Welcome to Highwinds, a sci-fi fantasy tabletop roleplaying game set in the future filled with magic and spaceships. In Highwinds, one player takes the role of the Master of Ceremonies (or MC), controlling the world, villains, and background characters. The other players are referred to as Player Characters, or PCs, and they're the stars of the story - each makes a hero who is the focus on the events. The relationship between the MCs and the PCs is not antagonistic, and instead all players are attempting to tell a story together, with rules and luck used to determine if the heroes succeed or fail at any given task.
What is Highwinds?
The setting and rules of Highwinds are meant to encourage space opera, high fantasy style adventure. While there is room for gritty detective stories, survival horror, or other genres, in the end, the characters made with this system are capable of the great feats of action movie stars, and are extremely competent in their roles. Starting characters are able to survive gun fights against multiple foes, fix machines despite impossible odds, pilot spaceships through treacherous asteroid fields, or command powerful psionic and magical effects. Starting characters are experienced - or just extremely, naturally talented - at their crafts.
The setting of Highwinds takes place in a future where magic and psionics are real, and mankind has made friends with several alien species. Faster than light travel is possible by entering the astral plane, a magical dimension that overlaps the “real” world, or making use of wormhole gates that can connect two places in an instant. Space stations are home to countless people, and distant planets house dangerous pirate dens. The alien species, magic, and type of technology used leans past “soft” sci-fi, and right into space opera. While explanations are given as to how things work, there's no real justification as to why alien races are always humanoid in shape, or why people still run around with swords. Instead, such things are there because they make a better game and look cool.
The future Highwinds portrays is largely optimistic. People are happier and healthier than they've ever been, but it is not a future without dangers or adventures, however, and while the average person is still happier than any time in the past, there's plenty to do for those who crave thrills. Pirates and extremists roam the edges of settled space, autonomous robots threaten remote locations, and sealed away magical facilities full of traps - and people in need of rescue - are constantly being found. Crime cartels, space pirates, hostile animalistic aliens, corrupt military or police, terrorists, and more are all potential foes. Many people are happy enough to live their lives without ever encountering these elements. For whatever reason, your characters are not.
Unlike most space opera, there isn’t some grand evil empire or giant galactic war to worry about - at least, by default. This game doesn’t have one set conflict it revolves around, although you could certainly make your own, and some ideas for this are provided in this book. Your characters are unlikely to save the entire universe from total destruction. But the lives your characters do touch - those out in the edges of space, captured by pirates, frozen away for eons, or otherwise in danger - those are people in desperate need of help that only those crazy enough to love the danger of adventuring can give.
Whenever a character attempts an action that is difficult, dangerous, or opposed by someone else, dice are used to determine if that task succeeds or fails. For all tasks, three six-sided dice are rolled. These dice are added, and then add a bonus based on your character's stats. The sum is your Result - the final measure of success. This Result is then compared to the Difficulty of the task - if the Result equals or exceeds the Difficulty, the attempt is a success! The amount the Result beats the Difficulty by is the Outcome. A higher Outcome represents a “better” success. When two characters are in some way competing or opposed, they both roll as normal, and compare their Results, with the higher Result succeeding - in case of a tie, roll again until you have a clear winner.