Work goes forward on the new campaign based on the Microscope history we built. You can see the timeline we built in this post. The players are starting to come up with their roles and characters. I gave them a blank version of the "What My Father Told Me" sheet borrowed from Glorantha- that remains the best technique for having players define a culture or defining one for the players. I talked about that more in this post from a while back. I want the players to have a significant role in the fleet they're a part of, so I'm going to have them each choose an office. Coming up with these also provides a list of future NPC roles I can fill in at my leisure. I've also encourage the group to ask any questions they might have so I can do some teaser background. I ordered a copy of Sundered Skies and Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, both of which seem to have some overlap with this setting. I'm hoping I'll find some useful ideas there.
OFFICES AND ROLES
While you guys will be young, you will be serving in important roles in the fleet- the equivalent of Officers. Some, perhaps all, of you will be Twinless-- meaning that your twin exists out there and serves as a kind of beacon for the fleet. You can chose your position- this will not take up all of your time, but will be your main task when not exploring or on away missions. Below is a list of positions and offices on the fleet. You may also choose to be the Second or Assistant to any one of these offices.
Master of the Watch: Oversees the various spotters and lookouts stationed across the ships. In charge of coordinating and maintaining clear communications about any sightings, through whatever means: physical, mechanical or magical.
Armsmaster: Either the chief or second in command for the small number of trained armed warriors kept in preparation for problems. Some drawn from the ships maintain a full-time role for security, while others serve in the Guard, as Hunters or so on.
Senior Engineer: The ships have various forms or propulsion and systems which have to be taken care of. The Senior Engineer's responsible primarily for the flag ship and for coordinating work across the fleet.
Duty Supervisor: Coordinates the manpower across the fleet. Records and schedules things and handles requests for labor to help with projects. Important for tracking persons and work.
Helmsman: Each ship in the fleet has a team of helmsmen, this position represents seniority on the flagship.
Gunnery Captain: The flagship's the best armed of the fleet, though that isn't saying that much. Some of the other ships have modest weapons attached to them-- often re-purposed from hunting. The Gunnery Captain's the lead on this for flagship.
Chief Signalman: In charge of communications between in the ships, especially in the heat of coordinated maneuvers. While some magic is employed for this, the bulk rests on more primitive light and flag systems.
Master of the Flight: The fleet has a small number of flying vessels- boats it uses. Some serve as ferries between the major ships of the fleet, some and exploration and hunting boats, and one as the main expedition ship. Those who, like the PCs, have some personal flight devices or mounts, also serve as an aerocorps, in case of battle. The Master of the Flight oversees all of these.
Adjudicator: Disputes will arise between and within the ships of the fleet. The Adjudicator is the person who steps in to settle those and possibly make judgment. He can assemble a tribunal for criminal cases as well. He might also serve, in a pinch, as the away negotiator. He is assisted by Advocates (another possible position with less responsibility).
Master of the Vigil: The Vigil serve as the “town guard” and police force for the ships of the fleet. This is a difficult position, often putting the guardsmen on ships other than that of their own culture. The Master of the Vigil oversees this and is the lead investigator.
Master of the Forage: If and when new places are located, the Master of the Forage will follow up to see what useful flora, fauna, or materials might be taken. They serve as a kind of botanist and ranger for the ship. The may follow up or go out initially (if a PC).
Master of the Hunt: Some food resources can be gain through hunting, a difficult and dangerous proposition in uncharted areas. Bodies of water may be fished, sky-fishing may be involved, or they may even pursue larger sky-beasts and fliers. Hunters are often away for days at a time on such expeditions.
Master of the Stores: Serves as the supply officer for the fleet- tracks goods across all ships. This not only includes food and essentials, but also metal, wood and other materials. They handle distribution according to requests and priorities. Most importantly, they track the supply of Magistone, making sure that not too much ends up in any one place to avoid accident.
Preservationist: The keeper of the logs and the archivist. This figure also works to record stories and memories from across the various peoples, in attempt to keep those memories alive.
Adjunct: The fleet is lead by the Admiral and the Captains of the Flagship, in that order. The Adjunct is the third in the chain of command there.
Master of Beasts: This office see to the keeping and breeding of various useful animals across the fleet. Only those who can be used to produce food or good or can be used as work animals or mounts have been allowed. The Master of Beasts sees to their health in this difficult situation.
Navigator: The Navigator has the difficult task of mapping in three dimensions and trying to figure out the clues from the tug of the lost Twins. The Navigator will be Twinless. They also handle weather prediction and storm calculation.
Chief Scout: The lead for any away team. They're the chief explorer for new territories found.
Chief Physiker: Obviously the different races of the fleet will have different medical needs. This office attempts to coordinate those needs and make sure the ships remain disease free. They oversee the herbal stores for the fleet.
Arcanist: Oversees the use of magic on the ship, including any devices which are magically powered. They authorize the distribution of Magistone for use and oversee the training of those who have begun to learn a particular path.
The Shadow: It is understood that at some point difficult things may be necessary. The Shadow oversees internal security, handles executions, would manage assassinations and so on. In good times, little might be needed of this position; in bad times it will be more soul-destroying (not recommended for PCs).
Diviner: In charge of assessing the gods currently associated with the various races and keeping their stories and lore kept. Sees to the assessment of signs and communications of the divine.
ANSWERS TO A COUPLE OF PLAYER QUESTIONS:
I know we have islands and bodies of water and they (used to, at least) float around in relative positions to one another in the air. But there's an idea of falling into the abyss and there's still sun/sky/stars. So, for shorthand, we'll say there's a "down" and an "up". But what do the storm walls look like? Are they huge tubes of turmoil or more like belts of crazy unpredictable storms blowing past pretty fast--storms you can maybe dodge if you're lucky....
The Stormwalls define roughly a sphere according to the mappers, but not a perfect one and one which does shift. Stormwalls vanish to vision at a distance, leaving the image of a clear blue sky- depending on where you look. The “Sun” which is a large and diffuse body of light rather than a circle moves in a circle from the top to the bottom of the sky- along with some distance factors. When the light is at the bottom of the sky, it seems further away, creating night for most of the islands, between that and the light being blocked. If you stand at the edges of the land at night, you get a strange phosphene glow. Dusk and dawn last longer, strangely enough.
There are stars, but they move quickly and in strange patterns, meaning that navigators have to have some complex equipment to use for calculating time and such. The bodies of the land and water, do move, but very slowly. On their particular plane, an island will complete a cycle in about ten years. These cycles are independent of one another- and that movement can be up or down. Storms may also cause shifts in these movements, resulting in the crashing of islands together or the enlargement or splitting of watery islands.
When you get close to the Stormwalls, you see what appears to be a disk of a massive stormhead, roiling and violent. If you move along it, the disk extends ahead of you. The Stormwall can also give birth to storms, some magic and other mundane. Storms and rain also independently form within the sphere. Storms can move fast or slow and can be a significant navigation hazard as they travel across, before either dissipating or being swallowed by the Stormwall.
Wait--and what do the bodies of water look like? I don't need them to be physically possible--I just need to be able to visualize them.
Any island can either be earth or water. If it is made up of more than half earth, then the island obeys a form of gravity. Things fall towards the plane of the islands “top”- which usually is oriented “upright” but not always. The underside of such an island lacks conventional gravity for foreign objects (like people walking) but for some reason the earth, ground and material of the island do not fall away unless forcibly removed (storms can cause erosion for example). Rivers on such islands roil off the edge back into the ground of the island.
On the other hand, if an island is made up of more water than earth, it obeys a different set of properties. In this case, the water shifts into a sphere which surrounds the earth. “Sea” and “Lake” islands are made up of a core of earth with the water around it. These often have significant sea-life and the “gravity pulls from the water's surface towards the core. So you can ride a boat around on such islands in any direction.