What is the Mist in the City of Mist TTRPG?
Within the streets and alleyways of the City, always present but never in focus, is a haze that obscures the world for what it truly is. For this is no ordinary fog. It is an all-encompassing force that keeps the citizens of the City in blissful ignorance, save for those few who have tapped into their innate Mythos. This force’s true name cannot, by its own nature, be known. And while it is called many things, there is one name that stands out.
WHAT IS THE MIST?
While it would be impossible to fully describe what the Mist is, we can certainly describe what it does. Within the City of Mist tabletop RPG, there are many who are connected to different legends and Mythoi that manifest into reality-altering powers. The full number of people with these abilities is unknown, for the Mist keeps many from realizing their potential. These Sleepers go about their daily lives just like you and me, fully unaware of things like monsters and magic.
But those who access their Mythos despite the Mist become Rifts. Suddenly, magic is real! Yet even if you unfurl your wings or shoot lightning into the sky, no one around you sees it. The Mist hides the powers of Rifts as well in order to keep the city in check.
Without the Mist, all the legends within the City would realize their true power all at once. Chaos would reign as a giant Ganesh fights a Hydra downtown while werewolves and pukwudgies and sorcerers swarm everywhere else! Some theorize this is what the world was like before the Mist. Others wonder if there ever was a time before the Mist. It’s yet another mystery within a city of secrets, so how does it relate to you?
A RIFT’S CONSTANT COVER
The Mist is a background force that players will often deal with, for better or worse. The most common effect of the Mist is how it hides Rift activity from the sleeping public. Often, creatures and powers will be invisible to bystanders or they’ll be distracted at just the right time to look away. This creates a constant cover for Rifts that allows them some breathing room when using their abilities within the City.
But this doesn’t mean Rifts have total immunity from consequences. If you use your powers to rob a bank, you’ll still have robbed a bank, and the police will definitely chase you even if they can’t fully explain how you did it. Rifts can also see other Rifts, so if you use your powers in broad daylight, you may attract the attention of something more powerful and dangerous. Some Rifts actually use this aspect of the Mist to their advantage by displaying a small part of their Mythos to identify who can see it. A certain Rift fight club known as The Bowl keeps a bouncer with a unicorn Mythos out front for this reason. If you can’t see the unicorn horn, you can’t come in.
When Rifts deal with Sleepers, keeping the Mist in mind is essential. The Mist can muddle an investigation when a witness can’t recall what they’ve really seen. That said, there’s no telling what sight will awaken a Sleeper to their potential. If your loved one finds your demon summoning circle in your office, they could awaken as a new Rift from the shock, and what they do with their powers is now indirectly your responsibility.
There exist Rifts that actively fight against the Mist. And as we delve into those powerful forces, we’ll be talking about City of Mist spoilers that should only be seen by MC’s. Turn away now, for if you continue, you can never turn back…
AVATARS: MYTH MADE FLESH
If the Mist were an immovable object, Avatars would be the unstoppable force that would inevitably collide with it. While most Rifts have different connections with their Mythos, they still retain their human identity. But Avatars have just about fully given in to the legend inside them, becoming the very mythical figures they represent.
The relationship between Avatars and the Mist is complicated. The Mist wants to keep our world ordinary, while Avatars wish for their legends to be fully realized. The Mist is also a conscious force, one that can strike back when something threatens its very fabric. This keeps an Avatar from going all-out and taking over the city...but it doesn’t fully stop them.
Instead, Avatars come up with elaborate, iceberg-shaped plots to bring their plans to fruition, all under the cover of secrecy. This has the added effect of the Mist obscuring more and more of the Avatar’s influence, which is both a blessing and a curse for the Avatar. This is why so much of the City of Mist TTRPG revolves around mystery. Your crew has to uncover all the parts of an Avatar’s widespread operation in order to get a clue about who’s truly responsible.
But an Avatar is not the only force with minions. The Mist has its own followers, and they are just as terrifying as any monster that hides in your closet.
GATEKEEPERS: THE MEN IN GREY
The Gatekeepers are a hidden organization within the City of Mist, and no, they’re not the guys at the comic shop questioning if you’re a real fan. These Gatekeepers are agents who can utilize the Mist itself in order to protect the city. What this means is that many of them have the incredible ability to negate a Rift’s powers, putting everyone on a level playing field. They can also make anyone, Rift and Sleeper alike, forget what they’ve seen, which is how the Gatekeepers have managed to stay in secrecy.
There’s a lot more to talk about with the Gatekeepers, such as their motivations and arsenal and how they...and…
[Note from Amit: Kevin, you can’t just say you ‘forgot’ what you were going to write about. Look, just cut the section and finish up the article. We’ll revisit whatever you were going to say in a later one.]
The Mist in City of Mist is an important force, which is why it’s in the title of the game! It’s the reason the world is the way it is, and it’s what allows Rifts to live halfway-normal lives. But there are certainly mysteries waiting to be uncovered within its fog, and perhaps your crew will look into the mystery behind the Mist itself. Do ancient texts identify it? Is there a will that was once human now controlling it? Perhaps there is someone, somewhere and somewhen, who knows the origin of the Mist.
If you want to read more about the Mist, the Player's Guide and the MC Toolkit have introductory materials for PCs and MCs. The case Amnesia Town serves as a good intro to the Gatekeepers, and if you really want to take a deep dive into the fogbank, Suits Unveiled (included in the Shadows & Showdowns expansion) has everything you need to play a game revolving around the Mist, including rules for playing as Gatekeepers!
What are your headcanons for The Mist? How have your crews had to deal with it? Let us know in the comments or on the City of Mist Discord!