Bandits are rogue lawbreakers and one of the most common enemy types in Skyrim. You will typically find them in camps, some of which are marked on your map, and some of which are unmarked. Of the marked locations, bandits often inhabit both the interiors and exteriors of fort-type and other structures.
Although most bandits will attack you on sight, some may attack only when you get too close. Still others will demand that you pay them and attack if you refuse. Bandits can be members of any race (except Altmer), and may be spellcasters, archers, one-handed melee fighters, or two-handed melee fighters.
While the stronger bandit types will not appear until after you've reached the levels shown, you will continue to meet low-level versions even at high levels. Boss-level bandits will always be at the highest possible level, and will normally be identified as "Bandit Chief". Bandits of each type may vary in the combat equipment and style they use.
Normal Bandits are generally fairly easy to kill, while Bandit Chiefs and Marauders are tougher. Unlike other Bandit Marauders, Bandit Marauder mages (bandits with the Bandit Wizard class) begin appearing at level 24.
Some quests that require going into a bandit hideout or dungeon include:
- Infiltration: Help Stalleo take back Treva's Watch.
- Mistwatch: Help Christer locate his kidnapped wife Fjola.
- Silver Lining: Recover a stolen silver mold for a silversmith.
- Supply and Demand: Clear Cragslane Cavern for the Jarl of Riften.
- The Pale Lady: Find out what happened in Frostmere Crypt.
- Bounty: Bandit Boss: Eliminate a bandit leader for a bounty reward. (radiant)
- Dungeon Delving: Do a favor by retrieving an item from a bandit hideout. (radiant)
- Harsh Master: Take care of a runaway crew member. (radiant)
- Kill the Bandit Leader: Do a favor by slaying a bandit leader. (radiant)
- Rescue Mission: Fulfill a contract given to the Companions to rescue a kidnapped citizen. (radiant)
- Note: This location is one of many potential targets for one or more of the radiant quests found on this page.
- Animals attacking bandit
- Bandit beat down
- Bandit Killed With Horse Left Behind
- Bandits dressed as Imperial Soldiers
- Bard at rest attacked by bandits
- Dead woman with bandits
- Giants fending off bandits
- Ice Wraiths Fighting Bandits
- Traveling Merchant Attacked by Bandits
- Vampires fighting Bandits DG
- Warlock fighting off bandits
If you speak to a bandit who is leaning against a wall, typically guarding the outside of a hideout, they may give a generic, non-hostile response (such as "You need something?"), although after a few seconds they will draw their weapon and attack. Male bandits will talk to themselves while idle, but they do not talk to each other unless scripted by a certain location [verification needed — verify males only].
- "...retire some day... get myself an island..."
- "...never enough gold... just need one good haul..."
- "...might pay off my bounty this time... walk into the city a free man..."
- "...told him to just hand over the gold, but did he listen? Oh, no... they always have to fight back..."
- "...he he he... two threes? What was he thinking? Fool never saw me pull that ace out of my boot..."
- "...gonna start keepin' a knife in my boot... tired of gettin' disarmed..."
- "...should have known she was lying... said she'd wait for me... but they never wait..."
- "...lyin' little harlot... that brat ain't mine... could be anyone's... won't get one rusty septim from me..."
- "..."go to the college" da said... "use your smarts" he said... like I'm supposed to figure out which college he meant..."
- "...hmph, wizards... Now that's power... Bet they got that "secret" magic... can turn wood to gold... yeah... Wish I could turn wood to gold..."
- "...mead, mead, mead... kill him to get some beer every now and then? Stupid bees and their stupid honey..."
- "...I'll never do another stinking span in that jail... rather die than give myself up..."
- " [Sighing] ...need me some Skooma... the imported stuff... just one last time..."
- "...kill 'em, he talks to me again like that... get him when he's sleeping... or poison his meat... see how he likes that."
- "...picking pockets, now that's the real art... ...no rough stuff, just take it and go... ...hmph, don't sound like much fun, though..."
- " [Singing] ...once was a woman, as fair as an evenin', of springtime in old Stros M'Kai..."
- " [Singing] ...with three beers down, the Orc did frown, and bid the Elf goodbye... ...for none could know, 'twas not for show, and someone had to die..."
- "Lookee here. Looks like we got ourselves a hero."
- "You picked a bad time to get lost, friend."
- "Now ain't this a surprise."
- "Time to die, hero!"
- "Go ahead, try and fight back!"
- "Die already so I can take your stuff!"
- "Whatcha gonna do? Huh? Whatcha gonna do?"
- "Gonna split your belly like an old woman's purse!"
- "Gonna rip you... open!"
- "You'll be so much easier to rob when you're dead..."
A bandit who has just discovered a corpse may say:
- "What...? Whoever did this, you're dead. You hear me? Dead!"
- Bandits encountered in Skyrim are generally twice as likely to be male than female. In most cases, the leveled lists that spawn bandits list each male bandit twice (except Khajiits) and each female bandit once.
- Most bandits have a morality of "Any Crime", which means they're willing to commit any crime. Bandit Chiefs and the "berserker" variety of two-handed fighters, however, have a morality of "No Crime," which means they are unwilling to commit crimes of any sort. Their aggression is the same as any other bandit, though, so they will still attack you on sight.
- Bandits that spawn within the exterior zone of Treva's Watch are set to spawn at a normal leveled list corresponding to your game level. However, bandits which spawn within the interior zone are set to appear 5 levels earlier, which means that at lower levels you will more likely encounter Bandit Marauders, etc.
- There is a bandit imprisoned in Ravenscar Hollow who has been locked up by hagravens and will ask you to free him. If he survives the fight with the hagravens, he will demand all of your belongings and you will be forced to kill him. This bandit is one of the few with whom you can exchange more than a couple of lines of conversation.