Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/07/20/tabletop-review-do-the-book-of-letters/
Do: The Book of Letters is, as one might guess, an expansion set to Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, and as one might also guess, is mostly a book full of new letters for your pilgrims to answer. For those who might have missed it, you can check out my review of the original book here, so you can get up to speed on what’s going on. Now, the original book comes equipped with sixteen letters, ready to be answered, as well as a basic idea of how players can make their own letters. However, as noted in the review, only one letter in the book can be considered an introductory letter, or a letter that gives the players an easier time of success than the rest; the first letter in the book only uses ten Goal Words, allowing starting players an easy time of learning the ropes, while the rest of the letters jump immediately to twenty. Now, whether you use all of the Goal Words or not, you’ll still progress forward with your character in some way, and failing to resolve the conflict of a particular world isn’t the end of the game, but that difficulty jump could be problematic to younger players who want to win at first, especially if they’re not very good at adapting to the strategy of the game and don’t want to spend the whole game in trouble. The Book of Letters is a supplement that corrects this issue with the core game in two ways: it offers several more pre-made letters for players to use in their games of variable difficulty, and it also offers a good bit more advice on letter creation for players to work with when making their own letters.
The book itself only contains two chapters, “More Letters to the Temple” and “Writing Letters”. “More Letters to the Temple”, as one might guess, is a collection of new letters for your pilgrims to answer in their travels. You’re given a total of twenty-eight letters to work with, though this time, the spread of the letter difficulty is a bit more diverse. You’re given six letters that contain ten Goal Words, twelve letters that contain fifteen goal words, eight letters that contain twenty Goal Words… and two letters that contain no Goal Words at all. The twenty six letters that contain Goal Words are meant to be Easy, Medium and Hard letters to complete, respectively, giving players the opportunity to ease into the complexities of the game more easily than the letters in the core book allow. The last two letters, however, are meant as practice for aspiring letter writers; the point, in this case, is for the players to choose the goal words for the letters, allowing them to get in some good practice at choosing Goal Words before they really get into making letters of their own.
The second chapter, “Writing Letters”, is exactly what it sounds like: a chapter devoted to helping players create their own letters for the pilgrims to follow. It gives you the basic tools you need to create letters, from the questions you should be asking before writing your letter and choosing your Goal Words, to more specific advice about how to go about crafting a letter and the world the writer might live in. Some more depth is also added to the world of Do in this chapter, filling in information on the various sorts of inhabitants that exist beyond the worlds themselves, in the skies between worlds and in the heavens above, giving creators more information to use, as well as some good starting points on how to create elements to be added to the world itself. The chapter also lists several basic concepts that fans have provided the creator that were taken from popular culture, like E.T., Beetlejuice, Pitch Black and what looks to be reverse versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, among others. The letters themselves aren’t included in the game book, though, as this is meant more as a way to help you get started making your own letters by expressing that you could make, say, “Ran off with princess to escape evil suitor. We are in love. Stuck in swamp. Please help us survive flame jets and giant rats” into a feasible letter for your campaign.
The Book of Letters basically feels like the Storytellers Guides White Wolf markets for their World of Darkness games, in that it’s one part a supplement to the game that adds additional content to the experience and one part a guide on how to make more content for the aspiring creator. As an addition to Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, it’s a fine one, both due to its inexpensive price and the volume of content included in the book for running and creating new letters for your pilgrims. The expansion is as well written as the first, and features lots of cute illustrations that add personality to the letters your pilgrims receive, while also helping to establish the worlds they’ll be visiting. If you’re pretty comfortable with the idea of writing letters for your pilgrims to follow, mind you, this might not be something you’ll need to pick up, as that’s essentially all it deals with, but for the creator who could use some help or the player who just wants some new pre-made letters to work with, The Book of Letters is a cheap and worthwhile addition to the main game that players should have a lot of fun with.