“Cash looked at the man on the ground, throwing him a gun. “Get up, you gorram piece of gos se. Go on, grab the gun! When I kill you, I want you to die looking me in the eye with steel in your hand.”
-Cash Younger, hired gun
The Black can be a dangerous place. No tellin’ who’s aiming to put a slug in your back. One minute, it might be your enemy; next it might be your friend. Best that you have someone to take on the opposition. Yer gonna need a hired gun.
The hired gun is the mercenary of the group, a gun-for-hire who gets paid to do the dirty work. It’s often best not to ask him how he gets the job done, so long as it gets done. The hired gun puts morality aside for coin. Feelings just get in the way of what needs to be done. Coin is what pays the bills and keeps you flying.
Coin can keep a hired gun on your crew, but beware of when someone else has more coin than you. Your ally may quickly turn upon you. In role-playing terms, you typically want a cohesive group. Yet a group that never has spats is a might bit dull. Game masters should consider throwing a chance at a hired gun to turn upon his crew. The hired gun is not obligated to take the job, but the temptation will help develop the character. In Firefly, Jayne quickly gained a newfound respect for Mal when Mal threatened to blow him out of the airlock.
The hired gun is typically a character that has more brawn than brains. He may not have much in the brainpan, but you certainly don’t want to cross his path. This may make the hired gun more dangerous, though other characters may be able to take advantage of him.
This stereotype can often be misleading. A character may pretend to be the idiot gun-for-hire when, in fact, he’s smarter than he looks. Such a character may prove to be a good non-player character for game masters to surprise their players with. Likewise, a player may take this role to get the jump on folk he encounters.
In order to do his job, the hired gun needs to have the right equipment.
FIREFLY QUOTE: From Our Mrs. Reynolds, Jayne telling what type of gun Vera is.
The hired gun is never without a weapon. Typically, he will have a sidearm as well as a rifle or automatic weapon (if not both!). A knife can come in handy as well, giving the hired gun an edge in melee combat. Word of advice: never go on a job without grenades.
Players have several options when playing a hired gun. The first question to ask is why your character became a hired gun to begin with. In Firefly, we learn that Jayne sends money to support his mother, showing that beneath his insensitive exterior, he actually cares for something.
Perhaps your character was bound by law. A character could have been falsely accused. Perhaps not. Either way, your character is on the run from the Alliance. Best to keep that bit of info to yourself, unless your captain finds out. Game masters, use this bit of background to help further the story, whether an Alliance operative is seeking to kill the hired gun, or the hired gun is seeking to clear his name.
Be careful that the hired gun isn’t too serious. Serenity may have dramatic moments, but they are often broken up with bits of humor. The hired gun can have a quirk that helps to offset his dangerous side. In Firefly, Jayne often wore hats made by his mother. Try to think of ways for your character to bring a hint of humor to the game, though not at the expense of your dangerous side.
Consider as well how you want your hired gun to develop. While he may appear amoral at first, the hired gun may develop a sense of morality as the game develops.
SERENITY QUOTE: “Shepherd Book once told me that if you can’t do something smart, do something right.”
The opposite may happen as well. The hired gun could try to live as good of a life as the ‘verse will allow, only to find out that he has little choice in the matter. Over time, he may forget the man he once was.
The pitfall to consider is that the hired gun may take away from a cohesive party. This will largely depend on the makeup of the crew. While you want to see a roguish sort of mercenary, you want to make sure the group works together towards the goal.
Coin may be what the hired gun works for, but with proper development and equipment, the hired gun can prove to be an interesting role-playing experience. Keep flying, and sleep with one eye open.