We've looked at land Travel, and at Sea Travel, and now it's time to look at air travel. In many games there are few better ways to get from point A to point B than flying. The advantages of flight are numerous: A relatively direct course, lack of obstruction, traffic, rough terrain, tolls, and far less likely to run into ambushing foes. When incorporating flight into your games there are several important factors to consider.
Danger: It's a basic tenant of adventuring that air vehicles are the best places for awesome encounters. Amazing air ship ambushes, blimp basket brawls, Sky skiff shootouts, perilous plane punchups, harrowing hang glider hostility, I could go on. But one of the things that makes these battles so exciting, and perilous, is the potential to fatally fall, or calamitously crash, or take a deadly dive to ones death. This means that a GM or storyteller who has an interest in the players surviving should probably provide some way to help them survive in case a player character goes over the rail and starts freefalling from a few miles up.
The senses: A flight above a long stretch of territory is a perfect chance to explore the senses. The contrast of the beautiful majestic landscape beneath you with the boxed prepackaged food is an easy sell. Or one can explore the smell of the air aboard the deck of an airship, the sound of the engines, the sway of the balloon basket, or any of a dozen other amazing sensations that come with travel. On top of all that one can also explain the shapes of the continents, the sights of the city, the colour and majesty of the ocean below. Travel is always a great chance to take a breath, set the next scene and flesh out the environments and people, which brings us to our next topic.
The people: As mentioned in our article about sea travel, all sorts of individuals may wind up pursuing a fast convenient means of travel. Each method though lends itself more to specific type of person. An airship is likely filled with merchants and adventurers, a first class plane ride for celebrities and businesspeople, and coach for everyone else. But of course with Staff, and likely security there are still plenty of diverse characters for the players to meet along their journey.
The world: Of course air travel also has a big impact on your entire world. Being able to travel from one country to another in a matter of days instead of weeks or months changes a lot. It means you can carry more goods and people and need less supplies, which in the long run makes it cheaper and it means more cultures are exchanging ideas faster, it means the landscape of war itself could change depending on how advanced and combat ready these vehicles are.
Tactical: Of course not all air travel takes place on big ships. Sometimes it's as simple as a flying carpet, a jetpack, or a little magic. The power of flight provides an immense tactical advantage. If you can fly and use a ranged weapon and the opponent can only attack up close, you have won that fight. It's important to keep in mind how intensely vertical movement can influence a battle, both on the small and large scale, and if you give your players the power of personal flight, you must expect they'll use it to the utmost advantage.