Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Entire Post About Hats

Now it’s time to play “clever, stupid, or both?”

Over at Brendan's Untimately, there was some talk about “helmet rules”.  I whined that I didn’t want to reward the wearing of helmets in Wampus Country, because the setting is about coonskin caps and bowler hats, not pot-helms.  I think that was a legitimate whine, and something approaching actual awareness of what I was trying to emulate by nudging my players toward “in-genre” behavior.  (Okay, hats are not a genre, but you know what I mean.)

If that was a nudge, here’s the shove.


First Hat Rule: “Clothes make the man.”  I have a tendency to call for ‘roll-under’ stat checks.  A lot.  Wearing the appropriate themed headgear will boost a PC’s stat by +1 for the purposes of these stat checks, as listed below.  Magical or masterwork headgear might boost more. For right now this rule applies only to player characters.  

STR obviously bestial or balls-out savage headgear (feathered headdress, anything with horns (to include both buffalo headdress and faux-viking-helm), animal skull, wolf’s-head, coonskin cap)  [1]

DEX bowler/derby, ‘gambler’, ascot/gatsby/cabbie,  suitably saucy lady-headgear of any sort (for lady-thieves and gals of ill repute)

CON metal helmet (pot-helm, conquistador), shako/busby or ‘bearskin’, pith helmet, kepi, slouch, ushanka (Russian fur hat)

INT turban [2], ‘clerical’, deerstalker, homburg, ‘leprechaun’, kufi or taqiyah, any beret or tam

WIS skullcap, ‘quaker’, capotain [3], wide-brimmed, tricorn, continental, suitably staid or frumpy lady-wear

CHA top hat (Wellington, D’Orsay, stovepipe, Gibus, beau), extremely dandy wig, ‘navy cocked’ or Napoleon/bicorne, musketeer hat with crazy feathers, suitably fancy lady-headgear [4]

Terribly common, unevocative hats (straw boater, porkpie, stetson/cowboy etc) provide no bonus.  Go big or go home.  The DM is the final arbiter of the awesomeness, or lack thereof, of your chapeau.

[1] - A complete lack of headgear may ‘count as’ this category if the hairstyle is appropriately barbarian and not readily covered-up by a hat.  As in, a regular mohawk isn’t going to cut it.  I’m talking about an immense green mohawk, with bone-in-nose, filed teeth, and facepaint to match.

[2] - fabric-only turbans apply here.  A puggree is technically a metal helmet (see CON).  If the turban is ridiculous and shiny enough, it might be CHA instead, especially if you’re a wicked fat merchant.

[3] - the capotain is a ‘pilgrim hat’.  Y’know, the thing with a buckle from elementary school.  You learned something today, and so did I.

[4] - this includes tiny top hats and the like.

Second Hat Rule: “Oh crap, my hat!”   This replaces the “Shields will be Splintered” house rule common in some games.  Any PC may gain a +1 bonus to a single saving throw by sacrificing their hat.  The hat is thrashed/on-fire/trampled/fallen-down-the-crevasse whether you succeed or fail the save.  You may put the thrashed hat (complete with ghoul claw-marks) back on your head if you wish, but it no longer functions as a hat for the purposes of the Wampus Country Hat Rules; best to repair or replace it. On occasion the DM may declare your hat un-thrashed, but in danger of being lost (ie, Indiana Jones), in which case you're more than welcome to risk life and limb to fetch it.

I welcome comments of “clever”, “stupid”, or “both” in the space below.


  1. I like it. But then, I am a habitual hat wearer.

  2. I love it. And i wish i was a hat wearer.

  3. possibly relevant to your interests:


  4. I really want to combine this with B/X Blackrazor's random hat generation table...

  5. @Allandaros - I did think about that for about a second after I made the post. I think he has a lot more varied helmets (which I lump together) and a more medieval thing going on, of course. There's a little bit of method to the madness, though, as far as which hats I slotted where - I think it's implicit.

  6. I love the 'oh crap, my hat' mechanic. The ravagement of one's prized coonskin cap that pappy gave to you on your 8th birthday is a major plot point.

  7. Sorry I'm late to the party. "Oh crap, my hat!" is pure gold, and has one major advantage over "Shields shall be splintered" - it works for all classes of character. Not everyone can (or wants to) carry a shield, but who in their right mind doesn't want to wear a hat?

  8. Everyone wears hats, because hats are cool. :)

    Thanks, ClawCarver!

  9. Personally I would allow "Oh crap, my hat!" to be used after rolling. Players understandably get a bit frustrated when they miss a check by exactly one point; this would help take some of the edge off for them!

  10. That's a fair point, greyooze, I'll try that!

  11. this is brilliant. I just may have to run GURPS Goblins again to accommodate it.
    (my current game is too out there for the cultural references to work... you really need something quite close to Earth as we know it, I think, for this to sing)

  12. Awesome.
    I took this idea and put into my post apocalyptic Labyrinth Lord hack as the "Bitchin Headgear Rule", except in my version they can reroll any failed save, once per level, by sacrificing their hat.

    I like it better than "Shields Shall be Splintered". In Shields Shall be Splintered, I find it takes the drama of combat away as the PC's know if they have a shield they are in no danger really until the have been forced to sacrifice their shield.

  13. As I've said before, you are awesome! This post proves it.

  14. So there's this game by Adult Swim called Westerado : Double Barreled that's basically a Western. So Guns kill you in one hit...unless you're wearing a hat. Then you just lose your hat and can steal other peoples' if you're a good enough gunslinger to take theirs off.

    So yeah, stupid-good.

  15. Remember - any plan where you lose your hat is a bad plan...