Psychopomps oversee one of the most fundamental functions of the multiverse: the progress of mortal souls.
Through this infinite cycle of lives, deaths, and rebirths, the forces of the planes calibrate and evolve. Psychopomps serve as caretakers of this process, yet no matter their might or influence, they all know their place, their duty, and a shared secret: that the order of the planes is not perfect, and that one distant day it will end. For most psychopomps, this burdensome truth reinforces the great need for their diligence in fending off the decay of all things. For others, it is an onrushing nihilistic destiny.
And for the most brazen, selfish psychopomps, it is a reason to rebel.
Those psychopomps that dissent are known as sahkils.
Not content to serve as clerks in an endlessly deteriorating cycle of meaningless lives, these former psychopomps abandoned their duties. Escaping the strictures of their previous brethren, they flee to the empty places of reality—most congregating in the misty Ethereal Plane.
There, where the great procession of newly departed souls endlessly marches toward judgment, death’s rebels remake themselves. Embracing the dread with which mortals already view them, they restyle themselves as tyrants of terror. No longer servants to souls, they would become their terrifying masters. Reality’s days might be numbered, but for those finite eons, sahkils resolve to rule.
Sahkils bear little resemblance to the psychopomps they once were. Although some embrace the morbidity of their former brethren, most sahkil forms are inspired by common or particularly potent mortal fears. Unnatural fusions, insectile limbs, and bloody phantasmagorias abound among sahkil shapes, each designed and destined to terrify. The least sahkils have the most recognizable forms—familiar limbs seemingly twisted by unimaginable excruciations. The greatest of their kind, though, are near-indescribable horrors, obscene in both shape and proportions. Yet sahkils share the single drive to give all creatures reason to fear.
From the Ethereal Plane, sahkils watch. They slip tenuous tendrils into the dark and abandoned places of the world, infusing the mundane with dread and giving fangs to mortal imaginings. When they trespass upon the Material Plane, most sahkils prefer to remain veiled, corrupting nature and turning people into monsters.
They revel in the awe associated with terror and hear praises in every scream. When finally their victims have been sapped, drained of their capacities to hope and to fear, the sahkil feed. Not willing to let their playthings escape to feed the cycle they once served, sahkils delight in nothing more than tearing mortal souls apart or giving rise to blasphemous undead.
The most dangerous sahkils rise to dominate their brethren as nightmare warlords. These sahkil tormentors form vast, sanity-bending realms from which only tortured sounds escape. Unique in form and objectives, these demigods gather legions of sahkil servitors, uniting them in campaigns targeting vulnerable souls, entire mortal worlds, or even rival tormentors. Regardless of their goals, sahkil tormentors are the most secretive members of the race, cloaking themselves to preserve the terror of their true faces, or sometimes to hide the beings they once were.
As sahkils viciously impede the multiverse’s workings, these gluttons of fear are widely loathed. Nearly every celestial and lawful race opposes their selfish desires, hunting them as dangerous beasts and metaphysical brigands. Psychopomps most actively oppose sahkil interference with the progress of souls, yet rarely display racial malice against the traitors. Additionally, manasaputras violently resent sahkil schemes, as sahkil predation actively impedes the development of mortal souls. This often results in dutiful manasaputras or their agents defending vulnerable spirits or leading quests to liberate worthy souls before they’re destroyed.
The sahkil are not without allies, though. Divs, in their campaigns to spread misfortune and ruin among mortals, respect the motivations of sahkils and sometimes work with them to spread fear. Equally nihilistic, the end-seeking daemons delight in sahkil destruction of mortal souls and their hastening of the end times. Kytons, too, have a distant admiration for the avant-garde masterpieces of insanity and terror that sahkils work upon mortal minds.
A fractious group of godlike warlords dominate vast numbers of sahkil. They have been the most effective in the goals of their race, amassing power and worship through terror. From their nether-realms upon the Ethereal Plane, these sahkil tormentors sow new horrors among mortal worlds and minds. Some of the most dreadful tormentors include the following.
- Ananshea, The Skin That Walks on Teeth
- Chamiaholom, Skull Staff
- Charg, The Typhon Wheel
- Dachzerul, The Darkness Behind You
- Iggeret, She Who Was Lost
- Hataam, River Eater
- Nameless, Upon an Empty Throne
- Ozranvial, Despair’s Smile
- Shawnari, The One Out of Place
- Velgaas, Minds in the Dark
- The Vermillion Mother
- Xiquiripat, Flying Scab
- Zipacna, The Mountain Below