December 30, 1998: Ookla the Mok
is a musical group, and I like their stuff. They're hard to describe: they don't seem to consider themselves filkers, but most of their fans do. What we have here is half SF/comic references, half nostalgia, half relationship songs. Yes, that's three halves. Deal with it.
Their "Less Than Art" CD is one of those that – to the despair of those around me – I can play over and over all day. (It's bad enough when I do it with REM or something else that people have heard of, or with ambient. When I do it with Weird Stuff, well, 5-point Odious Personal Habit.)
At any rate, these guys can make me laugh and cry in the same song, which is a pretty good trick. The music's pretty good too. The production quality isn't always 100%, but it's better than garage . . . it works.
If you want to hear them for yourself, you can actually download entire tracks from their fan site.
Hey, what can I say? I hear good stuff, I want to share.
-- Steve Jackson
December 29, 1998: So Now Maybe They'll Clone Him?
According to the Des Moines Register, researchers in the United Arab Emirates have successfully crossed a camel with a llama. The baby "cama" will . . . they hope . . . grow llama-quality fleece on a camel-sized body.
December 28, 1998: A Teevee for Stevie?
I have never owned a television. This is not a political statement; I just haven't wanted one. They canceled Man from U.N.C.L.E. before I went off to school, and Star Trek (the original series, you Philistines) went away around the same time. More recently, Babylon-5 ate my mind, but for an hour a week, it made more sense (and provided the rudiments of a social life) to watch it with a friend.
When I'm on the road, I sometimes turn on the hotel TV just to see what I'm missing. Usually, not much. European MTV is kind of cool, but you can't get it over here . . .
But technology advances, and I've finally admitted to myself that if I had a TV, I could hook up a VCR or DVD and catch up on some of the good films I've missed. Plus anime, ohhhhh, yes. So I'm TV shopping.
And I'm blatantly asking for advice, because if I'm going to break down and buy a vidiot box, I think I'd like to go all the way and get one of those big-screen guys. And I don't know anything about what's good, bad and ugly in TVs, let alone big ones.
So if somebody out there has expertise to share . . . you build those things, or sell them, or your hobby is home theater and you Know Everything . . . I'd be most grateful for a few clues. Thanks!
-- Steve Jackson
December 27, 1998: Politics Explained
New on the Illuminati page: a brief but Illuminated comparison of different political systems. The truth is right here.
December 26, 1998: April 1999 Release Announcement
What, April releases being announced already? Yes! We're moving toward earlier announcements, which keep the distributors and retailers much happier. Could it be that we're (gasp) getting organized?
The Good, the Bad and the Innocent . . .
There are many fighters in the War between Heaven and Hell. There are also mortals who are unaware of the battles that rage about them – but this might change at any moment.
The Liber Servitorum contains over 120 angels, demons, ethereal spirits and humans, completely described with both character stats and story backgrounds, for use with the In Nomine system. Game-Masters can use them as NPCs, or give them to players for a quick start.
Also included are tips and guidelines for getting and maintaining Roles and for creating and controlling Servants.
Stock #3314, ISBN 1-55634-369-8. $19.95.
There is a violent world just on the edge of war - the world of special operations. Elite forces penetrate enemy lines to strike critical targets. Teams of experts turn civilians into organized guerrilla armies. A strike team rushes a hijacked airliner to free hostages.
You’ll brief national leaders on the latest crisis; scheme and sweat to ram a workable plan through the entanglements of bureaucracy; face a ruthless foe at point-blank range with no margin for error. Your life, the lives of others, the interests of your homeland . . . all depend on your skills, courage and judgment.
GURPS Special Ops puts you into this world. All the violent action - and all the planning, organization and coordination necessary to bring off an operation successfully - are in your hands.
GURPS Special Ops has been out of print for several years. This completely revised edition covers the new nations and alignments of the post-Soviet era, and updates the rules for creating special-ops soldiers with the new GURPS template system.
This is a reprint; GURPS Special Ops has been unavailable for several years.
Stock #6029, ISBN 1-55634-366-3. $19.95.
Find the truth . . . and kill it.
Alien invaders, things slithering in sewers and alleys by night, dark plots by paranormal cabals -- all these and more lurk in society's shadow. To them, we are nothing more than food or slaves. If the world knew, it would go mad.
Our only defense is the Company, which takes conspiracy from theory to practice. As one of its recruits, you'll endure five years at the hellish Academy, where only the best of the best graduate and failing grades become tombstone inscriptions. The survivors become killers as dangerous as their prey, sworn to keep the secrets that would destroy society.
Odds are you'll die in style. Your job is to take as many of them with you as you can.
Black Ops takes cinematic roleplaying to the edge and over the top! Out of print since August 1998, this is another "by popular demand" reprint.
Stock #6081, ISBN 1-55634-366-3. $19.95.
December 25, 1998: Omigod! They Killed The Letter Carrier!
Those bastards down at the
Disgruntled Postal Workers Zone have a situation on their hands. Just look at the photo on the front page. This site has true news stories of postal mayhem, Disgruntled? buttons, cartoons, and postal fiction.
Some people have time to kill on their hands.
- Submitted by Michel Bélanger
December 24, 1998: COLD!
Th winter weather has hit Austin. Yesterday was our last open day for the year . . . and a good thing, too, because right now the streets are icy. Austin drivers don't get much experience with freezing weather, and you don't want to be on the streets when they start practicing.
So we're home and warm. Hope you are the same. Happy holidays, everybody.
-- Steve Jackson
December 23, 1998: New Cards for Illuminati
The new printing of Deluxe Illuminati is at the printers, and we're already working on an expansion . . . Pyramid subscribers can now playtest and comment on the new special cards; experience what Time Warp can do for you, or send Ninjas after your foes. Groups will be posted before long; soon you will be able to add the Door-To-Door Salesmen and Defense Contractors to your schemes.
December 22, 1998: Whose Fault is Y2K?
From the Annals of Improbable Research – and if you are not reading it, you should be – we reprint this vital appeal:
"There is one and only one important step needed to solve the Y2K
problem. It is necessary to assign blame, so that we can all put
thi"s behind us and move on.
For the good of humanity, help us decide who is to blame for
the Y2K problem. Please nominate one person. The winner will be
designated "The Person Responsible for the Y2K Problem." This
individual will be tortured and executed on January 1, 2000, and
again on January 1, 2001. The festivities will be televised live
on every broadcast network, and on the Internet (Y2K bug
"You decide. Who is The Person Responsible for the Y2K Problem?
Please send your vote to email@example.com."
December 21, 1998: The End Times Are Near
A real headline, clipped from a recent issue of the Austin American-Statesman:
"Ex-Mouseketeer guilty of stock fraud, perjury"
Run. Save yourselves. It's too late for society.
-- Steve Jackson
December 20, 1998: Warehouse 23 Logo Contest!
We're working on something new for Warehouse 23, and we need a cool and
Illuminated logo. So... we're having a contest. Wow us with your best idea for a "Warehouse 23" logo. If we use your submission, you'll get
a $100 gift certificate for SJ Games products. Yes, we may pick more than
one winner. Or none.
The Specs: Logo should be a 72dpi JPEG, up to 500 pixels wide and between 100-200 pixels high. Use a black background. The logo should say "Warehouse 23", and must be easily readable.
The Deadline: 10pm CST, Monday January 4, 1999. Send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org; attach the image as a MIME attachment.
The Fine Print: All submitted logos become the property of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. We may use it as we wish - including displaying it online.
December 19, 1998: March 1998 Release Announcement
In March 1999, we will be releasing . . .
Enchanted swords . . . marvelous rings . . . animated armor . . . wands and staffs of devastating power. Here is a catalog of hundreds of original and imaginative enchanted items for use in any campaign, from exotic trinkets to mighty artifacts. Categories include swords and weapons, armor, wizardly tools, thief's supplies, clothing, jewelry, healing tools, necromantic items, and curses, tricks, and traps.
GURPS Magic Items also describes the eldritch shops that sell these wonders, with a complete and realistic guide to the economics of enchantment in a medieval fantasy world, including profiles of the typical enchanter, enchanter's patron, and magical merchant.
This is a reprint; GURPS Magic Items has been unavailable for several years.
Stock #6038, ISBN 1-55634-190-3. $19.95.
Next to the mercenary game, the "independent trader" campaign is the most popular among Traveller players. This new book is the complete support volume for the Trader campaign. You can:
Far Trader complements the GURPS Traveller volumes on Starports and Starbases, and on GURPS Traveller: Starships, (coming later in 1999). It is also fully compatible with GURPS Space, and a useful supplement for any science fiction campaign.
- Develop sector-wide trade routes, following the demands of
commerce on an interplanetary scale.
- Start your own character-run business, raise capital, and finance your money-making ventures.
- Make contacts, find niche markets, and exploit opportunities the big corporations miss.
- Learn what it takes to run a successful commercial starship.
- Expand your world with 15 new character templates.
- Run entire mercantile campaigns, including free traders, smugglers, and pirates.
Stock #6606, ISBN 1-55634-373-6. $19.95.
Spies and police who can read your thoughts. New Age mysticism merged with ultra-technology. Psychic vampires. Mass minds of terrible power. Telepathic computers. Gifted children killed or kidnapped by a power-mad government. This is the world of GURPS Psionics.
This is the ultimate sourcebook for psi powers. It includes a complete world backgroun - and the GM can use it as a resource for campaigns in any background. It includes:
Unified Rules - the psi systems from GURPS Basic Set and GURPS Supers combined into a complete, official whole.
New Abilities - including Mindswitch, Combat Teleport, psychic vampirism and cyberpsi.
New Rules - featuring gestalts, group minds, latent psis, ghosts, psionic combat and poltergeists.
Psionic Technology - two chapters of psionic equipment, including psychotronic weaponry, dreamscanners and psionic computers - even psionic starship drives!
Campaign Advice - on smoothly integrating psi into other GURPS worldbooks, or designing your own psi campaign.
Complete Campaign Background - in which powerful psis struggle with secret government agencies and globe-spanning conspiracies in a world eerily like our own . . .
This is a reprint; GURPS Psionics has been unavailable since May 1998.
Stock #6040, ISBN 1-55634-196-2. $19.95.
December 18, 1998: 1997 Brewpub Tour of the Confederate States
The folks at the Interdimensional Travel Agency, publishers of
Alternate History Travel Guides, have put together The 1st Interdimensional Beer Tour along with their other extremely useful guides to alternate timelines. Also at this site are ITA Travelogues, Timeline Travel on $25 a Night, Newswires from Alternate Worlds, plus numerous excellent suggestions for places to stay, eat and drink in the multiverse.
Read up on the Governor's Mansion in Australia, the 56th State. Visit the burned out shell of the Winter Palace in 1996 Tsarist Russia. Travel with confidence with the ITA's superb advice.
Make your reservations today!
-- Suggested by Mark Ridley
December 17, 1998: Far Trader Playtest
Even though the GURPS Traveller: Far Trader manuscript isn't due until 1 January 1999, I have prevailed on the authors to give us part of the files ahead of time. Far Trader chapter 4 files will be available Thursday, and a playtest board for Far Trader will open Monday, 21 December. A little holiday reading for you Pyramid subscribers...
-- Loren Wiseman
December 16, 1998: Dork Tower comes to Pyramid!
That's right, John Kovalic's wildly popular Dork Tower comic strip will be a monthly feature of Pyramid, starting January 1! Dork Tower is the painfully true-to-life stories of a group of gamers trying to enjoy their hobby and live normal lives, all at the same time. It doesn't always work . . .
"I'm thrilled to have Dork Tower in Pyramid," editor Scott Haring said. "John actually offered it to us first, several years ago, but circumstances conspired against us at that time. Now Pyramid is the home of Dork Tower, and we're never letting it go, unless John goes Hollywood on us or joins a cult or something."
The first Dork Tower appears Friday, Jan. 1, 1999. Kovalic will continue to draw Murphy's Rules on the other weeks of the month.
Subscribe to Pyramid today!
December 15, 1998: Silicon Valley Tarot Delayed
We have already shipped all our December releases EXCEPT the Silicon Valley Tarot . . . which will now be delayed until our January ship. I hate blaming things on the printers, but that's what happened this time; between their repeated delays and the Christmas vacation, we are hosed. We know that some people ordered the SVT as Christmas gifts, and we will make every effort to ship multiple orders the very day they're finished; we hope that is good enough.
-- Steve Jackson
December 14, 1998: BITS Traveller
SJ Games has concluded an arrangement with Andy Lilly of BITS (British Isles Traveller Support) to sell BITS's licensed Traveller products through our own online catalog. These highly sought-after booklets have hitherto been hard to find in the US, and we felt they deserved a wider distribution.
BITS products will not be in stock over here until early January 1999, so please don't order them until you see a formal announcement of their availability. At that time, we will have stock numbers, prices, and ordering information available.
-- Loren Wiseman
December 13, 1998: SJG Xmas Lunch
Yes, it's that time again, and we had another Xmas Lunch/Party/get-together at the office on Friday. There was much food. Reese volunteered to be the tree. There was even an illuminated cake. And much fun was had by all. Here's the incriminating evidence.
December 12, 1998: Car Wars Live . . . and Hot!
Yes, it's true. In South Africa, they are mounting vehicular flamethrowers to discourage carjackers. See the Reuters story on CNN. Thanks to Brian Scriber for alerting us to this important development in highway carnage.
An update: the BBC has another story about the vehicular flamethrowers...
complete with photos! (Thanks to Stephen Gingell for pointing this one out)
December 11, 1998: Our Lady of Perpetual Deception
The Sacred Disorder of the Enigmata (a faithless, enigmatic alternative to modern day religious conformity) has finally revealed the teachings of the long-forgotten Saint Eural, patroness of charlatans, fakes, quacks and cosmetic surgeons.
Here you can find such things as the Apocryphal Psalm of Eural, Meet the Saints, The Enigmatist's Prayer, Confess Your Conformities, and Who Needs Faith When You Can Have a Coupon?
Become a member of the Disorder.
Suggested by Father Ratbite
December 10, 1998: February Release Announcement
Three significant reprints this month, because you've told us in no uncertain terms you want more of the old Good Stuff back in print.
Back by popular demand . . . literally. This is our most requested reprint by far. This new edition has 106 full-color cards (plus four blanks) and a revised rulebook. It gets all this into a smaller shelf footprint, too. (Don’t confuse this with INWO . . . this is the original NON-collector game.)
Illuminati won the Origins Award for Best SF Game of 1982, and is still regularly played, even though no copies have been available for years.
What's it about? Secret conspiracies are everywhere! The phone company is controlled by creatures from outer space, the Congressional Wives have taken over the Pentagon, and the Boy Sprouts are going door-to-door to smash the IRS. Two to six players compete to grab powerful groups and increase their wealth and power. No ploy is too devious, no strategem too low.
Stock #1305, ISBN 1-55634-384-1. $34.95.
Another often-requested reprint is our Cardboard Heroes line . . . beautifully drawn full-color stand-up figures. Much cheaper than miniatures, and more convenient too! We are reissuing all 13 sets of fantasy-themed Cardboard Heroes in one pack, and adding duplicates of some of the "cannon-fodder" figures like orcs and undead. Over 400 stand-up figures, plus over 300 flat counters for traps, dropped weapons, creepy crawlers and the like!
Stock #2100, ISBN 1-55634-370-1. $19.95.
Valuable for any fantasy game, not just GURPS . . . Over 250 extensively researched descriptions of fantasy animals and plants, from nuisances to monstrous menaces. Separate chapters cover Dragons and Fabulous Plants . . . plus a chapter on Mythological Motifs to let GMs customize any creature to better fit the campaign. Written by Steffan O' Sullivan (GURPS Swashbucklers).
Stock #6504, ISBN 1-55634-184-9. $19.95.
-- Steve Jackson
December 9, 1998: Brand New SF/Fantasy Books, Cheap
Ever wonder what happens to the "leftover" books that a publisher never ships to bookstores? Usually they get pulped (yes, even hardbacks). Sometimes the authors buy them back, rather than let them be destroyed. But then the author has a lot of books to get rid of . . .
Check out Basement Full of Books, which lets readers get in touch with the authors who have books to sell. It has links to dozens of authors, including Vonda McIntyre, Pat Cadigan, Harlan Ellison, David Brin, C.J. Cherryh and Ursula LeGuin -- all who would like to sell some of the books that they have bought back from their publishers. A good source for out-of-print hardbacks . . . brand new and signed . . . and usually at far below the original cover price. A good deal all the way around.
Alternative book distribution strikes again! (Thanks to Robert Herneson for pointing this one out.)
-- Steve Jackson
December 8, 1998: Staff Changes, Continued
A bit of reshuffling: Alain Dawson has accepted the position of Managing Editor, supervising creative staff. Big job, but she can do it. Loren Wiseman will resume the Art Director's mantle, though he will continue to be Traveller line editor.
Having done all the damage I can do to sales (and, kidding aside, I learned a lot), I am handing that off to Gene Seabolt, who will also be taking over the Marketing Director hat. I'll be spending more time thinking about computer games. Yes, that's a hint. No, I'm not explaining yet.
-- Steve Jackson
December 7, 1998: Order Before Christmas!
If you're planning on ordering anything from us for U.S. delivery before Christmas, please get your order in before December 15th! Orders placed after that may not reach you in time.
Our direct mail staff will get some vacation time over the Christmas holidays. We haven't set the schedule yet . . . it may just be alternate days or something like that. We will absolutely NOT let your direct mail orders pile up until January, but it may take an extra day or so to process orders received between December 18 and January 3.
December 6, 1998: Staff Changes
We regret to announce that S. John Ross gave us his resignation Thursday. He did some good work during his short stint here, and we wish him the best of luck. (He is continuing with his writing career, and is still working on GURPS Black Magic – those of you who have been waiting for that book should not despair.)
The good news is that Celeste Hollister, who we lost in the layoff a few months ago, was still available . . . and she starts Monday. Welcome back, Celeste!
And we press onward through the fog . . .
-- Steve Jackson
December 5, 1998: Filling The Shelf
I knew it was coming. It finally happened. The office shelf where I keep my GURPS copies has finally filled up. That's three solid feet of GURPS. Scary . . .
-- Steve Jackson
December 4, 1998: The Disinformation Age
The folks at Disinformation have created an searchable index of alternative news sources for the purpose of bypassing the corporate media sources. Current topics include: Jack Chick (those Christian tract comics you find everywhere), Space Migration, Neo-Fascist youth cults, and Bar Codes. Each topic has an excellent collection of rated web sites associated with it. Just clicking through the Chick Christian Comix parodies alone was well-worth the time.
(Yes, we've linked to them before, but never given them the Illuminated Site of the Week award. So here it is.)
– Submitted by Glenn Crawford
December 3, 1998: A Source of Killer Weapons
Try Rebecca's -
Their "Soft Missile Gun," which we bought in November 1998 for $12 a dozen, is a truly fine Killer weapon . . . not as powerful as Nerf guns, of course, but plenty of bang for a buck. And they shipped to us very quickly, too. Thanks to Mike Cowper for locating this source!
December 2, 1998: New Look For Deluxe Illuminati Cards
The new printing of Deluxe Illuminati goes to press very soon; we will ship it in February, if all goes well. (It's being printed by a plant in China and assembled in Hong Kong, or maybe it was the other way around. An experiment; cross your fingers.)
Here's an advance look at some of the cards; in this edition, they're full-color, with graphic design by Jack Elmy.
-- Steve Jackson
December 1, 1998: Evil Stevie Must Die!
This is the new Killer scenario that we tried out for the first time at EarthGate. It's an attempt to keep the game calm enough for a convention by having exactly one legal target, who is also a referee. That would be me. Or a designated substitute.
Actually, someone else was wearing the target when the best kill of the day was made. The Evil-Stevie-of-the-moment stopped to talk to the convention's Chainmail Babe, and all his guarding MIBs stopped to, errr, supervise. And while everybody was distracted, an assassin just walked right up and BANG.
Anyway, check out the scenario rules here and see what you think!
-- Steve Jackson
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