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, Kere

This unnaturally pale woman is dressed in the somber garb of a mourner, her countenance covered by a lengthy black veil.

Kere CR 10

Source Pathfinder #64: Beyond the Doomsday Door pg. 88
XP 9,600
N Medium outsider (psychopomp, extraplanar)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, spiritsense; Perception +24

Defense

AC 22, touch 15, flat-footed 17 (+5 Dex, +7 natural)
hp 114 (12d10+48)
Fort +8, Ref +15, Will +13
DR 10/adamantine; Immune death effects, disease, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; SR 21

Offense

Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 claws +17 (1d4+3 plus 1d6 cold), shroud +17 (infectious fear)
Space 5 ft., Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with shroud)
Special Attacks infectious fear (DC 20), veil of tears
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +15)
At will—ghost sound (DC 14), grave tell, greater invisibility, hide from undead (DC 15), minor image (DC 16), searing light, whispering wind
3/day—fog cloud, mage’s faithful hound, mirage arcana (DC 19), speak with dead (DC 17), waves of fatigue
1/day—gate (to the Boneyard or Material Plane only; planar travel only)

Statistics

Str 16, Dex 21, Con 18, Int 13, Wis 20, Cha 19
Base Atk +12; CMB +15; CMD 30
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse
Skills Escape Artist +7, Fly +28, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (history) +16, Knowledge (religion) +16, Perception +24, Sense Motive +24, Stealth +24
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal
SQ grave dependent, grave meld

Ecology

Environment any (graveyards or the Boneyard)
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Grave Dependent (Su) A kere is mystically bonded to a single gravestone—typically the most impressive or oldest in a graveyard—and must never stray more than 300 yards from it. A kere who moves 300 yards beyond her bonded grave immediately becomes visible and unable to use any of her spell-like abilities. A kere who is out of range of her bonded grave for 24 hours takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage, and another 1d6 points of Constitution damage every day of separation that follows—eventually, this separation kills the kere. A kere can break this bond or forge a new bond with a new grave by performing a 24-hour ritual and making a successful DC 20 Will save. If a kere is not bonded with a grave, she must either actively try to forge a new bond or attempt to return to the Boneyard (where she takes no penalties from not being bonded).

Grave Meld (Su) A kere can meld with any gravestone or funerary sculpture, similarly to how the spell meld into stone functions. She can remain melded with such a structure as long as she wishes.

Grave Tell (Sp) This ability functions as the spell stone tell, but only affects stone funerary structures, like gravestones, cemetery monuments, lych-gates, mausoleums, and similar constructions.

Infectious Fear (Su) Any creature struck by a kere’s shroud must succeed at a DC 20 Will save or become frightened for 2d4 rounds. Any creature that physically touches a creature frightened by this effect must succeed at a DC 20 Will save as well or also be frightened for 2d4 rounds (though the fear of the creature touched is not contagious). The save DC is Charisma-based.

Shroud (Ex) A kere’s shroud is an insubstantial thing that only a kere can touch. Creatures that come into contact with this shroud find it to be as insubstantial as mist—though they often do feel the terror it inspires. A creature that is unaware of a kere and is struck by her shroud is not aware that a weapon has struck it. A kere’s shroud vaporizes upon its owner’s death.

Spiritsense (Su) A psychopomp notices, locates, and can distinguish between living and undead creatures within 60 feet, just as if she possessed the blindsight ability.

Spirit Touch (Ex) A psychopomp’s natural weapons, as well as any weapon it wields, are treated as though they had the ghost touch weapon special ability.

Veil of Tears (Su) Any graveyard that hosts a kere is gloomier and more solemn. All exterior areas within such a graveyard are perpetually affected by darkness and mind fog (Will DC 20). Additionally, any undead creature that enters the area is also affected as per the spell slow (Will DC 20). Those who save against these effects are immune to the graveyard’s veil of tears for the next 24 hours. Those who fail are affected by these penalties for as long as they remain in the graveyard. A veil of tears can be raised or lowered by the resident kere as a free action. The veil disperses if a kere leaves the graveyard or is destroyed, and rises upon her return. The veil can also be dispelled for 1 day by casting dispel magic or a similar spell upon the kere’s bonded gravestone. The spell effects are cast at the kere’s caster level (usually 11th). The saving throw DCs are based on the resident kere’s Charisma.

Description

Certain places are sacred, settings meant to remain free of the raucous sounds and defiling touch of the living. Graveyards number among some of the most obvious of such places, where stone guardians and the buried weight of the dead bear on visitors with undeniable gravity. But certain forces disregard the fundamental sanctity of such ground—mortal and deathless heretics who use such places to hunt, feed, or cloak fouler deeds. Yet not all cemeteries are unguarded, and the vaporous shadows and palpable dread of some burial grounds suggest not corruption, but the custody of an ominous otherworldly guardian.

Keres, like all psychopomps, are emissaries of the Boneyard, the necropolis that all mortals must traverse at the end of life. While most psychopomps concern themselves with the souls of the recently deceased, keres mind the resting places of the dead. Their stewardship derives not from any otherworldly care for the deteriorating dust left in the wake of mortal life, but rather from an interest in those who come seeking the dead where they lie. Such creatures often engage in perversions keres seek to oppose. To this end, keres take up lonely residences amid the tombs and monuments of graveyards, spreading an ominous air and giving rise to tales of hauntings and strange encounters to deter even the boldest intruders from trespassing upon the fields they tend.

Keres appear as pale, sickly women standing about 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds.

Ecology

As otherworldly natives, keres have little direct impact on the world of the living, but the atmosphere they intentionally create is undeniable. To deter the living from treading upon the cemeteries they mind, keres employ tactics similar to those of mournful ghosts and mythical beings from storytellers’ tales of spirits and haunts. Their presence fills the area they guard with a palpable dread, and they fill these cemeteries with baleful howling, somber illusions, and glimpses of their own ghastly forms. While they rarely create phantasmagoric images of the undead— out of a loathing for such perverse creatures—their unsettling displays of dangerous animals, lost children, whispering plants, shuddering gravestones, living statuary, pale doppelgangers, unnatural weather, and other eerie phenomena are typically more than enough to give a graveyard a haunted reputation.

Habitat & Society

A kere’s exact methods usually matter little, as they tend to keep to more vulnerable, remote cemeteries, and prove most active when night cloaks the dark deeds of trespassers. But, occasionally, overzealous keres come into opposition with a fearful community and those sent to deal with the supposed haunting. Since their aloof nature causes them to avoid speaking directly with mortals, keres usually deal with would-be exorcists in the same manner they deal with other trespassers—by trying to frighten them away. Those who refuse to be frightened might be attacked, or faced with inquisitive illusions as a kere attempts to divine whether the interlopers are threats to her graveyard or not.

More than once, a kere has been known to grow bored in her vigil and actively attempt to attract mortal visitants, but such attention-seeking psychopomps often find the added excitement isn’t worth the bother.

For all of the ambiance and grim reputations cultivated by keres, their primary objective upon the Material Plane is to preemptively thwart the deeds of necromancers and undead. To this end they terrorize grave robbers, harry the work of dark cultists, and openly attack the unliving. Any undead beings who enter or manifest in a cemetery under a kere’s care find the weight of eternity crushing down upon them, making the most common sorts easy prey for these sentinel psychopomps. In some cases, though, more powerful undead might find ways to undermine a kere’s defenses, or even drive her off. Such desperate keres have been known to grudgingly seek out aid, typically from the church of Pharasma or fringe-dwelling magic-users, in countering the taint of undeath.