|“||You seem to live by your own rules. In some ways I admire that, although maybe at times you seem a touch...Confused? Confusing? I don't know. But I hope, either way, good, bad or plain indifferent, after all she's done for you, that you will be loyal to my mistress.||„|
|—Horley to the protagonist during Kill Them, Each and Every One|
In Red Dead Online, the protagonist is a player-created character, with highly customizable traits.
At some point during their life, the protagonist visited Blackwater. Coincidentally, at around the same time of day, a man by the name of Philip LeClerk was murdered. As a result, the protagonist was accused of murdering the man and was sent to Sisika Penitentiary, where they were meant to spend six months in manual labor before their execution.
Events of Red Dead Online
An Early Release
In 1898, roughly one week before they were meant to be executed, the protagonist, alongside other inmates, were being transported by guards Milliken and Jenkins to perform penal labor outside of prison. However, Horley and two other armed men intercepted the wagon.
The protagonist was freed alongside the rest of the prisoners, though they were instructed by Horley to stay with him. The protagonist followed their rescuer to a campsite where they met Jessica LeClerk, the widowed wife of the man the protagonist was accused of having killed. Seeking to avenge her husband's death, Mrs. LeClerk charged the protagonist with finding the real culprits. The protagonist was also introduced to JB Cripps, who helps them establish a new camp.
After the protagonist decides where Cripps should set up camp, Horley advises them to see Alden Carruthers at the nearest post office, then to visit a horse thief named Clay Davies to work for them as well. After seeing Alden, the protagonist is instructed to dispatch an outlaw gang that had recently robbed a stagecoach. Afterward, the protagonist visits Clay and Clive Davies, and they are instructed to take their posse and steal horses that Clay had intended to target from other thieves. After the protagonist brings the horses to the stables, Clay decides to give them one of the stolen horses as a gift. Clay also tells the protagonist that Horley asked him to inform them that Cripps finished setting up the camp and to visit it.
Working for the Law
Sometime later, the protagonist meets up with Horley in Blackwater and is introduced to Old Man Jones. The protagonist's need for money is mentioned, and Old Man Jones suggests that the protagonist should find work with the sheriffs. Horley agrees and tells the protagonist to aid the sheriffs of Blackwater, Tumbleweed, and Valentine.
In Tumbleweed, Terrence O'Dowd begs Sheriff Freeman to rescue his wife Allison from an outlaw gang hiding at Twin Rocks. However, Freeman is unable to help him and suggests that O'Dowd looks to the protagonist and their posse for aid. The group attacks the gang's hideout, wiping out most of the outlaws before entering the building Allison is being held in. However, it is revealed that Allison had, in fact, run away from her husband, whom she loathes, to be with Cliff, the outlaw leader. If the group decides to aid the couple, they escort them during their escape while fighting off O'Dowd's men. If the group refuses to help them, they kill Cliff and hogtie Allison, taking her back to O'Dowd whilst fighting off the remainder of Cliff's gang.
At Painted Sky, Clinton Arnsdale, after failing to get Sheriff Malloy to help him, hires the protagonist and their posse to capture a thief named Bob Crawfish, as well as Crawfish's closest associates. After capturing Crawfish and his associates, Arnsdale instructs the posse to throw Crawfish and his associates onto the train tracks near Riggs Station. After learning of the whereabouts of where his stolen belongings are from Crawfish, Clinton asks the posse to kill the thieves by leaving them on the tracks. If they do so, the oncoming train kills Crawfish and his men. However, the group can refuse and rescue them if they wish.
When meeting the Police Chief Oswald Dunbar, the protagonist and their posse are hired to recapture a notorious con-man who managed to trick a deputy into releasing him. The group attacks the gang’s hideout in Pike’s Basin, hogtie the con-man and kill off the pursuing gang members. Upon nearing the end of the canyon, the con-man pleads to the group to let him go in exchange for money and to have them pass off a corpse as his own to trick the sheriff. If refused, the protagonist takes the con-man to the sheriff. If accepted, the con-man leads the group to a money stash and a corpse is passed off as him. Alternatively, if the group accepts the con man’s money, they can kill him after they’re led to the stash and can give his corpse to the sheriff.
Path of the Gunslinger (High Honor)
The protagonist is instructed by Horley to meet Tom Davies, a US Marshal, near Manzanita Post. Marshal Davies tells them of his intentions to bring a Del Lobo gang leader, Alfredo Montez, to justice. However, the Marshal is willing to use more unethical means to accomplish this and therefore looks to the protagonist and their posse for help. The Marshal has the group meet Lee, a hunter living in Manzanita Post who is willing to aid Davies in the mission. Lee leads the group across the forest, stealthily dispatching many Del Lobos before finally finding and attacking their main camp. After the group kills Montez, Lee decapitates his corpse and brings his head to Davies while the group escorts them. Despite the initial success, Davies informs them that the hadn't killed Alfredo, but rather his brother Jorge. Despite this Davies still pays them for the job and tells them to meet him at Van Horn if they're looking for more work.
When meeting Davies in Van Horn, he informs the protagonist and their posse that the Del Lobos had taken over the town's saloon and had a camp in the hills, and that Montez may be in either location. The group raids both areas and kills the lieutenants before regrouping with Davies, who informs him that Montez was spotted leading his gang on a caravan. The group and Davies attack the caravan and capture Montez, bringing him to Emerald Ranch. Davies pays the group before parting ways with them, taking Montez to Valentine.
Old Man Jones contacts the player and meets them outside Valentine, where he informs them that the Del Lobos gang are planning to attack the town in order to rescue Montez. After meeting the Davies in the Valentine Sheriffs' office, Sheriff Malloy reminds Davies that the Del Lobos will destroy the town to rescue Montez. To keep the rescue from succeeding, Davies executes Montez then instructs the protagonists to position the Valentine residents volunteering to fight. After fending off the attackers, Sheriff Malloy thanks Davies and the group for their help and pays them.
At Ridgewood Farm, Old Man Jones informs the protagonists that the Del Lobos had overrun Tumbleweed, and had kidnapped Davies and captured Sheriff Freeman, intending to lynch them both in revenge for killing off Del Lobos gang members extrajudicially. Jones and the group fight their way through the town before Davies could suffocate on the noose. The group then escorts Jones, Davies, and Sheriff Freeman to safety at The Scratching Post while fending off Montez's gang. After reaching safety, Davies and Sheriff Freeman part ways with the group and thank them and Jones for saving their lives.
Path of the Outlaw (Low Honor)
Horley meets the protagonists and introduces them to an outlaw named Samson Finch. Samson explains to them that he and his partner had been planning to rob a train, but his partner had betrayed Samson and intends to rob the train himself with another gang of robbers. Samson asks for the players' assistance in intercepting the train and raiding Cornwall Kerosene & Tar. After fighting off the Pinkerton agents and subduing the factory executives, the group succeeds in their mission and they are paid for their efforts.
Following the train robbery, the protagonists meet Samson outside of Fort Wallace. Samson tells them that his former friend is in hiding at the fort and is protected by their old regiment in the US Army. He tasks them with killing him, also instructs them to destroy the fort's ammunition dump in order to cripple the regiment's chances of robbing the bank they intended to target. After finishing their mission, the players part ways with Samson again, who tells them he'll try to remain in touch.
Hunting Philip LeClerk's Killers
Horley and Mrs. LeClerk locate her husband's killer, Teddy Brown, in Fort Mercer, where Brown and his gang are defending against US Marshals. The protagonists ride alongside Horley to the Marshal's camp outside Fort Mercer, and Horley gives the group ballistic armor for their attack on the fort. The group, backed up by the Marshals, engages in a heavy firefight against Brown's gang before Brown himself appears in his own set of ballistic armor. After finally subduing Brown, Mrs. LeClerk appears and demands answers from Brown, who refuses, prompting Mrs. LeClerk to execute him.
Following the raid on Fort Mercer, the protagonist meets Horley and Mrs. LeClerk at Quaker's Cove. The group is informed that LeClerk had been the subject of a smear campaign until Amos Lancing requested to parley with her in Blackwater. The protagonist and their posse act as bodyguards for Mrs. LeClerk and Horley. When Amos informs her that he used forged documents to seize Philip LeClerk's holdings and properties, Jessica is enraged, and unbeknownst to the others, shoots Amos with the gun she kept hidden in her purse. As a firefight breaks out, the group is split between helping Horley retrieve the forged documents from Jeremiah Shaw and getting LeClerk to safety. After regrouping, the posse escorts Horley and Mrs. LeClerk to safety.
Upon reaching safety, Mrs. LeClerk kindly thanks the protagonists for helping her before parting ways with them, intent on being able to clear her own name before planning to deal with Grace Lancing when the time comes.
The protagonist receives a letter from Cripps to meet him at a nearby general store, informing them that he has a business opportunity they'd be interested in. Upon meeting him at the store, Cripps introduces the prospect of becoming a trader to the protagonist, in which they hunt animals for their pelts and carcasses, where Cripps tans and preserve the pelts for profit. The protagonist starts by purchasing a butcher's table for their camp from Wilderness Outfitters.
On the road, the protagonist encounters Madam Nazar at the latter's mobile sales coach. Old Man Jones arrives and tries to warn the protagonist from doing business with her but to no avail. Madam Nazar tells the protagonist that aside from being a fortune teller, she's also a buyer and seller of rare and exotic items, and she's willing to buy such items from the protagonist should they become a collector for her. The protagonist starts by purchasing a collector's bag from Madam Nazar to hold the items.
Bounty Hunter Role
In Rhodes, the protagonist examines a bounty board kept outside the town's sheriff's office. Sheriff Leigh Gray and his deputy, Archibald MacGregor initially mistake them as the bounty hunter they hired, but the actual bounty hunter arrives driving a Bounty hunter wagon carrying the outlaw gang she was hired to take out. When meeting the player, the bounty hunter asks them if they wish to become a bounty hunter too, and has them directed to Sheriff Gray in order for them to buy a bounty hunting license.
At some point into their career as a trader, protagonist receives a letter from Cripps, instructing them to go meet him and an associate at Emerald Ranch for another business opportunity. They are then met with Maggie Fike, a veteran moonshiner who proposes a partnership with them. The protagonist begins by purchasing an abandoned shack for their operations at a location of their choosing, and must fight off advances from the Bureau of Internal Revenue as they delve deeper into their operations.
In cutscenes, the protagonist seems to be a calm and collected individual when dealing with their associates and employers. The online protagonist’s psychosis and actions are determined by the player; they can be anything from a peaceful wanderer to a deranged outlaw, all depending on player choice. They also seem to be physically and mentally resilient as noted by Horley, who states they haven't "been broken in body or in spirit".
According to the height chart, the male protagonist stands at 6'3" (1.91 m), while the female protagonist stands at 5'9" (1.75 m). Though the heights cannot be altered, certain types of footwear can make the protagonist slightly taller. The player can determine the protagonist's physical appearance, gender, age, build, and name.
- Much like the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto V's multiplayer GTA Online, the Red Dead Online protagonist is a silent protagonist and does not speak in any of the cutscenes. However, they are still voice-acted to an extent. This normally includes (but not limited to) actions like grunting in melee combat or when getting hurt, screaming while falling, and using certain emotes.
- The player can select any age between 18 to 60 years old. This means that the protagonist was born between roughly 1838 and 1880.