High-Tech: True Detective

Marty Hart: Holy shit. You visit a lot of gun shows?

Rust Cohle: Ah, it’s just some stuff I kept in case work came back to me.

     – True Detective #1.4 (set in 1995)


The first season of True Detective (2014) is an awesome piece of television and perfect as a template for Cthulhu Now, Delta Green, or GURPS Horror. Spanning 17 years, it follows two Louisiana State Police CID detectives, Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin “Marty” Hart (Woody Harrelson), both men with serious personal issues, as they investigate a series of murders apparently perpetrated by an ages-old cult that worships the King in Yellow, Hastur the Unspeakable.


Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

The performances by the main actors are impeccable, as are the settings, the music, the props, and the photography. Only a few minor details are off – some unfortunately concern their armament. Hart’s S&W Model 627PC revolver – an eight-shot, short-barrelled stainless steel variant of the S&W Model 27 (GURPS High-Tech, p. 96) – was not yet available in 1995 and he carries it throughout his career as a detective and as a private investigator, just like Cohle apparently wields the same SIG-Sauer P226 semiautomatic pistol (High-Tech, p. 102; Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day, pp. 77-79) between 1995 and 2012, including when on duty as a detective, when he is off-duty, and finally when he is a bartender/PI going after Evil. Both investigators also have apparently never heard of body armour or long arms. These mistakes are annoying but can be forgiven.

The fact that we never see a Mythos monster only reinforces the overall favourable impression. The dark hints and suggestions are in many ways worse than an amorphous, blasphemous critter could ever be.

Inside the Box

One fun detail is Cohle’s fire engine-red emergency crate, which appears in True Detective #1.4 (2014). Director Cary Fukunaga commented in Inside the Episode: “As trying to figure out what to put into that locker, that felt real and didn’t feel like we’re just trying to make him look like he was some kind of action hero in his previous life but somebody who had lived that kind of existence, that had been shut away but not completely forgotten.” Let’s examine what he had in there:

  1. Pair of boots.
  2. Leather jacket.
  3. M19A1 ammunition box (Investigator Weapons 2, p. 192). The water-, gas-, and airtight kind that is perfect for storing a couple of octavo-sized tomes (Call of Cthulhu, Sixth Edition, p. 94; Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, p. 225). However, Cohle probably simply has ammunition in there; 500 rounds of 7.62×39mm would fit, although he might have mixed it up a bit. He is seen loading a magazine for his P226 pistol with 9×19mm cartridges, possibly with ammunition taken from the locker.
  4. Izhmash AKMS assault carbine in 7.62×39mm (High-Tech, p. 114; Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 115-119) with the barrel professionally shortened to 33 cm (13”) (GURPS Tactical Shooting, pp. 69-70) and at least one 30-round magazine.
  5. 0.2-litre bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey (Investigator Weapons 2, p. 7).
  6. Hip flask (High-Tech, p. 31).
  7. Two M67 fragmentation hand grenades (High-Tech, p. 193; Investigator Weapons 2, p. 167).
  8. IMI Desert Eagle Mark I semiautomatic pistol in .44 Magnum (10.9×33mmR) (High-Tech, p. 102; Investigator Weapons 2, p. 73).
  9. Some other stuff we cannot properly see, including drug paraphernalia.


Cohle has some serious hardware in there. The Desert Eagle is a bit of an oddity, a showy, oversized weapon that does not really fit his character. It is probably part of his undercover persona. The AKMS and the grenades might have come in handy later in the series. The former is almost certainly a “machine gun” and thus banned in Louisiana, proof of Cohle’s flexible outlook on legal matters; the grenades are even worse. However, the main things Cohle seems to use from the locker are the jacket … and the booze.