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D&D 5E [Let's Read] The Adventurer's Guide to the Bible



Note: I don't have a religious background and am reviewing the product on its merit as a gaming supplement. The relative truth/falsity of the Abrahamic and other faiths covered isn't an intended subject or conversation point I'm interested in delving into for this work.

Nobody can overstate the importance that the Abrahamic faiths have in the development of world history. Their influence seeps into every aspect of cultures spanning the globe, from Western nations to the Islamic world and beyond. Even role-playing games don’t escape this, such as the powers of Clerics or demonic monsters besieging the innocent.

But beyond these surface-level representations, more explicitly religious RPGs have met with mixed success. In the 1980s there was the DragonRaid game, whose publisher sought to distance their game from the “Satanic” Dungeons & Dragons RPG in favor of being a “learning system for Christians.” And yet it still provoked the ire of the Religious Right. Green Ronin published the Testament setting during the days of 3rd Edition D&D, and whose mechanics didn’t mix all that well with the dungeon-delving nature of its parent system. Dogs in the Vineyard was an indie game with more Mormon influences that got some positive reception. But overall, most writers and publishers have shied away from explicitly Christian-centric themes for RPGs.

As of summer 2022, a small and new studio by the name of Red Panda Publishing launched a KickStarter. Originating as a personal homebrew project among Christian gamers, the writers were encouraged to release their work to a wider audience as a professionally-published sourcebook. They answered a variety of questions about their project on Reddit regarding their motivations and the inevitable concerns raised about such a project, and from what I can tell they look to be well-intentioned.

The Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible is part setting, part sandbox adventure set in an historical fantasy version of the first century Middle East. It has new material for players and GMs, along with a main adventure (plus lots of smaller, optional content) which can be done in a more or less non-linear manner that can take characters from 1st to 10th level. Of the book’s 361 pages, I’d say that around 20 detail a general overview of the setting, 50 have player-friendly content, 200 detail the adventures themselves, 70 cover new monster and NPC stats, with the remainder being non-applicable stuff such as table of contents, backer credits, OGL, etc. The authors certainly did their homework when it comes to research, with plenty of Bible verses and quotes referenced where appropriate, along with an Appendix called Is That In the Bible? This indexes all of the people, creatures, locations, and events in this book and makes note whether they were in the Bible itself along with appropriate chapter and verse, in other ancient writings of the time period, archeological or historical research, and/or creative licensing on the authors’ part. Strangely, the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible credits illustrators, proofreaders, playtesters, and backers, but any credits for the actual writers aren’t mentioned at all.

The book’s Introduction has a foreword talking about the power of storytelling, and the Jewish tradition known as the midrash which made scriptural readings more approachable to audiences via retelling stories through contemporary language. Beyond this, there’s the obligatory “what is a role-playing game?” section, along with some generic explanations and advice, like “don’t fret if some detail isn’t Biblically accurate, this is collaborative fiction first and foremost,” or “don’t use the game as an excuse to try and convert people.” There is discussion of Content Warnings and pre-game talks with players over material they may find troubling and what to avoid or tread carefully around, along with discussions on how “historically authentic” the campaign should be.


The Setting

The year is 26 Anno Domini. Cleopatra is dead, and the long reign of Egypt’s might has entered its twilight years. The Roman eagle and Parthian lion eye each other warily, hoping to gain dominance over the Fertile Crescent in their rivaled goals of world domination. The Three Wise Men have gone missing, and a fellowship of archdemons are on the hunt for the one called Messiah who is said to be destined to save mortals from sin. Our story centers on the region known as the Middle Kingdoms, comprising northeast Egypt, the modern-day Levant, and the borders of the Parthian Empire which would be modern-day western Iran. The Nile River, Red Sea, and Silk Road are prized trade routes connecting the wealth of three continents, and it’s a common sight to see travelers and merchants from kingdoms far and near…as well as bandits and the ever-present soldiers of the rival empires coveting these pearls of great price. While many kingdoms still have a local regent on the throne, many are subservient to the whims of foreign powers, leaving the average citizen questioning how much reign their local rulers really have.

There are 13 common Languages in the Middle Kingdoms. Greek is the lingua franca and thus is treated as “Common” with Latin being a close second. Aramaic is the language of choice among Jews and commonly learned by desert nomads, with Akkadian and Hebrew being spoken mostly for ceremonial purposes among the Parthian and Jewish faiths. Sabaic is the language of the Kingdom of Sheba, Coptic is modern Egyptian with Old Egyptian a dead language preserved in hieroglyphs, and Chinese and Sanskrit are spoken by traders hailing from China and India. There are various Sign Languages used in major cities. The languages of Celestial and Infernal are nearly unknown save among mystics, spoken just as often through emotion and telepathy.

Peoples and Cultures detail short entries for the major kingdoms, empires, and ethnic groups. Rome is a widespread and powerful empire composed of many people, proud of their many scientific, artistic, and military achievements, although their presence in the Middle Kingdoms is brutally authoritarian. Parthia is an Iranian empire which holds a wide swathe of territory east of the Euphrates River all the way to the western borders of the Han Dynasty. Their military forces heavily focus on cavalry units known as Cataphracts and their commanders are fierce masked warriors known as Spahbeds. The Greeks are now subjects of Rome, with all of their city-states but Sparta having bent the knee. In a rare show of off-handedness, Rome allowed the Spartans autonomy, and while a shadow of their former glory the warrior-kingdom’s citizens are famed throughout the region as excellent mercenaries.

Egypt was the prior world power before Rome’s rise, and with Cleopatra’s death it is now under Roman occupation; there is a great sense of loss of the Egyptian culture and way of life, with the government trying to instill a new official religion (the god Serapis) and Coptic language in an attempt to unify the people under a common banner.

Sheba is a kingdom located in the Arabian peninsula and eastern Africa; it isn’t as mighty as Rome or Parthia, but it is a wealthy nation due to its near-monopoly on myrrh and frankincense. Its Queen is able to maintain neutrality due to distance, and while they are not Jewish her people worship the same Abrahamic God that the Jews and Samaritans do. Judea is the center of Jewish culture, although their people can be found in neighborhoods across the Middle Kingdoms. They struggle under Roman authority, and the Zealot and Sicarii paramilitary groups seek to violently drive out the Romans. Desert Nomads is a catch-all term for the people who live on the move between the arid lands of the Middle Kingdoms, with the Midianites and Nabateans the most well-known groups both valued for their ability to act as guides through the blazing dunes. Although too distant for most people to have much personal experience with their civilizations, the kingdoms of India and the Han Dynasty of China are well-known for the goods they carried along the Silk Road. Chinese silk is world-famous, and the Hans equally value Roman glassware. India is the wealthiest nation in the world thanks to the demand for their spices. Both civilizations are neutral in regards to the Rome-Parthia conflicts, which allow them to trade with both sides.

Equipment talks about differences between common goods of the first century in comparison to typical 5th Edition. Copper, silver, and gold pieces are still used, and there are specific mentions for more local flavor for food, animal companions, and other such things. For instance, gaming set proficiencies can include new games such as Tali and Litha, although playing cards are a waste of expensive paper and not used. In regards to weapons and armor, the crossbow is known only in China and is cutting-edge technology in that region, and large two-handed weapons which aren’t polearms are rare given that they are more susceptible to damage. Rapiers, hand crossbows, blowguns, pikes, and halberds do not yet exist in these regions of the world. Plate armor costs three times as much and is reflavored as the Roman lorica segmentata.

God and Cosmology and Angels, Demons, & Cults goes into the core assumptions of reality and the universe. Unlike other D&D settings, there is only one God, who created the world and all that is in it. However, just because you believe in and worship God doesn’t make you inherently “better” or “holier.” Even monotheists were bitterly divided over the correct methods of worship, and Jesus prioritized healing these rifts just as much as converting polytheists. Additionally, Jesus is the son of God and is also God entering the world in human form to die for our sins. People do not pass into Heaven or Hell yet, but instead there is a realm known as Sheol which is a static, shadowy realm where souls gradually lose their memories of their mortal life. It is also where the Rephaim live, guardians tasked with minding the borders between the material and spirit worlds. Additionally, a nameless bottomless sea of chaos existed before creation from which Leviathan and Behemoth spawned from, and God created a barrier to separate the material world from it. There is also a second barrier known as the Veil which is the home of celestials, demons, and other spirits. When Jesus dies, the souls held in Sheol will be redeemed and allowed to reunite with God. Celestials are various orders of God’s servants, and Angels are but one such group. Demons are those celestials who sided with Satan and rebelled against God’s plans for salvation, believing that lowly humans should never be elevated to the status of celestials. There are no distinctions between demons and devils; even if some differ in alignment on the law-chaos axis, they all share the goal of serving Satan and tempting mortals into sin to prevent their salvation. Forming cults by posing as gods and granting seeming miracles is a common method of spreading their wicked plots on Earth.

Alright, so how does this affect magic? Given how omnipresent it is among 5th Edition’s classes, it’d be pretty hard to make a magicless variant if you go for the “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” route, right? Well, Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible decides to make magic an interconnected universal energy source that can be used as a tool for good or evil. Magic can be granted as holy grace from God, but others may work it through demonic pacts or inborn talent. But generally speaking in this module, the Cleric/priestly magic-user NPCs are almost invariably Abrahamic in nature. There aren’t any pagan priests unless you count the archdemon cultists, and the court mages of Rome, Parthia, and the like are more arcane in nature in using Mage stat blocks. The Guide itself references Deuteronomy and Numbers to support its points:

“Magic” is often cast in a bad light in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:9, etc.), while “miracles” and other supernatural phenomena are praised as gifts from God. In truth, these terms often have more to do with their motivation than their use in the narrative. “Magic” as a human term is simply a word applied to events which defy explanation. Whether it is the magicians of Egypt turning staffs into snakes, Moses parting the Red Sea, or Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead, all of these would have been deemed as “magic” during biblical times. In fact, it is well documented that many famous biblical figures, including Joseph, Moses, Elijah, and Daniel used different kinds of magic with some frequency. So why does the Bible seem to condemn magic in some places, but support it in others?

The best case study of this is found in Numbers 20:11, when Moses uses magic to create water. Moses had been granted great power from God, channeled through his shepherd’s staff, and with this staff he had already worked many miracles in Egypt. However, on this occasion Moses is punished by God for striking a rock twice, instead of once, to produce water in the desert. Moses’s motivations for this double strike are unclear, but what is obvious is that he had begun to take this magical power for granted, using it out of pride rather than concern for his people.

In the end, the difference between the “evil” magic mentioned in Deuteronomy and the “good” magic used by the prophets comes down to how and why this power is used. When magic is used to glorify God and help others, it is labeled as a “miracle;” when the magic is sought for selfish gain or used for evil purposes, it is labeled as “dark Magic.”

The remaining sections go over the adventure proper in broad strokes. We have a general overview of the campaign along with a flowchart of major adventures and encounters organized by level, along with some advice on running a sandbox game as well as how to handle TPKs (a sample “prison break” scenario is given) as well as various GMing tips. Generally speaking, Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible is milestone-based in regards to leveling up: the first 3 levels start out with a linear adventure, and after that the PCs are left to their own devices with multiple plot hooks to pursue. This eventually culminates in two final adventures involving Jesus’ Crucifixion and defeating the last of the archdemons.


The major villains of this campaign are seven archdemons organized into an informal alliance known as the Fellowship of the Beast. Each archdemon represents one of the seven deadly sins, and their leader is Lilith, Archmdeon of Pride and a former archangel tasked with protecting the Garden of Eden and conspired with Satan to tempt the first humans into sin. Lilith is aware of a prophecy about how “the one called Messiah” will save humanity from sin, but not who this Messiah is or how this will come about. Acting through simulacrums to attain human guise* along with demonic and mortal followers, this Fellowship of the Beast conspires to learn all they can about the Messiah and kill him. Even so, they still have their own individual agendas and don’t necessarily work together, which is something in the party’s favor.

*Lilith and Abbadon, archdemons of Pride and Wrath respectively, are too proud or unsubtle to make use of simulacrums.

Thoughts So Far: The initial setting concept is an interesting one, and the book really highlights how tumultuous the world was at this point in time. I do like how the Adventurer’s Guide spread its focus on a variety of kingdoms and peoples as opposed to focusing majorly on Judea which was where the bulk of Jesus’ work took place. The DMing advice was overall pretty helpful, and having an “out” for a potential TPK is something I don’t see in a lot of works, particularly for such long-running adventures.

Whilst I am neither Christian nor Jewish in faith,* there are a few things which stand out to me at least in terms of balancing religious accuracy versus the needs of game balance and modern sensibilities. Making magic a more morally neutral phenomenon is one that stands out. But so is the reworking of Lilith into an archangel who grew jealous of Adam and Eve’s love and position of humanity as God’s favored creations. While I’m aware there isn’t much written about her in the Bible proper, most interpretations I’m familiar with place her fallen status as a refusal to be Adam’s servant. While the Guide does acknowledge that its version is partially based on Jewish folklore and partially invented for story purposes, I cannot help but notice that such a change might have been to avoid potentially misogynistic overtones. I’m personally fine with such changes, although these kinds of decisions must be inevitably considered when making such a product.

*I have Jewish heritage, but don't practice the culture.

Join us next time as we pour over new PC options in Creating a Character!
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Creating a Character

This section includes 4 Lineages (renamed races), 9 new subclasses, 4 new backgrounds, 9 new feats, and a new ability score known as Grace. As a supplement to alignment, Grace is a reflection of a character’s moral standing and relationship with God and other people. For PCs it starts at a value from 8 to 12 depending on their moral alignment (evil/neutral/good) and can only be changed based on actions during the course of play. Certain situations may call for a Grace check and it’s rolled much like any other ability check.

While the first century is incredibly humanocentric, humans aren’t the only children of God blessed with intelligence. Humans are the same as the standard humans from the PHB in terms of stats, but we also have a bunch of sample names from the various cultures present. The other three races are Giant (huge people feared for their size who can move, run, and break things more easily), Nephilim (fit and beautiful people with celestial heritage who can live forever but can undergo a Dilivium to forget their memories and have a fresh start), and Rephaim (six-fingered extra-planar beings from Sheol tasked with hunting undead who violated the balance between life and death). Giants are practically built for melee roles, and the Nephilim are rather close to aasimar in being able to use two divine spells (Sacred Flame and Detect Good and Evil) but they gain 3 bonus skill proficiencies (Athletics plus 2 of their choice) and are Celestial rather than Humanoid makes them useful for all kinds of builds. Rephaim are the only race in this sourcebook with darkvision, and have it up to 120 feet. They can also cast some rather useful spells a limited number of times per rest, and can cast more powerful spells as they level up ranging from Chill Touch to Etherealness, and so are built to be roguelike.

The Giants and Rephaim are strongly built towards certain roles, although the Giant is weaker in that it has some downsides or abilities which are more situational. Increased carrying capacity and lifting/pushing is good for grapple and shove builds, but otherwise may not see much play once the party gets a wagon and donkey or Bag of Holding. Requiring Persuasion checks to be let inside towns can end up locking the party out of important places or splitting them up unless they want to run afoul of the law.* Strangely giants are still Medium size, even though the text mentions that they average between 8 to 12 feet tall. I know that this is something Wizards of the Coast does with their own oddly-proportioned races, but it still feels weird to see. As for the Rephaim, they’re an all-around powerful race on account of their great darkvision (creep around at night when most NPCs need torches and lanterns) plus bonus spells that they automatically learn all the way up to 10th, which with the default adventure will be near the end of the campaign.

*Being barred from towns can happen in the adventure if the party gains enough disfavor with certain political factions (detailed later in another post), are wanted for crimes, or have undisguised leprosy in the case of one option in the Forsaken background. Earning favor with the Zealots faction can circumvent this penalty. I’m showing this off to explain how big a penalty this can be when a race has a chance for this for practically all cities.

The four new Backgrounds are pretty simple. Forsaken is a broad term for various kinds of societal outcasts whose feature grants them access to connections with other outcasts and criminal elements in major cities; Gladiators are performers in Roman circuses and are treated like minor celebrities; Pilgrims are travelers searching for destinations of significant religious and cultural influences and can treat their destination (only one) as Holy Ground* once it’s found; Silk Road Merchant marks you as a high risk, high reward traveler specialized in buying and selling a particular commodity, and their Feature lets them haggle better offers for the price of such items.

*I’ll detail it in its own chapter, but Holy Grounds are artifact-level magic “items” which can grant people resting there a chance to gain one of several powerful permanent boons or a potent magic item.

The nine new Feats can be taken by anyone and reflect a broad range of abilities. Demon Slayer lets you speak, detect, and fight fiends easier as its major features; Evangelist makes you a better speaker in several ways such as being able to cast Message along with advantage on all Persuasion checks; Faith Healer lets you roll all healing dice twice and take the better result when casting HP-restoring spells; Peacemaker gives you the opportunity to get out of danger by casting Calm Emotions once per rest and avoid opportunity attacks when Dashing; Poor in Spirit lets you cast Enhance Ability once per rest; Sheol Touched grants you Darkvision or extends your existing vision, and you can teleport 60 feet when in dim light or darkness once per rest; Treasure Hunter grants you better rolls in finding hidden things, can find more gold, and can roll twice on treasure tables and choose once from either result; Visionary has you visited by an angelic messenger whenever you roll a 5-6 on a d6 once per long rest in the form of a free Vision; and Ward of the Raven gives you a bond with ravens who can bring you enough food or water to sustain one creature wherever you are, and once per day can distract an enemy by swarming around them as a reaction.

Of these 9 feats, 6 grant +1 to a particular ability score. The ones that don’t are Demon Slayer, Faith Healer, and Visionary. Given that monsters of the fiend type are quite common and also the major bosses of this campaign, Demon Slayer is a worthy feat for this trade-off. Faith Healer isn’t as strong, as healing is best done out of combat rather than in it and thus can be more easily alleviated by spending Hit Dice to heal. Visionary makes use of a new mechanic introduced which can help point the party in directions for existing and new quests, although its random nature means it can vary in usefulness.


There are 9 new subclasses for the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible. The 12 existing core classes can be played without modification, although the subclasses are meant to help give a more grounded feel in a Biblical setting.

The Path of the Nazirite Barbarian represents those who made an oath to God, granting them legendary strength. In exchange, they must defend the innocent and refrain from cutting their hair or drinking alcohol (those who break it lose their abilities for 24 hours). Their abilities focus around doing Samson levels of carnage, from increased carrying capacity, more damage when doing a Reckless Attack, the ability to end and be immune to the charmed and frightened conditions when raging, and attacking every creature once in melee reach.

The College of Parables Bard focuses on the power of storytelling as a means of revealing important truths to their listeners. Their abilities include things such as being able to pass on hidden messages in their performances, doing a more potent version of the Stunned condition on a creature by issuing forth a proclamation at them, and creating an illusory world only one target creature can sense.

The College of Psalms Bard exalts in songs praising God and carry around a book of Psalms which act as a spellcasting focus. Their abilities include being able to sing a randomly-chosen Psalm that can buff allies which last until the next long rest, as well as giving temporary hit points to listeners at the end of a short rest and regaining a spell slot while doing so.

The Prophecy Domain Cleric is a wandering devotee of God performing sacred missions; upon gaining this subclass they must determine what this sacred mission is, and if they complete it then God assigns them a new one after the obligatory congratulations. Their domain spells include a fair bit of new spells from this book including some classics like Remove Curse, and their abilities include being able to speak in tongues so anyone can understand them, their Channel Divinity can grant them a free Vision or pronounce judgment on a target to give them various debuffs, and gaining increased resistances and immunities vs mind-affecting effects such as Psychic damage and the charmed/frightened conditions.

The Circle of the Baptist Druid forges a special connection with God via water, using this sacred element to heal others and purify sin. Their circle spells emphasize water-based effects along with ones such as Zone of Truth and Calm Emotions, and their features include a glowing magically-empowered wild shape, the ability to exclude a limited number of allies from the negative effects of AoE water spells, and can perform baptism rituals on people whose permanent duration effects* differ based on the water source. For example, a baptism in the Dead Sea can increase a target’s walking speed by 5 feet, while the Jordan River lets one spend a reaction to reroll a failed Constitution save for concentrating on a spell.

*but only one can be maintained per creature.

The Spartan Fighter is one I didn’t expect to see in a Bible-based sourcebook, but I’m not complaining. Their features include being able to grant additional abilities to themselves and their allies such as giving their shield bonus to AC to adjacent allies, a battle cry that can give allies advantage on all attack rolls and immunity to the charmed and frightened conditions, and can once per rest maximize the values of a damage die result from a melee weapon attack.

The Vanguard Conclave of Rangers was formed from a network of armed guards safeguarding travelers on the Silk Road, sharing their findings of odd supernatural phenomena which in turn gives them insight into mysterious things beyond this world. A d6 table for a Mark determines what kind of supernatural encounter left them changed along with a vague plot hook. Their abilities include immunity to being Surprised in combat, subclass spells centering around supernatural countermeasures such as See Invisibility and Dispel Magic, the ability to make a weapon attack as a reaction against an enemy attacking someone else, and the ability to cast Freedom of Movement on themselves once per long rest.

Zealot Rogues are members of the organization of the same name, a guerilla paramilitary group dedicated to driving out the Roman occupation of Judea as well as any others who may threaten the Jewish people. Their features revolve around spying and skullduggery, such as gaining proficiency with disguise and forgery kits, can travel twice as fast in cities when not in combat, can use their Cunning Action to hide in crowds which grant additional benefits on top of Hiding normally, advantage on initiative rolls, and the ability to summon an Angry Mob which is new monster swarm detailed in this book’s bestiary.


The Order of Magi are a group of Zoroastrian Wizards whose faith in God manifests itself through the study of star charts, alchemy, and old magic. They gain something known as Omen Dice, which increase both in number and die value as they gain levels, and can spend and add the results of Omen Die in unique ways. Magi learn Namburbu, or signs, as they gain levels, and include such features like subtracting their Omen Die from an enemy’s saving throw or a sign that is added to a creature’s attack and damage roll.

Thoughts So Far: The various options are broadly useful, and quite a few of them such as the Baptist Druid or Gladiator background reward PCs for visiting places in the sandbox campaign which I like very much. The lineages are a big mixed, with the Giant and Rephaim boxed into rather specific roles. The feats vary quite a bit in quality: Evangelist is a great option for anyone wanting to play the role of party face, and Demon Slayer put on a Rogue is a great way to ensure Sneak Attacks on pretty much every boss monster in this campaign. Peacemaker is a bit more situational, as is Treasure Hunter, while Ward of the Raven is a bit weak in that it gives only one particularly useful ability rather than 2 or 3 as most feats do.

When it comes to subclasses, there’s quite a bit that help shake off mental influence. Nazirite Barbarian, Prophecy Cleric, and Spartan Fighter to be specific, which is rather useful as the archdemons have quite the number of features which can inflict such conditions on the party. For overall usability, I’d rate the subclasses this way: the Nazirite Barbarian is pretty broad in terms of features, and already supplement the class’ core strengths. The Parables Bard isn’t as hot as their most useful features (super-stun and singled-out illusion) come into play at higher levels and the majority of features can be replicated by existing spells. The Psalms Bard has some really nice buffs, but their random nature means that party members may not necessarily get what they want. The Prophecy Domain is more reactive than active, its unique features being more about resisting effects or gaining a random Vision. The Circle of Baptist is great for AoE and buff spells, the latter in that their alternate wild shape grants them advantage on spell concentration checks among other things, although their major Baptism feature is going to be rather situational depending on where the party goes. The Spartan Fighter’s abilities are broadly useful, with the shield AC bonus and battle cry for allies being appreciated in most battles. The Vanguard Ranger’s abilities are overall strong in being a defensively-minded subclass, but the Zealot Rogue is more suited towards urban intrigue and may not always shine in wilderness treks and dungeon-delving (of which there are plenty in this module). Finally, the Magi Wizard’s Omen Die are broad enough that most options aren’t a waste in how broadly applicable they can be.

One other thing I feel like bringing up. The Adventurer’s Guide seems to make the assumption that Zoroastrians worship the same Abrahamic deity as the Jews and their monotheist offshoots. I know that Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic faith itself, but from my limited understanding their faith developed separately from that of Judaism.

Join us next time as we set foot on our Biblical quest in The Story Begins!



The Story Begins

Although the meat of this campaign is an open world sandbox, the adventure starts with a more controlled funnel. The PCs have been hired by Tobit to escort his son Tobias from the Kingdom of Ninevah to the city of Teredon in the south. Tobit is unable to work anymore due to blindness and old age, and intends to make a withdrawal of an investment from a bank in Teredon to help live the rest of his days without worrying about financial troubles. As he cannot make the trip himself and a blood relative is required to vouch for his presence, Tobias must make the trip down the Tigris River. In addition, the PCs are helped by Tobias’ pet dog Ava as well as a guide known as Azarias, who in reality is an angelic messenger in disguise by the name of Raphael.

There is more to this plot at first glance: Tobias is secretly in love with a woman named Sarah who also lives in Teredon, happily exchanging letters with her. But Sarah has fallen sway under Naamah, the Archdemon of Lust, masquerading as an Egyptian woman by the name of Seraphine. Naamah couldn’t help but seek to ruin their relationship out of sadistic desire, and used a combination of mind control and threats to coerce Sarah into writing a letter breaking off the relationship. Tobias is troubled by this sudden turn of events, and if the PCs can get him to open up about his concerns he will show them the letter. This is one of the first puzzles of the campaign, where certain letters are bolded more than others, forming a secret message of “she is watching please help me.” The Guide even has handouts for such puzzle handouts as its own PDF, and there are options for solving the puzzles manually from player skill as well as good old-fashioned in-character skill checks.

As for Azarias/Raphael, he is on a mission from God to find and root out whatever dark forces are trying to separate Tobias and Sarah from each other. He has lost much of his power in keeping up human form, and will not voluntarily share his true nature with anyone until the time is right. Using magic to find out his celestial heritage will have him just dodge or brush off any questions.

Sailing down the Tigris is a skill challenge combined with random encounters, with the PCs able to take on different roles with their own skills and failures imposing their own consequences. There is one mandatory encounter in the form of a Deepmaw (giant carnivorous fish) who despite having half HP can still be a challenging encounter for a level 1 party. But Azarias will make use of his divine powers to protect the group and thus may tip the party off as to him being more than he seems.

Upon arrival at the docks in Teredon, Tobias will ask the PCs to accompany him to see Sarah, but will otherwise head off on his own if he doesn’t trust them at which point Azarias/Raphael will start looking for him in the city. Sarah and Naamah can be found in the Temple Gardens, a scenic park overlooking the nearby sea cliffs. Naamah is disguised as Seraphine, whispering thoughts of self-doubt and despair to Sarah, but the young woman’s faith in God and love for Tobias has helped shield her from the worst of the demon’s magic. Appropriate skill checks and/or role-play during the interactions can help determine that Sarah is afraid of the woman and that Seraphine is casting a spell upon her, but regardless of the outcome Azarias will lose patience, loudly declare her demonic status, invoke the name of God, and use a magic item (Censor of Atonement) to harm her simulacrum which is made of pure sin.

Content Warning, Attempted Coerced Suicide

One nasty tactic Naamah will pull off will be to order Sarah to throw herself off the nearby cliffs. While this pushes the boundaries of her enchantment in being directly dangerous and thus is only half-effective in making her merely move to the cliff’s edge, it can still be used to divide the party’s attention and resources.

Naamah will take on her true demonic form once her simulacrum is destroyed, teleporting away in anger via Word of Recall. With Sarah and Tobias realizing their love for each other, Azarias will come clean to the party about his angelic nature. He will also tell the PCs about Naamah’s status as one of the seven archdemons disguised in the world, and although he doesn’t know where her lair is or the identity of the other demons he knows that Naamah is somewhere in Egypt where he intends to go and defeat her. PCs willing to help him are gifted with a magic Staff of the Messenger that lets them cast Message and Sacred Flame at will and are told to find him in Egypt once they’re ready.


Welcome to Teredon

By now the party is 3rd level (they became 2nd level upon defeating the Deepmaw), and while the next progression of the story is at the Zoroastrian Temple of Fire we get a taste of sandbox gaming with a variety of locations and sidequests the party can do to get more loot. As an overview, Teredon is a city that is technically under Parthian control, but its relative remoteness in the eastern Arabian Peninsula means that the populace can still live as though they’re independent. While in town, the PCs can book passage on a merchant ship to other ports, buy supplies to cross the Arabian desert to the nearby Kingdom of Sheba, do a request for Tobias to help his parents travel down to Teredon to live with him and Sarah if the party’s heading north, buy a variety of magic items at a local emporium (some of which are beyond the party’s price range at this point in the campaign) or magic jewelry from Sarah’s boutique (which have very affordable discounts if they helped her out), search for missing children who were killed by giant snail-like monsters known as Murex in a cliffside cave-dungeon, accept a quest from a rabbi at the local synagogue to find a missing traveler taken hostage by the Shadow of the Beast cult in the ruins of Ur, find Naamah’s private letters in Sarah’s house detailing financial transactions in Thebes, and take a job by a shady guy in a tavern to rob the vault of a roman colosseum in the town of Malgium. In the final case, the employer is secretly plotting to frame the PCs and abscond with the gold himself.

The Murex caves are a detailed mini-dungeon, where the tide can affect the water levels as a potential hazard and a +1 gladius can be found on the body of a dead Centurion who was sent to find the missing children. Murex as monsters are able to produce a purple mucus highly prized for the rarity of such a color and is used in fabrics. The monsters are slow yet well-armored creatures with a bite that can poison and potentially paralyze targets, and deal a greater amount of damage to paralyzed creatures.


Once it comes time to advance the plot, sending the PCs to the Temple of Fire is in order. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways by the DM, but in the end a Magi by the name of Wu Mei will meet the PCs in the archives of the temple. While there she will share notes with the party: the 3 Wise Men, esteemed Magi by the names of Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior, were researching a prophecy of great import. Their findings so far are that the fate of the world hangs in the balance, an invincible beast with seven heads (one of whose heads is named Naamah) may be powerful enough to make God bleed, and that the Darkness may be overthrown by one conceived of a virgin birth. The Wise Men all went missing during their travels for further research, and concerned for their own safety as well as their findings Wu Mei wants the PCs to help find the 3 Wise Men and aid them against the forces of darkness. She even has a magic Staff of the Pilgrim to give the party as some incentive, and its charges can be spent to cast various divination spells.

The PCs can derive additional information: Wu Mei can explain the various Magi’s areas of expertise and where to likely find them, show them star charts indicating some link between the Messiah and the Kingdom of Judea, and that the beast with seven heads is more likely to be seven individual creatures as demons who gained entrance into the physical world. At this point the adventure opens up greatly, with some generic sandbox gaming advice and page references for encounter, treasure, and research information later in the book for filling in the gaps. That being said, the geographic placement of Teredon most likely means that the PCs will likely travel across the desert to Sheba, given that is where Balthazar’s likeliest location (the other two have vague location descriptions from Wu Mei) is and Egypt and Judea are northwest from there.

Thoughts So Far: The opening questline in the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible give a pretty strong first impression. While it is not a pure sandbox, it opens up with a strong hook and has enough wiggle room to give PCs a taste of things. My most immediate concerns are the fight with Naamah and the Deepmaw. Naamah overall doesn’t have a lot of dangerous attacks, and several elements serve as a sort of “tutorial” for the later fights with archdemons. However, she has a recharge-based AoE which may one-shot some weaker PCs if she rolls high enough on damage. As for the Deepmaw, even at half health it can be dangerous, but Tobias’ dog has a special action where it can self-sacrifice by taking a blow, and the Deepmaw attempts to attack Tobias first. This is intentionally designed so as to demonstrate Raphael’s powers if the need comes to revive someone. Although Raphael can deal a lot of damage to tip the scales in both encounters and even revive PCs if need be, not all gaming groups may be happy with feeling bailed out by an angel ex machina.

Join us next time as we explore this Biblical sandbox in the World Map, Adventure Atlas, and Tools & Tables chapters!



Tools & Tables

Technically the Adventure Atlas is first, but as that section is really long and makes references to things in this section, I’m doing a rare out of order review. Tools & Tables focuses on filling in the blanks for the Biblical sandbox beyond the sample locations and encounters, useful for DMs who need to prepare material on the fly or who need to give the players a gentle push when they’re feeling directionless.

Random Encounter Table details 30 different encounters PCs can come upon on their travels, with results separated by terrain type (settlement, desert, field/marsh, etc). A few are generic enough to be used multiple times, but some detail unique people or events that act as self-contained plots or help lead into another quest. You’ve got your typical encounters with bandits and various beasts, traveling merchants willing to do business with the party, pilgrims headed somewhere and eager to share rumors and goings-on of the places they’ve traveled, soldiers on patrol, a hidden treasure chest in the wilderness, and the like. But some of the more unique encounters include meeting a Gentle Giant who wants to defy stereotypes and earn a living as a tailor (PCs who help him out with this get fine clothes granting advantage on all Charisma checks), a meager village on the lookout for a peacemaker as Roman and Parthian legions threaten to turn their settlement into a battleground, and a corrupt nobleman who infested an old lady’s garden with magically-regenerating thorns in a plot to buy out her home at a drastically reduced price.

Random Discoveries Table is a d100 table for various treasure and magic items. There are 50 different results, and 19 of them place a magic item of some kind in the party’s possession. Some of the non-magical results can be useful for particular quests, such as an insignia of rank of a Roman centurion or a voucher for free passage on board a ship. Some are luxury goods worth quite a bit of gold, and some have no value but contain interesting setting flavor such as a wax candle carved with the face of the Babylonian deity Marduk.

Doing Research is a new sub-system for whenever the PCs take time to search for information in a library or other hub of knowledge. It is a d20 roll that adds one’s Intelligence modifier that can generate a random result, although PCs seeking more specialized knowledge can learn what they’re looking for as long as they roll equal to or higher than the desired result. There are 28 different results,* all of which are useful to at least one of the major quests or side quests in this campaign. Examples include the location of the Tower of Babel, blueprints for the Library and Museum of Alexandria detailing the location of a vault of precious relics, a lead to one of the locations of the Three Wise Men, the locations of the lairs of one of the Archdemons besides Abbadon and Lilith,** and the second half of the prophecy about the Messiah which explains that the Messiah must die in order for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Two results instead improve a character’s personal power, granting them proficiency in an ability of choice or finding a book of magic that lets the researcher cast a spell of 3rd level or lower once per day.

*given that Intelligence for PCs maxes out at 20 (+5 modifier), I’m unsure how they’re supposed to get a 26 or higher unless already-researched results are “knocked down” a DC.

*they’re fought at the end of the campaign.

Visions, Prophecies, & Dreams represent God sending knowledge and inspiration to a PC, and can be triggered as part of one’s abilities like a Prophecy Cleric’s class features or as part of rewards or events in the story. The Visions are separated into 7 tables, all detailing an in-character reading of a dreamlike premonition. 5 of the tables point to locations of an archdemon’s lair, one table is a d6 for miscellaneous quests, and the last table is a Create Your Own where part of a vision is set up before ending in an ellipsis to be filled in by the DM.

Allies & Associates provides 21 named NPCs and 1 generic stat block for times when the PCs need or request a little extra help in their current trials. NPCs should be used sparingly, such as when the party is about to lose deadly combat, are unsure where to go next, or have a small party size to provide for some balance in upcoming combat encounters. The NPCs can all be encountered at various points in the campaign, and the table provides likely locations to find them as well relevant page numbers. Not all of them are equal in power and usefulness. Spellcasters such as the Witch of Endor are very powerful and thus more likely to have their own goals and expect a favor out of the party, Celestials are extremely goal-driven and single-minded in performing the task God set out for them, and the Queen of Sheba is harder to justify appearing by herself without a fully-armed guard. The generic stat block is for an Angry Mob, which can be used for any time the common folk of a region decide to band together to aid the party against some danger or threat.


Factions is a new sub-system that is used to determine the party’s standing among the powers-that-be in the Middle Kingdoms. Relationships with the twelve factions are divided into three broad categories of Allied, Neutral, and Hostile, which can shift depending on their actions in the campaign. PCs start with a Neutral value with all factions, and Allied/Hostile standings can impart unique benefits and penalties. Several Hostile ratings cause increased chances of combat against soldiers/bounty hunters/cultists/etc searching for the party while in that faction’s areas of influence. Naturally several factions are opposed to each other, and gaining influence with one can lower influence with the other and vice versa depending on circumstance.

Three of the factions are international power blocs: Rome, Parthia, and Sheba. Allyship typically grants NPC soldiers to serve the party while they visit their cities along with some more unique features: Bandits don’t mess around with Romans, Parthia can grant free passage in their port cities, and Sheba can grant gold from the treasury or library research. Being Hostile with any of them can provoke random encounters with those country’s soldiers while remaining in their territory.

Three of the factions are paramilitary groups: Zealots, Skiritai, and Sicarii. The Zealots and Sicarii are Jewish groups united in the goal of driving out Rome, although the Sicarii broke off from the Zealots in being more willing to kill civilians and have recently begun lending their services out as contract killers to gain more funds. The Skiritai are a Spartan-founded mercenary company willing to recruit any warriors who prove their mettle and have a close relationship with the Society. The Zealots can provide ways for PCs to safely move through cities held by Hostile factions, the Skiritai can let the PCs hire out mercenaries for a limited number of encounters, and the Sicarii can grant access to their list of contract killings and allow PCs to post their own bounties. Hostile relationships with any of the three are inevitably violent: Zealots are likely to Sneak Attack PCs in crowded marketplaces, Skiritai units will demand PCs leave their territory along with their gold before fighting, and Sicarii assassins have a chance to ambush PCs every time they take a long rest no matter where they are.

Three of the factions are the major Jewish groups: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. They more or less preside in Judea and in Jewish neighborhoods in the wider world. The Pharisees are the largest group, popular among working-class Jews. The Sadducees reside almost entirely in Jerusalem and make up much of the city’s upper class. Both they and the Pharisees preside over that city’s court system. The Essenes are Jews who mostly live in rural communes, tired of the infighting between the former two factions and prioritize the accumulation of knowledge. Due to this, they have close ties to many libraries. Allying with the Pharisees lets the party set their status to Allied for any other 3 factions of choice representing that denominations’ political influence. Sadducees grant access to an NPC priest who can cast spells on behalf of the party and can donate money to the party for quests in line with their goals. The Essenes grant access to the secret archives of libraries and allow PCs to roll research checks with advantage. Hostile status with the Pharisees makes them set 3 other factions to Hostile, the Sadducees send out temple guards to demand financial restitution for the PCs’ wrongdoing in order to set them back to Neutral, while the Essenes can get the party banned from secret archives and make them roll research checks with disadvantage.

The final three factions don’t fit neatly into the above categories. The Nomad Confederation is an alliance of nomadic groups who know the Wilderness of Zin (Arabian Desert) like the backs of their hands, and Allyship with them grants easier means of surviving and traveling in deserts, but Hostile status causes PCs’ perishables to deplete at twice the normal rate in that same territory. The Society is a consortium of Silk Road merchants banding together for mutual aid. Allying with them can lower the costs of items in marketplaces as well as passage aboard ships, and Hostility causes PCs to suffer the reverse. The Shadow of the Beast is a cult that serves the Archdemons; they are the group that is most likely to end up Hostile to the PCs, and being Allied will most likely be the result of the party fooling them under a false identity. Allyship grants the party knowledge of all cultist hideouts whenever they enter a new city and a possible archdemon lair, while Hostile status risks encounters with cult spellcasters whenever the party sleeps in a city with a cult cell.

The map above indicates the regions where certain factions hold particular sway. Rome dominates the west, Parthia holds sway in the northeast, and the Nomad Confederation and Sheba stand guard in the south. The Jewish groups are mostly local to Judea and surrounding areas, while the Society and Skiritai have sparse holdings but have more power in mobile economics. The Zealots, Sicarii, and Shadow of the Beast don’t have any claimed towns per se but exert their power in subtler ways.

The relative power of faction allyship differs. The Pharisees are very useful not for anything they provide themselves so much as granting the immediate benefits of other factions. Zealots can be useful for avoiding urban encounters and gaining access to otherwise closed cities, while the Essenes and Society benefits are broad enough to be helpful for most types of adventuring parties. The factions which grant NPC allies are always a plus, although ones that require gold to be spent such as with the Skiritai are less useful unless the PCs get rich. Rome’s ability to bypass Bandit encounters isn’t that useful as they are but one of 30 such encounters that can be triggered.

Parthia doesn’t have as many deep-water ports as Rome* which makes their free seafaring not all-encompassing, and the boons of audiences with their local kings is more based on DM Fiat. The Nomads are mostly useful for times when the PCs have to traverse the desert but depending on whether they go that may not come up often. The benefits of the Sadducees aren’t as big if the PCs have a divine spellcaster of their own in the party, and the Sicarii is a great source of money but is heavily geared towards evil parties or ones that don’t mind big hits to their Grace score. Given how many major encounters and adventures take place in Roman territory, making Rome hostile is overall worse than doing the same for Parthia or Sheba, and pissing off the Sicarii can hurt you no matter where you are. If anything, a hostile Society has the least impact, although many players may not be keen on parting with more gold if they can help it.

*at least, in the section of the world mapped out by the campaign.


Atlas Locations A-Z

This whopping chapter covers 48 pages and 67 locations arranged in alphabetical order. Detailed sidequests and places of greater import to the main story aren’t detailed here but in the next chapter, Events and Encounters. There are some recurring elements among the Atlas locations: port towns list the price and travel time for booking passage on ships to certain locations, and several towns list prices for certain magic items (several of which can only be bought in that particular town). There are also Suggested Events which are minor encounters and plots, some of which can tie into the larger quests or are just set dressing for local flavor. Particularly difficult encounters may mark a minimum party level for the DM to spring on the PCs, and Roman-controlled towns often have local colosseums which tie into the larger Tournament and Champions encounter. Think colosseum-centric minigames.

I’m not going to cover each location, that will take too much time and space. Instead I’ll briefly cover several of the more interesting places. Alexandria is where the Magi Melchior currently resides, although his research in the world-famous Library is being hindered by the current owner who cares more about the prestige of ownership than actual scholarship. Antioch’s Silk and Spice Inn is home to several interesting patrons: a Buddhist monk from India with a royal seal meant for Caesar to convince him to stop persecuting his faith in newly-acquired Roman territories, and a retired Roman general famed for his campaigns against the Germanic tribes. After a chance encounter with Jesus, the general seeks to use what political influence he has in Rome to reform society towards one that will better help its worst-off. A cultist of the Fellowship of the Beast is acting under orders from Moloch, Archdemon of Gluttony, to assassinate the general before his ideas catch on. PCs who manage to stop this plot can interrogate the assassin for more information about the cult and his master.

Babylon is afflicted with a supernatural lethargy radiating from the Hanging Gardens, for Beelzebub the Archdemon of Sloth has made his lair here. Bethlehem has turned into a tourist trap for visitors seeking to visit the rather humble childhood home of David, a famous King of the Israelite people. The Caravanserai is the mobile headquarters of the Society, located on the Silk Road outside of Roman and Parthian control. The PCs can embark on a quest to steal a crate held by Roman authorities demanding too-high taxes out of a warehouse in Damascus if they wish to earn favor with the merchants. The island of Cyprus and the city of Citius have an amoral court mage known as Simon Elymas (aka Simon the Sorcerer) suspicious of the PCs as potential foreign spies. The island is also home to Mt. Troodos, which is where Caspar the Magi is conducting research.

Damascus contains a rather problematic side quest. King Philip is none too fond of a local holy man known as John the Baptist, and his wife Salome seeks to trick the PCs into killing John by framing him as a crazed, dangerous hermit.

Content Warning: Incest, Grooming

So Salome is described as 16 years old in the module, and Philip is more than twice her age as well as her uncle. One of her Flaws is “I feel insecure around people who are not sexually attracted to me.” In this module Salome is evil aligned, her husband is neutral and more or less oblivious to her wicked nature. Although the Bible itself is vague on both her age and her intentions, Salome has often been portrayed in pop culture as the “evil seductress” manipulating the lusts of men for her own selfish gain. Many people have often read sexual intent her actions, such as a dance she performs to earn a favor from King Herod being an erotic one. However, another reading of the passages makes it seem like she was manipulated by her mother, who suggested John’s death as the favor to ask after the dance.

While I don’t have any feelings one way or another as to what is an “accurate” Biblical portrayal, the casting of a girl as a wicked seductive mastermind who’d be underage by modern standards and would be the victim of grooming in the real world can understandably rub many gaming groups the wrong way.

The Deep is an amoral agent of destruction, an encompassing darkness home to beastly passions. But enough about the Boys, let’s get back to this review. A massive whirlpool sits in the Mediterranean Sea, and at the bottom slumbers an eldritch horror known as the Leviathan. Existing before God created reality, it is said that when the monster wakes up it will do battle with the Behemoth and the world will end. Fortunately it is slumbering, where it is immune to all forms of harm and only something on par with a Wish spell or Cleric’s Divine Intervention will wake it up. PCs who manage to magically brave the depths can loot many sunken ships of valuable treasure.


Ecbatana is the capital city of the Parthian Empire. Built on a hill with seven concentric walls, it is impressively well-defended, and the wealth and standing of its inhabitants increases the higher and more inwards one moves beyond the outermost walls. The life of Artabanus II, Parthia’s King of Kings, is unknowingly in danger. One of his own sons, Prince Gotarzes, seeks to kill off his brother as well as a high-ranking vassal and eventually his father so that he can ascend the throne. Gotarzes can pay the PCs a lot of gold if they undertake quests for him in line with this goal, but once the plans for regicide are set in motion he will conspire to kill off anyone who knows too much.

Bethany, Hebron, and Jericho are settlements in Judea where the PCs can learn more about Jesus, a carpenter and teacher who seems to have more to him than meets the eye. Bethany and Jericho in particular is one of the likely places the party can meet the Son of God.

The Lotus Marshes are a dangerous swampland few go through, and beneath the ground slumbers the Behemoth, whose only evidence of location are two geyers which are actually air gusts blowing out of his nostrils. Like the Leviathan it is immune to all damage while it sleeps and can only be awakened by a Wish spell or Divine Intervention.

Ma’rib has a lengthy write-up in comparison to other cities in the Atlas. As the royal capital of Sheba it is a sight for sore eyes for desert travelers, a fertile city covered in lush, colorful plants and fabrics. The Myrrh Oasis is where material of the same name along with frankincense is harvested, and powerful magic suffuses the land allowing the trees to produce more product while needing to be watered less. The two major quests PCs can undertake here are from the Queen of Sheba, who can tell them about Balthazar who went missing when visiting two weeks ago, and a quest to help safely transport the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem down to Sheba to guard it against those who’d seek it for ill will.

Midian is a settlement where desert nomads of various tribes gather, and visiting PCs can undertake a quest where they confront their fears in a Cave of Wisdom represented by a series of checks with various dangerous consequences for failure. If they are successful, they will find a cavern holding a burning bush, and can ask God 3 questions as though casting the Commune spell along with treating the cave as Holy Ground.

Mt. Ararat is the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. The massive vessel crashed into one of its peaks when the Great Flood began to recede, and it is larger than any known ship. A pack of dire wolves stalk the party as they travel, and searching the Ark lets the party find an olive branch known as Dove’s Hope, a magic item which can cast a more powerful version of the Beacon of Hope spell. There’s also a sidequest here where the party can meet with a unicorn, one of the last of its kind, whose mate is being held captive to participate in the colosseum of Nimrud’s gladiatorial fights. Nimrud is also one of the cities where the Skiritai hold sway.

Mt. Nebo and Mt. Sinai both contain Holy Ground locations. Nebo is Moses’ final resting place. At Mt. Sinai, a party who completes a successful treacherous climb becomes aware of God’s presence and may ask him one question.

Ninevah was the former capital of the Assyrian Empire, but it is now a territory of Parthia. It has a strong presence of cataphract soldiers, and the prophet Jonah is beloved here for he helped convince the populace to turn away from evil pursuits. His tomb has a giant mouth of a deepmaw on display in honor of his encounter with a whale. A mini-dungeon in the form of an old pagan temple is home to a Mušhuššu, a dragon posing as one of the old Assyrian gods in hopes of building up a cult. He tried making his own religion in Babylon before Belzebuub drove him out. Dragons and demons may both pretend at being gods, but they hate sharing power. The Thummin, a legendary divination stone, can be found in the temple, and PCs can learn more about the Archdemon of Sloth if they manage to get the dragon in a talkative mood.

Petra is another city of nomads. The tribes living here have a special relationship with the Sunwings, a species of giant eagles who can bond with riders. This makes the nomads the only force with an aerial cavalry in the Middle Kingdoms. PCs can gain their own Sunwing mount if they perform a trial of climbing up to their nest without the aid of climbing harnesses or magic. It is a skill challenge, but the worst consequences for failure can involve falling to one’s death at 20d6 damage.

Sirwah is a fortress-city in Sheba. PCs looking around for Balthazar can learn from their commander that he was likely taken to a “Den of Serpents” in the nearby desert, a dungeon home to a Shadow of the Beast cult. The commander, a deaf man known as Tibebo Iskinder, can accompany the PCs on this quest with a successful Persuasion check.

Tarsus is a Roman city with beautiful architecture highly resplendent of the imperial capital. Its restaurants have food from around the world and a sizable university to boot. Moloch, the Archdemon of Gluttony, is fond of hosting private parties renowned for debauchery on a pleasure barge…and is the source of more than a few missing people whose families may hire the party to find out their whereabouts. Additionally the PCs can meet an influential Pharisee by the name of Saul, who studied alongside Jesus in his childhood but now sees the man as a dangerous heretic. He’ll hire the party to root out a group of “criminals” operating out of Tarsus’ undercity, who in reality are a group of harmless teenagers inspired by Jesus’ teachings seeking to leave the city while avoiding arrest.


Thonis is an Egyptian city gradually sinking into the sea, home to several underwater ruins that can function as quick dungeon crawls. It is also home to a woman who goes by the alias of Selene, but in reality is Cleopatra’s daughter in hiding. She can act as a patron to the PCs, granting them missions which tie into the larger events and encounters as the DM sees fit. One of them involves retrieving her brooch which is held in the vault of the Library and Museum of Alexandria, while the other two involve encounters against the two archdemons and their servants who were instrumental in ruining her life: Mammon, Archdemon of Greed who lairs beneath the Pyramid of Giza, and Naamah who resides in the city of Thebes.

The Tower of Babel is a mini-dungeon located along the Euphrates River, a crumbling edifice with no monsters but treacherous staircases prone to collapse. PCs who manage to reach the top will find a treasure chest containing the Amulet of Babel (makes your speech understandable to any who speak a language) and a Ring of Feather Fall.

The Wilderness of Zin is a 600 mile expanse of desert that dominates the relative center of the Middle Kingdoms. Only experienced nomads brave its environs, and even then they stick to trusted routes if they can help it. PCs who travel are prone to becoming lost and disoriented on failed Nature or Survival checks.

Thoughts So Far: This section is jam-packed with material, enough to provide the DM with just enough material for most places the PCs visit. Some locations have more adventure-worthy material than others, although that’s to be expected with a section of this length. The Tools and Tables bring to mind an old-school D&D feel for DMing kits, which I like. I also like how there are detailed magic item prices in cities, which gives the PCs useful things on which to spend their gold.

I like the concept of factions, although it feels a bit too barebones. The Allied/Neutral/Hostile is meant to change easily which can result in some sudden face heel turns. As I mentioned above, certain factions are more broadly useful than others, which may cause most gaming groups to gravitate to a select few.

Join us next time as we cover the major quests and dungeons in Events and Encounters!



Events & Encounters, Part I

Even larger than the Atlas at nearly 100 pages, Events & Encounters is the longest chapter of the book. Made up of 19 scenarios, these provide detailed descriptions of the more involved events, dungeons, cities, and regions relevant to the main quest of the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible. Some are location-neutral, being more generic templates for broad scenario types while others are tied strongly to specific people and places. In some scenarios, such as finding the Magi or helping Raphael fight Naamah, the party can convince an NPC to temporarily join them on their quest with a successful Persuasion check.

By the time the PCs resolve Tobias’ journey they’ll be 3rd level. Only a few of these listed encounters have specific level up points using the milestone system: when the party rescues Balthazar from the Den of Serpents, when they defeat one of the five archdemons (Abbadon and Lilith are fought at campaign’s end), and after Jesus’ crucifixion in Way of the Cross. The party is expected to meet Jesus sometime around level 6, and start the Way of the Cross around 9th level. But I did happen to notice one oddity in regards to expected party level from the proposed sequence of events:


Barring Way of the Cross, the only level up opportunity not involving killing a demon involves finding Balthasar. While Naamah is weaker than the other archdemons CR-wise, it’s inevitable that the PCs will be fighting at least 1 of the other archdemons around 5th level, quite short of the 7th level suggestion of this adventure. Barring Naamah’s retreat in the Story Begins, the archdemon scenarios don’t exactly have them retreating for a “phase two” somewhere else. That being said, most of the archdemon stats can be doable as challenging boss battles for 4th to 6th level parties.

Tournament of Champions is a location-generic event that can take place in any city with a Roman colosseum, which is basically most Roman-held cities. This event is actually a series of 10 mini-games revolving around gladiatorial contests and gambling, along with a sample map and room description for a colosseum in case PCs wish to break into a treasure vault, rescue an enslaved gladiator, and/or escape from capture themselves. The minigames include solo and team-based chariot racing, single and team-based gladiatorial combat, Carpe Vexillum which is basically capture the flag, mock naval combats, and four different types of popular tavern games, 3 of which involve gambling and one of which involves drinking shots and flicking the liquid remnants at teetering plates via tests of inebriated dexterity. All of these games have their own rules for PCs who wish to participate. In regards to straight-on gladiatorial combat, PCs pay an entry fee to compete, where they are pitted against progressively stronger monsters or NPCs. After each fight they can gracefully bow out with an amount of gold based on the number of completed fights, or push their luck and try another. Losing a fight forfeits all gold accumulated. It takes 2 fights to break even, there are 7 maximum fights per “tournament,” and the party can take a short rest between each fight save for the 6th, which instead allows for a long rest. And we have maps for arenas, both normal and water-filled for appropriate mini-games.

Overall a detailed and fun addition.

Blood and Sand is a dungeon crawl in a 7 room series of tunnels and caverns that the Shadow of the Beast cult are using as a hideout. Known as the Den of Serpents, it is located in the Wilderness of Zin and closest to the city of Sirwah in the Kingdom of Sheba. Balthazar the Magi is being held captive by the cult, who are led by a snake-like demon known as a Shedim. Most of the rooms contain some variety of enemies, mostly Saraph Serpents (a new snake monster whose venomous bite can reduce HP maximum over time until magically healed) along with 3 cultists and their Shedim leader. In addition to the captive Magi, the Shedim also has a Staff of the Bronze Serpent, a magic item which is actually a reconstructed segment of staff of an original pole made by Moses himself. Its charges can be used to cast various healing spells and provide resistance and advantage vs poison damage and effects for the wielder.

It is quite likely that the PCs will visit this dungeon early on, and may even still be 3rd level when they encounter it. As such, it can be rather difficult in comparison to the other dungeons and encounters as the party has less resources between long rests. While most rooms have 3 foes on average, one containing 6 Saraph Serpents can be pretty deadly. Moreso if the DM runs the enemies realistically and has them respond to sounds of combat elsewhere in the dungeon. However, the scales may be tipped a bit if the party convinces Iskinder, the military commander in the nearby city of Sirwah, to accompany them for this quest. He likely has more HP than any of the party members at this point (88 HP) and can potentially attack four times per round with Multiattack and his Scimitar of Speed! While this can be welcome help to some groups, the likelihood of the party getting recent aid from Raphael in the opening adventure may give the impression that powerful DMPCs are the standard in this module, and no self-respecting DM wants that!


The three Finding the Magi events detail places where the Three Wise Men can be encountered, their current troubles, what information they can tell the party about the archdemons and the Messiah, and where to find the other Magi if they haven’t been located yet. Each also has a unique magic item which make up a set known as the Armor of God. These gifts were initially the presents they planned to give to Jesus on his birth, but an angel told them that the items were meant for another group of heroes: “The Messiah has weapons of which you do not know, and would not understand. Give them instead to those who will follow him, for theirs is the way of the sword, and his the way of the cross.” Balthazar’s location has been explained above, and he can tell the party about how the seven archdemons use the power of sin to grow stronger and anchor themselves to the world via simulacrums. He’ll give the PCs the Helm of Salvation, which has 3 charges which can be spent to allow a creature within sight to reroll a failed saving throw. Oddly enough, he doesn’t remember the name of the baby he visited in Bethleheim, nor did he understand what the angel meant by the word Messiah or the way of the cross. I imagine that the visit plus meeting an angel would be the kind of thing you’d remember for the rest of your life. Balthazar certainly seemed to remember the angel’s statement word for word and knows that “the child born under the star would destroy sin once and for all,” but is somehow unable to remember his name. Even back then the Magi would know the baby was special, for the Biblical account mentions that they were searching for a child they believed would be King of the Jews. I can get the justification as being a fuzzy memory from the progression of old age, but his perfect memory of the angel’s recited statement makes it feel a bit done for the convenience of the plot.

Melchior is in the Library of Alexandria’s archives, helped by an assistant named Strabo. He can tell the party more about the archdemons’ backstories and Satan’s fall from grace. While Balthazar somehow forgot the name of the baby they visited, Melchior knows that his name is Jesus and is the Messiah, part of a prophecy which makes him a threat to the archdemons but otherwise doesn’t know how that will be fulfilled. Thus he pleads with the party to protect Jesus from any attempt at harm. He’ll give the party a Shield of Faith, a +2 shield that grants resistance to the damage of ranged weapons, and can cast the Shield of Faith spell at will without the need to maintain concentration on it.

Caspar has spent the last twenty years researching the sky and stars at an observatory on the island of Cyprus. By charting the stars he managed to locate the Messiah’s current location in the region of Galilee as well as the archdemons via tracking the size of their sin-enhancing auras. But he is having trouble finding Abaddon, given that the world is a hateful and violent place, as well as Lilith as he hasn’t detected any epicenters of Pride-based sin auras and thus only knows she’s not near any major cities. He’ll give the PCs the Boots of the Gospel, which allow the wearer to cast Teleport once per day. Hey, a literal Fast Travel feature! Additionally Aristarchus, who is Caspar’s assistant, was the former High Curator of the Museum of Alexandria exiled by Roman occupation, and has a quest for interested PCs…

Museum Heist is a pseudo-dungeon crawl where the PCs break into the Library and Museum of Alexandria to gain access to a vault full of valuable items. There are several reasons and motivations to take this quest besides succumbing to the sin of greed, as several of the items can tie into other quests. The Mernetaph Codex is believed to contain useful information about the archdemon hideouts in Egypt, while Cleopatra’s daughter Selene wants to retrieve her mother’s brooch from the vault. The archdemon Legion may send one of his agents to get the PCs to steal the Codex with the intentions of ambushing them later, and Aristarchus isn’t fond of the current High Curator and wants the PCs to find a means of getting him fired. This is a two-story, 24 room location, and certain sections of the building are open to the public and besides a pair of Dybbuk* the potentially hostile sources are all Roman guards. This allows the PCs a bit of freedom in how they go about their stealth mission. The vault is magically reinforced with alarm and sleep glyphs that can be disabled only if a pair of keys are used to unlock the vault. One key is carried on the Roman Centurion Lars Proximus, and the other by Balbillus, the current High Curator. While the Centurion dutifully keeps his key attached to his belt at all times, Balbillus has a habit of misplacing it and can be found in a random d6 location.

*undead souls who escaped from Sheol.

While breaking into the vault and stealing something can be scandalous enough to cost Balbillus his job, there are other means of getting him replaced. In his office, he keeps records in his personal lockbox of financial transactions which prove he’s been stealing money from the Museum’s treasury, which can be used to blackmail him into compliance or get him arrested so some other ally can replace him and get the PCs what they want.

The Merneptah is an ancient Egyptian spellbook telling a pro-Egypt, anti-Jewish account of Moses freeing his people from slavery, where the prophet is cast as a legendary villain who is eventually wiped out by the Pharoah’s army, proving that the Egyptian gods were superior to that of the Hebrews. The spellbook contains 8 spells, one of which is Create Golem which in true folkloric fashion involves the use of a Hebrew sign for life. I find that spell’s inclusion ironic considering who likely wrote it. Unfortunately the module says nothing about the Codex revealing the location of archdemon lairs; that kind of thing should be included as a matter of course for the sake of sandboxy goodness.

There are three other priceless magic items to be obtained in the vault: the Sword of Alexander the Great (+2 longsword, has 3 charges which can be spent to reroll a single attack, ability check, or saving throw), a ring belonging to one of Egypt’s Pharaohs (Increases Charisma and Charisma maximum by 2, advantage on Charisma checks when wearing it openly in Egypt), and Cleopatra’s Brooch (spend charges to turn a failed save into a successful one).

Prison Break is a location and scenario-neutral entry for when a merciful DM decides that the party ends up captured rather than killed via TPK. Maybe they got arrested by authorities, overwhelmed by one of the archdemons and taken to a cult hideout, or some other unfortunate fate. Regardless, there’s a map for a small fortress-prison with 3 rooms. The sentries can use the generic Guard stat block or other ones as the DM deems appropriate. Besides the primary goal of escaping with their equipment in tow, one of the rooms is an office that contains information relevant about the group who captured the party.

The Forgotten Temple is another location and scenario-neutral dungeon crawl, a two-story and four room mini-dungeon. It’s really just a set of two maps with no treasure or monster details besides some suggestions for a boss monster in the final room. A bit of a letdown IMO, for generic dungeon maps are a dime a dozen on places like Pinterest.


Aphrodite’s Touch is the lair of Naamah the Seducer, Archdemon of Lust. Located in the City of Thebes, she has used her influence to make a sex cult claiming to honor the old gods, and uses a temple converted to a brothel to grow strong off of sin. PCs can meet up with the angel Raphael in the city, where he can serve as backup in bringing down the archdemon.

This entire section is a giant content warning, so I’m going to spoiler all of it save for the fight and stats of Naamah herself.

Content Warning Sexual assault, sexual slavery, coerced suicide, pedophilia

As you might have guessed from the CW, Naamah is the worst kind of monster. As a representation of the negative aspects of sexuality, Naamah hates the idea of sex being used in a loving and consensual manner. Sex devoid of love is her sin of choice: all of the sex workers in Aphrodite’s Touch are mind-controlled by her, and once she’s defeated they’ll come to and be traumatized by what they were made to do. One of the shedim demons working for Naamah unsuccessfully attempted to purchase Cleopatra’s daughter Selene as a slave to put to work when she was just 10 years old, and Selene can act as an adventure hook in taking revenge on the establishment. Another adventure hook for PCs visiting Thebes has them meet a young teenage girl crying because her parents are pressuring her into working at the brothel. Finally, PCs who trigger a random encounter with the Witch of Endor (who I’ll talk about in the next post) may be tasked with delivering a love letter to one of the sex workers in Thebes. There, they can learn that Naamah has been trying to drive her to suicide.

I can get that sex crimes are a special level of heinous and that the writers are trying to make Naamah an utterly loathsome individual. However this adventure can be understandably hard to run for many groups. As the sin of Lust can also cover desire in general and not just the sexual kind, I’m a bit surprised that the module didn’t have a “toned down” version or a nonsexual one given that I imagine this module is intended to be run by faithful Christians and not all may wish to have such material in their games. Then again, going for the “they’re unholy because they’re having sex outside of marriage” in and of itself may be too prudish for a lot of gamers, so my guess is they went with the sexual slavery angle to make Naamah more unambiguously evil to a non-conservative audience.

Each Archdemon has a unified set of mechanics: they all have Lair and Legendary Actions, and are a two-stage boss battle where their human-seeing simulacrum form with its own stat block is fought first. Once the simulacrum is killed, it begins to discorporate in an obviously supernatural way, giving the party one free round to prepare themselves when the archdemon reappears in its true form. Most archdemons can cast an Induce Sin spell in line with their favored sin (Naamah can cast Induce Lust), and they also constantly radiate a 1 mile Aura of Temptation which pushes those within the radius to be more inclined to perform a certain kind of sinful activity as well as creating recurring distracting illusions in line with such sins. Additionally, each simulacrum has Atonement Vulnerability, meaning that spells and effects which can destroy or atone for sins and evil actions deal automatic damage to them every round they’re subjected to the spell’s effects.

Aphrodite’s Touch is a luxurious building guarded by Roman soldiers on Naamah’s payroll, and the archdemon is accompanied by a giant mercenary as her bodyguard. She’ll try to engage the party in conversation first, hoping to use her Charm ability on one PC to violently turn them against the others when combat begins. Her simulacrum form is named Seraphine and doesn’t really have many direct-damage features save an AoE perfume cloud, but can mind control a single target at a time and also short-range teleport in reaction to taking damage. Her true archdemon form is a bat-winged humanoid with goat hooves and a head, and is more of a straightforward combatant, such as claw and hoof attacks, a scream counterattack that can impose disadvantage on an attack roll, and legendary actions which can turn her invisible for 1 round or a stun-based seductive gaze attack.

Naamah’s first form is not that dangerous for level 4-6 parties, particularly with Raphael’s help. If anything, the major dangers will be from her giant bodyguard and Roman soldiers who will flock to her aid. Her archdemon form is a decent challenge from my reading of it too. Her major weakness is that she doesn’t have access to any good ranged attacks, although her fly speed likely means she is meant to make hit and run attacks.

In the aftermath, Raphael will depart back to the spirit world if he survived the fight, although he may choose to stay on Earth (and may become a traveling companion) with a successful Persuasion check. PCs searching Naamah’s office and who overcome her Glyph of Warding trap can find a collection of letters exchanged with other archdemons, pointing the party to Moloch’s location in particular.

Thoughts So Far: If I had to pick a favorite event so far, it would be the Tournament of Champions. For those of you who read my last Let’s Read, I’m quite fond of mini-games, and this section alone is easily mineable for other campaign settings. The Prison Break is a neat touch although a little barebones, and the Forgotten Temple is hardly an event or encounter at all. I like the open-endedness of the Museum Heist quest, as well as the three Magi all having unique magic items to give the PCs as a reward for finding them. I have some reservations about the Den of Serpents dungeon and its potential lethality for low-level parties, and Aphrodite’s Touch is the kind of thing you’ll need to heavily revise for a fair portion of gaming groups, so those are the low points of this section.

Join us next time as we cover the second half of Events and Encounters, including the rest of the archdemons, visiting the holy lands of Judea, meeting Jesus, and the final battle against Lilith!


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Anyone commenting in this thread should be on notice to stick to discussion of the product as much as possible. Please, let’s keep the discussion of the underlying RW belief system to a minimum.


Cleopatra’s daughter Selene
Okay ... what year is this supposed to be set again? Because according to conventional history, Cleopatra Selene was born in 40 BCE and died in 5 BCE. If this is taking place during Jesus' preaching (generally around 25-30 CE) she's been gone for a long while.

Okay ... what year is this supposed to be set again? Because according to conventional history, Cleopatra Selene was born in 40 BCE and died in 5 BCE. If this is taking place during Jesus' preaching (generally around 25-30 CE) she's been gone for a long while.
They deliberately played fast and loose with the history there (and in other places too), presumably because ‘Cleopatra’ is a name people know.

There’s a lot of Easter eggs like this in the book, stuff that mildly-history-nerdy people will recognise, or scenarios familiar from bible stories. You can meet Germanicus (the avenger of Varus), for instance, and change history by preventing him from being poisoned. And you can walk into scenarios like the prodigal son, too - which is a bit weird when you think about it, PCs encountering a scenario at the same time that in-game Jesus is telling allegorical parables about it.
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And you can walk into scenarios like the prodigal son, too - which is a bit weird when you think about it, PCs encountering a scenario at the same time that in-game Jesus is telling allegorical parables about it.
Eh. His preaching includes many examples of prophesy, so that isn't as strange, to my mind. (Is this the time to mention that I wrote stats for Jesus for Mutants and Masterminds and am probably damned for blasphemy?)

And since Selene herself may have had a daughter, about whom next to nothing is known, it starts to make sense if we bump the timeline down a generation.

The Path of the Nazirite Barbarian and Circle of the Baptist Druid are enough to make me consider getting this book as a novelty.

I'm also struck that the first adventure seems to be a loose adaptation of the Book of Tobit.

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