Scum: Hurting People
Scum emphatically is not a game of dramatic duels and high power combats. The characters in Scum are just scrawny kids, and not seasoned fighters by any means. When stabbed, a Scum will go down bleeding, and not get up again. He'll either end up in hospital, or if the guy stabbing him is enough of a nutter to keep stabbing him, he'll end up in the morgue. Either way, a single stab is enough to put a Scum out of the game session for good.
Of course, this is the modern world, and the only people likely to stab you are other Scum (aka the other player characters), and even then this is only likely to happen when there's a "good reason" for it.
Before any player character is allowed to stab any human being (including NPCs, yes), there are three obstacles he has to pass.
- 1) He must justify it in his own mind.
- 2) He must find his target and avoid being diverted.
- 3) He must overcome his nerves.
If he beats these three obstacles, then his victim is as good as dead!
To justify killing a human being, the Scum's player has to first come up with the reason why the Scum sees murder as a reasonable course of action. This can be almost anything you like! For example:
- "Cos he shagged my sister!"
- "Cos he's got more money than me!"
- "Cos he wouldn't share his Cider!"
- "Cos he's ginger!"
- "Cos he wouldn't let me shag his sister!"
As you can see, these don't have to be good justifications, they just need to be any old excuse.
Next, once you have that justification, you test the "I'll Cut Ya!" attribute.
If you fail, then your Scum decides that it's not worth killing someone over. On a failed test, you can still try to justify murder to yourself again later, but you can't use the same excuse. You have to find (or make up) a fresh one.
If you succeed, then your Scum has convinced himself that murder is justifiable. This is a permanent shift in mental state, and from now on you can always attempt to murder that indivdual (i.e., you never need to test self-justification for murder with regards to that victim again).
Note that becase (as mentioned in the Core Rules)all dice rolls are made in the open, there is no way to hide your murderous intent! Your victim-to-be knows that you're out to get them! In-game, this is justified via such things as the rumour mill, MySpace blogs, Facebook rumours and the fact that Scum aren't very good at keeping secrets...
Note also that justifying murder to yourself doesn't take any time at all - you can keep trying at this check as often as you like!
Finding the victim, and avoidance strategies
Once you've justified killing someone, you need to go find them.
That's generally the easy bit, as the Estate isn't that big, and Scum can generally find each other fairly quickly (phone mum, ask the lads where someone is, that sort of thing).
However, it is possible to avoid detection through an attribute check:
- You can take a Sneaky Bastard check to make yourself hard to track. If you pass this check, then the next movement you make is to a secret location - pass the GM a written note or tell him in secret where you are going.
Other scum may turn up by chance where the sneaker is, but they can't directly follow him. Its worth noting that the GM always handles all secret movement before open movement, to give would be murderers at least a little chance of turning up the sneak.
If the would-be murderer catches up with his victim, then that victim still have options. He can be dismissive, he can be seductive, he can be matey, he you can share some alcohol/weed. However, a victim can only try ONE of these strategies. Also, if one of these avoidance strategies is attempted, then that Scum is prevented from making making any attacks against anybody for the next half hour! Scum are simple creatures, unable to hold two motivations in their heads at once!
- To be dismissive, take a Not Bovvered check. If you succeed, the would-be murderer fails to get your attention, and they can't attack you for the next half hour. Psychologically, a Scum wants you to be intimidated and frightened just before they stab you. What's the point otherwise? The best thing for a Scum passing this check is then he can just carry on doing whatever he was planning to do - he can literally ignore the would-be murderer.
- To be seductive, make a Well Shaggable check. If you succeed, you convince the would-be murderer to "get jiggy" with you instead. This takes the whole of the next half hour, during which you and the would-be murderer can't do anything else. You can only be seductive with Scum of the opposite gender! Though a Scum might not be heterosexual, in the bigoted world of the Estate no-one would ever dare admit such a thing.
- To be matey, make a Good Mate check. If you succeed, you convince the would-be murderer that you're "alright, really" and they won't stab you - at least for the next half hour. You can only be matey with Scum of the same gender. By the unwritten rules of Scum its considered bad form not to judge the opposite gender by anything more than physical appearances! Note that unlike being seductive, being matey doesn't end in sex, so both of you are still free to do what you like with that half hour.
- To share some drugs, you need to make a Drugs check, and to share some alcohol you need to pass a Shrapnel check. Note that you can only share alcohol if you're in a location that sells alcohol. If you pass this test, then you have some drugs/alcohol to share, and you and the would-be murderer pass the next half hour doing so. No Scum would ever avoid pausing for a drink or a joint, regardless of whatever plans they might have! Also, if you succeed in the above avoidance strategy, then at the end of the half hour you must both then take a Pisshead (for alcohol) or Stoner (for drugs) check to see if you suffer any negative side effects. See Scum: Other Stuff for more on these effects.
If a Scum has justified the murder, found his victim and not been diverted from his murderous intent, he can now attempt murder.
Don't forget that any-one who has already attempted an avoidance strategy is themselves prevented from attempting murder.
The final step for the would-be murderer is to make a Nutter test.
If this test is successful, the victim is stabbed!
If the test is failed, then the would be murderer "bottles it" and loses his nerve, not attacking after all. Though he pulls out his knife, he never stabs, and the target legs it! He can't try again this half hour.
Note that if more than one Scum is ready for murder (having justified the murder, not been diverted and not attempted a diversion) then all eligible Scum can make a stab! There's no initiative system or action priority, so its fully possible for two Scum or more stab each other at the same time!
A Scum that is stabbed is taken out of the game, presumably hospitalised or killed outiright. The player of that character will need to roll up a new character!
Also, after the stabbings are done, any characters present leg it (run away) scattering into the streets, and losing the next half hour in mad panic or mad glee.