I do not like the idea of using the pantheons of real, yet dead religions, such as the gods of the Greeks, Vikings, Sumerians, etc.
There are several reasons for this. D&D already has a bad name and is wrongly associated with devil worship. Invoking the names of the gods of other religions, some of who are mentioned in the Bible, Apocrypha, and historical writings, just adds fuel to the fire. Both the Monster Manual and Dieties & Demigods/Legends and Lore, use these historical names. Tiamat, Mephistopheles, Zeus, etc. are all from historical religious writings.
While one could use a the structure of those historical pantheons, for their ready made stats in various game source books; change their names, to avoid continuing the stigma. It takes a lot of effort to come up with a religious structure from scratch. Yet, there has to be some framework of dieties if a player wants to be a cleric. For the humanoids, I go with the materials in the various source books. For the humans, I am torn between finding the time to develop my own, or just picking and choosing a few from the Greyhawk setting. After all, keeping prep time to a minimum, to maximize play is the key. A DM does want a life outside the game, right?
As a Christian, it does bother me to speak the names of historical deities while roleplaying. Roleplaying is not the same as having a literate discussion of the religion of the ancient Greeks.
That is one aspect of roleplaying where I think we should draw a line. Granted, we are all free to run the rules as we see fit for our own group. For my campaign in the works, I will avoid the use of any historical religious names, for both a clean conscience and to avoid the appearance of evil, for those who would judge our preferred game without all the facts.
Some may view this as a naive view of the world, but if we want our game of choice to be an option for the people of faith in our communities, or at least move them to a neutral and accepting frame of mind, we should keep such things in mind. Granted, there have not been a lot of movies about the dangers of D&D like in the 80s. However, I still do not feel comfortable discussing D&D with those who are more likely to look down on it.
While I have not run into outright anti-D&D sentiment in a long time, I have been an “in the closest” gamer for years. It was really bad when my wife questioned my beliefs when I mentioned that I like D&D. She like many from the 80s, bought the line of the movies and sensational headlines.I think I finally have her convinced it is not devil worship or evil, as she has not complained about having my books openly displayed on the shelves in our computer room. Yet she did state she did not want me spending hours wrapped up in those books. (She understands the time sink problem.)
How does your family, friends, and community react to D&D?