Upwind, hardback roleplaying game, by Jeff Barber
“Upwind is an RPG of lost science, elemental magic and uncharted skies. Join the Explorers’ Guild and sail into the Twilight Frontier.
Treasure Planet meets Studio Ghibli
Imagine Bakshi’s classic animated film Wizards has a head-on collision with Disney’s Treasure Planet and the resulting fire is put out with a whole lot of Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky. That, in an unexpected, animated mash-up, is Upwind.
Upwind is a narrative style RPG set in a strange alternate world of floating island nations, flying sailing ships, long-lost technology, wild elemental powers, looming war and forgotten legacies.
Upwind is powered by the Q system, an original stakes-based, playing card-driven mechanic that gives every encounter consequences with meaningful, narrative-building outcomes. With its unique bidding rules, Upwind plays as fast as you can tell your story.
Upwind presents a fantastical setting where the remains of a broken world drift as floating islands through a sky divided into the Light and the Dark. The Kin inhabit the skylands of the Kingdoms in the Light while the Children of the Dark dwell far below where the Light does not reach. The Wind is a powerful force energizing the wondrous machines of the Kin and charging the elemental Potential all Kin wield. Lost technology is the currency of the Kingdoms, scavenged from the remnants of the Masters of the Wind – a culture destroyed long ago in the great cataclysm known as the DownFall.
The young civilization of the Kin has been reborn and struggles both with itself and the Children of the Dark as it strives to recover. Wind-powered skyships serve as the lifeblood of trade and the backbone of defense, while exploration, mystery, intrigue and war form the backdrop of the narrative. The Age of the Grand Amplifier is said to be drawing to a close, the Children of the Dark threaten from below, and the Kin misunderstand the truth about both.
Upwind campaigns focus on the exploits of the Knights of the Explorers’ Guild – storied, skyfaring explorers, scholars, engineers, elementalists and soldiers who search the Twilight Frontier for lost Masters’ caches. The player characters are rare, highly trained individuals with exceptional skills and elemental powers. Duty-bound to the Guild, they lead missions across dangerous skies and expeditions into the uncharted Dark.
Upwind uses an original game system called Q. Rather than shape the narrative by resolving character actions one at a time, Q works through a sort of quantum mechanic, resolving entire encounters with single plays. Two potential outcomes are negotiated cooperatively and proposed as stakes for which the participants bid using hands of playing cards. The narrative is then tailored to the winning outcome, and the story progresses in a quantum rather than incremental way. As a result, Upwind allows you to to tell your story three times faster than with typical incremental systems.”