How to Run City of Mist Combat
Shots are firing, kicks are striking, and all hell has broken loose! Your crew has picked a fight and now you need to know how to end it. Every tabletop RPG has their own way of handling conflict, but the City of Mist TTRPG makes every brawl as dramatic as the ones on the big screen. So wipe the blood from your lip and put up your dukes, because today we’ll be talking about how to run combat in City of Mist!
This article presumes you know the basic rules for City of Mist. If not, check out our primer videos here or purchase the Starter Set online!
COMMON COMBAT PLAYER MOVES
The main thing to keep in mind is that combat in City of Mist is run in the same way as roleplay or exploration. No initiative is rolled and no new rules are brought in. Your characters have access to the same eight Moves they always do and here are the biggest ones to keep in mind in a fight.
Attack: Go Toe to Toe
The primary combat move is Go Toe to Toe. This move is used when both sides are trading blows, exchanging shots, or competing for the same thing. This could be a back alley brawl, a chase through the streets, or a mutual dive for an important object. Whatever the situation, you have a goal, and someone is standing in your way.
Go To to Toe has three options: achieve a goal, hit them with a status, or avoid their counterattack. Keep in mind that even with your best roll, you can only choose two options, so make it count. Dangers (adversaries) will almost always strike back, so if you don’t dodge, you’re gonna get hit. On the other hand, if you choose to hit them with a status, its tier is equal to your action’s Power (e.g. Power 3 deals a tier-3 status).
Attack at an Advantage: Hit With All You’ve Got
If you’ve got a clear shot with almost nothing in your way, use Hit With All You’ve Got. If, however, you’re not in the best position, you can use other Moves like Go Toe to Toe (choosing the achieve a goal option) or Sneak Around to set yourself up for this.
This Move is basically Go Toe to Toe with more options thanks to your improved position or opportunity. If you succeed on your roll, you automatically hit with a status (again with tier=Power) and can choose to buff yourself or your damage with a variety of options. However, you may not be out of the clear depending on the Danger. If the Danger can still hit back despite your position, be sure to use the ‘take cover’ option to get out of the way.
Dodge, Block, or Soak: Face Danger
No matter how well you roll, you’re gonna get hit eventually. When you do, the MC will give you a status. If you can get out of the way, endure the hit, or resist its effects (like fighting back against mind control), you may immediately roll Face Danger to reduce or completely shrug off the status. This is where those defensive power tags shine, such as tags from a Bastion theme. A punch to the face hurts a lot less when you can turn your face to stone.
Heal/Buff/Debuff: Change the Game
City of Mist is a TTRPG where you can make almost any character you want. What if you want to cover the battlefield in ice, summon leprechauns to help, or find the weapon you had conveniently tucked away in your car? When you want to fight a little outside the box, use Change the Game.
This move is not as powerful as Hit With All You’ve Got or Go Toe to Toe, but it is much more versatile. It allows you to ‘edit’ the game, creating or removing tags and statuses. You have an incredible range of possibilities to choose from, so it’s best to have what you want to do in mind before looking at the list.
When you Change the Game, you gain a number of Juice points equal to your Power. Each point of Juice allows you to add or remove one tag or one status tier. Rolling 10+ gives you even more options like a longer effect, area effect, etc.
You can also use other moves in combat, like Convince to have an enemy back down or Sneak Around to slink in the shadows. The sky’s the limit in City of Mist!
SPECTRUMS AND STATUSES
Now you may have noticed something missing while we’ve been talking about combat. There are no hit points in City of Mist. In fact, with a wide array of Dangers both magical and mundane, you may find your characters in a conflict where punching until the Danger is down is near impossible.
Instead of hit points, Dangers have Spectrums. These represent the amount of certain statuses a Danger can take before they’re out of the fight. For example, beat cops and security guards can usually take a beating up to 3 tiers. But it may be easier to bribe them or pull rank to get them to back down. Every Danger is unique! If you strip the narrative away, the mechanical goal in each conflict is to max out one of your enemy’s Spectrums until they’re ‘defeated’.
Player characters don’t have Spectrums. Instead, each PC can take up to 4 tiers of any status. At 5 tiers, they’re out of the fight, and at 6 tiers, they’re dead or permanently changed - it’s the MC’s choice. It takes progressively more statuses to reach the next tier, so it takes 2 tiers of a status to reach from tier-2 to tier-3, 3 tiers of a status to reach from tier-3 to tier-4, etc. If you take punched-2 once and then punched-2 again, you’re now at clobbered-3. For further rules on taking statuses, check out page 20 of the Starter Box players’ booklet and page 223 of the Player’s Guide.
What’s important to keep in mind about statuses is that they affect the Power of your actions. If you’re trying to throw a punch while suffering from a tied-up-3 status, you’ll need to subtract 3 from your roll and from its effect. But if you’ve recently been buffed with a status like energized-2, you can add 2 to your roll and the effect! Statuses can both help and hinder your character, so it’s important to keep track of them. On the flipside, you only take into account the worst and the best status you currently have, so there’s not a lot of scorekeeping.
COMBAT FOR THE MC
Like with most TTRPG’s, running combat is a different endeavor for the Master of Ceremonies. MCs don’t get a normal “turn” in City of Mist. Instead, MC’s react to players’ actions through Soft Moves, Hard Moves, and custom moves.
Soft Moves are used during combat to set up threats. You can use Soft Moves before and after each player action to describe the scene of the fight and how Dangers react. This gives players the info they need to respond...and gives you the opportunity to Hit Them After a Fair Warning, if the players fail to react.
Hard Moves are consequences, used to harm the PC’s. This often happens when a player rolls a miss or chooses not to protect themselves when Going Toe to Toe or Hitting With All They’ve Got. Each Danger has their own Hard Move suggestions, but you’re free to describe your own based on the situation. The most common hard move is Give a Status, which lets you deal damage such as gunshot-wound-3, frozen-solid-5, or dizzy-1.
Some Dangers have custom moves that can trigger outside the Soft and Hard Move system. Whenever a Danger’s custom move is triggered, even if it interrupts a PC’s action, narrate the outcome and follow its rules. Custom moves are really handy if you want your necromancer to summon zombies at the first sign of danger or give your legendary swordsman an automatic counterattack, no matter how well the PCs roll.
There are a lot more custom move mechanics that interfere with player turns like status filters and other custom moves. Make sure to read over any Danger you use and understand how they work before throwing them at your crew.
The combat system in City of Mist is built to be dramatic and flexible above all else. We haven’t even covered advanced mechanics like burning tags or moves like Stop Holding Back! But when you and a gang of enforcers are about to throw down in the alley, we hope this article helps you land the first blow.