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Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated July 23, 2013

Basic Info

What is Steve Jackson Games?

We're a publisher of games, books, and other entertainment and information, both on paper and online. We're best known for the GURPS roleplaying system, Car Wars, Munchkin, Illuminati, and Ogre.

We also publish two magazines. Pyramid is a monthly PDF, focusing on GURPS. Our other zine is the online Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society – or JTAS – edited by long-time Traveller guru Loren Wiseman.

How long has SJ Games been around?

The company was founded in 1980. Steve Jackson did his first game design work for Metagaming. In 1980 he bought Space Gamer from Metagaming and went into business for himself. Three games and one set of Cardboard Heroes figures were released in late 1980. The new company really took off in 1981, when Car Wars hit the stores.

How big is SJ Games?

We have about 25 full-time employees, plus a number of part-time staff, contractors, and so on. In terms of sales, we are in the top 10 adventure game companies, but, depending on what you call an "adventure game company," probably not the top five.

How many games have you produced, and which ones are still in print?

We've done more than 500 products across a dozen or more lines, and a terrifying number of them are still in print. For a current listing, see the Our Games page. For a complete list, see the Everything We've Ever Released page.

Where are you?

You can call us at (512) 447-7866. Our fax number is (512) 447-1144.

Our mailing address (for US snailmail only) is:

Steve Jackson Games
PO Box 18957
Austin, TX 78760-8957

This is the place to send checks, letters, and so on.

Parcels (via UPS, Federal Express, and so on) should come to:

Steve Jackson Games
3735 Promontory Point Drive
Austin, TX 78744

We have a number of email addresses, depending on the specific department that you want. The "generic" address for SJ Games is info@sjgames.com.

Can I reach you by email?

It's the best way . . . see the staff list for addresses. The general address is info@sjgames.com.

Can I link to your website?

Of course. You don't need any special permission to add a link to us. Just link to http://www.sjgames.com/. And if you want, you can use this graphic on your page for the link:

Here's the actual code for it (you'll need to download the GIF to your site too):

<a href="http://www.sjgames.com/">
<img src="minisjg.gif" width="163" height="28" border="0" />
</a>

You can also download other banners for linking to our site.

Can I copy the text and images from your games, your ads, or your website?

In general, no. All these things are protected by copyright, and our game titles are trademarked . . . and we make our living by selling games, and would really prefer it if people didn't go around copying them, in part or whole.

We make some exceptions to this for online uses, because (within reason!) if you write about our games, you are helping us make a living and do what we love, and therefore we like you. Please read our online policy.

What We Do

What is Munchkin?

Munchkin is dungeon crawling, without all that annoying "roleplaying" junk, in the form of a card game. It's fun, it's funny, and it's our top seller ever. It's now spawned a boardgame (Munchkin Quest), several RPG books, some really disturbing stuffed toys, and more.

What is GURPS?

GURPS stands for Generic Universal RolePlaying System, and that's exactly what it is: One set of rules that works for all genres. We have published well over 300 different books and supplements for GURPS. And check out the character design program, GURPS Character Assistant, for Fourth Edition.

What is Ogre?

Ogre was Steve Jackson's first game, originally published in 1977. It's a future wargame in which one side has a single giant robot tank, the Ogre, and the other has a force of infantry and armor. The Ogre's goal is to destroy the enemy Command Post, while the enemy's goal is to preserve it, regardless of losses. Ogre has been released in a number of versions, including miniatures rules. In April 2012, 35 years after the original release, SJ Games launched a Kickstarter project for a huge Designer's Edition of Ogre. It was very successful, setting a record at its completion for the highest funding of a board or card game ($923,680) and reaching 8th place for highest funding of all Kickstarter projects. It turned into a much bigger project than we expected, and has been badly delayed; we now expect it to ship in July 2013.

What is e23?

e23 is our PDF store, selling books that have been out of print for years – like GURPS China and Man to Man – as well as new original material – like Transhuman Space: Changing Times and GURPS Supers for Fourth Edition. We also carry PDF releases from other publishers, like Ronin Arts and Loren Wiseman.

What is Pyramid?

Pyramid is a PDF magazine available via e23. It used to be a regular paper magazine, but issue #30 was the last paper issue. Then it became a weekly HTML-based "magazine" serving up an assortment of articles each week, for 10 years (and over 500 weekly issues!). The current incarnation of Pyramid is devoted almost exclusively to RPGs. Most of the articles provide both systemless support and new material for GURPS. We also have reviews, humor, and other interesting tidbits. Each issue has a specific theme; we might devote one issue to tools and tricks for wizards, the next to space opera, and the next to how to combine horror with espionage . . .

Buying Our Games

Where can I find your games?

At your local hobby games or comic store! Here's our Store Finder.

Some of our titles can be found in the game section at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Hastings, too. You can also get Munchkin at the Go! Stores and in the game section of Target.

Can I order your games on the web?

Yes, we have an online retail store. But please – support your local retailer! Here's our Store Finder. If your retailer doesn't have a book or game that you want, ask them to order it. If they don't WANT your business, WE sure do . . . but please give them a chance first.

Can I get a catalog?

No! We no longer kill trees to print stacks of catalogs. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can browse a virtual catalog which (in theory, heh), is always up to date, on the Our Games page. A different version, covering products currently in distribution, is a big part of our Retailer Support page. But please try your local game store first – they really deserve your support!

When a product page on your side says "Now Shipping," what does that mean?

This question often arises just after a game switches from the "Printing" status to "Now Shipping." Does "Now Shipping" mean it's for sale RIGHT NOW?

When something first moves to the "Now Shipping" status, it is doing just that – shipping from our warehouse to the distributors, who will then ship it to your Friendly Local Game Store's shelves. This process can take two weeks or longer, and the store probably has no way to know what day the shipment will show up. Please be patient, and either check back, or ask them to contact you when it arrives.

A couple of weeks after a game ships from the distributor, it should be in stores, and at that point we usually post a note on the Daily Illuminator.

Can I buy out-of-print titles directly from SJ Games?

Sometimes, for a little while after distributors and stores run out of copies, Warehouse 23 will have a few.

Please check Warehouse 23. If the title is listed as "low stock," we have some. If it is listed as "out of print," then we're completely out, too. Please don't call to double-check, plead, or beg, because if we had some, believe me, we'd list them for sale.

If Warehouse 23 is out, check e23. We continue to bring out-of-print books back via PDF – focusing on GURPS 3e first, then older GURPS, then other lines. All the GURPS Fourth Edition material is already in PDF.

If you can't find what you're looking for in either Warehouse 23 or e23, your best bet is to try a dealer who specializes in out-of-print titles.

Can I buy your games in other languages?

Yes, many of our games have been translated – especially Munchkin, which is now available in 15 languages. We do not sell the translated versions; you'll need to order by mail from the publisher, or visit a retailer in the appropriate country. Our foreign partners include:

For GURPS:

  • Brazil: Devir Livraria. Phone: 55-11-2127-8779.
  • Korea: Dayspring Games.

For Munchkin:

Support

How can I get errata for SJ Games releases?

We no longer send out hardcopy of errata. All our errata can be found online. Feel free to print it out. That's what WE do when we need a hardcopy . . .

How can I get an answer to my question about one of your games?

You can post a question in the appropriate spot on on our public forums and get an answer. We don't answer questions by phone or email, because if the question goes to the forum instead, then everyone can see the answer and discuss it.

Getting Involved

Can I get a job at SJ Games?

Maybe :-) Openings do happen. We have a web page dedicated to Job Opportunities at SJ Games. Check it out and see what might be posted.

Can I become a playtester?

If you're in or near Austin, watch the Daily Illuminator, on our home page, for announcements of playtests around town. Otherwise, try to catch us at a convention – we often bring games (even unannounced ones) to playtest.

Some of our games (mostly GURPS books) are playtested online. A week or two before an online playtest begins, it will be announced in the Daily Illuminator. The announcement will explain how to apply to become a playtester – who to contact, what information to provide, and so on. Only applications from registered e23 customers who have spent $50 in the past 12 months will be considered, and most playtests have a modest membership limit (rarely more than 30-40 people). If you are selected, you will be signed up for a playtest mailing list and told how to access the files for the book.

Can I volunteer to demonstrate games for you?

You'd like to run Steve Jackson Games demos in your friendly local game store or maybe at a convention? You just might be the next member of our elite support team . . . the Men In Black.

To become an MIB for your area, please review the description of an MIB and send email to the appropriate Regional Director explaining how you fit the mold. You will be contacted. This IS a test.

Can I visit your office?

You'd be disappointed. It's not a madcap all-day games session – it's an office, and most of us spend all day on the computer or the phone. We're not set up to entertain visitors, and we don't offer tours. We do have an open-house every so often, and we sometimes throw evening or weekend playtest sessions open to the public. They'll be announced in the Daily Illuminator, and if you can make it to one of those, we'd love to see you.

If you really want to meet us, come to a convention where we're making an appearance. That's the best time to catch us in Social Game-Playing and Talking mode.

Are you looking for writers?

We are VERY open to submissions for roleplaying material to be published in PDF format, and for both of our magazines. Please do not submit anything to us until after you have read the Authors' Guidelines. You can also get current updates, showing what we need right now.

I am working on a game. Can I send it to you and get your advice on improving it?

We're sorry, but no. We simply do not have the time. At some conventions, especially Protospiel, we are specifically visiting to see new games . . . please try us there.

Will you publish my game?

At the moment, we are not open to boardgame and card game submissions. We already have at least three years' worth of partially-completed games in the queue . . . some of them have been in development for more than three years already . . . and Steve keeps having new ideas. So we have more than we can handle already.

Can I do art for your games?

We contract for art one project at a time, and we already have a talented and reliable stable of artists. However, we are willing to look at online portfolios. For more information, see our Artists' Guidelines page.

Conventions

How do I get support for my convention?

PLAN AHEAD! Register your convention online no later than two months prior to its starting date. Your listing will appear on our Convention and Trade Show Registry page. We will arrange prizes for each SJ Games event run, plus door prizes and promotional materials.

If you have any questions, email our Convention Manager.

How can my convention get Steve Jackson, Phil Reed, Andrew Hackard, Loren Wiseman, or another SJ Games designer to attend?

Got a briefcase full of large, unmarked bills? Well, okay, there are other ways. Start by reading the Requesting a Guest for Your Convention page. Then email our Convention Manager as early as possible (at least 8 months to a year) before your convention. Start with the basic info: where/when it is, how many people attend, what is special about your con, and so on. We'll get back to you.

What events does your staff attend regularly?

We usually have somebody at the GAMA Trade Show, at Origins, at PAX, at PAX East, and at GenCon. Some staffers go to BGGcon just to play. We show up at a lot of others from year to year. Our convention schedule page shows the cons we're currently planning to attend.

Computer Games

Are there any computer versions of your games? Will there be?

Back in the '80s, Origin Systems produced Autoduel and Ogre, computer game versions of Car Wars and (of course) Ogre. They've been out of print for years, but if you scour the bargain bins and the game conventions, you may still see a copy. During the Ogre Kickstarter project, we promised that Ogre would appear in some kind of digital form. Therefore, it will. But details are hazy right now.

We operate a single online game, UltraCorps. It is not based on any of our paper games. It is an experiment, and a learning experience, and Steve really likes it. Guess which of these is the most important reason we keep it going.

As of June 2010, we have signed a Letter of Intent to contract Tinderbox Entertainment to create a version of Munchkin for Xbox Live. As this project develops, we'll create a status page for it under Munchkin.

For a while, we were actively looking for partners to create digital versions of our games. This sucked up a lot of time, especially Steve's time, and got us just exactly nowhere. Now we're spending our time on what we know best – boardgames and card games – with a bit of iPhone and Android app development to scratch the digital itch. Someday an experienced publisher will come up to us, holding lots of money out at the end of a long stick, and we'll talk with them.

If anything new and neat happens with us and videogames, we'll announce it, and change this FAQ answer!

For a bit more explanation, see the next question.

Can I write a computer program for Munchkin, GURPS, Car Wars, or one of your other games?

If you mean a "game aid" or "player aid" program, yes, you certainly can, if it's for a PC-type computer. We currently do not allow "apps" for mobile devices to be created using our content or trademarks. Yes, this seems like an arbitrary distinction, and as we learn more and the legal and technical issues become more clear, we may be able to change this, but please don't write us saying "I want to write an app, so change your policy," because the decision is not related to the number of pleas we get from would-be app coders. Sorry.

Our online policy makes it possible for fans to create this kind of program, as long as trademark and copyright restrictions are honored. Several such gamer-created utility programs are already available on our website.

If you mean a net version – an actual online game – or an actual home computer game . . . the answer is probably no. In general, we're only open to approaches from professional game publishers, and, per the answer to the above question, we've become disenchanted even with that idea . . . the time we've spent in talking about computer game projects over the past decade-and-a-half (and there's been a lot, with a lot of different publishers) has been a complete waste. At this point, any contact about this has to go directly to SJ. The reply you should expect is "No, thank you."

It's not that we don't like computer games. We do. It's that right now, our time is much better spent in creating new games for our own market, and learning about the digital game business at our own speed.

I'm studying programming in high school/college. We have to write a game program. Can I base my program on one of your games?

This is complicated. The answer boils down to No . . .

  1. We will not give permission for this, because giving permission implies approval, and we don't have the time or resources to oversee school projects.
  2. It is completely legal for you to create a work derivative of someone else's intellectual property, if it's only for your own personal use. We tell you this in order to be upfront with you. But we hope you don't do it, because:
  3. If you create an implementation of one of our games and it winds up on the net, then you have been responsible for distribution of an infringing item, and you have probably done us actual harm (or even interfered with a relationship with a commercial licensee). In that case, you, your teacher/prof, and the university might all be held liable under both copyright law (for the contents) and trademark law (for the name). That would be a really bad outcome, and it's easy to avoid . . . just create an original game for your project rather than copying somebody else's.

Can I start an online game or a MOO/MUSH/MUCK/MUD/etc. based on one of your games?

In general, no. See our online policy for more information.

There's one special exception: If you want to set up a M* (or other online environment) using the In Nomine theme and characters, and you are not charging for it in any way, we will license you for it, for free. Here are the complete rules.

Obviously, if anyone does something really tasteless, or if laws or the Net change in some way, we might have to change our policies. We hope that never happens. We like the fact that people want to play in our worlds . . .

What happened to . . . ?

Why did (name of favorite product here) go out of print?

So many games, so little time . . . In 30 years of business, a lot of games have run their course. Trust us – we don't let things go out of print just to annoy the fans. When we run short on something, we take a hard look at its sales performance, calculate reprint costs, and talk to distributors and dealers to gauge future sales. If we can sell enough to make some money, we'll reprint it. If not, adios . . . at least for a while.

What happened to your miniatures lines?

The first time we set up a casting plant, we quit because we weren't making very good miniatures. The second time, we made very good miniatures, but we didn't make as much money on them as we did on other kinds of games, and the presence of the casting operation drove up insurance costs for the whole company. We are searching for a caster to keep the Ogre miniatures line in production, and you can buy them from Warehouse 23.

Why don't you do Car Wars stuff any more?

Car Wars was our first big hit, and we have not forgotten about it . . . In 2013, we will launch a Kickstarter project for Car Wars. More details will appear when we make more decisions!

What happened to Space Gamer?

We sold it to DTI, back in 1986. We're sorry . . . After that, it went through several owners, some of whom seem not to have to put out a single issue before it was resold. The last we heard, Space Gamer was being published by Better Games, as an ezine.

What happened to Autoduel Quarterly, Roleplayer, and d20 Weekly?

These were magazines which we no longer publish. Autoduel Quarterly ran through issue 10-4 (40 issues). Roleplayer had 30 issues, and d20 Weekly had 48. All these are out of print, but you can get PDFs of ADQ and Roleplayer in e23, along with PDFs of the print issues of Pyramid. None of the d20 Weekly articles are available as PDFs, but if there's interest, perhaps it will happen.

Ancient History

What happened to Metagaming and The Fantasy Trip??

Metagaming was the first company Steve Jackson worked for. It went out of business around 1982. A few of its games were bought by other companies; most are out of print. We can tell you nothing about the whereabouts of its founder. As far as we know, the "Unicorn Gold" treasure hunt was never resolved, nor did anyone buy the TFT publication rights from Metagaming. Some TFT material can still be found by contacting used-game dealers. You can also find information at the unofficial Fantasy Trip website.

Wasn't Steve Jackson one of the founders of Games Workshop?

No, that's the other Steve Jackson. An English writer named Steve Jackson, along with his partner Ian Livingstone, founded Games Workshop and created the Fighting Fantasy series. These days, the English Steve Jackson, having sold his interest in Games Workshop, is continuing to work on various projects (you may have seen his Battlecards – it was a trading card game released before Magic: The Gathering). The American Steve Jackson, who founded SJ Games, is another person entirely.

What was the Illuminati BBS?

The Illuminati BBS dates back to April 1, 1986. In its original incarnation, it was a one-line system, running T-Net on an Apple ][+. Over the years, it grew, and so did the Illuminati community. The board quickly became vital to company operations. Not to put too fine a point on it, we knew that this was the way the future would look.

On March 1, 1990, the Secret Service raided the offices of SJ Games, taking – among other things – the BBS system. See below for more of that story. The Illuminati BBS was back up within a month, running on two lines instead of one.

In 1993, we decided to take our act to the Internet. Illuminati Online became a full-scale Internet information service.

Eventually it was spun off into a separate company, Illuminati Online, which grew into a local service provider rather than an online game center. It wasn't what we expected, but that's what you get when you have a free market. So we've come full circle with our forums . . . which recreate, in many ways, the online gaming community that started with the BBS.

What was Illuminati Online?

Once upon a time it was an Internet access service for the Austin and Houston areas. It started as our BBS system, back in 1986, and grew to a division of Steve Jackson Games before being spun off as a separate company, under a license from SJ Games to use the "Illuminati" name and symbol. It was eventually bought by PrismNet; in 2011 they sold the domain to an undisclosed (as of now) purchaser, and all io.com email accounts were closed. Here's a fuller history of Illuminati Online.

We still think "Illuminati Online" is a good name for a service. Hide and watch.

What happened with the Secret Service?

The short version of a very long story: On March 1, 1990, the Secret Service raided our offices, looking for evidence of a non-existent conspiracy in which they thought one of our employees had been involved from his home. They had a broadly-drafted and unsigned search warrant. They took a lot of material, including all current drafts of GURPS Cyberpunk and the computer which was running the Illuminati BBS. And they were not cooperative, or even truthful, about giving it back.

With the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SJ Games eventually took the Secret Service to Federal court, and won. The judge simply did not believe important parts of the Secret Service's testimony, and gave the agent in charge of the raid a public tongue-lashing.

SJ Games was awarded more than $50,000, and finally got paid early in 1994, more than a year after the judgment. It did not nearly make up for the true damage to the company, but it was better than nothing . . . and just winning the case was the important thing.

Yes, we got most of our equipment back. Some of it was damaged or destroyed while in Secret Service hands, and quite a bit of data was lost. The award included compensation for those losses.

Many of the people who were involved in the case are now active in EFF-Austin, which – while not affiliated with the national EFF – works for similar goals.

Fnord

Why the fascination with the Illuminati and conspiracy theory?

Well, we can't tell you the real reason.

The cover story, which is satisfactory for most purposes, is this: When Steve Jackson published the game Illuminati, he did a great deal of research into conspiracy theory, and into the people who enjoy theorizing about conspiracy theory. It was fun. And as the game became more popular, it became so closely identified with SJ Games that we registered the eye-in-the-pyramid symbol as a trademark. It's now our company logo.

What is the Principia Discordia?

The Principia is the unofficial bible of Discordianism (which, after all, could hardly have an official bible). It is also closely connected with conspiracy theory and the Illuminati.

Best of all, this work is in the public domain. Anyone can reprint it in any form. In 1994, SJ Games published its own edition, with new material, of this culturally significant and deeply silly book.

What does fnord mean?

Sorry, you're not cleared for that.

Other FAQs

Do you have other FAQ files on specific subjects?

Glad you asked . . . We have FAQs for:

And, of course, we have a FAQ for the Illuminati, the Secret Masters themselves. We may add more. Keep asking those frequent questions.

Steve Jackson Games
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