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Interview: Ivan Van Norman is our guest dungeon master on Tomorrow DailyIvan Van Norman wasn't crowned "King of the Nerds," but he's definitely a master of all things board games, and we're cool with that.
[MUSIC] Welcome back to the show, everybody. Our guest today, I'm very excited to welcome to the studio, he is a game designer. He is also a producer on Tabletop, one of my favorite shows because I'm gonna be on it next season. [LAUGH] He's also a host on Geek and Sundry, a master of all things board games, Author of a children's book? What is it you don't do? [UNKNOWN], thanks for stopping by. Hey, thanks for having me. So that was a great intro. [UNKNOWN], I should just put that on my bio, master of all things. Master of all things. I feel like I need to have the sword of omens in front of me- There you go. While you say that. So I'm very exited as a fellow TableTop aficionado, I'm very glad to have you here. First thing I wanna ask you about is writing your own role playing game. God, so I wrote it with my buddy in college it's called Outbreak: Undead, it's a zombie survival. Simulation RPG. Wow, okay. It's- Real world zombie invasion. Real world zombie invasion. Well, it's got different scales, but what people often like about it is, is that you can accurately simulate any kind of zombie apocalypse in any type of situation you want with any kind of zombie that you want to a degree of realism that if you take a 30 question personality test On our website. It pops out your core stats and you're able to play yourself as a character. Wow. Awesome. Yep. An avatar system which there are some of them out in the world. And there are some zombie games in the world. But not one that like really Makes them kiss. I was gonna say this story seems like- I want to kiss a zombie, what are you talking about. This sort of seems like a really great marriage of [UNKNOWN], Pandemic, and Dungeons and Dragons, and Walking Dead. So people always ask us what's the difference between you and other role playing games and we're like well there's not games out there that represent like the hack and slash Flash. Sure. Of like the classic going for body count, right? But then there's, we're kind of like The Walking Dead. Which is just. About survival. You stay at a farm for a year. Right. And sometimes your strong hold. You make Carl stay in the house. Right, yes. I would love to play that. Because if I had a chance to play that end of the world game. Right. Similar in a sense that they do want to try to, they want to make it so you can make a custom character that might closely represent yourself. Right. But the way that they do character creation is that You put a dice in a bag. Uh-huh. And then you, you have your core stats laid out. And then you, everyone votes. Right. Whether or not you should have a higher. That you would have. Or lower stats. Yeah. Yes, that's you or not. Very interesting. Which is very well, very political. Um-hm. Um-hm. It's like. Yeah. You're- It's also a great way to lose friends. Very quickly. You're, what do you mean I'm not intelligent? What do you mean I don't think them before? We did the same day- My charisma is at least a 70. So it's a good fit but when you try do an arbitrary device. Because our test was designed by the people who build test for psychological essays. Interesting. Cuz my partner who I help make the book with has a background in psychology. Do you guys go by Briggs-Myers, or anything specific? No, not that specific. The idea is that the test is supposed to not lead you. Okay. I'm not telling you that you're supposed to be doing any particular thing, and it mixes the order up so that there's no real question about whether or not that's gonna. It's like that's the right choice. Right. Yeah. Kinda situation. and- Like yeah, that's the one I wanna answer for the stat that I'm looking for. Yeah. Yeah, I get it, I get it. So it's good because it doesn't give you, it doesn't force an identity on you, that you That you are personifying or that you wish to personify. It's very neutral. Cool. I want to ask you another questions as a deep dive, board gaming question. I got to say, I was so excited to introduce the two of these people, because I knew they would hit it off right away. [CROSSTALK] Yeah [INAUDIBLE]. We just got excited. Right away. I want to ask you about the steel diatriase Because the biggest board game award in the world was given out last week, or two weeks ago now. Yep. Some huge games up for the chemistry which is sort of like the gamer's game award. Time Storage, a game I absolutely adore. Yeah. Pandemic Legacy, which is now the number one game on Board Game Geek. Yeah. It has been for a while. It's that's the jam right now. And everyone thought it was going to win but Upset. Isle of sky won. Isle of sky? I haven't even played Isle of Sky, have you? I have it and I haven't played it. It was a pretty big upset. Now I feel like maybe we should now. You know what, I'm sorry I have played it. I'm sorry it was one of the games that we were actually reviewing for Tabletop. I have played it. It's a great game! Yeah, I hope so. It's a really good game. I know you hope so right. But in this man's one opinion, embodying opinions I seriously thought Pandemic Legacy was going to kill it. Yea. I did too. I just sort of assumed that that would win. I saw Rob Daviau like traveled to Germany to accept the award. And then he didn't win. Yea. But here's the It's sad. Showed on his social media, too where he's like I'm ready. But it's I think my only theory around this is that in Europe, the board gaming circuit there is so vastly different. The likes and desires. And it's to the point where there's like Euro games and then what they're starting to call Amera games. Or if you're a little snobby, some people say Amera trash. Mm. You know, which I think- Well. Right. is a terrible term, because all games are great in their own terms and ways and- Well, you wouldn't call another game Euro trash either. There you go. There you go. But the point is, is that they are- They're made for different audiences. Made for different audiences, and [INAUDIBLE] As a lot more of a robust kind of dynamic game may have been more of an allure and pandemic legacy helped completely changing the way games have been done. To be fair Risk Legacy did it first. Sure. But who cares who did it first? It was a great game [INAUDIBLE]. Really well. It went really well. Yeah. I know. So, yeah, yeah. I, I kind of feel the same way. But what are you? Are you? Are you playing stuff now that you [INAUDIBLE]? Yeah. Playing right now, what's the cat, like, what? What are the hidden gems out there? Yeah. Cause obviously, the big games people have probably heard about. Um-hm. But, because. Because board games have seen such a huge resurgence in part because of table top and Geek and Sundry like we've seen a lot of that come back up. I've seen now at Target you can get Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan and that was stuff you could not Find at a regular retail store. You had to go to a special board game store which are getting, they were rarer and rarer and now they're coming back. You can go to Barnes and Nobles and you can buy miniature games there. Exactly. You can buy core rulebooks for D&D and even dark heresy which is the War Hammer 40 KRGP. Like they exist in these places now. Yeah, for everyone to enjoy. Right, and so the one I'm liking right now, the obscure one that's not new but it's one of my favorite games and I keep coming back to it over and over again is Raptor. It's a two player game. M-mh. Okay. That's tactics. It's a cat and mouse game M-mh. in which you each have an active deck. There's only nine cards in the deck. And you have a raptor who's trying to protect her three babies And you have a team of scientists who are trying to capture the three babies. Interesting. And there's actually five babies in it. But that's just being technical for the people that, well actually there's five babies in the set. Shooting up the street. Worst commercial I've ever seen. [LAUGH] But the The reason I like it is because it's two player game, which are rare, and it has a high replay value, and the idea is that you each put a card down that has a number value and just like War whoever has the lowest number Wins. And then if there's any difference between the numbers, say, like the scientist played a three and the raptor plays a six, the raptor gets three action points to move around the board. Likewise, the scientist will get to the same thing. Interesting. And it's kind of a tug of war tactics that just really doesn't have, what do they call it? Non-symmetrical tactics, which means that it's not just two different factions and they each have the same thing, and they're just pushing [INAUDIBLE] With their different strategies. Right. They both have unique ways of controlling the board with their cards and with their action points. [CROSSTALK] I love a two player game cuz my husband and I have no friends. [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] There's something you don't wanna call to bring everybody over. Right. We play a game. I know we are sometimes you wanna play ball game and it's like then I gonna get people to come to my house and it's like It's such a thing in LA to get people to come to your house because everything is so spread out. Which is why whenever I host board games now it's like if you're hosting you're paying for food. That's kind of the qualifier, if you gas to get over then the host gets to feed you. Host feeds. I like that. You drive, host feeds. I like it. Right. That's a good rule. You mentioned a new show you guys are starting- Right. That you describe in a very cool way. Okay. So we have two shows on Geek and Sundry. One is our board game show called Game the Game, which we do every Thursday. I was on On it. You were totally on it. It was so much fun. What did we play again? Miniature Tiny Kingdom. Tiny Happy Kingdom. That was it. I just remember us speaking in very small voices. Tiny Happy Kingdom. We have Tiny Epic West [INAUDIBLE] Very nice. Which is something that we'll be doing a video on pretty soon. But that's our board game show. We're like 60 episodes at this point. And it's so fun. It's with Becca. Right, Becca Scotcorns. Who is just a real backstabber. [LAUGH] That's not where I expected you to go. In fact. [LAUGH] She looks innocent and kind. She looks like a beautiful medieval princess. She will take you out. Vicious cheater. Vicious cheater. Unbelievable cheater. I hope she's watching this, Becca. [LAUGH] Vicious cheater and also one of the most ruthless board game players I've ever encountered. And I love her for it. That girl I love her for it. Loves the wing. She's the Dexter of board games. Yeah, he is the doctor of board games. Yeah. But in the show, we were talking about before getting on here is we were role playing game show on Monday night from 7 until question mark, 10 or 11. In which we're, it's basically a certain set of characters that are jumping from RPG universe to RPG universe to RPG universe, so it's kind of like sliders, and quantum leap meets role playing games. I love it. Interesting. Somebody get me Scott Backula. Right? [LAUGH] Seriously. And what makes the show fun is that they're all the same characters. So you have a character to identify with as you jump. [INAUDIBLE] to the next yeah. Because the Thursday night critical roll show one of the reasons that people love it is because it's It's like they get so attached to the characters. The character, right. And the story kind of unfolds around them. I really- You can get invested. You can get invested in your favorite character or your favorite sort of storyline amongst the character. While still showcasing different role playing game systems which was my key thing I wanted to do. I was like hey There's other things out there besides D&D. Yeah. You know, so we're playing World of Darkness right now. We've moved on to Werewolf: The Forsaken, which is still part of World of Darkness. But in the past we played Outbreak: Undead. Obviously there was a show, a couple of silly one-offs. There's actually a snakes on the plane snakes on a plane roleplaying game. What? I found it on the internet. Nice. What? Yep. I love that idea that not only are you jumping into a new story, a new venue, a new time period, perhaps, but new systems. There are completely new rule sets to learn each episode, right? It's very challenging, to have to learn a whole new system every three months or so, or even every month depending on what it is. So well fill it in with lots of little things that have a rural The rules are often on one page. Like everyone is John which we played on international table top day. Right. > Everyone is John, or every PC is John. [LAUGH] Okay. It's just one person, but they all bid, the players, to take control of John's mind. And they go and try to fill their objectives while they have John's body, but at any point John could fall asleep. Wow. And then they all have to bid for control over John again. John could be knocked unconscious. Yeah. John could slip and fall. I mean there's so many things that happen to John. So many things. He could just fall asleep because he's narcoleptic. He's tired, yeah. Yeah. Suddenly you fall asleep, didn't get enough salt that [UNKNOWN] It is a hilarious system I gotta play that. [UNKNOWN] I love indie role playing games. Cuz their such wild, I was playing- When blood sugar level goes low, no. So many cool ideas. Like that's, things and you'll be like, I don't know if this works but I like it. .>> Yeah, and even if you only take the time to do like one session with it. Like if you're getting that enjoyment out of it, that's wonderful. Yeah. Absolutely. Right Fate Core which is going to be featured on Table Top this year. We had another game we played on Table top called Misspent Youth, which is a really fun NDRPG in which you're basically playing like the 1980's Breakfast club. No documentary about the Punks. I can't recall it, something like If there was a chat in front of me right now they would be like, blah every all the things. They'll tell you on YouTube in comments after. Yeah in the comments I'm sure. The **** posts I'm sure. But you're like Sid Vicious or something. Yeah the whole point is that it's supposed to be a missent youth. Youth culture rising up against an authority and the GM plays the authority. And the youth culture who's part of this is trying to work in this dystopian system that they don't like and they have to go through the character arcs that you often see in those kind of movies or those kind of stories. Aggatica. Having a hard time recalling some of the other ones right now, but that kind of dystopian society. Yeah. And fun. Hunger Games. Now, the idea is, the whole mechanic of it, is that when the authority makes you mad enough You're supposed to grab your dice and go, I stand up. And then you roll to see what level, because it's one through twelve. Okay. And if you land on that number, if somebody hasn't already grabbed that number, then you can claim that number. Then you can be like, I'm gonna use my ingenuity to get myself out of the system. Because each character has their own personification. Skill, yeah, yeah. But if the authority claimed that number previously in part of another role, the authority wins. And you have to find that how it go around it in the next chapter. Cause I think that's quite powerful to stand up against something that roll dice. Yeah. [LAUGH] I stand up. [SOUND] Roll this dice. When, we're gonna wrap things up, but when can anybody watch all of this show like Specifically. Give us the schedule because you guys got a lot going on. Sure, schedule. Monday nights, 7 to 11. Forever Verse is the show in which we jump from universe to universe exploring all the wildness that rpg systems have to offer. And then Thursday night, Game to Game is from 4 to Seven and that's all both on the Geek and Sundry Twitch Show. Twitch.tv/GeekandSundry. Which by the way has a really nice chatroom. Super nice people in the chat there. I don't like it's a very strange, like internet phenomenon that particular chatroom, really nice. Our community is amazing. Very welcoming, funny, great. And if you're one of those people come join us. Yeah. Because we'd like to have you. Paul Ivan Norman thanks to you so much for being here. [LAUGH] Man I could talk to you for like two hours. Yeah. And it would be nothing. That's fine it'd be so easy. You guys are easy to talk to. Yeah so are you. You're so chill. So are you. And then what's the book? The book. If you're going to Gen Con, board gamers out there. The ABC's of RPG's which is a children's book and activity book will be featured starting this Gen Con. Fantastic title. You can't pick it up there because we have to ship it to [UNKNOWN] first but if you want to come check it out. Look at it and it's gonna be shipped in September. You can't preorder it right now and pack your kids. It's a 36 page full cover. A is for adventure and you always be on one. B is for books for source of all our fun. C is for creature. Of all shapes and size. D is for dice. Can you count all the sides? Well done. So good. So good. In September, just in time for school. [CROSSTALK] Will you make an audio An audio book that we can in fact also- [LAUGH] That's actually being done by Mary McAllen. Great! Wonderful. And then the Library Bards did the singalong song. Wonderful. Perfect. [LAUGH] That is awesome. Once a birdy actually. Ivan, thank you so much for coming on the show and hanging out with us. Geek and Sundry, they're right down the street from us, we love hanging with our friends at Nerdist and Geek and Sundry. So make sure you check out Game the Game because it's a blast. And check out And furthermore Because it is so good It is really fun It is really And if it I want to come. I want to be part of the fun You you're next I'd like to join One of the best moments in all four seasons of tabletop I will tell you Wow It was a great that tabletop episode that I'm on is pretty amazing. Yeah. John has family. [INAUDIBLE] more I can say who's there. You can say who's there. John Rostand was there. Jackie Kashan who we had on the show a little while ago. We had Michelle Marrow on the show, Will of course as game master, and Travis William was there, and it was just the most fun. I'm telling you guys, I can't wait for that show to come out. Ivan thank you so much for coming on the show. We are going to take a quick break and then we'll be right back to tell you a little bit about Everest VR. I climbed Mount Everest in virtual reality and what we're into this week. And of course our [UNKNOWN] for the day, so don't click away. It's tomorrow daily.