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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, Nosoi

This strange black bird wears a leather long-nosed mask like a plague doctor.

Nosoi CR 2

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 220, Pathfinder #47: Ashes at Dawn pg. 86
XP 600
N Tiny outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, spiritsense; Perception +9

Defense

AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
hp 19 (3d10+3)
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +4
DR 2/adamantine; Immune death effects, disease, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10

Offense

Speed 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (good)
Melee bite +8 (1d3–1)
Space 2-1/2 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks haunting melody
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +6)
At will—invisibility (self only)
3/day—speak with dead (6 questions, CL 12th)
1/day—hide from undead (DC 14), sound burst (DC 15)

Statistics

Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 13
Feats Alertness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +17, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (planes) +6, Perception +9, Profession (scribe) +7, Sense Motive +3, Stealth +17
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal
SQ change shape (raven or songbird [same statistics], beast shape II), spirit touch

Ecology

Environment any (Purgatory)
Organization solitary, pair, or group (3–15)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Haunting Melody (Su) A nosoi’s song has the power to grip the spirits of those that hear it. All living and undead creatures within a 60-foot spread must succeed at a DC 14 Will saving throw or be fascinated. A creature that successfully saves is not subject to that nosoi’s song for 24 hours. This effect continues for as long as the nosoi sings and for 1 round thereafter. A nosoi can sing for a number or rounds per day equal to twice its Hit Dice. This is a sonic mind-affecting charm effect. This ability can affect undead creatures, even though the undead subtype makes such creatures immune to mind-affecting effects (though undead creatures with immunity to mind-affecting effects from a source other than their creature type are still immune). The save DC is Charisma-based.

Description

Nosois eagerly fill the roles of clerks, scribes, and messengers in Purgatory’s bureaucracy. They record the circumstances of each mortal’s death, any judgments for and against its soul, and its final destination among the Outer Planes. A noisoi looks like a songbird—usually a crow, sparrow, or whippoorwill—though it wears a funerary mask that accentuates its beak. Many nosois craft decorative artificial tails from grave goods and other decorations that trail behind them as they fly. A nosoi typically measures about 1 foot in length but is deceptively heavy, weighing between 10 and 15 pounds. It can use drawing and writing tools suitable for Small or Medium creatures without penalty.

Nosois serve within the libraries and scriptoriums of Purgatory, tirelessly scribbling away without rest. Being social creatures, they frequently chatter or sing with one another. A nosoi considers eating a rare treat, and sometimes shares the information it knows if given a suitable tasty bribe.

A nosoi’s primary duties are to record happenings within Purgatory, conduct souls to and from their appointed destinations, and carry messages from Purgatory to agents in other planes. Most outsiders respect the couriers’ neutrality and allow them safe passage. Many also serve as assistants to more powerful psychopomps or even to mortals with particularly morbid concerns or important fates. Nosois take pride in knowing that their trivial tasks aid in keeping one of the multiverse’s most important systems functioning with general reliability.

A true neutral spellcaster can gain a nosoi as a familiar at 7th level by taking the Improved Familiar feat. A nosoi familiar grants its master a +2 bonus on skill checks made to scribe scrolls. A nosoi immediately leaves the service of any master who creates or permanently becomes an undead.