Church of Zon-Kuthon


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Grand Lodge

Does the Church of Zon-Kuthon inflict misery and pain only amongst its members? Are sacrifices to Zon-Kuthon in The Joy Making or The Eternal Kiss always members of the Church of Zon-Kuthon? Or does the Church of Zon-Kuthon also resort to kidnapping and then inflicts pain and misery on these unwilling subjects?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Pain and misery are tools of Zon-Kuthon used as means to any end they desire. As most open churches practise only in Nidal, they generally don't have to resort to kidnapping. You might find the novel Nightglass to be insightful on church practises.

An underground church operating elsewhere might do so, but that's no different than any other secretive evil cult operating in areas where it dare not show it's true face.

Grand Lodge

Afer re-reading the "Zon-Kuthon" entry in Inner Sea Gods, the Church of Zon-Kuthon sounds like an extreme BDSM club.

Grand Lodge

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TritonOne wrote:
Afer re-reading the "Zon-Kuthon" entry in Inner Sea Gods, the Church of Zon-Kuthon sounds like an extreme BDSM club.

I can see you haven't read Nightglass yet, or you'd have dropped the "sounds like". :)

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LazarX wrote:
You might find the novel Nightglass to be insightful on church practises.

Seconded. I also find the movie HELLRAISER instructional to get into the mindset of the C of ZK.


It's BDSM without the safe, sane, or consensual parts. Pretty scary.

I wonder if SM would be called Kuthism or something in Golarion? Calistrians seem to enjoy it as well, with less creepiness and a lot more committment to consent.


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Also of note is that Zon Kuthon's teachings aren't necessarily about sex. Sure, that can certainly be the case, but it's no what it's about. It's about pain for pain's sake. A nihilistic outlook where the only truth is pain.

If you ask me, that's far worse. And on the original topic, Kuthites certainly do "evangelize".

Grand Lodge

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Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:

It's BDSM without the safe, sane, or consensual parts. Pretty scary.

It's also without borders because thanks to the Church of ZK, the whole bloody country of Nidal is pretty much a horror show to live in even outside of the temples. Again, Nightglass pretty much is your book of answers here.

Grand Lodge

I will look into getting Nightglass. Right now, my interpretation is colored by The Hellbound Heart and Clive Barker's inspiration for the novella and later Hellraiser film. Is Zon-Kuthon, the kytons, and the Church of Zon-Kuthon only interested in inflicting actual or potential tissue damage and the resulting sensory and emotional experience? Or is it broader than that? Do kytons also feed on emotional and mental suffering--depression, frustration, grief, humiliation, and/or fear? Things that most of us would consider to be the opposite of pleasure. Could kytons binge on the fear and suffering of the wounded and dying on a battle field or feed on the guilt or post traumatic stress of the survivors? Or feed on the suffering and grief in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption or other natural disaster?

In addition to sadism and masochism, BDSM includes capital D Dominance and little s submission which fits into a Lawful Evil alignment. I presume that kytons have a big D little s hierarchy in which Zon-Kuthon dominates the Demagogues and the Demagogues dominate the next level of kytons (Eremite?) on down motrals.


I also advise you to read nightglass (especially the first 2/3 of the book).

To your question, there are also slaves.

Dark Archive

TritonOne wrote:
Does the Church of Zon-Kuthon inflict misery and pain only amongst its members? Are sacrifices to Zon-Kuthon in The Joy Making or The Eternal Kiss always members of the Church of Zon-Kuthon? Or does the Church of Zon-Kuthon also resort to kidnapping and then inflicts pain and misery on these unwilling subjects?

They do both, so answer number 2 I guess.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

They definitely aren't safe, sane or consensual; but they do have to go to work in the morning.
Which is to say they only go to the real extremes in circumstances in which all the parties either a) don't have to do anything else, or b) can effectively recover from it fully whether this is because they have access to high levels of magic or what-have-you...


Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:

It's BDSM without the safe, sane, or consensual parts. Pretty scary.

I wonder if SM would be called Kuthism or something in Golarion? Calistrians seem to enjoy it as well, with less creepiness and a lot more committment to consent.

Well, there might always be a focus by a part of the Church of Shelyn on the Safe, Sane and Consensual parts- the act of loving someone and trusting them enough to be willingly helpless at their hands.

Also, it's deliberately contrasting and opposing the outlook of Zon-Kuthon's church. So, there's that possibility.


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Some of the more LN worshippers of ZK may only share pain with wiling follower. I could see this Kuthite saying "They must accept that pain is the truth of this world, or they will not understand our ways." In non-Nidal regions they may adopt a similar mentality, so they don't get in trouble with the local governments, similar to the churches of Asmodeus and Urgathoa.


There wasn't a kuthite heretic in Shattered Star which offered a less "Pinhead beyond the first Hellrise" vision on Zon-Kuthon?
Also, keep in mind the NPCs of Curse of the Crimson Throne never attempt to force their ways into the PCs, not even Laori Vauss.

Scarab Sages

Albatoonoe wrote:

A nihilistic outlook where the only truth is pain.

If you ask me, that's far worse. And on the original topic, Kuthites certainly do "evangelize".

Let's not badmouth nihilism for the sake of poseurs - it's nothing to fear. People who say "I choose conscientious Evil because the world doesn't make sense" are merely people who are "in withdrawal" from ontological dependency on false expectations of an ordered cosmos. A proper nihilist exists just fine without such a crutch!

Your comment does potentially cast the faith of Zon-Kuthon in a bit of a new light for me, though, and may explain what makes Him Lawful Evil.

“Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”
― H.P. Lovecraft


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Having only read about the Church in the Inner Sea setting, it seems to me that there's a huge amount latitude available for it.

Within Nidal, he's a national savior, as they were the only country to be saved from the continent-wide disaster of the Starfall.

Yes, there's a lot of S&M and Pinhead stuff involved, but he's also the god of Loss. I can easily see widows and orphans making offerings to him, and there being a kinder side to the faith.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

Let's not badmouth nihilism for the sake of poseurs - it's nothing to fear. People who say "I choose conscientious Evil because the world doesn't make sense" are merely people who are "in withdrawal" from ontological dependency on false expectations of an ordered cosmos. A proper nihilist exists just fine without such a crutch!

Your comment does potentially cast the faith of Zon-Kuthon in a bit of a new light for me, though, and may explain what makes Him Lawful Evil.

“Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

While I wouldn't fault someone for choosing nihilism as a personal philosophy, using Lovecraft as a source on the human condition is pretty much always a bad idea.


Alex Smith 908 wrote:
I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

Let's not badmouth nihilism for the sake of poseurs - it's nothing to fear. People who say "I choose conscientious Evil because the world doesn't make sense" are merely people who are "in withdrawal" from ontological dependency on false expectations of an ordered cosmos. A proper nihilist exists just fine without such a crutch!

Your comment does potentially cast the faith of Zon-Kuthon in a bit of a new light for me, though, and may explain what makes Him Lawful Evil.

“Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

While I wouldn't fault someone for choosing nihilism as a personal philosophy, using Lovecraft as a source on the human condition is pretty much always a bad idea.

Yeah. The man had a... strong viewpoint shall we say.

Sovereign Court

Yakman wrote:
Yes, there's a lot of S&M and Pinhead stuff involved, but he's also the god of Loss. I can easily see widows and orphans making offerings to him, and there being a kinder side to the faith.

While I agree that those who have experienced loss may sometimes be drawn to him, I see that aspect of ZK's faith not as a "softer" side of his personality, but as the harsh, painful side of loss. It's loss not cleanly mourned - the kind of loss that hurts so badly physical pain becomes a relief. A widow's offering to ZK, for instance, could very likely involve self-mutilation. A physical representation of the internal torment inflicted by life, if you will.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

or perhaps not even self-mutilation, but prolonged fasting on days important to the deceased, wearing of sack cloth, always dressing in black, etc.

I can see congregations of ZK's church periodically abandoning all material possessions as representative of their loss.

The S&M stuff makes for great visuals, but it doesn't make sense for most people's every day lives.

Liberty's Edge

TritonOne wrote:
I will look into getting Nightglass. Right now, my interpretation is colored by The Hellbound Heart and Clive Barker's inspiration for the novella and later Hellraiser film.

That's a very solid call for Kytons and Zon-Kuthon himself. His church is more human...which makes what they do in many ways even more bleak and awful. Nightglass has been described as like reading a book about someone growing up under the Nazi regime...and that's not a bad comparison. It's a very dark and bleak look at what life in Nidal is really like. The systematic nature of the evil there is pretty frightening.

TritonOne wrote:
Is Zon-Kuthon, the kytons, and the Church of Zon-Kuthon only interested in inflicting actual or potential tissue damage and the resulting sensory and emotional experience? Or is it broader than that? Do kytons also feed on emotional and mental suffering--depression, frustration, grief, humiliation, and/or fear? Things that most of us would consider to be the opposite of pleasure. Could kytons binge on the fear and suffering of the wounded and dying on a battle field or feed on the guilt or post traumatic stress of the survivors? Or feed on the suffering and grief in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption or other natural disaster?

Firstly, kytons (and Zon-Kuthon) don't feed on pain in any literal or magical sense...as a rule anyway. they just enjoy inflicting it.

What kinds of pain they enjoy is slightly unclear, but a certain degree of pleasure in psychic pain is absolutely supported by the flavor text of various things. It very possibly might need to be psychic pain they inflict themselves, however. They're more predators and artists than scavengers and spectators.

TritonOne wrote:
In addition to sadism and masochism, BDSM includes capital D Dominance and little s submission which fits into a Lawful Evil alignment. I presume that kytons have a big D little s hierarchy in which Zon-Kuthon dominates the Demagogues and the Demagogues dominate the next level of kytons (Eremite?) on down motrals.

Eh...Zon-Kuthon's faith is pretty hierarchical, but trying to bring too much in the way of BDSM stuff into this is a pretty terrible idea. Zon-Kuthon and kytons have a certain aesthetic in common with BDSM...but it's about as accurate as Sarenrae's aesthetic connections to Islam. They're certainly there, but assuming that there's any real correspondence on anything but the most superficial level is not a good plan.

For example, the idea of hierarchy's there, but the idea of a Dom or sub per se isn't, nor a sadist or masochist. Everyone suffers, and everyone hurts others. There is no real choice in this in any meaningful sense. Not if you want to follow Zon-Kuthon, anyway.


Also, those reading the extra, non-AP sections about the Dominion of the Black and the section about the occult scholars in Iron Gods book 4 may want to look at certain references that imply Zon-Kuthon has ties to the Dominion. I mean, one guy came back with bladed chains where his limbs were and is being kept in Nidal like some sort of twisted prize or venerated saint!

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