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The_Shaman

Scum - (How) Do They Keep Up?

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I've been running a Heresy game for a while, and as it looks like we'll be getting a few more players I'm reading up on the character advancement tables again. I'm expecting at least one player to go for something subversive and/or social, and I was thinking about maybe advising them to play a scum. The thing is... as I'm seeing it, scum don't seem to get a lot of good things.

 

Their tables start off alright, but by level 3 and 4, when other players are starting to pick up several skills at +10, bolt or chain weaponry and the like, the scum seems to trail off. Despite having good BS they don't pick bolt weapons until level 5 or so (same as the adept), they can't even sneak around decently until the mid-levels due to the concealment/silent move skills becoming trainable at ranks 3/5), and only get +10 boosts to most social skills at level 6 or so - and that's in their charismatic tree. They generally seem to get notably less skill boosts and delayed talents compared to other "hybrid" careers like the cleric and arbitrator. Am I missing something or should I look for ways to make sure the scum isn't left behind in our games?

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I think the answer would depend on what type of world you've put your players into.  If there's a bolt pistol available on every street corner and the acolytes have blank cheques signed by their Inquisitor, not being able to pick up bolt weapon training at level 1 seems like a waste.  However, in our group's current game, the assassin who trained in Las weaponry is now level 3, and is still unable to find a Long Las rifle (due to a combination of poor rolls and the scarcity of the item).

It also depends on the type of missions the players are thrown into.  Placing them into an investigation-oriented mission on a hive world may give the scum a lot more use out of XP spent in Common Lore (Underworld) and Peer (Underworld) than a guardsman's melta/plasma weapon training with the dual shot talent.  Even an adept, with their knowledge of the administratum, imperium, cults and legends may only be able to help so much if the main problem is an underhive ganger boss sowing the seeds of insurrection.

It's worth pointing out that the scum isn't a 'rogue' from classic RPGs: it's not an assassin or thief necessarily.  They can focus on becoming an information gatherer or a quick-drawing pistol wielding combat character, and can excel in either roll.  Like pretty much every class, they will feel most valuable if they're filling out a role that the party is lacking.  At 2500XP, mid-4th level, a combat-oriented scum could choose +10 BS, +10 AGI, and +5 T, 5 extra wounds, hard target, hardy, dodge+10, awareness +10, silent move, concealment, security, and quick draw.  Gear could be an Amegeddon autogun from the Inquisitor's Handbook with manstopper bullets for 1d10+5 damage and 3 penetration.  Fraction of the cost of a bolter for nearly identical firepower (arguably more, as the autogun has a full-auto option).  I wouldn't worry too much about this character falling behind.

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From my past experiences playing with 4 different groups, each one including one Scum character, I still find that this class can easily have the spotlight taken away by others, especially by Assassins and Arbitrators.

The best thing would be to ask what the player wants to get out of it.

My suggestion: if you REALLY want him to be Scum, then suggest some solid backgrounds or give him an interesting and unique Home World, like Noble Born or Forge World.

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Ritesign said:

It's worth pointing out that the scum isn't a 'rogue' from classic RPGs: it's not an assassin or thief necessarily.  They can focus on becoming an information gatherer or a quick-drawing pistol wielding combat character, and can excel in either roll.  Like pretty much every class, they will feel most valuable if they're filling out a role that the party is lacking.  .

 

 

The thing is, the scum isn't the only one who can pull double duty; quite a few 40k careers can do that. The thing is, they tend to be better at it than the scum is. Want information gathering? A cleric or arbitrator can generally do it better. Shooting? They can match you there too. Close combat? They are probably better. Oh, and they can take skills as well. The scum has a niche, sure enough, but it's fairly small and I'd say hardly vital. Yes, you can handle some disreputable skills a bit better than an arbitrator or an assassin. The tech-priest outshoots you, and has knowledges to rival your social skills - not to mention all those fancy tricks he has. You're not the only hybrid career around - but the others are actually pretty good at what they do. And you? Heck, a priest lies better than you can - and if you don't become a fixer, better than you ever can. Let this sink in: nuns are better liars than you street punks are.

 

Okay, maybe it's not THAT bad, there are some narrow areas where Scum are good(-ish), but I think they just aren't nearly good enough. I was hoping for scum to be better at actual thievery than assassins (assassins are still better at skulking around, flipping out and killing people), and generally at least as good at the social skills as arbitrators, if with a different focus. As it is, they have a niche but it's not nearly big enough. I was hoping if some people here have been in games that throw the scum a bone and let them actually be just as good at their things as others are in theirs.

 

As it is, one of my players is looking into making a more social-oriented character. She's thinking about a cleric, and as much as I wish I could tell her "or you could be a scum" - it doesn't sound like such a great idea. As a cleric, she can be a decent warrior, a jill-of-all-trades or a social machine. A scum could be all of those - just worse.

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 The thing about scum is that they don't really need to choose a speciality. Scum has some advantages which no other class can claim. The biggest of these is medicae at rank two. That's a rank before Adept can even choose to. Scum have a great deal of things they can do, but don't go into a great deal of depth with any of them. Scum is the true jack of all trades class. Its a pity they need in game action or handouts to actually have a great deal of funds.

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SomVone said:

 

The thing about scum is that they don't really need to choose a speciality. Scum has some advantages which no other class can claim. The biggest of these is medicae at rank two. That's a rank before Adept can even choose to. Scum have a great deal of things they can do, but don't go into a great deal of depth with any of them. Scum is the true jack of all trades class. Its a pity they need in game action or handouts to actually have a great deal of funds.

 

 

 

My problem is generally at the middle and higher levels, at low levels no one is sporting all that many skills and bonuses yet. Technically, by the way, tech-priests can also pick medicae at rank 2; ours did. In between cheaper intelligence advances and mechadendrites (they get the medical one soon enough), they tend to do it better - the scum is better suited to be the nurse and give them the cooperation bonuses, though that is still avaluable role ;) . Of course, our TP has almost killed two characters with botched rolls, but that's another story .

 

As for the funds, I don't actually consider it that big of a problem - you're supposed to be the street savvy guy, so chances are you'll be, well, more entrepreneural than most of your companions. While I certainly wouldn't mind if they had a trade skill or two in the first several levels, I don't think it's that big of an issue, especially if the group acts like a team and occasionally pools resources (in our case, the TP needs to return around 250 thrones he borrowed from others to pay for his mechadendrites, and I'm curious when he wil get to that). At least afaik the scum income doesn't overrule the high income you get from being a noble-born.

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As much as I normaly hate unnatural traits, if you play with them I think the Scum should get unnatural Fellowship come ascension.
That would make hin cooler hand give him an edge.

 

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I think people are being a little hard on the Scum class. Scum make superior jacks of all trades, able to pick up really obscure skills that can suddenly prove invaluable in the course of an investigation.

In a game that's run for years and is now at Ascension, our Scum (alongside a Psyker-Inquisitor and a Magos, and formerly allied with an Arbitrator and an Assassin) has always been the face of the party. She is essential for information gathering and charming. Unsurprisingly, the psyker and tech priest fall a little short in that department.

In another game, nearing Ascension, the Scum is a strong combatant (alongside a Cleric, Assassin, Sister of Battle and Psyker) and balances this with some knowledge-based skills and fellowship (no one else has Barter, and that can certainly come in handy). He's gearing up to become an Interrogator, and has definitely earned the position.

I played a Scum for a while myself and found that, at earlier levels, an autogun is a very versatile and capable weapon. Later on, you might upgrade, but starting with an autogun is not to be sniffed at.

Income? At lower levels, it's awful. At higher levels, you're raking in about as much as your Cleric companion. I'd suggest a good GM would also seek to keep the group on a reasonable parity with gear by having the Inquisitor grant occasional favours that could amount to better weapons or armour (and would benefit an already well-equipped noble less than a Scum looking for something special).

I don't see anything wrong with Scum, and if you have a burning desire for a skill or talent, it can be elite advanced if your GM feels it's justifiable. To me, this class beats the pants off Adepts or Guardsmen for sheer versatility, usefulness and - ultimately - roleplaying fun.

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Niqvah said:

I think people are being a little hard on the Scum class. Scum make superior jacks of all trades, able to pick up really obscure skills that can suddenly prove invaluable in the course of an investigation.

In a game that's run for years and is now at Ascension, our Scum (alongside a Psyker-Inquisitor and a Magos, and formerly allied with an Arbitrator and an Assassin) has always been the face of the party. She is essential for information gathering and charming. Unsurprisingly, the psyker and tech priest fall a little short in that department.

In another game, nearing Ascension, the Scum is a strong combatant (alongside a Cleric, Assassin, Sister of Battle and Psyker) and balances this with some knowledge-based skills and fellowship (no one else has Barter, and that can certainly come in handy). He's gearing up to become an Interrogator, and has definitely earned the position.

I played a Scum for a while myself and found that, at earlier levels, an autogun is a very versatile and capable weapon. Later on, you might upgrade, but starting with an autogun is not to be sniffed at.

Income? At lower levels, it's awful. At higher levels, you're raking in about as much as your Cleric companion. I'd suggest a good GM would also seek to keep the group on a reasonable parity with gear by having the Inquisitor grant occasional favours that could amount to better weapons or armour (and would benefit an already well-equipped noble less than a Scum looking for something special).

I don't see anything wrong with Scum, and if you have a burning desire for a skill or talent, it can be elite advanced if your GM feels it's justifiable. To me, this class beats the pants off Adepts or Guardsmen for sheer versatility, usefulness and - ultimately - roleplaying fun.

 

That!

You sir, are a scholar and a gentlemen.

But seriously, Scum is a good career that really "bloom" once you reach rank 6+, but even before that it is still quite balanced. As for the income, well… like Niqvah said, the Inquisitor could give him some gear, upgrade his income, anything and it would be alright. If I was an Inquisitor, one thing I would do if I saw my retinue was good enough to stay alive after a few missions, is to ensure that they are not under-equipped, that works especially for the guy who got no money on him. If he's part of a retinue, it means he is competent, if he is competent, give him more gear so he can be moar useful, simple really. Thing is, some GM are more cruel than others (or more gentle).

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Turtletron said:

That!

You sir, are a scholar and a gentlemen.

Thank you very much. One tries.

Really nice catch from bogi_khaosa on the income change for those with Trade skills. I never noticed that, but it could be very useful in the early ranks for several careers. There are some real gems in the extended skills section of IH.

The only real weakness of Scum that's become apparent in our games is their lack of the Fearless talent. Then again, it's not necessarily apt for the Class and Arbites don't get it either. Of course, there are always Elite Advances, if the player is keen enough on something to put extra xp in, and they have good justification and/or a teacher in character.

Our Ascension-level Scum hasn't Elite Advanced it because it doesn't fit the character's personality, and the lower ranked Scum is waiting to become an Interrogator at Ascension, when all skills and talents are opened up. Again, I wouldn't say it's a big problem. Scum are solid.

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 I think my take on Scum is that it's not what they can do better than anyone else but rather that they can do some of everything. The old saying goes "Jack of all trades master of none". While each class will be better in it's own specialty, there will be things that the scum can do that they can't.

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Radwraith said:

 I think my take on Scum is that it's not what they can do better than anyone else but rather that they can do some of everything. The old saying goes "Jack of all trades master of none". While each class will be better in it's own specialty, there will be things that the scum can do that they can't.

Being a jack of all trades isn't so cool when everyone else in the team has a choice to at least dabble outside their main shtick.

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As always there's the matter of what you want from your character.

I love the scum, it's without a doubt my favorite career in Dark Heresy. in fact my favorite character thus far was a reclaimator scum, going the charlatan route and going saboteur on the way.

It was an absolute joy.

 

But yeah, if the concern is how to be top of the class ability-wise, as a scum, the answer is: play a psyker instead. Scum, like all the other careers, brings alot to the table in terms of roleplaying :)

When an inquisitor puts together an acolyte-cell i always assumed he put these individuals together for different reasons. Each have some trait that aids in the work he wants to see done. In case of the scum, i always assumed they weren't there for what they COULD do, but what they were WILLING TO do.

 

 

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You shouldn't underestimate the value of a Jack of trades character. While the specialties will all fill their Niche best it is unlikely that you will have one of each character class in an acolyte cell. The Scum can fill in where the others come up short. Again-Role-playing people!

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Radwraith said:

You shouldn't underestimate the value of a Jack of trades character. While the specialties will all fill their Niche best it is unlikely that you will have one of each character class in an acolyte cell. The Scum can fill in where the others come up short. Again-Role-playing people!

There are only so many niches you need filled in the group, and almost any career has the ability to fill more than one.

Assassins make great fighters and infiltrators. Adepts are absolute loremasters and quite good at social stuff as well. Tech-Priests are great techies (duh!) and savants, and they handle themselves admirably in combat. Arbitrators are strong fighters but also great at gathering intel. Clerics are social powerhouses, decent combat characters and get their share of lore skills as well - all of this while having no expensive Characteristics at all. The Guardsmen are relatively more focused than the rest, but even then, they get a bunch of potentially useful side skills, including a small share of social stuff, Tech Use, various driving/piloting skills etc. The Psyker can do all of the above, better than anyone else, sometimes even all in one build (minor powers, wtf u so broken).

With a usual group of 4 players, they can easily cover all bases by picking from that list, doubly so if one of them chooses a Psyker.

At this point, the appeal of Scum is only in it's roleplaying aspects. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's clearly not a proper way to design things - why do other careers get both roleplaying potential and mechanical oomph?

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 I have't gotten started with DH just yet, but I am getting keen on starting a group, and the scum was probably one of the characters that intrigued me the most as a GM. What I am hoping to do is set up options for the scum of the group to become a part-time crime lord, and let him run black market rackets as fronts for the Inquisitor. That should help put him on financial parity with the noble characters, and give me a better excuse for slipping him better reward opportunities (and hopefully put him at odds with the Arbitrator). I certainly won't make life too easy for him, but I think that the scum player should be an opportunist, and a GM should always make the environment of the game present challenges and opportunities that allow players to get creative. That in mind, I'm hoping the scum will be the most fun character, at least from a role playing perspective.

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Ahhh the Scum.  I'm glad there's a thread going on this topic.  I'm playing a level 6 Scum (Cutter) along with a level 2 Psyker and Guardsman and a level 8 Cleric (Hierophant).  At first, I wasn't sure how to be useful but now that I've settled in I've found myself to be a high contributing member of the group.  The jack of all trades is pretty handy.  The way my GM plays, our game is fairly difficult.  We've burned plenty of fate points and had several characters die cause they burned all their fate points, lost limbs, been KO'd, been extremely underpowered in a lot of fights.  Point is, our GM wants us to think.  And because stuff happens and some of our characters are out of play at times, it's good to have a backup.  That's where I come in.  I'm not as specialized as any, but I have enough all-around skills to fill in when another character is KO'd/dead/hospitalized, etc.  

  •      The_Shaman- they might not get sneaky as quickly as you like, but I still think you can make the argument that they're one of the sneakiest career paths.  And you're right, they don't have the strongest social skills but I've been a pretty good backup and am now probably the strongest since our Cleric lost 12 Fellowship points when his torso was heavily damaged in a fight.  They might not do double-duty as well as others, but they pull off quadruple-duty better than any other career path
  •      Ritesign- Agreed.  If you have a GM that makes everything readily available from the get-go, then yeah, other career paths that give weapon talents much earlier have an advantage over the scum, but that's not how my GM has played it.  We've been on feudal worlds with only primitive weapons and fighting pits with all our weapons taken away.  We've also been in places where stuff was available but had no TGs cause we'd been robbed or had to spend all our funds on the  last mission.  Also, you mentioned the scums  Underworld talents and my GM has created scenerios where those talents were useful and my Scum was the only one with that advantage.  
  •      SomVone- agreed, medicae at rank 2 is pretty useful, even if they're just providing a cooperation bonus, which, as The_Shaman pointed out, is a valuable role.  
  •     Niqvah- My scum is also the only character with the Barter skill.  They've become a strong combatant, too, though at first all they could really do was dodge.  Also, not having the Fearless talent hasn't been much of a handicap for me but that's probably cause I have a base 37 WP and our Cleric (who is the cell's prime) has the Iron Discipline talent.
  •     TurtleTron- I agree, I think my Scum is really starting to "bloom"now that he's rank 6.
  •     Adeptus-B- Exactly

As far as income goes...

  •     Brother Siouxahn- Great point!  The scum has access to the Underworld, take advantage of that!  They are perfectly suited to becoming a part-time crime lord, all for the Inquisition, of course.  A scum is definitely an opportunist.  They come from nothing, they had no hand-outs, so they had to jump on any opportunities they could get.
  •     Adeptus-B- Exactly 

One of the first things I did was increase my agility.  I'm now at 50 Ag, my Sleight of Hand is +10 and I usually set up a mark so that I have another member of the cell distract them while I'm stealing from them which gives me bonuses.  I've made a lot of money pick pocketing.  With a multikey I can roll Security at 80.  I've made a lot of money being a burglar.  With my Peer(Underworld) and Common Lore(Underworld) I got a connection with a fence.  I set up a scam with my Cleric where we go to museums and galleries and examine priceless items and their certificates of authenticity.  We then go to flea markets, thrift stores, street vendors and find cheap knockoffs.  Our Cleric has the Trade:Copyist skill and makes fake certificates of authenticity for these items and then we sell them to the fence.  This has been a great source of income.  So, with some creativity, some cleverness, and if you don't simply rely on the Acolytes income, a scum can make plenty of gelts.

Alternative tank-  Another thing about my scum is his unparalleled dodging ability.  As I said before, one of the first things I spent xp on was Agility.  And the Scum can train Dodge at rank 1.  The only other career path that can do that is Assassin which automatically starts with Dodge being trained.  Then, Scum can get Dodge+10 at rank 4 and Dodge+20 at rank 6 if you take the Cutter path.  Plus, I have the Step Aside talent which allows me 2 dodges per round.  My scum is almost impossible to hit.  In affect, I'm alternative to a tank.  Instead of the character that attracts attention, takes hit after hit and just soaks it all up,my Scum attracts attention and then simply can't be hit.  Oh yeah, I also have BS at 40, Quick Draw, Hard Target, Sprint, Deadeye Shot, Sharpshooter, Marksman, Armsmaster, and Acrobatics so he makes for one heck of a gunfighter. 

I'll admit, at lower levels, it was pretty tough for my Scum at times.  I often felt useless.  They fact that when I joined, the other two characters were both rank 5 didn't help.  But I appreciate that now cause I think it made me a much smarter player.

 

Praise be to the God-Emperor and the Imperium of Man.

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I'll add one point here, which is that the Scum's generalist nature REALLY makes them a power play character in smaller parties. In my first campaign, our party consisted of only three characters. For those saying: "well just get other characters to cover different niche's", in a two or three person party, it's doubtful you'll be able to cover the same breadth of niche's as the Scum does overall. Additionally, early game, the Scum gets some very good early game perception (Awareness+10 at rank 1 and Deceive+10 at rank 2), that few enough careers can actually keep up with. Plus in the early game, the Scum can start with an autogun which my group continuously struggles to balance encounters around, especially once the Scum gets access to custom ammo like Manstopper rounds and feats like Mighty Shot. 

 

Are they outdone in SPECIFIC catagories? Probably, so there's probably little need for a Scum in a party of 5+ players, and they'd probably be the fallback guy in a party of 4. 

 

But in parties of 2-3 players, they're pretty absurd due to their flexibility. 

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