Forces of Darkness – Zunirei of the Thousand Eyes is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/author bio, 1 page ToC/short intro of the concept behind Zunirei,1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
So, who is Zunirei? Born in the Eastern lands of a now forgotten prime material plane, she was born from the lowest of stock, sold into prostitution and climbed the ranks of her homeland by guile and deviousness, making good use of the skill-set of a courtesan. On her way to the top, she started working as a double-agent, following her one true passion – exerting power and destruction by revealing secrets in the most destructive of ways. When death claimed her, she rose through the ranks of the abyss – and now she’s back, elevated even beyond succubus status.
Among her minions, we find her erstwhile succubus-sisters, a clan of doppelgangers and more exotic beings – for example a lillend with which she maintains a careful exchange of information. Beyond that, Zunirei has also taught the art of crafting living tattoos to some of the mortals she has tempted and one of the hooks herein actually see the PCs seek to reclaim the lost soul of one of her erstwhile lovers from the Darklands – interesting!
Zunirei herself is a CR 12 threat and a unique outsider with a whole array of different signature abilities -her guise as a radiantly beautiful woman conceals the ability not only to create, detect and influence living tattoos and dominate members of her network sans save, she also has claws of gemstone hardness disguised as her gorgeous fingernails! Her living tattoos are CR 2 diminutive constructs that act as spies for their deadly mistress, complete with creation options – and yes, they may be reabsorbed after their host has perished.
Beyond her regular incarnation, we also get a CR 15/MR 6 Mythic version of Zunirei – fitting thematically with her agent-role, she has learned here to actually hide her presence and erase herself from the memories of others – oh, and she gets her very own extraplanar private sanctum, making the Mythic Zunirei even harder to track down and defeat. Worse, she can now change her place with beings with her tattoos – OUCH.
A short box on the willing and unwilling bearers of her tattoos and active and unaware agents of her network is provided as well, as is a page of detailed suggestions of how to integrate Zunirei into your campaign – 6 rather detailed hooks are here to help DMs.
Editing and formatting are very good – apart from a strange change of fonts in ~3 lines of the first page, I didn’t notice any particular distinct glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column standard in full colour with a parchment-style background. The artwork of Zunirei by Caeli Smith is AWESOME and the other interior artwork thematically fitting – especially nice that we get a depiction of Zunirei’s signature mark. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Author Robert H. Hudson Jr. has created an intriguing demoness that strays from the default “bash-’em-in”-CE-outsiders approach – and kudos for that! Zunirei makes for a fantastic, cool adversary and I honestly don’t have much to complain herein – personally, I would have enjoyed her expertise in seduction to be reflected in her skills, e.g. via Profession (Courtesan) or Perform (Seduction), but I get why they were omitted – fluff-only, both don’t really have a lot of back-up rules-wise. The two builds of Zunirei are cool, with the Mythic one offering some exceedingly deadly and downright evil tricks that may have the PCs unintentionally slay her innocent, tattooed victims – EVIL with a capital “E” indeed. So yes, generally, Zunirei is a great build with top-notch production values and full colour artworks to boot and the Mythic-support adds further value – but honestly, what I’m missing would be a minion-statblock or a lower CR-incarnation of Zunirei, something to occupy lower level PCs akin to FotS’ different CR-builds. This gripe being mostly cosmetic, though, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
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