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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, Olethros

This moth-winged woman wears a spiral mask and a white, silken gown glimmering with tiny bronze mirrors.

Olethros CR 17

Source Bestiary 6 pg. 220
XP 102,400
N Medium outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp)
Init +24; Senses darkvision 60 ft., discern next of kin, low-light vision, spiritsense, true seeing; Perception +30

Defense

AC 32, touch 30, flat-footed 22 (+10 Dex, +10 insight, +2 natural)
hp 275 (19d10+171)
Fort +20, Ref +16, Will +19; +8 vs. mind-affecting effects
Defensive Abilities all-around vision, cyclic energy, fated, mind blank, mirror garb; DR 5/adamantine; Immune ability damage, ability drain, death effects, disease, energy drain, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; SR 28

Offense

Speed 40 ft., fly 100 ft. (good)
Melee 2 fated touches +23 (10d6)
Ranged silkbow +35/+30/+25/+20 (2d6+15/19–20/×3)
Special Attacks fated touch, fateful arrows
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 17th; concentration +27)
Constant—discern next of kin, mind blank, tongues, true seeing
At will—breath of life, greater dispel magic, greater scrying (DC 27), greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), prognostication
3/day—haste, mass cure critical wounds (DC 28)
1/day—moment of prescience, plane shift (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), temporal stasis (DC 28), wail of the banshee (DC 29)

Statistics

Str 18, Dex 30, Con 29, Int 20, Wis 27, Cha 31
Base Atk +19; CMB +23; CMD 53
Feats Deadly Aim, Greater Snap Shot, Improved Initiative, Improved Precise Shot, Improved Snap Shot, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Snap Shot, Weapon Focus (silkbow)
Skills Bluff +32, Disguise +32, Fly +36, Intimidate +29, Knowledge (arcana, planes, religion) +27, Knowledge (history) +24, Perception +30, Sense Motive +30, Spellcraft +27
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal; tongues
SQ change shape (Medium humanoid; alter self), spirit touch

Ecology

Environment any (Boneyard)
Organization solitary, pair, or thread (3 plus 3–8 morrignas)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Cyclic Energy (Ex) To an olethros, the beginnings and endings of all things are inexorably connected, including the relationship between life and death. Olethroses are healed by both positive and negative energy effects and are immune to ability damage, ability drain, and energy drain.
Fated (Su) An olethros adds her Charisma modifier as an insight bonus to AC and on initiative checks.
Fated Touch (Su) An olethros’s fated touch shows her target glimpses of its own fate and draws the creature inexorably closer to its doom. A fated touch deals 10d6 points of damage that bypasses all damage reduction. This is an aging effect when used against a living target. Against undead foes, it manifests as positive energy damage. Nonliving creatures (such as constructs) and creatures that are specifically immune to aging effects are immune to an olethros’s fated touch. A creature that is critically hit by a fated touch is wracked by anguish and suffering for every bitter failure it has or shall experience, and is permanently shaken and sickened. This effect is a curse and a mind-affecting fear effect.
Fateful Arrows (Su) Each time an olethros deals damage to a creature with an arrow fired from her silkbow, the creature gains 1 fateful arrow point. These points persist for 24 hours. As long as a creature has any fateful arrow points, it takes a penalty equal to that point total on all saving throws against effects created by a psychopomp. This is a curse effect.
Mirror Garb (Ex) Each tiny bronze mirror woven into an olethros’s gown is a suitable focus for greater scrying, and she can view the world through them all easily with her all-around vision, allowing her to keep track of numerous situations at once. Her mind can process hundreds of streams of information simultaneously in this way. When an olethros succeeds at her saving throw against a spell or spell-like ability that targets only the olethros, there’s a 50% chance that one of these mirrors reflects the effects of the attack back upon the caster as per spell turning.
Silkbow (Su) An olethros’s strange bow functions only for the olethros who created it. In her hands, it counts as a +5 longbow. If an olethros’s silkbow is destroyed or set aside, it collapses into nonmagical silk; an olethros can create a new silkbow as a standard action. Arrows are created automatically as the olethros fires her silkbow and deal an amount of piercing damage equal to 2d6 + the olethros’s Charisma modifier

Description

Psychopomps embody the natural cycle of birth and death; while most psychopomps are focused mainly on the transition between death and the afterlife, olethroses focus on birth, death, and the fate of those hanging in the balance between them. Olethroses are among the Boneyard’s most powerful agents in the mortal world, and they work outside that plane’s normal hierarchy, answering to only the psychopomp ushers and the enigmatic goddess of death herself. They move among mortals in disguise, watching the strands of fate interweave and acting to promote their view of fate and stymie those who fight against fate’s flow. An olethros might appear in the guise of a wise midwife or a person’s former mentor, offering words of wisdom or advice that open up new possibilities.

Olethroses often see themselves as extraplanar rivals to the fey norns (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 3 202), though stories tell of at least one star-crossed romance between a norn and an olethros. Although inveterate meddlers themselves, olethroses can’t abide lipika aeons (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5 8), disapproving of their manipulation of the cycle of life for some alien sense of karma. Occasionally, a shadow war of manipulation breaks out between an olethros and a lipika that can span lives, families, and even dynasties. Among psychopomps, morrignas (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4 219) look upon olethroses with respect and adulation, while nosois (Bestiary 4 220) sometimes consider them bossy. Yamarajes (Bestiary 4 222) respect their independence but sometimes requisition one to serve as an expert witness or an advocate during a particularly difficult judgment. Olethroses never refuse such a requisition, but most chafe at being assigned such tasks more than once in a long while.

While all psychopomps loathe undead, olethroses only incidentally spar with those abominable exceptions to the cycle. Instead, the focus of their enmity is upon sahkils (Bestiary 5 212). Olethroses sometimes use their plane shift ability to hunt their traitorous kin on the Ethereal Plane. While none know for sure precisely why olethroses fixate on sahkils, legends say that one of the first sahkil tormentors to rise was an olethros who went rogue.

Many psychopomps use manufactured weapons, such as scythes or staves, in their war against those who would endanger the flow of souls to the afterlife, but olethroses use strange weapons that function only for their kind. These are silkbows, ranged weapons built from diaphanous strands of cloth and silk that function as magical longbows.

While most psychopomps are forged from mortal souls in Purgatory, olethroses are born from other olethroses via rarely occurring immaculate conception. Olethroses claim that new members of their kind are born when a new branch of fate forks off, and the newcomers are destined to study and nurture that branch and the lineages involved. Whatever the case, very few olethroses become pregnant in this way, but those who do grow enormously in power. Olethros mothers range in CR from 20 to 25. A few of the more powerful olethros mothers advance with levels in a spellcasting class (typically cleric), but most of them advance by gaining additional Hit Dice and unique powers over birth, fate, and death. Olethros mothers occasionally use weapons other than their usual bows, either because they have developed the ability to create a different sort of weapon or because they’ve acquired a particularly powerful weapon and augmented it with their own powers. Such olethros mothers trade away the silkbow and fateful arrows abilities for amazing abilities related to their new weapons.

Olethros mothers are much more likely to have subsequent daughters than an ordinary olethros is to have a first daughter, so olethros mothers are far less common than other olethroses. Each one develops her own distinct specialty, and in that area of expertise, even yamarajes defer to her; in fact, the most powerful olethros mothers serve as advisors and near peers of even the psychopomp ushers themselves.

A typical olethros stands only 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds. An olethros mother is much taller; it is not uncommon for such powerful psychopomps to be nearly 8 feet in height and weigh 250 pounds