I haven’t received my print copy of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, yet. According to pictures on the Kickstarter updates, Daniel Solis is busy signing and doodling in it as we speak. But I’ve got the .pdf of the game, and The Book of Letters, and I browbeat a group of my friends into giving the game a try last night.
I printed out the quick play reference sheets for the game, along with a batch of the letters with ten goal words each. About forty-five minutes before the game, as I was laying things out on the table, I realized that the black and white dice I use for FiascoÂ weren’t going to work as stones in the game, because I only had 24 of them1. So, that meant a rushed trip down to Dollarama looking for something to use.
I found some stones that would serve, though they were larger than I had wanted2, and made it back about five minutes before my guests showed up.
When everyone was assembled, I gave a quick rundown on the background, the game mechanics, and we created our pilgrims. Then, I passed around the letters I had printed out, and we picked out one to answer. After a little bit of discussion, we settled on the letter from p12 of The Book of Letters, and we got down to it.
Here’s the story3 we came up with:
Happy Ox flew into the middle of the war and began batting the flaming boulders away. He foolishly knocked rocks into the tent of the favourite concubine of one of the rulers.
Lucky Path rescued the concubine from the wreckage of her vanity4, but while pulling her out by her hair, her wig came off, revealing her to be a man. To save his life from the angry man, he ran through the vanity and came out looking like the concubine.
The violence and bloodshed of the war caused Moonlight Knight to start shifting into her werewolf form. A group of soldiers start chasing innocent civilians, and she threw herself in front, defending them with her magical armour.
Mocking Spirit attempted to negotiate with the vain rulers, but couldn’t help making fun of them, offending them both.
Princess Pandemonium scolded the rulers like naughty children, earning their hatred. In pleading her case, the Princess confused the two rulers about what the original quarrel was about.
Happy Ox flew down to lift the boulder off the concubine’s tent, and starts cleaning up the mess he had made. He tried to rescue Lucky Path, still disguised as the concubine, and the honour guard were convinced he’s abducted their ruler’s favourite concubine.
Lucky Path, caught up in the moment and flattered at the attention, gives Happy Ox a big kiss on the cheek, which caused him Ox to drop him in confusion, revealing Lucky Path’s identity. Lucky Path took to the air, once his identity was revealed, and fled the field.
Moonlight Knight convinced the rulers of the misunderstanding involving the courier delivery. They ended the war, but declared Moonlight Knight the queen of both factions.
Lucky Path was showered by flowers, thrown by both men and women.
Mocking Spirit summoned the war dead; shamed by their actions, people of both nations changed their ways.
Princess Pandemonium left the people with confused memories of what happened, leaving them unable to blame each other.
Happy Ox missed the victory parades and feasts, hiding out from the honour guard, and rejoined his companions as they left the world.
Moonlight Knight barely escaped from the world, chased by two unwanted and overwhelming suitors.
It took around two-and-a-half hours to play, and we had fun. Some important points:
- I think I should have just picked the letter before play began, and should have gone with the Swallowed Whole letter in the rulebook. The letters are (mostly) long enough that it took a while for everyone to even just skim them, and it delayed the start of play with little real benefit.
- The game fills the same niche as Fiasco, but is really very different in play and feel, though it may look similar on the surface. We had a bit of a disconnect here, and went into the game expecting a different experience. As one player pointed out, FiascoÂ is a game for actors, and DoÂ is a game for writers.
- This is a story game, not a roleplaying game, and that was another bit of a disconnect. There is less immersion in this game, as you take a step back from character to write the action, rather than stepping into the character to play the action.
- It’s good to have some familiarity with the source material. This is a quirky, light-hearted game, and needs the right mindset for play. It took us a little while to get into this.
- It would be helpful to scale the timing of the endgame for the number of goal words in the letter and the number of players. With only ten goal words and five players, there is no tension, no pressure, no reason not to play very easy and safe. I would recommend choosing letters with at least three goal words per player, or call the end game at a smaller number of stones.
- If, like me, your handwriting sucks, it’s not a bad idea to appoint a scribe for the session – someone with legible penmanship5. One of the cool aspects of the game is the creation of the physical artifact of the journal, and the nicer it looks, the cooler it is6.
As I said, we had fun, once we got past our mismatched expectations. I hope to work it into the schedule again soon, because I think that it’ll run smoother and more coherently with more experience.
- Yeah, I know, when you need 20 each white and black stones, 12 each white and black dice aren’t enough. Somehow, I had overlooked that.
- They were flat and about an inch across. Made it difficult to mix them in the bag and to draw them. The store had some of the smaller, bead-like stones, but they were all the same blue colour.
- With a little bit of editing for clarity and tense as I type it in. What can I say? It’s a sickness.
- The goal word here was vain. There was some discussion of whether vanityÂ as a noun was acceptable, but as Clint pointed out, this is a game about writing and words, and if we can’t use a little word-play, we’re kind of missing the point.
- Or in the case of Sandy in my group, beautiful penmanship.
- Sandy even added some little doodles.