Monster Primer #2: Psychopomps Continued


Along the Rivers of the Dead glide small ferry boats pushed along by psychopomps known as charon. These skeletal beings wear black robes and are unheard of outside their boats. These beings are responsible for traversing the rivers and making sure they flow properly. Among the psychopomps the charon are, perhaps, the most pliable. Those with proper wealth and ritual given to them through funerary rites can bribe the ferryman to bring them more directly to their sanctuary. It is even said that a mortal with business in the lands of the dead are able to pay a charon for its service in reaching the banks of a specific destination.

Grim Reaper

Despite so many other skeletal figures among the ranks of psychopomps, the most infamous is that of the grim reaper. Wearing a dark robe and covering its visage under a hood, the grim reapers hold scythes capable of severing the tie between physical being and the soul. While feared throughout many cultures these beings just perform the simple but imperative task of making sure a soul leaves a dead body. Often it takes a mere touch from the skeletal hand but, given need, the scythe can be used to cut down such connections and for a soul into the Etherium where it can be guided along its next path.


Where the grim reaper is highly recognized and wrongly feared, the shinigami is the psychopomp on the other side of the coin. Little know of them because they are unconcerned with mortal affairs. Even those still connected to the mortal world are a thing separate. Things like liches, cursed mummies, and the like. However, wear the grim reaper provides a natural step in a cosmic cycle, the shinigami is concerned with hunting down those who would warp these cycles. At their core, they are bounty hunters of those who disrupt the cosmic balance or those who work with souls that bend the rules too far in their purpose. Noone knows where the souls captured by the shinigami end up, but most say that oblivion would even be too good for them.

The shinigami from Paizo’s Bestiary 3


Most tasks carried out by psychopomps are very specific and, in a way, so are the valkyries’. These are beings who act as great warriors and protectors of souls. It would be unsurprising to see these beings almost anywhere where souls might be spotted. Valkyries patrol the unseen roads of ankou, the Rivers of the Dead, and other locations where souls might be attacked. The only place you are unlikely to find a valkyrie is the wetlands of Gehenna where souls are tried. Unique among psychopomps, the valkyrie are occasionally granted permission to interrupt the flow of souls in the cosmos. This permission is given by the court-holder of a Sanctuary and allows the psychopomp to choose a soul destined to that Sanctuary who is deemed worthy of becoming a valkyrie. Of course this happens among certain deities more than others, but all give permission eventually to maintain neutral donations over time.

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