Learn to Play
“We are all yoked together” as pairs of connected/corresponding individuals.
Welcome and thank you for being curious about our game! We hope that you will find this game as intriguing and beneficial as we do.
Zyzygy is a new, unique, educational Game that plays with the total content of the human and natural world. It is a Game of clear thinking and productive emotions that requires attentive participation from Players (students) and Masters (teachers), resulting in practical rewards and unexpected insights. This manual explains everything you need to know in order to play a Game of Zyzygy.
Game Play shall be cooperative (non competitive except with yourself), philosophically syncretistic (the talent of merging different ideas so that they are interconnected or yoked together), and heuristic (which requires participating in the discovery of different solutions to the same challenge). Play should also be creative, sincere, emotionally mature, and safe (non judgmental) for everyone. Remember to make Play enjoyable and socially stimulating. Games with discordant, negative, or skeptical conclusions (Explanations) are discouraged. The Players enjoy creative freedom when setting up and playing this Game; however, the Game Structure as outlined here is fixed.
Game Template: You will need a single Game Template to be the skeleton/blueprint of any Game, serving as the game’s starting point and containing all the fundamental information required to play:
- Game Structure: This determines how the players will interact with each other, such as whether they will expand on each other’s ideas or try to contradict them.
- Types of Thinking: This dictates the types of reasoning players should use when structuring their arguments, such as deductive vs. inductive reasoning.
- Domain, Theme, and Explanation: These constrain and direct the boundaries of player discussion for that particular session. The Domain specifies a topic (e.g., Yellowstone National Park), while the theme sets a lens through which players should examine that topic (e.g., conservation), and the Explanation defines an endpoint for that discussion which players should seek (e.g., a cave-painting of wolves).
The Game Template will often be filled in by the Game Master before the game begins, but if desired, the Game Master may quickly negotiate some or all of these aspects with the players before they start. For more explanation about setting up a Game Template, see Section 4 below on game setup or refer to our Glossary of game terms.
Beads and Chalice: You will need a set of Beads for each Player and an extended set for the Game Master. The Beads are the pieces players will use to make their turns while the Chalice is a receptacle to hold remaining beads. Information on the powers of each bed can be found below in Section 7 and Section 8.
Symbols: You will need a single set of Symbols that players can use to play their beads. The standard set of symbols includes nine symbols for each of the four themes; however, many other Symbols can be used and found on the internet, so long as they are drawn from the PUBLIC DOMAIN.
The following symbol sheets for download will get you started! Click to download the PDF; then print out the sheet and cut out the Symbols for game play.
Realizing Doors Template: You will need a single Realizing Doors template to use when completing the game.
Personal Journey Board: You will need a Journey Board for each player where they can keep track of any pertinent information about their past games played, such as number of credits earned. This Journey Board can take any form from a notebook t o a single scrap of paper, so long as the player is able to record their thoughts in it.
Password Chaos Facts: You will need a single set of Password Chaos facts or anomalies that the game master can use in developing questions for password chaos. While there is a standard list of facts suitable for password chaos, you may also substitute any facts you wish in their place.
[Download link for password chaos facts]
Access to Knowledge: Finally, the last thing you will need is access to information via the internet, books, and from personal experience. Feel free to draw upon any and all available resources while playing the game to help bolster your moves.
Setting up a game of Zyzygy requires the following steps:
Step 1: Decide on Players
While Zyzygy can be played with any number of Players, 2-4 is an ideal number when first learning to play. More Players will increases the number of plays in a round and require more time and involvement, so when playing with more than 4 Players, you may wish to consider alternative ways of designating Players:
- Small Group: You could separate Players into small groups of 2-4 and have each group act as a single Player, making a move on their turn by group consensus or by taking turns.
- Large Group: You could designate a large group as a single Player and have them alternate moves with the Game Master via group consensus.
Regardless of the format, Players are encouraged to select Game names that identify themselves during Game Play. These names might describe a player’s character, simply be interesting, or come from a technical term pertaining to their talent or expertise.
Step 2: Decide on a Game Master
Every Game has need of a Master, and choosing one is the first order of business. The Game Master is a guide, referee, and judge. The Master keeps the Game flowing and on course, watches for any missteps, makes final judgment calls, and becomes your Game friend and teacher. Often, the Game Master will be the teacher/game creator; if not, a Game Master may be chosen from among the available players at the start of the game.
Step 3: Decide on a Domain, Theme, and Explanation
Players will need to select a Domain, Theme, and Explanation that facilitates the goals of the particular game session. Think of Zyzygy as a mode of playing with the total contents and values of our cultural and natural world. In this way, the steps you take during game creation essentially set the conditions of minimality; i.e, the boundaries of where that discussion of the cultural and natural world can and will go.
When selecting a Domain, remember that this is the general topic upon which your discussion will focus. It can be as large as the earth itself or as small as a drop of water, with the other elements of the game helping to further condense or expand its contents.
When selecting the Themes, remember that these are the focusing lenses through which the players will engage with the Domain. A game may be played with only one Theme or with several. The Themes are comprised of the four great pillars of humanity: Art, Science, Religion, and Society. More specific subcategories of these Themes may also be selected based on your goals.
When selecting an Explanation, remember that this is both the initial reason for playing the game and the final justification for the game’s content. A well-constructed Explanation frees players to explore various aspects of the Domain and Theme, while still offering a unifying goal which players must fulfill. The Explanation can be a symbol, a statement, a mathematical formula, a musical composition, or another form which may be abstract or concrete. Symbols often work best since they allow the most latitude for player interpretation and creativity.
Often, the Domain, Theme, and Explanation will be chosen during game planning prior to actually playing the game; however, any or all of these may be left up to player selection at the start of the game depending on the game’s goals. Either way, be aware when selecting the Domain, Theme, and Explanation that some topics may be more sensitive than others, so care should be taken in making sure all players will feel comfortable participating. Disparaging or discouraging content should also be avoided since negativity runs counter to Zyzygy’s mission.
Step 4: Decide on a Thinking Mode
Once you know what the game will be about, you need to decide how players will engage with the game throughout the course of play by selecting how you would like them to think. You may select one or more types of thinking based on the sort of discussion you wish to foster and the types of points you want to encourage players to raise. Like the Domain, Theme, and Explanation, you may also choose the types of thinking entirely ahead of time, or allow players the ability to choose at the start of the game.
Step 5: Prepare All Necessary Materials
Finally, the last thing you need to do is make sure you have all of the materials together for the Game Master to run a successful discussion. The most obvious of these are the Board, Beads, and Symbols. You should also make sure you have a list of facts and questions for Password Chaos, as well as blank Player Journey Boards for any player that has not yet started one. While you are free to develop your own variants for any of these components, all of them are available as default templates here for free download so that you can print them out and prepare the board as needed.
Each turn proceeds as follows:
- When it is your turn to make a move, select an available Bead for play from your Bead Chalice.
- Place your chosen Bead on a Symbol to initiate Magic Theatre. Magic Theatre may appear as a picture, video, a passage from a book, or a concept which is verbally delivered illustrating or explaining the content of your move.
- If it is available in the Game Master’s Chalice, you may also select the Earth Bead to augment a move at any time.
- After a move, all Players may engage in an open discussion of the content of the move and its relationship to the Explanation, until everyone has had their say or the Game Master has determined that the discussion is no longer productive.
- After your turn is completed, move your Bead to Limbo and receive a Limbo Fact. Learn it well, for you will be required to show your understanding of it when confronted with Password Chaos.
- When you play the Moon Bead, Password Chaos may appear at the discretion of the Game Master. When it does, all players must answer the question based on a Limbo Fact. If the player who played the Moon Bead answers correctly, they receive an Argot Class Credit, while any other players who answer correctly receive a Credit. At this stage (Instar) there are no consequences for an incorrect answer.
- When you play the Saturn Bead, it closes the Chapter currently being played upon. Then you are required to formulate an Argot. An open discussion ensues to determine whether the Argot satisfactorily summarizes the essence of the Chapter that has just been closed, with final approval left to the Game Master. If you are successful, you receive a Credit, that current Chapter is closed, and the next appears; if you are unsuccessful, your turn ends, the Chapter is not closed, and play continues as normal.
- The Game Master is the first to move. The Players follow. While Players’ moves need not respond directly to the Game Master’s move, they should build productively on any points raised by the Master. All moves are subject to final approval by the Game Master.
- Play continues in this fashion, with each Player and the Game Master taking alternating turns until someone plays a Saturn Bead on the final Chapter (the Explanation) and offers an Argot.
- Once the final Argot of the Triad is approved, all Players move on to the Realizing Doors, where they must engage in personal introspection on which type of thinking/emotions were utilized during Game play. Once each player has succeeded or failed at passing through the Realizing Doors, the Triad concludes.
- Any Player who successfully passes through the Realizing Doors may retrieve their used Beads from Limbo. Players who stumble at the Realizing Doors must leave their Beads in Limbo going into the next Triad, UNLESS Limbo Beads are retrieved by someone magnanimous enough to supply the Credits needed!
- When a Trilathon is being played, repeat Steps 1-4 for the two additional Triad. Before each Triads, a new setup may be desired. In that case the Thinking Mode, type of Game Play, and/or the Themes may be changed; however, the Domain and Explanation remain the same throughout the Trilathon.
- After the third Triad is completed and the Realizing Doors have been negotiated, the Trilathon is complete and the Game ends.
For a slimmer/faster version of Zyzygy, use the above Sequence of Play, but with the following modifications:
- Play only a single Triad instead of three.
- Reclaim all remaining Beads from Limbo at the end of the round with the use of the Sun Bead or the magnanimity (selfless gifts of credit).
Well, finally, here is where the “rubber hits the road”: the Beads! You’re in control—this is your toolbox which allows you to participate, sculpt, investigate, fine-tune, and culminate the Game.
Learn more about the beads’ connections to science and nature in this great documentary from NOVA, The Shape of All Things.
The Sphere = The Saturn Bead
The Saturn/Sphere Bead is the Time Lord of the Beads, the keeper of beginnings and endings, and its function and moves are intertwined. The first move opens the Game, acting as the Ante, and its last move closes it; however, it does not go to Limbo but returns to the Player’s Bead Chalice. During Game Play, it may only be utilized after 2 other Beads have been played. When played it has 3 consequences:
- It ends the Chapter of the Game you are playing in, be it the Domain, Theme or Explanation.
- The symbol it is played upon opens onto a Magic Theatre stage leading to the usual opportunities.
- The third is that an Argot shall be constructed by that player.
The Meander = The Moon Bead
The Moon/Meander Bead is the perfect mediator; its talents include the balancing of extremes and revealing the forms and functions of water wherever it occurs. Moves may only be made when there is a Bead in Limbo. When played, it opens Magic Theatre and may encounter Password Chaos if the Game Master wills it. After its multiple moves are completed, it does not go to Limbo but returns to the Players Bead Chalice. It may be played up to 28 times during a Trilathon.
The Polygon = The Venus Bead
The Venus/Polygon Bead is the Liaison of Beads, a trustworthy companion able to assist in investigating relationships between humans and other animate beings and inanimate structures of any type or origin.
Helix = The Mercury Bead
The Mercury/Helix Bead is the Healer/Destroyer in our Bead world! Its qualities are best employed when you, the Player, want to contribute anything pertaining to the health/destruction of mankind and/or the earth.
Branch = The Mars Bead
The Mars/Branch Bead is the Great Connector, collecting and binding together various topics and relating them to each other in order to be usefully employed and contribute to Game Play. If this is your intent, than here is a Bead for you!
Vortex = The Jupiter Bead
The Master has the same Beads as those of the Players.; however, the Master also possesses 2 additional Beads.
The Earth Bead
The Earth Bead interacts with Symbols/Magic Theatre by augmenting them. It doesn’t actually make moves and is immune to Limbo. It is a Master Class Bead that is controlled by the Master; however, Players may each use it once per Triad. Think of it as the counterpoint of the other Beads, which create necessary conditions of minimality (focus) upon the Symbols they interact with. When played, the Earth Bead allows the Player to bring that focus back to the larger context of the move, and to expand and open up discussion on the context of the play and how that relates to our Home Planet Earth. The Master has other uses for it: to open the Domain, to holds a Moon Bead that did not traverse Password Chaos in higher Instars, and more.
The Sun Bead
The Sun Bead’s talents are not fixed, for it can do anything the Master desires it to accomplish!
Ready to start a game of Zyzygy? Here’s a handy, compressed ZIP file containing all of the templates and files you’ll need for your game. The package includes the Zyzygy game template, the Symbol download sheets, and the Beads.
Learn more about the unique game terms in our handy Glossary.