Choosing Power Tags in City of Mist TTRPG - Part 2
We’re back to discuss tips on creating power tags in the greatest cinematic modern fantasy TTRPG, City of Mist! Last week, we went over the most basic kinds of power tags that you can use in your games. This week, we’re delving deeper into the character creation process with power tags that take advantage of the freedom in City of Mist’s engine.
There are five more types of tags that can be used extensively while working the case. These tags are: emotional tags, summoning tags, buff tags, narrative tags, and quote tags.
Emotional tags are the ones that tap into your character’s background and represent the emotions they draw their strength from. These tags go beyond what your character looks like or what they can do. Instead, they round out your character by utilizing who they are as people.
If you have a character who’s into boxing, they can use tags like get angry to put more passion and power behind their punches. On the flipside, you could use emotional tags like ray of sunshine or boundless optimism to help inspire people and resist mental Dangers.
If you want to express your character’s identity in the game, then emotional tags are a great way to make that happen. Scarlet, the Rift of Little Red Riding Hood, is a great example. Her defining relationship with her love interest makes her empathetic and gives her the will to go on. That means Scarlet is mechanically at her best when she’s roleplayed as a caring person who never gives up on her loved ones. That said, she’s still a vigilante, so emotional tags like crime makes me mad or calm with a gun would also definitely fit her character.
However, sometimes you need an external source to draw strength from. With summoning tags, you can conjure up objects and call for help against whatever Danger you’re facing. These tags are the bread-and-butter of the Adaptation themebook from the Player’s Guide and the Conjuration playbook featured in Shadows & Showdowns, but you can also create these tags from other playbooks pretty easily.
The move Change the Game is where you’ll get most of your use out of these tags. Change the Game is structured in a broad way to allow players to generate all kinds of reinforcements. If you’re a detective, you can use a tag like police armory to Change the Game and grab a shotgun and a bulletproof vest. And if you’re a sorcerer supreme like Lily Chow’s Iron Hans, you can use the tag conjure fantastical creatures and objects to summon pixies or golems to your aid.
If you’re planning on using summoning tags, be sure to study how Change the Game works. Check out our full video on Summoning for more details.
We’ve talked about how power tags can help your own character, but what about other characters? Buff tags are the abilities your character uses to give their allies a push and their enemies a shove to the ground. Magical healing, runes of power, and even encouraging words can be used with Change the Game to give positive statuses and offset negative statuses.
One of my favorite character playbooks is the ninja Kitsune. With their otherworldly powers, they can both bless with good fortune and take away good fortune to put the odds back in their favor. If their friend is about to do something risky, they can Change the Game and give them a status like good-fortune-2 to help them along.
Buff tags aren’t the only way to help your crew, of course. There are theme improvements like Expert Advice from the Training themebook or Quartermaster from the Possessions themebook that allow other players to use your character’s power tags as their own. You can also use your Help (and Hurt) points the same way you’d spend Juice from Change the Game to assist your crew members. But if you want a straightforward way to help, buff tags are the way to go.
Examining the types of power tags is a very mechanical way of looking at character creation. But because City of Mist is a cinematic TTRPG, narrative tags are still incredibly important. Narrative tags are the power tags that may not come up often in a dice roll, but can still make your character’s life a lot easier.
Do you want to skip over the problems of middle-class life? Give your character the power tag rich. Want to make it clear your character is a ghost? Give them the tag incorporeal. Want to make sure you don’t get your trusty pistols confiscated? Give your character a concealed holster.
The real power in narrative tags is in how they can shape the plot. Being rich or incorporeal changes the whole nature of your character, with the game and the City changing around them as a result. This might seem overpowered at first glance, but not only is City of Mist a collective narrative you form with your group, but there are also a variety of different ways your character can still be challenged.
Now this last type of tag is the most creative in my opinion. Quote tags represent bits of dialogue from your character that sum up a core aspect of who they are. If you’re having trouble expressing a specific idea in a power tag, consider using a quote!
For example, Job from the City of Mist Starter Box is a father figure to many of the troubled kids in his neighborhood. His ability to talk to others and get them to open up is best represented by his power tag “Listen, son…”. Meanwhile, his crewmate Tlaloc is a conman attempting to redeem himself. Whenever he struggles against his old criminal ways, he can rely on the power tag “I’m better than that”.
Quote tags kick in every time the quote is appropriate for an action. If Job starts a social interaction with "Listen, son…", he gets +1 Power; same goes when Tlaloc resists temptations by saying to himself “I’m better than that”.
Quote tags are a lot of fun to make. However, since they can be pretty vague at times, be sure to keep their original purpose in mind during gameplay.
There are most definitely other types of power tags you could come up with in City of Mist. But now that we’ve gone over the most useful types, we’ll be covering the principles to keep in mind when choosing power tags in a later video.
Tell us about your favorite power tags and let us know what you think of these videos in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!