Gun Moll
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Basic Information

A Gun Moll is a female accomplice to criminals, or girlfriend of a criminal, especially during the Roaring Twenties and their aftermath (i.e.: 1920s and 1930s). The term actually originated a few decades before, in the 1900s. In it's original context and derivation, it had nothing to do with Firearms - "Gun" in this context was derived from the Yiddish word for "Thief". Moll derives from "Molly", which was slang for prostitute. So a Gun Moll is literally a Thief's Whore - which most likely started as an insult, and then became something of a badge of honor as the term grew into standard use.

However, famous "girl gangsters" of the Prohibition and Great Depression eras are often depicted as a Flapper carrying a Tommy Gun, which has lead to most people assuming the wrong derivation and meaning of the word "gun". As a result, the term is quite often interpreted today to mean a female criminal, especially one who carries a gun or engages in violent crime.

Other related terms include:

  • gunsel - another yiddish-derived term, a contemptuous way to refer to a neophyte criminal
  • comare, goomah, goomar, gomatta - italian-derived terms for the mistress of a mafioso
  • femme fatale - a french-derived term for a woman who seduces men into dangerous situations

Prominent Historical Gun Molls:

Gun Moll associated with:
Beulah Baird Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
Blanche Barrow* Marvin "Buck" Barrow
DaLonne "Dee David" Chisam Frank Niccoli, Mickey Cohen, and Fred (Alfred) Sica
Jean Delaney Tommy Carroll
Evelyn "Billie" Frechette John Dillinger
Mary Kinder Harry Pierpont
Kathryn Thorne George "Machine Gun" Kelly
Opal "Mack Truck" Long Russell Clark
Bonnie Parker* Clyde Barrow
Helen Wawzynak George "Baby Face" Nelson
Virginia Hill Bugsy Siegel
Judith Exner Sam Giancana

*: the Barrow Gang had two Gun Molls - Bonnie and Blanche.


Game and Story Use

  • Having a Gun Moll among the baddies is a way to spice up the villains a little. To make her stand out, you might consider using always female tropes for a part of her characterization.
    • There's a fine line between archetype and stereotype, however, so make sure you know which side you intend to be on.
    • The Gun Moll might be the actual Big Bad, wrapping various gangsters around her finger in proper Femme Fatale fashion. To get to her, you have to go through her army of Mafia Mooks.
  • There's probably a way to use the terminology drift, and twist expectations since the term can mean two slightly different things to different people.
    • The PCs refer to some NPC as a Gun Moll, and get slapped or shot. They thought it was an appropriate term, seeing as how she's a criminal and carries a gun. They didn't realize they were calling her a whore.
    • Or the other way around, they may assume a particular character is a cold-blooded killer because she's been described as a Gun Moll, when actually she's just a paid call-girl with a mafioso client.
    • Hey, you like terminological drift? Molly used to be a slang term for a male transvestite and/or homosexual but in modern times can refer to a spayed female cat. Go figure.
  • Interesting fringe cases might include characters like Caril Ann Fugate … fringe because, quite apart from the arguments over her culpability, Starkweather was a spree killer rather than a gangster…

Building This Character

Character Level

  • Many (but not all) Gun Molls would low-level non-combatants, who serve as lookouts, hangers on, and accessories after the fact.
    • Others, the real Bonnie Parker types who actively partake in the violent crimes, may be much tougher, higher level threats.
    • In a gangster-heavy campaign, it'd be nice to vary this a bit, so the players don't know what to expect. One Moll is a dainty lady, the other a talented murderess.


Skills and Feats or Edges

  • Social Skills are important. She's running around with killers and criminals, and needs to be able to make them respect her.
  • Driving - even if you're using the conventions of the era and genre which says "Dames" aren't fighters or targets, she can still be the driver of the getaway car. If that's the case, she'll need a solid rating in whatever skills and attributes make you a good enough to escape pursuit, dodge roadblocks, make sharp turns, etc.
  • Marksmanship, or at least knowledge about Firearms, is highly likely.
    • Even if she's never fired a round, she's gonna be comfortable around them, know the lingo, how to reload, etc. The Barrow Gang's galls might technically have no marksmanship, but still have a Rapid Reload ability.
    • If one half of a Bonnie and Clyde / Pumpkin and Honey-Bunny duo, you can bet she'll be a good shot.
  • Law, Persuasion, and other skills good for keeping yourself outside of prison, so you can mail the aforementioned cakes.
    • …so some Baking skill might help, too. :)
  • Social Status or Connections might be interesting, if she's from a powerful family, and "slumming" amongst the crooks for the thrill of it.

Flaws and Hindrances

Combat Role

  • May have a non-combat, or purely support role, like The Healer, Party Leader, Innocent Bystander (well, not so innocent), etc. A civillain indeed.
  • Or, take advantage of the chauvinistic leanings of the era, and have her be The Bushwhacker or The Sniper. Perhaps in the first round of combat, she stands around looking all shocked "as is befitting a lady" (or mainly to fool the enemy into making a mistake), then on round two or three she opens up in full Glass Cannon or even The DPSer glory.
  • Dedicated Bodyguard and Wingman are both worth looking at, too. Either her protecting her boyfriend, or he protecting her, depending on relationship and stats.
  • Strong possibility that she may be the brains of the operation, with her partner as dumb muscle - or at least as a dupe. When apprehended she relies on chauvinism and her acting ability to throw the boyfriend under the bus and play the innocent. May even extend into high end stuff with a talented daughter or wife of a mafioso being the secret brains behind an apparently all male organisation - possibly even the traditional pasta-spoon waving Italian matriarch and all the "Si … si mamma … si" overheard on the telephone.
    • NCIS:LA managed something very similar with Romanian mobsters, where a BBEG built up over several series gave her villain monologue whilst cooking dinner.
    • This could be an evolutionary process: comare to some wise-guy, becomes wife to a capo and eventually the godfather's wife and matriarch of the entire clan, mostly by careful management of her man's career. Done properly she may also be left to organise retaliation when the police or FBI round up the family's menfolk and rely on the mafia's all male traditions and her careful evidence management to avoid being arrested.
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