Mose the Fireboy (also known as Mose the Bowery Boy or Mose the B'hoy) is an obscure early American folk hero, most likely based on real life Bowery Boy gang leader Mose Humphrey. As the stories go, Mose was 8 feet tall, and very broad shouldered. His arms were so long he could scratch his knees without bending over. He was strong enough to carry a Trolley Car, or to blow a steamboat downriver just by puffing on his cigar. His appetite could drain a brewery, deforest a park, or trigger a market crash.
His feet were too big for normal shoes, so he made himself some custom boots with copper soles with inch-long nails sticking out the bottom. The lethal shoes weren't his only weapon, though. In a fight he'd swing the tongue of a wagon like it were a club. If that broke, he'd uproot a tree or break off an iron street lamp to swing around. If the enemy were beyond his reach, he'd rip up a pavement block with his bare hands and hurl it down the road at them. He carried a 50 gallon keg of ale on his belt like it were a canteen.
As you can see, his antics are just a tiny bit less exaggerated than those of Hercules or Paul Bunyan. Some of these tall tales were going around as early as the 1840s while Mose Humphrey was leader of the Bowery Boys and their Volunteer Fire Department, but they grew further after his death. He was a common character in stage performances throughout the 1850s, which helped further grow the reputation. There's some debate amongst scholars over whether or not he ever was a real person. He may have just been a fictional mascot the Bowery Boys borrowed from the play.
Mose Humphrey was a printer by trade, but he's better known for moonlighting as a fire fighter working on the number 40 pump wagon. As with all Bowery Boys, he'd always be dressed in sharp-looking clothes, though due to his size they'd have to be custom-made.
Whenever possible, Mose liked to get into as many brawls as he could with his enemies the Dead Rabbits.
Game and Story Use
- If you need a leader for the Bowery Boys, or a challenging Boss Fight in New York City, Mose the Fireboy fits the bill.
- He could even be a hero. The Bowery Boys were pretty wild and violent, but they knew how to put a good PR spin on things. The folklore and legend painted him as a folk hero, saving babies and fighting for causes. You could focus on that aspect, instead of painting him as a villainous thug.
- In any game where folklore and legends are real, Mose is gonna be one heck of a slugger. Strength score off the charts.
- If you don't mind a Celtic twist on a (possibly Jewish) character, you could rule that Mose is normal sized most of the time but prey to warp spasms in battle.
- In the Scion RPG, Mose is probably either a Giant or a fellow child-of-the-gods.
- I can picture a League of Extraordinary Whatevers made up of early american folkheroes. Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, Pecos Bill and Mose the Fireboy would make a good (though perhaps overly beefy) adventuring party.