Nosois are not only my favorite psychopomp, but also probably my favorite familiar. Heck, they’re one of my favorite monsters in Pathfinder, period. A little bird wearing a funerary mask working as a librarian or file clerk in Purgatory? How could you not love that? There are Studio Ghibli movies whose premises aren’t that good!
I also love how flexibly the GM can play these monsters. As a masked, utterly silent whippoorwill popping out of invisibility to haunt the party, the nosoi is reliably disturbing. Or it could be a chatty (assuming you speak Abyssal, Celestial, or Infernal) gossip with a graveyard-shift ER doc’s sense of humor who’s always trying to cadge food scraps and steal grave goods. (In my head they all have bad Hollywood Cockney accents: “Wot, dis fing? Too right I nicked it! ’Twern’t usin’ it, woz he?”)
And what kind of spellcaster binds one of these as a familiar? Bestiary 4 indicates they serve “spellcasters with a special connection to or interest in death”—that’s just creepy…white necromancers, maybe, or investigators and inquisitors with the right feats to gain a familiar (as per the Familiar Folio)? And “spellcasters who keep extensive libraries or prefer meticulous records”—there are plenty of diviners, loremasters, arcanists, and general wizards who fit that bill. Plenty of improved familiars can handle a card catalog and light filing; what they can’t do is speak with dead. Other spellcasters who choose nosois might be invested in protecting the cosmic balance or Neutrality as a concept, or having a guide to the Outer Planes not tied to any of the warring alignment factions.
Look, I’ve got a lot of theories and questions. But what you need are adventures:
The last bequest of Somar Sampat was a magical bauble he kept braided in one long dreadlock. But Sampat has already been interred. To claim the bauble, his young heir and her adventuring companions must go into the jungle and dig up Sampat’s grave. Too bad a covetous nosoi also had his eye on the shiny charm, and has been pecking at the ground ever since, hoping to get his beak on it too.
An escaped soul has hidden itself in an adventurer’s body. The adventurer does not even have any clue it is there until the nosoi uses speak with dead. The soul replies through the character’s lips, refusing to come out and provoking the nosoi to anger.
Sometimes death is an adventurer’s first adventure. A clerical error resurrects a disparate group of would-be adventurers who were killed before they could even take up their blades. Finding themselves whole and alive in the vaults of Purgatory, they must unite, form bonds of friendship, and escape the byzantine soul repository, all while avoiding the nosoi clerks who are eager to fix what they see as an unfortunate—and permanently solvable—mistake.
—Pathfinder Adventure Path #47 86–87 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 220
See Pathfinder Adventure Path #47: Ashes at Dawn for the full ecology, habitat and society details.
Also, if you want a darker take on nosois, remember the name comes from the diseases Pandora released in Greek myth.
Probably the best clash of accents I ever heard was my old roommate, an Oxford grad, describing how a rather dodgy cousin of a friend offered to help him get a new bike after his was stolen. The cousin promised he could even get him the same type, and at an extreme discount.
Oxford: “So what's the catch? That’s offfully cheap for a bike,”
Cousin, confidentially: “Well, it’s nicked, idn’t it?
Oxford: “Yes, I prezzuuumed it was nicked, but are we talking nicked by happenstance or nicked to order?”
That still kills me to this day.
Neither heat, nor humidity, nor meddlesome bosses could keep me from my appointed radio show. Featuring new Mates of State, old Velocity Girl, a ripped-from-the-headlines set of racially problematic music, and more great stuff. Download and enjoy!
(Link good till Monday, 6/22, at midnight. If the feed skips, Save As and enjoy in iTunes.)