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Death Roach
Size/Type: Large Undead
Hit Dice: 3d12 (19 hp hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 20 ft.
Armor Class: 18 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +6 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+10
Attack: Claw +5 melee (1d4+5 plus disease)
Full Attack: 2 claws +5 melee (1d4+5 plus disease) and bite +0 melee (1d6+2 plus disease)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Disease, Frightful Presence
Special Qualities: Blindsense 30 ft., Collective Mind, Undead Traits, Vermin Traits
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +5
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 17, Con –, Int –, Wis 15, Cha 6
Skills: Climb +16, Hide +13, Listen +5, Move Silently +11, Spot +5, Swim +16
Feats: RunB
Environment: Warm forest or marsh
Organization: Cluster (2-4), colony (5-40), or hive (50-100)
Challenge Rating: 3
Treasure: 1/2 coins; 50% goods and items
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 4-9 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:

This great roach-like insect has a rotting black carapace atop a jelly-like white underbelly. Sharp pincers and claws twitch excitedly as it regards you with lifeless inky eyes and crooked antennae.

Death roaches, like their living counterparts, are a plague that will likely outlive humanoid civilization. As soon as one is slain, two more seem to take its place. In living roaches, this is due to rapid birthing from multiple egg batches. But for the death roaches, the reason is a bit more mysterious. When a death roach is killed, its necromantic energy is released and wanders the world like a stale breeze. After one month per hit die of the slain death roach has passed, the energy somehow finds a living roach and inhabits it. When that roach then dies, it immediately animates as a death roach. Only a bless spell cast on a slain death roach prevents its energy from leaving the corpse and inhabiting another roach. Unfortunately, no one bothers to research the death roach enough to discover this fact and so these bothersome undead continue to exist in great numbers.


Death roaches serve no one. Fearless to the point of recklessness, they grow more effective individually when more of their numbers congregate. While initially bold, solitary death roaches flee when damaged (reduced to 10 hit points or lower). However, multiple death roaches pose a significant surprise to those unfamiliar with them as a group (see Collective Mind below).

Disease (Ex): Festering ague — claw or bite; Fortitude save DC 13, incubation 1d4 days, damage 1d3 Str and 1d3 Con. Any day during which a victim takes 3 points of Constitution damage, he must make an additional saving throw or suffer 1 point of that damage as permanent drain.

Frightful Presence (Ex): 30 feet; Will DC 9 negates; shaken for 2d6 rounds if less than 3 HD, Shaken for 1d4 rounds if 4 HD or more. For each death roach the victim can see beyond the first, the save DC is increased by +2. If any creature fails the save by 5 or more, it is frightened rather than shaken.

Collective Mind (Su): For every 3 death roaches congregated within 100 feet of each other (even if separated by stone, earth, water, or other nonmagical barriers), each gains an effective Intelligence bonus of +2 for the purpose of its relative capacity to make tactical decisions (to a maximum effective Intelligence of 10). Thus, if 15 or more death roaches are present, they can react as logically and effectively to changes in local conditions, environment, and other stimuli as an average human might.

Further, if 5 or more roaches are within 100 feet of each other, each gains the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat; if 10 or more are present, they also gain the benefit of the Improved Trip feat. This ability does not allow the death roaches to actually communicate information in any way.

Skills: Death roaches have a +2 racial bonus on Move Silently checks and a +8 racial bonus on Climb, Hide, and Swim checks. They can always choose to take 10 on Climb and Swim checks, even if rushed or threatened. They can use the run action while swimming, provided they swim in a straight line.


Half — Death roaches have a tendency to gnaw at coins and equipment when there is nothing better to do.

  • Amethyst [90 gp]
  • Chalcedony (x2) [60 gp each]
  • Holy symbol, silver [50 gp]
  • Smokestick (x2) [20 gp each]
  • 50 gp
  • 1,000 sp

In Your Campaign[]

A spellcaster casting raise dead or resurrection can use death roach carapaces as a material component. For every two death roach bodies a caster has on hand, the more common diamond component is reduced by 1,000 gp. This replacement comes from the roach's quality to send out negative energy after death. Instead of inhabiting a living roach (as discussed above), the energy is used in the caster's spell. The single caveat is that the death roach corpse need be used within a week after its death. There are some primitive tribes of humans who believe that death roaches are not a world-wide infestation. Rather, death roaches are confined to a certain country and are all part of the same soul. An ancient legend says that Gritztaa, deity of vermin, was attacked and nearly slain by a rival god. So weakened was the deity, that Gritztaa wove his essence into several thousand roaches in order to survive and eventually to regain strength to reassemble as a single entity in the future. Sages prompted for evidence of this theory point to the death roach's collective mind ability. In addition, several of these primitive humans have taken to worshiping the death roach itself as a sacred animal.

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