Tactical Shooting: Ronin

C’est pas parce-que on veut achéter des flingues on n’est pas armé.

– Spence in Ronin (1998)

 

John Frankenheimer’s Ronin (1998) is an awesome thriller set in a shadowy world of freelance agents following the end of the Cold War. An IRA splinter cell operating in Paris, France, hires a team of mercenaries to “secure a package.” Among them are ex-CIA agent Sam (Robert De Niro), ex-DGSE agent Vincent (Jean Reno), and Spence (Sean Bean), who claims he is ex-SAS.

The melancholic atmosphere and the depiction of professionals adept at tradecraft, gunplay, and driving skills have made it an important influence for both Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day and Ken Hite’s Night’s Black Agents. It was a primary source for GURPS Tactical Shooting, as well. Here I analyse one of several gunfights in GURPS terms. Watch just the scene here (the action starts at 1:56).

SD_Ronin

Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

Round per Round

Prelude: Sam and Vincent, both investigators (GURPS Action 1: Heroes, pp. 12-13), and Spence, a shooter (Action 1, p. 14), all adept in the Assaulter shooting style (Tactical Shooting, pp. 47-48), have been sent by their Irish handler to procure weapons from a French underworld contact. They have received part of the merchandise from the lieutenant of the outfit (Bad Guy #1), but are told to meet le patron (Bad Guy #0) under the Pont Alexandre III over the river Seine in order to exchange the money for the rest of the arms. Sam is suspicious and after a successful Tactics roll identifies a possible ambush situation where the team would be “fish in a barrel.” He remains behind on over-watch while Vincent and Spence follow Bad Guy #1 and Bad Guy #2 to Bad Guy #0, who stands at the end of the tunnel under the bridge in front of his BMW 730i sedan. Bad Guy #3 and Bad Guy #4 sit in the car, Bad Guy #5 stands behind the car. Note how Sam opens his jacket in case he needs to get quickly at his sidearm. It is night-time and they are under a bridge, but there are street lamps and other light sources around, for -2 to Vision (Tactical Shooting, p. 18). Suddenly a cruise boat passes under the bridge and blasts its horn, distracting and illuminating a sniper (Bad Guy #6) hidden in the bridge’s support structure. Failing a Will roll (compare p. B405), Bad Guy #6 turns around, which spoils his Aim (p. B364).

1st Second: Sam makes his Per roll (p. B360) and spots Bad Guy #6. At his turn, he takes a Ready manoeuvre, taking a Step forward and simultaneously drawing his Colt Government MK IV Series 80 (M1991A1) pistol in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech, p. 98); -1 (undercover holster) (High-Tech, p. 154) to Fast-Draw (Pistol) skill. He succeeds, meaning he draws his pistol at this turn and can still perform a combat manoeuvre (p. B194). Sam grips his pistol with both hands and immediately assumes an Isoceles shooting stance (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11-12). This would ordinarily require another Ready manoeuvre, but Sam has the Grip Mastery (Pistol) perk (Tactical Shooting, p. 39), which allows him to do this as a free action. Sam carries his single-action pistol (High-Tech, p. 82) in Condition One, “cocked-and-locked” (Tactical Shooting, p. 8), and flipping off the safety is a free action for a familiar user (High-Tech, p. 80). Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11-12) sighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) double-tap (Tactical Shooting, p. 15) with his pistol at Bad Guy #6; -6 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -7 to Guns (Pistol). Both shots miss, but distract Bad Guy #6. At his turn, Bad Guy #6 takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires his unidentified rifle at Vincent; -6 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (minor distraction) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Rifle). He misses.

2nd Second: At his turn, Sam takes an Aim manoeuvre and aims at Bad Guy #6. At his turn, Bad Guy #3 sitting in the car takes a Ready manoeuvre and turns on the headlights to dazzle Vincent and Spence (Tactical Shooting, p. 18); -4 (headlights) to HT roll. Vincent makes his HT roll so well that he is unaffected, turning his head just in time, but Spence fails it, suffering -4 to Vision for several minutes. At his turn, Spence takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre, shouting “Shit, I can’t see, I can’t see!” At his turn, Vincent takes a Ready manoeuvre, taking a Step towards Spence and drawing his Beretta Mod 92FS pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 100). Although the Mod 92FS has a manual safety, savvy users carry it in Condition Two (Tactical Shooting, p. 8), decocked but off safe, relying on the double-action mechanism (High-Tech, p. 82) to render it safe to carry but instant to use. At his turn, Bad Guy #0 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre; he is mentally stunned (p. B420). At his turn, Bad Guy #1 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. At his turn, Bad Guy #2 takes a Ready manoeuvre, drawing his Glock 19 pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, pp. 100-101) and taking a Step to his left, away from the car. At his turn, Bad Guy #4 takes Ready manoeuvre and opens the right passenger door. At his turn, Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

3rd Second: At his turn, Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #6; -6 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (Acc) -2 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and Bad Guy #6 fails his Dodge roll. He is hit by at least one shot for 2d pi+ (average 11 points) of damage and is at 0 HP or less (p. B419). He is stunned (p. B420), drops his sniper rifle, and falls from the bridge support down into the river. At his turn, Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre, raising his pistol and firing one one-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 11) sighted shot with his pistol at Bad Guy #0; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. At his turn, Spence takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre, crouching down (p. B368). At his turn, Bad Guy #0 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. At his turn, Bad Guy #1 takes a Ready manoeuvre, drawing his Taurus PT945 pistol in .45 ACP. At his turn, Bad Guy #2 takes a Ready manoeuvre to change his grip to a two-handed stance, obviously lacking the Grip Mastery (Pistol) perk. At his turn, Bad Guy #3 takes a Ready manoeuvre and opens the left driver door. At his turn, Bad Guy #4 takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets out of the right passenger door. At his turn, Bad Guy #5 takes Ready manoeuvre, drawing his unidentified pistol.

4th Second: Sam takes a Move manoeuvre and sprints about 4 m (4 yards) forward and to his left, taking cover behind a support column. Spence takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Vincent takes a Move and Attack manoeuvre, shoving (p. B372) Spence to the left behind the cover of a support arch and moving behind cover into the alcove himself; -4 (Move and Attack) to DX. At his turn, Bad Guy #0 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #1 takes a Ready manoeuvre to change his grip to a two-handed stance. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent, who receives light cover (Tactical Shooting, p. 28); -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes a Ready manoeuvre and draws his Beretta Mod 92FS pistol. Bad Guy #4 takes a Ready manoeuvre and draws his unidentified pistol. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

5th Second: Sam takes an Aim manoeuvre and aims at Bad Guy #4. Vincent takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires two one-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 11) sighted shots with his pistol at Bad Guy #0; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) = -7 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and Bad Guy #0 fails his defence roll; -4 (mentally stunned) to Dodge. He is hit in the torso for twice 2d+2 pi (average 18 points) damage. Bad Guy #0 is at 0 HP or less and reels against the car. Spence takes a Ready manoeuvre and with both hands brings up his H&K MP5K submachine gun in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 123), which he carries in Condition One in a shoulder rig (Tactical Shooting, p. 73) under his jacket. Flipping off the safety is a free action for a familiar user. Bad Guy #1 takes an All-Out Defence manoeuvre and crouches behind the front left fender of the car. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes a Ready manoeuvre to change his grip to a two-handed stance. Bad Guy #4 takes a Ready manoeuvre to change his grip to a two-handed stance pistol. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

6th Second: Sam takes an Aim manoeuvre and aims at Bad Guy #4. Vincent takes a Ready manoeuvre and grips his pistol with both hands to assume an Isoceles shooting stance. This is a free action thanks to the Grip Mastery (Pistol) perk. Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires two two-handed sighted shots with his pistol at Bad Guy #0; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and Bad Guy #0 fails his defence; halved Dodge (less than 1/3 HP) (p. B419). He is hit in the torso for twice 2d+2 pi (average 18 points) damage. Bad Guy #0 is at -1×HP or less (p. B419). Bad Guy #0 fails his HT roll and drops dead or unconscious. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and shouts “Come on have some of this!” while firing three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #4; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He perforates the right passenger door, but hits nobody. Bad Guy #1 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #4 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

7th Second: Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #4; -7 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (Acc) +1 (Aim) -2 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and Bad Guy #4 fails his Dodge roll. He is hit by both shots for twice 2d pi+ (average 21 points) of damage and is at -1×HP or less. Bad Guy #4 fails his HT roll and drops dead or unconscious. Almost simultaneously, Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and makes a Ranged Rapid Strike (Tactical Shooting, p. 18) by firing two one-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 11) sighted shots with his pistol, one at Bad Guy #4 on the left, one at Bad Guy #2 on the right; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) (-6 Ranged Rapid Strike) -2 (darkness) = -12 to Guns (Pistol). Both shots miss. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and shouts “Arsehole! Fuckin’ arsehole!” while firing three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #3 in the car; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He misses, ventilating the windshield instead. Bad Guy #1 takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent after rising quickly from behind his cover; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -7 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -11 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

8th Second: Sam takes an Aim manoeuvre and aims his pistol at Bad Guy #2. Vincent takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his slide-locked pistol, ejecting the magazine and reaching for a new one. He either lacks the Fast-Draw (Ammo) skill or failed his roll, thus requiring the full three seconds to reload (High-Tech, p. 87). [Vincent has so far fired only seven shots that we have seen. Given that the Beretta Mod 92FS has Shots 15+1, this is either cinematic license or he has a malfunction and decided to clear the problem by reloading.] Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He misses. Bad Guy #1 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent after rising quickly from behind his cover; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -11 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

9th Second: Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #2; -7 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (Acc) +1 (Aim) -2 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Vincent takes a Ready manoeuvre and continues reloading his pistol, inserting the fresh magazine into his pistol. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). [By this time, Spence has fired around 30 shots and thus exhausted the 30+1 capacity of his submachine gun. He should be reloading now.] He misses. Bad Guy #1 takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his pistol, ejecting the empty magazine. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

10th Second: Sam takes an Aim manoeuvre and aims his pistol at Bad Guy #2. [By this time, Sam has fired eight shots and thus exhausted the 7+1 capacity of his pistol. He should be reloading now.] Vincent takes a Ready manoeuvre and completes reloading his pistol, racking the slide to chamber a round. [In an editing error, this action is shown after Vincent has resumed firing.] Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He misses. Bad Guy #1 takes a Ready manoeuvre and continues reloading his pistol, reaching for a fresh magazine in the left pocket of his jacket. Bad Guy #2 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots three two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Move manoeuvre and advances on the left from behind the car.

11th Second: Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #2; -7 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (Acc) +1 (Aim) -2 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and Bad Guy #2 fails his Dodge roll. Bad Guy #2 is hit by both shots for twice 2d pi+ (average 21 points) of damage and at -1×HP or less. Bad Guy #2 fails his HT roll and drops dead or unconscious. Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his pistol at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #1, shouting “Fuckin’ have some more, you bastards!”; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He succeeds and Bad Guy #1 fails his Dodge roll. Bad Guy #1 is hit in the torso for three times or more 2d+2 pi (average 27 points) damage. Bad Guy #1 is at -1×HP or less. Bad Guy #1 fails his HT roll and drops dead or unconscious. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -11 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #5 takes a Move manoeuvre and retreats behind the car.

12th Second: Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #3; -7 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (Acc) +1 (Aim) -2 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires two two-handed sighted shots with his pistol at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #5; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He misses and takes out the headlights of the car. Bad Guy #3 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

13th Second: Sam takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre, noting the approaching sirens of the Police Nationale and hailing Larry, their wheel-man (Action 1, pp. 14-15): “Come on! Come on!” Vincent takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires two two-handed sighted shots with his pistol at Bad Guy #3; -5 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires a 10-round burst with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #5; -5 (range) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -9 to Guns (SMG). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes an Attack manoeuvre and shoots two two-handed unsighted shots with his pistol at Vincent; -5 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -2 (light cover) -2 (darkness) = -11 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

14th Second: Sam takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Vincent takes an Attack manoeuvre, grappling Spence with his left hand to drag him away (p. B371); -4 (off hand) to DX. He succeeds and Spence cannot defend since he is unaware. Spence is grappled. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires three 3-round bursts with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #5, shouting “No! You goddamn . . . !”; -5 (range) -4 (grappled) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +2 (rate of fire) = -13 to Guns (SMG). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

15th Second: Sam takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre, shouting “Come on! Let’s go!” Vincent takes an Attack manoeuvre to drag Spence with him; this is a Quick Contest between Vincent’s and Spence’s highest of ST, DX, or his best grappling skill (GURPS Martial Arts, p. 118). Vincent wins and both take a Step backwards. Spence takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires a 3-round burst with his submachine gun at Bad Guy #5; -5 (range) -4 (grappled) -2 (darkness) -4 (dazzled) +0 (rate of fire) = -15 to Guns (SMG). He misses. Bad Guy #3 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

16th Second: Sam takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires a two-handed sighted double-tap with his pistol at Bad Guy #5; -7 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (darkness) = -8 to Guns (Pistol). He misses. Vincent takes a Move manoeuvre. Spence takes a Move manoeuvre. Bad Guy #3 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. Bad Guy #5 takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

 

In the film, the scene is 50 seconds long, as it cuts between showing the different characters [including Larry, who does not take part in the fight], although much of the action evolves simultaneously. Post-production editing has made the scene a bit of a mess, so my write-up is an idealised version of the events we see.

Results

You should better be armed in order to buy arms on the black market.

The ambush (Tactical Shooting, p. 21) is thwarted by unforeseen outside influences, but could have been potentially deadly to the team. Had it gone off as planned, Sam’s successful Tactics roll would not have helped the team (Tactical Shooting, p. 42), since his insights were ignored by the others.

Cover is essential (Tactical Shooting, pp. 28-31)! Even just the light cover from squeezing into an alcove can make a considerable difference.

In a (hand)gun fight, even just one full-automatic weapon can be enough to provide an edge. In this case, although most of Spence’s fire does not hit anyone (and he manages to do everything else wrong, as well), his rather erratic bursts are still effective enough as suppressive fire to allow Sam and Vincent to pick off most of the Bad Guys. Note that Spence must have at least some training, considering how fast he manages to deploy his weapon and that he mostly sticks to short, controlled bursts.

Sam and Spence reload not at all on screen despite being required to because of their high number of shots, while Vincent reloads despite not having fired sufficient shots to be empty. This must be assumed to be the result of Bad Continuity and erratic editing rather than an indication for the Infinite Ammunition perk (GURPS Gun Fu, pp. 19-20).

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One comment

  1. Andrew · April 9, 2016

    Good,

    I’d say the boat distracting the sniper is serendipity, the GM or lets be honest the script!

    I’d also say Spence is a 25 PT NPC with Guns, but a lot of disadvantages. At the end of the session the GM no doubt couldn’t believe Spence survived, given he was meant to die right away.

    Like

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