|Images of vanths|
Source: Ashes at Dawn, pg(s). 88-89
Vanths appear as eight-foot-tall, jet-black humanoid skeletons with long, bony tails, and the black-feathered wings of a giant raven. As with most psychopomps, vanths conceal their faces behind dark masks of either carved stone or ceramics that resemble carrion birds such as ravens, crows, or vultures. They are rarely seen without their badge of office, magical adamantine scythes capable of severing the silver cords of astral travellers, and carved with the letters of the long-forgotten language that grace the most ancient tombstone of the Boneyard. On rare occasions of grand battle, vanths will clad themselves in ancient ceremonial brass armour.
As outsiders, vanths do not have a conventional ecology, instead they have their assigned role as a psychopomp, dedicated in service to the death goddess Pharasma. Vanths serve as the relentless foot soldiers of death, facing anything that interrupts the natural cycle of life and death from plagues of undeath to temples who use resurrection magic too freely. They often serve Pharasma harvesting souls from sights like plague pits and the most brutal battlefields to prevent them rising again as undead. There is great speculation on the fundamental nature of vanths as, unlike other psychopomps, they do not seem to graduate through the ranks to their positions. Some whisper that vanths pre-date Pharasma's claiming of the Boneyard and that all other psychopomps were subtly modelled after them, making vanths unspeakably ancient. Others claim they come from a world of death-worshipping soldiers who spent their entire lives in glorious contemplation of their mortal end, even revelling as their entire planet died.
Habitat & Society
Vanths dwell primarily in Pharasma's realm of the Boneyard atop the cosmically tall Pharasma's Spire; here, they serve as guardians of death, watching over the infinite flow of souls that pass through the Boneyard to their final judgement. They also often fulfil these guardian duties along the River of Souls and can even sometimes be found on the Material Plane protecting forgotten cemeteries and other such domains of death. Despite their fearsome reputation and unquestioned loyalty to Pharasma, vanths are rarely summoned by members of her faith as there is something about them that mortals find fundamentally disturbing.
Vanths are looked down upon by almost every other class of being, from demon and devil to angel, for their suspicious nature and obsessive, almost mechanical adherence to their duty. While most other types of psychopomps still retain some mortal proclivities, vanths seem utterly emotionless, obsessed only with fulfilling their duty. Even to other psychopomps, vanths seem distant, even fundamentally alien. Vanths are oddly comfortable with the company of the near-bestial esoboks and are the only psychopomps capable of training them. They will sometimes recruit packs of the vicious creatures to assist them when facing soul-stealing threats like astradaemons and night hags. Whilst capable guardians of souls, vanths are not renowned for their interest in the living, and have been known to injure or even kill mortal bystanders in their conflicts with soul thieves and the undead.
- Crystal Frasier, Patrick Renie, and Sean K Reynolds. (2011). Bestiary. Ashes at Dawn, p. 88, 89. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-312-5
- F. Wesley Schneider. (2018). Ecology of the Psychopomp. The Twilight Child, p. 72. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-032-3
- Crystal Frasier, Thurston Hillman, and Will McCardell. (2014). Bestiary. Empty Graves, p. 85. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-589-1
- Crystal Frasier. (2014). Empty Graves. Empty Graves, p. 27. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-589-1