Which RPG have you owned the longest but never played?
God how I want to love this game. God how I want to run it. play it, something! I first got the game when it came out, then managed to score pretty much the entire print run of products at a Boxing Day sale in Canada, then collected the rest.
And I have read all of it. Every single eye-searing tiny word that was put into the rules or a module or a scenario or on a map. All of it.
And I love it. Post-apocalyptic feminist authoritarian tribal fantasy/horror – set in the ruins of Montreal? Where player characters are outcasts from their inuslar tribal societies, but destined for great, great things? Oh, SIGN ME UP!
But not everyone feels that way.
First problem – the world is rich. Really rich, with an incredible depth of detail, both physical and metaphysical. Just plunking players down without having them know something of the world and their place in it just isn’t going to make for compelling or interesting characters. But in order to get to that richness and detail, players have to stagger through a vast amount of information, and a lot of it is a) presented in the form or oral traditions and stories, b) IS IN THAT GODDAMNED TINY LITTLE FONT! Jesus, Dream Pod 9 – what were you THINKING??? Vampire eventually ran into this problem, with so many splat books and sourcebooks and scenarios that it was difficult to really understand what was going on with the various character types. I understand that Pathfinder has it too. But Tribe 8 definitely has it in spades. The game presents players with 109 pages of background material, wonderfully illustrated but difficult to read, just IN THE MAIN RULEBOOK before the rules on character creation.
Second problem – the world is not particularly comprehensible outside of itself. There is no quick and easy summary to give players before they make their characters. Players really need to read, or at the very least browse, all 109 pages of setting material in order to have a good understanding of what their characters do, who they are, their place in society, and their goals. What’s a Fatima? Who are the Z’bri? Where is Vimary? How do characters Dream? When is the game set relative to the modern world? All these are questions that are potentially important for character creation, and there is no easy or fast way to summarize them.
Third problem – the system. Tribe 8 was written in 1998. The system shows its age now. But because the game was designed around a very specific setting the rules are closely linked to it and there is little room for updating it to a newer, better system without losing some of that “feel”. It’s possible of course – almost anything is possible – but the volume of material put out for the game makes it a lot of work to convert everything.
So I’ve never run it. I’ve never played it. It sits on the shelf and every so often I take one or more of the books down and look at them as long as my eyes can stand it, and think “could I convert this and run it?”.
So far the answer has alweays been “no”. But I keep dreaming about it.