Scum: The Scum Maker

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Like Rats...

...the Scum are without number.

Such is the brutal nature of this game that its likely that at least one player will lose at least one character during a game session. A single knife wound or drug overdose will put a player character in hospital, and leave him out of play for at least as long as most Scum stories.

For this reason, character generation has been designed to be ultra-fast. With just five D6 rolls, you can make your character. When your player character dies or is hospitalised, the game stops for one or two minutes, and you roll up a new one.

Scum breaks from the conventional advice given to players in rpgs in that its generally a bad idea to overly identify with your characters, or to create complex backstories and plot hooks. The Scum themselves view life as disposable... so should you.

Introducing new characters

Because the game is set entirely on the Estate, and because the Estate is full of Scum, its pretty easy for new characters to turn up. One Scum texts another, or maybe just turns up while wandering the streets. They're brought up to speed in efficient style, and they join the game.

For example, a phone conversation where Darryl brings Mikey into the game:

  • Darryl: "Oi, Mikey. Pub?"
  • Mikey: "Yeah, alright."

Job done!

No grudges

In a game where the character's lives are cheap, and where the most likely cause of hospitalisation is another player character, it is absolutely essential that everyone knows, from the outset, that you can't carry a grudges through character death. Each new player character is considered a blank slate, nothing to do with that player's previous characters.

Rolling Up

Just to clarify, we're not talking about weed and rislas here. Well, not mostly. We're talking about making your characters. There are just ten attributes for each Scum, that will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about them. They fall into five pairings.

To generate the first attribute in a pair, roll a 6-sided dice. This sets that attribute.

To generate the second attribute in a pair, you need to deduct the first attribute from seven. For example, if you have a Nutter attribute of 5, then you'd have a Sneaky Bastard attribute of 2.

The pairings are as follows:

  • Nutter .... Sneaky Bastard
  • Well Shaggable .... Good mate
  • I'll cut ya! .... Not bovvered.
  • Pisshead .... Stoner
  • Shrapnel .... Drugs

So, for example, if you rolled in sequence 5, 2, 4, 1, 3, then your character sheet would now look like this:

  • Nutter 5
  • Sneaky Bastard 2
  • Well Shaggable 2
  • Good mate 5
  • I'll cut ya! 4
  • Not bovvered 3
  • Pisshead 1
  • Stoner 6
  • Shrapnel 3
  • Drugs 4

Bear in mind these are just your initial values in game - they'll change as the game goes on.

The higher an attribute is, the better it is. During the game no attribute can go above 10 or below 0 - these are the limits of a Scum's potential.

So what do these attributes mean?

The Nutter attribute represents how likely you are to hurt someone when you attack them. Its not really skill at fighting (as these are just Scum kids, not martial artists) but more the willingness to stick a knife in someone's gut, or a boot in their face. You use this attribute when you want to hospitalise someone.

The Sneaky Bastard attribute is used to avoid being detected (i.e. stealth) but also to avoid being the one that stands out (i.e. social camouflage). If you're trying to move unnoticed past a guard dog, you'd use this attribute, but also if you're standing in a police line-up and hoping not to be the one the old granny picks out, you use this attribute.

The Well Shaggable attribute describes how sexually appealing you are. This isn't just a case of being good looking - its also a function of fashion sense, of flirtiness and of sexual confidence. The attribute is used whenever you are trying to socialise with Scum of the opposite gender.

The Good Mate attribute describes how likeable you are to your mates. This isn't really anything to do with being charismatic (as very few Scum could truly be described as such), but rather means that other Scum see you as less of a threat, they think you're less likely to backstab them, and they generally think you're harmless.

The I'll Cut Ya! attribute is all about your ability to start a fight. Its a mix of intimidation, getting in someone's face and riling their emotions. The game system doesn't let you just walk up and stab anyone - you have to find excuses to do so first. This attribute helps you do so.

The Not Bovvered attribute is all about your ability to avoid a fight. In someone other than Scum, it might be said to represent self control, or inner discipline. Of course, no Scum really has self-control or any sort of discipline, so what this attribute really represents is the ability to purposefully ignore other people.

The Pisshead attribute shows how well you can handle your alcohol. A low attribute in this means you're likely to start acting like a twat after a couple of pints, and will be on the floor after four.

The Stoner attribute marks how well you can handle your drugs, especially weed. A low attribute in this means you're likely to fall asleep after smoking a joint, or start dancing like someone's dad when you've popped an E.

Shrapnel is spare change - the loose coins you carry in your pocket. In game terms, each point you have in shrapnel is two or three quid, but the game system doesn't demand that you keep track of money in pounds and pence. After all, if you're planning your finances precisely, you're probably not Scum. Instead, shrapnel is checked against like any other attribute, to see if you can afford stuff (like beer and plastic fashion accessories).

Drugs is the drugs you have on you - maybe a pouch of weed, a few tabs and enough coke for a line or two... Again, we don't track drug inventory precisely, as player characters are the sort to stash an old joint in a back pocket or in the heel of their shoe, then forget that its there for a week or two. Instead, the drugs trait is checked against to see if they have weed on them when they need it.

We'll come back to these attributes later, but for now, its worth keeping track of where your Scum's strengths and weaknesses lie.

Names, and other stuff

First off, flip a coin. If it lands heads, you're playing a "bloke" (that's a male, incidentally), if it lands tails, you're playing a "bird" (a female, in the Scum vernacular...).

The reason why we randomise this is because there's a tendency for most players to play their own gender, and the game Scum works best if there's about a 50:50 male:female ratio in characters.

Second, name your character. A first name (Darryl, Tracey, Mikey) is plenty, or a nickname (Spooney, Longboy, Asbo) is a reasonable alternative. Don't try to get too cool or clever here - players and GMs should smack down anyone who thinks to hard about this.

A smart arsed middle classed player, for example, might think up the nickname "MC Escher" to play off his DJing and his love of surrealism, but the correct response from the other Scum should then be "u wot?" and "stop poncing about, you ponce!"

Third, if you want, flesh out the characters with stuff like how old they are (13-20 years, generally) and what interests they might have outside of drinking and smoking weed (such as joyriding, perving at girls down the club, hanging out at McDonalds, that sort of thing.)

Don't include anything that the other Scum wouldn't know about your character. No-one wants to know about the broken home you came from, or who your first kiss was.

Also, avoid over-complex motivations. The GMs will tell you what the motivation of the gang as a whole is at the start of an evening's scenario. If you set up complex hopes and dreams for your character, you're more likely to get upset when you get arbitrarily stabbed by another player character!

The whole process of character generation detailed here should be completed in less than five minutes, and preferably in less than two minutes. If you take longer than that, you're taking too long.