Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
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Basic Information

According to Warren Zevon "Roland" was a Norwegian mercenary who was contracted to fight in a number of African wars, including the Biafran Conflict and the Congo Crisis (in the 1960s), specializing in the use of the Thompson submachine gun. Eventually, he established such a reputation that he attracted the enmity of the CIA and was murdered on their orders by a colleague called Van Owen. There, normally, things would have ended … except that sometime later, Roland's headless body appeared in a Mombasa bar, Thompson in hand, and gunned Van Owen down in turn. This still did not end matters, and Roland has apparently been sighted in many other places since then … presumably taking his revenge on the CIA, but possibly just attracted by violence. After all, it's likely that a man with so much blood on his hands couldn't expect much in the way of rest however he happened to die.


1. Song: Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon Listen on Warren Zevon's official Youtube channel

Game and Story Use

  • A good add-on for a modern urban fantasy or wainscot fantasy setting, either as an antagonist for CIA characters or a deus ex machina for those troubled by them - the sudden appearance from the darkness of a headless corpse in bush fatigues, laying down deadly accurate submachinegun fire could put a crimp in all sorts of things.
  • Such an entity could be summonable - presumably being able to make an offering that indicates a CIA related target would make him more likely to attend. Other tokens could include libations of gin, 45ACP case and invocations in Norwegian. His anchors could include his custom Thompson and/or a body buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in a remote part of Africa … if not buried with him, the gun could be anywhere. If Van Owen stole it, it might still be in Mombasa, but it could have made it anywhere on the planet.
  • More thorough - Roland was the descendant of a line of ulfhednar and possessed potent, if untutored shamanic abilities that had allowed him to bond with a powerful spirit of wrath and violence. This spirit had granted him almost superhuman skill with his weapon of choice, but left him unable to settle into civilian life and quick to take even poorly paying jobs that held the prospect of violence. Van Owen murdered him whilst he was in full beserkgang - full union with his totem spirit - and so, inadvertently creating a powerful, hybrid entity with a foot in both worlds.
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