The Daily Illuminator

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February 29, 1996

GURPS Supers and Places of Mystery at the Printer!

Yes, that's right - GURPS Supers and Places of Mystery are currently at the printer and are being bound. Expect their release in a week or so.

Supers Cover Watch the skies for GURPS Supers! This is one of our best-selling worldbooks, and it's coming back into print with a hot new comic-style cover by renowned artist Romas, new interior art, and a great new "retro" page design.

Places of Mystery Cover GURPS Places of Mystery visits the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, Atlantis, Angkor Wat, the Forbidden City, and hundreds of other sites -- most real-world, some legendary -- for use in just about any kind of GURPS campaign you can think of.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 28, 1996

Please Wash Hands After Visiting This Website

It had to happen some time - it's the flesh-eating bacteria home page! This is one strain of strep that you don't want to mess with.

This sounds like a job for Bactine(tm)!

(Okay, maybe it's not that much to worry about)

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 27, 1996

"Black" Projects Unveiled!

During a Web reconnaisance mission scouting for traces of the elusive Flying Wing, I stumbled across Urban Interactive, an interesting group of people that specialize in computer graphics and solid modelling. They have an impressive "Black Projects" aircraft site including such oddities as the Aero Diamond Hypersonic Aircraft and the subject of my search, the Air Battle Over Europe - 1947 page. Perfect subject matter for a GURPS Alternate Earths adventure. Speaking of which, Alternate Earths is zooming through production and should be seen 'later' this year.

Oops, looks like I blew the lid off another "Black Project"...

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 26, 1996

Convention Update!

I've been busy this weekend updating SJ Games' Convention Registry page. A little tweaking here and there and suddenly everybody's life is now a little simpler (Okay, my life is simpler). What's the big deal? Well, for starters, convention organizers will now get prompt e-mail confirmation of their registry and our Goddess of Sales and Convention-Like Stuff will be alerted almost as quickly. The new script also makes my job of updating the Convention and Trade Show page much easier. This benefits event organizers, gamers, and Claudia and means I can spend more time helping proofread the GURPS Basic Set reprint scheduled for release in early May.

Oh, and speaking of the Convention and Trade Show page - five more conventions have been added to the page. Three are scheduled for March and one for April, so if you haven't checked the page recently, you might want to give it a quick glance.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 23, 1996

More of the Autoduel Quarterly Archive Available Online!

Yes, it's true. Just when you thought we had added enough new stuff to the website this week, we tack on some more. We've got most of ADQ 2/2 and ADQ 2/4 posted and a few more items in the works. For other issues, check the ADQ archive page.

Other improvements this week include updates to the online catalog. Shipping discovered a cache of Hacker behind the Ark of the Covenant while doing a little spring cleaning today. There are very few of these so order soon. You never know when we'll find more. Probably the next time we dust behind Walt Disney's stasis tube...

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 22, 1996

GURPS Basic Appendix Available Online!

We are so cool.

If you have the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition and you don't want to get the revised edition just to get 16 pages of new text, here's what you're missing - Appendix to GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition Revised (105k). Or, get the ASCII version (39k).

This Appendix includes:

We are committed to supporting our product lines and we think this a pretty good way of providing that support. And occasionally we feel like tooting our own horn when we do stuff like like this.

Okay, enough ego puffery - we've got work to do.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 21, 1996

Roleplayer Archive Hits Our Website!

Archangel Beth has done a fantastic job of HTMLizing back issues of Roleplayer magazine. As you might know, Roleplayer was discontinued at issue 30 and was combined with Autoduel Quarterly to create Pyramid Magazine. GURPS players have been clamoring for Roleplayer to be put on the web and now it's here!

A big round of applause for Beth for her tireless effort - we all owe her big-time...

Today's non-smutty newsgroup is

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 20, 1996

Damn the Torpedos, 1/144 Speed Ahead!

They're large, they're small, they're heavily armed! Yup, it's Radio-Controlled Model Warship Combat!

No, really!

No "toy boats" these - 1:144-scale radio-controlled miniature warships fitted with tiny bilge pumps and fully-functional main armament. Find a shallow pond, divide into teams and wage war on the enemy! Do the ships sink? Of course! What fun is it if you can't sink the other guy's battleship? Where's the challenge if you have no chance to be sent to the bottom?

As you might imagine, there are several schools of limnetic warfare:

Either way, this looks like a lot of fun. Best of all, there are several IR/CWCC events in Texas this year including the Texas Triple Crown and NATS '96, the national slugfest.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 19, 1996

More Cool Stuff on the SJ Games Site

We've been busy over the weekend. Our latest addition is the Celtic Myth Bestiary by Ken and Jo Walton. As you might imagine, during the production of every GURPS book, we have a few pages left over as a result of the editing process - good stuff that doesn't quite fit in a 128-page book. With permission of Ken & Jo, we've added their directory of animals, creatures and beasties to the Celtic Myth page.

Have fun!

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 16, 1996

Missing Books - Text at 11...

Closing this week's theme of Law Enforcement, Exploding Heads, Penguin Taunting, and Consumer Product Safety, we take a look at a very serious crime - book theft.

This goes way beyond Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" and the occasional armload of Harlequin Romances lifted by a disgruntled grocery checker, we're talking major crime and ancient dusty tomes. The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America has put together its' version of the Ten Most Wanted list - the Book Security Alert on stolen books and forgeries.

Notably absent was the reported disappearance of certain books from the library at Miskatonic U. . . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 15, 1996

Don't - You'll Put Your Eye Out!

Today's installment of this week's topic of Law Enforcement, Exploding Heads, Penguin Taunting and Consumer Product Safety comes to us from the University of New Hampshire's Mathematics Department. Special Crime Fighting Operative Kelly Black is doing his part to help The Tick fight Evil - with darts!

Yes, now you too can Throw A Dart In the Eye of Evil! Go poke out some virtual peepers now. Remember, don't do this at home, especially with real darts and real eyes. Do it at work or school and waste valuable computing resources while helping the The Tick fight evil.

You owe it to yourself. You owe it to America.

You owe it to The City.

-- Bob "He baked a muffin that stole my car" Apthorpe

February 14, 1996

RAF Taunts Policemen, Penguins

Maintaining this week's theme of Law Enforcement, Exploding Heads, and Penguin Taunting, I submit the following for your enjoyment and edification:

A snippet spotted in Pilot Magazine and entered in Bike Magazine:

The article was entitled "In a hurry are we, sir?" ( British Police Wit).

Two members of the Lothian and Borders traffic police were out on the Berwickshire moors with a radar gun recently, happily engaged in apprehending speeding motorists, when their equipment suddenly locked-up completely with an unexpected reading of well over 300 mph. The mystery was explained seconds later as a low flying Harrier hurtled over their heads. The boys in blue, upset at the damage to their radar gun, put in a complaint to the RAF, but were somewhat chastened when the RAF pointed out that the damage might well have been more severe. The Harrier's target-seeker had locked on to the'enemy' radar and triggered an automatic retaliatory air-to-surface missile attack. Luckily(?) the Harrier was operating unarmed.

Gee Officer, sorry about your patrol car........

And speaking of the RAF, the UK airmen appear to have more of a sense of humour than with which we would first credit them:

"A Mexican newspaper reports that bored Royal Air Force pilots stationed on the Falkland Islands have devised what they consider a marvelous new game. Noting that the local penguins are fascinated by airplanes, the pilots search out a beach where the birds are gathered and fly slowly along it at the water edge. Perhaps ten thousand penguins turn their heads in unison watching the planes go by, and when the pilots turn around and fly back, the birds turn their heads in the opposite direction, like spectators at a slow-motion tennis match. Then, the paper reports, "The pilots fly out to sea and directly to the penguin colony and overfly it. Heads go up, up, up, and ten thousand penguins fall over gently onto their backs."

Hey - here's another tangent for GURPS Tech fanatics: until GURPS Vehicles, 2nd Edition comes out, here's some aircraft design information you might find of use, courtesy of Virginia Polytechnic Institute. This evoked an audible reaction from me (sorry, engineering degrees will do that to you). No pictures (!) but gobs of references. Don't let Kromm see this. . .

-- Bob "Don't ask me about the NB-36 because I can probably tell you more than you really want to know" Apthorpe

February 13, 1996

Top Ten People You Don't Want To Be

Continuing on this weeks' dual themes of Law Enforcement and Exploding Heads, we bring you the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List from their home office in Quantico, VA. Actually, it's more like an Eight Most Wanted List, since two of the rat bastards have since been captured. Two more are the Libyan "intelligence agents" that blew up the Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, so unless someone has an "extraction" mission planned, it's highly unlikely those two will see justice anytime soon. So make it six that you're likely to see knocking over your local Quickee Mart or trucking across the border with $150-gazillion-worth of drugs hidden inside a load of lawnmower wheels.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled and remember, these guys are to be considered armed and extremely dangerous, so don't try apprehending them at home.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 12, 1996

A Page Ahead Of Its Time?

Start Me Ughhh! In keeping with our committment to keep you informed of the important news of the day, we bring you word of The Exploding Head Page. Yup, you guessed it - you pick the celebrity, point, click, BOOM! Hours of amusement and best of all, it isn't smutty in the least. So plunk Junior and the twins down unattended in front of Netscape and let them explode heads to their underaged hearts' content.

The best part is that this page has already been "approved" by the Powers That Be. Yup, our pals at the Secret Service paid the author a visit to make sure he wasn't really planning on exploding Bob Dole's head. To the Secret Service's defense, that really is their job - protecting heads of state (pardon the pun) and other governmental poobahs. Still, you've got to wonder what credible threat is posed by a person with a scanner and a web page. At least the Secret Service has a tad more justifcation for their actions than, say, some twit Senator from Nebraska and his blue-nosed cronies...

Enough rantiness - "may the Good Lord take a likin' to ya and blow your head up real soon!"


February 9, 1996

Day 2 of the New World Order! - Feel Safer Yet?

First off, we really do have a new issue of Pyramid heading to stores now. Issue 18 has a whole mess of neat stuff in it, including a rare INWO card previously available only in the French magazine Lotus Noir.

In other news, people have been asking me "So Bob, when are you going to go on another frothy rant about the Exon Bill - urp - Law?" I've thought about it and I decided I'd let it go - I found a very succint article on the subject by a man who spent over a decade as a Texas judge.

I must warn you, though, if direct and unambiguous speech offends you, do not read this. If you are a child or an idiot or a prude, go elsewhere. Peruse the rest of this site. Go lock yourself in the closet, bury your head in the sand, or go look at some pretty pictures of household appliances. Just don't read this:



February 8, 1996

Welcome to the New World Order!

Hi kids! I'm really glad you could join us today. I'm having a swell time and I hope you are, too. Everything is going great here at Steve Jackson Games - we are shipping some great new games to stores near you.


We have just shipped GURPS Ultra-Tech, a beautiful book full of all sorts of neat toys to add to your GURPS campaigns. Also shipping this week is a reprint of the Car Wars Compendium with all new art! Doesn't that sound terrific?


Finally, we have a new issue of Pyramid magazine. It's loaded with many interesting articles on your favorite games, industry news, and a hard-to-find INWO card. It's really wonderful.


Have a nice day,



February 7, 1996

GURPS UltraTech Now Shipping

[UltraTech Cover
Image] GURPS Ultra-Tech has returned from the printer and is being shipped to distributors as this is being written.

GURPS Ultra-Tech is a 128-page sourcebook for science-fiction technology, from the 21st century to the farthest reaches of the future. From the vacuum of interstellar space to the murderous intrigue of the court of the Galactic Empire, to the lowest dives of the asteroids, an adventurer is no better than his gear. GURPS Ultra-Tech, Second Edition, Revised has been reorganized for ease of use - equipment is now sorted by type, not by Tech Level.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 6, 1996

Back to the Salt Mines

Cygnus Loop Image I'm back from Utah. It was snowing there, but then, I missed an ice storm here, so it all evens out.

I was at Life, the Universe and Everything 14. This was the convention that's actually a symposium on SF, sponsored by Brigham Young University. Definitely worthwhile! The academic speakers gave the panels an interesting flavor. I enjoyed it.

They also had a great Science Guest - Christian Ready, program coordinator for the Space Telescope Science Institute. That translates, according to the symposium's program book, as "responsible for the design, implementation and overall execution of observations taken aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Now that's what I call a neat job! He had a lot of beautiful photos to show. (And he plays INWO, and hadn't yet seen the Hubble Trouble card -- but he's got some now.)

And I got to tour three good science museums, plus the Mormon historical museum in Salt Lake City. Quite a week. Now back to the salt mines . . .

-- Steve Jackson

February 5, 1996

Public Apology to the Province of Saskatchewan...

I'm sorry. It wasn't intentional. I don't know what I was thinking.

What am I talking about? Well, I got this in the mail recently:

"Just thought I'd point out a teensy little bug in the online ordering form.

Pretend you're me.

My name is Doug.  I live at 123 Main Street in Saskatoon.  Saskatoon is in
the province of Saskatchewan.

I mean, come on, you remember *Puerto Rico* and you forget Saskatchewan? 
I was aghast - I thought I had included all the Canadian Provinces, the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Armed Forces - America, Europe and Pacific postal codes. I rechecked the catalog, and lo: Saskatchewan was missing!

I'm not sure what the rest of Canada thought of this but neither I nor the proud people of Saskatchewan were pleased with my results. This problem has since been rectified: Saskatchewan has been added to the state & province list and the provincial digraph has been corrected (how I got SA instead of SK, I'll never know).

On the subject of Post Offices, I've got some interesting info for North Americans:

No word yet on Mexican Postal Code lookup engines.

Again, my sincere apologies to the Province of Saskatchewan.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 2, 1996

Update of GURPS Articles Begins

Now that the online catalog is up and running with minimal teething pains, I can get back to cleaning up sections of our website. Today's target was the GURPS articles section. This is one of the older sections of the website and much of the text was in HTML format - but just barely. The pages are done but are yet to be installed; actual installation should occur in a day or two so please have a little patience.

-- Bob Apthorpe

February 1, 1996

SJ Games Catalog Comes Online

After a tremendous effort by our Shipping Department and yours truly, our Direct Mail Catalog is up and running! While we strongly encourage you to support your local retailer, we want to make it as easy as possible for people without local games shops to get our latest releases and classic games.

In other news, it's been pretty cold here in Austin. Unseasonably icy weather coupled with Texans' inherent inability to drive in Real Winter driving conditions provided Jim and I with hours of entertainment. We spent most of the day watching people cross the icy Bridge of Peril just north of the office. Watching the locals drive on ice has convinced me that working from home is a very good thing. . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

Past columns