Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder | Starfinder

All | Unique
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Families | Templates | Types | Subtypes | Universal Monster Rules


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
Catrina5
Ember Weaver8
Esobok3
Kere10
Memitim15
Morrigna13
Nosoi2
Shoki9
Vanth7
Viduus4
Yamaraj20

Psychopomp, Esobok

Malice oozes from this stout, hunched predator. A ruff of dirty feathers adorns its hairless, muscular body just below its crocodilian skull.

Esobok CR 3

Source 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, spirit sense; 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 +7 (1d6+3 plus grab), 2 claws +7 (1d4+3)
Special Attacks pounce, wrench spirit
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th)
Constant—detect undead
3/day—invisibility (self only)

Statistics

Str 16, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB +7; CMD 20 (24 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Power Attack
Skills Climb +9, Intimidate +8, Stealth +9, Survival +8
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal

Ecology

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

Special Abilities

Eater of the Dead (Su) Esoboks feed on the decaying flesh of undead. They are immune to the nauseated condition, and any effect that would normally cause them to become nauseated instead causes them to become sickened.

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 and leaves intelligent undead stunned. All other targets are paralyzed. Once per round, a creature 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 back to the spirit’s body as a free action. 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.

Description

The mad dogs of the Boneyard, esoboks are the blunt and vicious predator caste of psychopomps. They patrol the Spire as feral hunters, hungry for undead flesh. Though as outsiders esoboks don’t have to eat and draw no sustenance from this behavior, the spark of undeath is a feast for their every sense, and they pursue and ravenously consume undead creatures given the chance.

Mortals rarely see these otherworldly hunters, and only those steeped in the ways of death know of their existence. They hazily creep into the edges of living mythologies, appearing as torturers of fallen souls or delivering a gnashing end to mortals whose souls don’t meet Pharasma’s expectations. In truth, esoboks show a curious neutrality towards petitioners. Only the living— and even more so the undead—catch their eye, while the truly dead have little to fear.

Esoboks are stout, physically impressive specimens, with dog-like bodies and the girth of rhinoceroses or hippopotamuses. Their bodies are bald, aside from a thick collar of oily feathers at their necks, but bear distinctive spots, stripes, or patterns that identify individuals. Even among psychopomps, there is speculation regarding how to differentiate between male and female esoboks, or even whether they have physical sexes. The typical esobok stands 3 feet tall at the shoulder and nearly as wide, and weighs upwards of 300 pounds.

Ecology

Like all psychopomps, esoboks are native to the Boneyard and Pharasma’s Spire. Esoboks are savage and dogged beings, gifted with impressive teeth and claws, but they are less intelligent than other psychopomps, and less perceptive. They do, however, possess an uncanny ability to sniff out the negative energy that animates undead. Their bodies are nearly unassailable, with an immune system any living scavenger would envy. In addition to dealing physical damage with their bites, an esobok can plunge its eldritch jaws deep inside a creature and tear out the living essence that sustains its prey. The ties that bind soul to body are strong, though, and esoboks eventually lose their grip on all but the weakest of spirits, at which point the spirits return to their victims’ bodies. Some fringe cults even summon esoboks expressly to loosen the spirit from a guru’s physical body, allowing her to seek wisdom unburdened by the trivial concerns of the living.

While as outsiders they have no need to eat or drink to survive, esoboks’ gnawing hunger and focused purpose cause them to grow restless, irritated, and unpredictable if denied prey too long. They favor unliving meals, but will hunt anything they can chase. Esoboks prefer rich sources of negative and positive energy—such as characters who can channel energy, beings that radiate these energies naturally, or potions and scrolls of various cure and inflict spells—but most every entity in the multiverse holds some shining seed of energy that an esobok would savor.

Most psychopomps arise from the souls of the unaligned dead, and bring an unusual amount of their living selves with them into eternal services. Esoboks instead rise from the Boneyard itself. Most believe they are the souls of animals, bound into eternal service by Pharasma. A few scholars of esoteric lore believe the Spire forges the creatures from lingering shreds of soulstuff that have flaked from the countless weary dead. Whatever their origins, esoboks lack the strong personalities common among other psychopomps. They have few personal proclivities and loathe individuality.

Within the Boneyard, packs of esoboks roam like wolves, constantly searching for intruders and those who would raise the dead or interfere with their tombs. These feral packs carve out territories and defend them from outsiders and even other psychopomps. While they prefer the taste of undeath, esoboks eat their fill of infernal or celestial trespassers. Only petitioners and other psychopomps escape their predation.

Habitat & Society

Esoboks are the savage guard dogs of Pharasma. While vanths serve as eerily disciplined soldiers, morrignas hunt fugitives of the system, and other psychopomps tend to the bureaucracy of death, esoboks are her guardian beasts. Uncorrupted by ethical questions or personal desires, they simply shred whatever they encounter.

Their unruly nature and limited intelligence make esoboks ideal border guards and attack animals. Like vanths, their behavior is alien and unsettling, seemingly devoid of the mortal heritage of most outsiders. Vanths find the creatures comforting, and frequently recruit them to direct their savage fury against astradaemons, night hags, and others who might profit from interfering with the River of Souls. Yamarajes permit only the most disciplined of esoboks within sight of the Boneyard’s great palaces of justice and record halls, and even then only when tightly chained.

Esoboks are never trusted to retrieve the souls of the fallen. Despite their fondness for petitioners, they are rough and simple-minded brutes that are difficult to control. Even if allowed to visit the mortal world, they require short leashes and disciplined masters. They most frequently accompany vanths to sites of undead infection, and more rarely act as muscle for morrignas tired of subtlety. Occasionally, mortal summoners call forth esoboks to contain outbreaks of undead—their joy at the taste of undead flesh usually keeps them from causing much harm to other creatures. If they lack undead prey, however, esoboks stranded on the Material Plane prey on whatever they can chase and catch.

Though esoboks respect and fear more powerful psychopomps, only vanths seem capable of training them into anything more than crude animals. Such trained esoboks grow substantially in power, as their newfound discipline taps into their latent magic. These war dogs have the advanced simple template and gain the following spell-like abilities, each usable once per day: ear-piercing screamUM, haunting mistsUM, and teleport.