Review: Do – Pilgrims of the Flying Temple from @DanielSolis and @EvilHatOfficial

Welcome back to Futile Position’s 2012 ENnie Awards spotlight (Check out the full list of coverage with lots more interviews and reviews), where I will be bringing you reviews and interviews regarding many of the products current nominated for the 2012 ENnie Awards. Today’s review is of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple from Daniel Solis and Evil Hat Productions, which is presently nominated for Best Art, Interior, and Best Game. A review copy of this product was provided by the publisher to Futile Position and the review below includes experience playing the game. This review is based off of a PDF copy of the book. 

Short Version: A story telling game in the truest since of the word. On each turn, you draw stones that tell you what kind of sentences to add to the story you are writing down on a sheet of paper. It’s a game that is as much fun as you let it be and the artwork is freakin’ gorgeous. There is no traditional ‘roleplaying’ to be found in Do, but you end up with a great story that you can share with everyone at the end, and it’s already written down. A great pick up and play game that needs very little explanation and almost no prep. 

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, written by Daniel Solis, is truly a “storytelling” game. It is a game about writing a story with your friends guided by what stones you draw from a bag on a given turn. It provides the setup for a lot of zaniness as you watch your characters get in trouble over the course of a session.

So how does it play?

Very well, thank you. The set up is basically nonexistent. I mean, some games claim to be ‘pick up and play’ but Do is one of the few games I’ve played that really lives up to that label. The hardest part of character creation is explaining the naming conventions (your first name is a word indicating how you get in your trouble, your second is one indicating how you help people). You play as a group of Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (natch), a group of teenagers that have been sent away from the Flying Temple (where the residents can fly, and are the only such people in the world) to go on a pilgrimage to help the many peoples of the world. Solis does a great job establishing the setting, but it is the type of thing that is only constrained by your imagination. Solis even has an interesting aside on gravity in there, but the most important part to remember is that you are playing pilgrims, you fly, and you want to help people in a world where a lot of small planets (one of which contain only one person, a couple of trees, and a cat, for instance) are floating in the middle of an infinite sky (as opposed to the vacuum of space).

Once you’re named, you select a Letter from someone asking for help from the Temple that you will be sent to help. The Letter will set up what the problem your Pilgrims need to solve is, as well as offering some seeds that may get your characters in trouble. You are then given a list of 20 ‘goal words’ from the letter (10 in the introductory letter) that you must use in your story before a player amasses eight stones. Whoever is the current player draws three stones (you use a bag filled with black and white stones) and chooses to keep the black or the white stones. What you keep determines what kind of sentence you (or your fellow players, who sometimes get to write things about your characters as well) get to write in your story. As written, there is no active roleplaying as such, instead you write the sentences as directed based on the stones you keep. Do you get to use a goal word? Does your Pilgrim get in trouble? It provides you with a nice framework that gives you enough guidance without being overly specific. At the end, you will write the ending of the story based on if you used all the goal words or not. It plays fast and the system really gets out of the way of writing your story after about two turns, when you’ll have it down pat.

You get 16 letters with the book (and there is an expansion that includes more, as well as providing some guidance on writing your own), so that should provide you with enough set-ups to play Do a lot of times. Also, if you are playing with different groups, the setup may be the same each time, but each group’s story will be different. The game also provides guidance on wrapping a given Pilgrim’s story up and changing your Pilgrims’ names over time after each session. There’s a ton of advice and examples in the book as well that makes it hard to not be able to follow how to play the game.

Anything Else?

Well, it’s worth noting that the book is gorgeous. There’s art on almost every page and it is almost without fail gorgeous. The book has a great, evocative feel that really helps draw you into the world of Do. Also, the game lists that it is appropriate for ages 12 and up, but my hunch is that many 10-year-olds would be able to grasp the system and get the whole ‘metaphor for a name’ thing well enough to play along just fine. That’s not based on any particular experience, just my own feelings after reading through it and playing the game. It is a game that is particularly suited to one-off play. It plays fast and finishes in the promised time (1 to 2 hours) and you can play it while sitting on couches instead of huddled around a table. The ‘story writing’ aspect might actually make it easier to introduce to people unfamiliar with RPGs, since they can approach it as simply writing a story instead of ‘playing make-believe’ as their character.

So do you recommend it?

Yeah. Yeah, I do. There are few games that I had more fun playing than Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. So long as you understand that what the game is about is providing a structure for you to write a story collaboratively with your friends about well-meaning pilgrims getting in trouble on their way to helping people, this is a game that you can have as much fun with as you let yourself. You’ll need a group of imaginitive people to make Do  run, but it’s a really good time if you have that. Check out my session report if you want to read what we did when we played through the first Letter or Quickstart Rules if you want to see how the mechanics of the game work. Do is 10 percent off through the month of July in honor of its ENnie Nominations, with the PDF available for $9.00 (regularly $10.00) and the book and PDF together for $22.50 (regularly $25.00).

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About Michael

Michael is an enthusiast about a lot of things, including indie games, roleplaying games, board games, and comic books that wanted to help create a place where he could bring things to the attention of those with similar interests. Futile Position is a true labor of labor, which he hopes continues to grow through the support of the great readers who have come upon this page.

25. July 2012 by Michael
Categories: Reviews, RPGs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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