Tag Archives: Yuuyake Koyake

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.

Happy Games

Lately there’s been some discussion of some pretty awful stuff that happens in the RPG scene, to the point where I get genuinely tempted to distance myself from the whole thing. I’ve been working on a blog post trying to address some of the awfulness, but it’s long and depressing and given the kinds of discussion that sort of thing can attract I’m not sure I can really handle it at the moment.[1]

Right now I want to blog about something more pleasant. I want to talk about happy, pleasant RPGs. It can be frustrating to try to talk to people about these kinds of things, and I see two major reasons. One is that violence is so ingrained into RPGs that many people just can’t even comprehend how you could have one without it, much less how it could be fun. The other is that I’ve found that any time you propose doing something unconventional in an RPG design, people act as though you’re demanding that the entire hobby should be that way from now on. I’m very big on variety, and while I’ve been involved in some very memorable long-term campaigns, to me the sheer variety of games available is one of the best things about the RPG scene we have today. When I say I want to see heartwarming, non-violent RPGs, I’m saying so from personal experiences that show to me that they can be great, and I mean I want to see them alongside all kinds of other games.

I’ve had direct experience with four such games–Golden Sky Stories, Raspberry Heaven, Clover, and Adventures of the Space Patrol[2]–which is probably a lot more than most people.

Continue reading Happy Games

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 info@starlinepublishing.com.

A Small Update

I haven’t been doing quite as much on the RPG front the past few weeks because I’ve had a lot of other distractions.

Yuuyake Koyake Mail
Today two new Yuuyake Koyake books came in the mail. Kore Kara no Michi (“The Road From Here”) has rules for playing as humans, as promised. Interestingly, they do have Powers, but almost all of them have a cost of 0. There are also 3 pages of Weakness/Additional Power pairs for humans. The Touhou Yuuyake Koyake book has around 80 pages of replays, which apparently has Riko (the raccoon dog girl from YK) visiting Gensoukyou. The rules section has two new character types–shrine maidens and fairies–and also, intriguingly, four pages of powers followed by two pages of weaknesses for “Gensoukyou Residents.” It has writeups for several Touhou characters, and it’s interesting that several of them list more than one character type, like Reisen’s statblock says “Rabbit + Visitor.”


Slime Story Playtest
I’m planning to run my first Slime Story playtest this Sunday. I’ll have quite a bit to say about it later.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, working on an oddity called “UFO Girl” that I’ve wanted to do for ages. I’m a bit behind right now though.

kitty_shockNeko Machi: A Webcomic
Way back in early 2003 I started a webcomic called Neko Machi (“Cat Town”), about a bunch of catgirls in high school, loosely based on me and my friends. It went on pretty regularly for 3 or 4 years, but I had to stop after a while. I’ve now enlisted my friend C. Ellis to handle the art side of things for a resurrected and reinvented Neko Machi. We’re off to a rocky start in some ways, but I’m really excited to be doing it again. The tools are vastly better than they were 6 years ago, and my writing has improved, and I get to work with a very talented artist this time around. There’s been some talk on Story Games about what indie RPGs can learn from webcomics, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where we can go with marketing this comic and what I might glean from the experience for RPGs. (I definitely smell a podcast topic…)

Yaruki Zero Podcast #9: Everyday Magic


In this podcast I give an overview of a talk between Ryo Kamiya (designer of Maid RPG and Yuuyake Koyake) and South (current publisher of Witch Quest) about “everyday magic” RPGs that appeared in a doujinshi they collaboratively produced called “Doko ni Demo Aru Fushigi.” They discuss the challenges of heartwarming, nonviolent RPGs.

Yaruki Zero Podcast #9 (20 minutes, 9 seconds)

  1. Introduction
  2. Games Without Combat
  3. Assembling Scenarios
  4. Conventions & Catharsis
  5. The Limitations of Classes/System Does Matter
  6. Kamiya’s Early RPG Experiences
  7. A Fantasy Countryside

This podcast uses selections from the song “Click Click” by Grünemusik, available for free from Jamendo.com. If you like the song, consider buying some CDs from Nankado’s website.

Very awesome caricature of Ewen courtesy of the talented C. Ellis.


Yuuyake Koyake Supplement: Kore Kara no Michi


The Sunset Games website now has some info about Kore Kara no Michi, the third and final Yuuyake Koyake supplement, due out this September. According to the description, it’s going to have one new character type, additional rules, and three scenarios, in a 64-page book like the prior supplements. As I’ve reported before, the book is indeed going to be about playing as humans. Here’s a quick translation of the description on the website, which looks very much like it’s going to be the introduction from the book:

It starts with one step.

First, you’re reading this book.

Thank you.

If you’ve never read Yuuyake Koyake and you’re reading this book, please see if you can borrow that book from a friend to read it. That book will let you become a henge and tell stories in the countryside. You need to know about that, or even if you read this book nothing can begin. How you begin the stories, and how you finish them, are not written in this book.

Yes, this is the final Yuuyake Koyake a book. It represents the end of Yuuyake Koyake, at least for now. Previously, there were Yuuyake Koyake, Mononoke Koyake, and Hitotsuna Komichi. Together, these tell you all about the mysterious inhabitants of the town. These prior books tell you the secret of how to become these beings, and tell stories about them.

Henge, mononoke, and elder henge. If you’re reading this, have you enjoyed becoming them and running all over town? Have you become them, and used mysterious powers that a person cannot? Have you spread more smiles around the town? If so, that makes us very happy.

You’ve become animals or monsters, or perhaps the narrator. Hopefully you’ve come to see the town from a different point of view. How people live, how things are, feelings, and surprises. You’ve given many things, and received many others.

That is the road that has led you here.

This book is the road from here.

What do you think of the town full of people, the town that you’ve been watching from the outside? You seen it as a henge, but what about as yourself? Yourself as a child, as you are now, or when you’re older. Was it as you really are, or as you wish to be?

The road that has led us here. You’ve seen the town as a henge, as a mononoke, as one who has watched the town since olden times. Now, let us take a first step onto a new road. It is not path either of us have walked before. Even the henge of the town have not walked this path before. This path is here for you to move ahead. It will not open until you do.

You can participate in stories as a normal person. People don’t have any wondrous powers. They simply have their feelings. But, their feelings, and the fabric of their connections to each other, are the most important thing of all.

Please remember, these people’s feelings created the town. Their feelings accepted the henge. The henge and the people joined hands. Up until now, the henge have been helping the people, but really, they’ve been supporting each other. People and henge, let’s walk together, one step at a time, on the road from here.

Now, gather your courage. As you’ve walked this road, you were never alone, and you never will be.

Revenge of the Random Thoughts

Deep Blue Sea
The blue ocean strategy podcast is taking a bit longer to put together than I had hoped, in part because, when it comes down to it, it’s potentially a very broad topic. The thread I started over at Story Games has generated over 80 posts over the course of two weeks, and produced some very interesting discussion, that has in turn helped me better figure out what to do with the podcast. In particular, I think that while RPGs have done a lot of innovation in terms of what the medium can do, there hasn’t been nearly as much innovation in how people market and sell those games. (Though needless to say, design and marketing can and probably should inform one another.)

Four Ee
D&D4e is a great game for campaigns, but it’s really not that great for one-shots. I’ve yet to play in a con game that didn’t run for 6 or 7 hours, even with the party focusing on getting through the encounters. A 4e character has enough of a learning curve that it’s not worth playing one for just one session.

I got a copy of the new Eberron Player’s Guide, mainly because I wanted to see what 4e could do with a fantasy setting less generic than Forgotten Realms, though frankly it’s not quite wacky enough for my tastes, which makes me want to get around to working on the Nine Towers setting I’d tentatively started a while back.

Potential Spaces
At Webstock 09, Ze Frank gave a talk on “Potential Spaces”. Although he’s a very talented guy himself, where he really shines is his ability to create spaces for people to contribute, and over the course of his 50-minute talk he gives several fascinating (and uplifting!) examples. Early on in the video he also talks about the relationship between the rules of a game and what actually happens, and this is something every game designer should be thinking about.

Dragon Oracle
As kind of a short side project I’ve started trying to design a (non-collectible) card-based RPG. It’s a simple fantasy game, tentatively titled Dragon Oracle. I’m trying to stick to using two decks of 54 cards (a Hero Deck for the players and a Dragon Deck for the GM/Dragon Master) and as few other materials as possible (which is why it wound up being non-random), though I ended up having to allow for simple character sheets. The number of cards limits the number of classes for the base Hero Deck to 3, which will be Fighter, Mage, and either Thief or Acolyte (priest/cleric). I’m not sure where I’m going with this. If it works out exceptionally well I may see about POD printing through Guild of Blades, or try submitting it to game publishers, but it may just wind up as a free PDF, if that. Right now it’s kind of stalled, partly because of the dilemma over class choices (though I’m leaning towards putting in the thief and letting the mage heal a bit, so it could be Fighting/Magic/Trickery rather than Fighting/Magic [arcane]/Magic [holy]).

Sunset +3
Over on the Sunset Games blog they’ve posted up an announcement and cover image for the third and final Yuuyake Koyake supplement, Kore Kara no Michi (“The Road From Here”), which as I understand it will be about playing as humans. Ike‘s art is awesome as ever.

Slime Story
I haven’t been getting much done on Slime Story, but I did get the commissioned art for the game’s archetypes:
Karate Star (Matt)
Suburban Ninja (Phoebe)
Joe Hunter (Doug)
Custom Character (Rita)
Dedicated Archer (Christine)
Nerdy Alchemist (Kenny)
Monster Lover (Kelly)

Dragon Ball Zeeeee
I have a vague notion of trying to put together a DBZ game loosely based on the Budokai Tenkaichi (or “Sparking!” in Japan) video game series.

Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel

Nechronica Cover
Just recently Tsugihagi Honbo updated their site with info on their latest game, due out soon, called Nechronica. It’s not out yet, though their Tsugihagi Tayori #3 doujin has a preview replay included.

From the sound of things, it seems like a post-apocalyptic undead kind of setting, with some Rozen Maiden and Maid RPG thrown in for good measure, and I’ll definitely be ordering it as soon as it’s out.

From the description on the site:

In this world, humanity has been destroyed.
In this world, everyone is dead.
In this world, no one dies anymore.
Only the dead remain to act.

The protagonists of Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel are young girls with the misfortune to have hearts. The dolls. Put simply, this is a game where you play girl zombies and fight other zombies.

The dead can move again through the necromancer who rules the ruined world. He serves as both the game’s ultimate boss, and a mechanism to move it forward. That is because it is the necromancer who gives these girls hearts. In a world of puppets, these dolls who have their own will, and can cry and laugh are mere toys to the necromancer. He sends enemies at them, and enjoys the tragedy or comedy that results.

These dolls are already dead, and do not die merely from being broken.

They’re already quite dead, after all.

The world is already finished too.

So, let’s have some tea under a lead-gray sky, and tell tales of a long, long sequel.

A preview replay of Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel has been published in Tsugihagi Tayori Vol. 3. Please take a look if you’re interested.

The site also mentions a third Yuuyake Koyake supplement on the way, Kore Kara no Michi, or “The Road From Here”. This will be the final Yuuyake Koyake book, and will focus on playing as people, and is slated for release at JGC 2009 (which means early September).