This short, genie-like creature floats in midair, barely a foot tall but possessing no legs with which to determine its true height. Wisps of elemental light trail from its eyes, and it bows, ready to serve.
Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (perfect), swim 30 ft. (if a water zhyen)
Before Combat Zhyen do not enter combat willingly unless summoned.
During Combat A zhyen prefers to avoid attacks with the total defense action, but if cornered it attacks until it can flee.
Morale Unused to combat, and generally unprepared for it, a zhyen attempts to flee when reduced to half of its hit points or less.
Str 6, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 12
Environment any desert or elemental plane
Organization solitary or gang (1 zhyen and 2–4 mephits)
The zhyen is a minor genie that serves as a messenger and servant to greater beings. Despite knowledge of their superior genie status as compared to mortal spellcasters, they often serve as familiars to powerful mages, especially the genie-friends known as daivrat. They can be summoned with the summon monster II spell.
Each zhyen appears as a miniature djinni from the waist up, broadly muscular and attractive. Beneath the waist, the zhyen has no form at all, instead dissipating into a “tail” of the genie’s favored element: a wisp of mist for air, a flowing wave for water, a trail of flame for fire, or a seemingly endless shower of stone for earth. This appearance is reflected in the skin tone of the zhyen as well, but has no influence on the genie’s powers or abilities.
Zhyen inhabit the elemental plane that corresponds to their elemental type. Some planar scholars believe that these miniature genies are portions of the planes that have grown sentience and broken off from the elemental fabric. Others declare them to be minor genies, a sort of offshoot of the greater races. Still others claim that a zhyen is created when a powerful genie desires a thinking, agreeable companion, not unlike the means by which human mages craft homunculi.
In truth, zhyen arise from all of these methods. Whatever the engine behind its creation, a zhyen appears fully formed and coherent, taking only minutes to acclimate to its surrounds and learn what’s needed of it. If “born” near another sentient being, a zhyen forms a fond attachment to that creature, until such time as the companion demonstrates its unwillingness or inability to treat the zhyen kindly.
With no need to eat (though they enjoy it) and unfazed by harsh environments, zhyen tend not to keep permanent homes, instead choosing to wander the fringes of the elemental realms. They are curious beings, however, and endlessly seek diversion. On the planes, zhyen satisfy their curiosity by exploring the boundaries where one domain or element blends into another. This curiosity often finds them as captives to more powerful beings.
Zhyen are most drawn to places where opposing forces clash and meld into one another. On the Material Plane, they are drawn to shorelines and waterfalls, to great mountain peaks, and—curiously enough—tea kettles and soup pots. Most zhyen cannot remain on the Material Plane except in the service of a powerful spellcaster, but will gladly trade servitude of convenience over slavery to an efreeti or shaitan master.
Zhyen have no natural predators or prey. Although they may appear to be male or female, they are actually genderless, and do not breed. Zhyen do not age.
The smaller size and lesser power of zhyen among genie-kind make it nearly impossible for them to carve out any sort of society in the planes. As a result, most zhyen find themselves as servants to genies of greater power, employed as messengers and pets in the courts of greater genie races. Zhyen dislike such treatment, but given their relative weakness compared to other genies, they are unable to alter their status.
Occasionally, a zhyen summoned to the Material Plane is astounded by the diverse wonders of the mortal world, and seeks to return. Such zhyen respond to summonings and callings as often as possible, and may eventually seek to join the world entirely as a familiar to a daivrat. Service to a daivrat allows the zhyen to sate its curiosity and need for exploration, while gaining the benefit of a master capable of protecting it from greater genies looking to exploit a lesser creature.
Once conjured to the Material Plane, zhyen often seek ways to stay beyond the duration of the magic that brought them there. They sometimes find minor magic items that allow them to persist in the mortal world, and often maintain a watch over favored mortals and their descendants, providing minor aid when it is possible to do so without being detected.
Even on the Material Plane, zhyen do not seek the company of other zhyen of their own elemental type, and find zhyen of other elementals to be amusing oddities and curious acquaintances at best. They have an odd affinity for mephits, particularly those who represent mixed elements.
Some zhyen are unfortunate enough to be enslaved by cruel, malicious genies or exploitive mortal masters, usually for the purpose of humiliating pranks or jester-like performances. Over time this weighs on a zhyen’s spirit, corrupting it from within until the zhyen’s body undergoes a physical transformation that reflects this inner suffering. The zhyen grows legs where its elemental half used to be and goes completely bald, and its skin assumes a duller, more human-like color and texture. The resulting creature is a petty genie-creature called a jocta. The change frees the jocta from whatever binding spells enslaved its as a zhyen; most immediately flee before they are bound again. Most jocta are chaotic neutral or neutral evil.
A jocta retains all of its zhyen abilities and can change from Tiny to Small size or back at will as a free action (this is a supernatural ability). A jocta may be summoned like a zhyen or even bound as a familiar, but it is sullen and uncooperative, enjoying nothing more than returning to a former “master” and snatching a few items of value or sentiment from him before slipping off once again.
Pathfinder Companion: Qadira, Gateway to the East. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Brian Cortijo. © 2015, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Ross Beyers, Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Robert Emerson, Tim Hitchcock, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Thomas M. Reid, Robert Schwalb, Mark Seifter, and Russ Taylor.