[19:11] <+Biohazard> My name is Jeff Barber and I am the founder of biohazard games. I created the blue planet RPG and wrote the core book for the midnight D 20 campaign setting for fantasy flight games. My current role-playing project is upland which is on kick starter now.
[19:11] <+Biohazard> Role-playing game is called wind and it is on kick starter now.
[19:11] <+Biohazard> We have about four days left in the campaign
[19:12] <+Biohazard> It’s going pretty well and and we are approaching 300% funding.
[19:12] <+Biohazard> Done..
[19:12] <~Dan> Thanks, Jeff!
[19:12] <~Dan> So what’s the game about?
[19:12] <&Le_Squide> Are you OK with questions about your older works, or would you rather focus on Unwind?
[19:12] <+Biohazard> Sorry. The title of a new game is upwind. Can’t seem type tonight.
[19:13] <+Biohazard> Sure I’m happy to talk about anything.
[19:14] <+Biohazard> Upwind is about an alternate kind of world full of floating islands, flying sailing ships, brave Explorer Knights, strange lost technology and an ancient Legacy complicated by an ancient enemy.
[19:14] <+Biohazard> We Penn State game as Treasure Planet meat studio Ghibli.
[19:15] <+Biohazard> It is a narrative game with mechanics that support storytelling with high action and lots of consequences.
[19:15] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:15] <~Dan> I take it the game is relatively upbeat in tone?
[19:15] <+Biohazard> Sorry – auto correct. We “pitch the game”…
[19:15] <~Dan> Yeah, I figured auto correct was at work there. 😀
[19:16] <+Biohazard> I think the tone can be as upbeat or as dark as you wanted to be. Just depends on the kinds of stories the Moderator and the players wants tell.
[19:16] * ~Dan nods
[19:16] <~Dan> Is there magic as well as weird tech?
[19:17] <+Biohazard> Default characters are young and optimistic heros yes, but the situations they find themselves are pretty dangerous and the Children of the Dark have bleak secrets.
[19:17] <+Biohazard> There is magic. In fact all of the Kin – the denizens of the Kingdoms and the Light – have some level of magic.
[19:18] <&Le_Squide> What sort of magic?
[19:18] <~Dan> Interesting.
[19:18] <+Biohazard> The characters —members of the Explorer Knights Guild—are recruiting because they have very potent magic. Elementalism known as potential.
[19:19] <+Biohazard> Potential is based on the four cardinal elements but in the Upwind setting these have been mapped over, ore rain arc and wind.
[19:20] <+Biohazard> Every NPC has some level of potential. Player characters are recruited into the Guild because of their high levels of potential.
[19:20] <+Biohazard> Use of magic is powerful and fluid as the mechanics allow a lot of creativity and player style.
[19:20] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:20] <~Dan> Freeform magic?
[19:21] <~Dan> Or is it more spell-based?
[19:22] <+Biohazard> Not exactly free form. It’s more that the mechanics of all actions –mandane and supernatural —allow input and can be as big and exciting and crazy as the table wishes
[19:22] <+Biohazard> No spells. But the kinds of magic you can do or based on the affinity that your character has for one of the four elements.
[19:22] <+Biohazard> And during character generation you have to define how these affinities manifest in your character.
[19:22] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:23] <~Dan> Hmm… I’m interested to hear more about that, but maybe it would help if we covered the core mechanic first. And do you have a character sheet we can see?
[19:24] <+Biohazard> Sure let me grab the link. There are some sample characters here on our website. (Link: http://www.biohazardgamespublishing.com/upwind-downloads)http://www.biohazardgamespublishing.com/upwind-downloads
[19:24] <+Biohazard> The characters and character creation are very simple.
[19:25] <+Biohazard> The first thing you do is create a character concept –the classic attitude and none. Like charismatic swordsman, gentle giant, Eric blowhard.
[19:25] <+Biohazard> Each character has three sets of attributes.
[19:26] <+Biohazard> Abilities – which are things you were inherently good at. Skills– Which are things you train up. Potential–your supernatural abilities based on based your elemental affinity.
[19:26] <~Dan> (Following along on the sheet here…)
[19:26] <+Biohazard> These attributes are not drawn from a list in the book. Instead they are created by the players. The intention is that they describe the character as much as they say what the character can do.
[19:27] <~Dan> Abilities and skills both?
[19:27] <+Biohazard> Then it is the job of the player to use these attributes to address encounters, stretching them to whatever extremes of interpretation the moderator will allow.
[19:28] <+Biohazard> Correct abilities skills and potential the players make them all up based on the kind of character they want play.
[19:28] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[19:29] <+Biohazard> When faced with encounter a player decides which attribute he would like to use and describes how he will use it.
[19:29] <+Biohazard> The moderator gauges is the difficulty and the players and moderator negotiate potential stakes.
[19:30] <+Biohazard> The stakes describe the outcome and consequences the player wants in the outcome And consequences the moderator wants or suggests. They both play cards from hands up playing cards
[19:30] <+Biohazard> And the high score wins the associated stakes.
[19:31] <+Biohazard> There are ways to earn bonus cards but once the winning stakes are determine those are woven into the ongoing narrative and the story continues.
[19:31] <+Biohazard> Encounters is therefore resolved very quickly and play is very fast.
[19:31] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:31] <~Dan> Do the numbers signify how many cards to draw?
[19:32] <+Biohazard> Each attribute is assigned in numerical value 1 – 3.
[19:32] <+Biohazard> This is the number of cards that the players can play from their hand for a play using the attribute.
[19:32] * ~Dan nods
[19:33] <+Biohazard> The moderators difficulty levels are also 1- 3 cards based on the circumstances.
[19:33] <+Biohazard> There are two ways to earn bonus cards–crowning and caches.
[19:33] <+Biohazard> Crowding happens when you play specific face cards–each face car has a special circumstance under which provides it an additional bonus card.
[19:34] <+Biohazard> Jack’s crown sneaky nefarious tricky type situations. Queens crown charismatic compassionate wise type encounters. Kings Crown forceful, Combat or command type situations.
[19:35] <+Biohazard> Caches are bonus cards the players either have through character generation or are awarded through gameplay that can be applied to specific circumstances in the subsequent narrative.
[19:35] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:36] <~Dan> Are the numbers under Caches the number of extra cards you get?
[19:37] <+Biohazard> Those are the number of cards you get per session for that cache.
[19:37] <~Dan> Ah, I see…
[19:37] <~Dan> Hmm. So how would a Knight’s Cache be used?
[19:38] <+Biohazard> There’re two kinds of caches –story and innate. Innate generally refresh each session, but story generally are gone once they are used. In eight come with character generation
[19:38] <+Biohazard> Or in specific story circumstances like the acquisition of special gear or training.
[19:39] <+Biohazard> Story caches are generally Oh Or did as part of the consequences of winning stakes.
[19:39] <+Biohazard> Knights cash is unique. It can be used for any play – it’s kind of the wild cash
[19:40] <+Biohazard> cache.
[19:40] <+Biohazard> Only Knight characters have Knight’s caches – It represents the exceptional training and confidence that comes with being.
[19:41] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:41] <~Dan> I gather than challenges are handled in a fairly holistic manner, but can you give me an example of how holistic?
[19:42] <+Biohazard> Crowning cards and cach cards are drawn at random from the deck and included with the bid from your hand.
[19:42] <+Biohazard> Not sure what you mean?
[19:43] <+Biohazard> I should probably note that every player including the moderator has his or her own deck of cards.
[19:43] <+Biohazard> And that these are standard playing cards.
[19:43] <~Dan> Well, for example, is it closer to “jumping over a gap” or to “navigating a dangerous cavern”?
[19:43] <+Biohazard> Ah. One of the reasons the gameplay so quickly is that generally whole encounters are resolved.
[19:44] <~Dan> So more the latter?
[19:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, AmyL!)
[19:45] <+Biohazard> It is not a matter of a single swing of a sword, or a single leap across a gap. It’s more like this is how we sneak past the guards, unlock the vault door, identify the artifact, power it up and fight our way out.
[19:45] <+Biohazard> This is why the game plays 3 to 4 times faster than a typical incremental system.
[19:45] <+Biohazard> It it Is also why it can be used to describe higher action and a more freeform use of magic.
[19:46] <~Dan> I can see that.
[19:46] <~Dan> Oh — how do suits affect card play?
[19:47] <+Biohazard> Every character has potential in one of the four cardinal elements. Each suit represents a different element so all a character supernatural abilities are powered by cards of that suit.
[19:48] <+Biohazard> All the other attributes – skills and abilities — are assigned the remaining suits.
[19:48] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:49] <~Dan> Hmm… Does that mean a card only counts if it’s of the correct suit?
[19:49] <&Le_Squide> Ah, so if you don’t have the right elemental suit, you can’t use related elemental powers?
[19:50] <+Biohazard> Cards are play from hands. The players know what cards they have and it is a meta-mechanic of the game that they are expected to approach the encounter based on their strongest cards.
[19:50] <+Biohazard> They are expected to use the attributes for which they have the best cards –this is part of the fun of the negotiation as you try to convince the moderator that a given attribute applies to given circumstances.
[19:50] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:51] <+Biohazard> Each character only ever has one elemental affinity. But because all of the cards of the given suit or assigned to that one attribute they always have cards they can play for their potential.
[19:51] <&Le_Squide> Ah, ok!
[19:52] <+Biohazard> However those cards do not refresh after every play and time must pass the game world to recover Potential so the characters must husband that resource.
[19:52] <&Le_Squide> How are failures/consequences against the players resolved?
[19:53] <+Biohazard> The same way as successes. Imagine the characters has encountered a pirate skyship…
[19:54] <+Biohazard> To resolve the encounters the players may suggest stakes where they capture the pirates but do so without losing crew, damaging their own ship.
[19:54] <+Biohazard> They may also want to add to the stakes that they find a chart leading back to the pirate hideout and are able to navigate the defenses as a result.
[19:55] <+Biohazard> The moderator’s counter stakes made be that character’s ship is destroyed their crew is marooned and they all wake up in an underground cell.
[19:56] <+Biohazard> A bid made. Whoever has the highest score win’s the staks and those are integrated into the ongoing narrative.
[19:56] <+Biohazard> Done.
[19:57] <~Dan> How do you determine which character is the one to play cards against the GM?
[19:58] <+Biohazard> That is up to the players. It is usually based on who has a good idea or the most appropriate attribute. There are also mechanics that allow teamwork and group plays.
[19:59] <+Biohazard> There is even initiative mechanic for circumstances when players want to out-bid each other.
[19:59] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:00] <~Dan> I see equipment listed. Does equipment matter at all?
[20:01] <+Biohazard> Yes. Of course, specific equipment allows characters to do specific things, but the equipment can also represent cache cards—especially arcanotechnology.
[20:01] <+Biohazard> Each character also gets a Relic.
[20:02] <+Biohazard> This is a uniquly powerful piece of equipment that is designed in combination by the player and the moderator that is supposed to be uniquely suited to the individual character and bequeathed to them by the Guild.
[20:02] <~Dan> Every PC gets one, then?
[20:02] <+Biohazard> Relics have both narrative and mechanical effects and there are extensive guidelines and examples in the rules.
[20:02] <+Biohazard> Correct
[20:03] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:03] <~Dan> So looking at the sample character Bree, can you give an example of him using his 2nd Gage Work Chest?
[20:04] <+Biohazard> The narrative affect is that she always seems to have the tool or spare part she needs.
[20:05] <+Biohazard> The mechanical effect is that enjoying the right card she is guaranteed to be able to make even the most complex repair.
[20:06] <+Biohazard> The actual capabilities of any given relic are left to the player and moderator design together, with the understanding that if it proves broken and needs fixing/Nerfing they will cooperate to do so.
[20:06] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:07] <~Dan> Is combat handled like any other challenge? Would it be combined with other elements to make a larger challenge, or would it be handled as its own challenge?
[20:08] <+Biohazard> All encounters are manage the same way. Depending upon the tastes of the participants tactical encounters can be broken down into smaller elements or be resolved with single plays.
[20:09] <+Biohazard> Generally, most combat encounters when I run the game are resolve one or two plays.
[20:09] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:09] <~Dan> So you can battle the guards as a play, or you can lay siege to the castle as a play?
[20:09] <+Biohazard> Yes.
[20:10] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[20:10] <+Biohazard> The system is very flexible in that regard and allows the participants to focus on the kind of encounters they like.
[20:10] <~Dan> Do you stat out NPCs, or are they just treated as narrative challenges?
[20:11] <+Biohazard> That’s one of my favorite aspects of the mechanics. Moderators do not have to prep the PCs – they just have to decide the difficulty level of a given challenge 1, 2 or three cards.
[20:12] <+Biohazard> Sorry. Done.
[20:13] <~Dan> So do you feature any sort of bestiary or other guidance as to the wildlife of the setting?
[20:14] <+Biohazard> Us. There’s a whole section featuring the strange unique and wonderful creatures of the skies. I am an ecologist by training and I can’t resist building that into any of the settings I work on.
[20:14] <+Biohazard> *Yes…
[20:15] <+Biohazard> It’s divided into the creatures found among the Kingdoms in the Light and the denizens of the Dark.
[20:15] <~Dan> So most of the action takes place in the sky? You mentioned floating islands… is ALL the land floating?
[20:15] <+Biohazard> Many or dangerous. Some are just interesting and others are just weird, but many of them can fly.
[20:17] <+Biohazard> All the land is floating. As far as the Kin know there is no end to the sky in any direction. There is only Upwind, towards the Light and downwind, towards the Dark.
[20:17] <~Dan> I see. Cool.
[20:18] <~Dan> And you mentioned flying ships?
[20:18] <+Biohazard> The nations, cities and towns of the Kin occupy single or clusters of islands that drift forever through an otherwise uncharted sky.
[20:18] <+Biohazard> Yes. Lots of ships. A main theme of the game.
[20:19] <+Biohazard> Feature is maybe a better way to describe it.
[20:19] <~Dan> Are they magical or technological? Or both?
[20:20] <+Biohazard> I am a huge Golden Age of Sail buff and wanted to bring a lot of that maritime lore and sense of exploration into a game.
[20:20] <+Biohazard> Both.
[20:21] <+Biohazard> Most of the tech is a combination of engineering and elementalism called Arcanotechnolgy.
[20:21] <~Dan> Speaking of technology, can you describe the general tech level of the setting?
[20:22] <+Biohazard> It’s hard to give it a conventional technology level as the magic allows them to accomplish more sophisticated results than would otherwise be possible.
[20:23] <+Biohazard> It’s fair to think of it as maybe 1880s technology level with an emphasis on the Arc (electricity) powered devices.
[20:23] <~Dan> Are there firearms, then?
[20:24] <+Biohazard> There is telegraph on single islands but there is no effective long-range communication.
[20:24] <+Biohazard> Yes.
[20:25] <+Biohazard> There is windArc powder and cannons for the ships and a variety of strange guns and other weapons leftover from the Masters of the Wind.
[20:25] <+Biohazard> I should probably explain the Masters of the Wind.
[20:25] <~Dan> Yes, please! 🙂
[20:26] <+Biohazard> The Masters of the Wind is a lost culture that predates the Kin and many believe is responsible for a current state of the world.
[20:27] <+Biohazard> The advanced magical technology that drives the economies of the Kingdoms in the Light is all salvaged from the remnants of the Masters of the Wind.
[20:27] <+Biohazard> Salvaging this technology is one of the primary objectives the Explorer Knight’s Guild.
[20:28] <+Biohazard> Without that technology the reborn civilization of the Kin would be in a much more primitive state.
[20:29] <+Biohazard> The problem is that new sites to salvage are becoming harder and harder to find and as they search for them the Kin come increasingly into conflict with the Children of the Dark.
[20:29] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:30] <~Dan> Who are the Children of the Dark?
[20:31] <+Biohazard> Explaining their specific origin would be a bit of a spoiler for players.
[20:31] <+Biohazard> Suffice it to say that they are an ancient enemy of the Kin, but that there is a lot more going on in the back story.
[20:32] <~Dan> Are the Kin human?
[20:32] <+Biohazard> The way the floating islands are arrayed the farther downwind you go past islands and through the clouds, squalls and mists, the darker and darker it becomes.
[20:33] <+Biohazard> As a result, as you pass downward from the Kingdoms of Light you reach the Twilight Frontier – a dim and dank region of constant cold, rain and clouds.
[20:34] <+Biohazard> Beyond the Twilight Frontier is the Dark where no light reaches and the Children of the Dark dwell.
[20:34] <+Biohazard> Little is known about them– at least by the average Kin.
[20:36] <+Biohazard> Twice in the past they have attacked the Kingdoms of the Light in what are known as the First and Second Incursions. Many believe the third Incursion has already begun. This is time in which place is set.
[20:37] <+Biohazard> The first human is intentionally never used in Upwind – instead we use the word Kin or Children of the Dark. They can be thought of as essentially human in spirit and motivation but there are some intentional anatomical differences that helps make Upwind feel otherworldly
[20:37] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:38] <+GenoFoxx> is there one or two lands that are more technologically advanced than the rest of the world and are playing secret politics?
[20:38] <+Biohazard> The second main objective of the Knights of the Explorer’s Guild is to defend the Kingdoms in the Light from the Dark. Defy the Dark.
[20:39] <+Biohazard> There are many kingdoms, republics, principalities and nations, and they are all playing political games, secret otherwise.
[20:39] <+GenoFoxx> I mean like hidden kingdoms
[20:40] <+GenoFoxx> who are secretly pulling the strings
[20:40] <+Biohazard> Each has their unique features – some are technological advantages, some are industrial, some are monetary or cultural, but hopefully they’re all interesting to players.
[20:41] <+Biohazard> Not so much as written, those there are number of conspiracies where strings are being pulled.
[20:41] <~Dan> Industrial, you say? Is there mass production?
[20:41] <+GenoFoxx> in other words is there an Atlantis or Lemuria analogue?
[20:41] <~Dan> (brb)
[20:42] <+Biohazard> Only simpler technologies. I would say that some of the kingdoms are on the cusp of industrialization but they sort of leapfrog some of that with the use of magic.
[20:43] <~Dan> (back)
[20:43] * ~Dan nods
[20:43] <+Biohazard> The Children of the Dark are probably the closest thing to Atlantis or Lemuria, but there is a lot of room and inspiration for leftover influences from the Masters of the Wind.
[20:43] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:44] <~Dan> Is there a stated cosmology to the setting? Gods and demons and such?
[20:46] <+Biohazard> Not a general one. Some of the individual cultures have their own religions and least one is governed by a devout theocracy, but in general religion does not play a strong rule in the setting.
[20:46] * ~Dan nods
[20:47] <+Biohazard> There are heavy themes of enlightenment as the dawn of science and technology really drive the background for the default campaign of the Explorer Knight’s Guild.
[20:47] <~Dan> Are the Kingdoms in the Light all fairly well-settled and safe? Or are there dangers there as well?
[20:48] <+Biohazard> Technology is a major focus as are the exploration and the science that supports scholarship as the Kin civilization rediscovers the world.
[20:50] <+Biohazard> Settled yes, but there are still mostly uncharted places. And because it’s a roleplaying game there are inherently, intentionally lots of built in dangers.
[20:50] <+Biohazard> There is a whole section on potential natural threats just found in the sky.
[20:50] <+Biohazard> Done.
[20:50] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[20:51] <+Biohazard> I should probably mention that the kickstarter campaign is not just for the core book.
[20:52] <+Biohazard> It is also covering some of the costs for the production of a custom Upwind card deck as well as a campaign book called the Prophecy of the Grand Amplifier.
[20:52] <~Dan> Cool name. 🙂
[20:53] <+Biohazard> We have also made for stretch goals at this point – an enhanced character sheet, a poster navigational chart of the skies of Upwind, a mini campaign, and a vessel identification poster. We are quickly closing on my favorite stretch goal
[20:54] <+Biohazard> Upwind: Incursion a print and play miniatures-style game of tactical skyship combat in the Twilight Frontier.
[20:55] <~Dan> Cool!
[20:55] <+Biohazard> I can offer a link to the Kickstarter if anyone wants it…
[20:55] <~Dan> Please do!
[20:56] <+Biohazard> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1875712273/upwind-rpg-treasure-planet-meets-studio-ghibli)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1875712273/upwind-rpg-treasure-planet-meets-studio-ghibli
[20:56] <~Dan> Thanks!
[20:56] <+Biohazard> The campaign closes this Thursday, November 10 at 7 PM Pacific Time.
[20:57] <+Biohazard> Or maybe that’s Eastern Time – to be honest I can’t remember now.
[20:57] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:57] <~Dan> Congrats on your success, by the way!
[20:57] <+Biohazard> Been a long month.
[20:57] <+Biohazard> Fun and gratifying, but long.
[20:57] <+Biohazard> ; P
[20:58] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:58] <+Biohazard> Thank you. And thank you for having me here. It’s been really fun.
[20:58] <~Dan> Thanks for joining us!
[20:58] <+Biohazard> Any time.
[20:58] <~Dan> Usual reminder to folks: My tip jar is here, for those so inclined: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[20:58] <~Dan> And if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you, Jeff!
[20:59] <+Biohazard> Great. Thanks. And here is the Biohazard website again in case anyone is interested – http://www.biohazardgamespublishing.com/