Worldbuilding and Airships

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Joshua Bender, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. Joshua Bender

    Joshua Bender Level 5 (Veteran) LitRPG Author Citizen

    Eastern Standard Time (Est)
    I'm currently working on my first spin off novel from my Infernal Engineers series. In book 3 of my series my main character briefly spent time on an airship. I enjoyed the chapter so much that I decided what I wanted to do for my next project. Now I'm 60k + words into it and it looks like this book may go longer than any of my other previous books.

    Ok what I wanted to ask, is how other people write airships? I'll describe how mine typically work in my books and wanted to see some comparisons. This is the alpha version of the book, so some parts of my theory of operation may change, and are somewhat in flux but I have the general idea outlined.

    Airships in Endaria: My current theory of operation, and use.

    Background info:

    There are two constants that affect the operation of airships in Endaria. The first is the great seal. A comparison is sot of like a magical set of instructions coded into the very fabric of reality in Endaria. This prevents internal combustion, high pressure steam, gunpowder and a few other advanced types of technology. However, Endaria has had thousands of years to adapt to this limiting set of rules and the magic of the great seal itself can be bent in some ways.

    The second constant is the power of "life force" as the main character calls it. While this is not entirely accurate, there is a constant flow of magical energy that the airships push against to stay aloft. This is done through ballast stones, and there are two designs of airships that use it. The first design, which is newer by less efficient is putting a bunch of stones in a bag in the center of an airship and powering it, rotating the bag or the airship around it to change direction. Those airships are like giant donut shapes and often quite large. Then there is a much older design that typically uses a single large crystal that is on a gyroscopic gimbal. The force the crystal exerts is typically also channeled along the airship's hull to give it more speed as it's gyroscopic mountings shift the crystal around. No one knows how to make the crystals these ships use anymore, much less the ships themselves.

    My MC uses the latter type of design, but it is very small. When trying to figure out the dimensions of my vessel I used the HMS Pickle as an example. It's classified as a skiff in her world. It is very fast, but can be run down by larger vessels with massive stores of energy.

    How Airships Operate in Endaria:

    Ok, now for typical airship operations. There are many types of flying creatures in Endaria. Everything you can think of. Gigantic dragons, griffins, wyverns, and even giant birds, etc. None of them can typically match the speed of an airship when it really wants to pour it on. The problem with that is that to move forward or upwards quickly it has to burn power, it will furl it's sails to create less drag and tilt forward, etc and pour power into it's ballast to push itself forward very fast. Typically, larger airships are also less maneuverable. My MC's example is the exception not the rule. The airships also typically have the advantage of being better armed than flying creatures, even the magical ones, and have built in enchanted shields, wardings, etc.

    When an airship is typically cruising, usually around ten thousand feet or so, it uses it's sails to save power. It doesn't want to burn all of it just flying around, so it's pilots use magic to track the winds and are constantly maneuvering their ships to different altitudes to catch a favorable wind. They have very good instruments for this and you will often see an airship riding the winds as it changes direction, tacks etc.

    Airships are also very costly. Most of the time it's only kingdoms that can afford to maintain them, though it is possible to make ends meet against the ruinous costs that they incur. They have to be regularly overhauled and the crystals that make up it's power banks burn out regularly and are fabulously expensive to replace. When my book starts, her airship is in a sorry state and is barely airworthy mostly because she is nearly broke. She is part of a group called the Windfolk, a group of people that are split up in to various families that all have a magical heritage and are almost all flyers of some sort or another, and they mostly serve aboard airships.

    Weapons and technology:

    Weapons aboard airships have a rather wide variety. Since there is no real centralized magic system in Endaria, people often do things differently depending on where you look. The wind folk, though are mostly attuned to Wind,Lightning,Water, or Fire. So their weapons often reflect that. Beyond those that are magi and can directly attack, they also use crystal powered weapons to channel and direct blasts of energy depending on what type of energy they are using. The MC's main weapon on her ship is a "bow lance" a weapon on her bow that can fire a concentrated stream of energy like a short range lightning bolt that can scorch or burn, or electrocute enemies. She also has tiny version of this weapon on deck swivel mounts to deter boarding attempts, though those have to be individually manned.

    Other air ships use a wide variety of weapons, some physical, some magical, bombs, etc. The art of making most of the magical ones has been lost in the depths of time so you will often see airships mostly defended by magi, unless it's a windfolk airship, as they tend to fly vessels that are very old but carefully maintained.

    Now as to innovation. There are really no fixed wing aircraft yet in Endaria, though the advent of players is bringing something of a technological renaissance, and I do have plans for that. Just remember though that trying to make energy do work, whether it's pushing a ship forward or an aircraft is very taxing an inefficient. Ballast stones/crystals are specifically designed to be very efficient, but only in lifting. You also have to consider, that anything you build you have to build enchantments into to defend it. Magical creatures and their crews often act as their defenses, just like airships, so trying to simply build an aircraft that is faster would require you try and make it resistant to being scorched out of the sky, etc.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019

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