KULT is a Swedish Dark Fantasy/Splatterpunk (self-description) Role-Playing Game by authors Gunilla Jonsson and Michael Petersén. It takes place here and now, in the reality of today. But reality is not what we think. Around us the world is dark and dangerous and nothing is what it seems to be. Our reality is an illusion, created to keep us captive. We are imprisoned since the ages past by a dictatorial creator. The true world, invisible to us, is ruled by creatures who dominate the false facades, our prison wardens and torturers. And if your characters happen to steep too far into Evil, they might actually turn into monsters physically.
KULT can be used for any kind of horror game, from "splatter the attacking zombie hordes" to "solve the occult mysteries of the universe" to more subtle paranoia and conspiracies. Players play characters who somehow came into contact with darkness - whether purely theoretical, like students interested in the occult, Mad Scientists or Mad Artists; in reality, like muckrakers, private detectives or Cops; or actively fighting it, like soldiers, gang members or street fighters.
What can you do in KULT? You can fight evil... or become evil yourself... or simply go mad. Or outgrow such childish things as Good, Evil, Madness and Four-Dimensional Space-Time. But don't expect that to be easy.
A reboot called KULT: Divinity Lost is currently in the works.
Contains examples of:
- Ax-Crazy: The Angels of Death, who serve a similar function to the Archons, but are much, much more malevolent about it.
- Bedlam House: Most asylums are like that, and often the doctors and wardens there are at least as mad as the inmates.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Acts of kindness will usually keep everyone mentally balanced - and this is a setting where "mentally balanced" = "to be blind and trapped in hell forever".
- Blessed with Suck: Luigi Cantorre is an extremely powerful death magician because he's the incarnation of Death Angel Togarini. He's possibly the most powerful incarnate of the Angels of Death, and is described as being more of Togarini's mobile citadel. He has to be, for the real citadel disappeared when Astaroth crushed Togarini for the latter's failed rebellion. Without the citadel, Cantorre become the sole avatar of Togarini, and to kill him is to destroy Togarini for real as well.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Quite unavoidable for any character who has high enough mental balance or truly accepts the truth about the world.
- Body Horror: What can happen when your mental balance plummets low enough.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Possibly the only inversion. It seems every other eldritch horror broke its arm trapping US in the illusion, and it seems inevitable that we will eventually break out.
- Cosmic Horror Story: It's difficult to judge whether this setting or the Cthulhu Mythos are more horrific. Well, at least here, there's a chance of escape...
- Crapsack World: Even most horror settings have at least one faction who are not pure evil, even if it's just the mundane police. Not so in Kult. All the governments, religions, and armies of the world are puppets of the lictors or the Angels of Death, who want to keep mankind ignorant.
- Dark World: In the forms of Metropolis and Gaia, representing urban and natural landscapes respectively.
- Demoted Memories: This is a core part of several recommended character backgrounds. The character starts out as a normal human with a denied supernatural or at least abnormal background.
- Disability Superpower: Schizophrenia is actually the ability to see behind the veil covering mundane reality. Mental illness in general is one of two roads to supernatural mojo. Sainthood is the other one, but power-wise they're mutually exclusive.
- Disposable Vagrant: In the supplement Rumours the Caregiver archetype says that monsters feed on vagrants.
- The Dragon: Golab and Hareb-Serap, the two Angels of Death that're most loyal to Astaroth. They hate each other, but will ignore that for time being.
- Eldritch Abomination: Almost everything that exists, but most notable are the Forgotten Gods, who remain dangerous and beyond our understanding even after we awaken. They're so powerful that the whole power conflicts between Archons and Inferno are no concern of theirs.
- Enemy Civil War: Since Demiurge's disappearance...
- First the Archons start fighting each other. Hod, Yesod, Chesed and Chokmah were destroyed. The remaining Archons don't get along too well either, with Malkuth being the enemy of the rest, except Tiphareth, who was working on both side.
- In Inferno, Thaumiel, Togarini and Gamaliel rebel against Astaroth, with various degree of success. Chagidiel also wants to join them, but doesn't have the courage to oppose Astaroth yet.
- Enemy Mine: Notable Netzach, who will join forces with Malkuth or even Angels of Death if it will help him defeat Astaroth.
- Evil Counterpart: Angels of Death to Archons and Astaroth to Demiurge. Actually Eviler Than Thou Counterpart since neither of the pairs are truly good.
- Extreme Doormat, Hikikomori: Nahemoth the Death Angel of apathy. Nobody cares about him except Malkuth, and that means she wants to kill him.
- Fighting a Shadow: Subversion. Archons and other superbeings can have multiple incarnate avatars and it take less than one day to create a replacement when one is destroyed. However, getting killed hurts and if several incarnates are killed in short period, the pain can actually kill the being.
- Genius Loci: The cathedrals of Archon and Angel of Death are the true self of their owner.
- God Is Dead: And the Devil is the only one who wants him back. Also, God is dying retroactively, being dead further and further back in history.
- God Is Evil: Humans were immortal superbeings before he took all our powers away and made us what we are.
- Happy Place: One could say, in the world of KULT most humans are there.
- Have You Seen My God?: Even Astaroth is looking for him, since the Demiurge is the only one who gave his existence a meaning.
- Hell: Inferno. Nowadays most souls end up in Purgatory instead. Catch is, Astaroth no longer gives a damn about the place and lets his subordinates manage Inferno as they please, so you can get punished for sins you never committed. And with less souls coming to Inferno, they will give you some extra For the Lulz.
- Humanoid Abomination: Lictors and Razids, and every other monster that can appear human. Also, humans themselves, when they Awaken.
- Humans Are Bastards: Despite being embodiments of evil, Angels of Death found the darkness in humans' hearts surpasses theirs.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Humans are immortal superbeings, they are just slumbering and are unaware of their power.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: He himself is still active in the world as the founder of one of the Ascension cults, ie the guys actively working to free humanity. He calls himself the son of the Demiurge, but doesn't seem to like his dad very much, and in fact his relationship is unclear.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The Techrones. Actually every piece of machinery can be one, including the monitor you're looking at.
- Moral Guardians: Kult was and is, a very controversial game in Scandinavia thanks to two specific incidents: A teenage murder in the south of Sweden perpetrated by two boys who were alleged to have played KULT, and an incident in Norway where a teenage boy committed suicide mid-game. As a result, some stores removed the game from the shelves, and the Swedish parliament voted to cancel funding for roleplaying youth communities.
- Off on a Technicality: Mentioned in the description of the archetype of the frustrated cop.
- Possession Burnout: There is a kind of body stealer that will indulge in orgies of sex, drugs and violence after possessing a human body, with the result that said body really won't last very long.
- Room 101: The Abyss, the great chasm where Demiurge's citadel once was. Only Astaroth has ever been known to get in there and return, but only barely alive. And he refuses to speak about anything inside that place.
- Sanity Meter: The mental balance meter. However, it differs from traditional sanity meter that the sanest (i.e. closest to normal human) point of the meter is 0, and going either way makes you less sane/human in one way or another: positive number indicates a tendency towards order (and stoicism), while negative number indicates a tendency towards chaos (and emotion and instinct). Going too far in either way makes you no longer recognisable as a human being.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The whole game is practically glued to the cynical end.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: The "Sexually Tantalizing" disadvantage. You're so beautiful that everyone wants a piece of you and nobody can listen to what you're saying.
- Soulsaving Crusader: The player can potentially become one of these, since driving someone over the Despair Event Horizon can allow them to break free of the illusion.
- War Is Hell: Hareb-Serap the Angel of Death and personification of meaningless battle. According to Metropolis sourcebook, Netzach as well.
- Weirdness Censor: Probably the only reason why ordinary humans can survive in this world without going mad immediately.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Malkuth's servants kidnap humans and perform wild experiments on them. She actually wants to free all humans from the illusion.
- World Half Empty: If you're lucky and it's not full empty for you.