RPG Talk: Nobody Wants to Wear a Hat

Being a list of uses for headwear in role-playing games, but first an appeal to readers for help with RPG content.

RPG Talk. It's not the most popular thing on the Blog of Geekery, but I feel like it's a vital one for it to be well-rounded. I used to have this hat filled with random topics I would turn into RPG articles, topics submitted by you, gentle readers. I still have the hat, but it's empty now. So this is my request for suggestions. I like to feel challenged, so don't be shy about making it esoteric or a complete non sequitur. Non-RPG geeks who like the other content can take comfort in the fact that I'm a nut for superhero games and Doctor Who role-playing. So the content has a good chance of intersecting your interests. Comments section at the ready. And as a reward, here's some actual content on the very topic of... hats!

Helmets and other headgear (hats, caps, tuques...) hold a special frustration for me as a GameMaster. Many games have them, of course, usually offering some kind of armor bonus for the head area. Makes sense. However, since I like my games rather light on rules, the armor bonus rarely figures into the games. You really need some kind of called shot to go for the head, or else a random hit location system, and even when I do use those, they often go flying out the window when I'm in the crunch of battle. The GM is often running multiple opponents, and it's easier to not sweat the small stuff and make the attacks relatively generic. If you're like me, it's important to throw the characters a bone from time to time, and make baddies go for the head, face or jugular. That way, they can feel like they bought a helmet for a reason. But what if you're a player and your GM neglects your well-prepared armor combos?

I once had a player (shout out to Ti-Cass!) who used a helmet as a small shield, taking it off his head and bouncing bullets off the interior. It was a great moment, and it inspired this post. The lesson I learned is basically this: Don't underestimate the multi-functionality of your helmet. You bought the damn thing, and its dinky +1 bonus to 2% of attacks isn't justifying the expense. Well, here are other things you can (and should) do with it.
-Use as a bowl. Shows how much of a hard man you are.
-Ask your GM for a bonus if you're trying to hide your identity and your helm has a faceplate of some kind.
-Hats of all kinds are good for hiding things, especially turbans. I bet nobody frisks your head.
-Strap a chain to it, and your helmet could make a nice flail in a pinch. That would be a badass custom weapon. Especially if the helmet has spikes.
-Need to trap a small creature or a magic bead is rolling away? Throw a helmet on it.
-Raising any kind of headgear over cover is sure to draw fire. Good for distractions, subterfuge (your helmet keeps watch while you go round the hill) or making them waste bullets, arrows and spells.
-Headbutts that hurt. A lot.

Tell you what. You start using those tricks a lot - and ask for bonuses each time - the GM will definitely start trying for head shots to teach you a lesson about taking the damn thing off so much!


Craig Oxbrow said...

Idea for in the hat - Flashpointing your game as it goes on. (Obviously most applicable to settings where reality can be warped that way.)

Siskoid said...

Funny you should mention that. I used to run a campaign I could definitely have called Flushpoint ;)

Thanks Craig! It's in the hat.

(Note that suggestions need not be RPG related in the first place. Older hat pieces have included common colds, U.S. Presidents and Korean nukes.)

Anonymous said...

Also keeping your identity secret.

If you fight a medusa or any monster with petrifying vision, a big helmet with a limited vision arch could help in keeping your eyes focused in her breast, or something.


Loki said...

I'd love to see some more of your articles suggesting ways to drop the Doctor into various films and such.

Also, DC Elseworlds as roleplaying settings - given that they tend to focus primarily on small casts, what would the rest of those worlds be like?

For that matter, applying Marvel's What If concept to DC - What if Guy Gardner had been the silver age GL, What if Zatanna had died battling the Brujeria, What if Jason Todd had lived, etc, etc.

Siskoid said...

I'll get on that!

Ogrebear said...

One for your Hat- non stereo-typed Orc cultures.

Siskoid said...

Thanks Ogrebear, it's going in!


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