Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › What We Played: A cabbage-friendly park and a candy prison (Do: Pilgrims of

What We Played: A cabbage-friendly park and a candy prison (Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple)

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sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
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Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a slapstick fantasy storytelling game. Players each control a "pilgrim" with a particular talent for getting in trouble. The pilgrims travel across a silly universe, helping people who'd been desperate enough to write to the Flying Temple to ask for help. The gameplay results in an actual written story (though rather shorn of detail, as we played it), which I've transcribed here with varying degrees of fidelity.

Cast of Characters:

  • Pilgrim Dreamy Thumb (Laura), who gets into trouble by daydreaming, and helps people by causing plants to grow or follow her around.
  • Pilgrim Enthusiastic Spike (Cheryl), who gets into trouble by overdoing things, and helps people by speaking sharply.
  • Pilgrim Tender Breeze (Martin), who gets into trouble with her need to please everybody, and helps people by moving quite rapidly.
  • Pilgrim Warm Python (Dave), who gets into trouble by forming fast friendships with bad people, and helps people by holding tightly & never letting go.

The Pilgrims set out from the Temple to answer a plea for help sent by one Hazel Harrington, chief mechanic of an amusement park who's just contracted to become the universe's first "Cabbage-Friendly" park ... only to have the Coleslaw Front threaten retaliatory mayhem.

(my goodness, I didn't realize how much text we'd generated until I typed it up. I moved the full transcript of what we wrote over here, and put my mad summary skills to work here instead.)

Pilgrim Enthusiastic Spike gets off to a bad start, locked in the park's Junior Executive Bathroom after having yelled at the park's chief mechanic.

Pilgrim Tender Breeze seeks out the Coleslaw Front and attempts to mediate their argument with the six-foot-tall talking sky cabbages, only to find herself trapped in a neverending debate. She is rescued by Pilgrim Dreamy Thumb, who wanders off with the cabbage -- right into Scatterbones Alley, also known as "the bad part of town." Tender Breeze must then return the favor of rescue, and the two pilgrims and their new cabbage friend all retreat to the park.

Meanwhile, Pilgrim Warm Python secures Enthusiastic Spike's release, so E.S. can hold a fundraising bake sale to raise cash to hire more security for the park. When she finds herself buried under a mountain of cupcakes, she uses her own uncanny shout to shiver the cupcakes into crumbs so she can get herself out.

Inspired, Warm Python intervenes with the Scatterbones Alley muggers, who'd been planning on getting up in Tender Breeze's face for depriving them of their giant cabbage. Instead, he convinces them to come to the park and offer up their goony skills as guards. They're so enthusiastic they drag Warm Python onto the rides with them.

Dreamy Thumb and Tender Breeze test the rides to make sure they're cabbage-safe (attracting more of Hazel's ire in the process) and Warm Python explains to George that the contract he signed with the cabbage requires him to cover security costs, even if the security the Pilgrims found for him are really just muggers jumping the queue. As they're wrapping up, Dreamy Thumb is kidnapped by the Coleslaw Front! With a *net*!


Epilogue:
Pilgrim Enthusiastic Spike uses all the proceeds of her bake sale to pay off the thousand thugs, who admit that the baked goods would have been a sufficient bribe to keep them from assaulting the park. Pilgrim Tender Breeze eats vast quantities of free cotton candy and gets very sick. Pilgrim Dreamy Thumb wanders off from the Coleslaw Front jail, leaving a bouquet for her gracious hosts (she didn't even really notice that she'd been incarcerated). Pilgrim Warm Python founded an orphanage for lost cabbages, and found a magic broom.

Having succeeded at helping Hazel, the Pilgrims update their names to reflect their self-growth before moving on to the next letter.

Tender Breeze becomes Pilgrim Tender Gust, who helps people by something that resembles hyperactivity, only it's even faster. Enthusiastic Spike becomes Pilgrim Enthusiastic Cactus, who helps people by surviving extremes. Dreamy Thumb becomes Pilgrim Vision Thumb, who gets into trouble by focusing too hard on one thing. And Warm Python becomes Burning Python, but stays behind to run the cabbage orphanage (because his player had to go home).

(To be continued! In the next post, you'll see the story that spawned "Wrong place, wrong time, wrong floral arrangement." as well as "Only *you* can prevent florist fires.")
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
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And with that, they move on to the next letter: Henry Clarkson writes because his wife, Claire, has been thrown into prison for stealing from her employer. The letter is sparse with setting details, so the players do a quick scene-setting: Claire's employer is "Death By Chocolate," a candy factory, and Dulac Penitentiary is made entirely of sweets. (full transcript)

The pilgrims discover that the prisoners have only candy to eat. While Enthusiastic Cactus and Vision Thumb race about, providing apples to the inmates, Tender Gust fends off an irate warden and discovers that Claire has been carrying on a love affair within the prison, with a fellow inmate named Juan.

Tender Gust has her hands full breaking the news to Henry over root beer (it's candyland, of course you can get drunk on root beer) and fending off his subsequent amorous advances.

Not realizing that Claire would be happier staying in the prison -- especially when the pilgrims are making it a more comfortable place to stay -- Enthusiastic Cactus convinces Claire's employers, "Death by Chocolate," that they need her skills. Once her friends set her straight (via their magic walkie-talkies: a set of wooden cups, each with a wind elemental installed inside) Enthusiastic Cactus then must convince Death by Chocolate *not* to immediately storm the prison, so she has time to warn them. She then panics the penitentiary by announcing the impending invasion.

Inspired by tales of romance, Vision Thumbs covers the prison in roses. Unfortunately, she is swallowed by the flower-eating whale the pile of roses attracts. While she manages to generate enough pollen to force the whale to sneeze her back out again, her money-pouch and half her seed stash goes missing.

Once Enthusiastic Cactus frees Tender Gust from Henry's clutches, Tender Gust convinces the entire penitentiary, along with the whale, to help seek out Vision Thumbs' missing stash. In the end, Vision Thumbs grows a rose bush that encases the prison in thorns, providing protection from Death by Chocolate.

Pilgrim Enthusiastic Cactus encourages Claire to start a mail-order candied rose business. She becomes "Pilgrim Collecting Cactus," who gets into trouble via over-enthusiastic collecting.

Pilgrim Tender Gust is invited to Claire and Juan's wedding, but must decline and move on. She becomes Pilgrim Tender Tornado, helping people by doing seven things at once.

Pilgrim Vision Thumb made friends with the rose-eating whale and they exchanged scrapbooks. She becomes Pilgrim Vision Whale, helping people by imitating beautiful whale songs.

Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 205
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What did you guys think of the game mechanics? Did it flow, or did it feel like you were just taking turns writing a story?

(I haven't read Do yet, so I have no clue how it works)
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
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A little of both. The mechanics definitely constrain you to a handful of points set out at the very start ("use these words, this many times"), but everything else was so undefined I mostly didn't feel railroaded. (for instance, in the second game, we invented all the candy-related stuff, and we played a lot with the idea that all the information set out at the start was filtered through a single NPC individual, whose perceptions are not guaranteed to be accurate.)

We also bent the "...write a sentence..." part of the rules to be, describe something you can encapsulate in a sentence, which gave us a bit more room to play. I noticed when I was transcribing that the motivations for later actions weren't always contained in the sentences we'd written down earlier, so we definitely had a better story told at the table than the one that ended up in the written artifact.
Ross Cowman
user 17338351
Olympia, WA
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We played this at the last SG Oly mtg. These are my issues.

-The mechanics are a closed loop. What you write has no effect on them. You could play through the whole game just by taking turns drawing stones and crossing off works from the list.

-There is no character interaction. Don't even try to have your pilgrim get another pilgrim out of trouble. You'll break the game.

-Writing everything down takes 4-ever. I could not imaging sitting through a 4 player game of this.

on the plus side the letters are fun to read and the art work is gorgeous, and the stones mechanic is fun. Still, I am a little flabbergasted that no one told Daniel about the problems with his game. They would be pretty easy to fix.
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
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Interesting. Getting other pilgrims out of trouble was something we did just about every round (except for poor Martin who eventually pointed out, "I never get rescued!")

And the writing-everything-down part (or in our case, writing much-of-it-down) was easier with four players -- that way one person could write what had just happened while the other two troublemakers work with the current player on what happens next. (there's something in the Advice section of the book about doing it that way, but it didn't work as well with the three-player game. There was a little bit of "wait wait let me finish writing this because I want to participate in this conversation...")

I'm not sure what the story having an effect on the game mechanics would look like -- can you talk more about that?

After chewing on it for a week, my big disappointment was that the character development seems forced and awkward, and the basic definition of a pilgrim (means well, gets in trouble) feels like a straitjacket and interferes with my ability to find the characters interesting. I would totally play this with kids, and maybe with somebody who feels a strong need for the game to produce a physical artifact (the sort who wonders, why don't I get a character sheet to show off?). I don't think it'll ever be a go-to game for me with adults.
Ross Cowman
user 17338351
Olympia, WA
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on trouble-
I'm talking about getting other pilgrims out of trouble on your turn. then when it is they're turn, mechanically they're supposed to be in trouble, but in the story they're not. Is that what you were doing?

writing stuff down-
cool, I can see how that would work better. I think you had the right idea about talking out loud then writing a little summary, for me I would just hear people talk through their ideas.

for the mechanics,
so each turn I draw some stones, then choose between a couple of options, then based off of those options, I cross off a word (or don't) and I get into (or out of) trouble. then, after all of that is decided, I write a sentence about what just happened.
So what I write has no mechanical impact. In fact, I could play through the entire game start to finish with out writing a single word. What you choose to make up, matters less in the outcome of the story, then your understanding of how to manipulate the mechanics.

If I play this game again, I'm going to try they way you did it, I still think its a fun game, I just don't think its done yet.



sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 6
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on trouble-
I'm talking about getting other pilgrims out of trouble on your turn. then when it is they're turn, mechanically they're supposed to be in trouble, but in the story they're not. Is that what you were doing?
Why mechanically are they supposed to be in trouble? I feel like I'm missing something.

The "how to play" chapter says, in each case where your pilgrim might rescue someone: "If rescuing a pilgrim, remove their trouble token from their passport after you write the sentence. That pilgrim is now out of trouble." This direction is omitted on the quick play & reference sheet; is this the problem?

writing stuff down-
cool, I can see how that would work better. I think you had the right idea about talking out loud then writing a little summary, for me I would just hear people talk through their ideas.
And we totally bent the rules on that. Otherwise the game becomes a writing exercise, which would be fine if I were playing with ten-year-olds who were looking to improve their skills at constructing sentences or narratives.

for the mechanics,
so each turn I draw some stones, then choose between a couple of options, then based off of those options, I cross off a word (or don't) and I get into (or out of) trouble. then, after all of that is decided, I write a sentence about what just happened.
So what I right has no mechanical impact. In fact, I could play through the entire game start to finish with out writing a single word. What you choose to make up, matters less in the outcome of the story, then your understanding of how to manipulate the mechanics.

I guess I'm still fuzzy on how that's different from anything else I've played in the last month. Can you give an example of something in contrast? I can't tell if I'm not understanding you, or if you're referencing some aspect of the story-gaming experience I just haven't seen yet.
Ross Cowman
user 17338351
Olympia, WA
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aha, I missed that part of the rules. That is better.

As for the mechanics, i'll refer you to this article by vincent baker

http://www.lumpley.co...­

so my assertion is that in the game the arrows are going from the boxes back to the boxes, and from the boxes to the cloud, but never from the cloud to the boxes.

At no point in the game, even when you say you are rescuing someone and take their trouble token, it dosen't really matter to the mechanics because they form a closed loop.

sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 7
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aha, I missed that part of the rules. That is better.

As for the mechanics, i'll refer you to this article by vincent baker

http://www.lumpley.co...­

so my assertion is that in the game the arrows are going from the boxes back to the boxes, and from the boxes to the cloud, but never from the cloud to the boxes.

At no point in the game, even when you say you are rescuing someone and take their trouble token, it dosen't really matter to the mechanics because they form a closed loop.


a-hah! what a great page full of examples and explanation. :) I think I understand what you're saying, now.

I'd say that the trouble token moving around is the one example in Do of the story-drives-mechanics case, because the meanings of the stones are different depending on whether the pilgrim is in trouble. But I'd agree that that's small in comparison with the whole rest of the structure of the game. It's fairly *central* -- trouble being one of the most important concepts in the game -- but it's a tight, frequent cycle between story & mechanics, rather than an expansive game-moving one.

Somebody else (somewhere I've mislaid) described Do as being a story game for writers, as opposed to others which are for actors. I think you've put your finger on the crux of *why* that is. For me, at least, the story-to-mechanics part of the cycle encourages an immersion I found harder to get in this game.
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