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A Great Big Book of Everything teaches, well, everything. A Big Book of War teaches details on how to deal with, well, war. Then there is this book, or this set of rules. Usually Played for Laughs, it teaches pirates, thieves, less savory people, scoundrels in general and those that want to be more like said scoundrels how to behave for their best gain. Its suggestions and rules are usually less than ethical, when not outright illegal. Less savory anti-heroes and other protagonists will often quote it. Antagonists will quote it less often.

Depending on the society in a Planet of Hats, this kind of list can actually be a central tenet of its culture. Due to its nature, the people that follow such a code tend to be good or amoral. Evil characters may consider it as advice, but ignore it for profit. A chaotic character may lack the discipline to follow it, or may prefer to improvise. Lawful folks won't usually follow such a code unless said code is the cultural norm. The Lovable Rogue and others of the Trickster Archetype are prone to following this kind of code. It is always dangerous to count on someone following the scoundrel's code and many even instruct their followers to ignore the rules for results.

Compare Honor Among Thieves, which is an actual moral code for the criminal or unsavory. Also compare the Evil Overlord List, a meta/Genre Savvy version of this for evil overlords.

Examples of Scoundrel Code include:


  • The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, in Schlock Mercenary.
  • The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, Star Trek.
  • Star Wars: Han Solo's mentor Roa has Roa's Rules: Never ignore a call from help, steal only from those richer than you, never play cards unless you're prepared to lose, don't pilot under the influence, and always be prepared to make a quick getaway.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Pirates' Code (Or Pirata Codex) is one. Also patently silly, since freedom from authority is one of the main reasons for being a pirate in the first place. This is probably why they are rarely hesitant to stray from it, so long as Captain Teague isn't in the room.
  • Hustle often refers to 'the Grifter's Code'.
  • Dexter has the Code of Harry.
  • In Casino, Ace Rothstein talks about his soon-to-be wife Ginger following "the Hustlers' Code" -- basically, making sure that she pays off everyone who is in a position to help her carry out her profession as a high-class prostitute, so they have an incentive to do so.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons d20 System Reference Documents have variant rules for an "honour" system which can include this sort of moral code as guidelines for characters to follow. In said SRD are included the Thieves' Code and the Mafia's Omerta -- both of which mix Honor Among Thieves and Scoundrel Code.
  • The many variations of the Pirate's Code.
  • GURPS offers a Pirate's Code of Honor in addition to the more standard types. It is, needless to say, less restrictive.
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