Mysteries & Identities For Players
When creating a character in the City of Mist TTRPG, you’re not just filling out a character sheet. You’re creating a character, with their own flaws and motivations that guide them through the game’s plot. You’re not just running through a dungeon stabbing goblins for loot and XP. If you’re chasing after goblins, it’s because those goblins may have murdered your mentor on that fateful night long ago, and only you can uncover the mystery and bring those goblins to justice!
…Or something else along those lines. The point is, your character isn’t just their power tags. Your character is also the Mysteries they choose to pursue and the Identities they wear like masks in their day-to-day life. City of Mist’s game system puts your character’s backstory right into the mechanics, and the more you delve into the idea of who your character is, the stronger they’ll become as a result.
We’ve covered choosing themebooks and power tags in the past. But in today’s video, we’ll be going over how to create Mysteries and Identities that will bring your character to life!
What are Mysteries & Identities?
In City of Mist, your character is made up of four themes ranging from legendary Mythos themes to mundane Logos themes. Each theme has a type, power tags, weakness tags, and most importantly, a Mystery or an Identity that you create.
Mythos themes have Mysteries that call on the character to answer the questions that come with their legendary powers. These Mysteries can be as specific as “What is stopping Chernabog from engulfing the world in eternal shadow?” or as broad as “What is evil?”. Your character can even have a mix of the two. For example, both of these Mysteries are held by the vigilante Ghostface, who you can play as in the Character Folio Pack.
Your Mysteries give your character a reason to delve deeper into the magical aspects of the City of Mist. As long as your character is thinking about these Mysteries, they can never truly go back to their normal life. The more they pursue answers, the more in tune they become with their Mythos.
But on the flipside are your character’s Identities. Each Logos theme has a statement that defines who your character is (or at least who they think they are). If you strip away the magic powers, what are you left with? These ideals are then put to the test during the case.
Using Mysteries & Identities
The Mysteries and Identities you choose for your character aren’t just flavor text that you can ignore. These are vital aspects of your character that serve as one of the main mechanisms for their progression.
When you level up in City of Mist, you’re improving a specific Theme on your sheet by giving it Attention. You can do this by confronting your flaws through weakness tags or by spending time on your themes through the Downtime move. But there are three other moves that can improve your character, and all three have to do with your Mysteries and Identities.
When your character finds answers to one of their Mysteries, they activate the move Finally, Some Answers. This move gives multiple options for how your character can react to their revelations. If your character has gained a deeper understanding of their Mythos, mark Attention. If their discovery leads them to pull back from their investigation, mark Fade. And if your question is fully answered, you can erase that theme’s Mystery and start a new one! What makes this move special is that you–the player, not the MC–get to choose.
Identities work in a similar way with the move End of the Road. If your Identity is ever resolved, you can choose to either rewrite the Identity or replace your Logos theme altogether. For example, the unkillable priest Job is on a mission to find the men who killed his family. Once he finds those men, will he change his mission to include other wrongdoers, or will he hang up the theme altogether?
Finally, your character may have to Make a Hard Choice. Playing City of Mist is a constant struggle between your character’s legendary and mundane life, and whenever your character has to choose between investigating their Mysteries, standing by their Identities, or backing away from either, Make a Hard Choice activates. If they stand by their Identity, mark Attention. If they continue the course of their Mystery, follow the Finally, Some Answers move. But if your character chooses something else, then you’ll need to mark Fade or Crack on those themes.
This is the move for dramatic choices, especially when a smug villain is tempting the crew.. Sure, Job could stop a mafia kingpin from selling drugs in his neighborhood. But what if that kingpin has information on his family’s killers? Can he afford to stray from his mission? Or will he let the kingpin go in order to pursue his own justice? These are the dramatic moments Mysteries and Identities create in the game.
Creating Your Mysteries & Identities
When you’re filling out your themes, consider your Mysteries and Identities carefully. These statements aren’t just part of your character. They’re the parts of your character you want to actively pursue.
For your Mysteries, consider if you want a specific Mystery with an answer versus a philosophical Mystery that only your character can answer. If you have a specific Mystery like “Who threatens to blot out the fifth sun?”, you’re setting yourself up for a confrontation with that force. But if your question is something broad like “What does it mean to be everywhere?”, then your character is going to be thinking about that question and viewing the rest of the world through that lens.
For your Identities, consider what is truly important to your character while also considering how it can be put at risk. Any Identity that you put down is going to be tested at some point by a good MC. If you want your character to be married, but you don’t want that marriage to be strained by the plot, then I’d advise not putting “I love my wife” as an Identity.
Other than that, your Mysteries and Identities sum up your character in four sentences. They are direct statements to the MC about how your character interacts with the world, and they’re also what your MC will draw on for inspiration during the game.
Speaking of, join us for our next video as we give helpful tips for MC’s on how to utilize Mysteries and Identities in their games. Until then, let us know what you think in the comments, on social media, or on the City of Mist Discord.
Until then, have fun!