For Real Life Bow Weaponry, see Bows and Arrows
In the Grimdark future of the 41st Millennium, simple bows and other archetypes are still somehow in use in the far future. Although the majority of bows and other string weapons are obviously ineffectual to the battlefield of the 41st millennium, there are a few that still find use within the Inquisition. By far one of the most 'advanced' bow weapons (Advanced being put in the lightest sense of the word) is the Crossbow. A crossbow when combined with modern materials and techniques, can be comparable to modern weapons in terms of damage infliction. They are not very common in war, but are sometimes seen with rebellious street gangs or irregular troops. Often they are developed with an automatic draw mechanism which allows for much faster reload, but it is impossible to move and reload at the same time, making it a cumbersome weapon.
- 1 Types of Bows
- 2 Types of Crossbows
- 3 Non-Bow Tensile Weapons
Types of Bows
The most primitive and common of the Bow family. The simple Bow is found on almost every planet as a hunting tool and rarely a weapon of war.
They are simple enough to be made En-masse and are used for big game hunting as well as a primitive form of deterrence. Bows changed little through their many countless centuries of usage and can be found across the galaxy in a variety of designs and constructions. Because of their silence and reliability, they are used by assassins and gangers even in more advanced cultures.
Because of the very little military practicality of bows, some have taken this primitive weapon and turned it into an art piece. Master-crafted Bows are quite sought after for both its quality and collectible value. Some bows are turned into a form of sport such as compound bows in archery competitions. Whilst other bows are used for silent hunting of the planet's local wildlife. Of course, this doesn't stop some Guardsmen into reenacting a scene from Rambo, more so if that particular Guardsmen is a fucking Catachan Jungle Fighter of all things considered.
Some Imperial regiments, especially those from more primitive worlds, may opt for a Bow rather than the flashlight as a Bow is quieter and less likely to give away your position to the enemy (that, and it's much simpler to use for Feral World natives who have even less understanding of technology than most Imperials do). Of course, the challenges of piercing power armor with a simple Bow are almost as (if not totally) impossible with normal materials. Thus, it is quite common to see adamantium or diamond-tipped arrows which allow some leverage to make the Bow more compatible in war. Of course, if they have enough adamantium to use in disposable weapons of course they wouldn't use it for armor instead or at least to tip something more powerful like bolt shells. That would be silly.
In Necromunda, there are bows called Wyld Bows. Wyld Bows are large compound bows used by the Wyld Runners. Basically, members of House Escher that are quasi-feral kids and quasi-alien Beastmaster's, who use these bows as a more...quiet form of assassination weaponry. These chicks just go full-on Rambo in Necromunda. In terms of tabletop, it's a bow with a -1 to hit at long range and no bonus at short range. While it really limits the Wyld Bow’s viability, the bow is very cheap - only 10 credits - which does a lot to increase its usefulness. Additionally, the special ammo that can be bought for it can give it a real boost, especially exploding ammo. Who doesn’t love an 18” range Frag Grenade?
Yep. You heard that right. The Forces of Chaos for some reason thought it is a pretty good idea to reintroduce bows in the modern battlefield of all things.
Looking at Chaos' track record of using medieval tools such as trebuchets and motherfucking siege towers, the introduction of a bow of all thing's sure seals the deal on the competency of the Chaos Gods and seeing how they keep on supporting Abbadon, it ain't looking too good.
Anyways, the Fatecaster Greatbows are Chaos weapons, used by the Tzaangor Enlightened and are strung with ectoplasmic cords that send ensorcelled arrows on a magical path to hit their victims. Basically, this bow has homing arrows that could follow their intended targets. Would this neat trick make a bow still viable in the 42nd millennium? No. Would it be more sensible to use said homing magic on Bolters? Hell to the yes. On the other hand, when has Tzeentch cared about making sense?
On tabletop the Fatecaster Greatbow is a 24" Assault 2 S5 AP-1 D1 weapon. Surprisingly, despite being bows, the Fatecaster is a pretty decent weapon in the Grimdark future. A squadron of Tzaangor Enlightened that is buffed by allied sorcerers and are all carrying these bows could essentially calculate in making 18 attacks, 17.5 should hit, with 10.5 immediately wounding. Not all of these arrows will go through, but a good chunk of them will. It's magic, I ain't gotta explain anything!
Types of Crossbows
A hand bow is a smaller, one-handed version of the crossbow, effectively a pistol. It is a primitive weapon, though sometimes made with modern technology and materials and easily as powerful as a larger version.
While it can be fired with one hand it still requires a long reload time and also not when moving. As well as bows as crossbows, they are mainly used on primitive worlds, but can be found all over the galaxy in more advanced forms. The ease at which they can be broken down and concealed, as well as their silent operation, makes them a favored weapon of assassins. The Ratskin tribes of Necromunda are particularly renowned for making use of handbows and other low-tech weapons.
Condemnor Stakethrowers (Which should not be confused with the Condemner Boltgun) are the primary ranged weapon used by the Novitiate Condemnors.
These are essentially considered a sniper crossbow and is light enough that it can sometimes be even used as a sidearm when needed. It comes with a magazine that improves firing rate and is armed with specialised stakes similar to those used by the Stake Crossbow to ensure that any Psyker would get properly Blammed out of existence. Consider it as the heavier version of the much cheaper Handbow.
Crunchwise, the Condemnor Stakethrower is 4 dice, 3+, 2/3, Silent, P!, MW2, so you can fire it across the board while on a conceal order, any criticals reduce defence dice by 1 and it actually works as a decent sniper rifle. So far, rules are only exclusive for Kill Team.
Your standard, run-of-the-mill crossbow.
The bigger, rifle-sized brother of the Handbow. The Crossbow offers greater tensile strength, which means longer range and higher penetration than their little ilks.
They are often regulated to mere hunting weapons, as their silence and simplicity offers an alternative than the large explosive sound from a Musket, Blunderbuss or a Stub Rifle.
They are, however, not very common in war, but are sometimes seen with rebellious street gangs or irregular troops. Often they are developed with an automatic draw mechanism which allows for a much faster reload, but it is impossible to move and reload at the same time, making it a cumbersome weapon. It can be affixed with a scope for better accuracy, and its silence still makes it somewhat popular amongst scouts.
More advanced Crossbows are also utilized by the Inquisitions Ordo Hereticus, and have become a symbol of their order. Known as the Purgatus Crossbow, it is a fusion of a Boltgun and a standard crossbow and is able to fire with more force than a Shotgun blast. However, it is its ammunition that is the true marvel; heavy wood and silver stakes inscribed with wards and runes designed to disrupt a creature's contact with the Warp, making it an excellent weapon to hunt Psykers.
It is not to be confused with the Condemner Boltgun however, as the Condemner Boltgun is a Combi-weapon whereas the Purgatus Crossbow is a modified Bolter with a Crossbow mechanism attached to it.
A crossbow if you want to role play as Van Helsing.
A Stake Crossbow is a specialized weapon used by the Ordo Hereticus. When the Crossbow fires, it fires a silver stake engraved with sigils that destabilize a psyker's connection to the Warp. The impact of the stake against a psyker will not only cause a major wound, but it will cause his powers to spiral out of control, destroying the psyker in a storm of raw psychic energy.
The difference between this Crossbow and the Purgatus Crossbow is that one utilize Boltgun mechanics whilst the other is a more conventional Crossbow archetype. The Stake Crossbow might be attached to a bolter to form a Combi-weapon known as the Condemnor Boltgun.
The smaller cousin of the Kroot Bolt Thrower.
The Krootbow are unusual crossbow-like weapons rarely wielded by the Kroot Kindreds entering the Koronus Expanse. They are based on the structure of a basic Kroot Rifle and are only used by Kroots who prefer a more stealthy approach.
The weapon possesses a rotational firing mechanism (Similiar to the one from that Van Helsing movie featuring Hugh Jackman) that allows the Krootbow to fire several quarrels with a single pull of the trigger rather than doing a manual reload; great against the heat of battle. The quarrels fired by the weapon are fitted with a mono-edged head and are often coated in toxins by the Kroot using them.
Torque Bow Accelerator Bow is the bigger version of the smaller Krootbow and is definitely in no way related to another similar weapon both in design and in function from Gears of War. Nothing to see here citizen. Move along.
Anyways, the Accelerator Bow is a specialist weapon used exclusively by Kroot Bow-Hunters that, as its name implies, seems to incorporate some railgun tech into this giant crossbow/sniper rifle hybrid. As they are bows, the Accelerator Bow can use a variety of ammunition to get the job done.
- A fused arrow for armour-piercing purposes. The most vanilla of the lot.
- A glide arrow for being stealthy, somehow...even though arrows by themselves are quite stealthy already.
- The voltaic arrow for splashing mortal wounds on additional targets. Although we guess it is an arrow that acts like a taser going by its name.
The Heavy Crossbow is basically a giant Arbalest. It is a hand-crank system that launches harpoon-sized spears armed with either incendiary or explosive warheads. Due to its simplistic design, they are sometimes used as heavy weapons for the Firebrands of House Cawdor in Necromunda.
Because of its ergonomic potential, they are used by House Cawdor as their primary heavy weapons.
On the Necromunda tabletop, all you need to know about the Heavy Crossbow is that it packs a 5” blast weapon that can reach out and drop that pie plate at 30”. It also has a Krak option for that hard target that needs to go down, and it only costs 125 credits. The Heavy Crossbow is legitimately a great weapon, and if you’re going to take an Unwieldy weapon, take this one.
A miniature hand-held version of the larger Kroot Bolt Thrower.
The Londaxi Tribalest is used exclusively by Kroot Heavy Gunners and is one of its primary weapons, with the other being the Dvorgite Skinner. Looking like something out of Quake, the Londaxi Tribalest is kind of like an advanced heavy arbalest (Hence the name Tribalest) that launches a giant, explosive bolt. It seems to work similarly to the Accelerator Bow given there is no visible string.
Like the Dvorgite Skinner, the Londaxi Tribalest isn't actually a Kroot weapon. It is in fact a weapon manufactured by the aforementioned Londaxi race which are a sentient and technologically gifted Xenos race that occasionally clash with the Imperium. It is unknown if the Londaxi is an actual Tau client race or just so happens to be another mercenary race that the Kroot occasionally trades with.
Due to its heavy weight and its limitation as a tensile weapon, the Londaxi Tribalest has a slightly lower attack rate and isn't as accurate, but has a higher damage output to compensate. Crunchwise, this is the closest the Kroot could get to a Heavy Bolter equivalent. With 5 dice, 4+ to hit, 4/4 damage, AP1 and Rending. You don’t get additional damage on the crit, it just gives you another crit and makes it harder for your opponent to get saves.
Kroot Bolt Thrower
The Kroot are also bringing bows to a bolter fight; the bolt thrower is basically a giant Ballista.
The Kroot Bolt Thrower is a simple but effective weapon, used by the Kroot before they encountered the Tau Empire. The Kroot have taken some notes from the T'au on how to improve larger weapons, just like their small arms.
The Tau provide impact fused explosive tips, rather than the Kroot's original sharpened metal bolts. These tips are a smaller version of the warheads used in their own missile pods. The bolt thrower is fired by a hand-crank system which drops bolts from the magazine into position and quickly re-draws the bowstring, similar to a repeating crossbow. This allows them to keep up a high rate of fire with relatively little effort.
The Kroot Bolt Thrower often attached to the back of the Great Knarloc to allow it to move around the battlefield during the fighting.
Non-Bow Tensile Weapons
Not all tensile weapons are bows however, some are fired pneumatically or through a spring mechanism. These 'non-bows' are any type of tensile range weapons that still fires a lance-like bolt/arrow projectile, only this time they're called harpoons or grappling hooks that are permanently attached to a rope to reel the target in. For better context, these weapons skirt the lines between pre-combustion weapons and firearms and in many cases, are literally the last category of range weapons before one goes into literal firearms.
Grot Grappling Hook
Wielded by Kommando Grots.
Grot Grappling Hooks are a piece of equipment that fires a grappling hook that enables the Grot to easily traverse one section of terrain to another. They are on principle, the same as the Grapnel Launcher used by Reavers. Since they are relatively meant for non-combat, Ork Kommandos don't usually use them, often giving it to their Grot companions as their small size makes this weapon suitable in their hands.
They are powered pneumatically and have a long rope to get from place to place. If shit hits the fan, they can be used as weapons, albeit poor ones as it is better to use your Grots to quickly capture objectives. Some are known to be converted into Squig Blastas.
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- – Imperial Advert for the Grapnel Launcher
A Grapnel Launcher is an Imperial device that uses an explosive charge to fire a grapnel hook and its accompanying filament over long distances. A Grapnel Launcher is used to scale vast heights and cross from building to building in dense urban areas. It is a piece of equipment commonly employed by the close combat stealth assault Reiver Squads of the Primaris Space Marines, who always need to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, ready to burst forth from their stealthy approach and attack their foe when they least expect it.
In crunch terms, a Grapnel Launcher acts more as a piece of equipment than a weapon of war which has made some in /tg/ be a bit disappointed that they couldn't yell "Get Over Here!" for shits and giggles.
When played, any models with a grapnel launchers do not count any vertical distance they move against the total they can move that turn (i.e. moving vertically is free for these models). That's of course, if they move. In addition, during deployment, you can set up this unit, if it is equipped with grapnel launchers, behind enemy lines instead of placing it on the battlefield which makes it some form of deep strike. At the end of any of your Movement phases this unit can join the battle – set it up within 6" of a battlefield edge of your choice and more than 9" away from any enemy models. Yay for the return of Outflank!
A Harpoon Gun is traditionally a shooting device meant to hunt down large oceanic creatures such as whales and feminists. However, this doesn't stop the denizens of the Imperium in weaponizing it. Think of the Harpoon Gun as the heavy weapon of the Bow family, even if it doesn't really use any form of a string mechanism to launch its ammunition and instead use a more spring tensile orientated mechanism.
Harpoon Guns are often used by Scalies and it has enough force and weight to puncture even power armor. However its single shot use before it needs to reload is seen as cumbersome and impractical by normal observers.
A cousin of the Harpoon Gun. The Harpoon Launcher is around the same size and same weight as the one wielded by Scalies. However, it has been modified to be wieldable by normal baseline humans. Harpoon Launchers have a metallic chain rope attached to the ammunition, allowing the user to create strategic rope platforms so that their comrades could flying-fox their way across the underhive. On the other hand, it could also be used to reel in any unfortunate SOB like a giant fishing rod so that their comrades could shank'em.
They are mainly used by House Orlock's Road Sergeants.
In the Necromunda tabletop, the harpoon launcher is a weapon that is capable of some serious damage. It has a relatively short range, but it’s not unwieldy, so getting it into range isn’t as bad as it seems. The big problems with it are its pitifully short range and its scarce classification. While it is definitely the most fun of the heavy weapons, it pales in comparison to a plasma gun or grenade launcher.
The Storm-Welder is a weird weapon.
Resembling like a giant FUCK-OFF nailgun. It is wielded only by Forge-Born members of House Goliath and Servitor Ogryns. We aren't truly sure if this shoots out nails or bolts (Although the model indicates likewise). If it is a form of nail/rivet gun, than we can presume that it is fired from some sort of coil-mechanism or a pneumatic system.
On tabletop, it's a pretty underwhelming weapon. It’s rolling to hit on a gang with a BS that tops off at 5+. Rapid Fire 3 doesn’t matter if the only way you can trigger anything is off of an AT BEST 3+ from close range and aiming (if you get lucky on the Reckless crap).
Shock is cool, Rapid Fire 3 is cool, but potentially exploding 21% of the time when you shoot it sucks. Also reckless, so positioning headaches apply. And “only” Strength 5. There are much better weapons overall, so it's best to swap it.
"Oi yer gitz! Look at da size of dat Beaut! Man da Stikka's! We'iz gonna get a Big Un!"
- – Beast Snagga Stiff Urvin da Squig Hunta about to bring down a Hierophant.
A big-ass Ork harpoon launcher designed to impale and bring down giant Squigs and other beastlies onto their knees. The Stikka Kannon are for those Beast Snaggas who are just too damned lazy to chuck their Stikkas onto their prey. So they decided to mount one on a turreted harpoon cannon and call it a day.
The Stikka Kannon is one of the primary weapons of the Kill Rig and the Hunta Rig.
Crunchwise, the Stikka Kannon gives you something specially tailored to nail the favoured prey of the Beast Snaggas with a re-roll to hit and keeps them from running away. This is Awesome when you factor in the fact that Beast Snagga always excel at close combat, so no retreat for those Tau there.
Not to be confused with the Dark Eldar weapon, the Impaler.
"GET OVER HERE!" (Now imagine that scaled up to a Dreadnought).
The Impaler is a pseudo-Dreadnought Close Combat/Range Weapon used by the Blood Slaughterer Impaler Daemon Engines of the Forces of Chaos. The Impaler is a massive, daemonically-possessed barbed harpoon and chain weapon designed to spear a large enemy and drag it within reach of the Blood Slaughterer's Blade Claws and bladed legs. Think of it as a mini-Trident or a Chaos Thundercoil Harpoon that is less OP and more RIP AND TEAR.
The Harpoon on tabletop you an extra attack if you combine it with the Blade Claw/Slaughter Blade. The Harpoon upon successfully hitting a Vehicle or Monster, adds +2 to your charge roll. But the fun has just begun! If there is enemy Infantry within 2", you gain +2 attacks and cannot Fall Back. Not like you'd need to with your 3+/5++ and regaining a wound per turn. Infantry? Mulched. Tanks? Flipped. Every melee-focused Khorne player needs a few of these in their army list, even though it lost Deep Strike this edition. Boo!
"There she blows! Man the Harpoons!"
- – The words of Knight Valiant Pilot, Sir Ahab against an Albino Hierophant named Mobius Dickus
Yeah, I know, its a Harpoon Gun upscaled to an Imperial Knight level of fuckawesome. The Thundercoil Harpoon is a new weapon used by the Knight Valiants as a means to create a giant fucking hole and then pulling the poor sucker in, to face three barrels of promethium. Oh yes, you heard that right, this motherfucker has its harpoon physically connected with a long-ass chain, which also makes it a supersized Grapnel Launcher that could actually function as a weapon. Hence, it would not be surprising if Knight Valiant players shout "GET OVER HERE!" whenever they use this gigantic fishing hook. For good measure, it's connected to a big generator so after the target is stabbed with the harpoon, the chain and harpoon are electrified so it fries the sap from the inside out.
In terms of crunch, the Harpoon is a hilariously awesome weapon. First of all, it has a pretty short range for a weapon its size, with only 12" maximum. Even some Flamers have longer ranges than that. It is also a one-shot weapon, but that one shot if successful is sooooo worth it. Because this bastard is a Str 16, -6 AP and 10 damage! Oh yes baby! Its a fucking Deathstrike missile at close range and packs more AP than even a Volcano Cannon. Furthermore, it can re-roll failed hit rolls when targeting vehicles and monsters and, if it successfully lands a hit, then the target unit suffers an additional D3 mortal wounds! That's up to 13 wounds in a single shot!
A weapon that hasn't been seen since the day of Epic 40,000, even though it has been mentioned in the fluff and the Horus Heresy novels a couple of times, it's the same as a Thundercoil Harpoon, except meant for Titans. Yup. Either a Warlord or multiple Warhounds would use it to trip an enemy Titan that could then be captured 'intact'. Which is exactly what happened to the Imperator-class Titan Corinthian when he dismissed the Warhounds of Legio Audax as a threat on Nuceria.
As you can imagine how rare and a pain in the ass it is to construct these Titans, let alone the Imperator-class variety, the Trident is often seen as a go-to 'non-lethal' weapon for subduing but not significantly damaging the God-Machines when needed. It is a low-velocity barbed spear attached to a massive chain or cable that is in turn connected to one of the Titan's weapon hardpoints. It is thrown at a rebellious God-Machine's legs. Slow enough to ignore Void Shields, it will hammer deep into the leg, and the Titan who threw it will then move backwards and rotate at speed in the hope of tripping the rebellious machine, taking it out of a fight without damaging it irrevocably. Once prone on the ground, the rebellious Titan can be accessed and deactived with much less risk, for it will not be able to rise or bring its armament to bear.
Due to how cool this weapon sounds, there have been several attempts at converting these into real-life miniatures as seen from the image on the right.
Take a Gloriana-class spacefaring cathedral. Remove the explosives from its torpedoes but have them linked to the ship with fuckhuge chains instead. That's what the Ursus Claws were, extremely oversized harpoons that allowed the Conqueror to keep an enemy ship from retreating while the World Eaters demonstrated why they got that name in a calm and concise way.
The Ursus Claws proved to be so popular that the World Eaters miniaturised them and fit them on their Warhound Scout Titans via the Legio Audax. These smaller Ursus Claws function similarly to the Trident. The weapon allowed for Audax Warhounds to bring down many large foes with wolf pack tactics. Thanks to Adeptus Titanicus. We finally got a model of these things.
Only the World Eaters were awesome and/or crazy enough to use this. But when it worked... Hooo boy! and the Space Sharks for some, completely, utterly, totally unrelated reason…
On tabletop, any Warhound Titan can take an Ursus Claw in place of one of its usual weapons. It has a short-range, making it perfect for the swift Warhound. Once in range, it rolls a single dice and has a Strength of 3 – which is where the weapon traits kick in.
The Impale trait means that when an Ursus Claw hits, you don’t make an Armour roll. Instead, you roll a D6 and add the Strength of the attack – plus an extra 1 for each additional Impale weapon firing. Compare the final result to the Scale of the enemy you’re attacking – if it equals it, you force the Titan to randomly turn to the left or right. If it exceeds it, the Titan’s legs take D3+1 Devastating Hits – and any resulting Catastrophic Damage automatically results in the target being Laid Low.
Laid Low means that the Titan must move D6" in a random direction as determined by a Scatter dice, then it falls to the general direction which may cause it to collide with other units. It should be noted that a single Warhound would not be enough to trip over something as big as a Warlord, so you’ll want to squadron them up with similarly-armed Warhounds for +1 Strength. So if y'all wanna reenact the takedown of Corinthian, these are the weapons for you!
Natrix Shock Lance
Think the Thundercoil Harpoon on steroids.
The Natrix Shock Lance is a weapon used by Legio Audax Warhound Titans. An upgraded version of the Ursus Claw, it delivers a potent burst of energy to a grappled enemy Titan, potentially disabling it for a time. It's another one of those weapons used exclusively by the World Eaters, not to anyone's surprise. These are meant when even the Ursus Claws are no longer effective as that Titan that just won't give up. The Natrix Shock Lance, therefore, acts as a giant Titan-grade taser with great effect.
On the Adeptus Titanicus tabletop, the Natrix Shock Lance has a slightly shorter range than even the Ursus Claw, but an extra point of Strength, alongside the Shock trait, means that if it causes a direct, devastating or catastrophic hit to an enemy Titan, that engine immediately issues a Shutdown order.
The effects of Shutdown means that the Titan's void shields collapse immediately. A unit with Shutdown orders cannot be activated in the Movement phase or Combat phase. Reactor rolls cannot be made for a unit with Shutdown orders and they are not automatically removed in the End phase. Moreover, a unit that has Shutdown orders at the end of the battle counts as destroyed. In order to counteract this, the targeted Titan must act in the Damage Control phase and reduce its Reactor level by 2 before making its Repair roll.