Hello, Kultists and curious fans of morbid arcana. As someone who invests deeply in Kult: Divinity Lost and its world, I end up in a lot of conversations about the game. Some are philosophical, some are educational, some are frustrated arguments with grognards, but a good portion of them at some point end up being about the game’s world. Kult is a horror roleplaying game with a vast and unique Cosmology that draws people to it, but it is also the source of much confusion and hesitance. How does one “see” through the Illusion? What is Inferno, really? Where is Limbo, and how do I awaken in Metropolis? So many questions, in sore need of answers! Let this be an introduction to Kult’s Cosmology, the world in which a thousand horrible stories have been told and thousands more are yet to come.
But before that, a few words on mystique and secrecy. A major component of Kult’s Cosmology is the idea that Reality is a Lie, and that the characters of the stories told in the game (not to mention the sleeping masses) do not know what or who lurks beyond the veil. Within the context of roleplaying, this means that the players create troubled characters with archetypes like the Detective, the Fixer, and the Artist, and through those slowly unravel the mysteries and terrors of the world they inhabit, hopefully coming away from it all with some insight into themselves and their situation.
Why do I bring this up? Because game masters around the world sometimes take this to mean that the game’s central idea and the crux of the Kult Cosmology should or must be concealed from their players. This is… unhelpful, when speaking about the game. In truth, I hate this entire mentality. I will not go into details about why here (ask me some time!), but understand that I do intend to divulge most of the core concepts of Kult’s world in this post. If you are reading this as a player and your GM thus far has been tight-lipped about the workings of the Illusion and the cosmos beyond it, consider asking permission before continuing. Have a conversation with them about how effective storytelling is done, perhaps.
What joy it is to possess. To seize and hold. Few other things bring humanity such basal enjoyment, nor bring us to conflict so easily. Even those who would rather not admit it grow seeds of Avarice in their mind, little kernels of desire for wealth and material gain to do with whatever they will. To some it is as simple as improving their own life or the lives of those around them. For others, it becomes a never-ending quest taking them to depths and highs scarce imagined by the commoners who do not hear as clearly Yesod’s whispers in the back of their minds. The world’s economy rests on the backs and bank accounts of those who heed the call of the Archon of Avarice, and through their greed they allow Yesod unmatched influence in shaping reality as we experience it. Yet Yesod is not the Archon he once was. Avarice gives form to humanity’s prison as never before, challenging and disrupting the other Archons, and the turning cogs driving our economic machinery grind away at the foundation of Elysium.
The Illusion woven to imprison humanity is fraying at the seams. What once was a clockwork construction grinding down our divine wills is now halting, hacking and screeching. The combined forces of the Archons, those godlike primal beings made to maintain it all, are no longer enough to contain us. Humanity is waking up, one mad and confused soul at a time. We see for ourselves the horrors and wonders created for us or by us and reach out past all we know to grasp at something bigger. At the center of this is Malkuth, the Archon of Awakening. Once created to hold us captive, she has become a guiding light to the world beyond the veil. It was she who began the War of the Archons, a monumental clash of wills which still shapes the world we inhabit. But why? How could this have happened? In examining the role Malkuth had in forging our prison, we may be able to learn something about the human experience she now strives to give to us all.
Hello Kultists! I would like to present you with an idea, a thought, that the alliances forged between Archons run deeper than mere pacts of consciousness. These beings depend on each other, exist only within each other, and operate together in a multitude of ways, their Principles feeding into each other and bolstering the whole. By viewing these godlike beings as they are, emanations of a primordial Principle by which humanity is fettered, we can learn something about the ways their servants and incarnations empower one another, perhaps sometimes without realizing it. Our prison is multifaceted, and this is only one understanding of it, but I hope you will find it interesting.
The Archons are visually represented by the tree of life as envisioned in qabala, an old but living occult tradition. This tree is laid out in a rather specific manner, and there are many ways to analyze the various paths and interactions between the sefirot which make up the tree. One of these manners of looking at the tree is by considering it as three pillars. The left, middle and right pillars represent different aspects which are shared by the sefirot in those parts of the tree, and describe how developments in one point of the tree might affect another. Without ascribing too much detail to what each pillar represents within qabala, let us apply the same idea to the Archons in Kult, which are laid out in just the same way. What do the pillars represent within the Kult mythos, and how can we understand the Archons’ subtle alliances through them?
Hello! This post’s intended audience is Kult players and GMs with a competent understanding of the game’s mythos. It may feel very inaccessible to people outside that intended audience. You have been advised. 🙂
A discussion I see cropping up every so often is that of the Archons and the Death Angels, and how their Principles do or do not “match”. I always love when the subject gets brought up, because everyone seems to have their own view and vision of what this all means. It’s really enlightening to see people’s different perspectives on the Kult mythos, how Elysium keeps us imprisoned, and what ideals the Archons and Death Angels actually operate on, and their methods. There are many ways to read into this dark universe and make sense of it. In this post, I would like to go over some of my favorite Archons and their Death Angel counterparts, highlighting why I think their Principles are interesting to the world and stories told, and how they connect to and interact with each other.
You may not always notice it when driving or walking through a city, but it is ever present. Cigarette butts roll across sidewalks, plastic bags drift through the wind, and thousands of half empty coffee cups are left at bus stops ten feet away from the nearest garbage bin. The remains of McDonalds’ meals scatter across parks and parking lots, and dog shit is only one unlucky step away. City folk live with this. They get annoyed with it, zone it out, contribute to it. In the end, it does not matter to them. Cities are not clean.
We know Nahemoth as the smog which chokes out the cities, as rivers polluted with chemicals. Nahemoth is the plastic killing marine life, the wildfire started from a shattered glass bottle, and the large-scale despoiling of all we find beautiful on our planet. If Malkuth was the conformity and logic of nature, Nahemoth is the chaos of nature, the senseless destruction brought through it and to it. She makes us fear that destruction, whether it be with lightning bolts or acid rain. She also guides us to feed it, to make her influence ever stronger and more violent.
The corruption of nature has to start somewhere. It starts with us. The influence of Nahemoth is more insidious than spectacular violence. She will gleefully use the filth and ruin we provide her. She lives with all of us, and affects us on a very personal level. We invite her into our life every time we litter. The unwillingness to recycle, the lackadaisical attitude of your trash being someone else’s problem, it all comes from her and it is pervasive.
Nahemoth strives to create an atmosphere of helplessness against the ruination of nature. If we do not know how to combat it, or are convinced that the situation either can’t or doesn’t have to be fixed, we will continue to feed her. Her clergy and servants will tell you that green fuel is a bad idea. They will tell you that separating your trash and recycling is a waste of time. They proclaim that climate change has gone too far already, and that humanity is already on an irreversible path towards death. Everything you can do to hinder her, you won’t do because she will convince you that it’s never worth it.
So throw your batteries in the river. Continue buying your plastic bags by the dozen and toss them out the car window on your way home. Leave that Starbucks cup right on the sidewalk.