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Panco Villa crossed the border in the year of ought sixteen
The people of Columbus still hear him riding through their dreams
He killed seventeen civilians you could hear the women scream

(from) Tonight We Ride Tom Russell

Basic Information

The word bandido refers to a subset of the Wild West Outlaw with a Hispanic flavor. Most often found in stories set in Mexico or near the US-Mexican border. As with the outlaw, the bandido often overlaps with the Gunslinger and Cowboy roles, with the latter being called vaqueros.

Stereotypically, the bandido has a thick Mexican accent, wears a sombrero and poncho or serape, and in later time periods a bandolier of ammunition. A thick mustache is common, but not mandatory. They are typically depicted as the villains of a Western, but if portrayed sympathetically will often have a code of honor, or be revolutionaries fighting against the corrupt government. In such a twist on the trope, they might be an outlaw to the government (of either country), but a Robin Hood style hero to the common man.

Pancho Villa, one of the heroes and Generals of the Mexican Revolution, got his start as a Bandido.

Sometimes you will see the word spelled "bandito" instead of "bandido". This is because of the prevalence of the Spaghetti Western (that is to say, Italian-made movies about the American Wild West). Bandito is the Italian word for bandit, whereas bandido is the Spanish word.


TV Tropes Wiki on Bandito
Wikipedia on Pancho Villa

Game and Story Use

  • Ethnicity and Nationality can be an effective way to give make an otherwise stock character stand out from the crowd without having to work up a lot of personality and back story. Some caution may be in order, as archetypes and tropes don't have to be stereotypes, but can easily lead to that by accident (or intent).
  • The concept of the social bandit and border-raider so common to the Bandido trope can be applied to characters in other settings. A group of elvish or halfling brigands might raid across a border into dwarf territory to raid convoys going to mines. The Dwarven miners may hire the PCs to stop the raids. On chasing the bandidos back across the border, the PCs learn that the outlaws are heroes here. The local populace hides and protects them. Perhaps the local area is impoverished, or it may be that the more nature-loving sensibilities of the elves or hobbits drove them to harass the strip-mining Dwarves.
  • 'Bandits from Across the Border' can sometimes turn out to be suspiciously well trained and to keep their weapons in much better order than might be expected of criminals … particularly if it is in the neighbouring country's interests to destabilise the border area.
  • Interestingly, the bandido's home territory may not consider him a criminal - cross border cattle raiding is as old as herding and has often been culturally tolerated. Even if the senor of the hacienda doesn't actively encourage cross border piracy, he may well turn a blind eye to his hands keeping up a native tradition of raiding the herds of the next tribe over … as long as the over means "over the border where it won't bother the provincial governor that I report to". He may even take a Lord's share of the plunder.
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