“I don’t know who or what they were, they came in the night and just…. I don’t even want to talk about it… I think they left me alive to tell you about it, or they just didn’t see me hiding under the train cab. I almost wish they had found me though, seeing what they did I haven’t slept for a month… I keep thinking they’ll come back to finish the job.”
While Bandits are hated and feared, they pale in comparison to the terror invoked by Raiders. No one (no sane person, at least) really understands what takes a normal man and turns him into a bloodthirsty Raider. Maybe the wastes cause people to snap after so much hardship, maybe it’s some lingering effect of the Fall, maybe it’s a disease; no one knows. When it happens, a completely normal person can begin frothing at the mouth, spewing profanity, and attacking anything that moves.
Most terrifying however is that Raiders will form into groups. Being close to other Raiders seems to have a stabilizing effect on them, although they’re by no means sane, and they will begin to sweep the wastes like locusts, destroying and consuming all that they come into contact with. In these groups dominant personalities will emerge, characterizing those that follow them and creating terrifying unity in people normally too insane to speak coherently. Raiders kill and mutilate without a hint of compassion or second thought. They always fight to the death and are generally a scourge on the face of the Earth. Many people will gladly ally with Bandits if it means seeing a Raider threat dealt with. Raiders can barely be considered human, even by the broad standards of the 22rd century.
Raider groups are antagonistic to everyone in the extreme and therefore cannot be interacted with like other groups.
“They’re the boogie men. They’re everything we hate and fear. All the stories, all the warnings, they’re the reason for them.”
Raiders tend to live lives that are nasty, brutish, and short. Groups come and go usually with very little unity or purpose to them. Raider Madness is nothing if not unpredictable after all. So, when one particular group manages to stay together for seemingly decades it begins to develop a dread that follows it wherever it goes. The Death’s Head is that group. They’ve been around in one form or another for as long as anyone can remember.
They exhibit very specific behaviors that are well known and feared. They festoon themselves with skulls of all sorts and paint skull designs on their clothing and armor. This is where their name is derived. When they kill a victim they will do everything they can to take their head as a trophy, even if it means getting attacked in the process. Also unique, while most Raiders will attempt to utterly annihilate anything that stands in their way The Death’s Head are far more likely to attack in small groups, do their damage, steal a few heads and then disappear into the Wastes. Sometimes they’ll even leave survivors to spread fear in their wake.
The real mystery behind the Death’s Head is how exactly they have remained cohesive for so long without succumbing to violent internal schisms and Raider Madness driven murder. In the past the only thing that has managed to create unity among Raiders was a dominant Warlord, Chieftain, or similar figure. These figures inevitably become infamous and well known. Legend still speaks of King Pyro and his Arsonists for instance, who burned the nascent settlement of Sal in Norkal to the ground, or the greatly feared Widowmaker and the Black Widows, who wiped out every man in Bako a few years back but spared the women for some bizarre reason, allowing the community to eventually recover. But maybe the lesson is their fates, King Pyro was eventually killed by his own Raiders and the Widowmaker netted herself the highest bounty in Sokal history, earning the team that eventually killed her a king’s ransom in canned pork and beans. Whatever is behind the Death’s Head is either secretive, or simply allows no one to survive encountering it.
The Kingdom of Magic
“HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY….. HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH!”
While Raiders never fail to inspire dread in any waster with half a brain, most withhold a special reserve of fear for King Dizzy and his group of Raiders. Unlike most Raider groups who are nomadic, King Dizzy has one place he likes to stay in the southern part of Oh See that has become known as the Kingdom of Magic. The Kingdom of Magic is spoken of in hushed tones throughout the waste as a sort of nightmarish combination of children’s dreams and twisted hallucinations. No one knows the areas function before the Fall but now the large colorful statues and building are stained with the blood of King Dizzy’s victims. Also unlike most Raiders, King Dizzy’s men very much prefer to take people alive, dragging them back to the Kingdom. There, rumor has it King Dizzy somehow can take a perfectly healthy normal person and turn them into one of his terrifying foot soldiers. His soldiers are unmistakable, they dress in huge armored costumes meant to resemble creatures like rats, ducks and dogs and constantly gibber “Happy! Happy! Happy!” through clenched teeth. They wield awful, serrated weapons marked by their users teeth. The swords are meant to cause as much pain as possible to incapacitate their victims. As for King Dizzy himself, he’s a complete enigma as no one has ever seen the center of the Kingdom of Magic or him and survived, or at least returned in any condition to talk about it.