Scum: The Core Rules
There are five simple game concepts to grasp for the game Scum:
- Every action has a cost
- Just roll one dice.
- The Scum game is about the Scum.
- You can build yourself up, but not for free.
- Half an hour at a time
Every Action Has a Cost
This is important.
Every time you test an attribute you must reduce it by one. This happens before you roll the dice, and isn't affected by whether you pass or fail.
The net result of this is that if you do things, then your ability to do those sort of things reduces.
How do we justify this in-setting?
- Nutter - After you've stabbed a few people you get worried about getting caught. You might even (gasp) start getting pangs of conscience and regret knifing someone. Also, killing people is tiring, innit?
- Sneaky Bastard - You sneak around too much you get sloppy. You get cocky because you think you're getting away with stuff. You get careless, because you're not concentrating. Or, you get nervous, because you worry its all going to go wrong any minute.
- Well Shaggable - If everyone knows you're handing it out on a plate, no-one wants it off you any more.
- Good mate - You can only tell someone they can trust you so much before they start wondering why you keep saying that...
- I'll cut ya! - Sooner or later, people are just gonna ignore you, and your shouting becomes background noise.
- Not bovvered. - Your temper will run out sooner or later, and then you will be bothered...
- Pisshead - Weird thing is, the more you drink, the more drunk you get. Strange, huh?
- Stoner - And the more weed you smoke, the more stoned you get. Duh.
- Shrapnel - The more times you fish change out of your pocket, the less likely you'll find any later.
- Drugs - The more joints you smoke, the fewer are on you. Didn't school teach you this stuff?
Just Roll One Dice
When you test an attribute you roll one six-sided dice.
- If you roll equal or below that attribute, then you pass the test.
- If you roll over the attribute, then you fail the test.
Eagle-eyed veteran players will have spotted by now that because you always deduct one from an attribute before testing, you're going to automatically fail a test if you have an Attribute of 1 (or 0) before the test.
All rolls are always made in the open, with the intent of the test and the outcome of the test open to everyone present. There are no secret rolls in this game.
It is possible, however to take secret actions, such as stealthily moving to a location.
The Scum game is about the Scum.
The GM never rolls the dice.
Every test is handled with regards to how it affects the player characters. The actions of NPCs are only noteworthy for how they effect the player characters, and NPCs never have attributes of their own.
The nature of the game means that for the most part, the Scum will only be fighting against each other.
You can build yourself up, but not for free.
Sooner or later, with the above rules, you're going to be failing every test. Luckily, attributes can go upwards as well. There are three categories of how to do this:
- You spend half an hour doing something simple to build yourself up.
In this circumstance you add +1 to one attribute, and all it costs you is that half-hour. Bear in mind that almost all scenarios run to a clock of some sort, so doing this is more of a problem than you might think.
Examples of simple build ups:
- Argue with mum - Add +1 to Nutter. Arguing with mum really gets you wanting to smack someone, and as you can't smack her, you're going to take it out on strangers.
- Watch the telly - Add +1 to Sneaky Bastard. Call it TV-trance if you like, but after half an hour of daytime TV you feel all quiet-like.
- Do my make up - Add +1 to Well Shaggable. As everyone knows, the more make-up a chavette plasters on, the more shaggable she is.
- Chat to yer mate's mum - Add +1 to Good Mate. Presuming that you're polite, big your mate up and deny that he's on drugs, of course.
- Play Grand Theft Auto - Add +1 to I'll cut ya! Computer games make young kids aggressive. I read it in the Daily Mail.
- Have a big poo - Add +1 to Not bovvered A huge dump realy takes the stress of your system, eh?
- Eat something already - Add +1 to Pisshead. A full stomach makes you more alcohol-proof.
- Have a kip - Add +1 to Stoner. If you sleep proper, you can take more weed. True fact.
- Search mum's flat - Add +1 to Shrapnel. You knew it - she had a fiver stashed in her sock drawer.
- Search dad's car - Add +1 to Drugs. You knew it - he had a bag of weed stashed in his glove compartment.
Players are encourage to come up with their own simple build ups as the situation demands. If GMs want to encourage creativity, they might allow each idea to be used only once by each character each game session.
Fast Build Ups
- You spend a few minutes to build yourself up, but this is a high risk activity.
In this circumstance you add +1 to one attribute, but you have to pass an attribute test of some sort, or you don't gain this benefit.
Examples of simple build ups:
- Search wheelie bin for a weapon - Succeed in a Sneaky Bastard test to add +1 to Nutter. You got to think cunning to get tooled up.
- Buy some plastic ear-rings from Accessorize - Succeed in a Shrapnel test to add +1 to Well Shaggable. Like magpies, the scum are drawn to shiny but worthless trinkets.
- Have a line of coke - Succeed in a Drugs test to add +1 to I'll cut ya! As everyone knows cocaine makes you super confident! And a twat!
Again players are encouraged to make up fast build ups themselves. Its worth noting, of course, that a fast build up never really puts you ahead of the game, as you are losing at least one attribute point for every one you gain.
Complex Build Ups
- You spend half an hour to build yourself properly up, but this is a high risk activity.
In this circumstance you add +4 split out amongst one or more attributes, but you have to pass at least two attribute tests of some sort, or you don't gain any benefit.
Usually complex build ups involve drink or drugs. The two most common complex build-ups would be:
- Have a drinking session at the pub - Succeed in a Pisshead test AND a Shrapnel test. If you pass both, gain +4 spread out amongst Nutter, I'll Cut Ya and Well Shaggable.
- Have a weed smoking session - Succeed in a Stoner test AND a Drugs test. If you pass both, gain +4 spread out amongst Sneaky bastard, Not bovvered and Good mate.
The above two complex build up are presumed to be generaly available to chavs to do as much as they like. Other complex build-ups can be improvised by the players during the game (for example, mugging someone to get some more shrapnel).
Half an Hour at a Time
As may be implict from the above rules and other game systems, the game moves in half hour blocks.
Most Scum stories run for a fixed time period - for example, from 6pm to 6am on one night. The GM will narrate this game in half hour blocks.
For example, at the start of a game with the above timeframe, the GM may state that all the players are at the local pub at 6pm. A short scene will be roleplayed out, with everyone decidinghow they spend that half hour, and then everyone can state where they're headed next.
Its also worth noting that generally the "Estate" consists of a small number of fixed locations (6 to 12, generally) and that most of the action will take place in these locations.
The Scum will set off, then arrive at their new locations at 6:30pm. We don't worry about travel time, as the estate is a small scale setting.
Note that its perfectly allowable to state that you are "following" another Scum and going where they are going. The only way this can be avoided is by their being sneaky (i.e. passing a Sneaky Bastard check as detailed in the Scum: Other Stuff section).