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

Psychopomp, Yamaraj

The head of this winged, dragonlike beast is crowned with long spines. Sooty feathers cover its body.

Yamaraj CR 20

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 222, Pathfinder #48: Shadows of Gallowspire pg. 86
XP 307,200
N Huge outsider (extraplanar, psychopomp)
Init +16; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect thoughts, low-light vision, spiritsense, true seeing; Perception +37
Aura fear (30 ft., DC 32)

Defense

AC 40, touch 21, flat-footed 27 (+4 armor, +12 Dex, +1 dodge, +15 natural, –2 size)
hp 337 (25d10+200); fast healing 10
Fort +22, Ref +20, Will +25
Defensive Abilities lightning drinker; DR 15/adamantine; Immune cold, electricity, death effects, disease, poison; SR 31

Offense

Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good), swim 40 ft.
Melee bite +32 (2d6+9/19–20 plus grab and poison), 2 claws +32 (2d6+9), tail slap +30 (2d6+4), 2 wings +30 (1d8+4)
Space 15 ft., Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (60-ft. cone, 20d6 cold, Reflex DC 30 half, usable every 1d4 rounds; or beetles), poison
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +30)
Constant—detect thoughts (DC 22), mage armor, true seeing
At will—greater dispel magic, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), reincarnate, rest eternalAPG, scrying, share languageAPG, telekinesis (DC 25), tongues
3/day—circle of death (DC 26), forcecage (DC 27), miracle (DC 29) (see final judgment), quickened lightning bolt (DC 23), undeath to death (DC 26)
1/day—soul bind, summon (level 9, any one CR 19 or lower psychopomp 100%), wail of the banshee (DC 29)

Statistics

Str 28, Dex 35, Con 27, Int 24, Wis 28, Cha 31
Base Atk +25; CMB +36 (+38 bull rush, +40 grapple); CMD 59 (61 vs. bull rush, 63 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Hover, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility, Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (lightning bolt), Spell Penetration, Wind Stance
Skills Acrobatics +37 (+41 when jumping), Bluff +38, Diplomacy +35, Fly +40, Intimidate +35, Knowledge (arcana) +32, Knowledge (planes) +35, Knowledge (religion) +32, Perception +37, Sense Motive +37, Spellcraft +32, Stealth +32, Swim +42; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics when jumping
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal
SQ final judgment, spirit touch

Ecology

Environment any (Purgatory)
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

Special Abilities

Breath Weapon (Su) In addition to its cold breath weapon, a yamaraj can breath a 60-foot cone of beetles and other insectile scavengers. Creatures in the breath weapon’s area take 16d6 points of slashing damage and are nauseated for 1d4 rounds (Reflex 30 halves damage and negates nausea). The scavengers persist as a swarm around the affected creature that is closest to the breath weapon’s point of origin; this swarm has the same statistics as an army ant swarm, but its distraction DC is the same as the yamaraj’s breath weapon DC. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Final Judgment (Su) A yamaraj can only use its miracle spell-like ability to restore a slain outsider to life or to reproduce the following spell effects: banishment, dimensional anchor, greater restoration, plane shift, true resurrection.

Lightning Drinker (Su) A yamaraj absorbs electricity to strengthen itself. If struck by an electrical attack, it heals 1 hit point per 3 points of electricity damage the attack would otherwise deal. If the amount of healing would cause the yamaraj to exceed its full normal hit points, it gains any excess as temporary hit points (up to a maximum of 100), which last up to 1 hour.

Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 30; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d4 Dex drain; cure 3 consecutive saves.

Description

Equal parts regal and horrifying to mortal sensibilities, yamarajes preside as judges of death and dispensers of ultimate justice. Superstitions of the living call them by many names—the final judges, the grave magistrates, the dragons who eat men’s souls—but all agree that these nobles of death wither even the stoutest hearts. The grave magistrates glide with authority throughout Purgatory, commanding flocks of lesser psychopomps, tolerating the ministrations of devils and angels bickering for souls of note, and ordering the endless procession of petitioners. Many also serve as diplomats or military commanders to maintain Purgatory’s neutrality, but any such role is secondary to maintaining the flow of souls and the balance of the multiverse. Though in theory each yamaraj answers to the gods of death, in practice each is unquestioned within its own courtroom.

Yamarajes vaguely resemble black dragons, though they are easily distinguished once one realizes the gigantic creatures are cloaked in feathers rather than scales. Each yamaraj measures at least 30 feet in length and weighs 4 tons. Despite their massive size and largely sedentary duties, yamarajes show astounding grace when they move.

Impossibly old, yamarajes are outsiders forged from lesser psychopomps or the souls of legendary mortals. As with other outsiders, they need not eat, drink, or sleep to survive, and the grave magistrates normally remain perched upon Purgatory’s ruins for months at a time, overseeing the smooth organization of their realm. Hard work wears at their immortal drive, and like living lords, they eagerly indulge in exquisite banquets during their infrequent personal time. These bacchanals make for strange bedfellows among outsiders, as solars and pit fiends may hobnob alongside one another, vying for the attention of a yamaraj to help organize the release of judged souls and attempting to win future favors.

When called into physical action, all yamarajes can breathe raw decay in the form of clouds of carrion-eating insects, and their venom saps the youth and vitality from living creatures.

Yamarajes serve as lower judges and lords of Purgatory, directing the activities of other outsiders there, presiding over the dead, pre-sorting souls destined for ultimate judgment by the death gods, and seeing to the efficiency and safety of the plane’s infinite inhabitants. As the highest order of psychopomps, they are simultaneously the most dedicated to their role as shepherds of the dead and the most prone to impressing their own opinions on their work in the form of overturning precedents, rambling speeches, and extensive opinions attached to rulings. Such flexibility is necessary when making immortal decisions based on the ever-changing actions of the living, but frustrates more absolute outsiders to no end.

Unsurprisingly, yamarajes tend to vary greatly from one individual to the next. Most develop deep interests in various worldly subjects that determine the sorts of mortals they ultimately choose to watch over. A given yamaraj might go out of its way to seek out artisans, followers of specific deities, or thieves, depending on its studies or whatever has come to interest it during that eon. Yamarajes might seek to guard such pet souls, ensuring their safe travels through Purgatory, learning more from the souls as they journey together, and ultimately advocating that the death gods grant a more peaceful judgment. Others act in reverse, finding certain sorts of mortals truly disgusting, tormenting their souls through their procession to the goddess’s throne, and even suggesting that the spirits should face particularly monstrous damnations. How a yamaraj reacts to an individual thus proves unpredictable, depending on its changeable tastes. Such idiosyncrasies vary between individual yamarajes, and might change over the course of centuries.

Just as many yamarajes become fascinated with souls possessing specific experiences or from certain backgrounds, some of the psychopomps go out of their way to judge beings from specific worlds, collecting bits of information and insight with every creature that passes them by. Thus, some become experts on one or multiple worlds, having spent eternities ferreting out the histories and secrets of worlds from firsthand accounts over millennia of inquiries. Many yamarajes welcome the opportunity to share the details of their investigations, though they sometimes see inquiries into their worlds of expertise as opportunities to conscript new allies to aid the psychopomps’ cause. Standing at the pinnacle of their race, yamarajes are well informed as to the challenges and goals of many subservient psychopomps, and might only negotiate with mortals who perform a service in aid of their underlings.