Golden Sky Stories (Japanese: Yuuyake Koyakenote ) is a heartwarming, non-violent Tabletop RPG from Ryo Kamiya and Tsugihagi Honpo. It is translated by Ewen Cluney. If this does not ring a bell, Ryo Kamiya is the one who brought us much weirdness in the form of Maid RPG and Nechronica.
While Golden Sky Stories has its own share of strangeness, compared to the above works, it is much more tame in comparison. (In fact, it is recommended for ages 10 and up.)
The players take on the roles of henge (pronounced: hen-gay), magical animals who live in a small Japanese town, helping the local residents solve their everyday problems. There is no over-arching quest to save the world and usually no fighting or anything that could be traditionally called a villain.
That does not mean that the stories get boring. On the contrary, the honesty of the small everyday occurrences will touch your heart and reinvigorate your spirit.
It is pretty much Iyashikei in RPG form.
It has four English supplements: The Colors of the Sky, featuring additional character types, scenarios, stories, and more, combining translated Japanese GSS material not collected elsewhere with original English material; Faerie Skies, an alternate setting where you play fae in a small English town; Fantasy Friends, an alternate setting where you play Lighter and Softer versions of Dungeons & Dragons monsters in a fantasy town; and Twilight Tales, a translation of the Japanese Mononoke Koyake, which introduces playable mononokenote . It also has two untranslated Japanese supplements, which further expand the available player options, with elder henge, and humans respectively.
The English website can be found here.
Provides examples of:
- Actual Pacifist: Almost all henge, as encouraged by the system: any violence will result in a reduction of relation with the town they are in regardless of reason. Everyone in the default setting are these as well.
- Asian Fox Spirit: Fox henge.
- Cats Are Lazy: This is a gameplay mechanic: Cat henge can take the weakness Lazy, which severely limits their ability to succeed at strenuous tasks, but in return, they get the Sleeping Soundly special ability, which gives them bonus Dreams points if they spend an entire scene just lazying around without actually doing anything.
- Crossover: Backers of the English version's kickstarter got a game that combines elements of this game and Engine Heart, as well as supplements for both this game that ports elements of it to the second edition of OVA, and vice versa for backers of that Kickstarter.
- Cute Witch: Rules for playing one of these, or variations upon the concept, are introduced in The Colors of the Sky. It directly mentions that in a lot of ways they're actually more like the mononoke introduced in a later supplement, but the rules treat them as a special type of henge so you can use them with just the corebook.
- Functional Magic: Henge and mononoke have magical abilities, most of which cost Wonder.
- Game Master: The base rules assign a very authoritarian role to the GM, requiring them to be both the Author and the Director by scripting out all the scenes of a scenario in advance and making the players Follow the Plotted Line. The English translation notes that this is pretty typical for Japanese tabletop RPGs, especially compared to contemporary Western indie titles, which tend to distribute the authorial control among all players.
- Genius Loci: Local gods are animal spirits with some similarities to powerful henge, but they're tied to a specific location and thus not recommended as player characters. Fox henge can have shrines devoted to them, which allow them to speak to local gods as a peer, but they're not fixed to the location.
- Iyashikei: GSS is pretty much Healing Manga: The Role-Playing Game.
- Little Bit Beastly: The henge can opt to retain some of their animal features for a less costly transformation.
- Magical Counterfeiting: Tanuki henge can have a power that transmutes leaves, acorns, pebbles, etc, into reasonably convincing money. But it only works in the evening and night and changes back at sunrise.
- No Antagonist: There is no overarching conflict and no "bad guys" for henge to confront, just regular people and their small worries.
- Our Fairies Are Different: Faerie Skies offers six playable types of fae: brownies (helpful fae who like to do things for others); elves (incredibly beautiful nobles); gnomes (industrious crafters associated with the earth); nymphs (beautiful nature fae); pixies (tiny winged tricksters); and pucas (Little Bit Beastly shapeshifters and tricksters).
- Our Mermaids Are Different:
- Fish henge, introduced in The Colors of the Sky, have a mermaid form as their least costly transformation, with Little Bit Beastly and human forms requiring increasingly more Wonder.
- Kappa mononoke introduced in Twilight Tales cover most henge and mononoke that live in the water, including mermaid.
- Power at a Price: At character creation, henge choose from 1-3 weaknesses from a list for their type, each of which comes with a corresponding power.
- Random Number God: A rare tabletop RPG aversion, the core game rules contain no randomness whatsoever. Character creation is essentially Point Buy, Wonder and Feelings points are earned at a fixed schedule between scenes (dependent on your Relationship Values), while Dreams are awarded by other players for role-playing. All ability costs are fixed, and attribute checks succeed and fail based solely on whether you spend the required amount of Feelings points to beat the difficulty rating set by the GM.
- Really 700 Years Old: Henge can live a very long time, foxes in particular, example PC Suzune is three hundred while the Elder Turtle who acts as exposition is far older.
- Relationship Values: The game has these going for all the PCs' relationships with each other, the town, and its inhabitants. Building up these relationships is important since it gives you more Wonder and Dreams, which can be used for henge magic and social encounters.
- Slice of Life: The game explicitly veers away from epic escalating conflict common in traditional RPGs to focus on short stories about small everyday troubles of normal people.
- Super Drowning Skills: Cat henge has an optional weakness called 'Can't Swim.' If they enter any large body of water, they are automatically affected by a level 7 surprise. They can overcome this weakness if they spend 6 points of Wonders/feelings for each time they do.
- Talking Animal: The henge's true form.
- Tanuki: Raccoon dog henge.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The henge can take multiple forms from the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.
- Youkai: The player characters in the corebook are all various kinds of henge, although from the more benign variety. Mononoke are introduced in a later Japanese supplement.
- Younger Than They Look: Most of the example player characters in the corebook are only a couple years old, though they look like preteens in human form. The exceptions are Kuromu the cat, who's 15 and looks her age in human form but would be old for a cat, and Suzune the fox, who's Really 700 Years Old.