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July 31, 2000: Sudden European Vacation

So to speak. Wednesday I leave for Ropecon in Finland. I was there once before . . . was it five years ago? I know it has been a while, because In Nomine wasn't yet out - we played it some there.

Anyway, Finland is beautiful and this is a great con. I'm taking along a couple of unpublished things to sneak-preview them there . . . the Chez Geek expansion, and a new card game which must remain nameless for now . . .
-- Steve Jackson

July 30, 2000: Meddle in the Affairs of Wizards

Or one Wizard, at any rate. Pyramid Magazine is pleased to announce a chat with Peter Adkison, founder and CEO of Wizards of the Coast. The topic will be the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Pyramid subscribers, come meet Peter at 7:00 P.M. Central time, Wednesday, August 16. And if you aren't a Pyramid subscriber now, there's no better time to join -- for about 4 cents a day, you get weekly game articles, reviews, columns, cartoons . . . and access to special chat events such as this one. Hope to see you there!

July 29, 2000: If Cows Are Bad, Dinosaurs Would Be Worse

It's generally accepted that cattle are a significant source of the greenhouse gas methane. Now a French scientist is reported to have theorized that the dinosaurs wiped themselves out with flatulence-produced methane that damaged the Cretaceous ozone later. See the BBC story.

July 28, 2000: Hot Tracks from the Cold War

Illuminated Site of the Week: And the hits just keep on coming! Unexplained tones, strange voices and enigmatic messages flood "numbers stations," radio signals anyone with a shortwave can pick up. Once they were the purview of spies and moles. So why, now that the Cold War is frozen solid, do these rogue transmissions continue unregulated? The Conet Project is only the tip of the iceberg; sister site The Numbers Game has the audio evidence.

-- Suggested by Ted Skirvin

July 27, 2000: Force Fields!

Okay, we're now technically in early TL8. But it's getting later all the time. Now they're working on force fields. See the Yahoo story.

July 26, 2000: New Web Editor

Ryan Macklin has joined the SJ Games online team! He's picking up the duties of Knightmare Chess and Tile Chess Web editor, so if you have any suggestions for those pages, Ryan's the man to talk to. Shadowy government figures overheard him say, "Ryan Macklin lives in the overly sunny city of Sacramento, California, which is thankfully nowhere near the beach. He works as a database engineer and web developer during the day, and enjoys writing, reading, and gaming whenever he can. He is thinking about getting a kitten to go with his new apartment. Above all, he does not surf, and he is proud of this fact."
--Andrew Hackard

July 25, 2000: New Editor: Roger Cline

New Editor: Roger Cline Roger Cline has just joined our staff. In his own words:

I'm 31 years old. Until recently, I was a newspaper reporter at the Port Arthur News in Port Arthur, Texas, where I have lived most of my life. In a week, though, I'm moving to College Station. I've been a gamer since I was 12, starting out with D&D, Gamma World, and Boot Hill. In high school I discovered Car Wars, Illuminati, and Man to Man (the first GURPS release). Other than gaming, I like to write poetry, watch movies, and play pool (which is, I guess, a kind of gaming :).

My favorite color is blue.

July 24, 2000: First Contract

Greg Costikyan, designer of Toon, Paranoia and many other games, has written three fantasy novels, and now his first SF book is on the shelves. First Contract is the story of what happens when aliens contact Earth, bringing incredible technology that collapses our own economy, and how one entrepreneur fights back.

A sample chapter is available on Greg's website, and you can order direct from Amazon.

I've read the book and I liked it . . . check it out.
-- Steve Jackson

July 23, 2000: Back to the Colosseum

Imperial Rome fans, check this out . . . after almost 1,500 years, you can once again watch a performance in the Colosseum. The stage has been replaced, the exterior refurbished, and the shows are going on. Sorry, no gladiators, but you can see the Greek National Theater perform "Oedipus Rex." See the CNN story for details.

July 22, 2000: Welcome, Shawn

Welcome, Shawn Our newest staff member is Shawn Havranek, print-buyer-in-training. Up until 1994 (with occasional relapses since) Shawn worked with various high-tech companies and engineering firms. He soon came to realize, all television and film evidence to the contrary, that an engineer is usually nothing more than a glorified, if well-paid, handyman. After leaving engineering in disgust, he moved south to Texas. Now he lives in Austin with his lovely wife and the mandatory SJ Games’ two cats (picked them up yesterday).

Shawn was a contributor to GURPS Villains. In addition to gaming, he also does various freelance theater projects.

July 21, 2000: "Dinner, Will Robinson!"

Illuminated Site of the Week: They've built a robot that eats meat.


-- Suggested by Owen Kerr

July 20, 2000: Our Wild Jet-Set Party

Our Wild Jet-Set Party To celebrate our Origins awards, we flew our entire staff, plus Jon Darbro, designer of Chez Geek, to a mountain resort for a week's paid vacation away from the Texas heat. Everyone got new ski outfits - at company expense, of course - and we played all day and partied all [SLAP]

Okay. We ordered out to Papa John's for pizza, ate it in the shipping room and sent Jon a note of congratulations. A guy can dream . . .

Seen at our non-mountain resort, left to right: Loren, Kelly, Deanna, Gina (unsuccessfully hiding) and Alain.
-- Steve Jackson

July 19, 2000: Out Of The Frying Pan . . .

I'm back from Hexacon in Phoenix - a good con, and I had a good time. But it was hot . . . up to 110 some days. Even the night winds were hot. So I get back to Austin, and what do I find? A comparatively chilly 106. They say the computer is your friend, but right now the fan is what stands between me and meltdown.

Look on the bright side. We may not need a furnace for the miniatures operation. Just set the metal on the sidewalk and stand back . . .
-- Steve Jackson

July 18, 2000: Origins Winners

Origins Winners At this past weekend's Origins 2000 in Columbus, Steve Jackson Games was honored with two Origins Awards. The Origins Awards recognize excellence in several different fields of gaming; nominations come from members of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design, and final voting is done by gamers and game designers. Chez Geek, designed by Jon Darbro, was voted Best Traditional Card Game of 1999, and GURPS was named to the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame.

That makes this a great time to announce a Chez Geek expansion set . . . new jobs, new stuff to buy, new things to interfere with your precious sleep, and, yes, new nookie. Look for it in November.

Other Origins Award nominees from SJ Games were Tile Chess, Best Abstract Board Game; Cardboard Heroes, Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures; and Pyramid, Best Professional Game Magazine.

Congratulations to all our nominees and winners! We're proud of you!

July 17, 2000: Space Rocks

Want an out-of-this-world pet rock? Check out this 13-lb meteorite for sale on eBay.

Of course, if the $12K price tag is out of your reach, there are close to 300 others for sale on eBay right now.

July 16, 2000: I'm Sailing Away . . .

Scientists have performed two very successful space sail experiments recently, giving hope for using solar-sail ships to reach the outer solar system. Read the CNN story.

July 15, 2000: Just What's in Those Scooby Snacks?

Illuminated Site of the Week: Scooby-Doo's quarry turns out to be yet another mundane con artist...or is it a double-blind? Is it harmless but hokey animation, or is our favorite Great Dane an occult demagogue?

-- Suggested by Bill Hamilton

July 14, 2000: Hexacon!

This weekend, Monica and I will be at Hexacon in Phoenix. We'll be demonstrating some new stuff (including a just-barely-in-playtest supplement to Chez Geek), dropping in on to urnaments (there's a big schedule of SJ Games events) and generally hanging out. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by . . .

I've also got a new game eating at my brain; we will probably be scribbling playtest cards during the convention. Please don't point and laugh unless you really want to.
-- Steve Jackson

July 13, 2000: At Last - Miniatures!

For years, our fans have been asking us to bring back the miniatures for Ogre and to offer figures for our other games. And for years we’ve been working on it, trying not to compromise between our goals. We wanted to offer fine miniatures . . . at a good price . . . with guaranteed steady supplies . . . while still keeping full creative control of the line. Not easy.

But now, at last, we are making some progress. We’ve decided to bite the bullet and create our own casting division right here at SJ Games Secret Headquarters. This requires time and investment . . . but most of all, setting up a casting shop requires a s ignificant number of clues. I’m very proud to announce that we have acquired those clues in the person of Richard Kerr, former head sculptor for Ral Partha and creator of the “Off The Wall Armies.” Richard is a master sculptor and painter (and an old friend). He will be heading our casting division . . . and I’m confident that he will create figures that I’ll be very proud of.

Richard’s timeline has us pouring metal by this time next month. It’s a little bit early to say when that will translate into products on sale. We’ve set up a web page for the miniatures division – check it every so often to see our progress. There will be photos . . .

Thanks go to a lot of people for making this possible, including:

-- Steve Jackson

July 12, 2000: Better Than Rockets?

Even if the battlesuits of the future don't have jump jets, they might still allow their wearers to run at amazing speeds, if the gasoline-powered boots described in this BBC sto ry are for real.

July 11, 2000: Update on Big Brother

More facts are coming out about the CIA's "Echelon" surveillance of global telecommunications. Here's the Wired News story.

July 10, 2000: More On "Open Source" D&D

Steve is quoted in this Associated Press story about Hasbro's plans for an "open source" D&D.

July 9, 2000: Danger Is None Of Their Business

Check out this San Francisco Chronicle story and learn how the U.S. Air Force has protected its personnel against a sho cking danger at a seemingly harmless website . . . Aren't you impressed?
-- Steve Jackson

July 8, 2000: SJ Games to Produce Miles Vorkosigan Gamebook

Steve Jackson Games is proud to announce that it has acquired the rights to create a roleplaying sourcebook based on Lois McMaster Bujold's award-winning Miles Vorkosigan novels. This will be part of SJ Games' flagship GURPS line.

"I've been a fan of Bujold's novels for years," Steve Jackson said. "It's an honor and a thrill to be allowed to produce a GURPS book based on the Vorkosigan series. In particular, we're going to take special care with the art, to make sure that both Lois and the fans feel that Miles and the other characters are p roperly illustrated."

Bujold has won the Hugo award for Best Novel three times, second only to the legendary Robert A. Heinlein. The Hugo is voted on by fans of science fiction, and is the top honor in the field. She has been nominated three additional times for Best Novel (including this year, for A Civil Campaign); she also won once for Best Novella. She has also won two Nebula awards; the Nebula is voted on by science fiction writers.

GURPS won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Game, and several of its supplements have also been award winners or nominees. The Miles Vorkosigan sourcebook is tentatively scheduled for an early 2001 release. A writer has not yet been cho sen.

For more information, contact Andrew Hackard at (512) 447-7866.
-- Andrew Hackard

July 7, 2000: ...Does Whatever a Goat Can?

Illuminated Site of the Week: Cool though it would be to see New York City protected by a web-slinging goat, Nexia Biotechnologies didn't have crime prevention in mind when they stuck spider genes in a pair of goats. The goats, so the story goes, will now produce web silk in their milk for ballistic-armor and medicinal purposes.

Click here for the ABC article.

-- Suggested by John Macek

July 6, 2000: Downtime Warning

We'll be doing some much-needed system maintenance on one of our webservers today. As a result, Warehouse 23 and JTAS will be unreachable between (approximately) noon and 3pm CDT.

And no, this has nothing to do with that funny purple glow coming from the Warehouse. You didn't see anything there. Look into this little light, please...

July 5, 2000: Back from Dragon*Con

Back from Dragon*Con Quite a trip! Loren and I made it back to Austin on Monday evening, alive and . . . well, alive is good enough. Special acknowledgements go to the many MIBs who helped us in Atlanta, including Bill Sides, John Mion, John Hurtt (who brought the original Ogre Macrotures set) and TJ Jensen (who ran a lot of 1/300 scale Ogre). Also at Dragon*Con was the SE Regional AADA Tournament (thanks, John Blaylock) and the Pirate Game (thanks, Franklin Cain).

Special non-thanks go to UPS, which once again managed to misplace a Saturday delivery package until Monday. Thus, the estimable Jonathan Woodward was NOT able to sign copies of GURPS Ogre. (Sigh. WE know better than to sh ip UPS when time matters, but our printers didn't. They do now. They worked very hard to make that date, and it went for nothing thanks to UPS.)

Aside from that, though, it was fun . . . at a couple of points, we had four different big SJ Games events going in our corner of the room, all full of people. Good going, everyone!
-- Steve Jackson

July 4, 2000: Also Shipping

The mind control lasers are obviously working at peak efficiency. Superiors 3 has also been shipped out of our warehouse on Friday, and is heading to your local game store.

Superiors 3 (In Nomine)

Dreams, Faith, Destiny, and Fire. These are Words of imagination and inspiration, Words that burn and Words that heal. The Archangels who embody these ideals are as disparate and diverse as the Words themselves. Gabriel, the flame of divine inspiration, the scourge of cruelty, smoldering in self-imposed exile. Khalid, newly returned to Heaven's fold, nursing his own new-found faith. Yves, seemingly benign, but with the power to name God and set man on the path to righteousness. And Blandine, protecting the dreams of humanity while clinging desperately to her own.

Within the pages of Superiors 3, Hope and Prophecy, you will find out the origins of these powerful beings, learn their secrets and fears, and explore the Tethers and secret organizations that support them. You will discover what it is like to serve as one of their messengers on Earth, battling ignorance, brutality, and terror against fearsome opposition. And you will find seeds for adventures to launch you into a campaign against the forces of evil.

Hearken well, ye bringers of the light, for the way is hard, and fraught with danger.

144 pages, #3322, ISBN 1-55634-428-7, $20.95.

-- Keith Johnson

July 3, 2000: Just Shipped

The following products left our warehouse on Friday, headed for your local game store:

GURPS In Nomine
A GURPS adaptation of the In Nomine setting, featuring the epic struggle between Heaven and Hell, between angels and demons -- both here in the mortal world and in the realms beyond. The focus will be on converting the setting -- all of In Nomine's Bands, Choirs, Superiors, and realms will be adapted for use with GURPS -- but GURPS conversions of In Nomine mechanics will be included as well, covering artifacts, attunements, Discord, dissonance, disturbance, Essence, Intervention, resonance, Rites, Songs and more. Get ready to play with the big boys!

#6093, ISBN 1-55634-400-7. 224 pages. $24.95.

Ogre Reinforcement Pack Ogre Reinforcement Pack

Battle-ready replacements for dog-eared counters and well-used maps, and four new multi-map scenarios! New rules include towing options, random Ogre damage, and the variant Ogres previously seen only in The Ogre Book. Fight to recover crippled Ogres on "The Day After," deliver a crippling punch to a Combine industrial complex in "Body Blow," or "Fake Out" the Paneuropeans by concealing your true objective until it's too late!

Components include a rule sheet with scenarios, two duplicate Ogre/G.E.V counter sheets, two duplicate Shockwave counter sheets, and one each Shockwave and G.E.V maps.

ISBN 1-55634-440-6, #7202, $11.95.

GURPS Robots (reprint)
GURPS Robots contains detailed rules for designing, building and playing robots -- from the tiniest nanobots to the mightiest megabots. You can create cyborgs, androids, and even biomorphs -- deadly fluid-metal machines that can take any shape. The advanced design rules are compatible with GURPS Vehicles, 2nd edition. Choose everything from the frames to weapons to the tiniest accessories!

Also included are rules for robots as player characters; artificial intelligences and battlesuits; and over 30 completely worked-out sample robots.

#6511, ISBN 1-55634-233-0. $19.95.

GURPS Compendium II (reprint)
GURPS Compendium II is full of material from scores of GURPS worldbooks published in the last eight years - many of them out of print - about how to run a better GURPS game, how to handle roleplaying problems that come up (some universal, some particular to GURPS), expanded rules for character combat, injury and illness, mass combat, spaceship combat, and much, much, more!

#6522, ISBN 1-55634-327-2. $23.95.

-- Keith Johnson

July 2, 2000: Power Toys for GURPS

Check out these new and updated game aids designed to power up your GURPS game . . . whatever the genre!

All of the game aids above -- plus many more! -- are available on our Game Aids page!

-- John Aaron Schmidt
-- Game Aid Coordinator

July 1, 2000: A Brief Report From DragonCon

My, what a lot of people.

Want more? Okay. My, what an awful lot of people.

OK, I admit it . . . there's a bit more to it than that. For instance, today will be the first day of release for GURPS Ogre - we're having about 30 copies shipped straight from the printer - and author Jonathan Woo dward will be here. Some lucky people are going to get first-day autographced copies. It's great when this stuff works out. So if you happen to be at the con today, come by the booth . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Past columns

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