While I do enjoy the various offerings from the OSR community, I admit that I am very particular about what I actually pick up. I first hear about the Petty Gods project the same way many did. We read it on Grognardia and it was one of the latest projects that James Maliszewski was involved with. I was vaguely intrigued though it wasn't the first OSR project the community worked on that seemed to have promise But, it was one of Maliszewski's last projects as well and one that was never completed. I, and many others, forgot about it. Some of us were more concerned with what was going to happen next with Dwimmermount and the Grognardia blog. Others just moved on to the next 'thing'. Thankfully others didn't leave it be.
Seemingly abandoned, dice kept on rolling, and life continued. What few know is that the project had been kept alive and someone was entrusted with the material that Maliszewski collected. The problem was that no one really knew about it. This was back in the Fall of 2012.
Independent of this and after the collapse of Grognardia, a fellow who goes by the name of Greg Gorgonmilk steps up to take the reigns of the project in the Spring of 2013. Being an enthusiast himself, he rallies people to him to basically do what it takes to finish the project and more. He decides to expand upon the content and devotes considerable energy for a very specific aesthetic suitable to the material. This became the revised and expanded version of Petty Gods.
The original version of Petty Gods which was complete by Peter Gifford is available for free HERE. This would be the version that James Maliszewski was last involved with. It is the foundation that the newer version rests on.
Now that a bit of the project's past has been discussed, what is Petty Gods exactly? Maliszewski described it best as this:
...The working title is Petty Gods and it's intended as an homage to Judges Guild's awesome Unknown Gods, which presented 83 minor gods -- complete with stats -- for use in your D&D adventures and campaigns.
And when I say "minor gods," I mean it: we're talking deities like the goddess of dancing girls, the god of summer storms, and the goddess of deep water fish, among others. That's the vibe I'm aiming for with this project too. If anything, I'd prefer that the divinities in Petty Gods be even more minor, esoteric, and obscure than those in Unknown Gods -- the kinds of beings worshiped only by a handful of devoted (and probably crazed) followers and whose power is limited enough that they could conceivably be offed by a party of appropriately bloody-minded PCs. In short, this is a "Monster Manual" for swords-and-sorcery in the manner of Elric.
Now I have a copy of Unknown Gods from Judges Guild. It is one of the few Judges Guild products I still own and cherish and will remain in my collection for YEARS to come. Frankly, it is an awesome book and I enjoy looking through it. This new and expanded version of the Petty Gods on the other hand is astounding and I love this book.
Honestly, I was surprised with it. Back when he original Petty Gods was made available (also in the Spring of 2013), I grabbed as I'm sure others did. It was nice, clean, and simple albeit in a slightly elegant way and at 150 pages, there was enough material to make the average gamer happy. There was an interesting article at the back by M.A.R. Barker which alone makes the download worthwhile. It's also has a forward by Paul Jaquays who, worked on the original Unknown Gods. It was a good book and I filed away and forgot about.
When I heard that the new revised and expanded version was available, I didn't pick up up immediately. I think I got around to doing so about a week later. After flipping through the PDF, I immediately went to Lulu and ordered a print copy. To my regret, I ordered a perfect bound softcover copy and I've seriously considered rectifying that oversight and getting a hardcover copy for my bookshelf.
It's that good.
Don't get me wrong. The first was also good and there is of course overlap but this book went from 150 pages to almost 400! The entries are 'smaller' and by this, I don't mean the entries are abridged in the new version. There is just MORE. With the original, most entities took up an entire page and in some cases they took a couple. In this case, you have multiple entries per page. The notion of additional white space is gone and what you have is a book whose look mimics the 1st edition Deities & Demigods hardcover that TSR published many moons ago. Given the material, it just works.
The book delivers what James Maliszewski had envisioned for the project and then some. The original back was just a book of these lesser beings of power and note. In the revised version of the book, these occupy a section of the book and it is the rest of the book that really helps make this tome shine. In the new book, you have a comprehensive introduction section with articles to help guide you to the book and obviously you have the main section, the Petty Gods themselves. In addition to that, you have sections dealing with minions, knights, servitors, cults and cultists as well as divine items and relics and some spells for your game. However, you also have a comprehensive section of appendices with even more material to flesh out the book even further. There are simply more entries to contend with. To go from a 150 page book with 99 petty gods to a much larger book with 327 petty gods and minions and followers on top of that is a pretty impressive feat. It also shows that a few dedicated individuals and a supportive community can truly do some amazing work.
The fact that the Expanded & Revised edition of Petty Gods is also free or, at cost if you want a print version is equally outstanding. There is no reason not to at least check this book out. If you like this sort of thing, like me, you may immediately order a physical copy for yourself.
While I often hold some of the projects published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess as the gold standard that other OSR projects should aspire towards, Petty Gods - Revised & Expanded easily joins those ranks.
You can get the the PDF over HERE on RPGNow! (OBS Services) for free and/or visit Lulu to order a physical copy HERE.