Review: ‘Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple’

do

I’ve reviewed Daniel Solis’ excellent storytelling game, Happy Birthday, Robot! elsewhere on this blog, but he’s most famous for his charming family-friendly RPG Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. A FATE edition, Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, has recently been released, and Solis has produced an enviable number of tabletop and card games, as well as making some pretty great statements on inclusive art direction in his games. I pretty much want to read everything he’s ever written now! But for now, I’m reading Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, a gentle fantasy game with easy-to-grasp mechanics that don’t lack for depth, inspired by the wondrous tone of adventure stories like Avatar: the Last Airbender.

Do is set in a world without gravity, filled with islands floating through wide skies. The players are Pilgrims who live at the Flying Temple, a place at the centre of the universe where people who are in trouble send letters asking for help. It is the job of the characters to go out and right whatever problem is in the letter, whether it’s a birthday party that’s going wrong or a dragon trying to destroy a village. These quests are pilgrimages that all pilgrims undertake to prove that they are ready to take on the life of a monk at the Flying Temple. The game is designed for people of ages 12 and up, with little to no violence and play steering clear of upsetting themes outside those found in a kids’ TV show. This is a game where the Power of Friendship is a legit way to solve problems.

There are a range of pre-written letters in Chapter 2 that range from short and simple to longer and more complicated, plus a handy guide for creating your own letters. If you’re still stuck for ideas, a spin-off book, The Book of Letters, has been produced that is stuffed with flavourful adventure seeds. Because of the improvisational nature of Do, the GM comes up with a letter and 10-20 ‘goal words’ and then the story goes its own way, so it’s very low-prep.

It also has a very tactile quality – the stones in the bag used for mechanical resolution, and the unique trinket that represents your character’s ‘trouble’.

The design of Do is superb and the artwork is dreamy and imaginative, effectively capturing the spirit of innocent adventure that the game evokes. For a world that is so distinctive, it makes a big difference to have a visual reference. The book itself could theoretically be a lot shorter, as there are lots of pre-written letters with goal words and . If I was going to level a single criticism at this game, it would be that it’s a little front-loaded. The rules are well-explained, giving a brief summary to start with and more in-depth exploration later, and it’s very accessible, but there is a lengthy section on the flora and fauna of the worlds at the beginning that feels like it could have gone elsewhere, and it does slow the introductory chapter down a bit. However, that’s a very small quibble. Everything in this book, even the Kickstarter credits at the end (which are delightful and well worth reading), is thoughtfully written and flavourful.

If you’re looking for something simple and lovely as a refreshing experience, or wanting to progress someone from Happy Birthday, Robot! to something with more complex mechanics and character-driven storytelling, you can’t go far wrong with Do. Experienced roleplayers will probably find the game a little simple, which is totally fine, as it does what it sets out to do.I will be looking into the FATE version for a more traditional roleplaying experience in the same world, but for a charming experience that makes the world a little brighter, give Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple a look.

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