[Kickstarter] "Always/Never/Now" Is Go

Always/Never/Now is my cyberpunk-action adventure based on John Harper's Lady Blackbird rules and structure. It's a sprawling action-adventure tale with pre-made characters and a networked series of action sequences, each one a playable situation like the start of Lady Blackbird. As you play, you select from eligible scenes what the next step in the story is or, if you prefer, you can get off the ride and go more improvisational with it, using the built-in scenes just as guidelines for future obstacles and story twists.

The Kickstarter campaign for Always/Never/Now is live—has been since 4:50pm on December 1st—and I hope you'll give it a look. The fully-funded PDF will eventually be released online for free, for anyone to download and play. New funding rewards and milestones are forthcoming, still. I can't wait to put this project in front of you all.

Thanks for your time!


  • I am SO thrilled about this. Will is blowin' the doors off the LB model. I expect lots of people to follow in his footsteps.
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks, John! I'm really grateful to have this opportunity to finish, improve, and share A/N/N with people. I've got new milestones, new reward levels, and more information on the people helping me out on the project coming up. This is an exciting time for me.

    Update: I just announced the second milestone: the recovery scene pack. New pledge levels and rewards, plus spotlight updates about things like music, are forthcoming. Thanks, y'all!
  • edited December 2011
    New reward levels are coming at 11am Central (US) on Wednesday. New funding milestones (aka stretch goals) were just revealed.

    All the new reward levels, at $33, $66, and $88, include a physical component. Tune in to the Kickstarter on Wednesday for details. Thanks, y'all!
  • edited December 2011
    Then I'll release the adventure for free, under a Creative Commons license, so everyone can share and play.
    Good… but extremely generic. Which CC license is it going to be?
  • Good question! Right now the plan is to use the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. I don't anticipate that changing between now and release, but I've been generic thus far just in case.

    Thanks for asking.

  • Posted By: Will HindmarchRight now the plan is to use the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
    You may already be well aware of this, of course, but just in case: use of a "NonCommercial" license may carry unintended side-effects (especially compatibility issues) to no real advantage (as "Commercial" is not a legally defined term), as explained here. My personal two cents are that use of the Attribution-ShareAlike license suffices to make for-profit exploitation of your work from a 3rd party practically impossible (as an exploitative entity looking for profit is extremely unlikely to be willing to comply with the ShareAlike clause), while allowing for wider compatibility.
  • That's a great link, thanks Raffaele! I was aware of compatibility issues but that's a really informative read all the same. I'm not sure I'm going to change my license, but you've certainly got me rethinking things.
  • New reward levels just went live for Always/Never/Now: flash drives, metal binders, hand-bound copies! Here's the Kickstarter page. Additional funding pays for potential art, helps me thank volunteer allies, and gives me more time to do more work. Thanks!
  • We have now passed the $5,000 milestone, which means commissioning some art for the final project. The next milestone puts flashback scenes into the project and, after that... I think I have just one more milestone. This is Always/Never/Now.
  • It's notable that Lady Blackbird itself is Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike, which is the precedent, yeah? I assume that Will has John's permission outside of the CC license, since this is a commercial project. So the ShareAlike clause wouldn't necessarily mean Will has to use the same license, unless that's part of the understanding with John, but it follows the spirit of the original project. Is that the intent, Will? (Man, the legal stuff involved in copyleft is confusing).
  • Is it really commercial if he intends to use the ransom model? I look at that as a kind of donation, since others will later get that same product for free.
  • Just in case, I did go check with both John Harper and Clinton R. Nixon before I sought to get paid for my time on A/N/N. I'm using the BY-NC-SA license in part because Lady Blackbird does, and I want to honor that spirit, and in part because it seems to most accurately describe my intent (even though, yes, it's possible that the actual operation of the license is more complicated than my simple intent).

    When seeking out CC-licensed material for my video, I went with pieces that were licensed for commercial use because the video, though free, is arguably an ad for a commercial venture, arguably. I don't know what the actual relationship is between the ransom model and anyone's definition of "commercial," because it is a little like giving something away and having a tip jar... but it is also not that, since the project might not get given away if not paid for.

    It's a great topic for discussion, and I'll gladly read and study further talk on this topic but right now I honestly want to avoid labels and categories, if I can help it, and just focus on getting my project completed and sharpened to a fine point. :)
  • Today I posted a new update featuring part of a playlist I made for use during actual play. You can see that here. Thanks for your time!
  • Always/Never/Now is, as of this writing, about $60 from hitting the current milestone, for which I'll write and include a flashback scene for each character. I'm currently in talks with artists about a final milestone and the possibility of one last reward level for hand-bound books. Stay tuned? Thanks much!
  • Thanks to the generosity of many kind folk, we have crossed another milestone for Always/Never/Now. The final project will now contain flashback scenes for each playable character, which players can use to earn their characters a new ability and cast some light on who those characters were and are. I was hesitant to include these at first, but as the milestone drew near I came to love the flashback scenes as optional player-facing objects. (I admit, I'm completely stumped about one character's flashback, but I'll get there.)

    Stay tuned for updates throughout this week. Just a few days left... and then I'll stop pestering you. :)
  • This week we launched and surpassed a new milestone, then launched and sold out of our final reward level. We're just a few dollars from the $7k mark, thanks to more than 230 backers. I remain flabbergasted. We have about 60 hours left, as of this writing. That name again: Always/Never/Now
  • With the final hours of the Always/Never/Now fundraising campaign here, and me unlikely to pester you about it tomorrow, I thought I'd let you know that I've added one last milestone: If we hit $7,700 total, I'll have cards printed at Moo for use during play. Read more about it here.

    Whether it happens or not, thanks to you all for your questions and support and for letting me litter the forums with my self-promotion. I appreciate it.

  • So it's been a year. What's going on with this? I am not a backer so I don't have access to any of the more recent updates.
  • Damn, Joe, you got me all excited thinking this was out. Please lay news upon us, Mr. Hindmarch.
  • I've been getting Will's excellent and informative regular updates. It's getting close to done.
  • I missed the funding on this one. I am also curious to see this!
  • We were talking about this at my gaming group last night, wondering if it was a failed kickstarter since it hasn't shipped in over a year.
  • Pffff. Whatever. I backed it because I want the product, not because I want it NOW.
  • Is this going to be available to non-backers at some point?
  • (Sorry if this is posted elsewhere but the site's search functionality is no help at all. I have to go to Google to search for Story Game threads. ??)

    So A/N/N is available as a free download here. My question is: has anyone played it? If so, what did you think?
  • I downloaded it; I like it! I plan to run the heck out of it online once my workload lightens up a little bit.
    I think it does a nice job of carrying on the LB tradition -- even though it's got a lot more setting and actual scenarios, it still leaves a ton of the setting to be determined by the group -- I'm really looking forward to seeing how hacking and intrusion will look in our iteration of A/N/N.
  • Hi! I'd totally failed to notice that this thread had come back up into the front page and stuff. Thanks for downloading A/N/N, those of you who have, and especially big thanks to those of you who play it. I hope it brings you some fun times as it has for me.

    Thanks for your patience, too.
  • Posts continue to get posted at Always-Never-Now.tumblr.com, if you're curious about some of the design, inspirations, and corrections going into the next update. If you've read or played A/N/N, I'd love to hear from you you here or on G+, where a lot of the talk seems to hinge.

    Thanks for your interest and curiosity about this project.

  • In preparation for GenCon Games on Demand, I am running A/N/N this Friday. Any suggestions from the people who've run it/played it before?
  • One-shot or multiple sessions? That influences a lot.

    Our advice would be:
    1) Spend a little bit of time pre-game to establish some relationships, ties to the characters, even if it's just surface impressions. It can be simple as going around in a circle a few times, and you say one sentence about somebody else. "I still resent that I needed Yoshi's help in Lima.", "I secretly wish that I had been able to leave it all behind like Emily." can help kickstart the roleplaying a bunch.

    2) I would trust your own judgment over the numbers in the books, especially in the "you need X successes above difficulties to win the scene.". They seemed generally pretty darn high, especially in act V.

    3) Give intel early, freely, and often. Push the PCs early to make info gathering actions, even during combat, and then reward the hell out of them. If you give out just what's in the intel book for a given scene, and your PCs aren't being proactive about the larger mystery, then often, act IV will just seem like the biggest info dump. I'd use Mysterious Interrupt, even in a one-shot.

    4) In a one-shot, where you as GM are doing the mission picks, I'd pick against the missions which have combat as their first tag, due to them being a bit more time-intensive. (I could explain this more)
  • The goal is to run one-shots at GenCon. If we get buy-in, we might play for more sessions.

    1) I love it, I'll definitely use that.
    2) Noted. For a one-shot, I can understand not making things as difficult.
    3) So, better to have nothing to reveal later on than too much, thanks.
    4) Makes sense. If there's more to this than just pacing, let me know!
  • 2) Yeah, I wouldn't actually treat this as stepping down the difficulty. In fact, part of what works really well in the mission structure is how the PCs can blow a mission, and the game just naturally adjusts: don't cut them out of intel, but give them an interrupt, have them shift locations, and get back in the saddle. Especially if you're playing more Bourne in style, you want them to feel like they're facing massive, competent organizations with so many more resources.

    So don't be afraid to play hard. Just cut the number of rolls, and bring the stakes to a head quickly. (What this means from a prep perspective is that I'd prep one line of missions, both Phase V missions, have an interrupt ready to go, and then one mission as a fallback)

    3) Right, although even if you gave out tons and tons of info, you still have the heart of Phase IV (talking Perugia), which is a) a great roleplaying scene, and b) a super vital reveal: there is a choice that the PCs have to make, and everything matters because of it.
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