It’s a little more difficult to design a character in such a dynamic setting without a set of mechanics (which is being developed); but many of us have already made characters. The biggest difference is that we don’t have character sheets at this stage. Our characters are more of a persona with a fictional background, which is actually the most important part of any character and sometimes the hardest part. So, we hope to give everyone some tips on designing a character. The best place to start is to pick a side.
Are you part of the SCARS fleet (the good guys), a member of the Order (the bad guys), or a Neutral character (something else)? The neutral characters may be truly neutral, or haven’t decided which side to join, or perhaps you’re another flavor of good/bad guy. Still, you should pick where you stand in the setting as a whole and go from there.
Don’t worry, you are not limited to being a pirate or being part of an Airship crew. Though these two things are very prevalent, there are a wide range of other options. You could even be a part of SCARS and not be part of an Airship crew. Allies of all types are welcome!
So, now we have many choices on what to do next. I’ll give you a list of choices and then I’ll talk about each one.
1. Design around your Airship, whether you join one or start one.
2. Pick a world in the Multiverse to base your character out of.
3. Choose a role or concept to build around.
4. Make it a “Me Character”
The most common character design is based around an Airship, whether you are joining an Airship or creating one. Depending on what the Airship’s function or purpose is, you can have your place on the ship and build around that. For example, if your Airship is a merchant ship, you may not just be a mechanic or pilot, you might be a seamstress or an inventor, or perhaps you specialize in something crafty. If your Airship is a pirate ship that deals in weaponry, you would be a pirate and perhaps a leather worker, blacksmith, or firearms specialist. Perhaps your Airship is less goal oriented and more social, then you could easily just base the whole design around being a Captain, a pilot, or a mechanic. It can be as in depth or basic as you’d like. There is nothing wrong with creating a basic concept and then working out more detail as you get more involved and find things in the setting that you like.
Another option is to pick a world in the Multiverse. There are many versatile worlds to choose from and just by picking a world, some aspect of that world may jump out at you. For example, the Aether Skies world is a post apocalyptic world set several generations in the future, of which Aether has been banned. There is the Copperbolt military which is very oppressive in our world. We have Barrens who are political based, upper class, wealthy citizens that are not Airship characters. Then there are lower classed non-citizens who have virtually no rights and work in servitude and coal mines, and the middle classed citizens who have more opportunities. There are, also, Colonial Airships which are separate from your typical ships because they host cities of people in the sky, which makes their Captains political figures like that of a Tribal Chief or President. You can find a lot of inspiration for what to do for a character just by learning about the worlds that are available. You could even start by designing your own world.
You don’t have to choose a world if you don’t want to, or just aren’t ready for that yet. Perhaps an Airship or pirate isn’t something you are ready for either. You can pick a role or concept to build off of. There are inventors or engineers who make wonderful contraptions. Clocksmiths are also very talented. There are scientists or Aetherists who experiment, explore, or teach. Perhaps a doctor! We can always use a good doctor. You might own a garage, or family business. Maybe you are a ghost hunter (Have you seen the Steampunk Ghostbusters?), or a vampire/monster hunter. You could be a merchant or a seamstress. You might even be a more traditional pilot who flies Aeroplanes. I’ve even met an Ambassador.
Your concept could easily be what you actually do in the community… a performer or artist. Who doesn’t enjoy Burlesque dancers and musical talents like Marquis of Vaudeville? If you are a painter, a toymaker, a band member, or sexy performer, you can just be you! These are “Me Characters”. You can also adapt your “Me Character” to an Airship or World of your choosing, like we did.
When we started, we created Airship Horizons and created ourselves Steampunk names. We had no purpose, no background, no world. We just had names – Airship Horizons, Cpt. Amelia “Coppertop” Reinier, 1st Officer Thomas Reinier, and Bennet Locke (our muscle man). We were, and are still, just ourselves. Eventually, we began working on a game, of which we decided our characters would be based out of. We recently took our real lives and then conformed it to match the fictional setting, changing details to be what our lives would have been if we had come from the Aether Skies world. We still don’t have a very detailed purpose for our Airship, but we all fit in just fine. We joined SCARS and then later created a ourselves some Order characters. Don’t be afraid to have more than one persona out there!
The most important thing is to be creative and find something that you’ll enjoy. Nothing else matters more than that.