Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Happy 50th Birthday Dungeons and Dragons!


Per D&D Historian Jon Peterson, D&D was first released in late January 1974, so Jon picked Sunday, January 26, 1974 as Sunday was the day each week Gary Gygax invited folks out to his home in Lake Geneva to demonstrate the new game.

(I began playing about 4 years later, the last week of December 1977, after Dr. John PhD received the Holmes Basic Set as a Birthmas gift.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Iconic RPG Author and Artist Jennell Jaquays Passed On Today

 Jennell Jaquays left us today. She wrote many Judges Guild scenarios for D&D that were used several times over during my early gaming,  most notably Dark Tower. Ha, I played a lot of paladins and always braved the tower for its Mitraic artifacts.

Later on I ran The Lost Tower for my ver. 3.5 Wilderlands campaign back in the ought's, converted Borshak's Lair for Empire of the Petal Throne, and used The Crypts of Arcadia as the underlying framework for a dungeon set in Arduin beneath the capital city of Talismonde.

In 2017 I was adapting Night of the Walking Wet to 5th edition rules when I read a post by Zak Smith that D&D was too male dominated, and a good exercise was to take that idea for a dungeon module you created and reverse all the genders, so kings become queens, dukes duchesses, lords ladies, and so on. Which is really interesting when for example an evil butchering baron who runs a keep is the evil baroness butcher.

I was working on that and having a great deal of fun, when I realized "woh" this could be seen as something mocking Jennell. I hold Jennell in such high esteem that, although probably she would never hear of my Walking Wet conversion, I wouldn't want to even throw that out in the world that this was some sort of personal satire about Jennell. So I searched for her contact information, discovering a contact form at one of her production companies, and wrote Jennell about my predicament. Offering just to scrap the whole project if she thought it was bad form.

Jennell wrote back:

Hi Matt.

Thank you for the letter. No worries about cheap stunts, etc. I jumped across the stream six years ago already. I'm surprised these days if someone HASN'T heard about it. And to answer the question that many ask, "Yes, I'm a LOT happier now."

I'll try to give your version of The Walking Wet a look over sometime soon. I ran a Swords & Wizardry version of it (with many modifications) two years ago in Texas and am currently doing a complete overhaul and expansion of it for one of my own projects. I set the events of my original adventure in the past of the one I'm working on. Lots of map expansions and revisions, new world content, some new monsters, and more. My current working draft is about 80 pages, typeset. I'm doing the same with another adventure Morkendaine Manor, that I wrote for issue 9 of the Dungeoneer as well. Unsurprisingly, a lot of my characters are female and unashamedly LGBT as well. 

 I currently have four different RPG adventure projects in the work and really need to finish one of them (I did, earlier this year, something called The Dragon's Secret for a fund raiser).

 Anyway, I hope the convention run goes well.

Folks that work in this niche hobby of ours are gracious as all get-out. I can think of only 1 single author of adventures I've enjoyed over the years who did not respond to a question or comment about their work. (Ha, and that query was really about obtaining something super rare that had been taken out of production.)

This particular response, however simple to Jennell, was poignant to me and stretched me back 3 1/2 decades to my 16-year-old self.

Thank you Jennell, you are missed. 

If folks want to help out Jennell's wife, there is a Go-Fund-Me page that was to help with refitting Jennell's home to help with her disability. This will now go to pay down medical bills and cover funeral expenses. 😢