Using Dangers in City of Mist TTRPG
Heroes are only as impressive as the foes they face, and the City of Mist tabletop RPG has no shortage of menacing Dangers lurking in its shadows! During a case, your crew could come up against anything from werewolf stockbrokers to living Chinese dragon puppets!
But City of Mist isn’t the kind of TTRPG where your crew just dungeon-crawls their way through rooms of enemies. In this cinematic RPG, each Danger has a story and purpose. And in today’s video, we’ll be going over how to use Dangers so your crew will face enemies they’ll never forget.
The stat block for a Danger is called a Danger Profile, with its spectrums, custom moves, hard moves, and soft moves set up from top to bottom.
Spectrums are equivalent to a Danger’s hit points, except they don’t just represent physical health. Each spectrum represents different ways for the crew to overcome the Danger, such as fighting them, convincing them, banishing them, etc. Each spectrum has a different maximum tier (such as hurt-or-subdue:2). Whenever your players give a Danger a status with a tier that matches or exceeds that limit, they’ve maxed out the spectrum and the Danger is overcome!
For example, Goldie the master burglar and Rift of Goldilocks has three spectrums. She’s not very strong, so a PC would only have to hit her with a punched-2 status before she goes down. However, Goldie isn’t built for a fight, and she has a ton of abilities to keep people away. If the crew want to catch her or redeem her from a life of crime, those are options as well, but the crew will need to work up to a tier-5 status to max out those spectrums.
Some Dangers have countdown spectrums that work the other way around. Like a narrative time bomb, these spectrums stack up statuses and, when they max out, a custom move is triggered. This is usually for environmental Dangers such as a bomb going off or a building collapsing, but powerful Rift Dangers can have countdown spectrums as well.
Below the spectrums are custom moves, where special and passive abilities are placed. Custom moves can be anything, such as Goldie’s ability to make an attack too hot, too cold, too hard, or too soft to be effective. Be sure to keep note about when these moves trigger, as each one is unique.
Below the custom moves are the hard moves, where moves that deal damage and other hard consequences are placed. And finally below that are the soft moves, which list predefined options for the soft move Complicate Things. These are usually actions that show off their personality or their role in a scene, which are helpful for MC’s to roleplay these Dangers effectively.
If you’d like more information on how hard and soft moves work, be sure to check out our MC Moves video!
It’s not enough to just know the Danger’s abilities. Their spectrums and moves are written to show off who they are as a person and how the crew is likely to interact with them. Danger Profiles are also usually written with a specific scene for them in mind. Before playing a Danger, think about who they are and why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Dangers can be regular people or Rifts. They can also be malevolent toward the crew or just a neutral obstacle getting in their way. They can even be allies who end up getting themselves or the crew in trouble!
Dangers can also be locations such as a sinking ship or a building on fire. These usually come with the countdown spectrums mentioned earlier that tick down to a single, disastrous event. Treat these Dangers more like traps or puzzles that your Crew needs to solve.
And if you’d like some tips on how to use your Dangers in a fight, check out our video on How to Run City of Mist Combat.
When you’re creating a Danger, ask yourself: who and what do I need to make this scene work? If your crew is investigating a drug dealer, you need a sleazy drug dealer with moves to sell drugs to the crew or run away at the first opportunity. If they’re getting into a bar fight, you need thugs with hard fists and big physical spectrums. In short, create Dangers for the scenes they’ll be in.
If you’re making a Danger who’s a Rift, you can use a lot of the same tips we’ve given before for creating PC’s, such as in our Creating a Character Concept video. What elements do you like about the Mythos? What can you translate to the modern day? And most importantly, what will make the players at your table go “Woah”?
Once you’ve got the concept, figure out the spectrums for this danger. What does the crew need to do in order to overcome it? Is it an easy challenge that only requires two tiers of a status, or is it more difficult? Besides just fighting the Danger, think about whether it can be overcome with social skills, magic rituals, or even legal skills!
If you want more Danger Profiles to look at before creating your own, the MC Toolkit has a list of Danger Profiles for both mundane and mythical dangers that you can use. The expansion Shadows & Showdowns has even more, and every City of Mist case includes the Dangers your PC’s can encounter. In fact, all the Dangers in the Nights of Payne Town campaign are printed out as cards in the Deck of Legends, making them real easy to use!
The MC Toolkit also has Mythos power sets, which are sets of moves and abilities that you can combine with a mundane Danger to quickly make a Rift Danger. Want to make a jazz singer with a siren’s song? Just take the Social Butterfly Danger and add the Mind-Controller power set and you’re good to go!
Keep tabs on the up-to-five-star Danger Rating when combining profiles to make sure you’re not throwing too big of a threat at your crew. Typically, the Danger Rating is equal to the tier of the status inflicted by the Danger’s main hard move, but this isn’t always the case. Custom moves like special attacks or defenses can sway the rating up.
Keep all of these tips in mind while you’re crafting your next case. Your crew’s favorite memory of a session will often be the big, dramatic encounter against a Danger. No matter the Danger, keep in mind that you’re not playing an enemy in a video game. You’re playing a character in a story.
For more tips on how you can create Dangers, you can watch our Danger Construction Zone livestream series, where Amit and I create Dangers such as a mailman Monkey King and the dreaded Tax Day.
What are some of your favorite Dangers in City of Mist? What else would you like to know about Dangers? Ask us about it in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!