Despicably cruel and equally horrible to gaze upon, kytons are evil fiends who feed on the fear and suffering of mortals through painful supernatural means. Their monstrous appearances vary, but their stoic and amoral dispositions are universal, for no kyton cares anything for the plights typical of the creatures they prey upon. They are beings wholly dedicated to metamorphosis achieved through horrific trials of self-mutilation and the mystical power provided them by their sapping of mortal anguish.
Despite being often categorized by mortals as shadow-dwelling devils, kytons calmly refute such claims, seeing themselves as above the principles of Hell’s denizens. Instead, kytons seek ecstasy through pain in the form of deliberate and violent self-transformation, adhering to the belief that by altering the physical and spiritual matter that makes up their form, they can reach a state of perfect being. Removing aspects of themselves and replacing them with more desirable or powerful pieces one at a time, kytons believe that experiences of heightened emotion and sensation (typically in the forms of terror and pain) lead to greater states of awareness and existence. The dedication with which they practice this belief places them on the level of zealots, their fanatical commitment made all the more disturbing by their eerie composedness and unnaturally cool dispositions.
The original kytons were born of the first truly selfish and depraved thoughts conceived by mortals. These creatures surprised and horrified the early gods with their power and hideous nature, and so the gods chained them in a remote part of Hell. The kytons embraced their chains and, seeking to fulfill their unnatural hunger for pain, escaped to the Plane of Shadow, which lay much closer to their mortal prey. Now, kytons are born of mortal souls that were spiritually and physically tortured in life, victims of their own masochism, sacrifices to gods of suffering, or those promised to the fiends either by their own will or by sadistic cultists. Obscure rituals force the sacrificed souls to bypass the normal judgments of the afterlife and instead become mired in the Plane of Shadow. Over an excruciating and lengthy span of time, these souls are warped and twisted until they emerge as frail new kytons. A kyton’s first willing act must be to cut away part of its own flesh, proving it is worthy of its kyton nature—the first step in an immortal lifetime of replacing its own substance with the stronger parts of other creatures. By drawing strength from its new grafts, a kyton grows and becomes both stronger and more terrible to behold. Thus, weaker kytons resemble the mortal creatures they once were, whereas older ones are horrifying patchworks of transplanted material that rarely look like their original forms. Many kytons still proudly wear the chains that bound them (either to Hell or to the torture devices that created them), trophies of their power to defy the gods or mortal fate.
Kytons’ need to replace parts of themselves with those of stronger mortals puts them in perpetual danger of attacking creatures that are too powerful for them to kill. For this reason, kytons are pragmatic and ruthless in their battles, scrutinizing all potential outcomes of a situation before taking action. Seeing strength in numbers, kytons often attack or trap a mortal victim as a team, hauling the unfortunate soul to the Plane of Shadow, converting their prey into a new kyton or dividing its body and soul among them for grafting and nourishment.
The kytons are a specific type of kyton (other kytons call them “evangelists”); they have all the traits listed in the kyton subtype. The kytons listed here are but a few of the other known types—many more exist on the Plane of Shadow.
Kytons have the following traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature’s entry).
The extent of a kyton’s regeneration varies according to type, and can be neutralized by good weapons, good spells, and silver weapons.
All kytons have a gaze attack that manipulates the perceptions of those who look upon them. An unnerving gaze has a range of 30 feet, and can be negated by a Will save—the exact effects caused by a particular kyton’s unnerving gaze depend on the type of kyton. All kytons are immune to the unnerving gazes of other kytons. Unnerving gaze is always a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
The powerful kyton rulers called demagogues possess strength hardly fathomable by mortals. They exist within a power structure similar to that of archdevils. Lesser kytons view these overseers as horrid sovereigns among their kind, and though there are many outlying areas on the Plane of Shadow not controlled by demagogues, kytons who find themselves wandering through a demagogue’s territory know to show respect for these lords of suffering.
Demagogues are so advanced in their metamorphosis of self-mutilation and augmentation that no two look alike. Some are strangely beautiful, some are horrors beyond sane description. A demagogue’s powers are vaster than even many of their kyton brethren dare consider—they construct enormous cities out of the countless bodies of their victims, weaving entire networks of veins and spiritual energy to create breathing, pulsating metropolises. Demagogues seek to control as much of the realm around their organic superstructures as they can, a feat that proves forever challenging in the dark, shifting corners of the Plane of Shadow. Though one rarely finds reason to leave the confines of its home plane, a demagogue’s influence is far-reaching, and kytons who value their lives do as they are commanded, lest they incite the awful and calculating rage of a mighty overlord. The following are some of the most powerful kyton demagogues that reside in the Plane of Shadow, watching over their pulsating kingdoms in massive, gory towers.