Weapons in Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition

Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, has made a lot of detail changes to the weapons available to investigators. Focusing on my particular interests and insights, I went through the Keeper Rulebook to check what works and what does not.

Many of the mistakes were already present in the Call of Cthulhu, Fifth Edition, and Call of Cthulhu, Sixth Edition, but it would have been a good opportunity to deal with them. Others are unique to the new edition.

Call of Cthulhu_7

Keeper Rulebook

On p. 119, the Illustrations include an inverted mirror image. Most firearms do not look the same from either side. From the top:

#1 (Auto-Ordnance Model 1928A)

Equipment Lists

On p. 398, the Firearm Ammunition list has a number of peculiar entries.

.22 Hollow Point ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.22 Long Rifle Hollow-Point.” In which gun can you use this? What is the game-mechanical effect of firing hollow-points? There are no rules for HPs (compare Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 102, and Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day, p. 188).

Inv.Weap_.Vol_.1.Cover_.e23

.25 Rimfire ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.25 Short Rimfire” (6.35×12mmR). In which gun can you use this? Perhaps the “.25 Derringer (1B)” in the Weapon Tables? Yeah, but. See below under Weapon Tables.

.32 Special ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.32 Winchester Special” (8.15×52mmR). In which gun can you use this? Historically, this was employed only in lever-action or single-shot rifles, but there is no .32-calibre lever-action or single-shot rifle in the Weapon Tables.

.32-20 Repeater ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.32-20 Winchester” (7.9×33mmR). In which gun can you use this? There is no .32-calibre or .32-20 weapon in the Weapon Tables.

.38 Short Round ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.38 Short Colt” (9.1×19mmR), or perhaps one of the other short .38-calibre rounds for revolvers, none of which are called “.38 Short Round,” however. In which gun can you use this? It is probably supposed to go with the “.38 or 9mm Revolver” in the Weapon Tables, but it would have been nice to make that clear.

.38-55 Repeater ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.38-55 Winchester” (9.59×53mmR). In which gun can you use this? There is no .38-calibre or .38-55 rifle in the Weapon Tables.

.44 Hi-Power ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.44 Special” (10.9×29mmR) or even “.44 Magnum” (10.9×33mmR), although that is far from clear. There is no cartridge with that name in Barnes’ standard reference Cartridges of the World or in any of a dozen catalogues of major ammunition sellers for the 1920s. In which gun can you use this?

 

On p. 398, the Melee Weapons list has a number of peculiar entries. Why is this list not in alphabetical order?

Bayonet ‒ There is no “Bayonet” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skills to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage. Presumably it falls under one of the “Knife” entries at least when not fixed on a rifle, but which?

Dagger ‒ There is no “Dagger” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage. Presumably it falls under one of the “Knife” entries, but which?

Straight Razor ‒ There is no “Straight Razor” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage.

Horsewhip ‒ There is no “Horsewhip” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage.

 

On p. 400, the Firearm Ammunition list has a number of peculiar entries.

.220 Swift ‒ In which gun can you use this? There is no .220-calibre weapon in the Weapon Tables.

.25 Automatic ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.25 Automatic Colt Pistol” (6.35×16mmSR). In which gun can you use this? There is no .25-calibre semiautomatic pistol in the Weapon Tables.

.30 Carbine ‒ Presumably this is supposed to mean “.30 M1 Carbine” (7.62×33mm), for use in the Winchester M1 semiautomatic carbine. However, that gun is not in the Weapon Tables. Perhaps it is supposed to mean “.30-30 Winchester” (7.62×52mmR). since there is a “.30 Lever-Action Carbine” in the Weapon Tables. This is confusing at best, if not downright wrong.

 

On p. 400, the Combat Equipment list has a number of peculiar entries. Why is this list not in alphabetical order?

Illegal Suppressor (Pistol) ‒ On which pistol can you use this? What is the game-mechanical effect? Where are the suppressors for submachine guns or rifles? (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 75, 89, and Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 193-195)

Laser Gunsight ‒ On which gun can you use this? What is the game-mechanical effect? (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 197-198).

Stun Baton ‒ There is no “Stun Baton” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage.

Pepper Spray ‒ There is no “Pepper Spray” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, p. 201).

Blowdart Pen ‒ There is no “Blowdart Pen” entry in the Weapon Tables, so you do not know which skill to use, or which other stats it has, especially not the Damage.

 

On p. 400, the Illustrations include a number of inverted mirror images. Most firearms do not look the same from either side. From the top:

#1 (Astra Cub)

#5 (S&W Model 29)

#6 (Winchester Model 1897)

#7 (Springfield M1861)

#8 (Lee-Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mk I)

Weapon Tables

The tables as a whole are badly edited. Some entries list calibre, some do not. Some entries list the type of action, some do not. Some entries list the manufacturer, others do not. There is no rhyme or reason for the order of the entries, the entries are not arranged alphabetically, historically, or concerning their action or calibre.

 

On p. 401, why were some of the old weapon stats changed? In order:

Uses per Round ‒ This used to be Rate of Fire (ROF). The new term is not easily abbreviated. Consistency would have argued for keeping the old term.

Bullets in Gun (Mag) ‒ This used to be Capacity, a shorter and technically more precise term, since almost all firearms listed are loaded with cartridges, not “bullets,” and many firearms with a magazine can take another cartridge in the chamber (compare Investigator Weapons 1, p. 30, and Investigator Weapons 2, p. 50). Other firearms do not have a magazine (Mag) to begin with, eg revolvers or belt-fed machine guns …

Cost ‒ This used to be Price. Consistency would have argued for keeping the old term.

Malfunction (Mal) ‒ This used to be Malfunction (Malf). What does cutting the “f” offer, other than a lack of consistency between the editions?

Handguns

On p. 402:

Flintlock ‒ What is this supposed to represent? Presumably this is supposed to be a generic single-shot flintlock pistol, but that is far from clear.

.22 Short Automatic ‒ What is this supposed to represent? There exists literally only one type of semiautomatic pistol that is chambered for the rather unpopular .22 Short Rimfire (5.6×11mmR) cartridge and has a 6-round magazine (“Mag 6”), the Astra Cub. However, that pistol was introduced in 1956 and was thus not available in the 1920s. It would have made more sense to include a “.25 Automatic” in .25 ACP (6.35×16mmSR) like the Colt Vest Pocket or the FN-Browning Mle 1906, both of which have a 6-round magazine and were common in the 1920s (compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 43-44.) The “.22 Short Automatic” is suspiciously reliable (“Mal 100”) considering the generally unreliable rimfire cartridge it fires, especially in comparison to the other pistols in the Handguns table. “Mal 97” would make more sense.

.25 Derringer (1B) ‒ What is this supposed to represent? There are very few single-barrelled derringers that are chambered for the uncommon .25 Short Rimfire (6.35×12mmR) cartridge, eg early samples of the Iver Johnson Eclipse. None of these were commonly available in the 1920s, as the cartridge became obsolete in the 1880s. A .22 Single-Barrelled Derringer in .22 Short Rimfire (5.6×11mmR) would make more sense, although even those were weapons of the Gaslight era, not the 1920s. The “.25 Derringer (1B)” is suspiciously reliable (“Mal 100”) considering the generally unreliable rimfire cartridge it fires. “Mal 99” would make more sense.

Beretta M9 ‒ This would be better listed as the 9mm Beretta M9 Semiautomatic Pistol. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 55-57.)

Model P08 Luger ‒ This is properly called the Luger P08 or Luger P.08 using period spelling (compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 45-46). This would be better listed as the 9mm Luger P08 Semiautomatic Pistol. Why is this pistol more reliable (“Mal 99”) than other semiautomatic pistols like the Glock 17 (“Mal 98”) etc? The Luger does not have a reputation for being very reliable, while the Glock very deservedly does.

.41 Revolver ‒ What is this supposed to represent? A number of .41-calibre revolvers exist, although they mostly either predate the 1920s, eg the Colt Double Action Constabulary (1877-1909) in .41 Long Colt (9.8×29mmR), or postdate the 1920s, eg the S&W Model 57 (1964-) in .41 Magnum (10.4×33mmR). The latter is a powerful weapon that does more Damage than 1D10. No .41-calibre revolver has a capacity of eight shots (“Mag 8”).

IMI Desert Eagle ‒ This would be better listed as the .50 IMI Desert Eagle Semiautomatic Pistol. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, p. 73.)

Rifles

On p. 403:

.45 Martini-Henry Rifle ‒ This would be better listed as the .450 Martini-Henry Lever-Action Rifle. Why is this even in here? This is a Gaslight-era weapon, it was no longer issued during the 1920s. The calibre is properly given as “.450 Martini-Henry” (11.6×59mmR). This should be at least “Rare.”

Col. Moran’s Air Rifle ‒ Why is this even in here? This is a Gaslight-era weapon that is entirely linked to the Sherlock Holmes stories. This should really be “Unavailable.”

Garand M1, M2 Rifle ‒ This would be better listed as the .30-06 Garand M1 Semiautomatic Rifle. There is no such thing as a “Garand M2 Rifle.” There is a “M2 Carbine,” but that was not designed by John Garand, is not a full-sized rifle but a carbine, fires the less powerful .30 M1 carbine (7.62×33mm) cartridge instead of the .30-06 (7.62×63mm), meaning it should have less Damage than 2D6+4, is not semiautomatic but selective-fire (and thus should be in the Assault Rifles table with “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto”), and uses a 15- or 30-round magazine rather than an 8-round clip.

.30-06 Semi-Automatic Rifle ‒ Why is this even in here? The most common semiautomatic rifle in .30-06 is the Garand M1 above.

.444 Marlin Rifle ‒ This would be better listed as the .444 Marlin Model 444 Lever-Action Rifle. This has a suspiciously high Base Range. The large-bore, non-spitzer bullet has a shorter effective range than the .30-06, which has roughly the same muzzle energy. “Base Range 80” would be more appropriate (compare Investigator Weapons 2, p. 119.)

Shotguns

On p. 403:

12-gauge Shotgun (2B sawed off) ‒ This has a widely inaccurate Base Range. “Base Range 5/10” implies that it is not dangerous beyond 10 m/10 yards. This is so wrong it defies description. While the shot pattern (area covered by pellets from one cartridge) may be wider, the pellets from a gun with shortened barrels move almost as fast and as far as from a standard barrel (compare Investigator Weapons 1, p. 76 and Investigator Weapons 2, p. 134). Why does this have no Price? Surely it should be the same as an ordinary 12-gauge shotgun with double barrels, since shortening the barrels takes nothing but a few moments with a hacksaw. Why is this only available in the 1920s? It exists in the Modern Day as well!

12-gauge Benelli M3 (folding stock) ‒ Presumably this is supposed to be the 12-gauge Benelli M3T Semiautomatic Shotgun. It should be mentioned that this is a dual-mode (semiautomatic/pump-action) gun. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 136-137.)

12-gauge SPAS (folding stock) ‒ Presumably this is supposed to be the 12-gauge Franchi SPAS 12 Semiautomatic Shotgun, but this is far from clear as there is also a Franchi SPAS 11 and a Franchi SPAS 15, both different weapons. It should be mentioned that this is a dual-mode (semiautomatic/pump-action) gun. Set on semiautomatic, it should have “Uses per Round 1(2)” instead of “Uses per Round 1”, just like the generic semiautomatic in line 5 and the Benelli M3T in line 8.

Assault Rifles

On p. 404:

AK-47 or AKM ‒ This would be better listed as the 7.62mm Izhmash AK-47 Assault Rifle or perhaps 7.62mm Kalashnikov AK Assault Rifle. The Russians never called it the “AK-47” (which was the designation of the pre-production version), just the AK. This has dubious Mal. While the AK series is famous for its reliability ‒ or really rather its ruggedness ‒ it is not that reliable. Instead of “Mal 100”, this should have “Mal 98”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 115-119.)

AK-74 ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.45mm Izhmash AK-74 Assault Rifle or perhaps 5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-74 Assault Rifle.  Both Mal and Cost should mirror that of the AK, above. Instead of “Mal 97”, this should have “Mal 98”. Instead of “Cost -/$1,000”, this should have “Cost ‒/$200”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 115-119.)

Barrett Model 82 ‒ This would be better listed as the .50 Barrett Model 82A1 Semiautomatic Rifle. This is not an assault rifle! To summarize the technical definition of an assault rifle: a selective-fire shoulder arm chambered for a medium-powered rifle cartridge. As a semiautomatic rifle firing an extremely powerful heavy machine gun round, it should be in the Rifles table! Only 115 Model 82s were made, the more common Model 82A1 configuration being the standard version. Only the scarce Model 82 has “Mag 11”, most rifles made actually have “Mag 10”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$3,000”, this should have “Cost ‒/$9,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 96-97.)

FN FAL Light Automatic ‒ The -AL part of FAL stands for automatique léger (“light automatic”), which makes the unclear description superfluous. This would be better listed as the 7.62mm FN FAL Automatic Rifle. This does not have a 3-round burst setting. It should have “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$1,500”, this should have “Cost ‒/$20,000”.

Galil Assault Rifle ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.56mm IMI Galil Assault Rifle. Why can this be fired only once on semiautomatic? It should have “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto”. The standard magazine for the Galil takes 35 cartridges. It should have “Mag 35” instead of “Mag 20”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$2,000”, this should have “Cost ‒/$20,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 113-114.)

M16A2 ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.56mm Colt M16A2 Assault Rifle. Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost ‒/$30,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 102-103.)

M4 ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.56mm Colt M4 Assault Carbine. Why can this be fired only once on semiautomatic? It should have “Uses per Round 1(2) or Burst 3.” The now-standard M4A1 actually has “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto.” Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost ‒/$30,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 98-101.)

Steyr AUG ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Rifle. Instead of “Cost ‒/$1,100”, this should have “Cost ‒/$20,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 129-131.)

Beretta M70/90 ‒ This would be better listed as the 5.56mm Beretta AR 70/90 Assault Rifle. Why can this be fired only once on semiautomatic and lacks the burst setting? It should have “Uses per Round 1(2), Burst 3, or Full-auto”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$2,800”, this should have “Cost N/A”.

Submachine Guns

On p. 404:

All of the submachine guns have dubious Base Range. While it is correct that they fire pistol cartridges with less power than rifles, submachine guns have better effective ranges than pistols in similar calibres because of their shoulder stocks and better sightlines.

Bergmann MP181/MP2811 ‒ These do not exist. What is meant is the Schmeisser-designed, Bergmann-produced MP18,I (note the comma; contemporary spelling M.P.18,I), which is commonly known as the Bergmann MP18,I, and the Schmeisser-designed, Haenel-produced (no connection with Bergmann!) MP28/II (note the slash; contemporary spelling M.P.28/II), which is commonly known as the Schmeisser MP28/II. The first would be better listed as the 9mm Bergmann MP18,I Submachine Gun, the second as the 9mm Schmeisser MP28/II Submachine Gun. Although related, they have different stats. Instead of both having “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto” and “Mag 20/30/32”, the Bergmann MP18,I has “Uses per Round Full-auto” and “Mag 32”, but the Schmeisser MP28/II has “Uses per Round 1(2) or Full-auto” and “Mag 20/32/50”. Instead of “Cost $1,000/$20,000”, both should have “Cost $200/$20,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 90-91.)

H&K MP5 ‒ This would be better listed as the 9mm H&K MP5A3 Submachine Gun, the MP5A3 being the most common of the many different versions of this weapon. Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost ‒/$30,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 155-159.)

Ingram MAC-11 ‒ This would be better listed as the .380 MAC-Ingram M11 Submachine Gun. This is chambered for the .380 ACP (9×17mm) cartridge, a weaker round than the 9×19mm Parabellum used in most other submachine guns. Instead of “Damage 1D10”, it should have “Damage 1D8+1”. Instead of “Mag 32”, it should have “Mag 16/32”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$750”, this should have “Cost ‒/$5,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 164-166.)

Skorpion ‒ This would be better listed as the .32 ČZ Sa vz.61 Škorpión Submachine Gun. Instead of “Mag 20”, this should have “Mag 10/20”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 150-151.)

Thompson ‒ This would be better listed as the .45 Auto-Ordnance Model 1921 Thompson Submachine Gun, since presumably the M1928A1, M1, or M1A1 of WWII are not meant. It should have “Mag 20/50/100” instead of “Mag 20/30/50”, since the 30-round magazine did not appear until 1942, but the 100-round drum was available from 1921 and popular with many users despite its unreliability. The “Price $200/$1,600” given is completely wrong. While you might get a semiautomatic clone such as the Kahr Model 1927A-1 SBR for that figure, a genuine, selective-fire Auto-Ordnance Model 1921 should have “Cost $200/$40,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 87-89.)

Uzi SMG ‒ This would be better listed as the 9mm IMI Uzi Submachine Gun. Instead of “Mag 32”, it should have “Mag 20/25/32”. Instead of “Cost ‒/$1,000”, this should have “Cost ‒/$15,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 161-163.)

Machine Guns

On p. 404:

Model 1882 Gatling Gun ‒ A “Model 1882 Gatling Gun” does not exist. The closest actual pattern is the Gatling Model 1883, which should be listed as the .45 Gatling Model 1883 Machine Gun. This, however, does not have a 200-round magazine. It has a 104-round magazine, the “Accles Positive Feed Magazine.” The Gatling Gun Model 1883 should have “Uses per Round 1 or Full auto”, since it can actually fire single shots. Instead of “Cost $2,000/$14,000”, it should have “Cost $500/$100,000”. Overall, the inclusion of this weapon is dubious, since it is at best a very rare collectors’ item both in the 1920s and Modern settings, and the Gaslight era is not covered in this book.

Browning Auto Rifle M1918 ‒ This should be better listed as the .30-06 Browning M1918 Automatic Rifle. The interwar model lacked a bipod and would be really better placed in the Assault Rifles Table. Instead of “Mal 100”, it should have “Mal 98”. As an automatic, the M1918 BAR did have its share of reliability issues. Instead of “Cost $800/$1,500”, this should have “Cost $250/$25,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 63-64).

.30 Browning M1917A1 ‒ The Browning M1917A1 was adopted in 1936 and actually available from 1937, and is thus not suitable for the 1920s setting. The gun that is actually available in the 1920s is the .30-06 Browning M1917 Machine Gun. Instead of “Cost $3,000/$30,000”, this should have “Cost $650/$20,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 94-95.)

Bren Gun ‒ This should be better listed as the .303 Enfield Bren Mk I Machine Gun. Instead of “Cost $3,000/$50,000”, this should have “Cost $200/$25,000”. This was not available in the 1920s; it was adopted in 1936 and first issued in 1938.

Mark I Lewis Gun ‒ This would be better listed as the .303 Lewis Mk I Machine Gun. The Lewis Mk I actually uses a 47-round magazine, making “Mag 27/97” completely wrong. While there is a 97-round magazine, it cannot be used by the bipod-mounted Lewis Mk I, since it obscures the sights. It is only used with the Lewis Mk II for Air Service. Instead of “Cost $3,000/$20,000”, this should have “Cost $750/$15,000”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 1, p. 95-97.)

Minigun ‒ This should be better listed as the 7.62mm GE Minigun Machine Gun. Instead of “Range 200”, it should have “Range 110”, since it fires the same 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge as other rifles and machine guns. Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost ‒/$100,000”. Instead of “Mal 98”, it should have “Mal 100”. These weapons have ridiculously high Mean Rate Between Failure figures.

FN Minimi, 5.56mm, ‒ This should be better listed as the 5.56mm FN MINIMI Machine Gun. Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost ‒/$75,000”. Instead of “Mal 99”, it should have “Mal 98”. (Compare Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 169-171.)

Vickers .303 Machine Gun ‒ This would be better listed as the .303 Vickers Mk I Machine Gun. Instead of “Cost N/A”, this should have “Cost $700/$20,000”.

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