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 River of Souls and 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 goddess of death, who assures that all who die reach their prescribed afterlife. Yet with all the worlds of the Material Plane, with the countless faces and exceptions of mortality, and with all those who would turn fate and finality to their own devices, death as a system and institution requires more agents than a single goddess to uphold. So serve 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 those who would seek to deny the natural order of death–creatures that prey upon souls, spirits lost in their migration, 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. Nearly all 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 a living creature that sees 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 number 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.
Psychopomps are neutral outsiders native to the plane known as Purgatory. Psychopomps have a particular suite of traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature’s entry).
Psychopomp Traits: A psychopomp has the following traits.
- Darkvision 60 feet and low-light vision.
- Immunity to death effects, disease, and poison.
- Resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10.
- Except where otherwise noted, psychopomps speak Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Bestiary © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Jim Groves, James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, Erik Mona, Jason Nelson, Patrick Renie, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, Russ Taylor, and Greg A. Vaughan.