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A chasme (pronounced: /ˈkɑːzmi/ KAZ-mee listen or: /ˈtʃɑːzmi/ CHAZ-mee listen), sometimes called a fly demon, was a type of tanar'ri demon found in the Abyss. Chasmes were horrid and disgusting hybrids of flies and humans who sucked blood and enjoyed tormenting and torturing their victims. The droning of their wings could lull to sleep an unwary being, who might awake to find themselves being fed upon and tortured. Chasmes often served greater demons as interrogators, taskmasters, or torturers, or in capturing runaways and deserters of the Blood War.
Frightful, wretched, and disgusting in appearance, a chasme resembled a terrible demonic cross between a fly and a human. With the body of a giant fly, it bore two sets of large, buzzing wings and carried six limbs, the two forelimbs resembling long, slender human arms with long-fingered hands, the other four being hooked insectoid limbs. Emerging from its thorax, it had a head vaguely like that of a human, but ugly and exaggerated, with a tiny mouth, compound eyes, and a large horn-like nose. This nose was hard, sharp, hooked, and could bite and suck blood. Its maw contained black, bony ridges rather than teeth, and its tongue was hollow. Tufts of wiry hair sprouted from between the black plates that covered its thick, insectoid body. The chasme could walk upright or crawl upon walls and ceilings as they willed, and of course fly with excellent maneuverability.
A chasme could beat its wings to make a droning buzzing sound that would lull unwary listeners to sleep. Those in close earshot had to resist its drowsy effects, lest they fall into a deep sleep from which only vigorous shaking or being splashed with water could rouse them. Though once this lasted a number of hours, later chasmes could only make a victim sleep for up to two minutes, or even less time, ending when the victim shook it off. Otherwise, victims would awake to find a chasme sucking their blood. Similar to a sleep spell, this droning could affect any creature apart from fellow demons and those immune to sleep magic, such as elves.
Even viewing the hideous chasme was a disturbing, terrifying experience. Formerly, anyone being touched by, or even catching sight of a chasme had to remain firm or else flee in horror for a few hours. Later chasme had to generate an aura of fear that affected those in the immediate vicinity, like a fear spell, causing them to flee for only a minute if they could not resist. After the Spellplague, they no longer had this power.
A chasme's claws and other natural weapons dealt savage wounds that bled profusely and cumulatively with their number. The bleeding continued until the wounds were treated by a skilled healer or closed through some form of magical healing. Without such treatment, a victim would eventually die of blood loss.
A chasme wielded an arsenal of innate magical powers. At will, they could use detect good (always active), detect invisibility or see invisibility (always active), insect plague, ray of enfeeblement, and telekinesis, in addition to the spells common to all tanar'ri demons: darkness, infravision (before darkvision became inherent), and teleport without error or greater teleport (itself and possessions only). Later chasmes added contagion, desecrate, dispel magic, fly, protection from good, and wave of grief, at will. Once a day, such later chasmes could also use unholy aura and even circle of nausea. Some of them could even learn to throw their ray of enfeeblement with great swiftness, thrice a day. They could also use telepathy to communicate with creatures up to 100 feet (30 meters) away. Post-Spellplague chasme lacked all these spells.
A chasme that had the need could attempt to summon one or more other demons to its side. Earliest reports indicated a chasme losing a battle could summon one of its kind for aid, but only about 15% of the time. Later reports estimated this success rate at 40%. These more capable chasme could, thrice a day, gate in one fellow chasme, up to twenty manes, or up to five cambions. Later chasme did not have so much back-up, only able to summon one other chasme or up to four rutterkins.
Chasmes were strongly resistant to magic and like other tanar'ri they were resistant to acid, cold, and flame, and immune to electricity and poison. They could shrug off blows from weapons not infused with goodness and purity or fashioned from cold iron.
Chasmes were cunning but cowardly, and their keen focus on self-preservation gave them a subtlety and caution rarely seen in demons. However, they had a constant thirst for blood and pain, which they satisfied by torturing the weak.
Chasmes were expert in the techniques of punishment and torture, but also had a knack for deception and determining one's real motives. They practiced further in these areas, also becoming skilled at intimidation, gathering information, and even a little diplomacy. They could also be quite stealthy and good at noticing things and finding that which was hidden. They were also quite agile and good climbers.
Enjoying a fight, a chasme was armed with two claws, a bite, and its nose-horn, with which it could gore a target, and all could cause bleeding wounds. It could use all these equally well. It could attack on the wing, diving upon foes, striking, and flying off again.
They preferred to harass and torment their victims before finally killing them. Thus, chasmes used their speed and aerial maneuverability to maintain an advantage and their own safety at range. They flitted from victim to victim, attempting to inflict bleeding wounds on many foes at once. They also enjoyed assaulting their foes with their spells, typically favoring contagion, insect plague, ray of enfeeblement, telekinesis, and wave of grief. They saved ray of enfeeblement for foes in heavy armor or carrying a heavy load, so they might be overburdened if the spell sapped their strength. Against foes in light or little armor, they attacked with power. They typically began a fight using their droning ability to lull and knock out their victims, then kept it in reserve in case they were cornered or overwhelmed and had to flee, or to complete their victory, as they could do little else while they beat their wings in this manner.
An adult chasme could spawn up to ten young each year, via pre-fertilized eggs that it laid in the rotting corpses of enormous demons or other creatures. However, some reports stated they emerged spontaneously from corpses lying in the Abyss. These eggs hatched after three months, producing larvae like fiendish maggots that crawled from the corpse and consumed the corruption that pervaded the Abyss. Other demons, particularly flyers, usually killed and devoured chasme larvae when they found them, so only the most clever survived. After a month, they metamorphosed into their adult forms and hatchlings grew to adulthood in seven years, though they could lay their own eggs after two.[note 1]
Chasmes were carnivorous, preferring to drain a sleeping victim's blood via their horn-like proboscises.
Although they could operate over any kind of land or underground, chasmes favored lairs against vertical surfaces with many ledges to roost upon. These included cliff-face rookeries, vast caverns, and treetops. They were common in the Abyss, and especially prevalent on the layers of the Crushing Plain and Torremor, once home of Pazuzu, the demon lord of all evil things that flew.
Like other demons, chasmes sought to cause mayhem, ruination, and suffering, but they spared the time to acquire power and knowledge before they would act. Left to their own devices, gangs of chasmes flew over the layers of Abyss, endlessly hunting for things to torture and torment, hopefully things weaker than themselves.
They would set aside their hatred of other demons for the chance to serve greater demons, even demon lords, as interrogators, taskmasters, or torturers. In this role, they kept slaves and lesser demons repressed and obedient through the application of punishment and intimidation, which they greatly enjoyed. Thus, chasmes sometimes acquired positions of influence and power in the Abyss. They pressured other beings into helping or serving them through deceit, manipulation, threats, or torture. For this reason, they preferred allies who were strong but dull-witted, and so were often accompanied by brutish demons.
Chasmes had a particular knack for spotting demons that had fled their masters or deserted the Blood War. It was unknown exactly how they did this; some speculated they had a psychic ability to sense the thoughts and emotions of tanar'ri, perhaps even other, non-tanar'ri. Chasmes went to great lengths to recapture runaway demons and bring them back to their masters, so that they might receive a reward and the opportunity to further torture the wretch. They also roamed the layers of the Abyss, hunting for Blood War deserters, and punishing them with a slow and agonizing demise. For this service, they avoided front-line duties in combat formations, and their places were filled by other tanar'ri, which earned no love for the chasmes.
In a few cases, chasmes claimed some small pocket of land on the Abyss or another plane and set themselves up as petty demon princes in miniature. These princelings ruled over minor demons like dretches and rutterkins.
Chasmes bitterly hated most other demons. They did not like vrocks, viewing them as rivals. They nursed a traditional hatred of succubi, and would kill them given the chance. More powerful demons, like glabrezu and hezrous, they feared and obeyed. Lesser demons, like dretches and rutterkins, they ruled over if they had the opportunity.
Chasmes were in turn utterly detested by other tanar'ri, thanks to their role in recruiting for the Blood War while avoiding it themselves. As a result, tanar'ri often attacked chasmes on sight, with only the chasmes own strength and the support of the demons they served protecting them.
Chasme were also known to serve the Faerûnian goddess Talona, Mistress of Disease. They were among the creatures of filth and mayhem she sent as help to her followers, as a sign of her approval, or as an agent of her wrath.
The wings of chasme were sometimes harvested for use in potions of flying.
The nalfeshnee demon Drallith "the Poxed" drove a golden chariot pulled by chained chasme. Drallith and his chasme steeds were members of the Scaled Horde that overran Impiltur in the Year of the Dowager Lady, 726 DR. Drallith was defeated in the Triad Crusade of 729–732 DR.
The extraplanar monster Imgig Zu acquired a number of chasme minions, as well as other monsters. In the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, Imgig Zu erected a magical tower a day's ride north of Waterdeep, and sent his chasme to seek out and kidnap magic-users in the area. Bursting into a house, the chasme assaulted four elven women, who feared their drowsy drone. The chasme carried away Jalma and two other elf women, but failed to capture Cybriana, who escaped and was rescued by Timoth Eyesbright and Onyx the Invincible, who slew three of the chasme. For their failure and deaths, and for daring to beg for forgiveness, Imgig Zu killed the chasme leader via flesh to stone and rock to mud.
Some days later, the chasme were pursuing two more elven women when Cybriana, Timoth, Onyx, Vajra Valmeyjar, and Priam Agrivar heard their buzzing and came to the rescue. Wary of their awful droning, the companions slew the last of Imgig's chasme.
In the Year of the Wave, 1364 DR, two chasme were among the horde of fiends that the balor Errtu unleashed against Drizzt Do'Urden, Catti-brie, Bruenor Battlehammer, Regis, and Stumpet Rakingclaw as they approached Cryshal-Tirith in Icewind Dale. One inflicted a bleeding wound on Catti-brie, before Bruenor hacked it apart with his axe. Drizzt's panther companion Guenhwyvar pounced on the other and brought it down out of the sky. These chasme had been to the Prime Material Plane before.
In the Year of Rogue Dragons, 1373 DR, Danifae Yauntyrr, a priestess of Lolth, summoned a massive chasme known as Vakuul and asked it to carry herself and the draegloth Jeggred across the Demonweb Pits. It demanded payment, and Danifae seduced it by grasping its horn and promised the drooling thing pleasure. However, when the journey was done, she betrayed Vakuul and ordered her draegloth to kill the chasme. Jeggred tore Vakuul's forearms off before it escaped cursing back to its home plane.
On Mirtul 23 of 1373 DR, Phourkyn One-Eye summoned a chasme to kill members of a cabal of wizards in Thentia studying the Dracorage mythal causing the current Rage of Dragons. Ultimately, the avariel Taegan Nightwind, the faerie dragon Jivex, and the surviving wizards defeated Phourkyn and the chasme.
- The 2nd- and 3rd-edition sourcebooks Monstrous Compendium Planescape Appendix and Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss state that young chasme grow to adulthood in seven years, while the 4th-edition sourcebook Manual of the Planes 4th edition states they grow to adulthood in only a month. However, Manual of the Planes itself resolves this contradiction by introducing a larval form, a precursor to the adult form in many insects. Together, this suggests the larval form metamorphoses to the adult form in a month, which then grows to full adulthood in seven years.
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- Video Games
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- Board Games
- Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins
- Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
- Faces of Fortune
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