Choosing Power Tags in City of Mist TTRPG - Part 3
Welcome back everyone, to our third video on choosing power tags in the cinematic modern fantasy roleplaying game, City of Mist! In our last two videos, we talked at length about the types of power tags your characters can utilize while they’re on the case. But knowing what kinds of power tags you can have means nothing if you don’t know what kinds of power tags you want.
In today’s video, we’ll be going over advanced tips for choosing your power tags. Be sure to keep these principles in mind, as they can help you create a character that’s as effective on the streets as they are fun to play.
Broad vs. Narrow Tags
Let’s start with broad and narrow tags. As a player, you may be tempted to make your tags incredibly vague so you can use them for as many situations as possible. Tags like jack of all trades, cunning, or veteran doctor’s calm could theoretically be used for any occasion, from fistfights to car chases to tense negotiations. But this line of thinking only goes so far in City of Mist.
As a rule, you can only have one broad tag per character. This means that making a character entirely out of broad tags is already out of the question. The Master of Ceremonies is also the final decision on what tags can be used for each roll. Depending on how strict your MC is, a vague power tag could actually give them more reason to decide it’s too broad to be used for a specific situation. If you use cunning for negotiations, finding weaknesses in combat, and assessing a crime scene, the MC will likely restrict your usage or ask you to Change The Game in order to create other tags from cunning, such as gap in armor. Rolling twice in this way increases your chances of failing.
If you want to get around this, consider making your tags more specific, like changing cunning into cunning negotiator. A specific tag is always reliable in the situations it describes.
Of course, you can still get a lot of use out of a broad tag. The trick is to make them personal to your character. Quote tags like “I never fold when the chips are down” are not only usable in a number of situations, but are also indicative of your character’s personality. Magical power tags like ancient spellbook and summon fantastical creatures also open the door to an incredible amount of powers while still requiring creativity on the player’s part.
Versatility vs. Specialization
Expanding outside of broad tags, the balance between versatility and specialization is also something you should keep in mind for your entire character. City of Mist allows for incredible freedom when it comes to creating character concepts, with possibilities like indestructible priests and time-traveling hipsters. But no matter what their powers are, every character starts out with only 12-13 power tags, meaning they only have so much room to be effective.
There’s a simple concept that many City of Mist players know but don’t fully utilize: stacking tags. The more tags you have for a specific type of action, the greater the Power you’ll roll with.
Let’s take Mitosis from the Character Folio Pack as an example. Mitosis is a boxer that was turned into a large mutant. When Mitosis throws a punch, he can stack huge, instant muscle building, boxing, mean right hook, and filled with rage for a whopping Power of 5. If he’s fighting multiple opponents, that can become Power of 6 with can grow extra limbs. This means Mitosis is highly specialized in combat: 6 out of 12 of his tags are focused on combat with some effectiveness in physical feats.
With 2 more tags in combat defense, he’s pretty much useless in most other challenges like investigation, social interactions, or stealth. To be fair, you wouldn’t want him acting as the face of your crew anyway considering his face looks like a rock covered in fungus.
The opposite of specialization is versatility. Lance Sullivan is a good example for a versatile character. He has a couple of tags each for attacking, defending, investigating, interacting socially, one for sneaking around, and even has one for his car. He’s useful in many different situations, but doesn’t pack more than 2-3 Power in any of them.
You should think about how adaptable you want your character to be versus how specialized they are at what they do. In our Creating a Character Concept video, we touched on traditional RPG roles like healer or tank, and how you should still keep them in mind in the modern City of Mist. If you want your character to be really good at one or two roles, you can stack your power tags together to achieve that.
On that note, think about your combos when you’re choosing tags. When you choose dragon form and fire breathing, you already have two tags that stack. That’s a +1 Power to all actions using your dragon form, and +2 Power specifically for breathing fire. Now, what will be your third tag? If you choose intense flames, you’re specializing in your fire breath. If you choose dragon scales, you’re diversifying. Your fire breathing combo stays at +2 Power, but you get a new defensive combo for Facing Danger with +2 Power (dragon form + dragon scales).
None of this is to say that specialized characters are better than versatile characters, nor vice versa. You just want to keep this principle in mind so your character will be effective at what you want them to be effective at. If you’re having trouble deciding, listen to what other characters are being made at the table. Odds are, when the crew starts to form, you’ll find a niche that can be filled by your character.
We’ve talked at length about power tags and how they can make your character strong. But weakness tags are just as important in City of Mist, as confronting your flaws is one of the fastest ways for your character to grow.
Each time a weakness tag is invoked, whether by the player or the MC, that character marks Attention to that weakness’s theme. Improving your theme opens the door to more power tags, theme improvements, and eventually Build-Up Points that lead to even more powerful level-ups. That means even though a weakness tag gives you -1 to your roll, you still want a weakness that will come up relatively often.
Personality flaws, troublesome NPC’s, and limits to your powers are all weakness tags that can be easily invoked. They also give your character more depth and put their potential character arcs directly into the game’s mechanics.
That said, a weakness tag sends a clear message to the MC on how they can challenge your character, and a good MC will include scenes where those weaknesses come up. If you don’t want to roleplay scenes where your character is, for example, harassed by police, you shouldn’t give them the weakness tag arrest warrant. Only choose weakness tags that you as a player are comfortable confronting.
We hope these videos help you out in bringing your one-of-a-kind City of Mist PC to life. Your power tags are where your character draws their strength from, so you should make sure they’re as strong as possible!
What other character creation questions do you have? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!