[19:01] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Hi. I’m Caleb Stokes. I’m the owner of Hebanon Games. I’m the lead designer of Red Markets, which is currently on KS.
[19:01] <+RedMarketsCaleb> It’s a game of economic horror.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.
[19:02] <+RedMarketsCaleb> I’m grateful for the invitation to be here and happy to answer any questions you have. Done.
[19:02] <~Dan> Thanks, RedMarketsCaleb!
[19:02] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:02] <~Dan> Can you tell us a bit more about the premise? How does the zombie apocalypse take place?
[19:03] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The Red Markets setting has zombie movies, so when the outbreak occurs, large segments of the population are overjoyed or skeptical because they suspect click-bait
[19:04] <+RedMarketsCaleb> This leads to a lot of overconfidence. They don’t know how zombies work, because even if we got the myth structure right, how would we know the details?
[19:04] <+RedMarketsCaleb> These leads to a weird combination of overconfidence and practical knowledge (shoot them in the head)
[19:05] <+RedMarketsCaleb> In the setting, it’s called the Romero Effect. Long-story short, society ends up surviving, but just barely.
[19:06] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The surviving nation states retreat behind natural and manmade borders, prioritize all military and sanitation efforts to cleansing that area, and resume the business of trying to run a country
[19:06] <+RedMarketsCaleb> In the United States, the remains of the country retreat behind the Mississippi, for instance.
[19:06] <+RedMarketsCaleb> However, not everyone could be saved. Many people were left behind.
[19:07] <&Silverlion> Not the Appalachians? or the Rockies?
[19:07] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Rather than have people break quarantine to save grandma, the government declared anyone over the border homo sacor “the accursed man”
[19:08] <&Silverlion> i.e infected?
[19:08] <+RedMarketsCaleb> This is a statement of total civil death, so even if grandma managed to stay alive and uninfected, the new government won’t let her in. They are (justifiably) that serious about maintaining quarantine.
[19:09] <&Silverlion> Hrms. Not sure how such a government would last long.
[19:09] <+RedMarketsCaleb> And in Red Markets, you play the disenfranchised people left behind. But human corruptibility hasn’t changed. You can bribe yourself at the quarantine zone…if you help the lucky bastards in the safe zones stake a claim on the wasteland in preparation for the eventual reclamation
[19:09] <+RedMarketsCaleb> 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.
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[19:10] <~Dan> How do they help people in the safe zones state a claim?
[19:11] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So Red Markets is a game about economics and the horror of it not being on your side. It’s not enough to survive the supernatural; you still have to pay the bills. It’s a poverty simulator, but rather than getting too close and being insensitive to real-world disenfranchised populations, it’s nerd-troped to maintain respectful distance.
[19:11] <~Dan> (Howdy, BPIJonathan!)
[19:11] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Done
[19:11] <+RedMarketsCaleb> How do they help people in the safe zones state a claim?”
[19:11] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Well, the governments have a problem with personal property when they retreat behind their walls.
[19:12] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Initially, they try to claim everything they’ll get back when/if the last zombie rots away.
[19:12] <~Dan> (Stake a claim, rather)
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[19:12] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest58! You can set your name with the /nick command. 🙂 )
[19:12] <~Dan> (e.g., /nick Dan)
[19:13] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But that basically throws four centuries of property law out the window. Who stands to inherit what? How do you charge taxes? How do you take a census with the majority of to populace in refugee status? How do you decide districts for elections?
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[19:13] <~Dan> (Thanks, LauraB!)
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[19:13] <+RedMarketsCaleb> More importantly, how do you get people to work when you’re essentially promising to steal everything they worked so hard for after this disaster?
[19:14] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So the government claiming everything West of the mississippi basically almost leads to a revolution
[19:14] <+RedMarketsCaleb> the administrations stop gap measure is to, instead, figure out exactly what was Lost in the Crash and who has claim.
[19:15] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So they need to learn who owns what, where, for how long, etc. They especially need to know who died in the Crash, who turned into a zombie, and who just hasn’t checked into a center because they’re a refugee
[19:15] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So they institute a bounty on proof of death — stuff the poor can turn in from their old documents or from the rare zombie that gets across the river and dies on the fence
[19:16] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The problem with this bounty, however, is that the driver license of a zombie now fetches more than any of the devalued dollars circulating in the USA.
[19:17] <+RedMarketsCaleb> And who has a near monopoly on proof of death? The folks left behind to die.
[19:17] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So a Red Market occurs: a market so taboo that laws haven’t been made to make it illegal yet.
[19:17] <~Dan> It sounds like the economy depends upon it, too.
[19:18] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The Citizens want to trade on the future reclamation, setting themselves up to be land barons in the new America. It’s a futures market that the whole surviving government has leveraged its survival on
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[19:19] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Meanwhile, the Takers have exhausted all the food, medicine, water, etc that could be salvaged. They needs goods smuggled in from a place with rule of law and working manufacture to surivive
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[19:19] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Eduardo!)
[19:20] <~Dan> Wow… There are that many Takers out there?
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[19:20] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So that’s what Takers do: they trade the financial carrion they live in for essential survival goods. And if they’re good enough, they might make enough doing it to retire in a safe zone.
[19:20] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Done.
[19:20] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Takers are a pretty rare occupation — its stupid dangerous.
[19:21] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But there are hundreds of thousands of survivors in the Loss (the quarantined section). But in the Western US, that’s a really small population.
[19:21] <~Dan> But there are enough to have exhausted the resources in the quarantined zone?
[19:21] <~Dan> Ah, the other survivors.
[19:21] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Most survivors are enclavists; they work menial jobs to survive, hoping to be rescued when the government decides to reclaim
[19:22] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Takers, on the other hand, don’t want to wait. They’re willing to get rich or die trying.
[19:22] <+TIO-Preston> Is this the kind of game where you want to mow down every zombie you can see, or more where you are trying your hardest not to alert the horde?
[19:22] <+RedMarketsCaleb> It depends on your business model.
[19:23] <+RedMarketsCaleb> As a Taker, you want to make Bounty; more bounty than you spent killing the zombies
[19:23] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But decapitating cannibalistic corpses is hard, risky work. If you use ammo, that sure ain’t cheap.
[19:23] <+AmbulatoryCortex> salvage a combine and you can kill all the zombies you want, just don’t try to jump over the blades in a desperate bid to escape raiders 😛
[19:24] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So if you can slaughter on a budget and just pull the cards from the re-dead, that’s a viable business model for some crews.
[19:24] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Others find that too risky or expensive…and it’s always dangerous. It really depends on what time of crew you want to run with your group. It’s a small business, so you act as your own boss. The system only demands that you profit or die.
[19:25] <~Dan> Is there anything keeping Takers from, shall we say, making their own “zombies” to claim by culling the survivor population?
[19:25] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Done
[19:25] <+RedMarketsCaleb> There’s a mechanic called Humanity; it’s similar to a sanity mechanic, though I have some problems with how that has been treated in some other games
[19:26] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But Human Capital is still very real capital. Most psychopaths aren’t Hannibal Lector or some CEO; most are nut jobs with no impulse control that end up in prison or dead
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[19:27] <~Dan> (Howdy, Captain_Raptor!)
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[19:27] <+AmbulatoryCortex> What is the recession government like? The Department of Homeland Quarrantine Services attracts the worst sorts, but what’s the civilian government like? Is the military folded into the DHQS, or still separate?
[19:27] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So if you’re too damned evil to see humans as anything but dollar signs, you could try to murder your way into retirement by picking the weakest population. But the Humanity mechanic is going to see such behavior damage your mind so much you end up as the NPC in most zombie movies.
[19:28] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So there are people like that in the Lost, but unless you want to go full-raider, most crews will take a different path.
[19:28] <+RedMarketsCaleb> What is the recession government like? The Department of Homeland Quarrantine Services attracts the worst sorts, but what’s the civilian government like? Is the military folded into the DHQS, or still separate?
[19:28] <~Dan> Ah, so it’s sort of a metagame mechanic in that sense. Your character is still fully functional, but no longer PC-worthy.
[19:29] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The DHQS is basically a military junta. Imagine the DHS if, instead of 9/11, it was founded in the wake of an extinction level event. Total executive powers. Little to no oversight.
[19:30] <+RedMarketsCaleb> DHQS is the sort of group for whom human rights violation would be a problem…if they weren’t responsible for the survival of the human race. The end justifies the means
[19:31] <+RedMarketsCaleb> That said, many of the worst abusers of the system from the Crash are long gone. Keeping the US alive required such brutal pragmatism and betrayal that few found it politically tenable to stay in power.
[19:32] <+Klivian> In some RPGs, gear is more important than a character’s skills, abilities, etc. In other RPGs, gear hardly matters at all. What’s the balance in Red Markets?
[19:32] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But not everyone met justice, and many were succeeded by people that thought their predecessors to be persecuted heroes
[19:32] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, by the way, Klivian!)
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[19:32] <~Dan> (Howdy, AnthonyHoltberg!)
[19:32] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So DHQS is mainly an antagonistic force for the PCs, but there might be some good eggs in there, like any organization
[19:33] <+RedMarketsCaleb> As far as gear goes, RM definitely has a materialist focus. Your stuff matters A LOT. Being skillful is necessary as well, but nobody gets through the apocalypse in a loin cloth.
[19:34] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But it’s not a 1990’s, let’s-all-sho-in-a-splat-book game either
[19:35] <~Dan> What kind(s) of zombies are we talking about in this setting?
[19:35] <+RedMarketsCaleb> I mean it when I say a materialist philosophy: the logistics of time, place, have, and have-not deeply inform the story, your characters emotional state, your relationships, etc
[19:35] <+BPIJonathan> (be back in a bit, having a system issue)
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[19:36] <+RedMarketsCaleb> As far as zombies, I didn’t pick. My zombie virus (The Blight) has a living and undead state in it’s microbiological state as well.
[19:36] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So “hot” Blight makes Vectors: these are your fast zombies. Sprinting, hemorrhagic cannibals with the speed of a linebacker.
[19:37] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Being son a man-eating PCP binge is not good for health though. When that kills the host, the Blight reverts into it’s “cold” state
[19:38] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Cold Blight hijacks the cadavers dead flesh by turning dead tissue into “sinew” that secretes a chemical that slows decay. Then the parasitic nervous system weaves its way through the corpse, turns on, and puppets the dead body around in your traditional Romero zombie
[19:38] <+AmbulatoryCortex> What about aberrants? I’ve only made it through kangaroo court so far.
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[19:38] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Bogud!)
[19:39] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But everyone starts as a Vector (fast zombie); so the DHQS fear of an infection wiping out the remainder of Humanity is very justified
[19:39] <+RedMarketsCaleb> As far as Aberrants go, they’re zombies that violate the Blight’s own rules. Weird goddamn things that might be more Taker legend as fact.
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[19:40] <~Dan> So Vectors, like 28 Days Later “zombies”, aren’t literal zombies at all? At least in the undead sense?
[19:40] <~Dan> (wb, Bogus! 🙂 )
[19:40] <+RedMarketsCaleb> That’s what let’s GM’s design some real-horrific stuff to throw at their players. My only rule when designing Aberrants was nothing I’d ever seen in any zombie video game. They’re weird
[19:41] <~Dan> Can you give some examples?
[19:41] <+RedMarketsCaleb> If the Blight could be understood, it could be cured. The Blight cannot be understood. When players think they do, throw an Aberrant at them. The source of the zombies should eldritch in that regard
[19:41] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Of an aberrant.
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[19:41] <~Dan> (Howdy, Doctor!)
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[19:42] <&Doctor> (oh cool, I was curious if Caleb was doing a Q&A. Are we in the thick of it)
[19:42] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Okay, so the corpse animate by having this parasitic nervous system grow throughout their body. A Ganglia Aberrant occurs when, due to proximity during the change, those sinews break the skin and join with each other across bodies
[19:42] <+AmbulatoryCortex> Doctor, indeed we are, I’ll throw you a log if you want it
[19:42] <+xyphoid> is the playtest available when you back or at the end of hte KS?
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[19:43] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Somehow, this makes the Blight smarter. A Ganglia isn’t slow, despite being cadaverous
[19:44] <+AmbulatoryCortex> Is the blight at all capable of infecting nonhumans? Could we see an aberrant bat, for example?
[19:44] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So what you get is this mob of zombies that sort of roll/climbs/sprints at you — some crawling not the ceiling and walls — while in-between them is a thick net of black, viscous sinews
[19:44] <~Dan> That is, indeed, freaky.
[19:44] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Basically a moving net of monsters that entangles you, closes in, and makes you part of it.
[19:44] <+AmbulatoryCortex> nice.
[19:44] <+RedMarketsCaleb> That’s Aberrant’s for you. They should be freaky
[19:45] <+RedMarketsCaleb> There can be some Aberrant’s that are animals; that’s one of the examples.
[19:46] <+AmbulatoryCortex> alright, because that’s one of the most terrifying things I could image – a flying zombie
[19:46] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But when a disease jumps species, it’s a huge research opportunity. The Blight only does it sometimes, for unknown reasons. So a zombie lion might kill you, but it won’t lead you to any deeper truth about what’s happening
[19:47] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Done
[19:47] <+AmbulatoryCortex> What’s the fuel situation like in the loss? Gasoline would be long since spoiled, but diesel should just be dirty and moldy. Has it all been scavenged by now?
[19:47] <+RedMarketsCaleb> You can get gas, but it’s at a premium (of course)
[19:48] <+RedMarketsCaleb> There are already rogue, pirate gasoline refineries and fracking operations in the real world, so survivors would set some up.
[19:48] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But getting homemade/smuggled fuel is super expensive
[19:49] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So in RM, if you pay for a car, you better be damned sure there’s a job profitable enough to justify it at the other end of the road.
[19:49] <&Doctor> Diesel can last about 15 years. *goes to type his question*
[19:49] <+RedMarketsCaleb> I know, nav gas has about 4 years, six if you know how to treat it
[19:49] <+RedMarketsCaleb> but gasoline has a crap shelf life
[19:50] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But it’s a near future setting: electric cars, nat gas, and biodiesel are all options as well
[19:50] <&Doctor> I was just tossing that out… it became oddly relevant in a conversation last week 🙂
[19:50] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But like I said…better make sure it is worth the cost.
[19:50] * +AmbulatoryCortex has a mental image of a modified factory forklift driving around with sharpened forks
[19:51] <+RedMarketsCaleb> done
[19:51] <&Doctor> Okay, so I have read over the KS a few times and looked at some of the other materials; I get a strange (in a good way) Shadowrun meets World War Z vibe, which is good. However, both the Zombie and Dystopian Merc genres have plenty of entries. What do _you_ consider to be the thing that sets RM apart?
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[19:52] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Good point, Doctor
[19:52] <+RedMarketsCaleb> In a nutshell, RM is different because your characters NEED to do all this terrifying crap to survive
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[19:53] <+RedMarketsCaleb> In any RPG, the life of a player character would be a nightmare of uncertainty, stress, and danger. Literally NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would go adventuring for the fun of it.
[19:54] <+RedMarketsCaleb> But even in games that give this truth lip service (Shadowrun, Torchbearer, etc), there are few, if any, mechanical consequences to not going to work. They know you are going to play, so they say it’s to earn a living and support your family. That’s it.
[19:55] <+RedMarketsCaleb> In Red Markets, your family will DIE if you don’t go out to work. You will go nuts after seeing this, or you will die with them. Your stuff keeps you alive, and unless that stuff is used to get more capital to keep the stuff working, you will not make it.
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[19:55] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[19:56] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So unlike games that use the capitalist ideology as a given without examining the truly insidious demands of it, RM motivates its heroes with constant, desperate need
[19:56] <&Doctor> What is it that sets my character apart from the “stock townsfolk npcs” and other non-adventurers in the world of RM? Surely there must be producers, sellers, facilitators, and buyers, just like any market economy. As you so rightly pointed out, why /not/ be the guy who grows potatoes?
[19:57] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Gear in RM all has an Upkeep cost; if your gun costs three bounty, it doesn’t cost 3 bounty forever and remain in perfect working condition. It costs 3 bounty PER GAME. Don’t feed your stuff capital, and it won’t keep you safe
[19:58] <+RedMarketsCaleb> The goal in RM is to quit risking your life for another day of terrible existence, so like real criminals or mercenaries or adventures or heroes or whatever you want to call it, you have to keep costs down in order for the adventure to have a point
[19:58] <&Doctor> +
[19:58] <+RedMarketsCaleb> And if you want to do something heroic in RM, you are encouraged to do so. But it will cost you. It will not be rewarded. Just like real heroism
[19:58] <+AmbulatoryCortex> Doctor, you won’t make enough money selling potatoes to get *out*
[19:59] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Exactly. You will sell potatoes until you die of an infection. Or you’ll go out when the fences cave in. Or some idiot hides a bite and starts an outbreak in the enclave
[20:00] <&Doctor> Maybe a more pointed question is what is the victory condition? What is “out?”
[20:01] <+AmbulatoryCortex> speaking of infection, does the game have actual infection mechanics, or is it abstracted away by first-aid kits?
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[20:01] <+RedMarketsCaleb> You’ll also be dying alongside your wife, kids, brother, grandmother, best friend, and whoever else is cursed to eek out a sad sack existence in the enclave. No one you love will have it any better. Best case scenario: you make it until the reclamation, the govt decides not to kill you as a political liability, and your degree in political science got you…
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[20:01] <+RedMarketsCaleb> a lifetime of substance farming.
[20:01] <+AmbulatoryCortex> infections as in bacteria, as opposed to blight
[20:01] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Takers say screw all that. They want out. ASAP. And they want to take everyone they love with them
[20:02] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So the goal of RM is retirement, which means no longer have to work to survive. That could mean starting your own enclave (survivor community), self-sufficient compound (which ain’t cheap), or smuggling yourself into a save zone
[20:03] <+RedMarketsCaleb> “does the game have infection mechanics?” Yes.
[20:03] <+RedMarketsCaleb> There are people who are naturally immune to the Blight, as well as people that are asymptomatic carriers (Latents)
[20:03] <&Doctor> Could you talk a little about the scarcity mechanics? (apologies if this was already asked)
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[20:04] <+RedMarketsCaleb> both class of people get a lot of other troubles for winning the genetic lottery
[20:05] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[20:05] <+RedMarketsCaleb> As far as scarcity goes, your character needs to pay for rent and food for themselves and anyone else they love (dependents). Their gear also requires upkeep in time, maintenance, and parts. Skills must be trained, which takes time, materials, and tutors
[20:05] <&Le_Squide> (Hey Dan!)
[20:05] <+AmbulatoryCortex> nah, I meant bacteria, things like gangrene that are so nasty in a place without antibiotics
[20:06] <+RedMarketsCaleb> So everyone starts a job in the hole. You go out on the job to get out of the hole. If you’re good, you make a little extra and back it towards retiring one day. If you just “get by,” you keep working until you get unlucky, which happens to everyone on a long enough timeline
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[20:06] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Ahhh, yeah. There are rules for sickness if you want to make the game even harder.
[20:07] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest04! You can set your name with the /nick command. 🙂 )
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[20:08] <+RedMarketsCaleb> I’ve got about 10 minutes lef
[20:08] <+RedMarketsCaleb> *left
[20:08] <+RedMarketsCaleb> What else did y’all want to know?
[20:09] <+AmbulatoryCortex> what happened to mexico?
[20:09] <~Dan> What is the core mechanic?
[20:09] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Roll 2d10. One is Red. One is Black
[20:10] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Skills get added to Black, as do bonuses for spending charges on gear. All bonuses must be applied before the roll
[20:10] <+RedMarketsCaleb> If Black is higher, you are “in the Black” and succeed. If Red is equal or higher, you are “in the Red” and fail
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[20:11] <+RedMarketsCaleb> That’s it. same 2d10 is used to generate everything else the GM could need.
[20:11] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet posted that we can see?
[20:12] <+RedMarketsCaleb> check out the KS. It’s in the updates, as are dice mechanic explanations. Nothing is backer locked
[20:12] <+RedMarketsCaleb> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159466030/red-markets)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159466030/red-markets
[20:14] <~Dan> Well, darn. I have more I’d like to ask about the system, but I know you have to run.
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[20:14] <~Dan> So, I’ll just say thanks for joining us, RedMarketsCaleb!
[20:14] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you.
[20:14] <+RedMarketsCaleb> Okay. I really must be going. The podcast I’m going to be on is going to live stream at 830. Stop by and maybe we can get to questions in the comments or address it normally.
[20:14] <+RedMarketsCaleb> (Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/243091316070613/)https://www.facebook.com/events/243091316070613/