BackerKit

Red Markets

Created by Caleb Stokes

Red Markets
2f2650ea14d672ece42cd4b5643aa271 original
1,448 backers pledged $72,248.00 on Kickstarter

Red Markets is a game of economic horror, where the world has ended and the rent is still due.

Raised in Kickstarter
$72,248.00 / 1,448 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$22,284.00 / 1,405 backers

Learn About Our Project:

The tools of a Taker
The tools of a Taker

 

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.

Pulling bounty, taking Casualties ... another day at the office.
Pulling bounty, taking Casualties ... another day at the office.

 

The game takes place in the near-future, amidst a doomsday-in-progress.

When the tired joke of the zombie apocalypse clawed its way up from the dirt of the subconscious into terrifying reality, the cultural obsession killed as many as it saved. Some knew to aim for the head ... but just as many denied death’s existence until it tore them to pieces. The media, forgetting their own history of click-bait bullshit, screamed “zombies!” and were ignored in turn. When the warnings weren’t wrong, they weren’t believed. “The Romero Effect” dragged the slaughter on for months, until the end seemed certain. 

But capitalism loves a good disaster. Our logistics system saved us, and our apocalypse, like everything else, was unevenly distributed. 

Five years after the Crash, humanity has survived by leaving itself behind. The world is now divided: infected and clean, living and dead, haves and have-nots, The Recession and The Loss

Takers live in the Loss, the wrong-side of that divide. They’re trapped in a world where even the apocalypse offers no escape from the everyday grind. It’s a world where combating nightmares becomes another item on the to-do list, where all the luxuries of an old reality taunt you from behind a fence. In the Loss, going to hell and going to work are one and the same. The mundane threats of poverty join ranks with actual monsters, and they all seek to consume you.
The border of the Loss and the Recession
The border of the Loss and the Recession

 

  • Economic Horror: The life of the average RPG hero would be a nightmare of terror and uncertainty. In Red Markets, danger isn’t sought out; it is farmed to prevent starvation. Every group of characters has a unifying financial motivation baked in from the start, and their heroism is that much more noble for constantly threatening to tip over into greed. 
  • The Hustle: A bite is deadly, but so is risking it for too little reward. Characters must negotiate for uncertain compensation every session, placing as much weight on subtle, social actions as combat skills.
  • The Blight: The disease which creates the setting’s monsters is of unknown origin, inscrutable matter, and mysterious design. Most of the infected are slow and dumb, but they all start out as sprinting, tool-using cannibals. Sometimes it creates Aberrants that defy physics, biology, and every other one of God’s laws. A few people are mysteriously immune, while others become asymptomatic plague carriers. Much of Red Markets' supernatural terror comes from the unknown, and this allows gamemasters ample room to cater the setting to their needs and keep encounters fresh. 
  • Diverse Competition: Sometimes zombies are the best-case scenario. Characters are just as likely to encounter more insidious foes, such as rogue political factions, eschatology cults, rival crews, and spies from the Recession. 
  • Intrigue: The Loss is the new frontier. Every government and corporation has its agents infiltrating the survivors, maneuvering to stake claims for the day the quarantine ends. Characters must decide whether to resist these land-grabbers or hire themselves out to their deep pockets.
  • Pirate Culture: Players are encouraged to do anything and everything that might keep the kids fed and the zeds dead. Scavenging goods, performing services, running small businesses, speculative investment – Red Markets features plot hooks and rules for whatever mode of economic production the group thinks might help them survive. 
  • Inclusive Characters: The institutions of the old world picked favorites when rescuing their citizens. Those from the margins of society were disproportionately abandoned: minorities, genders, orientations, and beliefs society would rather forget. But The Loss only discriminates against the unprofitable, and the near-extinction of humanity may bring about a more just world in the long run … if the characters have the will to build it. 
  • Near-future Flexibility: No luddite lasts long in the Red Markets. Successful Takers scout zombie hordes with drones and use robotic walkers to carry their loot. They negotiate for jobs over super-cooled wi-fi internet servers suspended on weather balloons and trade in crypto currency. They replace their gnawed off limbs with prosthetic arms capable of crushing skulls. If there’s a working prototype in the real-world, it exists in Red Markets and can be used in the fight. 
  • Profiteers or Saviors: Depending on who you ask, Takers got their names from undertakers – people who make it their job to dispose of the dead – or as just a synonym for thieves. Are they no more than sociopaths exploiting tragedy for their own gain? The reputation a crew lives up to depends on the characters, but heroism has a price. How much can they afford?
Trading on an uncertain future ...
Trading on an uncertain future ...

 

Profit is the RPG mechanic debuting with Red Markets. The dice mechanic uses two 10-sided dice of different colors called Red and Black. Succeeding on a roll means landing “in the Black” using luck or resources gambled to modify the result. Failure means landing “in the Red.” In short, players need profit to succeed. 

At the basic level, a new player need only be able to answer one question: is one number higher than the other? This simplicity speeds up play and keeps the game moving quickly without sacrificing its economic focus. 

But groups seeking more complex play aren’t left out. Profit is a modular system with scalable difficulty and complexity. The same 2d10 roll used to determine success can generate a dizzying array of game information: mapping supply/demand curves for local goods, determining hit locations and damage, placing wandering enemies, selecting roleplaying prompts. Profit can randomly generate entire encounters, scenarios, settings, and more! Or it can be simplified down to a simple "higher or lower?" success/failure resolution mechanic. Either way, a roll of Black and Red is all you ever need.

No amount of pay is worth going up against an Aberrant
No amount of pay is worth going up against an Aberrant

 

  • Every Number Makes a Moment: All the “crunch” in Profit is story-oriented. Gear is never just stuff; it’s a grating financial burden, a psychological fetish, or a miraculous reprieve. An attack never merely hits; players know where it hit, how hard, and how to cater their roleplaying accordingly. A character’s ability to earn doesn’t just keep them living; it keeps them sane and feeds a family of dependent NPCs. Every shifting value on the character sheet alters the life it represents, each personality transforming under the demands of living in The Loss. 
  • Materialist Philosophy: Profit turns the “dungeon-crawling” ethos of old-school RPGs into a source of personal horror. The quality of a group’s gear determines its survival, but owing your life to a thing ain’t easy. Every piece of gear costs to purchase and to maintain. Profit’s materialist philosophy challenges players to do the most with the least because debt is as deadly as any monster. 
  • Complex, Strategic Social Combat: Negotiating the price of a job involves complex social combat that depends as much on nuanced roleplaying as lucky dice. Like every good business, the group that hopes to survive must strike a balance between the soft skills (like manipulating clients) and the hard skills (like decapitating zombies). 
  • Player-generated Setting and Content: The GM doesn't have to do everything. Groups start campaign play by generating their own enclave, determining its location, history, economy, politics, etc. And any group can generate a Score: a method of GM-less scenario design that lets players determine a job’s elements while still allowing for plenty of surprise during play.
  • Interpersonal Systems: Coworkers are not comrades. Cooperation may be required for survival, but characters don’t have to like each other along the way. Rivalry works as well at the table as friendship because the difficulty of surviving the Market demands a minimum level of synergy. Profit features rules to prompt great roleplaying from the group and expands the variety of inter-party relationships players can craft. 
  • Modular Design and Scalable Difficulty: Red Markets can be about killing zombies. Or Red Markets can be about complex socio-political intrigue, corporate sabotage, family drama, currency exchange schemes … and killing zombies. Players can control the biggest badasses in the Loss, or they can play a running cycle of doomed fools torn apart in a rogue-like meat grinder. The length, structure, and difficulty of each session depends on which sub-systems your group uses to construct a personalized game engine catered to taste. 
  • Quick and Easy Scenario Design: Need a zombie dungeon? Print out some blueprints or reference a local landmark: the ruins of the Loss are the big box stores and factories of your hometown. Need an encounter? Roll for one on the d100 table, or inspire yourself with our d10 encounter themes. Need more enemies? Let the dice generate them. The streamlined scenario design allows GMs to prepare multiple scenarios for every game, giving the group a choice of adventures based on player taste, character ethics, or highest bidder. 
  • Thematic Integrity: Every roll in Profit is designed to reinforce the theme of economic horror. The swingy 2d10 dice mechanic and the power of material goods to improve the chances of success make every action an exercise in weighing cost, risk, and reward.
A Crusader cult, gone mad in search of a cure and hunting test subjects
A Crusader cult, gone mad in search of a cure and hunting test subjects

 

Red Markets' design – from inception to publication – is entirely transparent, recorded, and already available. Since it was conceived, the goal of the game has been to bring as many fans into the process as possible, as often as possible. Kickstarter is just the most recent method utilized to get Red Markets into the hands of as many players as possible. 

The entire development cycle for the game has been recorded under the name RPPR Game Designer’s Workshop, with dozens of playtest APs  already recorded and available on RPPR Actual Play (and even more available to backers). A four-month beta playtest with over 200 participants wrapped up earlier this year, and consistent development updates are released on the Hebanon Games blog. Finally, Red Markets will be licensed under Creative Commons Share/Share-Alike/Noncommercial, removing as many obstacles to play as possible while still providing a high-quality product. 

The rules have been written, playtested, and playtested again. Numerous examples of play can be found all over the internet as instructional aides and free entertainment. The Profit system is ready to challenge your gaming group and the setting is ready to immerse players in the world of Red Markets

But completion of the book requires art, layout, editing, and additional writing, all of which we want our backers to help shape. To this end, the campaign will be limiting physical rewards and utilizing Print On Demand from DTRPG.com. While POD options will remain available if the campaign earns enough to fund a traditional print run, shipping of backer rewards will shift over to a fulfillment service (such as BackerKit) in the event of such generosity. This will allow us to reduce the costs of physical rewards for everyone.  

 In short, every dollar will go towards bettering the book, improving the play experience, or increasing the value of rewards for our backers. We need your help to bring the best possible version of Red Markets into existence. 

A sample from the DHQS reeducation initiative
A sample from the DHQS reeducation initiative

 

 

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We perform an offset print run for the hardcover edition of Red Markets and secure distribution for brick-and-mortar gaming stores. By expanding out from the POD option, we can lower the cost per unit, eliminate the need for all backers at Believer-level and above to pay for printing, and reduce after-KS costs to paying shipping through BackerKit. An off-set run not only makes physical reward tiers cheaper for the hardcover edition, but it expands the game’s community by attracting new players as they browse the shelves of their local game shop. (Softcover backers will still receive DTRPG codes that provide the book at cost of printing + shipping. No new costs are accrued as a result of this stretch goal). A more detailed explanation of how off-set printing works can be found in this update.

Red Markets is now in full-color! With the print run reducing our per unit cost, we can afford to show off the work of our talented artists as it was meant to be seen. As an added benefit, we can now incorporate color into our graphic design to make the game even easier to reference and learn. All hardcover books receive the upgrade to color for free. Softcover backers will still receive DTRPG codes that provide the book at cost of printing + shipping, but everyone will now have the option to print softcovers in color or B+W. (Please note: printing the softcover book in color will be more expensive than B+W, but shipping costs will not increase).

“The Trades” is an in-setting publication put out by the Moths: the world’s most successful Taker crew. This PDF, formatted like a webzine, greatly expands the list of corporations, factions, and governmental agencies seeking to profit from the Loss. Each new addition comes with its own plot hooks, job leads, and rumors for use in your home game. The whole document is interspersed with in-setting advertisements, Taker-memes, and catalog entries for equipment that expands the game’s already sizable gear list. Written by Ross Payton, “The Trades” is the ultimate handout for groups using Red Markets rules for collaboratively-designed scenarios. Email your players an issue of “The Trades,” then pour over the classifieds in-character and plan your next score at the table.

Part style-guide and part meta-analysis, this stretch goals has Caleb Stokes take everyone on a tour through the Profit System. It won't be a prescription or how-to, but rather a schematic for people looking to hack the Red Markets mechanics into different settings. "Gaming the System" dissects the different success ratings, the probability curve, and ways to alter both. It discusses other systems that influenced Profit's design and what hackers can learn from them. We'll get into the guts of the gear system and discuss how to create a list of items that reflects the material reality of your world. We'll talk about how the game's meta-economy works and how to alter it to adjust the game's difficulty. Finally, the game's designer performs a short hack as an example of the principles previously discussed. From there, it's up to individual hackers to get working translating Profit into other settings and wowing the community with their creativity on the LifeLines forums. 

The Pareto Principle hypothesizes that 80% of every outcome in an organization derives from 20% of its inputs. The enclave of 80/20 believes this management principle is the only reason they've survived this long, and their entire economy is designed to incentivize the top 20% of earners...while neglecting everyone else. Written by Kyle Carty, This PDF is stated out like other pregenerated enclaves, including a full description of the setting's location, politics, economic needs, and the variety of contracts ready for play. But in addition to the typical enclave opportunities, the 80/20 PDF includes rules for the enclave's specific tax plan. Takers that earn in the bottom 80% get their every payday leeched by the brutal taxation. But earn enough to reach the top 20% of earners? Suddenly the tax burden is alleviated by the enclave paying for rations, supplying gear, and actively helping in negotiations. In the 80/20 enclave, crawling out of the gutter has never been more difficult, and making it to the top stirs up more controversy about the Taker profession than ever before.

Bites, bullets, and bad deals ... each more deadly than the last
Bites, bullets, and bad deals ... each more deadly than the last

 

Red Markets needs enough funding to exist, but it’s downright greedy for players. We need to get word about the game out to as many people as possible! Backers that help us spread the word improve their rewards at no additional cost. So we’re putting out a Social Bounty! 

Here’s how it works. Help promote the game in any of the following ways and earn one Social Bounty

If you post a link on any of the above sites to a blog post promoting the Kickstarter, reviewing the beta playtest, or hosting a picture of your group playing Red Markets, you earn 100 Social Bounty

If you run a podcast, schedule an interview with Caleb, and post it before the end of the Kickstarter, you earn 200 Social Bounty for the cause! As Social Bounty accrues, we’ll unlock a variety of stretch goals to be released to fans FOR FREE. 

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Our ultimate goal
Our ultimate goal

 

Writer/Managing Editor: Caleb Stokes 

Hi! I’m Caleb Stokes. I’m the founder and owner of Hebanon Games, an indie RPG publishing company dedicated to supplemental releases and original products. Red Markets is Hebanon Games second major Kickstarter project. The first book, No Security: Horror Scenarios in the Great Depression, funded for $6805 with the help of 250 backers. The book is now available for sale at DTRPG in print, and PDFs of the individual scenarios are available on a pay-what-you-want basis.

I’ve also participated in other major Kickstarters as consultant, primary author, and contributing freelance author. For example, my campaign book for Greg Stolze’s Better Angels (No Soul Left Behind) funded for $13,283 with 376 backers. Though the good people at Arc Dream ran the campaign, I was responsible for the video, promotion, and authorship of the whole 250+ page book. 

In a similar role, I’ve made smaller contributions to other major RPG projects in the past, including Transhuman for Posthuman Studios and the recent Delta Green RPG campaign. In addition to freelancing for other RPG studios and running Hebanon Games, I’m a frequent contributor at Ross Payton’s Role Playing Public Radio, one of the longest running RPG podcasts online. There, in addition to joining the cast of players, I co-host a podcast specifically about the development of Red Markets called RPPR Game Designer's Workshop. I’ve also recorded numerous playtests of the system, many of which are released and available for free download now

Editor: Laura Briskin

Laura works as a cataloging librarian, writer, editor, and actual play podcastor. You can hear her group’s playtest campaign of Red Markets over at www.technicaldifficultiespod.com, follow her blog on writing and gaming, follow here on tumblr, or bother her on twitter at @LauraB_Writes 

Layout and Graphic Design: Kathryn Perez

Kat is a voice actress and graphic designer that also works as a librarian. She’s done voice work for Codename: Cygnus, various radio ads, and has done graphic design for various companies and universities. Her primary duty on Red Markets is asset creation. Her intense attention to detail makes her an invaluable asset to the team. She’s also been known to stream video games in her spare time here, and her voice reel can be heard here.

Layout and Graphic Design: Kyle Carty

Kyle is a writer and graphic designer who daylights as an accountant. He’s freelanced for SlangDesign and ENWorld in various capacities. In 2013, Kyle created an entire card game from the ground up. Dreams of Typhon’s Kickstarter was a success. Kyle’s primary responsibilities for Red Markets are layout and asset management. Kyle’s other work can be seen on Tumblr and on Facebook

Voice Acting: Faust Kells

Faust Kells is a Voice Actor, Youtuber, and Writer. He narrates a wide variety of audiobooks, including Amazon Best Seller 'The Dungeoneers'. He is also part of the illustrated tabletop video series Thrilling Intent. He lives in Springfield, MO, an area that will certainly fall when the Crash comes down.

Artist: Kim Van Deun

Kim is an illustrator and concept artist whose first RPG game, The Dark Eye, sparked her ambition to become a fantasy illustrator. After some years of being an academic researcher, she decided to throw away the steady paycheck and embarked on a journey into the land of RPGs, TCGs, and computer games as a full-time freelance illustrator. Clients include Catalyst Game Labs, Mongoose Publishing, Schwalb Entertainment, Hyacinth Games and Robotic Potato. Portfolios can be found on http://www.eyesintheforest.com/ and https://eyesintheforest.artstation.com/ or you can follow her blog https://eyesintheforest.wordpress.com/

Artist: Patsy McDowell 

Patsy McDowell is an Irish illustrator currently residing in London. He has contributed work to Base Raiders, Ruin and various other RPPR-related projects regularly since graduating from the University of Westminster in 2014. Some of his work can be found on his blog. One day he will quit his day job, but not today.

Artist: Christopher Cirillo 

Chris Cirillo is a cartoonist, illustrator and graphic designer by trade and recently delved into the world of podcasting. He’s created pieces for several RPGs and supplements such as No Security, Base Raiders, and its supplement "Boiling Point" to name a few. On top of game art, he wrote and illustrated the webcomic “Digital Celluloid” for over 4 years, contributed several entries to anthologies by Gurukitty Studios, and illustrates the title cards for each episode of his podcast “Al Dente Rigamortis” where, along with his co-host, he discuss a different creepypasta every week. His work can be found on DeviantArt and Tumblr.

Artist: James Beatham 

James Beatham is a freelance illustrator. He has done art and merchandising work for singer-songwriter Jack Garratt. More of his work can be found at jamesbeatham.com

Artist: Michael Plondaya 

Michael Plondaya is a illustrator, concept artist, and biologist. He's worked on personal projects like the Oddfield Survival Guide and the Monster Initiative where he is planning to illustrate all the monster tokens in a certain magic card game. He wrote and illustrated a booklet for 826 Valencia called How to Fight the Ocean, and is doing concept work for an upcoming game called A Dragon Named Coal. Currently he is working on several RPGs, one called Odd Roads which deals with travel, horror, and big rig trucks.

You can find his fractured works on Tumblr, support him on Patreon , or get a taste at his Gumroad.

Artist: Darrell Claunch 

Darrell Claunch is an ex-video game artist/current visual effects artist who is spending more and more of his time as an illustrator. As a game artist, he worked on over two dozen titles on the Nintendo handhelds for publishers such as Popcap, Nickelodeon, and the Jim Henson company. As a visual effects artist, he has added shine and beautified shots for such feature films and television shows as Bones, Sleepy Hollow, Mad Max Fury Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Trek Into Darkness, Life of Pi, Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and over 40 other titles. His illustration work thus far consists of cover art for the RPG game Base Raiders and several indie movie posters. He is always on the lookout for his next project and a better, stronger coffee. Find him at knights-end.com or his DeviantArt.

 

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Shipping Costs Reduced
9 days ago – Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 01:09:38 AM

TL;DR

International Shipping Costs Reduced: Shipping costs have gone down for every country besides the US. Cheaper shipping costs should be reflected on your BackerKit account by the time you read this.

USA Shipping Unchanged: Shipping in the United States has remained the same, though I’ve expanded the number limit for add-on copies.

Still Time to Fix Issues: It will still be at least a month (probably more) before any charges are run through the BackerKit system. There is still plenty of time to make adjustments if something isn’t right (for instance, if I forgot your country on the shipping table). If you have questions, or if your shipping bill has not gone down by the time you read this, please let me know in the comments. I will ensure all prices reflect the new shipping rates as soon as possible.

Expanded Add-on Limit: Add-on shipping has been adjusted as well, in addition to expanding the number of available copies people can use to expand their order. I’m sorry for the original limitations. I failed to anticipate individual backers wanting more than one copy.

In General: I’m sorry for any confusion or unpleasantness my inexperience has caused. I have worked hard to better the shipping situation and will continue to do so.

More detailed explanations of the developments listed above can be found later in this update. 

New Shipping Arrangement

I’m approaching this task in reverse order. I’ll deal with the present situation first before attempting to unpack the last few weeks.

Currently, the books are being printed by Asian Pacific International in Hong Kong. The original plan was to send the complete print run to the Indie Press Revolution warehouse in Gerlach, Nevada. From there, Jason Walters of IPR would fulfill Kickstarter backer orders. The majority of the remaining books would stay in the warehouse to be distributed through IPR. I would drive out to Nevada at the first opportunity and pick up a few boxes for contributor’s copies, review copies, and units for convention sales.

As of now, I’m contracting with KixTo in the UK. They’ve done fulfillment with Arc Dream, Chaosium, and Pelgrane Press before. I will now be splitting the print run into two pallets before it leaves Hong Kong. One will go to Gerlach, NV as originally planned; the other will go to the KixTo warehouses in the UK.

New shipping costs will be reflected on your BackerKit accounts already, but here’s a quick preview of the new prices:

  • United Kingdom: $8.00 
  • Rest of Europe: $16.00-$20.00 
  • Australia/New Zealand: $26.00 
  • Brazil: $26.00 
  • Japan: $26.00 
  • China: $26.00 
  • Canada/Mexico: $26.00

How did we arrive at these numbers?

Exactly like the last time, prices are based directly off the quote I was given by the fulfillment service. You can look at the March 2017 rates Kixto quoted me for yourself: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PgUm9CEwCRqUZW--OGJdrBm4gT4M2Glk8ag0mqRfALA/edit?usp=sharing

Prices are based off a book of the following dimensions:

  • Books W/o Dice 
  • Weight: 5lbs 2oz 
  • Dimensions: · Length: 12.5 in · Height: 2 in · Width: 10 in 

The prices in the spreadsheet are converted from GBP to USD (multiply by 1.3). $2.83 USD was added for the cost of the armored carton. Dice will be added to the same box. The labor, extra packaging, and VAT for the dice are being paid with the shipping fee charged with the original dice pledge levels. Prices were rounded up to the nearest dollar to account for taxes and possible raises in international fees that could occur while the book is being printed.

What does this new shipping arrangement mean?

  • Shipping costs have been drastically reduced for all international backers.  
  • International backers can expect wildly differing arrival dates. Shipping freight at the cheapest possible rates means arrival can be unpredictable, even counter-intuitive (France might get books, then Germany gets books two months later after Japan, etc). What limited assurances on speed that were provided by USPS flat-rate boxes are now gone. If the country next door gets their books before you, there is nothing I can do to alter that situation.
  • There will likely be more damage done to books in transit. This is not the fault of KixTo, IPR, or myself; it’s a fact of international freight. I am purchasing the best possible packaging I can afford while simultaneously reducing the shipping costs. Sufficiently damaged copies will be replaced at the cost of the publisher so long as damaged units are returned to Kixto and documentation (read: pictures) of the destroyed packaging is provided by the recipient.
  • There will be no ability to track packages, as that would again raise shipping rates 

The Previous Shipping Quote

The previous quote was based on a medium flat-rate USPS box containing a package of the above dimensions, plus the shipping, packaging, and handling fees quoted to me by IPR.

For those who don’t believe me, calculate the cost yourself. The book weighs in at 5lbs, 2oz without dice. Calculate price based on Shape and Size (option on the lower right hand corner): https://postcalc.usps.com

Too much work? I’ll fetch some previews…

Figure 1: UK
Figure 1: UK

 

Figure 2: Canada
Figure 2: Canada

 

Figure 3: Sweden
Figure 3: Sweden

 

Figure 4: Australia
Figure 4: Australia

Notice that the medium flat-rate box is the cheapest available option for a book of Red Markets’ dimensions. Media mail is not available outside the US. Envelope options are even more expensive than boxes and provide less protection in transit. An A4 book (81/2 x 11) will not fit into a small flat-rate box. Even if I had not written more than the planned pages, a book of the originally promised size would have only been pennies less.

Also note that these are not prices generated by IPR; they are prices demanded by the US government. Jason and IPR have nothing to do with the costs. Please stop calling and emailing hateful messages to him and his employees. If angry international backers piss off my distributor to the point where he drops my ass, this situation doesn’t improve for anybody. Considering the grief they’ve had to deal with over the past few weeks, the fact that IPR hasn’t dropped me yet must mean the warehouse is staffed by saints.

While my inexperience in international distribution and over-eagerness is certainly at fault regarding the initial launch of the BackerKit, I don’t bear responsibility for the US Postal Service. USPS doesn’t take my calls. I don’t control the government. I didn’t even vote for them. There is nothing I can do to effect policy change in the US Postal Service.

If prices were different the last time you backed a Kickstarter internationally, there are two possible explanations. The first is that USPS hiked prices in those short few months…which they did. Just as they plan to do again very soon: https://mailomg.com/2017/06/08/usps-international-mailers-face-radical-changes-in-2018-plus-more-rates-hikes/

The second explanation as to why the Red Markets shipping costs were high compared to a previous Kickstarter is simple: the person running that campaign was more knowledgeable than me. They had the experience necessary to secure an overseas fulfillment service early in the process.

I sincerely apologize for originally failing to do the same and for any distress I caused with the initial BackerKit quote.

For those that care to read them, I have explanations for my blunder. I hadn’t initially imagined the campaign could do more than a POD code until we hit our 48K stretch goal. In my rushed research for a solution, I thought I would be saving money for stretch goals by not forcing the majority of backer base to supplement international backers. As I pointed out above, international prices were cheaper when the project funded a year ago, and there was some math to support the idea.

But that’s no excuse for what happened a few weeks ago: the original plan was naïve and inexperienced of me. I apologize deeply for any anxiety I caused.

As a token of my sincerity, I am covering the entirety of the extra shipping costs for sending an additional pallet out of Hong Kong; those costs will not be passed on to backers. I’ll also be shipping the Chessex dice claimed by international backers overseas out of my teacher’s salary (money charged during the KS to get them to Nevada is not sufficient to get them overseas). If nothing goes wrong and there are no more unexpected costs, I’ll be personally supplementing the new shipping arrangement to the tune of a few thousand dollars.

Lastly, I will further delay paying myself for writing and editing Red Markets. By financing the newly reduced shipping costs with my own personal funds, we can hopefully protect the stretch goal budget and keep releases from being too long delayed.

Why No POD?

Aside from the fact that we announced on multiple occasions we were no longer considering Print-On-Demand before the Kickstarter finished? No one wants me to go back to POD.

Here is the print calculator from DTRPG, the service we originally planned on using: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/pub_pod_cost.php.

For those that trust me to enter the specifications for them, here’s what comes out the other side:

Softcover Premium Color
Softcover Premium Color

 

Hardcover Premium Color
Hardcover Premium Color

Those printing costs would have been paid by the backer in addition to shipping costs (as promised in the pledge levels when the Kickstarter was still POD). That means prices would have been very bad for paperback backers with the old shipping rates. The price would still be too high with the new shipping rates.

But let’s assume you reduced the color quality beneath what hardcover backers will be getting from the Hong Kong press.

Softcover Standard Color
Softcover Standard Color

 

Hardcover Standard Color
Hardcover Standard Color

It’s true that shipping would be cheaper for UK backers because DTRPG has a press located in country, but shipping costs from Lightning Source would be similar or higher than what we’re currently being quoted by KixTo. That shipping price would have to be paid in addition to the cost of printing the book, as was originally promised at every print level before the project evolved beyond POD. In short, prices would equal to or higher than what we currently have arranged for what is now a product with substandard color. The images were not designed for that color resolution.

Additionally, retooling the whole book to fit the print guidelines of a completely different printing press would take months and untold graphic design man-hours: money that would have to either come from my depleted savings account, the stretch goal budget, or backers themselves.

A Black-and-White book would be cheaper all around, but now paperback (primarily international) backers have a black-and-white book while everyone else has a hardcover glossy color. Finally, the problems of re-engineering the print specifications and color gradients of the whole book still persist.

We are not using POD. I paid an extra per-copy printing cost to produce the paperbacks from our Hong Kong press specifically to avoid such dips in quality. The interior pages are the exact same quality as the hardcover; only the binding and cover material are different.

The promise of the Kickstarter was print + shipping. Now the charge is for shipping alone. Print + shipping through POD doesn’t get cheaper until the product quality reduces drastically. If I broke a promise regarding POD, it was to provide a better quality product at a cheaper cost.

Going Forward

The new shipping prices are as low as shipping prices will drop. They will go no further. The prices are, as of this moment, non-negotiable. Attempts to contact me as if I have some further control over the situation aside from draining my own bank account (which I’ve already done…completely) will be ignored. Refusal to read the multiple resources and rationales provided to explain the price does nothing to change the actual price.

As I stated earlier, refunds or replacement copies will be provided to domestic and/or international backers that can sufficiently demonstrate irreparable damage that occurred during shipping. Please preserve all packing materials of damaged books, document the failed shipment with pictures, and return the damaged materials back to the fulfillment house. Message me on Kickstarter if the shipment fails and I’ll provide an address where pictures can be sent. In short, if the book didn’t get to you in working order, replacement books and refunds will be provided at the publisher’s expense.

I have also acknowledged my faults in the initial launch of the Backerkit. I was naïve and launched without fully anticipating backer needs or seeking better solutions. For that, I am deeply sorry. Money is no small matter, and the fact that the initial quote caused anxiety for anyone pains me. I hope my continued, demonstrable efforts to fix the problem are enough for the aggrieved to forgive me. Regardless, I promise to learn from this experience and do better in the future.

The Unpleasantness

As for international backers asking me for a refund because they don’t wish to pay the international shipping prices at all: no.

If the refund demand is couched in unfounded accusations – such as claims that I have betrayed or scammed people – the answer is still “no.” In cases where the attacks have descended into slurs, curses, and other harassment, the answer is “hell no.”

I’ve made the costs as low as I possibly can. Every backer at the physical level was promised they would have to pay a shipping fee. Every international backer was promised that the cost would likely be quite high. I’m making good on my promises, and when my initial attempts were not sufficient to backers’ needs, I worked diligently to correct the situation. I continue to do so. The book is still shipping early, with more content and less cost than originally promised.

Failure to settle the bill in full will not result in reimbursement. The Kickstarter funds have been spent on talented artists, editors, and graphic designers. I couldn’t give the money back if I wanted to. And I don’t want to. We have used the money to make a beautiful RPG book. To do so was always the stated purpose of this Kickstarter, and it is being fulfilled.

For my faults in this process, I have apologized and paid for my mistakes. I have incurred great financial expense and mental anguish to satisfy the largely responsible, reasonable, and concerned international backer community. To this overwhelming majority, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks for their patience.

But at the hands of a very vocal minority, I have been subjected to racist tirades, rude comments, and death threats on a daily basis since the launch of the BackerKit. I have been accused of every crime under the sun despite my constant attempts to remain in clear communication with backers. These have not been easy weeks. Sleepless nights have made a difficult solution to shipping problems even more difficult (hypothetical problems, I might add, as no cards have yet to be charged). Admittedly, my enthusiasm for this project has withered under a salty tide of digital bullshit.

This project must operate under the constraints of certain systems. I’ll continue to help reasonable people as much as I am allowed within the confines of these financial realities. But as of now, customer service for assholes has officially ended.

Further attempts to harass me or threaten my family will be reported and removed from every internet platform upon which I can exert any a modicum of control. While the physical violence promised in empty internet threats ignores the cowardice it takes to make such threats in the first place, I must also address the few “brave” international madmen promising to back up their tantrums with a plane ticket: you can expect to be met with the full force the law and the complete exercise of my constitutional rights. 

The real concerns of civilized backers persuaded me that I needed to find a new shipping arrangement. The harassment campaign has persuaded me to start treating threats to my safety seriously. Nothing has persuaded me to start negotiating with comment-thread terrorists.

If you’re still angry and wounded about my little RPG after reading this, I suggest you get over it or get gone. You certainly won’t be getting your money back.

I apologize to the supportive and reasonable people that have had to read this ugliness. I’m aware that the majority of the Red Markets community is made up of great people, and I’m very grateful for their continued support. This will be my final statement on the issue.

Back to Business

Outstanding Surveys: To those that have delayed completing their BackerKit survey, I would suggest doing so now. 

However, I acknowledge that any hesitance to finish the survey is my fault, so further delay is understandable. It will still be weeks before any credit cards are charged through BackerKit. I will make it clear in updates before cards are about to be run. I will also send reminders out before we reach the point of no return and surveys must be filled out.

Preorders: Also, if y’all don’t completely hate my ass yet, I would greatly appreciate anyone who would distribute the preorder link to their interested friends. After all, shipping did just get a lot cheaper: https://redmarkets.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

For Those Reporting Errors: I’ve made a tracking sheet for typos in the PDF. I can’t promise we will be able to fix everything (there is a fee for altering proofs as we get closer to the printing process), but I’ll correct as much as I can afford. Those that have been collecting error reports can enter them on this table: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FMANGc9-onkplyIC0nt4oShh_R1LRF8FaDcxf3N6ohk/edit?usp=sharing

Other Progress: I’m currently in the process of reviewing final proofs. When that’s done, I have two chapters to finish in the novel before it is ready for editing. Progress across the board has been slowed by the shipping crisis, but I’m hoping for a burst of productivity before the school year starts.

In Conclusion: If you have comments or questions, please read the update completely before hitting the keyboard. If something still needs my attention after that, I’ll be happy to address it.

Thank you for your patience and continued support of Red Markets.

  --Caleb 

Shipping Concern Update
23 days ago – Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 01:11:11 AM

So much for a victory lap. There were some errors in the initial BackerKit setup, and some confusion about shipping in general. Let me correct my mistake and explain the rational behind other choices.

The $80.00 Error

There was an error in the shipping tables regarding US shipping. I apologize. It was charging the regular $8 shipping for US backers for pledge, but $80.00 for add-ons. I have since corrected the error. It should be $8.00 media mail for US books.

Where the $8.00 US Cost comes from

Media mail for a book of that size is $4.56. Then there is packaging costs for the shrink wrap to bind the dice tube so we can use media mail. Then there is the cost of the media mail box. I'm paying labor myself. 

International Rates

The international rates were quoted to me from Indie Press Revolution, our distributor and fulfillment company. Prices are based on the weight and dimensions of the book. The cheapest method of shipping the book from a US distributor is a medium flat-rate box. Media mail pricing for books doesn't apply outside the US. Shipping prices represent the quote given to me, plus $2 for the box.

The rates are high. In many cases, they are higher than the book itself. I know this sucks, but I also don't what to do to lower that rates quoted to me. This was discussed previously in updates on this page, as well as extensively within the game industry as a whole. The confusion regarding POD is also understandable, but RM grew beyond the scope of that project during the campaign, it was discussed, and POD would not resolve the shipping issues. 

The difficulties regarding shipping internationally are precisely why I hired an expert in fulfillment like IPR to execute shipping. These are the quotes I was given. I don't know how to get them any lower than this. 

I will, as I have for the last few months, continue investigating ways to lower international shipping costs. If you are concerned, you may hold off paying your fees until we reach closer to the deadline. However, shipping internationally is very difficult for every Kickstarter, and it has been expensive for years. I'm not confident I will find a better solution.

In Closing

Again, I apologize for my error in the US shipping for add-ons. It should be corrected. I hope the above explanation and links clarify things internationally.

I'll continue online for the remainder of the day, answering questions as quickly as I can. 

Fill Out a Backerkit Survey = Get a PDF TODAY!
23 days ago – Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 08:12:25 PM

How to get the Red Markets Corebook RIGHT NOW!

Metaphorical description of what BackerKit servers go through on an average day.
Metaphorical description of what BackerKit servers go through on an average day.

BackerKit surveys are being sent out as I type this. 

If you ARE NOT getting physical rewards, this is your chance to upgrade your pledge and/or give us a name you want to see on the big list of Taker handles. Either way, everyone who pledged at a level to received a PDF copy of the book can download it starting right now.

If you ARE getting physical rewards, please let us know an address we can send it to and pay the shipping fees promised since the Kickstarter started. We anticipate having the books arrive in America sometime around late August, and fulfillment of orders should begin in early September. Most importantly, the complete 496-page PDF is ready to go right now. Go to BackerKit, fill out your survey, and start the download. 

Wait! There's More!

The journey continues...
The journey continues...

Hebanon Games is relying on pre-orders and sales of the book to fund high-quality production of the stretch goals publications on a timely schedule. The faster we sell copies of PDFs and additional hardcovers, the faster we commission the same talented artists, writers, and editors to create more RM content. 

A lot of people have contacted me expressing interest in the game despite having missed the Kickstarter. Thankfully, BackerKit has a preorder system where they can order physical books and buy a PDF copy right now. 

If you want to help Lebanon thrive even more than you already have, please distribute the pre-order link to anyone and everyone that might enjoy the game.

https://red-markets.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders


Finally...

I'm the first to recognize that there is a lot left to go before this project fulfills all the promises made to its wonderfully generous backers. I will continue to work hard and create a project worthy of the gratitude I feel.

That said, this is a big day for me and a huge milestone in a project that I've worked on for nearly five years. Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far. 

Questions?

As always, questions and concerns about the future of Red Markets should go into the comments. I'll answer as able.

If something is up with BackerKit, I've paid for a support team. Please address any technical issues to the experts there. If they can't help, get ahold of me and I'll see if I can muddle through, but they're better equipped to troubleshoot their system than I. 

Thanks again. I hope you all enjoy the book. 

--C.

BackerKit Surveys SOON!
25 days ago – Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 11:22:28 PM

Attention all Takers!

Soon, you’ll receive an email special link to your BackerKit survey. It’s important to respond to your survey as quickly as you can since we need this information to fulfill your rewards.

You don’t need to create a BackerKit account to fill out your survey. When you receive the email with the survey, click the survey link to respond. Answer the questions about your reward preferences, provide shipping information, and purchase add-on items if you like. You don’t have access to this survey link yet, but it will be available soon via email!

After you respond to your survey, you can go back later and change your responses at any time before we close the surveys and get our final counts.

If you need to review your information or pledge status, you can return to your survey by clicking the link in your survey email or requesting your survey link under "Lost your survey?" on our BackerKit project page at https://red-markets.backerkit.com.

If you used your Facebook credentials to log in to your Kickstarter account, the BackerKit survey is sent to the email address you use for your Facebook account. If you have another email address that you prefer to use, please contact support at https://red-markets.backerkit.com/faq.

May/June Update
about 1 month ago – Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 11:36:25 PM

Some days, you're the driver; other days, you're the casualty.
Some days, you're the driver; other days, you're the casualty.

TL; DR

This is going to be a long one. Here's the brass takes for those of you with something better to do.

We have a website now: redmarketsrpg.com

We also have a dedicated forum for the game: redmarketsrpg.com/LifeLines/ 

Please forgive the appearance.  The guy I paid for design and hosting made the website, took my money, promptly unplugged everything, and ran. I’ve had to get by with what I can figure out for myself, but at least the game has a digital home outside of KS now. 

For a more in-depth update, continue on. 

Preamble 

I meant to delay publishing this update for a few days…nearly a month ago. Sadly, the news I was hoping for is still delayed, but this is the phase of the process where we find ourselves. I’ve got to leave town for a wedding in a few days. I can’t stand to leave the enclave in suspense any longer, so I’ll drop what news I have. 

This might lead to more frequent updates in the next few weeks. I know I hate having my email flooded with too much Kickstarter ephemera, but I don’t think our once-a-month rule is going to cut it in the short term. Before I get to why, I beg you to keep an eye out for Red Markets in your inbox for the remainder of summer. I promise you each update will be important, even if one comes a few days after another. 

Gnat's problems probably aren't based around surplus. Still, I've decided this tulpa woman than lives in my brain is sympathetic.
Gnat's problems probably aren't based around surplus. Still, I've decided this tulpa woman than lives in my brain is sympathetic.

The Book Itself

First off, it’s bigger than I thought, even planning for my tendency towards over-writing. We planned originally for 400 pages, then I figured I’d be safe and budget for 450. When the final pages came in…it was actually over 500. 

Cutting that much content from the pages would have two effects. Firstly, it would deny readers content promised in the Kickstarter. Secondly, redoing the left-right alignment of all the pages after multiple chapters had been pulled out would have added months to the production time. More time would have been added as we waited for entirely new print quotes. And none of these delays would account for the nearly two months it will take for the books to sail from Hong Kong to the distributor.

(BTW, I have a RPPR Game Designer’s Workshop episode due to drop in a few weeks where I discuss these pre-press issues with Ross Payton). 

I don’t want to be late, so I didn’t cut anything. It’s just a big-ass book now. 

Red Markets is 496 pages long. We were lucky enough to be overfunded in the Kickstarter thanks to the generosity of backers like you. It’s enough that I can cover the additional print costs. Rather than split the volume up into three different books (as is the fashion of late) or delay even further by cutting again, we’re just moving ahead.

It’s not a smart business move, retail speaking, but the core Red Markets book can get you playing in a couple hours and keep you playing for years. It’s got enough advanced rules variants and setting generators to fill two supplement books. I always wanted to make a big-ass game with staying power. If this isn’t it, no one can say I failed for lack of trying.

I wish I could 3D print the book now...but isn't that just printing? But aren't books three dimensional? What is even real!?
I wish I could 3D print the book now...but isn't that just printing? But aren't books three dimensional? What is even real!?

Production

So the text is done. All art is placed and finished. I’ve laid down a deposit with our printer (Asian Pacific International), and I’m currently in my second round of proofs. 

I’m not releasing PDF yet for multiple reasons. The first is that I can’t promise a PDF released today will be the same book that shows up in print. Print specifications for big companies are extremely unique, specific, and specialized. We’ve already had to make pretty drastic changes to things like art placement and margins; I can’t say it won’t happen again as the proofing process continues. I don’t want to release a PDF that ends up with a completely different Table of Contents and Index than the print version.

The second issue is a bit more complex. I’ve received hundreds of emails from people that missed the Kickstarter and would like to preorder. That’s absolutely great! Frankly, we need the money. Since the page number is beyond expectations, the print cost is overbudget, and that’s cutting into the stretch goal budget. It’s nothing that a hundred of the pre-ordered hardbacks can’t make up for; hell, less than half of that would get us back on track with the stretch goal budget. With all the people that have contacted me asking for a copy, I’m confident spending more on the print cost.

However, the moment I release the PDF to backers, it WILL be pirated. This is not a personal rebuke to our wonderful backers; it is a fact of living on the Internet. The beta was released for a grand total of three days before I found it on a google search. Piracy is an inevitability. It’s the price of doing business in the digital age: one that must be continually paid so long as the book is on sale.

If the pirated PDF harms the preorders people keep emailing me about, it’s going to harm the brand in its infancy and slow down the production of stretch goals. I don’t want that to happen, so the PDF release needs to be delayed a few more weeks. I freely admit this is a profit-motivated business move. In my defense, I offer that I don’t make many of those, and this one is made out of my dedication to providing the best service to the backers that made Red Markets possible.

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the Crash somehow made navigating the intricacies of international shipping easier.
At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the Crash somehow made navigating the intricacies of international shipping easier.

Distribution 

The final reason I’m delaying the PDF release is that BackerKit isn’t ready. We know the dimensions of the book and weight, both with and without the dice. The dice are prepackaged and ready to throw into a box once the books arrive stateside. I’ve got distribution and Kickstarter fulfillment under contract. 

BUT (there’s a lot of those, these days) the book is going to ship to over 50 countries for Kickstarter backers alone. That doesn’t even take into account international pre-orders that take place after the Kickstarter. It takes a long time to calculate the cheapest shipping prices internationally for each individual nation. Until I get the estimate of shipping costs, I can’t program BackerKit to charge backers. If I can’t charge shipping costs accurately, I can’t pay to get the book into people’s hands. 

As such, the BackerKit is waiting on the quote. I’m going to launch it the very second the shipping tables can be built, but the timing on that is out of my hands. Kind of like the timing of receiving proofs, or shipping the book, or … 

I wish I were as chill as this while waiting for people to email me.
I wish I were as chill as this while waiting for people to email me.

The Least Fun Stage 

Publishing a big book always includes a lot of hurry up and wait. There are parts I’m personally able to influence (writing, contracting, etc), but the majority remains in the hands of other people. Project management can do a lot to mitigate this issue, which is why we assembled the books in rotating sections rather completing one stage at a time (by far the easier method). Hiring good people is another controlling factor, and I’m one of the luckiest people ever alive it comes to talented and reliable editors, writers, graphic designers, and artists.

But unless you’re big enough to run your own printing press and warehouse, there comes a time when the process almost entirely leaves your hands. This is that time. I’m confident I’ve picked good service providers, but they ship and print stuff everyday for thousands of clients. They’re going to get to Red Markets when they can, and we all have to accept that it’s done when it’s done.

I haven't forgotten the novella, but the logistical demands of website creation and publishing have stolen my writing time. I do have a cover though (seen above). The name of the book has been changed to "Performance."
I haven't forgotten the novella, but the logistical demands of website creation and publishing have stolen my writing time. I do have a cover though (seen above). The name of the book has been changed to "Performance."

Progress 

I’ve made a website. It has a dedicated Red Markets forum called LifeLines

Regarding the LifeLines forums: I don’t want our great communities on G+, Facebook, and Reddit to dry up, but the dedicated forums are a great way for us to curate all the great ideas the communities have had over the last year. It also has a dedicated in-character board where the inspiration shared by our oh-so-creative Takers can be turned into a living game document! I’ve never seen a forum where half of it exists to discuss the game and half of it exists IN the game. I’m super excited to see how it works out. 

The website also has a resources page where we can collect all the character sheets, cheat sheets, and other peripheral handouts that make the game easier to play. I’m far more excited about our resources page than any promotional aspect of the site. I hope it’s as useful to all the players as it is to me. 

I wish both sites looked more slick, but I have to admit I got scammed on the website. Rather than waste more money on uncertain results, I’ve decided to make do with what I can hack together myself. I hope you like it. 

Anybody holding? I could use some about now.
Anybody holding? I could use some about now.

In Conclusion

I may have another important update an hour from now…or in a month. I can’t really tell. Thank you for your patience and support for Red Markets. Please keep an eye on your inbox in the coming weeks. As always, you can read me on @HebanonGCal. You can hear me on RPPR and The Mixed Six. And if you have any questions, let me know in the comments.