(Another Japanese demonic entity re-imagined as a kyton for the purposes of the Pathfinder RPG. Unlike the hashihime, which I hemmed and hawed over before deciding how to classify it, this fiend was envisioned as a kyton from the start.)
Wa-Nyūdō A flaming wheel the size of an ox rolls towards you. Impaled on its
spokes is an enormous head with lolling eyes and chattering, razor-sharp
Although the sinister outsiders known as kytons prefer to indoctrinate
willing converts to their philosophy of pain and mutilation, there are
those whom they select to be “forcibly rewarded”. The hideous wa-nyūdō
are the collection agents of the kytons, tasked with retrieving mortal
assets and dragging them back, alive or dead, to the Plane of Shadow.
Fanatical zealots, wa-nyūdō have discarded almost all of their humanoid
forms, leaving nothing but a hateful, leering head. Wa-nyūdō have
chassis of wood, metal and bone built to hold their heads and give them
Wa-nyūdō are typically found on the Material Plane on a mission of
retrieval, but they often take detours to torment and destroy mortals
besides their targets. Wa-nyūdō take delight in focusing their attention
on those who pay attention to them, punishing their victims for the
sins of curiosity and fear. In combat, a wa-nyūdō is constantly mobile,
rolling over opponents and setting them ablaze before returning to
inflict deep, bleeding wounds with their fangs.
Image by Toriyama Sekien, from the Konjyaku Gazu Zokuhyakki. Image source from hyakumogatari.com
For those purists out there, this is easily the farthest afield my yokai stat-blocks have drifted from the original source material. Although the hashihime stories are descended from traditional kami beliefs (filtered through Noh theater), I was struck by the “living oni” aspect–the transformation of a woman scorned into a horrible monster. Hence, the kyton link–in Pathfinder RPG, kytons are no longer just weirdo devils, but Hellraiser-esque philosophers of physical and mental transformation. Also, since the hashihime is always depicted from the waist up, I could slip in some of the kyton aesthetics and not be technically going against the lore.
This woman appears to be mostly human from the waist up, but her legs are skinless and dripping with gore and her feet little more than bones and sinew. Three iron horns burst from her brow limned in fire. Flames also burn along the tusks jutting from her lower jaw.
One of the more interesting locations in Baator, I’ve always thought, is Jangling Hiter; I love the imagery of its design.
Jangling Hiter has stood since the start of recorded history as the home and capital of the kytons, possibly even predating the baatezu themselves. Suspended above the fetid bogs of Minauros, it is a literal city of chain, with everything from the buildings to the ground itself made of chains or chain mesh of various sizes; a tricky environment to maneuver in even on the best of days, horrid when the air of Minauros is especially thick with moisture, but it serves as the perfect city for the kytons, for whom this place grants them as close to omnipotence as they may come.
We’ve covered Jangling Hiter; now, on request, a piece on the kytons themselves.
Until recently, the kyton (or “chain devil”) was on the whole a relatively minor force upon the planes. A native race of Minauros, the third layer of Baator, they were almost unknown outside their home city of Jangling Hiter but for those occasions when they would be used by the baatezu for one plan or another. While they may rarely have been encountered outside their city, such instances were few and far between. They were most known for their aptitude with chain both in creation and in use; able to animate the chain wrappings that encompass them as though it were a part of their own body, and with unmatched skill at chain craftsmanship in all varieties and forms. Within recent months, however, things have changed drastically, open rebellion having erupted between the kytons and the baatezu in the wake of the Iron Shadow. Increasingly fervent on staking out claims beyond their homeland, they’ve been seen more and more beyond their realms, seeking to expand their power base through one means or another.