Dr Otto Von Steele


Formative Years

Otto von Steele was born just before 5 am on the 1st of January 1900 in St Mary’s Hospital in Witten. His parents, Werner and Mathilda, were both members of the Prussian aristocracy, having lands to the west of Essen. Werner was a staunch patriot and believer in Bismarck's view of a unified Germany and invested much of the family fortune in shipyards. With them, he built a fleet to make the German Navy rival that of Japan and Great Britain.

From the age of 4, shortly after his brother Hans was born, Otto was trained in swordsmanship by master fencer Heinrich von Drachenburg. His lessons here included not just how to use the rapier, longsword and sabre, but how a gentleman was expected to conduct himself with them. (Blade of Honour - provides a bonus when fighting an honourable fight (such as a duel), but can be compelled to prevent underhanded tactics against an honourable opponent, or to accept a duel.)

In the prewar years, Werner von Steele became an important and respected man. When visiting with business associates, he would frequently travel with his family. This allowed Otto and Hans, whom Werner saw as his future successors in the business, to mingle and come to terms with some of the more influential members of society. However, said business associates also frequently showed the two boys the most immaculate service, showering them with gifts and catering to their every whim. (Right of Nobility - Otto has a developed air of authority, such that people find themselves following his orders and wondering why later. He can, however, be a bit of a pain as a guest, assuming more service than others might.)

As tensions grew in Europe, Otto found himself disagreeing more and more with his father's almost jingoistic stance. Hans, young and eager for attention, took up the nationalist viewpoint to show up with brother. Wanting to instil some national pride in his eldest son, and with Otto already blitzing his regular schoolwork, Werner arranged for Otto to enter into Berlin University at the age of 13.


Otto's academic career at Berlin University kicked off to a dramatic start. Studying introductory electron physics, he walked in on two professors discussing the photoelectric effect prior to class. The next lesson, he brought in a device he had built in the lab, which demonstrated flaws in their theory. The two professors, Max Planck and Albert Einstein, asked him how it worked, but he replied he didn't know. It seemed obvious when it was built, he said, but the principles now eluded him. He was happy to work with them in discovering how it did work, though. (Leap of Brilliance - can make astounding leaps of logic to build a fantastical gadget, but doesn't always understand the principles behind its function)

Planck took special interest in this unusual 13 year old, taking him for separate tutorials and putting him on an accelerated course. Planck, Einstein and von Steele would often spend an evening discussing the practicalities of the emerging discrete energy model of physics, for while Otto didn't always know the past academic texts, he had a sharp mind and would frequently see side effects that Max and Albert missed at first.

This close relationship with the professors, coupled with his unusually young age, made him an easy target for the more troublesome students. Three in particular, Randolf von Kleig, Adolf Engles and Rudolf Weiss, nicknamed the Three Wolves, continually made his life difficult. On the eve of his bachelor's graduation in 1915, the three cornered him with sabres, taunting him about his age. Snatching a sword from Rudolf, Otto soundly defeated all three, leaving them bloodied and scarred. Following the fight, the Three Wolves restricted their harassment of Otto to exclusion and rumour spreading.

The Great War

Due to his young age, the Great War didn’t affect Otto as directly as many of his classmates. After his graduation, many of his peers were called into service and combat engineers, while Otto found himself able to work on his master’s thesis, Interference Patterns in Low Energy Quanta. Building on Planck’s theories, von Steele extrapolated several important theorems for electron physics.

His graduation in 1917 wasn’t the momentous occasion he had hoped, though. The war had taken its toll on the family, with the shipyards running as fast as humanly possible. Further more, Hans had lied about his age to join the German army and had not been seen since. As the Western Front ground closer, the work at the factory became more frantic, and Otto joined the yards, aiding his father in design and administrative work.

Eventually, though, the French Army reached them. The German military contacted the and promised that they considered German control over the yards a vital strategy, and urged the von Steeles to hold against the French invasion, promising reinforcements. Unfortunately, the reinforcements were intercepted on route. As the von Steeles organised the workers into a make-shift militia and engaged the French, Werner was fatally shot, dying in Otto’s arms (Fight to the Last – Aids in physical conflict where Otto or his allies are pushed to the very edge of endurance, and can be compelled in a last stand situation to make him chose a more aggressive course of action over a peaceful one). The shipyards were captured shortly after.

Post-War and Reconstruction

Following the Great War, the von Steele family was greatly reduced from the industrial powerhouse it had been. The shipyards were ruined and much of the family’s wealth had been lost with them. Despite being keen to pursue a doctorate in physics, Otto was compelled to see to the family’s estates and care for his frail mother, who had fallen ill with consumption. Although Hans had survived the war and returned to Essen, Germany’s surrender drove a wedge between the once-close brothers. Otto was glad to see peace again, even if it came with some forced humility, while Hans saw it as shameful that their great nation was forced to kneel. In early 1919, Hans joined one of the many freicorps, vowing that he would make Germany great again.

Only a few months later, Otto was contacted by a mysterious benefactor, offering financial support both for himself and his family out of respect for “a brilliant mind”. The benefactor would put help to rebuild the von Steele fortune as well as look after Mathilda, if in return Otto would complete his doctorate and use his knowledge to advance science. Jumping at the opportunity, Otto travelled to Cambridge, Harvard and many of the other great centres of learning, studying with some of the most innovative thinkers of the time. He eventually settled in Oxford, where he met archaeologist Seth Zebulon, and the two became fast friends.

Other Aspects

Quiet Kommando
Sometimes, the best place to strike an opponent is right where they aren’t expecting it. This aspect aids in covert missions where the aim is to get in and out quickly and without notice, achieving something in the process that will aid future endeavours.
Z.E.F. Generator
In many ways, the Zyklishen Electronen-Feld Generator represents the future of science. Built on scientific principles not entirely understood by the surface-dwelling races, Dr von Steele’s study of it has already produced breakthroughs in physics. Although a powerful tool, its preservation is also important to the future of mankind, and Otto won’t allow it to be needlessly discarded.
I Know a Guy
Following the Great War, Dr von Steele travelled the Western World extensively, learning all he could from some of the most unusually thinkers of the 20th Century. Though he may not be able to find you a good cup of coffee quickly, he often knows just the person who has been working on a contra-revolutionary newtonic bagpipe, or who can name the first 205 sequences of the mating dance of the Peruvian Fire Moth.
Endure All Elements
After travelling to the centre of a volcano and being thrown out of an airlock into the depths of the Atlantic, Otto has been subjected to a wide range of hostile environments. While they may hinder his comfort, he can shrug it off to persevere.
Unplanned Arrival
Over the course of his adventures, Otto has often found himself arriving in exactly the right place through sheer coincidence. He may be intending to do something else, but discovers a more pressing matter requiring his attention.
One at a Time
Even surrounded by a mob of enemies, Otto can stare down his opponents and force them to engage him one at a time, even though they will likely be defeated with their superior numbers.

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