Adapted and inspired by Damnation City (Vampire Requiem supplement)

187: In the radio codes of Californian police, a 187 is a homicide. When rolled into a tag, 187 means a murder has happened on the site… or will soon. Pairing 187 with a name (or names) is a kind of public announcement that the people named have fallen in battle (accidental deaths aren’t 187s) or that they have been “greenlit” — approved for murder by gang leaders. Understanding the difference between a memorial 187 and a “notice” usually requires a reader to already be up on news from the street.

Dollar Signs: Dollar signs, usually used in place of the letter S or the numeral 5, mean drugs are being sold in the area. This can indicate something as large as an open-air drug market, or something as small as a lone dealer on the lookout for loitering buyers.

Crossed-Out Letters: Letters that are a part of some other gang’s name often get crossed out of tags drawn by rival gang members. There’s no other secret meaning here — this is straight-up disrespect.

Numbers: Gangland numerology is always changing. Among mortal gangs, numbers often stand for letters of the alphabet (A equals 1, B equals 2, etc.), which in turn stand for tenets or mottos memorized by the gang’s troopers and lieutenants (e.g., 12 = L = Loyalty). Among the Damned, numbers can signal lots of other meanings, depending on their context. Cult marks may refer to chapters and verses in the holy scrolls, which serve as a kind of codebook for those members trusted enough to have access to it. In many cities, the number 1 indicates the “the new world order” – whatever that means. Permutations
are endless.

Letters: Letters usually stand for a gang’s core principles or tenets memorized by the gang’s membership. For example, RRB can stand for Respect, Retaliation and Brotherhood. This is not so far off from much older trends in secret societies. Abbreviation marks such as these are easy to find on lodge buildings and the tombstones of past society members, secret or not (e.g., OOO for the Order of Owls, SCV for Sons of Confederate Veterans). Supernatural gangs or packs use these codes in pretty much the same way, referencing tenets and knowledge known only to their kind.


Detroit Heart of Darkness signcontrast