The Dying Earth
Tales pages 528, 530 ff.
The asm is a demon-insect cross. They are primarily black in color,
humanoid with compound eyes, and with other insectoid features such
as their grinding mandibles and bristling antennae. In many specimens
several large fangs protrude from the mouth, as many as eight being
recorded. They are known in Ombalique and especially the Plain of
Standing Stones. When full grown, asms are confident of victory
in single combat against an armed opponent.
"Asms, who have spread into both Ascolais and Almery from the
Land of the Falling Wall, are sometimes capable of considerable
understanding, including such concepts as symbolism and theology.
Members of the more intelligent subspecies of asm have unusually
human sensibilities, and sometimes rob victims without killing and
eating them as well. No one is sure why some asms behave in such
a human-like way."
"Some not only covet goods and foodstuffs but also engage in smuggling
and resale, and sometimes even fight with crude weapons. One imagines
that at first their human accomplices were reluctant to trust their intentions;
and only after recovering from their surprise at remaining undevoured
did some kind of mutually beneficial trading agreements evolve. It is
likely that part of the reason why robber asms do not automatically slay
their victims is in order to cultivate a relatively benign presence in
a region and avoid evoking armed response or fearful avoidance - which
would disrupt their business. Robber asms may be enticed into regular
conversation, and clearly possess a different level of intelligence than
their more bestial counterparts. In particular, the robber asm has a solid
conviction that its presence and behavior in the world is part of the
Law of Equivalence - in that its relative successes make up for the treatment
and poor social condition of half-men the world over.
Even if a traveler has no ill intent, it is nevertheless wise to approach
asms cautiously. Around their dens, asms may place deadfalls, spiked pits,
branch-spear traps and the like. Some are designed to capture their foes,
others to slay or disable. When exploring a likely area for prey, the
Asm also uses net-traps and non-spiked pits - hoping to capture its victims
alive. It is important to note, that as with all half-men, humans play
only a small part of their diet (or virtually none in the case of the
Robber Asm), and they mostly subsist on medium and small game animals."
Sakonity the Adamantine
Game Statistics: Asm
Persuade (Forthright) 1~, Rebuff (Wary) 1~, Attack (Ferocity)
1.5~, Defense (Dodge) 1~, Health 1.5~, Athletics 7, Concealment
3, Perception 4, Stealth 6, Tracking 3, Wherewithal 1~.
Victims take a levy of 1 on their Persuasion rolls unless they evidence
interest in the anticipated culinary process.
Using Perception to spot a trap, as one moves across the terrain, requires
a single die roll against the trap's Concealment rating. The GM assigns
this rating as suits their campaign, depending on the PC ability levels,
and how well the asms have performed their jobs. Traps that the asms have
had plenty of time to prepare should be extremely hard to spot. Typically
a trap's Concealment rating should be assigned against the Perception
ratings of the party, at somewhere in the range of 1~ to 1.5~. Note that
those PCs with high Perception may Wallop (DERPG, p33) this Concealment.
This happens automatically if it is possible - even though the PC does
not consciously act against the trap. Since 'Living Rough' is said to
embrace the habits of half-men (DERPG, p64), GMs might consider this as
a valid alternative to Perception. Additionally, if any PC has been declared
as using 'Tracking' and this ability is higher than their Perception,
it would be unnecessarily cruel to disallow it as a counter to the trap's
Rumors of Impending Hazard
Dealing with Robber Asms
Travelers to Cuirnif have been routinely ambushed by robber asms. These
creatures attack in groups of eight or more - lunging from concealment
in ditches and wild hedgerows. Fortunately for the travelers, those that
surrender are spared harm, and those that fight or flee are subdued with
injuries whenever possible. Instead, the asms make off with all trade
goods and valuables, including fashionable clothing. Even the most pedestrian
authorities regard this as most unusual.
Only three days ago, Duke Orbal's daughter, Clarassa, was part of such
a group returning from Azenomei. She was unhurt, but two of the guards
fought back so fiercely that one was slain on the spot and another died
later of injuries. Additionally, one of the items taken was a gold amulet
- an heirloom to Orbal's family, and the Duke has posted a staggering
reward for the person who recovers it, before the asms can pass it on
to their human contact. (A person about whom the Duke knows nothing, but
is certain must exist.)
The asms are from the forest twenty miles to the east of Cuirnif, but
range across the entire district between, using a variety of hideouts.
Adventurers might pose as wealthy travelers, engage in an asm hunt, or
trawl the curio shops of Cuirnif seeking trade items believed to have
been stolen. The mastermind behind this venture is unscrupulous trader
Antamara Gollip, who herself was a victim of the asms last year. Since
then she has been supplying them with details of trading groups, and rewarding
them with quantities of hallucinogenic herbs that she imports from Val
Ombrio. The stolen goods she collects at pre-arranged drop-off points
near Cuirnif on her regular trade expeditions between Troon and Azenomei.
The Bandit Trail
Through the mountains east of Efred is an ancient trail leading to certain
ruins on the edge of the Songan Sea. This trail passes across stark hillsides,
through primal forests, and sometimes through long rocky gullies between
craggy peaks. Though the remains of the venerable roadway, and the shells
of blockhouses that once provided nightly shelter, reflect better days,
this trail is now fraught with hazard. Asms of the more dangerous and
primitive kind wander this area in bands, hunting wild game, but are particularly
eager for human prey.
These canny creatures know that human magicians and wizards can be dangerous
quarry, and so set various ambushes and traps along the way. The asm leader
is an aging, yet powerful, individual of unusual cunning, armed also with
three stolen magical items that it has learned how to use. For adventurers
unable to fly or teleport, this journey becomes a battle for survival.
Even at their objective the humans are not safe, as the asms follow them
into the ruins.