Airships are one of the first things people think of when it comes to Steampunk. Searching through websites and resources you come across a multitude of airship crews, pirates, and various lighter than air based forms of transportation. Both a standard and a cliché of the genre, more are formed every week as people decide to do their spin on the idea. It may seem like an overwrought concept that has seen it’s time alongside Mad Scientists and Explorers. I’ve even advocated the use of new ideas for Steampunk personas in the past.
Is there a time and place for more airships though? The answer is yes.
Sometimes the story created by a city’s Steampunks lends itself well to creating an airship crew. When there isn’t a an established group in place, creating a crew makes it easier for people to feel comfortable with showing up to gatherings, wearing their outfits, and even being in character. It can be used to bring people together and help folks get their start.
So how does one start an airship crew? The first thing to do before any world building is to decide on the purpose of the crew. It can be for role-playing at events or as a means of helping people find an easy way to slide into Steampunk. Possibly a way for friends to hang out with one another and have a fun back story set in place for events. Crews can provide you with like minded individuals to do more crafting and DIY making. Decide what the purpose of forming the crew is, and then go from there.
Much like any story you also need characters and setting to set the tone. Setting is especially important as it’ll help you create characters around the ideas you put in place. Whether you want the back story for your airship to be more historic or more fanciful, picking a setting will help you to figure out if your personas, are going to be more grounded in reality or the fantastical in their capabilities.
Examples of both include the early Final Fantasy games as well as Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series. The well loved Final Fantasy games combined many aspects of steam technology, fantasy tropes, and magic to create the game worlds. Ms. Priest, on the other hand, took an actual location and time frame of world history and advanced its technology to the point that airships had been efficiently developed for transportation uses.
Deciding the crew’s backstory and purpose is also very important. Are you a surveying crew or do you go out on scientific ventures? There for adventure? A dreaded pirate crew that is the scourge of the skies? Purpose for your crew in-persona is almost as important as out of persona and sets up a lot of story. It also helps in the creation of characters and personalities that the crew is built around.
Once you’ve decided on a setting and a purpose for your airship the next step is to create the crew. Establish who the captain is and work out other members and positions for people. Make sure everyone is in agreement and establish some rules as far as changing positions within the crew. Have standards put in place for how you want to add or remove people. Even if it amounts to “the person who creates the airship is in charge,” having something in place that everyone can reference goes a long way.
Over the course of the next several weeks I’ll be talking about my own experiences creating an airship crew. It’ll follow conversations with my wife, and co-creator, as well as results both successful and not. Hopefully it will give ideas about some of the issues that can possibly pop up while creating a unified group.
Check back soon for more updates!