Tags and Statuses in City of Mist TTRPG
City of Mist prides itself on being a cinematic TTRPG, and its narrative-focused ruleset is made possible with two game mechanics: tags and statuses. Both of these mechanics point out the important parts of each scene and expand the possibilities for how your characters can affect the world. Because of tags and statuses, you can play everything from shapeshifting monster hunters to magical lounge singers and everything in between.
By community request, we’re examining these two parts of the game to showcase just how the City of Mist engine runs.
A tag in City of Mist is an important detail or quality that is notable enough to affect the game. Tags can be absolutely anything such as abilities, equipment, allies, scenery, character traits, story elements, and even thematic catchphrases. Tags accomplish two things: they describe an important part of the narrative and buff–or debuff–your character’s moves.
There are three types of tags in City of Mist: Story Tags, Power Tags, and Weakness Tags. Story tags are elements of the narrative that are significant in a scene but aren’t tied to a single character sheet. Story tags can be temporary items or abilities, such as a stolen motorcycle or gift of flight. They can also be independent elements like the police, pouring rain, or even something as broad as an air of mystery.
Not every detail in a scene needs to be a story tag. If your crew is in an office, you don’t have to make a story tag for the lamp, ashtray, or curtains. Story tags should be saved for the important elements that will either affect the PC’s or give them a new way to affect the plot. That said, MC’s can create story tags on the fly, so maybe the lamp does become a story tag if one of the characters decides to chuck it at someone!
Characters can also create their own story tags using the move Change the Game. This opens up a wild amount of possibilities, from summoning Ifrits to building a motorcycle to assembling a violent street gang. For an in-depth look at this move, check out our City of Mist: In Action for Change the Game.
The other two types of tags are power tags and weakness tags, which you design when you create your character. Power tags are beneficial traits, while weakness tags are dramatic flaws. Unlike story tags, power tags and weakness tags are permanent and can only be used by you, barring certain theme improvements like Quartermaster from the Possessions themebook.
Tags can be almost anything in City of Mist, but when you want to represent conditions, that’s when you use Statuses. It’s easy to think of statuses as the “HP” of the game, but expanded in scope to cover more than physical injury. Your character could take a status of gunshot-wound-3, but they could also take statuses like blinded-2, humiliated-3, and mesmerized-4.
Statuses are made up of two parts: the description of the status and its tier. Statuses come in tiers of 1 through 6. Tiers 1 through 4 affect your character’s moves, so if you’re blinded-2, you’ll take 2 Power off your rolls to perceive things. At tier 5, your character is OUT of commission and can no longer take actions hampered by that status. If your character is dying-5, they’re likely unconscious. But if they’ve taken a status like tied-up-5, then they can’t move but they might still be able to talk.
Once a status reaches tier 6 though, your character is dead…or might as well be. A tier 6 status represents a permanent transformation and the MC decides what happens to your character from there. Most of the time that character leaves the narrative, but when appropriate and with the player’s approval, an MC might trade the tier 6 status with a change in power or weakness tags or even replacing a whole theme.
Statuses stack up in a few key ways. First off, only statuses on the same spectrum stack. Ouch-1 and broken-arm-3 are on the same physical spectrum, but they’d have nothing to do with an emotional status like sad-2. Second, when stacking statuses, each tier requires a status of an equal tier to go up to the next tier. Broken-arm-3 and broken-arm-3 don’t add up to dead-6. Instead, they go up to the next tier to a status like multiple-fractures-4.
When stacking statuses of two different tiers, two things can happen. If you have ouch-1 and then take broken-arm-3, the greater tier simply replaces the smaller tier so you just have broken-arm-3. But if you have broken-arm-3 and take ouch-1, then that smaller status adds a pip to the greater status until the next tier is reached. Smaller statuses add up, so taking ouch-1 two more times would bring it up to multiple-fractures-4. To keep track of these statuses, be sure to use City of Mist tracking cards which you can download as a PDF sheet in the free downloads section on the City of Mist website or buy as ready-to-use dry-erase status cards.
Tags vs. Statuses
So what are the differences between tags and statuses? Well, tags are used to describe people, objects, and their essential qualities, but they don’t represent the current state of a person or object. You won’t have a tag like fried or dead for example. In the same vein, statuses represent conditions, not people and objects. You can’t have a status like gun-2 or vigilante-5.
That said, both tags and statuses can affect rolls in either beneficial or detrimental ways: positive tags and statuses add to your action’s Power and negative tags and statuses subtract from your action’s Power. If your character has taken a gunshot-wound-3, then that’s going to hurt them if they choose to Go Toe to Toe and fire back. But if they’re trying to Convince a nurse to patch them up, then having a visible gunshot wound might actually help their efforts! In the same way, a power tag like police badge could help when dealing with the police but hurt when dealing with criminals.
What’s different is how they affect your action’s Power. Every tag, positive or negative, is worth 1 Power and each tag adds up traditionally. If you use three positive power tags in a Move like boxer, boxing glove, and punches good, that’s 3 Power you add to your roll. And unless you’re playing with the tag cap optional rule, any number of relevant tags can apply to a single Move.
But with statuses, only the highest relevant status applies to your Power – adding or subtracting its tier. If your character is in a fight and she has the detrimental statuses broken-arm-3 and winded-2, only broken-arm-3 is going to apply to the Move and subtract 3 Power from the roll. If you somehow heal the broken-arm-3, though, your next attack would still be hindered by being winded-2, so amassing different negative statuses is not a good idea.
If you have both beneficial statuses and detrimental statuses, then the highest of each applies. If you have broken-arm-3 but also powered-up-4, then you subtract the 3 Power and gain 4 Power, ending up with 1 Power to add to your roll. A big note here is that you convert these statuses into Power before doing this math. The special rules for stacking different tiers of statuses only apply when receiving statuses on the same spectrum, not when applying them to your rolls.
The ability of tags and statuses to describe any narrative element and convert them into game mechanics is what gives players of City of Mist the freedom to create almost any character they want and affect the world however they want. If you’d like a comprehensive look at how tags and statuses work, consider picking up the City of Mist Player’s Guide 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!