Mist is the main source of magick in Ivalice, and appears as a key term, gameplay feature and a command option in Final Fantasy XII, and a stat in the Zodiac versions. As a command, it allows the player to summon Espers or perform Quickenings. As a term, it is important within the lore of Ivalice, and as such also appears in the spin-off sequel Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.
Naturally occurring energy, found in almost all regions of the world, affecting all living things, the climate, and even the land itself. Magick is but one of the diverse methods of harnessing the power of Mist, the most common being via its controlled release from magicite, an ore known to hold high concentrations of condensed Mist within its crystalline structure. For larger effects, a greater amount of Mist is required, making particularly rich magicite a valuable commodity. There are marked regional differences in the amount of Mist contained in the atmosphere and soil. While typically invisible to the naked eye, high densities of Mist will occasionally manifest in very visible phenomena. The highest concentrations of Mist can even do damage, leading to over-rapid changes in the environment, and violent behavior among animals and those more sensitive to the Mist's effects.
A mystical phenomenon related to crystals that allows the use of magic and other phenomena is a recurring element in the Final Fantasy series. In this sense, Mist is akin to the Lifestream from Final Fantasy VII, the Mist from Final Fantasy IX, and pyreflies from Final Fantasy X. In many Final Fantasy games this magic energy is related to the souls of humans and referred to as the life energy of all beings. In Final Fantasy XII Mist is not directly referred to as a life energy, but Mist-wielding beings who are biologically immortal exist: the Occuria, whose crystalline bodies ooze Mist. Certain people also fade into Mist upon death.
Mist appears linked to an alternate dimension, as Espers are said to have been banished from the mortal realm to "walk the Mist" and can only manifest in the physical realm when called upon by a summoner, or when a trespasser breaches an area they have been bound to guard. Mist is linked to crystals, the smaller ones known as magicite or nethicite. The Espers' glyphs are inside crystals that shatter upon the Esper's defeat, releasing the Esper from guarding the area it was defeated in, but becoming the servant to the one who felled it.
Sun-Cryst is the motherlode of deifacted nethicite, a large crystal housed atop the Pharos. The Great Crystal is speculated by the party to be the origin of Mist in Ivalice, but in many areas the Mist appears to seep up through the ground. This is similar to the substrata natures of the Lifestream in Final Fantasy VII, Mist in Final Fantasy IX and the Farplane in Final Fantasy X.
Areas thick in Mist are rarely inhabited by the main sentient races of Ivalice, as it inhibits some use of magicite (such as airships' skystones, resulting in the impassable Jagds) and breeds vicious monsters. Undead are especially numerous in Mist-abundant areas.
When densely concentrated, Mist becomes visible as a fog. Mist gathers in both living beings and stones called magicite. Anyone, either wielding these stones or not, can extract Mist to use magick. A form of magicite, nethicite, absorbs Mist, thus nullifying any magick effects. If deifacted nethicite absorbs too much Mist, it will release it suddenly if someone tries to extract it, resulting in a violent explosion. Manufacted nethicite cannot handle too much Mist, simply shattering if it absorbs too much.
Mist comes in different colors depending on whether it is active or cooled. Active Mist, such as that found in a nethicite explosion, is bright gold orange, whereas cooled (inactive) Mist is a darker gold with subtle blue and green overtones. The most notable sights of cooled Mist are in the Edge of Reason in the Feywood, just before entering Giruvegan, and the areas where an Esper appears.
The viera are sensitive to Mist; if they are exposed to too much, they will go into a "Mist frenzy", their strength increases and they will attack anyone who gets in their way.
When captured on the Shiva, the Mist from the Dawn Shard drives Fran berserk, and for gameplay purposes places her in Berserk status. She also enters Mist frenzy when she enters the top chamber of the Pharos, which houses the Sun-Cryst, but the sheer concentration of Mist energy causes her to lose consciousness instead.
Using Mist, the immortal Occuria can manipulate people. While the viera Mjrn is under the influence of manufacted nethicite, the rogue Occuria Venat controls her and the same happens to Judge Bergan. Ashe and Vaan see illusions of Ashe's late husband, Lord Rasler, in areas with abundant Mist, revealed to be apparitions conjured by the Occuria. When the Mist becomes thick enough other people are also able to see the illusion.
People who have been infused with manufacted nethicite disperse into Mist upon death. This is seen with Judge Bergan (whose body explodes into Mist), Dr. Cidolfus Demen Bunansa (who disappears into the Mist that is sucked into the Sun-Cryst) and The Undying, the fused creature of Vayne Carudas Solidor and Venat (that explodes into wisps of Mist). In the Pharos, Fran collapses after Cid's defeat and repeats his last words to Balthier as he rushes to her side. Whether she is "channeling" Cid's "spirit", or is merely delirious, is unknown, as he had just dissolved into Mist.
Mist has many effects when encountered in the world. In areas where Mist is thick, such as the Nabreus Deadlands, Feywood, Necrohol of Nabudis, and the Great Crystal, MP recovers at a faster rate than normal. In Giruvegan, Diakon Entites appear in areas where the Mist is thick, and in the Nabreus Deadlands, Leamonde Entites appears only during misty weather. Though viera are known to go berserk when exposed to mist, Fran suffers no ill effects when fighting in these areas. At some points during storyline events, heavy Mist will prevent the use of Gate Crystals.
Mist also serves as an indicator of Esper activity. When trespassing in an area where an Esper is bound, Mist will begin to appear and fade in steady intervals. If the Mist grows too thick, it indicates an Esper is nearby.
Each character can have up to three Mist gauges, which are used in the Mist command. A character gains a new Mist Gauge when a license for either an Esper or a Quickening level is unlocked on the License Board. In the original release, the Mist Gauge contains the characters' MP (and doubles the MP with two Mist gauges unlocked and triples it with three unlocked), while the Zodiac versions uses its own Mist stat separate from MP. The storyline-specific accessories Goddess's Magicite and Dawn Shard stop the Mist Gauge from filling.
The Mist command is unlocked whenever the player obtains a Mist gauge. Both commands require the use of a—or multiple—Mist gauges. When the player selects the Mist command, it will open a submenu containing the option "Summon" and "Quickening". These options won't be disabled if the player is afflicted with the Silence status, but will be if they are afflicted with Disable or Confuse.
Summon allows the summoning of an Esper to the field. Level 3 Espers use up three Mist gauges while level 1 Espers use up a single gauge. Summoning is instantaneous, and upon use, the other party members save the summoner disappear. Espers have the same level as their summoner, with fixed Attack, Defense, and Magick Resist stats. They cannot combo attacks or deal critical hits, but can hit flying enemies and, in the original version, use magicks without consuming MP. They also won't trigger traps. Espers remain until they use their ultimate move, they are dismissed, either they or their summoner is KO'd, or the summon duration expires (one minute and thirty seconds in the original version or four minutes and ten seconds in the Zodiac versions). Espers work like guests; they cannot be controlled and follow their own gambits in the original, but can be controlled in the Zodiac versions.
Quickening is the equivalent of a Limit Break. It involves real-time input of button commands, and fast reflexes are required to chain multiple characters' attacks before the timer expires, meaning potentially multiple characters can use multiple Quickenings that can deal massive damage. Similar to Espers, Quickenings require multiple Mist Charges to use (though it is possible to gain a Mist Charge during the Quickenings if the right input is used), and although using several characters' Quickenings at once can deal high damage, it can also potentially deplete all characters' MP (in the original, this is less of a problem in the Zodiac versions). Chaining multiple Quickenings of particular types will activate a powerful finishing move known as a Concurrence.
Mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air.