Yuuyake Koyake/Golden Sky Stories is Coming!

edited October 2011 in Directed Promotion
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!
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Comments

  • Sounds interesting, and the art is very pretty. Might be a way to interest my daughter in RPGs...
  • Where's my +1 button? :P

    :)
  • The Maid translation is one of my favourite RPG projects of the millenium. Just last week at Spiel Essen last week it provided me with a constant enjoyment as a game that is culturally and demographically undeniable discrete from the small press mainstream, while also being an enjoyably high-quality roleplaying game text on its own right. I've usually been on the other side of the cultural divide myself, creating translations instead of enjoying them, so I can say that Maid is very much what I like to see when a translation project is attempted. I wait upon further publications from the team with great eagerness, and will surely try to buy a copy or dozen of the new game.

    Personally I'd prefer to have the supplements included in the same book under the Maid model, in case we're doing market research here, but I'm sure the main game by itself is well worth the while if that's how you're going. This is my opinion mainly because a collected tome is better value for the money from the customer's viewpoint, while also presenting a less vague product image.
  • So, when do you take my money, and how much of it are you taking?

    Seriously though, the premise of this game is right up my alley on so many levels. I'm always up for another good anthro game, and by the guy who wrote Maid to boot? Awesome. I credit maid with being the single game that affected my thinking about game design the most a few years ago, really made me see what a well-made game could do that I wasn't getting out of most of my play.
  • This looks really exciting and sweet.
  • My wife never looks over my shoulder when I read story-games, but she was all "ooh what's that?"
  • Posted By: Captain TharkSo, when do you take my money, and how much of it are you taking?

    Seriously though, the premise of this game is right up my alley on so many levels. I'm always up for another good anthro game, and by the guy who wrote Maid to boot? Awesome. I credit maid with being the single game that affected my thinking about game design the most a few years ago, really made me see what a well-made game could do that I wasn't getting out of most of my play.
    I would like to get the Kickstarter up and running by the end of the year, but I have some work to do for that, and of course I want to be sure that contributors will get their goodies without undue delays. Clay should be doing a bunch of GSS layout today in fact (and he'll be posting a bit about the project from his end on his Shell Games blog), though we have a lot of other stuff to coordinate with other rewards.

    Maid RPG has hugely influenced my own thinking about RPGs too (the most obvious thing being I can seldom make a game without at least one or two d66 tables anymore), and having been translating, editing, and playing GSS over the past few years I can tell you that it's been at least as influential to me.

    I ended up interviewing Kamiya about the game a bit via e-mail, and he deliberately set out to design a game that eschewed fighting and seeking greater and greater power (things that are even more prominent in Japanese TRPGs than Western ones), and I think as a result he made a game that's more thematically accessible to some non-gamers. I'll have to search for the link again, but in Japan someone did run the game for a group of small children, around 8 years old or so. My non-gamer friends who I roped into playing took to it very naturally, and my one artist friend who'd never played an RPG before did a fantastic job of role-playing her black cat character. Mike has run it for kids at conventions on occasion too.
  • I am chomping at the bit for this one. Like Eero, i'd prefer that the supplements be included if possible, but I'll still pay you my left lung for a copy of something like this.

    Mainly, I just wanted to chime in and suggest that you see about bundling a copy of Maid with it for one of the KS rewards. I'd jump at that chance.
  • I do really want to get the supplements out to people (especially Mononoke Koyake, which greatly expands the range of character types), but I feel the core book will be more coherent and affordable without them. Plus I have another 120 or so pages of translation ahead of me for the supplements.

    We are indeed intending to have copies of Maid RPG among the Kickstarter rewards though. :3
  • I'm very much looking forward to this coming out!
  • Very excited about this. Andy highlighted a stack of JRPGs at GPNW in July, and Yuuyakae koyaka looked SO AWESOME! The art was so charming as well. What can you say about planned art in the translated game?
    I can not wait to support this.
  • Let me chime in as a voice saying I think that just releasing the first book for now is a good idea!
  • The translated version is going to stick very closely to the look and feel of the original, including all of Ike's artwork, plus two extra pieces (including the one I'm showing off above) that we requested in order to keep the same general rhythm of images and text while adding a good ten or so pages of cultural notes.
  • edited October 2011
    It's very interesting: Kamiya sort of "Made his first mark" or whatever on "the scene" with Maid RPG, a game which is a satirical jab at what was at the time this out-of-nowhere explosion of Maid-related crap (Maid manga, maid cafes, etc), and it was both a comedy game with heart while at the same time a jab, a response, to cultural nonsense.

    Yuuyake Koyake (Golden Sky Stories) was his first big game he designed after that, and while it isn't a jab at anything, it's a piece reacting to the level of violence in games, as well as wanting to make that truly Honobono/Feelgood/"Miyazaki/Totoro-like" experience in a game. He totally nailed it.

    Maid is fun, but Yuuyake Koyake is in my mind his magnum opus.

    He's made a few games since then, including his most recent "Nechronica" (a game about zombie girls, horror and friendship at the literal end of the world) and "Absolute Slavery" (a hentai/porn-themed game which was basically a vehicle for his female and male manga artists to publish their work together). But Yuuyake is really something else.

    As for combining all the supplements in with the core book: There's a few solid reasons why it was best not to go that route, IMO:

    1) The supplements for Yuuyake Koyake are so varied that they really shouldn't be included in the core book. For example, with Maid, there are a lot of people who think that they NEED to use the (clearly labeled "optional") romance/seduction rules (Maid-vs-Maid love) because it's part of the game, and makes for a more complete experience. They are optional, but they sort of do go with the core of the game, so it's not a stretch.
    However, with Yuuyake, it's a real stretch: The supplements include things like "PC Monsters", "PC Aliens" and the like, and it really is an optional departure from the core book. It's not my project at all, but as a fan, I'm thinking, "I'd love people to play the core game without having any knowledge of what is in the supplements. Once they get a few sessions under their belts, if they want to take the departure into the optional material, that's okay then."
    2) We (by "we" I mean "Ewen", of course (^.^) ) did it with Maid, and while "value-packed", it nearly killed Ewen for the amount of effort/work vs payoff.
    So maybe in the future there might be two or so supplements bundled together if he goes that route (not needed, tho; again each one is quite thematically different, they don't add when stacked upon each other like Maid, but rather depart from the core concept of the game like branches from a tree) that even if there was no work involved in splitting the books out, and it could all be done at the exact same price for both translator and consumer, I'd still support the splitting of the books up because of theme.

    It really is an awesome, Capital-N New game idea, gorgeous on both fronts of art and concept/feel (the Feelgood/Honobono thing me, Ewen, and Matt Sanchez commonly rant about), and I can't wait for it to be out.

    Maid is great fun. Yuuyake Koyake is an imminently playable goddamn work of art.

    -Andy
  • I am very excited by this!
  • Very neat!
  • Andy's post on G+ really piqued my interest so I'll be keeping an eye out for the Kickstarter as well.

    I've been thoroughly trained in matinée action, tears-in-the-rain misery and eye-stabbing, so I'm really looking forward to seeing if feel-good is something I can do as well.
  • Wow, this looks terrific. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.
  • I've been looking forward to this for some time. Glad to see it available soon!
  • Greatly excited by this game ! Heartwarming power
  • All right! I'm really excited by all the J-TRPGs being translated over the last couple years-- can't wait to pick this up.
  • Ewen, I gave my (vehemently non-gamer) wife Autumn the elevator pitch for this game and her response was "when can we play, and where do I send money?"
  • How do you play a heartwarming game? I like the Miyazaki kind of feel, but what do you actually do in play?
    Would Ben Lehman's Clover fall in this category too?

    I find it interesting that Japan has produced this genre.
  • Golden Sky Stories does a few different things to achieve its heartwarming feel. The simplest is simply the premise. The way I like to put it is, when you sit down to play a game of D&D, the question the game poses to you is something like, "You're a young adventurer, and goblins are going to attack the village. How are you going to stop them?" The question GSS poses is more like, "You're a fluffy bunny, and you see a boy who's crying. How are you going to make him feel better?" Having people play magical animals in an idyllic rural town goes a long way, just as in Clover telling the participants, "You're Clover, the best five-year-old girl in the world, and you're her dad, who's a cool, laid-back guy, and you both love each other a lot." means a lot.

    The game has a resource-based mechanic where the points you have to spend depend on your connections to other characters, but the meat of the gameplay comes down to role-playing aimed at getting others to open up and share their feelings, and you can use stat checks and powers to overcome obstacles to that. A bird henge can fly and locate things others might not see, a cat henge can look into a person's heart and see what they're thinking, a raccoon dog henge can transform into another person or an object, that kind of thing.

    Time permitting I'm hoping to put together a replay I can put up online for free so people can get a better idea how actual gameplay flows. If anyone in the SF Bay Area would like to give it a try let me know and we can see about arranging something.
  • If the face to face thing does not work out, I'll gladly throw my hat in for a Skype game. I also know several actual play podcast groups that wouldn't mind a guest GM if you want to work that angle.
    --
    TAZ
  • I'm looking forward to this as well. Good luck with all the work going forward.

    Do players play both the Henge and the humans?
  • A freely available replay is a terrific idea, Ewen!
  • Posted By: walkerpDo players play both the Henge and the humans?
    By default the players all play henge, though the core book has brief optional rules for playing as humans or as regular animals. The third supplement has more detailed, fully-realized rules for playing as human characters, though we're a ways off from releasing that of course.
  • So take the basic set-up, where players are all Henge. What handles the human reaction and behaviour to player input? Is it all system-based or does the GM have a lot of input? Some combo of the two? Obviously, I know next to nothing about how the game works, but my limited mind is trying to see how it could be played without the GM having too much power in terms of how the humans are run.
  • I'm going to be posting up some more blog posts and hopefully a replay so people can get a better idea of how it works, so please stay tuned. Japanese RPGs in general tend to have a strong, traditional GM role, and while GSS is innovative in many areas, the Narrator role in it is pretty traditional. The narrator does largely handle the NPC humans (and possibly animals, henge, and locals gods) by his or her discretion as per a traditional RPG, though there are some rules for things like Surprise (normal people tend to get a little weirded out by things like seeing a cat suddenly turn into a girl).
  • iyoaqd.jpg
    I'll just leave this here. =p
  • Check this out: Parkablogs has been ON A ROLL OF AWESOME lately, catching up after two weeks was hard!

    Anyway, if you need "visualization material" to get ideas for what a "classic/feelgood/honobono town" looks like in prep for Golden Sky stories, check this out:

    The Art of Poppy Hill

    An artbook from a famous Studio Ghibli designer. Great premise pics, very tied to a classical Japanese town the likes of which might appear as Hitotsuna/the town from Golden Sky Stories.

    -Andy
  • Things are still chugging along, and I just put up a "Meet the Henge" blog post that introduces the six types of henge in the book and the six signature characters.
  • I just heard about this game in an article in Otaku USA April 2012 issue I found at Wal-Mart getting groceries yesterday. Read the review, not knowing it was a local effort so to speak, and bought the book because I love the look, the premise, the appearance of the art in the review. Nice review, spoke well of the concept, and I plan to get the game now. +1 to the project.
    Put me on your mailing lists for this game too.
  • Thanks! I got to know Jason Thompson when he asked me to run Maid RPG at the San Francisco premiere of King of RPGs Vol. 2, and he's been kind enough to champion GSS and get the word out. He's planning to do an interview with Kamiya at some point too.
  • I'm very excited to see the fianl book. I like the diferent way that JRPGs work, if this game were western i'm sure that it will be very different
  • I'm still waiting.

    Is it done yet?


    How about now?

    Seriously I look forward to this, it will be so awesome for some of my players.
  • We're getting pretty close to launching the Kickstarter. Also, our layout guy Clay Gardner put up a blog post about his impressions of the game.

    Also, Jason Thompson got a 4-page article on GSS in the newest issue of Otaku USA magazine. :3
  • Pretty excited about this! It's exactly what I've been looking for in RPGs lately.

  • How about now?

    I really want to throw my money at this!
  • I'm going to Kick that Starter so hard. SO HARD.

    But in a honobono way.
  • I'm definitely tryin' to start that kick, too.
  • Soooooo... Kickstarter. Any updates?
  • As my dear, late friend Christopher George Latore Wallace once said.

    GIMME THE LOOT
  • Hokay so:

    Our layout guy, Clay Gardner (who you may know from his game OVA: Open Versatile Anime, as well as a ton of work on board games) is about a third of the way done. The Japanese version was already really pretty, but he's making it look awesome. I'll see about posting up a preview.

    I have a bunch of stuff to deal with on my end of things, both for getting all the rewards ready and for starting up a small business.

    And finally, Andy is going to be starting up the Tenra Bansho Zero kickstarter in about a month, and the plan is to have the GSS one come shortly after that.
  • Really looking forward to this... my own translation note-sheets are all used up from going from players to players... I'll probably buy several book just to make presents out of them.

    I mostly don't play the game myself (we've had that talk elsewhere I believe, dark humor and all that), but many of the people I introduced the game to do...

    I wish you well on that project.
  • This is great! The henge thing reminds me of Princess Tutu which is one of the best anime series that I've watched. If only I could play a duck!
  • Posted By: Bret GillanThis is great! The henge thing reminds me of Princess Tutu which is one of the best anime series that I've watched. If only I could play a duck!
    Birds are one of the henge types in the rulebook, so assuming your idea of what a duck should be doesn't clash too much (bird henge emphasize flight and fragility a lot) you totally could. The supplements are a ways off, but they have guidelines for mixing and matching powers to make new character types, and I could see making a duck henge by starting with a bird henge and swapping in some of the water-related powers from kappa.
  • You should totally do a Duck Henge "playbook" as a promo.
  • On that front: what about adding the mouse Henge as a bonus ?
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