Anyway, in the aforementioned issue, there's a review of Deities & Demigods by some named Patrick Amory. I've noted before my own dislike of this AD&D volume, so I wasn't at all taken aback by Amory's complaint that "Deities and Demigods fails quite seriously to deliver anything much more than a scale-up Monster Manual." That pretty much mirrors my own view. More fascinating, though, I think is the following extensive critique, which I reproduce here in full:
What Deities and Demigods should have included is a detailed discussion of what characters in a reasonable fantasy world would have normal contact with: the trappings of religion, ceremonies, beliefs, the interactions of these beliefs with culture and society, and not the butchering of gods like Odin and Loki into mere 300-400 hit points monsters.As reviews of gaming products go, this is a pretty harsh one. The only aspect of the DDG Amory praises is its "high-quality components." Even as someone who has no use for Deities & Demigods, I find the three paragraphs quoted above to be over the top, but I suspect that, besides antipathy toward TSR (which had existed from early on the hobby's history and was growing steadily throughout the '80s), Amory's review is reflective of a different gaming "culture" than the one I knew. I hesitate to say it was a "West Coast" one, since I know nothing of the reviewer's background, but it nevertheless comports with the caricatures I was taught about "Californian roleplayers" who played "hippie" games like RuneQuest.
Instead, descriptions of some of these points is almost non-existent. Say the authors in their preface, "The name of the deities and heroes ... and many of their personality traits are plain for everyone to discover for themselves ..." What this translates to in English is this: the most obscure deities are given complete statistics for a D&D melee, without the slightest touch of personality, description, beliefs, or even place within the legends.
Deities and Demigods contains monsters, not religions. What is included here is not of the slightest use to anyone in the FRP market and should be avoided like leprosy. The careless butchering of ancient legends, the lack of any details useful for creation of religion in a normal campaign, and the encouragement of the insertion of yet more higher-level monsters for the worst kind of fantasy gaming makes Deities and Demigods fit only for the trashcan.
I bring this all up not to condemn either Deities & Demigods or the reviewer (let alone different approaches to presenting divine beings in RPGs), but mostly to note that, while we may all talk about "the hobby" as if it were a singular, unified thing, it's not. From fairly early on, there were several different approaches to roleplaying and they existed side by side, though not always amicably. So, I don't think it's surprising that, nearly 40 years on, those different approaches not only continue to exist but have multiplied to the point where even a term as seemingly straightforward as "old school" can be the source of confusion, acrimony, and angst.