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April 30, 1996

Busy, Busy, Busy . . .

Sorry I've been gone so long - it's been a busy weekend. On Monday IO was having some severe telnet problems (okay, I was having severe problems telnetting to IO; minor semantic difference) and the Illuminator slipped from it's normal frequency. Sorry. Hopefully you'll like what we've been up to in the interim.

Lessee - the first Big Deal is the addition of the Genericsons to the GURPS Basic Set homepage. The Genericsons are what we euphemistically call those bald, near-naked, pictures of humans (man-sized targets?) that serve as the basis for character sketches on GURPS character record sheets. I received a nice email message from someone asking if we could please post these to the web. That sounded like a pretty good idea, so here they are.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the new GURPS worldbook pages we've added, and maybe, if you're really nice, I'll let you in on Bruce Popky's favorite Link-O-The-Month - Trophy Bass Fishing!

Until then, stock up on canned goods, batteries, and fresh water until the flood waters recede...

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 26, 1996

But Wait - There's More!

How much would you pay...

Oops - sorry. I got a little carried away there. As I was saying yesterday, a whole bunch of new GURPS worldbook pages have been added to the site. Zombietown USA has finally reared it's ugly, undead head, as has Witch World.

But it hasn't been all horror and fantasy. GURPS Uplift and GURPS Unnight expand our collection of space-related pages and Wild Cards does the same for our supers pages

We're about 8 books shy of having a web page for every GURPS book in print. Like I said, we're a long way from done but we've made a lot of progress lately. I hope it shows.

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 25, 1996

New GURPS Worldbook Pages!

Hunter Johnson (GURPS Errata Man) and I have been burning the midnight oil to add a raft of new GURPS Worldbook pages to the site. We're not done; in fact there are a lot still unfinished, but we're working as fast as we can to get these up and online.

One significant addition is the World Of Darkness books: GURPS Vampire: The Masquerade, GURPS Werewolf: The Apocalypse and GURPS Mage: The Ascension. People have been asking me when we were going to get these installed, and the answer has been "soon, soon". They're up and online - the only book left to do is GURPS Webmaster: The Relieved but it's not quite finished yet. . .

We got a few more of the historical pages installed as well. Both GURPS Imperial Rome and GURPS Vikings have arrived. And while I'm on the subject of historical books, GURPS Places of Mystery author Phil Masters pointed out that the errata for GURPS Celtic Myth is now available; the errata has been linked to that books' home page.

That's not all - stay tuned for tomorrow's installment . . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 24, 1996

High Weirdness at SJ Games!

Today we had a little bout with synchronicity here at the office. It turns out that Steve received his order from American Science and Surplus. He ordered (along with DELETED) Ghost In A Can, some glow-in-the-dark Mystery Ooze!

The coincidence is amazing, considering last week's fascination with glop and yesterday's "discovery" of American Science and Surplus. So, continuing today's theme of coincidence and time warpage, we bring you Strange Magazine's interview with Steven Gibbs, a man purporting to sell a time machine. It's a fascinating tale of flux capacitors, greys, MIBs and other bits of high weirdness. Truly a must-read for the bored X-phile.

Major credit goes to Illuminator Newshound Berin Kinsman for bringing this to our attention.

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 23, 1996

Mystery Weird Science Stuff - Cheap!

Meet Billy The Friendly Radiosonde! While I'm normally not in the habit of giving free advertising to other companies, I absolutely MUST share this one with you. Illuminator Newshound Jim Robinson found the site of American Science and Surplus, producers of one of the bestest and most entertaining catalogs ever sent to people who order amusing catalogs without ever purchasing stuff from them.

American Science and Surplus (aka JERRYCO) sells stuff. All sorts of stuff. Everything from used automotive airbags to assorted dental tools to zillions of products that almost but don't quite make the grade like the underpowered Chinese pottery wheels to misprinted mechanical pencils. They even have ordinary normal standard 6-sided dice and plenty of them for not a whole lot (10 pair for $2).

But this is far more than a big catalog of weird and obtuse ephemera - it's also one of the best written, most entertaining catalogs you'll find outside of J. Peterman and Lindsay Publications. And, unlike the other two, it's on the web now.

Trash or treasure - you be the judge. Do it in person, though. If you're planning on attending GenCon this year (and aren't we all?), cut a few hours free to visit their Milwaukee-area store. You'll be glad you did.

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 22, 1996

Revenge of the Attack of the Son of Mystery Glop -- in 3-D!

Your eyes weren't deceiving you - there was no new Daily Illuminator on Friday. Sorry about that - I was otherwise preoccupied. Nope, I wasn't spooking rental truck clerks or phoning in bogus crackpot sightings to the BATF (had I been, my apartment would have probably been burnt to the ground per agency procedure...). I was stricken by what can only be described as "the Sick of Moltar". That's not completely true. It could also be described as an acute nausea-inducing stomach virus. But we've dubbed it "the Sick of Moltar" and that it shall henceforth be named.

I suspect it was a result of making fun of Mystery Glop last week - I may have angered the Glop Gods. Also, poisoning by Those Damned Elves can't be discounted either. Soon I will regain enough of my strength to type normally once again (I'm typing this with my tongue; I love these Apple Slobber-Friendly keyboards with ergonomic tongue support).

Meet Billy The Friendly Cryostat! Anyway, I found another cool link on the topic of Mystery Glop that I just had to share (Glop Gods and Elves be damned!). Try the J. C. Davis Group home page at UC-Berkeley. These people are probing the mysteries of an amazing glop - superfluid liquid helium!

"Helium? That's not amazing (unless you breathe it and begin to talk funny in which case it's quite amusing)," you exclaim. Little you know, puny human. Outside of being really, really cold (usually much colder than Wisconsin), liquid helium exhibits this nifty property of (apparently) defying gravity and generally not playing well with the Laws of Nature.

While you're trying to figure that out, I'll be casting out "the Sick of Moltar" and finding more Weird Science Terms like "Time Reversal Invariance" and "rotons".

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 18, 1996

Today - Mystery Glop!

Continuing this weeks theme of irrelevancy (except for yesterday's fevered note from Claudia), we bring you the Glop Page!

It's chock-full of interesting web goo, er, glop including art, humor, Doom, language, goth glop and more.

When you get tired of that, check out some of the new GURPS pages we've installed, including:

Here at SJ Games, we're adding new glop all the time . . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 17, 1996

Atlanta Gamers - SJ Games Needs Your Help!

DragonCon is coming, and Steve Jackson Games is going to be there! Problem is, I am the only one who is going to be repping the company, so I am asking (begging and pleading) for help!

I need four to six people who are willing to work the booth at DragonCon. "What's in it for me?" you ask? Well, for every hour you work the booth, you get $10.00 worth of product (retail). Best of all, if you send me advance notice of what you want, I might be able to bring it with me so that you can simply take it away after your shift.

"What else are you offering?" you ask? OK. That's not all! I will be bringing special surprises for all who work for me, and will be giving bonuses to those who work early shifts!

I do have a few requirements, and they are detailed here.

So send me e-mail at! I need help!

Schedules: Right now, the DragonCon schedule is pretty loose. Once I get some people to help me, I will tighten it up. Right now, though, I am trying just to find out who is interested.

You have to show up fifteen minutes before your scheduled time to make time for shift changes.

Dress Code: All booth representatives are required to dress neatly and cleanly in a professional manner. T shirts will not be allowed unless they are clean and neat, ripped or torn jeans will not be allowed, nor will sweat clothes. This doesn't mean that you can't wear jeans, just be clean and neat. Feel free to clock me upside the head if I don't meet my own dress code.

Alertness: All workers are expected to be able to answer questions about the products as well as sell them. In order to do this, you have to be alert. Cokes, coffee, coffee beans and other caffeine related items will be made available, even if we have to sneak them in *psst--don't tell*. Thus, if any worker does not seem to be able to carry his/her load, he/she will be asked to leave and get some sleep. If you are asked to leave, please do not take offense. Your health is more important than the booth.

Money: All people who work the booth will be required to handle money. Receipt books will be issued, and you will have to use them. All transactions are to be cash, check, or credit card. You will receive instructions before working the booth on how to cash out.

Compensation: You know you want it. Each worker will receive $10.00 in product for each hour served. If you send me a wish list, I will be more than happy to bring the product you desire with me so you can work for it. You may pick up your product after the show, before tear down.

There is nothing wrong with working more than your scheduled shift. Heck, if you want to, you can work the entire convention with us. I don't mind. :)

Now it's your turn. If you have a particular schedule you want to work, or you have a particular game you want to run at the booth (this is still working) then I need to know. If you prefer morning shifts or evening shifts, I need to know.

I will do everything possible to make this a great con for you. As new perks get added to the list, I will be telling you all about them.

Please get in touch with me as soon as convenient at any of the above numbers, or e-mail me at

Thanks again!

Claudia T. Smith
Sales Manager
Convention Liasion
Steve Jackson Games

April 16, 1996

Today's Mystery Substance - Polyethylene Glycol!

Today's Mystery Substance is polyethylene glycol. What makes this organic chemical so significant that it deserves to be today's Mystery Substance, you might ask?

Simple - it shows up in Diet Dr. Pepper and I have no idea why.

So, research is in order. First we tried to find out how bad this stuff is for you, given that it's related to the toxic antifreeze component ethylene glycol. What better place to look than the polyethylene glycol Material Safety Data Sheet (good to know if a railcar of this goop overturns in your backyard).

Well, at least we know it's not toxic and not very flammable. On a uncofortable note, I also found some things that people do with polyethylene glycol that I'd have preferred not to have known.

Well, after vainly searching for the official (read: sanitized, high-budget corporate) Dr. Pepper home page, I settled for 12 fl oz, an unofficial (read: low-buget, amusing, honest) Dr. Pepper page that answered the burning question:

Does Dr. Pepper have antifreeze in it?
A relief to us all, the answer is no. Our researchers are at this very moment conducting experiments to determine the feasibility of using Diet Dr. Pepper as both a beverage and a Safety Freeze.

Stay tuned for more Science,

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 15, 1996

Important Tax Link!

Well, now that you've paid your damn taxes, you must be wondering what all that damned money bought. If you're waiting for a refund, you're probably wondering how to waste it when it arrives.

One word:






For those of you too cheap and/or too creative for the prepackaged stuff, here are some recipes for mystery Floam-like glop.

Tune in next year for another important tax tip.

-- Bob (searching for relevance) Apthorpe

April 12, 1996

Bunker Tours At Greenbrier

Here at the Illuminator, we care very deeply about how you spend your free time. Especially if it involves playing our games. But every once in a while, we think you should get up and go outside, breathe a big lungful of Clean Air (US EPA-approved) and engage in a healthy, life-affirming aerobic activity.

Like golf.

Yup, nothing like meandering about the links, whacking at the underbrush with a blunt implement. And we here at the Illuminator have found the perfect place for underbrush whacking: the Greenbrier.

The Greenbrier is a Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond, award-winning resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Nestled on 6500-acres in an upland valley of the Allegheny Mountains, The Greenbrier offers more than 50 activities, including three, 18-hole championship golf courses, a gallery of fine shops and a host of traditional amenities which have distinguished this resort for more than 200 years.

And, if you get tired of that, you can check out their big bunker. Not this big bunker, this big bunker.

That's right, in case of nuclear attack, the golfing members of the Senate and House of Representative, their staff (and ostensibly, their caddies) would be secreted away to the big bunker beneath the Greenbrier to guide this proud nation through the difficult times expected after the aforementioned nuclear apocalypse.

But now, through the miracle of The Fall of The Evil Empire, the veil of secrecy has been lifted at long last and the Greenbrier bunker is now open to us, the unwashed electorate. So hurry and make your reservations before Disney buys the place out and turns it into a Cold War theme park. Now that would be an Atomic Horror . . .

-- Bob Apthorpe
(who can't get the "It's a Small World" music out of his head . . .)

April 11, 1996

Steve's Return: The Gothenburg Report

I'm just back from Gothenburg, in Sweden. The event was GothCon XX -- yes, they've been doing this for 20 years. And it shows. More than 1,000 gamers; all kinds of events; a large cadre of staff and volunteers, so dedicated that they come back the day after the convention to help clean up. I had a good time, played a lot of Dino Hunt, and even got into a few games just for fun.

There was a lot to play. A lot of original design work is going on in Sweden. NeoGames, which started with NeoBunnies (radioactive carrots and mutated rabbits!!) has gone professional, with several different releases. But they're not the only one. I got to play Trenchraiders, a neat little miniatures game about WWI trench combat. I watched a couple of games of Apokalypse, a fast-moving end-of-the-world miniatures game. This one has a lot of attitude, and special "miniatures" for pools of blood . . . It wouldn't surprise me to see American releases of some of these, someday.

-- Steve Jackson

April 10, 1996

Emergency Script 'Enhancement' Finished

If you've noticed that the scripts on our site have been acting a little wonky lately, you're not the only one. IO made a sudden switch from perl4 to perl5 yesterday, causing several of our major scripts to give the ever-so-informative "Server Error" message. After being put on hold for a while, I figured out what was going on and have fixed as much of what was broken as I could find.

If you find any broken scripts, please let me know so I can fix them.

Thanks for your patience in this time of crisis,

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 9, 1996


Weird site of the day: The military acronym page! I'm not making this up. The site is slow and the page is 997k long (why doesn't that surprise me?...) Here's a sample:

ABMD             Army Ballistic Missile Division
ABMDA            Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency
ABNCP            Airborne Command Post
ABRES            Advanced Ballistic RE-entry System
ABRV             Advanced Ballistic Reentry Vehicle program
abs              Absolute
ABS              Agile Beam System
ABS              Airborne Sensor
ABS HUM          Absolute Humidity
abstract syntax: The unambiguous definition of the data structures used by
                 an application in communication
ABU              Analog Backup
ABW              Air Base Wing
ABW              Apparent Band Width
Ac               Actinium
AC               Aircraft
ac               Alternating Current
AC               Alternating Current
AC               Armament Computer
ACA              Accounts Control Area
ACA              Automatic Circuit Assurance
ACADA            Advanced Chemical Agent Detector and Alarm

-- Bb pthrp

April 8, 1996

Do-It-Yourself Ammo'R'Us!

Today's site of mass destruction is Arrow Tech, "The world wide software standard for Ammunition design"

"Arrow Tech is proud to present a broad selection of software products for the ammunition professional. If you design, evaluate or even use ammunition, from 5.56mm small arms up to 16 inch cannon projectiles, you will find Arrow Tech software products can make your work easier and more productive."

They even have an evaluation version of their software (very nifty)! But remember, Projectile Data Files NOT available for Export!

Nobody better tell David Pulver about this...

Hey - that reminds me - the playtest newsgroup for GURPS Ultra-Tech 2 has been created. It's called (IO members only...)

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 5, 1996

Steve's Off To Sweden!

By the time you read this, I should be winging my way toward Gothcon, an ancient and honorable (this is its 20th year!) game convention in Sweden. No, it's not a gagantic gathering of Goth gamers . . . I think. The name more likely comes from the host city, Gothenburg.

I thought I would be leaving today (it's late Wednesday as I write this). Alas, not so. I got on the plane, it started down the runway, the left engine went bad . . . They couldn't fix it in time for me to make my connection, so I went back home. American Airlines was very professional about the whole thing; I give them big points for that. So I'll take off again Thursday afternoon. I've got a five-hour layover in London on the way there - maybe I can get on the tube and go someplace interesting.

All in all, it ought to be fun. I'll be playing INWO and demonstrating Dino Hunt , and finding out how they do things in Sweden.

-- Steve Jackson

April 4, 1996

Travel Tip: Avoid Mediterranean Snorkeling & Skydiving Junkets

This was forwarded to me from our financial correspondent in Tokyo:
>From Fri Mar 29 10:06:58 1996 Subject: high tech "Response to a wildfire on the south of France's Cote d'Azur was billed as a marvel of modern fire-fighting technology. Two specially-built flying boats zoomed in, skimmed the waters of the Mediterranean, scooping vast amounts of water into their belly tanks, and then dropped the water on the hillside fire. All was jolly and the wine flowed freely until a body was found in the ashes. "The coroner found that the gentleman had apparently fallen from a great height, suffering serious injuries before being burned to death. The report further noted that the victim was wearing a bathing suit, snorkel, and swim fins." Courtesy of Roland Esparza

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 3, 1996

Lie-Flat Binding Makes SJ Games Books Easier to Use

A new binding process Steve Jackson Games has begun using will make their larger books both easier for gamers to use and longer-lasting.

"Gamers give their favorite rulebooks a real workout," Managing Editor Scott Haring said. "This new binding means that the book will stay open on the table, no matter what page you open it to, without having to break the spine."

While the process is an added expense, it's something that our customers told us they wanted. "We've heard from our fans about this for some time, and when we got a chance to give them what they wanted, we took it," Steve Jackson said.

The first book to feature the new lie-flat binding was GURPS Martial Arts, 2nd Edition, released in January, 1996. The new printing of the Car Wars Compendium, 2nd Edition, released in February, also had the new binding. "They were perfect examples of books that would really benefit from this process -- full of rules that gamers would refer to over and over again," Haring said.

The May release of the new printing of the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition, Revised will be the next book to feature lie-flat binding and another natural for the process. This new printing will also feature a new cover and all-new interior art and graphics. Future books to get the lie-flat treatment include GURPS Compendium I and II and GURPS Vehicles, 2nd Edition.

-- Scott Haring

April 2, 1996

GURPS Compendium I Playtest Files Now Online

The lovely and talented Sean Punch (aka Dr. Kromm) has just sent us part of GURPS Compendium I - Character Creation. This text has been disenquarkulated for your viewing pleasure and has been added to our active list of playtest files.

Have fun!

-- Bob Apthorpe

April 1, 1996

More GURPS Resources Online!

Over the weekend we added a few resources for GURPS

The first comes to us from Michael Shaffer who brings us news of a GURPS UnderNet IRC channel:

I'm writing to let you know about an IRC channel formed for GURPS on the Undernet. The channel is pretty new and there isn't a lot of traffic on it yet. I am one of the founders and I thought I would let you know in case you wanted to post the info on your web site. The originator of the channel is Warren Wilson <>. The Undernet has a web site at:

where they let you know about what the undernet is about and why they think it is better than EFNet. In general, channel operators on the Undernet are more cooperative and helpful than on EFNet, and don't tolerate really obnoxious behavior. The name of the channel is #GURPS. The "#" means it is a public channel for anyone to get onto.

The web page has a list of servers for people in various countries (mostly North America and Europe). If you want any more info you can contact me or Mr. Wilson at our email addresses. We will be very happy (i.e. slobberingly grateful) to answer any other questions you have, assuming we know the answers.

Michael Shaffer
irc nickname = pookey

Our second addition is the experimental online Basic Set rule server. This is an alpha test, so don't be surprised if it's a little buggy.

And in the spirit of April Fools' Day, Ken & Jo Walton have graciously shared their list of French Skills with us. We'll let them explain the story behind this ...

Have fun!

-- Bob Apthorpe

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