Hat's The Ticket!

Yes, yes, Erfworld is a webcomic about a hex-grid turn-based fantasy wargame, you know, like Divine Right or Dragon Pass or SPI's War of the Ring or, of course, the monster fantasy slugathon wargame of all monster fantasy slugathon wargames, Titan. But that does not mean I can't shoehorn Erfworld flavor into a roleplay game, does it?

 

I've already pushed some Erfworld ideas into a prestige class for Pathfinder / D&D3.5, The Commander. But what good is a commander without a message hat? I was inspired to put some D&D mechanics behind three nifty Erfworld chapeaux. I hope you'll find ways to hang a couple of these nifty hats in your Dungeons & Dragons game.

 

Message Hats

MESSAGE HATS
Aura strong conjuration; CL 9th
Slot: Hat; Weight 1 lb. each.
Construction Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, teleport
Send Only Hat: Price 5,000 gp
Receive Only Hat: Price 5,000 gp
Dual-Use Hat: Price 10,000 gp
Adds +1 Luck Bonus To AC: Price +5,000 gp

Description: To use a message hat, you place a small object into the hat, then wave a wand over it while speaking a command word; the object is then teleported to a destination hat. You can use message hats to exchange gems, written messages, and any object that has zero encumbrance. A magical ring could be sent ("Weight —"), but not a magic cloak ("Weight 1 lb."). The receiving hat rumbles when something is sent to it, but to retrieve the item, you must wave a wand over the hat and say a command word. Each hat has a magic wand associated with it, and is useless without its wand. Simply owning a hat uses the hat slot, so you cannot use another hat at the same time. Some hats can send only ("Abjure Hats"); some can receive only ("Conjure Hats"); and some can do both ("Dual Use"). You can send to a hat that you know or know of, or you can send at random to some other hat. Generally, sending at random is a waste if you have a send-only hat, because you cannot receive anything back; in general, sending at random tends to push sent objects to dual-use hats rather than to receive-only hats. Rarely, a message hat will offer a +1 luck bonus to armor class.

 

Design notes The obvious parallel here is to the traditional D&D Ring Gates magic item. Message hats are much less powerful, however: No casting through hats, no attacking through hats, requires standard actions and hands (holding wands) to activate, fills the hat slot, zero pounds of matter can be sent. I've reduced the price, CL, and spell needed to create accordingly. A game master who makes these items as ubiquitous as they are in Erfworld may want to add some cultural expectations around how random sendings operate. In Erfworld, for example, hat magicians act as message relayers and job boards, allowing news to pass around a loose network of dual-use hat owners. For more on message hats in Erfworld, click here.

 

Frosty Hat

FROSTY HAT
Aura strong transmutation; CL 7th
Slot: Hat; Weight 1 lb.
Construction Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, chill touch, ice storm, resist energy (cold)
Frosty Hat: Price 16,000 gp

Description: This item animates a snowman, giving it the stats for an ice golem and the appearance of a snowman. To use a frosty hat, place it on the snowman's head. Because you have to make an actual snowman first, the utility of the hat can be limited. It is useful primarily where there is natural snow, but it is possible to use other snow in making a snowman, such as the precipitation that falls during an ice storm spell or the waves oracle blizzard. Wearing a frosty hat, you can make a snowman in 1d4 rounds. After the frosty hat is placed on the snowman, it will not melt due to normal temperatures while it is wearing the hat. The snowman uses the ice golem statistics but lacks the ice golem's breath weapon, cold, icy destruction, and immunity to magic abilities. However, it is immune to all cold effects, and heals 1 point of damage for every 3 points of damage the attack would otherwise deal. The frosty hat functions for up to 8 hours per day, or until the hat is removed. Once removed, it will not function until the next day. When worn by you, the frosty hat bestows cold resistance 5 and allows you to make snowmen quickly. When worn by a snowman, it still occupies your hat slot and allows you to give telepathic commands to the snowman within 100 feet.

 

Design notes I primarily looked at the tan bag of tricks for pricing on this item, which gives slightly more power for 20 minutes per day. The difficulty in making a snowman first, both in action economy and in obtaining snow, compensates for the longer duration. Also, it takes up a slot! For an example of a caster making a snowman in Erfworld, click here.

 

Laurel of Napster

LAUREL OF NAPSTER
Aura strong divination; CL 17th
Slot: Hat; Weight 1 lb.
Construction Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, divination, true sight
Laurel of Napster: Price 75,000 gp

Description: When you wear this item, you gain an intuitive sense of an enemy's capabilities, as well as the ability to give telepathic suggestions to your allies. These two combine to grant you keen insights into battles. You gain the following powers: (1) As a swift action, you can learn the alignment, AC, and current hit points of a creature within 50 feet. You also learn whether that creature would feel Hostile, Unfriendly, Indifferent, Friendly, or Helpful with regard to any other creature within the same range. (2) As a move action, you can telepathically suggest to an ally in 50 feet that they should attack a particular foe; they gain a +1d4 insight bonus on attacks, damage, and saving throw DCs against that foe until the current engagement is over. (3) As a standard action, you can designate yourself or an ally to be "screened"; until the end of the battle or until a new person is designated, you and all your allies gain the Bodyguard feat to be used to boost the AC of the screened individual.

 

Design notes Designing, balancing, and pricing this item was hard, because the powers of the Laurel are not similar to other D&D items. In Erfworld, the Laurel is powerful, maybe unique, like a lesser artifact. So a very high price seems reasonable. To read about a character wearing a Laurel of Napster, click here.

 

Many thanks to Rob for Erfworld and for the screen grabs that illustrate this article. For the latest version of the Commander prestige class, in my free D&D splat book, click here. For the screed on my blog where this article was first posted, click here.

 

(NOTE: User was awarded 25 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob)

Comments

  • Theprettiestorc

    OoooOOOOooooo. I totally wanna use one of these at some point. These would've been fun in your book test!

  • Miryafa

    The Laurel as written is more like a CL 6 item. +2 AC and +2.5 to-hit massively underwhelm for CR 17, and for its price. To be CR 17, it'd have to be more like you grant all allies within 30 ft. +1/3 your level (or +5 for a CL 17 item) insight bonus to attacks, AC, and saves for a number of rounds equal to your level (or 17).

  • Nightseraph

    I can't imagine most sane GMs would allow hats at that price. (Or ring gates. What the hell was going on in that source book.)

    Message hats look like a combination of Prestidigitation + Sending + something else with unit based restrictions but at will usage.

    10G?

    The +1 luck bonus should also be 4k not five shouldn't it?

     

    Also, I like!

  • Cayzle

    Of course, my take is just my opinion. You can always change it up for your game!

    But Miryafa, the Laurel gives you info there is NO other way to get in the game! How many hit points a creature has? What is its attitude toward you? There is NO other way to find that out. Also, it grants a decent feat for free to ALL your allies. No other item does that! An ioun stone can give you the Alertness feat for 10,000 gp. This is way better than that. And giving a +2.5 insight bonus on attacks, damage, and saving throw DCs is way better than a +2 weapon, and that's worth 8,000 gp alone. I'm sticking by my high price ... YMMV!

    Nightseraph, keep in mind that one hat alone is useless, and I am pricing per hat. TWO dual use hats would cost 20,000 gp, and take up the hat slot. That seems OK to me?

  • Cayzle

    Oh, and the price for the +1 luck bonus to AC was intended to exactly mimic the ioun stone. Adding an unrelated power to an existing slotted item should not get a discount. I only added it because in Erfworld cannon there's a message hat that gives an armor bonus. Per the wiki, the one Jillian found in the ruined capital of Goodminton gave a bonus of 1 to armor.

  • Theprettiestorc

    Probably based on effect. Maybe that Goodminton hat was, like...an actual helmet. That'd be good signamancy, considering that'd be the best hat to protect you in a battle.

  • drachefly

    I'm wondering about the prices on send, receive, and send+receive. In particular, I wonder whether it makes more sense for the cost to be half, more than half, or less.

    Also, you say it is teleported to the other hat; rather, it is set aside in a pocket dimension accessible only by the other hat.

  • Cayzle

    "Also, you say it is teleported to the other hat; rather, it is set aside in a pocket dimension accessible only by the other hat."

    Huh, drachefly, interesting. That's a reasonable interpretation. But given the non-congruous nature of time in Erfworld, it may also be that the recipient hat does not rumble until just before the sender hat is activated. That is, both sender and receiver wave their wands simultaneously, and the receiver hat uses predictamancy to rumble before the sender initiates the send. 

    You could test that by sending from one hat to another hat in the same room and watching closely: does the receive hat rumble before the send hat is activated? Or do hats only work if they are in different hexes?

    The pocket dimension hypothesis is MUCH more D&D-ish. The predictamancy hypothesis is much more Erfly, seeing as Erfworld actually has predictamancy and has not yet demonstrated ANY of the rope trick / bag of holding / dimension door / teleport / gate and other planar shenanigans so common in D&D. Can a dollamancer make a bag that is bigger on the inside than on the outside? So far we have not seen one?

    Honestly, it is well past time for Parson to hook up with Ace to get some D&D magic items made in Erfworld! "Where's my Handy Haversack?" asks Parson. "Where's my Cape of the Mountebank? My Ioun Stones? A D&D player arrives in a literal Magic Kingdom and can't find a Ring of Force? Come on!"

  • vintermann

    Nice. I've pondered that luckamancy as described by Clay might make a cool mechanic in many RPG. You make a bad roll, you can announce that you use luckamancy to reroll. But then both numbers are noted: both the one you swapped out (say a 2) and the one you got on the reroll (say an 8). However, at any time later that you're making a roll of similar seriousness (as decreed by the GM), numbers can come calling - next time you roll an 8, it's going to be swapped out with a 2. That way, numbers are preserved. 

  • Sonic Screwdriver

    How did you get that word wrap effect around the images?

  • Miryafa

    But Miryafa, the Laurel gives you info there is NO other way to get in the game! How many hit points a creature has? What is its attitude toward you? There is NO other way to find that out. Also, it grants a decent feat for free to ALL your allies. No other item does that! An ioun stone can give you the Alertness feat for 10,000 gp. This is way better than that. And giving a +2.5 insight bonus on attacks, damage, and saving throw DCs is way better than a +2 weapon, and that's worth 8,000 gp alone. I'm sticking by my high price ... YMMV!

    You can roughly determine hitpoints with an appropriate knowledge check (by identifying the creature), and actually determine its attitude towards you with a sense motive check. Not as a swift action I'll grant, but the point stands. You'd make a better argument that it's the only single item that grants an insight bonus to 3 different stats, which is by far its greatest ability.

    The Bodyguard feat is not a decent feat at the level you're granting it - roughly level 20, going by the 10% of WBL per item rule - it's garbage. And that's because +2 AC is worth literally nothing at level 20, when you have to fight monsters that can beat moderately-optimized AC on a natural 1 four times per day, and even +6 isn't worth much when everyone has to be standing adjacent to the monster making the attack (suicide) and it only works for 1 attack. The Alertness feat is likewise garbage at level 20, though it's much cheaper. But either way, an ioun stone has the benefit of being a slotless item - so the alertness feat only costs you money and not a body slot - and this is a hat, so it's competing with other magical hats for the head slot. That makes this worse by comparison. 

    +2.5 insight is much better than a +2 weapon, but (1) weapons are overpriced, especially compared to similar effects on other items; and (2) it's a small static bonus (static because it doesn't grow with level) that doesn't stack up to Greater Magic Weapon, Law Devotion, Animal Devotion, or any number of other spells at the same level. It's similar to a combination of a custom item of Inspired Aim (30k) and custom item of Defensive Precognition (8k). 

    It's fine to say "it should cost a lot because it's flexible and provides rare bonuses," but I'd rather build items under the assumption that players actually want to buy them when they afford them - or if selling them, won't vastly exceed their WBL. And at the same level I'd rather have a Scout's Headband or Shadowy Diadem, because immunities and True Seeing far outweigh minor bonuses at that level. That's why I would personally cost this at 13k or so.

  • Miryafa

    Well, 20-30k or so considering it boosts the team, possibly more if the party is willing to put their money together for it, but not so much more that you couldn't afford it between levels 10-13.