While enjoying drinks at the local tavern, the party notices a man stumbling up from the basement. As he opens the door, there is raucous shouting and cheering coming up from behind him.
The man looks disheartened. He’s holding his hat tenderly in his hands and mumbling, under his breath, “it’s okay, buddy. We’ll get ’em next time.”
The man settles in at the bar and orders a pint for himself (and a small honorary shot for his hat, that sits on the counter untouched).
The players can sit next to the strange man and ask him what’s going on (either in regards to his hat or about the commotion coming from the basement).
“It’s a fight club,” the man says, taking a swig of ale, “but nothing with people or animals or anything cruel like that. With hats.” He gently pats his motionless hat that’s sitting beside him on the counter. “My boy put up quite a fight down there, but the competition is just really steep tonight.”
If the party presses for more information about this odd “fight club”, the man at the bar continues.
“It’s all this wizard’s idea. So long as you show him exactly how you want your hat enchanted, he can turn it into a snarling, fighting machine that can take on other ferocious hats in the ring. There aren’t any real risks either, unless you’re a betting man. Win or lose, your hat turns back to normal once the fight is over. Go downstairs and see for yourselves.”
At this point, the party can descend the staircase into the basement.
Brimming with Promise
The players need to wrestle their way through the crowd to get ringside. The basement is rather small, and the fight-club has attracted many fans who are cheering and placing bets on their favorite combative caps. Currently in the ring, an animated striped night cap, armed with a small spike ball at its tip, is in the middle of bashing its flail into the side of a stovepipe hat which desperately spews smoke and embers as it crumples into a heap.
The wizard running the event, who the bar patrons refer to simply as “The Mad Hatter”, is sitting at a table, sifting through paperwork and counting coin.
“You’re just in time, friends,” the wizard says, his eyes darting up to the tops of players’ heads and appraising their headwear. “We are about to have a tournament of sorts and are looking for a few more entries. Interested in throwing your hats in the ring?”
If the players agree to participate, they must each pay 1 GP to enter the competition. Once entrance fees have been collected, as DM, have your players draw what they want their hats to look like (stress that the wizard is a visual learner and can only properly enchant the hats if he can literally see the players’ vision). They can add weapons, spikes, a mouth with sharp teeth, etc.
When a player is done with their drawing, ask them to share with the table and explain their vision. Then, have them roll a straight d20 to determine just how accurate the wizard’s enchantment ends up being; for example, if they drew a flamethrower and spinning blades on the rim, but roll a 5 or lower, then give the hat 0 blades and a built-in lighter, allowing for only a tiny flame. If the hat/helmet already has an enchantment, the player should think of a clever way to weave that enchantment into the hat’s battle style. Alternatively, instead of basing the accuracy on a d20 roll, you can base it entirely on your player’s ability to draw and how descriptive/precise their pitch ends up being.
At the Drop of Some Hats
Each hat has 10 HP (or, if you want to add more rolls, a player can roll a straight d20 to determine the HP of their hat).
When a hat chooses to attack, the hat’s owner rolls a d20 to hit. Opposing hat’s AC is determined based on the material it’s made from. Metal helmets, for example, may have an AC of 12+ whereas cloth hats only sport an AC of 8. When an attack lands, have the player roll a d4, d6, or d8 to deal attack damage (the dice used and the type of damage are entirely dependent on what feature/weapon the hat is using to attack). If a hat has teeth and bites down on its opponent, you can also consider having the opponent “grappled” and reduce its movement to 0. Honestly, this gives the DM a lot of flexibility to have fun with it.
Although it would certainly be entertaining to simply have players fight one another, you should also throw in other hats that random NPCs have signed up for the tournament. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Brrr-et – This beret can deal 1d6 cold damage by blasting a ray of frost.
- Porkpie – This porkpie hat squeals like a pig and sports sharp warthog tusks. It can deal 1d4 piercing damage and an extra d4 if it gets a running start before charging its opponent.
- Fedora the Destroyah – This fedora can launch sharp ninja stars to deal piercing damage at a distance. It can also tell lousy jokes and deal 1d4 psychic damage through a hat-based Vicious Mockery. If its opponent’s hat is particularly effeminate, it will pause to tip itself and say “M’lady”, wasting its first action.
- Drill-by – A trilby hat that sports a threatening drill, dealing 1d6 piercing damage and also allowing it to dive into the ground and launch a surprise attack (it has tremorsense).
- Sunhat – This sunhat, used by gardeners, can deal 1d4 radiant damage on attacks and can blind enemy hats (if they have eyes). It can also summon an overgrowth of vines/plants, making difficult terrain on the battlefield for any ground-based opponents.
Crown the Victor
Once a hat has been ousted from the tournament, it will break its enchantment and transform back to its normal form (without any evidence of damage from the battle).
Depending on how well the players perform, award them with GP accordingly. If one of them wins the “grand prize” and becomes the “tournament champion”, the wizard can give them a sizable pot of gold and offer to grant their winning headgear an enchantment that lasts indefinitely.