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NEVER TELL ME

THE
THE SPACE-
SCOUNDREL RPG
ABOUT
RISKING
IT ALL
ODDS

DAVID
BY

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL


SOMERVILLE
1
2 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
NEVER
DAVID SOMERVILLE’S

TELL ME
THE
INSIDE COVER

ODDS
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 3
To Jeff, who taught me the joys
of strange RPGs.

© 2019 David Somerville. All Rights


Reserved. Never Tell Me the Odds
and NTMO are trademarks of David
Somerville.

Author
David Somerville

Illustrator
Michael Lee Harris
Also featuring the art of Grandfailure
Inside cover art by Ömer Tunç

Editor
Dustin Schwartz

Playtesters
Jeremy D. Kleinhans, Amy
Kuchenbecker, Kyle Kuchenbecker,
Justin Marshall, Gary Mayes, Andrew
McCully, Andrei Pricope, Bryan Scott,
Beau Severson, Scott Somerville,
Jared Williams, Rachel Williams,
and Zac Wilson

4 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


CONTENTS
001. Introduction ���������������������������������������������������������������������6 Specialties ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Overview ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Bounty Hunter �������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Stories in NTMO ���������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Brawler ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
A Normal Game ���������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Burglar ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Drifter ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
002. Getting Started �������������������������������������������������������������10 Gambler ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Gather Your Crew ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 Gunslinger ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Create Your Scoundrel ����������������������������������������������������������� 13 Hacker ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Overview ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 Heartbreaker ����������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Identity ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 Impostor ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Values and Factors ������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Peculiar ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������42
That’s It! ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Smuggler �������������������������������������������������������������������������������42
Swindler �������������������������������������������������������������������������������42
003. How to Play ���������������������������������������������������������������������16 Factions ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������42
Start a Story ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18
Take a Risk ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18 006. Moderator Tools ����������������������������������������������������������44
Handling Checks ����������������������������������������������������������������� 19 Exciting Beginnings ���������������������������������������������������������������� 46
Match the Risk ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 High Stakes �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 46
Go Over ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 Stories ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 46
Go Under �������������������������������������������������������������������������������20 Factions �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 46
Risking Lives �������������������������������������������������������������������������20 Good Society �����������������������������������������������������������������������47
Modified Risks ���������������������������������������������������������������������20 Hypervikings ���������������������������������������������������������������������� 48
Roll the Die ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������20 The Order of the Stars ������������������������������������������������������ 50
Secured ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21 Space-Nihilists ���������������������������������������������������������������������52
Endangered ������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21 The Galactic Congress �����������������������������������������������������53
Lost ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21 The Iron Imperium �������������������������������������������������������������55
Determine the Outcome ������������������������������������������������������� 21 The Merchant League �������������������������������������������������������57
The Slime Mob ���������������������������������������������������������������������58
004. Situational Rules ���������������������������������������������������������22 Sci-Tech Incorporated ������������������������������������������������������ 60
Combat �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 The Sprawn ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 61
Cooperation �������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 The Alliance of Revolt �������������������������������������������������������62
Conditions �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Black$ail �������������������������������������������������������������������������������63
Space-Magic, Psionics, Superpowers, Etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Locations ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 64
Replacing Factors ���������������������������������������������������������������������25 Planet or Moon ������������������������������������������������������������������ 64
Between Adventures ���������������������������������������������������������������25 Civilization ���������������������������������������������������������������������������65
Ship or Station ���������������������������������������������������������������������65
005. Scoundrel Tools ������������������������������������������������������������ 26 Space Phenomenon ���������������������������������������������������������� 66
Species �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28 Creatures �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������67
Human �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������29
Cyborg ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 30 Appendix: Scoundrel Sheet ����������������������������������������������68
Robot �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������33
Android ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������34
Sentient Animal ����������������������������������������������������������������� 37
Alien ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������38

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 5


INTRODUCTION

YOU ARE A SPACEFARING SCOUNDREL.


You’ve blasted, cheated, swindled,
double-crossed, charmed, and hyper-
jumped your way across HALF THE GALAXY.
But now, you’ve made a few bad decisions
and gotten into some REAL TROUBLE.
The one thing in all the universe that
you really care about is in terrible danger,
and keeping it safe might require
the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. Are you desperate
enough to risk everything you have to
SAVE WHAT MATTERS MOST?

001.

6
INTROD
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
DUCTION
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 7
About RPGs
If you’ve never played a tabletop ting, no-nonsense alien bruiser. You could
role-playing game before, thank you so ask yourself, “What if I was a big, dumb
much for picking up Never Tell Me the alien whose favorite activity was hitting
Odds! We’re so glad you’re reading this. problems until they went away?” You tell
The book in your hand assumes some the moderator what you want to do, and
familiarity with these kinds of games, so the game keeps going as your answer is
let’s explain a few things before we go too rolled into the story.
much further. Tabletop role-playing games Speaking of rolling, dice are usually
(also called TTRPGs or just RPGs for short) (but not always) part of tabletop RPGs.
are games built around the idea of a group They’re used to decide what happens
getting together and asking “what if?” when somebody says “what if?” Without
For example: “What if zombies dice, you are little more than kids yelling
attacked us right now?” “What if we lived on the playground: “I tagged you!” “Did
in a fantasy world?” “What if we were not!” Dice are a fair and fun way of deter-
awesome alien space pirates?” mining the results of different “what if?”
These “what if?” questions form the questions.
basis of play. To make it more of a game Different systems use different dice.
and less of an open-ended conversation Some add multiple dice together or have
(although those are great too), a few basic bonuses you can add to the outcomes of
conventions are put in place. One person the rolls, depending on what your char-
volunteers to be the moderator. They’re acter is trying to do. Many games feature
usually called the game moderator (GM) rules that help characters grow and get
or dungeon master (DM) or, in NTMO, stronger over the course of the story.
the risk moderator (RM). Their job is to ask Often, in a tabletop RPG, you’ll
“what if?” and make sense of the answers encounter something called a check. That’s
the group gives back, turning a series of what happens when someone wants to
“what if?” questions into a story. Everyone take an action in the game, and the moder-
else takes on a specific role in the “what ator asks them to roll a die to find out the
if?” story. For example, in NTMO, every- result. The moderator then works with the
one besides the RM takes on the role of a player to find out what occurs as a result
space scoundrel. of that roll, and play progresses.
So then when the moderator says Now that you know about moderators,
something like, “What if the evil Galac- “what if?” questions, and checks, you’re
tic Emperor sent his goons after your ship, ready to begin! Of course, this is all only
which is chock-full of highly sensitive scratching the surface of how RPGs work.
contraband?”, you think about not what If you have more questions or want to dive
you would do, but what the particular deeper, the internet is bristling with people
space scoundrel whose role you’re taking who would love to welcome you into the
on would do. hobby. We recommend reddit.com/r/rpg
Maybe you’re a brilliant and sensitive as an especially welcoming, inclusive, and
artist in real life but, just for fun, you’ve knowledgeable community that will show
decided to take on the role of a hard-hit- you the ropes.

8 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


OVERVIEW The Joy of Losing
Never Tell Me the Odds (NTMO) is a fast tabletop role-playing game
Everything
about risking everything to save what matters most. In NTMO, you
take on the role of a space scoundrel. You’ve gotten into some trou- We recommend enjoying the
ble, and it’s going to take a lot of stone-cold risk-taking to rescue feeling of things unraveling as the
what you really care about. odds stack up against you. Never
NTMO can be played with one person taking on the role of risk forget, the characters in NTMO
moderator (RM) and one or more other players taking on the roles are space scoundrels; more often
of player characters (PCs). All you need is a scoundrel sheet for each than not, they’ve brought what-
character, some pencils or pens, and a little time. ever dangers they’re facing down
upon their own heads. If only
they’d stayed on the farm for one
STORIES IN NTMO more season and helped their
uncle bring in the harvest…
NTMO is designed to be 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 Reynolds attempting last-ditch gambits
Campaign Play
that never quite pay off. The swaggering space scoundrels of NTMO
might value the wrong things, but they’re sincere in their pursuit of It’s possible to play NTMO as a
them, no matter how much bravado they hide behind. short campaign if you want, using
A game of NTMO is usually filled with laughter and pathos as your these optional rules:
scoundrels make bigger and bigger bets, going up against higher and For each adventure in which
higher stakes, all in pursuit of saving whatever matters most to them. your scoundrel survives, you earn
one point.
You may spend points to add
A NORMAL GAME new factors to your scoundrel.
Low-importance factors cost one
NTMO is a one-shot game, built to be played over the course of a
point each, medium-importance
single three- to four-hour adventure. In a normal game, you’ll find
factors cost two points each, and
your scoundrels risking everything they have and often coming apart
high-importance factors cost three
at the seams. Your scoundrel might die suddenly — in NTMO, death is
points each. A scoundrel may
always just a few bad decisions away — so it’s worth thinking about
have a maximum of three factors
a backup scoundrel, just in case.
per value (for a maximum of 18
In NTMO, your odds are always exactly fifty-fifty. You don’t add
factors total).
anything or apply special skills to affect your ability to succeed.
If your scoundrel dies and you
Rather, you decide what it is you’re willing to risk on a given check.
want to introduce a new scoun-
Ready to risk a lot? Your outcome might improve — or you might lose
drel, you can do so with the same
something that really matters to you. You can always choose to play
number of factors and points as
it safe, of course … but that comes with its own drawbacks, as fortune
others in your crew.
favors the bold. For now, just remember that it’s not about whether
Note to the RM: Crews with
you succeed or fail, it’s what you risk along the way.
lots of extra factors will have a
very easy time of it unless the chal-
lenge increases significantly and
many more high risks are faced.
Plan accordingly. The fastest that
a scoundrel could be “maxed out”
is in 24 adventures, so we recom-
mend running your campaign for
no longer than that.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 9


GETTING STARTED

GETTIN
STARTED
002.

10 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


NG
D
“It’s not my fault!”
—HAN SOLO

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 11


Safety Protocols Knock.1 Establish a convention where
a light knock on the table by any player can
You wouldn’t fly into the vacuum of space
indicate a desired redirection of the story if
without fully functional life support, and you
it’s veering into uncomfortable territory. With
shouldn’t you play an RPG without setting up
the knock technique, all players understand
some basic rules to make sure everyone has
that the knock should be respected, not ques-
a good time. Because these games run on
tioned, and the story can keep flowing with
imagination, and imagination is powerful, we
minimal interruption.
recommend a couple of techniques to safe-
Script Change.2 This technique suggests
guard the well-being of your fellow players,
putting three cards in the center of the table
especially if playing in a more intense setting
with “pause,” “rewind,” and “fast forward”
or with strangers. These tools are not origi-
written on them. During the game, anyone
nal to NTMO, but we fully embrace them as
can reach out and tap a card to affect the
part of our game. Choose whichever of these
flow of play. “Pause” is a way of asking for
works best for your group, or come up with
a break in the action, allowing players to
your own solutions — but no matter what,
step away from the table. “Rewind” reverses
remember to be kind to each other.
what just happened and allows the group
(including the RM) to rewrite the scene, which
1. We first encountered is useful if things have become uncomfort-
this technique in Kids able or accidentally crossed a player’s line.
on Bikes, by Jonathan “Fast forward” moves on past story beats
Gilmour and Doug by letting the scene fade to black, allowing
Levandowski. events to transpire in-game without dwelling
2. This technique was on them.
created by Brie Sheldon.
More information
can be found at
tinyurl.com/nphed7m

12 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


GATHER YOUR CREW
NTMO is best played in the company of a crew of space scoundrels
ready to take risks together. Start by finding one or more other
players. Someone will need to volunteer (or be nominated) as the
risk moderator (RM). Everyone — but especially the RM — should
read these rules thoroughly and be prepared to interpret them as
you play.
For the best experience, we recommend two to five scoundrels
at the table, although you can play with just one scoundrel and an
RM, if you so choose.
Start off by creating your scoundrels. Decide how they know each
other or how their paths are about to cross. Talk about the kind of
game you want to play and the sort of universe you want to inhabit.
NTMO is an easy system to adapt, so whether you model your game
on your favorite sci-fi movie or TV show or come up with a wholly
original setting is entirely up to you!

CREATE YOUR SCOUNDREL


Each player beside the RM will take on the role of a space scoundrel. The RM Is a Player, Too!
Grab a copy of the scoundrel sheet (page 69) and start filling it in.
Remember that the RM is a player,
and it is each player’s responsibil-
Overview ity to make sure that everyone else
You don’t assign any numbers to your scoundrel when you’re creat-
at the table is having as much fun
ing them, which is unlike many RPGs. Instead, the sheet is all about
as possible.
defining what matters most to your scoundrel. You’ll see that some
Scoundrels, try to set the RM
lines have check boxes that can be filled in. Those will be important
at ease by respecting their rulings,
during the game, but you don’t have to worry about them now; they
encouraging their storytelling
all start empty.
ability, following their lead, and
being honest about what’s fun (or
Identity frustrating) at the table.
These are fundamental choices you’ll make to give your scoundrel
RM, your scoundrels are play-
their basic outline.
ing because they want to take big
risks and do awesome things,
Name
not just march along the path
Your scoundrel’s name can be whatever you want. Some players like
of a story you’ve already writ-
to start with a great name, while others prefer to leave this blank at
ten in your head. Err on the side
first and circle back once they have a more firm idea of who their
of rewarding gutsy choices and
scoundrel is. It’s usually a good idea to make sure that your crew are
wild imagination, and just see
all using the same kind of names; if three scoundrels have serious
what happens.
names and one is a pop culture joke, it can break the immersion for
some players. Here are some examples…
++ Beljan Gunstar
++ P7-620
++ Xi’phian the Immortal
++ Jok
++ Doctor Spacelove
++ Reka Redwing

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 13


Concept Specialty
This is a one-line description of your scoundrel. Think A specialty is something your scoundrel is especially
of it as what might be displayed on your wanted poster, good at. This will give them another area in which they
flickering across the screen of a space station’s secu- are better than normal. Your specialty can be anything
rity profile. It should include a physical element as well you like, so long as it fits your scoundrel’s concept.
as what you’re notorious for. This concept will provide The twelve specialties included in this book are…
the basis for the rest of your scoundrel. Here are some
++ Bounty Hunter: Better at finding missing persons.
examples…
++ Brawler: Better at hand-to-hand fighting.
++ a seven-foot tall con artist on the run ++ Burglar: Better at breaking and entering.
from their powerful family ++ Drifter: Better at securing transportation.
++ a harvester robot reprogrammed to kill ++ Gambler: Better at games of chance.
++ a clone of the emperor gone horribly wrong ++ Gunslinger: Better at trick shooting.
++ a superintelligent squid-alien ++ Hacker: Better at bypassing security.
scientist with no social skills ++ Heartbreaker: Better at manipulating people.
++ a galaxy-famous gambler with incomparable style ++ Impostor: Better at posing as someone else.
++ a grimy, orphaned space rat out for revenge ++ Peculiar: Better at magic, psionics, etc.
++ Smuggler: Better at deceiving authorities.
One note on concepts: We’ve created factions in the
++ Swindler: Better at deceiving civilians.
game, which the RM may or may not choose to use. If you
want, take a look at the faction descriptions (page 42) and
work one or more of those factions into your concept. Values and Factors
This is not required, but it can be fun — and give your Here you’ll choose what matters most to your scoun-
crew more points of access into the world of the game. drel — the things they’ll actually be risking in the game
to achieve their goals.
Species
The default species in NTMO is human, which doesn’t Importance
affect your rolls in any way. However, you can choose There are three levels of importance for your values
another species or even invent your own. The list of offi- and factors: high, medium, and low. The importance
cial species in this book should cover most of the bases determines how much a value or factor matters to your
for generic sci-fi. scoundrel, which has a major effect on gameplay.
Other species come with actions at which they’re
better and worse. Note these in the species section Values
of your scoundrel sheet. If you’re inventing your own The categories of things that might matter to a scoun-
species, try to make sure that better and worse are drel are called values. On your scoundrel sheet, rank the
equally broad or specific. For example, if your species is values in order of importance to your scoundrel. Write
better at fighting, they might be worse at talking; if your one value in each of the corresponding boxes, highest at
species is better at underwater high-speed neurosurgery, the top and lowest at the bottom.
they might be worse at competitive piano dueling. The six values included in this book are…
The six species included in this book are…
++ Belief: What you stand for.
++ Human: We’re pretty much everywhere. (You ++ Physique: How you are built.
can also use “human” for aliens that are a lot ++ Possession: What you have.
like humans in every aspect but appearance.) ++ Relationship: Who you care about.
++ Cyborg: A human with some ++ Reputation: How you act.
mechanical modifications. ++ Resource: What you can access.
++ Robot: A bulky machine that
Think about the type of scoundrel you want to create.
stands out in the crowd.
What matters most to them? Appearances? Relation-
++ Android: A robot that looks just like a human.
ships? Maybe they’re driven by one core belief. Maybe
++ Sentient Animal: An animal given intelligence
they’re driven by what they possess. Ranking these
and speech through technology.
values will tell you a lot about your scoundrel before
++ Alien: An otherworldly being. We’ve included
you decide anything more specific about them.
ideas for six types of aliens: beast, bug,
elemental, ghost, psychic, and slime aliens.

14 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Factors
For each value, think of one concrete item, which is called a factor. Start With Session Zero
Write this in the matching box. This is what you’ll actually be risking
We recommend creating your
when you encounter a check in the game. Factors should be specific,
scoundrels as a group, in what’s
but they don’t need to be overly detailed. Here are some examples…
typically called session zero. Talk
++ Beliefs: “I’m the luckiest idiot in the galaxy,” “honor about the tone of the game you
gets you killed,” “you always gotta repay your debts,” want to run, the relationships of
“don’t be a hero,” “just because you’re paranoid your scoundrels to each other
doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you,” etc. and to the world, and the way
++ Physiques: athletic, gorgeous, nimble, intimidating, built like a that your crew met or is about to
brick house, incredibly tall, inconspicuous, well groomed, etc. meet. Since NTMO is a one-shot
++ Possessions: laser gun, spaceship, lucky dice, personal game, session zero might just be
communicator, fake ID, medical kit, naval uniform, fifteen minutes before you begin.
translator, spacesuit, tracking device, robot sidekick, etc. But take at least a little time to
++ Relationships: partner, parent, sibling, ex, friend, make sure you’re all in sync on
crush, roommate, classmate, mentor, student, the kind of scoundrels you want to
colleague, employer, neighbor, ally, etc. play and the kind of galaxy you
++ Reputations: best pilot in the galaxy, best gambler want to inhabit. (Session zero is
you’ve ever seen, a perfect shot, the ultimate charmer, also the right time to discuss safety
someone you wouldn’t want to mess with, etc. protocols.)
++ Resources: secret bank account, an old favor,
blackmail material, stolen data, book of card
tricks, criminal contact, corrupt official, etc.

That’s It!
Once you’ve listed your identity, values, and factors,
you’re ready to begin playing!

A Note on Ships
Ships in NTMO don’t have a lot
of special mechanics wrapped
around them, and that’s on
purpose. If a ship really matters
to your scoundrel, it can be one
of their factors. If more than one
scoundrel in the crew has a ship
that is important to them, you might
need to travel as a fleet, or leave
one or more ships docked or in
orbit, depending on the needs
of the adventure. Otherwise,
ships are a disposable commod-
ity, to be bought, sold, hijacked,
crashed, and gambled away as
the story demands.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 15


HOW TO PLAY

HOW
TO
003.

“I aim to misbehave.”
—MALCOLM REYNOLDS

16
PLAY
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 17
Example of Play
RM: “We’ll begin in a seedy space-
port. You know the kind, filled to
the brim with strange and unset-
tling robots and aliens, and even
stranger and more unsettling
humans. Your crew has gathered
there to debrief after a mission START A STORY
gone terribly wrong. What are To get things started, the RM introduces a scenario, then asks how
each of you doing?” the scoundrels at the table would like to react. This is the basic build-
Allie: “You mean, like, how are ing block of the game — the RM describing what happens, then the
we acting?” other players at the table choosing what they’d like to attempt in
RM: “Yeah!” response. Sometimes the RM will ask a particular scoundrel what
Allie: “Reka Redwing, my they’d like to do, while other times they’ll leave the situation open-
seven-foot tall con artist, is trying ended, for anyone to act.
to look as relaxed as possible, The RM and the scoundrels should work together to weave a story.
drinking a huge margarita — like Since NTMO doesn’t have a stack of rules for every situation, there
one of those yard-long margs that will be plenty of times when judgment calls are required. The RM is
come in a boat.” the ultimate arbiter of outcomes — keeping the safety protocols in
Ben: “Xi’phian the Immortal, mind, of course.
my brilliant alien scientist, is at the
bar, desperately trying to order a
drink and being totally ignored by
the robot bartender.”
TAKE A RISK
Once the action is underway, you’ll reach a point where you have to
RM: “Oh, actually, I have a
decide what your scoundrel is going to do in a situation with uncer-
plan for the bartender. Can we
tain outcomes. Here are some examples…
say they are a human instead of
a robot?” ++ outrunning an angry guard
Ben: “Sure! He’s being totally ++ lying to an android spice merchant
ignored by the bartender, who ++ shooting at a shadowy assassin
is definitely a human and not a ++ wooing an alien duchess
robot. But Xi’phian can’t always ++ scanning for ships lying in ambush
tell the difference, since he’s real ++ balancing on a catwalk over superhot acid
bad at emotions.”
The possibilities are limitless, dictated only by the shape of your
Carson: “That’s awesome.
story. These situations, where things can go well or poorly, are called
P7-620, my reprogrammed
checks. When you encounter a check, the RM will explain how risky
harvester robot, is scrunched in a
the situation is. There are three levels of risk:
corner, recharging. People keep
coming up to him, trying to shove ++ High-risk situations: Incredibly tense or difficult
credits into his chassis because situations with extreme outcomes. Examples might
they think he’s the jukebox.” include trying to leap across a chasm, saying the perfect
RM: “Nice. So you’re all kind thing to comfort a grieving widow, engaging in combat
of scattered around, doing your with a deadly psychic warrior, or attempting a spacewalk
own thing. Suddenly, the door to repair a ship as it spins toward a black hole.
squeals open, and in march seven ++ Medium-risk situations: Situations where the outcome
guards of the Iron Imperium, their matters, but mistakes won’t have catastrophic results.
faces hidden behind thick metal Examples might include negotiating a deal, sneaking out an
helmets. The leader points his airlock without being noticed, punching a brawler in a bar
rifle straight at you, Reka, and fight, or charting a safe course through hostile territory.
yells, ‘Crew of the Ziggurat, you ++ Low-risk situations: Situations with low stakes, where
are under arrest for attempted not much will be lost by failure. Examples might include
robbery and sedition against the trying to impress a potential client, executing a correct
imperium!’ What do you all want docking procedure, playing a game of chance that’s fixed
to do?” in your favor, or intimidating a cowardly bureaucrat.

18 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Example of Play
Allie: “Reka, seeing the Iron Impe-
rium guard, wants to jump up and
charge straight at them, trying to
knock the leader back into his
troops and scatter them.”
RM: “Okay! That’s definitely a
high-risk situation. What factor do
you want to risk?”
Allie: “High risk, huh? Well,
Reka’s most important factor is
her cool, collected demeanor. So
she’s going to risk that by charging
When the RM describes a check that your scoundrel at them like an all-out brawler.”
encounters, you must risk one of your factors to proceed. RM: “All right. Roll that die!”
To do so, choose a single factor, then tell the group what
it is and why it fits. It’s up to you and the RM to work out
how the factor applies to the check.
But What If Nothing Makes
Remember to be creative! If you’re trying to sneak
Sense?
past a guard, you might risk your reputation of having
a flair for the dramatic by trying to keep a low profile Occasionally, you’ll encounter
for once, or you might risk your relationship with your situations where nobody on the
mother because she’d kill you if she knew you were crew can rationally justify risking
putting yourself in danger like this. If you’re trying to any of their factors in the check.
hail a space-taxi, you might risk your trusty blaster by In these cases, you can either
firing a few shots in the air to attract the attention of the risk your life or else take an auto-
aggressive drivers. matic failure. With a little creativ-
Make risks your own by bending your factors to ity and collaboration between
fit them — most factors can apply to a huge variety of the scoundrels and the RM, such
circumstances, limited only by your creativity and the auto-failures should be few and
bounds of storytelling. However, if you can’t think of a far between.
reason that any of your factors would apply to a check,
consider allowing one of your crewmates to handle the
check instead.
Once the risk is determined and a factor is chosen, the
die is rolled, and the RM narrates the outcome.
Match the Risk
The most straightforward way to approach a check is
to match it — risking a low-importance factor for a low
Handling Checks risk, a medium-importance factor for a medium risk, or a
When you encounter a check, you choose whether to
high-importance factor for a high risk. When you match
match the risk, go over, or go under. You can think of this
the risk, you have a fifty-fifty chance of success. If you roll
as deciding how much your scoundrel cares about the
evens, you succeed on the check. If you roll odds, you fail,
situation.
and you also endanger the factor you risked.
Roll
Evens Odds
Outcomes Go Over
If you want to improve your outcome, you can always
Succeed +
Go Over Succeed choose to go over the risk — risking a factor that’s more
endanger
important to you than the risk, such as a high-impor-
Fail + tance factor for a medium or low risk, or a medium-im-
Match Succeed
endanger
portance factor for a low risk. When you go over, you
Succeed + always succeed on the check. But if you roll odds, you
Go Under Fail + lose
endanger still endanger the factor you risked.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 19


Example of Play Go Under
Sometimes you’re not willing to risk much, or the factors that you
RM: “Oh no, you rolled odds!
could apply to a check aren’t of very high importance. You can always
Okay, Xi’phian, your mobile labo-
go under a risk — risking a low-importance factor for a medium or
ratory was badly damaged in the
high risk, or a medium-importance factor for a high risk. If you roll
fight.”
evens, you succeed on the check, but still endanger what you risked.
Ben: “Not the mobile lab!”
If you roll odds, you fail, and you also lose the factor you risked.
RM: “I’m afraid so. It’s spark-
ing and stuttering. You think you
can probably still use it, but any
Risking Lives
For any check that makes sense, you can always risk your life or a
further damage will destroy it
crewmate can risk theirs. Doing so always counts as going over, even
completely.”
in a high-risk situation. Lives work exactly like factors, with the same
Ben: “Okay then, Xi’phian turns
three states: secured, endangered, and lost.
to P7-620. ‘I hate to ask this,’ he
says, ‘but may I borrow some of
your circuitry?’”
Modified Risks
Various conditions can affect how risky the check is. The RM might
Carson: “You want me to risk
decrease a risk thanks to the clever preparation of the crew or
my physique to fix your mobile
success on earlier checks. Risks can also be modified by species
laboratory?”
and specialties. If a species or speciality is better at a given type of
Ben: “Please! It’s kinda my
situation, the risk decreases, to a minimum of low risk. For example,
whole thing!”
let’s say that your crew is facing a high-risk situation in which you
Carson: “I’m good with it.
must fight a giant robot…
P7-620 opens a panel on his bulk,
and yanks out a handful of gears ++ Your scoundrel is a beast alien, which means
and wires.” you’re better at combat. The high-risk situation
RM: “Yiiiikes. Roll that die.” becomes only a medium risk for you.
Carson: “It’s evens!” ++ Your scoundrel is a human brawler, which means
Everyone: “YES!!!” you’re better at hand-to-hand combat. As long as
RM: “Using those totally you can get up close and personal, the high-risk
non-vital extra parts from P7-620, situation becomes only a medium risk for you.
you repair the mobile laboratory. ++ Your scoundrel is a beast alien brawler, which means you’re
It seems to be in good working better twice! As long as you can get up close and personal,
order again.” the high-risk situation becomes only a low risk for you.
On the other hand, if your species is worse at something, or if circum-
stances stack up against you, the risk increases. Let’s continue with
the same example…
++ The giant robot wants to play chess, which is a
Embrace the Unravel weakness for beast aliens like you. The low-risk
It is normal in a game of NTMO situation becomes a medium risk for you.
to see your options dwindle until ++ The giant robot wants to play chess, and you’re a
you have barely anything left to beast alien with a horrible hangover. The low-risk
risk besides your life. It makes for situation becomes a high risk for you.
memorable stories — and great
Usually, it’s up to each scoundrel to inform the RM when their
comebacks if the odds suddenly
species or specialty modifies the risk, while the RM determines
break back in your favor!
whether the circumstances modify the risks for the crew.

20 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Resolving Disputes
Ideally, your group will be able to agree on
which factors apply to which checks and
ROLL THE DIE how to interpret the outcomes, but if there’s
Once the risk has been described and you’ve chosen ever a disagreement that lasts for more than
which factor to risk, considering whether the risk is sixty seconds, simply take a vote at the table.
modified or not, go ahead and roll the die! The majority wins, with the RM serving as the
Depending on what you risked and how you rolled, tiebreaker. Accept the outcome and move on,
you might find yourself endangering or even outright but be sure to discuss it briefly after the adven-
losing a factor or your life. Lives and factors have three ture to avoid any lingering bad blood. Grudges
states: secure, endangered, and lost. Each life or factor and vendettas make for great revenge stories
can only be in one of these states at a time. — but only inside the game.

Secured
Lives and factors are secured at the start of the game.
Endangered Factors
They can be risked without fear of losing them (unless
When one of your factors is endangered, fill in one of the
you roll odds when you go under the risk). Most of the
empty check boxes next to that factor on your scoundrel
time, you want the lives and factors of your crew to be
sheet. To secure an endangered factor, you must risk
secured.
another factor. The risk is determined by the importance
of the endangered factor: High-importance factors are
Endangered high risk, medium-importance factors are medium risk,
Many rolls can lead to a life or factor being endangered.
and low-importance factors are low risk.
When something is endangered, it is one bad roll away
from being lost. Narratively speaking, when a life or
factor is endangered, something happens to put it in
Lost
Sometimes, a life or factor that is already endangered
jeopardy in a way that remains unresolved until it is
will be risked again, and things end badly as you roll
secured again. Here are some examples…
odds. In this case, the life or factor is lost.
++ An endangered possession such as a gun
could be damaged, with a long, sparking crack Lost Lives
in it, threatening to blow up if it misfires. When a life is lost, the scoundrel dies or is otherwise
++ An endangered relationship could be the other removed from the story in a permanent way. Time to
person feeling that you’re asking too much of tear up (or frame) that scoundrel sheet, pull out a fresh
them, or that you can’t be trusted, and holding you one, and move on.
at arm’s length until you prove yourself again.
++ An endangered belief might be a doubt forming Lost Factors
in your mind, making you question whether what When a factor is lost, it is destroyed permanently or at
you hold to be true is actually of value at all. least damaged so badly or placed so far out of reach that
it would take an entire adventure to restore it. For the
Securing an endangered life or factor works just like any
remainder of the adventure, that factor is no longer avail-
other check. If you succeed, it becomes secured again,
able to you; on your scoundrel sheet, fill in the second
and you can erase the mark in that check box. If you
empty check box next that factor.
fail, it remains endangered, and whatever you risked to
attempt to secure it is now also endangered.

Endangered Lives DETERMINE THE OUTCOME


When your life is endangered, fill in one of the empty Once the risk has been stated, the factor chosen, and
check boxes next to the scoundrel’s name on your scoun- the die rolled, all that remains is to continue the story,
drel sheet. To secure an endangered life, you must risk working the outcome of the check into the narrative.
a high-importance factor or the life of another scoundrel Remember that the RM is a player too, and all the players
in the crew. at the table are collaborating on a shared story. Enjoy the
cinematic sweep of a crew of scoundrels risking every-
thing they care about in a last-ditch struggle for a singu-
lar goal. And have fun with it!

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 21


SITUATIONAL RULES

“Stupid frakking thing couldn’t


come with a handbook?”
—KARA “STARBUCK” THRACE

SITUATI
RULES
004.

22 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


IONAL
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 23
COMBAT CONDITIONS
In NTMO, fights happen all the time and can be any size Various conditions might affect whether you are able
or shape, from fisticuffs in a spaceport bar to sieges of to tackle a check easily or can only do so with great diffi-
planetary bases to starfighter dogfights that span solar culty. In general, these are temporary statuses, deter-
systems. As such, there isn’t a single set of concrete rules mined by the RM, that emerge through the story or the
governing turn-by-turn action in a fight. But, to keep decisions you make. Here are some examples…
things fair, here’s some basic guidance…
++ Alert: You’re better at sensing danger.
++ Getting the first hit in should be risky. You must ++ Attracted: You’re worse at discerning
take risks to get the drop on your opponents, or the motives of your charmer.
else you will find yourselves fending off attacks. ++ Clairvoyant: You’re better at
++ Fights shouldn’t last too long. It only takes two sensing unseen information.
bad rolls for a scoundrel to lose their life, and most ++ Confused: You’re worse at sorting out information.
enemies could be killed in the same amount of ++ Discouraged: You’re worse at most
time. If your fights go on for much longer than things due to a lack of motivation.
ten minutes, they’re taking too long — unless ++ Energized: You’re better at athletic activities.
everyone is enjoying themselves, in which ++ Enraged: You’re better at brute force attacks,
case, throw this rule out the window. but worse at matters of judgment.
++ Any factor can be used in a fight. Fights can ++ Focused: You’re better at solving problems.
involve physical blows or weapon duels or ++ Inspired: You’re better at the particular
swagger or name-calling or using the environment area of your inspiration.
to your advantage. Don’t limit yourself to simply ++ Intoxicated: You’re worse at everything
punching the other to do with coordination and judgment.
guy in the face when you have many ++ Terrified: You’re worse at confronting
more factors at your disposal. the source of your fear.
++ Odds mean you get hit back. A failed roll ++ Wounded: You’re worse at physical activities.
shouldn’t be narrated as a mere miss, but a miss
There is no definitive list of conditions. They will arise
and a counterattack by the enemy. That keeps the
naturally from the story and their effects will eventually
enemy combatants from just standing around like
cease, either as a matter of time or through the decisions
punching bags and explains how the factors (or
you make.
lives) being risked can become endangered or lost.
++ Keep shifting the focus. Although one scoundrel
may be a natural-born fighter, make sure everyone
is involved in the unfolding action. In general,
each scoundrel should only take one risk at a
time before someone else gets in on the fun.

COOPERATION
Sometimes, you’ll really want to make sure one of your
crewmates is able to succeed at an important check.
If so, you can risk something to help them. The RM will
determine the risk, like in any other check, depending
on how dire the circumstances are. If you succeed, the
risk for your crewmate’s check decreases, to a minimum
of low risk.

24 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


SPACE-MAGIC, PSIONICS,
SUPERPOWERS, ETC.
You might want to play as a scoundrel with access to abil-
ities outside the normal limitations of humanity: throw-
ing fire or lightning from your fingers, moving things
with your mind, or any number of other super-powers.
The way to handle this is to make it part of your concept
and factors. You can use any factor you want to bring this
about. Here are some examples…
++ Belief: “I am a conduit for the
living energy of the galaxy.”
++ Physique: Glowing eyes that signal you’re
about to use your pyrotechnic powers.
++ Possession: A space talisman through
which you can channel psychic energy.
++ Relationship: My ghost mentor who
guides my superhuman activity.
++ Reputation: A creepy weirdo
who does space magic.
++ Resource: An ancient book full of
the secrets of the universe.
When you use that factor, it works just like any other —
it can be endangered or lost. There aren’t many built-in
limitations to how your paranormal abilities work. In
general, though, the bigger the effect, the more risky the
check should be. For example, lighting a cigarette might
be a low risk, casting a fireball might be a medium risk,
and incinerating a space station might be a high risk.

REPLACING FACTORS
If a factor is lost, it’s possible to put a new factor into its
slot during the same adventure. Doing so, however, does
not happen automatically. It occurs at the RM’s discretion
and may require significant risks. Work with the RM to
decide what’s appropriate for your story.

BETWEEN ADVENTURES
If you choose to play the same scoundrel for multiple
adventures, start each new adventure with a full comple-
ment of six factors, one per value. You may reorganize
the values and replace the factors (as long as the RM
agrees with your choices) to indicate how your scoun-
drel has grown and changed as a result of the previous
adventure.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 25


SCOUNDREL TOOLS

SCOUND
TOOLS
005.

“Man walks down the street


in that hat, people know he’s
not afraid of anything.”
—HOBAN “WASH” WASHBURNE

26 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


DREL

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 27


SPECIES
When creating your scoundrel, you’re free to come up
with any species you choose, so long as the RM and your
crewmates are okay with it. Remember, every species
should be better at something and worse at some-
thing else, and the two should even out. In other words,
don’t create a species that’s better at “talking, fight-
ing, mechanics, and the fine arts,” and only worse at
“lion taming.” That’s just begging for a game full of
space-lions.
We’ve put together a list of species to get you started.
Among the stars of NTMO, most scoundrels fall into one
of these six species. Remember, you can tweak or alter
these species however you want to fit your concept — it’s
your scoundrel!

The Six Species at a Glance


++ Human
++ Cyborg
++ Robot
++ Android
++ Sentient Animal
++ Alien
Resource: a galactic celebrity who was
Reputation: Less innocent than he looks
Relationship: a nemesis
Possession: A flask of fine brandy

Physique: a completely forgettable


Belief:

Designation: Human Smuggler


Name: Jack Flint
a childhood friend

apperance

“Look out for number one.”

28 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


HUMAN
Possession: Humans can get attached to anything, for
You can find humans just about anywhere in the
practical or wildly sentimental reasons. Your scoundrel
galaxy. They’re so common, and so widely varied, might treasure…
that the fact that they’re everywhere is perhaps the 1. a piece of jewelry handed down through the family
only universal statement you can make about them! 2. a trusty laser pistol
3. a robot sidekick
4. a letter from a long-lost loved one
Risk Modifiers
5. a lucky rabbit’s foot
As a species, humans aren’t better or worse at any partic-
6. a flask of fine brandy
ular set of skills. Leave this section of your scoundrel
sheet blank if you’re playing a human.
Relationship: Humans are profoundly social creatures
and have complex relational structures that bewilder
Factors
more solitary species. Your scoundrel might care about…
If you want to play a human scoundrel, here are some
1. a parent or sibling
ideas for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from these
2. an old colleague or mentor
— you can even roll to create a random human — or write
3. a lover or ex
in your own factors to come up with something totally
4. a trusted friend
different!
5. a dishonest business associate
6. a nemesis
Belief: Humans are known for their limitless sects and
philosophies, and they will believe almost anything —
Reputation: Humans range from the galactically super-
even two contradictory ideas at the same time! Your
famous to the criminally forgotten, their species filled
human might believe…
with heroes and villains and countless incompetents.
1. “Fortune favors the bold.”
Your scoundrel might wish to be known as…
2. “All good things come to those who wait.”
1. someone you don’t want to mess with
3. “Gotta look out for number one.”
2. the nicest person
4. “Love conquers all.”
3. less innocent than they look
5. “Nothing really matters.”
4. a good-luck charm
6. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
5. a bad influence
6. wildly unpredictable
Physique: Human appearances are some of the most
diverse in the galaxy, so the sky’s the limit here, really.
Resource: Humans tend to know a lot of other humans,
Your human might feature…
and therefore tend to have many different types of infor-
1. terrifyingly hideous looks
mation and resources at their command. Your scoundrel
2. a petite and nimble bearing
might have access to…
3. loads and loads of muscles
1. a hacked database of confidential
4. a holo-star gorgeous face
information about civilians
5. a curvy and resilient build
2. blackmail material on a dirty politician
6. a completely forgettable appearance
3. a galactic celebrity who was a childhood friend
4. a secret bank account
5. an elite club’s platinum membership card
6. a contact inside a maximum security prison

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 29


CYBORG
Possession: Cyborgs are likely to value both their tech-
Human-machine mashups, cyborgs are often seen
nological aspects and that which keeps them at least
as galactic specialists, using their machine parts to partially human. Your scoundrel might treasure…
do what fully biological humans cannot. 1. their major technological aspect (x-ray
scanning eyes, arm-cannon, jetpack, etc.)
Risk Modifiers 2. a data chip in their head with a perfect
Like most species, cyborgs are better at some things and photographic record of their memories
worse at others. 3. the device that lets them communicate
silently with other technological beings
++ Better at mechanics.
4. a childhood toy
++ Worse at empathy.
5. a photograph of them before they became a cyborg
6. a combination repair/medical kit
Factors
If you want to play a cyborg scoundrel, here are some Relationship: Depending on their origin, cyborgs might
ideas for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from these
have strong family ties, relationships with those who
— you can even roll to create a random cyborg — or write granted them their technological parts, or close bonds
in your own factors to come up with something totally with their machine brethren. Your scoundrel might care
different! about…
1. a parent
Belief: As combinations of man and machine, cyborgs 2. an ex-fiancée
lean toward the bleak and practical in their philosophy, 3. the doctor who saved their life
often underscored with a sense of self-deprecation or 4. a corporate rep who sold them mechanical parts
cynical humor. Your scoundrel might believe… 5. an older cyborg mentor
1. “To err is human — but technology can fix that.” 6. an AI that really understands them
2. “There’s no such thing as too much data.”
3. “Happiness is a bug, not a feature.” Reputation: With all their strangeness, cyborgs are
4. “I have to hold onto my humanity no matter what.” hard to overlook. Nearly everyone has an opinion on
5. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” the subject — love ’em or hate ’em. Your scoundrel might
6. “Nothing is more beautiful than perfect balance.” wish to be known as…
1. an emotional wildcard
Physique: Cyborgs range in appearance from mostly 2. cold and calculating
human to mostly machine, but a combination of biol- 3. a relentless upgrade hunter
ogy and technology is their calling card. Your scoundrel 4. an efficient go-getter
might feature… 5. knowing everything about everything
1. an almost totally human appearance, 6. a cautionary tale
but with screens for eyes
2. silvery circuitry visible on the skin Resource: Most cyborgs get to be the way they are
3. a visible antenna or other device through trauma which required the fusing of body and
embedded in the skull machine. With that kind of trouble behind them, it’s not
4. one or more limbs replaced with hard to imagine that cyborgs have a few tricks up their
technological components metal sleeves. Your scoundrel might have access to…
5. extra limbs or folded mechanical wings 1. a lab where they can install new hardware
6. an almost totally robotic body, 2. a black-market fence for stolen technology
but with a human brain 3. all known human medical texts
4. full records of publicly shared
memories from other cyborgs
5. cognitive software patches available for download
6. a friendly corporate contact who
knows all the latest tech

30 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


31
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL
Name: Fumik-001
Designation: Cyborg Brawler
Belief: “To err is human—but
technology can fix that.”
Physique: one or more limbs replaced
with technological
components
Possession: an intelligent sword coded
to her dna
Relationship: an older cyborg mentor
Reputation: a cautionary tale
Resource: a black-market fence for
stolen technology
Name: Chiptune
Designation: Robot Gambler
Belief: “Every new data point must be

NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


carefully calculated.”
Physique: Enormous arms designed to
lift huge loads
Possession: a pet cat
Relationship: a newer robot of the same
make and model
Reputation: precises as a laser
Resource: a secret networks of robots
built for the same function

32
ROBOT
Possession: Robots tend to have an unusually personal
These automatons are usually designed for a single
relationship with inanimate objects, thinking of them
practical function. They are the janitors, industrial as extensions of their own bodies or as cousins of a sort.
workers, and heavy laborers of the galaxy, most of Your scoundrel might treasure…
them designed with metal plating, exposed wiring, 1. a satchel full of spare parts
2. a set of personality chips that can be swapped out
flashing indicator lights, and basic programming
3. a container of oil that acts as a stimulant
that constricts their personality to a narrow band. 4. a pet mouse
5. a recording of ancient human music
Risk Modifiers
6. an “organic disguise” consisting of
Like most species, robots are better at some things and
oversized robe, hood, and gloves
worse at others.
++ Better at surviving hostile environments. Relationship: Robot relationships are peculiar, as most
++ Worse at navigating polite society. intelligent species tend to think of typical robots as mere
things. Yet many robots are fully capable of deep feeling
and can form profound attachments. Your scoundrel
Factors
might care about...
If you want to play a robot scoundrel, here are some ideas
1. their original purchaser
for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from these — you
2. an old robot mentor who taught them free thinking
can even roll to create a random robot — or write in your
3. the technician who took them off the assembly line
own factors to come up with something totally different!
4. an AI whose language is far too technical
for organics to understand
Belief: Robot beliefs are usually dictated by their core
5. a newer robot that is the same make and model
programming — or, in the case of a robot-turned-scoun-
6. the hacker who installed the bug in their circuitry
drel, by a basic bug in their programming that explains
why they became a scoundrel. Your scoundrel might
Reputation: Robots run the gamut when it comes to
believe…
caring about their reputation. For some, the opinion of
1. “I am built to serve … myself.”
organics is all that matters. For others, it couldn’t be less
2. “Ethics does not compute.”
of a data point in their calculations. Your scoundrel might
3. “Once a target is acquired, all other
wish to be known as…
considerations are irrelevant.”
1. one hundred percent reliable
4. “Every new data point must be carefully calculated.”
2. precise as a laser
5. “Kill unless instructed otherwise.”
3. going above and beyond in service
6. “Humans are superior to robots. I must
4. better than organics in every way
therefore become human.”
5. the finest in the galaxy at their original function
6. a live wire, literally and metaphorically
Physique: Robots are usually purpose-built, without
much consideration for aesthetics. Consider what your
Resource: Robots, by interfacing with both the organic
robot scoundrel was originally intended for, no matter
and machine worlds, have certain resources that are
what path they are pursuing right now. Your scoundrel
unavailable to their designers. Your scoundrel might
might feature…
have access to…
1. heavy armor plating
1. municipal computer hubs made
2. enormous arms designed to lift huge loads
by the same manufacturer
3. an industrial-strength welding torch
2. the trash-collecting bots
4. hover gyros that enable low-altitude flight
3. an always-on locator device built into other
5. lots of spindly arms equipped with medical tools
units of the same make and model
6. infrared scanners that can sense heat through walls
4. a binary treasure map that is unreadable to organics
5. a secret network of robots built
for the same function
6. power-grid readings that can
be used to track activity

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 33


ANDROID
Possession: Androids are often found in the lap of luxury,
Most androids are built to be almost
with the finest material possessions. Still, for all their
indistinguishable from their organic counterparts finery, underneath their impressive exterior ticks a prag-
— but just a little bit better. Androids can be found matic artificial mind. Your scoundrel might treasure…
throughout the galaxy. Some have clearly visible 1. a super-collapsible pocket wardrobe
with outfits for every occasion
mechanical aspects, such as seams or glowing eyes,
2. a sleek luxury vehicle
to set them apart. But many walk among the other 3. a violin case concealing a long-range laser rifle
species, totally undetected. 4. a vibrating knife
5. an index of the richest and most
Risk Modifiers powerful people in the galaxy
Like most species, androids are better at some things 6. a self-propelled hat equipped
and worse at others. with recording devices
++ Better at high society.
Relationship: Given their humanoid appearance,
++ Worse at sustaining damage.
androids are often objects of fascination to organics.
Some are programmed to return that interest with
Factors respect, affection, or even reverence. Others simply use
If you want to play an android scoundrel, here are some it to their advantage. Your scoundrel might care about…
ideas for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from these 1. a cyborg friend who doesn’t see their differences
— you can even roll to create a random android — or 2. the sweet old landlady who still hasn’t
write in your own factors to come up with something noticed that they are not human
totally different! 3. a mechanic who cleans their servos
4. the human whose memories their
Belief: Androids, with their humanoid appearance, are artificial ones were modeled after
often endowed with sophisticated neural networks and 5. The members of their Friday-night drum
advanced logic-plus circuits. This tends to make them all circle who don’t ask questions
the more human, and all the more unstable. Your scoun- 6. a gregarious bartender who runs
drel might believe… an androids-only nightclub
1. “I am not an android. I am human.”
2. “Organics are only worth keeping Reputation: For most androids, image is everything. That
alive as long as they’re useful.” goes double for those whose only wish is to disappear
3. “My bad decisions are what make me less robotic.”completely. Your scoundrel might wish to be known as…
4. “Whoever has the most toys wins 1. nobody, a non-entity, forgotten as
— even if they’re a toy.” soon as they’re out of sight
5. “Don’t ever get between me and what I want.” 2. the most perfect being ever constructed
6. “It’s nice to be nice.” 3. a living, breathing human
4. the latest and greatest in ultra-modern technology
Physique: Androids usually represent an idealized 5. a worthwhile investment
version of the species that created them. Humans 6. an inspiring and witty conversationalist
are uniquely fascinated by androids, so human-type
androids are by far the most common. Your scoundrel Resource: Androids seem to know everything and every-
might feature… one. With charming exteriors and flawless recall, they
1. visible seams that can open to reveal have a way of picking up information and retaining it
surprising modifications forever. Your scoundrel might have access to…
2. strong cybernetic musculature on a slender frame 1. a useful politician who’s fallen in love with them
3. military-grade heat vision 2. the masked individual who gives them assignments
4. swappable facial features 3. a generous credit line, funded
5. flawless, almost unsettling physical beauty by their manufacturers
6. impervious vibro-steel skin 4. complimentary lodging at the really good hotels
5. a gossipy socialite contact
6. a particular crime family or information syndicate

34 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


35
Name: D’Lete
Designation: Android Heartbreaker

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL


Belief: “My bad decisions are what make
me less robotic.”
Physique: Visible seams that can open to
reveal surprising modifications
Possession: a sleek luxury vehicle
Relationship: a gregarious bartender who
owns an androids-only nightclub
Reputation: an inspiring and witty
conversationalist
Resource: a gossiby socialite contact
Name: Slipshot
Designation: Sentient Octopus Gunslinger
Belief: “I’m a better human than
any of them.”

NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Physique: Eight tentacles
Possession: basters customized for its
anatomical structure
Relationship: the activist who freed them from
the lab
Reputation: impossible to cage
Resource: their natural instincts

36
SENTIENT ANIMAL
Possession: Sentient animals often carry with them
Space is big and science is weird, and it’s not
some token, either from their adopted humanity or their
unheard of for various researchers to — for a variety creaturely past. Your scoundrel might treasure…
of reasons — endow otherwise normal animals 1. a synthetic nut that doubles as a data drive
with intelligence and the power of speech. But 2. an oversized rawhide bone
3. a blaster customized for their anatomical structure
such tampering with the natural order often ends
4. an ID card that gets them into all the good clubs
badly, and it’s a little unsettling how many sentient 5. a sachet of high-quality catnip
animals go rogue, often with the twisted wreckage 6. a grooming kit for their unique biology
of a research facility sparking and smoking in their
wake. Relationship: When it comes to their feelings toward
humans and other aliens, sentient animals range from
fiercely loyal to hatefully resentful. Your scoundrel might
Risk Modifiers
care about…
Like most species, sentient animals are better at some
1. the handler who fed them before they were sentient
things and worse at others. However, since you could
2. the activist who freed them from the lab
choose any type of sentient animal, there is some vari-
3. a non-sentient member of their
ability here. Work with the RM to come up with your
species who understands them
scoundrel’s strength and weakness.
4. the alien friend who thinks
++ Better at [insert animal ability here]. they’re just another alien
++ Worse at [insert animal weakness here]. 5. the local butcher
6. the scientist who keeps their
implants in tip-top shape
Factors
If you want to play a sentient animal scoundrel, here are
Reputation: Sentient animals usually work hard to make
some ideas for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from
a name for themselves beyond “that talking creature.”
these — you can even roll to create a random sentient
Your scoundrel might wish to be known as…
animal — or write in your own factors to come up with
1. a good boy or girl
something totally different!
2. the apex predator
3. smarter than a human, wilder than an animal
Belief: Sentient animals have beliefs that vary wildly,
4. sturdy and dependable
depending on the individual animal’s origin and treat-
5. hard to read
ment. They might be fiercely loyal or deeply suspicious.
6. impossible to cage
Your scoundrel might believe…
1. “Nothing good ever came from being smart.”
Resource: One has to be pretty sharp to make their way
2. “I’m a natural predator … only
across the galaxy as a sentient animal. Your scoundrel
the prey has changed.”
might have access to…
3. “Instincts should always be trusted.”
1. a mega-corporation very invested in their progress
4. “The pack/hive/flock/school/herd comes first.”
2. their old pre-sentience owner
5. “I’m a better human than any of them.”
3. an easily bullied sentient animal
6. “I’ll enjoy the finer things now that I can.”
lower down the food chain
4. their natural instincts
Physique: Many sentient animals have a few standout
5. a powerful gangster who finds them adorable
markers — telltale signs of the experimentation that
6. non-sentient animals of their own species
made them intelligent. Your scoundrel might feature…
1. a visible skull implant
2. an apparatus that permits them to breathe air
3. a glittering collar that glows
when they communicate
4. an ornate tattoo
5. a custom suit, sharply tailored
6. the biological trademark of their species
(wings, gills, horns, fur, etc.)

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 37


ALIEN
Belief: Alien beliefs are strange and extremely diverse.
Every creature is an alien to someone else, and
What’s listed below is just an incredibly small sampling
the galaxy provides a wide array of otherworldly of the possibilities. No matter what you believe, it’s most
lifeforms. Aliens range in size, shape, ability, likely — well — alien to your human crewmates. Your
personality, and culture, to an almost unimaginable scoundrel might believe…
1. “The collective good is above all else.”
degree. Listed below are the six most common types
2. “The worst sin is weakness.”
of aliens, but if you’d like to play an alien scoundrel 3. “Humans are the worst thing that
with a different concept, simply plan it with the RM. ever happened to the galaxy.”
4. “Manners are all that matters.”
Risk Modifiers 5. “Everything we do is in accordance
with the prophecy.”
++ Bug aliens tend to have many limbs,
6. “Fulfilling the appetites is the highest goal.”
strange eyes and mouthpieces, and a way
of looking at the galaxy quite differently
Physique: Since alien bodies range from balls of gas to
than humanoids do. Bug aliens are better
puddles of ooze and everything in between, it’s hard to
at teamwork and worse at romance.
pin down any common features for the wide variety of
++ Beast aliens have a certain animalistic
alien physiques. Aliens can look like almost anything.
quality, perhaps reminiscent of a creature
Your scoundrel might feature…
from their home planet — bird or beast or
1. six arms
reptile. Beast aliens are better at feats of
2. a stature towering over eight feet tall
strength and worse at self-control.
3. a liquid body contained in a
++ Elemental aliens are made of what humans
robotically controlled jar
consider inorganic matter, such as gas or
4. a shimmering aura that changes
liquid or mineral. Elemental aliens are better
color with their moods
at manipulating their particular element
5. glowing eyes that can literally kill with a glance
and worse at healing organic injuries.
6. extendable pseudopods
++ Ghost aliens are incorporeal and eerie, and
they tend to be the type of beings who know
Possession: What does an alien prize? The answers are
many secrets. Ghost aliens are better at being
as far-flung as the stars. Your scoundrel might treasure…
intangible and worse at using physical objects.
1. an egg sac full of the hive’s young,
++ Psychic aliens usually come from ancient
which must be carefully protected
cultures that wield immense powers of
2. a talisman of their tribe, which hums
mental self-discipline and psionic ability.
with shamanistic magic
Mind aliens are better at paranormal
3. a superheavy crystal from the heart of a dying star
exploits and worse at feats of strength.
4. an ornamental dagger, stolen from the
++ Slime aliens ooze and creep, using tentacles
tomb of their people’s ancient god-king
and acid to make their slithery way across the
5. a book of ancient, forbidden writings
galaxy. Slime aliens are better at stretching
6. a small metal box that can be
or squishing and worse at teamwork.
programmed into any shape

Factors Relationship: Alien relationships are complicated. Some


If you want to play an alien scoundrel, here are some types of aliens have limitless relations, while others
ideas for factors. Feel free to pick and choose from these could go centuries without speaking to a soul. Your
— you can even roll to create a random alien — or write scoundrel might care about…
in your own factors to come up with something totally 1. the queen of their people
different! 2. their bonded life-mate
3. an intelligent moon
4. their counterpart in a mirror universe
5. their ancient instructor
6. the last person who served them drinks

38 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Reputation: Some aliens live to be feared, while others Resource: Alien resources are as strange as their biology,
fear to be known by outsiders at all. Your scoundrel ecology, sociology, etc. In other words, you never know
might wish to be known as… what an alien will pull out of their many, many sleeves.
1. always getting the job done Your scoundrel might have access to…
2. a noble warrior 1. the knowledge of the hive mind
3. a real hothead 2. ancestral hunting and tracking skills
4. never without an airtight alibi 3. the ability to lay gemstones like eggs
5. a truly dizzying intellect 4. a lifetime of overheard secrets
6. fun at parties 5. a reclusive master with incredible powers
6. relatives absolutely everywhere

Resource: Ancestral hunting and tracking


Reputation: A noble warrior
Relationship: Her life-bonded mate

Possession: A talisman of her tribe, which

Physique: A stature towering over eight


Belief: “The worst sin is weakness.”

Designation: Beast Alien Bounty Hunter


Name: Xyz’Kzrn
skills

hums with shamanistic magic

feet tall

What If I Want to
Be Something Else?
NTMO is designed to make it easy
to play whatever kind of scoun-
drel you want. Work with the RM
to determine what’s right for you.
Want to recreate your favorite
character from pop culture, or
from a world of your own making?
Just choose something they’re
good at and bad at (remember
to keep those two equally broad
or narrow), then invent the factors
that make the most sense to you.
But most of all, have fun with it!

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 39


SPECIALTIES
In NTMO, a specialty is just a way of describing what
The Twelve Specialties at a Glance
you’re better at, your scoundrel’s particular niche in the
++ Bounty Hunter: Better at finding missing persons. wide expanse of space. Your concept might not be listed
++ Brawler: Better at hand-to-hand fighting. here, and that’s okay! The point is, lock in something at
++ Burglar: Better at breaking and entering. which you excel, and think about how that shapes the
++ Drifter: Better at securing transportation. way your scoundrel sees the world.
++ Gambler: Better at games of chance.
++ Gunslinger: Better at trick shooting. Bounty Hunter
++ Hacker: Better at bypassing security. Better at finding missing persons.
++ Heartbreaker: Better at manipulating people.
++ Impostor: Better at posing as someone else. It’s easy to forget bounty hunters exist — until you’re
++ Peculiar: Better at magic, psionics, etc. wanted by the Slime Mob. These masters of the manhunt
++ Smuggler: Better at deceiving authorities. crawl their way through the seediest bars and the most
++ Swindler: Better at deceiving civilians. elegant backwater retreats to find their mark. If your
scoundrel is a bounty hunter, you might ask…
++ Which mark do they still feel conflicted
about having turned in?
++ Who is the most important mark that got away?
++ What is the biggest payoff they’ve ever earned?

Brawler
Better at hand-to-hand fighting.

It doesn’t take much to be a brawler, just a little muscle


— of the meat or metal variety — and zero regard for your
personal safety. Brawlers force their way through life,
and if life doesn’t like it, brawlers will punch life in the
face until it sees things differently. If your scoundrel is a
brawler, you might ask…
++ What was the toughest fight of their life?
++ What emotion or motivation fuels
them when they fight?
++ Who would they be afraid to
meet in a dark corridor?

Burglar
Better at breaking and entering.

As any good burglar will tell you, “Possession is nine-


tenths of the law — and the other tenth is outrunning
pursuit.” A burglar knows how to get in, get the goods,
and get out of town before the former owner of their new
prize even wakes up the next day. If your scoundrel is a
burglar, you might ask…
++ What is the one thing they covet
most that money can’t buy?
++ What is the most daring heist
they’ve ever pulled off?
++ Which old associate most let them down?

40 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Drifter Hacker
Better at securing transportation. Better at bypassing security.

What good is living on the edges of society if you don’t Firewalls are made to be broken, AIs are made to be
get to see everything the galaxy has to offer? Drifters are bamboozled, and passwords are made to be published
always on the move, hopping from freighter to space- on as many servers as possible. A hacker doesn’t even
yacht to interplanetary barge with ease and suspiciously see the code anymore — they just see the galaxy spread
little paperwork. If your scoundrel is a drifter, you might out before them in ones and zeroes. If your scoundrel is
ask yourself… a hacker, you might ask…
++ What is the most dangerous ++ What is the biggest trouble they’ve
place they’ve ever been? ever gotten in for hacking?
++ Where are they trying to get back to? ++ What is something they learned
++ What are they running from? that they wish they hadn’t?
++ Who is the rival hacker they always try to show up?
Gambler
Better at games of chance. Heartbreaker
Better at manipulating people.
You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em,
and when to run. That’s probably the only truth all Call it charm, charisma, genetics, augmentation, glamor,
gamblers in the space-lanes can agree on. Everything allure — whatever it is that attracts others, heartbreak-
else is a brag, a bet, a roll of the dice. A gambler lives and ers have it in spades. Heartbreakers aren’t thieves; their
— much more commonly — dies by luck. If your scoundrel targets will gladly pay for anything the heartbreaker
is a gambler, you might ask… wants for just one more smile, never knowing the joke
is on them the whole time. If your scoundrel is a heart-
++ When did their luck turn at the
breaker, you might ask…
worst possible moment?
++ How much did they have at the ++ Have they ever had their own heart broken?
peak of their biggest run? ++ What is the longest “relationship”
++ What is the game they would literally kill to join? they’ve ever profited from?
++ What is their emergency weapon
in case things go sour?
Gunslinger
Better at trick shooting.
Impostor
A bullseye every time isn’t impressive. You know what’s Better at posing as someone else.
impressive? Three bullseyes in a single shot, fired upside
down in zero-G while the target is spinning out a cycling Who needs one face when you can have a thousand?
airlock. Anyone can fire a blaster, but it takes a special Impostors collect identities, likenesses, mannerisms,
kind of person to make their living as a gunslinger. If your and semi-official documents which allow them to pass
scoundrel is a gunslinger, you might ask… among any strata of society they so choose. If your scoun-
drel is an impostor, you might ask…
++ What was the first weapon they ever fired?
++ Who taught them how to do their ++ Do they have a favorite identity to hide behind?
signature trick shot? ++ What is the strangest impersonation
++ What little detail of the craft do they obsess over? they’ve ever gotten away with?
++ Who is one person they never want to deceive?

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 41


Peculiar FACTIONS
Better at magic, psionics, etc.
As you create your scoundrel, consider whether they
could conceivably be part of an existing group or orga-
There are some who step between the cracks in the
nization. If you’re playing in an established universe,
universe, slipping beyond layers that most never even
talk to the RM about what factions would be a logical
know exist to perceive what lies underneath. These
choice. If you’re playing in the world of NTMO, talk to the
peculiars pull the secret strings of existence, wielding
RM about whether your scoundrel could be connected
powers inexplicable to science. If your scoundrel is a
to one of these factions:
peculiar, you might ask…
++ Good Society: The rich and influential, with
++ At what age did they first demonstrate
all their lace and satin and fine jewels.
peculiar abilities?
++ Hypervikings: Star pirates who swoop in
++ Did they figure out their abilities on
from nowhere to raid unsuspecting ships.
their own or were they taught?
++ The Order of the Stars: A secretive
++ What is the furthest they’ve ever
religious faction that safeguards ancient
taken their abilities?
knowledge and, some say, actual magic.
++ Space-Nihilists: Perpetrators of random
Smuggler acts of violence and chaos.
Better at deceiving authorities. ++ The Galactic Congress: Politicians … in space!
++ The Iron Imperium: A militant empire that
It takes a cool head, a straight face, and a little bit of subjugates every system within their reach.
showmanship to smuggle goods where they’re not ++ The Merchant League: A trade federation
welcome. A smuggler can’t just outrun the authorities; whose star-galleons can be found
they have to be able to outsmart them, time after time. in every major shipping lane.
If your scoundrel is a smuggler, you might ask… ++ The Slime Mob: A seedy criminal
underground run by giant alien slugs.
++ What type of cargo have they
++ Sci-Tech Incorporated: A massive
sworn off trying to smuggle?
galactic corporation dedicated to
++ Have they ever had to blast their
the advancement of science.
way out of a close inspection?
++ The Sprawn: An alien horde of
++ What is the strangest shipment
flesh-destroying monsters.
they’ve ever moved?
++ The Alliance of Revolt: A union
of heroic do-gooders working to
Swindler overthrow oppressive regimes.
Better at deceiving civilians. ++ Black$ail: A for-profit spy network that sells
compromising information to the highest bidder.
There’s nothing like a good grift — except the payoff from
said swindle. A swindler takes their time, chooses their
mark, and gets away with the goods. Some have a signa-
ture con, while others never do the same job twice. If
your scoundrel is a swindler, you might ask…
++ What is the biggest lie that they tell themselves? Whose Universe Is This, Anyway?
++ What would they consider to be the perfect con?
Looking through the factions listed here, you
++ Would they ever swindle someone they’re close to?
might discover that more than a few of them
echo factions from classic sci-fi films or litera-
ture. This is done on purpose, to make it easy to
translate NTMO to the universe of your choice.
That said, if your group wants to use NTMO for
a completely different scenario, you can and
should ignore all of these factions in favor of
others that you find more inspiring!

42 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 43
MODERATOR TOOLS

MODER
TOOLS
005.

44 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


“Let me give you some
advice. Assume everyone
will betray you, and you will
never be disappointed.”
—TOBIAS BECKETT

RATOR
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 45
EXCITING BEGINNINGS
NTMO is best when it starts out a bang. There’s a reason
that both Firefly and Star Wars: A New Hope open with a
firefight — scoundrel stories should have high stakes. Try
to launch into your adventure mid-story. The best scoun-
drels don’t plan out every move; they improvise, rolling
with what the galaxy sends their way.
Rather than meeting in a bar, start your story being
hailed by the blockade you’re trying to smuggle goods
through or corkscrewing your ship through a debris field
while being pursued by the rich and powerful people
you just robbed.
There will be time to sip expensive Vendrakian cognac
and swap strategies with your crew later. First, deal with
the moon-slug that has your hovercraft’s engines in its
putrid teeth.

HIGH STAKES
The RM should always take a piece of paper and write
down what matters most to each scoundrel. Remember
to keep pressure on that factor. Your players created
scoundrels they want to be invested in … merely jeop-
ardizing their lives isn’t enough.
If you have a scoundrel who listed their reputation
as their most important value, introduce a blackmailer.
If someone values their relationship with their co-pilot
more than anything else, perhaps a ne’er-do-well suitor
should enter the picture and threaten to Yoko Ono their
partnership.
Whatever you do, make it matter to the scoundrels
by threatening what they care most about. Anything less
and the stakes are too low.

STORIES
Once the exciting beginning has roped in the players,
it’s time to start telling your story. In NTMO, stories can
be about anything, but we find the game usually works
best when you start out with a high-risk situation, drop
down to low risk, then build back up to high risk again FACTIONS
over the course of the adventure. NTMO can be played in any galaxy, from the great worlds
We’ve included some ideas to help get your story shown on the screen to a completely original world spun
started, with potential jobs broken down by factions. from your imagination. This section contains ideas for
But everyone knows a good scoundrel job is the one a few different factions you can build into your game
that goes sideways. Here are some ways to keep your — especially if you need inspiration for exciting scenes,
scoundrels on their toes: jobs for your crew, or characters and objects they might
encounter. Together, they create a single fabric of science
++ The objective is a fake.
fiction storytelling. Try rolling on the tables below for
++ The objective has been right there the whole time.
inspiration but, like any good scavenger, you should use
++ The objective has to do with a character’s past.
whatever you like and jettison the rest.
++ The job is a suicide mission.
++ The person who put you up to
the job is the real villain.
++ The job is just a test.

46 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


GOOD SOCIETY
the precision required for duels
Welcome to the fast lane. Good Society is made up
5. an ornate desk, stuffed with complex financial
of the rich and influential, with all their lace and records going back hundreds of years
satin and fine jewels. Members of Good Society 6. a PleasureBoxX90™, which is better left unopened
drift through scintillating nebulas in their super- 7. a luxury hovercar, complete with AI driver
and complimentary champagne
yachts, hosting parties with delicacies from some far
8. a mecha mastiff, with its programming
quadrant of the galaxy. In Good Society, appearance set to lethal protection levels
is everything. If you’re going to stab someone in the 9. a floating mansion, which drifts above
back, use a jeweled dagger inlaid with Antarrikan the jungles of a pristine exoplanet
pearl — and make sure you look good doing it. 10. a deadly ore mine, carefully kept off
all the tax records due to the horrid
working conditions and forced labor
Characters
You might meet...
Locations
1. the richest man in space, patriarch
You might visit...
of an incalculable fortune
2. a scheming noble, willing to slaughter entire
1. the abandoned mansion of a once-great
planets just to undermine a rival family
family, now filled with squatters (or worse)
3. a runaway heiress, who swore off her family
2. a rustic luxury getaway, nestled in the
upon learning of their dark dealings
untouched reaches of a wilderness planet
4. a discreet private investigator, who
3. a rehabilitation center and medical spa, built
specializes in making problems disappear
for members of society who need to overcome
5. an elite entertainer, beloved by all and
personal demons or reinvent themselves
invited to every social function
4. a soaring megatower, where the real work
6. the black sheep, who deals with the less-
gets done, fortunes are made, and planets are
pleasant side of the family business
bought and sold as common commodities
7. an eternal partygoer, hopping from
5. a teeming planetside metropolis, full of
one social event to the next
luxury stores, penthouse suites, gleaming
8. an elite bodyguard, trained to be
hovercraft, and all the best parties
flawlessly inconspicuous
6. the family quarters of a private mansion, kept
9. a well-dressed drunk, who demands to speak
safe by elite guards and impenetrable defenses
with someone in a position of authority
10. a gold-digger, on the prowl for a potential spouse
11. the infant child of a fashion megastar,
Jobs
left in the perpetual care of nannies
You might be asked to...
12. a brilliant socialite, who knows absolutely everyone
1. track down a runaway heir with nearly limitless
resources and no desire to be found.
Things
2. defend a family’s ancestral home from
You might find...
an imminent natural disaster.
3. undermine a delicate financial endeavor by
1. a priceless ring, containing a jewel
sabotaging the operation from the inside.
from the heart of a dying star
4. dazzle your client’s hated rival by throwing
2. a vial of untraceable poison, which
the greatest space-yacht party ever.
originates on an exotic moon
5. survey an uncharted region for natural
3. a fashion-printer, capable of producing
resources that can be exploited.
the most stylish apparel
6. deploy a digital virus to seek and destroy
4. a lightweight laser pistol, built with
a vicious piece of blackmail.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 47


HYPERVIKINGS
Things
To the conqueror goes the honor and glory!
You might find...
Hypervikings are star pirates who swoop in from
nowhere to raid unsuspecting ships. Existing 1. a data chip full of invaluable information,
as a ragged culture at the edges of dangerous tossed casually on a scrap heap
2. a crude knife, fashioned out of
asteroid fields or unchartable regions of space, the
debris from a prior raid
Hypervikings have a strong code of honor. They 3. a salvage kit, equally useful for harvesting
live and die to the fullest, risking everything for a valuable parts or patching a damaged bulkhead
good raid. Some are born Hypervikings and a few 4. a mangy cat, trained to leap through the
seek out the pirate life, but most are forced to take smoke of a raid and claw out victims’ eyes
5. a force shield, perfect for charging unharmed
on the raider’s mantle out of total desperation.
through an onslaught of blaster fire
Consequently, they often have nothing left to lose as 6. a debris gun, which has an open chamber
they spiral their spiked, cannon-covered junk ships into which literally anything can be
toward the nearest trade convoy. loaded and fired at deadly velocity
7. a raid jetpack, cobbled together from spare
parts, with enough fuel for a single thrust
Characters
8. an enormous bomb, which can be fired over
You might meet...
the enemy’s bow as a warning shot and then
detonated later as a tactical surprise
1. a ferocious raid-queen, who has led her
9. a hidden fortress in the shadow of a crater,
pirate fleet through innumerable attacks by
populated with cooks and weaklings
dint of her sheer bravery and cunning
10. a mismatched fleet of rusting ships, heavily
2. an unscrupulous slaver, who specializes in
modified and armed to the teeth
capturing sentient cargo and selling them to
the highest bidder, no questions asked
3. an enterprising young warlord, who wants
Locations
to unite the raiding parties into a republic
You might visit...
4. a lone wolf with a distinctive ship, who
takes down entire convoys single handedly
1. a debris field, left behind with the
and claims all the loot for himself
spinning wreckage of a past raid
5. a so-called ship’s cook, who is actually the
2. a small raiding party of just a few ships, trying
individual in charge of supplies, logistics,
to eke out survival by preying on poorly
and keeping the crew alive between raids
defended colonies and lost travelers
6. a dangerous berserker, always the first
3. a truceport — part repair station, part watering
into the breach and completely bereft
hole — where raiders of different parties
of all sense of self-preservation
come together to resupply, swap glory-
7. a weakling crew member, unable to participate
stories, and drink themselves half to death
in raids and therefore responsible for repairs
4. a large raiding fleet, under the command of
and other subservient duties aboard the ship
a raid-lord, regarded as a military power
8. an arrogant warrior, eager to attack anyone who
5. a support flotilla, following the raiding party at
insults his honor or quarrels over the division of loot
a distance with supplies, loved ones, and cargo
9. the spoiled child of a raid-lord, used to getting
holds stuffed with loot and enslaved captives
whatever they want on threat of death
6. a torchlit proving ground on a barren moon,
10. a bright-eyed young raider, ready to do
where raid-lords engage in brutal hand-to-hand
anything to prove their worth to the crew
combat for control of a fleet or disputed sector
11. an enslaved captive, forced to undertake
dangerous and demeaning labor or else
wait in a cage for some worse fate
12. a smooth-talking spy, who blends in with
potential targets and transmits their coordinates,
defenses, and loot haul to the waiting raiders

48 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Mission Log:
Jobs The Great Clone Hunt
You might be asked to...
You’ve never had a job quite like this before.
The local authorities have hired you to take
1. hunt down and execute a brutal raid-king
down a ship carrying the most dangerous crim-
who has crossed the line into dishonor.
inal boss in the sector — hundreds of him. It
2. keep the fleet alive as they cross a dangerous
seems Gunface Jones made a deal with the
void to more fertile raiding grounds.
Vashdrikan Collective to create custom clones
3. stamp out the dishonorable cult that the
of himself, and the ship carrying those clones
weaklings are spreading from fleet to fleet.
is on its way through the notorious Scaldpot
4. overthrow a rival raid-lord and claim
Asteroid Belt, headed to his hideaway on a
their raiding party for your very own.
private moon. Taking down one criminal genius
5. stop the mysterious force that is obliterating
is hard enough. How are you ever going to hunt
raiding parties as they lie in ambush.
Gunface Jones by the hundreds?
6. steal cloaking technology to enable raids
on prizes previously unimaginable.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 49


THE ORDER OF THE STARS Things
You might find...
Some say a secret energy surrounds us and
penetrates us, binding the galaxy together. The 1. a pouch of meditation stones, used
for practicing basic levitation
Order of the Stars is a secretive religious faction that
2. a fetish from a dark sect, used as a focus
safeguards this ancient knowledge and, some say, for the most taboo of mystical abilities
actual magic. This lore is guarded zealously, and 3. an ancient scroll, with the order’s teachings
to cross a member of the order is to find yourself on the source of mystical power
on the receiving end of dire consequences. Various 4. a forbidden holo-recording, showing a dark monk
slaughtering civilians as a demonstration of power
sects compete within the Order of the Stars, each 5. a looking basin, used for order ceremonies
convinced that their interpretation of the ancient and surveying distant reaches of space
teachings is the only correct one, and that the other 6. an order staff, which appears to be an ordinary
sects are evil and must be opposed at all costs. walking stick until empowered with mystical blades
7. a room-sized sphere of glass and wood, powered
by mystical energies rather than engines, which
Characters
is used by the order as a personal vehicle
You might meet...
8. a towering sentinel statue, which can come
to life should the teachings be endangered
1. an ancient loremaster, brimming with
9. a dilapidated hut, which opens into a cavernous
hidden mystical power, who has studied the
room constructed of mystical energy
stars and the ancient texts for centuries
10. an asteroid-sized sphere of destructive energy,
2. the dark leader of a splinter sect, who exploits
summoned by powerful monks to bring about
the order’s teachings for personal gain
the utter obliteration of their enemies
3. an elite warrior of the order, esteemed by the
leaders of many sects as an embodiment of mystical
power and the teachings of the ancient lore
Locations
4. an order assassin, sent by the loremasters to
You might visit...
execute any who pose a threat to the order
5. a monk of the order, full of mystical power,
1. an abandoned temple, where a terrible
who has dedicated his life to the teachings
energy was unleashed millennia ago
6. a warrior-monk, who uses physical
2. the home of a monk who oversees the safety
force empowered by the mystical arts
and spiritual guidance of an isolated colony
to safeguard the order’s secrets
3. a secret monastery, hidden by mystical powers
7. a servant, imbued with some low-level
in an otherwise uninhabitable world
mystical power, dedicated to humility
4. a great temple of the order in the center
and personal abnegation
of a city, heavily guarded against curious
8. an armed guard, without mystical power
outsiders by warrior-monks and sentinels
but devoted to the order’s teachings
5. a small forest planet, controlled by the
9. a dull and officious monk, always
order and dotted with their monasteries,
lecturing about the morals and lessons
temples, and ancient shrines
of the order’s ancient teachings
6. a forbidden grotto, powerful in mystical
10. an initiate of the order, who stumbled
energy, where order initiates are taken
across their teachings after discovering
to undergo a deadly test of their powers
they had some access to mystical power
before becoming monks or warriors
11. an order child, born to the monks or dedicated
by their parents at a young age, thanks to
mystical power demonstrated from the cradle
12. a political adjunct, serving as ambassador
for the order in the halls of secular power

50 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Jobs Mission Log:
You might be asked to... Vow of Poverty
There are three things every-
1. recover ancient texts that were stolen and
one knows about the Order of
return the thief for judgment.
the Stars: First, they’re secretive.
2. assist the order as they seek to harness a storm
Second, they’re serious. Third,
of mystical energy on an alien planet.
they have fabulous riches hidden
3. bring down a mad sect leader who wields
away in their temples on the jungle
unimaginable mystical power.
planet of Calabar Zed. The plan
4. undergo the twelve tests of an initiate at
is to arrive as initiates and go
one of the order’s great temples.
through whatever rites, rituals,
5. discover why the mystical energy is disappearing
and tests they throw your way.
in a growing region of space.
Whoever makes it to the inner
6. investigate a bizarre rumor that robots at a remote mining
circle shares the treasure with
station have begun manifesting the order’s mystical power.
whoever washes out. Of course,
nobody knows what the treasure
actually is, or whether it even can
be shared…

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 51


SPACE-NIHILISTS
Things
When a building inexplicably explodes and nobody
You might find...
claims credit, people whisper that the Space-
Nihilists must have been behind it. They believe in 1. an audio transmitter linked to a space-
nothing, and nothing is more terrifying than that. nihilist communication network, which
sends outgoing messages to a randomly
Perpetrators of random acts of violence and chaos,
selected receiver on the other end
Space-Nihilists oppose order and structure in all 2. a pocket-sized bomb that, once armed,
forms. The galaxy can be a cruel and unpredictable will detonate after a random interval
place, and those who seek out the tenets of Space- 3. a patternless list of potential
Nihilism embrace that unpredictability, finding a targets for future attacks
4. a scrambling device that disrupts
certain liberation in it.
communications within a building-sized area
5. a holo-display of a hypnotic pattern that scrambles
Characters
the reasoning center of the viewer’s brain, making
You might meet...
rational thought temporarily impossible
6. a table-sized stasis crate which contains
1. a charismatic leader, who brings together a
the victim of a random kidnapping
loose organization of space-nihilists so that they
7. an unmarked and untraceable shuttle,
can pull off acts of truly impressive mayhem
anonymously donated to the cause
2. a bomber or poisoner with a secret identity,
8. a weaponized shipping container,
who uses their cover as someone rich and
infected with a deadly bio-weapon
famous to sow the seeds of destruction
9. a hijacked cruiser, rigged with explosives
3. a counter-nihilist, who takes special pride
and aimed directly at a populated area
in disrupting the plans of other space-
10. a listening post on an uninhabited moon, where
nihilists out of the belief that they’ve
an AI receives and coordinates space-nihilist
become too ideologically homogeneous
resources without sentient interaction
4. a recruiter, who locates likely targets while
at their most desperate and vulnerable,
giving them a little push into chaos
Locations
5. a mechanical genius, who can cobble together
You might visit...
explosives and escape mechanisms from
old bits of tech that are lying around
1. a structure demolished in the aftermath
6. a heavy-hitting bruiser, who pushes the
of a space-nihilist explosion
space-nihilist agenda on an individual level by
2. an underground meeting place for space-
randomly pummeling strangers in dark alleys
nihilists in a shabby basement or bar
7. an academic expert, often consulted by the
3. the luxurious home of a wealthy donor who
authorities in the wake of space-nihilist attacks,
supports the cause for eccentric reasons
who has perhaps read too much of their philosophy
4. a fortified munitions factory that ships bombs
8. a low-level cell member, armed with a
to space-nihilist cells throughout the sector
handgun and a pervasive belief in nothing
5. a squalid block in a crowded metropolis, where
9. a clown or mime, dedicated to nonviolent
the only logic is power and intimidation
nihilism and acts of random nonsense
6. an amusement park that used to be an orbital
10. a robot programmed to cause mayhem
station, now derelict and adrift in space
at the most inopportune moments
11. the victim of a space-nihilist attack, who
was once held at blaster-point
12. a brilliant logician, seated high within the halls
of power, who believes that logic itself is simply
a childish game for fools and simpletons

52 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Jobs
You might be asked to...
THE GALACTIC CONGRESS
There’s nothing more terrifying than an efficient
1. track down a serial bomber planning a major subcommittee. The Galactic Congress are politicians
attack on a densely populated area.
... in space! They simply ooze charm. (Depending
2. race to contain a bio-weapon unleashed
on an otherwise pristine planet. on their race and homeworld, they may also ooze
3. expose a secret cell of space-nihilists operating ooze.) They lie, they cheat, and they jump from
in the highest levels of government. system to system in an effort to collect votes and
4. infiltrate the space-nihilists’ organization sway the populace in favor of their pet projects
and bring them down from the inside.
5. confront the arrival of a powerful new
and complex machinations. Some say they’re
alien species that operates through pure ineffectual bureaucrats more interested in scoring
randomness and threatens to unite all the political points than getting anything done for
space-nihilists under their banner. their constituents. In response, the Galactic
6. locate a space-nihilist munitions factory
Congress would like to say: “Just wait until the
and destroy their means of production.
next sub-relocal-anti-pre-strawvote-primary-
quarterterm ballot results come in, and then we’ll
see who’s laughing!”

Characters
You might meet...

1. the High Chancellor, ceremonial leader of the


congress, who is the most powerful (and, some
say, most frustrated) creature in the galaxy
2. a powerful congressional figure, ready to
embroil half the galaxy in civil war if it would
get them a shot at the chancellorship
3. a new congress member from a remote farming
world, who believes in the principles of space-
democracy and refuses to be corrupted
4. a politician responsible for using whatever
means necessary to round up the votes
required to pass key legislation
5. the chief-of-staff for a powerful politician, who
knows how to circumvent any obstacle
6. an elderly statesman, who crushes all
opposition through the power of his
personality and the fire of his rhetoric
7. a civic-minded citizen, who has come to
congress to observe democracy in action
8. an elite security guard, vigilant against
any potential threat to the congress
9. a tiresome pollster, endlessly asking questions in
order to measure current sentiment and opinions
on subjects that seem impossibly irrelevant
10. a low-level staffer, who does legwork for
the higher-ups in the halls of power
11. a political refugee, who came to ask the
congress for help and has gotten nowhere
12. a local knowledge broker, who has no official
ties to government but seems to collect
political secrets like a spider in a web

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 53


Things
Mission Log:
You might find...
Get Out & Get Even
You meet in a filthy prison on the 1. a congressional signet ring, for authenticating major legislation
edge of space, each of you put 2. a bug or wiretap, which transmits audio and
there by Søren V. Hildegrante, an 3D video to someone listening nearby
android whose political brilliance 3. a quantum messenger pigeon, the most secure way of
and personal charm has cata- transmitting messages via teleporting birds in the galaxy
pulted him to the highest levels of 4. a 700-page legal document, full of unintelligible jargon
galactic power. All of you have that masks an agreement of truly nefarious purpose
crossed him at some point, and 5. a pool table with secret compartments, only
none of you have forgiven him for accessible when the right balls are sunk
locking you away. The mission is 6. a triple-reinforced emergency stasis vault, designed for
simple: First, break out of maximum a congress member to take shelter in during an attack
security prison. Next, fly across 7. a congressional shuttle, heavily armored and armed with
the limitless expanse of heav- political immunity against most local and galactic regulations
ily patrolled space. Then, sneak 8. a mega-nuclear weapon capable of planetary
into the heart of civilization on the destruction, stockpiled in case of mutually assured
paradise planet of Ysylla. Last, get destruction with another superpower
even with the most powerful public 9. a private warp gate, allowing instant travel between
figure in the galaxy. Easy. the congress member’s office and their homeworld
10. massive terraforming equipment, ready to dismantle a
“backwards planet full of savages” to make way for progress

Locations
You might visit...

1. a dingy bureaucratic office full of miserable


paperwork and endless queues
2. a local electoral rally or political speech venue
3. a data center which measures galactic mood by the nanosecond
4. a militarized bunker for at-risk congress
members in case of the threat of war
5. the soaring stone-and-glass Galactic Congress
Hall in the heart of civilization
6. the great debate chamber which functions as
the very throne room of democracy

Jobs
You might be asked to...

1. run a smear campaign to discredit your client’s opponent.


2. travel to a distant, frozen moon to collect the
local ballot box during a crucial race.
3. obtain a secret permit, whispered about in the lore
of bureaucrats across the galaxy, which legally
gives you permission to do anything you want.
4. lead an uprising against an unpopular leader
who has seized control of the congress.
5. investigate a mass brainwashing tool that someone is
using to change the minds of voters and politicians alike.
6. set up the transmitters in deep space to create the biggest
holographic projection the galaxy has ever seen — a
nebula-sized image of your client making a speech.

54 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


THE IRON IMPERIUM
Things
Every star is subject to the will of the mighty. The
You might find...
Iron Imperium is a militant empire that subjugates
every system within their reach, laying claim to 1. an eye implant that transmits everything a shock
huge swaths of space. They build garrisons full of trooper sees back to their commanding officers
2. a security chip which identifies the
shock troopers and raise blockades to “inspect”
bearer as a trusted imperium agent
every civilian ship passing through, no matter how 3. a tiny messenger/repair robot, known for
innocuous the cargo. Some might call them evil; they whizzing around the ankles of imperium soldiers
insist that they bring civilization and peace through while making a mouse-like skittering noise
superior firepower, erecting schools to indoctrinate 4. a standard-issue blast laser, with
stun and kill settings
and fortresses to subjugate. Only the very foolish
5. a shipboard inspection scanner, made for scanning
or very desperate would oppose such power. In the the ships of potential smugglers for contraband
Iron Imperium, everything proceeds as the Grand 6. an interrogation robot, all needles
Imperator wills it. and sparking electrodes
7. a heavy blast cannon, carried in pieces
by infantry and set up quickly to deal
Characters
serious damage on the battlefield
You might meet...
8. a single-person dogfighter, not much more
than a blast cannon strapped to an engine,
1. the Grand Imperator, unquestioned dictator
without so much as a scrap of shielding
and absolute ruler over the countless fleets and
9. a planetside shield generator, projecting a
immeasurable resources of the imperium
defense network for ships or stations in orbit
2. a high admiral, renowned for his ruthless
10. a domination-class star cruiser, capable
genocide against species deemed unworthy
of carrying enough shock troopers and
or unpleasing by the Grand Imperator
dogfighters to subjugate a populated planet
3. a captain, raised to serve the imperium from youth,
who leads her crew under the belief that what they
do is truly in the name of peace and civilization
Locations
4. an indoctrinator, with technology capable of
You might visit...
mass-brainwashing resistant populations
5. a shock-trooper captain, with a platoon
1. the smoking ruins of a village recently
of crack soldiers at her disposal
“pacified” by imperium shock troopers
6. a heavy-duty siegebreaker robot, designed to mow
2. a military school or training facility for
down rioters and plow through rebel fortifications
local youths and fresh recruits
7. an imperium citizen, doing their best
3. a guard tower with heavy artillery, perfect
to get by under the iron heel
for keeping the streets and skies in order
8. a shock trooper, armored from head to toe
4. a secure base, complete with energy
and wielding a standard-issue blast laser
shields, thick walls, armed shock troopers,
9. a bean-counting bureaucrat, unwilling to overlook
and blast cannons at every corner
the smallest infraction of imperium law
5. an imperium city on a rich world, full
10. an imperium peacekeeper, wearing no
of comfortable loyalists who would do
armor and carrying only a stun baton
anything to maintain the status quo
11. an imperium prisoner, being held in an
6. the flagship of the imperium fleet, which serves as
interrogation chamber until they give up
the personal conveyance of the Grand Imperator
the secrets of the Alliance of Revolt
when they deign to travel among the stars
12. a loose-lipped bartender, who keeps
the local populace informed of
imperium rumors (and vice versa)

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 55


Jobs
You might be asked to...

1. eliminate a deserter who stole sensitive 4. infiltrate a heavily guarded imperium base
intelligence when they abandoned their post. to find and free a political prisoner.
2. guard an Imperium colony on a hostile 5. escort a translator on their way to negotiate
planet against any indigenous threats. the surrender of a subjugated alien race.
3. covertly acquire illegal medicinal substances for 6. clean up the after-effects of a mass-
the Grand Imperator’s personal use. brainwashing session gone terribly wrong.

56 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


THE MERCHANT LEAGUE Things
Money makes the stars glow bright. The Merchant You might find...
League is a trade federation whose star-galleons can
1. a measuring tool that instantly recognizes
be found in every major shipping lane, their holds
the weight and dimensions of any object
heavy with wealth from across the central systems. 2. a remote-detonator set to blow up a shipment
As a civilian organization, the Merchant League rather than let it fall into pirate hands
often has to turn to professionals to protect their 3. a rare case of expensive and luxurious
convoys and guard their negotiations. After all, with silks from a remote planet
4. a crate of rotten fruit, contaminated
this kind of money at stake, you’re going to need with Ben’Zavokian beetle blight
some big guns at the door. 5. a holographic assistant
6. a defense robot, set to protect cargo no matter what
Characters 7. a signature-scrambler, designed to mask a
You might meet... convoy’s passage from would-be raiders
8. a fast transport ship for urgent business
1. a trade admiral, responsible for a fleet of 9. a star-galleon, slow moving and laden with
merchant ships across known space the untold wealth of distant systems
2. a scarcity specialist, who expertly poisons 10. a hangar full of experimental security
agriculture and demolishes defenseless colonies bots, which need to be deactivated
in order to drive up the price of goods
3. a career captain, who always makes his
shipment on time, no matter what Locations
4. an image expert, renowned for the ability to You might visit...
spin any disaster to the client’s advantage
5. a rising capitalist, with a keen eye for 1. the blackened skeleton of a convoy ship, shot
the next quadrillion-credit deal down and crash-landed on a distant moon
6. a huge, mustachioed guard, responsible 2. a space-station hotel, the designated meeting
for keeping his eye on hard assets place for a group of quarreling merchants
7. a local urchin, hired to watch over the 3. a bank, with floors and pillars of polished marble
wares and shout if anything goes awry 4. a shipping yard, full of valuable
8. a customs inspector, who insists on goods from across the galaxy
checking over every crate 5. the floor of the galactic exchange, where
9. a hired gun, charged with overseeing fortunes are made or lost in a heartbeat
the security of a shipment 6. a trade conference, full of long symposiums
10. a low-level manager, willing to do on how to squeeze money out of the stars
anything to climb the ladder
11. a miserable employee, who can barely
mask their disdain for their boss Jobs
12. a member of a rival company, engaging You might be asked to...
in corporate espionage
1. eliminate a dangerous pirate who has
been preying on the league’s ships.
2. rush a shipment through warped space
to keep the contents from spoiling.
3. persuade a powerful businessman to come
around to your client’s point of view.
4. sell rare goods to terrifying ancient aliens
in the farthest reaches of space.
5. prevent another faction’s reps from inspecting
a business opportunity too closely.
6. test out miniaturization technology that will
allow for unlimited transport of goods.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 57


THE SLIME MOB
Make sure you pay off the Slime Mob when you
get the chance. The Slime Mob is a seedy criminal
underground run by giant alien slugs. If you don’t
follow their rules, they’re liable to put a price on your
head so high that every bounty hunter in the galaxy
will be looking for you. Listen, the Slime Mob can
be great. They can offer the best jobs, fix matches
for big winnings, and pay their favorite goons in
moons and pleasure planets. But cross them, insult
them, even look at them the wrong way, and you’re
likely to find yourself at the bottom of a Grugnak pit,
asking yourself why you didn’t go into interstellar
medicine like your mother told you to.

Characters
You might meet...

1. a slug lord, who is ruthless, fabulously


wealthy, and surrounded by a court of
minions ready to leap at his bidding
2. a murderous mob boss, ruling her slice
of the galaxy by fear and corruption
3. an undercover agent of the local law enforcement,
infiltrating the mob to bring it down from the inside
4. a bounty hunter, hired to track down former Things
mob employees who fall out of favor You might find...
5. a sleazy majordomo, in charge of running
the slug lord’s palace and taking bribes 1. a smart-mask, which fits snugly over
6. a chained monster, barely capable of speech or a humanoid’s face and makes them
sentient thought, kept around to menace and unrecognizable to security cameras
devour those who displease the slug lord 2. a sonic grenade, capable of knocking out
7. an entertainer, hired to dance, sing, tell jokes, a roomful of guards or mobsters
or otherwise lighten the slug lord’s mood 3. records of all fixed betting matches, both
8. hired muscle, outfitted with cheap past and upcoming, in a nearby system
armor and weaponry, ready to look 4. a set of blast knuckles, which can pack
the other way for a cheap bribe twice the punch when wrapped around
9. an intoxicated guest of the slime lord, the hand of a capable brawler
who has been partying way too long 5. a case of shockingly expensive red wine
10. a watchfrog, trained to croak 6. the half-disintegrated skeleton of a former
loudly at signs of trouble mobster who made bad decisions
11. an old employee of the slug lord, frozen in stasis as 7. a smuggler’s hover-bus, marked with the
permanent punishment for displeasing the boss insignia of a nearby school for war-orphans
12. a former member of the mob, hiding out in 8. a pit, in which dwells the flesh-eating monster used
witness protection and cooperating with local by the slug lord to devour those who displease him
law enforcement to bring down the slug lords 9. a pleasure barge, perfect for holding
criminal court on-the-go
10. a factory for the production and
distribution of mind-altering drugs

58 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Locations Jobs
You might visit... You might be asked to...

1. a filthy, crime-ridden slum 1. bring in a smuggler, dead or


2. a maze-like network of back alleys, rooftops, and sewers alive, who dumped his cargo
3. the back room of an expensive restaurant, at the first sign of trouble.
where the real business gets done 2. discreetly escort your client’s
4. a safe house, complete with a cache of guns, hormonal child to a fancy
fake identities, and contraband masquerade ball at a rival
5. the fortified palace of a slug lord, complete with gang’s palace, making sure
guards, monsters, entertainers, and a court of they stay out of trouble.
thugs ready to obey the boss’s every whim 3. convince the local authorities
6. galactic prison, where amateur gangsters turn into real pros that your client’s territory
should be left alone.
4. conduct a raid on a rival gang’s
territory to show them that
Mission Log: One Very Last Job
your client means business.
Your captain has been called back by his old shipmates for one final 5. find and silence the source of
mission. The job? To steal the crown jewels from the royal hive of Ur-Ga- a new, extremely dangerous
lax. He’s bringing your crew along to make sure the job gets done, but alien drug that’s recently
there’s one small detail: He’s never forgiven his old shipmates for the flooded your client’s territory.
way they left him behind on the Skull Heist and, as soon as the crown 6. destroy the police
jewels are secure, he’d like you to help him with a little job of his own supercomputer that’s recently
— payback. been predicting your client’s
every move with 100% accuracy.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 59


SCI-TECH INCORPORATED
Things
Technological progress is its own reward. Sci-Tech
You might find...
Incorporated is a massive galactic corporation
dedicated to the advancement of science. Although 1. a handheld miniaturizer, capable of
some might call their methods dangerous, illegal, shrinking an entire ship and crew down
to a fraction of their normal size
immoral, or detrimental to the fabric of space and
2. an insectile microbot, used mostly for carrying
time, the researchers at Sci-Tech Incorporated messages, recording secrets, and delivering toxins
understand that a calculated risk is an important 3. a short-range teleportation device
part of building better worlds. Whether it’s 4. a security device that only allows a few seconds
harvesting exotic exobiology, digging in the ruins to solve a mind-numbingly difficult math problem
before exploding or sounding an alarm
of alien temples, or splicing together genes and
5. a stasis chamber, providing eternal
machines of all sorts, Sci-Tech Incorporated is out life in suspended animation
there pushing boundaries for the good of all (except 6. the android doppelgänger of a member of the crew
the ones who are dead). 7. a one-way time machine (still being debugged)
8. a military-grade mech-suit
9. a sentient city, run by a single AI
Characters
10. an intelligent plague, programmed to
You might meet...
destroy a certain targeted group
1. a research executive, in charge of a research
facility or vessel, empowered to make life-or-
Locations
death decisions in the pursuit of knowledge
You might visit...
2. a true mad scientist, armed with the
technology, funding, and know-how to
1. an abandoned lab, shut down after the
create original monsters and killer robots
experiments went horribly wrong
3. a celebrity doctor, known sector-
2. a medical clinic, whose services are offered by
wide for curing a terrible disease
the company for free to the local population,
4. an AI, responsible for managing a secret
so long as certain samples are collected
facility with human test subjects
3. a research station on a remote exoplanet
5. a quantum-mechanics expert, who can
4. a secure experimentation facility,
engineer her way out of any situation
carefully shielded from prying eyes
6. an employee equipped with an advanced
5. a university, where the most brilliant young
military exoskeleton, capable of
minds of science are trained for tomorrow
superhuman strength and martial arts
6. a laboratory, full of promising and
7. an onsite reporter, currently writing a
boundary-pushing experiments
feature article on one of the researchers
8. a security guard, armed with the very
latest in advanced weaponry
Jobs
9. a noted lecturer, who takes every opportunity
You might be asked to...
to tell the same tired jokes and boring
stories he’s used at science symposiums
1. shut down the experiments of a former
countless times throughout his career
employee who’s taking his research too far.
10. an experimental mutant or android that
2. neutralize a terrible storm that threatens
doesn’t quite have all the kinks worked out
the existence of a settlement.
11. a patient receiving a highly experimental
3. travel back in time to prevent a galaxy-
transfusion as part of a semi-illegal treatment
destroying experiment from ever taking place.
12. a janitor who’s seen more than he should
4. convince a group of overzealous researchers
and is willing to talk — for the right price
to let a primitive planetoid exist in peace.
5. undergo voluntary testing of an experimental
mutagen that may give you superpowers.
6. destroy an intelligent computer virus that is
beginning to manifest godlike powers.

60 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


THE SPRAWN
Sometimes it’s better just to run. The Sprawn are Things
an alien horde of flesh-destroying monsters. Their You might find...
paralyzing pincers, oozing tentacles, and hypnotic
1. a flame grenade for eradicating sprawn eggs
eyes are the stuff of nightmares. All fangs, slime, 2. a sprawn egg, liable to hatch into at any moment
spines, and pseudopods, the Sprawn are as strange 3. a recording of classical violin, which
and mutated as they are terrifying. Wherever the momentarily halts the sprawn in their tracks
Sprawn appear in the galaxy, they either eradicate 4. a psychic beacon that calls to the sprawn hive mind
5. a vial of sprawn pheromones, which
or are eradicated; there can be no middle ground. render the wearer invisible to the hive
6. a heavy-duty repeating blast-cannon
Characters
7. an armored hovercraft, reinforced
You might meet...
against acid and bio-weapons
8. a sprawn behemoth, at least two stories
1. the sprawn queen, which controls the horde
tall, bred to smash through defenses
and lays thousands of gleaming eggs
9. a sprawn interstellar floater, the ship-sized
2. an obsessive scientist, trying to splice
organism that serves as host for the sprawn
sprawn DNA with that of other species
as they travel from system to system
3. a former colonist, who has spent her life fighting
10. a sprawn containment fleet, trained and
the sprawn on the edge of civilization
equipped to stop the spread of sprawn
4. a sprawn assassin-drone, bred to execute
contagion on a planetary scale
those marked for death by the queen
5. a sprawn infestor, which spews corrosive
slime that carries the sprawn virus
Locations
6. a sprawn titan, which can crush a
You might visit...
building under its chitinous bulk
7. a colonist, who just barely survived a
1. an infested colony, now overrun with sprawn
firsthand encounter with the sprawn
2. a sprawn egg chamber, covered in slime
8. a sprawn drone, mindless except in its
and full of eggs about to hatch
instinct to kill, infest, and lay eggs
3. a bunker in an infested area, holding off the
9. a xenobiologist, who insists that the sprawn
horde with force fields and blast cannons
should be studied and reasoned with
4. a sprawn research facility, built to
10. a balloon-like sprawn mine-drifter, which
cage and dissect the organisms
spews forth corrosive acid upon bursting
5. a convoy that’s fallen to the sprawn, infested
11. a former humanoid, now infested with the
with oozing organisms and spiraling through
sprawn virus, who might yet be saved
space under control of the hive mind
12. an undesirable alien, who tapped into the
6. the inky-black sprawn homeworld
sprawn hive mind and can act as interpreter

Jobs
Mission Log: Changeling Stars
You might be asked to...
If it were just one or two families, it would be worrisome.
But no fewer than twelve rich and powerful families have 1. rescue your client’s estranged child, last seen
recently discovered that their heirs are not, in fact, them- in a sector now overrun by the sprawn.
selves, but xenomorphic replacements that dissolve into 2. fight back the sprawn invasion long enough
black goo after a short time. Somebody is kidnapping for rescue ships to evacuate a settlement.
children of the rich and powerful en masse … and all 3. travel into sprawn space to find their homeworld
signs point to the involvement of the Sprawn. Until now, and uncover the secrets of their origin.
the Sprawn were believed to be of mere animal intelli- 4. convince the skeptical public of the sprawn
gence, acting on violent instincts. Are the Sprawn them- threat, despite a misinformation campaign.
selves orchestrating these abductions? Or — perhaps 5. transport a single sprawn drone to a
more frighteningly — has someone else harnessed the research station without incident.
power of the Sprawn? 6. take down a super-advanced military
vessel that’s been recently infested.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 61


THE ALLIANCE OF REVOLT Things
You might find...
All that is required for evil to triumph is for good
humanoids to stand by and do nothing. The Alliance 1. a candle, left burning as a symbol of hope and revolt
2. a pair of stun-manacles, useful
of Revolt is a union of heroic do-gooders working to
for faking imprisonment
overthrow oppressive regimes. Whether pushing 3. a stolen data drive, containing plans to
back against corporate domination or authoritarian the enemy’s new superweapon
empires, the alliance is a network of passionate 4. a handheld pulse bomb, designed to knock
beings willing to risk everything to set people free. out all power sources within a small radius
5. a scrappy, wisecracking repair robot
6. the uniform and identifying codes
Characters
of a low-level enemy official
You might meet...
7. a single-pilot starfighter, built for
short-range dogfights
1. a regal humanoid, who inspires with her
8. a holographic camo kit, used to
oratory and guides with her brilliant strategy
conceal the entrance to a base
2. a sociopathic double agent, responsible for
9. an independent freighter, equipped
the deaths of countless alliance operatives
as a floating base for the alliance
3. a star pilot with uncanny aim, who has delivered
10. an innocent colony, condemned by the
the killshot to many superweapons
enemy as alliance sympathizers
4. an alliance recruiter, who travels undercover
and stirs up a spirit of revolt in the people
5. a veteran squadron leader with an impeccable
Locations
record, known for courage under fire
You might visit...
6. a towering ally, who wordlessly tears enemies
limb from limb at the first chance she gets
1. an old base on a remote planet, abandoned
7. an alliance sympathizer, who can’t join
when the enemy caught wind of the location
the revolt but offers aid in small ways
2. a village on a sympathetic planet, offering
8. an alliance gunner, ready to jump in any cockpit
provisions and medical care to the alliance
or foxhole to fight and die for freedom
3. an alliance safe house, hidden away in
9. a corrupt bureaucrat, paid to look the other
the basement of an urban center
way while the alliance carries out its agenda
4. an alliance outpost, well guarded but ready
10. a quirky robot, who cares a little too
to evacuate at a moment’s notice
much about the alliance agenda
5. a station in neutral space, where the alliance
11. a war-orphan, under the protection of the alliance
can operate as an independent power
12. a sympathetic merchant, who feeds the
6. a colony beyond the reach of the enemy,
alliance information about the enemy
where people can live free from oppression

Jobs
Mission Log: Shoot the Moon
You might be asked to...
The underworld poker game of the century is
mere days away. As is tradition, the winner will 1. convince a general to leave retirement and
not only get the pot, but also get to decide which lead the alliance in an hour of great need.
planet or moon to blow up as a sign of criminal 2. find a way to raise some fast capital so that
strength and defiance. The odds-on favorite is the alliance can maintain their operations.
Latricia the Left-Headed (who swears having two 3. smuggle a group of political refugees
heads doesn’t give her any advantage). There’s offworld and through an enemy blockade.
just one problem: Latricia has publicly boasted 4. Turn a neutral settlement against the
that she has her sights set on the home planet of enemy by stirring them up to revolt.
a member of your crew. There’s nothing else for 5. Scout an unexplored system for a safe
it; you have to make sure that Latricia loses that location to build a new alliance base.
game, by any means necessary. 6. Infiltrate the enemy’s hierarchy to steal
valuable information on their weak points.

62 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


BLACK$AIL Things
You might find...
Every secret has a price tag. Black$ail is a for-profit
spy network that sells compromising information 1. an untraceable currency chip,
perfect for receiving ransoms
to the highest bidder. Sometimes called the privacy
2. a stimpak, which gives an extra jolt of
pirates, Black$ail specializes in finding out what energy for marathon hacking sessions
people most want to hide and leveraging that desire 3. a wirespider, which crawls over cables and
into cold, hard credits. Although nobody is outside scans the datastream for interesting tidbits
their crosshairs, it’s well known that the network 4. a confetti detonator, designed to turn
everything within the blast radius to shreds
loves to target the rich and powerful. They can 5. a spy pet, with implanted recording gear
afford the big bounties, and cracking their security for full-time surveillance of its owners
systems is a much more rewarding challenge for the 6. an incinerator, ideal for instantaneously
kinds of souls that Black$ail attracts. destroying evidence
7. a hacked hovercar, with unidentifiable
plates and stolen driving codes
Characters
8. a sewer-cleaning bot, which has run amok
You might meet...
9. a virtual-reality arcade, with full-immersion
games and a blindingly fast connection
1. a legendary hacker, believed by most to
10. a physical prison, which uses mechanical
be merely a myth, who can move like a
locks and keys to incarcerate
ghost through any system, extracting
any desired information effortlessly
2. the leader of a splinter network, which
Locations
posts the most damaging information in
You might visit...
the most public way possible, demanding
ransoms after it’s already too late
1. a trashed hotel room, rented for a single
3. a Robin Hood-style pirate, who steals the
night with an oligarch’s stolen money
information of the explicitly corrupt and
2. a heavily encrypted virtual chat space
returns the profits to their victims
3. a hobby shop with a secret reputation
4. a figure known as the Biographer, capable of
as a Black$ail meeting place
assembling a perfect dossier on any single
4. an old starship-wreck, with functioning
person in the galaxy in a matter of seconds
power and treasure troves of data
5. a shutdown burglar, skilled at knocking out
5. a bustling metropolis, where disappearing
power and ransacking hard copies of secure
is a matter of stepping around a corner
data before anyone knows what’s happened
6. a top-secret research facility with
6. a chip-ripper, who takes data by force
a vulnerable password
7. a distraught client, pushed to hire Black$ail
out of greed, desperation, or fear
8. a hack-back-tracker, who covers the network’s
Jobs
traces in miles of digital spaghetti so that
You might be asked to...
they’re impossible for the authorities to find
9. a documentary holo-filmmaker, determined
1. out-hack your rival in a race for
to unmask the key actors behind Black$ail
heavily protected data.
10. a sentient watchdog AI, built to alert the
2. rescue confidential data before a catastrophic
network of any serious threats to its security
system failure wipes it out forever.
11. a street urchin, paid to keep their
3. hack the most secure system in the known
eyes on the Black$ail hideout
galaxy and publish what you find there.
12. a former victim, under constant threat of
4. blackmail a corrupt official to get him to
having their compromising information
stop terrorizing a local population.
leaked to the mainstream, who will tell the
5. discover and sell compromising information
network anything they want to know
on a supposedly squeaky-clean target.
6. help your client erect defenses to keep
out other hackers like yourselves.

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 63


LOCATIONS Planet or Moon
With a hiss of hydraulics, the landing gear touches down,
Space is vast and dark and deep, full of
and your scoundrels step out onto … where? Use these
remarkable places. As you tell your story, let
tables for inspiration!
your imaginations take flight — after all, no
one ventures into the expanse of the cosmos
Climate Flora and Fauna
for the same old same old.
1. sub-zero 1. devoid of all natural life
Here are some ideas to get you started.
2. freezing 2. a few hardy plants
Feel free to pick and choose from these — you
3. cool or cold and animals
can even roll to create random locations — or
4. warm or hot 3. plants and animals
simply come up with your own ideas!
5. scorching are commonplace
6. inferno 4. plants and animals
are plentiful
5. abundant plants
Water and animals
1. oceanic 6. an explosion of
2. wet natural life
3. plentiful water
4. limited water
5. dry Sentient Lifeforms
6. arid 1. none
2. vanished
3. integrated
Population 4. subculture
1. desolate 5. dominant culture
2. isolated 6. hostile
3. rural
4. suburban
5. urban Quirk
6. metropolitan 1. the local flora and
fauna are invisible
2. time operates
differently here
3. there is a constant
feeling of dread
4. all memory of
this place is lost
once you leave
5. faint music can always
be heard in the air
6. the atmosphere gives
people a visible aura

64 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


Civilization
Everyone calls somewhere home. In their travels, your
scoundrels might have to step inside the boundaries of
civilizations both familiar and strange, each with their
own history, politics, customs, and more. Use these
tables for inspiration!

Size Economics Atmosphere Quirk


1. unnoticeable 1. poor 1. wretched 1. the weather is artificial
2. tiny 2. working class 2. depressed 2. nobody ever
3. small 3. lower middle class 3. stagnant goes outside
4. medium 4. upper middle class 4. hopeful 3. only accessible
5. large 5. elite class 5. cheerful through a
6. mega 6. super rich 6. celebratory dimensional rift
4. people live above or
below the planet’s
Age Law and Order surface, not on it
1. prehistoric 1. anarchic 5. a strange local
2. ancient 2. disordered custom is of utmost
3. old 3. loosely organized importance
4. recent 4. lawful 6. there’s something
5. brand new 5. rigid all the inhabitants
6. under construction 6. authoritarian know but won’t say

Ship or Station
Whether your scoundrels are the dedicated crew of a
particular ship or jump from vessel to vessel, they are
bound to encounter plenty of ships and stations on their
adventures. Use these tables for inspiration!

Speed Armaments Age Quirk


1. stationary 1. unarmed 1. ancient 1. ancient, unknown
2. sluggish 2. single gun 2. antique technology
3. slow 3. light guns 3. outdated 2. haunted by spirits
4. agile 4. moderate guns 4. current 3. has a personality
5. fast 5. heavy guns 5. brand new and emotions
6. uncatchable 6. massive superweapon 6. cutting edge 4. powerful,
lingering odor
5. pest problem
Size Defenses Condition 6. made of strange
1. tiny 1. undefended 1. filthy material
2. small 2. light armor 2. dingy
3. medium 3. moderate armor 3. lived in
4. large 4. heavy armor 4. neat
5. huge 5. fortress 5. clean
6. gigantic 6. indestructible 6. spotless

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 65


Space Phenomenon
There’s more between the stars than merely a black vacuum.
Your scoundrels just might encounter some exotic space
phenomena. Use these tables for inspiration!

Nebula Exoplanet Debris


1. the dust chokes your engines, 1. tiny, barely bigger 1. of strange and unknown
cutting your speed in half than an asteroid, like a origin, impossible to identify
2. weapon fire ignites the gas, world in miniature 2. from a ship, station, or planet
causing an explosion 2. huge, surrounded by lumpy familiar to one of the crew
3. your sensors jam, forcing moons, like a system in itself 3. preserved in perfect condition
you to rely on visuals only 3. pushed or pulled from by the vacuum of space
4. your navigation devices its original orbit by some 4. terribly damaged by radiation
go haywire, making it powerful outside force and micro-meteorites
impossible to plot a course 4. originating from an unexplored 5. priceless, worth a fortune
5. the gases are breathable, or mysterious part of space to the right buyer
allowing unsuited spacewalks 5. on a collision course 6. absolute junk, barely
6. the gases are toxic, overloading with another planet worth hauling away
your environmental systems 6. about to be swallowed
by a star or black hole
Quirk
Asteroid Field 1. the quantum effects in this area
1. the field is incredibly thick, Comet alter physical size, enlarging or
allowing you to leap between 1. traveling at a speed that only shrinking things and people
asteroids without a ship the fastest ships could catch 2. the radiation in this
2. the field is scattered over a 2. moving sluggishly through area temporarily grants
huge area, requiring hours of space, easy to land on extraordinary abilities to
travel between asteroids 3. huge, full of diverse those exposed to it
3. large asteroids move sluggishly, environments 3. this area causes extreme
colliding in slow motion 4. tiny, little more than a paranoia and suspicion
4. micro asteroids move at rock with an icy tail 4. this area causes overwhelming
incredible speeds, constantly 5. carries a thin but happiness and euphoria
bombarding your ship breathable atmosphere 5. time flows backward in this area
5. the field is a hot spot for 6. rumored to contain a 6. anything imagined in this
prospectors, with exotic priceless alien artifact area manifests in reality
metals in abundance
6. the field is a ship graveyard,
full of wreckage and debris

66 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


CREATURES
Sometimes, you need to drop an alien creature into your adventure. Whether that means a common pest or an
awe-inspiring beast of legend is up to you. Use these tables for inspiration!

Size Defense Quirk


1. tiny 1. dodges 1. wants to steal or
2. small 2. blocks destroy possessions
3. medium 3. counterattacks 2. finds a crew member
4. big 4. intimidates attractive
5. huge 5. plays dead 3. mimics its prey in a
6. enormous 6. absorbs attack mocking tone
4. can sense what others
value most
Type Behavior 5. feeds on the emotions
1. beefy, with powerful 1. cowardly of others
musculature covered 2. peaceful 6. challenges a crew
in hide or thick fur 3. defensive member’s beliefs
2. scaly, with gleaming 4. intimidating
natural armor 5. aggressive
3. slimy and oozing, with 6. bloodthirsty
tentacles or pseudopods
4. creepy-crawly, with extra
legs, antennae, or pincers
5. spooky, with ectoplasm and
psychic or inexplicable abilities
6. two or more of the above

Attack
1. smashes, bludgeons,
slams, or crushes
2. slices, stabs, cuts, or bites
3. hurls spines, spits poison,
or flings projectiles
4. releases toxic gas, parasites,
or airborne pathogens
5. emits electricity, flame, ice,
or other elemental effect
6. causes psychic pain,
confusion, or domination

THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 67


NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL

NAME

CONCEPT SPECIES SPECIALTY

HIGH VALUES FACTORS

MEDIUM VALUES

LOW VALUES

Risks
Values & Results EVEN ODD

Belief Relationship GO OVER Succeed Succeed + Endanger

Physique Reputation MATCH Succeed Fail + Endanger

Possession Resource GO UNDER Succeed + Endanger Fail + Lose

NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS


70 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
THE SPACE-SCOUNDREL RPG ABOUT RISKING IT ALL 71
“Good luck.
You’re gonna need it.”

—HAN SOLO

72 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS