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blackstone

Need advice: Tommy gun use. Do I allow it?

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blackstone

I have a bit of a quandary:

 

I starting to prep for our annual Halloween CoC game, and one of the players wants to create a hit man as his PC.

 

Naturally, he wants him to have a Tommy Gun.

 

With that being said, there are a few things I know. 

1. automatic fire rules: I fully understand them, and quite frankly they're unrealistic. Having served several years in the military, automatic fire actually DECREASES your likelihood of hitting a target when speaking of handheld weapons like a Thompson. Try firing a M249 SAW while standing on full auto, and I can tell you for a fact your shots go everywhere in front of you, and few land on target. In fact, studies conducted by the DoD during the Vietnam War discovered that fully auto fire from M16s were for the most part ineffective due to lack of control (barrel rise) and removed full auto from later models. You have single or 3-round burst from the M16A1 and after. Generally speaking, auto fire is what "Suppressing fire" is: to suppress the enemy form firing at you and/or maneuvering. Now burst fire is relatively controlled, and that's where the rules do fit as written. 

2. Damage: when calculating damage on auto/burst fire is the damage rolled for each round hit, or is the damage rolled for the entire burst? So say for example, 5 rounds hit a target. Is damage rolled for each shot or is it one roll for all 5 hits. 

 

The problem I have is with the damage. If it's a roll per shot hit, I don't think I can allow it. It's too unbalancing. Then again I hate saying "no" as well. 

Right now, I'm going with the historical aspect. They really were rare weapons, and I'd argue a hit man would want something less flashy. Pistols and shotguns were the most common weapons used by gangsters and thugs of the era. A Tommy Gun would be a last resort weapon IMO.

 

Suggestions? 

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numtini

Automatic weapons decrease the chance to hit by an additional penalty die with each volley. And if you do "hit" then you only hit with half the volley, rounded down, anyway. Damage roll is per bullet that hits. SMG is also a separate skill from rifle/shotgun. I find the volley sized based on skill to be clunky, but they seem reasonably realistic.

 

To me, the big question is whether a hit man would be realistic given the other characters in the group. There might also be some issues with them being a known criminal as I doubt someone is doing drive bys with a tommy gun and remains unknown to the police, even if they haven't yet stuck him with a formal murder charge.

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GBSteve

Use the Delta Green rules. There's a lethality percentage. On a hit, instead of damage, anyone in the kill zone has that chance to die, if they don't die, they take 2d10 damage, i.e. the sum of the dice rolled. Weapon or burst type determines the lethality and the number of rounds used.

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blackstone

I failed to mention that we're using 6th edition rules. sorry

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Gaffer

I  won't address the mechanics because I don't follow the clunky 6th ed. auto fire rules. I just go with a normal skill roll, then roll D4xdmg(D10+2 for a Thompson IIRC) per burst, up to three bursts per round, each expending 6 rounds.

 

As to a "hit man" having a Tommygun...

 

The concept of a solo specialist assassin in the 20s/30s is rather unrealistic. Mostly, when Al Capone (or other gang bosses) wanted someone dead, he'd send a team, usually armed with pistols or shotguns if not a garrote or knife, to do the job. Assassin's don't want to attract a lot of attention.

 

Tommyguns were used by gangsters when they went to war. They're big and heavy and noisy. They're for making a statement, for intimidation. That's why Capone had them used on St. Valentine's Day, after Moran's associates were lined up against the wall. 

 

They were also favored (along with BARs) by Midwest outlaws in the 30s, again for the intimidation factor.

 

I would say no to the concept of the hit man and let him play a generalized gangster, maybe with a couple of murders under his belt. Does he own a Tommygun? That's another issue.

 

Final topic, what do you anticipate he'll go up against? A small army of cultists/ghouls/deep ones? Tommy is his friend. Father Dagon? Tommy doesn't matter.

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blackstone

I disagree about the hit man. It's not out of historical context at all. If that were the case, they why are they in the Investigator's Companion book?

 

Some real life examples:

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was a hit man for the Italian mob during the 1920s

Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll Irish American mob hit man during the 1920-30s

Abraham “Kid Twist” Reles: part of Murder Inc. and hit man during the 1920s-30s

 

Besides, my question was about the Thompson which you answered from the beginning, not his choice of investigator.

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paladin2769
6 hours ago, GBSteve said:

Use the Delta Green rules. There's a lethality percentage. On a hit, instead of damage, anyone in the kill zone has that chance to die, if they don't die, they take 2d10 damage, i.e. the sum of the dice rolled. Weapon or burst type determines the lethality and the number of rounds used.

 

Is that from the new Delta Green rules? 

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yronimoswhateley

The biggest question to ask yourself in regards to allowing it, after the matter of wrestling with the mechanics, is whether it suits the tone of your campaign/scenario setting, which to me is more important that whether it's "historical" or "realistic".  A tommy-gun wielding gangster would suit a pulp campaign just fine... a traditional Lovecraftian setting where the other characters are scholars and college professors and poets and dreamers, probably not so much so.

 

The topic of the mechanics and accuracy and such of the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun has come up before, check out the other discussion on it (link), with links to videos of the gun being used in full-auto mode, vintage advertisements attempting to sell them to the public, etc. - my conclusion based on firing the semi-auto version myself in addition to what I saw from the full-auto videos was that the gun is actually pretty controllable (after all, you're firing .45 pistol cartridges from a rather heavy hardwood and milled-steel weapon, especially if you're using the drum magazine loaded with dozens of big, heavy brass, copper, and lead cartridges - the recoil doesn't push it around that much at all!)

 

And, in regards to the damage, as Gaffer asked about at the end of his post, it's worth asking yourself what he'll be going up against.  For serious business mythos monsters, the damage won't matter much.

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GBSteve
1 hour ago, paladin2769 said:

Is that from the new Delta Green rules? 

 

It is. Combat has been streamlined and works pretty well. You can get the quick start rules here.

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paladin2769
54 minutes ago, GBSteve said:

It is. Combat has been streamlined and works pretty well. You can get the quick start rules here.

 

Thanks for the link.  But to be honest, I have the Rulebook but haven't really read it yet.  I just read the rules you mentioned and they do sound very good.  :)

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revnye

Give him a Thompson. Then make sure whatever you throw at them is immune to firearms/imapling weapons.

 

he can be the first character to die as he blazes away!

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dawnrazor

If the player wants to play a hitman, let him. They're in the Investigator's Companion after all, as someone said.

 

Regarding the Thompson, I would allow it if the player can come up with a plausible explanation why his/her character has access to such ordinance. It's not going to help much anyway. And going around with a violin case will naturally attract the attention of both gangsters and the police.

 

In my Masks of Nyarlahotep game I had two NYPD detectives, who managed to borrow two Thompson's from the Police armory. They went to the Ju Ju Shop, intent on kicking some serious butt and sure, they managed to shoot two cultists, but then both PCs rolled weapon jams and they were quickly overrun by both cultists and zombies, having to drop their Thompson's on the floor and flee. Then they had a tough time explaining to the Police Chief how they managed to lose the guns... Fun times!

 

I run a rather pulpy CoC game (without any pulp rules per se) so in my games those cool weapons are ok, but they, of course, come with their own drawbacks. And of course, the opposition will be armed similarly. If you're into a more subtle and/or investigative game focusing on more Lovecraftian elements, such weapons may be too much. However, letting the players play the characters that they want is very beneficial to the immersion and level of engagement in my experience. 

 

I do agree that the CoC autofire rules aren't that super, but they have served me well over the years. I haven't played 7th ed or the new Delta Green yet but the autfire rules in those games seem better.

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Gaffer

In all my reading about Murder Inc in the 30s, I haven't found any mention of them using a Tommygun. Ice picks seem to have been a popular tool and shotguns and pistols.

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klecser

Is your real question whether you think "allowing" a Thompson makes your adventure too "easy" for your Investigators?  If that's the case, this isn't about "allowing" the Thompson.  It's about what proportion of your threats can be dealt with by a submachine gun and which can't.  So many Mythos Creatures say "bullets do one damage."  The Thompson becomes useful for cultists, ok against Mythos creatures with high armor, and useless against certain Mythos creatures that are highly resistant to bullets.

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Hammer

Historical accuracy isn't really the priority here so much as whether it suits your specific scenario. Few of my games, even in the 1930s, would fit either a hit man PC or a tommy gun as starting equipment. By the end of a campaign, a player may well be a killer of men for profit or otherwise, and have the gear to do the job, but generally I wouldn't start there. Unless a game called for a bunch of gangster PCs, in which case it would make more sense.

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yronimoswhateley
2 hours ago, Gaffer said:

In all my reading about Murder Inc in the 30s, I haven't found any mention of them using a Tommygun. Ice picks seem to have been a popular tool and shotguns and pistols.

 

That was always my impression, Gaffer - like switchblades, automatic weapons were something that kind of scared the public as one of those sorts of things that non-W.A.S.P. youth gangs, high on reefer madness, were about to go on crime sprees with, the sorts of things you'd find in, say...
 

Spoiler

...A hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon one another... a babel of sound and filth... this tangle of material and spiritual putrescence the blasphemies of an hundred dialects assail the sky... [where] hordes of prowlers reel shouting and singing along the lanes and thoroughfares, occasional furtive hands suddenly extinguish lights and pull down curtains, and swarthy, sin-pitted faces disappear from windows when visitors pick their way through.... [and where] visible offences are as varied as the local dialects, and run the gamut from the smuggling of rum and prohibited aliens through diverse stages of lawlessness and obscure vice to murder and mutilation in their most abhorrent guises....

- HPL, "The Horror of Red Hook"

 

As near as I can tell, there was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which was weird and outrageous enough (two of the four shooters were armed with Thompsons and were wearing police uniforms) that it shocked a public and government that would otherwise not have cared much into considering a "New Deal for Crime", and a handful of other crimes committed by one gang against another, such as drive-by shootings (many of which - though not all - missed hitting anyone at all), a few of which were intended to kill specific people, or at least "send a message" (with Al Capone being among the more famous recipients of such "messages"), and I guess could be called "assassinations".  Beyond that, I think machine guns appeared in a handful of bank robberies and such between the 1800s and the passing of the National Firearms Act of 1934.  A couple of gangsters were enthusiastic enough about the guns to earn names like "Machine Gun Kelly" and "Machine Gun McGurn", but it was "normally" a weapon of intimidation in gang warfare, based on my (admittedly limited) research.

 

In other words, I always got the strong impression that the fear of criminals with machine guns that led up to the ban was based a bit more in xenophobia, racism, and stereotypes of immigrants and ethnic minorities than in actual crimes committed with machine guns. 

 

Still, I'm with Hammer and klecser:  historical accuracy isn't the problem, and I'm betting the damage and the mechanics and even the type of monsters that will be used aren't the problem, either - the problem, I would bet, actually comes down to the type of story being told. 

 

I think a Thompson-wielding gangster is just fine in a "Pulp style" Call of Cthulhu campaign and I'd approve it in a heartbeat for that sort of game, but if that's not the sort of game you're running, then put your foot down on it and just tell the player "Sorry, this character is a great character, but doesn't fit the sort of game I had in mind - that's my mistake, and what I should have said before you created characters was that your characters should fit the following setting, and the following limitations...."  (e.g., "You're all professors at Miskatonic University", or whatever....)

 

Though, in truth, if there's a way you can say, "yes, and..." or "yes, but..." and allow the character, maybe with some changes that make everyone happy or at least a compromise that minimizes mischief, that's even better.  Why not find a way for this character to fit into the game? 

 

If it helps, just remember that the weapon and any significant amount of ammunition is bulky, heavy and expensive; machine gun crime really attracts a LOT of unwanted attention, even (or especially) in the 1920s and 1930s; and, many mythos monsters don't even completely exist in the same material world or consist of the same sort of matter than life as we know it does, and thus probably don't care much about being shot at!  You can shoot a lot of things, but you can't shoot your nightmares and anxieties away.  Give the poor guy some cultists to gun down from time to time, but remind him that just because he's got a machine gun, doesn't make him invulnerable, or the answer to every problem the group might face....

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blackstone

Thanks you all for the suggestions.

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