This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross

The Border Reivers

A largely rural area with an economy focused on agriculture, fishing, and textiles, the total pre War population of the Scottish Borders was just over 100,000. This figure grew dramatically in the immediate aftermath of the Black Thursday nuclear exchanges as large numbers of people moved into the region from the Edinburgh area. Whilst some of the refugees were welcomed into the Border Communities, with resources in short supply many locals were opposed to the sudden influx of newcomers and formed armed groups to resist them. Many police officers were sympathetic to the local population, on several occasions siding with them against the refugees. Whilst they initially concentrated their efforts on opposing the refugees, over the course of time some of these groups also began to raid other communities, taking food, water, and other essential supplies.

The largest and most powerful of these groups are the Border Reivers; originally formed  as a town militia to protect the border towns of Hawick and Kelso, they take their name from the original Border Reivers, raiders who were active in the region between the 13th and 17th Centuries (the word “Reive” is an early English word meaning to rob). Just over two hundred strong, they are led by a local man named Robert Armstrong. Sixty four years old, Armstrong's family have owned a several hundred hectares of farmland just outside Hawick for generations, and he was a prominent figure in the town. His farmhouse now heavily fortified, forms the Reviers' headquarters. Many of the Reivers knew Armstrong before the War - some are members of his extended family whilst several dozen others worked for him on his farm - and the group also includes a number of former police officers and Territorial Army soldiers in its ranks. Whilst they have a small number of civilian vehicles that have been converted to run on alcohol fuels, they operate primarily as horse cavalry (the area was home to a large number of horses before the War) and their mobility has been a key factor in their success and after fighting several bloody clashes with other groups during 1998 and 1999 they now dominate the eastern part of the Scottish Borders, with surviving communities under their control required to support them by means of a "tax" payable in food, stores, and weapons.

The Reivers have brought a degree of stability to the region, and enjoy a good deal of support in the local area, particularly in their home towns of Hawick and Kelso, where many people view them as militia who are defending the towns from refugees and others who would steal their resources given the chance, and they can call on reinforcements from the populations of both towns should the need arise. The Reivers are a well disciplined force; in an attempt to keep the area clear of refugees and other marauder groups, they will usually deal harshly with refugees entering the area from other parts of Scotland, turning them back by force if necessary, and the Reivers have earned a reputation for brutality that is not unfounded. They are less likely to use violence as a first resort against their fellow Borderers however, so in the event that taxes are unpaid or they are otherwise challenged - the common punishment for such an offence is more usually banishment, with the offender - and, on rare occasions, their families - forcibly exiled from the relatively secure area that the Reivers control. With banishment viewed by many Borderers as being tantamount to a death sentence, the threat of it tends to ensure that the Reivers are not challenged, although they are quite capable of defending themselves if attacked - most Reivers are armed with civilian weapons, mainly hunting rifles and shotguns, although a few of them carry hunting bows and they also have a small number of military and police firearms, mainly L1A1 SLR's, and L2A3 Sterling and MP5 SMGs. They also have a small number of hand grenades and dynamite, which, together with ammunition, they have purchased at the markets in Newcastle, where they are regular visitors.

The Reivers also control much of the overland trade between Southern Scotland and Northern England along the East Coast, with those passing through the territory controlled by them required to pay a tax in exchange for safe passage. It is not uncommon to find Reiver patrols operating anywhere up to twenty miles from Hawick and Kelso. Robert Armstrong himself rarely rides with the Reivers when they are out and about, tending instead to remain within his farmhouse whilst the raids are led by his eldest son, thirty eight year old Garry, who effectively serves as his second in command.

Robert Armstrong

With his family having owned land in the Hawick area for generations, Robert Armstrong emerged as a natural leader within the community in the aftermath of the 1997 nuclear exchanges, helping to organise the formation of what would become the Border Reivers. Privately however Armstrong has been working towards his own agenda, with his ambition to control all of the Scottish borders. An even tempered, rational individual, Armstrong has been instrumental in ensuring that the Reivers have remained disciplined and organised (he ordered the banishment of two Reivers who raped a woman near Selkirk at the start of the Year). He will be keen to meet any military personnel entering the area, with a view to recruiting them into the Reivers.

An occasional visitor to the Free City of Newcastle, Armstrong is on good terms with Kevin Morgan, one of the so called "Three Kings" who control most of Newcastle. He has also become aware of the Republic of Scotland proclaimed by Alex Stewart, although for the moment he is not overly concerned by it, for he knows that it is likely to be many months - if not years - before Stewart's forces

are strong enough to enter the Borders region, so for the moment he is content to keep a wary eye on events further north, sending out occasional scouting parties which have reached as far north as the outskirts of Edinburgh (unknown to Armstrong, Alex Stewart has been doing exactly the same thing, with long range patrols from the Republic of Scotland's armed forces having entered Reiver territory several times in the past few months to carry out covert reconnaissance).

Born in 1940, Armstrong spent three years as a National Serviceman in the British Army, serving from 1959 to 1962 before leaving the Army and returning to Hawick to oversee the running of the family farm. He married his wife Margaret in 1963 (the two had known each other since they were children) and their first son Garry was born in 1965. The couple have two other children -  their second son, Malcolm, was born in 1968 and a daughter, Catriona, was born in 1971. Garry married in 1987, and has two children of his own, a twelve year old daughter and a nine year old son. Garry, his wife and children, and Catriona all continue to live at the family home on the farm (Malcolm lived in Edinburgh, where he worked at the headquarters of one of the major Scottish banks, and has been missing since December 1997). The farm is also home to Armstrong's younger brother and sister and their families, with the adult males and Catriona all riding with the Reivers.

Writer’s Note

The Border Reivers is a collaborative work between myself and Sean Nolan.