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Launched by Biohazard Games in 2017, Upwind is a roleplaying fable of lost science, elemental magic and uncharted skies. Set in a weird and fragmented place where countless islands float through uncharted ether, characters are Explorer Knights, members of a powerful cadre of scholars, warriors and elementalists who explore the shadows, defend the Kingdoms and defy the Dark.

Upwind presents an unusual setting with strange natural laws where the remains of a long-destroyed world drift through a boundless ether. The skies are divided into the Dark and the Light, and the Wind forever blows from one to the other. The Kin, the people of the Kingdoms in the Light, live on the countless islands that float through the sky, and the Children of the Dark dwell far below where the Light does not reach. The Wind is both a physical and magical element, powering Kin skyships and city arc grids, and is the source of the Potential they all wield. Ancient technology is the currency of the Kingdoms and is scavenged from the remnants of the Masters of the Wind - the lost culture destroyed by the long ago Cataclysm. The young civilization of the Kin has been reborn and struggles with itself and against the Children of the Dark as it strives to recover.

Upwind campaigns focus on the Knights of the Explorers' Guild - a storied, skyfaring brotherhood of explorers, scholars, engineers, elementalists and soldiers who search the Twilight Frontier for the lost Masters' technology and defend the Kingdoms from both the Children and each other. The player characters are Explorer Knights - unique individuals with exceptional powers and highly trained skills who are duty-bound to the Guild, braving expeditions across dangerous skies and into the unfathomed Dark. Upwind has a distinct maritime theme with Wind-powered skyships and their crews serving as the lifeblood of trade and the backbone of defense. There are essential threads of mystery, intrigue, exploration and war all challenging the young civilization of the Kin. 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.

The core game mechanic is called Q (for Quantum). Instead of conventional 'incremental' systems where actions and tasks are resolved by rolling handfulls of dice, it drives the story by determining singular outcomes for entire encounters. Q resolves whole encounters through a sort of quantum mechanic, determining which of a pair of potential outcomes for a given situation will be used to continue the adventure narrative. These potential outcomes are determined by cooperative negotiation between the game moderator and the players and proposed as stakes for which the participants bid using hands of playing cards. The participants then weave the winning outcomes into the ongoing narrative and the story progresses accordingly - in a quantum, rather than incremental way.

It makes for a powerful blend of 'story game' mechanics with more conventional role-playing, provided you don't mind bringing play to a halt to determine pivotal outcomes, resuming it once the negotiations are done.

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Page last updated: 12 August 2017