|LN, LE, NE|
|Darkness, Death, Destruction, Evil, Law|
Zon-Kuthon is one of Pathfinder deities.
Background[edit | edit source]
Zon-Kuthon is a twisted, cruel, jealous god who defiles flesh to bring pain and misery. He represents ever-present pain, emotional darkness, consuming envy, and debilitating loss. Unrepentantly evil, he finds only brief joy in the pain he causes others. His very existence is a corruption and parasite upon the world. His alien mind constantly seeks new ways to oppress, humiliate, demoralize, and destroy others. While his true goals are incomprehensible, his stated desire is to flay every living thing until the entire world is an intertwined mass of bleeding flesh writhing in pain-wracked ecstasy. He whips the minds of serial killers, guides the hands of torturers, and plays the nerves of the suffering like a master bard.
Zon-Kuthon offers no great wisdoms, no promises of universal truth, no guarantee of rewards in the afterlife. His strange mind sees little difference between this life and the next, and he tortures living flesh and dead souls alike with hideous pleasure and delicious pain. It's possible that this bleak nihilism may be part of some more elaborate master plan incomprehensible to even his greatest priests, but so far the method and message is that existence itself is pain. His faith is lawful, following the natural hierarchy of the strong preying upon the weak, whether for food, entertainment, sex, or proof of dominance.
Zon-Kuthon's direct intervention in the lives of mortals is usually brief and ambiguous, with the price often outweighing the benefit. A slave under the whip who prays for relief might experience sexual pleasure but find the pain is heightened. A craftsman who seeks perfection in his work achieves it only after his obsession drives away all he loves. A count who prays for help against invading orcs may gain the help of a cruel warlord who takes over the orc lands as his own and becomes an even greater menace. Despite these hidden poisons, depraved or despairing mortals continue to pray to Zon-Kuthon for help, and he has countless minions devoted to listening for these requests, watchful for those who might be tempted by the Dark Prince's umbral embrace.
Zon-Kuthon's true appearance varies, and there is no consistent depiction of him, but the overall image is easily recognizable. His flesh is pale and bloodless and usually hairless, though he sometimes has wispy blond hair on his scalp. Contrasting with the pale skin are bloody red wounds, many of which are held open with hooks, straps, or splints, some appearing partially healed and reopened. Sometimes his skin is completely gone in places, revealing bare muscle or even bone. He frequently has piercings, sometimes through muscle and bone, with bits of jewelry or remnants of his victims dangling from them. Even his face doesn't escape this attention, with spikes and hooked straps pulling it into strange configurations, his lips removed to show bloody teeth, one eye removed and replaced with a strange crystal, or the entire back of his head gone, revealing skull and brains. He is usually shown wearing a vertical metal crown that pulls his flesh back into an obscene sunburst halo. Parts of his body that lack wounds are usually covered in blood-soaked black leather, often sexualized or used to manipulate the wounds in an obscene manner. Absent this orchestra of mutilation, Zon-Kuthon might appear human, but brief glimpses of his unaltered parts set the maimings into sharp, horrifying contrast. Mortal representations of him are usually simplified to a pale man in black with one significant wound. Different cults of the church may venerate one version of his image over others (going so far as to duplicate that image in their own flesh), but these cosmetic differences are irrelevant in the faith's pursuit of pain and darkness.
Zon-Kuthon's favored weapon is the spiked chain, a versatile tool both in battle and in the deepest dungeon, and as a result his symbol is a skull with a spiked chain threaded through the eye sockets. Most of his priests are clerics, but there are several orders of corrupted paladins who inflict pain in his name, and certain primitive tribes worship him under the tutelage of adepts. In Nidal, where the church of Zon-Kuthon is the state religion, the clergy are often shadowcallers, government agents raised to the worship of Zon-Kuthon since childhood and trained to use both arcane and divine magic in his service. Zon-Kuthon is called the Midnight Lord and the Dark Prince. His most recognizable servants are erinyes, kytons, and hellcats comprised of unfathomable darkness.