Reach of the Roach God (2023)

When Reach of the Roach God, a large hardcover installment in the Thousand Thousand Islands line, arrived at my house a couple weeks ago, I was bowled over. I had to write about it right away for y’all. This is easily one of the best RPG books of the decade. An instant classic.

Like the ATTI zines, Reach is still systemless, but it has a lot more RPG framework built in. There’s a clear string of adventures, a narrative arc, a section that feels like a sourcebook. I could run a game out of the zine material, but I feel much more supported in that effort here. The structure helps and guides, but the book retains the freedom that comes with system neutrality.

This is a high water mark for the series and, I think, for systemless campaign material in general. It is soooo good, folks. Odoyoq, the roach god, senses new ways it can insinuate itself into the lives of non-roach kind (in temperament, the roaches remind me a lot of the Skaven from WFRP). These three schemes are presented as collections of facts — about the setting, about the people living there and their motivations, about the desires of the god and the machinations of its agents. These facts are static until the players quicken them, at which point the causes and effects that occur in their wake are clear (which, don’t mistake this for a statement of simplicity — there is great complexity here, and philosophical nuance, even if the tools are easy to use). Events will quickly throw a small village, a monastery and a necropolis into chaos. Two gazetteers and a sourcebook on the roaches follow, giving the GM ample material to expand the campaign.

I haven’t even mentioned Munkao’s fantastically disgusting artwork. His vistas and cultural portraits are gorgeous as always, but when he brings his talents to bear on feelers and chitin and filth, the results are revolting in the best possible way. OH! And there is a whole system for making cave systems that is every bit as brilliant (and a good deal easier) than Veins of the Earth. Buy this book when you can, you won’t be disappointed!

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