The Podge Cast plays Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

Just got done listening to a heeee-larious episode of the Podge Cast where the hosts play a raucous game of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Pilgrims Tasty Sandwich, Moist Raptor, Turbulent River and Slippery Ladder cause all sorts of mayhem when they're called to deal with robots, family problems and a secret weapon called "The Mangler." It's got explicit language and imagery, but it is a heee-larious session.

What's really intriguing to me is how they approach the game as being about "the worst angels ever," which is actually really accurate. I mean, when half the problems feature a machine called "The Mangler," you know why the pilgrims have a reputation as a solution of last resort.

The highlight has gotta be at the end of the game when they realize that after all the chaos they caused, they still got a Parades ending. The whole thing is very funny, though. Megan and I were laughing the whole way through.

Listen with caution if you're around kids. The players use explicit language and imagery in their story that may not be suitable for younger listeners. Listen and laugh with headphones on.

» The Podge Cast: RPC 113 Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the cross pimpage!

    This has become my go-to game for shaking things up with a gaming group. Everybody always seems surprised by the insanity that we build together - it really puts a magnifying glass on stories as a living thing, so I hope it will make my group a little looser and more willing to take risks.

    I'm also kicking around the idea of using Do to collaboratively generate a setting with back-story for RPG's in a quick and fun way. I'm really looking forward to the official release.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm definitely interested in hearing more about your past experiences with Do. Any advice you'd give to other players in particular? That's mostly what the official release is focusing on: The basic rules are all out there for everyone to see, but the advice, guidelines and thorough examples of play are what make the book valuable.

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  3. I've only played a handful of times now, but the obvious things that emerge: the importance of the letter, the the goal words, and your trouble/help triggers.

    The way the first or second Pilgrim gets into trouble seems to define the game rather strongly. And whatever the Troublemakers perceive as the character or group in the letter as most malleable, that's generally where events immediately go.

    In Once Upon a Time, for example, the malleable entity is the kingdom's people. I'm trying to write my own letters now, and I'd like to see what happens when I leave the most malleable characters out of the Goal Words, as well as when I feature them. It seems like a lot of the game's potential and flexibility resides in exactly how much the Goal Words represent the letter and how that guides people's choices. The more focused and relevant the Goal Words, the more controlled the experience. Goal Words that are too far removed or just way too specific can be strangely awkward to include. This seems to code more "difficulty" into a letter.

    Choosing potent trouble/help triggers for your Pilgrim seems to be the most essential part of the engine, particularly trouble-triggers. In order to help people, your Pilgrim generally must be proactive, but you can get into trouble in a lot of different ways. "Pilgrim Squishy Octopus gets in trouble by being indecisive," is a magnet for those malleable entities in the story. The Pilgrim shines less, but it can allow the Troublemakers to build up the persona of characters in the world. That's because indecision lacks action and that encourages players to generate a reaction from the world.

    "Pilgrim Turbulent River gets in trouble by arguing" is an example of a proactive event, but also encourages authorship of a reaction - because you need somebody with whom to argue.

    Pilgrim Slippery Ladder's set up really avoids reactions, but falling is dramatic, so it can heavily impact the scene. It's also generally clear why falling is troublesome. It's a strong-but-dumb trigger. Alternately, equally simple but naturally less dramatic triggers, such as, "Pilgrim Sloshy Boot gets in trouble by drinking," can bring reaction back into the equation. The way that drinking gets you in trouble is a lot less clear, so it's a more interesting impetus for conflict.

    Strong-but-"dumb" triggers make for flashy and fun games. Even very simple triggers can be subtler by requiring explanation and reactions - and this can be very satisfying.

    I think I'll have to play more before I have insight into help-triggers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, this is great, great stuff. Okay, lemme ask you one more question. I am trying to decide whether I should include advice like this right alongside the step-by-step instructions.

    Pro: The chapter will be a teaching text, with plenty of thorough advice right up front.

    Con: It might be overloading the player who is just learning the game.

    You guys seemed to handle the game alright without much in the way of even an example of play, so I'm curious about your opinion on the matter. Should the advice be paired with instruction or should it be a separate chapter?

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  5. Hmmm, I dunno. I like the method you showed in your Presenting Emergent Play post. But because Do is so simple, my natural reaction is to have an After You've Played/Advanced chapter. That way, you could have two or more contrasting opinions right next to each other and readers would be able to decide which one was true for them and why - instead of artificially choosing which one sounds right and then aiming their play that way.

    I like the availability of contrasting thoughts, and if you're putting them alongside the instructions, you're tasked with honing it down to the most universal items and things that make sense without having played it. I'm actually all for that, but I think the most enjoyable advice is going to be weightier stuff that is not obvious or not even always right.

    I guess that sounds like I'm recommending both, but that includes the thought to go very light and simple on the advice in the instructions - something that could be integrated at that point. Meaning that you don't really increase your page count for the rules proper, you just have to squeeze in two or three little blurbs, and then save everything that's more involved for an advice chapter.

    I don't think you could go wrong either way, honestly. But I think some games benefit from holding your hand, and other games actually suffer. Even if it's "optional," if you put the advice text on the same page, people are going to read it. I guess you just have to decide which game Do is. Will it benefit, suffer, or have no real effect if you hold people's hands through their first time? Even though it depends on the specific advice, my guess is that it's so simple and so driven by personal creativity and interaction that you should let people discover. So I would throw all the theory, letter-writing tutorials, or whatever into its own chapter.

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  6. Okay, I decided to split up the instructions and advice. Thanks for your thoughts, it really helps. :D

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  7. By the way, I'd love to take a look at your letters when you get them more polished. :)

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  8. The only one I have fully completed is for a game of Do I "hacked" to seed a Mouse Guard game: an apprentice apiarist whose mother has gone missing under troubling circumstances.

    It was hilarious when we played it because one of the Pilgrim-Guard-Mice got in trouble by overindulging and helped by making difficult decisions (chosen entirely independent of the letter). He spent almost the entire game pigging out on honey and then making the difficult decision to pry himself away, only to return. I think we all learned a valuable lesson about authority figures with addictions.

    I'll clean it up for standard Pilgrim play and send it to you with some others.

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  9. I'd love to post it in its original format here on the blog as an example of using the letters in different games. The trope of "helpless villagers asking the protagonists for help" is common enough that it would work with any "wandering adventurer" story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The only one I have fully completed is for a game of Do I "hacked" to seed a Mouse Guard game: an apprentice apiarist whose mother has gone missing under troubling circumstances.

    It was hilarious when we played it because one of the Pilgrim-Guard-Mice got in trouble by overindulging and helped by making difficult decisions (chosen entirely independent of the letter). He spent almost the entire game pigging out on honey and then making the difficult decision to pry himself away, only to return. I think we all learned a valuable lesson about authority figures with addictions.

    I'll clean it up for standard Pilgrim play and send it to you with some others.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hmmm, I dunno. I like the method you showed in your Presenting Emergent Play post. But because Do is so simple, my natural reaction is to have an After You've Played/Advanced chapter. That way, you could have two or more contrasting opinions right next to each other and readers would be able to decide which one was true for them and why - instead of artificially choosing which one sounds right and then aiming their play that way.

    I like the availability of contrasting thoughts, and if you're putting them alongside the instructions, you're tasked with honing it down to the most universal items and things that make sense without having played it. I'm actually all for that, but I think the most enjoyable advice is going to be weightier stuff that is not obvious or not even always right.

    I guess that sounds like I'm recommending both, but that includes the thought to go very light and simple on the advice in the instructions - something that could be integrated at that point. Meaning that you don't really increase your page count for the rules proper, you just have to squeeze in two or three little blurbs, and then save everything that's more involved for an advice chapter.

    I don't think you could go wrong either way, honestly. But I think some games benefit from holding your hand, and other games actually suffer. Even if it's "optional," if you put the advice text on the same page, people are going to read it. I guess you just have to decide which game Do is. Will it benefit, suffer, or have no real effect if you hold people's hands through their first time? Even though it depends on the specific advice, my guess is that it's so simple and so driven by personal creativity and interaction that you should let people discover. So I would throw all the theory, letter-writing tutorials, or whatever into its own chapter.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've only played a handful of times now, but the obvious things that emerge: the importance of the letter, the the goal words, and your trouble/help triggers.

    The way the first or second Pilgrim gets into trouble seems to define the game rather strongly. And whatever the Troublemakers perceive as the character or group in the letter as most malleable, that's generally where events immediately go.

    In Once Upon a Time, for example, the malleable entity is the kingdom's people. I'm trying to write my own letters now, and I'd like to see what happens when I leave the most malleable characters out of the Goal Words, as well as when I feature them. It seems like a lot of the game's potential and flexibility resides in exactly how much the Goal Words represent the letter and how that guides people's choices. The more focused and relevant the Goal Words, the more controlled the experience. Goal Words that are too far removed or just way too specific can be strangely awkward to include. This seems to code more "difficulty" into a letter.

    Choosing potent trouble/help triggers for your Pilgrim seems to be the most essential part of the engine, particularly trouble-triggers. In order to help people, your Pilgrim generally must be proactive, but you can get into trouble in a lot of different ways. "Pilgrim Squishy Octopus gets in trouble by being indecisive," is a magnet for those malleable entities in the story. The Pilgrim shines less, but it can allow the Troublemakers to build up the persona of characters in the world. That's because indecision lacks action and that encourages players to generate a reaction from the world.

    "Pilgrim Turbulent River gets in trouble by arguing" is an example of a proactive event, but also encourages authorship of a reaction - because you need somebody with whom to argue.

    Pilgrim Slippery Ladder's set up really avoids reactions, but falling is dramatic, so it can heavily impact the scene. It's also generally clear why falling is troublesome. It's a strong-but-dumb trigger. Alternately, equally simple but naturally less dramatic triggers, such as, "Pilgrim Sloshy Boot gets in trouble by drinking," can bring reaction back into the equation. The way that drinking gets you in trouble is a lot less clear, so it's a more interesting impetus for conflict.

    Strong-but-"dumb" triggers make for flashy and fun games. Even very simple triggers can be subtler by requiring explanation and reactions - and this can be very satisfying.

    I think I'll have to play more before I have insight into help-triggers.

    ReplyDelete

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.