JVC Parry is a prolific DMs Guild creator who I’ve mentioned on this site several times, including his epic campaign Call from the Deep. He’s also involved in several other projects in the D&D sphere. It leaves one to wonder where he finds the time to not only do what he does but to do it so well. Without further ado, here is my interview with JVC Parry.
My real name is Joshua Parry, but when publishing or writing I go by JVC Parry. My middle names are Vernon and Charles, after my grandfathers, hence the initials. I’m based in the UK, currently in Leicestershire. Outside of tabletop gaming I like to try and keep up a broad hobby base. I’m an avid reader, I play American football and squash, I’m currently taking salsa lessons with my fiancée, and I play the mandolin and tuba!
What got you into tabletop gaming?
When I was a child, I bought a copy of Icewind Dale II for the PC at a bring and buy in a local village. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but it quickly became one of my favourite games. That introduced me to the idea of Dungeons & Dragons, but I didn’t actually play until university. During my first year a friend of mine, Simon, got a group of us together and said we were going to play a game he played at school. I’m a massive board game fan, so I was more than happy to give it a shot. I think what we played was a hack of AD&D, but I can’t be sure as neither of us remember exactly what it was. The word OMSTAR sticks in my mind, so if anyone recognizes that please get in touch!
What was the impetus to go beyond casual interest in this hobby and to become a creator?
I started writing D&D material almost as soon as I started DMing. I’ve always been a very organised person, and I found early on that I enjoyed DMing more when I had extensive notes about the world and campaign, even if they never saw the light of day. Originally, I stored this all in massive PowerPoint documents, where each slide was a scene, NPCs, or something similar. I found out about DMsGuild in 2016 through, if memory serves, the DragonTalk I thought I’d head over and check out what was there, and when I realised I could publish my own work without much barrier to entry, I got cracking! My first publication was Seeds of Chaos, which is still a PWYW title.
From what I’ve seen regularly on your website, you’ve done a lot of reviews. What do you like most about reviewing other people’s material?
That’s right! Last year I dedicated a lot of time to my website to help generate an audience, and just to share my TTRPG opinions with the world at large. Because reviews have always mattered so much to me as a creator, I figured writing them for others would be a good place to start. I liked writing the reviews because it helped me give honest feedback to creators, learn some lessons for my own writing and design, and also help promote products that I thought were worth buying!
It’s been a long time since you’ve posted a review. Are you moving away from them in favor of focusing more on creating original content?
I stopped writing reviews toward the start of this year for a number of reasons. Firstly, my Masters thesis needed writing and I was still working a part-time job, so something had to give! Secondly, I was receiving more and more requests to work as a freelance author for third-party publishers and individuals. All of this meant that I just didn’t have the time to put into reviews anymore. I might well revisit reviews in some way in the future, but for now the only things I’m reviewing are films on my Twitter feed.
I loved Call from the Deep. What inspired you to create it and how many hours would you estimate you put into creating such a big and complex campaign arc?
Thanks! The truth is that campaign took me two and a half years to write. I started it back in the summer of 2017 when I wrote the entire first chapter and the general campaign arc. Then, for various reasons, I put it on the back shelf and stopped working on it. Every now and then I’d take another look and add in a new element, but I didn’t start properly working on it again until earlier this year. I was feeling a bit burnt out writing one-shots and wanted to work on a real passion project. I did not think Call from the Deep would be a success. So I told myself I was going to invest a lot of money and time into it, which I did, but just for my own satisfaction. When it started selling so well I was astounded! In terms of hours, I can only make a rough guess. I was working on it every morning before work, during my lunch hour, then for a few hours after work for at least 4 months I would think. I’d guess between 600 and 1,000 hours.
What are your proudest achievements regarding projects you’ve created or worked on?
Obviously Call from the Deep is a major one, but there are several others that I’m really chuffed with. Shore of Dreams which I wrote for Poison Potion Press did incredibly well for a short adventure, and really broke some quality boundaries, so that was a great project to work on. Currently being released on the DMsGuild is Scourge of the Nightingale, a trilogy that I worked on with Jeff Stevens. Jeff has been a mentor to me from day one on DMsGuild, so working on a big campaign with him was a dream come true. Another of the big winners for me is Monsters of the Guild. I worked on that with Glen Cooper, Phil Beckwith, and Rob Twohy, as well as over forty other creators. It was a HUGE project to organise, but I think we did it justice, and helped raise money for charity to boot!
Was there a low point as a creator, and what did you learn from that experience?
I frequently burnt out. Probably once every month or so. When I get into that headspace, I just try and remind myself that it will pass. It’s never easy to keep working on something that’s turned sour in your head, but resilience and perseverance are key. The best advice I can give is take a break. Turn our back on the project for a week, and use that time to ingest as much new, inspiring media as you can. Visit art galleries and museums, get to the cinema or theatre, pick up a new book or album. Inspiration often comes from the strangest sources, but I find that it always helps pull me out of a rut.
You have a new player, what game do you choose to introduce to them?
In the TTRPG sphere it’s always Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. It’s the system I’m most comfortable DMing, and I think it lives up to the expectations that most new players have of an RPG. I also think the rules have the right level of complexity to interest but not overwhelm new players.
You’re heading to a friend’s house and can only grab three games. What are they and why?
In truth, it’s going to be board games. I rarely do impromptu RPG games because, like I mentioned, I’m a massive prepper. I’m the RPG equivalent of those people with enormous underground bunkers filled with provisions for the end of the world. Catan has always been a favourite with my friends, so that would be in the bag. My current favourite board game is Small World, which works just as well for two players as it does a group, so that’s a useful one. My last would probably be WarCry which is a skirmish miniatures game from Games Workshop. A lot of my friends play, and the rules mean games can be as short as fifteen minutes!
What are you currently working on that readers should be on the lookout for? This could be weeks away or even months/years.
A lot! In terms of self-publishing I’m making some edits to Call from the Deep (because I’m a perfectionist), writing an expansion and update for Serpent Isle, and today I’m releasing The Struggles of Stelmane with Matthew Whitby as part of the JVC Parry Presents… scheme. Freelance I’ve just finished writing some prose for a website called TableTop Conflict, and for the Greenteeth Press Anthology. I’m also helping LoreSmyth with Remarkable Shops & Their Wares, and Treacherous Traps for Nord Games. The third installment of Scourge of the Nightingale will be out soon, as will a festive adventure I wrote for The 12 Days of Midwinter, and also Ulraunt’s Guide to the Planes: Acheron from Quill & Cauldron. There’s probably other stuff I’ve forgotten too.
Who is one of your favorite creators that we should interview next?
There are so many! I’d definitely suggest Phil Beckwith, Jeff Stevens, Alex Clippinger, and Oliver Clegg!
Final Words on JVC Parry
Like I said, JVC Parry is a prolific writer. Being involved in more projects than you can remember means you’re busy! I’ve read a lot of his work. I can assure you he knows his craft. I’ve also read others where he served as an adviser of sorts. I think it’s safe to say he’s the creator’s creator. Someone on whom others can rely. Be sure you check out his work if you haven’t already and to watch for his upcoming projects. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.