Roachling(Illustration by Blanca Martinez de Rituerto)

The print edition of Courts of the Shadow Fey for 4E recently shipped to patrons. Since roachlings and their demon patron Lord Akyishigal feature prominently in the adventure, roachlings—those oft-misunderstood monstersare presented today as a playable race.


Loathed, often unnoticed, and underestimated, roachlings scuttle in city alleys, subterranean systems, and hidden places. They glory in the refuse and waste of others and find many secrets lost and abandoned within it.

Like most squatters and dispossessed, they lead a communal, semi-nomadic existence within their cities; their own culture is often a rougher reflection of others they find themselves associated with. Roachlings take their opportunities when and where they can find them…

Skittish but hardy survivors within and beneath civilization’s centers of urban decay.

Racial Traits

Average Height: 2’ 9” – 4’ 10”
Average Weight: 35–60 lb

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity
Size: Small
Speed: 5 squares
Vision: Low-light, tremorsense 3 squares

Languages: Common, Deep Speech, Dwarven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics or +2 Streetwise, +2 Stealth
Compound Eyes: You gain a +1 racial bonus to your passive Perception.
Primitive Anatomy: You gain resist poison 5 and a +2 racial bonus to Endurance checks to resist disease.
Swarming Instinct: You gain +2 racial bonus to AC against opportunity attacks while you are adjacent to at least three allies.
Tenacious Survivor: You can use tenacious survivor as an encounter power.

Tenacious Survivor (Roachling Racial Power)

The grey-green goo that holds your insides together is harder to damage than others may realize.

Encounter • Healing
Immediate Reaction                      Personal
You are reduced to 0 hp.
You gain 1 hp and are dazed (two saves end). You may shift 3 squares.

Play a roachling if you want . . .

  • To be incredibly difficult to kill.
  • To be well prepared for the dangers of city life.
  • To be a little creepy and play with the sensibilities of your fellow players.
  • To play a character that favors the defender and striker character roles.

Physical Qualities

Roachlings are a blend of humanoid and insectile physical traits. Most have long, thin antennae protruding just below their hairline, replacing ears, and no visible nose. They have hard, multi-faceted eyes and tough leathery skin with fine chitinous ridges at their joints and along their limbs; small spines grow along their arms and legs.

Males often have a small carapace covering their backs and abdomens and thick, finger-like mandibles extending from either side of their upper lips like large moustaches. Female roachlings are often larger than males but have smaller mandibles, if any, and a carapace only along their backs. Rare roachlings have been seen with wings and even additional limbs.

Hair is rare and is always slick and dark, pressed flat along the skull. Roachlings tend towards dark skin but have been seen with variations of white, yellow, tan, dark brown, black, and crimson colorations. Regardless of its color, the skin has a shiny, oily appearance although it is dry to the touch. Roachlings reach physical maturity at 12 and can live to be up to 80 years old. Most, however, never even get close.

Playing a Roachling

Roachlings are a race without a past. Their origins have been lost over millennia of cowering under the heels of other races. The father of their race, Akyishigal, is a powerful and unusually subtle demon lord. Anyone who delves too deeply into the roachlings’ origins risks his ire, so few bother, least of all the roachlings. They are just happy to be alive.

Most roachling swarms consist of blood relatives, typically 5–20 adults and up to 20 nymphs (children) per female, but they can also include groups or individuals who consistently provide food, shelter, and kindnesses. A typical roachling puts the needs of the swarm first, caring for itself only if not doing so interferes with the ability to provide. Roachling adventurers often seek out aid for their swarms or try to draw away danger. Those that reject the importance of the swarm or draw unwanted attention to it find themselves shunned, and they must make new lives on the road. Assuming the road doesn’t kill them first.

Roachlings are quiet, and—some might say—mistakenly, cowardly. They are a supremely cautious people. They see no need to rush into trouble unless absolutely necessary, and even when a fight is on the verge, they find it wise to step away and return only when victory is assured.

After all, nothing in life is permanent and clinging to material goods is folly, so moving on is best. A new alley with a fresh trash heap is always ripening for the munching.

Roachling Characteristics: Adaptable, cautious, crude, guarded, relentless, resilient, resourceful, scavenging, twitchy.

Roachling Names: Akit, Brr-aht, Culu, Coom, Dhreet, Fid, Ghillin, Loolrah.

Roachling Adventurers

Three sample roachling adventurers are described below.

Akit is the warlord leader of a growing swarm. She is looking for a safe place in the depths of her home city’s sewers to let her family set up a camp, so her egg-sack can hatch in peace. Despite the otyugh and other filth feeders, food is plentiful and just growing on the walls! Where there is life, there is hope, so hope is her daily companion these days.

Ghillin is a Cleric of Gahk-ich, son of Akyishigal and O-lunosa, and is directed by his god to know himself first-and-foremost. Adventuring has often been proclaimed a grand journey of self-discovery, so he is leaving his swarm, perhaps never to return, to learn what lessons the world has to teach.

After many brutal and horrific sacrifices made in Akyishigal’s name, Dhreet finally has the power he has been seeking. As a newly minted warlock, he can finally avenge himself on the wretched swarm that banished him. He will resume his work and bring them beneath his heel, using them to spread illness and corruption and, thus, increase his infamy and authority.


Roachlings were created originally by Andrew Hind for 3.5E  in Kobold Quarterly #8.

Come back tomorrow for a variety of new options designed specifically for roachling PCs.

5 thoughts on “Roachling”

  1. Originally created for 3.5 as the +1 Level Adjustment in the magazine article proves, PF doesn’t have LA.

    Easily converted to PF by dropping their Natural Armor bonus (and LA) and giving them Dodge, Toughness, or even Improved Initiative (they’re skittish) as a bonus feat in its place. Thus making them harder to kill, rather than harder to hit.

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