Creating a character in any TTRPG that will last for more than a session or two typically involves pulling in inspiration from one source or another. Maybe you're a history buff and know everything about the Greek Pantheon, and you've decided to pepper your character with hints and references to a particular member. Perhaps you're a superhero fan and want to make them into a character of the system you're playing. Maybe you're playing the fantasy version of your favorite real-world luminary.
What if there was a system where the references where heavily encouraged, if not required?
What is a Rift?
In City of Mist, you will more than likely end up playing a Rift. To explain what a Rift is, I must first explain what a Sleeper is.
Sleepers are the regular folks, the ones going about their day to day lives: work, families, friends, heartbreak, turmoil, melancholy. They are you and I in the real world.
In City of Mist, though, there is more. There are people who can see past the veil and notice that something is up with certain people, places, and even things. They notice the oddities of the City and within themselves. This people have access to their Mythos, this other legendary self. These people are called Rifts.
If I had to sum up this experience in "pop culture" references, I'd go with Once Upon a Time with a dash of Digimon Frontier. Essentially, the City has been placed under a Dark Curse, causing all within it to become regular, magic-less individuals. Some, however, are chosen and awaken, becoming able to not only recognize the legend within themselves (and others) but also have access to abilities associated with that story.
What is a Logos?
Unless you're an Avatar, your character is still clinging to their mortal life in some way. Perhaps you hold strong to that special someone in your life, or perhaps you're focused on your career. Maybe you cling to the training you've received in your life, or you focus on the life lessons from some major defining event.
Whatever you hold dear, this Logos, this mundane part of you, keeps the Mythos from taking over completely.
What is a Mythos?
A Mythos is a legend, a tale, a luminary, a thought, an idea, a being, a god (capital or lowercase), a deity, a thing. It's King Arthur, it's the Knights of the Roundtable, it's the Sword in the Stone, it's the stone. It's Sleeping Beauty, it's the Witch, it's the Seven Dwarves (as individuals or a whole), it's the casket, it's the poisoned apple.
A Mythos can be pulled from practically every element in a legend. It manifests in many ways, granting Rifts preternatural or supernatural abilities, beyond that of the normal humans. Some Mythos manifest in animals (Familiars), locations (Enclaves), or even inanimate objects (Relics).
Types of Rifts
As characters, you (probably) won't be playing a Sleeper. Sleepers, in game mechanics, have only Logos themes. It's possible to play one, though this will more than likely happen as a result of game play and character development.
Once a Sleeper awakens, they gain a Mythos theme and become Touched. They have their three Logos themes and a single Mythos theme representing the initial way their Mythos manifests in the City.
As the Mythos's influence grows, the Rift's Logos themes begin being replaced by Mythos themes. When your Rift has two Mythos themes and two Logos themes, a Rift is considered a Borderliner. And when your Rift has three Mythos themes and a single Logos theme, they are Legedary.
When your Rift shuns all of their Logos themes, their three Mythos themes being all the remains, congratulations: you are now an Avatar, capable of tremendous power and the ability to make your story come to life.
Example: Regina Mills, the Rift of the Evil Queen
If you were playing Regina Mills (from Once Upon a Time), this is how I would represent her as Rifts of various stages.
I don't recall Regina ever reaching the Sleeper stage (she does as Roni, though). This is the her life as a mayor (Routine), a mother (Defining Relationship), and an overall nasty woman (Personality). Sleepers (and Avatars) only have three themes.
As a Touched Rift, Regina has awoken to her Mythos of the Evil Queen. She would now have access to her magic and spellcasting abilities. This can be represented by the Adaptation themebook due to the sheer number of abilities she possesses.
When the Evil Queen begins to take over more and turn Regina into a Borderliner, she'll have two Mythos, with one replacing a Logos theme. As Rifts go through various stages, they gain/lose themes representing the parts of themselves that are changing. Throughout the show, she grows a bit more powerful and becomes less mean, though her status as a mother and mayor remain constant. She'll keep her Routine and Defining Relationship, and she'll probably gain another magic-related Mythos theme (Expression) to complement her existing skills.
A Legendary Regina has so much Evil Queen in her that things related to her "real" life no longer seem as important. Her role as the mayor would fall to the wayside; only her motherhood would ground her as a human. She could trick a lot of people (hell, she pretends to be so many other villains), so her next (and final) Mythos theme would probably represent that (Subversion).
As an Avatar – if she decides she no longer cares about her son – she'll drop the last remaining Logos theme, and ascend to Avatarhood. No longer Regina, the Evil Queen would do whatever she wanted (this sort of happens when Regina finally separates herself from the Evil Queen and the Evil Queen is her own separate entity).
I'm coming up with some Actual Play Fiction of City of Mist, starring the Rift of Hermes! If you're a member of the blog, check out my past newsletter and subscribe to the Merx newsletter to get more info on the status.
There's so much more left to explain about City of Mist, so stay tuned!
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!
There are also a ton of Youtube videos that explains these concepts!