So, I began my researches into creating my own pantheon by cracking out my copy of Supplement IV to OD&D: Gods, Demigods & Heroes. It's the precursor to Deities & Demigods (Legends & Lore to you whippersnappers) and it benefits from being quite a bit more idiosyncratic than its AD&D counterpart. Tim Kask, in his foreword, notes that the authors -- Rob Kuntz and James Ward -- had undertaken "months of painstaking, arduous research" before writing supplement. I don't doubt that's true, but I am curious about what sources they used, because the interpretations of many mythological figures just seem ... odd compared to the way they're usually described. For example, the Egyptian deity Ptah, who's traditionally associated with the creation of the world and thus with craftsmen, is called, in Supplement IV the "god of outer space." Now, I happen to think that's really cool and I'll likely grab Ptah and use him as a god of travelers -- including space travelers -- but you have to admit that's a somewhat peculiar interpretation of the deity.
Anyway, one of my cardinal principles in my mix and match pantheon is that I won't use major deities from any pantheon without good reason. Instead, I want to stick to also-ran gods, for the simple reason that certain divine beings, like Zeus or Odin, carry with them so much baggage that reinterpreting them for a fantasy setting is harder. It's not impossible, of course, and I'm not unilaterally opposed to accepting them if I have a good idea of how to use them. Still, my intention here is to go with deities that have some resonance without having such strong connotations that they might inadvertently wrench players out of the fantasy world and into the real one.
I have a lot of fondness for the Egyptian gods and they certainly work well in a sword-and-sorcery setting. I've already mention Ptah as a possible god of travelers. Set, of course, is very tempting and might well nab him in some form as one of my big evil gods. Thoth is another deity that tempts me.
The Greek gods are, of course, classics (no pun intended), but they're also very well known and it's hard to use them straight without generating the wrong vibe. I think Athena is very nifty, but I'd probably call her Asana or Cydonia if I decided to use her. Hephaestus is also cool.
In general, I think the Indian mythos has the wrong feel for what I'm doing, so I wasn't keen to use any of them. However, I rather like the idea of Visvakarman, who's described in Supplement IV as the "demigod of weapons and science." The possibilities there are simply too good to pass up.
I have a fondness for Donn, Oghma, and Dian Cecht, but I'm wary of using the Celtic gods, given how easy it would then be to make the druids serve them. In my vision of things, the druids are the only Neutral "clerics" and they serve impersonal Nature, not any deities.
Like the Greek gods, they're very well known, so that limits the possibilities. Still, their names have the right feel to them and some of the minor figures, like Uller, could be repurposed for my setting. I think the sea goddess Rán is rather intriguing, especially if I go with the notion that she's malicious and must be propitiated before any maritime journey.
The deities of the ancient Finns are pure gold. Not only do they possess lovely, evocative names with the right feel, but they're largely unknown to gamers nowadays. That makes them ideal for swiping. I like, for example, Melatar, goddess of the rudder -- the very idea gives me great ideas. I see her as being perhaps the rebellious daughter of Rán the sea goddess, who taught Men to withstand her mother's terrible fury.
I fully intend to swipe some names and ideas from non-mythological sources, such as pulp fantasies. For example, Tsathoggua and Mordiggian will have a place in my setting, perhaps as demons, if not outright gods.
More thoughts in a future post.