City of Mist: Expansions and Alternatives
I’ve written my review of City of Mist both to read and to play. I had to give a quite wary recommendation for this game. The world is really interesting, the art and design are beautiful. The system is quite a mess to read and feels like there are a couple of issues which I’ve encountered. The thing is, these could easily be just me. If you’re not deterred from buying and reading City of Mist, good for you. If you want to seek an alternative for this sort of play, that’s also understandable.
In addition to the review copy of the core book which Modiphius generously provided, I also bought a bunch of their expansions partly to try and understand the system a bit better when it was kicking my arse upon my initial read through. I used some Modiphius credit from a code given by a friend and some of my own scratch as well. With that in mind, I’ll tell you about some of the expansions on offer to City of Mist. This is not exhaustive, as there’s a lot out there.
I’m also going to list a few games which can be used as alternatives to the system or are able to provide similar play experiences without the stumbling points my group encountered.
City of Mist Expansions
First of all, there are a bunch of quickstarts. I believe this is the current most up to date version. It contains all you need to get started except for friends and some dice.
All-Seeing Eye Investigations is also known as the Starter Box, serving as a new introductory set with pregens, rules and ‘Shark Tank’ as a premade case.
Demons in Cross End and V is for Going Viral are found for free in the quickstart and are able to be acquired separately. Demons in Cross End features a zealous Rift and a weird cult with the players stuck in between. V is for Going Viral was featured in my AP and while things can play out differently (my players missed one whole track of clues and went down another path), it’s pretty much as covered there.
Gambling with Death is purchaseable on its own, but comes in the MC’s Guide if you buy the edition of the core book that’s split into two. It’s set around a death at a casino, some mistaken identities and an attempt at a heist. It was a close contender for the game I would have run as the test run for my group.
Demons in Cross End, V is for Going Viral and Gambling with Death are full cases written by Amít Moshe, the author of City of Mist. They allow a lot of potential deviation and the Iceberg structure means there are multiple routes of getting to the answers you need.
La Colonia de Sombras is written by Mark Diaz Truman and covers the Latin immigrant district. Like the great district sections of the core book (or the MC’s book in the separated edition). It’s got a bunch of locations and Rifts including Rifts of Kukulkan, Tepeyollotl and a giant worm monster, Cuiluhuexi, guarding a door to the underworld in a school who can become your friend.
Puppet Show and Stone Cold Beauty by Jack Goodwin are not full cases, but Rifts who can be encountered and added either into existing mysteries as foils or to build a mystery around. Puppet Show has a grimdark version of Geppetto and Stone Cold Beauty brings Medusa and her sisters to The City.
The products I’ve not bought include:
An MC Screen – I used the MC sheets, so I don’t know how much more this would be of use to me. It’d be good to keep my notes away from players, I guess, instead of having them on folded bits of paper.
Playbooks – Given my issues with character creation, it’s a good move that they’ve made even more pregens than the ones from the quickstart. So far I’ve seen Ben “Baby New” Newman and Mairead Conroy aka The Boogeyman.
Don’t Believe the Truth – A look further deep into the machinations of the city as a preview to the upcoming Shadows & Showdowns sourcebook. This contains the chapter from that book which contains six Avatars to help frame series around.
More Districts & Cases – These are similar to the ones above by the looks of it. This way if you want new cases beyond those from the MC book and quickstart, or you want locations like the tourist traps or a kind of undercity, then they have you covered.
Alternatives to City of Mist
I’ve got a few suggestions here, and varied amounts of experience with each of them. If you either want to use the concept of City of Mist in another game or just want something tonally similar, check these out.
Hit the Streets: Defend the Block
City of Mist is Superhero Noir, focusing on investigative elements in a set neighbourhood. Hit the Streets: Defend the Block skews slightly closer to Jessica Jones than Fables by being specifically about superheroes looking after a small neighbourhood.
You play superheroes who might be brighter and more colourful than your Netflix Defenders type characters, but they’re still pretty low level. They have a real job and life outside of their heroism. Brilliantly, part of this game involves the group collectively making a small neighbourhood which you’ll look after.
The look of the book isn’t as glossy or beautiful as City of Mist, but it’s still very similar and has a good noir hero style to it. The system is nice and simple, even with superhero abilities. It also uses a lot of good indie RPG techniques in the running and advice sections to help the game run smoothly.
These I’m kind of lumping in together. It may not be fair, but I always link the two in my mind. They’re older Powered by the Apocalypse systems using urban fantasy elements. Characters aren’t so much superheroes, but they are interacting with a stranger world than we know. Monster of the Week casts the group as mostly human people who investigate monsters. It has a simple but intricate system to build mysteries and drive players towards it, similar to the Iceberg structure but a bit easier to use in my opinion.
Urban Shadows switches things so that you’re monsters or monster-adjacent people acting as part of a supernatural society. It’s the kind of World of Darkness crossover game of your dreams and players work with the MC to build how the world and the supernatural interact. Neither of these are super heroic, but you’re still playing empowered people in a weird world.
This is one of my most recent new loves, RPG-wise. Using the Fate RPG system, #iHunt is about monster hunting in the gig economy. It’s almost painfully now. You are definitely not a superhero or powered, but you can kick arse. You use an app called iHunt to take jobs to hunt monsters and kill them. In truth, the real enemy here is capitalism, but monsters are the physical threat you’ll be dealing with. Depending on when Mike puts this up, I’ll have a brief review either recently posted or about to be posted. Once I get to play the game, I’ll do a full review and play report.
This one’s a bit of a stretch, as it’s more of a general superhero game, but it’s one of my favourite RPGs. The game tells the story of young superheroes figuring out who they are and what they’re able to do. The power level can easily be kept down to street-level and I’ve managed to have more investigative stories in the world.
This is the game I’ve got the least experience with, but it uses the investigation-themed GUMSHOE system to tell stories of police in a superhero world. This runs a bit more like Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers rather than City of Mist, but the focus on superheroism and investigative abilities might make it a good match.
So there are a few options, although I’m sure there are more. If you want a game featuring superheroic investigations and a side of the supernatural then you can play City of Mist or try one of them. Sound off in the comments if you’ve used any of the supplements for CoM or have other alternative systems for investigation games in this style.