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July 31, 1996

Happy Jack's GURPS Resources

Here's a neat little site that deserves your attention - Happy Jack's GURPS Resources, courtesy of Stu Venable. He's posted rules variants, a list of other GURPS sites, an NPC roster and more.

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 30, 1996

Alternate Earths Now Shipping!

It's arrived - GURPS Alternate Earths has returned from the printer and is rocketing it's way toward a retailer near you. Boasting 6 detailed alternate timelines, Alternate Earths is designed to integrate with GURPS Time Travel or can be used alone.

And speaking of GURPS Time Travel, Time Travel and Time Travel Adventures have been bundled together into an Instant Campaign Pack with a suggested retail price of only $17.95.

Time is of the essence - get GURPS Alternate Earths and seize the day!

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 29, 1996

In Nomine -- Coming in November!

No, really.

Steve Jackson Games officially announces the release of In Nomine, the oft-promised, much-awaited roleplaying game of angels and demons in a perpetual battle for the future of mankind. "I don't want to bore people with the whys and wherefores of all the delays, but we now have the manuscript in shape and the team in place to finish the project off," Managing Editor Scott Haring said.

In Nomine is based on a pair of French roleplaying games, In Nomine Satanis and Magna Veritas, both written by a game designer known only as Croc. In Nomine is not part of the GURPS roleplaying system (though it will have GURPS conversion rules included), making it the first new roleplaying game released by Steve Jackson Games since Toon 12 years ago. "Some people are saying roleplaying is on the way out," Steve Jackson said, "but I think it's just a matter of finding the right game to capture players' imaginations again. In Nomine is perfect for the job, and we look forward to kicking off an entire roleplaying line with its release."

In Nomine will be 240 pages and full color throughout, with great art by Dan Smith. Because of the mature treatment of many religious themes, In Nomine will have a parental advisory on the back cover.

-- Scott Haring

July 26, 1996

New World Order Update

[Pick A Number, Any
Number] Just in case you've been asleep for, oh, the last hundred years or so, you might have missed out on this whole New World Order thing. But fear not, The Pennsylvania Crier will set you straight.

Everything you ever wanted to know (and less) about Andrew Carnegie, The Rhodes Scholarship and the Evils of One World Government can be found here.

Special thanks to "TP" [?] for the postcard - the Black Helicopters will be visiting shortly...

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 25, 1996

Tokyo: City Of Irresistible Rubberneckers!

Ring!] No, this isn't a pyromaniacal variation on Where's Waldo?, this is one of the truly goofy links I found in the NTT Digital Museum. For those of you not up on international phone service, NTT is the Japanese equivalent of Ma Bell. They have a very pretty website full of odd trivia about Japanese phone service through the ages, including: Nuisance
Calls - No Thanks! Where Is The Fire? has to be my favorite, though.

Tokyo citizens are, however, irresistible rubberneckers for fires and street fights and each time there is a fire, switchboards are jammed with calls asking "Where is the fire?"

Is this true or is NTT testing how gullible we foreigners are? Still, I'm certain that American culture probably baffles the Japanese as well ('Hey, our local sports team just won the National Championship! Let's celebrate by burning our city down and rioting!')

All I know is that I wish my long-distance company was as amusing as NTT...

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 24, 1996

Alternate Earths Sample Copies Wreak Havoc

[Alternate Earths] Today's big news is that we've received the sample copies of GURPS Alternate Earths from the printer today. They're pretty spiffy and our normally cheerful staff has been fighting over them (printers never send enough copies to go around).

Derek immediately understood the situation, grabbed one of the copies, scampered off and locked himself in his office before anyone else caught on. Bruce (our art director) tried the same trick, but was set upon by Monica (our print buyer), Susan (the book's editor), and Claudia (our sales guru). Bruce shrugged them off and almost managed to escape until Managing Editor Scott Haring drop-kicked him and took off with his copy.

[Jim] General Counsel and Network Guy Jim Robinson picked up a copy and left. For some reason, people let Jim do whatever he wants...

Steve used his amazing telekinetic powers to whisk away the last copy which he shared with the rest of the business office (for a modest fee).

As for me, I was too busy to participate in the tussle. Instead, I was rummaging around the NTT Digital Museum . It's pretty weird for a site devoted to Japanese telephones. Don't ask why I was looking at Japanese telephony through the ages - I just was. Leave me alone.

Anyway, I think this was all a plot by our Shipping Department to cause trouble. They control every box that enters or leaves this building and they might well have 'lost' some of the sample copies just to see what would happen. They're kinda sneaky that way. Once, they FedExed my desk to Borneo. But since Shipping controls all the tape guns in the office, there's not much anybody can do about it. Except Jim. But he's a quiet guy; keeps to himself mostly and meticulously changes the backup tapes...

Oh well.

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 23, 1996

Random Bits

Today's Life-Affirming Website is the Death Clock. Remember, live every day as if it was your last because one day you'll be right.

On a lighter note, we've found a few copies of Hacker hiding in the warehouse. Don't ask how we missed them; hackers are wily and our warehouse is very big. Suffice to say, you should buy a copy of Hacker right now if you want one because I expect they will go away very soon.

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 22, 1996

Visit From The Epopt

Friday the SJ Games staff was pleased to welcome a special visitor - Sean Barrett. Known informally as the Epopt, Sean is the keeper of the GURPSnet mailing list. Charming, amiable, and tall, he won the hearts and minds of our entire crew. He was warmly received, which isn't too surprising since Austin has been in the 90s and 100s for most of this month.


Anyway, after tearful goodbyes we sent GURPS Dinosaurs off to the printer to help fill the emotional void left by Sean's absence.

Sean, we miss you, wherever you are...

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 19, 1996

Good News For GenCon

All the Knightmare Chess components have gone to press. We expect to have this one for GenCon release. The really good news: the card artist, Rogerio Vilela, will be coming from Brazil for the game's launch, and will be signing games and cards at GenCon.

We have also been notified that GURPS Dinosaurs has received its final Dinosaur Society approval, so it will go to press Monday. It might make it to GenCon.

-- Steve Jackson

July 18, 1996

You Are Getting Very Sleepy...

Feeling run down, mentally fried, almost if your will was not your own? Join the club at the Mind Control Forum. Almost everything you ever wanted to know about mind control (but were too zombified to ask) is available here, including

So put on your tinfoil hat and ask those voices in your head to keep it down, they're bothering the neighbors.

-- Bob (buy more products) Apthorpe

July 17, 1996

Visit The Psychic Spooncam!

Got telekinetic powers and a pathological hatred of flatware? Then head over to Uri Geller's Psychic Spooncam and torture that spoon with your prodigious mental powers. Bend that spoon and walk away with $1,000,000 - fail and no one's the wiser. Except for maybe Uri Geller.

For the benefit of younger readers and others not familiar with Uri Geller, he's the Efram Zimbalist Jr. of the psychic world.

Hopefully that clears everything up.

Seriously, Uri Geller became a household name as the famous spoon-bending psychic of the 1960s. Along with the Amazing Kreskin (not to be confused with the low-budget knockoff, the Amazing Kresge), Geller was a role model to thousands of youngsters who wished to find their special paranormal talent. Or ruin Mom's cutlery. Or both.

But times have changed. Uri Geller has joined the ranks of aging Baby Boomers and turned his attentions to the business world. No longer content to fold, spindle, and mutilate kitchen utensils, he now offers The Uri Geller Business Consultancy. Now you, average millionaire or large corporation, can hire Mr. Geller for a tidy sum to help predict your businesses' future (and bend competitors' spoons.) That'll teach 'em. A satisfied customer remarked "I will never drill an oil well without asking Uri Geller's advice first."

And, oddly enough, neither will I...

(Big thanks to Illuminator Newshound Mark Bassett! )

-- Bob "The Marginally Astounding" Apthorpe

July 16, 1996

Jughead Conspiracies 'R Us

Welcome to the slightly bent universe of PUBLIUS PRESS, publisher of ODDLY-CAPITALIZED books, pamphlets and VIDEOS that are sure to PROVIDE HOURS OF AMUSEMENT!

Let's peruse the amazing and wondrous treasures in RALPH EPPERSON'S ELECTRONIC PRIZE VAULT:

This site is too much fun. RALPH EPPERSON should probably get some sleep. Or get his caps lock key EXAMINED. Or his head. Or both.

After all, everyone knows there's no such conspiracy...

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 15, 1996

Thunder of the Captains Signing

This just in from our pal Aaron Allston:
>From: Aaron Allston <>
>Subject: Thunder of the Captains Signing
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>A quick note: I will be signing THUNDER OF THE CAPTAINS at Adventures in
>Crime and Space (Austin, TX; address below) on Saturday, July 27, from
>6:00-8:00 p.m.
>THUNDER OF THE CAPTAINS, a July release from Baen Books, is set in the
>world of the BARD'S TALE novels and continues that fantasy series.
>Co-authored with Holly Lisle (SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL), it tells the
>story of powerful warring rulers locked in grudging peace negotiations
>who find themselves shipwrecked on a remote island. Faced with eerie
>supernatural enemies, they discover that their own longstanding
>grievances and inability to cooperate are even greater dangers.
>At the same event will be Martha Wells (signing the paperback release
>of CITY OF BONES) and Susan Wade (signing WALKING RAIN).
>WHO:           Aaron Allston
>               by Holly Lisle and Aaron Allston
>               Baen Books, July 1996, $5.99
>               ISBN 0-671-87731-3
>WHEN:          Saturday, July 27, 6-8 p.m.
>WHERE:         Adventures in Crime and Space
>               609-A W. Sixth Street
>               Austin, TX 78701
>               (512) 4SF-BOOK
>Hope to see you there.
So, if you're in the Austin area, drop in and say hi to Aaron; he's a neat guy. Watch out for the puns, though.

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 12, 1996

A Milestone for a Friend

After the Secret Service raided SJ Games in 1990, we filed suit against the government. Most of the argument in federal court was handled by Pete Kennedy, a young attorney with the Austin firm of George, Donaldson and Ford. He deserves a lot of credit for the victory, and is now recognized as one of Texas' top experts in Internet law.

Pete has now been named a partner at GD&F. Congratulations!

-- Steve Jackson

July 11, 1996

1996 Origins Award Winners Announced!

This just in from Scott Haring - the list of 1996 Origins Award Winners. Alas - no big prizes for us this year. Oh well - undaunted, we press ahead with next year's potential big winners - Dino Hunt, Knightmare Chess and In Nomine...

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 10, 1996

INWO Card Contest Produces [Classified] Results

Judging has been completed for the INWO Card Contest announced in issue 19 of Pyramid. The results will appear in issue #21, rather than #20 as originally announced, because there were so many entries and they were so good . . .

Between the many excellent ideas submitted, and the renewed inspiration and FNORD which Evil Stevie and our staff got from reading them, it is very likely that 1997 will see a new INWO supplement.

-- Steve Jackson

July 9, 1996

Solve the Chinese Gold Bar Mystery!

While wandering the web today, I found myself at the International Association for Cryptologic Research. Unlike a lot of would-be cypherpunks, these guys have the respectability (or budget) to get their conference proceedings published by Springer-Verlag, the infamous German science publisher.

[Chinese Gold Bar] But buried among the obligatory Calls for Papers, conference announcements and other academic goo, I came upon the Chinese Gold Bar Mystery.

. . .it seems that seven gold bars were allegedly issued to a General Wang in Shanghai, China, in 1933. These gold bars appear to represent metal certificates related to a bank deposit with a U.S. Bank. The gold bars themselves have pictures, Chinese writing, some form of script writing, and cryptograms in latin letters.

Running low on adventure ideas? This is a perfect adventure hook for GURPS Cliffhangers or GURPS China or any number of modern-era GURPS campaigns.

Or sharpen your pencils, warm up your Cray, dig our your number theory text and crack the code. Rumor has it that over $300,000,000 is involved in this deal. . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 8, 1996

Nailguns and Railguns - Fun For The Entire Family!

In case you've been off-planet the last few weeks you may not have heard that id Software (creators of such life-affirming diversions such as Doom! and Hexen) has released Quake, the wonderfully diabolical game of death, destruction and other mayhem. Once again, id has seriously pushed the technology someplace it probably ought not to have gone, but since it's there, you might as well enjoy it. Beyond the expected inprovements in graphics and terrain modelling, the improvements in game physics are greatly appreciated. There's really nothing to compare to the delicate arc and tink, tink, t-tink of a bouncing grenade - except possibly the sudden sinking feeling you get when you notice said grenade has ricocheted off the far wall and is now lying expectantly at your feet.


And while I find the grenade launcher to be the most amusing element of their new arsenal, others will undoubtably derive great joy from the Nailgun. With greatly expanded three-dimensional terrain, Quake allows you to play out your role as a Crazed Roofer, gleefully driving nails into many things other than structural material.

And on a related note, the Naval Research Lab has built an interesting little device akin to Quake's Nailgun - their 0.5 MJ railgun. Capable of moving something at 2 km/sec, the NRL's railgun is truly a high-tech toy every budding Evil Genius has on their Christmas wish list. Or combine both the nail- and railgun to protect our economy from strikes by roofers on the moon. Or something.

All I know is they're both pretty neat and I want them.

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 7, 1996


We didn't set up a booth at Origins this year . . . or last year, either. Instead, we let Paul Meyer, of Crazy Egor's, carry our line.


Simplest reason in the world: we lose a lot of money when we go to Origins. It's been at least five years since we could break even at that show. This seems to be true for all but the biggest companies . . . attendance at Origins has become so low that sales just don't come close to covering costs. It's great to meet people, but not if it sets us back thousands of dollars. When we go to GenCon or DragonCon, we meet more people, and we make money too. Those conventions are well-run and well-attended; they prove that game conventions can still succeed.

Other game companies have dropped out of Origins for the same reason . . . though some are more loyal, or stubborner, than we were. We lost money for three years (at least) before calling it quits; others are still hanging in there. It's quite true that if the companies drop out, attendance will never pick up. On the other hand, we can't keep on coming forever, throwing money away, and just hoping it will get organized again.

We'll continue to send observers and hope for improvement. Origins used to be a great convention; the people who are running it have been saying "This year's the turnaround" for years and years, and if it ever happens, we'll applaud and come back.

In the meantime, we'll see you next month at GenCon.

-- Steve Jackson

July 6, 1996

Independence Day?

I haven't gotten to see it yet. Maybe when the lines get shorter . . .

The plot seems simple enough, though:

Aliens arrive from space and destroy Washington. But later they turn out to be hostile.

-- Steve Jackson

July 3, 1996

SJ Games Operatives Infiltrate Origins

SJ Games Special Forces Claudia Smith and Scott Haring are at this very moment stealthily slinking about at the Origins game convention. Be on the lookout for them and their stocks of Demo Hunt and other goodies as they blend in with the thousands of gamers expected to converge on Columbus, Ohio this weekend. Your contact will be a man known only as "Egor". . .

-- Bob Apthorpe

July 2, 1996

S. John Ross Returns To Earth!

In a freak spatio-temporal disturbance, the author of GURPS Russia and GURPS Warehouse 23 was returned to late 20th-century Earth earlier this week. Doctors at the Lou Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland report Ross in guarded condition, but note he appears to be in good spirits. They cautioned that "This shouldn't be taken to mean he's being kept in a brewer's vat. We don't do that any more.". Mr. Ross was not available for comment but inside sources quote him as saying "Send more prezzles."

While the Illuminator Staff lacked the motivation to uncover additional factual information, they speculate that Ross's absence has done him a world of good and that his new email address of will do more to prevent alien abduction than his previous practice of carrying around that small box of chocolate Cadbury eggs left over from last Easter.

Welcome back!

-- Bob Apthorpe

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