Crime Doesn't Pay?
Among the legends and stories that have come out of the American West, many of the most memorable tell of how men and women flaunted the law through acts of thievery, murder and the like, and then managed time and time again to escape capture by those who pursued them. Some eventually were caught and brought to justice, but others disappeared into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Presented below are archetypes for five different types of common criminal characters.
These rough and tough hombres use their fists to achieve their desired ends.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d8, Boating d4, Common Knowledge d4, Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 6
Gear: Clothing, cudgel (Str+d4), knife (Damage Str+d4).
Fast hands and sharp eyes make this gunslinger especially dangerous.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d4, Fighting d4, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d6, Thievery d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Gear: Clothing, Colt Navy pistol (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).
This person earns illicit income by receiving stolen goods and then selling them to customers who may or may not know how they were obtained.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Academics d8, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Research d6, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Gear: Clothing, books and writing materials, $500 in cash and coin, Derringer pistol (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).
Some criminals make their living through deceiving others, such as con artists and snake oil sellers.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Academics d6, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d4, Gambling d6, Language d4, Notice d4, Performance d4, Persuasion d8, Research d6, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 4
Gear: Clothing, knife (Str+d4), Knuckleduster pistol (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).
In some places, such as New York City or San Francisco, criminals form organizations with a distinct hierarchy and a powerful individual in a position of leadership.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Academics d4, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Research d8, Shooting d4, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Gear: Fancy clothing, luxury items such as fancy drinks and cigars, $5000, Knuckleduster pistol (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).
While most cowboys guide herds assigned to them by the people who own the cattle, some seek wealth by stealing cows or horses from others.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Boating d6, Common Knowledge d4, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Survival d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Gear: Clothing, knife (Damage Str+d4), Colt Navy pistol (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), horse, saddle and tack, bedroll.
Perhaps the oldest form of crime is when light-fingered individuals take things from others.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Boating d4, Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Riding d4, Stealth d8, Thievery d8
Pace: 8, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Gear: Clothing, knife (Str+d4).
The following articles present content related to outlaws and their activities.
A bandit camp on the frontier might be made from natural caverns that have been worked a little to make them more inhabitable. From the entrance (1) it opens up into a broad main cavern (2), which has a firepit along with chests and trunks the provide seating. From here, side tunnels lead to a small pool of water (3), a cave with sleeping pallets (4) and a midden pit (5).
The Long Arm of the Law
There are numerous individuals tasked with upholding the law on the frontier, including the following.
Cattle Brands and Rustlers
While gold and silver receive the most attention when it comes to act of thievery, horses and cattle are also a valuable—and mobile—asset. For that reason, rustling is not uncommon, and particularly despised. This is why ranchers brand their animals with a distinguishing mark, so that they can be told apart from one another. The picture above lists some especially complicated marks, but rustlers are always devising means of circumventing such efforts.
Here are just a few ways in which outlaws can be part of adventures and campaigns set in the world of The Sixth Gun.
Perhaps the most classic type of heist is the train robbery, for which thieves mounted on horses ride alongside a train and then climb aboard to steal any valuable cargo it carries along with the possessions of passengers.
A variation on this is when the thieves dynamite or otherwise destroy a section of track, thereby forcing the train to stop so that they can stage their theft.
Thieves who are faced with capture might resort to burying their loot, hoping to reclaim it if they can avoid conviction or after they serve short sentences.
Once they are captured, outlaws sometimes must be transported between jurisdictions, usually by train, thus providing a chance for allies to rescue them. This is also the case when a public execution, such as a hanging, takes place.
It is common for notable brigands to take or be given flashy nicknames, such as Billy the Kid, Black Bart and Rose of the Cimarron. Some work to cultivate their own notoriety, such as by leaving letters for their victims, while others acquire their monikers from newspaper columns or even dime novels.
The same goes even more so for games who establish a reputation, such as the James-Younger Gang and the Wild Bunch.
Occasionally outlaws even become involved in territory disputes; for example, a rancher who wishes to chase settlers off of valuable land might hire thugs to do the dirty work, hoping to keep one's name clean by doing so.
This can even lead to so-called “County Wars,” such as the one that took place in Lincoln County, New Mexico. In this instance, cattle ranchers and other businessmen recruited small armies to fight for their competing interests.
Elections can be another time for such coordinated activities, when one candidate tries to skew the process by keeping an opponent's supporters away from the polls.
In some locations criminal activity is an organized business, one run by a group with powerful and dangerous leadership. An example of this is the various Tongs active in the Chinese neighborhoods of San Francisco and other cities.
Law-abiding citizens could be recruited to join a posse, or even deputized by the local sheriff.
How quickly and effectively the powers that be can respond to criminal activity is greatly influenced by the speed of communication on the frontier. Word of mouth is likely the first means employed, but is of course limited; sending dispatch riders is faster. Cities and important settlements connected by telegraph lines provide for fast, but short, messages. Finally, a legendary outlaw makes headlines in the local newspapers, and may even be the subject of dime novels written by authors from back east.