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.