What is a Themebook?
Themebooks are not a new thing in TTRPGs, though a player coming from something like Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder should not a few differences. In D&D and PF, your character is made up of one or more Classes that focus your character and their archetype as well as grant the character special abilities and such.
A themebook, at least in City of Mist, does not do that.
When you create a character in City of Mist, you pick up to four themebooks—unlike some TTRPGs where you only get one—to describe what your character can do, and each themebook helps focus in on what you can do. However, many of the themebooks overlap with another, so while you might pick a themebook that focuses on defensive abilities, it typically has a way to involve an active, damage-dealing ability as well.
You can pick from a wide selection of Mythos-related themebooks focused on your "magical" abilities and another wide selection of Logos-related themebooks representing your mundane skills and abilities.
For Mythos, you have the following themebooks:
- Adaptation, which represents the ability to change per situation. This is where your spell casters, power copying, etc. would come from.
- Bastion, which reflects your defensive abilities, such as hardened skin, healing factors, reflexes, etc.
- Conjuration allows you to create and summon other entities.
- Destiny, whether you're avoiding it or not, represents a predetermined path for your character and the abilities that come from it.
- Divination is your mystical ability to simply know things, whether from precognition, enhanced senses, etc.
- Expression represents your ability to affect the world around you, such as telekinesis, ice blasts, fire powers, etc.
- Mobility is your ability to move from one place to another, such a teleporting, turning into water, etc.
- Subversion reflects your ability to hide the truth and be sneak, such as illusions, mind control, etc.
There are also three other Mythos-related themebooks that are not about your character specifically. Just like how humans can become Rifts, so too can places, animals, and objects:
- Enclave is the special name for a place that has taken on a Mythos, such as the Enclave of the Enchated Forest, perhaps.
- Familiar is the special name for an animal that has taken on a Mythos or some aspect of it, such as a dog taking on the Mythos of Toto.
- Relic is when a Mythos inhabits an object, such as Excalibur or the Mad Hatter's Hat.
These Logos themebooks describe your mundane life:
- Defining Event refers to a specific event that shapes your character today, such as a big promotion, a tragic accident, etc.
- Defining Relationship refers to a specific person that is pivitol to your life, such as a family member or friend, your mentor, etc.
- Mission is the driving force behind your character and is what motivates them to continue on, such as the fight against evil, uncovering the truth, or avenging a murder.
- Personality, if it's a huge part of who you are, describes you as a person: your charm or your wit, if you're an asshole or not, or if you are a goth or a geek
- Possessions make up the important things in your life, whether that be money, weapons, cars, robots, etc.
- Routine is your day-to-day job that has a special focus in your life. Perhaps you're a lawyer, a delivery driver, a cop, a stay-at-home parent, etc.
- Struggle is a themebook that should be taken with caution as it focuses on a truly hard part of your life that has a significant impact, such as addiction, death, or another difficult topic. You should check with your MC and fellow crew members before picking this themebook.
- Training, similar to a Routine, are the specific things that you've been trained to do that makeup who you are. Perhaps you've learned how to fight from your life on the streets, or you are an expert hacker, or you know how to cook up an amazing meal. I personally find that this themebook and Routine overlap, but Routine focuses more on the job while Training focuses on the skills.
- Turf is the place that helps make you who you are.
There are also three extra themebooks that you can gain during play, which can bring your total number of themebooks above four:
- An Ally themebook pertains to a specific individual (or collective) that helps you out regularly.
- Base of Operations describes a specific location that can grant you extra bonuses when needed.
- And you can't forget a sweet, sweet Ride to get you all around the City and past the Troll Bridges.
How themebooks work
D&D, Pathfinder, and similar TTRPGs give you abilities at certain levels based on your class. Other TTRPGs with themebooks typically grant you a set of abilities that you can add upon or enhance later on.
In City of Mist, you essentially create your own abilities by answering questions. Each themebook presents you with many questions. You start off by answering the first one, labeled A, then pick another two for a total of three. These three answers turn into your power tags (more on that in another post).
Let's take the Possession's Logo themebook for example. Question A, the mandatory question, is "WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR POSSESSION?" If you are playing a wealthy individual, this will probably be something like My endless supply of wealth. But if you decided to play a hoarder, it might be Massive hoard. What about a hacker? Fully modified laptop.
Whatever you answer the question with becomes your abilities.
On the flipside, each themebook also comes with four questions focused on your weaknesses, and you must answer one of those similarly.
Putting it all together
Depending on whether your character is a Sleeper, Touched, Borderliner, Legendary, or Avatar, you pick a certain number of Mythos and Logos themebooks, and as a crew, you define your Crew theme together.
If you're a Touched, Borderliner, or Legendary, you've got about 13 power tags and 5 weakness tags, while Sleepers and Avatars have 10 power tags and 4 weakness tags.
These tags describe all the things you can do and your character, and what makes them them. You pretty much have full control over these abilities and you can make some TRULY unique characters. There's no singular rogue archetype, or fighter, cleric, etc. It's all spread throughout the various themebooks waiting for you to put it together in the way you want.
If you want to check out City of Mist, try the free Quick Start guide over on DriveThruRPG!
And when you're done, check out the Player's Guide and the MC Toolkit!