|Images of psychopomps|
Source: Ashes at Dawn, pg(s). 89
Psychopomps, or reapers, are outsiders native to the Outer Sphere plane called the Boneyard serving their mistress Pharasma, Lady of Graves, as the 'civil service' of the business of death. In various ways, such as guarding, processing, scribing, they dutifully ensure Pharasma's processing of the souls of the dead is accurately done. Like their mistress, psychopomps revile the undead as a perversion of the natural course of death that they uphold as sacred.
Psychopomps are normally formed from the souls of the neutral dead, and often retain quite a bit of individuality derived from the soul's previous existence. In order to ensure the fair and even shaping of the Outer Planes, psychopomps focus on maintaining the proper procession of the River of Souls: they work with aeons to defend the Antipode, which connects the Maelstrom with the Positive Energy Plane; protect proto-souls from those that would try to harness them; oversee the transition of souls from life to afterlife; and stomp out disruptions that they find.
Psychopomps unquestionably obey orders of their mistress Pharasma; to a degree, all of them are extensions of her will. However, she rarely applies her influence directly and her words are often vaguely defined, leading to psychopomps debating their interpretations and acting divergently, sometimes directly against each other.
The majority of psychopomps reside in the Boneyard. Organised in a byzantine bureaucracy, they facilitate the constant procession and categorisation of the dead, either by overseeing the soul input and output, aiding councillors and administrators, or serving as judges. A few psychopomps operate outside of the Boneyard, correcting bureaucratic errors, policing the River of Souls, guiding lost souls back on their path, and investigating disruptions to the Boneyard's work, whether they be undead, daemons, sahkils, night hags, or soul traders.
Psychopomps see the dead as their responsibility and a potential source of infinite problems; the faster and more orderly a soul is judged, the better. To them, the living have two roles (to live and to die), and, except for those that significantly disrupt the River of Souls, psychopomps have little interest in interacting with mortals; to them, heroes and villains are all the same. In order to ensure the proper transition from life to death, psychopomps oppose the undead and usually destroy any undead encountered during missions; cases where a psychopomp can be convinced to work alongside undead are rare and always temporary. However, most undead have no fear of psychopomp retribution, and for their part, psychopomps prefer to wait for the undead to decay and decompose according to their usual tendency, and are generally unconcerned with any undead threat of less than multiversal significance. Outside of Pharasma herself, psychopomps hold no reverence for deities, who can die and be judged in the Boneyard like mortals, but are not interested in philosophical debates with the faithful. Even the psychopomp ushers are not exempt: as most of them were once normal psychopomps, their colleagues respect them but never let them forget who they once were.
Due to their role in providing petitioners to all Outer Planes, most other outsiders respect them as neutrals and avoid interfering with their job; daemons and qlippoth are two notable exceptions, and actively oppose psychopomps. Psychopomps oppose sahkils only because of their interference with the River of Souls, not because they were originally traitorous psychopomps.
Classes of psychopomp
There are numerous classes of psychopomp, each performing different duties for Pharasma. They include:
- Ahmuuth: help mortals to destroy undead
- Algea: rescue souls claimed by false prophets and malignant powers
- Catrina: comfort the souls of the recently deceased
- Ember Weaver: guide souls to the entry of the River of Souls
- Esobok: bestial predators who hunt for undead to destroy
- Kere: guardians of sacred graveyards
- Memitim: angels of death that guard souls along the River of Souls
- Morrigna: the most human-looking of Pharasma's hunters who prevent interference in the cycle of death
- Nosoi: a tiny psychopomp best suited to scribing and serving as messengers
- Olethros: focus on fate and any powerful creature interfering with it
- Shoki: collectors of lingering souls
- Vanth: guardian psychopomps
- Viduus: scholarly psychopomps
- Yamaraj: the noble law lords of the Boneyard, they are the highest order of psychopomp
All psychopomps, despite their varied appearances, wear distinctive death masks as a badge of their office.
Paizo published a major article about psychopomps in The Twilight Child 68ff.
- Crystal Frasier, Patrick Renie, and Sean K Reynolds. (2011). Bestiary. Ashes at Dawn, p. 89. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-312-5
- Crystal Frasier, Thurston Hillman, and Will McCardell. (2014). Bestiary. Empty Graves, p. 85. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-589-1
- F. Wesley Schneider. (2018). Ecology of the Psychopomp. The Twilight Child, p. 69. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-032-3
- Paizo Staff. (2013). Bestiary 4, p. 217. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-575-4
- Dennis Baker et al. (2015). Bestiary 5, p. 212. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-792-5
- Sean K Reynolds et al. (2014). Inner Sea Gods, p. 303. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-597-6
- Robert Brookes et al. (2017). Bestiary 6, p. 217. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-931-8
- Paizo Staff. (2013). Bestiary 4, p. 218. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-575-4
- Alexander Augunas et al. (2015). Monster Summoner's Handbook, p. 25. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-758-1
- Crystal Frasier, Thurston Hillman, and Will McCardell. (2014). Bestiary. Empty Graves, p. 84. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-589-1
- James Jacobs, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, and Jerome Virnich. (2012). Bestiary. Beyond the Doomsday Door, p. 88. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-474-0
- Jim Groves, James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, et al. (2012). Inner Sea Bestiary, p. 39. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-468-9
- Adam Daigle, Crystal Frasier, F. Wesley Schneider. (2011). Bestiary. Shadows of Gallowspire, p. 88. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-313-2
- Robert Brookes et al. (2017). Bestiary 6, p. 220, 221. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-931-8
- Jim Groves, James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, et al. (2012). Inner Sea Bestiary, p. 40. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-468-9
- Jim Groves, James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, et al. (2012). Inner Sea Bestiary, p. 41. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-468-9
- Jim Groves, James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, et al. (2012). Inner Sea Bestiary, p. 38. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-468-9