A Captain’s duty is to his (or her) ship and crew. A Captain leads the ship, takes care of his crew, and this is his number one priority. It’s not his concern what happens outside of his crew. However, within a Steampunk Community, a Captain is viewed as an authority figure within the community. The Captain is responsible for his crew and, therefore, if someone on his crew is a problem in the community it’s up to the Captain to fix the issue. It’s a great idea, but let’s be realistic.
We are not real Captains with any real authority. We don’t actually have a real Airship. We can’t force people to behave the way we want. We are not responsible for other peoples actions. Everyone is responsible for there own actions. All an Airship crew really is, is a group of friends (whether it’s social or business oriented). In most social atmospheres, you can’t avoid groupings of friends, and they usually have each other’s backs. Steampunk is no different. This isn’t to say that Airships are bad or that Captains are useless. Airships are great because they give people a common purpose within the community and they are one of many ways to get involved. Often times, being apart of a crew gets your foot in the door for other things (like vending and paneling). Airships make you feel part of the community in general.
Like I said before, it’s a great idea that Captains be responsible for their crew. Despite the reality of what authority we truly lack, we are not without some useful power. We have the ability to kick someone off the crew. This may sound harsh, but it is the bottom line of an Airship Captain’s true power. A good Captain will give his crew mates the benefit of the doubt (especially if you’re friends), but you’ll also be honest with your crew when they are wrong. You’ll encourage (perhaps even demand) a code of conduct from your crew. A Captain can, for the better of the community and his Airship, provide an outline of what is not acceptable behavior. A Captain can, and sometimes should, intervene in heated situations to the point of calming down his crew or having everyone take a step back to civility. A good Captain will provide advice and direction to his people when they are met with sensitive or difficult situations. A Captain can act as an intermediary between his crew and others within the community. However, don’t expect a Captain to get in the middle of personal affairs (private arguments and issues outside of the hobby). What people do in private or on their own time, is their own business. Captains do not have the right to pry or butt-in.
With that said, if all else fails… if someone causing problems within the community won’t listen to their Captain, they can be kicked off the crew. This means you don’t have the backing of your crew, they won’t be taking your side, and you don’t get any of the benefits that your Airship provided. This may include not being invited to social activities, not having a table to sell merchandise on, not getting free passes into conventions, no longer having access to tools (for making things), and the list goes on. All of these things could be reasonable disciplinary actions within the Airship crew, before having to get to the point of walking the plank. Being kicked off an Airship could make it difficult to get accepted to a new crew… not to mention the embarrassment alone.
A Steampunk Captain doesn’t have any real authority, but we do have have the ability to be responsible Captains and that does come with hard choices. It’s not unreasonable to expect an Airship Captain to take their role seriously within the community. Do good by your crew. Do good by your community. This is what it is to be an Airship Captain.
~~ Captain Amelia “Coppertop” Reinier of the Airship Horizons