I’m getting back on track with posts here after a rough week of food poisoning and recovery. These things happen when you mouth off about Great Cthulhu and other powers that be, but I can’t stay away for long. Today I’d like to delve into some exciting new content for City of Mist: new official themebooks!
These themebooks are still in the playtest stage as Son of Oak works on their upcoming product Shadows and Showdowns. This isn’t the only element of the book (the city-spanning conspiracy is also a big plus, not to mention the Nights of Payne Town campaign) but these are what we’ve got right now and they’re plenty exciting.
The first new themebook is Conjuration, powers of creating something that operates independently from the character. This can be summoning a dream-creature, opening a portal to another realm, or creating a golem from clay. Some of the example ones that are pretty cool include Rumplestiltskin, steampunk vehicles, or summoning card soldiers. The questions about Conjuration are pretty helpful in creating a fun and evocative theme about conjuring something, but previously I would use the Expression themebook for this sort of thing. Is this one so different?
Expression, though, is about attacking with some defensive options if it applies. Conjuration is more of a utility use of your powers. Mechanically this is borne out in the theme improvements: Expression improvements have a lot of options for overwhelming force and pushing your powers to the breaking point, while Conjuration improvements make it easier to shape the power to exactly what you need. You can make your Conjuration look like something normal, pick a Core Move that matches up with the power, or use Change the Game more.
Characters operating under a prophecy, following a sacred duty, or a legacy of your family. This is definitely a new type of themebook that doesn’t repeat anything from the core book. King Arthur and Heimdall are obvious Rifts for this theme but also the Little Mermaid (trying to find true love or a human soul, depending on which version) and the family ties of Icarus.
As always, the questions for creating power tags for this theme are great and lead to excellent story elements. How do you live with your destiny? How can you hasten it or escape it? Who or what was your mythos before destiny manifested? How cool would it be to start off as the young boy Wart and then midway through a campaign shifting to King Arthur? The improvements also play into this narrative momentum in a way that reminds me of the Doomed from Masks. Awesome stuff.
If you want a sidekick then Conjuration helps with that. If you want to try something different, though, then there’s this themebook. Just how is a Familiar different from a Conjuration, though. Or, for that matter, the Ally theme from Chapter 4 of the core book? Well for one thing the Ally (and the Defining Relationship for that matter) are Logos themes while the Familiar is a Mythos theme. If you want a friend with supernatural powers then this is the themebook to turn to.
The other difference, and what differentiates it from Conjuration, is that the Familiar is always around. While the Queen of Hearts might summon up her card soldiers when she needs them, the Snake of Eden or the lion-goddess Sekhmet are always around. To a certain degree there’s some splitting of hairs going on here but that’s alright. In my book, Conjuration and Familiar are two sides of the same coin and you pick which one based on the pro and con you wish. If you don’t want to summon your companion all the time then pick Familiar, but this means your companion can be a liability when you don’t need them. If you don’t want to worry about the companion between uses then pick Conjuration, but you’ll have to summon them when you do want them.
The only Logos themebook in Shadows and Showdowns, Turf is a natural addition to the collection of themebooks available to City of Mist characters. You have Defining Event and Defining Relationship to create ties to past events or people in the setting, and there are mentions of mentors in themebooks like Training. It’s a big theme in noir stories, though, for characters to have particular haunts or stomping grounds. This themebook is used beautifully in the All-Seeing Eye Investigative services that will be coming with the Nights of Payne Town campaign that’s coming out. Detective Enkidu has Precinct 23 and has strong connections to anyone in that precinct.
This certainly seems like the sort of thing to discuss with an MC before you start. If they don’t have any intention of placing the story in your turf neighborhood then that’s not a great choice as themebook. The City is flexible enough, though, that you can reasonably include your Turf if you want to. It also helps to pick a large-scale Turf to allow for an increasing number of options as far as story. A single night club isn’t going to be too relevant unless it’s the center of an investigation. Better to pick the city docks or a neighborhood. Conceptual turf’s work as well like the fashion industry or a social movement.