Friday, March 22, 2024

Cozy Town RPG Review

When I was a lot younger (like, in high school) I can remember spending long hours around the gaming table planning with my friends our adventuring party’s lair. We spent time building a home for our characters, planning the layout, drawing floor plans, discussing and listing the types of rooms in our shared castle home. We talked about the guardians, servants, and friendly NPC’s that would live in our castle and look after it while we were away adventuring.

Is this role-playing? We were using our imagination, and we were pretending. If these are the hallmarks of role-playing, then yes … yes, we were role-playing. That then, during that time, for that session, was our role-playing game. That is the same kind of role-playing game you will discover when you play… 

Cozy Town

When I first flipped through Cozy Town, I dismissed it out of hand as something that just wasn’t for me. It’s not really an RPG, not in the sense that I am used to. But given that I started this series of reviews because I wanted to explore something different, perhaps Cozy Town will fit the bill?

In Cozy Town players don’t create characters, they create a town. In much the way that I did in high school, sitting around and discussing plans for a castle, all the players in Cozy Town work together to create a home, not for their characters, but for an entire community of residents all looking for a home.

Character Creation

Just as we had created our characters in D&D, players will create the town residents, but only in the most general and cozy sense. The game recommends non-human residents and gives examples that remind me of video games like Animal Crossing. Here are the examples from the book, which will give you a better feel for what the game is going for than I can:

    • A small tropical island, with white beaches and small pigs that swim in the blue waters.

    • A small group of sentient guardian succulents, living in a mystical twilight grove in a fantasy world.

    • An ancient temple full of cats who walk and talk like we humans do.

    • Faeries who have built a home of dreams and wishes on one of Jupiter’s moons.

    • ...Or make up something similar! Remember to focus on the “aaawww” factor, something dreamy and comforting.

Once you decide on the residents of your Cozy Town, you focus on filling out other details and can even draw a little town map as you go. Town details include: townsfolk, features, events, transportation, and town spirits.

All of this reminds me of building my castle back in high school, but this is just the start. The process of creating Cozy Town is “character creation.” Next, it’s time for your character (your town) to go on an adventure!

The Adventure

In Cozy Town, your adventure is a year in the life of the town. Cozy Town uses a deck of 52 playing cards (with Jokers removed) to generate random encounters for your town and its residents. You divide the cards by suit, and each suit represents a season of the year. You begin the life of your town in spring, and you play through winter to complete one year.

On their turn, players draw a card and consult the rules to see what the card means, they then interpret the results and embellish them, describing what happens during that “week” in their town. 

This is role-playing. Generate a random result and then put that result into words that fit the narrative. That’s what a player does when a warrior swings their sword to strike down a goblin, or when their wizard casts a spell to teleport the party to safety. They roll the dice and then describe what happens. Cozy Town is the same.

After everyone has taken a turn, players decide if they wish to continue in the same season or move to the next season. I suspect this decision will have to do with how long a game session your group is shooting for, but I think that it would not only be best to move on to the next season, but also to set the cards that were used aside (and not use them) so that you can revisit the town later and be guaranteed different results during a future play.

With every turn, the town changes grows, and evolves, and the players create an ongoing story, not of a single character, but of a small charming community.

Cozy Town As Session Zero

While Cozy Town is designed with strong, “Stardew Valley” or “Animal Crossing” vibes, I can see using this to create a town for other kinds of small fantasy communities. I even think this might make a great “session zero” for another RPG, where players work together to create their town, then later each create a character who comes from that town. This would make a group of characters who all have a connection from that shared experience. It would be like those characters really did all grow up in the same small town together. (Cozy Town would make an awesome session zero for the previously reviewed, Golden Sky Stories.)

I don’t think Cozy Town would endure for an extended campaign, but it’s not designed for that. The random nature of the game means that Cozy Town will make an awesome one-shot for a night when someone can’t make it. That just happened this past Saturday, I wish I’d had thought of Cozy Town then. It would have been perfect.

Final Thoughts

I really like Cozy Town. It’s another charming entry in the “feel good” family of RPG’s, and it’s simple, and accessible approach to improvisational shared creativity makes it a perfect choice for a last minute filler. That being the case, I am sure that Cozy Town will find its way to my game table.

If you are interested, you can find Cozy Town HERE. (This is not an affiliate link. If you buy Cozy Town, I receive nothing. I recommend the game because I love it for all the reasons detailed in this review.)

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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Amazing Heroes RPG Review

The next “non-combat” RPG that I want to talk about is Amazing Heroes. Amazing Heroes is a superhero genre RPG. It might seem crazy to review a superhero game when talking about alternatives to combat laden RPG’s. The superhero genre, superhero movies, and superhero comics are bursting to the brim with slug-fests. How is Amazing Heroes different?

Amazing Heroes has superhero battles, sure, but these are abstracted as action sequences. They are not laid out as tactical war-game style battles. The characters in Amazing Heroes don’t have hit-points or an armor value. Character creation doesn’t involve loads of tables and complex math. In fact, Amazing Heroes might just be the superhero RPG that I’ve been waiting for.

Amazing Heroes is a: choose your own trait, create your own game, kind of game. It is very much in the same vein as Five By Five in that regard. (I’m loath to admit it, but Amazing Heroes just might be the RPG that Five By Five wants to be.)


DEFINING TRAITS is the first step in character creation. Players define four traits. They are Body, Personality, Occupation, and Superpower. Each of these traits should be defined in just a word or two. These all fall into the “make up whatever you want” category, but there are plenty of examples.

BODY might be something like: brawny, graceful, gorgeous, tall, athletic, wiry, etc. 

PERSONALITY might be something like: brainy, bold, charming, brooding, bubbly, energetic, curious, etc. 

OCCUPATION is what the character did or does when not in costume, and will help define a skill set as well as possible contacts for the character. This might be something like: college professor, student, computer hacker, rock star, police detective, investigative reporter, Navy SEAL, landscape architect, bartender, Krav Maga instructor, doctor, lawyer, pastry chef, secret agent, etc.

SUPERPOWER is just that and can be anything, although it’s suggested that you clearly define what it does. The example character has: Armored Suit as a superpower, with a note that it provides “protection.”

ASSIGN DICE is the next step. Once your four traits are defined, you assign dice to them. Newly created heroes get: a d6, another d6, a d8, and a d10 to assign to their traits. Amazing Supers uses a basic “roll high” resolution mechanism, so the higher value dice are better.

SPEND XP is the final step. Players get 2 XP to customize their characters. Math in Amazing Heroes is kept super light in order to keep the game accessible to younger players. Two XP will allow you to improve any trait by one die size, get you a new superpower or occupation with a D6 value, or give you a contact (more on contacts in a bit.) One XP will get you a new descriptor to add to your Body or Personality, allow you to add a secondary power at D6, or allow you to improve a secondary power by a die size.


Secondary powers are specialties connected to an established power and must always have a die size that is lower than the power they are based on. 

Here’s one example from the book, “A hero with super strength learns to create a shockwave by clapping their hands. Their shockwave power is a child of their super strength power.” 

Making secondary powers cheaper in XP encourages thematic character builds without adding a lot of extra rules or complexity. Like everything that Amazing Heroes does, clean, easy, straightforward.


Contacts are people in the world that can be called upon to provide resources and assistance. But, players need to be careful not to abuse their contacts. Players keep track of how many times a contact is used. When they call on a contact in subsequent scenes, they must roll a d6. If the roll is lower than the number of times the character has asked this contact for help, then the contact does help, but this help carries with it some kind of complication. The player can then not call on the contact again until this complication is resolved. (Resolving the complication resets the usage counter back to zero.)


Does just one superpower seem too limiting? Personally, I like the clean simplicity here. Players can be at the table and playing the game quickly. Amazing Heroes is set up to tell the story of a superhero from their meager beginnings. And remember, you have a few XP to play with. 

Think about the Iron Man movie. When Tony first built the armor, it was nothing but a bunch of iron plating welded together. Look back at our example superpower, the armored suit. Spend two XP to add an arm mounted missile launcher, and you have Tony in the original Iron Man armor, escaping his captors.

That’s what a beginning hero in Amazing Heroes is meant to be, but there are suggestions later in the rules for creating more advanced characters, if that’s what you want. Even then, you aren’t looking at the stifling point buy of other supers games. Amazing Heroes will give you a fully evolved superhero for only 10 XP.


Actions are resolved in broad strokes. The rules state that, in general, dice should be rolled once per conflict. There are no rules for combat, but defeating villains is considered a major challenge that will require more than one successful action to complete.

Action difficulties are: easy, normal, and hard. The target number for these difficulties is: 3+ for easy, 4+ for normal, and 5+ for hard. Roll that number or higher on your die to succeed. If you are rolling an attribute test (Body or Personality) and your descriptor applies, add +1 to your roll. That’s it. No need to get more granular than that. As a GM, I often struggle with assigning difficulty numbers, but I think that I can handle this.


Villains have difficulties based on their level. A success against their difficulty in whatever approach your hero is using to defeat them will bring you one step closer to victory. Level 1 villains need a 3+ on any roll to score a success against them. Level 2 villains need a 4+ on any roll to score a success against them, and level 3 villains need a 5+ on any roll to score a success against them.

It takes a number of successes equal to the villain’s level, multiplied by the number of heroes, to defeat a villain. So in a game with four heroes it takes eight successes to defeat a level two villain. The exception here is “mooks.” Mooks are weak enemies that are usually (but not always) easy difficulty and only need a single success to defeat.

The focus here is on the narrative, not the tactical, and all action resolution is handled the same way. There is no initiative, no combat rounds, and no hit-points or armor class. If a hero is “hurt” they may receive a “condition.” Conditions are descriptors that should impact the way the player plays their character. A condition might make some actions more difficult, but shouldn’t stick around for too long. This is a superhero game after all.


Amazing Heroes includes loads of GM advice for handling all kinds of situations, setting difficulties, and running and pacing the game. Finally, there’s an entire section dedicated to Storm City, the game’s default setting including various districts and factions within the city and loads of adventure hooks. This is followed by example villains and heroes in Storm City, and two example adventures.


I am absolutely in love with Amazing Heroes. The next time I run a superhero RPG, Amazing Heroes will be the game that finds its way to my table. If you are interested, you can find Amazing Heroes HERE. (This is not an affiliate link. If you buy Amazing Heroes, I receive nothing. I recommend the game because I love it for all the reasons detailed in this review.)

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Sunday, March 17, 2024

Golden Sky Stories Review Part Three of Three

This is the continuation of my review of Golden Sky Stories. You can read the first part of the review HERE. You can read the second part of the review HERE.


Once you have established a connection with a character, you’ll want to be able to improve that connection in future scenes. You can’t use an impression check to do that. You only get one chance (per story) to make a first impression. This is where Dreams come in.

Anytime someone does something, cute, cool or funny during the story, you can give them a Dream. The game text recommends using playing cards to award dreams. Keep a deck of cards in the center of the table, and anyone can grab a card and award it to someone else when they do something cool.

You can’t award Dreams to yourself, only other players and the narrator can give you dreams. Likewise, you give dreams to the other players and to the narrator. That’s right, you definitely want to give Dreams to the narrator. The narrator has to use dreams to strengthen their connections to you. This is important because, if you’ll remember, these connections are where your character’s Feelings come from.

Dreams are awarded on the fly from anyone to anyone else besides yourself. These are spent between scenes to strengthen connections to characters, but they can only strengthen the connections to characters who appeared in the scene that was just completed.

(I like the idea of using playing cards to track: Dreams, Feelings, and Wonder. Just use face up red suited cards to track Wonder, face up black suited cards to track Feelings, and face down cards to track Dreams.)

While spending Dreams to improve a connection, you can also change a connection’s contents if it seems appropriate to do so. (You can change contents even if you didn’t improve the connection, if you think that’s a good idea.)

If you ever get both sides of a connection to 5 so that the filled in boxes on your sheet meet at that star in the middle on your character sheet, you get 10 Wonder and 10 Feelings for this connection at the start of a scene instead of just 5 of each! (But both sides of the connection must be maxed out, not just one!) In addition, at the end of the story you earn TWO Threads for this connection instead of the usual one!

What’s a thread? Glad you asked.


At the end of the story (game session) you lose all of the connections that you made and begin the next story with a clean slate. Why work so hard to build connections if they are just going to fade away? The answer to this is: Threads & Memories.

For each connection that you have at the end of the game session, you get a thread. You can erase this thread in a later story to increase a connection by +1 with that returning character without spending Dreams. This can be a huge advantage. Especially with higher level connections that cost a lot of Dreams to improve.


Finally, at the end of the story, for every point of strength that you have built in your connections to others, (except the one with the town) you get 1 point of Memories. Memories can be spent like Wonder or Feelings, but once they are spent, they are gone.

Only your connections convert into Memories. Any unused Wonder, Feelings or Dreams are lost at the end of the session. Be sure to spend all the Dreams you can to improve connections at the end of the last scene, so that these will become Memories.

Small Stories

The stories in Golden Sky Stories are small. The players aren’t heroes out to defeat a great evil or to save the world. Almost every story is built around the idea that someone the players encounter has some worry, concern, problem or challenge. The players should discover this problem and help the person to resolve it.

During character creation, the rules have an entire section on how to choose an appropriately Japanese name for your character. My initial reaction to this was that I would ignore it and just let players use whatever name they want, but I get why it's there. 

Golden Sky Stories is a Japanese RPG. It's attitude and approach is very different culturally than anything produced in the US. Picking a Japanese name for their character is going to encourage players to step into Golden Sky Stories' uniquely Japanese mind set. 

These stories are the heart-warming intimate slice of life tales of a Studio Ghibli film. Choosing a Japanese name is going to help players to "get into character" and to play a role that's different from anything they've ever tried before. 

Small Groups 

Golden Sky Stories is about role-playing. A game exclusively about role-playing tends to work best with smaller more intimate sized groups. Golden Sky story recommends two or three henge players plus the narrator. This will provide the best experience.

In my own experience, some of my fondest game sessions were games played with such small, intimate groups. Some sessions saw us play an entire evening without rolling any dice, because we were simply too busy role-playing. That’s the experience that Golden Sky Stories promises and I can’t wait to try it out!

Final Thoughts 

Golden Sky Stories has completely charmed me. I desperately want to get this game to the table. 

I do think that it needs the right kind of group to work. It's written for fans of Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service or Ponyo. And it's written for people who just want to enjoy telling a story without all the tactical combat baggage that so often goes with the RPG experience. 

I intend to play Golden Sky Stories as soon as I am able. I will write about that experience as soon as I can make it happen, but for me, for right now, I'm going to bask in the warm fuzzies that this game gives me just by thinking about it. 

If you are interested in Golden Sky Stories you can get it at Drive Thru RPG. (This is not an affiliate link. If you buy Golden Sky Stories, I receive nothing. I recommend the game because I love it for all the reasons detailed in this review.)

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Friday, March 15, 2024

Golden Sky Stories Review Part Two of Three

This is the continuation of my review of Golden Sky Stories. You can read the first part of the review HERE.

Character Creation

The first thing a player should do is consider what kind of animal they want to be. A player’s animal form is their true form. There are six animal types to choose from in Golden Sky Stories. (There are a number of supplementary books available that expand these options.) 

Pick Your True Form (Animal Form), Powers, and Weaknesses

The six base animal true forms are: Fox (Kitsune), Raccoon Dog (Tanuki), Cat (Neko), Dog (Inu), Rabbit (Usagi), and Bird (Tori).

Each animal comes with its own set of unique magical powers. In addition, players must choose at least one weakness. The sting of this requirement is offset by the fact that every weakness carries along with it a specific bonus power. 

Players can even choose additional weaknesses (up to a maximum of 3 total weaknesses) in order to obtain the associated bonus powers. (Powers cost points to activate, and as mentioned in part one of this review, these are paid for using Wonder.) 

Once you’ve chosen your true form and your henge powers and weaknesses, it’s time to assign some points to your character’s four basic attributes.

The Four Basic Attributes

Henge have four basic attributes that reflect their ability to perform actions. The four attributes are: Henge, Animal, Adult and Child.

Henge is used to perform actions specifically related to the magical henge, their powers, interactions with the local gods, and for the knowledge about other henge and about magical things, myths and legends.

Animal is used to do animal things, identify a scent, climb a tree, run, jump, hide, or anything else physically tied to strength, agility or constitution that an animal could normally do. This is used for these things even when the henge is in human form.

Adult is used to interact with the world without losing your cool. It’s used when you try to do anything related to technology, or act responsibly, or with composure. Its used to think strategically, considering the consequences of an action rather than acting on impulse … you know, adulting.

Child reflects how well you express emotion. It’s tied to empathy and compassion. You can use child to plead, charm, or otherwise cajole others into letting you have what you want. It’s also used when you’re acting impulsively, or when you’re just trying to goof off and have some fun.

Players have 8 points to spend on their attributes. Each attribute must be given a value between 1 and 4. The only exception to this is that Adult can have a value of 0 if you want.

While the math is pretty light, the distribution choice here feels huge to me. These four attributes are really cleverly chosen. They speak not just to what your character can do, but also to how they are likely to behave. The balance between, adult and child, and animal and henge really gives a player a lot of information about how to play their character.

Decide On A Human Form

What does your henge look like when they take human form? This is purely an aesthetic choice, but it will inform the way that you play your character, and the way that others react to and behave around them. This brings us back to connections.

Back To Connections

The final step of character creation is to decide on your connections with the other players. All connections between player henge will have a strength of 2, but the contents of each connection is up to the players.

I talked at some length about connections in part one of this review, but one important aspect that I failed to address is the fact that connections go both ways. There’s what your henge thinks about someone, and there’s what someone thinks about your henge. These aren’t always going to be the same thing.

On your character sheet, every connection has two sides with a star drawn between them, right in the middle. 

When recording your starting connections with the other players you record the strength of the connection by filling in little boxes equal to the connection’s strength (2) and you write that connection’s contents as they relate to your henge’s attitude towards the other character on the left side of the star.

The other players will tell you what contents they have chosen for their connections to you. You will fill in boxes equal to the strengths of their connections to you (again 2), and record the contents of their connections with you, along with their names on the right side of the star.

Once you have done this for all the other players’ henge, your character’s creation is complete.

Connections Back To You

In part one, I said that you got Wonder and Feelings equal to your connections at the start of each scene. This was a simplification. 

Any time the rules refer to “your connections” they refer to the connections on the left side of the star. Those connections on the right side of the star aren’t yours. They belong to the person or henge that you are connected with. That’s part of THEIR connections.

Now it’s time to clarify and bring the picture into focus:

At the start of each new scene you get Wonder equal to the total strengths of YOUR connections. (Those on the left side of the star.) Also, at the start of each scene, you get Feelings equal the total strengths of OTHER peoples’ (and henge) connections to you. (Which is why you need to record them on your character sheet.)

Again, I feel this has a beautiful logic. Feelings are empathetic, they are driven by self-esteem which is strongly influenced by the way others see you. This game mechanism is also a little scary, because it means that you don’t have complete control over the generation of your resources.

Impression Checks

With the exception of your connections to the other players, when you meet a character in the story, and you want to form a connection, you have to pass a test. I alluded to this in part one. Tests in Golden Star Stories are called checks. To make a check you compare one of your abilities to a difficulty number. If the ability score equals or exceeds the difficulty, then the check is successful. The thing that makes Golden Sky Stories different is that you don’t add the roll of a die to this. If you need to succeed at a check and your ability score isn’t high enough, then you have to spend your feelings to make the ability score temporarily higher.

Forming connections requires you to succeed at a check. This is called an Impression Check. The way that your henge is behaving or the action that they are taking at the time that first impression is made will tell you which ability score to apply to the check. The rules also provide some recommendations on what contents to give to the newly formed connection based on which ability was used to make the check.

One important caveat to this is that you can’t form a connection unless the other person wants to make a connection back.

Narrator Created Connections

The stories provided in Golden Sky Stories (the pre-written adventure scenarios) each grant the narrator a pool of Wonder and Feelings that they can use while narrating the story. One big thing the narrator will do with their Feelings is form connections from the characters that they control to the henge controlled by the other characters.

A connection from a person controlled by the narrator to a henge will grant that henge feelings for use in later scenes. (Players only acquire a fresh influx of Wonder and Feelings between scenes.) Providing these connections is vital to the story’s success, but they are still under the Narrator’s control.

Players will want to pay close attention to the impressions that they make on the other characters that they meet in the story. Again, this is a mechanical choice that influences the way players will play their characters, and it all lends itself to a grand sense of cooperation and shared story telling that is far removed from the “kill them and take their stuff” mentality that is cultivated by almost every other RPG I’ve played.

Coming Up Next

In the next post I’ll talk about the mechanisms in the game for character advancement. These take the form of Dreams, Threads and Memories. (You can read part 3 HERE.)

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Thursday, March 14, 2024

Golden Sky Stories Review Part One of Three

I’m tired of D&D. 

I could say that it’s just too complex for my addled old man brain, or that I can’t abide the politics surrounding Hasbro and their apparent attitude of indifference (or outright hostility) toward the D&D player community. But, the truth is – I’m tired of fighting. D&D and by extension the lion’s share of modern RPGs are designed with a focus on the tactical combat mini-game. They are all, all about fighting.

In the last dozen or so years, I have discovered board games in a big way. Board games scratch the tactical combat (and other types of tactical game play) itch very well. I want to role-play when I role-play. I don’t want to fight. So, I’ve been looking at some of the modern role playing game alternatives that try and step away from the D&D mold. Many are very niche one-shot experiences, that just don’t appeal to me. But, a few stand outs have caught my attention. One such game is Golden Sky Stories.

Golden Sky Stories

Golden Sky Stories is a tabletop role playing game created by Ryo Kamiya & Tsugihagi Honpo. The English language version is translated by Ewen Cluney and is published by Star Line Publishing. The tagline for Golden Sky Stories is, “Heart-Warming Role-Playing.” It’s a game where fighting is discouraged, if not completely forbidden. Players must find peaceful ways to solve problems. Is an RPG without combat sustainable? I’m not sure, but Golden Sky Stories has me intrigued.

The Basic Premise

In Golden Sky Stories, players take the roles of beings from Japanese mythology called, “henge” (hen-gay.) Henge are magical animals that can take human form. Note that this isn’t a human who can transform into an animal, but the other way around. This is an important distinction. While magically intelligent and able to communicate through speech like a person, henge are animals. A cat henge wants and thinks cat things, not people things. That alone creates all kinds of interesting role-play handles.

As magical animals, henge are territorial. They stay within the confines of a small rural town and its immediate surroundings, and from their point of view, everything and everyone within their territory belongs to them. Instinctively, a normal animal that has bonded with its human wants to protect them and make them happy. In this same way, the henge bond with and care for the human residents of their town. This provides the motivation and focus for storytelling.

Adopting a New Attitude

If the focus in an RPG is not combat, then all that remains is the role-playing. Players of Golden Sky Stories will need to adjust their thinking to accommodate this new method of play. Role-playing isn’t provided as merely a means to trigger the next combat encounter. Role-playing is the encounter. It’s the only encounter. This requires entering into the game play with a completely new attitude. Golden Sky Stories has rules that support this new attitude. 

Said, “new attitude,” was something of a shock for the old-school D&D nerd in me. I had to read through the rules multiple times to understand what was happening with the game mechanically. The rules aren’t complex or poorly represented, they’re just so … different. 

Your focus in Golden Sky Stories is role-playing. Role-playing in this context involves interacting with the people who populate the world of the game (controlled by a GM, called the narrator) and the other henge (controlled by your fellow players around the table.) This role-play is what the game cares about. So, its mechanisms are built around that activity.

Important Concept #1 – Connections 

When your character encounters another character, they (and you) form an instant first impression, and this creates a connection. 

Connections Are Power

In the game, as you are creating your story, you will want to make connections with every character you meet (assuming that they are connected to your story in some way.) This means that you’ll want to interact with them. You’ll want to (need to) role-play with them. Connections have a strength from 1 to 5, and this is important, because the higher the number, the more it will help you.

The sub-header for this section is: Connections Are Power. Look at that again. I can’t overemphasize the importance of making connections. Connections are about interacting socially with other characters, and that’s the main thing that players do during the game. That’s role-playing.

Contents Give Connections Context

In addition to its strength, every connection has contents. Contents is a keyword that describes the nature of the connection. This helps in the storytelling part of the role-play to inform the sort of interactions these characters might have with each other. The rules provide a list of contents for the player to choose from when a connection is made. These are: Like, Affection, Protection, Trust, Family, Admiration, Rivalry, Respect and Love. (Notice the complete absence of negative contents like hate or vengeance. I suppose a henge could feel such things, but the game system is not going to reward you for it. You can't create connections with those kinds of contents.) 

When players create their characters, they will select contents for, and form connections with, each of their fellow henge. This is a required part of character creation. Your henge know each other because you all live in this shared territory together. You have connections (each having a strength of 2,) but the nature (the contents) of those connections is up to you.

At the beginning of the story (game session) your henge only has connections with the other players. Every story begins this way. 

Important Concept #2 – Resources 

I made a point of defining connections as power in the previous section. It’s more correct to say that connections give players the power to generate resources. 

Resources Make Things Happen

At the start of the game your character only has a few resources at their disposal. As you tell the story and meet characters and form connections, your pool of resources grows. This creates a natural escalation arc in the story and the game.

Players have two pools of resources with which to get things done. These are: Wonder and Feelings.

Wonder Fuels the Fantastic

Henge are magical creatures, as such, they possess magical powers. Using a magical power cost points. These points are paid for in Wonder.

Feelings Enhance The Mundane

While Wonder is about the magical, doing normal things is enhanced by Feelings. Henge have ability scores that measure their “skills” in the human world, but when these skills are not enough, they can be enhanced by Feelings. Personally I love this notion. It’s the combination of both skill and the passion to succeed that makes someone good at doing something.

Important Concept #3 – Golden Sky Stories Is Diceless

Oh, yeah … no dice. Golden Sky Stories is a pure resource management game. This means that it’s really important to role-play in order to make (and strengthen) connections in order to ensure that the resources you need are available when you need them.

Golden Sky Stories leaves success and failure up to the player. Do you spend your Wonder to activate one of your henge powers now, or do you wait and save the wonder to do something more amazing later? If your skill isn’t quite enough to complete a task, do you invest your feelings to ensure success, or do you allow this action to fail and save your feelings for when it really counts? These things are up to you.

The Game Play Arc

At the beginning of every scene, each henge will get a number of resources equal to the strengths of all their connections with the characters (including other henge) that participated in the previous scene. At the start of the game session, because there was no previous scene, players begin with resources based solely on their connections with the other players and the town. 

Oh, yeah ... I forgot to mention that every henge also has a strength 2 connection to “the town.” In addition, each henge will usually start with a strength 2 connection to each other henge. This means that at the start of a game session with three henge, each player would have 6 Wonder and 6 Feelings. 

Making connections during the current scene will ensure that you gain more Wonder and Feelings for the next scene, thus increasing your character’s options and effectiveness as the story progresses. Any Wonder or Feelings that are not spent during a scene are not lost and will carry over into future scenes.

This then, forms the basic arc of the game.

More To Come

This concludes Part One of my Golden Sky Stories review. I still need to talk about generating Wonder and Feelings in more detail (they are generated differently.) Part two will cover this and talk a bit about creating a character.

Stay Tuned! (If you can't wait, you can read Part 2 HERE.)

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