"My Emperors Children, what sweet music they make."
- – Fulgrim on the eve of the Drop Site Massacre
One of the most exotic kind of weapons, sonic weapons emit vibrations from sound waves of various frequencies in order to not just make your usual scrub's ear drums explode but also to disrupt anything they hit, shaking the target quite literally apart. Most commonly used by the Emperor's Children, the Eldar make use of them as well. (A good idea would involve Ork Goff Rokkaz and Orky sound Kannons called ‘ead popperz.)
- 1 Noise Marine Weaponry
- 2 Chaos Renegades
- 3 Imperium
- 4 Eldar
- 5 Orks
- 6 Star Wars
Noise Marine Weaponry
The warbands of the Emperor's Children (and Noise Marines in general) use sonic weapons with great frequency, and sport three variations of the weapon. Back in the 80s, these weapons were stylized to resemble electric guitars and keytars, making Noise Marines look like psychotic weaponised hair metal bands. This awesomeness, alas, gave way to more "modernistic" fancy guns around 4th edition.
The basic weapon employed by Noise Marines, it fires blasts of sound capable of tearing through targets with the force of a Bolter via wave after wave of devastating harmonics, best suited to mowing down infantry hordes, but fired en masse, is capable of stripping wounds off vehicles and monsters.
For some reason, instead of firing off invisible sound waves like a real life audio weapon would or any other 40K Sonic weapon for that matter, the Sonic Blaster along with the rest of the Noise Marine's Sonic armory fires off purple energy of audio disruptions.
The weapon can unleash short riffs or long, discordant wails. A twin-linked and enlarged version of the weapon is used by Chaos Sonic Dreadnoughts.
The Blastmaster (no, not those fancy toy guns you get from the 90's) is the Sonic Blaster turned up to 11 (herro!). It produces a throbbing bass note which is strong enough to burst eyeballs and rupture organs. At different frequencies the weapon can have different effects, either harming individuals with a varying frequency or destroying an entire area with a single pulsing frequency, more details on this firing setting can be read below.
It can fire on two settings: the varied frequency setting can be fired similarly to a heavy bolter, even on the move, though it has a slightly slower rate of fire; the single frequency setting turns it into a straight up heavy weapon that can project its ROCK over a significant target area that can damage light and medium vehicles, and kill several Space Marines outright. Despite its name it has nothing to do with Master Blaster, who is awesome in other ways.
The Doom Siren (also known as the Angry/Agony Organ) is a backpack-mounted/helmet-mounted/why-not-both-mounted device that can weaponize the warcries of the wearer, turning his facemelters into literal facemelters.
It's basically a miniaturized and weaponized Dirge Caster or the Chaos version of a Banshee Mask.
The device is made up primarily of an arrangement of tubes around their helmets which can project short-ranged sonic attack and amplify the war cries of the bearer into a devastating sonic scream which spreads out in front of the charging Marine. However, certain Noise Marines must have their armor specially modified and fitted for it to be used properly.
More often than not, some Noise Marines would get a bunch of Doom Sirens and connect it on their backs for triple the fun. It is the spiritual successor of the Sonic Shrieker.
A piece of utility wargear rather than an offensive weapon, this Great Crusade-era implant was a Laer-derived implant, giving those equipped an advantage by inflicting a -1 WS debuff to enemy models in base contact that aren't immune to Fear. This implant doesn't make an appearance a few years down the line, either being empowered by the Chaos God Slaanesh probably led to this wargear being phased out as the Crusade built up, or was possibly "upgraded" and incorporated into the Emperor's Children implantation process for further generations of sick fucks.
By function, the Sonic Shrieker is in essence a diminutive version of a Doom Siren, the Sonic Shrieker can be used to unleash a brief but potent sonic barrage upon an opponent at close quarters, disorienting him, and leaving him open to a killing blow. A Sonic Shrieker can only be fitted to a Power Armour Helmet (which it is "rumored to draw its origins from xenos technology" - a pretty clear reference to the infamous masks of the Eldar Howling Banshees), for it required being connected to the miniature fusion reactor from the armor's backpack in order to fire, and even then, the Shrieker needs the better part of an hour to build up enough energy to fire once more when discharged.
A weapon that was derived from the bizarre instruments commissioned by Remembrancer Bequa Kynska for her opera for the Emperor's Children (or were those instruments, looted from the blood- and semen-stained stage), this was one of the first human made sonic weapons and was designed for ear rape as well as mind rape. They were able to unleash blasts of screaming discordant energy that can rupture flesh and incinerate metal, but their most terrifying ability was to open up the minds of those they touch to the horrors of the Warp as they also happen to be PSYCHIC!
This Great Crusade-era weapon was used by the Emperor's Children Kakophoni of the same name (the first recognizable Noise Marines), and they look like big sonic blasters, and can be thought of as prototypical blastmasters. This was a heavy weapon that had only one firing mode that was stronger than a blastmaster's varied frenquency setting, but could only fire twice and had Gets Hot!; but they had the bonus of having the capacity to inflict collateral damage to a squad that could kill most units outright.
A weaponized Harp from the new Slaaneshi Herald known as the Infernal Enrapturess. Despite sounding like a rather lame musical instrument disguised as a weapon, (it's not even a lyre, It's a liar) the materials made for a Heartstring Lyre is (un)surprisingly Grimdark. Whilst the overall structure of the Harp is mundane, its strings are fashioned from the muscles and tendons of some poor sod whilst the sod himself acts as the instrument's base. This being Slaanesh, we ain't sure whether this is considered as some form of weird and unusual punishment, or as some form of weird kink and fetish. Or the most likely answer both.
As a Daemon Weapon, the Heartstring Lyre is actually a support weapon whose abilities are best attributed in strengthening nearby allies rather than outright killing the enemy. Sure it is a Sonic Weapon, but if you are not supporting the troops with this instrument, than you're wasting its potential.
The Lyre has three unique abilities. The first is the friendly support variant which is called the Harmonic Alignment. Fluffwise; the music played by this instrument harmonically aligns the realm she is in to the realm of Slaanesh, allowing Slaaneshi daemons to manifest more easily upon the battlefield. What this means is that at the start of your hero phase, each friendly Infernal Enrapturess that is part of a Slaanesh army and on the battlefield generates 1 depravity point for her army.
The second is called Discordant Dirsuption which is when the Daemonette plays a discordant music that is so intense it causes physical harm to those that are attuned to magic/warp stuff. Crunchwise, it allows successful casting re-rolls for enemy wizards/psykers that are within 24" of one or more models with this same ability. Oh yeah, also if the re-rolled casting roll is a double, than that psyker suffers D3 mortal wound after the effects of any spell have been carried out.
The third ability is called the Versatile Instrument which is stated that the Infernal Enrapturess can quickly switch between playing a swift medley of short notes, or a single massive blast of sounds. On tabletop, this translates to the Heartstring Lyre having two primary fire modes which is either the Cacophonous Melody (Range 18”/S4/AP-1/Dam 1/ Assault 6 that can wound a Marine on a 4+ and reduces their armor save to a 4+ save) or the Euphonic Blast (Range 24”/S8/AP-3/Dam 3/Assault 1 which is enough to take the last few wounds off tank armor or a monster). Both of them are a Blastmaster with half the range and counts as a missile weapon for some reason.
Chaos Laud Hailers.
The Dirge Caster is a broadcaster, which outputs a non-stop litany of Chaos. Incomprehensible and disturbing to all others, the sound enthralls and absorbs the followers of Chaos, driving out any uncertainty or doubt. The device also emits terrifying screams, wails, and howls to demolish and confuse the enemy. A Dirge Caster cannot be used on a vehicle that already has a Warp Amplifier installed. Dirge Casters can be used by all Chaos Vehicles.
With the advent of 8th edition, a few changes were made to the weapons:
- The Sonic Blaster is 4 pt upgrade from the regular Boltgun: with the same 24" S4 AP0 D1 profile. But with Assault 3 making for a far more flexible weapon capable of 3 shots at 24" rather than one. While also allowing shooting after advancing. As a sonic weapon it denies the enemy bonuses to their saves due to cover.
- The Blastmaster has two firing modes either: 36" S4 AP-1 D1 Assault D6, or 48" S8 AP-2 DD3 Heavy D3, both of which ignore cover bonuses. Making it superior to a missile launcher in every way. In its assault mode it has 12" less range but AP-1. In its heavy fire mode its essentially a D3 Krak Missile Launcher that costs 5 points less. Blastmasters are not as powerful as they once were against power armor; but are far better against characters, Terminators, vehicles, and multi-wound models in general. Averaging 2 shots at S8 AP-2 D2, but possibly doing 9 damage in a single shooting phase, at 20 pts they cost 5 pts less than a Missile Launcher or Lascannon! The Varied Frequency setting will see far more use than in the past as well; averaging 3.5 S4 AP-1 D1 shots, with the potential for 6 shots, it's got a slightly better rate of fire than a Sonic Blaster, and a much-improved AP of -1.
- The Doom Siren is now a heavy flamer with 8" S5 AP-2 D1 Assault D6 that auto-hits, and does not allow cover bonuses for 8 pts.
According to the Tome of Excess for Black Crusade, followers of Chaos (besides the Noise Marines) also make use of sonic weaponry, though its usage is still predominantly concentrated amongst Slaaneshi faithful.
Unfortunately, there aren't any canon models, so proxies are often used as a place-in.
Ghibelline Shrieking Pistol
This is the smallest known form of non-Legion sonic weaponry, discharging thrumming blasts of psychosonic energy. This bulky, pistol-sized weapon requires a backpack-mounted power source to operate, and its psychosonic discharges have destructive effects similar to the blasts of a Hellgun. In the Screaming Vortex, sonic weaponry is most associated with the world of Ghibelline. Sonic weaponry requires energy to function, rather than ammunition, so those renegades not blessed enough to have a suit of power armor to hook them into must wear power generating backpacks. The Shrieking Pistol is no exception.
The Pirates of the Ragged Helix are mentioned as favoring this weapon for its ability to blast a target free of the limited gravity of their home range with a single shot, condemning the victim to an excruciating death as they spiral off into the depths of space. Before you ask, Ragged Helix have fucky physics where tiny asteroids with low gravity somehow have atmosphere and can support life.
Ghibelline Howler Rifle
A sniper rifle that fires extremely accurate sonic blasts over long distances. Creating a distinctive howl earning its name.
These weapons fire intensely focused and accurate blasts of high-pitched sound, but when used at their full power, they create an acoustic onslaught that causes the wielder - and anyone else nearby - to suffer uncontrollable bleeding from their ears. Ghibelline Howler Rifles are not to be confused with the similarly named Howler Rifles known to be used by the infamous Rak'gol which are essentially a triple-barreled machine gun.
Ghibelline Hyperwave Clarion
The most powerful sonic wave cannon to be carried by a non-Astartes heretic. This complex but sturdy weapon, crafted by the Ghibelline Hereteks, uses endlessly alternating frequencies of sounds that oscillate faster than matter can withstand to reduce bones to jelly, blast ferrocrete to powder and liquefy adamantine. Like the rest of the Ghibelline weapons, the Hyperwave requires a backpack to store its energy.
As bulky as it is destructive, even an Astartes operator will find hauling this weapon around difficult.
The word Clarion, by the way, means war bugle or siren, and has been used as a nickname for various guns throughout history. A fitting title for a weapon that is all three.
Originally a humble automated sentry alarm called a Screamer, Shatterscream rounds repurposes the clarions into makeshift ammo in an attempt to create a more portable and easily acquired form of sonic weaponry.
The Imperium is known to utilize audio weapons and tools in their mode of warfare. AdMechs and Sisters are known users.
The Proclamaitor Hailer is similiar to the Imperium's Laud Hailer. But rather than singing praises to the Emprah, it sings praises to the Star Gods. Wielded by the Clamavus and integrated into the suit, the Proclamaitor Hailer 'proclaims' the arrival of the space locusts to the unwashed masses of a Imperium backwater planet. Proclamaitor Hailers are always paired with the
Scrambler Array DJ Record Player to further enhance its capabilities. Whilst the Hailer spread the word, the Scrambler Array fucks with the comms of loyal Imperial forces. In this aspect, the Scrambler Array and the Proclamator Hailer are both interdependent of one another, often acting as a single tool in function.
On the other hand, the Proclamaitor Hailer can also psychically link up with the Cult's Patriarch, turning a giant glorified microphone into a deadly psychic screech that can make Psykers shit themselves into oblivion and make normal units suffer ear bleeds.
On tabletop, the Proclamaitor Hailer IS the Scrambler Array, as these two tools are one in the same. Enemy units cannot deep-strike within 12" of him, that three inches may not seem much but it does plug holes in your army and prevents any other special Stratagem or rule from appearing closer than 9" like, say, yourself. Also, the Clamavus can deal a mortal wound to a unit within 6" on a 6 from dropping his sick beats. Still, despite the Hailer being nothing more than a prop to the more useful and dominant Scrambler Array, it at least has an ability named....after itself. This ability is a passive one that gives every CULT units within 6" +1 to charge, leadership, and advance.
Despite its name, the Seismic Cannon is not meant to be used as a weapon. It is a type of construction and mining equipment used by the Imperium of Man and one of the more common tools found across the Galaxy. The Seismic Cannon is known for its weight, requiring a tripod to successfully operate; and is basically a technologically advanced, long range pickaxe. The distinctive pronged muzzle of a Seismic Cannon sends out pulsed bow waves of sonic force that can shiver a basilica wall into rubble and its most common use is blasting giant boulders into pebbles or demolishing a house in a few well placed shots. And just like its pickaxe ancestor can be swung at an opponent's skull in a pinch, the Seismic Cannon can be re-purposed as a weapon to turn the internal organs of living targets to mush. The rank-and-file troops from Genestealer Cults are the most frequent users, with the earlier generations of hybrids finding that having three arms helps to make it more portable.
Heavy Seismic Cannon
A much bigger variant of the normal Seismic Cannon.
Like the Seismic Cannon, the Heavy Seismic Cannon is a common construction equipment used by the Imperium of Man. In this case, the Heavy Seismic Cannon is used against materials that can withstand the sonic impact of even the regular Seismic Cannon. Such materials may include diamonds, gems and other super dense composites.
Due to its large size and heavy and awkward firing position, the Heavy Seismic Cannon is only used on heavy utility vehicles that can mount such weapons and withstand the sonic backlash of these guns, the most common carrier of the Heavy Seismic Cannon is the Goliath Rockgrinder vehicles.
Not really a weapon per se, Laud Hailers are used by the Adepta Sororitas Sisters of Battle and the Ordo Hereticus as devices intended to spread faith in the God-Emperor and make the Heretics shit themselves a new one or bore them to death like a Sunday morning prayer.
Proclaiming the power of the Emperor in heavenly tones, Laud Hailers fill the enemies of Mankind with dread. These devices can be used by the Adepta Sororitas Rhino, Immolator, and Exorcist vehicles. These are usually shaped like a small angel holding a trumpet, where the trumpet contains the device's sound projection system.
Occasionally, they can also be used in a more portable form by the Sister Dialogous which is shaped like a giant staff/microphone/spoon.
In 7th Edition, Laud Hailers lets you reroll failed Act of Faith LD tests. Mathematically, it's more likely to let you succeed on an AoF than upgrading to a Superior would, and can potentially benefit multiple units.
"Realistically", Laud Hailers can be weaponized against daemons due to being able to use faith and holy prayers and such against them. But really, who honestly expects the Imperium to be smart enough to do that?
The Blastmaster of Imperium sonic weapons.
The Transonic Cannons is a type of large and heavy sonic weapon wielded by a Tech-Priest Manipulus. These big and chonky weapons is powered from the the bulbous augmentation of which, contains a galvanic cell, from which they can channel a powerful charge of divine Motive Force – the underlying current of all life. A charged shot from the Transonic Cannon could render armor and bone alike with a single blast.
On the tabletop, the Transonic Cannon acts more like a AP-1 2D sonic flamer, which is hilarious seeing most sonic weapons have decent range. This makes the weapon a pretty deadly tool against MEQs, let alone GEQs Only available on the Manipulus. with the Transonic Cannon, the Manipulus can always advance and move 8-13 inches a turn and help assault squads by cleaning screens.
In contrast to the more longer-ranged Magnarail Lance, which is designed to skewer vehicles, the Transonic Cannon is meant to complement the Manipulus CQC orientated loadout and other weapon systems.
The smaller version of the Sonic Disruptor.
The Sonic Destructor is a type of super-heavy Sonic Weapon used by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Deployed on the Ordinatus Ulator, the kid son of the Ordinatus Mars (Which also coincidentally mounts the much bigger Sonic Disruptor); it is a terrifying weapon whose origins lie in the shadows of the Age of Strife. In battle the Sonic Destructor generates a wave of annihilation that wreaks havoc across the battlefield.
In the Horus Heresy tabletop, this big ass sonic projector will have people kicking you in the nuts every time you shoot it. 72" Range, Strength X, AP2, Pinning, Armourbane, Instant Death, Ignores Cover, Ulator Sonic Wave. Place down a Massive blast template(7") at the edge of the hull. Direct it at an enemy (Has to be enemy first and can hit friendlies) and draw a straight line using the Massive blast template. Anything that gets partially touched by it takes a hit from the following Table. (This also includes Flyers. Yes. Even Flyers.)
The Sonic Destructor's father and the biggest Sonic weapon to date.
A Sonic Disruptor is a massive weapon used by Ordinatii, the massive, one-of-a-kind war machines of the Centurio Ordinatus, that utilizes unique technology to produce sound waves which resonate across the battlefield, crumbling buildings, shattering bones, bursting organs and causing electronic equipment to explode as the wall of sonic energy passes over enemy forces.
The frequency of audio sound used by the Sonic Disruptor ravages those who fall victim to it, from a subsonic rumbling that tears buildings apart to a supersonic squall that pierces eardrums and flays skin from flesh. The Sonic Disruptor scales repeatedly up and down these frequencies, causing a blast of sonic energy that rolls forward like a force wave from a massive conventional explosion. Hiding in cover is of little use, since woods and rubble are just blown apart and walls simply amplify the sonic wave if they are not shattered. Even the weighty armor of a Titan or the reinforced buttresses of a stronghold provide little protection against the wrath of a Sonic Disruptor, the first of which was deployed by the Ordinatus Mars. Targets protected by energy fields such as Void Shields will lose one shield to the sonic wave before it passes.
The Eldar employ a number of sonic weapons as well.
The quintessential bitch mask. A Banshee Mask is a sonic weapon of terror worn by the Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors.
The mask uses a special psychosonic amplifier, turning the Banshee's raging battle cry into a devastating psychic barrage. Enemies exposed to this psychic scream suffer momentary paralysis as their central nervous system is flooded with psychic energy, making them easy prey for the Banshees. Eldar Autarchs who have mastered the Howling Banshee war path still often utilize these masks when fighting in close quarters combat.
Basically the sonic version of the Striking Scorpion's Mandiblaster's pew pew.
Autarchs can wear them as well if they completed the Path and they choose to keep the mask in their future endeavours.
A peculiar weapon, the Vibro Cannon builds up a charge inside itself, and then lets it fly to rip things (and people) apart. The Vibro Cannon uses multiple successive devastating sonic blasts to kill things, so the longer it stays on a target the more dead the target becomes. Comparable to the weapons used by the Noise Marines, except they use a single note or riff, instead of killing the enemy with dubstep. Essentially, the Vibro Cannon is like an opera singer using her voice to shatter a wine glass, whereas a Sonic Blaster is more like sitting right in the front row of a death metal concert and going completely insane in the process. They can also combine with other Vibro Cannons to deal even more damage. As you might guess this weapon has been the butt of many a joke thanks to its name, and just as well it sounds approximately like something the Noise Marines would use, though don't tell an Eldar that...
The Sonic Lance is a sophisticated Eldar sonic weapon which uses resonant sonic waves, the same technology found in the smaller Vibro Cannon, to shake a target apart. Also known as a Tremor Cannon, this weapon can gouge great rents in the ground; weaponizing sonic waves to the extreme, the Sonic Lance can shake apart even Superheavy vehicles, flatten Space Marines within their power armor, and tear unprotected Guardsmen limb from limb.
Due to its size this weapon can only be used by the Lynx super-heavy tank, or mounted on the Revenant Titan.
The Orks only really have one proper sonic weapon to speak of, not including Screech Squigs and Shouta Oddboyz, but they're living things.
The Rokker Shoota's otherwise known as Rok Guitars are basically an Orky version of the Chaos Sonic Blaster, and in fact some could even be looted ones picked up off the battlefield, Orks having no qualms using Chaos weapons. Unlike the Sonic Blaster however, the Rokker Shoota's designed to also be usable in close combat as a Rokker Choppa, so it'll typically still be guitar-shaped so it can be swung over the head like an axe, into the head of either a heckler in the audience or a Humie who can't appreciate propa Musik.
Only ever played by skilled Rokkaz, despite Orks not caring how well they play. If they ride around in a Trukk, it has to modelled after the "Doof Wagon" from Mad Max: Fury Road. This is not negotiable.
Note that this only applies to old-school Rokker Shootaz; in their 8e revamp, they are a more mundane combination of a machine gun and a battle-axe built into a singular weapon that is also strung with guitar strings, allowing the Rokker to vary between playing music on it, blazing away at anyone within range, and swinging it like an axe at any git that annoys him.
Sonic weapons are a thing in Star Wars. They are far less common than blasters and generally less effective all-around, but have two important niches. Firstly they function underwater without receiving expensive modifications or being purpose built to do so, which is quite important in a galaxy full of water planets and aquatic species. The second, and rarer in-universe but common in the situations stories normally show, is that they are very effective against Jedi. While a lightsaber will reflect a blaster bolt and melt a slugthrower (firearm) projectile, a sonic blast isn't impeded at all. Thus they are common among people who expect to fight Jedi.
Sonic Weaponry is one of the many things introduced for RPG purposes that spread to the rest of the expanded universe. They first appeared in Galladinium's Fantastic Technology and its follow up Gundark's Fantastic Technology: Personal Gear for West End Games' Star Wars RPG, though there it's only a type of stun weapon. Sonic weaponry actually appears briefly in Attack of the Clones, but the concept is so generic it's doubtful it was based on earlier examples.