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Jennell Jaquays, Dungeons & Dragons and video game designer, has passed away

Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia creator dies following battle with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Interview with jennell Jaquays on Matt Barton's YouTube channel.
Image credit: Matt Barton/YouTube

Tabletop designer and video game developer Jennell Jaquays, who created Dungeons & Dragons adventures for a leading publisher of its time, has passed away at the age of 67.

Jaquays is best known for developing the early shape of the tabletop industry during the heyday of TSR and other D&D publishers. Her most successful adventures, Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia, were published for Judges Guild and featured both her game design and artwork.

Jaquays would go on to illustrate covers for plenty of other sourcebooks and modules, including the Dragon Mountain adventure included in D&D’s 1993 deluxe boxed set. Along with Call of Cthulhu publisher Chaosium, she also worked for several video game developers throughout the 1980s and 90s - Jaquays would help convert popular arcade cabinet games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to their console versions. In the late 1990s, Jaquays worked as a level designer for American video game company id Software while it developed the original Quake

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Dark Tower was the only non-TSR published adventure cited in Dungeon magazine’s list of the thirty greatest D&D adventure of all time, and Jaquays’ adventures would accrue several nominations for the H.G. Wells award. She was inducted in the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame in 2017.

As creative director of Transgender Human Rights Institute, Jaquays helped outline and petition for the adoption of Leelah’s Law in the US - the response to this activist movement led to the federal banning of conversion therapy amongst minors, which adversely affected trans youth. She was a staunch advocate for trans rights.

In a remembrance post on the EN World tabletop RPG forums fans and players shared their favourite Jaquays creations, including her Savage Frontier book and Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide, the latter of which many folks claimed was one of the best resources for running the game they had ever read.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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