Sunday, April 4, 2010

Magic Hats, Here's a Dozen

There seems to be a dearth of magic hats in Dungeons and Dragons.* Sure there’s a smattering of magic helms, but considering the iconic hat wearing wizard, the absence of hats or caps in the magic item sections is odd.

Perhaps it’s because of the modern “fake” magician, and the cliched pulling a rabbit out of his hat that makes us shirk from utilizing magic hats in D&D. Maybe it feels silly, or cartoony somehow, and we shy from it for that reason. The comical attempts of Presto (in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series) to save the party with his hat may have helped to indelibly corrupt the idea of a more noble or useful magic hat in our game. Or maybe it’s a darker thing - maybe at an early age we learned from Mickey Mouse (in Fantasia) the terrible things that might happen when you put on a magic hat.

On the other hand, it may be that the utility of a wizard’s hat is just implicitly understood. That’s where the spell book is kept, or spell components… Of course that’s where small conjured items initially appear. Personally I’ve never really given it much thought. I think I assumed that magic users use their hats mostly as a way of identifying one another (although painting a target on one’s head in such a manner seems a bit unwise). Maybe the color or style of a hat functions as a type of guild status or designation of a degree of mastery. Maybe it’s just foppery. Which isn’t to say that all of my games’ magic users have even sported the things. But again, I really haven’t given it much thought until recently.

A host of spells are easily adaptable and well suited to being contained in magic hats. Here are some that immediately come to mind, as well as a few more unusual ones (including one very unpleasant, cursed hat). They’re minor magic items since I was thinking of my own campaign and the low level PCs there...

Gusty Hat

When held outright with both hands and pointed bottom facing out, performs once per day as the 3rd level magic user spell Gust of Wind. Of course, this hat can't be blown off its wearer.

Egis Nuns’ Hat of Grog

Per the 3rd level cleric spell Create Food and Water, but only produces beer.

Hat of Dapperness

A rather common magic hat, it conveys +1 charisma to wearer and allows one re-roll on the reaction table per day.

Hat of Feather Fall

When held with both hands above ones head, functions like the first level magic user spell. Decorated with a normal feather, it will function as a normal hat if this is removed.

Hat of Teleporting Objects

Any object that can fit inside the hat (say, a little less than a foot in diameter) can be teleported by being placed there. Up to 100gp of weight can be transported this way once per day. Other than this limitation, it functions like the 5th level magic user spell.

Hat of Inconspicuousness

Once per day, the wearer of this hat will be seen but not recognized (unless he wishes himself to be) whenever in the presence of more than four people in a 30’ radius.

Ventriloquist’s Hat

Usable only by magic users, it immediately bestows the ability (upon the last magic user to touch it) to cast the 1st level magic user spell Ventriloquism with the following differences: the projected voice will only emanate from the hat, the distance it can be used is increased to 30’ per level, and there is no duration limit.

Peterman’s Hats of Desiccation

The wearer of this hat and his possessions will remain completely dry as long as the hat itself is never completely submerged. Anyone who is wet will become instantly dry upon wearing it. It also instantly and completely evaporates any liquid possessions of the wearer.

Hat of Holding

A conical hat, it functions like a Bag of Holding, only the diameter of the entrance is only half a foot wide (being near the narrow end of the hat), its weight limit is 50gp, and its volume limit 3 cubic feet.

Hat of Skulking

Bestows the thief class ability of Hide in Shadows at the same level of the wearer. If worn by a thief, attempting to Hide in Shadows will always fail.

Hat of Jesting

Much like the Hat of Dapperness above, this hat conveys the ability to re-roll on the reaction table, in this case an indefinite number of times - but only if the player actually tells a joke. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be funny.

Buck’s (Cursed) Hats of Misery

A very disgusting and humiliating item, when Buck’s Hat of Misery is worn, the wearer immediately becomes nauseous and will vomit. Into the hat. They will then be compelled to place the hat back on their head. Otherwise, the hat cannot be removed by the wearer and will be firmly stuck on. Unless the victim is cured via a Remove Curse spell, every time (or at least once per day) there is a tension filled moment in the game (such as just before a battle) the wearer of the hat will again vomit into it and then replace it. Aside from the unpleasantness, this will adversely effect the reactions of others and possibly cause the loss of initiative. If others forcibly remove the hat with great effort, the former wearer will become totally incapacitated and violently ill. If the hat is not returned to their head, they will drop dead (save vs. Death allowed every d4 turns). The curse will continue until someone else that knows the first wearer dons it, whereupon the curse will be transferred.

* I should say that I only have 2nd edition and earlier books, and my only 2e Magic Cyclopedia stops at the letter G. Likely I won’t have looked hard enough. Photo by pokpok.


James said...

Very nice! I especially like the Hat of Holding.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. I think 3rd ed may have had a "Hat of disguise" but I never thought about why magical hats have been neglected (or even realized they were).

Now I want a hat that will animate a snow golem too, and an oversized turban that allows the wearer to answer questions with some accuracy.

I really like the Gusty Hat and Buck's Hat of misery.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

Rick Marshall said...

I'm enjoying your posts on magic items. You find that happy medium between items dungeoneers expect to encounter in a mundane mode and powers that are simultaneously natural for them and yet interesting to think about using with those items.

Well done. I'll keep coming back.

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