The Wolf Brother

Here’s another Vestitas hex encounter, this one revolving around one of the survivors of the Space Wolves’ first and last successor chapter.

Summary: A Wolf Brother space marine, a product of one of the ill-fated attempts to create a Space Wolf successor chapter, has escaped his destruction at the hands of the Inquisition for his gene mutation into the Warp and been spat out upon Vestitas. Here, using the gene seed of a dead brother, he continues the chapter with a wild and feral devotion to Leman Russ perverted by corruption.

Hook: Mauled corpses are left strung up in the trees and left dangling from posts where there are no trees to hold them, spaced out once every few hundred meters all around the local village. It’s really quite impossible to miss while passing through the hex. A Routine(+20) Medicae check reveals that some of the corpses have been mauled as though by a wild animal, with multiple different teeth clearly being used to tear at the skin, while others have been blown apart as though by some sort of explosive.

Exploration: The Wolf Brother knows by the time the party has reached the village that they are trespassing in his territory unless they are sneaking and succeed on their Stealth check opposed to his Awareness.

The inhabitants of the village are wary of outsiders. Children hoping to join the Wolf Brother’s pack will flee to alert him immediately upon seeing strangers enter, especially a group as strange as any given party of acolytes or cultists. It is a Challenging(+0) Awareness test to spot them, and players are entitled to a roll for this purpose automatically when entering the village. If the party attempts to pursue the children to see where they’re running off to, it is an Ordinary(+10) Athletics check to catch them immediately. If all party members fail their first Athletics check, they may make a Challenging(+0) Acrobatics check to pursue the child through the woods. If all party members fail that, they may make a Hard(-20) Survival check to track him. If the party catches the child in the village and they’ve been sneaking, the Wolf Brother knows nothing of their trespassing. Otherwise, the child isn’t telling the Wolf Brother anything he doesn’t already know, but the child will break to an Ordinary(+10) Interrogation check and reveal that he was going to inform the village’s master and roughly where in the woods said master lives.

Investigating at the village will always yield general unfriendliness and demands that the party leave. The villagers will do nothing in particular if their warnings are ignored, though they may claim that the village’s master in the woods will make them regret it if they stay. With a successful Hard(-20) Inquiry check will get the villagers to open up that the master is one of the Emperor’s angels of death, and he has claimed the village for his own and doesn’t like it when people trespass. He sometimes takes young boys from the age of about 11-14 to his lair in the woods and makes them a part of his pack. The village will see them later sometimes, feral and savage and powerful. The villagers do not know the exact location of their master’s lair, but if you head out into the woods in the general direction he’ll find you soon enough. It’s usually considered wise to bring lots of raw meat as tribute, lest he tear your throat out to get some.

If the players end up in the forest for any length of time without specifically attempting to hide, two of the Wolf Brother’s full grown feral brethren will attack. They make a Stealth check opposed to the party’s Awareness to attempt an ambush, and get a surprise round on anyone whose Awareness they beat. The Wolf Brothers know no fear and will fight to the death. Tracking them back to their lair requires a Hard(-20) Survival check. If the party fails, the entire remainder of the pack will attempt an ambush the same way the first two did.

Confrontation: If the party tracks down the Wolf Brother’s lair, it contains not only the Wolf Brother himself, but also two fully grown and four juvenile feral brothers. The lair is a cavern decorated with crude carvings of the Wolf Brothers’ insignia. A Difficult(-10) Scholastic Lore (Adeptus Astartes) check will reveal that it is the heraldry of the Wolf Brothers, a doomed successor chapter of the Space Wolves that was genetically unstable and destroyed, and some of whose members escaped into the Warp. The wolves will defend their lair to the death, but if the party succeeds on hiding nearby, several of the wolves will regularly leave to go hunting, with 1d5-2 adults (including the original Wolf Brother space marine, minimum one) and 1d5-3 juveniles (minimum zero) in each pack, allowing the party to slice up the fight into two different encounters.

The wolves can be negotiated with, though their starting disposition is only 10. They have either aggressive or unhinged personalities, and will regularly test disposition to resist the urge to start killing whoever is talking to them pretty much just because. The Wolf Brother and his pack don’t really want anything except to maintain control of their territory and kill in the name of some twisted memory of Leman Russ, though, so it’s not clear what offer the party might make that they would even bother hearing out. You never know what wacky stuff players can come up with, though.

Rewards: The Wolf Brother’s space marine armor has no functioning systems, has no power source, and is missing the left arm and helmet, but other than that it does still provide 8 AP, makes the wearer Hulking size, and the to-hit bonus granted to enemies by that size can be negated if the wearer has a black carapace. If hooked up with a power source, it will still provide a +10 bonus to Strength, but not the full +20 unless repaired. Such repairs would firstly require components, which would be extremely difficult to find without looting them from another set of partially destroyed space marine armor or stealing them directly from a techmarine’s workshop, and second would require a Very Hard(-30) Tech Use check. The Wolf Brother’s bolter is still perfectly operational.

The Wolf Brother’s cavern lair also includes a makeshift lab where he keeps geneseed. All of the geneseed is currently in use in the juveniles, but the equipment is still functional. Anyone who succeeds on a Hard(-20) Medicae check can harvest the geneseed from any of the slain Wolf Brothers using the equipment here, and store it. When implanted into the body of a boy 11-14 years old, they will develop the implants of a space marine over the next 5-7 years.

In the event the Wolf Brother is killed, the village is left completely adrift without their wolf master, and anyone who presents the corpse of the Wolf Brother can easily intimidate their way into ruling the village or installing a friend. Whether the village is told that the Wolf Brother is a corrupted servant of Chaos and they must return to the light of the Emperor or that he was a servant of a false Emperor and they should seek salvation through darker gods is a matter of personal taste. Either way, the new ruler of the village gains 1d10 Influence, and anyone friends with them gains 1d5. The village can also be levied in exchange for a permanent sacrifice of two Influence points, which will allow one Influence roll in the village to succeed automatically. The village can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any service or basic armour that’s average or cheaper, and any medical care, or low-tech weapon that’s scarce or cheaper.

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