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Psychopomp

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 217
All life has its beginning and its end. From the moment of birth, everything that shrieks and struggles upon the Material Plane crawls toward a singular finale, that fatal climax that grants passage into the unimaginable infinities of the afterlife. As the spirits of the deceased flow from the confusion of mortality to their ultimate fates, they are each judged by the gods of death, who assure that all who die reach their prescribed afterlife. Yet with all the worlds of the Material Plane, the countless faces and exceptions of mortality, and all those who would turn fate and finality to their own devices, death as a system and institution requires more agents than a single deity or pantheon to uphold. These agents are the psychopomps—denizens of Purgatory and the dispassionate stewards, chroniclers, and guides of all that die.

Psychopomps preside over the flow of life. Their primary concerns focus upon souls in the vulnerable transition between death and their final destinations upon the planes. Psychopomps carry out their duties with the dispassion of veterans and cynics. In terms of service measuring in ages, psychopomps meet countless souls from innumerable worlds, and soon nearly every story, fate, plea, and exception becomes all too familiar. They care little for the histories or personalities of the souls that pass them by, concerned only for the efficient and unvaried processing of each spirit to its final unremarkable eternity. Damnation and paradise are the same to them, as are heroes and villains, and no psychopomp cares one jot for great deeds left undone, other fates hanging in the balance, or bribes worth even a world’s ransom. But while drudgery is the lot of many psychopomps—interrupted only by the diversions they sometimes create for themselves—their system is not without flaws. There are creatures who would seek to deny the natural order of death—fiends that prey upon souls, spirits lost in their migration, and undead abominations. To counter such abnormalities and preserve the flow of souls as the multiverse requires, numerous specialized psychopomps exist to protect the dead and counter any who would seek to pervert the state of death to their own ends.

Noteworthy among psychopomps are their masks. Many who have dealings with the living wear some manner of grim face covering or funerary mask. While these masks are not part of a psychopomp’s body and grant them no special abilities, the legends of numerous cultures suggest that for a living creature to see a psychopomp’s unmasked countenance invites a premature death. Those psychopomps who deal predominately with the dead typically eschew such marks of station except as a formality.

As psychopomps help convey souls to all of the Outer Planes, and thus provide petitioners equally to each of those realms, they enjoy a special status among many planar races as respected neutrals. As such, most other planar races grant them a wide berth, with even archons and demons going out of their ways to avoid interfering with death’s emissaries. Soul-hungry daemons and reality-violating qlippoth are among the only races that actively oppose psychopomps. Consequently, the deadlier classes of psychopomps watch for and hunt disruptive members of these races, seeking to expunge the paths between the planes of any that would impede the certain cycle of death.

The death gods create the weakest psychopomps out of mortal souls, usually those who served Purgatory in life or worshiped deities of judgment. The gods may transform psychopomps which perform exemplary service into greater members of their kind, though rarely an exceptional hero or champion of Purgatory may become a superior psychopomp when she dies. There is little competitiveness or jealousy among the ranks of these creatures, as their primary motivation is fulfillment of their eternal duties, and there is little point in coveting another’s rewards and responsibilities.

The following are the most common types of psychopomps. Other varieties exist, tasked with more obscure duties for the gods of death, or responsible for alien worlds where the native creatures have radically different life cycles and outlooks compared to humanoids.

Psychopomp Ushers

Beings ancient and dispassionate rise above the psychopomp droves, emissaries of death who have presided over the dooms of whole nations, races, and worlds. These eldest and most efficient servants of death hold great respect for the gods of death, but are not necessarily their minions, striving to fulfill their own visions of death’s ultimate purpose and process over all other objectives.

Atropos the Last Sister
Barzahk the Passage
Ceyanan the Shepherd
Dammar the Denied
Imot the Symbol of Doom
Mother Vulture
Mrtyu, Death’s Consort
Narakaas the Cleansing Sentence
The Pale Horse
Phlegyas, Consoler of Atheists
Saloc, Minder of Immortals
Teshallas the Primordial Poison
Vale the Court of Ancestors

Creatures in "Psychopomp" Category

NameCR
Ahmuuth4
Algea11
Calaca8
Catrina5
Ember Weaver8
Esobok3
Fulgati18
Kere10
Memitim15
Morbai6
Morrigna13
Nosoi2
Olethros17
Shoki9
Vanth7
Viduus4
Yamaraj20

Psychopomp, Esobok

This stout, hunched predator has a ruff of dirty feathers and a crocodilian skull for a head.

Esobok CR 3

Source Bestiary 6 pg. 218, Pathfinder #80: Empty Graves pg. 84
XP 800
N Medium outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect undead, low-light vision, scent, spiritsense; Perception +2

Defense

AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 30 (4d10+8)
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +6
Defensive Abilities eater of the dead; DR 2/adamantine; Immune death effects, disease, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10

Offense

Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +6 (1d6+2 plus grab), 2 claws +6 (1d4+2)
Special Attacks pounce, wrench spirit
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +6)
Constant—detect undead
3/day—invisibility (self only)

Statistics

Str 14, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 19
Feats Combat Reflexes, Power Attack
Skills Climb +8, Intimidate +8, Perception +2, Stealth +9, Survival +8
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal
SQ spirit touch

Ecology

Environment any (Boneyard)
Organization solitary, pack (2–6), or hunting party (3–10 plus 1 vanth psychopomp)
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Eater of the Dead (Su) Esoboks enjoy eating undead flesh, and are immune to the nauseated and sickened conditions.
Wrench Spirit (Su) If an esobok begins its turn grappling a living or undead creature, it can attempt to wrench that creature’s animating spirit free as a standard action. If the target succeeds at a DC 14 Will save, it takes 1d6 points of force damage; if the target fails, its spirit is stripped from its body. This effect instantly destroys mindless undead that have fewer Hit Dice than the esobok and leaves all other undead dazed. All other targets are paralyzed. Once per round, a creature dazed or paralyzed by this effect can attempt a new saving throw to free its soul from the esobok’s jaws. An esobok can’t use its bite attack while it holds a disembodied spirit, but it can release the spirit as a free action, at which point the daze or paralysis effect ends. Creatures without souls (such as constructs and oozes) and creatures whose bodies and souls are one unit (such as outsiders) are immune to this ability. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Description

Esoboks constitute a vicious predator caste of psychopomps. They patrol graveyards as feral hunters, hungry for undead flesh. As outsiders, esoboks don’t have to eat and draw no sustenance from this behavior, but the spark of undeath is a feast for their every sense, and they pursue and ravenously consume undead creatures at every opportunity.

Esoboks’ unruly nature and limited intelligence make them ideal border guards and “attack animals,” although their behavior can be alien and unsettling to those who expect them to display either more animalistic instincts or the sophisticated intellects of other psychopomps. These predators are never trusted to retrieve the souls of the fallen, but they are often called to the Material Plane to help contain outbreaks of undead—in such situations, their joy at the taste of undead flesh generally prevents them from attacking living targets, despite their lust for battle.

Some psychopomps (particularly vanths; Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4 221) have developed methods of training esoboks to realize greater potentials, allowing the creatures to tap into newfound reservoirs of magical ability. These trained esoboks have the advanced creature simple template and gain access to the following spell-like abilities, each usable once per day: ear-piercing scream, haunting mists, and teleport. The typical esobok stands 3 feet tall at the shoulder, is nearly as wide, and weighs upward of 300 pounds.