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City of Mist: MC Toolkit
by Patryk A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2021 13:27:51

DISCLAIMER/BIAS/EXPERIENCE: Backer of City of Mist kickstarters. Leaving this review after publisher's request issued to KS backers. I have run one longish CoM campaign, currently running my second CoM campaign. I assume you're familiar with the basic premises of City of Mist - if you're not, read the blurbs, or better, get a starter set. NOTE: Cultural appropriation potential warning - this book is about mythoi coming back to life in a noir world. This may be a touchy thing, so GMs are advised to do their research before the game and/or reach certain level of understanding with their players.

By the way of introducing you to MC TOOLKIT, this is a gamemaster's book (NOTE: Gamemaster = Master of Ceremonies, or MC), so it expands on the basic rules, provides resources for fleshing out the setting and establishes routines specific for MC role. It also sports great layout, comic book art, great one-page summaries and an adventure. NOTE: You need PLAYER'S GUIDE for player-facing lowdown of the rules, to create characters, and building groups, evolving (escalating?) stuff and cinematographic plays. It's also a great primer on Apocalypse World mechanics. I would also recommend getting a starter set for great ready-to-run characters, yet another adventure, and beautiful handouts.

MC TOOLKIT, Table of Contents

The Master of Ceremonies - Basics of the basics, or how to read the book.

  • 8 pages

Word on the Street - Archetypical locales and locals in a city noir genre. No stats yet, it is just a bunch of short writeups of places and people. If your characters make a random stop to buy e-cigs, you can just crack open the book, say THE OLD QUARTER, read THE COBBLED STREET aloud (skipping MC-only stuff), and if the things are going slow, have the PCs meet a wounded old man complaining about thieves, who just took his books.

  • 42 pages

Behind the Scenes - A comic, a Quick Reference Sheet, a guide on running the session zero, how to use MC moves, narrating stuff and adjusting challenge level. Then it's Writing a Case (check the HIGHLIGHTS below), and then turning cases into a series.

  • 54 pages

This is my City! - Another comic, another Quick Reference Sheet, and everything you need to know about spectrums (how to damage a character), dangers (those who damage the characters), and avatars (you also get four masterminds, unique 5-star dangers that are movers and shakers to drop into your setting).

  • 99 pages

Appendices - Various resources (dangers get ratings) with page numbers. For example: House Fire is 2-star danger on page 151. Samuel Valtierra (Baron Samedi) is 5-star danger on page 160. Also included: list of backers, printouts for MC tracking sheets.

  • 10 pages

Gambling with Death - An adventure that is NOT recommended for novice players and MCs. The narrative is slightly disjointed and may be difficult to follow by not-yet-invested-in-story characters. Also there are multiple three star dangers - expect fatalities if the characters are not careful.

  • 19 pages

Maps - Useful for running scenes.

  • 4 pages

MC TOOLKIT, HIGHLIGHTS

WRITING A CASE, to me, is probably the best ever section on constructing puzzles for the PCs to unravel. It also ties into Investigate move in a way that makes running mystery scenarios such a pleasure. Here's is a short explanation.

A case is like an iceberg: visible tip (depth 0), depth 1, depth 2, ...

  • the visible tip is a list of hooks that the characters look into or encounter.
  • the depths are layered lists of locations or scenes, to which characters gain access after investigating connected corresponding items from upper layers.
  • the characters "move" between these by resolving scenes or gaining clues from locations.
  • at the bottom there is a final confrontation or a revelation.
  • since this is an Apocalypse World-inspired game, new connections may be formed or further challenges added on a fly via devil's bargains or success with complications mechanics.

While there are many ways the PCs may proceed forward, the most common way is for a character to make an Investigate move:

  • A player declares an action and what power tags (supernatural or mundane) are used to support the action. The number of tags (minus penalties) used is the POWER rating for the move.
  • If successful, a player gets to ask number of questions equal to POWER rating.
  • Based on the POWER rating, result of a roll (fuzzy, partial, compromise, full success) and the tags used, an MC presents answers. A computer jockey hacking into a mobile will get different presentation from a veteran policewoman interrogating a witness, from a possessed shopkeeper immigrant from Tibet conferring with local spiritual entities, from a destitute satanic sax hobo player who just plays and listens to people talking, from a recently released convict with a hook for his and terrifying violence just bubbling under calm demeanor [a cast of characters from my current campaign].
  • The answers unlock stuff from current and lower depths, eventually allowing to reach the solution.

QUICK REFERENCE SHEETS, just print them out. These are simply great for remembering all little bits you should be aware of.

GAMBLING WITH DEATH - the adventure is interesting, but it needs work to fit your narrative. Also:

  • At some point the characters may feel overwhelmed by the opposition and subsequently proceed to abandon the case. To avoid this, I would recommend constructing strong motivations for PCs.
  • Three-star dangers apply statuses that could wipe POWER totals (and there are four of them, with possible more joining the case). Also, the three-star dangers are not dumb - they are likely to employ guards.

In my case, the chief adversary of the adventure is going to wrong one of the PCs, so, when an opportunity presents itself, they will try to take advantage to get a little payback, only to realize that innocent people are getting involved.

MC TOOLKIT, FINAL THOUGHTS

A vitally important addition to the library of a City of Mist fan. If you have the big book already, at least get a PDF for references and maps. The case included can be mined for resources or developed into a full campaign (again, three-star dangers are complex - so proceed with caution, and use them as memorable villains). The WRITING A CASE part can be used for any mystery scenario under any system.

Five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: MC Toolkit
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City of Mist Case: Carnival of Machines
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2021 17:07:35

Absolutely brilliant. The utterly wild combination of Rifts is my favorite part of City of Rifts, and this one doesn't hesitate for a moment before slamming together utterly incompatible mythologies. Plus, the abandoned carnival may seem cliche when it comes to horror movies, but how often do you actually see one in a tabletop RPG? Great stuff.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Case: Carnival of Machines
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City of Mist: Player's Guide
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2021 23:43:16

City of Mist is a beautiful game that I can't wait to have a second edition.

Criticism:

  • The core conceit of City of Mist is that you're in a noir giant city (or neon noir or neo noir or whatever version of noir you want) with a fair bit of mystery but the tone doesn't match. The mechanics do not back up this setting and the entire idea of "group noir" is hard to pull off and is not done here.
  • Players have the ability to help and hinder but no real incentives in doing such.
  • There's constant judgment calls on how many tags can apply and making everything a tag call or a juice call makes the rolls remarkably dull.
  • The power advances offered and small enough to want to keep track of but not interesting enough to want to remember to do advancement.
  • The tag burn and downtime mechanics will vary widely based on how often your group meets and the average length of the setting.
  • The language of film is used but without the step of training the reader how to think like one is in a movie. The idea of a "shot" is straight forward but with the exception of the credits and this framing this notion is not used which makes me wish it hadn't been included. It also demands players have a common cinematic language which won't exist for most people without a large shared background.
  • The nature of the city is too vague which would theoretically make it sandboxy but simply makes it uninteresting.
  • There is no sense of scale to the stories.
  • The milquetoast system used to coming up with various tracks that be habilitated or used are too generic and prove for unsatisfying encounters whether it be combat, wearing down someone to confess or social intrigue.
  • The system manages to take the notion PBtA and add enough cruft to it to make it no longer the remarkably sleek core of PBtA and the move names don't serve to be sufficiently evocative to inform you how to play.

Praises:

  • It is quite pretty.
  • The idea of tags for all things is kind of interesting but is not there yet. It takes the notion of Aspects from Fate and makes them less interesting while creating something a little more variable for what PBtA wants you to roll.
  • That one can be a rift of anything is a fine idea but there's not real way to pin it down which is unsatisfying.

The game is too diffuse. It needed to focus on noir or it needed to go towards a more generic system. As it lay now puts it somewhere that I just find meh.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: Player's Guide
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your honest feedback. Like in any game, especially being our debut game, there are things that should be improved and it's good to be reminded of that. Having said that, sometimes a game just isn't for you, and it sounds like this is the case. Many of the points you criticized are actually what most fans of City of Mist say they love about the game, like its narrative focus, flexible setting, cinematic flair, conditions, character progress, etc. It boils down to taste and preferred gameplay style. We are happy to refund your purchase.
City of Mist Case: Broken Glass
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2020 23:41:28

Content warning: a significant portion of this case involves a psychiatric hospital and the involuntary commitment of a number of people, potentially including the PCs, by malicious and abusive mental health professionals.

Maybe I should've guessed that from the fact that therapists were the secret bad guys in the last two cases. Maybe not. Either way, now you know and can make an informed decision.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Case: Broken Glass
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your feedback, Patrick, and for helping to clarify this point to others. Please note that the product description explicitly describes the case as pitting the PCs against "the villain’s operation, a twisted mental health organization." We apologize if the content caused any inconvenience and are happy to refund your purchase. If you have suggestions to how we can improve, please reply here.
City of Mist Case: Killing Her Softly
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2020 14:55:25

Excellent! Complex, plenty of red herrings, some good places for the PCs to screw up and shut off leads without shutting out the rest of the story. Shame the title of the piece is basically a dead giveaway of the plot, but that's hardly the end of the world. Also the absolute randomness of the Rifts in this is hilarious, in my opinion.

Oh! And disability representation! Man, everything about that character was great. Well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Case: Killing Her Softly
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City of Mist Case: Demons in Cross End
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2020 14:51:28

Good stuff! Good Halloween themed case. It's worth noting that if the players go at things in a certain order, one has to awkwardly withhold certain characters until later. That said, I don't know how you'd build around that, considering the incredibly obvious nature of the action ... eh. Either way, four stars. Good stuff.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Case: Demons in Cross End
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City of Mist Case: V is for Going Viral
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2020 14:49:03

A good case, although some elements are easy to overlook. I had to wing it as far as the behavior of teenagers who were already involved, because there's no real guidance to exactly what that's about. But it's good.

STG, I'm taking off an entire star for that title. V is not, in fact, for Going anything. G is for Going something, V is for Viral. GTFO.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Case: V is for Going Viral
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City of Mist: Player's Guide
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2020 00:54:04

This is a really great game. It's the one good part of Fate grafted onto the PBtA system and it works perfectly. Honestly this might be my new model for future games, too. It will accommodate any setting that involves magic with basically no changes.

As for the setting, I love the glitzy surface level of it but I'm actually reluctant to dig any deeper. There's a lot going on in the lore expansion books but ... I just don't care? I don't actually want to know, and I say that as a Forever GM. We just play in a Dark City-style Quantum 80s where the cars have fins, everyone wears a trenchcoat, and there's Facebook, but no cell phones. The city is all there is and who cares about the rest?

Really, though, this book is all you need to play the game. There may be good stuff in the others, but they are optional. I recommend trying this out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: Player's Guide
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City of Mist: Soundtrack
by Riccardo S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2020 10:41:17

I would not recommend such product. The audios are too short (around 5 minutes each) and are not formatted in a way to put them in a continous loop in order to create the proper atmosphere. SO, this is not really a "Soundtrack" for sessions, I would say.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: Soundtrack
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City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
by Ignacio S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2020 19:08:29

I love this starter, its everything a quickstart sould be. Quick to the point and easy to get into. I run this on comic stores for new players and noone ever has a problem with adventure or the motivation of the PCs.

Its the standard by which I judge all other quickstarts/jumpstarts.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
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City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
by Colin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2020 03:50:41

Wow...where to start? I backed the original City of Mist Kickstarter, and I'm always amazed at how every new product release improves on the gameplay and universe presented in this simple elegant system. Here, you'll see classic pulp noir tropes rubbing shoulders with mythological titans, old gods, fairytale characters brought to often-grim life and a myriad of stories, cases and mysteries waiting to be unravelled. There is no linear plot progression; players solve cases at their own pace, following up on the leads that interest them, meaning that MCs (the GM analog) can recycle unused or untouched ideas back into later stories.

As for gameplay, well...anyone familiar with any PbtA game will be on familiar turf here, but City of Mist approaches the system with a fast & loose interpretation that allows for critical thinking and cunning application of abilities. All in all, there should never be a situation where a player feels they have nothing to contribute to events, and the level of personal agency granted to players over their skills is a refreshing twist.

This new starter set is a perfect drop-in point for anyone who has been interested in City of Mist but is unsure where to begin. The artwork is gorgeous throughout, evoking the feel of a genuinely mysterious noir setting, and the rules presented offer players a 'learn-as-you-play' experience that unfolds cinematically, while remembering that you're new. Done right, nobody should feel overwhelmed, and everybody should have something to bring to the case.

In summary, City of Mist is a game that defies attempts to explain it: The play's the thing, and playing this game should be all the explanation you need as to why I consider it a modern masterpiece of RPG writing. Amit Moshe has created a beautiful, haunting, scary and deep sandbox for players and GMs to sift through, and the Starter Set is the ideal tool to begin your journey. But don't take my word for it. Punish that 'Add to Cart' button and find out why you should be playing this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Core Book
by Daniel A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/08/2019 00:28:55

Cat's full review HERE

It’s an ordinary day, and you are an ordinary person. Until something happens and you realize you are, in fact, not an ordinary person. This moment, this awakening, will change everything for you. And naturally, you probably have some questions. The good news is there are more people like you out there. The bad news is that they don’t have the answers yet either. Team up together and start investigating in City of Mist from Son of Oak Game Studio (distributed by Modiphius).

City of Mist is a roleplaying game where players take on the role of Rifts—ordinary individuals that are simultaneously a powerful mythical entity. The exact nature of this entity, or Mythos, is largely a mystery to your character, and that mystery is where the journey begins. Your efforts to uncover answers will be thwarted by the very force that kept you in the dark for so long: The Mist. The Mist is what keeps the City seemingly ordinary. Sleepers, those who have not awakened to a Mythos, will forget or excuse any legendary abilities they come into contact with. Players will be balancing their Mythos with their normal lives or Logos. When your character goes through something major, you have the choice to turn it into a Moment of Evolution. This is a player character choice, not the choice of the Master of Ceremonies (MC).

This all works through the Themes that form the basis of a character’s identity. Some of these are Mythos, others are Logos. A Moment of Evolution turns one into the other. If at any point all of a player’s Mythos has become Logos, they become a Sleeper again. The opposite, all Mythos and no Logos, turns a character into an Avatar, completely at the whims of whatever force is inside them.

This focus on character choice is a driving factor in City of Mist. There are rules, of course. Players have eight core actions they can take, though even these emphasize the importance of choice. The Take the Risk action lets players attempt something outrageous, giving fate the chance to let them succeed. Failure results in a consequence, and this is when the MC gets to make their own choices.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Core Book
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City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2019 10:30:17

City of Mist is a game that oozes flavor and has the flexibility to satisfy most player palletes. I've found that the starter set does a great job explaining the system mechanics with my appreciattion going to the point-by-point explanation of the character sheet and the sample playthrough to help explain how a typical session might go.

I will say it is a bit odd that there is one pdf file that has the MC (Master of Ceremonies - this iteration of a Game Master) portion added onto the Player portion, almost as if you had two seperate pdfs which are literally stacked on top of each other. Even so, the MC guide has a wealth of information and tips on how to understand and run the system.

One particular ssue has prevented me from giving a full five star review, that unlike the original starter set, there are no print friendly versions of the character sheets provided in the pdf. To print one for player use, printing the full page renders most of the mechanical power tag text quite hard to read, and the amount of pdf manipulating to print the provided sheets into two landscape sheets is currently out of my scope of skill. I would encourage an update where players could have the option to print a more printer friendly copy of the sheets.

To players looking to create their own personal Rifts (player characters) you won't find that information here. That is exclusive to the corebooks, and it doesn't like the company plans on releasing that information officially. Personally, I wish character creation was available freely given the setting and mechanics of the core game are enough to justify the core books value on their own, but it is tediously difficult to walk my online players through character creation.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
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City of Mist: All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set
by Markus R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2019 12:28:39

With this set you get the perfect introduction into the system in an easy to read way. All rules for playing the characters(rifts) whose live changed as they become the gateway for a legendary power are included (also the first improvements) - character creation and full character development not included. Those legendary powers are gods, creatures of myth but also general principles given a personality or protagonists of stories made up.

The pre-generated characters are interesting and form a crew - the all seeing eye investigation - and fit perfectly to the first case "shark tank". The character sheets include a nice graphical overview on how to make tests as well as some examples how to apply tags (character aspects). But keep on mind those are only examples to get you started - and far from what you can do with that system.

Included characters are:

  • Detective Enkidu - a hard boiled detective struggling with her wild site.
  • Tlaloc - a dealer with the powers of an god of rain and lightening
  • Lilly Chow - a runaway punk with a green magical giant as an unusual big brother
  • Job - a believer on the crusade for justice
  • Baku - martial artist and eater of nightmares

The Players Part includes an short introduction to The City that is influenced by Rifts and fully evolved Avatars trying to achieve their goals. The eight core moves (actions) are explained that drive the story always forward and prevent stagnation (known from other games Powered by the Apocalypse). A handy one page summery included. Progress and Influences are tracked with Status Cards (templates for printing included). Played scenes are connected by a Montage(Downtime) move that lets you do something with the time in-between. The most interesting part might be the Stop.Holding.Back move - You express your powers in completely new ways and the sky is the limit and what you are willing to sacrifice. Character development is not linear and expresses the ever changing back and forth of of your mundane life and the myth inside you. Make your hard decisions and see it fade and crack or embrace it by giving attention to it to even further develop it.

You also get the case „Shark Tank“ a first introduction adventure with guidance for the MC/GM to guide the group and how to apply the rules - learning it step by step.

If you are intimidated by the main books - take a look here first to learn the game.

Background Information: I know City of Mist from its first Kickstarter for the Core Book (which now got updated and split into the Players Guide und MC Toolkit [for the GM]). The All-Seeing Eye Investigations Starter Set improved version of the original Starter Set (which than got updated to Quick Start Rules [now containing also the two cases ])



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Core Book
by Larry B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2019 10:45:33

This is a beast of a book; even in electronic format. You are in for 500+ pages of information about this noir related, supernatural-themed game system. City of Mist relies on a system of play similar to FATE, using Tags instead of Aspects. It may not be fair to the intention of the artists, but I found myself drawn into a FATE mindset as I read this. That doesn’t mean City of Mist is dependent on FATE. It just feels like a close relative to the system.

There were some features of the game that I found really engaging. The use of television shows or comic book series was helpful to frame how the designers envisioned the game design, character design, and gameplay. I think the explanation of designing cases would be helpful beyond City of Mist. Anyone in any game system who wants to design a complex plot could use the chapters on writing the case background for their own story. There is a plot of potential for in-depth plots with interesting branches if the right MC is involved.

I originally was interested in this because of the use of our myths, legends, and fairy tales. The underlying character base for players are those creatures, characters, and archetypes that we find in classical stories and myths. Relying on qualities or features of those archetypes allows players to create characters that bring myth into a reality that we may be more accustomed. This game does not rely on typical fantasy realms but uses the grittier setting of modern realities. Putting Jack (Jacqueline) from Jack and the Beanstalk into a 1930’s era noir urban setting will challenge the imagination. It also unlocks some great potential for story development.

The simplified dice and power system makes dice rolling an easier entry level. Instead of stats to keep track of, the player only has to justify how Tags contribute to positives or negatives to a dice roll. Many who are intimidated by multi-sided dice or stat+modifier+proficiency may find this a more comfortable beginning game.

This is also a team-centric system. This really does require a group of players to work together to move the story forward. The team (“Crew”) becomes a character itself. The way this is written, this will provide for every player to contribute their unique qualities to unfolding the plot. It also provides some excellent “release valves” for absent players. In many game systems, the story relies on consistency. As long as the episodes are self-contained, City of Mist allows for absent players while giving them an opportunity to still be included in the ongoing storyline.

I do find that the system requires a little more of a learning curve for players who are established in other systems. The language of the system seems a little too required. It takes some getting used to talking about the game without using the language of the mechanics. The underlying terms of Mist, Mythos, Logos are all used throughout character creation. Yet, the game requires that the characters do not know about these mechanics and should avoid using those terms during an in-game conversation. That may be a little too restrictive for most hardcore players who like to get into the mechanics of the systems they play.

I did not connect really well with the mystery element of the game very well. It seemed that there was a lot of “uncomfortable unknown” to deal with in playing. Maybe that is intentional to the design. It may make the players more curious to pursue the answers. I felt that it may be more of a hurdle to progress than bait to pursue the end.

Neither of these elements are game breakers. I feel they require the MC (game master) to prepare the players for something engaging. This system requires preparation and knowledge of the overarching plot. This does not feel like a one-shot or pickup game, like many of the FATE-based worlds you could play. This is clearly a world that relies on the ongoing story in order to hook players. Basing my opinion on reading this book, It would be best suited for a group who loves to play longer story arcs in a complex, unfolding plot.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Core Book
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