Crew Themes in City of Mist TTRPG
The noir genre is in love with lone wolves who can trust nobody but themselves. But the hard reality is that, if you want to get anything done in the City of Mist TTRPG, you’re going to need a crew to back you up. Once you’ve gotten your fellow Rifts together, it’s time to create your Crew Theme.
The Crew Theme is the reason why your Rift characters are operating together. Mechanically, it’s a shared themebook with tags the whole crew can use. But narratively, it’s the foundation of your campaign. With the Crew Theme, you know from the beginning whether your campaign will be about a crew of professional Rifts-for-hire or about a high-school scooby gang solving mysteries. It’s important to know who you’re working with, so today, we’re going over the Crew Themes of City of Mist!
CHOOSING A CREW THEME
In choosing a Crew Theme, you choose the kind of story you want to play. You can create a Crew Theme that’s unique to your group by drawing upon their shared strengths and backgrounds. But if you’re looking for ideas, you can also choose one of the ten quickstart Crew Themes on pg. 149 of the Player’s Guide.
The standard Crew Theme for City of Mist is “The Casual Detectives”, where each member of your crew solves mysteries as a hobby while they deal with their personal lives in the background. It’s the easiest motivation for a group of wildly different people to solve mysteries together, and it’s the City of Mist equivalent of “your party meets in a tavern”.
However, you can also choose Crew Themes that are wildly different! Are your crewmates “Dabblers in the Mist”, searching for arcane secrets and dealing with forces outside their understanding? Or maybe you’re part of a secret “Order” of monster hunters dedicated to fighting creatures that lurk in the dark? If you want a more lighthearted game, then maybe choose “The Gang” so you’ll always have the power of true friendship on your side.
WHAT’S IN A CREW THEME?
When you create a Crew Theme, you’re choosing the tone of your group’s story. You’re also choosing the resources your crew will have access to, because Crew Themes are shared by the whole group.
The Crew Themebook operates like a standard themebook with a Mystery or Identity, power tags, and weakness tags. It also gains Attention and has its own special Theme Improvements. The primary difference is that power tags for a Crew Theme are crispy, meaning that once they’re used, they’re burned. Just like temporary story tags, Crew Theme power tags are one-and-done when used for a Move, and can’t be used again until they’re renewed during the Geek Out During the Credits move.
Keep this in mind when creating your own crew, because you want tags that are more about supporting the group rather than abilities that only work once. Think about tags that inspire teamwork like “Got Your Back” or define a shared resource like “Ancient Weapons”. My personal preference is to have at least one tag for a shared vehicle or hideout so it’s more convenient for the crew to work together. As long as they’re not used for a Move, your crew gains the passive narrative benefits for these tags without burning them.
Crew themes also have a shared Mystery or Identity holding them together, whether it’s a shared question or a code they live by. Just like with other themes, if your crew members ignore this Mystery or Identity, it cracks and fades. If it’s ignored three times between the members, the crew splits up and you lose access to the Crew Theme’s benefits. But hey, what crew doesn’t have a little drama between them?
BUILDING UP YOUR CREW THEME
If your crew sticks it out through each case, there are also plenty of options for building up your crew’s arsenal. Crew themes level up through gaining Attention just like other themes, which means the more you work together, the more you stand to gain. Imagine that!
You can add power tags and take away weakness tags for a level-up, just like with normal themes. There are also unique theme improvements for Crew Themes that I’ve found many crews don’t know about. There are improvements for recovering burnt crew tags and giving additional Juice whenever you’re supporting a teammate, but my personal favorite is Sacrifice. Like jumping in front of someone to take the bullet, the Sacrifice theme improvement allows you to extend a Face Danger success toward protecting a crewmate, at the cost of your own safety.
Your crew can also gain extra themes like a Ride, a Relic, or a Base of Operations that everyone shares. Normally, extra themes are gained by spending Build-Up Points from replacing themes. However, Crew Themes do not gain Build-Up Points when lost.
Instead, Crew Themes have a special Move called Season Premiere, Season Finale. At the beginning or end of a story arc, your crew and the MC can decide if your crew has fulfilled their purpose. If they have, your crew is free to take an extra theme to represent their development. But if your crew has a new goal, then this Move also allows you to pick up a new Crew Theme to represent it. Imagine your crewmates are just casually uncovering mysteries, but in the process they discover an ancient order that gives them new purpose. Or perhaps your crew starts as criminals but, through a change of heart, decide to clean up the streets.
Just like with your personal themes, be prepared to play to change.
Once you have an idea in mind, creating a Crew Theme is just like filling out any other themebook. With the Crew Theme, City of Mist encourages teamwork and gives your crew the options to play how they want to play.
If you’re having trouble looking for a crew in real life, check out our video on how to find other City of Mist players. And if you want an example of a crew in action, then consider playing as the All-Seeing Eye Private Investigators with their own crew theme found within the City of Mist Starter Box.
Tell us about your crews! What are some creative Crew Themes you’ve come up with? Tell us about it in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!