The primary category of Eldar small arms is the Shuriken Catapult. A gun that fires bursts of hypervelocity plasti-crystal ninja stars. Its actual effectiveness is greatly inconsistent throughout the fluff, depending on the variant and/or source material. On the tabletop, the Shuriken Catapult is around as effective as a Bolter, shorter range but capable of scoring an armour piercing critical hit. It should be noted that, according to the earliest versions of the game, the Shuriken Catapult was available to nearly every army (just like most basic weapons) including Imperials. The weapon works by shaving off a very thin slice off a solid munitions core and accelerate it to lethal speeds (if you have read Mass Effect's Codex, it's a lot like that, just with monomolecular disks instead of bullets), with a very high rate of fire. Coupled with the fact that the weapon supposedly does not suffer from recoil since the gun uses a gravity accelerator (yes, not magnetic acceleration tech, its projectiles are not magnetic) to propel its munitions at high speeds; it's quite easy for basic Guardians to be a significant threat since they can lay down a curtain of accurate and deadly ninja stars with very little effort.
It is for this reason Orks respect this weapon, due to the fact that it shoots choppy dakka, and a lot of it. Back in the day of 3rd edition Shuriken Catapults barely saw any use (before that they were decent enough for a mook's weapon, but 2nd edition suffered heavily from the Herohammer complex and their wielders saw little use). In 3e, Guardians got fielded all the time but it was for the heavy weapon platform they shielded with their bodies and not these babies. The reason for this is fairly simple: the Shuriken Catapult has a criminally short range that puts it wielder smack in the sweet point for getting assaulted. Someone clearly noticed that having T3 5+ guardians toting around a weapon they had to risk getting assaulted to fire was a bit derptastic so they got a rather noticeable buff: now all Shuriken weapons have the "Bladestorm" rule which causes rolls of 6 to wound to cause an auto-wound at AP2. This means its theoretically possible (although really fuckin' unlikely) for a decent sized squad to wipe out things like Wraithknights in one round of shooting. The short range of the weapon is actually somewhat against common logic, seeing as how it fires high speed aerodynamic projectiles, there's nothing in specific that is fluff-wise stopping them from having the same or better range compared to most standard weapon.
There exist several variations of the Shuriken Catapult.
The Shuriken Pistol, known in the Eldar Lexicon as murekh, is a smaller one-handed pistol version of the Shuriken Catapult. As commonly used as the Laspistol by the Imperial Guard, the Shuriken Pistol is the main sidearm for the Eldar war hosts. The shurikens it fires are identical to those used in the larger weapon; a spinning disc which can slice straight through flesh and bone.
They are part of the equipment of the Howling Banshees, Striking Scorpions and Storm Guardians, and are used by Farseers and Warlocks as well. Special amongst pistols by having the same range as the "full size" variant of the weapon, so it is now a complete upgrade compared to Bolt pistols.
Amongst humans these weapons are sometimes referred to as "slingers" or "sling pistols."
The Shuriken Catapult, or tuelean in the Eldar Lexicon, is the full rifle-sized (but more like a carbine) version of the Shuriken weapon series. It's light, sleek, and reasonably powerful, the hallmark of everything Eldar. Like much of the technology of the Eldar, Shuriken Catapults are grown from the same psychoactive Wraithbone that forms the physical shell of the Craftworlds.
A specialised subset of Bonesingers, taken from those who have previously walked the Path of the Warrior, are tasked with crafting the weapons used by those who would defend their home. This weapon is only carried as a primary weapon by members of Guardian squads since other, more elite forces of the Eldar tend to use more specialized and generally better pieces of ranged equipment.
It is also incorporated to certain other systems such as Eldar Jetbikes.
An improved version of the Shuriken Catapult and carried by the Dire Avengers. This upgraded version of the Shuriken Catapult features an extended barrel, additional power feeds, in-built rangefinders, a greater firing range and more sophisticated targeting systems; to achieve better range and accuracy and the weapon itself has been modified to sling out shurikens at a much faster rate than the stock version (though that part isn't reflected in tabletop).
Most commonly Dire Avengers use these weapons in aimed semi-automatic fire, but in the heat of an assault or a close-range firefight, the weapon's full automatic function can empty its magazine in just four seconds (More specifically, it can fire 1,500 rounds per minute though at this rate it will deplete its ammunition core in just four seconds, meaning that it has enough ammo for 100 shots) You can call say that it consumes ammunition like a Neckbeard consumes Cheesepuffs. If the Eldar were smart they would give it a larger ammunition capacity, as even a Lasgun has more than 100 rounds per ammo pack.
The Gatekeepers Bastion is a modified Avenger Shuriken Catapult made with with fortification and protection against environmental conditions in mind. The model includes reinforced casing around the barrel and magazine, and an augmented scope/range finder built with penetrating hostile planetary conditions as its primary function (snow storms, sand storms, acid rain, hail storms, etc.).
The weapon's hefty casing makes for a much more solid impact, if the Dire Avenger is forced to strike a target in melee, and its seals make it far less prone to clogging and jamming in battle. Turning the gun into a makeshift club. Crude by Eldar standards but efficient nonetheless.
Despite its size and appearance, it is not a Shuriken Carbine.
The heaviest of the Shuriken weapons, the Shuriken Cannon is a heavy version of the regular Catapult. The large Shuriken Cannon works in a similar way to the Shuriken Catapult, but has an ammunition coil to load the weapon more quickly and uses a triple accelerator field for improved rate of fire and power.
Unsurprisingly, while the Shuriken weapons above are all hand-held weapons, the Shuriken cannon is very large and needs stabilizing gyroscopes to allow any accuracy. It has several uses: it can be mounted under jetbikes, onto vehicles, gun platforms and can be carried on foot. Due to its light design (In contrast to other faction's heavy weapons) it can be fired even when on the move, allowing nearly any unit in the warhost to augment its firepower.
A Shrieker Cannon, known as Buanna in the Eldar Lexicon, is an upgraded version of the standard Eldar Shuriken Cannon. Used by the Death Jesters, the Shrieker Cannon fires shurikens saturated with violent toxins known as Margrech, causing any target struck to rupture and explode. The special Shrieker ammunition is hollow and contains a genetically tailored enzyme-based serum.
As the missile hits its target, the centripetal forces created by the spinning disc force the toxin through microscopic holes in the shuriken's spines and into the target. The serum works in a very complex and unpleasant manner, combining with the victim's own genetic material, twisting and distorting tissues, and causing organs to malfunction in a spectacular fashion. Eventually the victim is driven into a violent delirium as the serum reaches his brain and he loses control of his body. Afterwards the pace of the constantly replicating genetic serum reaches a fever pitch as the blood boils, organs rupture and flesh sears from within, before the victim goes poof.
The characteristic shrieking noise of these rounds is caused by the rush of air into the hollow missile as serum is forced into the victim. This noise has prompted Imperial troops to give the weapon its name "Shrieker." For the Aeldari, hyper-sharp-ninja-star cannons just aren't quite enough.
The ultimate shuriken weapon is Maugan Ra's famous Maugetar, that doubles as a power scythe, thus making it a choppy shooty choppa, and is able to cut hierophant biotitans in half. Which doesn't really make sense simply because hierophants are so large that the scythe wouldn't be able to to reach all the way across its body, not even close. Whatever, space magic. That or Maugan Ra is the Eldar's version of cyborg ninjas.
Anyways, Ol'Maugy created Maugetar (literally, "Harvester") as a means to kill a large number of mooks in one go. An ancient Shrieker Cannon with built-in Executioner. The Maugetar fires "shrieker" discs of unusual ties towards its foes. The creation of the weapon is also noted for the permanent crippling of Bonesinger Kaeleth-Tul, which Maugan Ra was directly responsible for. His excuse? "Well, I want to feel special, so I broke his body so he could never make another." What a Dick.
The humble shuriken weapon doesn't always get the respect it deserves, only the Orks seem to truly appreciate these deadly weapons, mostly for their ability to combine both Dakka and Choppa at the same time.
- Shuriken weapons can fire a single disc or a hail of death depending on how skilled the individual using it is. The basic Eldar warrior is essentially armed with a Minigun that can be fired single-handedly whilst performing a perfect somersault.
- When a group of Dire Avengers releases a Blade Storm attack it's like being hit by a sandstorm, where every grain of sand is replaced by an impossibly sharp disk that will cut you into a fine red mist.
- Shuriken weapons can be seen as the Eldar version of the AK47, easy to manufacture and maintain, and although not the most high tech of firearms it can be created in large numbers and can be picked up and used with relative ease by even those with basic training.
- Due to the ammo being formed from plasti-crystal similar to Wraithbone, which can repair itself and grow back into the shape it was formed into, the Shuriken weapon has a theoretically unlimited ammo limit (if used properly). You use up the solid plasti-crystal core, replace with a new one allowing the first to replenish itself, then you can reuse it when it is ready to be used again.
- In the distant past the description of Shuriken weapons used to have different ammo types, being able to use disks that could use explosives, acids, poisons and possibly even more exotic ammo, this would make them a very versatile weapon, allowing them to be customized to deal with specific enemies. This has made a partial return with "shrieker" discs on the table top but is limited to a single weapon. If it was to see a proper return then Dire Avengers would have access to something similar to the Special Issue Bolter ammunition used by Space Marines.
- The Shuriken weapon requires only the energy given by their user to function, meaning that it can be picked up and used immediately without needing any additional power input, meaning the weapon has a limitless power supply as long as the user is alive.
- Shuriken disc's cut through flesh and bone like a hot knife through butter and are more then capable of cutting through all but the strongest of armor. Even though Shuriken weapons are not really designed for dealing with heavy armored opponents you really shouldn't get too comfortable in that fancy armor of yours, as any joint or seal will provide a weak point where a disc can quite easily penetrate. Once a disc has got past the armor, unless it has past right through the disk is going to either bounce around inside the armor cutting its a way through your insides, or lodge itself inside your body where your own armor will prevent you from removing it; you now have an impossibly sharp razor disk that will cut you up from the inside with every move you make, this can cripple or even incapacitate even the toughest of opponents especially when they lodge themselves around your arm or leg joints; even the area around the upper hips, groin region is an area that can be susceptible to Shurikan attacks (ouch, that going to hurt).
- Splinter Weapons - The Dark Eldar's dark and edgy take on Shuriken weapons.