Monday, April 16, 2012

"Fit Only for the Trashcan"

I was looking at issue #19 (March 1982) of Chaosium's Different Worlds this morning. I almost always find Different Worlds fascinating because, even when I don't like its articles or disagree with its editorials/reviews, it offers a window on a gaming scene in which I never really took part. As I'm sure I mentioned here before, I was a TSR fanboy back in the day; all other game companies were also-rans in my estimation, Consequently, the gaming "culture" into which I was introduced was largely colored by the (in retrospect absurd) position that TSR was God and Gary Gygax was his prophet. Certainly I played other games by other companies, sometimes, as in the case of Call of Cthulhu, very devotedly, but I had little direction connection to -- and even less understanding of -- gaming cultures based around different principles. So, for me, reading Different Worlds (much like reading White Dwarf) is an invaluable corrective to the somewhat limited perspective into which I'm prone to lapse.

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.

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.
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.

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.

52 comments:

  1. It sounds like you may have had a similar experience, but I remember D&DG having a very noticeable and negative effect on the local (small town) gaming culture where I grew up.  All the gamer kids looked at that and thought "oh, we're supposed to be playing games where we're demigods and slaying legendary monsters".   Level 20+ characters became commonplace.  In a way, when I skim through material from the 3.x period, I still see the fallout from that.

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  2. I hear Confusion, Acrimony and Angst is coming out in the fall from Margaret Weis Productions

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  3. Bear in mind that Gods, Demigods, and Heroes was little different in that regard. I don't recall seeing loads of information on religious ceremonies and dogma in there. I don't think it's quite fair to lay this at AD&D's doorstep.

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  4. From the Different Worlds  issues I have read, it seems to have positioned itself as the Not-D&D magazine, with all the expected consequences. Coincidentally, I bought one issue for its reviews of the Judges Guild product line ("Judges Guild and D&D: A guide for the discriminating GM), and the judgement, also by the same Mr. Amory, is just as uncharitable. Of the Fantasy Universe (the Wilderlands series), he writes,

    "The worst problem with the villages is that each is a separate entity - there are no apparent connections and interrelations. Thus we find such anomalies as villages of diametrically opposed alignment existing peacefully together side by side.

    The whole world is wilderness; there are no kingdoms, religions or organization of any kind. None of the cities claim any land.

    Evidently anyone who buys the Universe is in for many hours of hard work and thought to make it playable and realistic. No guidelines for the cultures, society, or religions of these areas are given - you will have to work out these things for yourself. If you simply buy the Universe and play it, you will be short-changing your players and ruining your campaign. These packages simply don't deliver enough value for the money spent."


    Similar complaints are voiced about Tegel Manor ("A gigantic haunted manor house, rather randomly filled with monsters and treasure. The map is nice but almost any competent GM can produce a better adventure than this"), although he extends reserved praise for City State of the Invincible Overlord, CSWE, The First Fantasy Campaign and the Jaquays corpus.

    It may be easy to ascribe this to one cranky reviewever, but I believe there is an important lesson buried here: in its own time, "old school" was heavily contested, derided and written off without even a charitable reading by a significant share of gamers. What people today identify as features - such as the DIY nature of the Wilderlands - were often considered bugs, and vice versa.

    Of course, there is another consideration WRT the DDG: just like from rediscovery, old school gaming can actualy benefit from a synthesis of newer and older approaches. There is nothing holding people back from giving deities a few specifics about religious organisation and all that stuff, while also statting them up for those god-killing game sessions.

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  5. Back in the 1980s, my gaming group was blissfully unaware of "gaming cultures." We played what we liked, which were mostly games by TSR, Chaosium, Flying Buffalo, and Yaquinto. If we noticed any geographic differences, it was only in the flavor of White Dwarf, which I liked a great deal. The only real gaming cultures I was aware of were those of individual groups, which varied enormously even within the same city. (I was acutely aware of the fact that the playing styles of certain groups were totally incompatible with mine.)

    As for Deities & Demigods, I have always prized it for one thing: its illustrations. Even when they were inaccurate, I usually found them inspirational. The Erol Otus cover, Cthulhu Mythos, Melibonéan Mythos, and Newhon Mythos were my reasons for paying $12 for the book (in ancient times).

    I disapproved of statting up the gods then as now, but the clerical quick reference chart was great. Frankly, the entire book should have built around it. The first paragraph you quoted from the review was absolutely right. If the stats had been replaced with that sort of information, it could have been a great book. I still love it for the pictures, though.

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  6.  And don't forget that Jeff Dee is currently in the process of redoing the original art from D&DG, over at Kickstarter. I have one of the redone Egyptian pieces and it's just fantastic.

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  7. FWIW, I also dislike GDG&H, too, which is why I call it my least favorite OD&D supplement:  http://grognardia.blogspot.ca/2009/03/my-least-favorite-od-supplement.html

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  8. As you might have noticed from my past few blog posts at Cinerati, I am a fan of  Different Worlds Magazine.  Though I do have to add the caveat that I like it despite the fact that it, like The Space Gamer, is an "anti-TSR" magazine.

    I was too young to share the editors' and writers' acrimony toward TSR, though a west coast gamer I was primarily a TSR purist, but the back issues give me a glimpse into the gaming culture that shaped the design of games I came to play later.  In high school, I moved to the Bay Area and started playing RPGs like Champions and GURPS -- as well as a smattering of Runequest -- and Different Worlds was the local gaming magazine. 

    I've been padding my collection of issues lately, and boy would I love to find a copy of issue 1.  Their "X-men" issue is one of my prized possessions -- as is their New Teen Titans issue -- but I'd like to see their origins.

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  9. Outside of the art and stats for mythos-specific monsters and magic items, I'm mighty stumped as to what the point of D&DG and Legends & Lore were supposed to be.

    I mean, I guess the stat tables for scores up to 25 is *interesting,* and probably (?) useful in some context.

    Certainly never struck me as a crucial core book despite what the forward claimed.

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  10. Christopher KosciukApril 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    The only role DDG ever played in our games "back in the day" (other than to look at the cool art) was to provide a decent list of "official" gods and religions to choose from when filling out the character sheet. We always ignored the stats and never even thought that they might actually be used in fights with gods or bizarre stuff like that.

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  11. Christopher KosciukApril 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    The only role DDG ever played in our games "back in the day" was to provide a decent list of "official" gods and religions to choose from when filling out the character sheet. We always ignored the stats and never even thought that they might actually be used in fights with gods or bizarre stuff like that.

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  12. Christopher KosciukApril 16, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    (p.s. - sorry for the double post, this new format confounds me.)

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  13. As for DDG, I've always looked at it as a source of inspiration for the kinds of gods polytheistic religions ought to have.  I've also always liked the Nehwon Mythos section.

    I won't go into the kerfuffle regarding the Cthulhu and Melnibonean sections, except to say that the interview with Moorcock in Kobold Quarterly was illuminating.

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  14. 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.

    Does anyone here actually play in campaigns where Odin and Loki are in line for some sword-killin'? Seriously? D&DG has always struck me as a thought experiment rather than a useful gamebook, and/so I'm genuinely curious as to whether anyone over the age of 16 has ever built a campaign around killing a god by reducing its hit points. 

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  15. The 'oft read but never played, by design' RPG supplement strikes me as a key element of the hobby -- it shines a light on what so many RPGers really get off on -- and I do wonder when gamebooks started appearing that were seemingly written for reading around in rather than playing.

    I've got a couple of MERP books from back in the day, for instance, which come off as background reading for fans rather than playable supplements. The 3e Forgotten Realms corebook seems to fit the same mold: an infodump for fans of the Realms, but not really designed to generate play so much as to fill the GM's brain (with trivia, some say). And then there's the World of Darkness...

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  16. Almost all the MERP stuff was thinly disguised fan-fic.  In almost every splat book, all the mechanical stuff was in the last two or three pages.  Most of the rest of the book was just anecdotes and setting description that was practically useless.  Denizens of the Darkwood was the only one I got any use out of because it actually had a map of a keep in it.

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  17. I can comment a little more on the Chaosium vs. TSR sub-plot.  IIRC, the first printing of Dieties and Demigods had the Cthullu Mythos in it.  Then Chaosium threatened to sue TSR over product infringement, and so TSR took out the Cthullu stuff in the subsequent printings.  It was clear that no one at TSR had done their homework and realized that Lovecraft stuff was public domain.

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  18. Well, I guess my reaction to Mr. Amory is "what did you really expect?"

    He seems to have liked realism so let's be realistic here. These are beings from myth and legend; they are often presented differently in different sources.  Compare Malory's King Arthur with White's or the one in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and you will see differences.  the pining for information about beliefs falls flat with many religions. Read a Greek classic, there was nothing about dogma; ritual was far more important. Here was the core belief: honor the gods or they will do bad stuff to you!

    If you want a comparative religion book, they already make those.

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  19. I guess it's a little ironic that this is much the same complaint that gets levelled from time to time at Call of Cthulhu for giving stats and ergo a static form to the likes of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth (etc, etc through the whole mythos).

    For what it's worth, this scene from Peter Brook's Mahabharata pretty much describes the way I like to think of deities in a fantasy world - untouchable beings that move through the world,  we struggle with them not because we can defeat them, but in order to convince them we are worthy of their attention. 

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  20. Hmm, indeed, I remember getting onto the supplement/canon treadmill. One part of confusing habit with building a collection. As it became evident that all I had wasn't adding any value to my games, I sorted out just what it was that I wanted from D&D and other games and it led me back to the old-school: meticulous consideration of B1, L1, B3, X1 and so on and figuring out what it was that appealed to me so frickin' much (I inherited my older brother's collection). Most books got sold off, keeping and even expanding on my collections of the older editions.

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  21. I did not know about this... thanks for the tip!

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  22. I despise that book. To me it is the ultimate concession to the power gamers.. hey kids, now you can kill Thor and steal Mjolnir!  Never mind that the fates of all the deities of the Norse pantheons were already sealed. It was nothing but an extension of the Monster Manual.

    If you are going to include gods and clerics, then religion is an important detail. I'm a historian by training. Religion was probably the single biggest factor in medieval culture. To ignore that factor, but allow clerics and temples, is to not only screw the setting, but it ignores a huge number of potential plot lines.

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  23. Well... DDG certainly does not stand the comparison with Cults of Prax. 30-odd years on, I'm still using the latter as the standard against which I devise my own cults, whereas I only remember DDG for its art.

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  24. I also admit I really have no use for DDG for the reasons stated in that article, yet I do agree it is over the top.  And this is coming from a "California Gamer" who occasionally read DW in addition to Dragon, had a sound indoctrination in D&D, played/DM'd quite a few campaigns and NEVER played Runequest (our "other game" poison of choice was Champions).

    Jeez, never thought the "West Coast People Are Strange" BS argument would extend to gaming...

    -SJ

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  25. I only report what I was told as a younger person; I do not endorse the sentiment.

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  26. In a DW lettercol (can't find it anymore, sold all my stuff) Greg Stafford explicitly stated that they had not and were not taking legal action against TSR for the Cthulhu or Elric inclusions.

    And it is not clear to me that Cthulhu was in the PD at the time the DDG was published.

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  27. That's right. As I understand it, TSR, not Chaosium, was the one who removed the Cthulhu and Melnibonean chapters from the DDG, in the belief that it unnecessarily promoted the wares of a competitor.

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  28. Fair enough.  Carry on. ;-)

    -Glen

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  29. I was told a lot of weird and frankly stupid stuff by my elders when I first joined the hobby. That probably explains a lot :)

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  30. I guess I was young and stupid. Where else could you find Elric, Gray Mouser, and Hastur all together under one cover?
    It was good shelfware for me back then just like it is now. 

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  31.  I own a copy of the First Edition Deities & Demigods, but I've never actually used it in play.  Even my 17 year old self saw little value in it.  In my worlds, Gods and Demigods are plot devices, not monsters.  Any group of adventurers that chooses to war with the Gods will find out just what a tiny, insignificant flea they really are in comparison.  Their role is to hand out quests, menace adventurers, and occasionally show divine favor.

    A good Deities and Demigods book, as your post and the review both state, ought to be about creating cosmologies, and pantheons of gods, with concrete examples, either from TSR's settings, or possibly even using real world examples (Greek, Roman, and Norse pantheons, as one examples, and you could certainly use different ones, if desired).  That would have been helpful to my 17 year old self.  Stats for Hastur and Asmodeus...eh, not so much.

    As for the tone of the review, I'd say that TSR (as shown in your example last week) merely got to reap some of what they sowed at the time.  Why TSR thought it was necessary, at the height of their success in the late 1970's-early 1980's, to pee in everybody else's cornflakes when TSR's only real enemy was their own poor decision making, is something I've never really understood.

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  32. Point taken, but the difference is power creep.  Even the most powerful of Call of Cthulhu characters is nothing against the Great Old Ones, or even most of the lesser demigod equivalents. 

    It is quite possible, given enough play and enough levels, for an AD&D party to kill Zeus.  It's a fairly safe bet that a party of Call of Cthulhu characters who run into Hastur are going to be nothing more than an insane, but quite tasty side dish.

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  33. Of course, part of the acrimony may be based on Chaosium's own preffered approach to religion, which was through detailed cults and rune magic, rather than fully stat'd beings.

    At the time I thought it was a profound and more mature approach to religion.

    Now I think: "Kewl monsters" vs. "kewl powers/levelups." C'est la vie. 

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  34. Oh, I don't know, I bet Cthulhu has been rammed by many a steam yacht over the years.

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  35. Actually I believe the main  purpose of Gods, Demigods, and Heroes  (which was simply updated to form Deities & Demigods) was to provide just such a list of "monsters," primarily for use with the Gate spell.  It wasn't supposed to be a treatise on religion at all, just an attempt to codify what you could summon using this spell, to end the "I summon Thor – you are all squashed by Mjolnir" level of arguments with the use of this spell.*

    It was only when you work backwards (as admittedly most people did), and try to fit these "monster/avatars" into a religious framework as actual gods that you start running into problems that you have assigned game statistics to entities you consider gods.

    If you just treat them as avatars** of the god/goddess brought into physical manifestation by the Gate spell (and thus limited by the rules of physical existence) then these descriptions actually work very well.  Of course, damaging an avatar would have zero affect on the godhood itself, and the form of the avatar would be shaped by the beliefs of the spell-caster.   They are as much a monster as something summoned by Summon Monster IX (although something with much more o f a will of their own as they tend to act as the summoner would believe they would).

    This also allows the ability to summon multiple god avatars with the same sorts of aspect.  So two different faiths could summon their version of the god of death for example, and both would be venerated as such, but neither would be the actual god of death.  I find that this sort of approach brings back a lot of the ideas of faith back into the game.

    Of course, we are talking extremely high-powered magic here that didn't have a place in most campaign worlds (or at least were unavailable to players), and so most people never thought of these books in this way.  And it was a time before planar travel was codified (it's interesting to note that Gate doesn't open a passageway between dimensions, but rather brings something from another dimension into your presence).

    On the other hand, most people getting the book were actually looking to quantify and create a religion in their games, these books were indeed practically useless.  And that is actually what most people wanted, and something which D&D consistently refused to touch, even with an 11-foot pole,  for quite a long time (and even now, tends to waffle quite a lot about it (and not tom mention my pet dislike, treat what are effectively pantheons and monotheisms).

    [* Of course, if someone did managed to Gate in a avatar of Thor (as written) it was quite likely that you would end up squashed by Mjolnir, although since you'd be running characters at a level comparable to many of the god/avatars in order to cast Gate in the first place, this need not be the case.]

    [** Heroes on the other hand, such as typified by the Giants of the Earth series, could reliably be summoned, as the actual character, although personally I like the "summon what you believe them to be" aspect for them too.  Unless you were placing them in your game as is (or with a name change).]

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  36. Other than just for reading (and leering at the Loviatar picture), I never found it that useful.  But at the same time, it's actually the only case of an OD&D supplement  essentially being re-done for AD&D. If not quite in a name - Deities and Demi-Gods instead of Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes.

    Of course, if you read the introduction of the latter, that book was meant to try to contain power gamers:

    "This volume is something else, also, our last attempt to reach the "Monty Hall"
    DM's. Perhaps now some of the 'giveaway' campaigns will look as foolish as they
    truly are. This is our last attempt to delineate the absurdity of 40+ level characters.
    When Odin, the All-Father has only(?) 300 hit points, who can take a 44th level Lord
    seriously?"

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  37. I once had my Paladin/Mu knock Odin on his butt with a Push spell, how could that be wrong bad fun... ;-)

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  38.   I own the 1st edition of Deities & Demigods.  I was 10 when it was published and I thought it was an incredibly compelling, evocative book.  It was the first time I'd ever heard the names "Cthulhu" and "Elric," and was also my introduction to the details of Arthurian legend beyond the names "King Arthur" and "Merlin."  It was also the first time I was exposed to Mayan mythology, sparking an interest in Central American archaeology (later fueled by Indiana Jones) that continues to this day.

    My friends and I did use it , to an extent, as a 'high level' Monster Manual. But we were 10 and 11 and 12 year olds.  We would have had absolutely no interest whatsoever in a scholarly treatise on the anthropology of worship and ritual among the many worldwide cultures from which these various pantheons initially arose.

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  39. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the "gamer crowd" who rode my bus told a story about how they were adventuring in Heaven-With-A-Capital-H, and killed Thor by using a Push spell...because the falling damage to earth did him in.
    (I think one of the players may have been older than 16, but the rest were 10-12.  Obviously.)

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  40. I don't think that there is any claim that religions were UNimportant, however, as a historian I am sure you can appreciate the differences between the dominant medieval religions and the many pre-Christian religions. Even Judaism prior to the destruction of the Temple was more concerned with proper ritual over "correct" belief. I know of no records of Greeks doing aggresive conversion missions. Gods fought but did not try to extinguish each other's worship on Earth and believing in one did not preclude belief in another.
    To say you want more depth and historicity in the "pagan" religions while applying modern or even Medieval Jewish/Christian/Muslim tropes is inconsistent. At that point, all you are doing is using the names.

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  41. @ Penguin_boy
    I don't think that there is any claim that religions were UNimportant, however, as a historian I am sure you can appreciate the differences between the dominant medieval religions and the many pre-Christian religions. Even Judaism prior to the destruction of the Temple was more concerned with proper ritual over "correct" belief. I know of no records of Greeks doing aggresive conversion missions. Gods fought but did not try to extinguish each other's worship on Earth and believing in one did not preclude belief in another.
    To say you want more depth and historicity in the "pagan" religions while applying modern or even Medieval Jewish/Christian/Muslim tropes is inconsistent. At that point, all you are doing is using the names.

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  42. 'Young' implies 'stupid' so no need to be so hard on yourself. :)

    But again -- the whole 'under one cover' thing (not to mention the fine word 'shelfware') shares the the read-don't-play vibe that D&DG seems to have.

    Fact is, writing out stats is fun on its own. For game designers as much as anyone else -- and it's a powerful but maybe problematic thing to realize 'Hey there are guys who not only want to make up their own stats for stuff that doesn't exist but they will pay for mine.'

    (Insert observations about socially maladapted adolescent males' felt need to quantify and abstract away areas of vulnerability like 'can I beat up this guy' and 'what if I met god' and 'how smart am I relative to that dragon/authority figure' and of course 'if I go wandering in a cave with my friends will we be OK even though I manifestly have no idea what the hell I'm doing from the moment I leave my bedroom until the moment I return at night'...)

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  43. Back then, I seem to remember every copy I saw (I never owned it) had crossed out names with "dead" or "banished" and such crossed out.  I remember when people bragged about killing gods, the response became "then your DM must suck."

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  44. I guess that I've been hanging around the wrong AD&D crowd all these years.... have never seen a PC over 11th level.

    On a personal note, I would like to give a shout out to Loviatar ("She who launched a thousand evil careers")

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  45. D&DG was completely overboard in the stat department. The knights in the king arthur section were just obscene. You don't see a stat less than 15 and even obscure knights get multiple 18s. Was king arthur really known for this massive strength? It got to the point that any character without an 18 in his prime stat was just too wimpy to bother. My AD&D playing days didn't last much longer.

    I did, however, play a freak ton of Stormbringer afterwards so maybe taking out the elric stuff was a good idea.

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  46. "The name of the deities and heroes ... and many of their personality
    traits are plain for everyone to discover for themselves ..."

    In other words, this is a book of AD&D stats for legendary heroes. If you want a complete encyclopedia of world mythology, try the library.

    Sorry to go against the DDG-bashing grain here, but frankly, that's fair enough to me. Do you really think a coherent survey of religion and mythology ranging all the way from China and India to Greece and Egypt to both North and South America is something that could fit in a book with less than a four-digit page count, nevermind one that's also expected to contain AD&D content?

    If you think of it simply as an AD&D rules appendix to the dedicated mythology tome of your choice, it works fine. And the introduction pretty well specifies that this was the author's intent all along, so why not just judge the book's success or failure based on its actual intended function instead of another one arbitrarily and unfairly imposed from outside?

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  47. The Recursion KingApril 18, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    The DM clearly didn't know much about Thor to think that falling damage could kill him. He has a three mile high (!) giant made of clay land on his neck and all that happens is that he's having problems getting back up again (this is in one of the Eddas). Also, it's hard to imagine that a god who was part raised by the keepers of the lightning, who must surely be in the storm clouds, could ever fall to earth and be hurt by it (Odin has problems with his unruly and vastly powerful son and bequeths him to the keepers of the lightning for a time to help him learn his place - it seems to work). Lastly, a good point was raised earlier in that Thor can only be slain by the world serpent due to the prophecy of Raganarok, so it is beyond pointless to attempt to fight him.

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  48.  Dude. Even the Mabinogion thought all of Arthur's knights were extremely strong, as well as all having special "properties" (ie, magical powers and weaknesses). Malory is pretty clear that the Round Table was pretty much the UK and surrounding area's Olympic team of knights (not a bad comparison to top European tourney knights in the high medieval world). Most of their weaknesses were mental or moral, not physical.

    Deities and Demigods had crazy stats, true, but I'll defend this one.

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  49. I, too am a Champions player and also have the "X-men" issue.  A prized possession, and love the Bill Willingham art!

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  50. I had never heard of RPGers claiming to “slay Gods” back in the day (though the finite nature of the stats listed in D&DG certainly led us to consider at what level PC’s would be able to fight the Gods…however my play groups never achieved anywhere near the necessary level to actually do so…)…that said, I actually don’t have a problem with the idea of fighting Gods at the climax of an epic campaign…this IS, fantasy, right?  Mythology is full of stories of mortals ascending to legendary status and indeed demi-goddom…and I grew up on Marvel comics, where mortal heroes defeated Godlike beings such as Galactus (it was one of the most memorable and powerful stories I’ve ever read). If descending into the Hells to conquer Demon Lords is conceivable, then eliminating gods of Evil might be some RPG group’s Ultimate Epic Saga. 

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  51. D&DG is a mixed bag. While the issue of god-stats is understandably controversial, I always felt that this was a really inspirational piece.


    There's a really wide array of of unsual and funky ideas in there and the as a whole it's one of the best illustrated D&D projects of all time.


    As a kid, I always marvelled over the gortesque and creepy drawings, and the strange descriptions of the gods. The plethora of bare-breasted babes was also part of the allure...particularly the Frazetta-esque curves of Aphrodite and Hecate. Yowza!


    The groovy bell-bottoms of Elric and Moonglum are also worth a giggle.


    D&DG was also where I was first introduced to Fafrd and the Grey Mouser, and all the craziness that went with them... transparent ghouls, a cloud of hate that carries swords and axes around to kill people with, Sheelba, Ningauble, and the adorably evil Tyaa (the goddess of evil birds).


    Or how about the Lovecraftian horror that is Blipdoolpoolp... The naked chick with the lobster head and claws? (Whenever I see this pic it always reminds me of Chasey Lain playing the supervillain "Lobstra" in the movie Orgasmo, lol).

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