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Video Game / Wings of Dawn

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A Game Mod for the FreeSpace series, Wings Of Dawn has a completely new setting and story, rather than being an addition to the existing canon. Boasting a heavily anime-influenced plot, a metric ton of Shout Outs, and Lampshade Hangings galore, it is also notable in that it was completed by just one guy, known as Spoon.

The year is NC 0145note . The war between the Terrans and the Cyrva ended 62 years ago, and the two species are on friendly terms, though not integrated. In an effort to improve interspecies relations, a joint military academy is founded in the Abyss system, where cadets of both species would study alongside each other, and form the mixed-species Joint Guardian Angels Strike Force upon graduating. Now, the first class of the academy is graduating, and Misuzu Stella, Crystal Is'va Dertanya, and their classmates are looking forward to some routine peace-time assignments on board their new command ship, the LSF Guardian Angel. However, they soon find themselves fighting on the front lines against a sudden invasion by not one but several alien species.

Two additional mini-campaigns were released: "A Nordera Day", which allows you the challenge of playing as a Nordera warrior, and "Stranded", which is a side-story focusing on two pilots who get trapped behind enemy lines and must fight their way back home.

Following the success of the mod, Spoon decided to make the game a standalone title utilizing the Freespace engine, and began a massive overhaul of the setting. The new iteration of Wings of Dawn (christened "NuWOD" by Spoon) contains a rewritten story now taking place during the Terran-Cyrvan War, a new control scheme, and short VN segments between missions to add to the character development and worldbuilding. It is released episodically.

The remake includes examples of:

  • Animesque: Even more pronounced than the original mod, with the new VN segments and the redone storyline containing several major tropes that will be instantly familiar to anime fans.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Unlike the original game, the Terran-Cyrvan war is in progress.
  • Clean Food, Poisoned Fork: Thomas' Poison and Cure Gambit involves faking giving his allies-of-questionable-allegiance a slow-acting poison, and rationing out the antidote to keep them alive so that they can't betray him anyway. Since none of them trust him, either, though, he's not allowed to prepare the food — but he is allowed to set out the plates.
  • Conlang: The Cyrvans speak their own language, which appears to be a mix of an overabundance of vowels and apostrophes, some slightly-altered Japanese words, and a handful of regular English words.
  • Cool Ship:
    • The Zephyr is of the "run-down but awesome" variety. A full-blown, if very outdated, Battle Star owned and operated by two people, complete with luxuries like a full Japanese-style bathing area.
    • The Contravention is an odd case. While it is otherwise an Elephant class ship similar to the UGC ships, it has very obvious red and pink paintjob that is impossible to miss, which Dawn think that it looks horrible.
    • The Guardian Angel is a straight case, being a top-of-the-line warship with the most advanced tech and weapons available to Terrankind. It also has luxuries like private rooms for all pilots, complete with showers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tempest considers this her schtick, but Dawn quickly proves able to match her in bantering. Even Justice occasionally gets in on it, causing Tempest to gripe that he's supposed to be the "non-snarky" character.
  • The Empire: The United Earth Union in the opening missions was noted to have controlled Earth and the Solar colonies with an iron grip and extremely heavy taxation rates, and is referred to as a fascist government. Eventually the colonies banded together and overthrew the regime, replacing it with the Sol Union.
    • The Delest Dynasty is another, in fact literally being lead by an Empress, Yu Ki Kohakuren Delest. They practice Conscription for their military, regularly practice gene splicing to genetically enhance themselves, use a labor force comprised of ArtificialHumans brainwashed into loyalty, and they are isolationists to the core. While they aren't portrayed as a villainous faction, per se, they are viewed with a high amount of distrust by the rest of humanity. Nobody except themselves know their exact military might, and they are sort of the Foil of the New Brittania.
  • Fanservice: An optional add-on for the game includes several bath scenes and nude portraits for the relevant characters. One of said scenes does include some actual foreshadowing rather than being purely for fanservice.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Terrans refer to the Cyrvans as both "Space Elves" and "Knife-ears".
  • The Federation: The Sol Union, a democratic republic that rose from the ashes of the United Earth Union. Described as the most powerful Terran faction, but mired in bureaucracy and slow to change its ways.
  • Glass Cannon: Most Cyrvan ships. Unlike for example Hertak ships, they will go down like a sack of potatoes if they try to charge at a Terran firing line, but should a small group of them manage to catch the terrans from a blind side, they can wipe out most of the Terran ships before they can even turn around to face them.
  • The Good Kingdom: New Brittania is a neo-feudal kingdom, ruled by a single monarch with power further divided among four noble houses. They like to style themselves after the knights of old Europe, and strive to be seen as honorable and dignified. In particular, they hate the Delest Dynasty, citing irreconcilable moral standards.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The characters' lines are not voice-acted, but occasionally get spoken Japanese lines (eg, Dawn says "Good morning" while a female voice says "Ohayo!"). The Cyrvan language also contains a large number of words obviously derived from Japanese.
  • Human Popsicle: Dawn was sealed in a subspace prison for an indeterminate but significant amount of time by the Cyrvans. Why the Cyrvans did this is as yet unknown.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Once Dawn and the mercenaries join up with the Guardian Angel, Dawn can remark how every single crewmember save for Justice and the Captain seems to be female. The Captain explains that the additional personnel who were supposed to be delivered but got captured en route would have balanced the gender ratio... not that he's complaining.
  • In-Series Nickname: Tempest got hers for her personality, while Justice got his due to being the kind of guy who just can't ignore someone in danger, regardless of the pay. Dawn suggests getting a merc nickname for herself, but Justice shoots all of her ideas down for different reasons.
  • Might Makes Right: Apparently the guiding philosophy among the Yonsakuren clan. If you want something, be it property, respect, a mate... you take it by force. If something is taken from you, it just means you were too weak to be worthy of owning it.
  • Mysterious Past: Dawn doesn't seem to remember much of anything before she was drafted into the UEU, where she was kept under control via drugs (under the guise of medicine to help control her dreams). The Cyrvans are very interested in her for some reason, and she often dreams about them, for reasons even she doesn't know.
  • The Nicknamer: Tempest, all over the place. Justice is "Ju", Dawn gets "Dawner", "Dawnster", and other variations, and Tempest's personal fighter is named "Snarky-Ex".
  • One World Order: Averted. Unlike the original mod, the Terran race is split into four major factions, the Sol Union, New Brittania, the United Guilds of Commerce, and the Delest Dynasty. The four of them have formed a military alliance against the Cyrvans, the League Star Forces, which is supposed to be a purely anti-Cyrvan task force.
  • Only in It for the Money: Tempest tends to see profit as the end-all be-all, which sometimes puts her at odds with Justice, who considers some jobs too shady to consider taking.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: What little we know of the Cyrvans' interest in Dawn seems to point toward her possessing some great power that they see as a threat... or as an asset, should they be able to control her.
  • Private Military Contractors: Very prevalent. Dawn joins up with a small mercenary operation after they rescue her from her prison, for lack of anywhere else to go.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The United Guilds of Commerce, which grew out of a group of MegaCorps that split off from the Sol Union to protect their own interests. Described as the smallest and least militarily powerful Terran faction, but with tremendous economic and political influence. They generally act only in their own self-interest, and have been known to be underhanded in their dealings.
  • Psychic Powers: Dawn has some as yet unexplained psychic abilities which seem to be connected to the Cyrvans.
  • Space Pirates: The antagonists in a few missions.
  • Ship Tease: Dawn is pretty sure there's some unspoken sexual tension between Tempest and Justice. Both heavily deny it.
  • Warmup Boss: Ophelia the smuggler and her ship the Contravention, who tangles with the crew of the Zephyr early on. Depending on how you play the missions, you can either destroy her outright, or cripple her ship and resources but let her keep her life.
  • You No Take Candle: Wynter Celbrat has studied some Terran languages, but she's not very proficient in them. She does well enough to get by, though. Her sister Akyha is much worse, only managing a few basic words.

The original mod includes examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Misuzu gets a custom Ray Mk. III. Depending on the player's preference, it can be either slower and more powerful, or weaker but more maneuverable.
  • Ace Pilot: Subverted. Justice has many years of flight experience, but has only been in about five battles prior to the current conflict.
  • All There in the Manual: The tech room contains massive amounts of background information on people, species, history, and planets, truly fleshing out the Wings of Dawn universe.
  • Alternate Calendar: The NC calendar starts somewhere in the vicinity of 2230, coinciding with the UEU taking power on Earth.
  • Airstrike Impossible: Several Cordi motherships and the Hertak Flagship are destroyed in this manner.
  • Animesque: All character art is drawn in an obvious anime style, and there are plenty of anime tropes and Shout Outs present.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 6 on the previously-inhabitable planets of the Abyss system, as a result of the Terran-Cyrvan war. Rather than repair or terraform the ruined worlds, both species let them stand as they are, to serve as bleak and permanent reminders of the war.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Adasyas have incredibly powerful Deflector Shields, and are tough for capital ships to take down... unless a sneaky fighter pilot flies under the shields and shoots the core (this is pretty dangerous, as the Adasya still has numerous point defense turrets, and its homing lasers will hit you on the way in).
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: The Cyrva have already done this to one alien species, the Yehio, and are currently "guiding" their society's development. They tried to do the same with the Terrans... that didn't go quite as well.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Humans resorted to this after World War III (which was nuclear). Since the overthrow of the UEU, use of genetic engineering has been greatly reduced, save for medical purposes. Still, there's no doubt that a century of tinkering with genetics has done humanity good: disease is far more uncommon, the human lifespan has been increased to 140 years, with aging delayed to around age 70, and humans in general are more intelligent and physically fit.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The Guardian Angel suffers an EMP attack from a Fura'ngle force, and the pilots have to sortie to destroy it. Unfortunately, the electronic attack also shorts out the electrical systems of the fighters (which have an omnidirectional viewscreen instead of a transparent canopy), which means that they can't use their normal fighters. The only fighter capable of destroying the source of the jamming is an obsolete Ray Mk I, since it's the only fighter that has a canopy that the pilot can see through. You have to use the ol' Eyeball Mark I to spot your target.
  • Catchphrase: Tempest - "I'm not getting paid enough to <insert action here>!"
    • The Nordera - "YEAARGH!"
  • Cool Starship: The Guardian Angel, the Fura'ngle Adasya-class warship, the Aestival-class fighter...
    • Infi, dammit! Infi!
  • Cowardly Lion: The Fura'ngle. They hate fighting, and run away from any conflict that looks like they might possibly lose. They also have technology on par with (or even surpassing) the Cyrva, and possess some extremely powerful weapons. They are also the only race smart enough to concentrate on omnidirectional turrets, which can make them extremely irritating to fight.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Infi reveals several neat tricks in its final run that it was never shown to have before, such as jamming its enemies' targeting systems, and hacking into their capital ships to overload their jump drives, instantly destroying them.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The UEU, or "United Earth Union", the government that ruled humanity before the League of Terran Worlds overthrew it.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Crystal's older sister Isa has appeared in the "Ask a Crew Member" Q&A sessions long before showing up in-universe.
  • Fanservice: Several pictures of the female cast buried in the game's files, as well as one loading screen.
    • Requests on the forum for additional fanservice pics resulted in one mostly uncensored picture of Dawn in an onsen. Hilarity Ensued when this started a dedicated "Fanservice Request Thread" (which thus far, has yielded nothing).
  • Fantastic Racism: The Cyrva, despite formally recognizing Terrans as their equals, retain a superior attitude about their culture and technology. Some Terrans remain prejudiced against them, particularly those of the Harcon system (like Scar).
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Dawn gets tossed into the future due to a Phlebotinum Breakdown.
  • Fragile Speedster: Cordi fighters. They go down in two or three hits, but good luck keeping them in your sights, or even keeping them off your tail.
  • Genetic Memory: Hertak males can pass their skills and experience on to their children. The downside is that they are very slow to learn anything, but once it's learned, it's learned forever, provided the bloodline doesn't die out.
  • Genki Girl: Misuzu.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Usually courtesy of Misuzu (she at one point claims to be of Japanese descent, but she has also claimed to be Polish nobility, so nobody really believes her).
    • Crystal also has a moment of this, shouting "Itai!" after hurting herself. Rooming with Misuzu for a few years might have rubbed off on her.
    • And then there's this from the "Ask a Crewmember" Q&A:
      Question: "Does Isa have a warm side and does she show it often?"
      Misuzu: "I'm proud, you're getting the hang of this!"
      Isa: "I have no idea what you are on about little sis..."
  • Half-Human Hybrids: Terran and Cyrvan biology is close enough for them to interbreed. However, the Cyrva disapprove of the practice, due to their substantially longer lifespans, and the fact that they marry for life. Thus, hybrids are very rare.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Cordi after Crystal helps them rescue their Queen from the Hertak. A squad of Zy fighters also defect in the middle of the climactic battle, and prove instrumental in taking out a priority target. After the Flagship goes down, the Zy and Fura'ngle turn completely, and begin waging war on the Hertak to take back their homeworlds.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Infi, preventing the Hertak Flagship from escaping the final conflict.
  • Hive Mind: Averted. The Cordi are individuals and free thinkers, despite being bugs. That said, they are fanatically loyal to their Queen, and will disobey no order from her.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: In "A Nordera Day", the JGASF Guardian Angels themselves, who use computer hax to shut down your fighter. You can only watch helplessly as you are taken down... by none other than Misuzu!
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Transspace. It's an empty dimension of pure white, where everything looks blurry, ships not designed for it randomly implode, and there are EMP bursts with no apparent cause. When the ships exit the dimension, they note that some objects (such as one pilot's helmet) apparently didn't make the transition back with them, and are just gone.
  • In-Series Nickname: Most of the JGASF pilots. Also "Infi", the AI onboard the Prometheus Frame.
    • Further, Cyrvans are sometimes called "Space Elves" by Terrans.
  • Interface Screw: Scar decides to have some fun with the examination simulator.
    Crystal: "Okay, here we g- who messed with the simulator settings!?"
    Scar: "That was me, this program was so easily hackable. Figured it would be fun to add a bit of a retro feel to it."
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Swarm missiles are very common on Terran, Cyrvan, Zy, and Hertak fighters. One Terran warship takes it up to eleven, capable of firing volleys of what looks like several dozen at once.
  • Made of Explodium: Anything ever built by the Nordera. Note, however, that this doesn't mean easy to destroy; their ships will absorb huge amounts of punishment before exploding like giant powder kegs.
  • Mildly Military: Probably as a result of having a Cyrvan as the commanding officer, as it's been stated that Cryvan crews lack the strict discipline present in human crews (largely because, they claim, they can do their jobs just fine without said discipline).
  • Mission Control: Crystal, most of the time. Sometimes she takes to a fighter herself because she doesn't want to see everyone else hog the glory. Or because it has a mecha mode for breaking people out of hostile flagships.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Armageddon-class dreadnoughts.
  • Nintendo Hard: "A Nordera Day", in which you play as the Nordera. Which means: no shields, no targeting, no afterburners (at first), and no homing missiles.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Seems to be standard Hertak design philosophy. The Aleyurians as well: the uber-powerful Prometheus Frame was their idea of a "light" fighter.
    • Speaking of overkill, just what the hell did the Zy put in those Anti-Fura'ngle missiles? They easily make the largest explosion seen in the game.
  • Nonindicative First Episode: While relevant to the plot, the first mission contains a setting, technology, and weapons that only appear once more in the game.
  • No Transcyrvanism Allowed: The Cyrvans absolutely forbid genetic research of any kind, for any reason. (Strangely, interbreeding with Terrans is permitted, though not encouraged.) Terrans aren't quite as strict about this, but view genetic engineering somewhat unfavorably, since the oppressive UEU used it heavily, and often on unwilling subjects.
  • Older Than They Look: Crystal is 42. Still very young by Cyrvan standards, as they often live to be Really 700 Years Old.
    • Dawn was in a Starlance for a hundred years, technically. The game Lampshades this by listing her age as "19 (119?)".
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone has this reaction when the Hertak make their dramatic appearance. The Hertak themselves when they are confronted with Infi, and again when they realize that Infi's about to disable their Flagship's super-hyperspace drive.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the JGASF pilots, with the exception of Misuzu and Crystal. Their real names are mentioned in the tech room.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The plan for the offensive on the Hertak Flagship is named "Operation Ragnarok". Misuzu asks if that name isn't going a bit Over-The-Top.
  • Otaku Surrogate: Misuzu is a major Humongous Mecha fangirl, and collects model kits.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Cyrva are longer-lived, more physically flexible, more able to multitask,in general better shots than Terrans, and their ships are much, much more powerful and advanced. Terrans do have some advantages over them though, they are physically stronger and have a much higher pain tolerance, to the point that a fist fight between a Terran and a Cyrvan will always end in a Terran victory. Terrans are also more experienced and determined in warfare, which is one of the reasons they were able to fight the more technologically-advanced Cyrva to a stalemate. The other, and arguably biggest, reason was the fact that as the war dragged on public support for it on the Cyrvan side dwindled, which meant that the volunteer-run Cyrvan armada stopped receiving reinforcements.
  • Palette Swap: Fura'ngle Astrays are just red Sweepers with added firepower.
    Misuzu: "A palette swap? How cheap!"
  • Power Crystal: Fura'ngle Adasyas have one. Guess what happens if you blow it up.
  • Precursors: The Aleyurians.
  • Press X to Not Die: Several in quick succession in Infi's final mission.
  • Proud Scholar Race: We'd say the Cyrva are Space Elves in all but name, but humanity wasted no time in nicknaming them exactly that when they first met.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Nordera. The Zy as well, although they've mellowed out some after allying with the Fura'ngle.
  • Psychic Powers: Dawn's genetically-enhanced brain appears to give her some low-key precognition and empathy. Some rare Cyrvans are also minor precogs (it is suggested that Luna might be one, but never confirmed).
  • Purposely Overpowered: The Prometheus Frame, aka Infi. Let's see: it has a powerful primary weapon that can kill any fighter in about three shots that aims itself at your target, four Wave Motion Guns that allow it to chew through capital ships with ease, AI-controlled anti-fighter beams to deal with enemies trying to flank you, two variations of extremely powerful heat-seeking swarm missiles, and capital ship strength Deflector Shields. The only things really capable of taking Infi down are over a dozen fighters attacking at once or an Armageddon dreadnought. The R&D folks really weren't kidding when they said this single ship could probably turn the tide of war on its own.
  • Purple Is Powerful: The FSGF Sweeper is almost entirely purple. When it first appears, it has the most powerful shields and energy weapons of any enemy you've encountered. Then you meet the FSGF Astray.
  • Roboteching: The Adasya-class vessel has homing lasers (truly homing at that: these are 100% accurate). The cast points out that this should be impossible.
  • Running Gag: Cordi ships and their tentacles.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The Cyrva thought Humanity needed guidance. Humanity said "no".
  • Sequel Hook: What was the information Infi imprinted onto Dawn's mind? Who are the Fir'kyr? What was their relation to the Aleyurians, and why were the Hertak so interested in this?
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: If Terran ships were any shinier, they'd be emitting light themselves. Possibly justified by the tech room because the ships have reflective armor to protect against energy weapons.
  • Shout-Out:
    Lots of these 
  • Star Control:
    • The Hertak are enslaving other species and using them as "battle thralls" (yes, those exact words are used), out of fear of being destroyed themselves. Their Armageddon dreadnoughts somewhat resemble Ur-Quan dreadnoughts in shape, and the fighters they launch use beams as a primary weapon. In other words, they're basically the Kzer-Za. They even get a remix of the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za theme accompanying both their first mention and their first appearance.
    • The Fura'ngle are essentially a more serious version of the Spathi in their mannerisms...
    • ...but resemble the Chenjesu physically, and their fighters have defense satellites like Chmmr Avatars.
    • The relationship between the Zy and the Fura'ngle mirrors that of the Ur-Quan and the Taalo.
    • The Nordera, much like the Shofixti, are a relatively primitive warrior race that got into space with help from a more advanced species (in this case, the Hertak, whom they willingly serve in exchange for getting to kill aliens, which suits the Hertak just fine). They tend to act more like the Thraddash, though.
    • When a partial translator is used on Cordi speech, the output greatly resembles Orz *spitting*. (Yes, the word "*campers*" does come up.)
    • The Hertak Flagship's "plane shift" drive sounds a lot like the Quasi-Space Portal Spawner.
    • The Cyrva had a civil war long before the game begins. Said conflict was called "The Doctrine War".
    • The Yehio have yet to appear themselves, but are confirmed by Crystal to be very similar to the Yehat, "except less Scottish".
  • Misuzu notes that the red Fura'ngle fighters do not go three times faster than the others.
  • Also, said fighters are called Astrays.
  • The decal on the Ray I is the king of hearts from Mobile Fighter G Gundam and the decal on the Hazel is from the Advance of Zeta test team.
  • Misuzu begins to shout "Leeroy Jenkins!" as a battlecry in one mission, before being shushed by her wingman. (Their battle plan for the mission actually was "just charge in and cause havoc.")
  • Hard Light Productions members appear as a friendly squadron in one mission. Another apparently flies for the Nordera.
  • Aestival-class fighters.
    • And Misuzu thinks they should be able to combine and perform the Inazuma Kick.
      Misuzu: "It just takes some guts and courage!"
  • The first of the multi-target-homing swarm missiles you're give is called the IT-AN-0 after the man who made the Macross Missile Massacre famous, Ichiro Itano.
  • The heaviest missile available happens to be called the Dragonslave.
  • The "Playground" simulator mission includes the ability to call in Nanoha Takamachi from the reinforcement menu. You can guess what happens next.
  • Cyrvan capital ships include the ''Starlight''-class and the ''Breaker''-class.
  • The Terran "Ray" series of fighters is named for the Ray series of robos in Custom Robo.
  • Though we only see his back, artwork of Justice looks suspiciously like Gene Starwind. He shares Gene's fascination for space and spaceships, and he also shares a last name (Hawking) with Gene's partner Jim. (According to Spoon, this was a coincidence, as he's never seen Outlaw Star.)
  • One of the weapons, the HEDR-3, is given the nickname 'Spiritus Lucis'.
  • "Shoot the core for terrible, terrible damage!"
  • The fighter power up sequence in the flight testing missions is exactly one extra line from MechWarrior 3's mission-start lines.

  • The Battlestar: Not very common in this, unlike most FreeSpace mods. The Nordera Battleaxes do it because culturally they can't bear to leave a fight (and their fighters don't have jump drives), the Hertak Armageddons because they're copying the Ur-Quan just that scary. Neither the Guardian Angel itself nor the Cordi Mothership, however, are any great shakes at ship-to-ship, and the Adasya doesn't appear able to deploy fighters.
  • The Big Guy: Axe. Comes from growing up on a high-gravity world.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Hertak, who enslaved the other hostile species Ur-Quan style.
  • The Mothership: The Hertak Flagship. Since the entire royal family is onboard, destroying this throws the entire Hertak empire into disarray, and costs them both their battle thralls and the war.
    • The Cordi have a ship class called "Mothership", but it doesn't fit the trope.
  • The Quiet One: Luna. Most of the cast finds her kind of weird, and have a difficult time speaking to her.
  • The Unpronounceable: The Cordi Queen's name, Lop'ferj'kk the Third.
  • Tron Lines: Apparently Cyrvan capital ships possess these.
  • Transforming Mecha: Aestival-class fighters have a mecha mode. Unfortunately, due to engine limitations, this is only shown in a split-second cutscene.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The final scene dictates what happened to everyone after the war, where they went, and what their current occupation is.
  • Winged Humanoid: On extremely rare occasion, a Cyrvan is born with white, feathery wings. This is considered a good omen.
  • Word of God: Have some questions about the setting or story? You can ask the characters themselves!