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RPG pioneer Jennell Jaquays to be memorialised with megadungeon inspired by D&D classic Caverns of Thracia

Return to Perinthos, a book full of user-submitted dungeons, will benefit Jaquays’ family and Trans Lifeline.

Cover art for Caverns of Thracia adventure by Jennell Jaquays
Image credit: Jennell Jaquays/Goodman Games

Tabletop designers plan to memorialise the recently passed game designer and activist Jennell Jaquays with a megadungeon game jam, which asks participants to create rooms or tiles for a book that will evoke the layout and style of classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure Caverns of Thracia, which Jaquays authored.

The Jennell Jaquays Memorial Game Jam and Fundraiser is currently accepting submissions on for a project called Return to Perinthos. Inspired by Mothership designer Sean McCoy and hosted by RV Games owner Violet Ballard, the game jam will support two worthy causes along its path to production. Crowdfundr proceeds raised through pre-orders will be donated to Jaquays’ family, while wholesale and retail sales of the book will benefit Trans Lifeline, a US-based grassroots hotline and grant-giving nonprofit.

Submission will be accepted through February 1st and can range from a manuscript for a map all the way up to a fully illustrated map spread, complete with keys, layout and everything else needed to slot the page into a wire-bound book. If participants can’t submit everything, volunteers will pitch in the design and editing according to the creator’s intentions (the coordinators plan to recruit volunteers at a later date). Regardless, submissions must fit on a standard US letter-sized page and contain no more than 750 words in their manuscript.

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Return to Perinthos won’t be bound to a single system, and the jam organisers have urged participants to “go wild and have fun” with their creations - as long as it doesn’t contain bigoted material or AI generated artwork and text. The book will be primarily constructed of maps, keys and a few general descriptions, meaning it should slot into most fantasy or adjacent tabletop RPG campaigns.

Jaquays is best known for her work as a game designer during the early days of tabletop’s popularity, designing adventures and supplements for D&D under TSR, as well as Chaosium (creator of Call of Cthulhu) and several other major studios. She also worked as director of game design for Coleco, designed levels from id Software during the creation of Quake and co-founded The Guildhall video game graduate program at Southern Methodist University.

Outside of design, Jaquays was a queer activist and champion of trans rights. She served as the creative director of the Transgender Human Rights Institute and helped create the petition that would precipitate the acceptance of “Leelah’s Law” in the US, which banned the use of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. Her family is currently accepting donations via a GoFundMe page, which also contains a link to the livestreamed funeral planned for February 2nd.

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