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Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
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Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror

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Red Markets is a tabletop RPG about economic horror. 

In Red Markets, characters risk their lives trading between the massive quarantine zones containing a zombie outbreak and the remains of civilization. They are Takers: mercenary entrepreneurs unwilling to accept their abandonment. Bound together into competing crews, each seeks to profit from mankind’s near-extinction before it claims them. They must hustle, scheme, and scam as hard as they fight if they hope to survive the competing factions and undead hordes the GM throws at them.

Takers that are quick, clever, or brutal enough might live to see retirement in a safe zone, but many discover too late that the cycle of poverty proves harder to escape than the hordes of undead. Red Markets uses the traditional zombie genre to tell a story about surviving on the wrong end of the economy. It’s cut-throat capitalism with its knife on your neck.

 
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Reviews (24)
Discussions (18)
Customer avatar
Tony M December 09, 2017 10:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Any chance of a high res version of the map on page 45?
Customer avatar
Connor N December 05, 2017 3:02 am UTC
PURCHASER
out of all the systems I've ever run, this one is hands down my favourite. I ran a campaign with the play test version of red markets and my players ended up knocking out a horror that defies nature, filling it with stims, and setting it loose on the locals so my players could escape without being shot. Also my teams medic solved most problems with huge amounts of drugs, the bruiser got shot in the leg and can't walk? fill him with stim sauce! we need to run away faster? stim sauce! we are going to see terrible terrible atrocities against nature? bottles of happy pills!

seriously while everyone else kept on buying gear, anti tank rifles, incendiary mortars, and leveling up their skills, my medic went through the game with a pistol, a medkit, and a bag of drugs
Customer avatar
Tony M November 24, 2017 12:56 pm UTC
PURCHASER
In the end, the words that they wrote there were meaningful.

:-)

Nice background, and lots of it, so even if the Profit System isn't for you could run this with pretty much anything you fancied.
Customer avatar
Jared A November 23, 2017 7:35 am UTC
PURCHASER
I backed the Kickstarter. Post-apocalyptic Ocean's 11 heists with a Call of Cthulu-type sanity mechanic.

This is more about seeing how far you can get when everything is against you as opposed to being the Big Damn Hero. Combat is alright but what I really like is the non-combat side. Negotiation, planning, providing for dependent NPCs, upkeep on your precious gear, and all while trying to keep your humanity from breaking. And you won't need an accounting ledger for this, it's all presented in the abstract. You can spend resources to get information or to say you have some rope when you find you need some. But you have to be cautious about how you do that because you can successfully complete an adventure and end up worse off than when you started.

The book is setting, rules, and how to run the game. The game mechanics can be adapted to other genres, it's not really that dependent upon the zombie motif. I've been tinkering around with adapting it to a more cinematic crime setting....See more
Customer avatar
Jack R November 23, 2017 3:40 am UTC
When will this be available for print on demand?
Customer avatar
Ethan C November 23, 2017 4:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
I don't know about any future POD plans, but it is available in print now from Indie Press Revolution (in the U.S.).
Customer avatar
John B November 22, 2017 2:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What Red Markets provides that so many other games don't is a reason for your characters to adventure. It's a reason that is immediately and viscerally available to anyone who wasn't born wealthy. Hustle and live, or get eaten by a system that doesn't care about you, that lacks the capacity to care about you. Hustle long enough, well enough, and you can not care, too. This is what separates Red Markets from other horror games. You don't have to stretch your view of the world to include inscrutable outer gods or post-singularity machine gods. This horror is economic, and it's personal. It may take a little while to get used to the negotiation mechanic mini-game, but you'll catch on. It's going to feel frustrating that the game penalizes you for accumulating possessions and dependents, but overcoming those constrains is the whole point of the game. Think of them as formal restraints when composing a sonnet or other metered and schemed poem. Wrestling with the structure forces you to be creative, and raises the stakes....See more
Customer avatar
Taylor L November 21, 2017 10:43 pm UTC
Full Disclosure: I (like others here) backed this book on Kickstarter. I have both the PDF and hardback copy like many here.

A game for post-apocalyptic enthusiast, occult-conspiracy theorists, and plain misery junkies. Gone are the trappings of your best qualities burned away by the fall of civilization in a crisis, instead all of your inefficiencies and weakness laid bare before the monumental task of just surviving. It's not a game about Zombies, it's a game about poverty, loneliness, doing what it takes to survive. The "Casualties" are just one more detail of your bullshit job. It clings to coining the phrase "economic horror" with it's Profit system, where no rolls are free and must be carefully rationed out with limited resources. With it's Boom and Bust rules you can tailor it to be a hardscrabble and heroic romp through a dead civilization like S.M. Stirling's: Dies the Fire or as bleak and unforgiving as Cormack McCarthy's: The Road.

About the Physical Copy:...See more
Customer avatar
Nathaniel J November 21, 2017 9:27 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Another backer here: This game skews dark. As written it leads to interesting moral choices and a sense of impending doom. The players are eternally one job/paycheck away from ruin. Altruism inevitably has deeply personal costs to the characters and those characters families, making heroism all the more heroic. I have some criticisms, but they're very minor, because the game is so well done. It's obviously a labor (pun intended) of love, but don't get it because of that. Buy the game if you want to grapple with a type of horror, financial, that many deal with every day. Spend money on this product to support critiques of capitalism!
Customer avatar
Jeff C November 21, 2017 8:15 pm UTC
I laughed when I saw "Economic Horror." All I could think of was Debits: the Reconciling or Accounts vs Azathoth or some equally cheesy business metaphors.This game does warrant a good second look, though. The description alone is appealing, plus all the glowing reviews. It's got a good concept despite the quirky subtitle. 'Cthulhu nng pthah! TPS Reports, Now!'
Customer avatar
Nicholas M November 21, 2017 1:25 am UTC
Full disclosure: I was a Kickstarter backer. That doesn't change the quality of the game though - this RPG is well designed, easy to learn (and easy to teach). The thematic elements are really good - it eases new game-play without imposing too much on the players. The game mechanisms are robust enough to stand without any of the thematic elements as well. That said - the theme, along with how the game mechanisms work - create a wonderful sense of unease, fear and a bit of dread. I like that simply playing the game, in theme, creates this sense.
While technical details can be read elsewhere here are the bits that really stand out for me:
All choices that matter have a cost to players - and they must be balanced against the potential gain.
Upkeep is a big deal (everything has a cost) - People need food, and psychological healing from the brutal and terrifying environment. Tools and weapons have charges, ammo and maintenance... Everything is breaking or is broken... the world is dying. Depending...See more
Customer avatar
Ethan C November 20, 2017 4:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I betatested the system and backed the Kickstarter, and now I get to tell you about my favorite RPG.

You might think that a 500-page book couldn't have a core mechanical system that's simple, fast, easy to learn, and highly flexible. Red Markets is all those things. It combines the best elements of traditional task-resolution skill-based gameplay with innovations from the best of the story game scene. And it puts its mechanic constantly at the service of a tight, focused game theme: everything costs resources. Economics as horror.

Economic horror is a genre that you might not have ever heard of, but you've probably played before. The old school dungeon crawl where you're counting your torches and arrows. The sci fi game where you struggle to fix the oxygen system before you asphyxiate. The childhood game of Monopoly, desperately trying to miss landing on your sister's Boardwalk hotel. Any game where the tension and worry revolves around the questions, "Can I afford this?" "Should...See more
Customer avatar
Timothy D November 19, 2017 11:13 pm UTC
Stop reading reviews and add Red Markets to your cart.

-An easy-to-grasp mechanic that is intuitive and versatile.
-A setting that reads like a zombie apocalypse novel.
-High-concept economic commentary about the inescapable cycle of poverty.
-Entertaining “What Would YOU Do In A Zombie Apocalypse?” role-playing theater.
-Modular structure - build up the length, complexity, and difficulty of your games to suit your liking.
-Thorough and in-depth documentation of development process at Role-Playing Public Radio.
-Gracious, thoughtful developer who signed my book at Metatopia 2017.

What else are you shopping for here?
Customer avatar
Chris V November 19, 2017 11:17 pm UTC
See... I am going to come across as a dick here, but this comment is the exact reason I won't buy something.
The first line.
You got a serious eye roll and a literal 'XXX' out of me.
I read reviews and based on REALISTIC reviews I will either purchase something or not.
If your intent was to get me to buy - it failed.

It might work on others, but there is always one guy (or more) in a crowd like me who this has the exact opposite of the intended effec.
Customer avatar
Tadd M November 19, 2017 10:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Disclaimer: Let me start out by saying that I backed the Kickstarter of this project. I have been a longtime fan of the crew of Role-Playing Public Radio (RPPR) and Caleb Stokes’ scenarios were some of the best (so good that I converted some of them so that I could run them in my Dark Heresy gaming group- I still hear them talk about Lover in the Ice).

When I heard that Caleb was working on a zombie apocalypse-themed RPG setting (and after hearing some of the actual plays on RPPR) I was definitely interested. I have been looking to run a zombie apocalypse RPG after I retire my Dark Heresy game (which has been going on for nearly a decade now and counting) and didn’t really like the Dead Reign, All Flesh Must Be Eaten and End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse systems. I have finally finished reading Red Markets cover to cover and I think this is the system I’m going to use.

Caleb spins a great story (over a 100+ pages) of how the zombie apocalypse happens in the near future. I found...See more
Customer avatar
Catherine G November 19, 2017 8:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Seriously people, buy this book! It's one of the most original and satisfying rpg setting I've ever seen since Delta Green. The game mechanics are incredibly easy to deal with and there's a great focus on role playing your characters trying to get themselves and their friends and family out of poverty in the zombie wasteland. One of the best new book out there currently rpg wise.
Customer avatar
Patrick H November 19, 2017 7:21 pm UTC
I got Red Markets after backing it on Kickstarter, so unfortunately I can’t write a full review of it here, but BUY THIS GAME. Just, wow guys, buy this game. This has been my group’s favourite game consistently out of all the systems we’ve dabbled in - the only game we’ve gone BACK to for a second full campaign after the first wrapped.

Caleb does a pretty good job introducing the job to you through the copy text, so I won’t go into that here, though I do recommend grabbing one of the many Actual Play podcasts out there running the game to hear how fast and player-facing it is. Everything is light, but engaging and with a lot of room for customisation and flavour. The setting is great, the GM section has FANTASTIC tools for creating interesting, challenging scenarios for your players, and there are so many optional rules and ‘modes’ of play.
Customer avatar
Will H November 19, 2017 6:25 pm UTC
I purchased Red Markers through backerkit after listening to some of the best role play campaigns ever on the RPPR play tests. The system is crunchy in all the best ways, driving the narrative constantly through mechanics that emphasise cost/benefit and the driving demands of 'the market'. It's more than zombie horror, it's a struggle to stay alive and stay solvent. The setting is great and prescient but th mechanics are what makes this a classic. Perfect for short and long term campaigns, it solves the problem of 'why do this horrific dangerous work' by introducing an abstract but effective economic system that drives RP, action and world building. Some of the most fun I've had at a table and honestly a bargain for 20 bucks.

Wish I could leave a proper review! I look forward to more material using Red Markets. Already thinking about introducing the Negotiation mechanic to any DnD campaign I run.
See 16 more
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496
ISBN
978-1-987916-97-3
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80.38 MB
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on November 19, 2017.