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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: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Tim D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2017 08:24:40

The setting is near future in a setting that feels almost too real and too likely. The quality of the fiction and the "getting there from here" was profoundly effecting and adds to the relevance of play. The creator has described this as a poverty simulator, and if you let the power and the resonance of that sink in, this game can provide profound moments of beautiful despair, if you let it.

Thankfully, the setting allows for a wide range of approaches to play. You can explore many genres of zombie conflict, be big damn heroes, hold the door against a tide of the undead, Perform an awesome heist, spend time with loved ones. You can do a lot with this setting and system. Still the fiction is powerful and though-provoking and is my favorite part of the whole book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/27/2017 20:55:49

Red Markets is fantastic. I've been a fan of the writer for a long time and enjoyed watching the development of the game. You will not go wrong with this game, even if you (like me and most of my table) are burned out on the saturated zombie genre.

As for the game... Negotiation rules make up a significant, fun, and easy to learn part of the game that lets every PC engage even if they are a hulking combat PC with no other skills. It gets people invested. Speaking of invested, the group build of the PC community "enclave" is a blast. The setting is dark, but not in a grimderp sort of way. Economic Horror is very much an appropriate descriptor. Combat is easy, brutal and reinforces the sense of resource management. You always feel pressured and short on what you need. Triumph feels well earned. For us older GMs with hectic lives, I ran my first Red Markets campaign with a full time job, college, family, AND a second campaign of a different game going. My total investment per week was about 20 minutes. Despite my low time investment in planning stories, the adventures still felt dynamic, fleshed out, and ran extremely smoothly. The toolbox is remarkably good at streamlining the work you have to do to get maximum output. All PC types are valid, something even other story focused games struggle with. Great sanity mechanics, great player buy in for why their PCs do what they do, great social interaction with dependents to ground PCs in the setting, and a solid character progression system.

Fantastic product, great production value, and the writer is very engaged and positive with the community. If you had a shipping problem or just a simple rules question, Caleb clearly cares and does his best to address it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Lucas W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/24/2017 21:26:04

Easily one of the best story-driven tabletop RPG's available at the time.

Red Markets is supposed to be set in a zombie ridden wasteland long after the initial apocalypse, but the unique game engine, the Profit System, is so well explained it can be placed into any economic-driven game. The setting and world of Red Markets is lovingly crafted, and full of personality.

A major con of the system is its use of newer, story driven mechanics. Old school gamers, and those used to systems like Pathfinder, DnD, or other murder hobo systems will have issues wrapping their head around the profit system.

If you can find a group willing to experiment with new titles, I can't reccomend this game enough, though. 5/5 I will be supporting Hebanon again



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/23/2017 06:01:18

Hebanon Games has created a mechanically elegant game in Red Markets and placed that system in an intense survival horror setting. Even better, the setting's horror does not only come from the zombie tropes you might think but from the sense of grinding poverty. In Red Markets, your PCs have to adventure to eat - collecting Bounty to pay rent in isolated enclaves set in undead-infested wasteland. The player-facing Profit system allows for narratively-driven role playing while still giving the game a tiny bit of crunch.

If you're looking for an easy to learn RPG that allows for a variety of playstyles in horror setting, Red Markets is here for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Brennan B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 22:28:36

It's hard to imagine that we're looking an actual original take on zombies that makes them not only scary again, but also that the whole package is set in a beliveable near-future dystopia that generates so much excitement and amazing stories around the table like nothing before it. Absolutely crammed with ideas and inspiration, Red Markets weaves a perfect backdrop for you and your friends to craft characters in and watch them struggle to control the rate at which their lives crumble. More than a zomibe game, more than a poverty simulator, more than a soul-crushing, rip-roaring good time, Red Markets is the most fun I've had watching all my friends lose their will to live and demand to keep playing late into the night.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 19:05:14

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 the story to be entertaining and more plausible (as much as a zombie apocalypse can be) than other zombie apocalypse setting explanations. Some critics have pointed out that the book seems left-leaning in its writing (which the author has acknowledged) but I’m interested in using the book as a RPG game system/setting and not as a political reference, so I’m not put off by this.

Players make characters called Takers, which are people trapped in the dangerous wasteland of the zombie-infested “Loss” seeking escape to the still-government-controlled “Recession” (or other desired retirement plan). In order to reach their goal, Takers form a crew that takes on jobs to earn “Bounty” (the new currency). Characters can negotiate for jobs or try to find “Scores” to make profit on. In campaign play, characters must save Bounty to reach their goal, while balancing life and work expenses (new equipment and the upkeep of old, advancing their skills and potential, and other misc. expenses). Characters also have a Humanity tracker, which basically tracks three different parts of their sanity and its possible for a character to never make retirement and become unplayable due to mental instability.

I’m not going into an in-depth review of the game system (you can find a review on that in other forums or, better yet, listen to some of the numerous actual plays out there on RPPR and other sites) but I will say the system is different than those used in traditional RPGs. Basically players roll a black and a red D10. The black (and it’s modifiers from the player’s character in a skill) is compared to the Red result (the Market or opposition) and if the black result is greater the player succeeds (the Markets wins ties). There are also critical successes and failures (determined by even or odd ties) that skill points cannot modify but players can use a character’s limited amount of Will points to manipulate.

The game play, with the dice rolls and their success or failure, encourages role-playing the results and this might discourage gamers who are not into this. There are numerous ways that role-playing is important to the game- Vignettes with Dependents (to heal Humanity), Interludes between characters on the job, and Negotiations (and the various scams to assist in negotiations) offer ample opportunities to role-play (some of which have results based on the die rolls).

There is combat of course (this is the zombie apocalypse) but I feel that the combat rules are more abstract when compared to other games (such as Dark Heresy and Dungeons & Dragons 4th and 5th editions). There are actions and reactions, loosely interpreted ranges but combat is not as exact as some of the grid-based systems that some players enjoy (I do think the rules are adequate enough for players to come up with a grid-based combat system if they prefer that method).

Overall, I like the game system and the main theme, characters trying to survive and escape a very harsh world where fighting and killing is not the sole path to success. Surely killing zombies, raiders and corrupt government agents will help a Taker survive but without proper budgeting of resources, negotiating good pay for jobs and some luck, the Loss will eventually claim the characters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Benjamin W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 14:00:45

[Transparency] I am a kickstarter backer. [/Transparency]

A very strong contender for the best game released this year.

Caleb Stokes is one of the best horror RPG scenario writers of the last decade, and in this his first RPG, he has proven himself to be one of the best RPG designers of that same period. Redmarkets is a game about poverty and its effects on us, shown through the lense of Zombies. In it you play Takers, a class of heroes who put the hobo into murder hobo. Whats more, every system of the game makes it abundantly clear that no well adjusted, healthy person would choose to be a taker, save that it offers the slim chance that the work may oneday let you and your loved ones escape abject poverty in a zombie haunted wastland. Victory for your taker, is retirement to the safe zone. In red markets, every decision has economic consequences, and ever mistake bitter consequences.

All this is wrapped up in a neat and well-designed system that drives homes the games themes, while offering players all the freedom of a traditional skill based RPG system.

I strongly advise you to check it out!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Thomas S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 11:00:50

Up front here, I was a backer on Kickstarter for this game; that was because it looked like a new approach to a genre I'm quite fond of.

I had no idea.

Red Markets is a game set in the aftermath of an incomplete (as in it didn't completely destroy the world, though it seriously harmed it). Players are groups of what are called "Takers", outcast humans living in small post-apocalypse communities doing jobs for the main American culture out in the areas not controlled by said culture. The game is focused on the costs you pay to get by, with the setting as a basis to show that even in utterly horrific situations, people find a way to live, and try to thrive--and how they can fail even with good capability and drive.

I'm not going to try to assess the mechanics because I've not actually played the game, so it'd be only abstract evaluation. It seems at the least functional, and potentially well supporting the theme.

What I do want to mention is how astonishingly good the game writing and world-building is, though. Much of the setting is described though the eyes of two NPCs who give briefings for new people starting out their careers (such as they are) as Takers. They have very distinct and compelling voices, and manage to be evocative about the world, sometimes in how they describe things as much as what they tell you about them. In particular, the section discussing the scientific attempts to analyze the zombie contagion and the limits of what they've found about it manage to convey a subtle Lovecraftian tone to the organism without ever spelling that out.

My own opinion is that Red Markets is probably one of the two or three best zombie RPGs I've ever seen, and probably has the most to bring to people who, well, don't really like zombies that much.

Its easily one of the best games I've ever read. Even though I probably will never get an opportunity to play it, I am very glad I backed it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Robin G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 10:08:38

Look, I back this kickstarter, yeah, but this book has such a fully realized world that everything seems like it'd be real. The system itself is very simple to use and understand.I've introduced it two two rpg groups blind and they were able to pick it up right away with very little confusion.

The only thing I can see that is an issue with the book is the concept of economic horror not being everyone's cup of tea. Hebbanon Games knows why you came and doesn't hold your hand n the idea of what an rpg is, the book doesn't treat you as if its your first rpg, but even if it is, its not a bad one toget started with.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Lonnie H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 09:38:06

Full Disclosure: Kickstarter backer.

This game does what it says on the tin. The system is original and flexible. It's also modular, so players and GM can run their games at variable levels of detail and difficulty. Want to run a high risk/high reward two fisted action game? You can do that. Want to run a slow burning grind of a game where the horror isn't the monster, but your balance sheet? You can do that.

Physically, the book is one of the highest quality RPG books I've ever laid my hands on, Eclipse Phase included. The paper stock is heavy. The font is larger than normal, which is great, because I'm an old person with bad eyes. The artwork is evocative and inspirational. The binding is top notch. This won't fall apart under light stress. It's also thicker than the Pathfinder core book, for comparison.

Mechanically, the system is tight. Skill based, not level based. Players build milestones and end goals, which precludes the inevitable mistake of a campaign going too long, or the players getting frustrated with the GM putting the plot on rails. The skills (depending on the rules the players agree on) vary from incredibly useful to absolutely necessary in order to perform tasks. The GM does very little dice rolling, usually involving pre-game planning (tons of handy tables) and contract amounts. The system uses 2d10, one black, one red. (The game is also incredibly thematically consistent)

Players build an 'Enclave', a home base from which they go beyond the fence and earn the Bounty they need to get themselves or their dependents out of the "Loss", the part the civilized world left to the zombie horde. The GM gives prompts, but the entire thing is in the player's hands.

Character development is covered by player created Dependents - people who need to eat but can't work for their own meals for whatever reason. During pre-Negotiation 'Vignettes', players roleplay interactions with these people - either solving their problems, world building, or surviving the trauma of dealing with people who just don't know how bad it is beyond the fence and all the PTSD you can garner there. Successful Vignettes heal sanity - ones that go really badly can do just as much damage. The Vignettes encourage further worldbuilding and give the GM future plot hooks to work with.

The one area where players new to the system may have trouble is the pre-Job Negotiations. They are opposed roleplaying with the GM, with one player acting as the 'face' and the others doing supporting jobs in a round based competition with the GM. The best part of the system is the way it involves players without everyone needing to get too talky. Supporting jobs are nonlinear, and aimed at getting a better price, removing competition, and discovering weak spots to 'push' for better contract terms. Read the rules closely. There is a provided example, and there are many online actual plays that help to learn the mechanic, but it still will take time to make it go naturally.

Gear is simple and robust. The system discourages hoarding. Everything has a cost and an upkeep. Players who try and acquire too much stuff will feel the pain as expenses mount, and a bad job could see all their carefully hoarded items break or become nonfuctional as they watch their funds run out to maintain it. Losing things in a world where they aren't replaceable is a big source of personal horror, and the rules reflect it.

The book contains literally everything you need for years of play. No need for splatbooks or enhancements - it's a Player's Guide, a GM's Book, and a Monster Manual all in one, clocking in at a hefty 496 pages, of which almost a quarter is merely setting material.

In summation, having played in multiple games and seen and heard many more, this is a well polished effort that does an excellent job of evoking horror from an unlikely source for most RPG's. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Catherine G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2017 07:45:38

Buy this book!

A great setting that explores the concept of a zombie wasteland in an innovative and satisfying way.

A game mechanic that is one of the easiest to pick up that I've ever seen in about 25 years of gaming and tons of focus on roleplaying.

The book provides at the same time an incredible amount of info while allowing both players and GM to create their own pieces of "paradise".

And the economic horror aspect works so well. Players will have a "Oh crap!" moment when they realize they might have to choose between putting their money into a piece of gear they might need for a job or providing food and shelter to their loved ones.

All of this, almost 500 pages for a mere 20 bucks that will allow you to play campaings after campaings in a great setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Derek S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 23:56:44

Decided to upgrade to the hardcover edition, just prior to shipping, for the extra cost and hot damn am I glad I did. Excellent quality in the make of this volume, I was very pleasantly surprised at just how large the book is. It may be rather a tome, but is by no means simply ponderous. A very interesting premise for a game and the the well fleshed-out descriptions of the history and current happenings in the world of Red Markets makes this read far from dry. While there's a lot to it, the game is simple enough to get into, yet leaves enough up to the player to go as in-depth as we like.

I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a great, original tabletop to play, set against the backdrop of a familiar post-apocalypse setting, with rather a different focus to the core gameplay and storytelling that keeps the game definitely interesting. The value is there, as I got far more in this book than I thought I was paying for.

Caleb Stokes and team, ya dun good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 22:20:43

Red Markets is a new, refreshing take on the zombie genre. It's rare to see a product that not only brings a brand-new, functioning and creative game system but one that can simultaneously re-ignite my interest in this category of RPGs.

The game stresses that the situations the character find themselves in are horrific and the system contributes by keeping up the pressure on the players. The game's difficulty can be scaled to make things easier or more difficult depending on how you and your players feel (Boom and Bust Rules). Be forewarned, however, that even if you ease up on the diffculy the game can still be quite hard. Then again you are playing a horror game and this should be expected.

The system creates and encourages players to have some really wonderful interactions. Some characters may not even like each other and that's great. You're forced to work as a team to survive and just like the real world it doesn't mean you'll get along with everyone. The rules are clear and concise and they help to speed up gameplay. The system is also easy to teach and explain.

The writing is simply amazing. I've read the book (and boy is it a tome, clocking in at almost 500 pages) from back to front and I actually enjoyed doing so. The author does a great job of keeping you engaged and explaining the system in clear terms while building a novel world. The world is wonderfully dark and the groups, factions and inhabitants are really enjoyable.

The only downside that I've seen is that some players encountered difficulties in the negotiations for the jobs and contract lines that can make up the backbone of the game. Negotiating is a separate mechanic that creates a sort of "game within the game" and not all players will grasp this concept at first. However, your more talkative and engaged players may enjoy this mechanic, and it encourages interactions from the entire group so not just your "Face" player is in the spotlight. You can also tailor you experience to remove this if your players aren't engaged and the system provides other options to keep things moving.

This is a great game and I encourage you to give it a try if you enjoy roleplaying, horror, dark worlds, and new and creative systems.

Full disclosure: I was an original Kickstarter backer of this product and have been a supporter of other Hebanon Games in the past.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 19:57:57

It's 2017. I sincerely never thought I'd be giving positive reviews to a 500 page zombie RPG heartbreaker. But here I am.

A little backstory: I didn't know anything about RPPR until relatively recently (mid-September 2017). Before picking up this through BackerKit, I had no exposure to anything that Caleb Stokes has written or worked on. Someone had pointed this game in my direction and I immediately just ignored it.

Because the pitch they gave me was "it's a tabletop RPG where you're killing zombies and trying to fight tooth and nail to get back to civilization because while you're dealing with the undead the rest of the world still functions". And frankly if they told me there was procedural generation and crafting elements I probably would've told them to go fuck themselves.

Anyway, all of 2016 happens and then most of 2017 and I remember this game exists again and I pick it up and oh good lord 500 pages. This is a heartbreaker isn't it? Christ.

Red Markets is by far the only 500 page RPG I will ever read front to back ever again. This game is a heartbreaker in the best way: the sheer amount of rage and vitriol that Caleb puts into his words that are leveled at American capitalism grabbed me and lifted me up. The first 100 pages are all in-setting fluff and in 95% of anything running this long I would consider that inexcusable, absolutely unforgivable. But it works. There's anger but it's a passionate anger, there's vitriol but it's a mournful vitriol.

Because, as Caleb has said, this is game is a poverty simulator but he added the zombies to make it be less gut-wrenchingly depressing. And where this would be a game one would easily pass over normally, the fact of the matter is that Caleb understands the economics of poverty and the psychology of the impoverished. This is a well-researched book that is a good introductory guide to poverty and also you can play a 6 foot tall Latent with a broadsword and a puppy that kites the undead towards the swordsman. When I later found out that Caleb has a background in education and teaching I thought "well fuck me, more teachers should write RPGs because this material is just digestable as hell".

So the setting is just tops. The writing is aces. The mechanics are wonderful. This is the sole game I've ever seen where the disadvantage of having people you care about is actually a good thing because their presence heals your soul as long as they're fed. The mechanics are also the absolute right best mix of crunch and narrative power that I've seen this year since Blades In The Dark. And honestly you couldn't make me pick a better game for 2017. The mechanics have been thoroughly playtested (ended up listening to The Brutalists and Fallen Flag and Caleb and Ross were particularly rigorous to make sure it all actually works). The mechanics have also been designed by people who recognize the pitfalls of certain systems (grappling, driving, falling damage) who then go out of their way to make them not suck. This game has by far some of the best car-crash damage rules I've seen and that's mostly because the rules are written with a sense of levity in their words.

Christ I could just keep gushing but let's be a little bit fair here and say what I dislike. The Bust rules are brutal. This is intentional. I still don't see myself being able to assemble a group of people who are going to want to use them. I'm quite sure that there are folks out there with open communication in their group and the right mix of people but as it stands any game I run will probably lean more on the Boom side of things. I also feel like the Moths weren't entirely presented as being morally grey but A: I read this book after 2016 and 2017 and let's be real this colored my view of the work and B: there are forthcoming books which I'm excited for that will change up the rules and playstyles. Really any criticism I will say kind of just amounts to "there are probably folks who will be able to run with these rules and setting choices, I'm not one of them but they're at least pretty sound". I pity the group who end up with someone playing a Meek Believer and nobody's really prepared for what that entails.

In summation I would heavily recommend Red Markets for doing what I considered the impossible: making a game about poverty and a game about zombies wrapped in a 500 page book actually work. No small feat. I am looking forward to the forthcoming books.

As a closing remark, I will say this: this is probably the only game I can ever see myself playing with my more heavily conservative right-wing family members if you had to make me run something for them. The subject matter is executed in such a way that it also seems to be an effective conversation starter for people on both sides of the aisle by forcing them to play a few hours in a Takers' shoes and see how they feel about being poor.

And also zombies are there.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Red Markets: A Game of Economic Horror
Publisher: Hebanon Games
by Andrew B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2017 19:41:55

Amazing game. The author's ability to create a zombie game that is truly unique speaks magnitudes about their talent as a writer and game designer. An amazingly written setting, easy to learn rules, and stunning artwork make for what is quite possibly the best RPG of 2017.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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