Tomes of the Librarius – 40k Technology: Void Shields

Hello 40k (and 30k) fans! Chris Morgan, Chief Librarian of the Forge the Narrative Podcast, is here again with the next weekly segment of Tomes of the Librarius. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

This article series is here to add some depth and narrative dimension to our hobby and the games we play by calling upon the rich lore to highlight some of the cool stories, theories, and characters in the universe. These are meant to be easily-digestible snapshots for people new to the lore, and I hope they serve to kindle further interest and study.

Today’s entry into the series comes back to the topic of technology. One of the most fascinating things about science fiction universes is the cool gadgetry that accomplishes things not possible in the modern world through technological or esoteric means (or both).  Void shield generators fall into the ‘both’ category, and are a fundamental part of how war is waged in the Warhammer 40k universe.

What Are Void Shields?

Void shields are defensive warp energy fields that can surround everything from individuals to cities. They have a diverse set of functions depending on size and the amount of power it can draw upon. Some void shields are tuned to stop atmosphere from venting into space such as in ship hangars. Other shields, and the ones most commonly referenced, act as a defense against incoming attacks or projectiles. Space is pretty empty, but when it isn’t empty it is usually full of things that either want you dead or make you dead. Collision and space debris are threats for everything from merchant ships and freighters to space stations and planetary bodies. That’s before you take into account the myriad of ways that the sentient life in the universe is trying to kill you.

There are personal void shields often used by adepts of the Mechanicus or extremely wealth Terran lords. Many noble estates use void shields to keep out assassins and trespassers. Imperial Guard regiments often use portable void shield projectors to cover defensive positions, and hive complexes and massive space stations have overlapping shield generators designed to take punishment from massed artillery, titans, or orbital barrages from shielded capital ships. Variations on this technology exist in alien races, but are not well understood by the tech-priests of mars.

What Happens When You Try to Breach One?

When something tries to cross the membrane of a void shield generator, several different things could happen. Everything from solid shots to energy beams can be forced to detonate prematurely, or disintegrate/dissipate. It is also not uncommon for whatever it is to be completely sucked into the nightmare dimension of the warp, which is an unfortunate fate for troops trying to drop in from orbit. Only an excessive amount of force capable of overloading the capacity of the generators to handle will cause them to collapse, and the backwash of energy can have its own disruptive effects on nearby technologies. Tactics to breach the shields of ships involve coordinated firepower from several other ships to overload the shields, and is often timed to break the shielding before boarding craft and torpedoes would be destroyed at the membrane. The same is true for titans, which have to combine firepower to breach shields – particularly on the large Imperator titans.

Shields Up!

I still have frustrating memories of void shields in 6th and 7th editions of 40k. Nowadays they are pretty rare, but the memory of these once-limited models lives on in the lore of 40k. What are your VSG memories? Mine all involve Tau. Let me know in the comments!


Captain Morgan

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About Chris Morgan

40K philosopher, LVO Judge, Chief Librarian of Forge the Narrative, Blood Angel enthusiast extraordinaire, and slayer of traitors, xenos, and heretics; I'd rather be playing 30k right now or neck-deep in a good book. Follow me on my FB page - Captain Morgan's Librarius

2 Responses to “Tomes of the Librarius – 40k Technology: Void Shields”

  1. WestRider March 5, 2019 7:43 pm #

    I love the Void Shield fluff. It’s one of those places where, at first glance, it seems just like some generic SciFi trope, but the more you look into it, the more it reveals just how fucking batshit insane the 40K universe really is.

    One of my fave bits about them is from the original Adeptus Titanicus. I’m not sure if it’s been incorporated into the current version yet, but I don’t think so, since I haven’t seen any Models for Support Missile options on the Titans, but back in the day, one of the options was a one-shot Missile that was not only large enough to be incredibly destructive in and of itself, but incorporated a miniature Warp Drive that would send it into the Warp for just a split second to bypass the Void Shield on the opposing Titan. And sometimes just a hair longer, causing it to actually rematerialize inside the target. Of course, occasionally they would warp out for too long and come back entirely on the other side, so you wanted to be really careful about your backstop.

    There was also a mention somewhere, I think one of the Gaunt’s Ghosts books, that turning on a VSG suddenly can cause it to just completely annihilate whatever portion of anything that lies in the arc of the Shield, slicing it instantly in two.

    • Chris Morgan March 5, 2019 9:40 pm #

      I can’t speak for modern AT, but I love the idea! In the Titandeath book there’s a brief discussion about what happens to things that impact the shield. Sounds much, much worse than anything in Star Trek, that’s for sure haha

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