Red Markets Beta: The Brutalists episode 4

rm-gearBecause the enclave of Le Corbusier is close to the Recession, every once in a while tourists from the zombie-free part of the country visit to go on a ‘safari.’ Specifically, they hire takers to guide them out into the Loss so they can shoot as many zombies as they want. The Brutalists are taking a father and son out for just such a safari. The father also hired out a latent bodyguard, who seems to have his own agenda. This is no simple run and gun job though. Nothing is that simple in the Loss.

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  1. so did anyone else forget for a second that Caleb is Caleb and think at first “oh, so this is just going to be a fun cynical bullshit job and the major conflict is going to be figuring out how to make the kid look good” and then experience a steady sinking sensation as they realized that it was quite likely the kid was going to watch his dad die and then still be utterly horrified at how things actually went down

    the players might’ve made their self-control rolls but I listening did not, 10/10, everything is bad now

    also did David have a bad experience with a teenager or something why does he keep murdering them

    (also also I found that explanation of supply and demand during the scam very confusing, but as with the first time I made this comment, I haven’t read the rules or anything, so, y’know)

    (also also also did Mister E get to go back to the Recession when he was airlifted out or what, I wouldn’t’ve thought they’d tolerate latents there, even as agents of the DHQS I’d’ve thought they’d have to hang out in the Loss)

  2. David does seem to have a teenager murder fetish.

    Really good episode. I love the humor of things like ludwig and kowloon’s hippy sister juxtaposed with the grim dark “Everything is awful” post-apocolypse setting.

  3. This is one of my favorite campaigns that you guys are doing. I love this game and I’m really looking forward to it when it comes out.

  4. 1. Holy Crap.
    2. No really, holy crap.
    3. While I love Aaron as a player, there is no reason why the team would take IP out with them if he he didn’t have some modicum of combat effectiveness. In a world of zombies, if you can’t shoot a gun/ranged weapon, you’re dead. Tom has the excuse of being a melee brute with armor and being a latent. It’s like saying you choose not to take time to learn how to use a computer in today’s world.
    4. Loving the campaign.

  5. @Beej

    I agree that some combat effectiveness is necessary for basic Taker effectiveness. However when I came up with IP he mainly was a sneaky technician who relied on his team to kite most threats while he took care of any network or device issues. Later on IP does get some combat skills after talking with Caleb and Ross.

  6. Wow. I expected things to go bad. But not that bad and not in quite that way.

    Though I know the rules have changed since the beta/playtest, the mechanics really worked well with the narrative in this session:

    – Picking the morally questionable but much better paying job
    – Ross/Kowloon’s frustration with IP for lacking basic Taker skills
    – IP’s moments of bonding with Jeremy (and accompanying self control checks all around)
    – IP just shutting down after things come to a head

    And by the way, Aaron, you had me on the edge of my seat at that part. Taking on a latent with a knife with a major head injury? A *spec ops* latent? I was positive that the die would land on Fight and that’d be it for IP.

    – And of course, David passing his fatalistic self-control checks. “We’re all dead already” indeed.

    This campaign is showing off how Red Markets forces players to make hard choices. They may want to do the right thing, but can they actually afford it? It’s a compelling setting; the mechanics support it, and I really can’t wait for the KS and running more for my group.

    @crawlkill, during E’s recruitment pitch to Malleus, he mentions something like, “You don’t get to go outside much, but…” suggesting that yes, there are some latents in the Recession.

  7. Well, that was brutal. Loving the tone so far, and the games have shown of the setting brilliantly.

  8. This game session has sold me on Red Markets. Well done.

  9. @Crawlkill
    I went through exactly the same process of “this shit will go bad” as I kept listening.

    @Caleb and the Crew.
    This should have been a TPK. When you get that many critfails in a row as a group in such a bad situation, it means that the dice gods are telling you to kill everyone. EVERYONE ! I do know that it’s a playtest and you don’t get much testing out of a failed campaign. But it should have been EVERYONE ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good session, great game. You have me counting the days to the release of the next one. (14 days, about 13 to many).

    That kid would have made a great PC.

  10. You mock him for saying E-genda but then suggest someone “buy a vowel” The puns are coming from within the GM

  11. I love how this game started with the comedy skit of IP’s Jewish mother doting over him live on the radio and ended with IP covered in a teenager’s blood and clutching his iPod with a thousand yard stare. Stokesian dark absurdity at its finest.

    I also very much enjoyed the infamous filing cabinet tower sequence and how ridiculously Home Alone it was, complete with people getting hit in the head comically by heavy objects. Macaulay Culkin confirmed to have survived the Crash.

  12. @Jace911, I’m glad I wasn’t alone in thinking how Home Alone-esque that sequence was. It was absurd and entertaining.

    As to the game, I feel like we’re in for some good inter-party drama after this, assuming the group comes across another DHQS job. and Mauve’s alienating his fellow teammates.

  13. @Crazon I’m not too sure on how much inter-party drama there will be, despite me wanting it more than anything else, just because how Caleb seems to be hammering through the campaign to test rules.

    I’m absolutely in love with this campaign is going though.

  14. Each session of this campaign just gets better.

    At some point, somebody mentions that all the dice were stored in an Altoids or Mentos tin…I wonder, were those the same dice we used at the RM playtest at Springfield GAME two years ago?

    If so, I must assume that Caleb stole them from some mysterious old woman of unusual ethnicity, because they are obviously cursed. David seems to be the only one who is immune to their sinister magic.

  15. Someone called out Aaron on his shit on “camera” OMFG… the laughter tears won’t stop… so happy…

  16. Does being a latent give you any special perks or attributes?

  17. Author

    Latent: Can’t be infected, but hated and feared by most (vulnerability removed,
    narrative handle) – Latents can also infect others.

    That’s the only difference between latents and normal people.

  18. So hyped for when the kickstarter finally launches and when the game gets released in the far future. The APs have been great, only downside is that they remind me that my own beta test group from last year fell apart.

  19. For a time all the comments on this site were missing a letter. A vowel, specifically. I find that…very interesting.

  20. Wait, seriously, Malkav? When was this?

    Also, pretty sure that maniacal laughter from Caleb halfway through during the, “this is your third mission and we now realize that you have no combat skills or weapons, why have you been going out here all along?” bit was a failed sanity check. At this point, the metagame drama of Aaron driving him mad is almost as exciting as anything that happens in the games. How will Aaron top this and the “do I get to add my strength to my attacks in a d20 game? I’ve only been playing for a couple decades,” scene in Shadows of Eldolan? Will his next character sheet be done on an Etch-a-Sketch? Will he try to use a taser against the awoken Great Cthulhu? Will we realize halfway through an Eclipse Phase campaign that he never really settled on which morph his character is sleeved in?

    On the other hand, IP and Dwight and both legitimately good and memorable characters. So was SAIROC, for that matter, although I suspect more at Caleb’s urging than anything else.

  21. Earlier this week, for at least a few hours. And yes, really.

  22. Aaron is certainly a work of art mechanics-wise. I think my favorite line of Caleb skepticism about Aaron mechanically was from Tribes of Tokyo, when he was absent and someone else was playing his character sheet. “he has some problems with systems,” Caleb said, “but I don’t think he thinks he has 3140 points of firearms.”

    and yes the letter i, only in lower-case, was missing from this comments section for a while. I kind of wish it could be permanent. it was ART. but the host bought a vowel. traitors.

  23. It’s very important, when playtesting, to discover ways in which players can build characters that mess up the system. That can be either underpowered and overpowered characters. The Red Markets rules are very keen on preventing overpowered PCs, but don’t seem to do much to prevent underpowered builds. We’ve already kind of beaten the issue of zero skills to death, but I will mention that in the beta rules, it was possible to build a character with zero Self Control who could never roll to withstand mental damage. That would be even worse than having no combat skills.

  24. In all fairness, even counting this session, IP has made a lot more useful roles with his main skillsets so far than Malleus has with his. As Caleb himself says in this game, capitalism leads to specialization of labor. And as the party seems to recognize, going melee with the Casualties is almost always a worse idea than running away – the only time they’ve ever done it is when other people have forced them to. Combat of any kind is usually counter to their interests; they waste money on ammunition, risk death, and get little reward. Sneaking, running faster, or using a diversion is always a better idea. IP is sneaky and has the technical and social skills to avoid most combat and be an asset to the team in other things. Let’s not forget that it was Caleb’s own character, Norm, who went something like four sessions in a relatively combat-heavy campaign without ever making an attack roll.

    On an unrelated note, and out of pure curiosity, a taser should still work on casualties, right? Tasers electrically stimulate muscles to causes debilitatingly severe contractions, and Casualties still have muscles.

  25. Ah, finally another session, this one I am sipping like fine wine instead of gorging on it like the previous ones. Just got to the File Cabinet Tower (location discovered, *kaching, +12 XP), loving it. Quite a few laugh out loud moments, which can be odd as I’m listening while walking through the ghetto at 1 am, but I like to think muggers are less likely to approach a clearly deranged man laughing to himself.

    Ross’s Jewish mother is pretty impressive, just btw, and I felt the vignettes this time around really set the stage for an adventure dominated by characters and interactions as opposed to combat. In my opinion, that is what a fun game should be composed of, and at the very least it makes for much more interesting listening (someday I hope to get through the last session of the New World campaign but I fear that will never happen knowing there is something like 3 solid hours of 4E combat to wade through).

    Quick question, I am imagining Ludwig as a slightly more advanced version of the Boston Dynamics Bigdog, would that be accurate?

  26. Yup. Dronkeys are up scaled Bigdogs. As a side note I saw a design that had a turret on top of it which I hope is an option because it would be super useful for sweeping buildings without harming any takers.

    Just realized whoever makes/ distributes Suppressors is making serious bank in red markets since the one time we see an un suppressed weapon that wasn’t a .50 cal for murdering cars works more like a “come get me I only have a handful of shells” klaxon.
    Also the fact that suppressors are great to use on regular folk as well as Cas.

    Also I was just expecting Mauve to cold cock Jeremy. Seemed a little excessive to cap him for a relatively minor freakout just to save on dead weight. I look forward to the fallout on that.

  27. Jesus, Aaron. Glad IP is picking up some combat skills.

    The Brutalists are definitely living up to their name.

    Also- Jesus, David! I mean, what the hell? That was a shocking moment. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  28. @Chados

    The decision to cap him came from a quick assessment of our respective combat effectiveness and our collective haul ratings. If I had just gone for a knock-out (which I can’t do, mechanically, as I have no skill in melee or brawl) someone has to carry him up the ladder and be ready to knock him senseless again should he wake up. First, the climbing would be a difficult roll; he’s 100-200 pounds of dead weight that ties up a hand in a narrow smokestack. Then there’s the knock-out itself- courtesy of previous RPPR games, we know that a blow to the head or chloroform will result in possible brain damage or death anyway.

    If we waited for him to calm down, we risked calling more casualties by making noise and we didn’t have the resources for that kind of protracted fight. We also risked the chance he might kill one of the two Latents in the room. (Incidentally, one of whom was the only one strong enough to carry him up the smokestack, thus adding risk of infection to the climb.)

    There didn’t seem to be a way to get him out without unacceptably high levels of risk to the party. Soooo… I shot another teenager.

    Lesson learned, though. Next time, I just start climbing and let everyone else crunch those numbers.

  29. Author

    He was already disarmed at that point. We didn’t have to knock him out. We could have talked him into going with us. What else was he going to do? He didn’t pose a threat to us and if he chose to run away, that would be on him.

  30. He’d cracked and landed on “fight” as was evident by his unreasonably assault; Caleb even called attention to it when he called out the kid’s target and via his dialogue. If we merely needed to disarm him and call it good, fine. Next time we’ll try it that way.

    I was under the mistaken impression that he would keep fighting until subdued when he hit a crack. Again, in the future I will leave that decision to others as I was so clearly wrong.

  31. Eh, I don’t think David was wrong. It was a legitimate decision to make on the spur of the moment, especially for someone with Mauve’s outlook.

  32. David – are you wrong if Mauve thinks it was right? I don’t think so! Mauve’s a hardened person. It’s the others that are soft and therefore future risks ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think part of the fun of RP games is to play characters who come to different conclusions to us – and in a post-apoc world, the morality of survival would be huge.

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