Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Jennell Jaquays Memorial Campaign

Earlier today I had an idea I might post more on or even run in the future: to honor the legacy of Jennell Jaquays, why not run a campaign using material she wrote as the spine? Jaquays, like probably every creator, had certain tropes she returned to regularly and that means that a wide breadth of material she made is fairly thematically coherent..* I personally have physical copies of The Savage Frontier, Griffin Mountain, The Book of Treasure Maps I, and the d20 version of Caverns of Thracia, so let's use those as our basis.

The Savage Frontier will act as our setting, with hopefully little reference to the rest of the Forgotten Realms and maybe with some f/r for FR gods to change them to Earth ones given Thanatos, Ra, and Set's prominence in some of her work. Esteban Maroto's art also I think mirrors the swords & sorcery vibes of her stuff extremely well.

Book of Treasure Maps is the easiest to integrate into this campaign: just sprinkle the adventures around either as new locations or replacements for existing dungeons mentioned in Savage Frontier. The Tomb of Aethering the Damned could replace the Tombs of Dekon Thar, for example. The Lone Tower/Castle Clearmoon seems sensible to place in some wilderness near enough to access but remote enough not to bedevil Silverymoon, though it could also serve well as the basis for the Dungeon of the Hark.. Arcadia could be the delving of some Netherese guy. That kind of thing.

The encounters/adventures in Griffin mountain can, with some conversion, be added in the same way. Griffin Mountain itself could obviously be placed anywhere as a griffon lair. Gondo Holst's Caravan could be the basis for a Zhent caravan with similar motives. The Troll Tomb could be a troll (or orc) tomb anywhere in the region. The River of the Damned islands similarly could fit in any river far enough way from a settlement - which luckily is fairly easy to find in the Savage Frontier. The same could be done with Water Wyrm Island. If you want you could also make the Uthgardt barbarians be influenced by the Balazarings, especially their fondness for dogs.

The Caverns of Thracia I think I'd want to use for the Karse in the High Forest. The Netherese refugees are the ones who began to worship Death, whether under the name Bhaal or Thanatos is up in the air. The many animal men inside could be holdovers from the ancient Days of Thunder, and perhaps clues to some of the ruins from the Book of Treasure Maps.

For rules I would probably advocate for Swords & Wizardry Complete since that is what her most recent modules were published for and I believe the OD&D on the brink of AD&D vibe of those rules best suits the Treasure Maps and Thracia - the most directly usable of the material above.

Such a campaign would have material to last months if not years, and indeed one could incorporate more of her work (again rather easy to do since she had tropes she liked to return to) or of course incorporate your own. Perhaps Return to Perinthos could serve as the Nameless Dungeon?

*I was originally going to do a post about how I believed she had a kind of ur-setting these tropes came from (likely a part of the Wilderlands she ran early in her career) but further research on the Candlekeep Forums leads me to believe she merely reused these elements. It's not like I don't. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Jennell Jaquays Memorial Game Jam


As most of you probably are aware, Jennell Jaquays passed away Wednesday. She was an absolute titan of both tabletop and computer gaming, and the OSR in particular is basically an exercise in iterating on things she pioneered. My intellectual debt to her is immeasurable.

Violet Ballard has set up a game jam to build a megadungeon in the spirit of Jaquays' excellent Caverns of Thracia. The proceeds from it will go to her family's medical and funeral expenses as well as to Trans Life Line. You should consider contributing and picking up a copy when it's available. I know I will be.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Games to Run Before I Die

Recent events in my life have made me think about things I'd be mad about in Hell if I didn't do them before I die. Some of them include games I want to run. There are also games I'd be ok with playing, but my favorite roll is definitely Referee and even playing in them would largely just make me want to run them. So here are the ones I want to make sure I run before I die:

In the lost days of G+ I waxed poetic about how much I wanted it to be translated into English and when it finally was I put my money where my mouth was. I am apparently even the first non-Spanish speaker to make something for the game. I've still not gotten to run it. My players have wanted me to use it for the World of Nightwick, largely to keep me from switching campaigns and to keep me focused on my baby. This makes a certain sense - there is some overlap in terms of historical material culture and devilry - but a lot of the mystique of the game to me is in the historical setting.

Though that comes with its own perils. I am far more versed in medieval France than Spain and would probably want to run it in the Languedoc, but that is probably a way to procrastinate and make the game impossible for me to run while convincing myself it's going to be easier. This is a common ailment among DMs.

I may be able to overcome this one as I have asked if some of my regular players would be open to playing it on Candlemas, but I'm worried the scenario I have devised is too big for a single session.

Oh hey another medieval historical one. So shocking! Specifically I want to run the Great Pendragon Campaign with it. It might be a good year to start what with Chaosium putting out a new edition, but promotional material says that they're cutting the Uther parts out of the GPC and I'm a bit sad about that.

I just worry my ADHD and "gamer ADD" will mean that any attempt to start this up will be doomed to failure. However I've been running Nightwick for almost 80 sessions now so who knows.

This is likely a lot of people's white whale. It's one of mine.

I doubt it will surprise anyone that I'm a big Clive Barker fan, and Kult seems to be "Clive Barker the RPG." The newer PBTA version is very outside my wheelhouse but I also sort of want to try it because of that. I suppose I might be ok playing in this one, but I also have a scenario idea for it that I think is suitably dark.

Karse is my "Shittye Englande" setting. This one isn't that different from the Dark Country if I'm honest, which is probably why I haven't run it yet. However, I bellyfeel its vibes very strongly and it combines a lot of the things that got me interested in fantasy in the first place. 

Barrows filled with bogeys, lots of fog, turf houses, the king of the faeries. That sort of thing.

There are a few others I thought about including here - Harn, the Enemy Within, Masks of Nyralthotep - but I figured if I ran Aquelarre or Pendragon I probably wouldn't feel bad for never running Harn, WFRP has lost some of its shine for me recently as I've decided the kind of city shenanigans games I like to run with it work perfectly well in D&D, and I'd probably rather play Masks than run it. 

I'll probably revisit this in a few months and see if I still agree with it.