Body Counting

A scoring system for the Great American Tradition

If you're at all like we are, you hear the occasional news reports about another killing spree somewhere-- a day trader here, an obsessed computer geek there, postal workers everywhere-- and you think, ehhh, this guy wasn't as good as that other whacko. But then you think about it some more and you find that it's so hard to decide who's really been doing the best work. What really makes for a good homicidal rampage?

We've got our own opinions, and we can even quantify them. So here's how we score a killing spree.

NOTE: This is only intended for public killing sprees in which numerous victims are quickly taken over time, but within a single day. It is NOT for use in scoring:

This scoring system is for killing sprees and rampages. Everything else is just mass murder.

Jump directly to example scores

Base points:

1 point for each kill

0.5 point for each wounded
"Wounded" is defined as an injury that requires professional medical attention. Running around the workplace and punching everyone really hard in the shoulder doesn't count. Just about any injury produced by a "real" weapon (gun, knife, grenade) will, however.
Double value for each instance where the victim was armed,
or of equal threat to the killer (such as armed military
personnel and cops)
A schoolyard full of children or a conference room full of pudgy software engineers may jerk every heart string from Maine to Baja California, but we're more impressed by the sort of killer who can take out targets who are at least his equal. Pick on someone your own size, mister Hunter Killer, and we will salute you.

No doubt many others would give preferential status to such targets as "children" or "nuns", but we believe that the most worthy victims are those that require true skill-- targets that demonstrate the superior workmanship of the killer.

Triple value for a victim with celebrity status.
That being said, I think we can all agree that it's pretty impressive to bag someone famous, whether they're political, entertainment industry, or whatever. If the nation or world already knew one of the victims before they were killed or wounded, they count triple. (Remember, of course, the 'three or more victims' clause-- stabbing one celebrity to death doesn't meet the minimum requirements of a "spree". As far as we know, there haven't been any true rampages that can claim these points.)
Triple value for any victim who was killed with something
other than a gun or explosive.
Guns are easy and simple and widely available if you live in a country that constitutionally protects your right to do whatever the fuck you want with them, so they are typically the tool of choice. Explosives are less simple and available, but they are also able to take victims without much work. But a good bludgeoning, stabbing, defenestration, or other murder form requires some real effort. You have to get in there and really go at it. In short, you have to really care about your work.

If there is a mix of kills with a non-gun weapon and handgun-only kills (see the Handgun Only multiplier below), apply the x2 modifier to the handgun kills, the x3 modifier to the non-gun kills, and then apply all other modifiers (put down like a dog, etc.) to the sum of the separate gun and non-gun amounts.

Note that non-gun wounds are not triple-scored. They are only worth the usual 0.5 points each.

(We never expected the celebrity and/or non-gun multipliers to ever really see use. Imagine our surprise when we got examples of both in the same week! First, there was the crown prince of Nepal shooting the entire royal family, and a few days later there was the crazy guy with a knife in Tokyo.)

Minor bonus modifiers:

These bonuses add a little bit of score, and are awarded to those killers who really show that they put some work into it. Each of these is a cumulative multiplier, so if all three apply, for example, the initial point total is increased by 25%, then that new total is increased by 25% (+56.25% total), then that total is once again increased by 25% (for a total increase of 95.3125%).

+25% total points for stylistic brilliance
Guy shows up at work with a duffel bag full of guns. He starts shooting people. Some die. Fine-- it gets the job done. But sometimes a killer goes that extra step... that little stylistic oomph that lets you know they were someone special, whether it's the slickness of their getaway, the way they chose their victims, or the brilliance of their suicide note. The style bonus is only awarded once, not one time for each stylistically clever element in the rampage.
+25% total points for escaping the scene of the rampage
Even if they decided to kill themselves later, or were tracked down and taken custody, any rampager that manages to slip away from the scene of the destruction and elude law enforcement at least initially gets a bonus.
+25% total points for having to be killed in order to stop
We call this the "put down like a dog" bonus. Some killers eventually peter out and fall into the hands of police. Others eventually cave into the realization that they've done a horrible thing and take their own life. But we reward those who stick to it-- killers who refused to be quitters! Note that being captured against your will does not count.

Major bonus modifiers:

These are highly subjective modifiers, I admit, and they reflect our own personal tastes. It was not without much debate and careful consideration that we finally settled on these as our pinnacles of acheivment, but we feel that the mark of true craftsmanship deserves due reward.

x2 total points if the killer only used handguns
Pistols tend to have smaller magazine capacities and lower rates of fire than larger firearms. They also have less effective range, meaning the killer has to be pretty close to all the victims. Anyone can clear a room of life with a 12-gauge shotgun, but it takes a special kind of hunter to do the same thing with a pair of .45 Colts or (even more impressively, in the 1986 spree of Campo Delgado) a single .38 revolver.
x2 total points if everyone that was attacked was killed
While we enjoy chaos, we truly value efficiency, and while wounded victims are worth some points, the real secret to genius lies in making sure you do the job right. If every one of the killer's victims dies, it's a truly special rampage. The wounded stick around to file lawsuits. They live to produce soundbites for CNN. They end up making handy poster children for new legislation. Survivors, in short, suck. We call this modifier the "efficiency bonus".
x2 total points if you totally get away with it
If the killer not only escapes the scene of the rampage, but then forever eludes police and is never brought to justice, drop the +25% "escaped the scene" bonus and instead implement a x2 total bonus. To the best of our knowledge, this has never happened in a public rampage shooting, but there's always hope (we're crossing our fingers on the guy in Seattle). If the killer is ever apprehended later, no matter how much later, their x2 modifier should be dropped and replaced with the previous +25% "escaped the scene" bonus.

(In doing further research, it turns out that a man named James Dunham killed six people with an ax and two handguns in 1896, and totally escaped. Everyone knew who did it, and though rumors persisted of him being seen here or there around California for years, he was never apprehended. He falls somewhat short of the criteria for scoring as a murder spree, however, as it was not particularly in a public place; it was a relatively isolated target area, a private farm. Still, if he were scored, Dunham's total-- including handgun only, non-gun kills, and efficiency bonuses-- would be somewhere around a respectable 48 points!)


-50% total points for taking your own life afterwards
Nothing is more pathetic than deciding, eventually, to opt out of having to deal with the consequences of the horrible actions one has just taken-- except maybe deciding to opt out and then failing. Suicide (even attempted but failed suicide) is to be punished harshly. If you are unwilling to stand by your actions and face the consequences (which are sure to be quite severe), you don't deserve to be remembered.

We debated, strongly, the case of "officer-assisted suicide", where the killer chooses to end their own life by deliberately doing something that will expose them to lethal retaliation from, say, law-enforcement. While the motivation may ultimately be a cowardly desire to escape consequence, it can be very difficult to tell whether such an act is deliberate suicide or the consequence of solid police work, and the actual action itself-- charging armed police officers knowing that they will shoot you down-- is inherently a ballsier and more cinematically pleasing one than putting a gun to one's own head. Ultimately, we decided that it does contain enough bravery-- what we like to think of as "American spirit"-- to earn the benefit of the doubt. Charging deliberately into hostile gunfire to end your own life should be rewarded with the "put down like a dog" bonus instead of the suicide penalty.

Note that there is no penalty or reward for being captured, or for turning yourself in. Except for, probably, multiple life sentences or the death penalty.

-100% total points if you rampaged because of us
Wait, we take that back: There is one thing more pathetic than suicide, and that is doing something just because you think someone told you to. If you go on a rampage because you saw this page and thought it would be cool to go for the high score, you are the worst kind of nobody and you will get absolutely zero points. Zero. We won't even put your name on our page.

Aftermath bonus:

+ half-value kill and wound points for anyone killed or injured
  as a direct result of your actions, after the spree itself has
This is a pretty rare bonus, and sometimes it can be very hard to determine and apply, but there are instances of secondary death and injury that was not directly caused by the killer. Two sorts of examples here are people who kill themselves in the wake of the killer's actions (there was one of these post-Columbine, as will be seen in the example set), or people killed and injured in panicked rioting after or during the killing spree (as occured in Baruch Goldstein's rampage in Hebron).

These deaths and injuries are worth 1/2 of whatever they would normally be worth (including 'armed target' and 'celebrity' value), and the point value is applied outside the other modifiers (bonuses and suicide penalties). Thus, a person injured in the aftermath of a rampage would be worth 1/4 of a point.

Now click here to see some real life examples of scoring

Feedback on the Body Counting Score System can be sent to Additional data on any of the specific historical cases we list is always welcome. Opinions and expressions of outrage are fine if they amuse us.

Dan's home page
Body Counting score system copyright (c) 2000-2002 by Crisper, Weebie, Pweent, and Ruin

Rules revision: v1.1: 14 Jun 2001