4 Theme Improvements You Should Take in City of Mist
We love level-ups. What’s not to love about gaining more powers, more options, and more development for our precious PC’s? While the City of Mist TTRPG provides a wealth of options at the beginning of character creation, there are even further options down the road. With each case they solve, your character has multiple ways to become even more of a badass, including by gaining Theme Improvements.
Theme Improvements give special upgrades that are different from just gaining an additional power tag or losing a weakness tag. However, you gain them the same way by marking three Attention to a theme. We covered quite a few theme improvements in our previous videos on Mythos and Logos themebooks. But today, we’re going over my personal four favorite theme improvements in hopes of inspiring your next City of Mist character build!
When I look at theme improvements, I think about how powerful they are in gameplay as well as how likely they are to produce a cool scene. City of Mist is a cinematic RPG, so often the most dramatic move is also the most effective! That said, please keep in mind that these choices are in no particular order and are also my own personal preferences, so if you disagree, feel free to let us know in the comments.
#1: CREATIVE STROKE - ADAPTATION
As any GM can tell you, players are full of surprises. I love it when a player gets into the game and starts getting creative, especially when they’re mixing their abilities together in new ways. The Adaptation theme improvement Creative Stroke encourages that playstyle with each new trick up your sleeve!
When you use tags from the theme with Creative Stroke, you can point to the most affected character and ask whomever’s playing them, “Did you see it coming?”. This could be the MC or another player. If you caught them by surprise, you take the temporary status creative-stroke-1.
This is awesome because it constantly rewards creative thinking with a +1 bonus. Adaptation is also the most flexible themebook, so there’s no shortage of cool stuff you can do with your powers. Imagine playing a Rift of Merlin the wizard and conjuring a cloud of feathers to break your fall. Those moments where the table goes “Woah!” is what this theme improvement is built for.
#2: TOUCHY SUBJECT - DEFINING EVENT
This next improvement is a touchy subject but we’re going to talk about it anyway! Touchy Subject is a Defining Event theme improvement that seems a bit odd at first glance. Whenever someone brings up your defining event in a way that offends you, your character can choose to go into an emotional state and take a tier-2 status. But why would you do this?
One reason is to make your character’s personality richer and give them more depth. If your character was possessed by a ghost and forced to shoot someone, it makes sense that they’d be traumatized by the event. But the other reason to take this improvement is so your character will have a +2 Berserk Button that they can use when it's most dramatic!
Keep in mind that after your rampage, the MC will give you an ongoing tier-1 status to reflect the aftermath. If you were seeing-red-2 just a moment ago, be prepared for the eye-strain-1 or cold-shoulder-1 status coming your way.
#3: EXPERT ADVICE - TRAINING
Have you ever had just the right ability you wish you could give another player on their roll? Well, good news! With this Training theme improvement, you can assist your crewmates with Expert Advice!
This theme improvement allows another player to use one of your Training power tags. You can only do this once per scene, but a +1 is always appreciated. What sets this improvement apart from the rest--and the reason it made this list--are the scenes it can create.
This improvement practically begs for training sequences where your character teaches their crewmates their skills. Imagine walking into an ambush, and then flashing back to when you taught your partner how to kickbox. If you see your character as a grizzled mentor or just want an easy excuse to help your friends without rolling to Change the Game, this improvement is for you.
#4: ULTIMATE UNLOCK - RELIC
My favorite move in the game is Stop. Holding. Back! It allows your character to do something ludicrously powerful, but only if you’re willing to risk the cost. There are three levels to Stop. Holding. Back! (Significant, No Return, and Ultimate) and you stand to lose everything on a bad roll from your theme to your character’s life.
Unless you have Ultimate Unlock from the Relic themebook. With this theme improvement, you can build up your Relic’s power and unleash it in a devastating Stop. Holding. Back! What makes this improvement crazy to me is that it guarantees an automatic 10+, which means you have a special move guaranteed to succeed at any time.
The downside is that you mark an additional Fade if you make a Significant or No Return sacrifice, meaning you can only do this once before taking some time to recover. If it’s an Ultimate sacrifice, that’s it. Your Relic is lost in a blaze of glory and you replace the theme. But for me, it’s all worth it for the chance to make that powerful, limit-breaking attack with a magic sword.
There are a lot more theme improvements, including one in each themebook that can upgrade your Core Moves by making them Dynamite! If you want an even greater list of theme improvements, check out the Veteran Improvements in Shadows & Showdowns. If you’d like us to cover these in a later video, let us know!
What’s your favorite theme improvement? Any new character ideas after reading this? Tell us about them in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!