Note: This is part of the setting of the world that our Steampunk personas come from, which is also content for the game we are working on.
Being born in Copperbolt doesn’t give you citizenship. Resources are too precious to squander. Food and water are precious commodities and it’s overcrowded on the Rocks as is. On the Rocks, Copperbolt and other Rocks, you have to work for your Citizenship. I would say that earning Citizenship is easy, but that really depends on who you are, your gender, age, and how you earn it. If you happen to be the son of a Barren, you can enlist as an Officer in the Military. No need to start at the bottom and do a Soldier’s hard work like the less fortunate men. If Military isn’t your cup of tea, or you’re too old enough to join, you can work in the Coal mines or other hard labors. A Barren would never put his son in danger of developing black lung in the mines, so his son would be working in supplies or management (which yields little to no sweat).
Now if you are the daughter of a Barren, you’ve got it made! No Barren’s daughter would have their purity and dignity compromised in a brothel or risk Steam Burns in a Steam House. A Barren’s daughter would work in less crass forms of servitude, such as a Tea Hostess or Secretary. You might see a rare maid or gardener, but its doubtful. Girls have a much wider range of services they can apply for to gain citizenship. Both genders can begin working toward citizenship as early as 14 years of age.
Immigrating parents can work extra time to have their children included with citizenship, but they if they don’t earn it before the child turns 16 years of age, the child will have to earn their own citizenship. If their parents are just too old, too weak, or otherwise comprised so that they can’t earn citizenship themselves, then their child can put in the extra time to earn it for them. Luckily, it’s two parents for the price of one. Of course, their daughter or son will need to earn their own citizenship first, and then they can work on earning it for family members. Just remember that you can’t help everyone you love unless you are willing to serve the rest of your life.
Having Citizenship has its benefits. You are ensured a certain amount of clean water and food. You get first pick on most commodities and discounts on Zeppelin Ferries. There are Citizen Only establishments, sales, and events. You can attend college if you can afford it. You have the right to vote, own land or a home, and to bare children. Did I mention that having children is illegal for non-citizens?
If you live on the rock without citizenship and have children, one of two things will happen – deportation to the outer rocks or servitude. It really depends on who catches you. They may exile you to the outer rocks, enlist you into the military, put you to work in the coal mines, or force you into other forms servitude. What kind of servitude is also dependant upon the tastes of the person in charge of your punishment, and your gender of course. Most men end up in the military or mines, while many women end up in brothels. It’s not pleasant being forced into servitude, even if you are lucky enough to be just a janitor or a hand maid to a Barren.
Being exiled is often debated as the worst of the punishments. You loose everything you had other than the clothes on your back and, if you are lucky, a few necessities and/or personal items. The Outer Rocks are often uninhabitable and those that are habitable are small, barely have any resources, and often solitary. It’s debate-able on whether being dropped off on a Rock that has other people residing there is lucky or not… depends on if they have enough resources and whether they are kind or ruthless. It really is a game of roulette.
Both parents have to serve this time for baring a child. Although the punishments are all things non-criminals can do to earn citizenship, this time of servitude does not go towards an inevitable citizenship. If you want citizenship, you have to serve the time for your crimes and then put in the extra time required for citizenship. The time of sentence is until your illegal child (or children) is of age 16, or until they apply for citizenship which is as early as 14 years of age.
Honestly, if you really want children, you should just earn your citizenship… or apply for citizenship on an Airship. Citizenship on an Airship is far less harsh. All you need is a job and the blessing of the Captain. If there’s an opening and you interview well with the Captain, you’re in! You’re expected to pull your weight though. Even children get small jobs on the ship to pull their weight. As for stow aways, they usually get left on the nearest Rock.
If Copperbolt and Airship life isn’t right for you, consider looking for an Inner Rock with a smaller population and governing style you can live with. If you can’t find the right place to have a family… then maybe family isn’t the right choice for you. These are hard times and rules are in place to make life easier for those who are willing to put in the time and hard work.