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May 31, 1999: The SCA Takes Over Russia!

I know, I know . . . it happens almost every time you play Illuminati. But this is real! Honest! Would we lie?

We refer you to The Onion for the gory details. Well, actually, not even that gory. Perfectly credible, though . . .

May 30, 1999: More Big Brother . . .

Still think your e-mail is private? Learn differently, and learn fast. And check out this story in Linux Today.

May 29, 1999: Back From The Rocks

I had a great time at ConDuit in Salt Lake City; as I said after my first trip back in 1997, this con is one of Western fandom's best kept secrets. Among the other guests were Bjo Trimble, the lady who saved Star Trek, and Terry Brooks, who wrote the novelization of The Phantom Menace. Of course, when the con invited him many moons ago, they didn't know either that he would be doing that novelization, or that the movie would open a few days before the con! Can you say "got way lucky"? I knew you could.

After the con, we followed tradition (hey, in fandom, anything you have done twice before IS a tradition) and took a few days hiking. Bjo and her husband John came too, and they were great company. We looked at arches and dinosaur bones and petroglyphs and many, many, many rocks, and it was over far too soon. Mega thanks to our Keen-Eyed Native Guides, Mark Dakins and Mike Oberg, and to all the other Conduit folks who helped to set up the post-con trip.

On the other hand, it's good to be back, and it's time I wrote you some more games. I'm on it . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 28, 1999: Star Wars in ASCII-mation

Illuminated Site of the Week: If you're tired of standing in line for The Phantom Menace, why not stay home and enjoy the original? There's nothing like a classic, especially when it's rendered in stunning ASCII-Mation! Requires Java 1.1 (hint for Mac 8.0+ users: use the Apple Applet runner).

-- Suggested by Anthony Salter

May 27, 1999: Humanoid Robot

Honda has developed a humanoid robot that walks and moves like a person. It can even climb stairs. Visit the Honda website to see movies of the robot in action.

May 26, 1999: Now In Playtest

In our recent In Nomine survey, many of you expressed an interest in GURPS In Nomine. Well, you won't have long to wait - it's already in playtest.

We also have quite a number of other books in playtest now:

Visit the playtest page to access the files (Pyramid subscribers only), or click here to subscribe to Pyramid.

May 25, 1999: Kudos For Our Website

The SJ Games website was listed in last Wednesday's Austin American-Statesman as one of Austin's "Sixteen Sizzling Sites." Others in the group included Dell, Origin Systems, Whole Foods, and Hoover's Online. Congratulations to Jackie and Keith, and to everyone else involved with our site, for great work!
-- Steve Jackson

May 24, 1999: Find Aliens Without Leaving Home

We mentioned this last year . . . but it's up and running now, and you really ought to check it out. To quote the site:

"SETI@home is a scientific experiment that will harness the power of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. There's a small but captivating possibility that your computer will detect the faint murmur of a civilization beyond Earth."

Visit SETI@home for more information . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 23, 1999: Report From The Field

My Albuquerque visit with Wargames West went very well . . . games were played, Evil Plots were hatched, and many valiant attempts were made to bridge the psychological gulf between the publisher and the distributor. It helps . . . a lot . . . that so many of the WW staff are serious game nuts themselves. I think I learned a few things that I can use . . .

And, as I type this, I'm at ConDuit in Salt Lake City. This afternoon we ran what might have been the best session yet of Evil Stevie's Pirate Game. The MIBs are MIBbing brilliantly, filksongs are being sung, belly dancers are shaking everything that isn't nailed down, and I'm having a great time.
-- Steve Jackson

May 22, 1999:

Sounds great! You first.

Illuminated Site of the Week: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has the no-muss, no-fuss answer to the problem of Earth's burgeoning population: stop.

They contend people are the biggest problem on the planet, and the only sane and humane way to save it from us is to remove ourselves by simply letting the species die out.

Possible? Sure. Feasible? Seems so. Likely? Depends how long you want to wait in line at Disneyland.

-- Suggested by Reid Simmons

May 21, 1999: An Apology

. . . to Kris Overstreet, who wrote a yet-unpublished article for Pyramid that was the basis of the rules for ghosts in the In Nomine Corporeal Player's Guide. In all the last-minute hustle to get the book to the printers, I left his name out of the credits. Mea culpa, Kris, and thanks for your help on the CPG.
-- Alain H. Dawson
Managing Editor, Steve Jackson Games

May 20, 1999: Origins Awards Nominations

We've received several Origins Awards nominations for 1998, including one for INWO SubGenius, for Best Card Game Expansion or Supplement, and one for Pyramid Magazine, for Best Professional Game Magazine.

Please vote! Voting for the Origins Awards is open to the public; you can download the ballot from the GAMA website.

Also, GURPS Discworld received a nomination for Best Graphic Presentation of a Roleplaying Game, Adventure, or Supplement for 1998. This category is one of several where voting is not done by the public, but by the members of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design.

Winners will be announced at Origins, which takes place July 1st-4th.

May 19, 1999: MIBs needed in Austin . . .

Yes, it's shocking . . . in our own home city, we're currently short of Men In Black. Our Austin cell not only gets to do the regular MIB jobs of convention and store support . . . they are occasionally tapped for highly sensitive tasks around Secret Headquarters, especially highly sensitive tasks that WE don't want to do all by ourselves.

If you're in or near Austin, and interested, write to Control and explain why you are natural MIB material and a wonder to all gamers everywhere.
-- Steve Jackson

May 18, 1999: Illuminati Y2K!

We got our first samples of the 109-card expansion for Illuminati - looks good! It will be shipping in June . . . make sure your retailer knows. In the meantime, check out the auction if you want one of three advance copies. Yes, the Secret Masters are shameless, and we know what you want . . .
-- Steve Jackson

May 17, 1999: Alliance SW Open House

One of our distributors, Alliance Southwest, is right here in Austin, and Saturday we went to their open house. It was an opportunity to meet retailers from as far away as Oklahoma City . . . as well as the people who sell our games to them. And sometimes you learn the darndest things. "You've never seen what?"

Worthwhile. Very hot and sweaty (game warehouses don't have air conditioning, and guess where we were set up) but definitely worthwhile. We do several distributor open houses a year . . . basically, all we can reach . . . and we plan to keep it up.
-- Steve Jackson

May 16, 1999: Coincidence? You decide . . .

Headlines from Saturday's Austin American-Statesman:

Page A15: "Bill would double salary of president."

Page A17: "Clinton expected to sign measure doubling money for Balkan conflict."
-- Steve Jackson

May 15, 1999: Illuminated Site of the Week: Conpass x1280

Illuminated Site of the Week: Conpass x1280 Remember the scanner that pinpointed Arnold Schwarzeneggar's pistol in "Total Recall"? We're one step closer to colonizing Mars, thanks to and its Conpass x1280. It will X-ray fully clothed people in 10 seconds, and with less radiation than they receive on an hour-long plane flight. can also plant a package scanner on your floor or desktop, and it has plenty of other scary devices like chemical sniffers and bomb blankets. The future's so bright, you gotta wear lead.

-- Suggested by Myles

May 14, 1999: Gearing Up For More Travel . . .

Monday will be my last day in the office for a while . . . Tuesday morning I take off for a visit to Wargames West, one of our biggest distributors, in Albuquerque. From there I'll go to ConDuit, a great SF con in Salt Lake City. After the weekend I get to spend a couple of days bashing around the wilds of Utah picking up rocks.

Then I come home and get back to what I laughingly call "work," assuming that I have enough energy left to roll a die.

-- Steve Jackson

May 13, 1999: In Nomine Survey Results

The results from the In Nomine Survey are in - over 650 people voted - and some of the results were surprising! Among the titles that received the most "yes" votes were: Pre-Columbus North America, In Nomine Old West, In Nomine Space, In Nomine Swashbucklers, Civil War, In Nomine South America, In Nomine Cyberpunk, and In Nomine Regency England.

The least-liked included In Nomine: The Disfavored, IN: Judgment Day/Alternate Earths, and In Nomine Hell.

We had many write-in votes for ethereal-oriented books, and historical books... and lots of requests for GURPS In Nomine, which is in the works already. Look for it later this year.

Thanks for voting, everyone! We'll be setting up an In Nomine wish list (similar to the GURPS wish list) soon.
-- Beth McCoy, Demon Princess of Line Editing

May 12, 1999: Welcome, Alex!

We've got a new production artist on staff: Alex Fernandez. Alex was raised in a small town of about five hundred people where there were no traffic lights, movie theaters, police, or art classes. He decided to make a living as an artist anyway, so Alex moved to Waco, where he look Commercial Art and Advertising classes. His first job out of school was at an advertising agency where he worked as a production artist. After that, he spent his days as a starving artist, working for anyone who would give him a chance. Finally, he showed up at Steve Jackson Games, where he impressed us with his artistic ability, uncanny wit, and fashion sense.

Welcome, Alex!

May 11, 1999: Marcon Report

Time for a better report on Marcon than "Grr, UPS did it to us . . ."

Big con, and a lot of fun. A big, busy gaming track, and lots and lots of MIBs in attendance, running games and playing. Highlights included an INWO Master's Game that pitted six of the universe's best players against each other; a dance DJ'd by Dr. Demento (who also dropped by our booth along with Mrs. Demento . . . nice folks!); a short (only 4 hour) but fun Pirate Game; some amazingly large, loud parties; several great filk concerts; a big, varied huckster room (with lots of new Star Wars stuff); and a great dead dog party with huge quantities of chocolate and pizza. We even worked in sneak previews of a couple of unreleased games. No, I'm not telling what they were. You had to be there.

Yea, verily, this was a good one. Now back to work.
-- Steve Jackson

May 10, 1999: Shipping this week

The following products are shipping this week:

Corporeal Players' Guide (for In Nomine)
The Angelic and Infernal Players' Guides are our top-selling In Nomine supplements. This finishes the trilogy. It gives lots more information about Servants of God, evil Sorcerors, undead, and all those other more-than-human, less-than-divine character types.

#3315, ISBN 1-55634-389-2. 128 pages. $19.95.

GURPS Who's Who 1
History is full of people who were stranger than fiction. People you'd want to meet. People you'd pray to avoid. People who changed the world.

This book gives complete descriptions and character stats for 52 of the most interesting people in history, ready to serve as patrons, allies, enemies or role-models. From the man who united China to the REAL Dread Pirate Roberts; from the voice of an empire to a roistering aristocratic astronomer with a silver nose; from a doctor so brilliant that his foes ran him out of town, to a king with 1,200 wives but not a single heir!

It's written for GURPS, but it's easy to translate into any system.

#6088, ISBN 1-55634-367-1. 128 pages. $19.95.

First In (for GURPS Traveller)
Beyond the borders of the Third Imperium, the Interstellar Scout Service seeks out strange new worlds! A Scout has to be ready for anything . . . or die. This book describes the Scouts' organization, equipment, starships (with deck plans) and typical missions. To make running a Scouts campaign easy, it also details the whole process of exploration, from the initial sighting of a new star system to the integration of a world into the Imperium.

First In includes a world-building sequence based on the most recent scientific discoveries. Game Masters can now design realistic star systems, worlds and civilizations. The system can be used for GURPS Traveller, or easily adapted to any other science-fiction RPG.

#6605, ISBN 1-55634-368-X. 144 pages. $20.95.

GURPS Lite is a distillation of the basic GURPS rules. It covers the essentials of character creation, combat, success rolls, magic, adventuring, and game mastering.

The purpose of GURPS Lite is to help GMs bring new players into the game, without frightening them with the Basic Set, Compendiums, and a stack of worldbooks! With GURPS Lite, you can show your players just how simple the GURPS system really is. It can also be used as a neophyte's stand-alone introduction to roleplaying . . . but it is really designed as a tool to let the experienced player bring his friends into the game.

Download it free off of the web! (Acrobat viewer required.)

You can also now order a printed copy of GURPS Lite. If you order it along with something else, it's free; if you order it by itself, there's a $2 charge for shipping.

-- Keith Johnson

May 9, 1999: They Did It To Us Again . . .

"They" being UPS, who once again blew a delivery to a convention, and once again told us fairy stories all day until it was too late to make other arrangements. We won't be using them for anything critical again; that will be going into our procedures manual. "Don't ever trust UPS if it has to get there on time."

Yes, I'm mad. I'm entitled.

Other than that, Marcon is going very well. Large, helpful convention staff; around 2,000 members, maybe more, having a noisy good time; lots of guests, lots of parties. Lots of MIBs, too; big thanks to Alex Yeager, the Regional Director here, for putting together a great presence with a whole lot of games. I'm even getting in a bit of gaming myself . . . I just ran a cameo as the venal, brutal, lecherous Lord King James James in GURPS Goblins. Great fun, despite the fact that I got kicked in the head and left for dead. These things happen when you're a goblin.
-- Steve Jackson

May 8, 1999: One Step Closer To The Ogre

Air Force programmers have successfully tested "neural net" software to fly a F-15 fighter plane. The objective isn't to replace the pilot, though, but to create a program that can help fly a badly damaged aircraft. The net will "know" which of its control surfaces are still working and how to use them to best keep the plane in the air.

It sounds like science fiction, and it is . . . John Varley predicted this system exactly in his Demon, written more than a decade ago. Now reality is catching up.

For more information, see the ABC News story online. While you're at it, here's another relevant ABC News story it seems to be a good week for proto-Ogres . . .

May 7, 1999: Would You Like To Play A Game?

Illuminated Site of the Week: Click and cover! It's not a question of whether or not to run for the hills when the Big Flash arrives, but of how far to go. The Nuclear Blast Mapper lets you enter a location and bomb size, then shows you how far the blast radius will reach. Is that old coal mine far enough away from ground zero? Wonder no longer. Other educational tidbits include tips for teachers, historical footage of bomb blasts and a panic quiz.

-- Suggested by Dan Simpson

May 6, 1999: Retailer E-Mail List

I can't believe we didn't get around to it before . . . but we finally have an e-mail list for retailer information. If you are a retailer and want one or two e-mails a month about upcoming Stuff, let us know. Please include complete store name, address and phone number, so we can verify. Send it to
-- Steve Jackson

May 5, 1999: The Catalog Rocks!

It's up and running at Jackie's code ran first time . . . nothing broke! The only problem now is that increased order volume is stressing our old computer in Shipping . . time to buy a new iMac, maybe?

Jackie's tweaking the code and working on the specials routines. And we're probably going to add a couple more companies to the catalog before long. More neat stuff, coming soon!
-- Steve Jackson

May 4, 1999: Summer's almost here . . .

and soon it will be time to cower inside with an air conditioner, or strip down to the legal minimum or less and enjoy the sauna we call Austin in May. But the evenings and mornings are beautiful. Lightning bugs everywhere, and I saw a deer cross our office driveway Saturday night.
-- Steve Jackson

May 3, 1999: August Releases

GURPS Russia, originally available only by direct sales, is going on the August release schedule for distributors. However, this was a short press run, so it probably won't be in stores very long . . .

GURPS Space, Third Edition

By Steve Jackson and William Barton / Updated by David Pulver

A classic becomes classier in this updating of the definitive guide to science-fiction roleplaying. GURPS Space was already a comprehensive set of tools to design your own starfaring campaigns, from space opera to hard science with any stop in between. Substantially revised and expanded, the Third Edition will:

* Upgrade the spaceship-design and space-combat systems!

* Ensure that popular science-fiction settings will be easily simulated!

* Update the rules to conform with changes since the last edition brought about by GURPS Compendium I, Traveller, Ultra-Tech 2, and Vehicles.

GURPS Space also offers science-fiction equipment from lasers to force swords, lots of classic science-fiction character types, advice on creating planets and the cultures that inhabit them, and much more!

144 OTA-bound (lie-flat) pages.

#6005. ISBN 1-55634-390-6. $21.95.

GURPS Russia

Written by S. John Ross

Enter a land of white snow, red blood, and black humor. Explore the world of Russian folklore and fairytales, where all sorts of interesting -- and often chillingly malevolent -- creatures dwell. Visit the many seats of Russian power, where a slip of the tongue won't lose an emissary his head -- that would be far, far too painless.

Within, you'll find the history, folklore, and daily life not of the Soviet Union or of the Imperial Age, but of medieval Russia -- a culture all but forgotten in the 20th century. GURPS Russia offers a unique opportunity to explore these forgotten times and people from the mundane to the magical.

128 pages.

#6082. ISBN 1-55634-258-6. $19.95.

You Are Here

for In Nomine

Written by Genevieve R. Cogman

From Heaven to Hell and all points between, navigate the unique universe of In Nomine with this guide to nearly 70 locations of interest. Each location detailed in You Are Here provides a wealth of NPCs, adventure seeds, and ambiance -- from the trendiest cybercafe to the heavenly academy in which angels learn to wage war.

It's a vital resource for exploring the geography of regions divine and infernal, for peeling back the mundane masks of places of power in our own realm, and for peeking into the fantastical back corners of the ethereal realm of dreams. Current In Nomine players will benefit from You Are Here's highlighting portions of the Symphony they have yet to explore. New players will enjoy a vast sampler of the many settings and tones the system supports.

128 pages.

#3316. ISBN 1-55634-595-7. $19.95.

GURPS Magic Items 2 (reprint)

Written by Drew Bittner

GURPS Magic Items 2 once again opens the doors to shops full of arcane artifacts and enchanted objects. From magical weaponry to marvelous trinkets, this book provides detailed descriptions of over 450 completely new items.

All of the familiar magical shops from Magic Items 1 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.

Bonus sections include expanded rules on methods of enchanting, more information on magical quirks and how they can affect any sort of magic item, and rules on the creation and use of spellbooks!

128 pages.

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

-- Gene Seabolt

May 2, 1999: Ping Pong Carnage

I had a couple of Burp Guns when I was little. Wonderful toy guns. Lots of loud popping noises, and plastic balls all over the place. Now they're available again. In fact . . . Killer players take note . . . Burpco is now selling them on the net. They have both the rifle and the pistol version (they claim the pistol is new, but I had one in the 60s . . .)

Remember, the right to buy fine toy weapons is the right to be silly. Or something like that.
-- Steve Jackson

May 1, 1999: Wait your turn, please, Ms. Dion.

Illuminated Site of the Week: It already has the Cruel Site of the Day award; now Scott's Page of Evil is our Illuminated Site of the Week.

Scott Glazer offers up his views on a variety of wellsprings for evil - Andie MacDowell, the Spin Doctors, France - in a sly and backhandedly illuminated way. He's also side-splittingly funny, a rarity on the Internet these days, especially for someone on the front lines of the Eternal Struggle.

Suggested by Max Minkoff

Past columns

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