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What a difference time and experience makes… looking again at Tribe 8

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Suddenly, I feel confident enough to run this. Whoa.

I'd had this magic post-apocalypse idea kicking around, I'd reorganized my bookshelf, and then, boom, I remembered that I had the mostly-complete Tribe 8 set that DP9 had been selling off a few years back. Now Tribe 8, I know, has been on many people's lists of "awesome game that I doubt I will ever be able to run"—as it's been on mine. It's kind of a strange, high-buy-in setting, with its own visual look; it explicitly emphasizes the social/political as much as the kill things/take stuff; it's got this huge meta-plot with a bunch of important NPCs; and it strongly encourages you to do artistic thematics in your games, which to a newer GM is like a new musician being hit upside the head with a bunch of critical theory when all you wanted to do was learn a few chords. So, daunting, not only for the bar to climb, but also because to really do it it justice you'd need to do a long campaign, so you need a bunch of people to climb over the bar with you.

So that's how I remembered the game when I picked up the books again.

Maybe it's partly because just before I'd been reading the new Burning Wheel Adventure Burner before, but it's mainly that my GMing skills have grown since I last read the materials, because where I saw obstacles before I suddenly see all sorts of nifty hooks.

Before, the mass of setting material seemed just daunting. But I've been practicing slipping setting and character detail into my descriptions for years now, starting with the big simple stuff (It's magical post-apocalypse and you're all tribal dudes who got kicked out and now live in this shanty-town. The Tribes = assholes! Fatimas = angels made of junk! Z'bri = demons! Okay, character creation, go!) and working in the fine stuff with skill rolls and so on. And there's plenty of room for improv, anyway, since more than half of what's in the books is characters' claims and not necessarily objective truth.

The scenarios before had seemed like strait-jacket railroads with dominating NPCs—and yet too loosely described to be useful. Now I see that they knew you'd go off the rails anyway, so why discourage it by over-detailing the rails? Practically ever major plot beat that relies upon an NPC to occur is described in such a way that active PCs can easily do it first; I use that technique all the time now in play-by-post, having NPCs tag along with the group so that if the PCs miss something, the NPC can point it out, and if the PCs do get it, the NPC stays in the background. So those sparse outlines are really useful skeletons upon which to hang all the neat stuff your players are really interested in. Just one of those slim books contains material for at least a year's worth of once-a-week gaming, built around your PCs main interests.

Where before I'd seen all these themes that I feared would never be seen, now I see that things are written so that everything can be turned back towards the core ideas when you want it to be. I just read the Outlands book, and—man! You could do an entire campaign about boating down the river to gather food, and it would be a taut family drama with themes about discovery and loss and spirituality and questioning authority, and all with hundreds of lives at stake. Epic plant harvesting action!

In the Adventurer Burner, Luke Crane mentions running several tightly-focused campaigns within the same setting, sometimes the same characters, sometimes not—an idea which honestly had never occurred to me, but makes fears of never getting a chance to see the whole setting drift away. Want to look a bit of the big setting? Do a short campaign there. Want to look at your old heroes next? Switch characters and bring them back for another story.

I'm gonna run this some day, I swear. I'm gonna learn to use Burning Wheel with it, because it seems perfect. Beliefs, Instincts, Traits, Artha flowing. I'll need to work out Synthesis rules and comb the books for ideas for Lifepaths. Seven Tribes, plus "Bazaar" and "Fallen" to start with. Then Squats, Keepers. Serfs with really fucked up Traits. Keeper lifepaths should be mostly serious, but also include in-jokes like "Vault-Dweller" and "Overseer", "Road Warrior" and "Postman" LPs. Heck, just doing the Tribal lifepaths eliminates a bunch of the need for background exposition—you'd see what each Tribe is like just by looking over the list when you burn your character!

Take away some Resource points when you become Fallen to make you hungry and desperate. (Or, alternatively, encourage players to sink those points into magic and connections instead of personal kit; the 8th Tribe's supposed to be better at Synthesis, after all.) Winter's coming, bud, and you didn't take winter clothing or shoes with your starting buy. Better find or make some, and soon. Circles, Resources, Duel of Wits, Practice, Fight! "I killed the wolf with a metal spear it took me two weeks to make with my own bare hands, I had to do three dirty deals and learn metal-working by myself, the wolf almost took my arm off and I had to run away from Z'bri through the snow with the wolf slung over my back but I killed it myself and NOW I'M WEARING IT. Fuck the Fatimas! I killed a wolf!"

It'll be awesome.

Some day, I swear.
 

timbannock

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I had all the books and kept wanting to run it. But a friend of mine got to running it first, and it was great. He stuck to the pre-made adventures, and even railroaded us a little bit here and there, but did so in a way that it didn't feel too bad.

Ultimately, it was a great game, but required a SIGNIFICANT investment from the players. We also had one "I'm a sunglasses wearin' mo-fo who has to be badass in combat" player, and that absolutely ruined things for us over and over again (he did the same thing when we played Serenity RPG later on). Be very aware of these two things, because Tribe 8 -- at least run under the Silhouette system -- is not a system I'd use if you have any combat-happy people. It's damn deadly, for one thing, and for another, the political/intrigue parts of the game are cranked up so high that it's almost criminal to get into fights because you'll lose so much of the setting's draw.
 

Adarael

New member
Banned
This makes me so happy to read, because Tribe 8 is one of the best games ever, and I have never tired of it.

It's strange, it's alien, it has a huge metaplot and feels unwieldy to break out of the box if you don't have a huge buy-in, as you say... but it's so distinctive. So wonderful.

And here is what I believe is the theme song of the entire game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS2BrxcWWZA
 

.jayderyu

Retired User
sigh, you make me want to get back to T8 sooner than later. We are on hiatus as of now. The Players are just..... not involved and it was getting to me. So I just stopped being the Weaver. Now I'm working on a new set of rules for Silhouette that focus more on getting the Players invested and involved. It's not ground shattering in regards to the rules, but the rules are more focused on Story telling.

I love Tribe 8 and I plan to continue well past the written plot... well i'm going to end with Hattan. I plan to take lot's of notes.

I have to admit. Tribe 8 was a little more to get into than others I own. Tribe 8 really focuses on people, emotions, opinions and the interaction with society to do it justice. Though you could easily do the beat up monster campaign. Anyways good luck to you and your adventure.

I'm glad i'm not the only one intending to change the system or systems.
 

timbannock

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Two things:

1. I'm not saying this as a fan boy or anything, but I STRONGLY suspect the Smallville rules would be muy perfecto for Tribe 8. Internal conflict, focus on drama and connections to others, and enough super-ness to model dream magic perfectly. The "templates" work great (at least, I'd think) for Tribals, Fallen, Keepers, etc.

2. That YouTube video was more intense than pretty much anything I've ever seen (except maybe Dancer in the Dark...that was intense). Anyway, between that and the freaky "Hand of God" video that was part of the promotion for NIN's "Year Zero" album, I think you have all the makings for a pre-Tribe 8 game...a game wherein the Z'Bri first start to come over into the world.

http://www.ninwiki.com/The_Presence
 

symmetry

New member
Banned
I'm gonna run this some day, I swear. I'm gonna learn to use Burning Wheel with it, because it seems perfect. Beliefs, Instincts, Traits, Artha flowing. I'll need to work out Synthesis rules and comb the books for ideas for Lifepaths. Seven Tribes, plus "Bazaar" and "Fallen" to start with. Then Squats, Keepers. Serfs with really fucked up Traits. Keeper lifepaths should be mostly serious, but also include in-jokes like "Vault-Dweller" and "Overseer", "Road Warrior" and "Postman" LPs. Heck, just doing the Tribal lifepaths eliminates a bunch of the need for background exposition—you'd see what each Tribe is like just by looking over the list when you burn your character!
A while back after soaking up alot of BW, I decided I really wanted to play Tribe 8 w/ BW - I ended up not getting too far, for various reasons, but perhaps this might be useful; it's just the raw beginnings of Synthesis: Burning Prophesy

Warning: it's totally incomplete, and most of the numbers definitely need fixing. I'm sure I could do alot better now, because I'm more familiar w/ BW; but hopefully it might still be somewhat helpful.


Cheers
 

Cam Banks

Kiwi Game Designer
Validated User
Two things:

1. I'm not saying this as a fan boy or anything, but I STRONGLY suspect the Smallville rules would be muy perfecto for Tribe 8. Internal conflict, focus on drama and connections to others, and enough super-ness to model dream magic perfectly. The "templates" work great (at least, I'd think) for Tribals, Fallen, Keepers, etc.
This is highly amusing, if only because designer Josh Roby also worked on Tribe 8 at one point. :)

Cheers,
Cam
 

Modern Angel

Retired User
I was actually somewhat recently thinking the same thing as the OP. My reasons, though, were magnified by my GM ADD melting away in two and a half years of Pendragon GPC play which only ended because of folks moving to other countries and not, for once, me.

I'm not too inclined to switch the rules. I tend not to do that and restatting NPCs, etc, etc is not something I have the time to do anymore.
 

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A while back after soaking up alot of BW, I decided I really wanted to play Tribe 8 w/ BW - I ended up not getting too far, for various reasons, but perhaps this might be useful; it's just the raw beginnings of Synthesis: Burning Prophesy

Warning: it's totally incomplete, and most of the numbers definitely need fixing. I'm sure I could do alot better now, because I'm more familiar w/ BW; but hopefully it might still be somewhat helpful.


Cheers
Bookmarked anyway, though, to tear apart for inspiration.

One thing that I instantly loved about the Outlands book is that, like, half the book is about food. Midway through reading it, I'm starting to worry about where my next meal is coming from! So important for the feel of the setting. People gotta eat. Every day. Sometimes that requires murder, heresy, or a vision quest.
 
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