Sir. Sir. I am about to do something which I greatly discourage in all wise and rational men. A selfless act, for you. But, sir, before I act selflessly, allow me to act selfishly and sell some of my wares?

Nigel West Dickens

Fair enough

John Marston

Can a Swindler Change His Spots? is the seventeenth mission in Red Dead Redemption.

To view the mission tree, see:

Main article: Missions in Redemption/Tree


John approaches Mr. West Dickens who requests John's aid in selling more elixir. This time, half-way into the performance, two riders appear and denounce Dickens as a fraud. The crowd grows hostile and a chase ensues, in which John must protect Dickens at all costs.


Mission Prerequisites

Before this mission becomes available, the player must complete:

Mission Objectives

To complete this mission, the player must:

  • Join the spectators for Nigel's show in Plainview.
  • Ride shotgun for Nigel and fight off any attackers.

Mission Description

In this mission, the player will accompany Nigel riding shotgun on his wagon as he retreats from an angry crowd.

The player must help Nigel escape to Cueva Seca after the crowd turns hostile halfway through his speech. While Nigel is driving, the player will have to defend the wagon from the enemies. Most will be on horseback, but halfway through the escape there are about three or four wagons that the player must fend off (some may have TNT in the back). Then the player will encounter a road block consisting of two wagons blocking the path. A barrel of TNT is conveniently placed on the bed of one of the wagons for the player to shoot.

Aim for the enemies' horses, and they won't be able to follow you on foot. Additionally, using Moonshine to refill your dead eye can help with hitting the many moving targets pursuing you.

Mission Dialogues

Main article: Can a Swindler Change His Spots?/dialogues

Mission Failure

The mission will fail if the player:

  • Shoots the bottles of West Dickens' elixir on display.
  • Steals the wagon.
  • Lets Nigel die.
  • Kills or abandons Nigel West Dickens.
  • Kills the horses pulling Nigel's wagon.
  • Breaks the law.
  • Kills a dog.
  • Commits vandalism.
  • Assaults or kills townsfolk.
  • Dies.

Gold Medal Objectives

  • Fastest Time: 5:35
  • Shot Accuracy: 86%
  • Number of Headshots: 12

New Game Elements Introduced

  • Riding shotgun

Mission Complete Unlockables


  • The title of this mission is a reference to the saying "Can a leopard change his spots", which means that it is hard for someone to break a habit.
  • This is one of very few times we see John Marston smoke.
  • At the end of the mission, if the player waits for a while before leaving, Mr. West Dickens begins to urinate on the ground. Even if knocked over he continues to urinate.
  • A majority of the scammed townsfolk are members of the Williamson Gang, including people such as Kent Gallaway and Melvin Spinney.
  • Glitch: In rare cases, when the player gets on the Mr. West Dickens's wagon, he runs away from John snd never gets on the wagon. The player can chase him, but if he dies, the mission is over

Tips & Tricks

  • 100% accuracy is possible on this mission. When you come to the road block with the wagons of TNT, wait until your driver stops, equip a shotgun (any will do) and aim at the head of the enemy standing in front of the left road block wagon. 9 times out of 10 you'll pepper him and blow the TNT.


Video Walkthroughs


Completing this mission contributes toward the following Trophy/Achievement:

100 gamerscoreGamerscore
Gold goldGold
Attain 100% List in the singleplayer game completion list.

Red Dead Redemption mission walkthroughs
New Austin Chapter
"Exodus in America""New Friends, Old Problems""Obstacles in Our Path""This is Armadillo, USA""Women and Cattle""Wild Horses, Tamed Passions""A Tempest Looms""The Burning"
"Political Realities in Armadillo""Justice in Pike's Basin""Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit""Hanging Bonnie MacFarlane""The Assault on Fort Mercer"
"Old Swindler Blues""You Shall Not Give False Testimony, Except for Profit""Liars, Cheats and Other Proud Americans""Can a Swindler Change His Spots?""The Sport of Kings, and Liars"
"Exhuming and Other Fine Hobbies""A Gentle Drive with Friends""Let the Dead Bury Their Dead"
"A Frenchman, a Welshman and an Irishman""Man is Born Unto Trouble""On Shaky's Ground""We Shall Be Together in Paradise"
New AustinNuevo ParaisoWest ElizabethMarston RanchRemember My Family
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