Review: Do – Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

This isn’t going to be that much of a review since we just finished playing and it’s not long until midnight. However…

Do is a simple story-telling game for 3-5 players where you take on the part of a gang of Pilgrims. The Flying Temple lies at the centre of a massive universe of floating planets, each different, each special and all contained within a great sphere of air and light. Pilgrims fly from world to world solving problems for people and getting into terrible scrapes along the way.

As a Pilgrim you’re one part Santa Claus, one part Buddhist monk and one part natural disaster, all rolled into one.

Characters are defined by their names, which form two traits one of which describes how you (usually) get into trouble and one describing how you (usually) help people.

My character was Pilgrim Oblivious Locks, he got into trouble by failing to pay attention and not noticing things, he solved problems with his magical, long, flowing hair.

You play the game by taking it in turns to draw beads from a bag. There are twenty black and twenty white (or you can use other colours so long as there are two different ones) and depending what combination you draw and whether you’re in trouble or not determines what happens. The players whose turn it isn’t are called the ‘troublemakers’ and determine what goes wrong for you – if you get into trouble.

Letters from people seeking help give you keywords and these are worked into your story as you go along to solve the problem. You fail if you get too many beads before all the keywords have been dealt with, otherwise you win, huzzah!

Between letters you can change your name and thus how you help and/or how you get into trouble. Oblivious Locks, for example, became Lusty Locks after one adventure and a regrettable flashing incident at the village square.

Lastly, when you decide to finish your pilgrimage one of three things can happen depending how you conducted yourself and the balance of the beads. You can either return to the temple and a life of service and contemplation, you can vanish into the world and settle on one of the planets, or you can transcend and become something more or other.

We had some of each in our games.

Is it a good game? Yes, but it works better as a sort of creative exercise amongst friends. I suspect the real pleasure can and will come in writing up the adventures ‘properly’ from the game notes. We had fun tangling ideas and making a narrative together but it’s much more stilted than an RPG and much more vague. Determining what is acceptable or not in someone’s turn is much more about other people’s ideas than rules and dice and, thus, is a subjective judgement. Something that can become hurtful and problematic if people disagree or don’t like each other’s concepts.

The art in the book is fantastic and inspiring, really brings across the feel of the game.

Some of the included letters are charming or interesting, all show the scope of the potentiality of the game world but some are more than a little… well, pretentious or anachronistic compared to the overall presentation of the work. That’s the only real fly in the ointment of an otherwise very agreeable game.

Style: 5 (Near as damn to perfect).
Substance: 3 (It’s a light game, but there’s still a bit of a consistency issue in the letters).
Overall: 4 (Enjoyable, but there’s definite potential for hurt feelings and disagreements).
Verdict: Small-group filler game, great fun with the right people. Trust and creativity are important though it’s simple enough that anyone can do it.

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