Tags in City of Mist are designed to create a more narrative and flexible game experience while allowing characters abilities, actions, and improvements to have a solid impact on the game, so that suspense, thrill, and enjoyment run high. Admittedly though, for most players and MCs Roll+Tags is kind of a new way to roll. Here are a few pointers on what you can do with tags in your game to enjoy this system’s full potential.
1. “Need the Tag”
If a narrative situation completely prevents a character from taking a certain action, then it’s impossible to make that move. For example, if Flicker doesn’t have a pistol, she cannot Hit with All She’s Got with a pistol, until she finds a way to get one first. A less obvious example: if Salamander is under the influence of powerful dark sorcery and takes an Enslaved-4 status, he or other PCs can’t simply Change the Game to remove tiers from his status, unless they have specific tags that can counter such sorcery.
WHEN TO INVOKE: When the MC rules the PC doesn’t have the means to take the action they’re attempting.
2. “Respect the Tag”
Similarly, if a character’s tag has narrative implications that change how actions and moves are interpreted, the narrative implications should take priority (when in doubt, the final call is the MCs). For example, if Mitosis tries to engulf Post-Mortem with some respiratory spore pathogen, but Post-Mortem has the tag Doesn’t breathe, then Post-Mortem does not need to roll Face Danger, because she is narratively immune to this move.
WHEN TO INVOKE: When the PC has a tag that perfectly and unquestionably resolves the situation.
3. “Question the Tag”
Conversely, remember that every tag is also open to narrative interpretation. For example, the tag Can’t die – already dead doesn’t automatically protect Post-Mortem from all attacks – it just means she’s a walking dead body, so harming her the same way you harm any other living human being (e.g., such as shooting her heart) just doesn’t work. However, Post-Mortem can still be dismembered or destroyed, so blasting a hole through her chest or shredding her with automatic fire will definitely have some implications. Therefore, when Post-Mortem gets hit by such harming attacks, she still rolls Face Danger, with the tag Can’t die – already dead empowering the action.
WHEN TO INVOKE: When the player invokes “Respect the tag” but it’s not so unquestionable as they thought.
4. “Get the Tag”
Characters can get new temporary tags and statuses by making the move Change the Game. For example, if Declan L’Estrange is in bar fight and reaches out for a bottle of whiskey, he is Changing the Game and can get a temporary Bottle of whiskey tag (which can come in handy in a number of ways!).
However, sometimes a character acquires a certain object, ability, or aspect within the game story without making a Change the Game move. In that case, the MC can sometimes back it up by giving her a temporary tag or status upfront. For example, if Kitsune breaks into the museum and finds an ancient warding talisman that could be useful later, the MC can give Kitsune a temporary tag Ancient warding talisman that it can use with its moves. Granting a tag upfront can also be used to reward players for awesome actions and narration. Just remember that each such tag is a significant improvement to the character and should either expire somehow or be bought as a permanent character improvement.
WHEN TO INVOKE: When the MC sees fit to grant a temporary tag / when the player asks for it (“Do I get the tag?” “You get the tag.”)
5. “Forget the Tag”
Finally, as stated in the Starter Set, all the core moves can also be used in narrative situations where no tags are required. For example, every character can check a place out (Investigate), talk some sense into someone (Convince), try to dodge an incoming hit (Face Danger), throw a punch at someone (Hit With All You’ve Got), etc. So even if that characters are denied their powers, they are still able detectives who can move the story forward! If a character takes an action with no relevant power tags, then the Power count simply starts at zero (roll+nothing), after which weakness tags and statuses apply. And even if the final Power is zero or less, the character gets a minimum of 1 benefit (Clues, Juice, or tier) from the move.
WHEN TO INVOKE: When a player wants to do something ordinary but hesitates because they have no supporting tags.