The Hex has managed to be one of the most interesting, controversial, and argued about playbook from the Monster of the Week system, and it’s not hard to see where a lot of players and DMs potentially run into problems. The Hex Playbook was released with Tome of Mysteries, and is one of the most interactive playbooks as the player and game master work together to help customize the magic user aspect of the Hex character as this gives players a lot of control and customization to create an uber powerful character – the Weird magical equivalent of the Expert playbook.
If this sounds potentially overpowered, well you’re already onto where a major discussion about this playbook is going to go. An interesting addition to the game, it’s a playbook that has created possibilities and problems, great Monster of the Week characters along with major min-max headaches.
Thematically, the Hex Class is all about understanding that magic is real, and that the study of it is that character’s way to arm themselves to wade into the fight against the unnatural or supernatural.
“I didn’t have magic fall into my lap. I’m not blessed, I’m not one of the scary children – I’m just a girl who found a way to give herself the strength to fight this war. I don’t have the option of not taking this risk.”The Hex, Monster of the Week Tome of Mysteries, p. 38
This opens up plenty of interesting potential backstory options, not to mention a powerful or very customized magic user for the MOTW system. Let’s dive into this playbook, see its pros and cons, and whether or not it might be a good fit for your playstyle and table. Let’s dive in!
The online character sheet for the Monster of the Week Hex playbook is always available for free and the printable PDF can be found here.
What Is the The Hex Class In Monster of the Week RPG?
The Hex Playbook gives a player class that focuses on using magic. You taught yourself the dark secrets to “fight fire with fire” and while this has allowed you to learn how to gain new spells and mold them around a particular style or theme, your drive has made you powerful but it is also dangerous because that type of power comes with Temptation.
Giving in to Temptation allows you to gain experience, but it often is invoked by the Game Master at a time where giving in is probably going to give your team serious side effects or a negative overall effect on the mission (or serious future problem). There’s also the Bad Luck Charm move, which is the one move that every single Hex has, and basically means every miss has consequences.
The Hex Class is all about the Weird and diving into the world of magic to make yourself stronger, able to fight unnatural threats, and driven by a desire to create spells that are molded around what you want the magic to do, not just relearning something basic that anyone experienced enough in Weird can wield.
The Hex becomes extremely strong thanks to Rotes, which is a specific spell that they remember off the top of their heads. This is a customized spell that then is easy for the Hex to have prepared and on-hand since they have perfected this until it is “rote” in their memory, making it quickly available in the same way that more basic magic might be to other spellcasters.
A rote works like this:
- You use magic
- After that action you decide after the fact that particular spell is one that you know as a rote.
- Write down the details of the Rote spell, including:
- What two requirements the Rote has
- What the Rote’s name is
- What the effects of the Rote spell are
- Work with the Keeper to discuss what the consequences are if the Rote fails
- Work with the Keeper to work out all the details.
So at the end you will have a custom Rote where you know all the effects ahead of time for rolling a 10+, rolling a 7-9, or the consequences of a complete miss.
Rotes must be approved by the Game Keeper. This is crucial, as they are the one running the game and must approve of any spell a player creates, so you can’t just create the equivalent of the Wish spell and break the game. The Keeper and the Hex player need to be able to work together to figure out fun but balanced (or at least “balanced” with really bad consequences to really overpowered spells) to make this playbook work instead of becoming a headache.
This allows you to make powerful custom spells and know what a full success looks like, what a partial success looks like, and also the consequences of a failure, which can be pretty hefty.
Your rotes act as a basic use magic action even though the Rote is almost certainly much more powerful than a basic spell cast. This is one of the major features that really makes this class stand out as a beginning Hex can have one Rote starting out and a leveled up Hex player can have up to 4 total Rotes.
Along with the right Moves and improvements, that can make their character an incredibly powerful spellcaster that can more than compete with the Spell-Slinger and the Spooky.
Remember, that a game is always a group story so work with the Game Keeper to find Rotes that are fun but don’t completely wipe out the game for the other players.
What Type of Hex Will You Be?
There’s no question that anyone pursuing the path of a self-taught mage is going to be really into Weird, so it shouldn’t be surprising that every starting rating for The Hex playbook has +2 Weird, and then it’s up to the player which way they want to build. Do they also want to be very Sharp or Charming but not much else, or more balanced?
There are multiple options and builds, with the roughest stats generally being Cool and Tough, but there’s even a stat block that lets you build off of those traits, as well.
The Hex Ratings for MOTW Are
- +2 Weird & Sharp, 0 Cool & Charm, -1 Tough
- +2 Weird & Charm, 0 Cool & Sharp, -1 Tough
- +2 Weird, +1 Tough & Cool, 0 Sharp, -1 Charm
- +2 Weird, +1 Tough & Sharp, 0 Cool, -1 Charm
- +2 Weird, +1 Charm & Sharp, 0 Tough, -1 Cool
This not only gives all Hex players an outstanding starting spot as spell casters thanks to the +2 Weird, but you have plenty of options for building a Hex in various flavors. You could also be very Sharp, able to read bad situations and help investigate mysteries. You could also be Charming, able to socially manipulate individuals or situations without having to resort to magic until necessary.
Or maybe you’re more balanced – a touch of Toughness, a bit Sharp and Charming, or Tough and Cool. There are enough variations for a player to find a good Hex Rating that will help you to build a Hex character that fits the traits and features you’re imagining based on how you want to play the character.
What Do The Hex Moves Bring To The Table?
The Hex is a powerful class and although a major part of that is because of the ability to craft your own spells that are stronger than conventional basic magic, but cast like basic magic, but that’s not the only reason! The high quality of the many moves that are available to the Hex playbook also play a huge part in that perception.
All Hex players must take the Bad Luck Charm as a move, and then they may choose two other starting moves.
- Bad Luck Charm – This is the only Move that is REQUIRED by all Hex players. Whenever you use magic and miss, the backlash never affects you directly if there’s someone else around to hit. It’ll go for allies, other hunters, and innocent bystanders. Sometimes, every so often, it might even hit an enemy. There has to be a balance to being a super spellcaster and this one makes a lot of sense thematically…and gives the Keeper ways to complicate storylines in a fun and interesting way.
- Burn Everything – When you use magic to inflict harm, you can choose to inflict 3-harm area magic obvious or 3-harm ignore-armor magic obvious. This is incredibly powerful and supercharges the magic you are able to cast in combat.
- Cast the Bones – Once per mystery, you may perform some kind of divination (tarot, casting the runes, reading entrails or something like that) to glean information about the future. When you seek guidance by divination, roll +Sharp. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a miss, you get some information, but it’s not what you want to hear. Spend those holds to ask any question from the investigate a mystery move, or one of the following questions (bear in mind The Keeper will answer truthfully, with either a direct answer or they may give an answer that points you on where you need to go to find out more):
- What can I gain from this person/place/thing/creature?
- Who has touched this person/place/thing/creature before me?
- Force of Will – When you apply your will to dispelling a magical effect, blocking a spell, or suspending a Phenomenon, roll +Weird. On a hit, momentary magics are cancelled completely, and long-lasting spells and effects are suspended temporarily. On a 10+, you can also spend Luck to instantly snuff out a powerful spell or strange effect. On a 7-9, you take 1-harm as a strain of dismissing magic unravels you. Having a Dispel Effect is powerful, as any D&D player can tell you.
- Luck of the Damned – After you use magic or cast a rote, take +1 forward on the next roll you make. Getting a +1 forward is always strong, and having that for doing what your playbook is already built to do is just an added bonus.
- Sympathetic Token – As long as you carry a personal object belonging to someone, such as a lock of hair, a full set of toenails, or a treasured family heirloom, you get +1 ongoing to use magic against them at a distance. If you try to use magic against them and miss, the token is lost, destroyed, or loses its power. This is an interesting one because it is so niche…and ultra freaking creepy from a character and/or backstory standpoint which I very much like as a story-based player and DM.
- This Might Sting – You can use magic to heal 3-harm, but the process is exceptionally painful. On a 7-9 it also leaves a gnarly scar. Still, that’s a lot of healing from one spell, which can definitely be helpful when things go sideways.
- Wise Soul – Whenever you use magic, right before you roll, you can ask the Keeper what exactly would happen on a miss. If you dislike the risk, you can stop at the last second, and let the spell fizzle harmlessly. All of the effort is wasted. This isn’t quite as useful as it would be for other classes since in time you’ll likely mostly rely on your Rotes, which you know the downsides of ahead of time, but if you like to be a “magic is the solution to everything” type of caster, this can be very useful, and it is always available as a last second “stop,” the value of which shouldn’t be underestimated.
These are some pretty strong moves, and if you mix in some of the moves from other spellcasting classes that give you bonuses to casting, it’s pretty easy to design a Hex character that is frankly outright terrifying to deal with in combat and can make even an unnatural think twice about causing trouble when they know you’re in the area.
Is The Hex Playbook Too Powerful?
There’s a lot of discussion on whether or not the Hex Playbook is too powerful and if Keepers should ban it from gameplay. In fact, there’s even a detailed Sub-Reddit all around this one topic. At the end of the day it’s always going to be the Keeper’s call, but generally speaking, the Hex is a powerful class that is particularly prone to being abused – especially if the game master is relatively new vs an experienced player who is the “Munchkin-Style” of Min-Max gamer.
That’s all good and well – everyone should get to play their own game, but MOTW generally isn’t designed as a good “Kick in the door and go to war” system. Which means a build aiming for that might not fit well in a game or campaign.
Since Monster of the Week is a very open system, that gives a lot of leeway to the game master which allows for fluid story telling, but an open system also makes it more likely to be abused or to allow something that can turn out to be an overpowered problem later.
The Hex is an interesting playbook because I think it can 100% be a valid class to play without busting the game – but there are so many places where little problems or power creep can come up and really form into a character that can easily break a game especially for a game master who doesn’t have the years of experience to know all the tips, tricks, and tools for making a game challenging even for very experienced players.
This is a playbook worth having in a game, but for newer game masters (Keepers), don’t be surprised if they decide to ban it to simply not deal with the headache.
Who Should Play The Hex Class in Monster of the Week?
Generally, the Hex class is perfect for two styles of players:
- Creative casters
- Power casters
The Hex Playbook gives you a lot more agency in working with the Keeper to create a more original and creative character class (playbook) for MOTW. With more agency and freedom you will need to do more work, but the end result can definitely be worth it.
If you tend to like to have solid defined classes, this is probably a skip for you. Other playbooks are much more defined and have one or two clear builds that let you go on autopilot when leveling up and otherwise let you take your energy and focus on roleplaying.
MOTW The Hex Class: Final Thoughts
No question this is likely the most complicated class as there are four full pages to the Hex’s character sheet versus two pages for every other class, and the Hex inherently involves customization work. This requires a lot of cooperation with the Keeper because you want to know there’s that balance of having a character you enjoy who isn’t neutered too much, but the Keeper also wants to make sure you’re not a living game breaker every session.
If you can make this work, this is a playbook that can be a ton of fun and add a lot of spice to any MOTW game.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.