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Author Topic: Tribe 8 (showing my age quite a bit here)  (Read 626 times)


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Tribe 8 (showing my age quite a bit here)
« on: July 02, 2022, 05:46:20 PM »
LOL, going back to antiquity here... but, growing up in a region near Canada, we had a lot of Dream Pod 9 products as well.

I have nearly the entire Tribe 8 library, including the 2e/Silhouette Core stuff (the player's handbook, Capal: Book of Days)... plus a good chunk of the Jovian Chronicles line. (I chose Jovian Chronicles since I didn't jump on Heavy Gear early enough, and I didn't want to play catch-up with all the books.)

The game is long, long, long out of print (copyrighted in 1998). The PDFs are almost all scans, although some of the books did get updated digital versions at DTRPG. It's still a game & system that some people look back on with a lot of fascination due to the strange/unique setting.

Tribe 8 is their post-apocalyptic, tribal setting. No giant robots. There's a great spiritual apocalypse, the world gets taken over by flesh-bound spirits, and the surviving people get rounded up into death camps. Then, another batch of spirits comes to Earth and liberates a bunch of people in the ruins of Montreal. (In the game world, it is "Vimary"... a corrupt form of "Ville-Marie", the central arrondissement of Montreal.)

And that's where the metaplot starts, a couple generations after the initial liberation.

The game runs on DP9's Silhouette system. It's a skill-based dice pool system where you roll dice = your skill points. Your attributes (like Agility) are modifiers for the dice rolls, but aren't primary drivers of success/failure on their own. (So, your Agility score isn't a "13" or "15", for instance... it's a "0" or "+2".) Your basic dice roll result is the highest number on the dice rolls, so if you roll a 2 and a 5 on 2d6, your result is 5. If you roll a 6, then every additional 6 adds +1 to the result. And your attribute/stats are simple modifiers on top of the skill-based dice roll.

Mechanically, very simple and not extremely swing-y in terms of results since, if you have a high skill pool, you're probably going to get a higher number. Higher numbers allow you to try more insane things, but even a modest skill level can still work in normal circumstances.

You can tell the game system is old because there are a LOT of stats and skills. There are 10 (?) attributes in total. Each attribute can have up to a dozen associated Skills (although some Attributes have far fewer). It's a lot to think about, though. More modern systems tend to favor more generalized skills... but since Tribe 8 shares the Silhouette system with sci-fi games like Jovian Chronicles, the authors stick to the overall formula that covers a LOT of different bases. It's not just the post-apoc world in Tribe 8 here. There's the legacy of giant mecha combat games as well.

Character advancement? The GM (or  "Weaver" in the case of Tribe 8,) hands them out at the end of a session for player character behavior. Good roleplay = more XP. Achieving your character's interest/quest? More XP. You can spend XP on skills, attributes, or the magic system (Synthesis)... and it gets progressively harder to improve skill ranks. It can take several sessions to increment any one skill or stat, and there isn't a "level system" like D&D where you advance ranks in a character class.

Instead of classes, your Tribe 8 character has a Tribal affiliation and a rebel faction Outlook. (The players are considered to be Outlaws who have turned their backs on their initial Tribe, which is part of the game's Metaplot.) Those from the Tribe of Joan, for instance, comprise the survivors' Warrior caste. The Tribe of Eva makes up the healers, midwives, and farmers. And so on, for all the 7 tribes. (The 8th Tribe? No longer exists in an official capacity, but you can bet the 8th tribe factors into the plot of the story.) The rebel Outlooks have similar approaches... so a Jacker is a proponent of violent and radical change, while a Lightbringer wants to reforge people of all Tribal outlooks into a single cohesive identity, and so on.

The Tribe & Outlook approach is a clever way to re-think the Class-based system of contemporaneous RPGs like AD&D. And, even though one might be of the Tribe of Dahlia (tricksters & performers), that also doesn't preclude your ability to make a character into a warrior. (Just add the Jacker Outlook and take one of their more aggressive traits, like Bravery, and you've got the makings for a hybrid warrior-type character.)

Magic... this comes through the Synthesis sytem. Synthesis is the interaction of the spirit world/River of Dream with the waking world of the flesh. Each Tribal character comes with some kind of Synthesis ability that is tied to their Tribal identity, along with an ability tied to their rebel Outlook. If you imagined these Synthesis abilities as "Class Abilities" in D&D, I don't think you'd be very far off. Synthesis IS magical, though, and has the ability to bend reality at some level. So it's more than a Class Ability... it's your Tribal's connection to the spirit world.

Synthesis is its own skill, unaffected by any one particular attribute because, depending on the Synthesis being used at the time, it could be any of the character's attributes at play. It's a light and elegant system at its core... an easy extension of the Silhouette engine without breaking it, especially considering that the initial incarnation was for Heavy Gear (a mecha combat game).

Overall... an intriguing game world with a system that does what it needs to do. And, without even getting into the metaplot (which is described as "metaplot done right" by some), the writing really does evoke a fascinating game world behind the writing.

It would be fascinating what could be done if Free League, for instance, wanted to reboot Tribe 8 into their own style of post-apocalyptic fantasy-survival gaming. (The problem is that we already have Forbidden Lands, Twilight 2k4, Symbaroum, MYZ, and so on.)

I would note that some of the PDFs have subsequently been updated to a modern format. Much of the product line remains as scanned PDFs only, however.
The primary rulebook, the Tribe 8 Companion (including rules for Tribal games instead of the Fallen), the Vimary Sourcebook (details about the setting), the Word of the Pillars (the 2 "primary" factions of the 7 tribes, forming the pillars/leadership caste of the Tribes), the Horrors of the Zbri (a rare book in print, which details the primary external antagonists of the game), Into the Outlands (setting information about the immediate world around Vimary, except for the Zbri domain), Children of Lilith (the initial book in the metaplot campaign), and a couple others have been updated.

You want to look for anything that was updated in 2020 (or later, if they ever get back to updating these books). These are fully functional PDFs, bookmarked and everything. All the other PDFs (which were done in 2004, according to DTRPG) are scans.

Between the primary rules, Vimary, Into the Outlands, and the Zbri book, you have all you need for the fantastical setting. (Really, just the Tribe 8 rulebook and the Vimary Sourcebook would be what I consider to be "necessary".)
« Last Edit: July 04, 2022, 01:32:06 PM by bromides »