Gangster Gats: “Pretty Boy” Floyd

At present Oklahoma is being ravaged by a thug called “Pretty-boy” Floyd, who seems to be a reversion to the old-time outlaw type. He has eleven men to his credit, seven or eight or which are officers of the law, which probably accounts for the failure of the authorities to apprehend him. It’s a lot easier to beat a confession of some sort out of some harmless poor devil than it is to nab a young desperado who wears a steel bullet-proof vest, and draws and shoots like lightning with either hand.

‒ Robert Howard, letter to H.P. Lovecraft (24-MAY-1932)


Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was a bank robber and hit man who operated in the Midwestern USA between 1925 and 1934. After John Dillinger’s death, he was named Public Enemy No.1 on 23-JUL-1934 by the Bureau of Investigation, which renewed its efforts to catch him.

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High-Tech: MilGov M16EZ

In use the EZ model was inaccurate, unreliable, and often dangerous to the user. But it succeeded admirably because it fulfilled its purpose. It retained the basic silhouette of the M16 rifle and lent an air of authority to any force armed with it; the militia looked less rag-tag when it was not armed with deer rifles. It used standard military ammunition and magazines, which helped resupply situations. During the cold days of World War III, it was the rifle that the average citizen saw in the hands of the local militia; it represented a calming voice of authority in the midst of hard times.

‒ Loren Wiseman, Small Arms Guide


One of my favourite game settings is Twilight: 2000. Back in the days, we played both Twilight: 2000, First Edition and Twilight: 2000, Second Edition, although I soon switched to GURPS as a rule system. The Small Arms Guide introduced the M16EZ, a government-issued kit to assemble a militia rifle from second-hand parts and scrounged materials, banged together by a local mechanic.

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Book Review: Cthulhu Gangster

Sebastian Weitkamp (editor) et al, Pegasus Press, 2016

SD_OTB Gangster

Gangster ‒ Unheimliche Unterwelt (“eerie underworld”) is an official release for the German Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition. It is a hardcover book with 212 pages, sold for a very reasonable €19.95. There is also a PDF version. It has a colour cover and black-and-white interior.

This book is in German. I have chosen to write the review in English because only a minority of my readers read German, which of course also means that few of you will get to read the book. However, I know that there is much interest among English-speaking Call of Cthulhu players in the foreign-language supplements by the various licensees. Continue reading “Book Review: Cthulhu Gangster”

Derleth’s “The Survivor”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1930, published in 1954)

The events of that night, though not frightening me too badly, did result in my purchasing a powerful Luger pistol in a second-hand shop, as well as a new flashlight; the lamp had impeded me in the night, which a flashlight would not do in similar circumstances … What I saw was incredible, horrible. It was not a man who stood there, but a travesty of a man. I know that for one cataclysmic moment I though consciousness would leave me; but a sense of urgency coupled with an awareness of acute danger swept over me, and without a moment’s hesitation, I fired four times, at such range that I knew each shot had found harbor in the body of the bestial thing that leaned over Dr. Charriere’s desk in that darkened study.


While “The Survivor” has most likely been entirely written by August Derleth, despite his own claims of posthumous cooperation with H.P. Lovecraft, the story is nevertheless in the Lovecraftian mould. Furthermore, Derleth’s work is obviously a heavy influence for Call of Cthulhu. As one of Derleth’s better efforts, I feel fully justified to cover this here as well. Continue reading “Derleth’s “The Survivor””

Gangster Gats: Bonnie & Clyde

They don’t think they’re too tough or desperate,

They know that the law always wins;

They’ve been shot at before,

But they do not ignore

That death is the wages of sin.

‒ Bonnie Parker, “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” (1934)


On 23-MAY-1934, a posse of lawmen led by Texas Highway Patrol Special Investigator Captain Frank Hamer caught up with the murderous outlaw Clyde Barrow and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker near Mount Lebanon, Louisiana. They were shot dead from ambush as they drove on Highway 154 in an automobile. Their stolen 1934 Ford Model 40 Type 730 Fordor Deluxe Sedan became the Death Car. The marauding Bonnie & Clyde had practically lived in the vehicle. When searched by the law enforcement officers, the Ford turned out to be a rolling armoury.

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High-Tech: SEALs in Vietnam

The US Navy SEALs used over 200 different weapon systems while deployed in South Vietnam between 1962 and 1972, many of them new and/or experimental designs. I have included many of them in GURPS SEALs in Vietnam. To provide a visual guide to some of these weapons, I examine here the long arms of an entire SEAL Team TWO platoon in Binh Thuy, South Vietnam, c 1967.

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Lovecraft’s “From Beyond”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1920?, written in 1920, published in 1934)

The picture was very vivid for a while, but gradually gave way to a more horrible conception; that of utter, absolute solitude in infinite, sightless, soundless space. There seemed to be a void, and nothing more, and I felt a childish fear which prompted me to draw from my hip pocket the revolver I always carried after dark since the night I was held up in East Providence.


The unnamed narrator habitually carried a revolver in his hip pocket. This indicates a fairly small and light design, with a short barrel and probably in a small calibre. Given the timeframe, it was likely a double-action revolver. A savvy user would acquire a hammerless design, which is both safer to carry and quicker on the draw from a pocket, but of course we do not know whether the narrator falls into that category. Continue reading “Lovecraft’s “From Beyond””

Gangster Gats: Dillinger-Nelson Gang

… one bullet-proof vest, one loaded 50-round machine-gun drum, one Thompson sub-machine gun and one .45 automatic pistol and one high-powered rifle (nice people).

‒ SAC Hugh Clegg, memo to Director J. Edgar Hoover (04-APR-1934)


The gang of bank robbers loosely comprised of John Dillinger and a varying number of associates including “Baby Face Nelson” (Lester Gillis) operated in the Midwestern USA between 1933 and 1934. It was pursued relentlessly by the Bureau of Investigation. Several members were eventually arrested but most were killed. John Dillinger, Public Enemy No.1  from 22-JUN-1934, was shot by agents in Chicago, Illinois, on 22-JUL-1934. “Baby Face Nelson,” Public Enemy No.1 from 23-OCT-1934, was killed in Barrington, Illinois, on 27-NOV-1934.

I have previously attempted to describe the inventory in the Cthulhu ‒ Waffenhandbuch (2008) (p. 281). Here is a new approach, using a display assembled in 1966 at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, as a visual guide. Obviously this is only a partial list of their complete arsenal.

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Ultra-Tech: Shadowrun

Back in the day, one of my favourite game settings was the original Shadowrun, First Edition. I just loved the unique blend of cyberpunk and magic, combined with its heavy dose of Native American myths and of course the awesome presentation. I did not like the game system very much and never upgraded to one of the later editions.

Instead, I used GURPS as game engine and also blended in material from GURPS Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk 2020, and Cyberspace. That was in 1989/1990. I have since lost most of my notes, but still have some material from that time. Among it are a few drawings of customized weaponry I made to capture the spirit of the setting, inspired in part by real firearms and in part by illustrations in Shadowrun, First Edition, and in the Street Samurai Catalog, First Edition. I have written up the back story and game stats for these for your enjoyment. They work especially well together with my article “Tactical Shooting: Tomorrow” in Pyramid #3/55.

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