... and what I found is there are a lot of surprising touch stones and overlaps between these two properties.
Not in a, "X clearly inspired Y," way, mind you. More in a, "Huh, these two songs are clearly different, but they're hitting a surprising number of the same notes."
And the harder I looked, the more difficult it was to ignore. So, as an academic exercise, I thought I'd map the closest-fitting space marine chapters onto the garou tribes that I feel are their spiritual cousins. And perhaps if you're a fan of one setting, but not the other, this could work as a jumping off point for you!
Before we get started, if this is the sort of content you'd like to see more of, consider stopping by my gaming blog Improved Initiative, or checking out some of the other unusual entries right here in my full Vocal archive!
#1: Black Furies (The Minotaurs)
This list is already starting on a bit of a controversial note, and before all those clearing their throats start, I know. The Black Furies are known for being predominantly female, fulfilling the archetype of the Amazon warrior, with males who experience their first change being given to other tribes. As such the adepta sororitas (Sisters of Battle in the common parlance) would be a far better fit thematically for the Furies.
I agree... but we're talking about space marines. And while the Sisters are many things, astartes is not on that list.
Perhaps the closest in terms of classical inspiration to the Black Furies are the Minotaurs. This space marine chapter draws on the cultural inspiration and fighting style of ancient Spartan warriors, and they are relentlessly brutal in pursuit of their goals. And just as the Furies themselves may have trouble containing their frenzy due to the flaw of their tribe, so it is said that the Minotaurs would often act as berserkers, driven to acts of destruction that were awe-inspiring in their scope and scale.
While an argument could be made that the disciplined firing lines of the Imperial Fists are more in keeping with the precision archery of the Black Furies, the soul of the tribe goes deeper than the bow in my view.
For those who could use more kinfolk for this tribe, check out my 100 Black Fury Kinfolk list!
#2: Bone Gnawers (Alpha Legion)
The Bone Gnawers are often looked down on by the other tribes, seen as little more than mongrel scavengers. The tribe instead thinks of itself as the underdog, disregarding the conventional rules in favor of unusual tactics, unexpected strategies, and winning through unconventional means. When you add in the sheer scale of the information networks the Bone Gnawers can command, they are a clear fit for the Alpha Legion.
The last of the space marine legions to be re-united with its lost primarch (or primarchs in the Alpha Legion's case, as there were twins), the Alpha Legion was initially treated as the runts of the litter. They were still space marines, but they were the baby brothers of the Emperor's sons and grandsons. While they may not have been as strong as some of their brothers, or as tough as others, the Alpha Legion was the most cunning. They manipulated, cajoled, tricked, trapped, and whispered, moving enemies and allies alike as if they were pieces on a chess board. If you saw the Alpha Legion's hands at work, it was because they wanted you to see them.
This maps quite well with the Bone Gnawers who follow Rat as a totem of war. A straight-up fight is for fools, and it's a good way to get killed. A sucker punch, a whispered slight, setting the enemy at one-another's throats while you sit back and wait... these are the things that Rat does to win at the end of the day. While other garou might look down their noses at the Bone Gnawers, that vicious streak is there just beneath the surface.
For those who are interested, check out my 100 Bone Gnawer Kinfolk list.
#3: Children of Gaia (Salamanders)
The Children of Gaia are often thought of as the peacemakers and diplomats of the garou. They are the last to reach for violence as a solution to a problem, and they are the ones who are most trusted to be level-headed, attempting to see the perspective of all sides. The Children are still garou, though, and when the time for discussion is over they will fight just as hard (if not harder) than the other tribes. Because when words don't work, teeth and claws will settle the issue for good.
The Salamanders are often given the same side-eyed looks by their cousins in the space marines, due to the fact that they consider themselves protectors of humanity in the immediate sense. Which means they will fight and die to protect a grubby little hamlet with as much fervor and ferocity as they would fight on the steps of the Emperor's own palace.
Both the Children of Gaia and the Salamanders remind themselves that life is a sacred thing, not to be tossed away out of anger or because it's convenient to do so. They remain connected to humanity, and refuse to grow used to the burden they carry... and often they are the first to sneer at vainglory and self-aggrandizement, reminding others that they were not made to revel in carnage and bloodshed even when it is a necessity.
For fans of this tribe, take a look at my 100 Children of Gaia Kinfolk list. There's some truly unusual sights in that one!
#4: Fianna (Blood Angels)
The Fianna are some of the fiercest among the garou. Warrior poets, they are as well-regarded for the tales they tell, the songs that they sing, and the great art they create as they are for their unbridled ferocity when battle is joined. Passions burn hot within the Fianna, though, and their rage can be a horror when it holds them in its grip.
The Blood Angels meet the Fianna on nearly every point. Encouraged to study and excel in the things that make life worth living, many of them are painters, poets, and crafters of beautiful and deadly things. And within the breast of every Blood Angel there lurks the waiting curses of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage. The sheer willpower it takes to keep a white-knuckled hold on their need to slake their fury, and knowing they are doomed to succumb to it sooner or later, makes them as akin to doubles as one might find between these two settings.
For those who love this tribe, don't miss the 100 Fianna Kinfolk list.
#5: Get of Fenris (Space Wolves)
The children of the great northern wolf are some of the fiercest warriors among the garou. The Get of Fenris come from Scandinavian stock as well as the northern Germanic tribes, howling into battle like the ulfednar of legend. They tend to be hard-fighting, hard-feasting, and always trying to top their previous feats of bravery (foolhardy as those feats might be).
There is perhaps no clearer match on this whole list than the vulka fenrika; the Space Wolves. With inspiration drawn from the same myth cycles, the Space Wolves are warriors to be feared. The were born on the horrifying world of Fenris, and it has made them hard, inured to the dangers of life as they travel the galaxy. The Space Wolves even share the fatalistic attitude of many of the Get of Fenris, knowing that they will either die or succumb to the curse of the beast within, but fighting all the harder. Because until that day comes there is blood in their veins and fire in their breasts, and they will make their lives a tale to be told for generations to come.
The 100 Get of Fenris Kinfolk list was the first one released in the project, and it remains one of the most popular thus far.
#6: Glass Walkers (Iron Hands)
While most tribes tend to live in the modern day, utilizing the conveniences and technologies we all have, the Glass Walkers embrace the spirit of invention that is Cockroach. Born to cities and wires, they can create bizarre things that border on the heretical, but which effortlessly blend the traditions of the past with the inventiveness and creativity of the present (and sometimes, of the future). Glass Walkers are high-tech werewolves who embrace the Weaver, and the machine, in ways that often make other garou less-than-comfortable.
The same can be said of the Iron Hands. The sons of Ferrus Manus, these space marines are particularly adept at maintaining and repairing even the most advanced forms of technology. Closely aligned with the machine-worshiping tech priests of Mars, the Iron Hands also have a tendency to replace wounded or defective parts of their body with robotic prosthetics. This tends to make many of them more machine than man after they've been deployed for any length of time, but even those still in possession of most of their organic bodies tend to have minds and souls of machines when viewed by outsiders.
Another fan favorite, my 100 Glass Walker Kinfolk list goes to some really strange places when embracing the teachings of Cockroach.
#7: Red Talons (World Eaters)
The Red Talons have lost more and more of their land, their status, and their numbers as humanity has pushed nature to the peripheries of the planet. With no human kin, Red Talons are only as strong as the wolves of the world, and as wolves have waned they've felt their backs pressed to the wall. Vicious and bitter, their desires to control man's spread were ignored, and they have suffered as a result.
While not a perfect match, the World Eaters share many aspects of the Red Talons' story. Their primarch Angron was made a slave, and then stolen away against his wishes by the Emperor on the eve of his last battle with his chosen brethren; escaped slaves from the gladiatorial pits, like himself. They were cut down, hunted, and were to be killed like dogs by the rulers of that world. The World Eaters are brutal, and their wrath is the stuff horrifying legends are made of. And while the grim darkness of the far future is filled with horrible machinery, the World Eaters prefer to rely on melee fighting, feeling the blood spray across their faces and their red armor as they fight.
Also, before they were renamed when Angron took command, they were known as the War Hounds; a name that would not be out of place were it given to the Red Talons.
One of the more challenging tribes to write for, my 100 Red Talon Kinfolk list has a hundred unique wolves ready to fill the game world with!
#8: Shadow Lords (Dark Angels)
The Shadow Lords were once the power behind the throne of the garou nation. The hands who did the deeds the rulers couldn't be seen sullying themselves with, they operated in the shadows to do what needed to be done. Though they are still powerful betas and lieutenants, the Shadow Lords are often thought to be playing their own games, helping the garou nation in its struggles only because doing so gets them closer to their own goals. And, in some cases, people suspect that they wish to ascend above their traditional station to sit the thrones they have served for so long.
The Dark Angels, the mighty fighting first legion, operate in much the same way. Able to adapt themselves to whatever the situation calls for, the Dark Angels tend to play their cards close to their armored chests, keeping their own counsel while simultaneously presenting a compliant face to the forces of the Imperium at large. A face that most are suspicious of, but which they will not call a lie without proof to back up those bold words. And much like the Shadow Lords, the Dark Angels are pursuing their own agenda far more often than most realize... particularly when it comes to the hunt for their own, corrupted brethren who have fallen to the forces of the dark gods of Chaos. This stain on their honor must be rubbed out before they can hold their heads high once more.
For those who enjoy the game within the game, my 100 Shadow Lord Kinfolk list should be right up your alley.
#9: Silent Striders (Raven Guard)
The Silent Striders rely on speed and stealth more than almost any other tools. Able to accomplish feats as lone wanderers or small groups that would take entire strike forces of other garou, they have an intimate knowledge of the shadows and the umbra that have marked them out. While none doubt their commitment or skill, few find they ever truly know these nearly silent members of the nation.
The Raven Guard occupy a similar place in the grim darkness of the far future. Able to commune with the shadows in ways that few truly understand, their tactics are as precise as they are deadly. Often operating under-strength, or having to fight with far smaller numbers than their cousins would, the Raven Guard usually accomplishes their victories in such a way that once they've left no one will even know they were present. Marked by their pale skin and black eyes, the Raven Guard's presence is rarely known unless they desire it to be known... and their deeds are often obscured by that very shadow.
They may not have the same, focused hatred of the undead that the Silent Striders do, nor a curse that bars them from their homeland, but they do share a disgust of the forces of corruption, and more than their share of misery and tragedy.
For folks who love this tribe, 100 Silent Strider Kinfolk has some unexpected twists and turns in it.
#10: Silver Fangs (Emperor's Children)
The Silver Fangs are the royalty of the garou nation. Once the rulers, or at least the first among equals, their grip on the garou slipped away along with the divine right of kings. Fallen into dust and disarray, with many of their traditions pointless or forgotten, many of the dynasties suffered from inherited flaws or weak minds caused by keeping their blood too pure. Though there is a new generation willing to stand to reclaim their ancient glories, there are many who wonder if it's too little, too late.
Though they have since fallen to the forces of Chaos, with their gene father becoming a demon prince, the Emperor's Children in their golden age were everything the Silver Fangs would want to be. Formed from volunteers among earth's ruling noble families, the Emperor's Children sought perfection... or as close as they could get to it. From painting, to formations, to the art of the blade, they were as elegant as they were deadly, and as refined as they were dangerous. Arrogance and self-aggrandizement was their downfall in many ways... and there are some who say that pride left uncontrolled might do the same to the Silver Fangs if they aren't careful.
And for those who enjoy these nobles, check out my 100 Silver Fang Kinfolk list!
#11: Uktena (Thousand Sons)
It's said that the Uktena have forgotten more mystical rites and arcane secrets than the rest of the garou will ever learn. Driven by an intense curiosity that borders on a derangement, the Uktena are often willing to use tools and make bargains that would make the rest of the nation blanche. Power is power, or so many will say, and when the fate of the world hangs in the balance you cannot eschew the use of a tool, rite, or spirit simply because it might make your hands feel dirty.
This attitude echoes the very things spoken by the Thousand Sons in their pursuit of knowledge, and the powers of sorcery. Filled with potent psykers, these warrior mystics were a force to be reckoned with... and now that they've embraced the powers of Chaos, they're even more dangerous. In many ways they represent a dark mirror to what the Uktena could become if they cross too many boundaries, and let their desire for knowledge pull them too deeply into the shadows.
This tribe never gets enough love, in my view, so if you haven't checked it out, give my 100 Uktena Kinfolk list a look.
#12: Wendigo (White Scars)
Younger Brother is perhaps the most problematic tribe in the setting, the way they're written. Because while many of the other tribes draw from world history, they're kept flexible, vague, and variable enough to duck some of their thornier issues... this tribe, however, usually just boils down to, "They're the Native American ones." The issue, of course, is there were dozens of nations among the native peoples of America, with a huge variety of cultures, languages, and history between them... but it all sort of gets boiled down into this one amalgamation. Then just to add insult to injury you name the tribe after a particular myth that was far from universal among the first nations (the wendigo myth originated among the Algonquin, but later spread to the Ojibwe and others, but it was still fairly limited as such things go).
In many ways, that's the 90s, for you.
If Younger Brother was going to share a lunch table with any chapter in the 41st millennium, it would be the White Scars. The White Scars are supposed to be drawing on the history and culture of Mongolia, particularly during the time of Temujin (known to most of us as Ghengis Khan), but they come across as a pretty broad stereotype with a lot of problematic elements. And just like Younger Brother there have been efforts to try to at least touch up that problematic past... but it's kind of like trying to dig yourself out of a hole, at this point.
I did the best I could with the 100 Wendigo Kinfolk list... but you can only undo so much when you've got to work within the existing game structure.
#13: White Howlers (Word Bearers)
The White Howlers were pushed further and further back from their territories, forcing them to dig deeper and deeper into the darker parts of the umbra for weapons to wield against their foes. When they ran out of paths forward, they danced the spiral, and embraced the corruptive powers of the Wyrm. Driven mad, they became the Black Spiral Dancers, and they have done all they can to suck others into the maelstrom of chaos and destruction the Wyrm has wrought.
This is similar to the path taken by the Word Bearers; the first traitors, and arguably some of the greatest servants of the dark gods.
The Word Bearers' primarch needed faith, and when he was rejected by the Emperor, his faith was courted by the gods of Chaos. He became their pawn, and dragged his sons with him. The infection spread, and it was the whispered message of the Word Bearers that led to blasphemous rites, dark cults, and demonic rituals. They are the blight that has led to so much sickness, anarchy, and strife... and it seems like no matter how many are defeated, there are always more willing to step in to take their places.
If you need a bunch of bad guys for your game, then the 200 Black Spiral Dancer Kinfolk list will set you up nicely.