Hellboy: The Roleplaying Game – How Ingenuity Works

7th Aug 2020

Rob Burman

In yesterday’s blog, we explained how Doom plays an important part in helping to create a roleplaying experience that feels like Hellboy. However, it’s not just the GM that benefits from narrative twists and turns. The players can gain a little boost thanks to Ingenuity. After all, Hellboy will often rummage around in his coat pockets and produce something at the last minute that helps defeat the big bad.

In today’s blog we’re going into a little more detail about how Ingenuity works. Make sure you check out yesterday’s blog to find out to earn Ingenuity and Doom!

A player can always choose whether to spend Ingenuity or not. And though it has obvious uses in combat, the GM should also encourage the use of this resource outside of combat. Examples for using Ingenuity on a non-combat challenge include the player obtaining additional information from a skill test, succeeding more quickly than intended at a skill-related task, and gaining a new avenue of enquiry.

Ingenuity can be stored as a pool. You can have a maximum number of Ingenuity points equal to your proficiency modifier plus 1. You lose all Ingenuity when you rest by taking time.


The following list provides some standard uses for Ingenuity:

  • Succeed with flair, unlock the next level of information, or gain a mild benefit to the current situation.
  • Fail with style. For example, land on your backpack rather than your face as you fall through rotten floorboards, mitigating one dice of damage from the effect.
  • Injuries can also be suppressed by Ingenuity points. The GM should reward creative thinking when Ingenuity points are used for this purpose.
  • Use a role feature without having to make a focus check.
  • Maintain a sustained focus in response to damage, without needing to roll.
  • Reduce incoming damage as a reaction by 1d6 or your Constitution modifier per point spent.
  • As part of a bounce back action, spend 1 point to add your Constitution modifier to the HP you regain.
  • Reroll the damage dice from 1 successful attack and use either result.
  • Cause damage from a critical hit to explode. If a damage die rolls the maximum value, roll an additional die of the same type and add the result to the total. Any additional dice added can also explode.
  • Increase the result of a skill check, attack roll or saving throw by 1d6 per point spent.
  • Negate 1 point of Doom generated by another agent.
  • Increase your initiative score by 1d6 per point spent.
  • As part of a Dust Off rest, spend 1 Ingenuity to use 1 HD.
  • Spend 2 points to stabilise a creature or agent at 0 HP, requiring use of a Medical Kit.
  • Power an ability that requires 1 Ingenuity to be spent.


If a d20 ability check, attack roll, or saving throw fails, yet the d10 also generates Ingenuity, the PC still can gain insight or have some other bit of luck. They might find a document that wasn’t what they were looking for on this occasion but might come in handy later. An attack may bounce from their enemy’s armour, but the PC finds they’re on firmer footing to repel the counterattack. Or they may fail to pick up the trail they were looking for but avoid walking directly into a cave of frogs all the same.


If a d20 check, attack, or save succeeds and the d10 generates Ingenuity, the PC gains an additional advantage, piece of knowledge, or narrative moment of fortune, such as stumbling upon the tracks of the creature in question, or taking half the time to sift through the library. If there is an opportunity to resolve Ingenuity narratively outside of combat, these options should be explored. For example, if the players have barely succeeded on an ability check to Persuade the church leader to let them through, a point of Ingenuity could allow them to gain a guide to show them around or catch a glimpse of what the church leader is writing on the clipboard he seems insistent on trying to hide.


The Investigation Sheet is a method for players to unlock additional benefits from a Case File as they progress. Unlike the Common Doom and Grand Conspiracy sheet, the Investigation Sheet requires Ingenuity to be placed upon it to activate. Any agent can choose to pool Ingenuity on the Investigation Sheet instead of spending it right away.

Agents that succeed on a skill check by 5 or more can add 1 point of Ingenuity to the Investigation Sheet. Ingenuity on the Investigation Sheet can be spent by any agent and is not lost if when taking time. The listed uses on the Investigation sheet are determined by the Case File.

A little like the Grand Conspiracy we mentioned yesterday, the Investigation Sheet can be tailored specially to the Case File you’re playing. For example, it could relate to finding a specific clue that helps to solve the mystery you’re investigating, or find a weakness of the monster you’re hunting down. If you’ve played the board game, you’ll be familiar with this sort of concept and it’s something we wanted to carry over to the RPG too.