Image of Ella Purnell as Lucy in Prime Video's 'Fallout.' She is a white woman with long, dark hair pulled into a ponytail and wearing a blue 'Fallout' vault suit. She has a Pip-Boy on her wrist and she's sitting on a box in front of a fire at night, resting her arms on her lap as she looks out into the distance.

Get to Know Your Unfriendly Neighborhood Raiders in ‘Fallout’

Fallout is here! Not literally, that would be terrible for society and the continuation of the human species as a whole. I mean the highly anticipated Amazon series based on the beloved video game series. New converts to the series will no doubt have questions. The one we’re answering today is, who are the Raiders?

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The Raiders: Just people trying to get by!

And get by they do! Through murder! A raider is a slang term in the Fallout universe for any post-apocalyptic unsavory type that makes their living by marauding, killing, and stealing for resources. Raiders are a staple character type from lots of different post-apocalyptic stories! Hunters in The Last of Us? Those are raiders! Driving maniacs throwing explosive spears at people in Mad Max? Big Raider Energy. Raiders have existed ever since the fallout started falling. Even before that! Killing people and stealing their shit is arguably humanity’s oldest pastime!

The wastelands of Fallout are lousy with raiders of all shapes and sorts! Generally, raiders operate in small groups made up of people who fall into the “Three S’s” category: sweaty, starving, and psychotic. Well, three S-like sounds. These groups generally don’t bother the big cities, lest they run afoul of the well-organized militias that guard major metropolises everywhere from New California to The Commonwealth. Small towns and settlements, however? Fair game.

A Brief History of Raiders

While most raider bands are small and nameless, some became large enough to form their own little societies and cultures! The first Fallout game features three main groups: the Jackals, the Vipers, and the Khans. The Jackals are standard fare “kill you and take your stuff” types who have little else on their minds but survival. Pretty unoriginal. The Vipers are a little bit more sophisticated. They follow an ancient and dark religion that tells them to do pretty much the same thing the Jackals do, but with more style. They raid stealthily in the night, using venom-tipped bone knives to paralyze their victims. They then drag victims back to their hideouts to do … whatever dark rites they do. The last group, the Khans, are easily the most powerful and dangerous. They fashion themselves after Mongol warriors of old, raiding towns and carrying off resources and people to turn into slaves, then burning what they leave behind. Real nice. The warrior culture of the Khans makes them respect strength, and as a result, they only rely on hand-to-hand weapons instead of firearms.

As the decades passed, Raiders passed down their practices to new generations. In Fallout 2, we meet the New Khans, the descendants of the old clan vanquished by the Vault Dweller. We also meet the Yakuza—a Raider gang whose customs are inspired by the Japanese mafia. By 2281, New California has all but eliminated the Raider threat, establishing a firm rule of law. Small groups still existed, such as the Greasers and the Scorpions, but they paled in comparison to the might of the old Raider clans. The surviving remnants of the Khans (now renamed the Great Khans) organized a mass exodus from New California into the surrounding Mojave Wastleland, like some kind of evil Moses (Moseses? Mose-i?). Another Raider group called the Fiends emerged in the Mojave as well, who are addicted to chems and spend their time raiding for a score.

There are Raiders in the East as well, to varying degrees of threat. Around Washington D.C., there existed numerous small Raider bands with creative names like “Sudden Death Overtime” and such. These gangs raided settlements and captured people to trade with slaving groups for profit. Assholes. In The Commonwealth, Raiders became more sophisticated. They can use machine gun turrets and spotlights, and some have even managed to commandeer suits of power armor. These Raider factions are disorganized, however, and tend to fight with themselves just as much as they do the rest of post-apocalyptic society. These raiding groups are not bound together by any shared cultural or religious identity. Instead, they follow their fearsome leader. Commonwealth area Raiders tend to take the name of their boss. Red Tourette’s and Tower Tom’s crews are two such groups and tend to fight with each other.

By far the most technologically advanced Raiders in the Commonwealth area are the Nuka-World Raiders. Serving as the exception to the rule, these guys are a highly organized triumvirate of gangs known as the Operators, the Disciples, and the Pack. How do they spend their time? Killing and torturing people for sport mostly. Raider stuff. You wouldn’t understand.

(featured image: Prime Video)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.