A pinnacle of modern Ailor and Dwarven innovation, Airships are the literal sky-ships of Ellador and other surrounding lands. Able to bridge great, inhospitable tracts of land and sea alike, they quickly rose to the mundane in their homeland, but only recently has technology improved enough to allow these machines to travel over the seas to new environments. This has provoked a mixed response from Ailor, primarily, who still have a budding and uneasy trust for the machines. Dwarves, however, continue to innovate to this day, with wildly varied results. This innovation has undeniably caused a diversity in transportation, leaving an unsettling feeling in the hearts of the more conservative Races.
Airships began centuries ago within the Dwarven Holds as machines of industry. Simple hot air balloons, they lifted minerals and eventually, people, up and down, with the most notable of these mechanisms existing within Grebor. As time went on, further innovation produced the first true Airships, and these were sparingly used in warfare against the Isldar during the Second and Third Dragon Wars. However, the collapse of the surface Dwarven presence also saw the use of the Airship heavily curtailed, and again confined to the cavernous depths of Holds. The attack of the Dakkar and the diaspora of the Dwarven people though again saw the Airship enter into the wider world, where it had since stayed. Aldor Dwarves helped Ailor craft Airships again on the surface, and soon refined the machines. From there, the innovation spread to the Regalian Empire at large, where it was embraced by those eccentric and eager for new technology. For a time though, steam power could only aid the vessels so much, and they seemed like they would be locked into their role as a dangerous curiosity. But in late 303 AC, a significant breakthrough came. Loftoren Gas, a substance of decent stability with properties lighter than air, was discovered by the Dwarves. This gas was quickly put to use in Dwarven Airships, and within a year, Ailor Airships had adopted the gas as well. Today, steam power is still necessary to pump gas in or out of the balloon, but now the majority of an Airship’s power can be diverted to their propellers. Modern Airships are leagues faster and have better range than even those just a few years older than them, and have grown ever larger and more secure as a result.
Airships may be legal vessels of transport, but they’re not easy to procure for even mercantile endeavors. Constructing an Airship requires copious amounts of material, from wood to a variety of metals to complexly woven fabric, and as a result are only built in a specific few locations in all of Aloria. Additionally, crews must be more technologically minded than most, as just with sailors on the sea, Airship crews must perform constant tasks to ensure that their vessel remains intact. This maintenance was once far too extensive for larger Airships to be made, but with the work of Ailor craftsmen and more, the vessels now come in a range of sizes and are slowly becoming a useful tool in anyone arsenal. Still, they cannot be flown over large cities without careful planning, and are often directed to land in certain locations suited for just that purpose.
- *OOC Note: Airships cannot be bought or owned by any player characters at this time.
The science of Airship innovation began with the Dwarven Aharad. Little more than a wicker hot air balloon, it is unsuited to harsh climates or to long-distance travel, and is widely considered deprecated. However, some individuals in possession of this model of Airship still frequently utilize it for the study of wind or other natural elements, and it is also used at public venues as a fun way to get a broad view of any surrounding landscape. Its cheapness allows for easy mass production. There are few methods of propulsion on this ship, and the finicky steering makes navigation notoriously difficult, with some claiming the vessel is unsafe and should be discontinued.
The Dwarven Kazarak is a notable improvement upon the Aharad. While still primitive and crude, it features thick textiles sewn against the fragile outer edge of the ship, permitting it to survive flights above Ellador. Moreover, it possesses an oblong balloon, and is capable of steering and changing direction. It does not have a large range, but can haul both goods and people over small distances of hazardous terrain, and has been used for such quite often for short-range missions involving important cargo or people. A small engine is still needed to fill the balloon and heat the air, but propulsion comes from sails.
The Northern Ärvinder was created as the original collaboration between Ailor and Dwarves. Featuring several improvements on the robustness of its design, it was the first Airship to be capable of longer-range flight and ascendance to higher altitudes. While still incapable of bearing weaponry or heavy weights, this archaic vessel is widely accepted as the predecessor to all modern craft, representing the pinnacle of steam-powered Airship engineering. It is unmistakable, for the thundering rumble of its mighty engines is audible from towns away, and its speed is nothing to scoff at, often exceeding the maximum capacity of later designs.
The Ithanian Sajoie is, first and foremost, a pleasure ship. Its several rooms are organized in such a way that makes it easy to pass from lounge to lounge, and to find small cubby holes in which to engage in intimate conversation or other such things. It is not capable of carrying great weights, but can service five to ten people comfortably, as it was designed to do. Propelled by the unique compound of Loftoren Gas, it can remain in the air for quite some time before it must lower once again. It is the first Airship to historically utilize such propulsion, a point of quite some pride for the Ithanians, who have since done pitifully little with their early lead in Airship technology.
Whereas the old Dwarven Aharad was once dreamt up to help in cataloguing the weather, the Consulado was designed to better map and survey the land. The plantations of Girobalda are heavily dependent on the lay of the territory across which they sprawl, as that determines their crop rotation. It thus became necessary to innovate an easy method to chart geography. This is the Consulado: a fast, light ship for small parties to travel quickly at a very low altitude. The Girobaldin innovators who created it based it off the same technology as the Sajoie, but far more refined and efficient.
The Treppewitz Leininger is the result of an attempt on the part of the Ailor to industrialize and monetize the concept of Airships. It is a wide-bottomed, squat thing, ugly to behold but undoubtedly sturdy. Heaviest of all Airships, the Leininger was created to haul freight long distances where land routes are unsafe or impassable. Incredibly slow and capable of carrying either an immense number of people or an obscene weight in the range of tons, this invention has yet to be employed en masse, but shows promise for Wirtem shipping companies. It is the first vessel to utilize so-called ‘Gas-and-Sail’ technology, which is both long-range and silent, but horrifically over-engineered and difficult to maintain. It is said that a third of a Leininger’s crew must be composed of Wirtem engineers, who are forced to pool their expertise to keep the vessel’s numerous excessive parts from breaking in flight.
While the Leininger was engineered to bring the field of Airships to the commercial landscape, the Kriegsfalke was created by war-hawking Calemberger merchants. Naming the creation after others’ name for them, they proceeded to brainstorm a conceptually military Airship, one that could be used to deny airspace to other Airships, or to combat flying creatures such as the Wyverns the Isldar ride. It bears four cannons on each side, and requires forty crewmen to run. This ship follows the same Gas-and-Sail pattern as the Leininger, possessing both Loftoren Gas engineers and sails for steering, but is much more refined and well-kept. This has the side effect of making the Kriegsfalke a very expensive vessel to create, and few exist in the world.
In terms of crew, one or two pilots are always necessary on Airships, as are a variety of navigators, workers, and canoneers, if the ship is armed. Crews vary in size, but rarely reach above 40, unless the ship sails, in which case the number is around 60. Airship crews are famed for their specialization, but also their necessity to multitask. It’s not often that a gunner will know how to pilot the ship on which he’s stationed, for example. The bravest crew members are also expected to be “Patchers” if the need arises. This was a roll devised by Ailor, as Dwarves had trouble climbing their balloons. For this role, a crewman must climb a balloon’s rigging, and potentially onto the balloon itself to locate a rupture and patch it with a strip of airtight fabric and a needle and thread. For this reason, most Airship crewmen are taught to sew. Maintenance wise, Airships are fairly forgiving. With no sea to gnarl and chew at their hulls, their woodwork remains fairly untouched unless exposed to cannonfire. However, all Airships require fuel in varying amounts, as well as clean water. The more steam power a ship utilizes, the more coal it will consume. Water is consumed more as well, but to a less exponential degree. Balloon fabric may also need to be replaced as time goes on. Patching is a viable temporary solution, but a fresh balloon holds air far more reliably than one sporting a dozen battle scars. Frequently replacing these can be expensive, however, and it’s not uncommon to see Airships sporting heavily patched balloons. Airships are famed for their resilience to cold climates, which perpetuated their popularity in Ellador.
Flyer’s Sickness effects most who fly for the first time. Glancing down at the ground from an Airship is known to give new flyers the shakes, and an intense round of vomiting. Along with repair tools, water, coal, and other supplies, empty wooden buckets are often kept on deck, though more often than not a sailor will simply wretch over the side of the ship, to the utter dismay of those below glancing up at the flying vessels.
- Crew members who frequently work on steam-powered craft are famed in Ellador for their powerful voices. Due to the noise these craft generate, the crewmembers are often forced to yell to communicate, which helps develop a powerful set of lungs.