Like princes after a funeral, the fantasy genre tabletop RPGs keeps accruing more claimants to Dungeons & Dragons’ throne. That may be an unfair characterisation of Legend in the Mist, Son of Oak Game Studio’s latest tabletop project, but the “rustic fantasy” title needs to do a lot of work to escape comparison to the monolith who haunts these halls.
Legend in the Mist borrows City of Mist’s naming convention and a bit of that urban fantasy predecessor’s roleplay cues - play remains focused on the narrative but will invite optional opportunities for tactical combat. Whatever story players weave together will centre their characters, and while they may not be living incarnations of mythical figures this time around it will allow for climactic moments of dramatic change.
One of the biggest departures for those coming from D&D and other 5E rulesets will be the lack of numbers splayed across character sheets. Instead, Legend in the Mist characters derive their abilities and persona from keywords or tags. These might describe physical traits, mental aptitudes, motivations, backstory, known spells and even catchphrases or idiosyncrasies. When invoked, their value is added to the appropriate die roll, meaning players have potentially dozens of approaches to any problem.
Characters will also progress along a distinctly non-linear route as their story progresses. A pivotal decision or gutting revelation might bring out a new dominant theme to a player’s avatar. Legend in the Mist allows those characters to change classes, switching keywords and tags to better suit this new version. Think Luke Skywalker wearing black robes in Return of the Jedi. The world changes us all, and we wear the scars of that moulding on us like clothing.
Does your weekly roleplay crew sweat over meticulous levelling and balancing encounters around party composition? Legend in the Mist accepts varying capabilities in the fundament of its design, assuming that the members of any group will very likely contain sagacious wizards, upstart champions, weird avatars of nature and at least one reluctant hero - a press release explicitly asks whether Frodo or Gandalf were more instrumental in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels.
Legend in the Mist will be a setting-agnostic system that can support a broad range of genres and narrative frames, but Son of Oak will support the initial release with their own “rustic fantasy” Hearts of Ravensdale setting book. Themebooks and theme kits designed to ease new players into the game, along with a beginner adventure will follow suit. Experienced facilitators and worldbuilders champing at the bit to craft their own worlds will still have the resources to do so, including a guide on developing magic systems and a thorough explanation on developing and using Tags and Keywords.
Ravensdale should apparently feel like “an old fireside tale” that takes place in a world with old, hidden magic and protagonists driven from their former lives by larger circumstances. Again, Son of Oak evokes Lord of the Rings here but also Ashitaka and the eponymous wolf girl from Princess Mononoke. The studio wants practitioners of the old powers sequestered away in their towers, forgotten by the world but not erased. Creatures both magical and mythical are all connected by a cosmology that is discovered and understood while adventuring - if the party invests time uncovering these truths, there will be satisfying rewards for their curiosity and dedication.
Son of Oak’s full design team has been dedicated to developing Legend in the Mist, the studio’s biggest project since the original City of Mist and following on the backs of the mythic cyberpunk title, :Otherscape. Mexican artist Daniel Pinal was tapped to showcase the Hearts of Ravensdale setting, and the few pieces already available illustrate a world full of colour and shadow, grinning adventurers and grizzled veterans, intrigue but also creeping danger.
Legend in the Mist will launch a Kickstarter campaign on February 6th in order to crowdfund physical and digital versions of both its core system book and the Hearts of Ravendale setting book. Virtual tabletop copies will be available, as well. Son of Oak currently expects the tabletop RPG to begin shipping to backers and retail sometime in 2025.