Although airplanes had been flying (and landing) for years, the first “air-port,” as a reporter dubbed it, opened in 1919: Bader’s Field in Atlantic City.
Since those humble beginnings, air travel has become commonplace, and today the largest airports handle about 60 million passengers, and almost a million takeoffs and landings, a year. Airports have grown to accommodate the needs of flyers, adding goods and services to make the act of waiting, departing, and arriving more enjoyable (or at least profitable). In modern times, prices in airports are notoriously inflated (+2 difficulty to all Funds rolls), although some airports in larger cities proudly proclaim their airport prices are no greater than their city counterparts – critics point out that larger cities already have inflated prices.
Small airports will always have a place to eat, a newsstand or other periodical vendor, and usually a bar. Large airports have goods and services similar to a mall (see the “Mall” entry); particularly common are bookstores, specialty food items (especially luxury foods), gadget shops, luggage stores, and general gift shops. However, anything that can obviously be used as a weapon will be unavailable in airport stores. Airports also have shops and services unique to them, providing services such as chair- massages and Internet connectivity.
Airports before the 1960s were relatively open; so long as nothing was obviously amiss about someone, they could get aboard a plane (Easy disguise or con roll to bypass security). In the 1960s and 1970s, however, security took the forefront (Moderate disguise or con check to slip through); in an era where terrorist threats are a real danger, security measures have become extremely vigilant (Difficult to Very Difficult disguise or con check, depending on the airport).
In a Weird West or steampunk game, the airport would probably be a field where steam-powered aeroplanes and ornithopters make their questionable landings; the building would probably represent the standard type of its genre, from Western ramshackle wooden buildings to Victorian opulence. In pulp and 1950s-era games, airports were simple but comfortable; flying was an expensive proposition (Difficult Funds roll), and airports generally resembled luxury hotels. Security in this time was virtually nonexistent. From the 1960s and beyond, the world became more dangerous at the same time flying became more affordable. Airports became more Spartan, while security was put in place. In a near-future campaign, airports will probably vary depending on the cost of air travel and security needs; if dirt-cheap tickets become plentiful, airports might resemble noisy, gritty bus stations, while the return of air travel as a luxury would undoubtedly mean nicer terminals. Regardless, in a more dangerous future, airports might come to resemble military- or police-controlled complexes.
Don’t Miss …
When Cuprum Regional opened in 1930, its five gates were deemed overkill by many in the local media. After all, why would more than five planes ever need to land in the tiny region at the same time?
That all began to change in 1964, when LWH Electronics chose the area for its transistor manufacturing plant, transforming the region into a fledgling high-tech industry leader. At that point, traffic into the region increased, and the airport changed its name to Cuprum International and added another six gates in another building wing (later remodeled to nine gates).
After 1978’s Airline Deregulation Act, Omega Airlines selected the airport as its hub, and six years later, construction was complete on Cuprum- McKinley International.
Although not the busiest or unfriendliest airport in the world, Cuprum-McKinley is still confusing to first-time visitors, to the extent that an award- winning book and resulting movie entitled Caught in Cuprum used the airport as a metaphor for being lost and harried.
Although many regarded Cuprum-McKinley as being in decline in the late 1990s, the airport used post-terrorism upgrades to rededicate itself to enhancing the flying experience. Its advertising campaign – “Come From Cuprum Happy” – has proven successful. It currently employs a team of dedicated, uniformed problem-solvers, called Cuprumites, who can be seen running full- tilt through terminals or driving carts. The current leader of this team, the charismatic Sandra Joule, has a reputation for solving impossible problems.
In modern times, Cuprum-McKinley has consciously kept itself less packed than other larger airports, eschewing dozens of duplicated cafes and shops for fewer, strategically placed locations. The remaining open areas keep claustrophobia to a minimum, while rest areas of comfy chairs and exotic plants help soothe frazzled nerves. Critics complain that contraband could be hidden in these areas, especially among the plants, permitting illegal goods or other substances to pass from one flyer to another. However, to date, authorities claim there is no evidence this has happened, despite the fact it handles over 400,000 flights and almost 24 million people a year.
Adjusting the Airport
To simulate a smaller airport with this map, simply “chop off” sections, and rename gates accordingly. Cuprum Regional consisted entirely of Gate E in the 1950s (labeled Gate A), while Cuprum International encompassed Gates D and E (called Gates B and A).
If a larger airport is required, include additional gates and concourses, from Concourse F and beyond.
Things to See
+ Plastic seats in gray or blue, connected on bars in groups of three to six
+ A line of white rocking chairs or small groups of light colored overstuffed club chairs along wide hallways and near large windows
+ Light gray plastic tubs, about half a meter long, by the personal security checkpoint, for put- ting in large personal items, plus little white plastic bowls for smaller items
+ Black, heavy plastic posts with elastic line guides
+ Metal pushcarts for wheeling around oversized luggage
+ White styrofoam cups of hot coffee
+ Colorful bags of snacks
+ Postcards in slots on spinning racks
+ A cart selling sunglasses with a variety of tints and frames
+ Bottles of wine and beer for sale
+ Shelves of national and local newspapers and magazines and softcover versions of popular books
+ Black or silver trash receptacles (most at least one-quarter to three-quarters full of the remains of various things sold in the airport)
+ Backlit advertisements a few meters square for local and national services and products (financial institutions, phone service, furniture, software, etc.)
+ Rectangular luggage in blues, greens, browns, and grays in a variety of sizes
+ Purses and briefcases in various colors
+ Pay phones in small cubicles
People to Meet
Most airport employees have 2D in their attributes, although 3D in Presence is common. Given the service-oriented nature of the field, people-placating skills are often needed – mostly charm and persuasion. Security guards and federal aviation agents wander the halls and check passengers and their luggage in the screening areas. Air marshals have characteristics akin to security guards and have Authority: Law Enforcement (R3). Pilots are common in an airport, and they would possess +3D or more in piloting: aircraft.
Airline Ticket Counter Representative: Reflexes 2D, Coordination 2D, Physique 2D, lifting 2D+2, running 2D+1, Knowledge 2D, business 2D+1, scholar: airlines 2D+1, tech: computers 2D+1, Perception 2D, streetwise 20+1, Presence 2D, charm 2D+1 , persuasion 3D, willpower 3D. Move: 1D. Strength Damage: 1D. Body Points: 10. Wound levels: 2.
Things to Do
+ The players’ characters learn that a nefarious person might have found a way to construct a bomb out of nonmetallic parts that do not register as explosive. Is this all a hoax to discredit the heroes? And if not, can they convince the authorities to help them … without panicking the airport?
+ While in pursuit of an infamous villain, horrible weather forces the players’ characters’ plane to land at the airport. While there, they realize: The weather means the villain couldn’t make his flight out of the airport, either! Can they find and capture the bad guy amid thousands of travelers – either with or without the airport’s help – before the weather improves and he escapes?