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May 31, 1997: Game Reviews on the Web

Tom Grant, an old friend of mine and sometime contributor to Pyramid, has put up a new web page devoted to game reviews. One of the first games to go up was Dino Hunt, and Tom said some very nice things about it. But there's reviews of lots of other recent releases, too, so you should check it out.
-- Scott Haring

May 30, 1997: Kooks Museum

Illuminated Site of the Week Attention All Operatives, Black Suit Division: Be on the lookout for one Donna J. Kossy, founder and curator of the so-called Kooks Museum. The material displayed therein could not possibly have come from any other source than our own Facility 23. Her cavalier, dismissive attitude toward the ideas put forth by these so-called "kooks" is a mocking slap in our Illuminated face; clearly she intends to blackmail us by trotting the truth out in full view. Standard removal protocols apply.

-- Shig the Unmentionable

May 29, 1997: The wind blows...

For those that have asked and worried about us, yes, everyone at SJG survived Tuesday's storm with no problems. The worst part of the storm hit the north side of Austin, and the town of Jarrell, which was devastated by tornadoes. While we did have some high winds as the storm passed through, there was thankfully no damage here at the office.

More info on the storm can be found at Austin360 and at Citysearch Austin.
-- Kira

May 28, 1997: Pyramid #26 to the Printer!

[ cover art ] We got Issue #26 of Pyramid Magazine off to the printer at the end of last week. We held the magazine for as long as possible, hoping for some breaking news on the TSR sale to Wizards of the Coast, but no luck.

Issue #26, by the way, is the July/August issue. It will be in game stores right at the beginning of July and in subscriber's hands around the same time (though with bulk mail, it's tough to make exact promises -- issues have sometimes been delivered much later, and there's very little we can do about it). The difference between when we write something in May and when you read it in July (or even August) is called our "lead time," and it's the bane of all journalists.

And depending on when something happens, the lead time can be even longer. For example, two of our big news stories in this issue came out of the GAMA Trade Show, which happened back in March! There's a two-month window between issues, so if something happens in the front part of that window, that means it could be even longer before you get to read about it.

But that's enough grousing. This issue of Pyramid has a fantasy murder mystery scenario, Designer's Notes of a different sort for In Nomine, an adventure for Deadlands, and all our other regular features, including the hottest Industry News our lead times will allow . . .

And if anything happens on that TSR - WotC thing, we'll have the whole story for you in the next issue -- in September.
-- Scott Haring

May 27, 1997: Women In Gaming

One of the long-standing goals of companies in the adventure game field has been finding a way to include more women in the hobby. You don't get very far blowing off half your potential market . . .

Things are getting better all the time, but there's still a long way to go. The women who are already in the hobby are also working hard to get more females into gaming, too. A group supporting this goal has sprung up on the Internet -- check out the Women In Gaming web page.
-- Scott Haring

May 26, 1997: The Lost Day

We hope those of you in the US enjoyed the long weekend. SJG is closed today for Memorial Day, and things are quiet, except for a few die-hards here at the office working instead of off having a good time. Of course, most of the SJG crew had better sense than us...

Steve's still traveling; he just finished with MisCon this weekend, and is now off to Chicago for the Museum Store Expo along with Micah and Woody, where we hope to sell lots of Dino Hunt to (big surprise) museum stores and the like. Hopefully the dino-frenzy surrounding Lost World will help with that. Dino Hunt is really a great game; if you've never played it, and you like dinosaurs, you owe it to yourself to try it out.

A few of us did attempt to go see Lost World yesterday, but it was sold out well into the evening, so we saw The Fifth Element instead. Consensus: a good, fun movie, even if the ending was predictable.
-- Kira

May 25, 1997: This Week in Newsweek

Our humble little industry is getting more mainstream recognition all the time, thanks to -- who else? -- Wizards of the Coast.

The May 26, 1997 issue of Newsweek has a two-page story called, "Magic's Kingdom," that tells the story of WotC and Magic: The Gathering, using the opening of their first Game Center and the announced acquisition of TSR as hooks.

It's a reasonably positive piece, though the writers did take a shot or two. And there's a nice picture of WotC CEO Peter Adkison and Magic designer Richard Garfield. Newsweek is available on newsstands everywhere, so check it out if you're interested.
-- Scott Haring

May 24, 1997: Pyramid Nominated

[ award ] Got this pretty certificate in the mail the other day . . . Pyramid magazine has been nominated by The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Sciences for an Origins award for Best Professional Magazine. Thanks, guys . . .

The fancy certificate is just the beginning. The folks on the Academy board (and I'm one of them) are working hard to improve the visibility and prestige of the awards. One of the things we're planning is a much fancier awards presentation, with some of the convention guests participating, and a reception afterwards for the winners and Academy members. We've got lots of other ideas, too -- stay tuned.

For more on the Academy and this July's Origins game convention, visit the GAMA web site.
-- Scott Haring

May 23, 1997: Dial-The-Truth Ministries

Illuminated Site of the Week Every so often a portion of the Radical Christian Fringe starts frothing at the mouth about rock music and evolution theory. Naturally, they're closer to the truth than even they realize; it wouldn't do for our wicked plans to be revealed by someone who might actually be taken seriously. Grab your Bible (but don't read it! They hate that) and jump over to Dial-the-Truth Ministries, where you'll learn the truth behind the Clinton health care plan and the fiendish plot of Jimmy Buffett.

-- Shig the Unmentionable

May 22, 1997: Artists Get New Boss

After a too-brief stay with us, Art Director Diana DeFrancesco has decided to abandon the lovely city of Austin and move off to San Francisco, which is such a cool town that we can hardly disapprove.

Moving in to stem the tide is Carol Burrell, who is taking care of things while we decide what sort of permanent solution to implement (well, as permanent as anything is around here, anyway . . . ).

Artists with questions (or portfoloios -- we're always looking for new talent!) should contact Carol.
-- Scott Haring

May 21, 1997: New Marketing Director

We welcome Rick Schroeder to the staff as our Marketing Director.

Rick just got his MBA from the University of Texas here in Austin, and is a vital cog in our ongoing plans for world domination. More details on those plans as we come up with them . . .

May 20, 1997: Report from the Road

This is Steve reporting from Moab, Utah... ConDuit was great; more than 700 people were there, all having a good time. This convention has to be one of the best kept secrets of SF & gaming fandom. I'll be back!

I'm now trekking around central Utah, looking at dinosaur fossils and tracks. Friday I'll be in Missoula for MisCon. More later!
-- Steve Jackson

Compendium I Back

And in GURPS news, Compendium I is back in stock here at SJG. Coming soon to a retailer near you...

May 19, 1997: This Week's Sign The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

We received in the mail today a brochure from Wizards of the Coast announcing Magic: The Gathering summer camps.

No. Seriously.

For the low price of $595, any kid (ages 10-17) can spend five days in Seattle, learning the finer points of Magic play and deck design. The kids stay in dorms on the University of Washington campus, and all meals are provided. Kids also get some recreational opportunities (Mariners baseball games, canoe trips, that sort of thing), some free time in WotC's new Game Center, plus $150 worth of Magic cards.

Wizards of the Coast is putting these camps on in conjuction with U.S. Sports Camps, who have a lot of experience at running this sort of thing, except probably never for a card game before.

This is the point where I'm supposed to make some sort of snide or sarcastic comment, but I just don't have it in me. I'm flabbergasted. And amazed. And maybe just a tad envious. What will these guys think of next? There might be a contest in that question somewhere . . . stay tuned.
-- Scott Haring

May 18, 1997: Warehouse Stuff

This week's Interesting Warehouse 23 Submission came from John Sowerby (

"A large bent thing, with a groove at the end."

Hey, it made US laugh . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 17, 1997: In Nomine Survey

There are a few things we'd like to know about your In Nomine games. What kind of characters do you like to play? Which Choirs or Bands? Which Superiors? How big is your group?

Please take a moment to visit our In Nomine Survey and answer a couple of quick questions about your game. We appreciate it!
-- Scott Haring

May 16, 1997: Ring of Fnords

Illuminated Site of the Week So you think you Get It, do you? And you're trying to prove it by throwing together a web page with a few pithy non-sequiturs, some quotes from the Principia Discordia, and yet another retouch of the ray-traced Sacred Chao? Well, that's just great. Come register your site on the Ring of Fnords, the Discordian Webring, so that we can better keep an all-seeing Eye on you and determine how much of a threat you pose. Compliance is mandatory.

-- Shig the Unmentionable

May 15, 1997: Be a Black Op

New in our auction: ever wanted to have your mug drawn into one of our GURPS books? Here's your chance. The winner of lot 25 in the auction gets to send us his picture for inclusion in a Dan Smith splash illustration for GURPS Black Ops, to be released later this summer. You can specify whether you are a Heroic Agent, Minion of Evil, or Helpless Victim. The winner also gets a signed copy of GURPS Black Ops, plus the original Dan Smith artwork created from your photo. Visit the auction page to bid!

Auction List

Several of you asked us to set up a mailing list for auction updates... so we did. Send email to with the message subscribe auction and you'll be added to the list. Updates will be mailed out once a day, and will show all the current and new lots in the auction, along with current bids.

In Nomine Survey

We're doing a small survey of all you celestials out there. Visit the survey page and tell us your secrets...

May 14, 1997: Evil Stevie Hits the Road

I'll be traveling for the next couple of weeks. The first stop is ConDuit, in Salt Lake City the weekend of the 16-18.

Following that, I get to do a few days of badlands-wandering and museum-crawling. Dinosaur country out there, you know . . .

Then I head to Missoula, Montana for MisCon. That's always a really fun event. I have many fond memories of MisCon, and you're not cleared for ANY of them . . .

After that, I'll meet Agent Micah in Chicago for the Museum Store Expo, and we'll see how many more museum shops we can get Dino Hunt into.

By then, I'll be ready to come back. Thus is balance maintained in the universe . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Auction Page Moves

We've finally moved the auction page to the new server. Update your bookmarks!

May 13, 1997: Rule the World!

This summer at GenCon and Origins, we'll be crowning World Champions in Car Wars, INWO, and Knightmare Chess. Find out everything you need to know to rule the planet!

May 12, 1997: Not Again!

We seem to have had a break-in here last week. A few small things were missing and my PowerBook. This is a Bad Thing, and will account for an extra bit of delay on Night Music. However, we're pretty sure that the Secret Service was not involved, because

* There was no visible damage to the doors or other equipment

* No candy was stolen from anybody's desk

* The thief clearly knew just what he was looking for.

Thank you, O Burglar. Just remember not to push Ctrl-Alt-Splat-fnord, OK?
-- Steve Jackson

May 11, 1997: Knightmare Chess Reprint

We're sold out of Knightmare Chess. The second edition will go to the printers just as soon as possible. We've changed the card graphics and enlarged the text to make it easier to read. The art is the same, but it printed a bit dark last time; we're trying to fix that.

The weather here has finally turned beautiful. Everyting is blooming; the days are warm; the nights are just slightly cool. Life is good.

Auction Update

More new goodies in the auction - including a treasury of German GURPS books, and a collection of Illuminated STUFF. And more to come . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 10, 1997: AADA Pins

We have a small number of the AADA pins back in stock. They're $4.50 each, available in silver/black (stock #9004A) or gold/red (stock #9004B), and you can order them through our online catalog (in the Car Wars section).

Warehouse Winner

The newest whim of the Illuminated Ones is to recognize, each week, the most [NOT AVAILABLE AT YOUR CLEARANCE] submission received for Warehouse 23. This week, we thank J.D. Forinash ( for his offering: A globe, with the country of Norway mysteriously gone. Fjord.

Agent Forinash wins an old Marvel no-prize that we happened to have lying around; Class Three Bragging Rights; and the approval of the Secret Masters.

May 9, 1997: Illuminated Site of the Week

Many people asked us, in our recent web poll, to bring back more links to weird and unusual sites. So . . . today's Illuminator announces the first "Illuminated Site of the Week" award. (But the ZEROTH award goes to the Mind Reading Markup Language page, which was featured before we thought of making this official.) Every week we'll be showcasing a new Illuminated site elsewhere on the web. We'll also be keeping an archive of the winners. And yes, we'll accept suggestions for Illuminated sites; you can visit the IllSotW page to nominate a site.

Our keeper-of-the-IllSotW is Shig the Unmentionable. He has claimed, on several occasions, to have held positions of power in such groups as the Illuminati, the Discordian Society, and the Department of Education; on other occasions he has claimed to have had no contact with any of those groups whatsoever. Both possibilities are equally staggering.

Illuminated Site of the Week - May 9, 1997

No catalogue of Web weirdness could possibly begin with any other site than HyperDiscordia. Like Saturday Night Live, HyperDiscordia has been around long enough to be considered an institution. But unlike that albatross around Lorne Michaels's neck, HyperDiscordia is still relevant and funny, and knows when to end a sketch. It's easily the best introduction to Discordianism this side of a steel spike in the ear.
-- Shig the Unmentionable

May 8, 1997: Search Me!

Our website now has its own search engine. Try it out, see what you think! Report any bugs to the secret masters . . .

And if a search engine wasn't enough . . . we've now got a page which will show you the pages on our site which have been recently updated - in this case, updated within the last 5 days. This page is automatically updated every night, so it's always current, and you can see what we've been working on but not talking about fnord . . .
-- Kira

May 7, 1997: Would you name *your* AADA chapter *HASTUR*?

Well, somebody did, and it takes the "all autoduellists have a death wish" argument to a whole new level . . .

Anyway, HASTUR has its own web page with lots of sample vehicle designs and some neat graphics, so you should check it out.
--Scott Haring

May 6, 1997: Rain of Frogs, Redux

Another good page on the flying frog - with more explanation and better pictures. Read down to the bottom, past the equations, and follow the link to the letter they received from a church . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 5, 1997: Calling All MIBs

-BEGIN MESSAGE- Men In Black are needed for the following field assignments: DragonCon, DexCon, Origins, and GenCon. Eligible Operatives must be personable, appropriately dressed, able to work with the public in our convention booth, able to make change, familiar with our games, and have all their shots. Operatives can be guaranteed a good time, a body bag, or both. Interested parties should e-mail me for consideration. Surviving Operatives, if any, will be transferred to MIB Control for reassignment. Women In Black also encouraged to apply. -END MESSAGE-
-- Micah Jackson

May 4, 1997: High-Velocity Duelling

James Barton's High-Velocity Duelling webzine has found a new home on our website. HVD is a Car Wars webzine, with lots of articles, news, and links for autoduellers. Check it out!

May 3, 1997: Back From SilliWood

Steve and I returned recently from the Computer Game Developers' Conference in Santa Clara, California. We saw all kinds of new and interesting computer games, and talked with many developers who are interested in converting one of your favorite games to the computer format. But, it wasn't all work. Steve and I saw a fire eater, and raced some radio control cars. It wasn't Car Wars, but I crashed into his car and flipped it anyway. Nyah, Nyah! (Plus, I saw Alexy Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris.) Many interesting deals are in the works. Nothing to announce yet, but as they say, "Watch This Space."
-- Micah Jackson

May 2, 1997: Rain Of Frogs Now Technically Possible

New Scientist magazine reports that researchers have used a powerful magnetic field to make a frog float in mid-air. They have also "levitated" grasshoppers and fish, and say that a big enough magnet could float a human. The explanation: Sufficiently powerful magnetic fields slightly distort the orbits of electrons in the object being levitated, creating an electric field which summons demons to hold it in mid-air. Or something like that.
-- Steve Jackson

May 1, 1997: Ogre History

The history of the Last War is now online, thanks to Ogre line editor Richard Meaden. More Ogre support (and further Last War historical material) will be coming soon (for instance, Micah and I playtested a new scenario while at the CGD Conference...).

We've also added a bibliography of all Ogre-related articles from Space Gamer, Mecha Press and Pyramid. We plan to add many of these articles to the site in the coming months.
-- Steve Jackson

Past columns

Steve Jackson Games
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