Today I woke up thinking the Gateway Quadrant needed more menace. So I wrote this:
The Starwolf Crusades
Imperial psychohistorians have long considered free trade and the regular exchange of ideas that accompany it as the best vector for intergalactic piece. Their poster boy for this relationship is the six sector long coreward border the 3rd Imperium shares with the canoids of the Vargr Extents. Although hostilities and outright warfare can be found in the annals of Imperial/Vargr relations, the relatively limited scale of such actions can be directly attributed to the ongoing commercial and cultural exchanges between the two powers.
The situation in the Empty Quarter and Ley Sectors of the Imperium is decidedly different. Paradoxically, the buffer zone of the bleak Star's End Rift allows hostilities to fester. Trade is limited to the handful of merchants with multiparsec-capable vessels willing to risk it all on long hauls across the rift. And save for the occasional effort by the Scout Service, cultural exchanges are non-existent. Thus stellar distribution and economic reality conspire to limit contact in the region between the Imperials and the Vargr to only those most motivated (i.e. crazy enough) to make the voyage. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of the trailing end of the Imperium that means incursions by the Starwolf Crusaders.
Led by rogue hierophants of a splinter faction of the Church of the Chosen Ones, the Crusaders follow a creed of belligerent Vargr manifest destiny. Although Imperial chroniclers squabble over what constitutes a full-blown Starwolf Crusade, the Sector Navies closest to the Rift have engaged in fleet scale actions against the Crusaders no less than twelve times in the past half millennium, with many other lesser actions in between. Rarely have the Crusaders gained a foothold on Imperial worlds, but the damage they do to the worlds they target is immense: defense satellites and local navies destroyed, population centers bombarded from space, wholesale looting, and the carrying off of Imperial citizens as slave labor.
The last Starwolf Crusade ended in 1093 [seven years prior to the campaign start], so any ex-Navy or Marine characters with more than one term served can throw 4+ on 1d to have seen action against the Vargr. Scout and Army throw 5+, all others 6+. Those who fought against the Starwolf Crusaders may throw 6+ to receive some sort of decoration or commendation for heroic action, base chance 6+ on one die, with die modifiers of +1 per full term served prior to the conflict and +1 if an officer. Throw 1d on the table below to determine specific award.
1. Emperor’s Legion (Purple Heart type award)
2. Amulet of Cleon
3. Octagon of Honor (roll 1d, 1-5 Silver, 6 Gold)
4. Order of the Corona (nobles are Knights of the Order, others are Members)
5. Iridium Star (military only, civilians reroll)
6. Letter of Commendation (can’t wear it on your chest, but +1 reaction bonus in formal job interviews)