Killers for Hire

Mercenary Fighters in CAR WARS

by Robert Eikel

HTMLized by Dennis Holmes.

Warrior-for-hire is probably the world's second oldest profession. As long as there has been war and battle, there have been men willing to fight for others, as long as the price was right. The world of 2040 is no exception.

There are three general types of hired fighters -- mercenaries, hit men and assassins.


A mercenary is simply a duellist or footsoldier who freelances as part of an army or fighting force. Many fighting units, from cycle gangs to private (or sometimes national) armies, will enlist mercenaries to bolster their forces in preparation for a large confrontation. Many wealthy people, particularly those involved in organized crime, maintain veritable small armies of well-equipped (though often indifferently trained) mercenaries, who serve to ensure the security of their employer and disrupt that of his enemies. There are even some companies that maintain an extensive pay roll of excellent mercenaries along with accompanying training facilities and equipment, and specialize in renting out entire trained-and-equipped forces for a premium price.

Most mercenary footsoldiers are relatively unskilled and hired only to fill out the ranks of a fighting force. These mercs usually carry their own weapons into battle, though the employer is required to provide any necessary vehicles or heavy equipment. NPC mercs can be represented by 30- to 60-point characters.

Such a mercenary "grunt" would demand pay ranging from $1,000 for a quick job to $25,000 for an especially difficult or extended mission. Such fighters are loyal only to their paycheck. If a battle begins to turn against their side, they will readily "bug out," and save their own skin rather than fight to the finish.

More skilled and experienced mercenaries are often permanent retainers of their employer, who will use them to train and lead a temporary army of lesser soldiers.

A mercenary duellist is usually more experienced and much more highly esteemed than a simple footsoldier-for-hire. Most professional mercenary duellists drive their own vehicles into combat. A mercenary duellist prefers a well-balanced, all-around car which can be used for almost any situation. For example:

Sedan, X-hvy. chassis, hvy suspension, Sport PP with Platinum Catalysts, 4 PR radial tires, driver, 2 RRs linked front (HEAT ammo), RR in turret (HEAT ammo), smart link from turret to front RRs, SS back, 6 dischargers*, targeting computer, HD shocks, airdam, Armor: F35, R25, L25, B25, T25, U13, 4 10-point wheel hubs. Cargo/personal equipment 1 space, 73 lbs. Acceleration 10, HC 4, Top Speed 120; $26,236 + cost of dischargers*, 6,120 lbs.

*Note: The exact discharger configuration will vary depending on the situation. The weight of six dischargers is included in the design, though the cost is not. The dischargers may be mounted in any configuration.

Hit Men

A hit man makes his living by accepting contracts to kill others. A hit man usually will work for anyone who will hire him, but some are very loyal to a single employer and will not work against him. It is not uncommon for more than one hit man to be contracted to kill a single person. Often, these hit men try to eliminate each other as well as to kill the target and obtain the bounty.

Fees are variable; $25,000 and up is average, 25% or more of which is due as down payment. Employers always demand proof of the kill before making full payment.

Hit men usually prefer to kill their target with a well-placed booby trap or bomb rather than in face-to-face combat. A significant minority, however, referred to in the profession as "gunslingers," prefer to engage their target in a normal road duel (although it is likely to begin with an ambush).

An excellent example of a successful hired killer working with a minimum of personal risk can be found in the case of Christopher "Snakebite" Madison.

Police and medical teams in Chicago were bewildered by a rash of serious vehicular explosions, which had claimed more than 50 victims over nearly two years. The explosions, according to survivors, almost always originated from cheap, foreign-made subcompact cars which mysteriously detonated, often during rush hour. The mystery was finally solved when an organized crime informant told police about Madison. He had been charging $50,000 a job to pack a small car with explosives and steer it by remote control to his target before blowing his contracted victim (along with any bystanders) to smithereens.

"Gunslingers," on the other hand, are often ex-arena duellists who continue to make a living with their skills. In an ongoing campaign, characters may chose to "retire" to a life as a hit man, or a party may elect to form a "hit team." Experienced NPC hit men, who can usually be hired only through underworld connections, can be represented by 100- to 130-point characters.

New Rules: Car Bombs

A car bomb is an explosive charge, either a kamibomb or plastique, that is placed inside a car and detonated by timer, remote control or (the classic) when the car's ignition is activated.

If a kamibomb charge is used, there must be enough unused cargo space in the vehicle to accommodate the bomb; such a charge will normally be immediately obvious if the cargo area is inspected. (However, the bomb's container could be disguised to look like something else.) There is enough unused Space in any vehicle to conceal up to 2 bricks of plastique which will not be noticed unless a detailed (5-minute) search is made.

To set up the car bomb to detonate on ignition (or any other vehicular function) is a Medium Mechanic job, in addition to requiring the Demolitions skill.

When a car bomb is detonated, apply damage at 1/4" range to all components from the inside out; that is, roll 4 x Blast Points damage, and divide this damage equally between power plant, cargo, accessories and crew; any damage in excess of the total DP of these objects is applied to the weapons and armor. However, the remaining damage is applied to each armor location and its associated weapons (weapons taking damage before armor). If an armor facing is breached, the remaining damage continues outward from the arc of fire on the breached side only; damage is halved at 1/2" range, again at 1", and so on normally.


An assassin specializes in untraceably killing a single target. Whereas a hit man's work is dirty, loud and unmistakable, the assassin seeks to make his killing unseen and unheard. Assassins are highly skilled fighters, talented in both personal and vehicular combat.

Methods of assassination vary. Usually, though, a road kill is avoided; it's too messy, with too high a chance of being seen. Land mines, car bombs and sniper tactics are the most common, but anything from poison to a falling piano is a possibility.

Assassins charge plenty for their services; the typical fee is well over $100,000. Only the very rich and very powerful are able to hire them. The target of an assassination is typically a public official, organized crime boss or some other equally powerful person.

Assassins use many sorts of gadgets not available to the general public (see, for example, the needle gun described on p. 00). Many of these special gadgets are constructed by the assassin himself, or purchased from one-of-a-kind dealers who can discreetly equip a select clientele with illegal equipment.

Sniper Weapons

Using a special rifle customized for his own use, a skilled marksman can achieve unbelievable accuracy delivering a single bullet at ranges of up to 1,000 yards. Such weapons, however, are not readily available to the common citizen; only a handful of gunsmiths worldwide have the skill necessary to craft one of these precision weapons.

Sniper Rifle: $5,000 and up, depending on quality and the craftsman's reputation. This weapon has a base To Hit of 4, but only when wielded by a trained sniper (see below). In addition, all range To Hit modifiers are halved using this weapon. 3 GE/15 lbs.

A sniper rifle includes a special targeting scope which, through precision-calibrated sighting optics, gives a +2 to hit, as well as reducing limitations on accuracy at range (both these benefits are already figured in to the statistics in the preceding paragraph). To gain the full benefits of this sighting system, the firer must spend 10 full turns aiming. This scope may not be used with any other weapon.

In order to properly use a sniper weapon, it is necessary that a character have the Sniper skill. This is distinct from the Handgunner skill, and is used only in connection with sniper weapons. It is acquired and improved in the same manner as any other skill. Any "kill" made with a sniper weapon adds 1 point toward improving this skill.

Hired Fighters in a Game

Often, players with beginning characters wish to freelance as mercenaries to gain some experience and money. Many convoys will take on mercenary crewmembers for a run or two, usually as gunners.

More experienced players may take an occasional bounty job, or even become full-time hit men. Plenty of employment opportunities for both mercenary and bounty jobs, both legal and illegal, can be found in most cities.

As players become richer, they may hire a mercenary as a temporary crew member, or place a bounty of their own on some enemy. Hiring an assassin will remain out of the financial reach of most PCs. Nevertheless, an assassin may become part of a roleplaying adventure if players are called upon to prevent the assassination of some public official, or perhaps somebody they're working for or seeking is assassinated. For a truly deadly plot twist, a player character could himself become the target of an assassination attempt.

In an industrial espionage roleplaying adventure, hit men and assassins can also become an important part of the adventure as opposing organizations (who, unlike individual characters, are wealthy enough to acquire such services) try to undermine the competition.