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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, Calaca

This figure wears a fine suit, vest, gloves, and ascot and has a guitar at the ready. The creature’s face is hidden by an intricately decorated skull mask.

Calaca CR 8

Source Pathfinder #143: Borne by the Sun's Grace pg. 88
XP 4,800
N Medium outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, spiritsense; Perception +16

Defense

AC 21, touch 13, flat-footed 18 (+3 Dex, +8 natural)
hp 103 (11d10+44)
Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +11
DR 5/adamantine; Immune death effects, disease, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 slams +11 (1d8)
Ranged +14 (1d8/×4)
Special Attacks bardic performance, show stopper
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +15)
deathwatch, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), invisibility (self only)
3/day—good hope, heroes’ feast
1/day—irresistible dance (DC 20), modify memory (DC 18)

Statistics

Str 10, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 19
Base Atk +11; CMB +11 (+13 disarm); CMD 24 (26 vs. disarm)
Feats Combat Expertise, Ensemble, Improved Disarm, Iron Will, Lingering Performance, Persuasive
Skills Bluff +18, Diplomacy +22, Disguise +18, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (planes) +17, Perception +16, Perform (string instruments) +18, Profession (musician) +16, Sense Motive +16
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal; tongues
SQ antique weapon, spirit touch
Gear pistol with 1 bullet, guitar

Ecology

Environment any (the Boneyard)
Organization solitary, pair, or band (3–5)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Antique Weapon (Ex) Each calaca carries a single antique weapon, typically a pistol. Only the calaca knows how to use its antique weapon properly, and is treated as proficient with it; all other creatures treat the weapon as if it were broken. If the weapon is already broken, then it does not work at all for any creature other than the calaca. If the weapon is a firearm, the calaca carries only a single bullet.

Bardic Performance A calaca has the bardic performance ability of an 11th-level bard, granting it access to the countersong, distraction, dirge of doom, fascinate, inspire courage, inspire competence, inspire greatness, and suggestion performances.

Show Stopper (Sp) As a standard action, a calaca can destroy its guitar, creating a deafening boom of sound that immediately halts each other creature within 30 feet that fails a DC 19 Will save. Any creature that fails its save is affected as if by mass hold person. Without its guitar, the calaca loses access to its bardic performance special ability. A calaca who returns to the Boneyard for 24 consecutive hours acquires a new guitar to replace the one that it has destroyed. This is a sonic, mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Description

Calacas are unusual psychopomps in that their purview is not the dead, but the survivors who must carry on in the dead’s absence. A calaca’s purpose is to abate the sorrow of family members and loved ones of the recently departed. It accomplishes this by way of soothing wisdom and its celebration of the deceased’s life through song. Although mortals who know calacas’ true nature may think them simply magnanimous spirits, these psychopomps have a very pragmatic reason for soothing the aggrieved, which is to dissuade any with the know-how or desire from attempting to raise the dead using necromancy or other foul means.

In order to mingle with mortals without alerting them to its nature, a calaca disguises itself from head to toe in local finery, wearing gloves and colorful masks to hide its true nature. Beneath its facade, a calaca resembles a large skeleton, its bones a somber gray. A typical calaca stands around 6 feet tall and weighs only 40 pounds.

Ecology

Many cultures speak of kindly strangers or masked wanderers who appear in the wake of a beloved’s death to offer words of consolation and songs of catharsis, and calacas are often the root of these myths. A calaca typically arrives at the door of a widow, widower, or next of kin by mysterious means and always claims to be a distant friend or admirer of the dead. The calaca may show up during a wake or other funeral procession—as long as doing so would not be disruptive or insulting—bearing food and drink for the mourners. While they treat the bereaved to sustenance and music, calacas use their social charms to get to know the grieving and to learn more about the deceased so that they can tailor their consolations to each individual. Because they use no compulsion magic and cannot speak with the dead like some psychopomps, calacas must rely on their natural graces and aptitude for conversation while interacting with mortals.

Far from mere charlatans, calacas do in actuality feel the sympathy they express so strongly to survivors of the dead. However, their grief stems not from the departure of the individual to the afterlife (in fact, most calacas never meet the spirits of the dead for whom they are sharing consolations), but from the pain of knowing that mortals will never fully understand the beauty or necessity of the transition from life to death. They are a forlorn race of psychopomps who express their sorrow in the form of joyful music and mirthful laughter.

A calaca’s role is not in combat, and most retreat if a fight seems inevitable, returning another day to give peaceful mediation another try. In spite of calacas’ pacifistic nature, each bears on its person an antique weapon such as a pistol or an exotic sword, which is perhaps the creature’s most mysterious detail. Even the calaca does not know the purpose of this weapon—whether it is a relic from the creature’s past as a mortal or just part of its disguise. However, if asked, a calaca replies that its weapon is an item gifted directly by the gods, and its use will become obvious when the appropriate time has come. A calaca’s second-most important belonging is its instrument (typically a guitar or fiddle), which is capable of unleashing powerful magic if destroyed as a last resort.

Habitat and Society

A calaca’s prime directive is to discreetly dissuade any survivors who might consider necromancy or other unnatural means of reviving the dead. Calacas accomplish this through tact and persuasion, not magic or trickery, and by instilling the belief that death is simply a second chapter in the story of one’s life. If a calaca cannot sway a mortal from trying to revive the fallen, it calls upon other psychopomps more suited to handling the threat.

Because death is common on Golarion but necromancy is not, calacas do not appear before just anyone who has lost a loved one. Their typical targets are the rich and powerful; after all, individuals with the resources to bring the living back from the dead often need more dissuasion than peasants without means, who simply resign themselves to their loss. For particularly difficult cases or in the instance of mass casualties and thus multitudes of mourners, a number of calacas may band together to combine their efforts, appearing as a troupe. Such troupes typically throw elaborate performative feasts, with each calaca taking up a different instrument or part in the act. As long as their disguise holds, calacas will perform for mortals for days if necessary. Other psychopomps like catrinas may also join them in larger groups, as their abilities complement the calacas’ by calming distraught family members and angry mobs.

When not performing their core duty consoling the aggrieved, calacas accompany other psychopomps on missions to the Material Plane, either as heralds or to provide support. A calaca typically reports its success or failures to a nosoi, who scribbles details of the calaca’s latest encounter with a mortal. When a morrigna has been given a target for assassination, several calacas may be sent in advance to soften the morrigna’s prey before the attack. Calacas can also be found in the backs of the ranks of vanth forces, maintaining the pace of the psychopomps’ march with their haunting battle dirges. Truly, wherever there are psychopomps, the somber songs of the calaca are never far behind.