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Messages - Cthuluzord

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RPGs / Red Markets at GenCon/Upcoming Beta
« on: May 13, 2015, 05:01:20 PM »
Red Markets is ready to play. We are six sessions into the macro playtest, and I've got 115 pages of rules ready to go. Things are going well with the RPPR crew, and I’m psyched to run some games for fans. It looks like GenCon scheduling is solidifying, so here’s what I’m thinking:

I’m doing panel talks at 11am and 1pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at GenCon (please come!). I need to keep evenings free for the RPPR meet-up, the Posthuman Freelancer meeting, traditional Glancy game, and the off-chance I could convince some experienced designers to try it out. That means Red Markets playtests will start about 2:30 pm and end around 6:30 pm. That will give me time to leave the Crown Plaza, make it to an open play-space coordinated through GroupMe (I feel shitty selling tickets to an unfinished game, and tables might all be taken when we arrive somewhere), and run the game before shuttling off to wherever I need to be that evening. I could also run games Wednesday night (depending on when we get in), or after the RPPR meet up (depending on my GenCon endurance roll).

So Red Markets playtests will be unofficial games, played where space is available, from 2:30-6:30 Thurs-Sat. If you are attending the con and want a spot, let me know. I will offer space as available.

Meanwhile, in the future...

If you want to rules to playtest with your own group, I've been filing away every request. I know who you are if you've already told me. I have the “Playing Red Markets” rules done (well, ready to edit, at least), but I’m writing the GM section as we continue recording the RPPR campaign. Additionally, there are no scenarios written outside of my chicken-scratch notebooks. The full workings of a beta playtest won’t be done until I get the school-year wrapped up, but it will certainly be done before GenCon. So if you’re one of those noble souls and want to try the game with some rando’s at the con, you’ll have the ability to do so. Ross might also be running some after-hours Red Markets adventure, to make sure I’m selling a game and not me as a GM.

Fair warning for those looking to playtest at home: I am asking for some dedication. I don’t have time to parse the rules down into the condensed nuggets offered as betas by big studios, and I don’t want to delay the start of the KS any longer by trying to do so. Running the game will basically require reading 2/3rds of the book in a draft format, having your group make characters or copy pregens, and giving one or two example scenarios a shot. It’ll be a big packet for a playtest, bigger so if you’re group is beautiful enough to try one of the campaign modes.

That said, we've got a bitching character sheet done, along with a bunch of helpful handouts, cheat-sheets, manipulatives, and hard-won advice. I also want to see about distributing a preview AP to playtesters, so they can at least hear the game as I envision it as they parse the text. You should all be able to have fun with at least a session or two before something breaks, and I’m eager to get finished so I can hear everyone’s experiences. More on the closed RPPR forum beta as it develops.
Alright, that’s all. Let me know in the thread if you want A) to play at GenCon or B) copy of a future beta and haven’t messaged me yet.


Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« on: April 13, 2015, 02:42:26 PM »

They really wanted the Chicago area, so I pushed the line back to the Illinois river. I suppose it makes sense, considering the population density of Chicago and its vulnerability as a transit hub. I'll keep the Mississippi line in the actual text, but there's not much about the setting that can't be adjusted once you understand the economic realities that the mechanics support.

That said, there will be an in-game setting as described in the GDW podcast because it's easier to pick up and play. Plus, that's the actual fun part of the book to write, so I'm not about to skip it.

They wanted a campus drug dealer and wouldn't come up with a name fast enough, so they got the Stokes canon.

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« on: April 11, 2015, 08:39:20 PM »
Here's the write-up for the La Corbusier Enclave. I expanded on things. If I left anything out or any of the players want to redefine something, please let me know.

For those that want to listen to the actual plays without any knowledge of it beforehand, SPOILERS BELOW

1.   Enclave Name

La Corbusier – named after the brutalist architectural mogul in a fit of self-referential irony

2.   Location

Chicago suburbs. The high-price and elite status of the architectural school put it far away from the city’s sprawl, barely qualifying it as a suburb. The much bemoaned distance from the airport and other transportation hubs proved vital to the school’s survival during the Crash.

3.   Defenses

La Corbusier survives the constant onslaught of casualties through an accident of aesthetics and timing. The experimental architecture of the campus actually made it quite defensible. Certain buildings featured sharp overhangs, sheer surfaces, elevated terraces, criss-crossing ramps, and winding stairways that could easily blocked off and bottlenecked. The campus was also engaged in a massive design competition at the time focused on repurposing shipping containers as family homes. The containers were moved to block off more open spaces, fortified, and used as additional housing.

4.   History

La Corbusier survived the crash due to a variety of factors. The most vital contribution in the early days came from an exceptional campus security force, many of whom happened to be veterans of foreign wars. Working with the logistical planning of faculty unwilling to assume the media blackout meant all was well, they prepared a few buildings for defense. These strongholds housed the majority of campus survivors as the first waves of the Crash washed over the city.

But vectors move fast and go where the victims are. As things died down, the faculty contacted local contractors aiding in the shipping container project. In exchange for food and shelter provided for their surviving family and workforces, these construction firms made desperate pilgrimages to the campus under cover of night, dragging along all equipment and materials that could be salvaged from the industrial warehouses and fenced construction zones they had been hiding in. Quick fortifications sealed off nearly the entirety of campus of casualty attacks, and the few vectors left capable of climbing were repelled by heroic efforts from the campus police, inflicting heavy losses on the group.

As things settled down, those that did not flee to other Enclaves or try to make it to the Recession before the border closed came to La Corbusier. Much of the population is made of a random sampling of local and migratory populations, but the primary leadership groups of the academics and the construction workers still hold sway.

5.   Top Exports

La Corbusier primarily trades for its education and expertise. The library remains largely unlooted. Rather, the academics use their expertise in third-world development, sustainability design, and logistical management to consult with other enclaves over Ubiq. This expertise comes at a fee, and crypto charged for consulting brings a large portion of the enclave’s total yearly bounty.
Similarly, the contractors that established the wider perimeter sell their construction expertise to struggling enclave projects around the world, sharing experiences in salvaging and building with improvised materials. Machine parts are a major export, utilizing manufacturing skill sets and the advanced 3d-printing and machine shops on campus. In some instances, if save caravans can be established, former construction workers have been known to go so far as to travel and work job sites at other Enclaves. These excursions have been made for construction projects at The Union, the Ivory Field Ministry, and Machine enclaves, though the latter was in the early days before the group became more militant. The on-site construction projects and custom part manufacture provides a major revenue stream

Finally, the remaining undergraduate and graduate population focused their studies almost entirely on sustainability architecture and technology due to the deteriorating environmental situation before the crash. The proprietary innovations of these young inventors have been released across Ubiq, but not before ransom crowd funding projects go up. After some initial success, the crowdfunding efforts of the youth have been contributing an increasing percentage of the enclave’s total income.

6.   Top Imports

While some maintained lawns have been converted to gardens, La Corbusier lacks enough food to feed its people. Seeds, fertilizer, and preserved foodstuffs must be constantly traded for or ordered by airdrop, though water has been secured via a clever hack of the former sewer system.

Weapons are also in short supply and sell for a premium. The heroes of campus security supplemented the non-lethal arsenal provided by the college with personal collections of pure gun fetishists, but these weapons are aging, in disrepair, and increasingly difficult to feed. The crime world of “Chi-raq” and improvised melee weapons provide all other defense, but La Corbusier has a very small percentage of this supply. The bulk of the illegal weapons in the city were locked down by other enclaves or lost to the glut of undead that prevents all but the most suicidal salvage attempts.
Finally, the harsh Midwestern winters make fuel of any type a valuable commodity.

7.   Competition

Though not a direct threat, the Lake Pirates operating out of Michigan complicate things for La Corbusier. Their raids have all but shut down lake shipments between the Chicago area and northern enclaves, and their tactics are so extreme that they preclude any black market trade with soldiers patrolling the Illinois River Wall. All trade suffers from the predation of these floating raiders.

A rural megachurch, the Ivory Plains Ministry, holds an entire gated community even further away from the city. A combination of evangelical dominionism and prosperity gospel theologies positioned Ivory Plains nicely during the Fall. Much of the infrastructure of the community remains intact, and the gated community seems almost unchanged in the center. Though not extreme enough to be labeled Believers like some post-Crash Christian sects, Ivory Plains is still heavily resented in the area. They’ve been known to exile families for political and judgmental reasons, feeding innocent families to the casualties for innocuous or nonexistent offenses. Furthermore, the group’s religious beliefs preclude them from certain work. This necessitates subcontracting with local takers. Though the megachurch provides valuable income, many crews forgo the money in exchange for avoiding the group’s holier than thou attitude. However, life inside the fence is about as idyllic as life in the Loss can get, and Ivory Fields’ extensive citizen backing means it is wealthy and a leading candidate for DHQS settlement.

The Machine is made up of the remains of Chicago’s political and police structure. In true Chicago tradition, the Homen Square controversy did nothing to teach those in power anything save to hide their corruption better. The Machine is made up of a variety of former CPD black sites for interrogation and the story of militarized police arsenals. The Machine ignores the fact that they are homo sacor like everyone else and still operates off the briefly declared martial law edict passed down over five years ago. They regard all enclavists as citizens bound by extinct US laws and act accordingly. As such, almost no one deals with The Machine. They have been known to arrest and execute those found out in the Loss for “crimes.” They kidnap people under the authority of imaginary evacuation orders and seize property with force citing “civil forfeiture.” The Machine would not be tolerated at all were it not for its intimidating military resources, but their monopoly on force belies a paucity of other assets. The black sites that make up the Machine are widely distributed, hard to get to, and difficult to coordinate. The leadership argues over who actually wields executive authority until they are resettled. The desperate thugs of The Machine survive solely off their equipment, sociopathy, and delusions of legitimacy.

The Union operates out of fortified shipping docks relocated just outside the city limits. Though difficult to travel to by land, the Union is an extremely safe harbor and a vital port trade with enclaves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the remains of Canada. In the early days of the Crash, they dealt with everyone and acquired a reputation for fairness. However, the recent Lake Pirates problem has affected The Union most of all, and the enclave is in economic decline. Members are fleeing for other enclaves or risking a lake run of the border.  Though it still provides some trade, the Union is but a shadow of its former power and will remains so until the lake is again a safe trade route.

8.   Social Structure

Class divides from before the Crash have perpetuated themselves into the current political landscape of La Corbusier. The administration of the enclave is run by a small parliamentary democracy of officials elected every year. There are no term limits or checks and balances build into the system. Yearly elections are dominated by too political parties: the Tenured and the Pillars.
The Tenured are made up of the college faculty responsible for saving the school. They are as predictably liberal as one would expect from private architectural college professors. Their stance on defense has grown lax in the latest years, and their opposition to any new rules limiting the freedom of residents is constant regardless of intent. Despite their concern for personal liberty within the enclave, the Tenured insist their forethought and expertise entitles them to their privileged place in the enclave, apparently without irony.

The Tenured are opposed by the Pillars of the Community, or the Pillars, as they have come to be called. The Pillars are made up of the owners of the wealthy contractors that helped establish the shipping container perimeter. They are far more conservative and security minded, but equally entitled to their privilege.

Not enough of the campus security responsible for the early battles against the vectors survived for from a major political bloc, but the gratitude felt towards these veterans makes them powerful political pawns exploited by both sides.

One of the few things the Tenured and Pillars can agree upon is the goal of settlement. Both groups are willing to do anything to attract DHQS settlement of La Corbusier. They imagine the government will rescue them all.

9.   Neighborhoods

Day Laborers: The storage container apartment block where the majority of the late refugees live off the farms of repurposed lawns.

Adjunct Row: Low-level academics and those without necessary skills occupy this tent city ghetto. This is the bad part of town.

Admin: The former administration building houses the Tenured elite. Technically, the offices and apartments are to be occupied by whomever among the party is elected to lead, but that never seems to change from year to year.

Patchwork Palace: A McMansion constructed on the former soccer field, assembled from salvaged materials brought in by the Pillars. The building houses many members of the party, but its extravagance is still absurd.

Hanging Gardens: The roofs of every university building have been converted to water collectors and rooftop gardens.  Many have rope bridges connected them so that the Detoxins gardeners can move from roof to roof.

10.   VIPs
Dean Chevalier: Head of the Tenured bloc

Harold Carmichael: Leader of the Pillars bloc

Professor Clara Bradley-Matterknick: Swing vote and renegade academic, resentful of the Tenured but without sacrificing her influence over them

Former Undersecretary of Housing Dylan Martinele: a visiting bureaucrat caught in the Crash, living among the Pillars on promises of influence when resettlement comes

Synthenia: Low-level pot dealer turned drug kingpin feeding the addicts of La Corbusier

Dr. Epicuras: would-be messiah leading the Detoxins believers infiltrating the caretakers of the Hanging Gardens.

General Chaos / Re: Best Internet Vidyas
« on: March 19, 2015, 12:56:46 PM »
Go get 'em, you brave souls. You're doing God's work.

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:58:36 PM »
Thanks for the links @TwistingH !

I suppose I owe everyone an update.

For once, I'm caught up. With the exception of my Skype games, my Better Angels obligations are done. I'm caught up on grading and planning for work until the end of February, and the next freelancing job I've pitched for is late sending me a brief. So I've got a golden opportunity here.

For the next few months, I'm on a full Red Markets blitz in an attempt to get 2 out of the 5 sections of the book written ("Playing Red Markets" and "Running the Market"). If I can get that done and sent out to those of you that have so generously volunteered, we can run a quick alpha while I commission some preliminary art. Ideally, we could have cheap ashcan draft to sell at GenCon for $5 and build awareness for a kickstarter.

This is, of course, a best case scenario. But that would leave next year for open beta, writing the setting material, and hitting a KS hard sometime next Spring.

So that's it. Those of you that have PM'd me may be getting something in the next couple of months  ;D

Thank you so much for doing this guys! It's helping immensely! I really appreciate it  ;D

General Chaos / Re: Kickstarter: Cool Stuff
« on: July 23, 2014, 06:01:01 PM »
Thanks guys! I couldn't have done this (or pretty much anything else in RPGs) without this community. RPPR is great and I'm thrilled to know all of you.

RPGs / Re: Lover in the Ice question.
« on: May 01, 2014, 12:17:50 AM »
I think I changed that between the initial playtest and the write up. Gill is how I imagine it.

Hey, I wrote this.

If you would like to help me get more writing work in the EP universe, it would be good to buy. Plus, it's a solid 2-3 nights of tranhuman espionage gaming for $10.00, so it's good value for your money.

The playtest of the scenario should be posted in the next few days.


RPGs / Re: APs, Spoilers, and Con Game Etiquette - Bryson Springs
« on: April 16, 2014, 08:48:39 AM »
Yeah, just let me know. If you've played the scenario before, I'll suggest you for the gangster pregen. Since you know what's going on from a meta-game perspective, the novelty of the game could be roleplaying and trying to convince the other PCs to let you out of your cuffs.

If you backed the Transhuman Kickstarer at the PDF rewards level, the adventure I wrote, The Devotees, is available for download today. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Where can I find information on the Skype game ran as part of the $100 reward from the No Security Kickstarter?  Will there be a similar reward in the next kickstarter?

There are two actual plays posted:


And yes, I'll definitely be offering online games for the next KS (though I am probably going to switch to the far superior Google hangouts)

They can't overlap. I'm not sure how it works out mathematically, but that's the main rule. If you slide something over or earn a dot that would cause a Strategy Tactic to overlap, it just gets removed. It's easier to explain with a character sheet in front of you. Each Sinister/Virtuous pair looks something like

Sinister0 0 0 0  0  0
                     0  0  0  0  0  0 Virtuous

It is very much Dirty World with superpowers. It's pretty much the exact character mechanics with new names and superpowers tacked on.

So everything is paired. Strategies are the equivalent of stats. Each Strategy can be paired with four Tactics (like skills). There are three of these groups, each roughly addressing Mental, Physical, and Social actions. Certain powers allow you to pair Strategies from different areas with Tactics from another area.

Every Strategy and Tactic has an opposite. So if Insightful is the Virtuous Strategy, Deceit is the Sinister. A slide means one dot from the Sinister side moves to the Virtuous side (Deceit to Insightful, in this example) or vice versa. Tactics work the same way.

When you roll, you use the dice pool of your combined Strategy and Tactic for that option. The tricky part about BA is that these are expressed in moralistic terms, but the only person that really needs to know what dice pool to use is the GM. So, to punch somebody stronger than you, roll Open (Virtuous) Courage (Virtuous Tactic). To hit an unarmed person, roll Open (still Virtuous because he aren't trying to hide your actions, at least) Cruelty (Sinister Tactic because you're being an asshole). Shooting a puppy would be Sly (Sinister, because the gun is doing the dirty work for you) Cruelty (again, for being a bastard).

You roll your pool. There's also possible bonuses for weapons (in physical actions), surprise (combat and mental actions), and knowing secrets (social interactions). Bonuses are between 1-3 dice, and the player gets to choose when to use them. They can use them for extra dice BEFORE the roll, making a 5d pool into an 8d pool. Or they can roll their unaltered pool and take the bonus as extra width. To return to the previous example, the 5d pool with a +3 bonus rolls 2x3, but that becomes 5x3.

Width is important because it determines speed and damage (in ORE and real life, speed kills). This is where sliding and obliterating comes in. For rolls of 2 or 3 width, the targeted tactic slide to its opposite. So if I guilt trip your character with Devious Nurture (persuade with decency), I declare an attack on your Corruption. If I get a 3x4 and you get nothing to defend, your Corruption die SLIDES over to Nurture. I've made you a better person, or at least made it harder for you to be a shitty person.

For rolls of 4 width, serious damage starts. At 4 width, I don't slide the dot; I remove it. You don't reallocate your character's dice pool, you lose one from it permanently and have to perform sin/repentance to level it back up. If you are already down to zero in a Tactic, I remove a die from the Strategy attached to it and it has negative effects on all four Tactics linked to it.

At 5 width, I skip the targeted Tactic altogether and remove a Strategy attached to it. It doesn't matter if there's Tactics left in the target, the damage jumps up and does damage to every other Tactic as well by attacking the attached Strategy.

To provide an example from the game, David's Grackle Cannon was a great weapon. The birds it fired attacked Generosity by stealing money and things with their beaks. Now, what David would do, he'd forgo the weapon bonus to hit and use it for damage. He'd get this paltry 2x5 set or something, but then he'd boost it with his bonus dice. A 5x5 hits the attached Virtuous Strategy (Patient) and wipes out the dice. This would take the target's Patient down to zero really quick, and a character with no Patient left either goes completely berserk or runs away. Essentially, his plan for every fight was to annoy his enemies so much with birds that they made stupid choices.

Does that make sense? It's easier to get the weird moralistic expressions of every action if you're already familiar with ORE, I'll admit, but once you play a few sessions its easy to get the hang of. And it's a fun system. There are multiple solutions for ever problem. You can talk down the big bad or sucker punch your allies. It makes for unpredictable, fun roleplaying.

Hey Caleb,

Have you ever read Thomas Ligotti?  S. T. Joshi considers him one of Lovecraft's heirs and he is fantastic.

I ask specifically because I am working through Teatro Grottesco and one of Ligotti's short stories is "The Red Tower" which is superficially similar to your adventure "The Red Tower".

Yeah! I love Teatro Grottesco! I actually give it a shout-out in the first RPPR episode in which I appear. And yes, The Red Tower was inspired by The Red Tower. The description of the final level is what I imagine the inside of Chambliss looks like after he's made his transformation.

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