Gatekeepers: The 'Men in Gray' of City of Mist TTRPG
Did you know that man reading the newspaper is secretly watching you? The one who’s vaguely familiar? You’ve never seen him before...except you have. You just don’t remember. And after the Gatekeeper agent talks to you, you’ll forget this time you’ve seen him. Just like all the other times.
In the past, we’ve gone over the Mist as well as the mysterious Gatekeepers. But in this article, we’re diving further into the secretive organization that hides in the Mist’s shadows. The Men and Women in Gray are real and, with the expansion Shadows & Showdowns, you can even play as one! There are spoilers ahead, so only continue if you wish to ask...
WHO ARE THE GATEKEEPERS?
Basically, the Gatekeepers are a mysterious organization that has been around for much of the City’s history. They look over the Mist and make sure to shut down out of control Rifts when they can. They can also change depending on how you run the Mist in your game. Conveniently, Shadows & Showdowns has different “answers” for what the Mist is and expounds on the canonical, published version, so MC’s who wish to know what the Gatekeepers are keeping secret can plan accordingly.
The powers of the Gatekeepers come from their understanding and control over the Mist. Each such ability is called a Gatekeeper Art that has been passed down for generations within their ranks. This is where they get their ability to Shroud the memory of legendary events and powers. They can also Mend the Mist to stop a Rift’s powers permanently, Perch on its vapors and gather information, Anchor the Mist to objects, and even Weave it to alter reality like the Matrix!
Most Gatekeepers are normal people who’ve awakened just enough to see through the Mist, only to turn away and reject their own Mythos. There are thousands of Gatekeepers, but not all of them are duster-wearing field agents.
THE GATEKEEPER ORGANIZATION
While the Gatekeepers are mysterious and powerful, they operate much like any other government bureau. There’s different departments filled with different people all with their own motivations. You have your desk jockeys, your field agents, your liaisons who negotiate with Rifts, Mist technicians, and when things get really bad, your SWAT units!
No matter what their specializations are, Gatekeepers are still people. Some fight Rifts out of a personal vendetta, others are just slackers barely doing their job. You also have your corrupt agents who let Rifts run amok for the right price. But many have their own ideas for how the Gatekeepers should operate, with their own internal factions to boot. Factions like the Argent Clan, who wish to wage a holy war against all Rifts, or the Stewards of the City, who wish to protect all citizens of the City including Rifts.
Having these different social groups makes for an HR nightmare, but all Gatekeepers are united in one respect. The Mist is the only thing keeping this City together, and it needs to be preserved.
THE GATEKEEPER ARSENAL
To better blend in, Gatekeepers have special gadgets disguised as normal objects. For example, their fedoras use the Mist to shroud their face from memory. Their pistols and smoke bombs can turn off Rift powers. They even have specialty vehicles like Mist sprayers disguised as street-sweepers!
All of these gadgets draw upon that same understanding of the Mist that the Gatekeepers derive their Arts from. They can also use special foci to anchor the Mist to them and enhance their Arts. It’s easy to underestimate the Gatekeepers as pencil-pushers, but in truth, they are one of the most magical organizations in the entire City.
PLAYING A GATEKEEPER
Shadows & Showdowns provides everything you need to play a Gatekeeper character and even run a full Gatekeeper crew. There are also several examples of series concepts for Gatekeeper campaigns. But what you really need to play a Gatekeeper are the Mist themebooks.
There are three Mist themebooks in Shadows & Showdowns that represent your character’s life as a Gatekeeper and can be used instead of Mythos themes. Almost all Gatekeepers have the Shrouding themebook, representing their basic control of the Mist. The other two themebooks represent either their Advanced Art or the Unit that’s under their command. Instead of having a Mystery or Identity, Gatekeepers have a Directive from up top they need to follow for each theme. Failing to follow that Directive could result in penalties or even being fired. And yes, Performance Reviews are a game mechanic.
Just like becoming an Avatar or Sleeper, your character can lose all their Logos themes and devote themselves fully to being a Gatekeeper. These indispensable members become Bigwigs, with all the power and authority that entails. Just be sure to keep an eye on office politics, because there will always be someone gunning for your job.
GATEKEEPERS AS ADVERSARIES
But if your crew would rather be on the wrong side of the law, then the Gatekeepers make for perfect adversaries. For MC’s, Shadows & Showdowns has everything you need to run a campaign that features the Gatekeepers, including for campaigns where the crew take the Gatekeepers head on! There are story seeds and custom moves you can drop into any story arc. There are also over 30 Gatekeeper Dangers, from the wimpiest desk jockeys to the strongest veterans.
How your crew interacts with the Gatekeepers--if they ever even know they exist--can be different from case to case. The Gatekeepers can be mysterious allies or active threats. But if you truly want to know more about this secretive organization, you’ll have to uncover the mysteries yourself within Shadows & Showdowns.
Tell us about your crew’s run-ins with the Gatekeepers. Have you made a Gatekeeper character? Tell us about it in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord. Until then, have fun!