Posted on August 10, 2011 by spikexan
Available at RPGNow.com
Daniel Solis’ Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a different type of game for me to review. It’s not the kind of game I would pick up on my own. This isn’t to say I am against indie games because, well, I have dozens of examples to the contrary. No, the genre just isn’t that interesting to me and I know my gaming group mostly wouldn’t get behind the concept.
With that said, the book really won me over (can’t make a claim to my gaming group though). There are three key elements to this clever game that make it intriguing and full of potential for gamers and, more importantly, young gamers. We’ll go over those elements (maybe two more) and I’ll show you why this is exactly the kind of game I’d play with my son (he’s seven or, as he’s say, seven and a half).
The idea of a wandering pilgrim is attractive even when laced in an anime dressing (not my thing). Such an overused concept alone would doom this game; however, Solis introduces a world of, well, worlds upon worlds. Worlds upon the backs of fish float by worlds small enough to be unknowingly devoured by said fish. The characters are pilgrims answering the calls (letters actually) of those in need of help. Help may mean something simple (find my mother’s engagement ring) to complicated (save my mother from the belly of a giant planet-eating turtle).
I like this setting; furthermore, I like the pilgrims that players take. These are heroes with enough trouble of their own to keep them busy, not to mention the troubles of the people they seek to help.
The artwork to the game is hand’s down the best I’ve seen so far in 2011. It feels a bit like the cover artwork to Vertigo-DC’s Fables line. Every page (full-color) is richly covered in whimsical, dreamy artwork (not the usual Artwork Deemed To Melt The Human Mind I generally review here). The attention to detail is wonderful. Great, great artwork. The icons used throughout the book to detail game play are also just fantastic.
The final element that makes this game a winner is it’s aim at younger gamers. I enjoy gaming with my son (my two-year-old daughter just like chucking dice). Most of the games on my bookshelf, however, are not for a young boy. Yes, I could take any game and “lighten” it for his benefit, but that just defeats the game design. Sorry, but Unknown Armies isn’t really intended for the pre-tween crowd. This game is aimed at younger gamers who incidentally turn into fellow adult gamers. My son like Avatar and initially thought this game was a RPG based on that license (and it wouldn’t be impossible to transfer either).
Some other coolness this game offers is letter writing. Pilgrims receive letters that detail their assignments. There are lots of pre-printed ones in the book, but the real fun is creating your own. Not only does it become a fun exercise to write in the mind of a NPC (we usually limit ourselves to just talking like them), but the end result becomes a keepsake for those Game Masters who keep Every Little Thing from their games for scrapbooking. These letters have in-game mechanics tied into them as well, just to make them even more useful.
The character sheet is a nifty little design based on the idea that it is your passport. I’d personally like to see this type of passport used here because right on the sheet it tells you how the character gets into trouble. How helpful would that be for a customs agent? The character sheet helps keep track of your letters and destinies (always an important part to any great character).
The game requires using stones or coins to help tell the Pilgrims’ stories. Choices with the stones get tied up in the Pilgrims’ destinies. It may seem a bit strange, but it works for this lighter setting.
Yeah, so this game truly caught me off-guard. I may not fully get what Solis’ design ideas were in its creation, but I like what I do get. This is the kind of game that lets a group of friends tell a collaborative story (and rewards such) while getting to enjoy helping others and bettering the characters. Great stuff.
Review by Todd Cash