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February 28, 1999: Pyramid Discussion Groups Go NNTP

One thing Pyramid subscribers have asked us for from day 1 has been an NNTP interface to the message boards. It's been a long road getting there, but finally, we have it. Many thanks to David E Brooks, Jr., for converting our INN server to authenticate readers with our Pyramid subscriber database.

If you're a subscriber, you can access the groups via NNTP at port 119. Be sure to configure your newsreader to authenticate using your Pyramid username and password.
-- Kira

February 27, 1999: New Game Aids Posted!

I am very proud to announce that we have four new game aid programs posted and ready for you to download from our Game Aids page. Two of them are for the GURPS Traveller system, and all of them are freeware.

Space Dock was created and written by Andrew Batishko for Windows 95 or greater. It's the very first program to be approved and posted for GURPS Traveller. For those of you who don't know how to build a ship, Andrew built in a walk-through that takes you step by step through the shipbuilding process. This program is also packed with a lot of optional features, such as the ability to use the M.A. Lloyd rules for streamlining ships. There is also a built-in function to calculate the surface area of your ship. Yet another nice thing about Space Dock is that you can create and define ship parts instead of using the standard defaults in GURPS Traveller.

Richard Wilkes is the owner of the Adventurer's Guild in Hoquiam, WA. He is also the creator of the GURPS Character Sheet for Mac. While it isn't the first character sheet that we've approved and posted to our site, it is one of the most user-friendly and compact that I've seen. For starters, Drag-n-Drop is fully supported. There's a save feature that really comes in handy for keeping track of characters. As an added bonus, it prints out on one standard 8 1/2" by 11" page. The program automatically calculates many things for you, making character creation both faster and easier.

Thomas Bont is the creator of two programs. The first one is GURPS: Traveller Vehicles. In order to get the most out of this program, you should at least have read the basics about GURPS Traveller vehicles. Thankfully, if you aren't good at math (or don't want to spend all the time doing the math), Traveller Vehicles does do all of the calculations for you. It also gets into all sorts of details about your ship, but still remains easy to follow. One of the other coolest features that I found in this program is the number of entry fields for things like the names of the people in your crew, information about your ship, and the ship's history.

Character Maker is Thomas Bont's other program. It has a great interface and a beautiful startup page. With it, you can create your character the way you want to. This means that you can start and end wherever you would like. There are editable databases for advantages, disadvantages, skills, weapons, and more. You can add, delete or modify anything in these databases, making it customized to your preferences. By using the built-in speed buttons, getting from one screen module to another is child's play. Something that I found particularly useful was the cheater's helper. You choose what you're looking for in the character's skills, etc., in order to get a desired result. It then shows you what your options are in order to get that result. Character Maker is also fully compatible with Chris Young's GURPS Help File (also on our Game Aids page).
-- Reese Harrell

February 26, 1999: The Power of the Mind

Illuminated Site of the Week: The Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, delves into the power of the human mind and consciousness. They fund research into extraordinary healing, subtle energies and states of consciousness through grants, as well as conferences and publications.

From their web site:

"We are a nonprofit membership organization that both conducts and sponsors research into the workings and powers of the mind, including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. We are bold enough to inquire about phenomena that don't fit into the conventional scientific model."

- Brett Slocum

February 25, 1999: New Pyramid Search Interface

We've updated Pyramid's search page; now you can search through our archive of articles by keyword and/or author name; you can also further refine the search (or just browse the archives) by article source, game type, and date published.

Non-subscribers can search the archives here; Pyramid subscribers can search the archives here.

February 24, 1999: Now Shipping

Two of our most-requested reprints headed out the door on Monday: Deluxe Illuminati, with 106 full-color cards, 4 blanks, and a revised rulebook; and Cardboard Heroes, with over 400 full-color stand-up figures, and another 400 assorted slimes, bugs, treasures, and dropped weapons.

Two GURPS reprints shipped Monday as well: GURPS Fantasy Bestiary, with over 250 extensively researched descriptions of fantasy animals and plants, and GURPS Bio-Tech, covering the technology of the next century.

Visit your local game retailer to get these goodies, or order them directly from us!

February 23, 1999: Too Much Fun at JohnCon

JohnCon, in Baltimore, was a blast. We had over a dozen MIBs present, and ran many, many events. The con had more than double last year's attendance. And UPS didn't lose anything this time.

The highlight, though, was the Kill Evil Stevie game. My clones and I went down at least a half-dozen times. The best one, though, was the first . . . the assassin used a very effective combination of stealth and speed, surprising everyone so completely that nobody was quite sure the dart had hit until an onlooker confirmed it. Afterward, the successful killer revealed that he was, in real life, a Secret Service agent.

Cool :-)
-- Steve Jackson

February 22, 1999: Scientists Announce First Message From Space!

(This one's making the rounds . . . )

Decoded, the alien signals read:

"Simply send 6 x 1050 atoms of hydrogen to the star system at the top of the list, cross off that star system, then put your star system at the bottom of the list and send it to 100 other star systems. Within one-tenth of a galactic rotation you will receive enough hydrogen to power your civilization until entropy reaches its maximum! IT REALLY WORKS!"

February 21, 1999: Welcome, Jeremy Zauder

Our new Production Assistant grew up in New York, but found himself graduating with a film degree from Florida State University. Despite creating a popular bootleg video that involved puppets spewing obscenities, he ventured forth in search of thrills, enlightenment, and a real job. But he's not bitter at all. Jeremy was a Cinema Supervisor at the Atlanta Olympic Games and a Mad Scientist at a local haunted house. His love of games and roleplaying began with the Pocket Box Car Wars. He also enjoys living in Austin, watching the Simpsons, and drinking imported beverages; his many talents include doing all three activities simultaneously.

February 20, 1999: Big Brother at the Bank

I am very leery of passing on "alert messages" I get in e-mail. Most of them are hoaxes or, worse, sincere idiocy. The Good Times virus, the Internet Phone Tax Panic . . . you've seen them all.

But this one seems to be for real. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is about to pass a regulation that will require your bank to spy on you and your account, and report "suspicious" transactions to the Feds.

Specifically, it requires banks and financial institutions to set up customer profiles, then notify government investigators if you "deviate" from your profile. It forces banks (at their own expense) to determine the customer's "sources of funds" and their "normal and expected transactions," monitor all transactions, and identify those that are "inconsistent with normal and expected transactions." And any "suspicious activity" must be reported to federal investigators.

They say it's all for our own good, to prevent money laundering. But it's a gross invasion of privacy. It's Big Brother.

Here's the official government page where the FDIC confirms this is for real. And here's a watchdog page with a lot more information . . . including an online petition you can sign.

I've signed it. I've also called my US Representative and both my Senators. If this isn't stopped by March 8, it'll go into effect for real, and it'll take an act of Congress to kill it.
-- Steve Jackson

February 19, 1999: Code to the Universe Broken - Details at 11

Illuminated Site of the Week: Research by "The Code Gang", experts in Archaeocryptography, has revealed the Grand Design of Creation. "The Code of the Ancients" site details their Code System, which ties such places of Mystery as Stonehenge and the Pyramids to the Bible and the Mayan calendar system.

Also, look at the host for this site, Dreams of the Great Earth Changes, which hosts a plethora of other sites and links for such topics as Mythology, Dream Prophecies, The Millennium, UFOs, Conspiracies, Crop Circles, Gardening, and Metaphysics.

Submitted by Jim Taylor

February 18, 1999: Off to JohnCon

Whew. Got back to Austin Monday night, and tomorrow morning I'm gone again. This time it's to JohnCon, Johns Hopkins University's annual gaming convention. The con starts Friday afternoon, and runs continuously until noon Sunday.

Once again, I'll be assisted by many, many Men In Black. Our Big Deals for this con will be:

February 17, 1999: The Rest of the Radcon Report

It was fun . . . even UPS couldn't spoil it. There were a lot of MIBs on hand, and a lot of SJ Games events . . . including DRAW's "you shoot it, you smash it" Car Wars event with plastic model cars. The convention had many other excellent features, too, including the world-famous Toxic Waste, but perhaps the less said about that the better.

Have I mentioned recently how pleased I am with our MIB program? It's really beginning to click. Monica Stephens, MIB Control, made a rare out-of-Austin appearance at RadCon, and we were met at the airport by ex-staffer Laz Zanger, now a Washington resident, who used to be Control. We also had one Regional Director and one Cell Leader on hand, plus a classified number of other operatives. Indeed, it was a very MIB weekend. And JohnCon will be another one, but we'll get to that tomorrow.
-- Steve Jackson

February 16, 1999: I Shoulda Used FedEx . . .

Radcon, in Pasco, Washington, was a great convention, but my centerpiece event, the Pirate Game, was marred by UPS' failing to deliver two boxes full of key game elements. Their service commitment said they'd be there Friday; Friday afternoon we called their tracking service and were assured the truck was on its way to the hotel; Friday evening we called and were told "They're in Oregon; one is in a warehouse and the other is on a truck; you'll have them Monday."

So we put on the game anyway. Without baseplates, or mini-ships for the strategic map, or chests, or barrels, or Skeleton Island, or Dinosaur Island, or gold and jewels . . . and with only the pirate figures that Derek Schin (bless him) happened to bring. And fun was had.

But it will be a cold day in Hispanolia before I trust UPS with anything that HAS to be there on time. FedEx may be expensive, but at least they deliver.
-- Steve Jackson

February 15, 1999: A Plethora of Playtests

We've currently got five games in playtest:

Playtests are open to Pyramid subscribers only, so don't miss out - subscribe today!

February 14, 1999: Welcome, Russell Godwin

Russ Godwin is our new Print Buyer. SJ met him at DragonCon, bought some mouse pads through his company, and one thing led to another. Russ began gaming in 1977, at the age of 8. Since then, he's gone through several gaming systems, and GM'd for scores of players. He's a loyal GURPS fan (no, really!) and has over 70 GURPS books, most of which are with his wife Vikki (a doctoral student and fellow gamer) in Indiana. He misses his wife, two cats, and friends, but not the cold and snow.

February 13, 1999: Alternate History on CNN

CNN is currently featuring three alternate-history scenarios, based on different directions the world could have taken withouht the Cold War. They're even asking for reader feedback . . . Worth a look!

February 12, 1999: Where's an Evil Scientist When You Need One?

Illuminated Site of the Week: Dr. Vulture's Laboratory of Evil Science, one of the Operation Centers of Vulture Industries (their motto: Making Nightmares a Reality is Our Business), has a lovely selection of items, such as Evil Science University, the Evil Survival Guide, the Evil Science Hall of Fame (including Thomas Edison), and Stuff That Keeps Even Evil Scientists Up At Night.

Make sure to check out The Evil Scientist Manifesto.

Submitted by James Schafer

February 11, 1999: Far Traders To Press

Far Trader, the newest GURPS Traveller book, has just gone to the printers. This is the one that covers piracy, mercantile campaigns, and intersteller economics. It will be a March release.

February 10, 1999: AADA: Have Gunner, Will Travel

Steve Jackson Games announced new leadership and renewed support for the American Autoduel Association today, adding yet more energy to the current renaissance of Car Wars. The responsibilities of the old position of AADA President, a post vacant since December, have been split into two new offices: League Manager and Head Referee.

Steve Jackson said: "Managing the AADA properly is too much for just one volunteer to do. We had two very qualified people willing to act as a team and divide the tasks, so we put them both to work!" The two new officers will coordinate with each other, SJ Games, and Car Wars fans via the Internet.

Elizabeth Lindsay of Chicago is the new AADA League Manager. Her primary responsibilities will be coordinating Car Wars enthusiasts worldwide as they set up duelling schedules at the chapter level, arranging multi-chapter regional tournaments leading up to the World Championships, and maintaining the league standings and chapter database for the entire AADA. Contact her at

Robert Deis of Denver will assume the new position of Head Referee of the AADA. His primary responsibilities will include answering rules questions, maintaining errata, and organizing the AADA World Racing Championship and World Duelling Championship tournaments. Contact him at

Together, Liz and Rob plan to greatly expand the AADA tournament schedule, leading up to what we hope will be spectacular World Championship events this summer. Tournament dates and sites will be announced soon.

Liz's past work for Steve Jackson Games has included in-house computer support and MIB Cell Leader for Austin. She is currently the MIB Cell Leader for Chicago.

Rob is a 15-year Car Wars veteran, two-time World Duelling Championship finalist and three-time Mountain West Regional Champion. He served as referee for last year's World Duelling Championships, and maintains the Car Wars and AADA web pages at

February 9, 1999: Ready for RadCon

This weekend we'll be at Radcon, "we" being Your Humble Correspondent, plus Monica Stephens and a plethora of MIBs. We'll be running a batch of games, demonstrating/playtesting a couple of new ones, showing off the photocopies of the new books at the printer, and (arrrrrr!) running Evil Stevie's Pirate Game. If you're in Washington State, come see us.
-- Steve Jackson

February 8, 1999: First In Enters Playtest

First In (the GURPS Traveller scouts sourcebook) is entering playtest. Chapters 1, 4, and 5 will be available for download by the time you read this, and the rest will join them as soon as Jon can write them.
-- Loren Wiseman

February 7, 1999: Fly Mars!

NASA has proposed a robot plane to fly through the thin Martian atmosphere, covering over a thousand miles in 3 hours, to give us a video tour of the Red Planet from above. $50 million for a 3-hour trip may sound steep, but in terms of exploration value, that's a lot of bang for the buck. Read the CNN story.

A thought: since the probe is to be launched on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight, why not be redundant: send two, one for Orville and one for Wilbur?
-- Steve Jackson

February 6, 1999: Don't Get Your Feet Wet

Tourism planners in Israel are seriously considering the construction of a submerged bridge that would let tourists walk on water where the Bible says that Jesus did. Here's the MSNBC story.

February 5, 1999: Wholesome, Non-Violent Blood and Gore

I'm a big fan of Lego . . . but sometimes the Lego Group's policies leave me shaking my head. This is a company that has made a billion-dollar business out of selling boy-toys specifically designed for "playing war." Their top-selling lines are full of cannon, guns, swords, axes . . . many sets are specifically (and cleverly) designed to let you drop rocks on "enemy" figures, dump them through trap doors, flip them overboard to the sharks, blow buildings up with toy dynamite . . . Great stuff. I approve. But the Lego-suits insist (sometimes to the point of legal threats) that they aren't making "war toys." Every so often this puts them head-to-head against their adult customers. The latest one is funny enough to share . . .

Alan Watts created an image he called Lego Death. And here's the letter he got from Lego's legal department:

"Our attention has been drawn to the above sub-homepage, which, as you know, consists of a picture with the title "Legodeath". The picture incorporates the head of a LEGO* mini figure with a blood-like substance oozing from it, thus giving the impression that the LEGO mini figure has been beheaded. For this reason we hereby contact you.

"As you probably know, the registered LEGO trademark and the LEGO mini figure product configuration are two of the most important assets of the LEGO Group of companies. The LEGO mini figure is protected by copyrights, solely and exclusively owned by the LEGO Group.

"The LEGO Group of companies is very concerned about the morbid context in which our LEGO mini figure is used. Please do not understand this as if we wish to restrict what you want to publish on the Internet. However, we do wish to protect the wholesome, child-oriented reputation of the LEGO trademark and product configurations and to prevent that they are associated with destruction and violence.

"We hope that you understand our position and that you will consider removing the "Legodeath" picture from the homepage."

Yours sincerely
The LEGO Foundation
Legal Department

Riiiiiiight. Their newest "non-violent" lines are Ninjas and Star Wars. So the next time you see a Lego ninja with his katana, or a Lego Darth Vader, just remember: don't associate them with destruction and violence!
-- Steve Jackson

February 4, 1999: Back From Hell

This is the new Tor Books Car Wars novel, by Mick Farren. Lots of death and destruction; just what you were waiting for. It should be in bookstores in about a month. We may be able to offer it in our online catalog; stay tuned.

-- Steve Jackson

February 3, 1999: Freeware and Shareware For Our Games

For years, we have had a policy of encouraging people to write freeware or software for our games, as long as (relatively simple) licensing requirements are met. But we have not always responded quickly when programs were submitted. Several good programs have been approved and posted for download, but several more have languished without evaluation. It was just one of those things that everybody was too busy to get to, during the last couple of rough years.

Well, we're doing better now. We've thrown a lot of effort at this project in the last month. Jackie wrote a database to make it easier to keep up with submissions. I rewrote the license to make it easier for us to administer them, and Gene turned it into PDF to make it easier to fill out (if you can't handle PDF files, though, write us for a hardcopy). And Reese has been working very diligently to get that database filled in, to re-open communications with those software authors who gave up on us, and to get the backlog of programs evaluated and, we hope, approved!

Correspondence on this should go to If you have a program that you'd like to share with other gamers, let us know!
-- Steve Jackson

February 2, 1999: Warehouse 23 Logo Contest Results

We'd like to thank everyone who entered the Warehouse 23 logo contest. We received 37 entries total. While many of them were good, we didn't find one that was exactly what we were looking for, so there was no winner. (We ended up reworking our existing logo instead.)

We've created a page to showcase several of the entries we liked best; those can be seen here, along with the new Warehouse 23 logo.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

February 1, 1999: World's Smallest Webserver

It's the size of a matchbox, and it runs . . . it serves the Stanford Wearables Lab page that describes it. Thanks to Brian Cook for noticing this (takes good eyesight to spot something that small . . .)

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