GM's Corner 06: Red Markets Episodes 9-12

News: The Red Markets Kickstarter is live! Help us reach the offset print run stretch goal, so we can get a full-color print run of the book.

Coming to tabletop role-playing through video gaming, one of the things that always strikes my fancy is the ‘boss fight’ concept; the player not just facing adversity through run-of-the-mill enemies, but fights or encounters that demand strategy and focus are what pull me in. When creating jobs for Red Markets I was drawn to the concept of Aberrants, though I wanted to be cautious in how I designed them. Without knowing the specific rules I did not want to go too far from the design that had been given, but I also wanted to include these bosses for the players to encounter.

My chief aspect of design in the Aberrants I made for the Legal Tender campaign revolved around the concept of the secondary Blight nervous system in a Casualty. The black strands are a very evocative element and were the central idea around the monsters I created. The Mole Variant from the Little Pittsburg job came about as a means of the strands hardening and covering body parts, thus providing natural weapons.

While trying to think of a new job, I was struggling to find a core concept. I needed more jobs that involved the main storyline, as I didn’t know how much longer the campaign would last and I needed ways to drop hints. I came up with using the plastic for the licenses as a draw for a job, but how to integrate it? Living near a candy factory I contemplated wrappers, thus a need for huge rolls of plastic. But what would be the challenge? Could I create an Aberrant? If so, what was unique about it? I pondered a means of creating an Aberrant with a ranged attack, but how so? I reflected on how Vectors are made, and ways to die in a candy factory. Somehow, my mind wandered to being boiled alive in molten candy, and thus the Candyman was born.

As a means of further evolving the monster, I gave him the cult; a group of Archivists who kept feeding sugar to the vats. Some were mad from seeing such a monster and became worshippers, others tended to their crazed friends and studied this monster that didn’t attack them. I made them all Latents for two reasons: first, as a possible reason why the Candyman wouldn’t attack them. Second, as a means to continuously perpetuate the Candyman once the Aberrant broke down from being constantly encased in napalm-like sugar. The key aspect I wanted to take in is that, horrifyingly, the process to becoming an Aberrant is repeatable if the circumstances are right.

Thinking back months later, I might not have fleshed out the creature and cult as much as I had wanted to. The motivations of the cult seem murky, and by not fighting the Candyman they didn’t see the projectiles or the carnage he could have caused. However, the fear instilled by seeing the crazy cultists and the threat of what was on the USB drive (CCTV footage of the original Candyman becoming Candyman, causing a massive self-control check), combined with the rising and eventual proven fear of the Candyman, elicited the reactions I wanted and left me satisfied with my work. And after hearing about the Ganglia in Episode 9 of the Brutalists, I had become more confident in the designs I had created for the campaign.

What was unsatisfactory was when I botched the score rules and let the players negotiate for the bottles from the brewery. They made so much Bounty they lept from the first Milestone to their last, and could’ve even left without completing a Mr. JOLS. I now had a story to finish and not much time to do it in. However, there are many ways to skin a cat, and the Mr. JOLS was the start of a grand conclusion...