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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition

Legends and Lore: Cyclopedia of Gods and Heroes from Myth and Legend

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Book by Ward, James, Kuntz, Robert

128 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1980

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James M. Ward

126 books49 followers
James M. Ward (b. 1951) is an American game designer and fantasy author.

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5 stars
710 (42%)
4 stars
510 (30%)
3 stars
366 (21%)
2 stars
80 (4%)
1 star
8 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,225 followers
November 8, 2014

IMUHO*, this is hands down the most perused and least used out of all the companion books TSR ever produced for the Dungeons & Dragons game, and for that reason it is the worst.

As a listing of immortal gods and superhuman heroes, Deities & Demigods was definitely one of the most impractical of D&D books. It gave physical stats to gods and demons that could be fought, but for all intents and purposes, could not be killed. Gods don't die. There's no defeating Zeus. Thor ain't going nowhere no how. Raise a fist to Ra and you will end up with a toasted tush.

No mortal could defeat a god. So what was the point of this book? Well for one it provided a sort of shorthand encyclopedia to religion, and in most D&D worlds that was important to some extent. Many fantasy worlds created for the game were set in a time and place where religion or at least the worship of a deity was important to the races populating the land. The simple people needed a reason for the sun rising and falling, etc.

Whenever I played, religion took a back seat. Sure, when a character got injured you'd call in the priest to work his healing magic, after which he would give lip-service prayer to his god for future heals. However, other than that, religion was usually relegated to cults, fanatics and unsavory devil worshippers that needed slaying.

The book has its good points. There's tons of generally good illustrations of a higher quality than other RPG makers were putting out at the time. I guess it could've helped those who used gods in their game to put a face to the name.

In the hands of an older, wiser dungeon master (aka the game referee) than the usual pimple-faced teen that ran these games, Deities & Demigods could help flesh out a world full of societal depth. As a kid, I did little more with this book than flip through the pages occasionally learning a thing or two about mythology (though more often than not, receiving a miseducation) and popping the occasional boner over one of the illustrated bare-breasted goddesses. I'm not proud...


*In My Un-Humble Opinion
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
October 18, 2015
This one is my favorite.

And I think it is cool that several friends on GR have stated that this was also their favorite D&D book.

I have a copy of the 1980 edition and over the years, this has remained a go-to for a quick reference of myth, legend and hero.

It’s not just for D&D!

Organized into cultural chapters such as Egyptian and Norse mythos, this also has chapters concerning literary mythos like Cthulhu and Melnibonean mythos.

What kind of cool stuff does this tome contain?

Hiawatha is a 15th level paladin / 10th level ranger.

Sir Gawain has a neutral alignment.

The Greek goddess of magic Hecate always has nine hellhounds guarding her.

I have consulted this book over the years while reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Kevin Hearne’s Atticus O’Sullivan series and during many films.

Profile Image for Terence.
1,160 reviews387 followers
February 11, 2013
Update 11-Feb-13:

Having recently finished The Iliad and The Odyssey - and constantly browsing Graves' The Greek Myths - I was prompted to dig out my copies of Deities & Demigods (both this original edition and the 3rd edition version) and remind myself of how they treated the Olympian mythos.

My observations:

1. The limitations (i.e., ludicrousness) of AD&D's alignment system. Zeus (and most of the other gods) is Chaotic Good!? WTF? LMAO! "Chaotic" I'll buy; but "Good"? Well, if we define "good" in terms of a Bronze Age warrior ethos, I suppose - as head of the pantheon - Zeus is "good" but that's a distinction I don't think most AD&D campaigns made (or make). I prefer Green Ronin's system of "allegiances" - people, groups or ethical systems a character supports.

2. Achilles, the unstoppable engine of wanton destruction who - alone - cowed all the armies of Troy, is only a 15th level fighter!? And Neutral Good! Again: "Neutral," maybe; "Good," no.

3. Odd choices about who they decided to include: Coeus? Crius? Antaeus? If I had known more about Greek mythology at the time I might have wondered about the absence of Medea (they included Circe) or more heroes from the Trojan War (why not include Achilles' nemesis, Hector?).

4. The artwork (for the Olympian chapter, if not elsewhere, cf., the Cthulhu chapter, esp. p. 48) was pretty good (and, like Jason mentions in his review, young boys could always drool over the pictures of naked love goddesses (see p. 64, for my money that Aphrodite is a heck of a lot sexier than the third edition's version even if that one's in color; or the picture of the Central American goddess of vice, Tlazolteotl, displaying her nubile body to a couple of warriors, one of whom looks very interested, p. 36)).

5. Speaking of artwork, the third edition's is of better quality but often doesn't look quite...right. They did a good job with Ares, Demeter, Heracles and Hera but Apollo has some weird helmet thing going on, Athena's breast plates look...um...ridiculous*, Tyche looks like Counselor Troi from The Next Generation and the Cyclops looks like the cyclops from the movie Krull; I've already mentioned Aphrodite. And, jumping pantheons, third edition's Loki looks a lot like Jean-Luc Picard. What's up with that?

A bit more seriously and more broadly speaking, Deities & Demigods, whichever edition you read, is a reference book for a role-playing game not a reference for a serious study of mythology. And in its proper role, it's pretty cool, fully deserving of the 4 stars I gave it. And it did introduce me to Finnish, Chinese and Native American mythology, which was a good thing.

* In the artist's defense, though largish, Athena's breasts are well within human dimensions, unlike a lot of fantasy women. In fact, a lot of third edition's artwork is rather tastefully done. A minimum of chainmail bikinis.
Profile Image for Love of Hopeless Causes.
721 reviews48 followers
August 22, 2015
The Holiest Grailiest tome of First Edition. Even has its own urban Legends and Lore, like being banned. I saw the forbidden Cthulhu pages for the first time today. Totally stoked on the Erol Otus Cthulhu Mythos. Does fantasy art get any better than that? Nay-nay! Maybe in the Frank Frazetta cover art sense of things, but not when it comes to Old Ones. It beats any of the Cthulhu RPG versions I've read.

D&DG's opens with the words, "TSR Presents," painted in Erol Otus Gang-green. The RPG gods were proud to claim this one—and hey look, RPG gods dueling on the cover. Does a Cyclopedia only have one leaf? No, it's just an ancient word for Encyclopedia. Why this word expanded its girth by two characters--like some creeping horror--exceeds the scope of this review. Speaking of reviews, this one was made possible by Geekhero.org who left the PDF laying around about here: http://www.geekhero.org/ADnDFE/files/...
Look at the background behind the Byakhee as you scroll, the optical illusion makes it seem as if it's flying.

You can see the echoes of D&D future here, like Oriental Adventures. Appendix N's past echoes within these caverns. Deep ones as Kuo-toa, shoggoths as oozes, Fungi of Yuggoth as slimes, the Ooze Master Character class as birthed by Shub-nigguruth. Necronomicon as spellbook. Was the Behemoth the inspiration for SNL's Landshark? Did the Owlbear evolve into Bearsharktopus? Did it inspire this series? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... As always this book generates more questions than answers. That's its real magic.

This review doesn't cover Moorcock's Melnibonean Mythos because I haven't read Elric's books yet. Oddly enough they mention Arkham House right on the Cthulhu page, foreshadowing the later legal troubles with Chaosium.

Some claim it's the least useful book. Maybe in the top three play-books sense, but of all the D&D books you had ever, was this not a favorite? In Gary Gygax's, Insidea he illustrates the importance of this tome. Gods. They work in the D&D multiverse. They would be thought of in all things because they grant real powers, like spells. If you want to know what that might be like read, Hercules, My Shipmate.

I don't understand this claim since every salty cleric needs a god. Here's a few I used--not just for clerics, but as the basis for larger module structures: all the trickster gods like Raven, Marduk, The Master of the Hunt and his pack (my favorite,) and Quetzalcoatl. I wouldn't understand the whole Planet X phenomena without this book as a reference.

I remember one DM saying, "Your Cleric can have any of these Gods but the Finns." What was his beef with the Finnish mythos? Why were they off limits? That only peaked my curiosity. Did a Water Dwarf bean him with a Crossbow of Accuracy?

The Art was better than earlier books (like Monster Manual or PHB) because it had a more unified look. King Arthur swatting a troll. 'Nuff said.

Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,785 reviews306 followers
August 12, 2016
Should gods have D&D stats?
25 April 2013

I preferred this book way above Legends and Lord because it contained characters from Call of Cthulu and from Faffrd and the Grey Mouser, as well as number deities from various regions around the world. When they discarded this book for Legends and Lore, pretty much onto the deities of the various regions around the world (mostly dead religions, you don't get stats for Buddha) were all that it contained, and in a way I was simply not interested in that. What I wanted was a fantasy world, and bringing real world (even dead) gods into the mix simply destroyed that.
I must say that I do agree with another commentator on this book about the fact that it is useless. They contain the stats for the gods but, in all honesty, how are you supposed to kill them, and what is the point of having stats for gods – they are gods. Well, if you look at it in another light, the stats (as outlined in later volumes) are actually meant to be for the avatars, and if an avatar is killed, then the avatar is unable to actually return to the physical world for a very long time. On the other hand, if we consider that gods are simply human beings that have reach a certain power and status and are then elevated to godhood, then that is another aspect that means that they can have stats.
This is something that has been suggested by and explored through the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons. This idea of godhood came about in 2nd Edition where we had some Forgotten Realms gods killed to be replaced by mortals. Even then this was explored in the earlier editions, namely the editions which went from basic to immortal. In that edition (known as Dungeons and Dragons as opposed to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) once you passed 20th level you would become an immortal, and they had an entire boxset that allowed to to play an immortal. In a way it is simply a more political version of the game, but on a much higher level.
Mind you my theory (which is supported, especially when you consider that some of the Taoist gods came about from human beings) is that these ancient gods were at one stage humans that were elevated to the level of godhood. In a sense it is an advanced form of ancestor worship, where previously the ancestor was simply worshipped as a dead person, but over time, mostly centuries, the ancestor would cease to be human, and slowly become a god. Therefore, once again, having stats for a god may not be a bad thing, except that any hero worth his salt is not going to go out and attempt to kill a major god (though there are some modules floating around, such as Queen of the Spiders, were you do go and kill a god, but they tended to be minor gods or demon lords.
Profile Image for Stuart.
718 reviews267 followers
July 21, 2013
Not very useful for actual playing, but I read this through hundreds of times. Great for an a overview of the many different bizarre and fascinating pantheons humans have conjured up over the centuries. Wonder if it would be a useful reference for Neil Gaiman's American Gods?
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,547 reviews32 followers
April 4, 2019
What hero is not inspired by the legends & deeds of the heroes and Gods. Now they can meet some of these legendary characters in the game. Great write-ups of several pantheons and many legendary characters. Nice gaming addition. Recommended
Profile Image for Erik.
Author 4 books70 followers
April 6, 2013
I have not looked at this book since the 1980s when I played RPGs. I am amazed at the way the art has lingered in my mind and at the richness of this miscellany. In particular the Cthulhu and Elric Melnibonean Myths are noteworthy, since they had to build up these pantheons from the original source materials. There are obvious contradictions such as what if unkillable god is slain with invincible weapon? The various planes of existence form a nice gaming scenario and made for some awesome dimension hopping. The suggestions for how to involve deities in a campaign are wise and I wish we had followed them. Our hardy troupe just built ourselves up and loaded up on magic items then we went on a slaughter fest to eliminate Asmodeus and Tiamat, finally we started taking on Zeus and Thor. I rememeber one character beheaded Asmodeus with a vorpal sword that was practically infallible and things got worse from there. Thor went down and one of our characters stole his hammer and wore it on his belt as a trinket. I guess we forgot to read the part about only Thor being able to wield the damn thing. What a waste. I would do much differently today, O my brothers.
Profile Image for Scott.
30 reviews3 followers
October 6, 2009
I went to Amazon and found a not-too-beat-up library copy of the first printing which is now an insanely expensive collector's item. But this is the edition I remember from the old days, the one which included the pantheon of creatures/gods/demigods from Michael Moorcock, H.P. Lovecraft, and Fritz Leiber. They were my first introduction to the work of these gentlemen and I still get a kick out of the illustrations (Erol Otus, FTW)!
Profile Image for jesse mabus.
150 reviews
May 8, 2008
the first edition of this gaming supplement has mythos based on the work of michael moorcock's elric of melnibone, h.p. lovecraft's call of cthulhu, and fritz leiber's fafhrd and the grey mouser
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,811 followers
March 8, 2010
I didn't find this a very helpful supplement in the Dungeons and Dragons series. Others who build games that are closer to classic myths might use it more. Of course the creatures here can be integrated into many games...it didn't help me much, but others may find it more useful.
Profile Image for Nika.
92 reviews7 followers
May 31, 2007
I used this book alot when Dungeon Mastering. Seemed like it was a rare book to have so I used it alot. I also think it was actualy my brotehrs book but I played it then when he didnt.
Profile Image for Brian.
52 reviews22 followers
December 28, 2007
Can I restate Erol Otis... End of story.

Oh wait. The first edition does have the Mythos Cthuliana, and the Melnibonean Mythos.


Erol Otis... end of story.
Profile Image for Ron.
123 reviews8 followers
May 15, 2012
Gaming referance material, I am lucky in that I have a copy of the pre-law suit version which includes mythos later removed from the book.
Profile Image for Woo.
13 reviews
November 23, 2012
Swapped my copy of Runequest for the original edition of this with Melibonean and Chuthulu mythos.
16 reviews
December 4, 2007
How can you give Zeus 400 hit points? He's the King of the Gods!

And where's Jesus?

It just doesn't make any sense!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 4 books2,357 followers
June 8, 2010
Excellent resource for obscure gods and stuff. Even got stats for Cthulu and family. =)
Profile Image for Christopher Mattick.
87 reviews12 followers
August 10, 2016
Totally worth hunting-down a first edition; I paid about $19 for a copy with a really beat cover, but with the "missing" mythoses ("mythii"? "mythum"?) intact.

Profile Image for Brian Sammons.
Author 75 books64 followers
May 30, 2012
This book brought the gods demigods of Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and coolest of all, H.P. Lovecraft to D&D. What's not to like about that?
Profile Image for Kasey Cocoa.
954 reviews40 followers
March 30, 2013
D&D game reference material great for adding excitement to the worlds and dungeons you can build. Sure gods don't actually die but you can defeat them and send them temporarily back.
Profile Image for Ivan.
48 reviews4 followers
October 7, 2013
It may not be all of them, just a few of note to get you started...Check out Roman and Greek mythology or religious tombs for more!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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