The primary category of Eldar small arms are the Shuriken weapons, guns that fire bursts of psy-plasti-crystal ninja stars. Light, sleek, and reasonably powerful, the hallmark of everything Eldar, and like most of their technology, are grown from the same psychoactive Wraithbone that forms the physical shell of the Craftworlds by a specialised subset of Bonesingers, taken from those who have previously walked the Path of the Warrior.
The actual effectiveness is greatly inconsistent throughout the fluff, depending on the variant and/or source material. They work 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 they do not suffer from recoil since they use a gravity accelerator (yes, not magnetic acceleration tech, its projectiles are not magnetic; think of it like how a railgun works, the disk is propelled forward with a gravitational push, before it then accelerates along a gravity rail that runs all along the barrel) to propel the munitions at very high speeds. Between that and the Eldar's superior senses and accuracy, it's fairly easy even for the militia Guardians to be a significant threat as they can lay down a curtain of precise and deadly ninja stars with very little effort. Crunch-wise, this is represented by all Shuriken weapons enjoying improved armour penetration values on to-hit rolls of 6.
Due to the fact that they shoot a lot of dakka, while being choppy at the same time, Orks feel some sort of confused respect towards them.
Much like Imperial Las weapons, there exist many variants of Shuriken guns.
The Shuriken Pistol, known in the Eldar Lexicon as Murekh, is - who would have thought - the small, 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 Warhosts. 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. They used to be special amongst pistols by having the same range as the "full size" variant of the weapon, but since 9th edition the Catapult got mercifully buffed in that aspect.
Amongst humans these weapons are sometimes referred to as "slingers" or "sling pistols", and sometimes can be found on the black markets of some hives like Necromunda.
The Shuriken Catapult, or Tuelean in the Eldar Lexicon, is the rifle-sized (but really more like a carbine) version of the Shuriken weapon series. 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.
In the earliest versions of the game, the Shuriken Catapult was available to nearly every army (just like most basic weapons) including Imperials. They were decent enough for a mook's weapon, but 2nd edition suffered heavily from the Herohammer complex and their wielders saw little use. Come 3rd edition, Shuriken Catapults continued to barely see any use, as while Guardians got fielded all the time, it was for the heavy weapon platform they shielded with their bodies and not the actual guns they themselves carried. The reason for this was fairly simple: the Shuriken Catapult used to have a criminally short range, on par with pistols, that put its wielder right in the range sweet point for getting assaulted. Someone eventually noticed that having T3 5+ Guardians toting around a weapon they had to risk getting assaulted to fire was a bit derptastic, so they received their characteristic AP improving special rules which carries on to this day, and in 9th Edition they finally got a glorious range increase of 50%, putting them at a respectable 18". The short range of the weapon was actually somewhat against common logic too, as they fire high speed aerodynamic projectiles, and there's nothing in the fluff that would stop them from having the same or better range compared to most standard weapon.
On the tabletop, the Shuriken Catapult is around as effective as a Bolter, slightly shorter in range, but capable of greater volume of fire.
An improved version of the Shuriken Catapult carried by the Dire Avengers, it features an extended barrel, additional power feeds, in-built rangefinders, a greater firing range and more sophisticated targeting systems. Come 9th Edition however, and the regular Shuriken Catapult received the same range, so to further differentiate it from the Avenger, the latter was given a better AP value (-2 instead of -1) and firing rate (Assault 3 instead of 2), bringing to the tabletop the accuracy and rate of fire that previously hadn't been represented.
As stated above, they are the weapon of choice of the Dire Avengers Aspect Warriors, who use them in semi-automatic mode most of the time. However, in the heat of an assault or a close-range firefight, the weapon's full automatic mode can empty its magazine in just four seconds - at 1,500 rounds per minute, it means that it has enough ammo for 100 shots, which is about the same number of rounds you can squeeze out of the average Lasgun's power pack.
Asurmen, the Phoenix Lord of the Dire Avengers, carries a pair of twin-linked Avenger Catapults on his wrists, showing the other races how to do Dakka.
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.), its seals making it far less prone to malfunctioning in battle.
The weapon's increased heft makes for a much more solid impact if the Dire Avenger is forced to strike a target in melee, turning the gun into a makeshift club. Crude by Eldar standards, but effective nonetheless.
The Shuriken Catapult's big sister (or perhaps mum, as it looks like the Catapult's and Splinter Rifle's common ancestor) and the actual combat rifle representative of the Shuriken class. It is the Eldar Corsairs' new mainstay weapon after Forgeworld squatted their range and GW brought them back, forgetting that Lasblasters exist.
Ironically, as it sports an improved range over the Catapult at the cost of a reduced fire rate at medium-to-long distances, it would probably be better for Guardians to be the ones to carry these, while Corsairs would appreciate the better close-range capabilities of the Catapult in their boarding actions and raids.
The heaviest of the Shuriken weapons, the Shuriken Cannon works just the same way as its smaller counterparts, 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. As such, it can be found mounted under jetbikes, onto vehicles and on gun platforms, although some variants that can be carried by a single footslogging elf do exist. Although technically a heavy weapon, due to its light design (comparatively to other faction's heavy weapons) it used to be these girls could be fired even when on the move, and although this currently isn't the case anymore, their fairly high Strength value is still appreciated in many a Warhost.
Shrieker Cannons, known as Buanna in the Eldar Lexicon, are an upgraded version of the Shuriken Cannon which owe their Imperial moniker to the characteristic noise their particular missiles cause the air to move around them.
Used by Harlequin Death Jesters, they fire special hollow (how a monomolecular disc can have a cavity is a geometrycal mystery) shurikens filled with a genetically-tailored, enzyme-based serum called Margrech. As the shot hits its target, the centrifugal forces created by the spinning disc force this potent 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 painfully malfunction. The victim is rapidly driven into a violent delirium as the dangerous cocktail reaches their brain and they lose control of their body, the constant, rapid replicating of the toxin making the blood boil, organs rupture and flesh sear from within, causing the poor bastard to explode in spectacular fashion mere moments after impact. Because for Aeldari clowns, hyper-sharp-ninja-star cannons just aren't quite enough, they gotta add Inflation Fetish to the mix.
The ultimate Shuriken weapon is Maugan Ra's famous Maugetar, an ancient Shrieker Cannon with built-in Executioner, 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. Just don't say it out loud, he probably would take offense to that. Besides, it's very well possible 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. In order to do so, he sort-of kidnapped Kaeleth-Tul, a master Bonesinger, and together they worked to produce the most ded killy Shuriken gun Aeldarkind had ever seen. Once the piece was completed, Maugan Ra then proceeded to cripple, blind, and mutilate Kaeleth-Tul, so that he may never assist anyone else in making a weapon equal or better than that. 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 gravity using Railgun/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 (although they will eventually chew through the armour, like sandblasting through a thick slab of meat) 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 passed 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 the shuriken 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).
- Keep in mind that any disks that either bounce off or shatter against heavy armour are going to then turn into a hail of deadly shrapnel, potentially wounding or killing someone else indirectly.
- These weapons will make short work of anything if not properly armoured; even the Primarch Vulkan was killed (he got better) by a pair of Shuriken pistols, when they were fired into his un-armoured face (don't be an idiot and keep your helmets on).
- Splinter Weapons - The Dark Eldar's dark and edgy take on Shuriken weapons.