Jennell Jaquays
Jaquays interviewed in 2012
Jaquays interviewed in 2012
BornPaul Jaquays
(1956-10-14)October 14, 1956
Michigan, U.S.
DiedJanuary 10, 2024(2024-01-10) (aged 67)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
OccupationGame designer and artist
GenreRole-playing games, video games
SpouseRebecca Heineman[1]

Jennell Allyn Jaquays[2] (born Paul Jaquays; October 14, 1956 – January 10, 2024) was an American game designer, video game artist, and illustrator of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs).[3] Her notable works include the Dungeons & Dragons modules Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia for Judges Guild; the development and design of conversions on games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong for Coleco's home arcade video game system; and more recent design work, including the Age of Empires series, Quake II, and Quake III Arena. One of her best known works as a fantasy artist is the cover illustration for TSR's Dragon Mountain adventure.[4][5]

Early life and education

Jaquays was born on October 14, 1956, in Michigan and grew up in Michigan and Indiana.[6] Jaquays graduated from Michigan's Jackson County Western High School in 1974 and Spring Arbor College in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art.[7]


The Dungeoneer and fantasy roleplaying

While still at college, Jaquays became interested in science-fiction and fantasy gaming and the nascent role-playing game industry through the pages of The Space Gamer.[citation needed] Jaquays began playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1975 and created the Fantastic Dungeoning Society with several college friends including Mark Hendricks, and they wanted to publish a fanzine to write adventures that other gamemasters could use.[8]: 66  Tim Kask from TSR granted Jaquays a casual license to publish this amateur fanzine, and The Dungeoneer became one of the earliest periodicals for role-playing games.[8]: 9 

The first issue was released in the same month as Dragon #1 (June 1976).[8]: 9  The first issue was drawn and written primarily by Jaquays, with contributions by other memebrs of the FDS, and from 1976 to 1978 they published six issues of The Dungeoneer.[8]: 66  Marketed as a "dungeonmaster's publication," the magazine was noteworthy for its pioneering approach to pre-factored adventures, "F'Chelrak's Tomb" was published in June 1976, the same month as Wee Warriors' Palace of the Vampire Queen. The publication has been an inspiration for many similarly-themed magazines in the United States and elsewhere.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

In addition to these "honest efforts at quality contents to interest readers," Jaquays began submitting artwork to TSR's in-house gaming magazine, The Dragon, in 1976. Jaquays' work appeared in the premiere issue of The Dragon, and later contributions included the cover of issue #21.[13][15]

Judges Guild, later independent role-playing projects, and TSR

Jaquays was preparing for graduation by late 1977 which meant spending more time working in the art studio, so FDS sold The Dungeoneer to Chuck Anshell of Anshell Miniatures.[8]: 66–67  Anshell soon came to work at Judges Guild, a prolific provider of material and officially licensed products for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) line.[14] Anshell brought The Dungeoneer with him, and retained a level of editorial control over it as it became one of Judges Guild's two gaming periodicals.[citation needed] Jaquays also began working at Judges Guild in October 1978, spending a year there as an illustrator and designer for adventures,[8]: 67  but refused to move to Decatur to work on-site at Judges Guild. Instead Jaquays worked out an arrangement to work from home in Michigan.[16] Jaquays worked on two stand-alone D&D modules for Dungeons & Dragons, Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia, which were completed before she left the company in October 1979. She provided a variety of content on a freelance basis thereafter, particularly to The Dungeoneer.[14][17] Jaquays and Rudy Kraft authored Adventures Beyond the Pass for Judges Guild, who never published it; instead Greg Stafford published it through Chaosium as the adventure Griffin Mountain (1981).[8]: 68  The MicroGame Chitin: I (1978) by Metagaming Concepts included illustrations by Jaquays.[8]: 79  Jaquays, Denis Loubet, and Jeff Dee produced Cardboard Heroes in the early 1980s for Steve Jackson Games.[8]: 103 

Jaquays expanded her career to include video game design in the early 1980s, but continued to work as a freelancer for various table-top game publishers including TSR, Chaosium, West End Games, Flying Buffalo, and Iron Crown Enterprises. She produced illustrations for Game Designers' Workshop (GDW), most notably creating all the starship illustrations in Traveller Supplement 9: Fighting Ships.[citation needed] A number of these became the basis for starship models from Ad Astra Games and the deckplans found in Mongoose Traveller Supplement 3 - Fighting Ships.[citation needed]

From 1986 to 1993, she did freelance work while running a design studio.[18][19] Jaquays worked on a series of supplements focusing on character creation called Central Casting (1988-1991) to be published by Flying Buffalo, although they were instead published by Task Force Games.[8]: 40  Jaquays also prepared three more supplements in the Citybook line out of house from 1990 to 1994 for Flying Buffalo.[8]: 40  From 1993 to 1997, she returned to full-time employment in the table-top gaming industry as an illustrator for TSR, including a six-month period as Director of Graphics. She left TSR just before their takeover by Wizards of the Coast. During this time, she played an active role in the creation of the Dragon Dice game, both as cover artist and icon designer.[18]

Freelance artwork

In addition to many gaming artwork contributions (including artwork spread over two decades for TSR's first-line periodicals, Dragon and Dungeon), she worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for the Jackson Citizen Patriot in 1980. During the late 1980s, Jaquays was a regular interior artist for Amazing Stories, and contributed one cover for that publication.[20][21]

Video game industry

Michael A. Stackpole worked for Coleco from 1980-1981, and was able to help his friend and fellow role-playing game designer Jaquays get hired at Coleco as well.[8]: 36  After leaving Judges Guild, Jaquays worked for Coleco, first in a freelance capacity from 1980, then as a full-time employee from 1981 to 1985. She developed and designed arcade conversions of many well-known titles such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong for their home arcade video game system. Jaquays eventually became director of game design.[4] Jaquays assembled one of the first art and design studios for video game development at Coleco to make ColecoVision games.[22] During a freelance design studio period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she continued to be involved in the video game industry, with concept and design work for Epyx, Interplay Entertainment, and Electronic Arts.[19]

From March 1997, Jaquays was employed as level designer for id Software,[22] best known for their Quake series of video games. She then moved to the Dallas-based Ensemble Studios, which had "become a haven for ex-id Software developers." She worked there from early 2002, with former tabletop and computer gaming contemporary Sandy Petersen, until the company's closure in January 2009. Petersen had previously hired Jaquays to be a content designer at id Software.[23][24][25][26] In 2003 Jaquays co-founded The Guildhall at SMU, a video game education program, located at the Plano campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.[22] She helped create much of the program's original curriculum.[5][27][28][29] Jaquays worked as an advisor to The Guildhall program.[22] As of October 2009, Jaquays was employed as a senior-level designer with the North American division of Iceland's CCP Games.[5]

Jennell divided her creative energy between projects for design studio Dragongirl Studios, her Fifth Wall brand of game adventures and miniatures, and serving as the creative director for Olde Sküül, Inc.,[1] a digital game developer and publisher based in Seattle, Washington which she founded with three other veteran female developers in 2012.[30]


As creative director for the Transgender Human Rights Institute in Seattle, Jennell Jaquays was involved in the petition to create "Leelah's Law," outlawing conversion therapy of LGBT youth.[31] In response to the petition, President Barack Obama called for the banning of conversion therapy for minors in April 2015.[32]


The New York Times noted that "two of her earliest D&D modules, Dark Tower and The Caverns of Thracia, are renowned for their pathbreaking designs". Many contemporary modules had linear designed dungeons while Jaquays's adventure modules "often contained several possible entrances and multiple avenues, some of them secret, by which players could accomplish their goals".[2] Academic Asa Roast, in the journal article A Preliminary Geography of the (Mega)Dungeon, highlighted that Jaquays's non-linear and multi-solution dungeons are characterized by their "complexity and dynamism".[33]: 202  Roast wrote:

Analysis of her writing and design of megadungeon-like spaces has been particularly prominent in online discussion of the experience of dungeoneering, as her dungeons are thought to have pioneered principles which produce a particularly satisfying and engaging space to navigate. [...] These spaces are thus frustrating and difficult to navigate, but also present the PCs with a wide range of resources which can be combined and exploited in novel ways, including those which may not have been anticipated or imagined by the designer themselves. [...] Jaquays dungeons are also characterised by incorporating extra-dimensional or nested spaces within 'normal' dungeons. Such designs make the spatial practice of dungeoneering more dynamic and interesting than a series of simple choices by creating a more complex and variable landscape within the overall infrastructure of play provided by the megadungeon.[33]: 202 

In game design,[33][34][35] her name has "become a verb — 'Jaquaysing[a] the dungeon' means creating a scenario with myriad paths".[2]

Personal life and death

Jaquays had two children from her first marriage.[3] Jaquays announced in December 2011 that she was a lesbian and trans woman.[36] She resided in Seattle, Washington, with her wife Rebecca Heineman.[3][1]

Jaquays died from complications of Guillain–Barré syndrome at a hospital in Dallas on January 10, 2024, at the age of 67.[2][37][38] A memorial project titled Return to Perinthos, organized by the Jennell Jaquays Memorial Game Jam, launched that month to raise funds for Jaquays' family and the Trans Lifeline.[35][39][40] The project aims to create a mega-dungeon that can be "slot into most fantasy or adjacent tabletop RPG campaigns" and evokes "the layout and style of classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure Caverns of Thracia, which Jaquays authored".[39]

Awards and honors

Dark Tower

Jaquays' Dark Tower was nominated for the 1979 H.G. Wells award for Best Roleplaying Adventure. In November 2004, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration for Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon magazine produced a list of the "thirty greatest D&D Adventures of All Time." Dark Tower was the only entry on the list not published by TSR.[41]

Griffin Mountain

Jaquays was co-author and illustrator for Chaosium's Griffin Mountain RuneQuest scenario. Set in Glorantha, this highly praised scenario was nominated for the 1981 H.G. Wells award. The reworked version, Griffin Island, was nominated for the same award in 1986.[19]


Coleco's Wargames, for which Jaquays was co-designer of gameplay, won the 1984 Summer C.E.S. original software award.[19]

Castle Greyhawk

As a level designer for TSR's Castle Greyhawk module, Jaquays shared the 1989 Origins Gamer's Choice Award for "Best Role-Playing Adventure."[42]


Other recognition


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Partial bibliography of works in print
Partial list of video game credits
Title Released System name Role
Donkey Kong July 1982 ColecoVision Project leader, design, and graphics conversion
Omega Race 1983 ColecoVision Project leader, design, and graphics conversion
WarGames 1984 ColecoVision Project leader, gameplay co-designer
4x4 Off-Road Racing 1988 Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, DOS, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum Game design
The Bard's Tale IV[48] 1991–1992 (unpublished) Rewrite and integration
Quake II[49] December 9, 1997 Amiga (68k), AmigaOS 4 (PowerPC), Nintendo 64, Macintosh, BeOS, Linux, Windows, PlayStation, Zeebo Designer and level designer
Quake III Arena[50] December 2, 1999 Linux, Microsoft Windows, IRIX, Mac OS, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox Live Arcade Designer and level designer
Quake III: Team Arena[51] December 2000 Designer and level designer
Age of Empires III October 18, 2005 Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Windows Mobile, N-Gage Artist
Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs March 7, 2006 Windows, Mac OS X Artist
Halo Wars February 26, 2009 Xbox 360 Artist and level designer

See also


  1. ^ Orginally coined by Justin Alexander in 2010 as "Jaquaying".[35][33]: 202 


  1. ^ a b c "This Year's Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Who's Who". 1 April 2015. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Slotnik, Daniel E. (February 1, 2024). "Jennell Jaquays, Who Unlocked Fantasy Dungeons for Gamers, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2024. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c "Jennell Jaquays: The Reinvented Girl". Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Paul Jaquays: What's the Story?". Archived from the original on October 10, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Varney, Allen (December 3, 2009). "Gaming's Renaissance Man". The Escapist. Archived from the original on December 5, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  6. ^ "Paul Jaquays Biography". Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  7. ^ Jaquays, Paul (1979). "My Life and Role-Playing". Different Worlds. Albany, California: Chaosium (1): 24–26.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  9. ^ "Dungeoneers vol. 1 #1 to #6". Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  10. ^ "Biographies – Paul Jaquays". Controlled Chaos Media. Retrieved March 22, 2012.[dead link]
  11. ^ Jaquays, Paul (June 1976). "F'Chelrak's Tomb". The Dungeoneer. Spring Arbor, Michigan: The Fantastic Dungeoning Society (1): 9–12.
  12. ^ Alexander, Phil (July 1977). "Editorial". Underworld Oracle. Edinburgh, Scotland: Cyclops Productions (1): 2.
  13. ^ a b Gygax, Gary (June 1979). "From the Sorcerer's Scroll (Editorial)". The Dragon. TSR (26): 39.
  14. ^ a b c Jaquays, Paul. "History of the Dungeoneer Fanzine". Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  15. ^ Gold, Lee (June 1976). "Languages or, Could you repeat that in Auld Wormish? (Illustration by Jaquays)". The Dragon. TSR (1): 9.
  16. ^ Wlinsky, David (2015-06-25). "Jennell Jaquays". Don't Die. Archived from the original on 2024-01-10. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  17. ^ Fawcett, William (December 1980). "Here comes the Judges Guild". The Dragon. TSR (44).
  18. ^ a b Sacco, Ciro Alessandro (May 6, 2009). "Interview with Paul Jaquays". Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d "Game and Product Design, Development and Editing". Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  20. ^ "Art and Illustration". Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  21. ^ "Paul Jaquays - Summary Bibliography". Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  22. ^ a b c d Jaquays, Paul (2007). "RuneQuest". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 261–264. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
  23. ^ "Biography by All Game Guide". Allgame. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  24. ^ "GameSpot Expert Advice: Paul Jaquays". Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  25. ^ "Interview with Paul Jaquays". Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  26. ^ "Ensemble Studios to Close". September 10, 2008. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  27. ^ "Paul Jaquays on the Guildhall". The Guildhall at SMU. March 26, 2003. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  28. ^ "The Guildhall at SMU advertisement". The Guildhall at SMU. March 26, 2003. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  29. ^ Schnurman, Mitchell (July 30, 2003). "University in Dallas hopes to win with video games". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News.
  30. ^ "About Olde Sküül, Inc". Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  31. ^ "Leelah Alcorn Update: Transgender Teen's Suicide Inspires LGBT Activists Struggling To Keep Her Memory Alive". International Business Times. 2015-02-12. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  32. ^ "Leelah's death moves Obama to respond". Archived from the original on 2015-05-15. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  33. ^ a b c d Roast, Asa (December 2023). "A Preliminary Geography of the (Mega)Dungeon: Spatial Practice and Tabletop Role-Playing Games" (PDF). magazén. 4 (2): 191–218. doi:10.30687/mag/2724-3923/2023/02. eISSN 2724-3923. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 2, 2024 – via Edizioni Ca' Foscari.
  34. ^ Wolens, Joshua (January 11, 2024). "Jennell Jaquays, legendary designer who shaped both tabletop and videogames, has died". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  35. ^ a b c Codega, Lin (February 15, 2024). "Return to Perinthos honors Jennell Jaquays' queer activism and her dungeon-breaking legacy". Rascal News. Archived from the original on February 20, 2024. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  36. ^ "News and Updates: Hitting Reset". Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  37. ^ Dohm-Sanchez, Jeffrey (January 10, 2024). "'Dungeons & Dragons' 'Dark Tower' Designer Passes Away". ICv2. Archived from the original on January 10, 2024. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  38. ^ Carter, Chase (January 10, 2024). "Jennell Jaquays, Dungeons & Dragons and video game designer, has passed away". Dicebreaker. Archived from the original on January 10, 2024. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  39. ^ a b Carter, Chase (January 15, 2024). "RPG pioneer Jennell Jaquays to be memorialised with megadungeon inspired by D&D classic Caverns of Thracia". Dicebreaker. Archived from the original on January 18, 2024. Retrieved January 18, 2024.
  40. ^ Valentine, Robin (January 17, 2024). "Legendary D&D and videogame designer Jennell Jaquays is getting a memorial megadungeon built in her honour". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  41. ^ Mona, Erik; Jacobs, James (November 2004). "The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time". Dungeon. Bellevue, Washington: Paizo Publishing (116).
  42. ^ "Game Info – WG7: Castle Greyhawk". RPGnet. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  43. ^ "Trans_100_2015_Booklet_digital.pdf". Dropbox. Archived from the original on 2017-04-02. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  44. ^ Tannehill, Brynn (2017-01-12). "The top 50 successful transgender Americans you should know". LGBTQ Nation. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  45. ^ Day, Walter. "The Walter Day Collection - 2036 Jennell Jaquays". The Walter Day Collection. Archived from the original on 2020-11-26. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  46. ^ "Chaosium congratulates Jennell Jaquays on her induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame". Chaosium Inc. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  47. ^ "Origins Game Fair | Guests of Honor". Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  48. ^ Varney, Allen (December 8, 2009). "Gaming's Renaissance Man : Gaming's Renaissance Man". Escapist Magazine: 3. Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved January 15, 2024.
  49. ^ "Quake II – Game Credits". Allgame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  50. ^ "Quake III Arena – Game Credits". Allgame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  51. ^ "Quake III Team Arena – Game Credits". Allgame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2012.