Tribe 8 (role-playing game)

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This article is about Dream Pod 9's post-apocalyptic fantasy role-playing game. See Tribe 8 for the San Francisco-based lesbian punk band.
Tribe 8
Designer(s)Philippe R. Boulle, Stéphane Brochu, Joshua Mosqueira-Asheim
Publisher(s)Dream Pod 9
Publication date1998

Tribe 8 is a fantasy/post-apocalypse role-playing game designed by Philippe R. Boulle, Stéphane Brochu and Joshua Mosqueira-Asheim with visuals by Ghislain Barbe. It was first released in 1998 by Canadian publisher Dream Pod 9 as a departure from their mostly mecha line of hard science fiction games.


Tribe 8 takes place in a land known as Vimary, which is a post-apocalyptic Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At some indeterminate point in history, something has gone horribly, cosmically wrong. Though the nature of this disaster is never fully explained, the result was the appearance of the "Z'bri", twisted demonic creatures of spirit who either initiated the fall of the "World Before," or came in the wake of its destruction. The Z'bri, needing flesh to sate their demonic hungers, herded the majority of humanity into camps where they were killed or enslaved until the "Fatimas" (Avatars of what is called "The One Goddess") imbued humanity with hope and with Synthesis, a potent but subtle form of dream magic. In this way, the Z'bri were fought back into the wilds. The Fatimas then established the tribal lands of Vimary, protecting the inhabitants of their own tribes.

Player characters typically take on the role of the Fallen, outcasts from the Tribes who live on the exile island of Hom (present day Île Sainte-Hélène). Although many of the Fallen truly are criminal, many have also been cast out from the Tribes due to their inability to deal with the unjust society that the Fatimas have built. They are heretics, warriors, dreamers, and leaders who hope to build something even when society has abandoned them.

The game has a strong metaplot, which tells the tale of the Fallen's struggle with the Tribes, the demonic Z'bri who had destroyed the world before, and also with themselves. It focuses on themes of spirituality, horror, and the cost of hope in a world that has gone terribly wrong.

The Fatimas[edit]

The Fates:

  • Magdalen the Lover – She is the aspect of the One Goddess' sensuality, mystery and passion. Magdalen appears cloaked in gauzy capes covering a body wrapped in barbed wire, her face hidden behind a hood that is zippered closed. Magdelen's children traditionally play the roles of diplomats, courtesans, pharmacists and whores, and the Synthesis power given to them by their Fatima generally center around seduction and betrayal.
  • Eva the Mother – She is the earth mother, the One Goddess' aspect of fertility, with the ability to both create and to destroy. Her anima form is like a headless Venus of Willendorf with gigantic leather bat wings. Her children are farmers, nurses, midwives, healers and caretakers and are granted the Synthesis powers that concentrate on empathy and the manipulation of life-force energy.
  • Baba Yaga the Crone – The keeper of the Fold (the gateway between the physical and spiritual realms), Baba Yaga is a miasma of old bones, earth, wood, rot and decay. She rattles like a dying breath and travels in a swarm of flies. Her children are loremasters, witches and death priests, and they are given Synthesis powers over death and dreaming.

The Pillars of the Nation:

  • Joan the Warrior – Once a fierce and tireless warrior, Joan is reclusive and silent since the death of her brother Joshua. She is a dauntingly powerful figure in a huge brutal black steel frame with bare rebar wings and fearsome weapons. Her children are both the noble defenders and protectors of the tribes as well as the brutal enforcers of Tera Sheba's will. They are smiths and soldiers, templars and glassblowers, and they are gifted with Synthesis governing martial ability, physical prowess and personal tenacity.
  • Tera Sheba the Wise – She is the governance of law and judgment in Vimary. Presenting herself in reams of cloth and parchment, with fans declaring office and three wooden heads, gagged, blindfolded and deafened in turn, Tera Sheba carries a terrifying authority. Her children are the lawmakers, adjudicators, inquisitors and lore keepers, and they are gifted with Synthesis governing truth, wisdom and tradition.

The Dancers:

  • Dahlia the Trickster – The joy and movement of the One Goddess, Dahlia is an ever-changing apparition of elusive masks and fans. Among all the tribes, only Her children do not have tribal lands of their own. Instead they are nomadic, following caravan routes throughout Vimary and into the surrounding lands. They are dancers, traders, tinkers, entertainers, actors, envoys and outrunners, and are gifted with the Synthesis abilities that govern illusion and motion.
  • Agnes the Child – Agnes was not one of the original eight Fatimas. She is a child Fatima born of the ashes of Mary the Forgiver, who died soon after her brother Joshua. Agnes is composed of two parts, a large frightening teddy bear with iron jaws and scissor claws, and a small bedraggled rag doll. Her tribe is a Lord of the Flies-like environment where children are the leaders, who grow into obscurity either by breeding new children or becoming slaves to the tribe. Agnes' children are given the Synthesis gifts that pertain to capriciousness, inspiration and wonder.

The Dead:

  • Joshua the Ravager – The only male Fatima died following the liberation of humanity from the camps, as he and his tribe of berserk warriors led the charge to drive the Z'bri lords and their beasts back from the lands of Vimary. The circumstances of his death are mysterious, carrying special portent due to a prophecy that he uttered before dying: he proclaimed that his death would be avenged, and that his tribe would arise again from the wretches and the outcasts. Tribe 8 gets its name from this prophecy and the belief of many of the Fallen that they are the children of this prophecy.

Release history[edit]

The first printing of the core rulebook was soft cover and was later reprinted in a hardcover format. An extensive line of Tribe 8 books was printed, consisting of "Word of" books, cycle books, Legend books, and setting sourcebooks. The "Word of" books focused on the details of the Tribes and their society. Cycle books were a linked series of adventures that built up an epic story of the Fallen and their search for destiny. The setting sourcebooks covered lands and places in detail, expanding the world – including books giving more detail on the Z'bri, the River of Dream, and the Outlands. Finally the Legend books were short series of stories with adventures not connected to the meta-plot of the cycle books.

Tribe 8, 2nd edition was printed in 2004 as a soft cover book that used the Silhouette Core Rules. Thus, unlike the 1st edition, it was not a complete game and needed the Silhouette CORE Rulebook to play. The second edition moved the setting from Vimary to Capal (another city), advancing the history of the world by 15 years. It also finally revealed the whole course of the metaplot, allowing Gamemasters to weave their own stories rather than wait to find out how the world would change. Though plans to follow up the second edition with more supplemental books have been discussed[citation needed], there have been no further releases yet.

Rule system[edit]

Tribe 8 uses Dream Pod 9's own Silhouette game engine. The latest edition of the Silhouette rules is sold separately as a book titled Silhouette CORE Rulebook, which is needed to play the second edition of the Tribe 8 roleplaying game (the first edition rulebook included its own version of Silhouette).

Silhouette is a realistic, simulationist system that defines characters in terms of 10 base attributes (agility, knowledge, etc.), 5 derived attributes (health, etc.), and a variety of skills. Skill rolls make up the backbone of the system, which focuses on effect-based speed of play over grainy detail. The core mechanic involves rolling a number of 6-sided dice, taking the highest result and comparing it to a set threshold number. If the result is higher than the threshold the test is a success; if it is lower the test is a failure. The margin by which the test succeeded (Margin of Success, MoS) or failed (Margin of Failure, MoF) helps to determine the final outcome. Combat is handled by the same system, with characters taking penalty-inflicting wounds rather than depleting a set number of health points. As a result, the system can be lethal, especially on inexperienced characters.

Tribe 8's rules were characteristic for their introduction of magic, which was totally absent of any other Dream Pod 9 game setting.

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