Led by an informally chosen leader named Split Jack, bandits are roving bands of mercenaries that prey on water caravans for sustenance and profit. Wastelanders, Talon Company mercenaries, and even raiders and ghouls are welcome to join the group, as long as a few ground rules are adhered to. To separate themselves from the other scum prowling the wasteland, Split Jack has instilled a policy of "metal," by which every bandit must wear distinctive metal armor and appropriate metal helmet headgear. This allows other bandits to recognize each other in the heat of battle, and victims know who to fear. This sense of foresight also extends to Split Jack's cap-collecting schemes. He's brought in a new era of fiscal responsibility, with bandits realizing they can make money with the threat of continuous violence than by killing alone. This simple extortion is a relatively new idea in the wasteland, as survivors previously tended to gather what they could, as quickly as possible. Split Jack is also running what President Eden might call a "Dueling Democracy," with the power able to leave his hands at any moment if a challenger has the mettle (and metal) to face him in one-on-one combat.
Protecting the Water Way: Three of them will be attacking the bait caravan. While those are hostile, the others are initially friendly. Should the Lone Wanderer replace Split Jack by beating him in a duel, the bandits ask them to extort the "protection money" from Officer Lepelletier in his stead. When fighting Split Jack, the bandits will become hostile if the Lone Wanderer uses anything but the designated weapon.
"What? We thought you died or something. You haven't been around in so long... we divvied up your cut already. Ah, sorry 'bout that. We'll start holding your cut for you again. But you got to come see us at least once a month. Or we'll assume your dead."
"Killed the boss fair an' square. Good job kid. Normally that'd make you the new boss, but we're all tired of bosses. But, we liked Split Jack's plan. So if you can get that bitch at Rivet City to buy into our "protection services" we'll split the take with ya. So we don't need ya to be our leader. But we will cut you in on the protection racket. IF you can get Lepelletier to sign on."