We are creating a world of floating islands, these vary in size from small outposts that are little more than a Dock and Watchtower, through independent farmsteads, to full Nations in which the majority of the population are unaware they are on a floating island.
A particular Nation has access to "magic" but it is treated as science as it is technically unlawful, so if it is quantifiable or repeatable it becomes allowed, but summoning a Demon to ask for directions would not be acceptable. They have developed Airship technology, and Ornithopters, and would be typically "human". The power is held by Universities and Guilds rather than a Feudal state.
In the rest of the world pretty much anything goes, so there are Pegasi, Goblin Hanggliders, Sky Whales etc...
The atmosphere is Earthlike, so high is cold and hard to breathe and low is hot and hard to breathe. There are winds that could be predictable. Birds are around. Clouds form and block visibility so you may not have 100% visibility. There is a celestial globe of stars and other objects that can be observed and measured.
Considerations from our Earth:
- Islands in the Pacific Ocean can be identified by how they disrupt the wave patterns
- You can follow Trade Winds to find entire continents and return to your own continent, can you do the same to an island
- Altimeters use Air Pressure but are periodically zeroed at known heights/location
- You can measure speed via a log
- A compass can be used to give the direction to a known/assumed point
- Devices can be used to measure angles for celestial bodies
- Maps can be a list of distances and directions
- Maps can be a representation of the area in pictographic form
- Data can be pre-calculated and recorded in books of look-up tables; calculations, tides etc...
How would this nation that is self-limiting to technological methods map and navigate through 3D space? Would there be a way to do it if there was no compass?