In the game WyshMaykers, players have the opportunity to play characters that can do anything they want. THey are not the only ones, however. There is, in fact, an entire group in the game world of people with the same ability: the Society of WyshMaykers. THis group watches over the WyshMaykers in the world and makes sure that three basic laws are upheld so that the world does not devolve into a puddle of mud via a wyshing war. When we built the Society, we had some thoughts on what it was, what it wasn't, and how it could be used in games of WyshMaykers.
***What the Society Is and Isn't***
The Society is, at its core, a group of WyshMaykers that have talked the vast majority of WyshMaykers into following their rules. In the game world, they serve a necessary purpose of a structured community empowered with the responsibility with keeping the world safe from their own kind. They don't want the world to know about the ability of wyshing, nor do they want WyshMaykers to get too far out of hand. It is an interesting balance to try to keep, really.
The Society is not a bunch of power-hungry evil people bent on world domination. Well... they could be, but that's not what they tell everyone. The Council that leads the Society is really not all that power-hungry though. They alreadt have all the power they could want, and there is somethAs such, they are not meant to be the evil empire in the game, but characters may see them that way. The Society is also not interested in making all the other WyshMayker's lives more difficult with their laws and enforcers. They truely believe that the laws they have in place protect both WyshMaykers and normal humans from each other. At least, that's how they began. As with all great intentions, they sometimes can end up being roads to bad places.
***Intended Uses of the Society***
When we made the Society, we really intended for them to be the lever for the Story Referee to use to help control the game. There are three laws that the Society enforces, as well as some courtesies that they expect people to follow. If characters do not respect these things, the Society could possibly come down on them so hard that their head would spin. Of course, this is all dependent on how reaching and obtrusive the Story Referee wants the Society to be. If the characters are not Wyshing for millions of dollars in their pockets every two hours, the Story Referee may very well keep the Society off their back. It really is a social, game world mechanic meant to be a control for the game so that the story can move forward. We totally encourage players to use the Society however they need to keep the story going.
A possible way to play the Society is to play it as the exact opposite of what it was intended to be: a dark, world-conquering group bent on control of all human will. To this end, they become an evil empire to rebel against, and something that the players' characters can take down and/or run from. It's worth a try, at least.
Check out the Society of WyshMaykers in WyshMaykers the Game of Magical Stories ( http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=94202&affiliate_id=229603 )
In the game of WyshMaykers, characters can make anything they wysh come true. Anything. Because Anything is such a large swath of possibilities, two things had to be ingrained in the game system: Creativity and Ambiguity.
Becasue anything is possible with a Wysh, we really kept the game mechanics light. Or rather, we used the light game mechanics from -U- the Game of Stories. See, in core game of -U-, there aren't a lot of crazy modifiers or target numbers or difficulty charts and whatnot. Characters just get a number of chances to succeed at things and roll dice to see if they succeed or not. That fit really well into encouraging the open creativity of the game that we wanted to have. We wanted players to be able to shock one another with the crazy things that they wyshed for. We wanted Story Referees to try to account for wyshes that might unbalance the game. We wanted players to have to react to the unexpected using their mind, their stats, and their dice. The lack of heavy math and terribly complicated charts lent itself to this free-flowing no-holds-bared experience very well.
As we played the game, it became apparent that sometimes it was nice to have something mechanically that the Story Referee could use to limit the players in some way. We came up with the optional Modifiers table. With the modifier table, Story Referees could reduce the number of chances a character had to succeed at making a wysh. Some of the restrictions were easily identified (number of people affected). Some we left ambiguous on purpose (like complexity and beleivability of a wsyh). The ambiguity worked well and allowed the Story Referee to justify and control the flow of the story in the face of creatively destructive players. This then fed into the the creativity of the game even more as it allowed Story Referees the chance to be creative in limiting players, and players a new boundry to be creative within.
Both Creativity and Abmiguity play into each other heavily in WyshMaykers. Give the game a try: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=94202&affiliate_id=229603
WyshMaykers, if you haven't picked it up yet, is a story-telling game about individuals who can make anything they think come true. Like all stories, there is a theme or two to this one. Feel free to blatantly harp on them in your own games of WyshMaykers.
One of the themes, and the most sinister, is that power corrupts people. This is kind of a deep philosophical question more than a statement. Does having the ultimate power to make what you want happen make you corrupt or were you corrupt already? Are people naturally good or evil at the get-go? Does giving someone a weapon make them violent or does it give them a tool to carry out their tendencies? This theme is hinted at in the Larkin's story in the book, and it is something that is really fun to explore in the game.
When someone really wants something they are willing to do some crazy and inspiring things. To woo a woman, men write poetry, perform acts of valor, and a sundry of other things. To pass a test, students study insane hours living off of high-caffeine beverages and pizza. We work hard for things that we want. Most of the time, we grow from these experiences and it shapes us as people. WyshMaykers explores a world where people get what they want without the work. How does that affect a person? Do they become lazy? Do they stop "growing" as human beings? Do they want anything after some time?
A few religions and some not-so holy philosophies preach some form of the many over the good, or that concentration on the self is a sure-fire way to bad things in this world or the next. The idea of wyshing for things is inherently selfish. People ask for things that they personally want. Even if what they ask is for another person's benefit, the WyshMayker is the person that wants to see that thing occur in this world, thus, the Wysh is somewhat selfish. If a character has any of these religious or philosophical notions about the removal of the self, being a WyshMayker become either a dangerous temptation, a curse, or a mixed gift.
If a person gives you a gift for your birthday, you can either use it, throw it away, re-gift it at a later date, let it sit around and collect dust, or deny the gift. wyshing is a gift to the characters in the game. What players do with the gifts is really important to the story/world. Do they appreciate it, abuse it, let it go stale,or ignore it? How do they use the gift given? What a person would do with unfathomable power is really a fun thing to watch as a Story Referee, as is makiing Supporting Cast Characters with different takes on what they do with the gift.
Well, that really covers most of the major themes for the game that we had in mind and we enjoyed exploring. If you had some others, let us know by commenting to this post.
If you have never been to the Roleplayers Chronicle site, go get there now. They are a great place for news, articles, and an upcoming e-zine about the independent game companies (like us) that are out there. Why are we sharing this glorious news with you just now? Well, because they have been gracious enough to include an article about WyshMaykers the Game of Magical Stories on their site.
Check out the WyshMaykers Designer's Diary article and see some of the great behind the scenes stuff that went into making one of our best selling products ever.
WyshMaykers is an interesting world in which characters can make anything they want to come true. It's a pretty cool concept, if we do say so ourselves. It does, however, have a funny name, we admidt it. So... why all they Y's? Here's the reason:
The game originally started as Wish Makers. A quick Google search told us that that was not a good business idea. The name was taken (not surprising) and was linked to the Make-A-Wish Foundation that we occasionally support. This was a game about magic and power, not something that should probably be confused with charitable work. So, we started looking for alternatives. The word "Wysh" wasn't taken and still sounded similar to the concept, so we started gravitating to that and it became the first part of the name.
As we developed the game we remembered the old nursery rhyme-thing "Star light, star bright. First star I see to night. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight." We liked the oath-like concept about having to say things to make your wishes come true. It reminded us of Green Lantern (of which Stephanie has a shrine to in the living room). We also thought that the "I wish I may" part was kind of an odd and unique line in the rhyme. Don't know why, it just felt that it didn't quite fit. On a whim, we included the "May" part of it into the word "Makers" and it just stuck into production and the Y's tied the two words together. Thus, WyshMaykers.
So... short answer: We didn't want to step on toes and we wanted to tie and old nursery rhyme line into the game.