Author Topic: Red Markets Alpha Playtest  (Read 170373 times)

Quiet side

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2014, 01:21:31 AM »
Gordon Hamilton wasn't much of anybody before the Fall, and now that it's done he isn't anyone at all.

He had an unremarkable childhood in British Columbia, Canada, happy if not perfect. Growing up his teachers and family despaired as he was intelligent but unfocused. His academic career was spotty, his early twenties filled with dead end jobs. Marriage at 25 and an adopted 5 year old daughter, followed 3 years later by one of his own sharpened him up considerably. Gordon dusted off the technical and graphic design skills he had excelled at in his teens and got a good job with a marketing company. His daughters grew up, graduated and moved out.The only tragedy that marred his life prior to the Fall was the death of his wife after 15 years of marriage. Her death wasn't sudden, but she did not linger long enough to leave him bitter.

Only a few months later Gordon was down in Houston visiting his older daughter and her new husband when the first news reports began to come in. By the time Gordon realized what was going on it was too late. Air travel was impossible, panics and riots were commonplace and he ended up on the wrong side of the line.

Gordon survived though. Knowing a little of everything came in handy as things went wrong. His experience in dealing with diverse groups of people, stress and constantly changing situations helped him to navigate the worst of it. Where those things couldn't help luck or chance took care of the rest.

In the last 5 years Gordon has worked Bounties with a half dozen groups. He's picked up a few more things along the way and while he's no specialist those who have worked with him point out that he never panics and rarely balks at 'doing the right thing'.

That's always been Gordon's gift in a way, he does what he believes to be right or necessary and suffers the consequences later. That was what made it possible to put his daughter down after she got a hot kiss from her latent husband and tore his throat out in that basement apartment back in Houston.

Thing is Gordon isn't quite as ok as he appears to be. He's earned enough that he could probably have made his way into the Vancouver Island Q-zone by now, but he keeps spending it. There's always someone who needs it more than he does, someone whose kid needs suppresin or some enclave that could use those ration dollars for antibiotics. Even though he talks about making his way back 'home'; that he's sure his younger daughter made it to safety; he never really gets closer.

Without knowing about mechanics - generalized skills, with a slightly higher focus on leadership/social, if you're doing perks/flaws as part of the system:

Jack of All trades / Slacker - Gordon has a reduced unskilled penalty, but can't learn skills beyond a certain qualification as he lacks focus

Stable/Strong Willed - However that would be handled, the idea is that Gordon is capable of overriding his humanity where it would prevent him from doing what he thinks is right. He rarely panics. He still loses it, gains disorders, suffers from ptsd but remains in control in the moment.

On the other hand his need to help others isn't about conscious choice or morality, it's a compulsive need to save his dead daughter.

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2014, 09:20:27 AM »
This character initially started out as a pre-gen for an upcoming game of Base Raiders, but I think she might be an interesting spin on a character in Red Markets. 

---
Agnes Anderson was tired.  And old.  The only thing she had to look forward to was her retirement.

Well, thanks to the Blight, that has been delayed. 

Anges wasn't always so tired.  In her youth she was a member of the national guard.  She volunteered to help with the Red Cross, and for a few years after that she worked as a missionary for St. Louis' Apostolic Church.  She saw the ravages of hunger, poverty, and disease.  On her last trip, she was on a truck delivering food and medical supplies to a village in Somalia ravaged by drought.  When armed bandits robbed the convoy, she was stunned by the apathy of her armed guards.  They offered no defense, no retaliation.  They simply shrugged.  This is the way it is, one guard told her.  We have no government to aid us.

Agnes found a cause.  She championed her government, and found herself a low-paying job that offered her what she wanted most:  a comfortable retirement.  She began her career as a food service worker in the public school district.  She counseled her neighbors, friends, and congregation members about the benefits of having a strong government.  A devout Catholic, Agnes attempted to date, but her piety and devotion to volunteer efforts left her little time for romance.  She was fine with this; not every Catholic can help populate the lord's people.  Her task in life was simple:  champion the government, participate in labor movements, and serve her community.  Her reward?  Her pension, and the last quarter of her life spent in the quiet comfort.

Things started going badly before Agnes well before she became a czar in the Lost.

First, she noticed anti-government sentiment growing at an alarming rate.  Then, she was caught off-guard by the sudden attack against labor unions.  Soon she was no longer a government employee, but a worker for "Food Service Supply."  She still worked for the school, but she was told she was now an at-will employee.  Her pension was frozen; she would still receive payment for what she put in, but now she had to start putting money into a 401k.  Her health insurance was replaced with a plan that gave her little room for additional savings. 

She worked longer hours.  Her pay was not increased.  Her disposable income and savings were a fraction of what they once were. 

She aged.  She became tired.  Her dreams of retirement were pushed back by at least ten years, if not more.  She was scared to lose her job; she had no protection anymore.  The company didn't seem to like her; they said she "cost too much."  She started making mistakes, she couldn't sleep at night.  Her doctor started giving her pills, but she had to pay her week's savings to get the pills.  She called her local officials and congresswomen to plead for aid.  She was told that they were simply doing what the people voted for.

The people.  That is all she ever heard.  Blame the people.  Blame the voters.

She remembered the supply truck in Somalia.  This is the way it is, she told herself.  The people gave up on government.  They decided to prefer no government.

And she was not surprised when the Blight started to ravage the world.  The government failed to protect its people.

Which is exactly what the people wanted, right? 

The years after the Recession were something of a blur to her.  She remembers people telling her to go with them to flee.  She remembers serving fewer and fewer students in the school cafeteria.  She remembers grabbing her few possessions at home, including her Maine Coon, Julia, and moving it all to the school.

She remembers working with Carlos, the custodian, to board up all the doors and windows.  She remembers carefully making an inventory of all the canned food items she had.  She remembers.

But she also forgets.  She forgets the time some young man came in with a gun.  Carlos says she killed him and took the gun.  Carlos says she did this multiple times. 

She vaguely remembers seeing her first Casualty.  It reminded her of a starving man she saw in Somalia.  Some people said he had rabies.  Others said he was possessed by a demon.

She tries not to think about Casualties now.  They are like the snow in winter.

Carlos also told her she needed her pills.  But she was too old to venture out to get them.  So he says she made deals with others; she would trade her food for her pills and other supplies. 

The pattern repeats.  The people she trade with begin to ask if they can help fortify the school.  She says yes to some, no to others.  Carlos provides guidance.  Carlos provides counsel.  Julia meows.

Carlos tells her now the school is now a community.  It is small, but it is sufficient.  It has supplies, it has weapons, it has trade goods.  It can survive, as long as she leads it.

She tells Carlos that she is tired.  Carlos says she should consider growing the community a little more before retirement.  She says she wants to retire.  Carlos says she cannot do that yet; there is still work to be done.

So the pattern repeats again.  The "School," as it becomes known, grows.  It becomes strong.  Agnes rules with strong, central leadership.  There are laws; there is order. 

She says she is ready to retire again.  Carlos says the community needs to grow more.  But it can't grow, she tells him.  We are strong and stable, and our trades are well-developed.  What else can we do?

A few days later, a worker informs her about the Red Markets.  She asks Carlos what he thinks.  Carlos mulls it over.

The worker sees his leader talking to herself.  He becomes worried.  Rumors start to spread.

Carlos then tells Agnes that this is her chance.  She must make a score on the Red Market!  Then she can buy her way into the Recession.  Then she can retire.

Then she can rest. 

Carlos will come with her, he says.  Julia can come too.

Agnes decides it is time to retire

---

For whatever reason my recent fascination is with OLD characters.  Not ancient, but certainly elderly and struggling with aging.  But just because they are old doesn't mean they are invalid and unable to perform.  I guess I am on a kick to see if players can use aging as a role-playing opportunity, not as an obstacle.

And isn't it the ultimate American dream for an aging, schizophrenic lunch lady to become an entrepreneur and community leader?  ;)
 

« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 09:30:48 AM by PaulyMuttonchops »

Cthuluzord

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2014, 12:54:55 PM »
@PaulyMuttonchops

Yeah, that character concept totally works for Red Markets. It sounds like she leads an Enclave. I've yet to write rules for a running a whole community's upkeep, but I plan to and it will probably become a Background (read: class). If she's suffering from a mental illness at the start, I imagine I need to build in some sort of option to take Humanity damage at the start. But then again, the point of the Humanity system is to NOT denigrate the mentally ill, meaning that her schizophrenia is really just a roleplaying challenge until she takes Humanity damage out in the Loss (of course, it sounds more like she's suffering from dementia than anything else). Hmmm...I'll need to think on how to do Threats to Humanity during character generation, because that is something people are going to want.

@QuietSide

A Jack of All Trades is definitely something you could do. The Marketing and social skills will definitely come in handy negotiating for jobs. I'm not sure about a perk that caps skills, but what you describe is easily represented in the game system. Bounty is used to advance skills and potential (downtime for practice is not time spent scavenging and earning). If your guy really is giving away his Bounty to people with sob stories, that's going to cap his character advancement considerably, as each increase in skill costs exponentially more.

D6xD6 - Chris

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2014, 02:05:34 PM »
I'm not sure Agnes would need to take humanity damage at the start.  She has dementia, but is not conscious of that, and her dementia actually helps her lead an Enclave.  It would start to hinder her when she becomes aware of her mental state(if people point out that Carlos isn't there).

Maybe the way to deal with humanity loss regarding mental ability is to have the loss occur when it is reasonable to assume that the illness will hinder the character going forward...?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 02:22:29 PM by PaulyMuttonchops »

Flawless P

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2014, 02:22:53 PM »
I tend to write my character backgrounds more like a casting call, short physical description, then some bullet points of formative experiences and relationships. Sorry for the lack of focus and the prevalence of errors, I normally only write these for myself, so I kinda gave up on grammar.

Doctor James Porter "Doc"
Geneticist

Late 20's, 6'0", shaggy brown hair. Thin build with long limbs. Wears corrective lenses.

-Grew up in a typical family, one brother and one sister, both younger.

-His family quickly learned that he is extremely intelligent. He skipped 2nd and 5th grade.

-Started High school two years early and ended up in the same grade as his cousin Rebecca. Rebecca and her boyfriend befriended him and protected him from being bullied.

-His cousin had a baby in her senior year of high school named Jonas. Jonas was born with a genetic disorder that causes blurred and limited vision.

-Already having an aptitude for science this helped shape his career path, and he went to college to become a research scientist looking for a way to treat genetic defects.

-He finished school and began working for a large bio tech company.

-When the loss began his company was assisting in providing transport for their employees. He manipulated events(including drugging a fellow coworker) to help his cousin and her kid take one of the transports into the safe zone, promising to follow.

-The time that followed is a blur violence and questionable moral choices.

-Eventually he reconnects with Rebecca and Jonas,who help him to feel less hopeless and give him a reason to try and get out.

-Now he works as a medic/street doc type with his crew. He has turned his genetics experience into trying to find a cure for the change, albeit unsuccessfully.

The basic rundown here is a guy who wasn't necessarily a traditional doctor before the loss but he had to learn to adapt.

I left the locations ambiguous intentionally so that he can fit in anywhere. His ties to humanity will be sending supplies to and skyping with his cousin and her kid. He assumes that the rest of his family are still alive(His parents lived in Maine and his brother and sister shared and apartment in New York) but the only people who he has been able to reconnect with were

Rebecca and Jonas. I leave the fate of his cousins husband open to interpretation because he could easily be a player character as well(lots of people who have kids in highschool join the military so he could even be the gunman for Porters current crew).

He's generally a nice, happy guy, he actually wants to actively help people, but he does have a dark side when it comes to protecting people he cares about. His goal is to eventually reunite with his family and finally get to work with real lab equipment and help work on a real vaccination with people in person, instead of trying to get his random message board posts noticed and taken seriously.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 07:17:24 PM by Flawless P »
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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2014, 01:52:42 PM »
jwd - Walter Pear - (20140210)

* What does the character do well?
  Walter Pear can write, shoot a little video, take a picture or two, draw what he can, record a little audio, but he really does two things well: he listens, and he talks. He seems to have a chip of the Blarney Stone for one of his fillings. Other than that, he's a patient optimist.

* Why are they a Taker?
  Pure luck. Most days, he'll say "good luck." He's got a front-row seat at humanity's next round of myth-making, the literal conquest of death, and he knows it. Somewhere out there's a new Paul Bunyan, a new John Henry, a new Pecos Bill, a new Johnny Appleseed, a new Harriet Tubman, a new Bugs Bunny, a new avatar of every old hero, and all he has to do is find that man and that woman and tell the story that makes it so--whether or not that story's true.

* What happened to trap them out in the Loss?
  Pure luck. Most days, he'll tell you "where else would a storyteller go?"
  But that story's not true. Walter Pear stays out in the Loss because he's sick. He doesn't know what's he got. Could be he's Latent, but it could be he's Immune and has something perfectly ordinary and no less pernicious. Cancer still kills, and so do any number of other diseases. Walter knows he has something, because it fucking hurts.

* What is their retirement plan?
  Live forever through his art. The whole human race has had enough horror and plain bad news for the next seven generations. It needs heroes, larger than life, larger than undeath, and Walter Pear will bring their stories back to every body who just wants to smile and have a little encouragement at the end of the day. Laugh at the slapstick antics of a half-dismembered zombie? Cheer when someone brings back a big score? Whatever it takes to make the Takers the new heroes for a civilization on the back foot--Walter Pear plans to have his name in the credits.

'Cause he ain't gonna live to see it happen very often.

* How did they come to meet their crew?

  Pure luck. Most days, he'll tell you about each of them, the larger-than-life heroes that push back undeath and reclaim a little more land for the living. If the audience is a little older, yeah, he'll tell you about feet of clay, or faults they overcome through work and grit or in the worst-case, noble sacrifice.
  But that story's not true either. Sugar and spice tales, and Walter knows it. Greed gilding sociopathy, a weird saprophytic subculture recycling the corpse of humanity's greatest civilization. He's got those stories, too, because knowing where the bodies got buried has kept him alive.

* Who are their dependents?

  Walter's got a few support staff back in the Enclaves. Some rework his material for distribution, cleaning up raw copy to fit local markets. Some distribute it as samizdat, others as propaganda, others as cartoons or comic books or coarse videos for the increasingly common illiterates. Walter would like to find a few more investigators to join him "out in the field," but he figures it'll take a generation or two at least for that to happen on its own, and he hasn't got anything like that long to live.

  Of course, there was that fellow Fagin, who had a school for orphans...

* Do they live in an Enclave, the Recession, or back at the base?

  Pear lives out in the Recession, near the action, and far from the suspicious CDC types of Fedland.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2014, 03:07:12 PM »
I love it, Jay! Embedded journalist of the Loss with questionable journalistic ethics. I also like the fact that he doesn't know if he's Latent or Immune or not. Mechanically, that would be written on the sheet, but it could easily be roleplayed that he's uncertain and wants to keep it that way. Good stuff.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2014, 02:32:27 PM »
Hey, I've been getting lots of request to get in on the playtest. I'm keeping a list and I'll send stuff out as soon as I have something worth looking at. For now, I thought I could post this links. It's my initial ideas for the international setting. A world-wide setting description chapter complete with maps is something I hope to add to the KS when the time comes, but even after consulting with multiple cartographers and geographers to make this little mock-up, I'm not sold only anything 100% for who survived globally.

Furthermore, being both American and from the Missouri means I'm pretty damned ignorant and provincial (knowing this about myself puts me well above the curve for the area though). This makes me paranoid about anything I write internationally. I'd welcome any feedback people have and request they'd like to see in the final map.

Guidelines: Zombies have some limited climbing abilities, but unless they are hunting they'll travel the path of least resistance and avoid steep slopes. They cannot swim at all and sink like rocks, making oceans and rivers the primarily defensive borders. They are much slower in cold weather, but they don't stop completely.

http://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/RedMarkets

Note on ScribbleMaps: For some reason the text boxes don't scale along with the map itself. This is stupid and makes the map unreadable on the macro scale. Just zoom in close enough to a specific region and the text will be readable. In addition to the actual borders of the surviving global powers, I'm also eager for advice about a better software solution for annotating maps. I'll need something better than this if I get enough money in the KS to hire a cartographer to do the book's maps.

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2014, 03:03:01 PM »
First,  I am definitely willing to provide feedback if you need more play test opinions.

Second, and I think you do this in the map (it is a little tricky to read on my phone), but the Great Lakes are great spots for organized communities/forts.  Duluth seems particularly suited  to with stand against zombie hordes (steep elevation + lake Superior).  There are also places like Madeline island in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior that have the infrastructure for a community that could thrive and make a killing off the Red Markets.

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2014, 04:46:27 PM »
If the zombies are slowed by the cold and avoid inclines than you should consider focusing new population centers, ones created after the Recession, in high places while low places are avoided. Infact, if it's been a number of years than you could map Casualty progression in a manner similar to water flow. River outlets, floodplains, and marshes would be suicide regions positively swarming with danger. Cities in low locations would have the problem of existing populations AND new wanderers entering the area all the time.

The whole west coast is probably one long Casualty train running along the I-5 corridor. If they follow the path of least resistance, Casualties would reasonably follow paved roads, train tracks, and foot paths. That makes conveniences a liability; clearing a path for yourself and the team, especially if using vehicles, means you make a path for the Casualties, possibly even attracting ones that would otherwise have avoided the area.

In the US you have four areas for new high elevation colonization: Appalachia, Rockies, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada. These would be good places to have bases of operations that are unlikely to suffer random Casualty encounters but have more limited resources. Low territory like the Great Plains would be more resource usable but be literally crawling with Casualties.


Ideas for secure bases:
Old copper mine with tailings.
Any island or river delta.
Repurposed floor or roof of an office tower with the stairs destroyed.
Converted observatory.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2014, 07:55:46 PM »
Those are both great ideas. Thanks!

I didn't mean to overemphasis the "path of least resistance thing. I think I'll go for one step down from what Tad described. Keeping to roads and whatnot is fine, but I'm not going to make them all deathtraps. I'm sure plenty of Casualties will wander into the woods, especially considering they have no fatigue, understanding of the elements, or cognition. They'll climb like bastards if they see food too, which would mean that those high elevation safe zones would have to be VERY careful not to let themselves be see or heard, and SUPER careful not to be followed back if they come back from a run.

But, if you have no stimulus, aimless wandering, and impaired motor function, it makes sense that a Casualty is more likely to trip on an upward incline or heavy foliage. If every trip has the chance to turn them around in a direction they are less likely to trip, it makes sense that there would just be more in the lowlands. But upper elevations, unless they were behind protected passes and vertical slopes, would still have some Casualties.

I plan on having stampedes of Casualties ala the Walking Dead: trains of food stimulus leading to great migrations of undead. One of those could wipe out an entire Enclave. In fact, zombie herding is going to be a job I'll provide plot hooks for, redirecting Stampedes away from population centers; or towards one, if you're that kind of asshole :-)

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2014, 10:12:04 PM »
Hey Caleb, kind of a weird question, but... What is the area delineated by the lines from near Duluth, MN to River Falls, WI? I want to know because I actually live in that (relatively) small sliver of land- and it weirds me the fuck out. ;)
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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2014, 10:24:29 PM »
Maybe something to do with the St. Croix river? 

Or Michelle Bachman.  Maybe she leads the Woodbury Enclave...

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2014, 10:59:02 PM »
Caleb and I have already talked about this over gchat, but I think the West Coast wouldn't lose all of its population, especially on the coast itself. If water totally stops zombies, then given the sheer number of ships (Navy, Coast Guard, and commercial freight ships etc) I could see San Diego (due to huge naval base there) and possibly other locales develop permanent floating cities. Takers make runs into land for supplies and live in smaller ships like tugboats. Some structures right on the coast could be defended as well.

Also, given their habits, would it be possible to develop a lemming strategy to cull Casualties? I.E., kind of like directing stampedes, but with the goal of sending them into the water and then possibly destroying them with depth charges or whatever? The Navy could use carefully positioned air raid sirens to lure a bunch of zombies into the bay, for example. Position the sirens north and south of the main city to draw away wanderers and you could build up fortifications pretty quickly.

Obviously, this does not deal with the threat of reinfection, but it could make coastal cities possible. For power, they have solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear from aircraft carriers.

Kamen

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Re: Red Markets Alpha Playtest
« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2014, 12:02:18 AM »
Interesting! I could totally see something like Rivet City from Fallout 3 popping up on a secured port or something. I could also see the lemming/corralling plan working on land, too. Say an Enclave gets word of a Casualty front moving towards them, they could set up explosives, either scrounged together bombs or something a bit more improvised, lure them in a particular direction, then BOOM! You've either avoided a major zombie storm or lured more in.

I do have a few questions though, since they sink like stones in water are they still active on the river/lake/sea-bed, a-la World War Z, or are they inert? Also, aside from ubiquitous wifi, what is the level of tech we can expect? I know this is very near-future and I certainly don't expect full on cyberpunk cybernetics or what-not, but would stuff like personal drones, like Big-Dog or the Amazon Prime quadrocopter, or slightly more advanced prosthetic limbs be available? I've got some character concepts that would use some of this tech and I just want to make sure it wouldn't be too unusual. I've been looking at stuff like microprocessor and myoelectric prostheses. Thanks!

Finally, I know there are some ways you can edit Google Maps, but I am fairly ignorant to the means. I'd take a look at stuff like Nuke Map or this Shadowrun Seattle Locals Map for some ideas and maybe contacting one of these guys for some tips? Hope it helps.