Ryo Kamiya & Tsugihagi Honpo’s1 2006 Golden Sky Stories is a Japanese fantasy roleplaying game. The 2013 translation is by Ewen Cluney2.
Golden Sky players adopt the role of henge, magical animals (fox, raccoon dog, cat, dog, rabbit, or bird) able to briefly don human form. Inherently magical, each character has special gifts unmatched by humans. There is, of course, a catch. There are several catches.
Unsurprisingly, Golden Sky’s art borrows from manga (specifically art at the cute end of the scale). I know there are North Americans with an inexplicable hostility to manga art — if they don’t care for the art, odds are they won’t care for the game’s content.
Just as each animal is a small animal, so too are their magic abilities tiny. Rather than castings fireballs, summoning demons, or raising mountains from the sea, henge can create a light rain, calm people down, and spread beneficial rumours, as well other actions of similar weight. Additionally, the fuel for this magic comes from social connections: loners have very little ability to alter the world around them. Take that, Mr. Grinch!
Readers may be wondering how the poor henge manage to dismember wandering monsters, savagely beat muggers, or maintain meticulous ledgers for their ailing interstellar trade company. The short answer is they don’t. Henge focus on assisting with personal problems like resolving disputes, helping lonely kids, and other challenges of similar weight. The game mechanics incentivize player-characters to be cooperative and community minded. The game is enormously wholesome.
While I have absolutely no problem playing the revived dead, garishly costumed crime-punchers, or the ever-popular wandering murder hobos convinced face-stabbing inferior warriors somehow makes them heroic, my cognitive borders fall well short of the mind-set needed to play this game. I can easily imagine other people enjoying3.
Golden Sky Stories is available here (Drivethru RPG) in a variety of formats.
As for the game itself … chapters are titled as seasons.
This section provides the context in which the henge’s adventures occur: a Japanese community, large or small (although the game appears to lean towards picturesque Ghibliesque towns and villages, there’s no real reason one could not use, say, Tokyo). After explaining the general nature of henge, the text provides an example of how events could transpire in play.
This section details character design. Rather than rolling randomly, each player selects the species of henge they will play. Each henge has a basic set of abilities every henge of that type possesses. Additionally, players can acquire additional abilities at the cost of taking on certain flaws. As well, the text discusses non-violent little stories of the sort they envision for their game.
This section provides guidance to would-be narrators.
This section provides the world-building elements needed to run a game: the animals, people, local gods one might encounter, as well as an example town in which the Narrator can set their games or simply use as a guideline to develop their own community.
What it says on the tin.
There is no index.
1: Original Japanese Version © 2006 by Ryo Kamiya & Tsugihagi Honpo
Planning: Ryo Kamiya, Emetaro Aiko, Radiwoheddo
Game design: Ryo Kamiya
Authors: Emetaro Aiko, Kentaro Hayashi, Saint Marc
Illustrations: Ike, hira, Emetaro Aiko
Special thanks: Harry, Tukasa Hashima, IWAKO
2: English Translation © 2013 by Ewen Cluney
Cultural notes: Ewen Cluney
Editing: Mike Stevens, Grant Chen, Charles Boucher
Layout, logos, & graphic editing: Clay Gardner
Special thanks: Ryo Kamiya, Andy Kitkowski, Jon Baumgardner, Ben Lehman, Elton Sanchez, Tobias Wrigstad
Dedicated to: Bruce Stevens and Billie Bullock
3: This game could be useful to parents who don’t want their children’s first roleplaying experience to involve an explanation of “The Horror at Red Hook.”