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John Marston (Red Dead Redemption) art crumpling wanted poster

John Marston


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Red Dead Redemption is a 2010 console video game by Rockstar, the Grand Theft Auto franchise studio. It was a big critical and commercial success.

It is a cowboy story set in the American SouthWest in 1911, during the last years of the Old West. John Marston is a former outlaw and expert gunfighter on an involuntary mission.


Background

  • Real Name: John Marston
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Known Relatives: Abigail Marston (wife), Jack Marston (son), unnamed daughter (deceased), Rufus (dog), unnamed mother (deceased), unnamed father (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Chicago
  • Height: 6’0” Weight: 200 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

John Marston is a masterful and experienced gunman, sharpshooter, rider and hunter. He is a rugged survivalist and knows life as a fight for survival, which is something he does admirably.

He usually gets money for his journeys by either doing bounty hunter work or by selling hunted animal products. His philosophy adheres to the old-fashioned West in a world rapidly experiencing the advancements of Eastern civilization.


History

John Marston was born in 1873 to an illiterate and drunkard Scot, and a prostitute who passed away during John’s birth. In 1881 John’s father died of unknown causes and John was sent to an orphanage where he stayed until 1890.

At that time he ran away with his future wife, Abigail. He then joined Dutch van der Linde’s gang. In the gang John learned how to read, gather, shoot and everything else related to the Old West lifestyle, even though the world getting more and more modern by the moment.

He committed many robberies, raids, murders and other crimes alongside gang members Dutch, Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella. They rationalized their crimes by a philosophy of causing a change in the people of the West that they robbed.

After a failed robbery in 1906, where he almost died, he tried to leave the life of crime behind along Abigail. They settled down at a ranch in Beecher’s Hope with their children Jack and an unnamed daughter. The daughter later died of an unrevealed illness.

John Marston with a Peacemaker over white background

The newly created Bureau of Investigation forced John to help them capture his former comrades by kidnapping his wife and son. They would only give them back after he had completed his mission. John was escorted by agents Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham to the city of Blackwater, from which he took the train to Armadillo. There he would start his hunt for the old criminals.

Being guided to Fort Mercer, where the Williamson gang had last been seen, John attempted to reason with them. He was instead gunned down.

Ain’t dead yet

John was found dying by rancher Bonnie MacFarlane, who took him to the doctor in Armadillo. As John recovered he worked off his debts on the MacFarlane farm doing various jobs. John then helped the law and US Marshal Leigh Johnson in Armadillo to get help in bringing in his old comrades from Fort Mercer.

He first recruited the snake oil salesman Nigel West Dickens. He then recruited an alcoholic, mentally ill Irish treasure hunter named Seth Briars. After saving Bonnie from a kidnapping by Williamson’s gang, the trio launched an attack on Fort Mercer using a minigun provided by Dickens. They killed everyone except Williamson, who got away.

They tracked down Williamson, along with Javier Escuella, in Nuevo Paraiso (Mexico).

John was escorted to Paraiso by Irish and met Colonel Allende, the corrupt provisional governor, and his right hand Captain De Santa. As with Dickens and Briars, John had to provide services in exchange for information on Williamson and Escuella.

During these John met old gunfighter Landon Ricketts, and raided the Mexican Army along with revolutionaries Abraham Reyes and Luisa Fortuna. Anything was good as long as it provided him with the needed information.

John Marston aims a sawed-off shotgun

Allende, realizing that he couldn’t trust Marston, tried to kill him. John was saved by Reyes, forcing him to join the revolution. Allende and John managed to storm the corrupt government and kill Captain de Santa, Allende, Escuella and Williamson. However, they lost Luisa.

John then left the rebels in order to report to Edgar Ross in Blackwater that the mission was a success.

The Bureau won’t let go that easily, pard

Nevertheless, Marston was forced to also hunt down Dutch van der Linde. Joined by agents Archer Fordham, a Yale professor named Harold MacDougal, native informant Nastas and others, John fought van der Linde and his gang of natives on several occasions.

He eventually managed to confront him, but van der Linde, after giving John a warning that the government is not to be trusted, chose to commit suicide rather than be captured.

With all missions done John was finally released with his wife and 16-year old son. They settled down in the Beecher’s Hope ranch to live as ranchers and farmers.

Agent Ross and others soon came after John to finish him off too. Marston valiantly defended his family, but knew full well that they would only be free and safe if he himself was killed. After killing many attackers, John was gunned down and died. He was buried on a hill next to the farm, and considered that he had fully redeemed himself.

In 1914, three years after John’s death, Abigail died of unknown causes. She was buried next to John.

Jack Marston grew up to become an outlaw against his father’s wishes. Years later, he tracked down Edgar Ross and kill him to avenge his father.

Undead redemption continuity

(With this DLC, the events wind back to when the Marstons are living peacefully at Beecher’s Hope, then take a different turn.)

While the Marstons were toiling on the Beecher’s Hope farm a catastrophe of biblical proportions occurs. The dead rise again to hunt the living.

John leaves his family, who had been turned into zombies after having been bitten by a zombie. He rides to Blackwater to investigate the cause, which is suspected of being a mystic plague. However, professor MacDougal is killed soon after John finds him.

During many journeys, fighting the undead and helping the occasional survivor John looks for information. During a visit north John hunts down the last Sasquatches on the continent. Two different rumors then have him head southwards to find his former compadres Dickens and Seth Briars.

John-Marston-Read-Dead-Redemption-h3

When John finds Briars he finds him playing cards with an undead friend. Briars suggest that clearing all graveyards might be a cure for the zombie plague. When that doesn’t work, Briars instead suggests that it must all be connected somehow to the old Aztecs or Incas in Mexico.

On his way, John is forced to kill Bonnie MacFarlane’s father, Drew, who had turned into a zombie. He also teams up with Marshal Leigh Johnson in Armadillo to kill deputies Eli and Jonah who had turned into zombies, and is awarded some new weaponry for his help.

John continues to help other unfortunates on the way, including missing people in various locations.

In finding Dickens he finds that Dickens’ new elixir, supposedly a cure, is effective bait for the zombies. Marston weaponizes it. In exchange for better ingredients to make a proper attempt at a cure, Dickens outfits John with phosphorus weaponry and a powerful blunderbuss.

The two go to Mexico, but find all passages blocked off. John steals an army uniform and crosses the border as a soldier, leaving Dickens behind.

John finds that Mexico is even worse off than America. He helps Mother Superior, head nun in Las Hermanas, against the zombie threat. As Mother Superior experiments on a captured zombie it is found that holy water actually affects it.

John therefore clears out the Sepulcro graveyard after which he gets a large supply of holy water for his coming struggles. According to a rumor everything has happened because of the evils of Abraham Reyes, and so John rides to Escalera to investigate.

On the way, John meets Landon Rickets again in Casa Madrugada. The two clear up the town of zombies using the bait and dynamite.

Getting to Escalera, John finds a zombified Reyes and kills him again as he is about to kill a woman. The woman claims that the cause of it all is that Reyes stole an ancient Aztec mask from a temple in order to become invulnerable, which is when the zombie infestation started.

Together they return Reyes’ mask to the crypt. After gruesome combat, John puts the mask on the altar, which returns everything to normal. John heads back home and finds that his wife and son are both fine.

Some time after this John is killed. Seth Briars later steals the ancient mask in the crypt, which returns the threat of the undead. However, since John had been buried carrying holy water he rises an undead with a man’s soul.

At this point he continues his adventures as an undead. Reportedly, he later managed to end the threat again and put himself to permanent sleep as a hero.


Description

John Marston walks high and tall in boots, jeans, a shirt, a vest and a hat, which has a couple of eagle feathers stuck into it. The confident body language is completed with an arsenal of weaponry that he carries everywhere.

As a returned undead Marston moved in a lopsided manner, although his actions and speed were in no way impaired. Quite interestingly, this is the exact stance he was in when shot and killed originally.

John Marston aims a revolver


Personality

John Marston has a strong protector instinct, which perhaps is amplified by his quest for redemption. He is extremely polite to women, and will refer to them as “miss” even if given permission to call them by their first name. He also does anything possible to keep women safe, even pistol-whipping Irish to defend two nuns he was holding up.

Likewise, he will often help travellers on the road because it is the right thing to do, whether he has time to help or not. However, he never promises them anything, but simply states that he’ll see what can be done about that. He’ll do it if the opportunity arises during his travels.

John feels that, as he has to kill lots of people and creatures on his quest, that true redemption is a hopeless cause. Still, his focus on redemption remains steadfast. John wants to give his former friends, the evil criminals whom he hunts down, the chance to turn themselves in before he is forced to kill them.

As part of this quest for redemption is a regularly taken moral high-ground when dealing with less than reputable characters. He will bluntly confront people with signs of alcoholism (such as Irish), insanity (Seth Briars, Herbert Moon) or greedy, egotistical agendas (such as Nigel West Dickens), despite himself having done much, much worse things earlier.

He will politely decline the services of prostitutes stating that he is a married man. John is, in fact, completely loyal and faithful to his family throughout it all.

John does not know how to swim and therefore avoids even the shallowest of water at all cost. John is a smoker and a drinker and only rarely goes to excesses. He is not beyond looting corpses either and does so on a regular basis.

When undead his simply grunted or seemed to ironically laugh at their losses. He does enjoy gambling, and seems to find some inner peace when helping strangers in need. He wanted to see his son get a good life, but merely managed in saving the entire old West in the end, despite having been seen as an outlaw all his life.

John Marston and locals face a zombie dancer


Quotes

“People don’t forget. Nothing gets forgiven.”

“Now, if you don’t mind I’d hate to spoil such a beautiful afternoon on such beautiful land with any further unpleasantries.”

“I’ve met some sick bastards in my life, Seth, but you… you’re special.”

“But you’re as useless as a lawyer at a lynching. Damn you, old man, this is my son ! If anything happens to him you’ll wish it was you that bear attacked !”

[To Seth after he says that the plague is of no importance] “I’ve seen husbands eatin’ wives, mothers eatin’ sons, graves poppin’ open and the undead risin’ up, it sure as shit is somethin’.”

[Looting a body] “This ain’t nice, I know.”

[When asked to join a prostitute] “Sorry, those days are over.”

[Saving a man from wild animals] “We all have problems, and we must solve them together or we die alone.”

[To a zombie] “Did your momma not teach you it’s rude to eat a man’s head ?”

[To a zombie] “In many ways, I reckon this affliction has improved you !”

[To a zombie] “Approaching everlasting bedtime for you, mister !”

[While drunk] “Do you know who John Marston is, ’cause I don’t.”

[While playing poker] “It’s all coming back to me now.”

[While firing a Gatling Gun] “This is the future !!”

[Collecting gold] “Maybe there is a God !”

[After being challenged to a duel] “I can’t refuse a man his dying wish.”


DC Universe History

In the DC Universe John Marston would have helped stop the zombie plague alongside an eclectic but superior posse of equals consisting of Jonah Hex, Scalphunter, Bat Lash, El Diablo, Nighthawk and Cinnamon.

He likely also had had an early run-in with an old gunfighter named Chris Larabee Adams, from who he got the idea of a task force of seven.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

John Marston

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Former outlaw, Unwilling Government Agent
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources: 005
Init: 020 HP: 050

Skills:
Animal Handling: 08, Charisma (Intimidation): 06, Martial Artist: 04, Military Science (Demolition, Survival, Tracking): 08, Weaponry: 10

Advantages:
Expertise (Skinning), Familiarity (Gambling), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Fast Reload)

Notes:
Despite adventuring a lot in Mexico John does not really speak Spanish.

Connections:
Mr. Drew MacFarlane (Low), Bonnie MacFarlane (High), Leigh Johnson, the District Marshal of Armadillo (High), Nigel West Dickens, snake oil peddler (High), Seth Briars, grave robber and treasure hunter (High), Landon Rickets, retired gunman (High), Irish, the drunkard (Low), Professor MacDougal (Low)

Drawbacks:
Dependents (Jack and Abigail Marston), MPR (Blind in the left eye, but as it doesn’t seemingly affect him in any negative way it’s worth 0 HPs).

Equipment:

  • Cattleman’s Revolver [BODY 03, Rec. STR 03, Projectile weapon 04, Ammo 06, R#04, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: It may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign. This is actually a renamed Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver, aka the Peacemaker.]
  • Volcanic Pistol [BODY 03, Rec. STR 03, Projectile weapon 03, Ammo 08, Drawback: Long Reload, Notes: in contrast, the real, historical version, which has a distinct design, was underpowered and likely had 02 APs of the Projectile Weapon Power only. Also the ammo rating in game seems a bit aberrant against the more common 07]
  • Semi-Automatic Pistol [BODY 03, AV 02, Projectile Weapon 03, Ammo 07, Notes: the name is probably a shorthand for Borchardt 1893 semi-automatic pistol, which was a sort of the proto-Lüger of the era, even if the in-game gun looks exactly like a later Lüger]
  • Double-Action Revolver [BODY 03, Rec. STR 03, Projectile weapon 04, Ammo 06, R#04, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: This may have been something like a Colt Lightning double-action revolver]
  • Schofield Revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapon 03, Ammo 06, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload, Note: may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign],
  • LeMat Combination Revolver [BODY 03, Rec. STR 03, Projectile weapon 03, Ammo 09, R#04, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Note: may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign] plus [Shotgun Blast 05, Range 02, Ammo 01, Drawback: Long Reload]
  • Double-barreled Shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 06, Ammo 02, Recommended STR 02, Drawback: Long Reload]
  • Sawed-off Shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 02): 06, Ammo 02, Recommended STR 02, Drawback: Long Reload]
  • Pump-action Shotgun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons 06, Range 03, Ammo 06, R#04, Recommended STR 02, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Projectile Weapon is Diminishing, Projectile weapons has No Range – use the Range given next instead, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Note: this is a classic, repeater shotgun and supposedly less reliable than modern repeater shotguns]
  • Tomahawk (x20) [BODY 04, EV 04 (05 w/STR or Martial Artist), Range 03, Grenade Drawback, Note: Reduce EV by 1 for every AP thrown beyond basic Range, up to a maximum possible of Range 04]
  • Throwing Knives (x20) [BODY 04, EV 03 (05 w/STR or Martial Arts), Range 02, Grenade Drawback, Note: Reduce EV by 1 for every AP thrown beyond basic Range, up to a maximum possible of Range 04]
  • Fire bottles (x6) [BODY 01, Flame Project 04, Range 03, Grenade Drawback, Notes: a piece of cloth inserted into the bottle opening is usually lit before the weapon is thrown, which produces the flaming effect upon impact as the flask is destroyed and the volatile contents are exposed, catch fire and are spread out over the target(s). The fire bottles are a great weapon for throwing inside a nest of opponents or around opponents in cover to get them moving or to disorient them, thus setting them up for a proper gunning down.]
  • Dynamite (x6) [BODY 01, Bomb 04, Grenade Drawback, Note: this is standard thrown or laid down dynamite, good for getting at hidden targets, cause opponents to spread out or just blow through obstacles]
  • Standard bait (x6) [BODY 01, Charisma (Persuasion) 05, Ammo 01, Bonus: Persuasion has Area Effect (+1), Limitation: Persuasion subskill can only be used to convince forest and steppes species, such as rabbits, wolf, bear, coyote etc. through smell to come check up on the bait itself from within the APs of Range (-1).
    Notes: Persuasion is olfactory, not audial. While the target species is checking up on the bait, John can easily shoot, stab or capture it, the only risk to this being that there may be a lot of prey in the area by then.]. See the New Rules File – Miscellanea document for more about baits.
  • Undead bait (x6) [BODY 01, Charisma (Persuasion) 05, Ammo 01, Bonus: Persuasion has Area Effect (+1), Limitation: Persuasion subskill can only be used to convince the hordes of the undead through smell to come check up on the bait itself from within the APs of Range (-1). Notes: Persuasion is olfactory, not audial, and falsely convinces the undead that there is a living human at the bait position, thus setting them up for proper destruction by John.]
  • Boom bait (x6) [BODY 01, Bomb 04, Charisma (Persuasion) 05, Ammo 01, Bonus: Persuasion has Area Effect (+1), Limitation: Bomb has Delayed action for up to 5 APs of time (-2), Persuasion subskill can only be used to convince the hordes of the undead through smell to come check up on the bait itself from within the APs of Range (-1).
    Notes: Persuasion is olfactory, not audial, and falsely convinces the undead that there is a living human at the bait position, thus setting them up for the delayed detonation a minute or two after John has thrown it somewhere – the damaging detonation is then, of course, followed up by scores of gunshots from a safe position to finish up the rabble.]
  • Holy water (x1) [BODY 01, Bomb 06, Ammo 01, Limitation: Bomb is only useable against undead creatures, characters and threats (-1), Notes: The holy water is contained in a flask, which is used as a thrown weapon.
    The flask breaks on impact, spreading its contents over an area, upon which the splashed target is hit by magic lightning causing it to detonate violently. The thus ensuing thunderstorm reigning over a horde of the undead is powerful enough to destroy all but the vilest of them in a glorious and holy fashion.]
  • Lasso [BODY 04, Stretching: 02 (No fine manipulation, -2)]
  • Burning Torch [BODY 01, EV 03 (05 w/STR), Stagger 02]
  • Rolling Block Rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons 05, Ammo 01, Telescopic Vision 02, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Note: this is an early sniper rifle]
  • Bolt-Action Rifle [BODY 04, Projectile Weapon 06, Ammo 05, R#2, Misc. Drawback: An Automatic Action is needed to ready the next round by working the bolt, Note: the rifle resembles a 7mm Mauser 1893 bolt-action rifle]
  • Unspecified repeater Carbine [BODY 03, Projectile Weapon 05, Ammo 07, R#03, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: this early weapon is later exchanged first with the Henry and then the Winchester models which both have higher ammo ratings. It may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign]
  • Henry Repeater [BODY 01, Projectile Weapon 05, Ammo 12, R#04, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: as noted, the weapon is quite fragile and somewhat prone to jam. It may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign]
  • Winchester Lever-Action Carbine [BODY 03, Projectile Weapon 05, Ammo 10, R#03, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: While the real-life Winchester has an ammo rating of 12, the version in the game had a lower ammo rating as noted. It may require an Automatic Action to work the action unless this is waived by the GM for this campaign]
  • Experimental Explosive Rifle [BODY 03, Bomb 05, Range 05, Ammo 01, R#03, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: this rare fictious army weapon may be used like an early bazooka for routing out or killing targets behind cover, or kill tightly knit enemy groups on-masse]
  • Blunderbuss [BODY 02, Shotgun Blast 06, Ammo 01, R#03, Drawback: Very Long Reload, Notes: A surprisingly reliably and non-realistically powerful, if slow, weapon from times gone past. While usually loaded with normal charges and bullets it may alternatively be loaded with hacked body parts and bones, thus literarily spraying death upon its targets, in order to save standard ammunition by the most ruthless of users.
    All weapon loads, of course, require gunpowder to be charged along the chosen ammunition, which are both pushed down the bell-shaped muzzle using a ramrod.]
  • Springfield Rifle [BODY 04, Projectile Weapons 06, Ammo 04, Drawback: Long Reload, Note: this weapon is likely based on the a bit earlier Krag-Joergensen Springfield rifle of 1892, although it has a lower ammo rating than the real-world rating of 05]
  • Buffalo Rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons 06, Ammo 01, Recommended STR 02, Drawback: Long Reload, Notes: it does resemble a Sharps Big Fifty Buffalo Rifle]
  • For a while, John also hailed a: Gatling Machinegun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons (Area of Effect 0 AP): 07, Ammo: variable depending on ammo band length, R#05, Drawback: Long Reload]

Undead Marston – the trail warrior

After the events in the Undead Redemption DLC, when Seth Briars stole the Aztec mask from an ancient temple in Mexico, Marston returned to life as an undead, but kept his soul and mind intact.

He supposedly remains undead until the Aztec mask can again be returned to its ancient resting place inside that old temple, no simple task considering that the place is a in catacomb littered with zombies.

Maybe, in the end, John will again, in a likely scenario, put an end to the apocalyptic situation by returning the artefact and thus saving the world and ending his own undead existence a hero.

As an undead John has the following modifications:

  • Distinct Appearance (undead zombie – despite being a zombie, his human manners and clothing apparently hide this fact well enough – unless magic is involved making people oblivious of the fact – that people will only recognize him and not panic. Being a zombie, other zombies do not consider him a threat unless he provokes them by walking too close, shooting at them or waving around with a torch, at which they will attack him)
  • As an undead he has the Self Link (Animate Dead) Power at 08 APs with the Always On (-1) Limitation.
  • As an undead John can no longer talk, but only groan and grunt. However, despite no longer having lips, he can somehow still whistle for his horse.
  • John now has access to any one of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse (Death, Famine, War and Plague), as well as a Unicorn, as his steed!
  • For some reason, undead Marston is weaker towards explosives than he was while alive. As such, he has a -1 CS RV Partial Attack Vulnerability towards all explosive attacks (not gunshots).
  • Logically, undead Marston should be immune towards drowning and other suffocating effects, but this has not been shown, as he doesn’t come up again from water if falling into it, thus supposedly drowning, so perhaps he still somehow breathes and needs to breathe although at a reduced rate while undead.
    Further, undead Marston should need and want to eat human flesh, but has been known to vomit if doing so why he may instead choose to eat regular foodstuff, making his physical state a rather peculiar affliction being caught in a half alive half undead state.

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen

Source of Character: Red Dead Redemption game

Helper(s): Darci, Sébastien Andrivet (weapons stats), Mike Davis, Butch Rosenbalm, Roy Cowan

Writeup completed on the 10th of May, 2013.

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