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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Mod Note:

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.

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.
I genuinely like the Baptist druid. Travelling around the world and giving permanent magical abilities to your friends is a pretty adventurous design choice and it’d be interesting to see how it worked in play. It’d be portable to, for example FR for a worshipper of Eldath, though you’d need to fix the specific sacred bodies of water accordingly.

The ranger subclass is really good too, though the rogue one is hyperspecialised and not a good fit for the campaign, and the Prophesy domain Channel Divinity option is wildly overpowered and I’d black ban it.


Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
I want to be able to travel back in time to the early 80's during the "Satanic Panic" and show this to many specific people.

Just, you know, because.



Events & Encounters, Part II

This section has been split into two parts for ease of length

For the second half of this chapter, roughly half of the sections detail the remaining archdemon lairs, two important settlements in Judea, two that are Jesus-centric, and one is an escort mission for a holy artifact. The settlements follow a similar layout to the Atlas entries in showing a birds-eye view of locations filled with people and quest hooks that tie into other events and encounters.

Tomb of the Buried Queen is a dungeon crawl taking place in and under the Great Pyramid of Giza. Back in the day, the archdemon Mammon masqueraded as the goddess Selket to trick the Pharaohs into burying themselves with their royal wealth, believing that their bounties will come over with them in the afterlife. This worked out well for Mammon, as the Pharaohs offered her tribute while living and she turned the Pyramid of Giza into her personal treasure trove. As an 18 room, multi-level dungeon filled with a variety of monsters, traps, and puzzles, this is definitely one of the highlights of the campaign. I can see gaming groups having a lot of fun going through it. Some interesting features include scarab beetle swarms which can be kept at bay via fire, a room filled with trapped hieroglyphic tiles that zap people with magical energy if they step on any tiles besides the ones with the Ancient Egyptian word for “life,”a “wishing well” that opens up doors of a certain metal matching the coins dropped in, and Golden Calf construct guardians which reform into a golden key upon death to unlock doors to proceed further into the dungeon.

Mammon will be encountered in the big treasure room, her human form looking like an Ancient Egyptian aristocrat. She can attack with a dagger that deals bonus necrotic damage as well as use a rechargeable telepathic AoE attack. Like Naamah she can turn invisible and teleport to dodge attacks, albeit also in simulacrum form, and has the benefits of Spider Climb in both forms. Her true form is a centaur-like monster but with the bottom half having scorpion legs, claws, and tail. In this form she gets access to new features such as a Flesh to Gold spell and a poisonous sting attack. Being a literal load-bearing boss, the pyramid will enter a timed collapse, and PCs can stick around each round to loot her treasure trove with some randomly-generated treasure and magic items. This comes at increased risk of being buried alive, naturally; such is the price of greed.

Pleasure Cruise involves Moloch, the Archdemon of Gluttony. His simulacrum is known as Captain Gula, the owner of a floating luxury resort ship called the Laimargia, docked in the city of Tarsus. Already infamous for his decadent parties, people curry favor to gain tickets to the cruise where everyone has to wear a mask. This allowance of anonymity encourages party-goers to engage in excesses they wouldn’t otherwise, and also allows Moloch to discretely murder and eat people with minimal risk as few can truly say who is attending beyond speculation.

There are multiple hooks and reasons the PCs may board the Laimargia, but this event is less a dungeon crawl and more a murder mystery. The cruise lasts for 6 days out on the open sea, and the ship has 3 levels (or decks) along with 10 party-goers. A league of goat demons (new monsters) are in the bowels of the ship rowing. The party-goers have randomly-generated false names, appearances, vices, and secrets. Vices in this case are more character flaws and indulgences that can determine where they are on the ship and how Moloch may take advantage of them, while secrets are reasons the party-goers won’t trust other people or the PCs. Secrets include things like being one of Moloch’s agents, a Roman senator frightened of being assassinated by the Sicarii, or a religious leader in Tarsus who preaches the virtues of moderation and self-control.

I wanted to mention that one of the sample Vices is “flirting with women…or men…or both.” While this isn’t being portrayed as an explicit moral flaw, it being listed alongside other Vices such as opium, gambling, and being the center of attention, this comes off as a “bisexuals are overly lustful” reading.

Over the course of 6 days Moloch will slowly isolate, kill, and eat passengers who wander off alone, and by the fourth day it will be obvious to everyone that something terrible is going on. If the PCs haven’t confronted Moloch by then, he will go after them.

As Captain Gula, Moloch is a physically-oriented enemy with a powerful slam attack and the ability to heal damage by gorging himself on food. He has a variety of good spells such as Cloudkill and Gaseous Form, as well as Disguise Self which he can use to impersonate other passengers. His true form is a large frog-like demon with a powerful bite and poisonous belch attack. Moloch doesn’t have any spells in this form, but his legendary actions are more physical, such as saliva which mimics the Grease spell, the ability to swallow targets, and increasing in size categories the more creatures he eats. Even if slain, the goat demons will leap out of the Laimargia, stranding the boat at sea. The PCs can help sail it to the island of Cyprus, which depending on their earlier actions may either help them find Caspar and/or put them in the crosshairs of Simon Magus. There’s also a sidebar for turning the Laimargia into a mobile base of operations. Much like Naamah, Moloch has letter correspondence with other archdemons, and this can reveal the location of Naamah and Beelzebub’s lairs.

Tending to the Garden is where we’ll find Beelzebub, Archdemon of Sloth. Making his lair in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, he has perhaps the most inefficient means of locating the Messiah: by encouraging travelers to relax and hang out in the gardens, he can keep up with gossip and tales and learn more about the Messiah that way.This comes off as an excuse, but is very in-character for a demon that is the representation of laziness so I’m cool with it.

The Hanging Gardens are treated as a dungeon crawl, separated into leveled tiers with Beelzebub at the top. There’s also a hedge maze, and he has swarms of Abyssal Flies which keep in telepathic contact with him at all times to keep tabs on intruders. Abyssal Flies individually are incredibly weak, having just 1 HP and doing 1 damage with their sting. But the real danger here lies in Exhaustion ratings. Not only does Beelzebub’s Aura trigger a level of exhaustion on a failed Constitution save, so too do the sting attacks of Abyssal Flies. So PCs can be worn down by the lethargic atmosphere just as much as damage. Otherwise the only other enemy types here are Shedim and Goat Demons.

Beelzebub, once encountered, isn’t in the mood for conversation. So beyond a brief welcome he will attack the party as he grows bored of them. His simulacrum is an old man with a giant scythe who as a reaction can knock opponents prone by making them drowsy. He can also summon decorative garden statues to fight in battle, which the stat block calls…Garden Gnomes.

Beelzebub’s true form is a frightening-looking classical demon: a Huge-sized, horned, red-skinned humanoid with sharp teeth and mighty strength. He can’t cast spells, but he wields Goliath’s Greatsword which is a +2 magic weapon that ignores slashing resistance and deals +4d8 damage on a critical hit. He can also hurl enemies up to 40 feet, damaging them depending on how far they traveled. The text points out he can use this to throw PCs off the current tier of the Garden, and for ease of movement-tracking characters must spend their entire turn to return to the battlefield.

Upon defeat, the PCs can find a horde of gems as well as a partially-dissolved leatherbound scroll signed by Lilith giving orders to the various Archdemons and what to do. The most useful information is that Legion is underground somewhere in Judea.


Welcome to Galilee details the region of Judea famed for containing Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. In addition to that settlement, it has a full-page map detailing 10 unique locations for the PCs to visit. Galilee is a poor, rural region, and besides the richer Roman-sponsored cities of Capernaum and Magdala the majority of settlements are in states of disrepair that can be most accurately described as rural slums. Nazareth is regarded as one of the worst settlements, with its neighbors often joking that nothing good can come out of there.

Galilee is one of the likely places PCs can meet Jesus and possibly witness a few of his more notable deeds, such as the verse where he multiples bread and fish or stopping an angry mob from stoning a woman to death via his “he who is without sin” speech.* This isn’t a railroad. PCs have a chance to deal with the mob on their own first, and Jesus does his challenge if the party doesn’t otherwise intervene or manage to quell their wrath. This section also serves as a good means for inquisitive PCs to learn more about him (or rumors of the Messiah) by visiting friends and family.

Nazareth, unsurprisingly, is where the most potential character development in learning about Jesus can happen, particularly at the house of his mother. Appropriate role-playing, social skill checks, or even mind-reading magic can cause the family members to open up a bit and reveal more details. For instance, Mary’s virgin birth was not well-regarded initially; rumors around the town spread that she conceived a child out of marriage, and that her husband Joseph believed that she had cheated on him. This scandal caused most of her friends in Nazareth to abandon her.

So I cannot say how Biblically accurate this is, but I really like this little detail. Contemporary Christian culture often exalts the Virgin Mary as a paragon of feminine ideals, but if something like a virgin pregnancy were to happen in the times before the miracle of artificial insemination, it sadly makes sense that most people would assume that the woman would be lying about it. Also given that Jesus’ own mother has been viewed in such a way adds a bit more depth to the time when he protected the woman accused of adultery from being stoned to death. Yes I know it’s Jesus, protecting the innocent and abhorring murder is his bread and fish, but it helps paint a more empathetic picture.

For some non-Jesus related interesting areas, there are local hot springs which have possible randomly-determined healing properties, the PCs can also beat Jesus to the punch at a few of his miracles in healing several people if they have the right spells, engage a friendly one on one duel with the angel Barachiel in a swamp who can give them a Holy Ground benefit if they win, and visit the Witch of Endor in a cozy-looking cottage. For some reason the duel brings to mind the sword-training duels in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

I figure that now’s as good a time as any to discuss the Witch of Endor. She’s an immortal mage who was cast out of Israel by King Saul for her powerful divination magic, and ever since has pursued power and knowledge for its own sake. She has a complex relationship with God, hating the idea of living under a moral code that can inhibit her own power. Yet she hates Satan’s minions for the lies they spread which in turn hampers the ability to pursue truth. For this reason she can serve as an enigmatic ally, and her quaint little cottage is capable of teleporting, meaning it can also be found as a random encounter. She can use her powers to aid the PCs, but in exchange she asks them to perform seemingly innocuous errands which will pit them against the archdemons or otherwise get them involved in some other quest in this book. A few examples are laid out in a sample table.

In terms of stats the Witch of Endor is a wizardly mage who can cast up to 5th level spells. She has a damaging at-will energy bolt that can inflict various damage types, can force a targeted creature to transform into a form reflecting their physical vices on a failed save, and has Legendary Actions which she can spend to make a free Perception check, teleport, or cast a spell. Overall a pretty cool character to meet.


Meeting Jesus is likely something most readers here have been waiting for. It’s not really an encounter or event so much as general role-play advice which is surprisingly pretty good. Basically it tells the DM to relax and not overwhelm themselves with worrying about getting an historical figure’s exact mannerisms right. The book explains that many people have an image of Jesus as a formal, uptight preacher, but for the standards of his day his speech was actually rather plain and he used slang and jokes. In other words, Jesus “was a very normal person,” and should overall be role-played as a chill dude who is engaging in comfortable chats with close friends.

There will inevitably come times when the PCs, or players channeling their own views through the PCs, attempt to get Jesus’ opinion on some moral issue. Jesus’ overriding concern is love: the correct thing to do is always the most loving thing to do. The purpose of morality is not to determine who to condemn, it is to determine how to best uplift and support one another. This is also the closest the Adventurer’s Guide gets to an explicit stance on LGBT issues:

Jesus’s message (and, by extension, the Bible) is deliberately ambiguous about specific issues because issues shift and change with time. Thus, any question about sexuality, war, immigration, politics, etc. is the wrong question. The only relevant question is whether you are treating others with love, and only the person acting (and God) knows the answer to that question.

When it comes to combat encounters, the DM is advised to avoid placing Jesus in such scenarios, as the majority of his portrayals in the Bible were less action-packed barring a few circumstances. He has the uncanny ability to get out of harm’s way and defuse tensions, no matter how bloodthirsty his enemies are at the moment. That being said, there are times when Jesus rolled up his sleeves to layeth the smackdown, and there are Bible verses cited for all of these as examples for “when he rolls initiative” such as the infamous public freakout when he drives money-lenders out of a temple which sadly isn’t a scenario that happens in this book. Interestingly one of these “combat verses” (Mark 5:1 to 5:20) has him exorcize Legion from a possessed man. Which means that Jesus has encountered one of the archdemons! So shouldn’t this be used as an obvious plot hook by the DM? The book doesn’t say; bit of a wasted opportunity.

When it comes to stats Jesus doesn’t have a stat block. Instead he has guidelines; while Jesus is God and has the ability to know and do whatever he wants, while in human form he wishes to “have a true human experience and accept things as they come.” Basically in terms of physical stats he’s a Commoner, but when it comes to mental and magical abilities he’s out of this world. When making mental ability checks he either has a significantly high bonus or is assumed to auto-succeed. As for his miracles, a list of spells along with chapters and verses in which he uses them are provided; Jesus has no spellcasting bonus or save DCs, as the DM can decide whether they are successful or not, and his spells don’t require material components.

There is one exception: Jesus, and only Jesus, has the True Atonement spell. As sins have often been atoned via sacrifice, Jesus can perform this ritual on behalf of the world by offering his own blood as the material sacrifice. But as God, he is an infinitely perfect being, which means that the spell’s duration, range, and level are also infinite. What this means is that his sacrifice is capable of dispelling all sin everywhere for those who atone. In practical game terms, this means that any spells requiring human sin* as a material component are instantly dispelled, meaning that any surviving archdemon simulacrums are destroyed and reveal the demons for who they truly are. Without this ability, the demons will be unable to return to the material plane should they die.

*doesn’t specify for sins of other creatures such as giants, monsters, and nephilim.

So what happens if someone tries to divine Jesus’ true nature, such as reading his thoughts, tracking down his location, or similar abilities? Well that caster is Stunned for one hour, no save, and talks nonstop in a stream-of-conscious manner about the nature of life, the universe, and everything for the duration.

There are also brief write-ups on Jesus’ Disciples in listing their Quirks, Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws. These include the 12 Apostles, Judas, and three women allies of Jesus: Susanna from the Book of Daniel, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Saint Veronica.

Welcome to Jerusalem is like Galilee in being an open-ended settlement with a series of various locations, characters, and quest hooks. As the home of the holiest location of Judaism, the Temple Mount, Jerusalem is a city of immense value to the Jewish people and its historical and cultural legacy is intertwined with them. There are other cultural influences present, the most prominent being the Roman Empire. Jerusalem has a heavy Roman military presence, and Pontius Pilate serves as the Proconsul and is rather unhappy in having to deal with the ever-present social strife underlying the occupation. Jerusalem’s previous ruler, King Herod, still lives in his palace, but being stripped of official duties he’s willing to while away the rest of his days in idle amusements.

There’s a lot of things the PCs can do here. If they’re at least level 7 they can encounter hooks for the Protectors of the Ark sidequest. Otherwise Pontius Pilate may hire the PCs as an outside neutral party to investigate Jesus of Nazareth. Caipahas, one of the high priests of the Sanhedrin (the supreme council of Jewish religious authorities), is accusing Jesus of planning a violent insurrection and is thus pushing Pilate to do something about him. The marketplaces sell some holy magic items, and there’s a network of subterranean tunnels leading to various locations. These underground areas include the Ruins of Solomon’s Temple which holds the sacred stone of Urim guarded by a pair of Dybbuks (undead shadowy monsters), the headquarters of the Sicarii, and the secret hideout of Legion in the Caverns of Salt and Silver.

Legion is hard at work in Judea. In his lair he’s been minting cursed silver pieces designed to make its owners intensely jealous of the Messiah and seek to thwart his plans. There’s a 25% chance such silver ends up in the PC’s inventory every time they engage in a financial transaction in the city. The curse has affected Caiaphas as well as one of Jesus’ own apostles, Judas.

Protectors of the Ark has the PCs visiting a priestess in the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem with an important, secret mission. The Roman occupiers have been looting Judea of prized cultural artifacts, and combined with their tightening grip on Jerusalem it’s only a matter of time until they find the holiest treasure of all: the Ark of the Covenant, which is discretely kept in her house. As the artifact has been prized by people in power throughout history, the PCs must covertly transport it out of the city and carry it all the way to Ma’rib. As part of an ancient oath, the Queen of Sheba will safely transport it further into Africa where it will be held until it can be safely returned to Jerusalem.

In spite of whatever best efforts the PCs take, trouble is bound to find them. Random encounters on the way to Ma’rib are replaced with 9 predetermined ones of ascending difficulty, being a mixture of more mundane Roman spies, soldiers, and Spartan mercenaries as well as cultists of the Shadow of the Beast. If the party is truly unlucky, the 9th encounter can place them toe to toe with the archdemon Abaddon himself! An encounter which would ordinarily cause a TPK instead has the party left alive, but when they come to the Ark has been stolen and lost forever.

The Ark of the Covenant is a potent artifact. Those who come in close proximity gain a variety of immunities and have their alignment change to good due to becoming aware of God’s presence while they remain in close contact. People have an intuitive understanding that opening the lid would be disrespectful and cannot do this while under the aura’s influence. But if it somehow happens they are smote with a whopping 28d6 radiant damage on a successful Constitution save, and instant death on a failed one. Characters who enter combat in defense of the Ark gain access to a Lair action which casts the Call Lightning spell.



Caverns of Salt and Silver is the hideout of Legion, Archdemon of Envy. The presence of the Dead Sea and receding underground tides means that there are tunnels made entirely of salt stretching for miles beneath Judea. Centuries ago, Legion used enchantment magic to manipulate the political leaders of Canaan to better search for the prophesied Messiah, although the personal nature and limitations of concentration spells meant that this was a very slow process. Further magical studies allowed Legion a more efficient means: by fracturing his consciousness among multiple possessed bodies, he can maintain even more concentration-duration spells at once. By creating cursed silver pieces acting as a spell focus for his enchantments, he could control hundreds if not thousands of people at once this way.

But celestials and demons are beings not of flesh and blood but of intellect and spirit. Legion was forced to divide himself more and more over the ages, eroding his mental stability. Now, what remains of his true form is a herd of possessed swine and all but a few of his mortal followers abandoned him for more reliable, popular archdemons. Which of course fueled his Envy further.

The Caverns are a 5-room dungeon that is rather light on treasure and monsters. Besides Legion, there are sentry golems and water elementals bound to his service. Throughout the caverns there are herds of demonic swine, evident by their glowing red eyes. They all have signs in Hebrew hanging from them reading names like Caipahas, Judas, and the like indicating which cursed silver piece of which that particular pig is concentrating. The pigs are harmless, but killing them reduces the HP maximum of Legion’s true form.

The PCs can encounter Legion in his simulacrum form in a laboratory. He will try to bargain with the party first, offering them a legendary magic item from Israel’s past known as the Circlet of Solomon’s Wisdom (raises Wisdom to 27 and lets you concentrate on two spells, he’s actually wearing it and is attuned). He recently discovered the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, and will give the party the Circlet if they help find the Messiah.

If combat is entered, Legion’s simulacrum is first and foremost a magic-user. His spells are rather wizardly, including options such as Magic Missile, Ray of Enfeeblement, Dominate Person, and Telekinesis, and he can also switch places with a creature as a reaction. His true form is a swarm of dozens of pigs, who can make up to 5 individual bite attacks depending on his remaining hit points and his legendary actions include an AoE stampede, uttering blasphemous curses against God that deal Psychic damage, and can possess a creature via Dominate Person. Beyond the Circlet, the PCs can find his spellbook as a treasure along with a lot of silver pieces and letter correspondences with Lilith as well as the true identity of the Messiah (this last letter he has yet to send to Lilith). From these letters the PCs can find out that Legion is engaging in a conspiracy to have Jesus arrested and executed on false charges.

Way of the Cross is the penultimate adventure in this campaign, triggered ideally when the PCs are 8th or 9th level, likely after they discovered Legion’s plot, or likely any time after the PCs met Jesus depending on how the DM feels. The book notes that this adventure is important to proceed a certain way for “historical, narrative, and mechanical reasons.” In other words, it’s heavily rail-roaded: Jesus must die by human hands in order to atone for humanity’s sins, and this will occur when Judas betrays him to the Romans.

The adventure opens up with the PCs invited to Jesus’ Passover supper in Jerusalem. While there, observant characters may notice Judas sneaking away from the festivities. Everyone else will head to Bethany for a pleasant stroll, and Jesus will ask the PCs and three of his apostles to follow him to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is here a monumental skill challenge will take place, where Satan will seek to instill fear and doubt in Jesus via a variety of methods. Challenges include things like resisting Satan casting the Sleep spell, recognizing that biting snakes he’s sending out are illusions, reciting prayers with Jesus to comfort him, realizing that Satan’s stalling for time when he starts listing out the party’s worst sins, and so on. Failing the skill challenge causes Jesus to collapse, completely exhausted and unable to interact or say anything when Roman soldiers come to arrest him. Succeeding allows Jesus to give some final words of advice about how pride will be Lillith’s downfall and that the Word of God is sharper than any sword.

This isn’t just a metaphor; one of the PCs will find the Sword of the Spirit in their inventory for succeeding on this challenge. It is a weapon of otherworldly construction with scriptural verses written in Hebrew along the blade’s length. It can take the form of any weapon, has a +3 enhancement, the wielder treats any roll on Persuasion or Religion lower than a 15 as a 15, and can cast the Spirit Guardians spell once per short or long rest without the need to concentrate to sustain it.

Judas, Caiaphas, and 16 Roman guards will come to arrest Jesus, and just as combat begins when the apostles move to defend him, Jesus will diffuse the tension with Mass Suggestion and a healing spell on one of the struck guards. He will let himself be arrested and share some encouraging parting words, telling the PCs that he will send them help if they wait on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus’ imprisonment and crucifixion more or less goes as planned. This also includes Pontius Pilate letting an angry crowd choose to have either Barabbas or Jesus pardoned, and the crowd chooses Barabbas. The module doesn’t say what happens in the event that the PCs killed Barabbas earlier in the module.

Once Jesus dies, the True Atonement spell is cast, and a teleportation spell will activate next to the PCs. Caspar the Magi plus one or two other allies determined by the DM from earlier in the campaign will have arrived, with information about Lilith’s location.

This adventure is very obviously railroaded. The book does talk about actions the PCs may take to defy destiny and ways the DM can adapt to this. However, just as Jesus has the uncanny ability to prevent outbreaks of death and violence in his presence, so too can he ensure that his death comes about for PCs who are insistent on finding ways to protect him at all costs.

Jesus is going to die. For more on how his death affects the adventure mechanically, see the “True Atonement” box below. The great mistake made by the Magi was their assumption that Jesus needed to be protected. In actuality, the single most important part of Jesus’s mission is to die, and to die by human hands.

In the narrative of the Gospel, this happens because he is betrayed by one of his followers (Judas), and handed over to the High Priest of the Sanhedrin (Caiaphas) who leverages his connections with the Roman proconsul (Pontius Pilate) to bring about a brutal execution. Ideally, these things still play out this way at the table...but...

This is a roleplaying game, and in games like this you must be prepared for the unexpected. If your players feel exceptionally driven to alter history, either by protecting Jesus at all costs or by playing a role in bringing about his death themselves, don’t panic. Remember, this is just a game, and not everything has to happen the way it does in the Bible. If the players make choices that inadvertently (or intentionally) bring about Jesus’s death, great! In that case, they just replace the role of “Judas” in the narrative. If the party is obsessed with protecting Jesus from all danger, great! That will just lead to a cool story moment when they finally fail. Jesus is also aware that he eventually needs to die, and can prevent the party from defending him too vigorously in the same way that he normally avoids combat (see “Avoiding Combat” above).

And don’t be afraid to get creative. Jesus does not need to be crucified; as long as he is killed by a conscious choice made by a human being, the prophecy can be fulfilled, and True Atonement (see box below) achieved.

While a huge portion of the world knows the narrative of Jesus, PCs who may be insistent on avoiding metagaming may try to save Jesus when he’s crucified. Think about it: even if he tells the party that this is his destiny, PCs may be motivated to rescue him. It’s one thing to gracefully let someone walk to death’s door to spare further bloodshed; it’s another thing to see a defenseless man being tortured for hours and showing human vulnerability by crying out and pleading why God has forsaken him. Those who heeded his message may very well take it as a test of faith or act of conscience: saving Jesus, after all, would be the Christian thing to do. Why should an innocent man have to suffer for the sake of other people’s sins?

But beyond that, canny PCs who catch on to Legion’s schemes may decide to undo the curse much earlier. What happens when the Remove Curse spell is cast upon Judas and/or Caiaphas? What if the party presents evidence of the demon’s wrongdoings to Pontius Pilate, who from how the module is written is skeptical of Caiaphas’ conspiratorial ramblings about Jesus?


Catacombs of Kadesh is the final adventure of the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible, taking place immediately after the Way of the Cross. Realizing that her plans are all for naught, Lilith is incensed beyond words and intends to take out as many people as possible out of spite. Caspar is saddened by Jesus’ death, but knows that he found a way to weaken Lilith’s defenses. Via researching star charts he narrowed her and Abaddon’s location to some Egyptian ruins in the middle of the Wilderness of Zin. He can help teleport the party there via a stone taken from the dungeon. This is a two-level dungeon with 22 rooms, and the major enemies here are Abaddon and Lilith plus many of their minions.

The PCs are likely to fight Abaddon first. While he has no simulacrum, he still adheres to the two-form boss battle, with his first form a dark cloaked figure. Abaddon is primarily a spellcaster, having offensive cleric spells such as Insect Plague, Blight, and Finger of Death, and his claw melee attacks can reduce a target’s maximum hit points. Once defeated he will disperse into a swarm of demonic locusts and retreat further into the dungeon. The swarm has no magical abilities but can do up to 6 sting attacks depending on their remaining hit points. During the battle he can animate nearby statues to attack the party, including a giant sculpture of Ramses. Also, Abaddon’s swarm form repeatedly chants his name during combat, which I find to be a cool touch: “ABADDON! ABADDON! ABADDON!”

As for Lilith, she will fight the PCs in the middle of a large mine, with a hostage of an NPC who the PCs care about held in a cage suspended over a pit of Saraph Serpents. Lilith in her archangel form is a gish, having a few spells to directly aid her in combat such as Dispel Magic and Inflict Wounds, and she has a Sword of the Guardian which she can multiattack with. These swords were made for specific angels, and the ones who sided with Satan can deal extra damage against their bonded wielder for their energies cry out for justice against those who chose evil. Lilith is also aided in combat by Corrupted Simulacrums of the other archdemons, which are decaying and little more than strong shambling zombies due to Jesus’ True Atonement.

Once Lilith falls, Satan’s voice will echo through the chamber, saying that he’s disappointed in her and to show them “what the fury of a woman scorned looks like!” At this point she’ll transform into a Hellspawn, a huge serpent-like monster that has a poisonous bite and spit attack along with two multi-target spells. She can also Charm opponents with a Hypnotic Gaze via one of her legendary actions.

Defeating Lilith ensures that the Fellowship of the Beast will fall apart, and due to Jesus’ death she will never be able to return to the material plane again. While this marks the end of the adventure, the book notes that the DM can continue the plotline if they want, particularly if the party has any unfulfilled quests or other archdemons still alive and kicking.

Thoughts So Far: The second half of Events and Encounters has a nice mixture of adventures. The pyramid dungeon crawl is a high point and one I can see being adapted the most easily for other RPGs. It also has a non-linear layout so PCs won’t end up stalled if they are unable to solve certain puzzles, which I appreciate. The Hanging Gardens dungeon is a bit lackluster in comparison, and Moloch’s murder mystery is an interesting change of pace. The two-part boss fights for the archdemons is a cool touch. I like how Galilee and Jerusalem are full of interesting locations and plot hooks, although sadly there are some places which could serve to be more fleshed out. The Sicarii headquarters comes to my most immediate mind, which many gaming groups are likely to run afoul of and want to bring the fight to their doorstep.

The low points of this section, and I am sad to say, involve the more railroady aspects of Jesus’ story. At first the PCs have some agency, as evidenced in potential encounters in Galilee, but the Way of the Cross is a tonal whiplash from the freeform open world nature the campaign has previously emphasized. The plot holes regarding the dispelling of Legion’s cursed coins or the possible death of Barabbas being unaddressed just hurt this section even more.

Finally, I have noticed that the bulk of the archdemon lairs and quests are huddled in the western edge of the map. Only Beelzebub is in the east, which may very well mean that the PCs have little incentive to travel to the Parthian-held territories otherwise. One idea I had would be to change Naamah from an Archdemon of (Sexual) Lust to instead focus on its broader aspect of desire in general. Prince Gotarzes in Ecbatana is a great candidate for her machinations, and I can see her whipping up him and Parthian military leaders into sweeping into Judea as “liberators” and “recruit the Messiah to our cause against Rome!” Additionally Parthia is one of the cultural successors to ancient Persia, who had a king known as Cyrus the Great who is beloved by many Jews by ending their captivity in Babylon and thus helping their return to their ancestral homelands. So using this tale can result in a form of “colonizing savior” among the Parthian elite in rationalizing themselves as a merciful alternative to Rome.

Whilst desire can easily fall into other sin categories (coveting neighbor’s possessions as Greed, coveting respect being Envy when contrasted with another), I feel that a form of nationalism in making one’s country a rising superpower to be a kind of nonsexual Lust.

Join us next time as we wrap up this review with new spells, magic items, monsters, and NPCs in the Appendix!


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.

Campaign begins at 26 AD, and the campaign lasts for 4 years ending at 30 AD. It's up to the DM when time progresses.


Thanks for posting this! I backed it and have the hardcopy book on my desk, but haven't gotten around to opening it yet...still slowly eventually working my way through the A5e MM.

The Archdemon lairs and battles all seem to be very flavorful and unique, and I can tell this has a lot of variety baked in.

So far the campaign looks like it is MUCH better organized than what I've seen of the reviews I have read of SKT, OOTA, ROTFM or most of the other WOTC campaigns. I am getting excited to run it a couple of years from now when the campaign after this one is finished.




Making up the last third of the book, the Appendix holds all the new material that isn’t as player-friendly as new races and classes.

We first have 39 New Spells. While most are learnable by PCs in this adventure, quite a few are surprisingly 6th level or higher which would put them out of reach of the expected campaign. Clerics, Sorcerers, and Wizards get a fair bit to learn, with Paladins surprisingly getting few (the bulk of which are 1st level).

There are seven spells themed around magnifying sinful behavior in others: Induce Envy, Induce Lust, etc. Overall they serve as debuffs hindering certain actions in addition to giving the Charmed condition in regards to the caster. For example, Wrath will force a target to attack the nearest creature, Sloth can impose a level of exhaustion if the target isn’t already exhausted, Greed forces a target to spend their movement and action to move up to a nearby object and pick it up, etc.

Two more sin-generic spells are used by the archdemons. Weave Sin creates a simulacrum the caster can transfer their soul into, while Aura of Temptation generates a 1 mile radius effect that can tempt people into more easily committing a certain category of sin. They are 8th and 9th level respectively, so they’re not the kinds of things which can be cast by the PCs during the regular campaign. I honestly feel that they’re better served as plot devices.

Some of the more interesting spells include Covenant (lasts 30 days where targets swear an oath and the caster intuitively knows if the oath is broken), Create Golem (creates a golem servant for 24 hours), Every Knee Shall Bend (reduce target speed to 0 as they bow down upon hearing God’s name), Magnificent (if a target casts a hostile spell on you they take radiant damage), Mark of Cain (the Hebrew letter “Vav” appears on forehead of target and caster, half of damage dealt to caster transfers to target), Scapegoat (celestial in form of goat appears, can transfer damage dealt to a nearby creature to the goat instead), Turn the Other Cheek (cast as reaction upon taking damage, attacker is turned and spends next minute fleeing from caster on a failed save), and Unum in Christo (ignore range and sight restrictions on spells cast on a specific willing target you touched for the next 24 hours).

But there are three spells that bear special discussion on their own. Do Unto Others is a first level enchantment cast as a reaction upon performing a selfless action done out of concern for another’s well-being and not selfish gain. If these conditions are met at the DM’s discretion, the universe bends itself over the next 3 days to have aid given in kind to the caster reflecting the original selfless action. For example, casting a healing spell on a target can grant the benefits of a same-level spell to the caster later on. The spell can also be cast as a form of inaction, like if the caster doesn’t respond to a challenge or act of aggression then bandits may choose to not attack the party if they’re later triggered as a random encounter.

This spell is incredibly open-ended. While one can argue that the casting of the spell is “selfish” in the sense of expecting some future benefit as a metagame concept, I presume that’s more of an in-character roleplaying justification; otherwise the spell’s entire purpose is moot.

Two related spells are Lesser and Greater Atonement. The former spell requires a valuable offering related to one of the seven sins to be burned: a gem worth at least 500 gold for greed, the caster’s spellcasting focus for pride, etc. The spell can divinely forgive sins of that type to those inside the radius as well as dispelling any magic empowered by sin. It doesn’t protect a character from more earthly consequences of their sin but works in regards to things like a paladin’s code of conduct. The spell is concentration duration for up to 1 hour, and deals automatic damage to the simulacrums of archdemons. Greater Atonement summons a spectral ram to instead serve as the material component of the spell, can reduce simulacrum to 0 hit points, and has a greater range of 1 mile and has an instantaneous duration.

There are some spells which are very questionable balance-wise. For instance, the 9th level spell Ascension can teleport the caster’s body and soul into Heaven, but without any description of what Heaven is like in this sourcebook it’s practically flavor text. There’s the 7th-level spell Hail and Fire, which creates 4 cylindrical AoEs anywhere within 1,000 feet of the caster. The damage is a meager 2d6 bludgeoning and 2d6 radiant, but overlapping areas of the cylinders do additional damage to a maximum of 8d6/8d6. Compare this to the Fire Storm spell, which is also 7th level. That spell does 7d10 damage and creates 8 10 foot cubes within 150 feet of the caster, and the damage doesn’t overlap. So not only is Hail and Fire at a much greater range than virtually any core spell, it can also do much more damage than one of the blastiest spells for the Sorcerer class at the same level.

I’ve already addressed how open-ended Do Unto Others is, and Scapegoat does much of the same of what Warding Bond does in regards to damage transference. But Scapegoat is 1 level higher and requires concentration. Maybe the upside is that the damage transfers to a goat that disappears upon spell’s end rather than the caster or target, but as the goat only has 4d8 hit points it may not be as reliable for warding off damage.

Magic Items gives us 85 magic items, although a significant amount are copy-pasted from the 5e SRD. 63 of these items are completely original. I’m not going to cover every magic item, and several have already been discussed in the adventure section, so instead I’ll cover the ones which catch my eye.

Several magic items are implied not to be magical so much as being exemplary craftsmanship by certain cultures. Boots of Chinese Silk grant advantage on Stealth checks related to quiet movement, Roman Centurions carry Gladiuses which are +1 shortswords or longswords, Persian arrows are +1 arrows, Persian Chain is a chain shirt that grants +1 AC and anyone who wears it is treated as being proficient with it, and medium and heavy armor made of Egyptian design doesn’t impose disadvantage on Stealth checks. Roman Armor is a breastplate which turns any critical hit against the wearer into a normal hit. There is one exception to the non-supernatural influence: Jokoto are Chinese swords with ornamental rings on their pommels indicating allegiance to a particular faction or military unit. They are +3 longswords or shortswords, and anyone who wields them can read and speak Chinese.

The Censor of Atonement can allow anyone to cast the Lesser Atonement spell provided they have the proper material components, and it was commonly used by people willing to repent for sins but a priest wasn’t around to cast the spell. Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors can cast the Dream spell once per 1d4 days and has a chance of granting the wearer a Vision every time they go to sleep.

Holy Ground isn’t a magic item so much as a place of great historical and religious significance which is forever altered by God’s will. Good-aligned creatures who enter immediately gain the benefits of a short rest and can take long rests in just 1 hour. Evil aligned creatures are compelled to leave and must devote concentration (as though concentrating on a spell) to willingly remain within the area. Those resting can roll a DC 20 Grace check to roll from a d12 Font of Blessings table. 5 of the results grant a unique magic item, while the other 7 grant a powerful permanent boon such as Truesight out to 30 feet, becoming immune to all poison and disease plus gaining advantage on Constitution saves, gaining proficiency in “all abilities” which I presume means ability checks, or can cast a single chosen 4th level spell once per day without expending a spell slot.

The Mark of Cain Tattoo is inscribed as part of a ritual to mark the bearer as a descendant of Cain, the first murderer, and allows them to cast the spell Mark of Cain once per long rest. Mark of the Guardian Tattoo lets the bearer summon an Angel Guardian to their side once per day. The Medallion of Gomorrah is a cursed locket with a piece of stone from that wicked city, and when opened can be used as a gaze attack that can turn a target into a pillar of salt if they fail three Constitution saves. Sarah’s Lucky Necklace, which can be purchased from Sarah back in Teredon, allows the wearer to reroll an ability check or saving throw once per day. The Song of Deborah isn’t an item so much as the lyrics of a song by Deborah, a famous Israelite judge. Those who sing it and spend 6 hours in meditation permanently increase their Charisma score and Charisma maximum by 2.

The stones Thummim and Urim are famous divination devices used by priests in ancient Israel. On their own they can cast Zone of Truth or Augury once per day respectively. But when someone attunes to both stones at once, they gain immunity to being Surprised, Truesight out to 30 feet, and add their Wisdom modifier to their AC and all saving throws. Meaning that for Wisdom saves they add the modifier twice!


Monsters and NPCs is the bestiary section of the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible. There are 68 stat blocks, although 12 are core creatures taken from the 5e SRD. But even in the latter case there have been slight alterations to make them fit in more with the setting, such as the Noble’s main weapon being a hidden dagger that deals bonus poison damage. Even in such cases there’s flavor text explaining how they fit into societal roles in the First Century.

I already covered quite a few of the monsters and NPCs in the adventure, including the Archdemons, so like the magic items I’m only going to focus on some of the more interesting ones. Most of the creatures here are within the bounds of the adventure’s level range, with only a few going above CR 10. Those are Lilith and Abaddon, along with the Behemoth and Leviathan who aren’t meant to be fought in this campaign. The other two monsters are the Tannin sea serpents (which don’t appear in any violent encounters by default and are more setting dressing in the Great Sea) and the Cherubim angel (which most parties aren’t likely to fight).

Sadly, I have noticed a few errors in stat blocks. In some cases the bonuses for certain skills and saves are off in regards to the calculation of proficiency bonus and their ability modifier, such as Angels having +10 to History and Religion in spite of several being CR 5 with no Intelligence bonus. The Sentry Golem’s Perception bonus is +6 (CR 4, Wisdom 0 but Expertise should mean it’s +4) but its Passive Perception is 13. The spellcasting NPCs don’t specify what classes they are; while this doesn’t impact their useability, it is breaking in tradition with prior stat block methods. One monster, the Addax, is CR 0 but their horns do a powerful 2d4 piercing damage. Such a CR is normally reserved for harmless and near-harmless beasts who usually do 1 point of damage if any.

Without further ado, let’s get to the monsters!

We have the Agama, a tiny lizard whose skin can change in reflection of its mood. Having them as a familiar can let them change color based on the emotional state of people nearby.

Angels are servants of God, appearing on Earth to do specific missions on his behalf. Their unwavering focus means that they often don’t grasp the subtleties and changes in mortal society. They also share a special affinity for mortals that is not always present among other celestials: when Satan rebelled against allowing humans into Heaven, the angels were the first to defy him. Challenger Angels communicate the will of God through violence, which usually takes the form of challenging a mortal in a non-lethal duel as a means of bringing about some change or growth. They primarily attack with a sword but have a variety of spells. Guardian Angels protect mortals through subtle means and have more defensive abilities and magic. Messenger Angels seek to deliver important lessons to mortals, not through direct messages but more through subtle manipulations behind the scenes as a means of allowing mortals to come to such conclusions themselves. Their primary means of offense are a ranged lightning strike, and most of their spells are defensive or utility in nature.

Archangels are a more powerful tier of angelkind, tasked with guarding the material plane from otherworldly threats. Michael is the most famous to mortals for fighting Satan himself, and in surviving the battle makes him a veteran of demonic tactics and manipulations. They are like angels but with more powerful attacks and magic along with the ability to pronounce judgment and proclaim good news to impose buffs and debuffs in battle. The Cherubim are among the most powerful celestials in existence, and Satan was once among their number. They are CR 23 beings with legendary actions and wield unique swords that can move and float of their own accord while generating pillars of flame. Cherbum are blessed with supreme intellect, but lack an understanding of human experiences that rob them of empathy. Although they have a moral compass, they cannot understand mortal perspectives such as the hope people cling to in times of uncertainty or the love a mother has for their child.

Angry Mobs deserve a special mention, both for the fact that they’re a kind of “summonable monster” for the Zealot subclass and being an NPC ally entry of characters who can accompany the PCs on their quests. It’s a general representation of any group of non-military trained people who join together into a crowd to avenge or defend against a real or imagined injustice. They’re a Huge-sized swarm of Medium humanoids who can be best described as a Steel Cannon. The mob has a beefy 165 hit points but are pretty easy to hit (AC 10) and slow at 20 feet. They’re remarkably resilient against most mental-based effects with +3 and +8 to Wisdom and Charisma saves, and add +5 to initiative despite their average Dexterity and win ties in initiative.. They can attack up to four times a round, with three meager Throw Stone attacks but one very damaging Overwhelm attack which can grapple a single target. If they’re reduced to 0 hit points, the Mob doesn’t “die” so much as scatter into a bunch of Commoners with the Frightened condition.

All in all, a useful ally for PCs to have when violence is the preferred solution, although unlike other DMPC allies they’re not good for much besides straightforward combat. As for the Zealot subclass, their HP is determined by how many silver pieces are paid to summon them, and require 3 days in advance. Gaining a mob with the full HP value costs 1,000 silver (or 100 gold), whereas the minimum is 250 silver for 50 hit points. At the time the Zealot gets this ability at 13th level, it’s a rather meager class feature to have, especially when compared with summoning spells.

The Behemoth isn’t actually encountered in battle during the campaign but whose stats are included for reasons of completeness. It is akin to the Tarrasque in being a CR 27 physical powerhouse with frightful presence and legendary actions that allow for powerful AoE attacks. The Leviathan, by contrast, is a powerful water-based monster with a fiery breath weapon and can generate lightning storms.

Dybbuk are departed spirits residing in Sheol. Some escape back into the material plane, and the Rephaim are tasked with hunting them down to bring them back. They are incorporeal monsters who can possess targets as a rechargeable ability.

Enchantress are your typical “hot people who use their looks and implied magic to manipulate others.” They aren’t gender-specific, and they lack any direct-damaging attacks save for blowing a kiss that deals psychic damage in an AoE cone. They have the ability to auto-reflect any Enchantment spell cast on them back on the caster, can cast Suggestion at will, Charm others with a dance, and can use a magical ring to summon 6 Guards to aid them once per day.

Given that Salome mentioned earlier uses this for her stat block and the Is That In the Bible? section mentions that this was inspired by her character in that holy time, this ties back into my earlier concerns and criticisms of her character in the earlier Atlas.

There are a few monsters which aren’t explicitly in the Bible but included more for the writer’s own personal inspiration or related folklore at the time. Feign Spiders are a nearly-extinct species who survived the Great Flood and now live in the abandoned Noah’s Ark. They are capable of weaving invisible webs to trap prey. Deepmaw are Huge-sized fish common to rivers in Mesopotamia, and can swallow smaller targets on a successful bite attack. T’ifiri are giant scorpions who are a plague on nomads and merchants moving through the deserts, capable of digging through sand and detecting prey on the surface via tremorsense.


Golems are artificial humanoid beings created by rituals mimicking the act of God breathing life into the first human. As mortal replication is an imperfection of this process, golems aren’t truly alive and have animal-level intelligence. They take all orders literally and to the word, leading many frustrated mages to experience the pains of computer programmers two thousand years early. The Adventurer’s Guide has three new types of Golems which are lower Challenge Rating (CR 4) than the ones in the Monster Manual. Death Golems are often used for assassinations, having rending fist attacks and can score critical hits on surprised creatures. Sentry Golems are often tasked with watching over an item or area and have advantage on sight-based Perception checks. Helper Golems are primarily designed to help with manual labor and have the greatest Strength scores and spells such as Floating Disc and Spider Climb to help in such tasks.

Magi have been discussed earlier, but there are three stat blocks for ones with different areas of expertise and all of which are used for one of the Three Wise Men. They are brainy mages who share identical stats save for a specific Namburbu they can use three times per day and unique spell lists. Researcher Magi have high-level divination spells, Seeker Magi have movement and teleportation-based ones, and Tactician Magi have a multitude of Area of Effect spells.

Night Spirits are invisible evil entities who are the servants of demons. Their Dark Insight lets them ferret out mortal secrets and failings if they fail a Charisma save, and several times in the module the Archdemons and other evil characters make use of them to learn more about the PCs so as to better tempt or manipulate them.

Parthia and Rome’s soldiers are special enough to warrant their own stat blocks. Parthian Cataphracts are heavily-armored mounted archers who can do a Parthian Shot* by turning around to fire at people behind them in the saddle, represented as a bonus action ranged attack when they move at least 20 feet. Parthian Spahbeds are military commanders who can Parry and Multiattack with melee weapons but otherwise don’t have anything truly unique or special. Roman Legionaries are heavily-armored infantry with spears, and their Pack Tactics (advantage on attack rolls when adjacent to allies) makes them deadlier than your average Guard or Bandit. Roman Centurions have the benefits of Legionaries but with better stats, as well as the ability to trade in one of their attacks for granting a reaction attack to a nearby ally. Centurions all carry +1 Gladiuses.

*which was the origin of the ‘parting shot’ saying, courtesy of a sidebar in the book.

Queen Makeda is the ruler of Sheba. Her past is mysterious and her origins of how she came into power unknown, but she is a fair ruler and her subjects are fine with this. Her kingdom’s strategic position sees heavy trade, and along with being the leading producer of myrrh and frankincense makes Sheba a very wealthy nation. The Queen has a variety of offensive spells but her primary actions involve granting boosts and bonus actions to allies.

The Shadow of the Beast cult attracts mortals from all walks of life, who for various reasons are the witting or unwitting pawns of the Archdemons. There are three generic statblocks: Shadow Cultists aren’t very powerful save for a poisoned dagger attack being their main offense. Shadow Mages gain their powers from demons and in addition to typical spells can do an AoE hellfire attack as a rechargeable ability. Shadow Champions are esteemed warriors, immune to all spells of 2nd level or lower and can Multiattack with infernal longswords that deal bonus fire damage.

Shedim commonly serve as the demonic officers of the Shadow of the Beast, acting as local leaders. They appear like humanoid serpents with a snake-like body with human arms. Shedim can change their shape into a humanoid of choice, have a poisonous bite, can cast Suggestion at will, and do a blast of hellfire as an Area of Effect attack.

Sicarii is actually a generic stat block that can be just as easily used for Zealots, but the concept reflects the Jewish insurgent forces conducting guerilla warfare against the Roman occupation. They’re basically low-level Rogues with the Assassinate ability of the Assassin subclass.

Sunwings are giant, intelligent, eaglelike beings who have a special bond with the Nabateans of Petra. Those they’re bonded with provide a special resistance vs supernatural enchantments that would force them to attack those they bonded with, and they can revive a creature struck dead within the last minute to 1 hit point once a day. The book notes in a sidebar that they’re based off of the common folkloric concept of magical eagles in this region of the world. As for Biblical accuracy, they are prominent in the book of Fourth Baruch, which is regarded as a legitimate book by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church but not by other Christian sects.

Tannin are powerful and dangerous sea serpents. Many ships avoid taking the most convenient and direct routes in order to avoid them, and with good reason. They’re powerful CR 12 creatures who have steam breath weapons and can generate rip currents that can affect creatures, ships, and objects alike.

The Zenido, or Desert Drake, are winged hunters who prey on large animals in the desert. They often target passing caravans in the Assur Wates and Wilderness of Zin. Unlike typical D&D dragons they are more bestial and animalistic in mindset, being instinct-based hunters. They still have typical dragon features such as flight, a bite and claw attack, and a fiery breath weapon.

Is That In the Bible? is our final section of the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible. It is a comprehensive alphabetical listing of virtually every major character, creature, location, and artifact in this sourcebook. If it appears in the Bible, the proper chapters and verses are marked along with a Bible symbol. There are three other symbols: a scroll for being mentioned in other ancient writings around this time period, a paper and quill for archeological evidence and reliable secondary sources, and a paintbrush and paint pallet for when creative liberties were taken. In the case of the scroll and quill the author elaborates on the sources, albeit less a bibliographic listing and more mentions of general topics such as “Rabbinical literature” and regional folklore.

Beyond the symbols, many entries have short descriptions elaborating on things. For instance, the Deepmaw is a giant fish that can swallow people which definitely appears in the Bible and folklore, but the name and new monster is inspired by the stories. Or the Catacombs of Kadesh, which were based on the Battle of Kadesh but the underground catacombs serving as the final dungeon were invented for the adventure.

Thoughts So Far: The balance of a lot of the new material is questionable and may not necessarily map well to existing core material. Quite a few spells feel too weak, powerful, or open-ended for their respective levels, and several monsters can do with another editing pass. Additionally, the large amount of repeated OGL content in the magic items and monsters sections feels like artificial padding.

The magic items are my favorite part of the Appendix along with Is That in the Bible? Many of the new items are cool and in keeping with the historical fantasy themes of the region and Abrahamic faiths. Is That in the Bible? shows that the authors did their homework in compiling resources and inspiration, and given the likely high standards a project of this type requires, it is good to see that they delved into things more than a surface level pop culture reading of Christianity.

Final Thoughts: Overall I found myself impressed with the Adventurer’s Guide to the Bible. Writing an historical fantasy drawing upon explicit religious themes is a difficult task without falling into the common perils that suffuse such an undertaking. Overall I feel that Red Panda Publishing more or less threaded the needle in a way that gives people a quality open-ended adventure, and who don’t necessarily have to practice the faith to find it enjoyable. I have nothing but praise to say about the campaign’s sandbox nature, and how non-linear exploration is encouraged while giving players and DMs multiple avenues of resolving or coming upon certain quests. This is very much a campaign I can see running for an extended period of time and in a variety of ways with different gaming groups without having to heavily resort to homebrew. The research and resources of the authors is also to be commended, for not just creating an immersive setting that feels authentic but is also fun to play.

With that being said, I do have my criticisms. There are aspects of the book which could use a second editing pass, from the questionable balance of several class and spell options, mistakes made in sentence grammar, or the calculation of certain monster/NPC stats. There are also adventures which can require a lot more work on the DM’s part to heavily revise or plan for their players in ways it feels the book should’ve got around to addressing, such as Aphrodite’s Touch or certain elements in the Way of the Cross. And while it’s not a constant, the use of DMPCs at certain points in the adventure is also one that needs more care taken given how hard it is for many DMs to handle such characters in a non-disruptive manner.

I thank everyone who has read this far with me. I don’t know what I will review next or when that time will come, although I have a few ideas. Until then, I hope this Let’s Read helped shed some light on one of the most innovative third party D&D sourcebooks to come out in quite some time!


Thanks for posting this! I backed it and have the hardcopy book on my desk, but haven't gotten around to opening it yet...still slowly eventually working my way through the A5e MM.

The Archdemon lairs and battles all seem to be very flavorful and unique, and I can tell this has a lot of variety baked in.

So far the campaign looks like it is MUCH better organized than what I've seen of the reviews I have read of SKT, OOTA, ROTFM or most of the other WOTC campaigns. I am getting excited to run it a couple of years from now when the campaign after this one is finished.

Believe it or not, I haven't really read or checked out the main WotC products in forever, so I cannot really compare the official adventures to the Adventurer's Guide to the Bible. But overall this product has really high marks in comparison to other open world sandboxes I've read.

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