Just sent the first three chapters of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple to editing. If you’ve followed the development of this game over the years, you’ll notice the biggest change is that there is no character creation. Well, at least not in the form that it once was.
At first, I was trying to emulate the “tutorial” process in Dogs in the Vineyard. Later, I added the relationships from Spirit of the Century. What followed was a very fun process, but one that was rather different from how the game actually played. Also, because I couldn’t find much time to playtest, those precious first hours were occupied with character creation and not the game itself.
I came to terms with the fact that the Do I want to design is a storytelling game, not a role-playing game. I hate disappointing people who hoped for an RPG, but that’s just not where I have fun designing.
So, I am taking all the “tutorial” advice from character creation and putting it elsewhere in the book, mostly in the Example of Play chapter. They’ll be sidebars, commenting on the choices players are making in the running example.
As for the character creation process itself, that will be its own game with a different skin. The basic procedures will be the same, but with a new theme. For more on that, look for posts about Galaxy Camp in coming weeks. Actually, it may not even be called a game. More of an activity. Semantics. 😛
What character creation remains in Do? For now, it’s just creating your pilgrim’s name and interpreting what it means. It is not its own chapter. Rather, it is simply part of the steps of preparing for the game, right along side gathering pencils and paper:
Creating a Pilgrim
To create your pilgrim, you will write a sentence about her on a slip of paper called the Passport. Creating your pilgrim is simply a matter of filling in the blanks in this sentence:
Pilgrim (Banner) (Avatar) gets in trouble by _______ and helps people by______.
This sentence describes everything you need to know to get started. Her history can be developed as you tell your story. For now the most important thing is to decide her pilgrim name and what it means.
Step 1: Choose your pilgrim’s Avatar.
Write a noun in the second space of the sentence. The easiest way to pick your pilgrim’s Avatar is to name an object in the room you’re in.
For example: Ryan looks around the room and sees a window. He writes, “Window” in the second space of the sentence.
Step 2: Choose your pilgrim’s Banner.
Write an adjective in the first space of the sentence. The easiest way to pick your pilgrim’s Banner is to describe the previously chosen object in one word.
For example: The window looks cloudy to Ryan, so he writes, “Cloudy” in the first space of the sentence.
Step 3: Describe how your pilgrim gets in trouble.
Using your pilgrim’s banner as inspiration, describe how she gets in trouble. Her banner is a metaphor for some personality quirk or recurring stroke of bad luck that leads her to trouble.
For example: Ryan interprets “Cloudy” to mean that his pilgrim is prone to daydreaming. She is often distracted by flights of fancy. He writes, “daydreaming on the job” in the third space of the sentence.
Step 4: Describe how your pilgrim helps people.
Using your pilgrim’s avatar as inspiration, describe how she helps people. Her avatar is a metaphor for the skills, tools or other abilities that let her help people, including her friends and herself.
For example: Ryan interprets “Window” as an opening in an otherwise solid wall. Using this as a metaphor, he writes, “creating windows of opportunity” in the fourth space of the sentence.
There are also some example pilgrims to choose from, that would look something like these contributions. And that’s it. Hopefully people who enjoyed the former character creation system will still enjoy playing its new incarnation as Galaxy Camp. Meanwhile, Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple can fly or fall on its own terms as its own game.
Update: Dang, a bunch of pop culture pilgrims over here.