Joe Magarac

by Paul Reilly (11 Jan 93)

Several people said Nosferatu were difficult to roleplay... here is an example Nosferatu from the Pittsburgh area. He's from before the Sabbat takeover, since he's such a nice guy.

Joe Magarac
Nature: Praise-Seeker
Demeanor: Mysterious Heroic Figure (before 1980) or Depressed (after)
Concept: Steel-Man

Joe Magarac is the popular (well, not very) folk hero of the Pittsburgh area steel mills. Historians debate on whether his tale was an authentic folk legend picked up by the newspapers, or manufactured by newspapermen to give the Pittsburgh steel industry a folk hero much like Paul Bunyan is a lumberjack's hero. Kindred historians debate as to whether Joe gave rise to the stories by his behavior, or whether a skulking Nosferatu read of the hero and took up the role.

In any case, by the 1930's both the stories and Joe were well established. Joe skirted the edge of the masquerade as steel-workers on the night shift gave eyewitness stories of the huge steel-man who, for example, appeared out of nowhere to right the 50-ton crucible that was beginning to tip and threatening the lives of the workers. Besides developing Obfuscate to the point where he could mingle with a crowd of workers, he also fashioned himself a steel mask (no breath holes necessary!) and body armor (fashioned like a Roman muscle cuirass) to further disguise his nature. At the instigation of his clan Elder, he made some daytime appearances to dispel any ideas that he might be a nocturnal creature. With his Fortitude, armor, and Pittsburgh's incredible pollution, such daytime appearances were quite easy.

His Herd consisted of the grateful steelworkers and sometimes their families. Occasionally a dying steelworker would be drained of his remaining blood, or local animals would disappear to feed the Nosferatu's hearty steel-worker appetite. Life was good, and he was known as a hero to his whole community.

But things began to go wrong for Joe. First the Prince insisted that he curtail his appearances which threatened the Masquerade. The eagerly awaited newspaper reports which so pleased Joe slowed to a trickle, then stopped. Books appeared (through the influence of the Prince) which denied that his legend was authentic - they claimed that the newsies had made him up to sell papers! Even his own communities began to doubt his existence.

But he still had the consolation of the mills. The wondrous fires, the familiar smells, and the beautiful glow of freshly poured steel still filled him with awe and pleasure. And here he was known - he could still help in small ways if not as the great hero he had once been. He loved to mingle with the workers of the night shift and hear their stories of their families, sports, their petty triumphs and little tragedies.

But then the mills began to close down. First a few, then practically all of them. Joe moved to the few outlying mills still running, where after a time he encountered the brutal warriors of the Sabbat. Even with his great strength he was lucky to escape with his Blood still in its proper container.

Now he sits in the rusting ruins of the old mills, moving only when the wreckers come to tear them apart for scrap. He spends much time in voluntary Torpor, awakening for weeks or months at a time to see if the mills have started again. He lacks purpose and direction, and his appearance is not what it was - his once bright and shiny suit and mask are now pitted and rusted like the mills themselves.

Joe is a (possibly) authentic folk-figure and more info on him can be found in "Devils, Ghosts, and Witches: Occult Folklore of the Upper Ohio Valley". I've also heard some reports from people who grew up in the steel communities. He's usable in a campaign whether or not it's in Pittsburgh; perhaps the Sabbat has driven him out of the area completely and he's gone to some nearby Rust Belt city, or perhaps he will try to relocate somewhere with a going steel industry (Birmingham, Alabama?) or even branch out into some other industry. He's a fairly pathetic guy since the death of Big Steel. Characters willing to revitalize him and give him a new sense of self-worth would find him a powerful ally, those who managed to enrage him could earn themselves a dangerous enemy.

If people are interested I'll post a set of stats or some of the stories about him. He's got to have Obfuscate 3 and Potence 5 from the evidence in the "eyewitness accounts" in the old Pittsburgh newspapers. He has to have a lot of Fortitude (perhaps 4) to work so close to the hot steel, and maximal Courage (5) for the same reason. He risks himself to save others, so his Conscience is high, but he's probably a berserk when riled (he's Hungarian, after all) so give him a low Self-Control of perhaps 2. He worked in the mills to start with, so he was probably Embraced in the 1880s or so. I'd put him at 8th or 9th Gen. because he needs strong Disciplines and the ability to spend more blood per turn to pump his Strength, which he can take to truly phenomenal levels.

- paul