4 Differences Between DnD and CoM
So you’re a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons. But after slaying a hundred goblins and kobolds, you want to try something new. Something different. Something easy to learn and fun to play!
Then allow me to suggest the ENNIE Award-winning, cinematic roleplaying game City of Mist! In this game, modern crime meets ancient legends in a city where Red Riding Hood is a vigilante and Baby New Year is a getaway driver. And in this video, we’ll help you get into the game by looking at four major differences between DnD and CoM.
High Fantasy >> Urban Fantasy
The most obvious difference between the two games is their genres. Dungeons & Dragons is most often a high fantasy adventure with epic heroes going on grand adventures. But in City of Mist, the action moves closer to the streets. Your characters are ordinary people with extraordinary powers, and each one is swept up in an urban fantasy world of mystery.
The familiar setting of a modern urban landscape makes the moments of monsters and magic all the more memorable. You never know if that construction worker is secretly Thor, or if those security guards are secretly gargoyles. Your character is also channeling a legend and, as a Rift, it’s up to you to balance the mundane life of your Logos and the legendary potential of your Mythos, just like a superhero with their secret identity.
Stats >> Tags
You can create a character based off of any myth, legend, or fairy tale, and the rules make that possible by using tags instead of stats. In City of Mist, your character isn’t defined by ability scores and character classes. Instead, their abilities come from short descriptors like scientist or pyrokinetic.
Creating tags is as simple as answering questions about your character, and all tags are used in the same way. Each tag that is relevant to the action you’re taking gives it +1 Power (or sometimes -1 Power, if it’s a weakness tag). From there, it’s up to you to combine your tags in creative ways and stack up those bonuses. Figuring out your next move becomes a lot simpler than keeping track of spell slots or action economy - just name the tags that help you take that action and roll!
Tactics >> Cinematics
City of Mist’s ruleset of combining character traits for power reveals a system that values cinematics over tactics. On a core level, Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition is a TTRPG built around combat. While there’s a bit of roleplay and exploration built into the mechanics, most of the abilities you gain are different ways to kill things and stay alive. In combat, a DnD player has to worry about their action, bonus action, move action, free action, and–if they have them–spell slots or ki points or superiority dice.
In contrast, City of Mist treats your game night more like a TV show or a movie than a battle map. You’re not casting a 3rd-level Fireball, you’re unleashing an inferno of hellfire on your enemies! With tags, players are encouraged to get as creative as they can. And when it's time to roll dice, players use narrative moves like Face Danger or Go Toe to Toe that give cinematic options based on your roll.
As a nice side effect, these rules can lead to fights that only last two minutes rather than two hours. You’re not waiting for your turn in initiative. You’re taking the spotlight and making a move!
Hit Points >> Narrative Damage
In DnD, most of the time your goal is to drop the bad guy’s hit points to zero before your own hit points go to zero. And while you can certainly beat up dockside goons until they’re unconscious in City of Mist, that’s not the only way you can win a conflict.
Instead of hit points, narrative damage is marked by Statuses, which are tags with a tier from 1 to 6. Statuses can describe traditional damage such as being burned by fire, but they can also describe different types of narrative damage like being socially humiliated, physically chained up, magically cursed, and legally wanted.
Every Danger can take different degrees of different types of statuses before they’re defeated, which means every conflict may need a different solution. Sure, you can try to punch a ghost, but it might be a lot easier to perform an exorcism or convince it to move on. Player characters can also take different statuses, and some of the most powerful Dangers in City of Mist can give statuses like sued-4 or run-out-of-town-5. It’s not just about physical damage in City of Mist. It’s about how you affect the world in any way you can.
Have you converted your group from DnD to CoM? What did you wish you knew before switching over? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!