Void shields are energy fields employed by the Imperium to protect everything from Super-Heavy Vehicles to massive starships. The shields operate via Warp technology, absorbing the energy of attacks and displacing them into the Immaterium. Void shields benefit from the fact that they can be raised again after taking damage and collapsing, even in the midst of combat. Void shields extend some distance from their point of origin, thus in some cases it is possible for an enemy to penetrate the shield and cause damage directly to the target.
Activated void shields create a translucent bubble around their target, one which distorts visual light attempting to pass through and so creating an optical hazing effect.[3b] When displacing weapon impacts void shields ripple like gelatine and create a kaleidoscope of colours.[8a][24a] The colours given off by a void shield under attack also indicate a shield's strength and how much punishment it can still take. Furthermore void shields create energy flares where they are hit, the size of which depends on the nature of the attack. Operational void shields also tend to give off a distinct ozone smell.[3a]
The ability of certain objects or radiation to pass through void shields depends greatly on their design and nature, although most physical and energy attacks will be stopped. This includes weather effects like rain, which creates a crackling sounds as it impacts against the shield.[24c] Void shields of a certain power intensity can act as a impenetrable barrier which stops all movement and interfere with communication equipment like vox-casters,[3c][24c] as well as prevent interdimensional travel.
Void Shields by Type
Small-Scale Void Shields
Void shields can be used to provide personal protection, although these are often reserved for special uses such as elite Enforcer squads on certain assignments. They are also frequently used to protect openings such as windows or doors. Besides giving off a distinct ozone smell, void shields protecting these openings create a barrier as solid as any wall. Anyone or anything caught within one of these openings when the shield is engaged will be sliced in two, both halves falling apart and the area intersected by the shield turned into a boiling fog of blood and atomised metal.[3a][3b] These voids are also capable of keeping an atmosphere contained, a vital aspect when dealing with contaminated air.
Larger void shields are used to protect individual buildings or relatively small areas. The Iron Warriors use fortified, void-shielded bunkers to withstand bombardments, while the Imperial Guard have used portable void shield generators stationed along trench lines to protect their troops from bombardment. Various Space Marine forces have also used portable void shield generators to erect a protective canopy over their positions.[8b]
Wealthy individuals of the Imperium have also been known to protect their mansions and estates with void shields. They come in a variety of shapes and types, such as conical super-surface shields, and often the local Arbites are given information such as shield harmonics and override codes in cases of emergencies.
Titan Void Shields
Void shields serve as the main line of defense for Imperial Titans, with multiple generators creating overlapping shields for maximum effect. Each shield will absorb damage until it is overloaded, upon which safety features cut in and force the generator to shut down and bleed off excess energy before it is restarted again and made operable. In theory, a Titan will have some of its shields protecting it at all times. In cases of emergency the Titan's Princeps can override the cut-off and force the generator to remain active; this has the added risk of damaging the generator and turning it into a useless pool of molten slag as it is overwhelmed by enemy fire.[10a] Only war engines with three or more void shield generators are capable of this functionality.[10c]
Protected by their void shields Titans are able to absorb damage which would normally destroy entire tank companies and infantry regiments. Even the small Warhound Scout Titan's shields are sufficient to absorb multiple impacts which, individually, would tear apart lesser armored fighting vehicles. Larger Titans like the Warlord Titan can withstand even more damage, taking sustained bombardment from over five dozen armored vehicles and artillery platforms without loss of shield strength.[14a] The most powerful void shields are those of the Emperor Titans, such as an Imperator. Even in a duel with dozens of Warlord and Reaver Titans, the smaller Titans' only hope to cause damage is to synchronize their fire perfectly so that all of their shots hit at exactly the same time at the same point and overload that section of the Imperator's shield.[14b]
Void shields on Titans are projected at some distance from the war engine itself; for example the void shields on a Warhound extend out to ten meters surrounding the war engine, while those on larger Titans extend out to thirty or more. This means it is theoretically possible for armored vehicles and infantry to bypass the shields and cause direct damage to a Titan, although in practice actually accomplishing this feat is much harder. In one extraordinary example the 3rd Armored Company of the 124th Cadian regiment managed to disable a Chaos Battle Titan by slipping through its void shields and targeting its weakened knee, causing it to collapse, although nearly the entire company was wiped out except for a lone survivor. When Titans engage in close combat with each other not only do they get within the minimum range of their void shields, but their shields actually merge together. This same technique can be used by friendly Titans as a type of defensive tactic as well.[10b][10c] Titan shields which merge together send colourful flares of lightning discharge into the air as their titanic energies push against each other,[17a] and when they collapse under enemy fire they tend to unleash a damaging blast wave of overpressure.[17b]
Titan void shields can be bypassed through teleportation such as in the case of Terminator Titanhammer Squads or special Warp Missiles which travel through the Warp.[10d] They can however be configured to create a solid wall which allows nothing to pass, not even transdimensional travel such as that used by the Necrons, but this requires increasing the power intensity to critical levels which threaten to cause catastrophic overload. It is also possible to bypass a Titan's void shields if you have access to technical specifications which detail any mild shield defects. Such defects are atomically small but, if known, would allow an enemy Titan to target that precise location and overload the shields with less firepower than would normally be required.[14c]
Large-Scale Void Shields
Overlapping void shields are often one of the primary means of defense for various fortresses and Hive Cities, extending some distance out to create a protective dome. Typically each section of wall, tower or buttress will have its own void shield projectors to defend against attack. The chief means of bringing down these void shields is through massive continual bombardment, overloading the shields with enough energy to either force the generators to cut out or explode. It is also possible to slip through during a momentary break in the field and knock out the generators. For example, some fortress voids must be lowered in order for the defenders to return fire.
In addition, since many of these void shields are geared towards defending against high-velocity kinetic and energy attacks, slow-marching infantry and vehicles are able to penetrate through the protective cover. Others, geared as they are to protecting against bombardment, will even allow aircraft such as Valkyries to pass through their envelope, the energies of their passage arcing off the fuselage and creating an electric tinge in the air. There is tremendous risk involved in this strategy though, as weapon impacts against the void shield create incandescently bright energy flares. Even at a distance of over one hundred and fifty meters these flares present a hazard to the encroaching forces, and are so bright they require the use of photoflash goggles to avoid blindness. As is often the case for these void shields they are usually connected to a curtain wall which provides a more solid barrier against entry, although here it is possible if the enemy gets close enough to try and find a gap between shield and wall and exploit it with weapons fire.[24b]
Void shields on this scale have a tremendous impact on the surrounding atmosphere, producing an insulation effect which will keep the ambient temperature inside the shield warmer than the surrounding environment and stop precipitation from getting in.[24d] This effect is used to retain a breathable atmosphere in cases where the environment would not normally allow it,[8a] although sometimes the air inside can become clammy, almost oppressive, when the shield is activated. This same ability to retain an atmosphere can sometimes result in rather violent aftereffects when the void shields collapse under enemy fire, producing a powerful wave of overpressure to scour across the battlefield and pull the oxygen from soldier's lungs, blind them or explode their eardrums if not fully protected.
Particularly large void shield generators can be used to hide a portion of a planet's surface from orbital scans in order to mask troop movements from the enemy. A by-product of this effect is that weather patterns are significantly disrupted, creating freak storms which can cover large areas.[14d]
Ship Void Shields
Void shields are found on both civilian and military starships so that they may survive the hazards of space travel. Forming a teardrop of invisible energy around the ship, they are able to absorb and deflect stellar radiation and meteor showers, even weapons fire in the case of military vessels. Ships are protected by multiple layers of void shields, each one able to absorb a limited amount of energy before it collapses and the generator temporarily shuts down to bleed off energy.[25a] Active void shields also prevent the use of teleportation, forcing enemy ships to bring down their target's defenses before they can initiate boarding actions.[25c] It is also possible for a ship to shift power between different facings of their void shields to better deflect attack.
As with smaller void shields those on ships are projected some distance from the vessel, upwards of a hundred or more depending on the type. Normally void shields provide no barrier against Attack Craft and Torpedoes, and thus any which get through can cause direct damage to the vessel.[25b] However, void shields have stopped torpedo and attack craft on several occasions. In addition a warship simply raising its void shields presents a danger to attack craft as the flux of energy backwash can overload their systems, while the massive energy flares created by weapon impacts on the void shields are extremely hazardous. Finally when a ship's void shields collapse they create a powerful shockwave of electromagnetic energy which can scatter and destroy attack craft.[33b]
Ship-based void shields operate using wave harmonics; any change in their frequency can cause interference with the gravitic fields of tractor beam weapons.[33a] Special types of shields whose frequency has been adjusted to better deflect stellar debris such as plasma clouds, nebula and ice rings known as Repulsor Shields are commercially available.
Standard doctrine for the Imperial Navy is always maintain void shields at fifty percent their full capacity, however few Captains strictly adhere to this rule on account of the tremendous energy necessary and increased maintenance this would have on their ships. Most will maintain voids at minimum power in "safe" situations such as being in orbit above an Imperial world at a Navy port.
- 1: Apocalypse, pg. 96
- 2: Crossfire (Novel) — Enforcer (Omnibus), Chapter 2, pg. 42
- 3: The Guns of Tanith (Novel)
- 4: Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema, pg. 42
- 5: Iron Warrior (Novella) — Iron Warriors: The Omnibus, [Needs Citation], pg. 484
- 6: Straight Silver (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 52
- 7: Prospero Burns (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 185
- 8: Battle of the Fang (Novel)
- 9: Malleus (Novel) — Eisenhorn (Omnibus), [Needs Citation], pgs. 332-334
- 10: Adeptus Titanicus (game)
- 11: Deathwatch Core Rulebook, pg. 302
- 12: Savage Scars (Novel), [Needs Citation], pgs. 80-81
- 13: Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pg. 121
- 14: Titanicus (Novel)
- 15: Dark Apostle (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 233
- 16: Chapter Approved 2004, pgs. 20-21
- 17: Mechanicum (Novel)
- 18: Hammer and Anvil (Novel), Chapter Fifteen, pgs. 336-337
- 19: Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pgs. 40-41
- 20: Hell Night (Short Story) — Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology):
- 21: Rynn's World (Novel), Chapter Sixteen, pg. 192
- 22: Nocturne (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 215
- 23: The Long War (Short Story) — Treacheries of the Space Marines (Anthology)
- 24: Necropolis (Novel)
- 25: Battlefleet Gothic
- 26: Rogue Trader Core Rulebook, pg. 220
- 27: Star of Damocles (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 18
- 28: Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse, pg. 30
- 29: Blood Reaver (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 367
- 30: Void Stalker (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 321
- 31: Salvation's Reach (Novel), [Needs Citation], pgs. 165-166
- 32: Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pg. 9
- 33: Shadow Point (Novel)
- 34: Rogue Trader: Into the Storm, pgs. 156-157
- 35: Execution Hour (Novel), Chapter Eleven
- 36: The Siege of Castellax (Novel), Chapter Twenty
- 37: We Are One (Short Story) — Treacheries of the Space Marines (Anthology)