Al Swearengen
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Al Swearengen

Deadwood

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About Him

Grew up… having to fend for himself. Al was raised in an orphanage, and learned to handle life’s problems stoically. And if necessary, to reply to suffering in kind. As he says, “Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair, or beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man and give some back.”

Living… in Deadwood, a gold-mining camp in the Dakota Territory. Most men merely pass through Deadwood, looking to find gold and strike it rich. Mr. Swearengen, however, has made a home and a reputation for himself there.

Profession… owner and proprietor of the Gem Saloon. Al has discovered that prospecting for gold isn’t the only way to make money in Deadwood. The great demand for whiskey, gambling and women has made Al a very successful businessman.

Interests… maintaining control of Deadwood. Al acts as the unofficial mayor of the camp: he controls the “entertainment” industry with an iron fist, and is willing to kill if he doesn’t get his way. Though, he knows that, in the ruthless frontier, even the best-laid plans tend to go awry. According to him, “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”

Relationship Status… single, though Al shows a bit of favoritism to one of his prostitutes, Trixie. Affection doesn’t come easy for Al, who tends to show his feelings through violence.

Challenge… dealing with his new competition, Cy Tolliver’s Bella Union saloon, an upscale alternative to the more ribald Gem. Al doesn’t take kindly to business competitors, especially when it comes to his monopoly on Deadwood’s drinking-and-whoring industry.

Personality… merciless and sadistic. Al will kill, maim and torture anyone – even those closest to him – in order to maintain control of the camp. He will seek every advantage, no matter the legality or ethics, and expects even his supposed allies to do the same. Al is extremely charismatic when he wants to be and entertainingly cynical, but it’s safest to give him a wide berth.

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