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. 


  1. As a way to honor the memory of a beloved/respected designer, this isn't a bad idea. For some of us already running campaigns it might be impractical.

    I think Jaquays was fairly eclectic in her use of tropes...mythology was big, but it spanned many pantheons; hard to pin down just one. Better to have a setting that stocks her various dungeons as "places of interest" perhaps.

  2. That's a really nice idea.

    Personally, I'd find room to add the various hymenoptera breeds from Metagaming's Chitin: 1 microgame as a new type of intelligent-but-hard-to-communicate-with monster species. Even if you don't have a copy the imagery is easily found online, along with a modest number of articles supporting the game through early issues of The Space Game and the Interplay house organ from Metagaming (which had stats for The Fantasy Trip and even a small adventure). Let's not kid ourselves, if it wasn't for her iconic artwork almost no one would remember that game fondly.

    If you could figure out exactly which Cardboard Heroes standees she drew you could also stick them into your campaign as NPC Easter eggs, but I'm not sure how many she did versus Dee and Loubet.

  3. This is a great idea. I ran a memorial campaign for Gary, "Gary's Greyhawk Campaign," using 1E AD&D, and it went wonderfully for the year or so that it ran. Gave us all a great perspective on Gary's design and style.

  4. With Jennell's campaign, though, even using D&D, you'd definitely need to add ducks as a PC race...