The first scummed suffered hardship and a traumatic experience as a child, and now she’s out to make the world a better place. But in her mind, the way to accomplish her goal involves drastic actions that puts many people in danger.
I’ve decided the first scummed that players of One Shot RPG will be facing is a human woman from Earth. I haven’t given her a name yet, so she’ll be referred to simply as “the scummed” for now.
The scummed comes from a poor family. To be poor on Earth means that her family chose to work for a smaller company, one that cares a little more about people—so is less profitable. Growing up, the family struggled with being food independent, and she would often go hungry for periods of time. Her community refused to help the family, their reasoning is that because the family chose to make less money, they deserved to not be able to afford food. The family, wanting to take matters into their own hand, decided to grow their own food.
Growing your own food isn’t easy when one of Earth’s mega corporations is the food industry. The corporation has the copyright on life for almost all edible plants. When someone wants to grow their own food, they must pay a licensing fee to the company to use their protected intellectual property. If the license fee isn’t paid, the corporation can sue for damages, enough to bankrupt a family. To avoid the fees, people must grow unprotected plants (natural plants). But years of habitat loss, reduced biodiversity, gene flow, and a sponsored campaign to destroy all naturally occurring plants, means that it’s impossible to find an unprotected plant. If someone manages to find unprotected plants, it doesn’t matter, because the company sends agents to threaten the family and destroy their property, then sues anyways. Resistance is futile.
The scummed’s family were desperate, however, and risked growing their own food. Whether the plants were protected or unprotected doesn’t matter, because their neighbors ratted them out. Only a child, she experienced agents forcing their way into her home and destroying the family’s property and garden. Her parents tried to fight the agents off, but they retaliated with excessive force, seriously injuring her parents. They even threatened her with physical violence. The experience left its mark on her, and she grew up with a fierce sense of purpose. She was going to stop the tyranny of the food corporation. When scummed entered the solar system, the substance had the perfect target.
The scummed’s primary goal is to develop her own line of food, one that’s free from the grasp of the food corporation that assaulted her family. She has been spending her time learning about genetic engineering, and set about Earth and the other planets to find plants that are unprotected by the company’s intellectual property rights. Once she has developed something viable, she plans on open sourcing the species, making sure that no family will ever have to go through what she did as a child.
But, as a scummed, her worldview is twisted. She knows that simply having the plants and making them available is not enough. She needs to shut down the company’s operations, starting with its farms. She has taken over a farm, planning to destroy machinery, poison food, and assault workers, even if she knows that she’d be harming other families and that children may starve like she did. She views the consequences as a short-term necessary evil. A short-term disruption of the food supply is the price society will pay to gain access to food independence.
Reasons to Kill, Cure, Leave Alone
One of the big decisions players have to make at the end of the RPG one shot is to decide how they want to deal with the scummed. They can decide to kill, cure, or leave her to her own devices. Each options has its own benefits and drawbacks, which makes it a tough decision.
The scummed is certainly doing bad things and must be stopped. She’s going to be killing innocent workers throughout the horror adventure. She’s going to destroy property, harm animals, poison food, and make families starve, all because of a traumatic event in her childhood. But she’s not necessarily evil; she has pure intentions at heart, and the substance is clouding her judgement. Scum has driven her to insanity.
The party could attempt to cure the scummed. First the players have to sympathize with the woman, letting her win and fulfill her wishes. The characters would need to help her poison the food supply, knowing that it’s going to make innocent families sick. Next the players would have to be content with dooming someone nearby to the same monstrous fate. An innocent worker may be the next to become a scummed, or it may be an agent sent to control the situation. The next scummed’s desire to cause harm may be greater than the present scummed.
The players can agree that what the scummed is doing is right. That the company deserves to be toppled, that having a supply of open source food will benefit society, despite the short-term drawbacks. They could view the workers as deserving of their fate—they willingly work for a company that is extremely corrupt. If left alone, the scummed has the power and enough drive to go after the next farm, and the next. She’ll be able to do a lot of damage to the company before being taken down, probably from special forces hired by the corporation. The game master may even make her quest successful. Either way, if the party does nothing, then there’s both benefits and drawbacks.