The Daily Illuminator
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August 31, 1999: Magnetic Solar Sails

This is real . . . NASA is funding a project to drive space probes via a "solar sail" that is really just a magnetic bubble. Can you say "force field drive"? Well, kind of . . . Here's the NASA report.
-- Steve Jackson

August 30, 1999: Battletech Lego

A very impressive page . . . check out these Lego models of Battletech mechs. Ron and Randy Perovich have worked out a whole comic book and illustrated it with photos . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 29, 1999: New AADA Webmaster

The American Autoduel Association welcomes Tim Gould of the Championship Auto-Dueling Circuit (CADC) as its new Webmaster. Tim was in charge of the AADA 2049 World Racing Championships at Origins '99 in July, and has been running the CADC almost since its beginning back in 2036. Tim's primary duty will be updating and maintaining the Car Wars website. He will be assisting Rob Deis (AADA Head Referee) and Elizabeth Lindsay (AADA League Manager) as they revamp the site for both style and content. Visitors to the site can look forward to two news updates a week, Wednesdays and Sundays, to learn the latest happenings around the Car Wars World.

August 28, 1999: Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who has responded to my questions of a couple of days ago. I now have lots of leads to giant chess sets, some suggestions (though no magic wand) for my battery situation, and lots of recommendations for Mac sound (the one that repeated most often was I am also going to try out a couple of new search engines that were suggested. I really appreciate the responses . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 27, 1999: He Snips, He Scores!

Illuminated Site of the Week: You've played it on playgrounds, you've played it to decide on movies, restaurants and video rentals. Now here's your chance to prove you've really got what it takes: go pro! The National Rock Paper Scissors League wants you. Play anywhere, watch your ranking go up, learn new battlecries. And don't forget to brush up on your skills and etiquette with the Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide, complete with computer opponent.

-- Suggested by Chris Murphy and David Edelstein

August 26, 1999: More SF Becomes Real

When we published GURPS Humanx, Alan Dean Foster's "credcard" was science fiction. Now it's real.

Confinity Inc. has launched PayPal, which lets one palmtop organizer make a payment to another. The receiving palmtop can then deposit the money into a bank account.

Ironically, this is one of the technologies that the Secret Service thought was real when ways to hack it were described in GURPS Cyberpunk. Well, nine years later, here it is . . .

August 25, 1999: Just Wondering . . .

Three things I haven't been able to locate, even searching the Web. Obviously I'm looking in the wrong place. Suggestions welcome.

(1) What kind of "deep charge" service is available to renew NiCd batteries, like those on an old Powerbook?

(2) Is there a good source for Macintosh sounds (new alert sounds, and so on) and voices? I've found lots of sound collections online; they're low-fi and lame. What am I doing wrong?

(3) Anyone know where I can find giant plastic chess sets with pawns at least 6" high? I'd like to build a really spiffy demo set.
-- Steve Jackson

August 24, 1999: A Sith For The Rest Of Us

Don't ask questions. Just go here right now.
-- Steve Jackson

August 23, 1999: Find Alien Life From Your Own Living Room!

We told you about the SETI@home project last year . . . now it's up and running. The executive summary: You can download a screen saver that will receive and process data from the Arecibo radio telescope and send it back to the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project.

Participants can also join teams, competing to process the most data. SJ Games' office machines, and several of our staff, are part of the Illuminati Online team, which has clawed its way to 3rd in the small-company rankings . . . over 5,000 data units completed, over 12 YEARS of otherwise-wasted computer time harnessed for science!

Want to get involved? Check out IO's SETI@home page for more information. More than a million participants have already registered. It's easy to download the software, and once you've got it set up, it just sits there in the background, quietly looking for alien life . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 22, 1999: Ray Dream Studio

If that name rings a bell, keep reading. We're moving ahead, slowly but really, toward reissuing the Ogre miniatures. We want to use computer design to create new masters. "Ray Dream Studio" looks like it will do the job . . . but we'd truly love to talk to somebody who is already using it, before we go out and buy expensive software. If you're using this package, please drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with the Ogre design works . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 21, 1999: Take A Deep Breath . . .

"At a church service Wednesday at Grace Fellowship Church, children's pastor Mark Juvera told 85 children ages 6 through 12 that Pokemon is evil. To make his point, Juvera burned Pokemon trading cards with a blowtorch and struck a plastic Pokemon action figure with a 30-inch sword.

"Juvera's 9-year-old son then tore the limbs and head off a Pokemon doll."

See the whole story in the Denver Post article.

August 20, 1999: Live from Downtown Dallas: Dealey Plaza Cam

Illuminated Site of the Week: The Sixth Floor Museum, located in the former Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, Texas, has sealed off Lee Harvey Oswald's sniper's perch behind a wall of glass. You can still see the view and draw your own conclusions about the assassination through the Dealey Plaza Cam, a live view from behind the partition. The museum itself is available for tours, research and private functions.

-- Suggested by Craig Schulthess

August 19, 1999: Breaking News: Distributors Consolidate!

This just in: three of the top four game distributors in North America -- Zocchi, Alliance, and Berkeley -- have all signed letters of intent to be bought by an Internet company. See the full report on Yahoo.

Watch Pyramid for more developments as we can dig them out . . .

August 19, 1999: Pyramid Posts Its 1,000th Article

Pyramid has been online for a little under a year and a half now . . . and Friday, we published our 1,000th article! Fittingly enough, it was the latest edition of Murphy's Rules, the feature that has helped define Pyramid (and the magazines that came before it), even back into the prehistoric days of Steve Jackson Games. Many thanks to all the writers, artists -- and readers -- who helped us reach this milestone.
-- Scott Haring

August 18, 1999: A Website For Sore Eyes

Back To The Wall Productions, L.L.C. and Clear Channel Networks San Angelo are celebrating the launch of their latest radio program, A Website For Sore Eyes, by teaming up with Steve Jackson Games and giving away Silicon Valley Tarot decks.

You're probably asking yourself, "How can I get a super spiffy Silicon Valley Tarot deck of my very own?"

Well, it's pretty darn simple.

Go to the Website For Sore Eyes homepage,, and submit a site that you think should be reviewed on the show. If your name is drawn from the list of entries for that day, you win!

See? Pretty darn simple.

You can enter as many times a day as you wish, but each submission must be for a different website.

A Website For Sore Eyes is broadcast around the world every weekday on the Armed Forces Radio Network, and can be heard on select national, commercial affiliates as well.

If you would like to hear A Website For Sore Eyes in your area, call your favorite local radio station.
-- Ross Jepson

August 17, 1999: In Nomine Online Fiction

For those who love the In Nomine setting, but can't find a local group of players, or who want to expand their horizons, the online interactive fiction writing club, World Weavers, has now opened the In Nomine world setting up for play.

Interactive fiction combines elements of traditional roleplaying games, fan fiction and the challenge of writing as part of a group. Members create and develop one or more characters, and cooperatively write the stories which advance the lives and careers of these characters.

For more information, see the World Weavers In Nomine web pages or email the World Admin, Lynette R. F. Cowper .

World Weavers In Nomine is based on the roleplaying setting published by Steve Jackson Games, by permission, and is the responsibility of Lynette R. F. Cowper, World Weavers and its players.

August 16, 1999: Solar Gnomes

Eclipse Photo The recent solar eclipse was most visible in central Europe. My brother-in-law a real-life Gnome of Zurich stationed in Basle, Switzerland snapped this picture for me. Don't look directly at the photo . . .
-- Dr. Kromm

August 15, 1999: Make Your Voice Heard in the Pyramid Poll

We've added a new feature to Pyramid starting this week: the Pyramid Poll. We'll ask a question every week, and you can see the up-to-the-minute results as soon as you vote! Amazing cookie technology by Kira makes sure that each subscriber can vote only once.

The questions will range from the serious to the silly, about everything from the latest trends in gaming to industry news to pop culture. There will be a new question each week, going up on Friday with the rest of the new articles. Old questions -- and the results -- will be retired to the archives.

This week's question: how do you feel about the upcoming third edition of D&D?

The Pyramid Poll is available to subscribers only, so sign up today, and let your voice be heard!

August 14, 1999: New AADA Webmaster

The American AutoDuel Association welcomes Tim Gould of the Championship Auto-Dueling Circuit (CADC) as its new Webmaster. Most recently, Tim ran the AADA 2049 World Racing Championships at Origins in July. Tim will be taking over the primary duty of updating the Car Wars website. He will be assisting Rob Deis and Elizabeth Lindsay as they revamp the site for both style and content.

August 13, 1999: "They Say Money Talks...

Illuminated Site of the Week: "...all mine ever says is goodbye." Well, Red Skelton didn't have Where's George?, a site that tracks your currency as it wanders across the United States. Now your cash writes home. Sign up, and 17,000 fellow money monitors will let you know if and when they've spotted one of your bills. Find out where they go and how fast they get there.

-- Suggested by Nathan Kottke

August 12, 1999: Comic Book Life!

SJ Games staff member and comic-book nut Jack Elmy will be at Comic-Con International: San Diego '99, Aug. 12-15. Jack is promoting our newest web venture, COMIC BOOK LIFE.

CBL is to comics what Pyramid is to games. The site swings into full gear in November, but you don't have to wait that long to see it -- the 'beta' version is up right now, and it's free! Drop in and read our interview with STARMAN writer James Robinson.

And be sure to e-mail us with your comments; Comic Book Life will be defined by its readers as it evolves -- don't be left out!
-- Steve Jackson

August 11, 1999: Shipping This Week

The following products are shipping this week:

You Are Here You Are Here (for In Nomine)
Across the Symphony, from Heaven to Hell, in Earth, and even in the Marches, there are places which have meaning. They are more than just earth and stone -- they're cared for or abhorred, worked in and lived in, important to people, and even more important to your characters!

This book is full of different locations that can be used as instant adventures in themselves, or worked into a campaign to add flavor. The secret projects of Demon Princes; the sacred areas protected by Archangels; Ethereal Domains etched into the global unconscious; purely human areas on Earth that the War hasn't touched yet -- they're all here. Dozens of places hide secrets, all waiting to be discovered by characters who won't know what they're getting into!

For all the players who keep on asking their GMs where they are, and all the GMs trying to give them an answer -- You Are Here. Now the players just have to cope with it . . .

#3316, ISBN 1-55634-595-7. 128 pages. $19.95.

Magic Items 2 GURPS Magic Items 2 (reprint)
GURPS Magic Items 2 once again opens the doors to shops full of arcane artifacts and enchanted objects . . . over 450 completely new items.

All of the familiar magical shops from Magic Items are here, with new items for armor and protection, magical weaponry, mystical healing, necromantic magic, curses, tricks and traps, and more. In addition, this book introduces eight new shops that magic-seeking adventurers can visit, including bardic magic, adventuring items, holy magic and toys and entertainment.

Stock #6512, ISBN 1-55634-207-1 . $19.95.

GURPS: Compendium I GURPS Compendium I (reprint)
GURPS Compendium I collects in one volume all the new rules that have been added to the GURPS character creation system since the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition was released in 1988. Compendium I contains hundreds of advantages, disadvantages and skills and other rules for character creation, all in one place!

Compendium I contains a complete collection of character creation rules from previous GURPS releases and in Roleplayer, the GURPS newsletter. Since many older books are out of print, GURPS Compendium I is now the only source for this information.

Stock #6519, ISBN 1-55634-290-X. $23.95.

August 10, 1999: The Virtual Filksing

I like the Virtual Filksing, sponsored by Prometheus Music, for two reasons. First, just for what it is: to quote the intro, "the largest collection of recorded "filk" music on the Internet, with nearly two hours of performances highlighting both serious and silly songs of science-fiction, fantasy, and technology." You can download any or all of the songs for free.

It's mostly unstreamed RealAudio 3.0 format; it will be moving toward MP3 in the coming months.

And the second reason? One of the songs here is This Game Is Real -- Leslie Fish's take on the Secret Service affair.
-- Steve Jackson

August 9, 1999: Tougher Covers, Revisited

On June 29th, we reported that we would be trying out a new finish on book covers (called film lamination) to keep them from scuffing. We incorrectly reported GURPS Compendium I would be the first such book. Film lamination will begin with GURPS Magic Items 2 and In Nomine You Are Here. They're here now and look wonderful. They will be shipping in early August, so look for them to hit the shelves in mid to late August.
-- Russell Godwin

August 8, 1999: AADA World Racing Championships

AADA World Racing Championships The AADA, in conjunction with the CADC (Championship AutoDueling Circuit), congratulates MJ "Damn I Look Good" Daniels (Riverside, IL) for winning the AADA 2049 World Racing Championship at Origins 1999. He was followed closely by Mark Pittman (Royal Oak, MI - CADC) who placed second, and Dana Madsen, in third. Our respects to all 20 drivers who entered the event.

For a quick summary of the WRC Finals, visit the CADC site. A special edition of the CADC's journal, Tire Tracks, should be out in a few weeks to cover all the details of the event.

August 7, 1999: Things Will Be Quieter Now . . .

Our Managing Editor, Alain Dawson, is now unpacking in Chicago. She has left Austin, but not SJ Games; she'll be telecommuting. But you can't telecommute to a TV party; the weekly "Blake's 7" sessions will continue at Russell's, but it won't be quite the same without Alain and the canine critic Beckett.

And in a very few days, Reese Harrell (who came on as my assistant and was promoted to Retail Sales Manager) will go off to school. Things will be a LOT quieter (snif) without Reese. We'll miss her, and so will our direct mail customers. But again, through the magic of the Net, we will continue to engage her twisted mind to forward the schemes of the Illuminati.

It's more fun when everybody's in the building, but when people have to go, the Net takes a lot of the sting out of it. Yea, Net.
-- Steve Jackson

August 6, 1999: People Are Dying to Get On-Line

Illuminated Site of the Week: Do you know where Mata Hari is buried? How about Yuri Gagarin's cause of death? And what's inscribed on H.P. Lovecraft's headstone? Find A Grave will tell you. Whether you're into grave rubbings or grave robbing, a fan of history or Harry Keogh, Find A Grave is a fascinating tour of the resting places of the famous and infamous worldwide.

The site is plenty searchable, and most entries have graphics of the markers and memorials.

-- Suggested by Robert Schulz

August 5, 1999: More Conventions

This weekend I will be at Crescent City Con/DeepSouthCon, in New Orleans. Fun will be had, and the Pirate Game will be played.

This is also GenCon week. Marketing Director Ross Jepson and GURPS line editor Sean Punch are both going; Managing Editor Alain Dawson may be there in stealth mode. You'll be able to find our line at the Adventure Retail (Atlas Games) booth.

And yes, the AADA World Duelling Championships will happen at GenCon, right on schedule. MJ Daniels, the AADA 2049 World Racing Champion, will be running the tournament in Milwaukee this weekend. Come by and drive offensively!
-- Steve Jackson

GenCon Reports

Can't make Gen Con this year? See daily reports right here on Pyramid. We'll have the new releases, the big announcements, the inside gossip, and the celebrity appearances, plus all the fun, mayhem, and downright weird stuff that makes Gen Con the biggest game convention in the U.S. Plus pictures and video, direct from Milwaukee!

If you can't be at the Wisconsin Center, Pyramid is the next best thing. Check it out!
-- Scott Haring

August 4, 1999: Hot, Hot, Hot!

Our office air conditioner died Monday. This is not a good thing to have happen in Austin in August. It's in the 90s outside. Inside, too. As of this writing, it is allegedly repaired. Tune in again to see who survived that long . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 3, 1999: Star Wars Illumination

Derek Schin offers the following proof that George Lucas is Illuminated. Check out the credits scroll at the end of The Phantom Menace. Buried in the middle, listed in this order, are:


No other BRAVO pilots are listed.

And of course BRAVO stands for Bayern Raecht Aufschlussreich Verlusten Oftmals (Bavaria Avenges Illuminated Losses Often, as in Bail O.-- Bail Organa was Princess Leia's adoptive father).

And don't forget that in Star Wars, Luke, Wedge and Biggs were Red 5, 2 and 3 (Red being not only the color of the International Communist Conspiracy but also, along with White -- the actual color of their X-wings -- the official colors of the Bavarian Illuminati).

August 2, 1999: Australia Redux

Paul and Steve I just came across a good photo and some notes from my Australia trip this summer . . . Here we see Paul May, notorious sparkplug of Down Under MIBdom, and Yr Humble Correspondent, with guns. The Killer game there was Too Much Fun.


Travel tip for those visiting Australia: practice your signature, because they WILL look at the signature on your credit card when you buy something, and if they don't like the way you are signing your name today, they won't take the card.

Weirdest experience of the whole journey: pulling a book off the shelf in the Tokyo airport because the title was something about "SF on the net," finding it had a gaming section, and seeing myself cited there . . .
-- Steve Jackson

August 1, 1999: Awful Green Things Strikes Again

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space is one of the games featured in a puzzle in the September 1999 issue of GAMES Magazine. Anyone want some Zgwortz?

Past columns

Steve Jackson Games
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