Monday, June 17, 2013

A Golden Sky Story: Ghost on The Lonely Mountain

So, health, funerals, and life in general pretty much blasted apart any posting schedule I tried to maintain. I did get some gaming in, though, and managed to run my first session of Golden Sky Stories!  But what is Golden Sky Stories? 

Briefly, it's a diceless RPG, one recently translated from the native Japanese by Ewen Cluney of Yaruki Zero and Starline Publishing. In Golden Sky Stories (GSS henceforth), players take the role of Henge, animals with the ability to shapeshift into human form.  Rather than run around ninja-shanking dragons and drop kicking peasants as your typical RPG fare would provide, however, GSS puts you to work making friends and solving problems in a sleepy Japanese town. It's a wonderful game, very heartwarming, and one I can see myself running for quite some time.  So, read on after the cut to find out what sort of story we told.

Hello! My name is Old Man Turtle, join me for a story, won't you?

One fine Autumn afternoon, two dear friends climbed Mt. Misuzu in search of ripe Yumakawa (Mountain Mulberry). Karasu, a large crow, strutted alongside her dear friend Hoshi the cat. Enjoying the quiet offered by the mountain, the two ambled along until they happened upon a large yamaboshi tree, its branches thick with fruit.

The early bird gets the worm, so it is said, and so too does it get the fruit. Taking wing, Karasu flapped up into the branches, and with deft pecks began to drop fruit to the ground below. 

Hoping to collect a few Yumakawa for a friend in the town, Hoshi took her human form, using her black witch's hat for a basket, catching the fruit just as quickly as Karasu let them fall.  The afternoon was spent this way, and when the hat was finally full, the sun had crept down on the horizon, painting the sky a brilliant golden hue. 

Deciding it was time to return, Hoshi and Karasu began the descent back to town, roughhousing in a friendly way. As the sun sank lower, a cold wind began to blow.

The children of Hitotsuna town tell a story about the mountain, how recently a lonely ghost found its way to the mountain trails with horrible wailing and thunderous drumming.

Not fearing this ghost, the two friends tried to show one another how brave they were, ignoring the terrible singing that sprang with the wind. Hoshi, trying to show how brave she was, teased Karasu for being a 'scaredy-crow'. 

This riled Karasu, who fell on the hat full of berries with a caw, trying to steal a snack for the slight. The two friends squabbled, as friends sometimes do, and in their tussling they discovered the source of the singing... A baby panda!

The panda, whose tummy rang like a drum, introduced himself as Don Don. With teary eye, Don Don informed Hoshi and Karasu that he had been separated from his mother, and that was why he sang so sadly.

Not wanting to leave the cub alone, Hoshi and Karasu, after calming Don Don, offered to help find his mother, but there was a problem! There truly was a ghost on the mountain, one that frightened Don Don away when he went searching for his mother! 

Hoshi and Karasu would not be put off by these stories, however, Don Don needed help, and they were just the ones to do it.

"Oh, Big Sisters!" The little panda cried, looking from one to another with wide eyes, "You're not afraid of the ghost? So brave!" If Hoshi and Karasu could be brave, then so could Don Don. Determined to find the panda's mother, the trio set out, Hoshi holding her hat full of fruit, Karasu flying ahead and falling back, making sure that Don Don stayed close.

Up the mountain they went, and when they neared the top, a ghostly lady appeared in a flash of foxfire. A wicked cackle sent Don Don tumbling, but Hoshi and Karasu were not afraid.  Cawing, Karasu flapped her wings, stirring a powerful gust of wind that shook the ghost, extinguishing her fires and sending her tumbling into the bushes. It was no ghost at all, but a mischievous Kitsune!

Annoyed at his pranks, Hoshi shifted her hat to one hand, picking up Don Don with the other. "We're looking for Don Don's mother!" Hoshi informed the kitsune, "Let us through!"

The Kitsune refused, however, insisting that it was his mountain, and that he would not share with anyone.

The day was won though, when Hoshi managed to strike a bargain. For two handfuls of berries, the Kitsune would let them pass to the mountain top.  Hoshi, being nicer than the Kitsune, gave two handfuls and more before heading up the mountain top.

There, the three friends sat and watched the stars, wondering where Don Don's mother could be. "Do you think your mother is watching the sky?" Karasu asked, looking down at Don Don.

Overhead, the stars shifted, descending to the earth. As they fell, they formed a panda, one that lumbered down to the earth. Don Don's mother was a local god! With Don Don playing around them all,  his mother thanked Hoshi and Karasu for finding her child before the two returned to the night sky. 

Together, Hoshi and Karasu returned to the town, their little friend watching from up above.

And that is the story of Hoshi the cat and Karasu the raven, and how their afternoon of picking yumakawa lead to new friends. 

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