Category Archives: Star Line Publishing

Maid: The Role-Playing Game and Star Line Publishing

coverBeginning in 2014, Star Line Publishing will be taking over handling Maid: The Role-Playing Game in English. Maid RPG is a slapstick anime comedy RPG, and an earlier work by Golden Sky Stories designer Ryo Kamiya. Andy K originally took the lead role in the business of publishing the game, while I handled most of the translation and otherwise took a back seat. With Andy moving to Japan and my own publishing venture getting up and running, it made sense to switch the game over to SLP. For the time being we’ll be treating Maid as a “long tail” product, making it available primarily through PDF and print on demand venues, though we’ll still be able to offer printed books at conventions and to interested retailers. We’ll be expanding to a few new POD/PDF sales channels as well, notably DriveThruRPG and Amazon’s CreateSpace (which will in turn make it available for order through Amazon), though given that Maid RPG has gotten and stayed disturbingly high on their sales charts, we’ll definitely continue the partnership with Indie Press Revolution that Andy started.

Whether there will be anything new for Maid RPG depends a lot on what we have the resources to accomplish and what people express interest in. I do plan to eventually complete and publish my Retail Magic game (a comedy RPG based on the Maid RPG rules, but about employees at a magic item shop), and I might go as far as to look into finally putting together a book of original Maid RPG material, and possibly a cheaper and slimmer introductory Maid RPG core rulebook similar to products like the Explorer’s Edition of Savage Worlds. If there’s something you’d like to see, let us know!

Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter

I probably should take some time to mention here that the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter has launched at long last. We’ve been just totally blown away by the level of support we’ve gotten, and while we were confident we would get funded, it’s massively exceeded our expectations, blowing through $18,000 worth of stretch goals in about a day and a half. Or to put it in perspective, we’re neck and neck with Evil Hat’s Fate Dice Kickstarter.[1]

GSS Book Mockup

You can read about GSS in more detail on the Kickstarter page and its updates and comments. Right now we’re in the process of working out additional rewards and stretch goals and some other issues, and we’ll be doing a major update soon. The whole thing’s been really emotional for me–including a hefty, powerful dose of stress if I’m perfectly honest[2]–but also unbelievably gratifying. We worked really hard on this–and we have a good deal more hard work ahead of us–and people are responding far more than we’d dared to hope.

(Also, I just got interviewed for an episode of The Jennisodes, though it’ll be a few weeks before that episode goes live.)

[1]Also well worth your time if you do anything that uses Fudge Dice, though the Fudge Dice Infusion KS is the one that needs some backer love if it’s going to succeed. Also, I think I might be one of the very few people on the planet who actually has too many Fudge dice already, as I have two GM packs from Grey Ghost, the wizard set from Evil Hat, and four red runic Fudge dice from Q-Workshop.

[2]Some time in June or July I’m going to place an order for 2,000+ books. And those books are going to have to go somewhere, and at current count a lot of them are going to have to go to about 700 separate people.

Golden Sky Stories Replay: The Broken Window

Golden Sky Stories is taking even longer than the overly long time it had been taking, mainly on account of Real Life being difficult for us. I’m hoping to finally launch the Kickstarter in early 2013. The layout is now just about done barring a couple of tiny corrections, and we’re close to getting the math lined up for the Kickstarter. In the meantime I’ve got a little treat for anyone who’s been interested in learning more about the game.

The Broken Window” is a Golden Sky Stories replay made from a recording of a game session I ran for some friends a few years back. I put it together in order to give readers some idea of what a typical session is like, though GSS is quite unlike a typical RPG in many ways. The PDF has original art by Sue-chan, layout by Clay Gardner, and copious footnotes to help you understand what’s going on. The story is about how a broken window ultimately led to new friendships.

Download “The Broken Window” (PDF)


An Aside on Writing Replays
This was the first time I typed up a replay. I don’t know that I’ll make a habit of making them (if nothing else in subsequent attempts to record game sessions I started feeling like having a recorder was kind of a jinx or something), but it was an interesting experience all the same. It wasn’t as painstaking and irritating as the transcriptions I did for a linguistics class that one time, but it really exposed the differences between spoken and written language. In face-to-face role-playing we really do use inflection and gesture a lot, things that are hard to capture in writing. This was that much more of a problem because I was trying to transcribe a 2-year-old audio recording. There were times when one of my friends would say something like, “And then I go boop!” and me from 2 years ago totally understood, but in the present I had to guess. It may be our Northern California dialect, but we also say “okay” and “like” a whole lot, and it’s only really obvious when I’m trying to transcribe stuff and every line seems to start with “Okay,” and include an unnecessary “like.” It was a lot of work to type up, but not too bad, especially since the entire recording was only 90 minutes. After doing this, I think I’d like to see more replays in general, because they force you to engage role-playing in a different way, especially if you’re the one doing the writing.

Golden Sky Stories Update: Progress and Bonuses

I figure we’re a bit overdue for an update on what’s going on with Golden Sky Stories, so here goes. Right now the plan is to launch the GSS Kickstarter on the heels of Tenra Bansho Zero‘s Kickstarter. Assuming Andy and Luke keep on schedule, that means we should be launching the GSS Kickstarter around the end of June. That means we have a couple more months, and we’ll be using that time to get everything in order so that when we do our own Kickstarter we’ll be that much more able to get everything out to everyone without undue delay.

Slow and Steady Does the Layout
The graphic designer for Golden Sky Stories is none other than Clay Gardner. He is the designer of OVA: Open Versatile Anime, and has done graphic design work for a huge variety of projects, including several games from Minion Games. The original Japanese version of Golden Sky Stories was already a feast for the eyes, but Clay is using his graphic design skills to add another layer of polish all the same. He recently put up a blog post where he shows off what he’s doing with the power descriptions for rabbit henge. Clay’s currently about halfway done with the layout, and I’m really liking how it’s looking so far.

Something Fishy
A while ago I hit on the idea of making a new, original character type for GSS as a Kickstarter reward. Ben Lehman (who you may know from games like Polaris and Bliss Stage) stepped up and offered to try his hand. About a day later he sent me his first draft of a writeup for fish henge. We’ll be doing some refinements between now and the Kickstarter of course, but Ben’s writeup is already wonderfully whimsical and mythical. It’s a bit of an “advanced” character type that’ll be a little tricky to play.

I’ve also been working on a writeup for “pony henge,” which are indeed partly inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, albeit with plenty of elements inspired by reading up on horses on Wikipedia. Looking up idioms/cliches about an animal is a great way to come up with powers for henge by the way. I’m still working out what exactly to do with these new writeups, but at present I’m thinking of having the fish henge be a Kickstarter exclusive and having the pony henge be a freebie.

Golden Sky Stories Update: Meet the Henge

This is going to be the first of a series of posts previewing various elements of Golden Sky Stories leading up to the Kickstarter and then the full launch. I don’t have much new stuff to talk about on that front just yet, but we are indeed on track so far. I’m also in the process of putting together a free replay, and we’ve now set up a GSS Facebook page too.

The stars of Golden Sky Stories are henge, animals with a bit of magical power that lets them take human form and do a few other nifty things. They are animals by default, and staying in human form takes a little effort. On the other hand, they can use human speech even while in animal form, though this does carry the risk of scaring humans away. Each henge has only one human form (though raccoon dogs can also copy specific people they know), which will appear between 8 and 18 years old. The artwork in the book shows them with their ears and tails showing (or wings in Sarah’s case); they can hide these to look completely human, but it takes more effort. The book will introduce you to six representative henge, though of course in the game you can make your character quite different.

Suzune Hachiman is a fox henge. Although she looks like a young girl, she’s actually over 300 years old, and maybe a bit stiff and prideful in her age. Despite looking like young girl, she dresses in a formal kimono and talks like a stuffy old woman. Of the henge, foxes are the closest to local gods, and there’s a shrine to Suzune in town that provides her with offerings of food and money. She has many magical powers, and is well acquainted with the local gods around town.

Riko is a raccoon dog henge. Raccoon dogs (also known as tanuki) are a species of canines found in some parts of Asia, and like the raccoon dogs of myth, Riko can transform herself into all sorts of things. She can become a copy of someone she knows, or turn into a giant monster or an object. She’s a bit of a klutz too, though she has a knack for using her clumsiness to lighten the mood. Riko is fairly young, but raccoon dog henge can life for a century or more.

Kuromu is a cat henge, and a stray black cat. She doesn’t mind when people give her food, but she prefers to just do whatever she wants. Japan has lots of myths about cats turning into monsters, and Kuromu is not a fan of them. Cat henge aren’t monsters, just clever, sleek, and all-around awesome animals. They do however have many powers that let them move about unseen, and they have a unique ability to look into someone’s heart and see what they’re thinking.

Koro is a dog henge. She’s actually someone’s pet, and to her the collar she wears is a treasured reminder of someone she loves. She loves to play and make friends, and she can be very protective of those she cares about. Dog henge have powers that let them protect, reassure, and comfort people around them. For Koro this is a natural fit, since she’s thoroughly good-natured and earnest. She also has plenty of dog foibles, including a tendency to chase her own tail. She’s sure she’ll catch it some day though.

Amami is a rabbit henge. Despite being so young, she’s already become very concerned about her appearance, and puts a lot of effort into making sure she’s dressed fashionably. Like most rabbit henge, she just hates being alone, so she’s constantly pestering people to play and spend time with her. Rabbit henge are good at drawing others to them, and they have a few magical powers that might come from the rabbit in the moon. A rabbit can make mochi to give as gifts, and every once in a while she can call upon the light of the moon to let people become animals and vice versa.

Sarah is a bird henge, a yellow canary. Birds spend much of their lives in the sky, hearing the songs of the wind, and the world of the ground is strange to them. Sarah sometimes seems barely aware of the world around her, but this is because she can hear the wind and everything it whispers. Her powers let her fly and hear the wind, and even give wings to someone else. Like a lot of birds, she has keen eyes but also has a hard time seeing at night (which by the way is an optional weakness that I don’t recommend if your game takes place at night).

A Note on Name Origins
In Japanese Riko is written phonetically (リコ), but it’s derived from taking an alternate reading of the character for tanuki (狸) and adding the character for child (子; commonly used in female names). The Kuro in Kuromu means “black,” and “koro” can mean “pebble.” Sarah’s name was written as Sera (セラ) in Japanese because Kamiya chose the name based on the Serra Angel card in Magic: The Gathering.

Yuuyake Koyake/Golden Sky Stories is Coming!

If you’ve been following this blog, noticing my forum posts, or talking to me in person, chances are you saw this coming.

Star Line Publishing is a joint publishing venture between me and my longtime friend Mike Stevens (with a few other people lending a hand), and I am very, very happy to announce that Star Line Publishing’s first big release will Golden Sky Stories, an English version of Yuuyake Koyake, a tabletop role-playing game by Ryo Kamiya, the designer of Maid: The Role-Playing Game.

Golden Sky Stories is a heartwarming role-playing game. Players take on the role of henge (pronounced “hen-gay,” like a chicken that’s happy, not a Celtic monument), animals with just a little bit of magical power, including the ability to temporarily take on human form. They live in a little town in rural Japan, where they help ordinary people solve problems and become friends. This is not a game that will replace all of your other games, but it’s a game you can turn to as a change of pace, to go somewhere warm and safe. It is a diceless, resource-based game, and it’s meant for game sessions to last between 45 minutes and two hours.

For Maid RPG we crammed three books worth of material into one volume, but for GSS we’re starting with a thorough and careful translation of the 120-page core rulebook. It introduces the base rules of the game, lets you play as six different kinds of henge (foxes, raccoon dogs, cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds), and includes a replay, NPCs with story hooks, two scenarios, and a guide to Hitotsuna Town. We’re aiming for a very faithful translation, and the only notable change will be the addition of several pages of cultural notes. The original Japanese version has three very excellent supplements (plus a doujin supplement for, of all things, Touhou), but the main book is wonderfully complete by itself. We very much want to put out the other material, to tell the full story of Hitotsuna Town and give you many other new kinds of characters to play and meet, but one thing at a time.

For various reasons it’s taken some considerable time to sort everything out enough to go public, so as of this announcement we’ve already been working hard on this project for some time. We aren’t yet ready to set a firm release date, but things are actually pretty far along. The actual translation and editing are already done, and our layout guy (Clay Gardner, creator of OVA) has already gotten started. We expect the book to be a little over 120 pages, and it will feature fantastic art by Ike, who has since gone on to find success with an excellent manga called Nekomusume Michikusa Nikki (Catgirl’s Wayside Grass Diary).

As with Maid RPG, I’ll be posting up previews with tantalizing details about the game and its workings leading up to the actual release. I’ll be writing about the setting, the game’s workings, and what you can expect when we do finally release the supplements in English.

If you would like to help make Golden Sky Stories a reality, we’re planning to do a Kickstarter to raise money for the first print run. We believe this is a wonderfully unique game, and we hope you’ll help us spread the word!

Retailers, distributors, and anyone else interested in this game are welcome to contact us at