Leveling Up in City of Mist TTRPG
There’s one thing all players love to do in a roleplaying game, and that’s leveling up! Becoming stronger and gaining new abilities is what allows your characters to face tougher foes and play for even greater stakes. City of Mist has a robust character creation system, and its character advancement is just as multi-layered.
Today, we’re going over the many ways your character can level up and become the ultimate investigator or legendary powerhouse in City of Mist!
Experience points in City of Mist are called Attention, and here’s why. A City of Mist character is made up of four separate themes, representing the most important aspects of their mythical and mundane lives. When you focus on one theme enough to gain an experience point, you’re giving that part of your character’s life Attention.
This means that each of your character’s themes level up independently, rather than leveling up your character as a whole. If you wanted, you could level up a single theme multiple times without even touching the other parts of your character.
There are a few different ways you can gain Attention. One way is by invoking your weakness tags in a roll. Each theme normally has a weakness tag that can be invoked by either the MC or the player themselves. When your weakness gets in the way, you subtract 1 Power from your roll but mark 1 Attention to your theme.
You can also gain Attention through your themes’ Mysteries and Identities. For a Mythos theme’s, each time you find answers to that theme’s Mystery, you mark Attention. For a Logos theme, each time you sacrifice something to hold to the theme’s Identity, you mark Attention.
Finally, you can mark Attention to any theme using the Downtime (Montage) move. This move comes up when your crew is in between things during a case, and you can use it to spend time on a Logos theme or explore the mystery of a Mythos theme.
All of these options tie your character’s mechanical advancement to their narrative development. Only by confronting their weaknesses and investing time in their backstories can these characters level up and become stronger.
Once you mark 3 Attention to a theme, that theme levels up and you have multiple options for how you want to advance it. One option is to choose a new power tag. Just open up that themebook and choose a power tag question that hasn’t already been answered for that theme.
Another option is you can add, remove, or rewrite a weakness tag for that theme. While the option to remove a weakness tag is there, I wouldn’t recommend removing the only weakness tag for a theme, as you’ll be closing off a way to gain Attention. On the other hand, adding a weakness tag opens up a new avenue for gaining Attention, even if it makes your character more vulnerable.
You can also choose a theme improvement from the back of the themebook rather than messing with tags. Theme improvements are special abilities that change the rules for your character. One of my favorites is Ain’t No Mountain High Enough from the Mobility themebook, which allows your character to be present in any scene in any part of the City once per session. You can check out our video about theme improvements for more recommendations.
One more option you have when leveling up a theme is to reset Fade on a Mythos theme or reset Crack on a Logos theme. Just as Attention represents focusing on a theme, Fade and Crack are built up when you ignore themes or act against what the themes represent. Building up 3 Fade or Crack will cause you to replace that theme and lose it forever, so if you want to hold on to that theme, you might want to choose this option when leveling up.
Moments of Evolution
With that said, there is actually a second system of leveling up characters in City of Mist that can only be accessed through replacing their themes. Whenever a theme is lost, every theme improvement and extra power tag beyond the ones you start out with are turned into Build-Up points. These are experience points that are separate from Attention. When you mark 5 Build-Up points, you gain a special level-up known as a Moment of Evolution.
Through a Moment of Evolution, your character can choose from a list of extra powerful improvements. One improvement is choosing another broad power tag that can be used for almost any situation, such as a magic spellbook. You can also gain an extra theme such as a loyal Ally, a Base of Operations, or a slick new Ride. If you choose the option to make a Core Move permanently Dynamite!, then your character unlocks special options for that Move whenever they roll a 12 or higher. Then there are narrative Moments of Evolution that allow your character to exceed some of the baseline axioms of the setting, such as leaving the City or seeing partially through the Mist.
With the expansion Shadows & Showdowns, you can also use Build-Up points to gain a Veteran Theme Improvement. These special abilities are even more powerful than regular theme improvements and include abilities such as trading a miss for a mixed success once per session and automatically gaining Clues about another Rift’s Mythos.
Advancing the Crew Theme
Along with your personal themes, your shared crew theme can also level up! You can mark Attention to the crew theme by invoking its weakness tags or exploring its Mystery or Identity, just like a character theme. The end-of-session move Geek Out During Credits is also an opportunity for players to mark Attention to the crew theme after answering how the crew had grown during the session. With each level-up, players can choose to add a new power tag, weakness tag, or theme improvement to the crew theme.
Your crew can also gain new crew themes and permanent extra themes through the move Season Premiere, Season Finale. At the beginning of a new story arc, if your crew agrees they have a new overarching goal or purpose, they can receive a new nascent crew theme in addition to their existing crew theme. And at the end of a story arc, if everyone agrees the crew achieved an overarching goal, they can unlock a new nascent extra theme.
Let’s say your crew of Casual Detectives decided to take to the streets of La Colonia de Sombras as disguised superheroes. With the Season Premiere Move, they can gain the additional crew theme Masked Vigilante Investigations to represent their new focus. Then let’s say after solving cases and defeating the local crime boss, the crew decides they really liked hanging out with fellow vigilante La Aguila de Plata. With the Season Finale Move, they can decide to make her a permanent part of the crew as a new extra theme.
City of Mist provides an enormous amount of options during character creation and those options only increase when leveling up. You can choose to level up any of your character’s themes, your crew’s themes, or any extra themes you pick up along the way. Each level up comes with different ways you can become stronger, and all of it is tied to how your character and crew grows within the narrative.
If you’d like a comprehensive look at all the ways you can improve in City of Mist, consider picking up the City of Mist Player’s Guide and the expansion Shadows & Showdowns at cityofmist.co
Are there other City of Mist mechanics you’d like us to talk about in these videos? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!