Spring: About Golden Sky Stories
Original SA post
Golden Sky Stories
is a non-violent, relaxing, adorable Japanese RPG made by (of all people) the guy who wrote
. Instead of ridiculous anime fanservice tropes, this one's about henge, animals who have the power to turn into humans. You don't defeat monsters, you just help ordinary people in the country solve their small problems, and learn important lessons about friendship. If you thought Ryuutama was chill and wholesome, it's a gritty war epic compared to Golden Sky Stories. It's the feel-good RPG of the decade.
Spring: About Golden Sky Stories
The book opens with a short comic, which is far from unusual, except that this one has no fighting
no dialogue. It briefly introduces some of the recurring characters used throughout the book, and gives a bit of nice scenery and a sense of atmosphere - small towns in the country, creatures that aren't quite human, people getting along.
Following this is a brief, gentle foreword from the author. It thanks you for buying the book, explains what RPGs are and gives you a good idea of what kind of experiences and emotions to expect going in. It ends with this, which I'm strangely fond of:
May your stories sustain you. May it add flowers to the story of your life. That is what this humble author prays for.
Next is briefly a note to the English audience about cultural accuracy - basically, don't worry about it too much. When Japanese gamers play Shadowrun, Seattle is a wild exotic locale where awesome adventures happen. Let the Japan in this game be a sort of idealized fantasy Japan.
There's a "Watch this anime to get an idea of what this game is kind of going for" list: My Neighbor Totoro, Natsume's Book of Friends, GeGeGe no Kitaro, Mushi-shi, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, and Higurashi (just for the depiction of the Japanese countryside, definitely not for tone).
Spring is the season of beginnings.
The season of warm sleep.
The season when dreams begin.
Here you will learn what kind of game Golden Sky Stories is,
What you become and what you do when you play it,
What kind of being will take the stage.
You will come to know these things here.
Please read this part before your stories.
This is the second Japanese RPG I've seen that divides its rulebook into seasons (Ryuutama did the same thing). The Spring section is essentially the player guide - introduction of the setting and basic concepts, and character creation. Summer is gameplay, Autumn is GMing and sample scenarios, Winter is extra resources.
In a Certain Town
Imagine a town in Japan where there's only a single rail line, with 2-car trains passing once an hour and no more. Most of the roads are little more than dirt paths, rice paddies outnumber houses. Temples, shrines, bamboo groves, flower beds, morning glories growing out of cracks in stone walls. The nights are dark, the people are outnumbered by animals, and the sky seems to go on forever. That's the kind of place this game takes place in.
Where Things Besides People Live
This town is home to more than humans, even if they don't all know it. If someone goes about and talks to folks at the right times of day, in the right places, some of the people they talk to might be something else in disguise. You are a Henge.
Henge aren't quite humans, and aren't quite animals. They aren't quite adults, and aren't quite children. They've been afforded a small amount of magical power, just enough to bridge the gap between nature and civilization, guiding people who need small opportunities created for them. Humans are powerful creatures, but they sometimes fall to weakness, because of their words or fragile hearts. When someone is at a crossroads in their life, you're there to help guide them.
In this town, neither animals nor people are living alone.
Next: More about henge.
Spring: The Henge
Original SA post
Spring: The Henge
The PCs in GSS are all henge - animals with the power to take human form. Henge still live chiefly as animals, totally lacking in things like housing, money, cell phones or family registries. They get their food as animals, and appear fully clothed when transforming, so they don't rely on human society for any of their actual needs.
Henge human forms aren't perfect. They retain their animal instincts in some ways, and sometimes their ears and tails are still visible. It's not like it's a huge secret, though - most of the older residents of town know about the henge, and will pretend they didn't see your bigger slip-ups. Henge can speak like humans, even in animal form.
Why do henge have these powers? It's just something that happens. Maybe all animals can do it, most just don't bother. Don't worry about it.
Humans, Animals & Local Gods
There are about ten thousand humans living in this part of the countryside, enough that nobody knows everybody else. This means a henge can walk around in human form, and nobody will necessarily recognize them as an outsider to the community. There are lots of other animals, too - henge can talk to animals, but only if they're the same species. Regular animals are usually busy just trying to get by, but you might as well say hi regardless.
In addition to humans and animals, there are gods in the country. They're not unlike henge, but each has their own territory, and never leaves it. Pond gods, forest gods, river gods, and mountain gods usually take animal forms like the henge do, but seldom the furry kind - fish, spiders, snakes, trees, and so forth. They can be a bit powerful, but they're also stubborn and eccentric, which can make them hard to talk to. They have no interest whatsoever in what goes on beyond their own territory.
The GM. Like in most Japanese RPGs, the Narrator's role is described as strict and decisive - what they say goes, period. The English version has a sidebar encouraging you to, if you want to, split up the responsibility a bit, asking players for suggestions and taking votes on things and so forth. The book suggests rotating narrators occasionally, just to keep things fresh. It's a very episodic game, after all.
That's enough stage-setting for now, time to meet our playable henge types! Over the next few pages, six sample characters give their introductions - all the sample characters are girls, but the book does specify that boy henge are fine, too.
Suzune Hachiman is a fox, over 300 years old (10 as a human). Younger henge say she dresses weird and is conceited, but don't listen to them.
Fox henge live far longer than any other type, and are closer to the local gods. Some of them have shrines dedicated to them, but are bad at mundane tasks better suited to more 'common' henge. They take pride in their beauty both as animals and as humans, but often live in sad isolation. They are often seen wearing strange, outdated clothing, and speaking in old-fashioned ways. There are many stories about humans being seduced by crafty, alluring foxes.
Foxes as animals seldom show themselves to humans, seeking prey in their territory and protecting their families. Many have learned to eat from the offerings at their shrines, but none forget the heart of a hunter. Their dens are complex mazes of escape routes and dead ends.
Raccoon Dog Henge
Riko is a raccoon dog, age 3 (13 as a human). She's been transforming for over a year, so she's practically a veteran.
Raccoon dog henge are masters of transformation. They can change into things other than humans, or even imitate someone they know. They can turn leaves into money, but would obviously never do anything bad with these powers. Most of them wear glasses, since raccoon dogs have dark circles around their eyes. They're often seen with thick clothing and tend to be a bit more heavyset in human form than most henge. There are tales of older raccoon dogs, over a hundred years old, who drink booze and emit wisdom.
Raccoon dogs as animals, also called tanuki, look kind of like raccoons, but aren't. They have shorter tails, and are fluffier and more plump. They live in thickets and dens or under old houses, but don't really care about territory. They're good at climbing trees, and like to eat persimmons. Of all the animals that typically become henge, they're probably the slowest.
Kuromu is a cat, age 15 (15 as a human). She considers herself an adult, but people say she's selfish and can't swim. Of course, yeah, she's a cat.
Cat henge are a lot like cats - they just do whatever they want. They might help people they like, and they might not help people they don't like. They have a lot of fussy likes and dislikes, and their tail betrays their emotions. There are myths about monstrous two-tailed cat monsters, black cats bringing bad luck, and cats as evil familiars, but they're all not true. Ask any cat.
Cats as animals come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes. People keep them as pets, but they don't think of themselves as pets - they just do whatever they feel like doing. They have fur in a wide variety of colors (Kuromu's is black), and are just about the only animals that can purr.
Next: The other three henge types, and a story.
Summer: Riko's Big Mistake
Original SA post
Summer: Riko's Big Mistake
Koro Tanaka is a dog, age 5 (12 as a human). She's clumsy, but honest, and her master just gave her a collar.
Dog henge are people people. Some have masters, some don't, but they all tend to like humans. Even the scary ones usually want to be your friend. A lot of other henge are afraid of dogs. Their ancestors were wolves, and some of the local gods up in the mountains are still that big and scary.
Dogs as animals come in as much variety as cats. They like going on walks, chase their tails, and have a tendency to pee on things. Some live in houses, some don't. I mean, you know what dogs are about.
Amami is a rabbit, age less than a year (7 as a human). She's impatient, spoiled, and hates being alone.
Rabbit henge can make dreams come true. They can transform their friends and keep them healthy, and all get lonely easily. Their human clothing tends to have lots of unnecessary frills, and they don't eat meat. There are stories of a rabbit in the moon, making rice cakes all the time.
Rabbits as animals are small, cute, and come in various colors. Some rabbits have red eyes, generally white ones, but most wild rabbits have black eyes. They have powerful legs, which they use to relentlessly run around all day. They're not as big on carrots as people would have you believe.
Sarah is a bird, not sure how old she is. She can cause a lot of trouble by accident, but she can also fly, so it balances out.
Bird henge understand the sky, the wind, and not much else. They tend to say weird things as humans, and forget things easily. They love to sing, and can't see worth beans in the dark. Bird henge with white wings can sometimes be confused with angels. Of course, they can fly.
Birds as animals come in lots of shapes and sizes, some domesticated but many wild. Flightless birds can become henge, too, but they aren't exactly common in this region. There are migratory birds, and migratory bird henge, who only show up in town for a little while before moving on. Of course, they can fly.
A sample story
There's a break here for a 5-page short story conveying what kind of stories will happen in this game. I won't cover the whole thing, but here's the gist:
Riko (the tanuki from the previous update) is chatting with Kuromu (the cat) on a path, when a human comes running down the path and trips over Riko. In her surprise, Kuromu accidentally talks out loud, and the boy panics. Riko transforms, the boy (Naoto) learns about the existence of henge. They talk for a while, before a second human, an older-looking girl, comes looking for him, and Naoto hides, leaving Riko alone to deal with her.
The new girl (Yuka) interrogates Riko about Naoto's whereabouts, and she does a terrible job of covering for him. It turns out, Naoto ran away for some reason, and Yuka's looking for him. Kuromu uses her powers as a cat to peek into Naoto's heart and get the details - they're friends, actually the same age. Someone in town said they looked like a big sister and little brother, because Yuka's so much taller than Naoto, which embarrassed him so much that he ran away.
Riko tries to get Yuka to not leave, and Yuka ends up accidentally knocks Riko over, and is immediately mortified. Riko calls her out for being a nice person after all, and insists that she try to talk things out with Naoto. The two friends face to face but unsure where to start, Kuromu turns back into a cat and nuzzles against Naoto's legs, sufficiently disarming his stubbornness enough for the two friends to go home together.
The next day, Naoto and Yuka return to the same spot with some rice balls and tuna for Riko and Kuromu. Everyone is friends. Good end.
Riko's Big Mistake, Part 1
A story told in four parts over the course of the book, highlighting various ideas. Part 1 goes as such:
Riko seems troubled.
Aaaah! Oh no! Oh no! This is terrible! (flustered)
Well, well. If it isn’t Miss Riko! What might have you so flustered?
Ohhh! Elder Turtle! Thank goodness you’re here, you know? I have a big problem!
Oh? Well, if you think an old man like me can help, ask away. Riko made a big mistake, you know?
Well, the thing is, this girl named Kikuna has to move away, you know?
But, Kikuna, she said she doesn’t want to move away!
So, I went to see Kikuna’s dad to tell him they shouldn’t move...
So, I turned into a big monster, and said, “If you move away, I’ll eat you!”
Hohoho. Quite the stubborn one, you are.
But then, her dad fainted and she started crying... Ohhh, what should I do? (cries)
Riko learns about stories.
Well, let’s see. Even if one person sees something as unfortunate, someone else might not, or they might see it as truly horrible. Do you understand?
Yes. Like, Suzune is almost always okay no matter what happens, but if I eat her fried tofu she gets really, really mad, and then really calm, you know?
Hohoho, that’s true. Even when they’re talking about the same thing, different people make different stories.
Riko only saw what she had done.
Yes. Even for the same events, people won’t always tell the same stories. How someone lives, their dreams, their connections, all of those things come together when they create stories.
It... It sounds really hard, you know?
Well, why did that child not want to move? Did you ask her that, Miss Raccoon Dog?
Oh my gosh! I didn’t ask her at all!
Miss Raccoon Dog. Getting rid of something painful might look easy, but... Turning a painful story into a happy one? That’s the most important thing. You mustn’t rush it.
Riko hurries, for the sake of a happy story.
Yes! I’m going to go ask Kikuna why right now! Elder Turtle, thank you so much, you know?
Hohoho, good luck making that girl’s story a happy one!
Next: Character Creation.
Summer: How to Make a Henge
Original SA post
Summer: How to Make a Henge
Time to make characters!
What's Your True Form?
Once you've got a high concept, first step is picking a species. As established, there are six options - Fox, Raccoon Dog, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Bird. It won't affect any stats, but each one has a very different list of powers. Depending on your true form, you'll record a set of six Basic Powers and their Wonder costs.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
The powers list for each type of henge also lists various possible Weaknesses - things about you, supernatural or otherwise, that will get in the way of things during your stories, like a cat's inability to swim. You pick between 1 and 3 Weaknesses, but for each one you pic, you get one specific additional power - for example, if your cat henge can't swim, then they get the ability to spend Wonder to perform seemingly impossible feats of acrobatics. If you have less than three Weaknesses, you can add more later.
What Are Your Attributes?
There are four attributes in Golden Sky Stories, and they're a pretty unique spread:
Henge: Strength of your special powers, knowledge of gods and other henge, status among the henge community.
Animal: Strength, stamina, agility, senses.
Adult: Ability to hide your feelings, act with finesse, and use human technology.
Child: Ability to express yourself, wheedle your way into getting what you want, and get others to help you.
Divide 8 points between the four attributes, 2 is average. Attributes have a minimum of 1, with the exception of Adult, which bottoms out at 0 - at that level, you would have to be taught how to use something as simple as a light switch.
What Kind of Human?
Time to decide on the details of your human form. Sex is the same as your animal form, but age doesn't have to line up - an old fox could have a young human form, or vice versa. A henge's human form is most likely to fall somewhere in the range of 8 to 18 years old, anything outside that range requires Narrator permission. You can decide the details of their default clothing, but unless you have certain Weaknesses, it'll be something that fits in the current era well enough to not cause a fuss when you walk around town. Some small accessory is permitted, like a cap or simple prop.
Keep the description pretty simple, so that it's easy to remember; don't get bogged down on details. If you're a cat or dog breed from another country, that might affect your human form's appearance, too.
You've probably picked out an age and gender by now, so you've just got name selection left. Henge tend to have simple names, usually something with a straightforward meaning. Pets will sometimes adopt the last names of their masters (the sample character dog henge did this), but otherwise it's just one word. Foxes tend to have flowery, archaic Japanese names like Kuzunoha Murakami.
Some sample names for less esoteric henge:
Foxes are skilled at influencing others, but lacking at doing things directly. They're strange, aloof, and keep their distance from people, but in a pinch they can make effective leaders.
Each power has a number after it - that's how much Wonder it costs to use it. More on Wonder after we finish chargen. There will be references to various mechanics that haven't been explained yet, don't worry about it for now. The quick version:
Connections go from 0-5 and are made with other characters.
Feelings are a resource spent to temporarily boost attributes.
Wonder is a resource spent to use powers.
Dreams are a resource used to strengthen Connections.
Surprise is the closest thing GSS has to damage.
When a human of the opposite sex (or same sex, if that's how they roll) forms a Connection with you, the strength of the Connection is increased by one.
Send a dream to someone sleeping nearby, describing its contents. If your Henge attribute is higher than their Adult attribute, this can make them hold back on something they were planning to do, or do something they were planning to hold back on, if it lines up with the dream content.
Fox Fire (6)
Create a small orb of glowing fire at the tip of your tail, which can be used to lure in the curious or drive away the frightened (pending a Henge VS Adult check). Can only be used at evening or night, and only when your tail isn't hidden.
You can only be seen by someone beat you on a Henge VS Henge check, to which you get a +3 bonus. Lasts until dismissed or scene end.
You can hide an object's outer appearance to make it appear as something else, but not its real properties. A rock disguised as a person couldn't move, a broken car disguised as a new car would still be broken.
Fairy Rain (12)
Cause it to rain, even if there's not a cloud in the sky. In this rain, Henge can take human form for free, and can use Feelings in place of Wonder. Lasts until scene end.
After each Weakness is listed the power you get in exchange for it.
Your love of fried tofu is so great that, if you come across it, your transformation is partially undone - if you're fully human your tail comes out, if it already was your ears come out, if both were out you revert to a full fox.
If your target can't beat you on an Adult VS Henge check, you can tell a lie and it will be believed, unless they find clear evidence to the contrary.
You hate having your true form discovered by anyone. If a person sees your fox form, your Connection to that person and to the town lose 1 strength.
Old Friend (6)
When you first meet a new henge in the story, you can declare that you've known them for a long time. When you first meet a human, you can declare that they're someone you knew when they were a child. Tell the Narrator how you met.
Your arrogant attitude makes it harder for you to make friends. When someone wants to strengthen a Connection with you, it costs an extra 2 Dreams.
There's a shrine dedicated to you, which sometimes gets actual money left at as donations. You can speak to local gods in the shrine's area as an equal.
You're behind the times - because of your archaic speech mannerisms and clothing, you'll draw undue attention anywhere you go.
Float through the air at a leisurely pace. This gives you a +2 bonus to checks for finding things, and lasts until scene end.
You aren't good at expressing your emotions. When you make an Impression Check upon first meeting someone, reduce the Connection's strength by 1.
Marriage Knot (4)
By scolding someone in a scene, you can reduce the strength of your Connection with them by 1, but strengthen one of your other Connections by 1. This can boost a Connection from 0 to 1.
Next: Tanuki, cats.
Summer: Henge Powers
Original SA post
Summer: Henge Powers
Raccoon Dog Powers
Raccoon dogs are the masters of transformation, turning themselves into a variety of shapes, and even transforming other objects. Their powers are used to get through difficult times by confusing everybody.
Make leaves, acorns, or other useless things look like real human money. Can only be used at evening or at night, and the money changes back at dawn.
You have a huge, monstrous form you can transform into... but only for scaring people. You get +1 to Henge when trying to Surprise people.
Become Anything (8)
You can transform into an inanimate object, like a teapot or a rock. If you double the cost, you can turn into something big enough to fit other people inside, like a car or a shack. Must be a solid object, must not be alive.
Change into a copy of someone you know. If you talk to someone who knows the person you're copying, you need to beat them on a Henge VS Adult check or they'll realize you're an impostor.
Tanuki Drumming (12)
You can call your fellow raccoon dogs together to drum on your bellies, creating a wild drumming party. Anyone who can hear the drumming has an Adult of 0 as long as it goes on, and electronic devices stop working nearby. Lasts until scene end.
Dream Vision (16)
Surround one person with illusions to enchant their senses. They need to beat your Henge with Henge or Adult to break free, lasts until scene end.
Raccoon Dog Weaknesses
If you're subjected to Surprise, you always faint, regardless of how much you failed the check by. This won't necessarily break your transformation.
You can Surprise people by becoming huge. People and henge seeing this power used for the first time are Surprised, and you get a +2 bonus to the Surprise check.
You never suspect that you've been lied to, and always have to go along as if it's the truth unless there's total, obvious evidence to the contrary.
By acting clumsy, you can calm people down. Everyone who sees your display gains 2 Dreams.
If you don't get a proper meal in, you can barely move. If there's food in front of you, you can't stop eating until it's all gone or someone actually drags you away from it.
Stomach Worm (8)
When your stomach is empty, you can make a soothing rumbling sound, increasing the Connection strength of anyone who has a Protection, Affection or Family Connection to you by 1, to a maximum of 4. Can't be used if you ate anything during the last scene.
When being flattered, you get carried away, and must attempt to make checks, even if your participation is optional and even if you know you'll fail.
You can entertain others with a strange dance. People who see you dance need to clear an Adult check of difficulty 4 or drop what they're doing to laugh uncontrollably. Anyone who laughs gains 3 Dreams.
You move slowly and take life at an easygoing pace. Animal can't be higher than 1 at time of character creation, and it costs 1 extra Feelings to boost it for a check.
If you don't participate in a scene, you gain 6 points of Wonder for the next scene.
You like to tease people and pull pranks on them, and get blamed for strange incidents around the town as a result. Your Connection from the town can't go above 2.
When you Surprise someone with a display of lovable mischief, you gain as many Dreams as there are other participants in the scene.
Cats are whimsical, selfish, and stealthy. They're great at moving quickly and quietly, but struggle with forming bonds with others.
You're a kitty. No matter where you show up in your animal form, nobody will be Surprised when they see you. Cats just go places, nobody pays it much mind.
When you nuzzle against someone and act friendly, their Adult drops to 0 until you stop.
Peek Into Hearts (6)
You can look into someone's heart, and understand what they're thinking. It doesn't necessarily tell truth from lies, you can't look into memories, and you can't tell how they're feeling - you just gain access to their internal monologue.
Stealthy Feet (8)
You move completely silently - as long as you aren't seen, your presence cannot be detected. No check is permitted to hear you unless you consciously make noise. Lasts until scene end.
Cat Paths (10)
You know about various paths and shortcuts privy only to cats. You can enter or leave any scene at any time, even if the scene takes place concurrently to you being occupied elsewhere.
You can summon a swarm of local cats, numbering twice the sum of your Henge and Animal, to help you out. While the other cats are there, you can't use the Kitty power, and any humans who see you will probably be Surprised.
When you see something small and prey-like, or something you don't understand, you're compelled to go after it. If it turns out to be something unexpected you get Surprised.
Cat Burglar (8)
Steal an item small enough to carry without its owner noticing, up to and including articles of clothing.
You hate Mondays.
When boosting attributes for checks related to moving your body, you can't spend more than 1 point of Feelings.
Sleeping Soundly (0)
If you appear in a scene, but spend the whole scene lazing around and doing nothing, you gain 10 points of Dreams. You can't engage proactively in conversation, use any other powers, or make any checks if you want to use this power.
You have a lot of dislikes and things you can't eat - hot things, citrus, squid, and raw onions are all no good. If you eat any of these by mistake, you're affected by a level 7 Surprise.
Feigned Innocence (4)
You can hide your true nature and put on an act like you're a different kind of person. When you use this power, you can use whichever attribute you like for your next check.
You can't swim and hate water. If you enter any body of water, down to and including a bathtub, you're affected by a level 7 Surprise.
You can make an animal check to pull off any sort of amazing, apparently impossible physical stunts, up to but not including swimming.
If you and someone achieve a level 5 Connection with each other, you only get 5 points of Feelings/Wonder instead of 10.
From the Shadows (6)
Always watching. Retroactively declare that you saw something that happened earlier in the story, even if you apparently weren't present for that scene.
When you come across a paper sliding door, a poster, whatever, you'll be overcome by an urge to scratch it up.
Make a Henge VS Henge or Adult check against someone to menace them and drive them away. Can't be used on friendly henge.
Next: The remaining power lists.
Summer: Henge Powers (cont'd)
Original SA post
Summer: Henge Powers (cont'd)
Dogs get along with humans better than any other henge. Their powers focus on doing things to help their friends - protection, mental recovery, driving off scary things. They are a bridge between humans and animals.
Same as cats - nobody will be surprised to find a dog anywhere. Dogs are commonplace.
Sticking Close (4)
If you like someone, and you both appear in the same scene, they gain Feelings equal to the strength of your Connection with them.
When someone pets you in a scene, you gain Feelings equal to the strength of your Connection with them.
It's All Right (6)
By licking someone's face or whatever, you can make them feel better - they recover from being Surprised or from something getting them down.
If someone might be in danger, you can take their place, putting yourself in danger but getting them out. You might get hurt as a result, but you'll also get their gratitude.
Scare off other henge by barking and howling at them. If your Animal is higher than their Adult, they'll be Surprised, and automatically revert to animal form.
You have a human master, who gave you a collar. You can never disobey that person.
Describe what kind of person your master is. At the start of each story, you have a Connection of strength 2 both towards and from your master.
Your Adult attribute can't be higher than zero, and you can't spend more than 1 point of Feelings at a time to boost it.
Through determination, ignore being Surprised, or temporarily ignore one of your Weaknesses.
You can't lie for any reason, no matter how big or how small.
If you made a mistake and it didn't kill anybody, and you apologize sincerely, you will be forgiven.
You're not good at meeting new peole. When making a new Connection, reduce its strength by 1. After that, you can increase it as normal.
I Believe in You (6)
Use this power at the end of a scene. Everyone else in the scene you have a Connection to receives Feelings equal to the strength of your Connection with them.
You can't show earnest dislike or distrust towards others. Beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure, et cetera.
I Love Everyone (0)
At the start of each story, you gain a Connection to "Love for Everyone" at a strength of 3. It can only be raised at the end of the story.
You have a big body and a scary bark. When making a new Connection, the other person's Connection to you is reduced by 1 strength. After that, you can increase it as normal.
Go Away! (8)
You can bark and chase someone to scare them away. Make an Animal check - if the result is higher than their Animal, they leave the scene.
Rabbits are exceptionally good at making friends, but also exceptionally vulnerable to loneliness. Their powers are at their best when they're surrounded by other people.
Bunny! The cost for someone to strengthen a Connection to you is reduced by 1 Dream.
According to folklore, the rabbit in the moon spends his time pounding rice to make [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochi]mochi[/i]. You can make mochi as well - if someone eats it, they gain Feelings equal to the Wonder you spent making it.
You can make others worry about you with your super-expressive droopy ears. When you fail a check, you can use this power to gain Feelings equal to the strength of your Connection to one other person in the scene.
Help Me (6)
You can cause someone you have a Connection with to show up in any scene you're in, by coincidence.
I Dunno (8)
If people suspect you of doing something, you can use this power to make one person stop suspecting. Lasts until end of scene, persists even if there's evidence (but not if you admit your guilt).
Draw on the power of the moon to turn an animal into a human or a human into an animal. Henge lose their base powers (but not weaknesses or additional powers), humans gain some weaknesses and additional powers from whatever you turned them into. Only works on a willing target, and only works on a moonlit night. Lasts until story end or until you end it.
You can't act separately in your own scene - you always have to be with at least one other character.
The cost for you to strengthen your Connections to others is reduced by 1 Dream.
For Surprise checks, your attributes are considered to all be 2 points lower. If you are Surprised and don't faint, you cry loudly.
You can make big, sad eyes at someone and guilt them into listening to your requests. If the person's Adult is higher than your Child, or if the request is self-destructive, they can refuse.
You are prone to falling in love. When you make an Impression Check with someone, regardless of strength, the connection type is "Love". I feel like I'm missing something with this one because it seems kind of absurdly extreme.
I Love You! (12)
If you appeal to the person you love, you can raise the strength of someone's connection to you by 1. Can only be used once per story.
You always rush and do extra unnecessary things. When you want to use a power, spend 1 extra Wonder.
You're very fast. You can interrupt any check to flee from the current scene, taking one unresisting character along with you.
If you're in a scene with someone who has a Connection to the person with whom you have your strongest Connection, your Connection's type changes to match theirs.
When you meet someone for the first time in a story, you can make it so that you and them have previous memories together. The strength of the connection they make to you is increased by 1.
Except for Impression Checks, you can't try to make a check unless your friends have all already tried and failed.
Let's Play (8)
If you're not in a scene, you can spend the time playing with anyone else who is not in the scene. Everyone playing can spend Dreams to increase connections, and gain Wonder and Feelings like usual.
Birds are distant from humans and have their own strange ways of thinking. They are masters of the sky, but have many weaknesses. People take notice of them easily, even if they don't want it.
Little Bird (0)
As per dogs and cats. Smaller birds can show up anywhere without Surprising anyone.
You can fly, and can carry things smaller than you with you. When running away or looking for something, add 2 to your attributes. Lasts until scene end, can't be used if you're in full human form.
Wind Song (4)
You can change the direction and force of the wind, with enough delicacy to for example move around a piece of paper freely. No typhoons allowed.
Gift of Wings (8)
You can grant a human or henge the ability to fly, if you have a Connection with them. They gain the "Wings" power until the end of the scene.
You can spread a rumor through town across the wind. Can't be used if it's too far from the truth, or if it's directly hurtful to somebody.
Down Pillow (12)
If you embrace someone with your feathers, their Connection to you increases by one. Can only be used on a given person once per story, can only be used when your wings are out.
You can't make any Animal checks at all during the night.
Found It (10)
Your eyes are very sharp. With Narrator permission, use it to easily locate something or someone you're looking for.
In Japan, eyeball patterns are used like scarecrows. If you see any pattern that resembles an eyeball, you're affected by a level 7 Surprise.
Same as the cat's Friends power, but for birds. Summon 2 x (Henge + Animal) birds to help you.
Due to your bad memory, you can't make knowledge-related Adult or Henge checks at all.
Trust the Wind (4)
Go into action putting faith in your luck, and come out on top. Gain 3 Feelings.
You can't do any checks relating to physical activity, especially Animal checks, unless you're using your wings to fly.
If someone is Surprised, troubled, or lost a quarrel, you can calm them down with an embrace.
At the end of each story, you must (ICly) tell everyone you have a Connection with anything you found out during the story.
Listen Up (4)
You can inform a friend of something you've seen or realized, even if they're far away or not in the same scene as you.
The required reult for Impression Checks when forming Connections is 2 higher both for you and for people making Connections with you.
You can cause night to fall unexpectedly. Until the scene ends, it is nighttime, and henge can use their powers at half cost.
Next: Actual rules!
Summer: How to Enjoy Stories
Original SA post
Summer: How to Enjoy Stories
You should have enough information to put together a character now. Here's what a character sheet looks like:
Into the rules!
Before a story starts, it's time to make your Connections! You're in the same town, you've spent time together. The henge described in this story are friends. So, introduce your character so that everyone can decide how they get along with each other.
Connections are a mechanic for describing exactly what they're called. Each Connection has a strength, from 0 to 5, and contents, which is just a descriptive word - Love, Protection, et cetera. Notably, Connections are one-way, so you might have Trust 2 with someone who has a Family 1 Connection back with you, or you might have a Connection with someone else who doesn't have a connection to you at all. As Connections develop over time, the strength may increase or decrease, and the contents may change.
To start with, determine the contents of your Connections with each other PC. Then, you get one extra Connection to the town itself, which in turn has a Connection with you with the special contents "Acceptance". If there are 2-3 players, your Connections with each other start at strength 2. 4 or more, strength 1. Beyond that, the Narrator may decide to have the party have another Connection with a character appearing in the story, but if not, you just start with those Connections with the other PCs.
The types of Connection contents are:
Stories and Scenes
- Like: You just sort of like 'em. Connection strength can't go above 2 without the contents changing to something else.
- Affection: You enjoy their company, and are lonely when they aren't around.
- Protection: You want to keep them out of trouble and be there for them.
- Trust: You go to them when you need help.
- Family: You've lived together with them for a long time.
- Admiration: You want to be like them.
- Rivalry: You don't want to lose to them.
- Respect: You think they're amazing.
- Love: You're in love with them. Only allowed if Connection strength is 2 or higher.
- Acceptance: You give them a place to belong. Narrator permission is required; this is generally only for the town and for local gods.
A Story is an adventure, and usually also a game session. A Scene is the main unit of division within that story. The Narrator decides when a scene ends or begins, but between scenes, a player can say "before the next thing I'd like to have a scene about X", in which case maybe the Narrator will go along with that (they still get final say). Not everyone is in every scene, but even if you're not in a scene, there's still things for you to do - some powers, and awarding Dreams.
GSS stories are usually about helping someone who is in trouble. Learn what's going on, use your powers to help people, and hopefully don't cause more problems in the process.
Things You Can Do In Scenes
Get Wonder and Feelings
comes from your bonds to others, and is used for your special powers as a henge. At the start of every scene, gain Wonder equal to the total strength of all your Connections to others.
are something precious carried in a henge's heart. At the start of every scene, gain Feelings equal to the total strength of all Connections others have towards you.
You'll use Wonder and Feelings during the course of a game to do various things, but you gain more at the start of each scene. Leftover points at the end of a scene can be carried over, but you'll lose them all at the end of the last scene of the story, so don't be stingy with them. Use as many as you can.
Talk and take action
The meat of the game - saying things, and doing things. Since you're not here for your prowess in battle, your greatest weapons are sympathy and kindness. Your objective is to help others, so act affectionaly and sensitively and engage with the other henge in the party when you can. Don't forget your Weaknesses when talking or acting, since a lot of them are more narrative than mechanical.
This is something anyone can do, whether or not their characterse are in the scene. Dreams are a currency used to show your appreciation to other players, and is used to strengthen Connections. When a character acts, anyone except for the actor can award the player Dreams. This even applies to the Narrator for NPCs. Each player can award no more than one point of Dreams for a given action.
The definition of what actions are worthy of Dreams is vague, but there are two main guidelines. One: Award Dreams when someone says or does something you think is cute. Two: Award dreams when someone says or does something that helps or heals someone else. It might be good to use some kind of physical tokens for this.
Sometimes things aren't guaranteed to happen! Like any coherent RPG, there's a system for determining whether or not uncertain outcomes are successes.
Golden Sky Stories is a
system! To make an Action Check, compare a target difficulty to the given Attribute. If it's equal or higher, you succeed. If it's lower, you fail. If you're competing against someone else, compare your Attributes. Whichever is higher wins; if they're the same, it's a tie.
That would be boring, though, so this is where Feelings come in. Whenever you make a check, you can spend any amount of Feelings to boost your Attribute by that much for the duration of a check - so, if your Henge is 2 and you're making a check of difficulty 5, you can spend 3 Feelings to narrowly succeed. If two characters are in opposition, both can keep spending Feelings back and forth until one gives up or runs out of points.
Interestingly, you can also spend Feelings to
your score, for example if you want to avoid Surprising somebody too hard. Or if you just want to be clumsy. Remember, stories aren't about winning or losing. If you worry too much about the success of your checks, you might lose something more important.
You have all sorts of amazing powers as a henge, so why not use them? You are limited only by how much Wonder you have. Every time you use a power, you need to spend Wonder equal to the number next to the ability's name. If you don't have enough, you can't use it. If a power requires a check, and you fail the check, spent Wonder is still lost.
Take Human Form
A special power all henge have. Unlike most powers, its cost can be paid using a combination of Feelings and Wonder, and the cost varies based on the form and the time of day. The base cost to take a human form is 0 in the evening, 2 at night, and 4 during the day, but this form will leave you with your ears and tail (or wings, for a bird) exposed. To hide your ears (or shrink your wings), raise the cost by 2. To completely hide all signs of your animal nature, raise the cost by 4 instead. So, to pass as fully human in the middle of the day costs 8 points, but to appear as an animal-eared and animal-tailed human in the evening is free.
You can use all your powers, whether you're in human or animal form, unless they specify otherwise. Regardless of form, you can transform back into an animal instantly at no cost.
Make New Connections
First impressions are important. When you meet a new character, you can make an Impression Check to form a new Connection together. Both characters/players need to agree to make the check. Pick which attribute you're going to use to appeal to them, then make the check, spending Feelings as normal. If your result is 4 or higher, they gain a new Connection to you with a strength of 1. 8 or higher, and it's strength 2 instead. Both characters do this, and now you have your new Connections.
The contents of the connection are roughly determined by the attribute used for the check:
- Henge: Admiration, Respect
- Animal: Affection, Trust
- Adult: Admiration, Rivalry
- Child: Protection, Affection
If you use the same attribute for the check, and you scored lower than they did, their Connection to you is automatically set to the default "Like".
Things To Do Between Scenes
You can spend your Dreams to strengthen Connections with any characters who appeared with you in the scene that just ended. To raise it by one rank, the cost varies:
- To 1: 5 Dreams (Free if you made 4+ on the Impresion Check)
- To 2: 5 Dreams (Free if you made 8+ on the Impresion Check)
- To 3: 5 Dreams
- To 4: 8 Dreams
- To 5: 12 Dreams
Unspent Dreams carry over between scenes, same as Wonder and Feelings.
Change Connection Contents
If the nature of any of your Connections has shifted, you can change the contents within. If it's a dramatic shift, check for permission from your Narrator.
Next: Endings and other things.
Summer: Other Things
Original SA post
Summer: Other Things
Ending a Story
Eventually, the story ends. Dreams, Feelings and Wonder aren't carried over, so spend as many Dreams as you can to strengthen your Connections - the sum of the strengths of all your Connections towards others, not counting the Connection to the town, is how many points of Memories you get. Memories are bonus points that can be used as Feelings or Wonder, but unlike those, they can be carried over between stories.
Next, turn your Connections (save for the one with the town) into Threads. Write down for each Thread who it was with, and what the contents were. Threads are the long-term relationships you forge through your journeys - when you meet that character again in a new story, you can use up that Thread to give your new Connection with them 1 extra strength per Thread used.
Products of Civilization
Henge aren't humans, and aren't suited to using human stuff. Any interaction with technology will require a check, even something as simple as making a phone call. This usually goes off of your Adult attribute.
There aren't rules in GSS for taking damage, but Surprise is probably the closest thing. When henge do unnatural things, like using powers or talking or behaving generally not like normal animals, it can surprise humans. Sometimes just running across a henge at all will be Surprising, like if someone finds a fox in their kitchen. Sometimes henge can even Surprise other henge.
Surprise results in a check. If you're surprised by some kind of incident, the Narrator sets the difficulty. If someone is trying to Surprise you on purpose, they use their Henge attribute. The henge or person being Surprised uses whatever their highest attribute is. If the Surprisee fails the check, then what happens to them depends on the margin of failure:
- Fail by 1-2: The victim cries out loudly.
- Fail by 3: The victim instinctively runs away as fast as they can.
- Fail by 4: The victim is paralyzed with shock.
- Fail by 5+: The victim faints on the spot.
Fighting is bad, friends. Don't get in fights if you can avoid it, there's always a better way to solve your problems. If you do end up in a fight, though, make an opposed check using Animal (for scratching/biting) or Adult (for punching/weapons). The loser of the check is knocked down or runs away.
It should be emphasized that there is
for winning a fight - more often than not, trying to solve your problems through violence will cause more problems instead. If you get in a fight, your Connection with the town drops to strength 2 if it's higher than that. Please don't pick fights with people, that's not how you create happy stories.
Lots of Weaknesses you can pick say "you must do X" or "you can never do Y", and sometimes this can stonewall someone who needs to advance. So, it actually is possible to temporarily overcome these limitations when you really have to.
If you want to briefly overcome a Weakness, spend 6 points of Feelings, Wonder, or some combination thereof. This lets you ignore it for a single action - if a cat henge with Can't Swim wanted to retrieve something from the far side of a river, it would cast 6 points to cross, then
six points to cross back. If you don't have 6 points, though, there's another option - with Narrator permission, you can actually remove the Weakness permanently. The cost for this is, of course, that the Weakness's additional power is also lost. If you wind up with no Weaknesses, you have to pick a new one.
Your Connection to the Town
Every henge starts with a Connection to the town they live in, with a strength of 2 in both directions. The town's Connection to you has a contents of "Acceptance", yours can be whatever you want, as long as it makes sense. This is a general Connection to the community and everyone in it, and it can rise, fall, or change like any other Connection. Unlike other Connections, though, it doesn't become Memories or Threads at the end of your story, but its strength and contents persist between adventures.
If a Connection stays strong and grows over time, it may eventually reach strength 5 in both directions. When this happens, both sides of the connection gain 10 points of Wonder and Feelings at the start of their next scene as a reward. When this Connection becomes Threads, it gives two threads instead of one to each person.
Riko's Big Mistake, Part 2
Kuromu isn’t really interested in hearing about how to save friends.
Kuromu: Hey gramps, you seen Riko?
Elder Turtle: Hohoho. A little kitty this time? Quite a lively day, this is.
Kuromu: So she did come by here. Riko was saying something about some kind of mistake.
Elder Turtle: I see... So you want to help her, eh?
Kuromu: Well, whatever. What would you do if one of your friends was troubled?
What does knowing someone’s story have to do with it?
Elder Turtle: Well. I see. If it was me, first I would come to know of their story. And I would ask that friend what that story means to them.
Kuromu: Just ask?
Elder Turtle: Hohoho. If you’re having a hard time, it helps if someone else knows about it. It’s painful to keep a story to yourself. The burden is less if you split the story with someone else.
Kuromu: Hmm... I guess so.
Elder Turtle: Of course. However, you’ve got to be careful, haven’t you? Even if you think what she did was foolish, it might still be painful for her. You can’t just dismiss it as "no big deal." Listen to your friend; find out why it’s so difficult for her.
But what if it was just too much for her to bear?
Kuromu: But, if you’re really at your wit’s end, what good will having someone listen do?
Elder Turtle: When that happens, it’s time to break down the painful story.
Kuromu: That sounds... violent?
Elder Turtle: Hohoho. You’re not breaking the thing itself. You’re breaking the story that’s causing that person such pain. For example... Ah, I know. A story that says, "This is my mistake, so I have to fix it by myself." If a story like that is causing your friend pain... Then you need to break it, and that could help your friend.
Kuromu: I get it. You’re not busting the thing itself, but you have to get rid of that painful story.
Elder Turtle: Hohoho. And if the story that goes "No one will help me" is causing someone pain, you should do your best to help them. If it’s "I’m lonely," be their friend. Only a good friend can break down a painful story.
You have to turn sad stories into happy ones.
Kuromu: Thanks, old man. I’m going to head out now.
Elder Turtle: One last thing. I need to tell you how to look for the best kind of story. That’s where you change the story’s meaning.
Elder Turtle: It’s the same story from the same person, but if you change its meaning, a painful story can become a happy one. The story, "I have to fix this by myself" doesn’t have to be a story of loneliness. It can become, "I have the confidence to fix this with my own strength" instead. If you do that... And, you’ve already left, it seems. Youth is so wonderful...
If you're wondering what the genre of Golden Sky Stories is, this is how Kamiya defines it. It's shared with a much older Japanese RPG called
, and there's a few modern games that are similar, too. It's about two main concepts.
GSS wasn't created because violent stories are bad; it was created because there's untapped value in this other kind of story. There are no villains; if someone is doing something bad, it's because they have what they think is a good reason for it, or they're not thinking about the feelings of others. Your goal isn't to stop them or prove them wrong, it's to show them that there's a better way to do things.
Telling stories in this idiom might be hard to get the hang of at first. Endings aren't set in stone, because how things resolve is based on how people's hearts and minds guide them. There might not even be a problem to solve, just someone to make friends with. It should always be possible for every character to leave the story happy. The important thing is to make sure all your players are on board with what kind of game this is before going in.
A major part of GSS's atmosphere is the scale - not how huge the adventures are, but how tiny. Even a non-violent social adventure might sprawl over days or weeks and involve a wide network of interacting characters. Your typical GSS adventure involves two to four henge and one to three Narrator characters, and take place over the course of an hour or less. You might go between the town and the forest, but that's the limit of mobility. The stakes are small, too - nobody's fighting for everything they believe in, conflicts are more of wrinkles that need straightening out. Unlike most RPGs, the protagonists aren't absolutely necessary, they're just nudging events to make them just a little bit better than they would have been otherwise.
The goal of making the game so small is a feeling of intimacy. If there's so few characters, all of them can become your friends. This is also conveniently the size at which the game's mechanics function the best! If you get much higher than 5-6 total characters in the story, the Connection net gets big enough to let the party power through just about anything with their huge piles of Feelings and Wonder.
Next: Telling your own stories.
Autumn: To Become a Narrator
Original SA post
Autumn: To Become a Narrator
Autumn is the season of ripening,
The season when flowers give the blessing of fruit.
The season that brings dreams.
Here you’ll learn about the narrator’s role in Golden Sky Stories.
What should a narrator do?
How do you tell stories?
Take in what's written here.
From here, you’ll create your own stories.
You'll need a few things before you begin. The required materials list is pretty standard, except that there's no dice required, and it
list as a required item
, both towards your friends and towards the characters in the story.
The Narrator has five main jobs!
Create a Town
You don't need to do this in any huge amount of detail. Start with a name; if you don't have any ideas for one, just take a Japanese family name and add "Town" to the end. Next is the surrounding nature - is there a big river? is it near the sea? is it surrounded by mountains? does it snow a lot in the winter?
The fine details can be established during play. The distance from the post office to the train station is whatever the story demands that it be. As you decide on details during play, write them down so that things will be consistent if you come back to it in another story.
The end of the book contains a town, Hitotsuna Town, which can be lifted wholesale if you don't want the extra work.
Prepare a Story
A seasoned GM shouldn't have any trouble devising new stories. For those who are newer to the format, or need a grace period to get the swing of this style of game, the book has two sample scenarios to use, plus the Winter section has a big pile of story fragments scattered across the NPC descriptions, which can be tied together into a story.
The core of every secnario is thus: Someone is troubled by something. "Someone" can be a human, a henge, an animal, or a god. "Something" isn't evil machinations or something that needs to be destroyed. The someone might not even be incapable of dealing with the something, they may just need a nudge in the right direction. A henge's job is to give that troubled person the strength to take one step forward.
Once you have that core, the rest needs to fall into place around it. An introductory scene where the trouble is introduced, a few scenes digging through the situation, then a conclusion. Scenarios run about 4-5 scenes on average.
Driving the Story
The actual GMing part. This book goes over all the basics in a lot of detail, it would be a great game for someone who has no idea how to run an RPG.
Anyway, set the scene, describe locations, update descriptions as the situation changes. If things bog down, keep the story moving forward, but try not to restrict the actions of the henge. If the game slows down with a lot of idle conversation between the characters, but people are having fun, just let it play out.
Be a Referee
Rules arbitration. Set the difficulty for checks, determine who wins and loses. If you're not sure what attribute to ask for on a check, ask the party for their thoughts. Take the initiative when it comes to awarding Dreams, so that the other players pick up on your lead and keep the currency flowing. Make sure that players recall their weaknesses, and remind them if they try to act against them.
Portray Other Characters
NPCs. There's not much here that isn't fairly obvious, they work like in other games. They have their own attributes and Connections, as long as they're important enough to get a name. The Narrator can earn Dreams like anyone else, and spend them to improve Connections from NPCs.
Unlike the player characters, NPCs don't have their own separate pools of Wonder and Feelings. Instead, the Narrator gets 10-20 points of each to spend on each scene. These points are shared by every NPC participating in the scene, and don't carry over between scenes.
An Actual Story
Time for a sample of actual play! This is a big chunk of the book, going for a whopping 14 pages, so I'll leave out most of it.
It opens with a walkthrough of chargen, using a couple of the same sample characters from the rest of the book. Riko makes a tanuki with the weaknesses Gullible, Carried Away, and Carefree (gaining the extra powers Carelessness, Tanuki Dance, and Rest), and sets her stats as Henge 3, Animal 1, Adult 2, Child 2. Kuromu sets her weaknesses as Cat-Tongue, Can't Swim, and Selfish, and her stats as Henge 2, Animal 3, Adult 1, Child 2. Riko picks "Like" for her Connection to Kuromu, who picks "Protection" for Riko. Thus, game begins.
Here's a bit of the first scene:
Now let’s begin this story. In preparing this story, Suzune has allowed herself 10 points each of Feelings and Wonder per scene. It only concerns people, and it won’t require many checks, so that should be plenty.
Suzune: Now it’s time for the first scene. It’s the evening. You’re on a dimly-lit path surrounded by fences and a hedge. It’s a patch of open land overgrown with weeds, and the two of you are watching the sunset.
Riko: I wave my tail and happily say, "The sunset is so pretty!"
Kuromu: I don’t say anything and just look around from on top of the fence.
Suzune: Well, I’ll give Riko a Dream.
Riko: Yay! As the narrator, Suzune passes her a playing card, so that it will be easy to count later. The number of playing cards each player has represents how many Dreams she’s accumulated.
Suzune: Now, while you’re doing that, a boy comes running up the path.
Kuromu: What’s the boy look like?
Suzune: He’s smaller than either of you. He’s probably a third-grader. He looks well-mannered.
Riko: I sort of trundle over, and rub against him.
Kuromu: But you’re a raccoon dog!
Riko: I sure am, you know? When I get close to him I’ll be like, "Um..."
Suzune: I see. Well, since a raccoon dog is approaching a human, the boy is Surprised.
Riko: Aaah! Is that what happens?!
Kuromu: Normally you would be surprised.
Suzune: So, the boy goes "Aaah!" and slips. If you can’t make an Animal check of 2 or better, you’ll get caught up in it, Riko.
Riko: Uh oh! My Animal is only 1!
Kuromu: But, you can use some Feelings to make it, right?
Suzune: Right. Since you have the Relaxed Weakness, you’ll have to spend 2 points of Feelings to make your Animal temporarily go up to 2, and you won’t get caught up in his fall.
Riko: Umm... Uhh... I think I should get caught up though, you know?
Suzune: Okay. The boy falls on top of Riko.
Riko: Squish! I’m seeing stars, but I’ll let my soft body cushion him, you know?
Kuromu: Wow. That’s cute... Have a Dream.
Suzune: I’ll give her a Dream too.
Riko: Yay! Now I have three, you know?
Kuromu: (Ack. And I have none.) AAnyway, I’ll panic, and say, "Jeez! What’re you doing?!" and rush over while still in cat form.
Suzune: Well, well, well. Suddenly hearing a girl’s voice, the boy panics and springs to his feet.
Kuromu: I’m getting a little worried here. I’ll just try to sound like a normal cat. "Meow."
Here both Kuromu and the narrator get one Dream each. You don’t have to say anything when awarding Dreams. They’re using the cards to represent Dreams, and it’s best to award them without interrupting the story’s progress. There’s nothing wrong with passing the cards without saying anything. From here on out we’ll omit the awarding of Dreams from this transcript.
HEY LOOK, it's the short story from the top of the book! It was a play session all along, now being presented as table chatter instead of prose. It runs through the whole thing, including between-scene bookkeeping and postgame Memory/Thread generation.
Riko's Big Mistake, part 3
I want to become a good narrator.
Suzune: Hello, Lady Kaminagahime. What does one need to be a narrator?
Kaminaga-hime: ......However many stories you weave...... you must keep gaining more experience.
Suzune: Hm. Then what should one be careful of?
Kaminaga-hime: ......There should be many ways to resolve the story...... just as I have many legs. (She flexes her eight legs.)
Suzune: I see. So, the henge should be able to resolve things however they wish?
Kaminaga-hime: Hmm...... You must also be able to see...... the thread of a solution...... when you are troubled.
Let the henge do what they want.
Suzune: But what if they don’t follow the hints you give them?
Kaminaga-hime: ......Depending on the situation. If they are very clearly choosing...... badly, you may have to point them to the thread of the resolution. If they still won’t follow it...... there’s little to be done...... and you must tell them of the bad outcome. That’s how it has to be in the end...... you see.
Suzune: Hm. I became a narrator to tell happy stories with them. I know that doesn’t mean there will never be bad endings.
Kaminaga-hime: It won’t be all bad..... Sometimes the outcome will be...... better than what the narrator prepared.
Suzune: When that happens, you shouldn’t be particular about the ending you had in mind, correct?
I want us to weave happy stories together.
Kaminaga-hime: A narrator’s job is not to tell a tragic story...... even if you do trouble the henge. Have the henge make a sad story...... into a happy one. The narrator must make everyone involved in the story...... people and henge...... happy. Strive to that end. ......Weave a happy story for the depressed raccoon dog too......
Suzune: You needn’t tell me that. As the narrator, I will protect Kikuna, who fears moving away, and that scatterbrained Riko! Sorry to have disturbed you. I must be going.
Kaminaga-hime: ......Don’t get so keen. Fox girl...... The narrator’s happiness is important too.
Next: The first sample scenario.
Autumn: At the Fox's Shrine
Original SA post
Autumn: At the Fox's Shrine
The first of two scenarios in the book. Characters are a fox henge and the PCs. Time needed is 2 hours. The Narrator can use 20 Feelings and 20 Wonder per scene.
This scenario is intended to teach the game to both new players and new Narrators as a starter story. There is only one location, and only one NPC. Three things must be taken into consideration when crafting our single NPC:
- Must be a fox.
- Must have the "Pride" Weakness.
- Must not be portrayed in a way that makes nobody like him/her.
The default solution is to just use Suzune from the default NPCs. The default setting is Hitotsuna Town, which is outlined in the Winter chapter, but honestly the town has almost no impact on the story. The story should be set in whatever season it is in real life when you run the game.
Location: An abandoned shrine, the offering dish holding only fallen leaves. The time: Day. It's up to the players to explain why their characters are hanging out here. Things can start with a bit of idle chatter and antics amongst the PCs, but eventually the shrine's owner will show up.
If any of the PCs can succeed at an Animal check of difficulty 6, they'll notice the fox watching them. If nobody points the fox out, then she might Surprise them (check set at her Henge attribute) when she makes her presence known. The fox's goal in this scene is to figure out who these henge are and why they're here, then to introduce herself. Once she does, everyone makes Impression Checks, then the scene ends. Nothing complex.
Location: The same. Time: Evening. Now that the sky is starting to darken, the henge can transform for free (if they keep their ears/tail), so the fox will suggest that they take human form.
During this scene, the henge learn more about this fox, and she learns more about them. She's lived alone at the shrine for a long time, and it's been a long time since it was this lively. She might show off some of her powers, but it's important that she keep at least 12 Wonder in stock. After talking for a while, a henge can make an Adult VS Adult check to understand that, although she may deny it, the fox is glad that everyone came, and wants them to stay longer. As the scene is nearing an end, it starts to rain. Scene ends.
Location: The same. Time: Night. Since it's began raining, the fox suggests they take shelter under a large tree next to the shrine. Once they've taken shelter, the Narrator lets anyone make a Henge check against the fox, who will spend up to 4 Feelings to protect herself. Anyone who beats her check will realize that the unblocked moon is peeking through the leaves and branches - there are no clouds in the sky. It's raining because the fox used her Fairy Rain power.
Whether or not she's caught, the fox will eventually come clean about her feelings. She made it rain as an excuse to enjoy the company of her new friends for a while longer. Depending on how the PCs react, this could resolve in any number of ways, but if any of them stay with her through the rain, she'll thank them, and say something to each of the other henge in turn.
Location: The same. Time: The next day. The PCs have gathered again at the shrine. The fox, in human form again, is back to her usual arrogant attitude, but it's clear that she's glad to see them. What happens next is up to the players - maybe it will end with the henge promising to show the fox around town beyond her shrine. Whatever happens, thank everyone for playing, and handle the postgame tallying of Memories and Threads.
If you want to change things up, or run it again with different characters/a different Narrator, there's a lot of ways to tweak the scenario. You could, for example, replace the fox with a local god, and the shrine with their territory. If you run a different scenario with a different Narrator, the old Narrator could participate using the fox from this story.
Next: Another, spookier(?) scenario.
Autumn: Crying in the Night
Original SA post
Autumn: Crying in the Night
The second full scenario in the book, written for people who have played the game before as a possible followup to the fox shrine story. This one is a little more complex, including multiple locations and two NPCs. For this scenario, the Narrator gets 10 Wonder and 10 Feelings for each scene.
Warn the players beforehand that this whole story takes place at night. A bird henge with the Night Blindness weakness will probably have a hard time. There are two NPCs who must be created, one human and one puppy. The human is a child who's diligent enough to go all the way back to school to pick up something he/she forgot - recommended stats are to use the "Diligent" statblock in the Winter chapter. The puppy is a dog with an Animal attribute of 1, stats otherwise available in the Winter chapter. If you've used a dog recently in a story, replace puppy with kitten.
Location: Open area in front of the school. Time: Night. There's a full moon, and the PCs have gathered to look at the moon and spend time together. Let them chat amongst themselves for a while, but when things slow down, they spot a human child heading towards the school. When he notices the henge, he fearfully asks if someone's there. The important thing here is for the henge to meet with the child instead of letting him reach the school.
When the henge and child meet, make Impression Checks. He explains the situation: He forgot his homework in the classroom, and he needs to get it, but he's scared to go into the school at night by himself. In all likelihood, the scene ends with the child being accompanied by the henge into the school.
Location: Inside the school. Time: Night. The moonlight makes it easy to see, the school is silent. Floorboards creak, the atmosphere is unnerving. The doors aren't locked, though, so the group can easily make their way to the classroom, maybe talking a bit to relieve the tension of the creepy building.
When they leave the classroom with the forgotten item, everyone makes an Animal check, difficulty 4. On a success, they notice what sounds like a strange, sobbing voice. The group's child will automatically notice and be Surprised, crying out.
Location: A hallway to the school's exit. Time: Night. The child is so scared that he can't move forward without someone holding his hand. If the henge don't try to help him get his courage, he'll start crying and become to scared to reach the entrance.
Hopefully, the henge will be able to help the child gather his courage and escape this obviously ghost-infested school. As they escape, though, the crying voice rises again, this time much closer - everyone must face a Surprise check of 8. With the voice coming closer, the scene ends.
Location: Outside the school's entrance. Time: Night. At an Animal check of 4 or higher, the henge can notice that the sound is coming from the bushes by the entrance. Anyone who notices this can make an Adult check of 4 or higher to realize that it isn't the sound of someone crying after all. At this point, the child is so scared that he wants to run away, but if one of the henge gathers enough courage to check the source of the sound, they'll discover that it was just a frightened puppy all along.
The puppy isn't a henge, so it will just start barking. If the group has a dog henge, they'll be able to tell that the puppy is hungry and cold. If anyone pets the puppy, it will take to them very quickly, and Impression Checks can be made. The scene ends once the henge decide what to do with the puppy and the child goes home.
Time: Evening, the next day. This could go several ways, depending on how the previous scene ended.
If the puppy went home with the child, then the henge can head to the child's house the following day. The puppy will be excited to see them, and they can play with it for a while. Story ends.
If they found someone else to take care of the puppy, that character appears at the end and becomes friends with the henge. It could be a character from a previous story, or a student with the "Princess" stat block - if it's someone new, make Impression Checks. After some conversation, the story ends.
If the henge decide to look after the puppy themselves, the child comes to visit them outside the school the following evening. The story ends with the human and the henge playing with the puppy and deciding where to go from there.
Next: Insights about the Japanese countryside.
Autumn: About the Countryside
Original SA post
Autumn: About the Countryside
This chapter was written by South, the current publisher of Witch Quest. It's about everyday magic storytelling and the portrayal of the Japanese countryside.
Images of the Countryside
To city slickers like us, the countryside as depicted in games ilke this one is a dream world of idyllic fantasy. Of course, the real countryside isn't so friendly. People can be less welcoming than you might expect, farmers can be overwhelmed with economic pressures, and there are cases of criminals from the city heading out to the country to do their business away from the eyes of the law.
Still, this is a magical RPG, so you don't have to portray the countryside as it really is. It's fine to leave the hard edges of reality out, this isn't a countryside sim. It's a fantasy game.
Not all countryside areas are identical. The town in the book is a commuter town, where most people work elsewhere and travel to work by train in the morning. But there also towns more cut off from the urban world, where people are employed locally and there's no city within commute distance. There's more variation than outsiders (or even some country folks) might imagine.
"In Town" and "Everything Else"
In the countryside, there's a pronounced barrier between "us" and "everyone else". This is what the Town Connection is for - the "Acceptance" connection content is how much the community considers you to be a part of it. For another meaning of that distinction, there's a distinction between "in town" - the main shopping area - and everything outside of it. In town, strangers will stand out less, and it makes an unexpectedly good backdrop for nighttime scenes. Once the sun sets, everything closes up and the town becomes silent.
That being said, there are more places in the country with 24-hour convenience stores than there used to be, but let's just ignore all of those.
Effective Use of Notice and Time
In the country, there are less people, but there's still
people watching you. Unfamiliar faces attract attention, and there are usually people working in the fields and rice paddies who have plenty of time to notice what's going on around them. It's hard to do anything without someone else knowing about it.
The difference between day and night is more pronounced here than in the city. There's a kind of darkness at night out here that you never see in Tokyo. When the sun sets, agricultural work becomes impossible, so everyone just goes home. During the night, the town is empty, letting the sharp-eyed henge do as they please.
That being said, anyone making light or raising their voices at night will probably still draw attention. Many small towns have a thing called 'fire patrol' where people (usually young men but sometimes children) will check overnight for fires or crimes, with wooden clappers to alert people if something happens. These can be an obstacle for henge, but could also become their friends.
People in the country are more inclined to just leave their homes unlocked (in reality burglaries by people from the city have become a problem, but let's just set that aside). It's not hard for children who sleep in their own rooms to sneak out of the house at night.
Lots of Things are Missing
There may not be any government offices or banks near by. There's definitely no arcades or movie theaters. If you want to shop at night, or buy anything beyond basic necessities, it may require a trip to the nearest city, which may be a long drive. There are lots of things that a player might ask about where the Narrator may just say "there isn't one", or "you'd have to go to the next town over to get it".
There are other quirks of the town that you won't find in big cities. Cell phone reception is spotty or nonexistent, people are more religious, eldest sons are highly regarded. Sometimes people are called by their trade names instead of their real names. Don't worry about getting all of this right, just take the aspects that resonate with you and use them as inspiration for writing stories.
Other Kinds of Towns
If you step away from Hitotsuna Town, there's a lot of other options for what your game's town might look like.
Provincial City / Commuter Town
A rural area, with a cluster of residences surrounded by rice paddies and fields. Not far from a bigger city, so the train means that the conveniences of the modern world aren't too remote. Still, richer in nature than the city itself. No fireflies.
Town With Through Traffic
Hitotsuna Town's type. Several train lines and roads go through it. People commute to school or work, but the town is a bit cut off from its immediate surroundings. Relatively isolated, but there's still traffic to and from the city. Fireflies can be found around clean, pure water, once you're outside of the main town area.
The Middle of Nowhere
Surrounded by mountains or water. Public transit is operating on a shoestring budget, or not at all. Population is sparse, but the isolation necessarily means that some necessities like clinics or post offices exist in town. There are fireflies.
Isolated Villages, Islands
No traffic lights, few streetlamps, houses are far apart. Schools combine multiple years under one roof. There might be a single bus per day at best, only larger houses have a phone. There's a shrine for the local god, the only grocery story in town recently closed. Fireflies are abundant.
Mountains, Deserted Islands, Ghost Towns
There's no humans at all. At this point, it can't really be called the countryside.
Next: Monster manual. Of sorts.
Original SA post
Winter is the season of endings,
The season when fertility and life hide themselves,
The season when everything seems to stand still.
Here you will find various kinds of information for Golden Sky Stories.
A town where stories can take place. People who live in the town. Animals of the town.
And, the mysterious local gods.
These things are written here.
Please, use them to tell your very own stories.
It's time for some NPC fodder! Populating a fair chunk of your game will be animals - not henge, but just regular ones.
These animals can't talk to humans, and can only talk to henge of the same species as themselves - a fox henge can talk to foxes, but not to cats. Animals generally won't be very helpful, being absorbed in their own affairs, but it's courteous to say hello as your paths cross, and meeting a lost or injured animal could begin a story.
Henge 1 / Animal 2 / Adult 1 / Child 0
Fearful of humans and some other animals, seldom showing themselves. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 1 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 1
Taking life at a laid-back pace; timid yet inquisitive. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 1 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 1
Living life according to their own eccentric whims, may intentionally contact henge. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 1 / Animal 0-2 / Adult 0 / Child 0-2
Coming in wide varieties, friendly and perservering. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 0 / Animal 3 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Catching a wild rabbit would be a difficult task even for a henge. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 0 / Animal 4 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Animal drops to 0 if it can't fly for whatever reason. Discussed already in the henge chapter.
Henge 0 / Animal 6 / Adult 0 / Child 0
The stongest, buggest animals around. Taller than a man, seldom coming near the town. Adept climbers and swimmers, hibernating in winter. Mild, easygoing animals, but with a tendency to throw their strength around when startled. Some can become mountain gods.
Henge 0 / Animal 3-4 / Adult 0 / Child
The most dangerous animals in the area, far more than bears, are actually the bees. Their hives can show up in unexpected places, and they'll attack if you get close. If you're fleeing a swarm of bees, you'll have to go indoors or underwater. Please be careful.
Henge 0 / Animal 5 / Adult 0 / Child 0
The sturdiest animals in the area. They charge when startled, but won't do more than chase away whoever's right in front of them. Sometimes they come into town when food becomes scarce. Boar children and parents get along will with other animals. Some can become local gods.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Can't fly, but runs faster than your typical flying bird. If they're being raised in large numbers, an escape will cause a huge ruckus. They seldom become henge.
Henge 0 / Animal 4 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Bigger than boars, quite strong, but they'd rather not move around. Generally not dangerous, often protected by humans. They're only interested in eating and raising children. They never become henge or gods.
Henge 0 / Animal 4 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Docile animals living far from the village. When taking care of children, they'll avoid other animals or people. Very fast, incredible jumpers, often traveling in large groups. Older deer can sometimes become local gods, but deer gods tend to avoid contact with people.
Henge 0 / Animal 3 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Animal 0 when out of water. Countless kinds of fish live in the local lakes and rivers, no matter where you go. Fish can sometimes become henge that never come on dry land, or local gods of ponds or rivers.
Henge 0 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Mice, rats, or hamsters live just about everywhere, in surprising numbers. Mice can become henge, looking after themselves and their families with strange powers. They seldom become gods, and have trouble getting along with cats or foxes.
Henge 0 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 1
Smart, agile, strong. They live in groups in the forests or mountains, and they carry strong bonds with each other. When they spill into town, monkeys almost always cause trouble. Some monkeys can rise to become group leaders, but they never become gods.
Henge 1 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Often hated by humans even when not doing anything to harm them, due to some of them being poisonous. Older snakes can become gods or henge, and are often acquainted with nearby fox henge. Powerful snakes can get very large, some as long as 5 meters. Can't be found in cold areas, seldom seen in the winter.
Henge 1 / Animal 3 / Adult 0 / Child 0
Small, clever, excellent climbers. Related to skunks, some of them may spray foul smells when chased or frightened. Weasels can become henge, but they're even more whimsical than cats, and seldom associate with others. They wander too much to become gods.
Bats fly in the evening, flying squirrels come out at night. In the woods, squirrels and wildcats. Underground, moles. In the rain, frogs. In the water, turtles. There are countless animals living in the country, most of them seldom seen by huma eyes. Many of these stranger animals may appear as local gods. If animals not covered above appear, the Narrator can give them attributes based on similar animals from the list.
Henge of species beyond those covered in the book can be treated as animals that are capalbe of looking and talking like humans. If you want, you can give them some powers from other species - a bat henge would surely be able to use a few powers from the bird henge's list.
Animals in Stories
Animals can be used just to set the mood, or they could approach the henge with heir own problems or thoughts. The language barriers provide interesting challenges - if a bear wandered into the village, the henge would need some means other than words to persuade him to head back to the mountains.
The Narrator may allow someone to participate in a game as an animal if they want. They're created with the same attributes as the animal's section in this chapter, and don't get a human form or any powers.
Next: Those most mysterious of creatures, the humans.
Original SA post
The inhabitants of the town. They all have their own worries, their own joys, and their own goals. Any meeting with a person can be a story, getting to know a new friend can be a story. These are slightly different from the animals section, in that each one has some number of small plot hooks attached.
There's a sidebar with a bunch of Japanese names for inspiration, but I find google usually does the trick pretty well for that.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 2 / Child 2
An introvert, but one who doesn't like being alone. He tends to worry about things where no one is at fault. He's suffering alone to make sure he doesn't trouble others. In short, he needs a friend.
Story Fragment: He has trouble making friends, or feels he can't show his true self at home or at school. He can't speak up for fear of being hated.
Henge 0 / Animal 2 / Adult 1 / Child 2
There's a group of kids who cause mischief, and this one's the leader. He's healthy and charismatic, but his spot on top may be short-lived. He takes the initiative, and is usually the first to speak up.
Story Fragment: He initiated a scheme that's going a bit too far, but now he can't stop it. He might be lonely after thoughtlessly quarreling with his friends. He could be lost after clumsily falling in love.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 3 / Child 1
Honor student, dedicated and hard-working. Not a bad person, but his worldview is a bit narrow. If someone shows him an outside viewpoint, he may realize that there's more to the world than he thought.
Story Fragment: May get troubled when accidentally forgetting something, or making a small mistake. Pretending to know what he's doing may leave him in over his head. Maybe he just wants to cry or complain but feels that he can't express himself.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 3 / Child 3
Daughter of a well-to-do family. Privileged, but sheltered. She has an easy, safe, well-protected path laid out in front of her, but she'll inevitably want to stray from it, at least a little.
Story Fragment: She's tired of her family's restrictive rules, and just wants to play by the river with the other children. She doesn't realize someone's in love with her.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 2 / Child 2
They might not really be confident that they're lovers, or they might be too young to really understand love. Maybe it's a one-sided love, or maybe they're both very stubborn. Their young love is clumsy enough to make others want to meddle in it.
Story Fragment: They're unable to easily forgive each other after a quarrel. One of them might not be able to express how they feel. There could even be an awkward one-sided love between a human and a henge, in either direction.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 1 / Child 2
Connected by a bond of blood they couldn't break even if they wanted to. They quickly bounce back after quarreling. However, they may sometimes need someone to cut in between them.
Story Fragment: The older sibling says something unreasonable to the younger one. Twins change places to cause mischief. A henge's brother or sister may make an appearance in the story.
Henge 0 / Animal 2 / Adult 2 / Child 1
The town is self-sufficient when it comes to food. They sell their crops, but edible food that doesn't look good enough to sell may end up given away to people who live nearby. Henge could also get such gifts if they're friends with a farmer.
Story Fragments: Henge might get a reward for helping out at the farm. Monkeys might caause trouble in a farmer's fields. A playing child might fall into a rice paddy or irrigation canal. Something significant to a fox or local god might get dug up in someone's field.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 4 / Child 0
A transfer student, or an adult on a business trip. Busy and distracted, with no time to believe in the supernatural. When witnessing something magical, treat their attributes as 2 lower for Surprise purposes.
Story Fragments: A city person gets lost in the countryside. She might refuse to accept the existence of henge, or have trouble adjusting to a new lifestyle.
Henge 0 / Animal 0 / Adult 0 / Child 3
It's a lot of work to take care of a baby, but their smile makes up for any hardship. At times, parents may need help from the town's residents - or henge - looking after a baby.
Story Fragments: A baby wanders off while the mother is looking away. A mother asks the henge to look after her baby while she takes care of something.
Grumpy Old Man
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 2 / Child 0
You darn kids with your color TV and your fox ears and your cell phones and your supernatural powers! He's actually so rough because he worries about kids, but he doesn't mean them any harm. He may scold henge the same way he yells at children.
Story Fragments: He's troubled because he accidentally made some kids cry. He gets drunk and cries while telling the henge about his past. Children may ask the henge to talk to him in their place.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 3 / Child 3
A word that refers not only to teachers but also to writers, doctors, scholars, painters, any learned professional. He can be very busy at times, but is good friends with the children. Knowledgeable as an adult, but still childish in some ways, which makes him popular with lots of people.
Story Fragments: He has visitors coming and going from the city. When he's busy, he might lose his temper, but apologize later.
Lady from the General Store
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 1 / Child
The general story doubles as the town's only candy shop. Loves kids, gives sweets to the henge. She might accept money from the fox's offerings, or might ask the henge to help out around the shop instead. She may know that they're not exactly human.
Story Fragments: She comes down with a cold, and asks the henge to mind the store. An older henge like a fox may have been friends with her for a long time.
Henge 1 / Animal 1 / Adult 2+ / Child 1
Or any other sort of priest. He knows well about the world of gods and henge - for purposes of Surprise, his attributes are 4(!) higher than normal. He welcomes visitors at his temple or shrine, and is a good person to go to for advice.
Story Fragments: Playing around graves could draw his ire. He asks the henge to help out with an upcoming festival. Someone comes to the temple seeking shelter from the rain.
Henge 1 / Animal 1 / Adult 1+ / Child 2
Daughter of the family that runs a Shinto shrine. If a fox has a shrine nearby, they likely know of each other. Her attributes are 2 higher than normal when it comes to Surprise. She maintains the shrine and lives life at a leisurel pace.
Story Fragments: Another girl starts to idolize her. She made a promise with a local god when she was younger. She tries to convince a fox to make it rain so that she can weasel out of the athletics festival.
Henge 0 / Animal 1 / Adult 1+ / Child 1+
Someone will be going away for any sort of reason. Maybe it's because of family, maybe it's to follow their dreams. Maybe it's because they're going somewhere far away from this world. They'll be gone soon, so give them one last happy story, and don't forget them.
Story Fragments: Before they leave, they have something important they want to say to someont hey care about. An apology, a message, a confession of love.
People in Stories
Unlike Henge, people have no powers - they can only spend Feelings, never Wonder. Most people the henge meet in stories will have some small problem that they need help with, which becomes the seed of a story. However, not all stories are about resolving some incident. They're about encounters and contact.
With Narrator permission, someone who has played a henge before can try playing a human in another story. It may be hard on the player, since children may have restricted freedom and not be able to appear in as many scenes. Humans can't have a Henge or Animal above 2, but Adult can go as high as 5.
Next: The gods.
Winter: Local Gods
Original SA post
Winter: Local Gods
Henge are the bridge between people and nature, but local gods are pure nature. Their existence has nothing to do with humans. Each one has their own territory, outside of which they have no interest in what goes on.
Gods have powers significantly greater than henge, but are nearly powerless outside of their own territory. The larger the territory, the greater the god.
Powers of Local Gods
There are some powers allowed to all local gods, then each type also has special powers of its own. Any god can use these:
Speak to Animals (0)
Regardless of species, gods can communicate with animals that live in their territory. Does not stretch to animals that live elsewhere but just wandered in.
Know everything that happens in their territory. If a button falls to the bottom of a lake, the lake's god knows exactly where it is.
Transform, as per henge. Local gods generally have animal forms, but they're things like spiders or frogs instead of rabbits or dogs.
Disappear into the god's territory, becoming completely invisible. However, while vanished, the god can't do anything other than subtly communicate.
Carry Out (5)
Take something inside the territory and guide it to the border to leave. Can't be used on an unwilling target.
Henge 4 / Animal 2 / Adult 3 / Child 1
Animals: Turtle, Fish, Snake, Shellfish, Frog
Ponds are quiet, stable places supported by calm, relaxed gods. They might get angry if you do too much fishing or pollute the pond, but they are seldom scary.
Power: Water-Strider (5)
Make anything float in water, no matter how dense. Can let humans or animals walk on water.
Someone needs the god's help retrieving something that fell into the pond. Someone falls into the pond and calls for help. A god might ask a fox to make it rain.
Henge 6 / Animal 3 / Adult 1 / Child 3
Animals: Fish, Snake, Centipede, Otter
Rivers are ever-flowing, and their gods are whimsical. Sometimes they'll suddenly decide that something must be done, and become selfish and self-centered. River gods aren't fond of humans, and might cause a flood if angered.
Power: Soak (8)
Make a bucketfull of water fall down wherever you want. To avoid getting soaked requires an Animal check above the god's Henge check. Inflicts a Surprise check of Henge+3.
The god mistakes something that fell mistakenly into the river for trash and gets angry. A god is troubled when she uses her Soak power on a child and the child catches cold. A moody river god falls in love with a human.
Henge 5 / Animal 1 / Adult 1 / Child 4
Animals: Fox, Deer, Bird, Raccoon Dog, Giant Spider, Tree
A single large forest could have several gods. Forest gods tend to be very old, and enjoy life at a leisurely pace. They're very lonely, and might not want to let new friends leave.
Power: Lost in the Woods (6)
Make people become lost on changing forest paths. Can affect multiple people, but the cost must be paid for each one. Lasts until scene end.
Power: Darkness (12)
It becomes dark as night, transformation costs changing accordingly. All humans in this darkness with a Child of 3 or higher have all their other attributes reduced to 0.
Children come to play in the forest, but the god won't let them leave. Local animals leave the forest, and the god becomes worried and wants to find them. A forest god asks the henge to bring someone to her, but they take the god into town instead.
Henge 4 / Animal 7 / Adult 3 / Child 3
Animals: Bear, Boar, Snake, Fox, Spider, Centipede
One mountain, one god. Ruling a mountain is a lot of work, so mountain gods tend to be very responsible, creating rules and requiring the residents to abide by them, other gods included. Mountain gods are extremely old, conveying profound emotion merely by their existence.
Power: In the Mist (16)
Mist too thick to see through engulfs the mountain. Humans can't freely move through it, and the god can lead those trapped in it wherever she wishes. Lasts until scene end.
Power: Rain Shower (20)
Sudden torrential downpour. Makes you cold and wet, but has no other special powers. Set one foot off the mountain, and it stops immediately.
A mountain god doesn't want to let any humans come to the mountain. A child gets lost on the mountain and falls asleep, and the god asks the henge to come get them back home.
Henge 2 / Animal 2 / Adult 0 / Child 6
Animals: Bird, Fox, Rabbit, Deer, Snake
There are smaller fields close to town, and bigger ones far from town. Their gods tend to be kind, curious and naive. They're more likely than other gods to leave their territory, becoming quite vulnerable when they do. They're quick to befriend children who pass into their territory.
Power: Sunny Day (16)
Push away all weather to create a pleasing, warm sunny sky. Gives 4 points of Dreams to everyone in the field other than the god. Lasts until scene end.
The henge accompany a field god into town to make sure she doesn't get lost. A field god gets attached to children or henge and doesn't want to let them go home. A field god who's left the field might not know the way back. A field god starts crying because of something someone did.
Henge 6 / Animal 4 / Adult 0 / Child 2
Animals: Fish, Turtle, Snake, Octopus, Crab
Actual ocean gods are too distant to ever meet in this game - these are more of shore gods. They have a low opinion of humans, like river gods, for similar reasons. They know nothing of the world beyond their shorelines aside from what the occasional bird or bird henge tells them.
Power: Sea God (8)
Calm or rouse the waves crashing down on the beach. Make floating things wash up on the beach, or wash things from the beach out to sea. Can't be used on something that's too heavy.
Something is lost in the sea, and someone must ask a local ocean god to get it back. Something strange washes up on shore, and the god needs help deciding what to do with it. People litter in the sea, and the god gets mad and sends waves at them.
Local Gods in Stories
The gods are more powerful than henge in their territory, but outside of their territory they're far weaker than henge. They aren't enemies to fight, nor are they allies who will always help. They might give advice, and might ask favors of henge when necesasary. Local gods look over their land and its inhabitants.
Players cannot participate as local gods. The range of things they can do is too broad and too vague, and they're impervious to the limitations of common sense. Narrator only.
Next: Hitotsuna Town.
Winter: Hitotsuna Town
Original SA post
Winter: Hitotsuna Town
The six sample henge from the book have a home, and that home is a place called Hitotsuna Town. The Towa River separates the north and south sides of the town, and there's only one bridge across it. With the addition of the train station, the north side has become the center of town.
A good chunk of the town is taken up by fields and rice paddies. There are no buildings over three stories tall - the only ones even that high are the school and the hospital. Cell phones only get reception at the train station and parts of town hall. Every house has running water, but that was a more recent development than you might expect.
The train tracks follow the path of the Towa River. There's only one attendant, and the local line is only open in the mornings and evenings. No express trains come at all, and at rush hour there's two trains per hour. Landslides or fallen tress can sometimes interrupt train service through the mountains.
There are shops around the station - a general store, vegetables, meat, pharmacy, liquor, et cetera. The bank and post office are along this part of town. Many of these shops double as homes - this is the heart of Hitotsuna Town during the day.
A two-story building that's stood since the 1920s. There's a small library attached, mostly from what townspeople have donated personally, giving it kind of a used book store feel. The community hall is used to prepare for festivals, and sometimes for movie showings or local performances.
A combination elementary school and middle school, still only gathering about a hundred students. Each class is about twenty students split between two grades. Older students often help younger students, and it's generally a lively, noisy place.
Shrines and Temples
There's two main Shinto shrines in Hitotsuna Town. On the north side of the river is Misuzu Hachiman Shrine, home to a fox henge named Suzune. On the south side is Hitotsuna-Nushi Shrine, dedicated to the local river god. There's also a Buddhist temple, a small building with sizable grounds used for festivals and the like.
A Western-style house on the outskirts of town. Local gods or foxes will tell you it's from the Meiji era, and there are rumors of ghosts. Details of what's going on there are left up to the Narrator.
Bodies of Water
The main one is Towa River, running through the town from east to west. During long rains, it can overflow. People often fish or walk dogs along the riverbank. Children swim there in the summer. Towa is too long and wide for a single river god to watch over the whole thing, so it has several. In the middle of it is a sand bank called Hebiko Island. It's accessible by one unreliable bridge, and is home to Towa Gozen, a snake god overseeing this part of the river.
There's also the Suzunari River, gushing down from the mountains and joining Towa River. There's Miko River, flowing from the hills that are home to a farm and shrine. There's Gokou River, coming down from Mt. Kaminaga and overseen by the centipede goddes Gokou-hime. Beyond all that, there are various reservoir poinds around town, dotted with lotus flowers or used for fishing. Each have their own gods.
Mt. Misuzu is on the north side of town, and is a habitate for foxes and raccoon dogs. There are tiered fruit fields on the mountainside, so farmers from town often go here. The name means 'deep bells', a reference to olden times when people going up the mountain would be led astray by bells rung by the foxes.
Mr. Kaminaga is on the south side of town, and is less hospitable - the only paths there are the ones made by animals. The mountain is governed by a spider goddess named Kaminaga-hime. When humans come to her mountain she drives them off with mist and rain, but she is kind to animals and henge.
Creating your own Town
Making a town for Golden Sky Stories is a bit different from other RPGs. Things like shops, banks, and hospitals are important for humans, but not necessarily important for henge at all. Decide what kinds of places you need for your stories, then make those first, and let the rest flow from there.
For an easier kind of customization, use Hitotsuna Town as a base, but add or change things as you see fit.
Riko's Big Mistake, Part 4
They couldn’t stop the move, but...
Kuromu: So in the end, Kikuna had to move.
Kuromu: You seem pretty happy though. Why’s that?
We parted ways, but we didn’t!
Riko: I asked Kikuna why she didn’t want to move, you know? It turned out she didn’t want to be away from Hiroko, her doubles tennis partner.
Kuromu: Huh. Then what?
Riko: Then the morning of the move Hiroko came to Kikuna’s house. And she said, rather than teammates, they’d have to become rivals!
Riko: So they promised to do their best so they could meet again at the national tournament. So they became even better friends than before, you know? Weird, huh?
Kuromu: I see. (avoiding her gaze)
Riko: Oh, by the way, I’m pretty sure I saw Hiroko-chan waving to you, so, like, are you guys friends?
Kuromu: Not really. It’s nothing.
Riko: It seemed like she was saying thank you or something, you know?
Kuromu: Huh. I don’t know anything about that. Are you sure you’re not imagining things? (still avoiding Riko’s eyes)
And on to the next story...
Suzune: Well, well. Just when I was starting to worry about them, it seems they seem to have found their way again.
Koro: Woof! Riko and Kuromu did their best for their friends! They’re great! They deserve so many treats!
Sarah: Someone said, no matter how far apart you are, there are still threads that connect you. I forgot, but it’s important.
Amami: It’s good to have friends. I wanted to be friends with them too...
Suzune: In that case, you should take part in the next story, Amami. Every time we tell stories, we accrue more threads.
Koro: Woof! I’ll do that too!
Amami: Anyway, everyone remember to take good care of me, okay?
Sarah: Huh? What was I talking about...? I forgot. But I think it was a warm story. Let’s create a town together.
Suzune: Hm. The more stories we tell, the more threads will form between people, and we’ll create more priceless stories that belong to us.
Koro: And then we can learn more and more about our town! My master takes me for walks, so I know!
Suzune: This is our own irreplaceable town. And for that, the narrator must be prepared...
Sarah: The narrator makes information about the town. But, everyone in the story helps it come to life.
Suzune: Yes. Now, it’s getting dark. I must return to my shrine.
All of this is so you can tell your very own stories. May the light of the setting sun always wrap your henge in its warmth.
And that marks the end of this Golden Sky Stories writeup. I hope you get a chance to play it some day, and I hope the experience adds flowers to the story of your life.
Next week, back to talking about Dracula.