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Air travel

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SamYellek, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. SamYellek

    SamYellek Dreamer

    I can't decide if this should be posted in world building or research, so I'm taking a shot here.

    I'm trying to come up with a quick mode of transportation in my fantasy world. They don't quite yet have the technology for planes or trains, and horsedrawn carriage isn't that much faster than walking from what I've looked into. I've considered maybe using some kind of hot air balloon travel system, but I'm not sure how practical that would be. I would much appreciate people's thoughts and opinions in this matter.
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Hmmmm.... I think hot air balloons would work. It's unusual, but I don't think so unusual that it'd break willing suspension of disbelief.

    Depending on your story, maybe consider magical alternatives? Maybe not something on the level of ripping open a portal between locations, but a dangerous short cut through the realm of fairies would fit pretty much any level of magic.
  3. Flying beasts? Enormous birds, or griffins, or dragons?
  4. SumnerH

    SumnerH Scribe

    Balloons could be enchanted or enhanced somehow, or wind currents controlled to make normal balloons more practical.

    It's a fantasy world, you have many options. Maybe there are flying ships, magic carpets, flying brooms, tamed dragons, or chariots pulled by flying horses.

    Or maybe the solution isn't flight--teleportation is a possibility. If you want to limit it, maybe it only works between specific portals that are hard to create. So the big cities are connected, but you can't just go anywhere. Or maybe it only works where ancient magical ley lines intersect. Perhaps there's a shadow dimension you can traverse quickly, but there are possible dangers to face when you do so.

    Maybe there are folklore-style seven league boots or Baba Yaga-style walking houses or flying mortars.

    There could be some enhanced pony express that uses faster steeds that don't tire easily--super horses or giant serpents or something that carry people from post to post.

    There are a bunch of solutions in speculative fiction, from A Wrinkle in Time's tesseracts (similar to wormholes) to Howl's Moving Castle, to the Dragonriders of Pern who can not only fly on dragonback but can go between places and even times quickly. And obviously Tolkien has the eagles.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  5. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

    As others have said, in a fantasy world, you have many options open to you! Especially one where magic or enchantment are involved powers.

    In The World, it is the Daine that have invented a couple different kinds of flying machines. In and of themselves, they are not magical machines, but rather thaumological machines. This means that magic has been married to some technological process or device, the long and short of it being that their relatively ordinary flying machines "run on processed magic" without themselves being enchanted objects.

    Two kinds of of flying machines are the "quick-wing flyer":


    It is basically a bamboo & wood framed, silk skinned and befeathered aeroplane with flexible wings and tails that the pilot must manoeuvre by using various levers and contraptions that he has strapped himself into. The actual motive power is derived from the homunculus motivator, which is, essentially, a highly evolved and developed golem. Golems, as you know, are largeish clay roughly hominid shaped entities that are given certain powers of understanding and mobility by the use of holy words placed in their heads. Well, a homunculus motivator is no longer hominid shaped, except in the vaguest of ways. They kind of look more like something you'd find in a 19th century water powered mill. They do have arms, though, and these are used to turn the axle that spins the fan which gives the swift-wing bird her lift. These kinds of aeroplanes are basically thaumological taube-type aircraft, and use a similar, though more complex wing-warping method of airfoil control. Well within the technological ability of an advanced bronze age society.

    The other kind of airship I haven't made a picture of, but uses a kind of ensorcellment called dendrothaumology, which is basically a kind of thaumic bonsai. Daine use this magical technique to grow mighty & living frameworks for their halls & manses and even garden cloisters, gazebos and other structures. They've also taken to using it in order to grow airships.

    An airship requires two things to be useful: lift and motive power. As discussed already, motive power is already accomplished by the use of fans turned by powerful homunculus motivators. Lift for an airship is accomplished by growing a kind of thaumogenetically engineered tree whose twigs and limbs form the supple but semi-rigid superstructure of the ship, its specialised lantern-like seed pods have been evolved to grow to huge sizes and also to break water down into H2 and O2, outgassing the O2 into the atmosphere while keeping the H2 in the pods (and some factitioners have also been experimenting with pods that also filter He from the atmosphere, mixing it with the H2). The leaves of these trees form a gigantic living envelope that protects the gas filled seed pods within. Below the trunk-keel, the lateral limbs and root ball support chambers for the homunculus motivators and the airship sailors and passengers.

    They don't look anything sleek like the Hindenburg, but they get the job done most admirably and are green!

    Rail travel in The World relies on mighty brontoreeds (thundering waggons) powered by four or six homunculus motivators. Brunel would have been happy --- the Postway is composed primarily of broad gauge track (8 foot) with narrow gauge (4 foot) reserved for trolleys and so forth. The Temple Class brontoreed can, with its six eight-foot driving wheels, draw a pretty long caravan of passenger & goods waggons at break-neck speeds in excess of sixty miles in an hour!

    For your world, I see no reason why balloons of some sort can't be wrangled into service as a means of locomotion. You've already got the lift --- you just need to sort out a way of moving the balloon in the direction you want to go in! Unless you don't mind being at the mercy of the prevailing winds.
  6. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Often the smallest things make the biggest changes. First do they have some decent metallurgy? If so the ball bearing race is your savior (the thing that makes the wheels on your bike spin so easily). A horse drawn cart / wagon isn't much faster than walking. A carriage that's light weight and has greased ankles, is at least twice as fast. And add the ball bearing race to the equation and your light weight carriage will fly.

    Also think of the Pony Express. Have to travel from one end of the realm to the other quickly? What about a system of stables where riders simply change for fresh mounts every few leagues just like them?

    But do you need to actually physically get there yourself? Or will a message do? In which case think pigeons. They'll beat a horse every day - and if it's a fantasy world you can have magic pigeons!

    Cheers, Greg.
  7. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Kite drawn canal barges!!!
  8. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

    I have visions of flocks of Accipitridae yoked to elegant canal barges...
    CupofJoe likes this.
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    So much cooler than what I had in mind - Man lifting kite.
  10. kdl121

    kdl121 Dreamer

    I like whoever said dragons, that was my first thought! lol Or any other sort of flying beasts :)

    I'm not sure about all the details of your story, but my other thought was maybe there could be an inventor who invents a weird flying contraption ... not a plane necessarily, but something.

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