Michael G. Barford: Hey Maria, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. You've been with the Gauntlet for a while now; what drew you to it?
Maria Rivera: That is a two-fold story. I was working on Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms, and I saw that one of the upcoming Codex entries was Crystal-themed. So I hit Jason [Cordova] up, and he was happy to include it in the zine. More importantly, however, Christo Meid, another member of the Gauntlet, was looking for players for Urban Shadows one night and I decided to play with that group. I was impressed by the solid play and was promptly drawn in.
Can you tell me a little more about Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms?
That is my hack of Slade Stolar's The Indie Hack for having a job system in the style of Final Fantasy and Bravely Default. I'm currently working on making a World of Dungeons version, which might be playtested at Gauntlet Con.
What are your greatest sources of inspiration for your game design work?
Wait, game design? I just want to play games, and when certain niches don't exist, one has to make them. I guess that's technically game design, ha ha.
Ha ha, fair enough! You mentioned Final Fantasy and Bravely Default—in what ways do you think that tabletop RPGs can benefit from incorporating elements of video games into their systems?
Oh, damn... It's all game design, isn't it? I think that with a light touch it works very well. Get inspiration from the video game, it's just another art form, right? The one thing I would caution against is trying to emulate the video game itself exactly. As far as I know, and don't quote me on this, because I'm no expert, a lot of RPG adaptations of video games fall into the trap of doing that, so the game ends up being near unplayable at a table. I would just treat video games as another source of inspiration, like books or movies.
You're an avid participant in Gauntlet Hangouts, both running and playing. What was your introduction to the hobby?
That was in middle school. I went to a toy library regularly, and they had RPGs. My first few games were Aquelarre, Vampire: the Masquerade, and a few homebrews... This was in Spain, mind you. I don't think introducing RPGs to tweens via Aquelarre and Vampire is as much of a thing in the United States, ha ha.
Probably not, ha ha. What games are on your radar presently?
Do you mean currently play or want to play? For the former, I generally enjoy PbtA games. For the latter, I want to play more OSR/DIY stuff like The Black Hack, Into the Odd, or Troika!
It seems like a lot of the games you're interested in, from PbtA to OSR, embrace the spirit of DIY. From your experience with hacking games, what advice would you give to people who are thinking about "making a game their own?"
Once you bring a game to the table, it is already your own. Sure, the rules are still the same as in the book, but the experience you and your fellow players bring is your own. As far as actually hacking a game goes, make the game you want to play.
I'd like to end this interview with Stars and Wishes, if that's okay with you. What's a recent accomplishment that you're particularly proud of, and what's something you're hoping to achieve in the near future?
I want to give myself a Star for being interviewed here, ha ha. My Wish is to bring that Gauntlet vibe to GenCon!
Thanks again for sharing, Maria. See you around the Slack!
Maria Rivera is a Latina Gauntleteer who has run different games like Godbound, Urban Shadows, and Battle Between the Worlds. She has written Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms and The Rubble of Chirhominar's Sanctum, the latter found in Codex - Storm. She is also a star nerd, to a degree. She is on Twitter @Thoobn, and you can also find her running for Magpie Games at GenCon 2018 and helping organize Gauntlet Con 2018.