A staple of my routine is listening to the Vintage RPG podcast. Like most good things, I forget how I got exposed to it, but now I can’t imagine not having it as a part of my weekly entertainment. One of the hosts, John Hambone McGuire, is a man of many talents. Game designer, bassist, podcaster, and vintage roleplay style setter.
This month he agreed to talk a bit about gaming, the podcast, and probably a little bit of rock n roll.
Hey John, thanks for joining me! The Vintage RPG podcast (and Discord) has been such a good source of nostalgic revisiting of the games that we grew up with, but also a great source for new and exciting indie games. So, the first question is, what game is running the most on your table right now?
Whoa! Thanks, dude! So for me right now, and probably for the last year I’ve been running DCC every Monday night.
I’ve been lucky to have the same group of friends with me (virtually) almost every Monday for the duration of the pandemic. We did 5E for the longest time but my buddy Cheese said “what would you think about trying DCC?” So I gave it a shot and fell instantly in love.
I have been wanting to try out DCC for a while, but the lack of time between my own projects really slows down trying new games. With all the things you have going on, it amazes me you have time for extra gaming (meaning ones you didn’t write and have the playtest). You have put out, what, three adventures in the past year? Plus some add-ons that seem to be becoming full books. How many plates do you have spinning at the same time right now when it comes to 3,2,1 Action games?
DCC is so much fun, made more so because my group comes up with the wildest stuff. They keep me on my toes, for sure.
I think gaming outside of the ones I’m working on is so important for not just my sanity but to break up the time I am working on 3,2,1…Action! This year Geo Collazo (the co-creator/co-writer of 3,2,1…Action!) and I Kickstarted a vehicle battle RPG called Children of UMA, which is 142 pages! As well as two companion pieces, Minisub Mania which is going to be a longer Zine length adventure and a Pamphlet adventure called Ski Quest. All for the Children of UMA storyline.
Then we did another Pamphlet adventure called The Hotel Exorcist to promote The Devil In New Jersey which we Kickstarter during Zine Quest. Devil will be another long form Zine adventure for our Horror line for 3,2,1…Action!
Oh! And I co-wrote Heresy of Rot with Levi Combs from Planet X Games for Necromancer Games. That came out this year too.
Currently we’re working on finishing Devil before we send it off to the editor and working on something for Zine Quest in February. Heh, I guess I did have a lot of plates spinning this year now that I write it all out.
Generally though, I think we’re always working on finishing the one we last Kickstarted while starting the next one and jotting down ideas for the future.
I totally agree, other games totally expand our ideas of what we want to design, though I normally fall into the camp of reading rulebooks/getting super stoked/generating ideas and then bring that all back to the campaigns I am currently running. By far not the perfect way to do it, but so far it has kept the table fresh.
And yes! That is a lot of plates. And you didn’t even list the Vintage RPG (weekly) podcast. I am seeing a trend though, in all the projects I have heard you being a part of (even fixing old Xboxs?), you always seem to have a partner in crime. Stu for the podcast, Geo for 3,2,1, and of course the bands you have been a part of. This is close to my heart, as I always look to make a team of friends for my projects, and almost always include my hetro-lifemate Dane Collins. I am just not a single hero, I gotta have my adventuring party.
So, do you feel it is important to you to have a partner in your adventures? Is it a comfort thing, or a creative thing?
Oh shit, yes. The Vintage RPG Podcast. I also produce and co-host that and play bass in a outlaw country band called Secret Country. Lots of plates. Ha!
I think collaboration is the most fun part of any art form. Full stop. It’s boring as hell to me to fly solo and I know that anything that I’ve written be it a song or game, or performance I’ve been a part of has alway been made so much better because I had a collaborator by my side.
I think it’s important to surround yourself with, even if it’s just one person, people who will tell you when something sucks or when you’re almost there and if you make a small adjustment it could be even better. I also don’t believe, unless you never show anybody your work, that any of us create in a bubble. It’s so important to share authorship.
I have been so lucky to work with Stu on the podcast because we worked hard together to find a format that felt right and also being friends for years, it feels like we’re just having a conversation with the audience.
Geo is my best friend. He’s been somebody I’ve looked up to and admired for as long as I’ve known him.
He still to this day comes up with the most wild ideas that turns my world on it’s ear. Action is everything it is because we do it together and I am so grateful for that.
We even live in the same building like Lucy and Ethel. I’m definitely Lucy in this scenario.
Well so far all the collabs I have been a witness to have been pretty rockin’. I think it was the Fiend Folio episode of Vintage RPG that I heard first. After that I just started tearing through the old episodes. I had felt for a while that I was creating in a limbo, not really fitting in anywhere. After the first few episodes I listened to, I messaged Dane and said “This is it. This is the community where we fit in.”
3,2,1 Action is meant for ease of access to tabletop roleplaying. And Vintage RPG is this cool nexus for not only stellar topics and a good quality podcast, but you both seem to just make it so comfortable to listen. It’s like we are all hanging out at the coolest gaming dive bar with you and Stu tossing out some great stories.
So what are the best parts of being part of the Vintage RPG podcast for you?
Dude, that is so cool to hear. I am really glad ya found us.
Of the things I am most proud of with Vintage RPG is that a really nice community popped up out of it. We’re so lucky to have the listenership we do and the fact that we get to kick it with everybody on our Discord everyday and everybody is chill is the cherry on top.
The hanging with Stu and I in a dive bar thing, to me, is the highest praise. Because to me the best part of it is to learn about the hobby that I love and be able to help relate it to our audience in a way where it never seems like we’re above them. In any scene there are always people who go out of their way to make you feel excluded or uncool. That ain’t us.
We believe everybody is welcome to the party, and we are sure glad to have ya.
Well, I think that cinches it, we need a VintageCon. You both pick a weekend and place in Jersey and we all come up and just spend 2 days playing games and hanging out in whatever cool dive bar will have us!
I’m not saying it’s crossed our minds. I’m also not saying it’s not crossed our minds.
Good to hear, and you know, you probably need that 8th spinning plate on your creative roster.
So while we are visiting dive bars, I wanted to touch on music a bit. In this issue we also have an article about our inspirations for TTRPG and for me, heavy metal music has always been a part of it. I dunno if it was all the Lord of the Rings influence in 70’s music, or all those sweet record covers, but man, pop on some Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath and I get ready to roll some dice.
So the question is, is it just us, or do you see this strange web that both metal and dungeons just somehow fits together?
Ha, one more plate and I’m a dishwasher.
I honestly think that when Arneson and Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons heavy metal found it’s soulmate.
I grew up listening to classic rock radio, CBS FM and WNEW out of New York City. Everything from Doo Wop to Def Leppard and then became a punk rock kid during my teenage years. With that said, when I heard speed metal for the first time the hairs on my arms stood up. The more I got into Fantasy and RPGs the more metal made sense to me. I love it!
Rock on. John thanks so much for joining me today! It’s been a blast, and keep spinning those plates, cause we love them all.
Thanks for having me, man! Stay safe out there, and may the dice always roll in your favor!