Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Captain William Sackville
Captain of the Airship Opportunity
A short, energetic looking man. Almost always seen in his airship captain’s outfit: A fleece lined leather jacket, with leather boots and trousers, all in a similar style to Royal Navy uniforms. Goggles, telescope, pistol and sword are also often carried.
Captain and owner of the airship Opportunity
Character sheet here
Second son of a British noble, disowned by his father for his behaviour. Also kicked out of the Royal Navy Air Fleet for injuring a fellow officer in a duel. Recruited by a privateer captain raiding Dutch shipping during the Boer War. Essentially inherited the captain’s ship (and his debts) at the end of the war.
After the war ended privateering was no longer an option, and so has been making ends meet as an armed courier and mercenary, but after several years the money has finally run out.
William Sackville is the second son of a minor British Noble. William is of below average height, and has always overcompensated for this, by partying the hardest, talking the loudest and being quick to demand satisfaction for any perceived slights. This led to William fighting many duels when he was younger, earning him something of a reputation for his skill with sword and pistol.
Unfortunately William’s father, Lord Sackville, disapproved strongly of William’s lifestyle and constant duelling. His father forbade William from duelling, and told him to hurry up and take a commission in the military, or be disowned and cut off from the family’s money. William agreed, and joined the Royal Navy Air Fleet.
After initially distinguishing himself as an Airman in the Navy, and quickly getting promoted to Lieutenant, William foolishly got into another duel with another Navy officer (from the Surface Fleet), against Navy regulations and his father’s ultimatum. He badly wounded this fellow officer in the duel, and was kicked out of the navy and cut off by his father as a result.
Initially it looked to William that he had few prospects, but fortune came his way. Specifically Britain’s war against the Boers in Transvaal, South Africa. The Boers requested materiel aid from the Dutch, which was sent via airships taking circuitous routes across Africa to avoid patrols by the Royal Navy. Rather than dispatching the Royal Navy’s Air Fleet hither and yon across the Dark Continent, Britain instead freely issued Letters of Marque to any captain willing to engage in unrestricted commerce raiding against the Dutch fleet (despite the Paris Declaration of 1856, setting a precedent that has invalidated that treaty). Royal Navy airships due to be decommissioned were put up for sale as well, for any would-be privateers that needed a ship. Private investors came forward to fund the enterprise, with some captains borrowing money to buy an old navy airship and seek their fortunes hunting the Dutch.
It was to one of these crews that the young William Sackville was recruited by retired Royal Navy captain Samuel Leverton. For a time, there was a lot of money to be made and plenty of opportunities for advancement. But not without risk. During the war, William quickly rose to be the First Officer of the Opportunity. However, during the closing chapters of the war, after the Dutch Navy had begun to learn how to combat privateers effectively, Captain Leverton was killed during an action against a Dutch escort vessel. William took command and was able to get the Opportunity clear, and safely back to port. William sought the approval of Captain Leverton’s backers to take over ownership of the Opportunity, along with accepting his remaining debt. The deal was struck just in time for the end of hostilities to be declared…
With capturing Dutch prize vessels no longer an option, (now Captain) Sackville needed to find a way to pay the crew’s wages, pay for fuel and other ship supplies, and make loan payments to his backers in London (selling the ship and cutting his losses was not considered). Fortunately William was the owner of the fastest airship in private hands, and it was armed to boot. The Opportunity has been for hire to whomever can afford to charter her since the Boer War. Customers have mostly been wealthy merchants, who either wanted the fastest transport available for themselves and/or an urgent, valuable cargo (and who were willing and able to pay handsomely for it), or merchants needing transport into dangerous, lawless and/or pirate infested areas, where the armament and speed of the Opportunity could keep passengers and cargo safe. When there were no transport jobs available, sometimes the Opportunity was hired by small, distant nations in a mercenary capacity. Such jobs didn’t always work out however, due to Captain Sackville’s refusal to abandon his standards or his honor. More than one employer found the Opportunity’s guns turned on their palace or headquarters after ordering Captain Sackville to bombard a populated area in enemy territory.
Unfortunately, working as an armed fast courier doesn’t pay as well as privateering. Over the years, the cash reserves have dwindled steadily, and now Captain Sackville finds himself looking for other means to pay the bills. While docked at the Royal Victoria Docks in London, just such an opportunity arrived in the form of a letter from Gordon Pembridge Consulting Services…