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City of Mist RPG: An Interview with Amit Moshe

Welcome to the City of Mist! Heading to the point without further preface – Amit Moshe, creator of the intriguing City of Mist roleplaying game by the Son of Oak Game Studio, answered some questions about his project and his Kickstarter crowdfunding.

In your opinion, what are the major aspects of the City of Mist RPG? Please give us an elevator pitch of the system and the setting.
City of Mist is a noir (detective) game about ancient stories and legends trying to manifest in a modern day city. You play Gateways, ordinary individuals who become infused with a legendary force called a Mythos –  a force that is trying to tell its story through them. However, the city is under the influence of the Myst, a mystical veil that obscures all legends and makes them believe they are mundane, so your character is constantly torn between her normal life and the legend inside her.

City of Mist RPG: Crime scene (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Crime scene (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

Driven to solve their personal and group questions, your crew investigates strange cases and unsolved mysteries in hopes to uncover the truth about the city, its legends, and eventually themselves. Of course, on they way they will meet many other legends with different agendas who will try to use them for their own story.

The system, which is tailored for the game, is completely based on free-text tags in order to allow full flexibility in choosing your powers, activating them at any level (with a price), and describing any kind of condition you can think of, all without losing the crunch and impact on the game. Also, the game has a non-linear character development system that is influenced by your choices between the legendary and ordinary aspects of your character.

[Editor’s note: You can find more City of Mist 101 tutorial videos on Youtube.]

City of Mist RPG Playbooks (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG Playbooks (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

At first glance, your game system looks like a mash-up of Powered by the Apocalypse (e. g. Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, tremulus) and Fate. What are the unique features of City of Mist?
Actually, while we did play some of the original campaigns of City of Mist using FATE, the real inspiration for the system came from the game Lady Blackbird. I was looking for a way to offer complete flexibility in describing your character without getting that feeling I sometimes got with FATE where all the rolls felt the same. So I combined the Apocalypse Engine, which is great for drama and suspense, with something similar to Lady Blackbird’s tags.

City of Mist RPG: Declan (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Declan (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

The result is a very cinematic game engine. There are no stats or skills, just short descriptions, and you use them to invoke trope-based moves that keep driving the story forward, allowing players to take control and express their characters. For example, alongside moves like Investigate and Take a Risk, we have moves like Make A Hard Choice which is invoked in a moment of inner struggle, or Stop Holding Back which you invoke when your character is really unleashing her legend and is willing to sacrifice to do so. As I mentioned earlier, even the ‘damage’ system is descriptive and crunchy at the same time, so when you take conditions they can get any type of descriptor and still have a meaningful impact, for example chained-3, depressed-2, or forced-into-astral-projection-5.

The character evolution system demands that you act in line with your character’s themes – search for answers to your personal Mysteries and uphold your Identities. When you do, you can evolve your themes and get more tags and improvements (e.g., special moves). When you don’t, you may end up losing the theme which is equivalent to a hero in a story failing their best friend of losing their powers, but this also opens up an opportunity for a new theme to arise. So basically you have a lot of opportunities to develop your character’s story and that has a direct impact on your tags and therefore abilities.

City of Mist RPG: Salamander (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Salamander (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

A representative City of Mist group consists what types of characters and what makes them interesting? Which cool „classes, races, powers, etc.“ can players expect?
The system is completely classless – there are no types of characters in City of Mist and every legend is totally unique. However, to help you create your character we will offer themebooks: they are like character creation questionnaires relating to a specific theme in your character, e.g. Mission, Training, Personality, Defining Event, Defining Relationship etc. There are also Mythos-powers themebooks, such as Bastion to describe the Mythos defensive powers or Subversion to describe the powers it gave you to hide your activity. However, these themebooks don’t force you to choose specific types of powers; they help you discover and put into words the specifics of your chosen legendary powers.

Beyond the fact that your character can have any power or trait you have in mind, the game also makes it easy for you to create a set of motives in the form of Mysteries and Identities, for both your character and the groups as a whole. This makes for some great tension when you try to navigate your own conflicting agendas.

City of Mist RPG: Mitosis (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Mitosis (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

What are stories that players will tell? Which kind of threats will they likely have to oppose?
The Myst makes everybody in the City oblivious to the activity of legends, but in actuality, Mythoi and their avatars run the city. The greatest politicians, crimelords, and trend setters are only dancing to the flute of some legend or another (or they are legends themselves). Strange things happen all the time in City of Mist: people disappear, start behaving differently, ancient artifacts get stolen, etc. — but normal people can’t see these cases for what they really are.

Partly awakened, you can remember the miracles and horrors you see, unlike the greater population. Maybe you are asked to do a job as professionals, or you run a private investigation firm, or you operate as masked vigilantes or conspiracy busters. Whatever the reason, you uncannily get involved in these strange cases that may interest you personally but also help you discover more about the situation in the city.

As you investigate a case, you’re likely to bump into other legends who may initially appear ordinary, but sooner or later will reveal their true nature. It could be that cashier girl in the candy store is actually the witch fom Hensel and Gretel, or that the old drag queen who always wears feather coats is actually a manifestation of Quatzlcoatl, the winged serpent. Some of these legends will be your allies, others your opposition, but they all have their own agendas so things can get very personal and very complicated, very fast. Of course, the deeper you dig, the closer you come to the super-powerful legends that run the city and when they start to take personal interest in you, you better hide :)

City of Mist RPG: Post Mortem (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Post Mortem (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

Your setting reminds me of Matt Wagner’s excellent Mage: The Hero Discovered books. Please tell us more about your inspirations. Where can fans find valuable incitements?
Yes, I remember that comic book! Actually, one of the players in the first City of Mist campaign (over 10 years ago) introduced me to it and I really enjoyed it. For this project, the main inspirations were the Fables universe [DC Vertigo comic books], and particularly the Telltale mobile game The Wolf Among Us, as well as Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which, although they are not inherently mystical, really capture the noir detective-with-powers atmosphere that I wanted to craft the game around. Of course, this is reflected in many of my choices regarding the art and design.

Who or what is Son of Oak Game Studio?
Son of Oak Game Studio is the indie team that has been working on the game and will be involved in the development of the full version. Currently, it includes myself in the role of game creator, designer, and producer; Marcin Soboń, our amazing illustrator; Juancho Capic and Manuel Serra as the graphic designers; and Eran Aviram as the editor. Yaniv (Neev) Rozenblat also helps us with community-building and general inspiration.

City of Mist RPG: Excalibur (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist RPG: Excalibur (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

After the Kickstarter, what kind of further development can fans expect? Any other projects you want to share?
Oh, yes, we have a lot coming up… Beyond the completion of the full book, we already have plans for about four different sourcebooks, and a whole story arc of Cases (adventures/scenarios). We’re also toying with that idea of creating a City of Mist comic book, but that remains to be seen. There are other, bigger surprises waiting to unlock on our Kickstarter campaign that may affect the future. My personal favourite is going to involve the City of Mist fans in a way that I don’t think was ever done before. So it’s worth the wait.

As for the future, there are already solid directions for two more games from Son of Oak, but right now we have our full attention on City of Mist.

Why do you think fans should support the Kickstarter for City of Mist right now?
First, if you like the premise of the game and you want to create mythically-powered detective stories in City of Mist, the full book will be packed with loads of ideas, inspiration, and awesome mechanics for your games. Second, if you checked out our Starter Set and loved what you saw, you’ll know that we are committed to creating beautiful products that are a pleasure to read and flick through as well as play. And third, the Kickstarter Campaign will offer many different types of goodies for backers, from KS-exclusive content to various accessories, and some significant discounts — we really want to give back to the community that supports us.

City of Mist roleplaying game (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

City of Mist roleplaying game (Image: Son of Oak Game Studio)

Finally, how would you describe the Israeli hobby scene?
The Israeli RPG scene is incredibly active. For such a small country, there are so many opportunities to play. There are at least 3 major conventions every year, as well as many small ones. There are seveal ongoing LARP games, several hobby stores, a number of blogs and podcasts, very active forums and Facebook group etc.  A lot of the credit for this should go to the ISRP (Israeli Role-Players), a non-profit organization that has really promoted RPGs here and has made some incredible achievements considering they are based on volunteer work alone. The community in Israel actually contributed a great deal to making City of Mist happen, whether by playing and running playtests and actual plays, helping to promote it locally and abroad, producing a Hebrew version, etc. The challenge faced by the RPG community here is the lack for financial prospects for creating content in Hebrew, which has made it virtually impossible for creators, artists, and even translators from Israel to work professionally on Hebrew games.

Thank you, anything else you want to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about City of Mist!

For further information check out the Kickstarter for the City of Mist RPG. You can also download the FREE City of Mist RPG Starter Set.

Disclaimer: This is – not – a paid advertisement. I have been watching the project for while and contacted Amit via Twitter. We discussed a bit about the international and the German hobby market. Furthermore, I have no personal relationship to the City of Mist RPG team. I am a backer of their Kickstarter. Take care and good luck.

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1 Kommentar

  1. Das Projekt klingt wirklich interessant und es erinnert mich irgendwie an Sin City.
    Wobei, hier trifft wohl eher Harry Dresden auf Sin City.

    AL