|Titles||The Midnight Lord|
The Dark Prince
The Prince of Pain
|Adjective||Kuthite, Kuthonite (worshiper)|
|Realm||Xovaikain, Shadow Plane|
|Areas of Concern||Darkness|
|Edicts||Bring pain to the world, mutilate your body|
|Anathema||Create permanent or long-lasting sources of light, provide comfort to those who suffer|
|Cleric Alignments (1E)|
|Domains (1E)||Darkness, Death, Destruction, Evil, Law|
|Subdomains (1E)||Catastrophe, Devil, Loss, Murder, Night, Undead|
|Cleric Alignments (2E)|
|Domains (2E)||Ambition, darkness, destruction, pain|
|Favored Weapon||Spiked chain|
|Sacred Colors||Dark gray, red|
|Images of Zon-Kuthon|
Source: Inner Sea Gods, pg(s). 164–171 (1E)
Gods & Magic (Second Edition), pg(s). 50–51 (2E)
The deity Zon-Kuthon (pronounced ZONN-koo-THON) possesses one of the most twisted and evil minds in the Great Beyond. His position as god of pain is well earned, and he has been the root of countless tortures, murders, and worse throughout time.
- See also: Dou-Bral
Myths tell that at the beginning of time, Zon-Kuthon was known as Dou-Bral. The son of of the divine spirit-wolf Thron, he was a good deity who shared his appreciation of beauty, love, and the arts with his half-sister, Shelyn. During the Age of Creation, Dou-Bral was among the original gods who battled the Rough Beast who sought to destroy Golarion, and were eventually able to contain him in the Dead Vault. When Dou-Bral grew jealous of his sister's talents, he abandoned Golarion for the dark places between and beyond the planes, and there was tormented and possessed by an alien being. Upon returning to our reality, Dou-Bral as he had been known was gone, replaced with the twisted, malevolent soul known as Zon-Kuthon.
When Shelyn saw that her brother was forever changed, and not for the better, the two battled, her pleas and tears met with a violence Dou-Bral would never have been capable of. Shelyn finally wrested the golden glaive known as the Whisperer of Souls the two had shared (a symbol of their power) from her twisted brother's fingers, and established a tenuous truce that held in place more by silence and avoidance than any desire to actually coexist.
A second myth speaks of how Zon-Kuthon first came into conflict with Abadar, the god of culture, wealth, and stability. Seeing the crimes Zon-Kuthon committed in Golarion, Abadar knew that he must be punished, and made a bargain with the evil god. Zon-Kuthon agreed to go into exile on the Plane of Shadow for as long as the sun hung in the sky in exchange for an item of his choosing from the First Vault. This imprisonment was not meant to be over as soon as it was, though, and when the sun stopped shining upon Golarion during the Age of Darkness, Abadar reluctantly honored the deal, giving Zon-Kuthon the first undead shadow, which the Midnight Lord has used to craft evil creatures in his realm of Xovaikain ever since.
Zon-Kuthon has little concern for the dealing of other deities. As long as he can play with his many toys, the Dark Prince has no need for any alliances, wars, or diplomatic dealings. While often the target of vengeance from Golarion's good deities, Zon-Kuthon himself does little to instigate conflict. That said, he is not above torturing followers of other faiths, and does so whenever possible. The only one safe from his evil ways is his sister Shelyn, though he grants no such immunity to her faithful. Zon-Kuthon nevertheless considers the goddess Sivanah one of his greatest enemies, and she sees his use of shadow magic as corrupting and enslaving.
As Dou-Bral, Zon-Kuthon was known for his beauty, but his body now resembles a work of art only to those like-minded individuals who find pain and torture to be the pinnacles of existence. Although his exact appearance is said to often change, he generally is depicted as pale, gaunt, and often hairless. He is often depicted wearing tight, sexualized leather clothing, exposing his many open wounds and body modifications. His lips have been removed, giving him a bloody, haunting grin, and hooks and piercings contort his face into revolting expressions, enhanced by the crystal which rests in the cavity where his left eye once sat. Atop his scalp, a vertical crown of spikes pulls his skin into a disturbing sunburst, and the back of his skull is completely gone, revealing his brain. His hands end in long, knife-like fingernails. His appearance is simplified in most mortal representations of him, showing him as a pale, gaunt human with a single, significant wound.
Zon-Kuthon and his followers are more concerned with pain than they are symbols of the faith, but clerics are known to summon shadows and erinyes to do their bidding. His personal divine servitors are the lampadarius velstracs, creatures who embrace Zon-Kuthon's love of pain by continuously cutting off parts of their bodies and replacing them with the burning darkness from the Plane of Shadows.
- Dominik the Unquenchable
- Dominik is a vampire who was tortured and mutilated by Kuthites, and who is plagued with the inability to quench his undying thirst due to a permanent wound which removed his digestive organs.
- Prince in Chains
- A lasting reminder of Zon-Kuthon's decadence, the god's herald is the tormented remnant of Thron, the spirit-wolf who sired Dou-Bral and Shelyn.
- Umbral Shepherds
- These strange, otherworldly creatures are servants eternally devoted to Zon-Kuthon who use their powers to possess creatures and further the agenda of their master.
- This chain devil is covered in wounds that it inflicts upon itself, and which transform into other organs, each performing their normal function.
Church of Zon-Kuthon
There is no centralized church of Zon-Kuthon, and independent churches are content to cause and revel in the pain and misery they are able to inflict upon their corner of Golarion. As an ordered faith, however, each sect has a clearly-defined hierarchy, based on physical power, endurance, willingness and ability to endure pain, and similar elements related to church practices.
Despite the faith's negative image in most nations, one nation welcomed his worship and established their government around it: Nidal. This shadowy land has been ruled by the secretive and sadistic Umbral Court in Pangolais since the Age of Darkness. The Midnight Lord also has significant (if often hidden) worshipers in the Hold of Belkzen, Cheliax, Geb, Irrisen, and Varisia, and among Chelaxians, Tian, and half-elves throughout the Inner Sea region.
Kuthites run the gamut in their origins and motivations for joining the faith, whether they be evil sadists, demented masochists, or those whose spirits are so wounded that only overwhelming pain distracts them from their sorrows. Others who immerse themselves in spiritual darkness often find themselves drawn to his anthracite embrace.
Clergy tend to take their fervor for pain and agony to higher levels than lay believers, but are also experts at blending in with normal society. Most clergy of Zon-Kuthon are clerics, and the number of blackguards is limited at best. Despite its strict hierarchy, the church has no standardized vestments, although most priests can be identified via their self-mutiliation and love of black leather.
Temples and shrines
Temples of Zon-Kuthon are, for all intents and purposes, torture chambers, and often function as such even when not in use for religious ceremonies. Because of the unique and often disapproved-of practices that take place in the church, temporary temples in caves or basements are kept fairly simple with decorations and tools brought in especially for services. The tools are often disguised as farming implements, should the secret cult be exposed. In more remote areas, believers might make impromptu shrines in places where violence and pain have occurred.
The faith of the Dark Prince has few holidays but, Zon-Kuthon being the god of darkness, regular worship generally occurs on nights of a new moon. The last month of the year, Kuthona, is named after the Prince of Pain.
- The Joymaking
- In an effort to concentrate the sensation of pain, this practice allows the wealthiest and luckiest of Kuthites to have their limbs and non-vital organs amputated so that they remain a helpless head and torso, destined to live the rest of their lives as the subjects of limitless torture.
- The Eternal Kiss
- This annual sacrifice lasts eleven days and often involves using the victim's entrails or cries of pain as soothsaying tools.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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