Psychopomp, Vanth

Habitat: Underlands, River of Souls, forgotten graveyards and crypts of the Prime

Alignment: Neutral

Challenge Rating: 7 [PF1e,PF2e]; 9 [5e]

In the shadowy Underlands, where the line ‘twixt life and death is as blurred as a basher’s vision after a night at the Styx Oarsman, there lurks a creature of solemn duty and silent vigil—the vanth. Picture this, blood: an imposing figure, eight feet tall, with a frame as skeletal as the Factol Skall, cloaked in wings dark and ragged as a raven’s plume. Its face, hidden behind a mask that mimics the skull of a vulture, is a sight that’d chill even a fiend’s heart.

These vanth are the solemn sentinels of Purgatory, and guardians of the River of Souls. They stand watch over the spirits of the dead, ensuring their safe passage and protecting them from any berk foolish enough to try and snatch or devour these wandering spirits. Their domain extends to the forgotten corners of the dead in the Prime—neglected cemeteries, lonely mausoleums, sacred groves where the echoes of the past still linger.

A vanth’s posture might be slumped, but don’t let that fool you. These beings may be ancient, but they’re warriors. Chant is they’re ascended souls from a long-dead world of death-worshipping warriors. They speak seldom, and when they do, their voices carry an unnatural weight, echoing in the air like a death knell.

Their scythes, now they’re a thing of dark beauty. More than just weapons, they’re symbols of sacred duty, etched with forgotten symbols from a language lost to time. Each scythe is a badge of office, a harvester of souls, bane of enemies, and a stark reminder of the inexorable march of mortality.

The vanth’s disdain for chatter and emotions makes them a grim sight, even among their own kind. They’re simply not concerned with the laws of other societies, or personal gain, only the unyielding call of duty. To them, any outsider in Purgatory is a potential threat, be it celestial or fiendish, modron or slaad. These guardians stand firm, unyielding, the very embodiment of death’s relentless pursuit. In fact, mortals often mistake them for the Grim Reaper, a comparison that vanths find either ignorant or downright insulting.

Their scythes, chosen with care, often bear enhancements like cold iron or silver, tailored to combat their most common adversaries. In the heat of battle, these reapers, these angels of death, are the frontline soldiers, a relentless force against any who dare disrupt the cycle of life and death.

See Also:

Sources and Stats:

  • Bestiary 4 [PF1e] p221 here
  • Bestiary 2 [PF2e] here
  • D&D conversion by d’Artagnan [5e] here
  • Origin: Vanth is a psychopomp figure from Etruscan mythology (vanθ), where she was despicted as a vibrant young female occasionally with bird-like features who was found as a more benevolent companion of the Styx ferryman Charon. The Pathfinder depiction is rather more morbid! More here.

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