Hypersigil is the embodiment of the will of a chaos magician in a evolving symbol, usually in the form of a story. It is a concept created by comic book writer Grant Morrison and applied in his series The Invisibles.
Inspired by that idea, I decided to experiment with the notion of a “hyperservitor”, a servitor that evolves over time.
The difference between a servitor and a sigil is that the latter is a representation of a specific want of an individual whereas the former is an abstract symbol pointing to a concept that needs to be applied to a situation in order to produce a change in the circumstances involving the matter. Basically, a sigil would be “I will marry X”, and a servitor would be “Marriage”.
The hyperservitor is a game based around the idea of a “thought layer” on top of reality, connected to it by a “Connector”.
The thought layer is the living part of the hyperservitor. It is entirely defined by the Connector. In it, the ideas interact with each other in a logical manner and influence the players in their lives.
The Connector is a document that delineates the hyperservitor. It is divided in three parts: The Rules, the Story and the Challenges.
The rules define what a player must or must not do. Every turn, a player can create a rule, destroy a non-immutable one or make an existing rule immutable.
All forms of behavior that aren’t listed by the rules as forbidden or enforced are allowed in the game.
The Story and the Challenges
The Story exists to guide the player. Every story is made out of conflict and resolution. The player must pass or fail the current challenge, progress the story using its outcome, and then analyze what is the next conflict, what will be the challenge for the next player.
The characters and places of the story aren’t initially owned by anyone (although they might be so eventually if the rules say they are). It is recommended that the players try to keep the anonymity of their contribution to the story.
Anatomy of a turn
A turn starts with the player creating, vetting or immortalizing a rule in the game. Then, if there are any rules that force the player to do something, they must be followed.
After that, the player then has to complete or fail the current challenge. They reflect about its result and the circumstances surrounding it. With their conclusions, they write the next part of the story, resolving a conflict and setting up a new one.
The player describes the next challenge. Then they choose the next player (recommended: use a randomizer) and send the Connector to them. That marks the end of their turn.
Master: A chosen player can take three equal actions during the Rules phase of their turn (i.e. create three new rules, delete or turn three of them into immutable rules). This is made to suit hyperservitors charged with educational intents (e.g. optimizing a course).
Delayed rules: A rule will only take effect or be available to be immortalized after three turns of it being created. This is better for larger groups to prevent anyone trying to exploit the hyperservitor.
I’ve experimented with hyperservitors three times, with one success and two failures. From what I’ve learned, it works best when the idea represented by the game is simple, concrete and agreed upon by all players.
The concept of a hyperservitor should be fully understood by everyone in the group before the game starts. Otherwise, some players will be unsure of what they can or cannot do and their actions will be too stiff for the emergent nature of this technique.
If the Connector is a Microsoft Word document, it is best if everyone can agree on the formatting, so the contributions blend into one another and remain anonymous.
When my experiment succeeded, the result was a dramatic change in the environment around me, which, for the duration of the game, always pointed towards the goal of the hyperservitor, and opened up opportunities for the players.
When it failed, it was generally because of a lack of understanding in regards to the technique, or because of lack of synchronization of the visions of the players about the story.