City of Mist In Action #4: Car Chase
Welcome back to another City of Mist In Action, where we explain the rules of our favorite cinematic modern fantasy TTRPG through showing them off in-game. On this week’s episode, we’re putting the pedal to the metal and running a car chase using the City of Mist ruleset.
Let’s get right to it. Two cars are racing through the streets. Up front, two members of the Underhand Nagas gang are attempting to get away with the evidence of their latest crime. And trailing right behind them are our heroes: Baby New, expert driver and regenerating Rift of Baby New Year, alongside the revenant assassin Post-Mortem riding shotgun.
This life-and-death duo are determined to catch up to the Nagas. And thanks to City of Mist’s narrative-focused ruleset, they have an incredible amount of options at their disposal. But City of Mist isn’t just flexible for the players. The Master of Ceremonies also has a lot of wiggle room in terms of how they want to run the encounter.
For this reason, we’re going to be showing off three ways to run this car chase: the Simple Way, the Standard Way, and the In-Depth Way.
Let’s start with the Simple Way. Baby New just wants to catch up to the criminals, and the MC just wants to keep this scene short. So as Baby New races forward, the MC tells them to Go Toe to Toe, which is the Move for any sort of fight or contest. Go Toe to Toe has three options to choose from on a successful roll: hit them with a status, dodge an incoming status, and the broadest option of achieving a goal. The “achieve a goal” option can be used for anything like taking an object from someone or getting into a better position.
In this case, the MC rules that this option would be enough to catch up to the Nagas. Using his power tags getaway driving, souped-up getaway car, and perfect timing, Baby New rolls an 11 for a total of 14. A complete success! Baby New chooses to achieve a goal and dodge an incoming status. As he accelerates forward, Baby New dodges gunfire from the Nagas and gets right up to their car, giving Post-Mortem the perfect shot.
But what if we wanted to do this a bit differently? What if we wanted this car chase to be more of a scene rather than a single obstacle? Let’s try this another way.
If you want to expand an obstacle into a dramatic scene along with representing the different ways it can be solved, all you need to do is make that obstacle a Danger with a Spectrum. In this case, the Getaway Car now has a Danger Profile with two Spectrums: Catch or Outrun 5 and Decommission 4. If you’re new to Spectrums, consider them like HP bars for specific types of damage. You can check out our Alleyway Combat video for more spectrums in action.
With the Catch or Outrun Spectrum, Baby New can no longer just choose “achieve a goal” in the Go Toe to Toe move and catch up. He’ll now need to build up catching up statuses in order to max out the Spectrum. In this case, Baby New uses the same power tags and Go Toe to Toe move to catch up. But instead of choosing “achieve a goal” on their success, they choose “give a status”. With a Power of 3, Baby New gives the getaway vehicle a catching-up-3 status and starts to gain some ground.
Now it’s Post-Mortem’s turn in the spotlight. She could shoot at the engine and try to Decommission the car, but working against two separate spectrums wouldn’t effectively combine her abilities with Baby New’s. She needs to help him catch up.
There’s not much Post-Mortem can do to make the car she’s in faster, but she can definitely make the car in front of her go slower. As she takes out her sniper rifle, Post-Mortem chooses to Change the Game and give the getaway car an unsteady status. Using the tags ion-9 blast sniper rifle and marksmanship, Post-Mortem rolls a 7 for a total of 9. A mixed success! Two Power turns into two Juice which Post-Mortem turns into a temporary unsteady-2 status as she fires randomly at the getaway car.
Now Baby New has the Nagas right where he wants them. Adding the unsteady-2 status to his roll, Baby New goes for another Go Toe to Toe using his driving power tags. Note that the other car’s catching-up status doesn’t affect Baby New’s roll here, since it’s already being used to count against the Danger’s Catch or Outrun Spectrum.
A roll of 5 turns into 9 for a mixed success! But now Baby New has a choice. On a mixed success, he can only choose one option for Go Toe to Toe. If he hits them with a catching-up status, he can max out their spectrum and end the chase here. But choosing not to dodge their counterattack will open up Baby New to some danger. The smart move would be to dodge and try again.
But Baby New doesn’t play it safe. Flooring it, Baby New catches up to the Nagas and hits them with a catching-up-5 status. The Nagas retaliate with a hail of gunfire. Baby New needs to Face Danger and, because this move is a result of his previous Go Toe to Toe, he can’t use any of the tags he used in the previous linked move. With no other options, Baby New makes a flat roll with no bonuses…and rolls a 6. Tough luck, Baby.
Driving directly into the gunfire, Baby New takes a gunshot-wound-4 status and almost loses control of the wheel. But this driver is still in the race! With the getaway vehicle’s Catch or Outrun Spectrum maxed out, the chase is over and Post-Mortem now has the perfect shot once again.
This is how you would normally run this kind of scene, with the players facing off against a Danger with outlined Spectrums. But what if you wanted to make the scene even more complex? All you need to do is add more statuses and story tags to the scene.
Let’s bring it back to the beginning.
The In-Depth way to run this scene is to add more elements to the chase itself using statuses and story tags. With story tags, you can make any part of the environment important to the scene with tags such as heavy traffic or pouring rain. If Baby New tries to catch up to the car in front of him, both of these story tags will affect his roll with a -1 each. But if he can figure out how to use them to his advantage, he can turn those story tags into +1 bonuses to his roll.
If you want the distance between cars to play more of a role in the chase, consider using statuses to represent it. This is especially useful if there’s more than two cars, such as a police car that is chasing after both vehicles. Assigning them both distance statuses in relation to the player’s vehicle helps keep all the moving parts straight.
Let’s say the getaway car in front of our heroes has a status of far-ahead-4 and the police car behind them has a status of close-behind-2. If Post-Mortem wants to fire her sniper rifle at either target, the distance statuses are going to get in her way. Both her and Baby New will need to focus on closing the distance (and reducing these statuses) if they want their rolls to land.
For the getaway vehicle, also note that representing the distance between it and the heroes as a status eliminates the need to represent it as a Spectrum. If our heroes eliminate the far-ahead-4 status, they just catch up. Reducing this status can be done with Change The Game or – if you’re using Swing Spectrums from Shadows & Showdowns page 10 – by giving the opposite catching-up-4 status using Go Toe to Toe.
There are now even more elements for your players to consider, and even more ways they can influence the narrative. Every status and story tag adds another number to the board that can both help or hurt your PC’s depending on their actions. It’s up to them to figure out how to use them or overcome them.
As we leave our heroes to the chase, we hope we’ve shown the different ways you can run the same scene. If you want an obstacle to be Simple, then let the players overcome it in a single Move. If you want to run a Standard encounter, have the obstacle be a Danger with spectrums the players need to max out. And if you really want to crunch some numbers, you can run an In Depth encounter by adding statuses and story tags that flesh out the scene.
We hope this inspires you to flesh out the encounters in your upcoming session. For more inspiration, be sure to check out our previous City of Mist In Action videos for in-depth looks at the game, along with the other videos on our channel for all things City of Mist. Let us know what you think of this video in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord.
Until then, have fun!