Never Tell Me the Odds (NTMO) is a fast-playing sci-fi adventure story, full of desperate and hilarious risks and rewards. Think of Han Solo relying on a hyperdrive that keeps shorting out, Starbuck going all in when she really shouldn’t, or Mal Reynold’s last-ditch gambits never quite paying off. NTMO is filled with laughter and pathos as your scoundrels make bigger and bigger bets, going up against higher and higher stakes, all in pursuit of saving whatever matters most to them.
In NTMO, you don’t assign any numbers to your scoundrel when you’re creating them. You don’t add traits or apply abilities to affect your ability to succeed. Instead, your scoundrel is built on what matters most to them, and you decide what it is you’re willing to risk when you come up against a check. The odds are always 50/50—NTMO can be played with a coin flip instead of dice. Ready to risk a lot? Your outcome might improve—or you might lose something that really matters to your character. You can always choose to play it safe, of course… but fortune favors the bold. Just remember: It’s not about whether you succeed or fail, it’s what you risk along the way.
Try It Out!
You can play Never Tell Me the Odds now—the beta playtest version is free right here! Grab a copy and risk it all today!
If Never Tell Me the Odds exceeds its goal, we have lots of exciting stretch goals to make your copy more awesome, including new art and new content! Goals for $1–10K are listed below, but more will be added if we smash these!
About the Book
This Kickstarter is to release the PDF version of the full NTMO book, including species, specialties, location generators, faction details, creature creators, and more! Check out the full table of contents:
Become a Scoundrel
In NTMO, you play a space-scoundrel. Character creation takes only a few minutes, but creates deep scoundrels, driven by their values and desires. Start by choosing an identity for your character.
The book includes...
- 12 FACTIONS to inspire your original character concept: Good Society, Hypervikings, the Order of the Stars, Space-Nihilists, the Galactic Congress, the Iron Imperium, the Merchant’s League, the Slime Mob, Sci-Tech Incorporated, the Sprawn, the Revolutionary Allegiance, and Black$ail.
- 6 SPECIES, including 6 unique alien types: Human, Cyborg, Android, Robot, Sentient Animal, and Alien (Bug, Beast, Elemental, Ghost, Psychic, and Slime).
- 12 SPECIALTIES, each with their own unique strength: Bounty Hunter, Brawler, Burglar, Drifter, Gambler, Gunslinger, Hacker, Heartbreaker, Impostor, Peculiar, Smuggler, and Swindler.
Each faction, species, and specialty will come with their own advantages, as well as inspiration and ideas for quickly building your unique character.
To finish building your scoundrel, choose what matters most to your scoundrel. Will reputation be most important to them? Relationships? Maybe they’re driven by one core belief, or maybe they’re vain about their physique, or greedy and materialistic. These choices, called factors, should be specific, but they don’t need to be overly detailed. Here are some examples, and the book has hundreds more, tailor-made for different types of scoundrels:
- BELIEF (what you stand for): “I’m the luckiest idiot in the galaxy” “Honor gets you killed” “You always gotta repay your debts” “Don’t be a hero” “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you” etc.
- PHYSIQUE (how you're built): Athletic, Gorgeous, Nimble, Intimidating, Built Like a Brick House, Incredibly Tall, Inconspicuous, Well-Groomed, etc.
- POSSESSION (what you have): Laser gun, Spaceship, Lucky dice, Personal communicator, Fake I.D., Medical kit, Navy uniform, Translator, Spacesuit, Tracking device, Robot sidekick, etc.
- RELATIONSHIP (who you care about): Partner, Parent, Sibling, Ex, Friend, Crush, Roommate, Classmate, Mentor, Student, Colleague, Employer, Neighbor, Ally, etc.
- REPUTATION (what you're known for): Best pilot in the galaxy, Best gambler you’ve ever seen, A perfect shot, The ultimate charmer, Someone you wouldn’t want to mess with, etc.
- RESOURCE (what you know): Secret bank account, An old favor, Blackmail material, Stolen data, Book of card tricks, Criminal contact, Corrupt official, etc.
That's it! You're ready to play.
Once the action is underway, you’ll reach a point where you have to decide what your scoundrel is going to do in a situation with uncertain outcomes. When you reach a check, the storyteller, or Risk Moderator (RM), explains how risky the situation is. There are three options:
- High risk situations: Incredibly tense or difficult conditions with extreme outcomes, like trying to leap across a chasm, saying the perfect thing to comfort a grieving widow, engaging in combat with a deadly psychic warrior, or attempting a spacewalk to repair a ship as it spins towards a black hole.
- Moderate risk situations: Situations where the outcome matters but mistakes aren’t deadly, like negotiating a deal, sneaking out of an airlock without being noticed, punching a brawler in a barfight, or charting a safe course through hostile terrain.
- Low risk situations: Low-stakes situations where not much will be lost by failure, like trying to impress a potential client, executing a correct docking procedure, playing a game of chance that’s fixed in your favor, or intimidating a cowardly bureaucrat.
When the RM describes a check, choose a single factor, and telling the table what it is and why it fits the check. It’s up to you and the RM to work out how the factor is appropriate to the check. If you can’t think of a reason that any of your factors apply to a check, consider allowing one of your crewmates to handle the check instead.
When taking a risk and rolling dice, you can choose whether to downplay the risk (choosing to venture something you don't care much about), match it, or exceed it (risking something of great value). You can think of this as applying how much your scoundrel cares about a situation. If you exceed a risk, you'll always succeed, but you might endanger what you care about most.
Whose Galaxy Is This, Anyway?
It's yours! Never Tell Me the Odds comes with ideas for a dozen factions you can build into your game, as well as ships, planets, civilizations, and aliens you might encounter on your interstellar travels.
But these are made to echo and reflect classic space opera tropes. You can play NTMO as a system to explore your favorite space-franchise, in a steampunk-flavored future, in a gritty cyberpunk alternate reality, or any world you choose. The worldbuilding tools are there for you to use if you want—but it's your galaxy!
The Project Team
THE DESIGNER: David Somerville is the creator of Vast: The Crystal Caverns, Lightning & Bolt, and micro-RPGs like Accio Hogwarts. He's currently living and working on the road in an RV as he and his family travel America in search of a home. It's a whole thing.
Risks and challenges
Given that this project is entirely digital, challenges are few! The game is made, and we'll be hiring a professional copyeditor to make sure everything is incredibly clear and useful.
The biggest challenge to delivering on time would be late art—but should art become a bottleneck, our team is prepared to offer a pre- and post-art version, allowing a second download after the art finalizes for those who back at the $10+ level.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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