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"Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit"
At the beginning of "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit," you'll walk into the Marshal's office as he and his men are arming themselves heavily. He asks for your help taking out a group of bandits who have been murdering settlers.
Eli provides the grisly details of their exploits, and John agrees to help deal with the problem. Grab your rifle and saddle up, there's quite a bit of shooting ahead of you.
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Ride out to Ridgewood
Along the way, you'll spot some vultures circling nearby. The Marshal sends you and Eli to investigate. Beneath the circling birds you'll find a camp full of slaughtered people and their horses. John will also find your first rifle upgrade, the Winchester Repeater. Take a minute to look around if you like, or hop back on your horse and follow the posse.
After you've ridden a bit further, you'll spot another swarm of vultures. Another slaughtered camp lies underneath them. The fire is still smoking, though, so the posse will head off to Ridgewood, hoping to catch those responsible while they're still nearby.
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Massacre at Ridgewood Farm
Once you reach Ridgewood, it seems deserted. The Marshal orders you to check out the shed and the outhouse, looking for survivors. The shed is nearby, and should be your first stop. You'll have to dismount, then run up the steps. Once you've cleared the waypoint, head for the outhouse on the other side of the house.
John kicks open the door of the outhouse once you get close, and finds it empty. Rejoin the Marshal and his deputies over by the barn. Use your new rifle to shoot the boards off the barn door and head inside.
A naked dead body swings from the rafters, and the barn is full of dead animals and farmers. A lone survivor informs you that the surviving members of the family are being held hostage inside. Your job is to clear them out and save whoever is left.
Page two has the rest of the Red Dead Redemption "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit" mission, including a showdown at the farmhouse and a gun fight on the road to Fort Mercer.
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Clear out the Farmhouse
Bandits will emerge from the farmhouse. Take out the ones outside, paying special attention to the porch and upstairs balcony, before heading inside. Take cover where you can, and take them out one by one. As you fight, more bad guys will emerge from inside the house. Make sure they've all come out before heading inside. You'll know it's time when the Marshal orders you to "get inside and smoke those sons of..."
It's probably best to switch to a handgun for clearing out the house. It'll make it a bit easier to aim inside the tight spaces of the house, and you won't need the distance the rifle offers in such a confined space, anyway.
The Marshal will head in first if you let him. There are two bad guys down stairs and two upstairs to deal with. The first will appear almost immediately and start shooting at you from the kitchen. The second is also downstairs, you will find him in the back of the kitchen, near the stove. After they're both down, head upstairs to save the hostages.
The last outlaw is in the middle bedroom on the north side of the upstairs. He's a bit smarter than the last three you took out, and uses the final hostage as a shield. Take him out without harming the hostage (you may want to use your Dead Eye ability for this one).
Once the house is clear, the Marshal asks you to meet him outside and check up on the farmers. You may want to take a minute to loot the bodies of fallen outlaws outside on your way.
Meet up with the Marshal outside near the shed. The surviving women aren't too happy with the Marshal for not preventing the attack. The Marshal offers a bounty to whomever kills the boss of the gang responsible. Hop on your horse and join the chase.
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The Road to Fort Mercer
As you near Fort Mercer, a group of men appears on a ridge above you. Bill Williamson taunts John from a safely elevated position. After a bit of not-so-witty banter, he'll order his men to attack.
John, the Marshal, and his men take cover in a nearby run-down shed. A group of men ride down the road and take up positions in front of you. Take out as many as you can as they approach, it's much easier than waiting for them to pop up from behind cover. Stay behind cover and use the red dots on your mini map to locate the remaining bad guys.
After you've taken out the first group, a second will come down the road. Use the same tactics as before to clear them out. Once they're dead, Jonah will capture Norman Deke, an associate of Bill Williamson, in a cutscene. The Marshal takes Deke back to town to throw him in prison, and you've finished your mission.
Take a minute to loot the bodies of the fallen nearby, then get ready for your next Red Dead Redemption mission.
For more mission walkthroughs, cheat codes, weapons guides, and more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Red Dead Redemption.