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April 30, 2000: Area 51 Photos

Yes, really. You may have to be patient to see these -- the site has been hammered. has satellite pictures of the Groom Dry Lake Air Force Base, known to conspiracy buffs everywhere by its old name of "Area 51." How did they do it? Well, apparently Microsoft, Kodak, DEC, Sovinformsputnik, and Autometric were involved. No mention of the Bavarian Illuminati, but then, they wouldn't tell you that, would they?

You can look at the photos for free, or download them for money, starting at $8.95.
-- Steve Jackson

April 29, 2000: Communication? What A Concept!

More than ten years after the Secret Service raid, the FBI is launching a program called InfraGard to get its agents to talk to businesspeople -- and vice versa -- about computer crime. Here's the CNN story. Steve is quoted . . .

April 28, 2000: Shakespeare Done Right

Illuminated Site of the Week: Infinite monkeys never shine so bright as when they're hard at work on a good sonnet. SIMI - the Search for Intelligent Monkeys on the Internet - is underway, setting infinite (well, 100) simian Shakespeares to write at random with every click of your mouse. If you get something worthwhile, let the webmasters know.

-- Suggested by Michael Dinsmore

April 27, 2000: GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces Now In Playtest!

It is often said the Imperium rules the space between the stars, but the citizens of the Imperium live on worlds. To defend those worlds, the Imperium depends upon the ground forces of the Imperium -- the Imperial Marines and the Unified Armies. The ground forces are the arm most often seen by the average citizen. They may watch orbiting battleships as bright points of light in the night, they may read news and mail brought by the Scout Service's Communications Branch, but it is the Marine in battledress and the imposing bulk of an Army grav tank that define the Imperium to the average citizen. GURPS Traveller Ground Forces covers the "ground pounders" of the Third Imperium, and their comrades in arms, the sailors of the "Wet" Navy and the pilots of the Close Orbit and Aerospace Command.

GURPS Traveller Ground Forces is now in playtest. Pyramid subscribers can access the playtest files. And if you're not already a subscriber, subscribe today!

-- Keith Johnson

April 26, 2000: Fastaval, Part 2

The con is over, and it ended with a bang. Saturday we had an excellent panel discussion which started out as "What's the difference in gaming styles between Europe and the U.S.?" and evolved into a freewheeling discussion of the nature of the roleplaying community as a whole, and the ways that a creator could contribute. Verrrrrry interesting!

Sunday night was the banquet, and quite a banquet it was - with two bands, and a third one at the huge bar tent in the courtyard of the school which was hosting the convention. (Bar tent? At a school? You bet.)

There were more than 300 people at the banquet, and the energy level was as high as I have ever seen at a convention. The bands were great (the first one, a cover band with some really great, weird arrangements, could fill any club on 6th Street in Austin). We not only had people dancing, we had people pogoing and airplaning . . .

And, not to lose sight of the original goal, we had standing ovations for the winners of the various GMing and service awards. The energy and enthusiasm of the fans here is fantastic. As a matter of fact, if Danish gamers have a fault, it's that they are too modest. I was flat-out accused once of being "political" for saying this was a great convention . . . the fellow seemed certain that cons just had to be better in America. And several people gave me variations on the "But seriously, what do you think?" line. I think they don't know what they've got here . . .

Today is a quiet day, recovering from the fun and reading over some more of the stack of manuscripts we brought along. Tomorrow, it's off to Legoland.
-- Steve Jackson

April 25, 2000: We've Opened a New Box at Warehouse 23

XXXenophile is the NON-collectible card game based on the adult comic book by Phil Foglio. The game was created by award- winning designer James Ernest, and features cards designed by 69 artists. (That's coincidence, we swear!) All cards have the same rarity, so XXXenophile is ready to play right out of the box. Whether you have one friend over or are hosting a party for twenty, this game is perfect--it's easy to learn, but has enough strategy to keep players interested for a long time. XXXenophile is a game unlike any other. Available only at Warehouse 23!

XXXenophile: Why don't you beam up and see me sometime?

This game is for adult audiences only.

-- Brendon Rehm

April 24, 2000: GURPS Aztecs Special

SJ Games continues its tradition of bringing out the best in historical roleplaying supplements with GURPS Aztecs. This 128-page book provides the GM with everything needed to run a campaign in the brutal Mexico of the 13th-15th centuries.

This book is technically "out of print," but we have quite a few copies on hand that were returned from bookstores. They have cover dings and scratches and are NOT in good enough condition to send to retailers. (So don't order if you care about a pretty cover.)

-- Brendon Rehm

April 23, 2000: Good Times in Denmark

We're two days into the 4-day Fastaval convention in Arhus, Denmark. Great con - about 800 people in attendance. The big thing here is the Mafia live roleplaying game . . . therefore, the proportion of gamers in good suits and snappy neckties is mind-boggling.

The con runs through Sunday night late. Monday we'll recover. Tuesday, Legoland! there will be photos, I promise . . .
-- Steve Jackson

April 22, 2000: Improved Trade Maps

Anthony Jackson has created a new version of his trade map PDF for Traveller. The first page now has an "overhead" view of the entire Imperium, with the trade routes clearly visible. The map also includes other star system details, such as travel zones and the presence of gas giants.

The file is available in PDF or PostScript format at

-- Keith Johnson

April 21, 2000: And Here John Steinbeck Thought He'd Get Away With It

Illuminated Site of the Week: The Alcatraz breakout. The Kennedys. Mobsters. God bless the Freedom of Information Act of 1966, because the FBI is spilling its electronic guts. After 35 years of requests they've created a FAQ, a "reading room" full of their most popular tidbits. Be careful what you ask for -- the FOIA just might get it for you.

-- Suggested by Chris Goodwin

April 20, 2000: Steve Jackson Games is pleased to welcome two new staff members!

Scott Vanya and Andrew Hackard Scott Vanya is our new Print Buyer, originally hailing from Houston, TX. He has this to say about his background and goals: "My background is in managing retail bookstores, both trade and academic. However, I derive the most pleasure from creating objects to delight the eye and excite the mind. Subsequently, when I am not camping or gardening with my wife, my time is divided between writing (poetry and short stories) and painting. The representations, I strain to muster, are best seen in dim light and shadow, tricking you to believe they're as real as . . . Tally-ho!"

Andrew Hackard is our Promotional Writer. He joins us from San Antonio, TX. Andrew has had jobs ranging from janitorial work to teaching high school (not all that different, when you think about it), and recently earned his master's degree in mathematics. Andrew says about his new job, "As a gamer myself for nearly twenty years, I know that gamers look for dedication, excellence, and fun in a product and in a company. I'm proud to be working for a firm that has all these qualities in spades."

April 19, 2000: Cardboard Heroes Dungeon Floors, Single Pages Now Available at Warehouse 23

If you need just a few more rooms or corridors to build a better, bigger dungeon just visit Warehouse 23 and buy the individual page that you need to complete your underground fortress. Just view the individual pages to see which one has the pit, door, wall, or other architectural paraphernalia you need and purchase that page! These will only be available as long as our supply of loose pages lasts, so don't delay finishing your perfect dungeon.

-- Brendon Rehm.

April 18, 2000: Things Have Edges!

For a while there I wasn't sure. So I went and had my eyes checked, and got new glasses. How long had I been on that same prescription? A loooooong time. Things are much crisper now . . .

I really do intend to get my eyes lasered someday, but I have been telling myself that for years and putting off new glasses. Bad idea. Now at least I am less likely to get hit by a truck before I get around to the laser thing.

Obligatory Gaming Tie-In: I certainly am glad to live at a Tech Level where vision correction is possible. When I take my glasses OFF, not only do things not have edges, they aren't there. The optometrist said "Read as far down as you can on the side that starts with R Z." I said "I can't tell which side is the R Z."

If I were a Neanderthal, either I'd have to be the guy who stays back in the cave chipping flint, or I'd have to kill the mammoths by strangling them . . . because I wouldn't be able to see them before I ran into them.
-- Steve Jackson

April 17, 2000: Just Shipped

April is Massive Reprint Month. For the first time in many years, we don't have a single new release . . . because instead, we are bringing back four games that people told us we REALLY should never have let go out of print . . .

Dino Hunt Dino Hunt (reprint)
Dino Hunt is a family game for two or more players, age 8 and up. In Dino Hunt, you travel through time, visiting the different eras where the dinosaurs lived, to capture them for your modern-day zoo. But the other players have cards that can make your hunt harder - and watch out for that charging T. rex! Simple to learn and easy to play, Dino Hunt carries the Dinosaur Society Seal of Approval - all dinosaur information and art in the game conforms to current scientific knowledge.

Dino Hunt features over a hundred different dinosaurs. Each oversized card has full-color art from some of the best dinosaur artists in the world. The back of each card gives scientific data.

#1700, ISBN 1-55634-321-3. $19.95.

GURPS IOU (reprint)
Admit it. College would have been more fun if you were allowed to blow up the instructors. And you really would have liked to major in Military Biology, Anti-Social Sciences, Double-Entendre Bookkeeping, or Computer Wizardry. Too bad you didn't know about IOU.

Illustrated by the one and only (two and only?) Phil and Kaja Foglio, this book supports three different campaign styles . . . Silly, Weird, and Darkly Illuminated. GURPS IOU takes you from creating a character to enrolling in classes, to study, finals, and the occasional academic blood feud, all the way to graduation.

#6072, ISBN 1-55634-206-3. 128 pages. $19.95.

GURPS Illuminati (reprint)
The Secret Masters have denied all knowledge of the various conspiracy theories put forth in the new GURPS Illuminati.

"To begin with, we don't even exist," said a spokesman. "The Illuminati are a myth."

Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

The publishers of GURPS Illuminati, Steve Jackson Games, admitted that it was a work of fiction, but added, "It's all true anyway! Just look at the book. It's closer than you think."

#6016, ISBN 1-55634-223-3. $19.95.

Tribes Tribes (reprint)
Tribes was an underground favorite for YEARS, whenever we took a playtest copy to conventions. So, finally, we published it. Designed by Steve Jackson and award-winning SF author David Brin, it's a roleplaying game with a difference.

In Tribes, the players are cave men and women. They hunt and gather food, make their tribal laws, and deal with natural disasters. But the object of the game is simple: Look after the children! In this game, the way to win is to have the most kids, and do whatever you have to do to make sure they survive. The players must know when to cooperate, and when to cut their losses and protect their own families. With a referee, it is possible to have several tribes at once (as many as 40 people can easily play in the same "extended" game). Each tribe will have its own laws and social pattern. The tribes can compete, trade, exchange people, or even make war on each other.

Stock #1800, ISBN 1-55634-355-8. $9.95.
-- Keith Johnson

April 16, 2000: Trade Routes Of The Imperium

Sylea Trade Map Trying to find the most profitable trade routes from the Spinward Marches to the Solomani Rim?

Anthony Jackson has created a 35-page PDF file with detailed maps of the entire Imperium in Traveller. He has not only agreed to allow Steve Jackson Games to host the files, but has also provided a PostScript version and data file used to create the maps!

The files have the maps of 35 different sectors in or around the Imperium and use Classic Traveller mainworld details, allegiances, and base codes. They even include WTN and trade route specifications from Far Trader!

You can download all of the files at
-- Keith Johnson

April 15, 2000: Interview with the Search Engine

You've heard of "Ask Jeeves"? Well, FNwire asked Jeeves about himself. The answers were . . . well, no they weren't, either.
-- Steve Jackson

April 14, 2000: It Was Fun While It Lasted

Illuminated Site of the Week: All good things must come to an end. But hey, we'll still see each other, right?

-- Suggested by Robert Schulz

April 13, 2000: Nanobots

Another in our unplanned "science fiction is real!" series . . . NASA is funding research on medical nanobots! Here's the Science Daily story.

April 12, 2000: Be Still, My Beating Heart

We really love to bring you interesting, exciting sites. Now here's one of the other kind. Check out the Dull Men's Club. Their featured activity for April: folding road maps. Dull recipes, dull jokes, dull collections, and links to other dull pages. If you aren't getting enough dullness at home, now you can get it by staring at the computer screen and vicariously living the lives of other dull people. Isn't technology wonderful?

April 11, 2000: Going to Denmark!

It's only about a week until I take off for Fastaval, a game con in Denmark. I'm really looking forward to it, for several reasons, including: So, if you happen to be reading this from Scandinavia or northern Europe, come by and see me!
-- Steve Jackson

April 10, 2000: Mecha for Real?

A few days ago we featured "Battlesuits for Real?" and pointed to DARPA. Now we learn that the folks at Mechanized Propulsion Systems are working on a real mecha. Their Development Plan begins:

"To create and deploy a bipedal humanoid mecha, for possible use in the civilian and military arena. To be admired and envied by nerds across the planet. This project could easily be completed in about three months by a dedicated team. The practical estimate is somewhere around 25 years, for a fully operational and functional design."

They are aiming for a mecha some 25 feet tall, but the first models will be considerably smaller, and made of (what else?) Lego.
-- Steve Jackson

April 9, 2000: Your Name In Vilani

Ask and you shall receive (well, sometimes, anyway). Last week I asked if a kind soul with more programming talent that I have would automate Robert Eaglestone's Vilani name converter. Through the courtesy and hard work of Lonnie Foster, the process of changing your name into Vilani has been turned over to a computer. Traveller fans, enjoy!
-- Loren Wiseman

April 8, 2000: Life Is Good

The weather in Austin is beautiful. Most of our books are on schedule. And I just heard a Wendy's Hamburgers ad that referred to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. What more can you ask of life?
-- Steve Jackson

April 7, 2000: Battlesuits for Real?

Illuminated Site of the Week: The military is finally catching up with science fiction . . . DARPA is taking proposals for Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation. The Department of Defense wants soldiers to run faster, jump higher and work longer, and if you know anything about haptic interfaces, your Uncle Sam needs you.

-- Suggested by Kyle Bieneman

April 6, 2000: Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure

SJ Games has been granted the license to create GURPS books based on Jack Vance's classic "Planet of Adventure" series. The four-book series chronicles the travels of a lost Terran scout as he adventures among human and aliens, learning the secrets of the ancient world of Tschai as he plots to acquire a starship and get home.

I've always loved Vance's work, and these books are Vance at his best. Aliens, monsters, and intrigue . . . this series will make a fantastic GURPS background. I'm going to have fun playtesting this one!

GURPS Planet of Adventure is tentatively scheduled for a late 2000 or early 2001 release.
-- Steve Jackson

April 5, 2000: Yummy!

Now, here's a man who takes his science seriously. Interesting findings. Scary methodology. See the Scientific American article for the details.
-- Steve Jackson

April 4, 2000: New Staff

New Staff Brendon Rehm is our new Retail Sales Manager and Warehouse 23 Supervisor. He came to Austin, TX from Arkansas. He says, "I've worked as a bookstore manager for the last 9 years and look forward to maintaining and improving Warehouse 23 not only as a direct source for Steve Jackson Games products but also for other games, geek toys, and cool stuff. I got introduced to wargames and RPGs at the age of four by my older brother, and three decades later I'm still hooked. When I'm not at work, I'm dreaming of exotic tropical vacations."

Here's Brendon on his last tropical vacation.

April 3, 2000: Curses! Foiled Again!

Yesterday's Daily Illuminator was frustrating to those who followed the link! USA Today took down that story (with its headline) before everyone could appreciate it . . .

The headline was "Britain To Help Torture Victims."

It must be hard, being a headline writer . . .
-- Steve Jackson

April 2, 2000: And You Thought OUR Government Was Tough...

Check out this headline. Now try not to think about it . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Later note: They took it down! Darn. Tomorrow we'll fill everybody in on the joke.

April 1, 2000: Warehouse 23 Glitch

Can we blame this on the Martians? Well, we can try.

A change in the W23 code produced a glitch that we didn't catch until late last night. The upshot: orders placed between 8pm Thursday and 9:40pm Friday (CST) didn't really get placed. If you ordered anything from W23 recently and didn't get an acknowledge ment, your order didn't happen. Log back in, please, and see if you still have a full shopping cart. If not, please re-fill it and buy the stuff again :-)

Thanks for your patience. It was the Martians, really. They write pretty good code, even though all the comments are just "Ak ak ak AK AK ak Ak AK ak," but we can't get them to debug it worth a darn.
-- Steve Jackson

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