Why should one carry bulky device to attract a sandworm?

It is much easier to carry several (very compact and very basic, simple) shield generators.

Set one and wait for the sandworm.

Edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_technology_in_the_Dune_universe

It is noted in Children of Dune (1976) that the Fremen have developed a small shield generator known as a "pseudo-shield" to attract and madden a worm, for use as an ersatz bomb:

Seems that the only problem is that a sandworm attracted by that shield would be hard to control.

Is it so?

  • Do the Fremen have the capability to build them? I imagine cost, time, and resources would be very different as well, for a single-use device.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 12:06
  • 17
    So, rather than use a cheap, simple, reliable, easy-to-manufacture, purely mechanical device, they should use something that is none of those? To what advantage?
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 12:18
  • I wander how many tam-tam devices could be carried by a single person. And what if that device is lost during the try? Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 12:23
  • 4
    The thumpers don't appear to be bulky at all: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/209394/39144
    – fez
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 12:38
  • 1
    @fez thanks. Still shield generator is much smaller. Almost Uber-like call) Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 12:44

2 Answers 2


Thumpers are used to only attract the sandworms, a shield on the other hand attracts the sandworms and drives them into a killing frenzy:

"According to Idaho’s report," Hawat said, "shields are dangerous in the desert. A body-size shield will call every worm for hundreds of meters around. It appears to drive them into a killing frenzy. We've the Fremen word on this and no reason to doubt it. Idaho saw no evidence of shield equipment at the sietch."


The pseudo-shield in Children of Dune was used as a weapon, driving the worm crazy was the desired result. The Wikipedia article linked in the question also notes:

The vibrations of an active shield will drive a sandworm on Arrakis into a killing frenzy, drawing them from across territorial lines to attack the shield.

Even using a small shield wouldn't help here, as a sandworm would be attracted to the shield but it would also be in a killing mood by the time it arrived.

And, as noted in another question, thumpers aren't that bulky or cumbersome to use or carry.

  • Yes, found the same on wiki Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 13:09
  • Please mark "attracts the sandworms and drives them into a killing frenzy" also in bold ) Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 13:10

Thumpers are single use devices, intended to attract a Sandworm for Fremen to ride. They appear to be cheap, easy to make and repair, and simply attract the sandworms. The novels suggest that they are not too heavy or unwieldy to carry and use.

The shield generators do attract the sandworms, but are more complex, presumably more expensive, and 'madden' the worm. There may be occasions where this is beneficial, but not for the usual use.

  • Yes, found the same about "drives them into a killing frenzy", that is the answer Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 13:13
  • 1
    great point about being a single use device
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 15:57
  • I am pretty sure they are not single use devices. There is no reason for them to be. One person attracts the worm, another one mounts it. The first one can retrieve the thumper.
    – Sulthan
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 8:12
  • 4
    @Sulthan - they are designed to be single-use. They generate the sound to attract the worm and also to aid in mounting them. In the second instance thumper is REQUIRED as it allows to position oneself properly on the path of the worm who comes to eat the source of sound. One cannot recover spent thumper after worm is called.
    – AcePL
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 9:47

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