Red Markets Beta: The Brutalists episode 2

red-markets-2The Brutalists are in the middle of their first job and it may be their last! What at first seemed like a simple closure job has turned into a nerve-wracking standoff between them, another group of survivors, and the government itself. Can the team negotiate peace between embittered military vets with sniper training and a ruthless black ops government wetworks operation? Will the precious technology discovered at the job site be recovered or destroyed, lost to humanity for all time? What architect will Ludwig quote next?Β  There’s only one way to find out!

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  1. I love that illustration!

    yeahhh I was having some serious suspension of disbelief issues about the American Snipers getting taken back to the corporatocratic post-American hellscape, but even so I eyebulged a little at their fate. 10/10 would deal with evil government hipsters again (and what was up with his look, exactly?)

    (also I think every single time anyone but Caleb said DHQS they said a different acronym. it’s the Department of Homeland Quarantine…Services or something, right?)

  2. These brutalists is very quickly climbing the ladder towards being one of my favourite bits of RPPR.

  3. @Crawkill

    We got to give the guys a break on that one; they ran a great campaign with memorable characters based off book that hasn’t been written yet. There’s going to be some confusion because the setting is only what I can relate to them verbally.

    In the final product, the organization is called the Department of Homeland Quarantine and Stewardship: DHQS. It’s their job to maintain the border, establish settlements (like enclaves, but officially recognized and supplied by the government), and maintain vital infrastructure until the day of reclamation (the “T-minus Never,” in Taker slang).

    The DHQS also started the bounty system: paying crypto currency to anyone that could provide proof of death/infection via former government documents. In exchange for helping update the now completely-fucked census data, the organization pays out the average salvage cost of one adult’s pre-Crash property (personal items, car, etc). But since that became a standard rate of value in the Loss, most people don’t trade the Bounties in. They instead exchange the IDs amongst each other and use the bounty system as something like the gold standard.

    Basically, the DHQS is a domestic espionage organization, simultaneously trying to dislodge the embarrassing number of survivors squatting inside what they regard as their property, while accidentally serving as the de facto mint for the currency that keeps their enemy alive. That’s why I made the face of the organization such an insufferable hipster; when you want someone to spy on and betray their own countrymen, you pick the biggest asshole you can find.



  4. If it’s possible can we have something with “the debt dies with you” on it come kickst artery time?

    Also the word But a lists looks weird without umlauts on it.

  5. I think Ross said something like this in the first session, but this really seems like a once in a lifetime job, the legendary take. However, it did fit the genre and going on with the big bad scary dudes that is the DHQS. Going out into the Loss and retrieving vital tech for the greater good fits very well.

  6. @Caleb

    I’ve always wondered about how to muck with the Turing Test by attempting to get personal/subjective responses or answers from the subject of the test.

    While the AI/Uploaded Couple might have enormous amounts of computational power and raw data to draw upon, plus advanced sorting/searching functionality allowing them to reorganize and regurgitate the information so it seems to be a human response, how would it respond to queries that would require unique human experience?

    For example, ask the computer about its earliest childhood memory, or its favorite movie, then expand upon the initial line of questioning. I guess it could try to be evasive or vague, but that would be a little telling. Hell, you could ask the dude scientist about the general circumstances about meeting his wife, and then call the woman to confirm. Nothing too specific or personal, just general details that I doubt the guy would’ve programmed into the database.

    I mean, how would a chatbot, advanced or not, respond to the question “what is your favorite movie and how has it changed your life?” Would it just cut and paste responses from the Internet Movie Database and only falter when you asked for elaboration?

  7. I was bummed out by the bad ending for the American Snipers. I wonder, was there a way for the Takers to have figured out beforehand that that was likely to happen? It was definitely a shock moment to make us all hate the DHQS Hipster, though. So there’s a win.

    Wyrdling, I see what you’re saying, but on the other hand they didn’t actually end up making all that much money. So in-genre, it would be more like that story they’d be telling at the bar later about that one crazy job that nobody would really believe.

    There’s a delicate balance that Caleb is working with between the spread of job payoffs and the pre-established costs of equipment, character advancement, and retirement milestones. For campaign play, each typical job needs to promise enough profit to make it worth doing, but not so much that it just instantly ends the Takers’ careers with a massive bonanza (only their final, Just One Last Score job should have that possibility).

    But every job also needs to feel extraordinary in its narrative quality, so that it’s fun rather than routine. So that could definitely result in jobs that might seem like they should pay off huge, but end up being more modest in result.

    Of course, for a one-shot session, we can feel free to run crazy Fort-Knox-heist payoffs with super high risks. There’s no campaign arc-economy to break, so go nuts.

  8. I admit it’s a weird way to open a campaign. I was still trying to figure out what, specifically, “near-future” means to me. I guess I went a little far with this one, but it wasn’t the planned “opening” of the game. It was the first job of four I had written that the crew pursued. Letting Takers pick their own contracts does led to a pacing issue, sometimes.

    I don’t really regret it. It gave me a better idea of what I wanted to do with the game’s setting, and I think everyone had fun. I don’t think the sessions after this get “routine,” but they certainly don’t involve any more fantastical elements besides the zombies.

    As for the Turing Test: you aren’t wrong. So you call the lady up and prove that the the AI isn’t actually an AI or made of her husband. She know has no reason to pay you to do anything, because the bastard is already dead. Also, the DHQS could give a shit about it; thanks for saving them the time of doing that for you. But hey…you learned some science. If only you could eat that.

    In Red Markets, the choice to ask questions or shut up and take the paycheck is meant to matter. It’s not Call of Cthulhu, where OF COURSE you’re going to read the book. Ignorance can pay off, but choosing it is supposed to give your character a story moment in exchange for more plot exposition.

    Maybe that won’t come out in play, but it’s something I’m trying to build into the game. Being a hero isn’t something you can just decide to do; it has a cost to you and your family, and choosing to cater to your morals or curiosity more than their security can be its own form of selfishness.

  9. The tag line of Red Markets is starting to become something like, “The banility of zombies, the nilihism of crayons, the debt dies with you.” Which might make this the most bizarre rpg I’ve ever heard of if that trend holds.

  10. I liked the AI computer as a concept. It made me think about the Chinese Room Argument about whether “strong AI” is possible (if a non-Chinese speaker is locked in a room with an elaborate set of instructions for receiving a set of Chinese characters and responding with another set of Chinese characters, they would appear to know Chinese to an outside observer, even though they were only ignorantly following the instructions. Similarly, computers can’t be conscious even if they can pass a Turing test, since they’re only running an elaborate program).

    I do like the setting a little less sci-fi, if only so that the focus is more strongly on the personal relationships between the Takers and their community rather than on techno coolness. But hey, it’s published, we can tweak it however we like in our home games. Me, I’m gonna run a campaign set in 1348 Europe in the middle of the Black Death.

  11. There were a lot of times during ep 1 when i was all but screaming at Beyondpod for the BrΓΌtalists (See Umlaut much better! ) to stop asking questions and take the DAMN (no pun intended) payday so i think the game works Caleb.

    The A.i thing works to keep the players on their toes though. Stops the “Call of Chul’hu Problem” and they’ll be suitably paranoid until you blindside them with an Aberrant anyways. Then they will be definitely suitably paranoid.

    i will always think of Hipster dude as Agent Lynch from the A-Team film.

    And yeah watching what fell out of the copter was unsettling.

  12. Man that ending , Agent Hipster blindside me what he did at the end. Love/hate him already great job !

  13. I was really suprised at the end, not that the snipers died, but that no one was fishing out their bodies or looking for their hidden caches. I guess the crew doesn’t do that much dungeon crawling to be immediately diving for fillings, wristwatches, and wedding rings.

  14. I am loving this campaign so far. I cannot wait untill I can get my hands on a physical copy of Red Markets.

  15. If I had to pick a single mechanic I love from this game, I have to love the way Scams and Negotiations make everyone useful and don’t let one character take up all the oxygen. A lot of good work systemwide from here, Caleb. Can’t wait to give you a bunch of money when the Kickstarter goes live.

  16. looking forward to much more of this. This episode felt far too short!

  17. I think I didn’t get as much of the urgency being not looking at shrinking charges etc. And on one level I know that the team was in constant danger, also that I think both Tom and Aaron spent Will to Not Die. But somehow they getting through it with so little damage seems almost odd. Like I expected the average job to hurt at least one PC.

  18. @Teapot

    This was recorded before the open beta. I’m currently adjusting difficulty and it’s fitting expectations for a more challenging game now.

  19. Man do I love this campaign. This is making me very excited for the game. So mission accomplished Ross. Also, Caleb, I’m really looking forward to the game when it comes out. I’m very excited for your Kickstarter. I have no complaints. I could listen to this shit forever.

    Take it with a grain of salt since I’m just some guy on the internet but I hope you all succeed. These AP’s are making be very excited about both the future of RPPR and the future of Red Markets.

    Good luck!

  20. This is great! However I have to say he only thing I’m disliking about the world is the DHQS and the overall broad stroke painted over what’s left of the government. They are just evil which is tiresome. I can’t imagine everyone on that side of the river is mustache twirling evil people. I wish they were less one dimensional.

  21. Kinda want to see a picture of Malleus with a bucket on his head now.

  22. Wow. That ending. Hit home for some reason. Totally realistic and expected but maybe it was the simple abruptness that is causing the nausea.

  23. Excellent show to listen.
    Two points:
    – I found this article where David Cameron links the effect on building structure to people behaviour, thus would like to destroy several buildings from the Brutalist school of architecture. I don’t know if it is more relevant for RedMarkets because of the Brutalist Enclave or for Ross and his love of Architectural horror.
    – Second, I understand that the demise of the American Snippers suits perfectly the grim dark setting of RedMarkets. If you want to deal with the Devil, there is a price to pay, and you might lose your soul. But from a purely business view point, isn’t it counter productive ? DHQS looses valuable assets, with unparallel experience in surviving in the Loss and possibly scares away on-site assets (the PCs) with its ruthless method.

    The way I see people living in the Recession and the DHQS, it is more a cold machine. It will crush people if there is a benefit in doing so. Here, I see more loss than profit. If the point was to scare the PCs into becoming obedient servants, the execution of their patron as well as how they were paid with almost “wet” ID cards seems enough. Killing of the American Snippers looks like a loss.
    Unless the point was to show that DHQS is not only a cold, emotionless machine, but also a crazy/sadistic one – possibly challenging the PCs with their retirement plan, do you really want to live in the Recession ? πŸ™‚

  24. Author

    The purge of the snipers seems irrational to us, but it’s the same logic that motivated any totalitarian regime of purges. The Soviets executed a lot of experienced generals when their expertise was most needed because they represented a threat to the regime itself. You can’t allow people that contradict your central ideology.

    For the DHQS, allowing in soldiers that had been marked as persona non grata was a political impossibility. Word would spread and other rogue units would try to come in and that would raise questions about the government’s central ideology of “everyone west of the Mississippi is dead”. Totalitarian regimes can tolerate corruption, brutality, and incompetence, but they cannot tolerate questioning of their central lie.

  25. I’m kinda surprised no one even suggested blowing the dam. I mean, the DHQS guy didn’t disarm it (least I didn’t hear him do it) and then he betrayed them in plain sight. I can see why you might decide not to, but it was odd that it didn’t come up at all.

  26. @Ross Thanks, I did not see this angle. But yes, it is logical. Accepting them would be denying one of the regime paradigm.

  27. Great ending and really enjoyed it. Would be interesting in the future for the Seed AI project (lovers) to turn up again with ‘Hey we have bodies now, recognize me? me?).

    DHQS is ruthless but then given the circumstances seems justifiable. Loving the Hipster / Military Advisor. (Feels like a bit like the CIA during the 50s-70s in Asia.)

    Excited for the Kickstarter!

  28. Author

    Why would we blow up the dam? No one was going to pay us to do it.

  29. That was a twisted episode. Jaded Lover, Chatbot and Zombies. If I didn’t know better it sounds like a Fiasco Playset. That means someone got the BRUTAL ending.

  30. I’m very interested to see how this Interlude table ended up

  31. @Ross DHQS stiffed you on your payment to keep it intact.

  32. @Michael Kelly

    They gave us a hundred bounty to give them our employer and to give them the dam to do with as they saw fit. So we did, and we took the psyche damage for it. The betrayal of the snipers was somewhat unforeseen, but they held up their end monetarily. We left with 25 bounty apiece

  33. a bit late to the party but I just finished the ep. I like the character dynamics and the gameplay and the story was solid I loved the on the spot negotiation. my only problem was with the end as others have pointed out. not that the shadowy evil government killed the snipers. we’ve already established that they are not great when they live streamed the killing of the previous client. its the ease in which it was done. Your telling me that a group of trained killers who know that the evil government may try to kill them, walks into the black helicopter and just gets popped without fighting back, radioing the PC’s or anything? im not buying it and would have called the GM on it. taking them to a blacksite and do that and have the PCS find out later perhaps on a DHQS job would have felt more realistic, its a cheap shock for shocks sake,it feels sloppy and belabors the point that the DHQS is evil. other then that pretty good I look forward to listening to the rest.

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