Author Topic: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread  (Read 6596 times)

Freebird

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Hi everybody, if you don't know, this is Ethan Cordray. I'm in the process of writing a conversion/adaptation of Red Markets, moving the setting to historical 1350's Europe in the wake of the Black Death. I'm super excited for this project, and I figured I'd share my progress and solicit input and feedback from the community.

As of now, I don't know whether my goal is going to be something I can pitch to Caleb as an official supplement, a third-party licensed published book, or just a big ol' exercise of those sweet sweet Creative Commons BY-NC-SA rights that ends up as a plaintext PDF. But anyway, I've decided I'm not going to put off writing while I figure that out.

So this thread is where I'm going to put project updates, and listen to any feedback you'd like to share about what I'm putting together. Enjoy!
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TRNSHMN

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2017, 10:16:38 AM »
Is it purely historical, is it still zombies, or is there another fantastic element to it?
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theblazeuk

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2017, 11:32:40 AM »
I'll be watching! My first question: Other than the black death, what will be the threat - what takes the place of the C's as enemy combatants?

PS If you are not aware of it, the 2000AD series 'Defoe' about a Leveller turned Zombie-Slayer (with aid from Isaac Newton) might be of interest to you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defoe_(comics). It's not the best 2000AD strip in execution or dialogue but the ideas are cool and opened me up to the Levellers - though of course a century or so past your setting :)

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2017, 06:38:41 PM »
Good questions! As a default, I'm including zombies. The Blight replaces the real-life bubonic plague as the pathogen in the Black Death. So there are tons of zombies. Instead of Vectors and Casualties, I might use the terms Red Lepers and Black Lepers (or something like it) to describe zombies in historically appropriate terms.

However, I'm also planning to describe a new axis of play modes, to go along with Boom and Bust: what I'm currently calling "Tight" and "Loose," referring to how much your game cares about historical realism. So a very hardcore Tight game could have no zombies at all, and just play with the actual historical reality of medieval life.

A game could have any combination of Boom and Bust with Tight and Loose. I'm planning to have examples of media sources that exemplify the various combos. For example, the movie A Knight's Tale is super Boom/Loose. The movie Black Death is more Bust/Loose. Bernard Cornwell's The Grail Quest series is more Boom/Tight, and Karen Maitland's Company of Liars is Bust/Tight (as far as I can tell; I haven't read it yet).
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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2017, 08:30:18 PM »
I'll start with a basic description of the concept, sort of my draft pitch as of now:

Red Markets uses the zombie apocalypse to examine economic horror in the contemporary world. But economic horror has been present throughout human history. What's more, the zombie apocalypse narrative trope draws upon deep fears of contagion, violence, and global-scale catastrophe that come from real, lived trauma experiences in human history.

Probably the closest real thing to a zombie apocalypse that has happened to Western civilization was the Black Death in mid-14th century Europe. In just a few years, the great plague killed around 50% of Europe's entire population. In most locales, the deaths came in the course of just a few cataclysmic months. The Black Death is, in many ways, the prototype or model of the zombie apocalypse narrative.

And just like the Crash in Red Markets, the Black Death was as much an economic catastrophe as a physical one. The agricultural basis of the medieval European economy was in shambles. Lines of inheritance, political power, and religious authority were suddenly severed. Immemorial assumptions about the stable relationship between labor, capital ownership, and production were shattered. Conceptions of personal identity drawn from established rules of social class were disrupted. And for the foundering and desperate survivors of the reaper's scythe, their world had become a noxious landscape of privation and chaos -- but one where, suddenly, any form of life might be theirs for the Taking. Sounds like a proper campaign setting to me.

Red Markets: Black Death is, in one sense, just an alternative "nerd troping" of the economic horror idea. It uses the conventions of medieval historical narrative to drive its poverty simulator. But it also can be a “de-troping” of economic horror, encouraging players to examine the historical realities of 1300’s economic and social life, and to think through how extreme disruption reveals both the similarities and differences between that world and ours. A new axis of play modes, “Tight” vs. “Loose,” describes how much a game group chooses to focus on true historical accuracy or present-day pseudo-medieval stereotypes (and combines with the Boom/Bust axis to describe a variety of game styles).

Many rules adjustments direct the game toward embodying its medieval setting. New skills, new forms of NPC relationships, new retirement goals, and new character creation options all help distinguish 14th century Takers within their world. But the core Profit System keeps everything directed toward the experience of scarcity, urgency, and risk. It is still very much a game of Red Markets.
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Dadalos

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2017, 04:45:02 AM »
not sure if you may or may not find this useful, one of my first posts on LifeLines was kind of a sudo analysis on the blight, and one of the comparisons I used was in fact the black plague. http://www.redmarketsrpg.com/LifeLines/index.php?topic=264.0  its a bit number crunchy / theory-crafty with some loose rounding and several variables  haphazardly  juggled but like i said you might find some use in it. On another note after a particularly brutal night in CK2 I can attest to how messed up just the normal black plague was. 50%? phh I lost closer to 65% of my 300-380 pop dynasty and what was left took a while to shape up... but back to the topic at hand, obviously in such a setting theres going to be a culling of tech, a lot of 'niceties' such as suppression and blood testing kits arnt going to be a thing for a more dark-ages approach. no some things are adaptable for sure and some things wont need any fixing such as the pets. the loss of guns will be brutal in the setting as one of the only advantages takers have against vectors and C's is the ability to reach out and touch them at range. also in ye old gooden days as you pointed out a bit of yourself after this hit banditry is going to be a marketable threat beyond what was to be expected. That and the average person wouldn't have ready access to say a horse and cold steel, but perhaps thats a bit to much 'during the fall' concern as opposed to 'years later' when a taker groups been established as a thing.

I am readily interested in this project and am more then willing to loan out my grey matter if you want a sounding board or another set of eyes to chew on  something else or other.
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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2017, 08:37:11 PM »
a lot of 'niceties' such as suppression and blood testing kits arnt going to be a thing for a more dark-ages approach

Depending on how 'loose' you go (to use the now-official term) you could maybe come up with some versions. Leeches were common forms of 'medicine' around that time, perhaps a leech reacts in a specific way to blight-infected blood? If so, there's your blood testing kit, in a slightly more disturbing form. Maybe blood 'cleaned' through a particular leeching process then mixed with certain humours can be re-administered to trigger a partial turn, stopping full infection, acting as a low-tech Suppressin. Or just outright bleeding at the hands of a skilled Barber at the crucial moment can remove enough of the blight-infected blood to stop it from taking complete control to the same effect. What passed for medicine back then was pretty terrifying. You could also have dogs or similar animals trained to sniff out infectionto act as a sort of blight detection (watch out for false positives from friendly pooches!)

Going even looser, if the Blight has a genuinely supernatural origin, perhaps certain rituals or holy items can halt a full infection, causing Latents? Maybe holy relics can detect strains of the blight as well?

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 11:04:02 PM »
I really hope this will appear as some APs.

Who do you think Ethan's gonna inflict the playtest on?  ;D

It'll show up on Tech Diff eventually. Depends on whether it's a one-shot or campaign — our backlog for campaign episodes is a little crazy right now.
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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2017, 11:40:31 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement, y'all!

Good questions about the possibilities of testing for infection. I really like the leech idea, maybe that could represent an extremely crude method of blood testing. I'm planning on trying out my "split rolls" rule variant to introduce more uncertainty in infection rolls.

In the default level of tightness, I'm pretty sure Suppressin won't be a thing. Latents and Immunes certainly will be, though.

And yeah, the lack of firearms is gonna be bruuuuuuutal. Archery skills and crossbows are gonna be in very high demand.
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theblazeuk

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2017, 12:37:13 AM »
Try getting a reliable headshot with a bow and arrow  :-\

I am hoping for some gnarly healing mechanics! I am torn between wanting a cool supernatural medieval plague of the undead, and a more prosaic world where the zombies are the only really weird things and mundane solution are still reached, e.g. Leeches.

Vectors will be hell... and of course I hope for plenty of misguided superstition and destructive persecution of scapegoats.

My question: given the nature of the economy back then, what will Takers...take?

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2017, 03:00:18 AM »
In the default level of tightness, I'm pretty sure Suppressin won't be a thing. Latents and Immunes certainly will be, though.

one thing to note is that immune will need a bit of a rework if suppression not part of the setting, the walking retirement thing is kinda integral.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone, I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2017, 03:56:28 AM »
Getting in good with the Church authorities is one of the new retirement social currencies. Build up your Piety score, and you might be able to find yourself a nice cushy spot in an abbey.

I'm thinking that I probably don't need the concept of homo sacor in RMBD. Just a lack of any family, land, and capital is enough to make you need to be a Taker. I'm not planning on having quarantine zones or a Recession/Loss divide, either. Things are tough all over. Good points, though, since I haven't thought through all the implications of that yet.
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Dadalos

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2017, 04:49:43 AM »
Getting in good with the Church authorities is one of the new retirement social currencies. Build up your Piety score, and you might be able to find yourself a nice cushy spot in an abbey.

I'm thinking that I probably don't need the concept of homo sacor in RMBD. Just a lack of any family, land, and capital is enough to make you need to be a Taker. I'm not planning on having quarantine zones or a Recession/Loss divide, either. Things are tough all over. Good points, though, since I haven't thought through all the implications of that yet.

heh, talking about this just hammers home just how much CK2 ive invested in... as for the church I see them taking the roll of the DHQS: Templars / citadel forts / centralized ruler ship / ... education  / medicine / money... also that kinda works well for the 'steward' background, an inquisitor for the church caries some significant weight. also it might be worth mentioning that around this time it takes about 1 square mile of land farmed by around 60 people through the year to produce enough food for 180 people ( 120 if the farmers feed themselves first...), and I do like the idea of leaches being used as sudo blood-test. perhaps they dont even latch onto the infected... cannon states animals avoid the blight as its toxic and they know it.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone, I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2017, 12:17:11 PM »
The Immune = Living saints among us OR the witches that brought this plague upon us, depending on how the churchfolk feel about you :)

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Re: "Red Markets: Black Death" - project updates and idea input thread
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2017, 09:14:07 PM »
The Immune = Living saints among us OR the witches that brought this plague upon us, depending on how the churchfolk feel about you :)

Heh heh, yeah, that's about right. The more interesting question is the theological views surrounding Latency, and whether Vectors are responsible for their sins.
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