A Glance At: Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era

Hahaha, oh wow.

This is the product people have threatened to make. This is the kind of thing gamers joke about with their friends (“Jesus saves; Takes half damage.”) It is not the kind of thing you expect to read.

… Nor is it the kind of thing you expect to be any good. But it is.

Purchased cheap due to the Paizo Black Friday sale, Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era is a d20 Mythic Vistas product from Green Ronin… And it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: Dungeons & Dragons. In the mythic age of the Bible.

This is a fairly complete and (to my eye, anyway) well-researched book that provides much of what you need in order to run a game in the Biblical era. Primarily, the age of the Old Testament. You know, back when God was a murdering asshole who commanded his people to slaughter those who didn’t believe in Him, and delivered plagues to his people if they so much as looked at him cross-eyed.

Yeah, I have a few problems with a setting in this age, and thus I have a problem with the base assumptions Green Ronin hard-coded into this thing: You’re more or less expected to be playing Israelites, and thus expected to obey the word of The Lord, regardless of what atrocities He commands, but it’s okay, because you’re just following your god!

… Ahem.

On the other hand, this is the bad news. The rest of the book is good news.

As a D&D 3e product, it contains a number of new base classes and Prestige Classes, based on region. Naturally, the Israelites get the most, with two new base classes (Levite Priest and Psalmist, both more Biblical takes on the Cleric and Bard), and several new Prestige Classes as well, including the Prophet and the Judge. The other regions only get one new class each: The Egyptians  have the Khery-Heb (a Wizard who serves the Egyptian gods and thus can learn some Cleric spells as well), the Babylonians have the Magus of the Starry Host (a mage who uses astrology to work his magic), and the Canaanites have… The Qedeshot, a sort of Bard who is, well… She’s a cultic prostitute. Not much more I can say about that.

There’s also the Spy ( a variant Rogue), and some other Prestige Classes that can be taken by anyone. Well, the Idol-Maker can’t be taken by Israelites, but still.

The good news here is, all these classes are flavorful and interesting. I don’t know how strong they are mechanically, but I would want to play as many of them.

Then we have the smattering of new spells, magical items, and monsters, all of which capture the flavor of the setting and are useful in some manner.

Also, there are highly detailed sections on both, community maintenance and mass combat (as in, between armies). These bring a highly simulationist aspect to the game, one I’m sure is welcome by many. I, however, eschew simulationism, but that is just me.

The place where I feel this book fails, somewhat, is in it being a historical setting. I never liked those much, as, well, you’re bound by history. Which has already happened. Though, in its defense, the book does say that if history is getting in the way of your story, change it! And I definitely appreciate that.

Hell, if I were to run this, I’d go one step further, and make it akin to 2010’s Clash of the Titans: Much like how that took place in Ancient Greece, but it really wasn’t Ancient Greece, this would take place in the Biblical region, but it would have some major differences. Primary among them being, there would be a blending of eras. Also, The Lord wouldn’t be as much of an asshole, and there would be a little more room for parties consisting of people from varying nations. Mostly, I just like the classes too much for them not to be used.

Overall, this book isn’t useful, per se, but it is an amusing curiosity, and it’s much better than I was expecting. Part of me is tempted to run this, mostly to piss off Fundies.

“Oh, RPGs are Satanic? Then why am I serving the God of Israel and smiting heathens and devils?”

Oh and I’m probably still gonna review Green Races, but there’s something else that might get reviewed first…

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One Response to “A Glance At: Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era”

  1. morristhegrey Says:

    Why would I be pissed off? Fundamentalism kicks ass. The only one who is satanic is Hasbro?

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