Latest Amazon Reviews
Cool, but Superfluous, really
*Deities and Demigods* is pretty straight-forward.
It begins with some facile definitions of religious concepts e.g., "monotheism," "mystery cults," "animism," and the like; those who know this stuff will be pretty annoyed by it. It then continues this definitional discussion with notes on types of divinity, divine relations with mortals, and a pantheon-building schematic. Some brief repetition here of the standard Great Ring cosmology, distilled down from *MotP*.
The second chapter is the crunchiest section, with a listing of "divine ranks," as in *Faiths and Pantheons*, and then lengthy explanations of portfolios, divine abilities, and so on. Useful if one is building a pantheon, or foolishly plans on actually including deities in combats with PCs.
Next, a chapter that develops the official Greyhawk pantheon--each deity gets a full stat block. Generally, very similar to FR's *FP* in format and effect. Several gods not in the *PH* are noted here, such as the kobold Kurtulmak and (expanded from *MotP*) Tiamat and the Platinum Dragon.
Students of mythology might be a little annoyed by the following 3 chapters, which reduce Greek, Norse, and Egyptian myth down to 3E stat blocks. It is overall decently done for the game (whether anyone would actually use it is another issue), though much of the nuance, dynamic, and contradiction from the mythology is stripped away. Furthermore, the pantheons are incomplete--no Horus, Amun, or Khepera in the Egyptian section; no Nords, Fenrir, Midgarth Worm, Magni, Modi, etc in the Norse; and no Erinyes, Muses, Fates, etc etc etc in the Greek. But that's really not too big a deal, really--except for geeks like me who actually want to see all of the hundreds of minor deities for each mythos set in stat blocks ("What? No stats for the River Xanthus? No Persephone?") Fans of 2E's *Legends and Lore* might be annoyed that this text sacrifices breadth for depth--but do we really miss the stats for Arthur, Lancelot, and so forth? (Achilles would've been nice, however.)
The text ends with some examples of "other religions," with attention to how to design them--complete with PrCs and the like. Appendices featuring new spells and guidelines for "divine ascension" conclude the endeavor (perhaps silly, but in a good way, like *Throne of Bhaal*).
In terms of art, this text is by far the best that WotC has produced. Wayne Reynold's work is good, as usual, with Sam Wood's and Donato Giancola's being attractive also for differing reasons. Arnie Swekel is likewise very fine (his Set in particular), and Jeff Easley's Tiamat is pretty slick. The star for graphic design, however, is Glen Angus; the stylized portraits of Apollo, Athena, Heimdall, Sif, Surtur, Thor, and Tyr are easily the best in the text, and rival anything else published by WotC.
On the whole, this is not an essential text, though the rules for deities and pantheons are decent (one complaining amazon reviewer, who notes the lack of rules for churches, should of course read the title of the text again). In this way, it is much like *MotP*, where it attempts to provide a basic cosmological setup for orthodox games in progress as well as tools to build one's own cosmology. Insofar as it (and *MotP* for that matter) provide an introduction to such issues, *DD* is well accomplished; one looking for more advanced and developed information will of course need to spend more moneys.
Not a bad book but could have been better
I'll start by saying that I'm still glad I bought this book. It's not perfect, but I like it. The book defines four pantheons (the Greyhawk pantheon too, which appealed to me a lot) and tells the reader how to create a pantheon of gods for his or her game. The things I didn't like... the artwork is hit and miss, some of it was awesome, some so so, and some TERRIBLE. My other, and more important complaint, is that too much space is wasted on the statistics of the gods... I mean, come on... what on earth (or Oerth) can this possible be useful for? You gonna take on a God? Why a Dungeon Master would ever need that info is beyond me, gods are so far above mortal PC's that there stats are, to me anyway, irrevelant. The space wasted on this stuff could have been better used, specifically, it could have been used to give more info on the deities religious ceremonies, what is required of the worshipers of the gods... just more of what the deities beliefs and dogma would have been nice. So, to conclude, this book is a so, so offering... could have been MUCH better but is still worthwhile. Oh yeah, and where the hell was Tharizdun or Iuz in the D&D pantheon??? To leave out those two Greyhawk gods... makes me wonder if the editors really understand the greyhawk campaign at all.
Well written and a great addition to AD&D
This edition of "Deities and Demigods" is a very good addition to the realms of AD&D books. It's well written - and more importantly well edited. There's a great deal of information on Gods and how they interact with the game and how they should impact your campaign.
On the plus side, they have given much more detail to all levels of the pantheons and further defined divine abilities. Virtually all the characterizations, abilities and politics are spelled out for you in the books. All a dungeon master has to do is read the book and plug the his chosen pantheon into his campaign. It's a great help for a large number of dungeon masters. The artwork is also superb.
Now for the downside - such as it is. While they did an incredible job at bringing so much more detail to life, they only included three pantheons from world mythology. The Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythologies are great but it would have been nice to see something from Asia or Africa. There are so many more mythologies out there. The other, very minor, downside is the incredible level of detail (that is also a plus). They've take all the mystery out of everything divine. There isn't any level of divine mystery to shroud the inner workings of the Gods. Personally, I like that level of mystery so the players (who can read the book) never get too firm a handle on divine motivations.
Overall though the book is definitely worth getting for all the information it offers. The best advice I could offer with the book is to use the book as a general guideline and if your players read it - keep the level of mystery.