To all the sleepers in the City, that nasty storm that cropped up out of nowhere and thrashed the docks was little more than something to scratch your head at and say “huh, weird.” But for those who can really see the City for what it is, they know there’s almost always much more at play, much more than meets the eye.
In City of Mist, players take on the roles of Rifts, citizens of the City who are awakened to the reality of the world, and who have a foot in both the world of the average and a world much more mythical. Along with a game master, or Master of Ceremonies, each player’s Rift has a Logos (an ordinary life) and a Mythos, a legend living inside of them. King Arthur, Cinderella, Babe the Big Blue Ox, Poseiden… one of these legends (or one of millions more) could be living within your character, and how their legends and powers manifest, and what you do with those powers in a city full of other people just like you, is what City of Mist is all about.
Having a Mythoi inside you means a few things: you’re awakened to the reality of the world around you, you have certain powers and special abilities that make you incredibly unique, and, most importantly, you ask a lot of questions. And while this game can be played with PC’s taking the roles of investigators seeking out the weird ala Call of Cthulhu, that’s not really the be-all, end-all vibe of the game. You could be a curious kid with the Mythoi of a leprechaun inside you (which would explain your penchant for always finding money when you need it), or you could be a used car salesman with the Mythoi of Cupid (which would explain why everyone seems to be falling in love around you, but not with you). Regardless of who you are, what you do, and what your Mythoi is, you’re always going to have questions about the wider world around you, and that’s where the collaborative, storytelling-first nature of City of Mist comes into play.
When you create your character, along with figuring out who they are and their Mythoi, you also choose four “Themes” that help flesh out and describe your character. These themes are broken up between powerful, magical Mythos themes and more mundane, everyday life Logos themes. A character with one Mythos theme and three Logos themes has only just begun to get in touch with their mythical side, whereas a character with three Mythos themes and one Logos is considered legendary. The Mythos themes are general, and cover many different aspects and expressions within. Those themes include: Divination, Mobility, and Subversion, among others. As a quick example, a character who has a Mythoi of the Invisible Man would take Subversion as a theme, as that covers invisibility. Logos themes, on the other hand, cover the day-to-day life of your character, and include: a Defining Event, Possessions important to your character, and Training. A personal chef, regardless of their Mythoi, could take Training in cooking as one of their themes. Once everyone’s chosen their themes and expanded them with more specific tags, it’s time to figure out why all the PC’s are hanging out together.
When you play the game with a group, you all agree from the start to create a “Crew.” Your characters don’t have to all be the same type of person, but they do all need some sort of an identity or a shared mystery that binds them all together. In this way, you’ll know from session #1 why everyone’s in the room. In practice, this goes a long way to eschew the classic starting scenario hiccup of: “We all meet at the inn… why are we adventuring together again?”
Once that’s been established, the game really begins to hum. Players know the problem they’re trying to solve, the MC knows how they want to set up the obstacles the players will face, and then it’s time to dip into scenes of action. Cinematic by its very nature, City of Mist prefers a cinematic approach to tabletop roleplaying. You drop into the action, figure out what you need to figure out (or get stumped) and move on. And whether fighting a Kraken or trying to figure out where that drunk guy you’ve been tailing stumbled off to, PC’s will use “Moves,” augmented by their Themes and Tags, to try to accomplish their goals.
The core moves are: Investigate, Convince, Face Danger, Hit With All You’ve Got, Go Toe to Toe, Change the Game, Sneak Around, and Take the Risk. These evocative descriptions cover just about anything a player character could want to do in the game. They also make up the core mechanic of the game, with players rolling 2d6 to attempt to succeed. If they roll a 6 or lower, they fail. A 7, 8, or 9 is a success that could cause complications, and a 10 or higher is a smashing success.
For review purposes, we covered the City of Mist core rulebook. This rulebook seems to have since been broken up into two smaller guides, the City of Mist Player's Guide and the Master of Ceremonies Toolkit. The game is also facilitated with the help of cards that collect the basic information needed for each character, each crew, and more. Those cards are also available for sale in physical form, though they're currently out of stock. Further more, City of Mist also has a Starter Set and a large amount of supplemental PDF's going into great detail about sections of the City, character options, case files the players can take on, and small-time villains. To check it all out for yourself, visit the official City of Mist site.
So now the big questions remain: Who are you? What are you doing in the City of Mist? And what incredible legend hides within you?
The Bottom Line:
City of Mist takes an incredible idea and gives it player agency in its setting and gameplay. I really like the way the real world and the magical world are sort of tethered to each other, and playing the game means paying attention to both. You can’t just go swinging Excalibur around all day, you’ve also got to make rent, and figure out what happened to that kidnapped kid, and call your mom for her birthday. If you like that sort of tension between the modern world and the mystical, then this game is absolutely going to hit the mark for you.
Get this game if:
-You’re looking for a new storytelling-focused tabletop RPG
-You want to embody the spirit of a legend
-You like your magic set in the modern world
Avoid this game if:
-You’re looking for a more mechanically heavy game
-You want a more classic fantasy setting
-You’d rather focus on your personal story, rather than the story of the group
TechRaptor covered City of Mist with a copy provided by the publisher.