Red Markets Beta: The Brutalists episode 1

red-markets-posterThe Red Markets beta campaign has begun! This session covers enclave generation and the first job. In case you weren’t aware, Red Markets is a work-in-progress RPG created by Caleb. We discuss its creation in detail on the Game Designer Workshop series on RPPR. Set in the near future after a massive zombie infection has wiped out millions, the USA is divided into two regions: The Recession (mostly east of the Mississippi) and the Loss (the rest of the country). The undead have been cleared in the Recession, so the grueling work of rebuilding civilization has begun there. The Loss is still overrun with ‘casualties’, the new term for zombie. Still, communities of refugees band together in settlements called enclaves. Life in the enclaves depends on groups of desperate but armed survivors called Takers who risk life and limb to perform dangerous freelance jobs for pay. If you need something done in the Loss and you have the money, you hire a group of Takers to do it.

This campaign concerns a group of Takers called the Brutalists in the ruins of Chicago. In their first job, they must travel to a small dam far from the safety of their enclave. What secrets are hidden within the structure? Eager for work, the Takers agree to the job and head out, uncertain of what they will find…

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  1. It’s here! Yeaaaaaah!

  2. for years have we waited and it did not disappoint

    that was way crazier than I thought it’d be. did not expect the hard left into freaky scifi shit. love it. the chatbot was horrifying. my only comment on the system is that just listening to scams I couldn’t really parse out how the rules worked and it seemed like they had a lot of moving pieces, but not every game system has to be reverse engineerable from one listen, of course.

  3. Red Markets Hype!

  4. Really could have done with some sort of introduction at the beginning of the podcast, e.g. some of your write up here spoken at the beginning of the podcast. Those of us who pick up the podcast through a podcatcher don’t come here very often and having to piece together what was going on was a pain in the ass.

  5. That said, this was an interesting start. I’ve really been missing Caleb in your recent APs.

  6. This was just as good as I thought it was going to be. It completely lived up to it’s hype, and that’s saying something considering that I literally cheered when I checked the feed this morning. You wrote yourself a fine game here Caleb. I’m really excited for the future of Red Markets.

  7. Yes…YES!! I’ve been waiting for this for a long time since hearing about Red Markets. (And then reading everything on the forums and every scrap I could find.)

    The great work of Caleb continues..Economics and zombies.

    Now for the Kickstarter…(to give my money to!)

  8. This has been talked about and teased for a long time and the AP did not fail to deliver! Game seems likea lot of fun. Also, playing Fallout while listening Rrally helps with getting into the mood.

  9. Honestly, I was pretty lukewarm on Red Markets prior to this playtest, but now you’ve got another Kickstarter backer, Caleb.

  10. That was a great episode, really looking forward to the whole campaign!

  11. Red Markets did not disappoint! Again, the world building that is done both by the system itself and that the players generate make for a very interesting place.

    The multiple twists towards the end nearly made me spit out my water at work. That was some Know Evil shit, Caleb. Excellent work.

  12. Loved that game. looking forward to hearing the whole campaign. It’s nice hearing part 1 finally :p

    Weirdly invested in seeing how kowloons crush works out.

    shaping up to be a good campaign and a good RPG. I hope ludwig makes it out of the loss.

  13. Yay Red Markets! I’m so happy I got a chance to be in one of the play tests at Gencon since it helped me to follow along with the game world.
    I’m loving this so far. The game sounds awesome, Ross rping as IP’s younger brother was pretty funny. The party as a whole seems really varied in their goals too which makes for interesting interaction.
    The worlds you have written are both dark and awe inspiring, this one is no exception. Can’t wait to hear how it all pans out.

  14. from the Game Designer’s Workshops, it sounds like Kowloon is going to become embittered about the investment he made in the dronkey to the point of being willing to kill himself if he were to lose it. which is a terrible and wonderful thing to think about your quote-spouting pal who’s fun to be with. that detail immediately made Ludwig into a morality pet, which seems like suuuch a bad choice and so in-theme.

    other things I loved on a second listen: “the Pillars” is a great name, +a million points to David for instantly guessing the plot on seeing the servers, K-Rad was hilarious, the Meek are freaky as fuck but their philosophy totally makes a twisted religious kind of sense, Kowloon as “liberal racist” is just too good, the American Snipers not just being murderous assholes was surprising and refreshing, I love systems with really obvious success/failure/crit mechanics, I like how intentional the relationship between Charm/dependents/stress relief cost is (although is there a downside to having more dependents rather than paying off stress, since each dependent only requires one bounty per game anyway, right? are they at risk of other horrible things happening to them while staying at home?) and the chatbot is definitely ambiguous enough that it reinforces the idea that this world is significantly beyond our own without making me at all confident it’s a functional AI.

  15. Haven’t been able to finish it yet (halfway through), but I’m really loving the humor-tinged vibe so far. Kinda like Caleb threw the original Mad Max, Wasteland, and Borderlands in a blender set to ‘Fun’. I wonder, however, how much of the premise is a bit thrown off by the longrunning group dynamics. I’ll probably want to hear some other AP’s from different groups to see if the setting inspires that kind of loopiness, or if it’s the group.

  16. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    In truth, I don’t know if goofiness is the game or the group, but RPPR campaigns always start goofy and move towards more serious as people get to know their characters and the roster of characters gets solidified. Though much shorter in scope, this campaign’s tone was similar to Know Evil: goofy space lumber in the front, then tense technothriller as the conflict with the main villain becomes more defined. That pretty much happened with Red Markets too, as guest appearences tapered off and I learned what thread people wanted to pursue.

    The vignettes stayed goofy pretty much throughout, so that might be a design issue. I’m revising those rules in the post-Beta draft as we speak.

  17. very much enjoyed it, definitely interested in more. Already tempted to pick up a copy, I’m sure that’ll happen here eventually.

  18. @Caleb
    Having finally been able to finish the AP, I can firmly state that the reason it goes from space lumber to tense technothriller is because the GM is clearly the second most horrible monster in existence. Excellent stuff.

  19. @Crawlkill it helps tremendously to have the negotiation sheet in front of you for the first time you listen/figure out how those mechanics work.

    The story that Ross references (They’re Made Out of Meat) is here and a fun, short read:

    Loved the details on the Meek and the worldbuilding in general. The AI/consciousness/chatbot was suitably vague and intriguing to me – I noticed when talking to David for the machine that Caleb kept using the pronoun “they” instead of “it”.

    I’m not sure that the vignettes being comedic is entirely a problem; people do like to let out the tension for horror/tense games, and it’s not a bad thing to get that out of the way at the start. (But my group is similar to RPPR in that we seem to start most games silly and gradually get more serious as the characters and world are established.)

    I can’t wait to see the Brutalists stumble into an Aberrant in the future. Looking forward to the rest – and the kickstarter of course.

  20. Wonderful to finally hear the complete thing. I’d heard the beginning and the end thanks to the playtest files, and I’d wondered how the heck they got to where they ended up. Great to see all the positive comments.

  21. there’s a great video adaptation of the Made of Meat story on YouTube, too. something about that conversation going on late at night at a diner while a saxophone plays is the perfect weird scifi aesthetic for me.

  22. When Ross was questioning the next evolution of intelligent life, I instantly thought “Duh, beetle people.” then heard Aaron echo my thoughts and laughed out loud. This caused my co-workers to question my sanity.

  23. @bill I cannot tell you how many times I have had that experience because of RPPR and other APs. I feel your pain.

    This is shaping up to be a fun Campaign, cant wait to listen to more.

  24. I hate zombies, but the combination of economics and horror is too compelling to ignore, and this playthrough was awesome. I’m definitely going to buy this game if only because of its unique vision. Obviously it’s months in the past now, but I thought the chatbot was just a little bit too futuristic and Eclipse Phasey for a first session, but cool nonetheless. Seems like you have a winner on your hands.

  25. So I was very interested in this game, but since I don’t have a group I stayed away from the playtest notes. I did listen to GDW though, and I thought the idea was brilliant but wondered how it would play.

    This first AP was fantastic. I am all in. I don’t have a group and I still want the game to read and write scenarios for my own enjoyment.

    Great Job Caleb and RPPR.

    P.S. is there a Twitter account for the dronkey? Because that should be a thing.

  26. Super cool setting and system. World and character building in-game sounds great.

  27. Great adventure, I am hesitant about getting my group into another zombie game but they could definitely do with some scenarios like that.
    I initially thought the place might be something to do with Ubik – esp. after the hardline.
    When the robot arms were suggested I thought “Why would it have robot arms?” then I realised it has that medical robot to play with…
    “See, I’m human, I can gesture emphatically with two dozen scalpels.”

  28. Oh, man. I am backing the hell out of Red Markets when it’s ready.

  29. Loved the episode.

    I really liked the world creation stage at the beginning of the game. Is that stage part of the rules, Caleb, or is that something you did for the playtest?

    The “shop talk” on the road between encounters really helped build the narrative. Is that something the mechanisms of the game promotes, or is that just the RPPR crew being the RPPR crew?

    I’m looking forward to seeing the crazy encounters you put in the D100 table.

    You’ve got another backer, Caleb. Great work!

  30. I love any system that smoothly incorporates crayon-gathering side quests.

  31. So I’m just curious, is the enclave located at a college or a staging ground for an architecture contest that was hosted by the college? I’m just a little confused.

  32. I’m a johnny-come-lately, but I though this first part was exciting and the story was tense and surprising as it developed.

    Is the game available to buy?

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