The Daily Illuminator
Home New Releases Our Games Catalog General Info Pyramid Feedback

December 31, 2000: Earth By Night

Here's a beautiful composite picture of the whole Earth by night, showing the city lights. The big version, linked from that site, is great for a desktop. This is the NASA astronomy picture of the day from Nov. 27; almost everything that appears on that site is a potential desktop.

December 30, 2000: Flinging the Future Farther

Illuminated Site of the Week: The past eludes us and our view of the future is shortened every day, leading The Long Now Foundation to suggest a new way of looking at history and the perpetuation of knowledge. They refuse to confine their views and ambitions with any kind of mortal timeframe, acknowledging the limitlessness of intellectual pursuit. They even have to build a new timepiece to accommodate their vast tapestry, and they want your help.

-- Suggested by Edward MacGregor

December 29, 2000: Ants In Space

NASA is working out plans to send a "distributed" probe to the asteroids - instead of a single probe, it would be a swarm of a thousand miniprobes, sharing information. Naturally, they call it ANTS - Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm. See the Yahoo story.

December 28, 2000: Behold The Power Of Squirrels

If you attach great importance to the appropriate, accurate, artistic, and admiring representation of squirrels in your roleplaying games, you absolutely have to visit Squirrel Nutkin's D&D Home Page. We receive high accolades here, as "quite possibly the most squirrel-friendly RPG publisher today." Yet another milestone!

Warehouse 23 News: Affordable Espionage

Warehouse 23 has secretly added KGB related items from Sovietski Collections. Which items? You don't have clearance for that information.

-- Michelle

December 27, 2000: Wait Right Here

Doug Sheppard was, for a long time, a distinguished member of our INWO brain trust. Currently, he is half (the writing half) of the team that produces Waiting for Bob, which is one of the online strips that I check every day. Here's a page in which Doug tells a little story about how these silly games can get you in trouble . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Warehouse 23 News: Go Forth and Colonize

Cosmic Encounter is now available at Warehouse 23.

-- Michelle

December 26, 2000: Everything I Need To Know About Life I Learned Playing Ogre

There are big, bad things out there, and they might come to get you. Be ready.

There's no problem so large that it can't be whittled down.

You're going to lose a few units along the way, maybe a lot; accept it.

A bunch of minor problems, if you don't stamp them out, can wear you down and kill you.

Teamwork is essential. Nobody has all the attributes to succeed on their own.

If your movement is high and your defense is low, don't let them shoot at you.

If your defense is high and your movement is low, don't run.

In the end, only one thing matters. Know what it is, and be prepared to sacrifice anything for it.

Time is always running out.

(Thanks to Andrew Walters for this.)

Warehouse 23 News: Steampunk comes to Warehouse 23

As is only appropriate with the recent release of GURPS Castle Falkenstein, Warehouse 23 is now carrying the original Castle Falkenstein line, published by R.Talsorian Games.

-- Michelle

December 25, 2000: For GURPS In Nomine Fans

GURPS In Nomine promised an online supplement with the "gearhead mechanics" showing just how the various celestial powers were designed in GURPS terms. It's now up, for those who want to see exactly how Walter Milliken worked it out. Click on the happy demon: >:-)
-- Steve Jackson

Warehouse 23 News: Zippy, Zany, Zowy!

No, it's not a 60's super hero show, they're our newest additions to the Toobers & Zots line.

-- Michelle

December 24, 2000: The Spirit Wars War

Hasbro is in court against the inventor of an online game, battling over who owns the title. See the story in Willamette Week Online. Check out the game itself from the Kellogg Creek Software site.

Warehouse 23 News: Goal!

We've brought in the newest Wiggly Giggly, a mini colored just like a soccer ball.

-- Michelle

December 23, 2000: Old Magazines In The Auction

We just found a big box of old wargame magazines on the shelf, and into the auction they went . . . Courier, Grenadier, Moves, The Wargamer. They won't all come up at once, since the auction only displays three lots at a time, so if you don't see what you want at first, keep watching.

Happy Holidays!

The SJ Games office is now officially closed until January 2. You might find someone here if you call, but you also might not. And many of us will be lurking on the net, but some of us will away from e-mail for a while, so please don't count on an instant response if you ping us. We'll see you next year!

Warehouse 23 News: Beware the Dark Gods

Java's Crypt has released a new line of Call of Cthulhu jewelry. Currently available are Elder Sign pendants and brooch/pins.

-- Michelle

December 22, 2000: Where the Action Is

Illuminated Site of the Week: Spotting a flying saucer is all about playing the odds. Does that mean you have to wait around in the desert, a slave to Area 51's weird magnetism? Not at all. The National UFO Reporting Center can tell you who's seen what, where they saw it and what it looked like. Gear your voyeurism to your tastes. Then again, if you like the desert, you can play the odds there, too: Las Vegas has had over 40 sightings of its own.

-- Suggested by Brett Slocum

Warehouse 23 News: Display Your Clan Allegiance

Java's Crypt has released a new line of Legend of the Five Rings jewelry. Currently available are Crane, Lion, and Scorpion pendants and brooch/pins.

-- Michelle

December 21, 2000: Argh! Slack Attack Delayed!

The new Chez Geek supplement, Slack Attack, will be delayed for (ouch) a couple of months. We gave it to a new printer. They did not do a good job. We're not going to ship those cards; the printers will try again. Sorry about that . . .
-- Steve Jackson

December 20, 2000: All Hail William the Conqueror

Steve Jackson Games' liberation of stifled gamers from cramped corporate cubicles continues with the hiring of William Toporek, our new Grand Marshal of the South Wing, Minister of All Things Stocked and Shipped, Connoisseur of Automatic Weapon Fire Rules, and Rosicrucian Knight Tempura. (Otherwise known as Traffic and Warehouse/Shipping Manager.)

Former military intelligence officer, repo man, and commercial debt collector, we don't expect William to have much trouble with the roaming armed security drones. Welcome aboard, Airborne!

December 19, 2000: Now Shipping!

Two new products are shipping this week:

Traveller Deck Plan 1: Beowulf-class Free Trader
The Free Trader Beowulf is under attack! Help retake the ship with our first set of Traveller Deck Plans. Thirteen double-sided maps join to form the full Beowulf - with hexes on one side and squares on the other, every Traveller fan will be able to use them! And there's a sheet of Cardboard Heroes miniatures with crew and pirates - start adventuring immediately!

Hang in there, Traveller fans . . . help is on the way . . .

13 two-sided maps with a 4-color cover insert, with 1 sheet of Traveller-specific Cardboard Heroes in ziplock bag.
#6617, ISBN 1-55634-460-0. $20.95.

Awful Green Things from Outer Space
The crew of the exploration ship ZNUTAR just wanted to cruise around the Galaxy, discovering strange new worlds and playing pool. But then their ship was invaded by the Awful Green Things . . . and suddenly they were fighting for their lives!

In this wacky two-player game, one player controls the Awful Green Things. They grow and multiply every turn... especially if they can gobble up a crew member! The other player commands the crew, frantically trying weapon after weapon (pool sticks, fire extinguishers, cans of Zgwortz) in hope of finding something that kills the monsters.

This great game was created by Tom Wham. It first appeared in Dragon Magazine, and was later released as a boxed game from TSR. When they let it go out of print, SJ Games picked it up! This edition includes Tom's "Outside the Znutar" rules and counters, for going out the airlocks and fighting on the surface of the ship.

Rule booklet, counter sheets, map, and dice in a video box with a cardboard slip cover.
#1335, ISBN 1-55634-462-7, $14.95.

-- Keith Johnson

December 18, 2000: WotC Update

A Wizards of the Coast press release dated December 15 acknowledges about 100 layoffs, calling it a "reorganization." It also confirms that founder Peter Adkison will be leaving the company.

December 17, 2000: Summoner Geeks

It's a short film you can view online. You may recognize someone you know. Back away slowly.

December 16, 2000: Send Christmas Coconuts Early

Illuminated Site of the Week: And skis and teeth and bottled water. If you're not sure whether your more unusual gift choices will get there in time - or at all - check out HotAIR's Postal Experiments. Jeff Van Bueren has sent it all for you, and listed the surprisingly competent results.

-- Suggested by Josh Marquart

December 15, 2000: Massive WotC Layoffs

Wizards of the Coast employees have now privately confirmed Thursday's rampant industry rumors of massive layoffs at WotC; it appears that from 100 to 150 jobs have been lost. Last week, former employees of Last Unicorn Games (recently purchased by WotC) were given the option of moving to Seattle or being laid off; some chose not to move. Still unconfirmed are rumors of resignations in protest by senior staff, including well-known hobby figures. There has been no official release yet, and according to one staff member, the WotC offices were under an "information lockdown" Thursday, with no Internet access.

Hasbro, the parent company of WotC, has had a bad year, with slumping stock prices. Recently it agreed to sell its Hasbro Interactive and divisions to a French company, Infogrames. For more about the woes of Hasbro, see the CBS Marketwatch story. It reports, among other things, that "faltering sales of Pokemon trading cards could push the company into the red."

December 14, 2000: All Hail The New Alpha Geek

Our new Chief Technology Officer is Ben Kimball of Austin, Texas. He enjoys music performance and composition, gaming, and painting endless miniatures poorly. If you asked him to play a game today, he'd probably suggest Ogre, Formula Dé, GURPS Operation Endgame, The Hills Rise Wild!, or SUPER GIANT MONSTER SHOWDOWN. (If you didn't like those choices, you could just ask again tomorrow.)

Before coming to SJ Games, he worked for such mundane corporations as Motorola, TechWorks, and ecommercesoft. Fortunately, he did eventually manage to find his tinfoil hat and escape his cubicle cage.

Now we keep him under lock and key in the basement, where his responsibilities will range from maintaining our own techie infrastructure to working with SJ on (gasp) computer applications of our games.

December 13, 2000: Still Cold But Back Online

Like I said, Austin doesn’t deal well with cold snaps. This is being posted a bit after 3pm Wednesday. The SJ Games site, including Pyramid and JTAS , was down for more than 12 hours; Illuminati Online was without power for that long. Some parts of the city STILL don’t have power. There were more than 600 car accidents last night in Austin alone.
-- Steve Jackson

December 13, 2000: Vroom

Last Saturday we had a general staff-and-family party, a thing which happens all too rarely. We went to a local arcade and go-kart track. As it happens, I had made it into the closing days of 2000 without ever going kart racing. I was not actually feeling the lack, but you know something?

I had fun.

Unfortunately, nobody thought to bring the camera, so we don't have any pictures of me flooring it in my shiny green kart (matched my Ogre shirt), or Phil and Alex grinning maniacally as they slammed each other on the bumper track, or Russell unmasking himself as the Air Hockey God, or Shawn and Dina striding through the House of the Virtual Dead, blowing little chunks of zombie-pixels in all directions. Or the peanut fight at lunch.

So you'll just have to imagine it.
-- Steve Jackson

December 12, 2000: Are We Hot Or Not?

We're not. Austin's going to freeze tonight, hard. With ice. That doesn't happen here very often, and neither the City of Austin nor the local drivers really knows how to handle it. Our offices will be very sparsely manned tomorrow - nobody has to come in unless they feel like it and think it's safe. Things will probably be more or less back to normal Wednesday.

-- Steve Jackson

December 11, 2000: KTRU Is Back On the Air

KTRU, the Rice University radio station, is back on the air. Reacting to the outpouring of protest from students, alumni, and the Houston community, the Rice administration - which had earlier said that the station would probably not be unlocked until next semester - reached an agreement to re-open the doors to the existing student management. See for links to the whole story.
-- Steve Jackson

December 10, 2000: Flying Postage Stamps

Bigger than "smart dust," but self-powered . . . the postage-stamp-sized "mesicopter" is about to make its first trial flight. (Hmm. Imagine a dozen of these as command and control units for a half-million flecks of smart dust.) Here's the New Scientist story.

December 9, 2000: Now Shipping!

Two books are shipping from the warehouse this week:

GURPS Celtic Myth (reprint)
GURPS Celtic Myth lets you enter the world of the pagan Celts -- the people who lived in western Europe before the Romans and Christians came. It delves into their mythological and magical lives and history.

128 pages, #6074, ISBN: 1-55634-195-4, $19.95

GURPS Supers (reprint)
The supers are here! Costumed crusaders fighting against the forces of evil . . . monstrous villains terrorizing the world . . . your creations are only limited by your imagination! GURPS Supers lets you create real heroes and real villains, each fully defined in both power and personality - not just combat monsters. The second edition of GURPS Supers introduces system improvements to let you create superpowers the way you want to run them!

128 pages, #6017, ISBN: 1-55634-493-7, $19.95

-- Keith Johnson

December 8, 2000: Are We Done or Not?

 Site of the Week: Am I Hot or Not? gets 7 million hits a day; me-toos could hardly be far behind. You can weigh in on its little brother Am I Hot?, look over the black sheep of the family at Am I Goth or Not?, or deci de which father of our country you would like the best at Brunching Shuttlecocks ' Am I President or Not?

Eh, you've probably got a better shot with one of your kissing cousins at the il luminated Monkey Hot or N ot?

-- Suggested by Brandon

December 7, 2000: Smart Dust

Here's the latest SF concept to move toward reality: smart dust. Flakes of silicon with sensors and an onboard computer, so small they float like motes of dust, linked by lasers to communicate their findings to each other or a base. Use them for security . . . for research . . . for recon in wartime . . . for spying on businesses or individuals in peacetime. Neil Stephenson wrote about them in "The Diamond Age." Now they're coming. Here's the San Francisco Chronicle story.

December 6, 2000: Orbital Mind Control Satellite Tracker

You can use this great graphic tracking tool, called J-Track , to locate exactly where all those Mind Control Lasers are at any given time . . . if you can just figure out which ones they are.

December 5, 2000: Bangbangbangbangbang

An Australian inventor has developed technology that can allow a machine-gun to fire at a rate equivalent to a million rounds a minute. Think about security systems, robot assassin drones, point defense against incoming missiles . . . Here's the Scientific American story.

December 4, 2000: Embarrassed To Be A Rice Alum . . .

I used to be proud to have graduated from Rice University. But administration actions there last week have left me seriously disillusioned.

The Rice administration has, on the flimsiest of pretexts, taken over and shut down (and even vandalized) the student radio station, KTRU. Yes, vandalized. Adding insult to injury, after they locked the students out, one of the University VPs ordered custodial staff to "clean up" the station's door, covered with bumper stickers left by generations of KTRU staff.

I wasn't a KTRU staffer - I was on the student paper, the Thresher. The radio station was the rivals, the competitors for staff, Those Guys Down The Hall. But we were all working the same beat and serving the same student body, and when something interesting happened, we worked together to report it. KTRU, like the newspaper, was a free student voice.

Well, no more. And what was this about? Well, it seems that the university is having trouble finding commercial radio stations that want to broadcast its athletic events. KTRU already gives university athletics a lot of air time, but the administration wanted twice as much, for starters. The student staff objected . . . a couple of DJs made the mistake of conducting a silly on-air protest in which they "compromised" by playing music and broadcasting a game at the same time . . . and BOOM. Padlocked doors.

And, unless they were massively misquoted in the Houston Chronicle story, the administrators' justifications are bald-faced hypocrisy, the kind we used to hear from Communist countries after they shot students. Well, at least nobody's getting shot here . . . but judge for yourself; the link is below.

Incidentally, the station is paid for by student funds. But the license is in the University's name. Nobody found that sinister . . . until last week. KTRU was, for 30 years, a student resource, a great alternative music station that featured campus news but could be heard off campus. Looks like it's about to become an arm of the Athletic Department.

If you happen to be a Rice alum, or thought you were a friend of the school, check out, which has links to various news stories covering this in much more detail. You can also read about protest efforts set for this afternoon and evenings at Rice.

If I were in Houston, I'd go. Anybody want to go for me? This ex-Thresher editor really doesn't like what they're doing to Rice radio.
-- Steve Jackson

December 3, 2000: Monty Lego and the Holy Grail

A Japanese site with, yes, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" scenes built from Lego figures. The introduction says "This is english crazy movie." Couldn't have phrased it better myself. And this is japanese crazy site . . . very nice!
-- Steve Jackson

December 2, 2000: Congratulations, Keith!

Our Assistant Webmaster Keith Johnson is now the proud father of a baby girl, Danica Lynn, born November 29th. Keith's already got a web page for her, and has even registered her own domain name. (We expect the illuminated borg implants will be next.)

Anyway, congratulations, Keith!

December 1, 2000: Far Out. No, Farther.

Illuminated Site of the Week: Silicon Graphics, Inc. recalls a little of the chaos of the 60s with lavarand, a groovy system for plucking random numbers out of lava lamps.

-- Suggested by Wayne West

Warehouse 23 News: Display your geekness with style!

Chez Geek t-shirts are now available, but only from Warehouse 23.

Past columns

Steve Jackson Games
Top of Page | Home