Wednesday 10 January 2024

RIP Jennell Jaquays, D&D designer and artist and video game designer

Dungeons & Dragons designer and artist Jennell Jaquays has sadly passed away at the age of 67.

Born in Michigan in 1956, Jaquays attended Spring Arbor College in the late 1970s, where she become interested in the nascent roleplaying industry. Jaquays began playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1975, shortly after the game came out, and started a fanzine for the game, The Dungeoneer, alongside Mark Hendricks. The fanzine proved successful, and Jaquays began writing for the official TSR magazine, Dragon. She also began working for Judges Guild and freelancing for TSR, producing the officially-licensed D&D modules Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia, both of which became quite well-known in fan circles at the time. Dark Tower was the only none-TSR adventure included in Dungeon magazine's "Thirty Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time" list in 2004.

Jaquays expanded her remit to cover many of the popular roleplaying systems of the day, expanding from Dungeons & Dragons to work on Traveller and RuneQuest. In 1980 she was brought over to work at Coleco by Michael A. Stackpole (himself a wargaming and roleplaying legend for his work on BattleTech, as well as a Star Wars novelist), where she worked on home ports for popular arcade games like Donkey Kong.

Jaquays worked at id Software from 1997 to 2002, working on Quake II and Quake III: Arena as a level designer, before joining Ensemble Studios, where she worked on Age of Empires III and Halo Wars. After Ensemble collapsed in 2009, she moved to CCP to provide work for their game EVE Online. More recently she worked with her wife at Dragongirl Studios.

For Dungeons & Dragons, Jaquays is noted for her work on the classic Castle Greyhawk module for the World of Greyhawk setting, and for The Savage Frontier module for Forgotten Realms (large chunks of which were reprinted for The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier almost a decade later).

Jaquays co-won the 1989 Origins Gamer's Choice Award for Best Roleplaying Adventure. In 2017 she was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. She was also active in the LGBTQ+ community, for which she was a strong voice in the gaming world.

A key worker in the field of both tabletop and video games, and with some impressive credits to her name which have been played and enjoyed by millions, she will be missed. She is survived by her wife and two children. She passed away earlier today from complications of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember her art from D&D stuff when l was growing up, and I loved her Central Casting game books from the mid? Late? ‘80