What Are Avatars in the City of Mist TTRPG?
Every Rift in the City of Mist tabletop RPG channels a legend to bring forth their mythical powers into the modern day world. Most Rifts still hold on to their human identities. However, some decide to cast off their real world identities to fully embody their myths. These people who’ve become something much more than human are known as Avatars.
WHAT ARE AVATARS?
Every Mythos that embodies a Rift--good or evil, god or fairy tale--wants to bring their legend into reality. Avatars are the natural conclusion. These beings have lost who they were once were and instead have taken the mantle and desires of their Mythos. This subsumption of identity gives them near godlike powers, making them nigh undefeatable. Imagine trying to fight someone who can incinerate you or make you betray your friends with a flick of their fingers!
Because the Mist seeks to obfuscate the mythical within the City, an Avatar’s immense power attracts the Mist to an incredible degree. Any part of an Avatar’s former identity is shrouded away, with some once-notable figures even being erased from history. This tends to work in an Avatar’s favor strangely enough, as it also shrouds their greater influence on the city.
Every Avatar has the same goal of making their legend real. Each Avatar has a feeling, a desire, or a lesson from their legend that they want to affect the whole City with, called their Agenda. If the Rift of Little Red Riding Hood, Scarlet, became an Avatar, she may want to hunt down all the “big bad wolves” in the City, turning the streets into her own hunting grounds. An Avatar of Salamander could want to bask in the warmth of the entire City burning, or an Avatar of Tlaloc could wish to flood the city in his protective waters. If an Avatar’s Agenda is ever allowed to be completed, the City and its people would be changed forever.
AVATARS AND ICEBERGS
You might wonder why Avatars don’t just take what they want by force if they’re so powerful. It turns out, while Avatars may be godlike, they’re not omnipotent. The Mist is an intelligent force that will most definitely act against anything trying to destroy it or otherwise break the barriers of fantasy and reality. Likewise, there are other Avatars whose Agendas clash as well as certain shadowy agencies that wouldn’t like powerful Rifts acting too openly.
For all these reasons, Avatars trade quality for quantity and affect the City insidiously on a massive scale. They become the figure behind the curtain, pulling strings that few even know are there. Their Agendas bloom into complex operations: someone like Scarlet could employ other monster hunting Rifts or even arm Sleepers against big bad wolves, while Salamander could have arsonists and bombers working to set the City aflame. By dividing their Agenda into different branches with different goals and lieutenants, they create layered operations called Icebergs that ensure the Avatar’s secrecy.
Some say there may even be a secret group of Avatars ensuring the City’s current status quo. But that would just be an absurd conspiracy theory, wouldn’t it?
The Iceberg starts on the street level where the crew meets the Avatars minions, some of whom don’t even know about the Avatar. Each layer in the Iceberg is another step closer to the Avatar, with mysteries your crew will need to solve before they find out who’s really in charge. They’ll climb down through the middlemen and the Avatar’s champions, until they meet face to face. This could be a life-changing--or life-ending--event.
FACING AN AVATAR
Don’t expect an Avatar to go down in a straight up brawl. They’re often written without stat blocks because their abilities are just THAT powerful. The only way to beat an Avatar is to figure out who they once were, what legend they are now, and what loophole can be used to end their Avatarhood. In essence, the only way to defeat them is to solve their mystery.
But if you can’t beat them, join them! Some Rifts agree with Avatars and seek to serve alongside them. Chapter 3 of Shadows & Showdowns introduces rules for becoming an Avatar’s Champion. After replacing a Mythos or Logos theme to show your loyalty to the Avatar, you can become gifted with a new Mythos theme representing the boon that Avatar bestows upon your character.
PLAYERS AS AVATARS
All Avatars were once Rifts just like the player characters, meaning PC’s also have the potential to become Avatars themselves. If a player loses their last Logos theme, they do not replace it with a new Mythos theme. Instead, without anything grounding them to the real world, their character’s Mythos takes over entirely.
The character becomes an Avatar who immediately seeks out to fulfill their Agenda. What that means is up to the player, but that one desire consumes everything they are. While their Avatar pursues their Agenda, the player can burn tags during rolls and instantly refresh them. This means their every roll is an automatic 10 with a Power of 3 (but statuses can still reduce their Power and force them to roll, especially ones they can't Face Danger against) .
Unlike established Avatars who have been around for years, sometimes decades or even centuries, your Avatar is the new kid on the block. Your character doesn’t yet have their own operation and minions to protect them. Likewise, those Avatars and shadowy agencies may have their own designs for a new super powerful Rift like you. Even your fellows PCs could try to take you down.
The character will either accomplish their goal, thus changing the City forever, or have to be defeated or brought back to their normal identity. The Avatar will face a dramatic end and will either fade away or become reborn in some manner. In any case, it won’t be long until they’re pulling out a new character sheet.
Despite being shrouded in mystery, we’ll be going over some of the most dangerous Avatars in future articles. What Avatars have you encountered in your game? Has one of your characters turned into an Avatar? Let us know on social media or on the City of Mist Discord.
Until then, have fun!