The idea for this campaign came from the novels Iron Dawn and Jericho Moon by Matthew Woodring Stover, which are set in, well, bible times. Ten years after the end of the Trojan War, 80 years into the reign of Ramses II, Joshua leads the Hebrew tribes and protects them from their vengeful deity, and only one culture in the world has developed the secret of forging weapons with starmetal—Iron. Set in the eastern Mediterranean, a vast melting pot of cultures. Egyptians, Assyrians, Jews, Greeks, Carthinians, and even Picts from the Emerald Isles intermingle and trade. Magic exists, but it is rare and generally the perview of the divine (not in a game-crunch sense, though) or the unhallowed. While the average person knows that magic exists, what they believe is “magic” is really Egyptian alchemy or Greek illusion or drug-induced visions. Priests know the secrets of what we would call “stage magic” as a matter of course. However, when someone opens a mummy’s locked tomb or tampers with the Ark of the Covenent, even priests tremble, for they know that the gods are real.
Blurb over. Crunchy stuff: magic items, scrolls, and potions are extremely rare and will be uncommon to encounter unless made by a PC. PCs can be any class, I mean, if you want to be a wizard, whatever: it’s not that magic doesn’t exist outside of the hands of God or gods, it’s just rare. Even better if you just want to explain your magic as advanced alchemy, we’ll just drop the verbal component for spells and make them grenade-like. Young adults start at level 1, adults at level 3, middle age at 5, old at 8, venerable at 10. And obviously, everyone is Human. I’m willing to work out new culture-based feats for whatever you want to do.
Roll starting attributes (preferably on OGR) at 4d6, dropping the lowest, in order of str dex con int wis cha. Then you can reroll any two of those, taking the highest, and switch any two pairs. And if it still doesn’t come up to at least 28 points, you can do 28 point buy instead.