The Daily Illuminator

December 1994

Dec. 31, 1994

Looks like it was a short flu. I feel bad but no longer wish to die. And it's a beautiful day outside.
We decided to blow off the pickup, at least for now. The end-of-year sales don't get new-truck prices down to where we need them . . . not and get the type of truck Brenda wants.
And we want to keep Brenda happy, especially since right now she's dealing with several tons of returned books (we changed bookstore distributors, and that means the old one had to send back all its stock). So she and her crew are spending their New Year's Eve going "This one we can resell, this one is good only for convention giveaway, this one goes to the recycle bin."
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 30, 1994

Yech. I have the flu. Everyone else is gone. The whole world smells like paint. Derek is tearing out his hair in bloody clumps as he tries to deal with the fiends known to men as "Macintosh mail-order dealers." Joy and rapture.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 28, 1994

Are we going to get a fancy company car? Naaaahhhh . . . but Monica went out today to shop for a pickup truck. Remember, this is a Texas game company.
Rain yesterday and today. Not too cold, but very, very wet. Thundery and dreary. Some of us are ready for spring. Unfortunately, winter hasn't really hit yet. Gloom.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 27, 1994

Remodeling is now in full swing on the top floor of the building. Constant thumping; huge clouds of dust. Much like a staff meeting.
In the words of the immortal Dave Barry: I am not making this up. Today's paper reports that a company called Shieldworks Radiation Protection Technology is selling a "Hat of Quietude," which looks like a baseball cap but is made out of stuff that is supposed to block radio waves. Specifically, it is for people who want to stop radio broadcasts, cellular phone messages, and so on, from passing through their heads. Apparently, tinfoil is no longer good enough . . .
According to the article, demand has been heavy and the hats are back ordered. The company number is 800-403-0255. If you call, tell them the Illuminati sent you. I bet they hear that all the time anyway fnord.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 26, 1994

Very quiet again today. The only sounds to be heard were the little chortles of glee as the mail was opened and the distributor checks for INWO were admired, fondled, and reverently prepared for deposit.
Don't laugh. This pays for the paint and carpets . . . and for some new computer hardware . . . and it pays to send INWO back to press so we'll have some more to sell in March. Money is good.
Thanks again to all of you who bought our games this year - that's your money we're fondling. And very grateful we are for it, too.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 25, 1994

Ho, ho, ho.
-- S. Claus, putting INWO in stockings

Dec. 24, 1994

Yesterday it was a madhouse. Today it's a tomb. A very scruffy, dirty, junk-and-boxes-all-over-the-place tomb. Everybody is out of here on vacation except me, and I'm going. Bye.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 23, 1994

The office is being torn into little pieces and stored in boxes . . . It's a madhouse.
But it's a happy madhouse, because the first big distributor payments for INWO have arrived. And the INWO web area is growing rapidly. If you haven't looked at it yet, hit that link!
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 22, 1994

We got some interesting packages from overseas . . . a French version of GURPS Old West, and the paperback edition of the German GURPS Basic Set. They both look great.
Visitors today . . . Walter Milliken and "Archangel" Beth McCoy, who are writing GURPS IOU. They brought new text files, maple sugar and chocolate fish, all gifts pleasing to the Illuminated Ones.
We spent a lot of the day packing. Over the next couple of weeks, the offices will get a serious face-lifting . . . paint, new carpet, plumbing that works . . . We're looking forward to all these things.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 21, 1994

Thanks to the very fast typing of Tyler Novak, INWO players can now read a hypertext version of the rules on our Web!
Also, within a couple of hours (I'm typing this at 11 in the morning) we will have our INWO tournament rules, in draft form, on the web. We want your comments.
Office Xmas party today. Gift exchanges around here are always dangerous. I'm not saying what I brought, but St. Gulik protect the person who gets it . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 20, 1994

As you may have heard, Interplay Productions is working on the official GURPS computer adaptation. The project is being headed up by Tim Cain, who is now maintaining a FAQ and home page for the project right here on IO. As the project develops, he'll post updates. Eventually, you should be able to see art, discussions of game play, and lots more.
Tim was the creator of the truly excellent StarGen program for GURPS Space. We know the Interplay project is going to be a success, because it's in the hands of a skilled programmer who also happens to be a GURPS nut. This is good.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 19, 1994

Whew, my turn again? I've been at home working on In Nomine the last few days -- it's going well, thanks. Jeff, Steve and I sat down today and looked at the schedule . . . February still looks like our month.
And, of course, INWO is going strong, generating an amazing amount of traffic on the various newsgroups that cover it, mostly people whining that their stores don't have it yet or frantically trying to assemble a list of Rare cards before they do something like trade away their Crystal Skulls for American Autoduel Associations. (As an historical aside, we smugly felt like we'd covered all our bases, and that assembling a true frequency list would be hard, grueling, rewarding work -- forgetting completely that we'd just mailed out a big bunch of Rare cards (see Steve's December 13th note, below) and everyone who got one need only shout out its name and add it to the list . . . doh!)
For those of you want a look at the future of INWO, just check out its home page. We're webbing in some previews of the designs we're examining for the Unlimited Edition, due out in March. Tell us what you think. Send mail to, I'm going to sleep.
-- Derek Pearcy

Dec. 18, 1994

I spent the last few hours reading the final, edited, laid-out version of C.J. Carella's GURPS Voodoo. Good book. C.J. subtitled it "The Shadow War," and that's what it's about . . . the war we never see, between human spell-casters and darker forces. The Crusades, slavery in America, the drug trade today . . . these were all just moves in the Shadow War.
This will be out in January. Shea Ryan is doing the illustrations, and they go very well with C.J.'s text. And the cover will show Tim Bradstreet's idea of a street-tough Spirit Warrior. I think you'll like it.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 16, 1994

It's Out! It's Out! Of course, the big news is the official release of Illuminati: New World Order to the teeming masses. We haven't heard any reports of gamers storming their local stores en masse, brandishing torches and pitchforks, demanding their INWO cards, but the day is early yet . . .
We have already seen the first posts on various newsgroups from gamers who have bought their sets and are merrily ripping open packages. It's not too early to start giving us your feedback -- we've added a form for just that purpose on the INWO Home Page. Just follow the links! I put two in this message -- if you can't find it, I don't wanna know about it . . .
Time to go. Steve is hosting a party at his place to celebrate INWO's release, and we're all knocking off early to go have some fun! See ya next week.
-- Scott Haring

Dec. 15, 1994

What a lousy day of weather we've had today. Gray and rainy all day, with thunderstorms moving in around 4 pm. They got so bad that we instituted electrical storm procedures around the office . . . turn off and unplug everything. But (and this is a big "but"), Illuminati Online has an "uninterruptable power supply." I don't know what that means in technical terms, but in practical terms, it means the net is still up and running, and I can run into their offices and post today's Illuminator.
But that's not all that's going on, thankfully. We got a small package from our printer with five advance copies of Pyramid magazine #11 today. This is always a big moment for myself, Derek Pearcy, Jeff Koke, and other who worked on the magazine -- we check and we double-check and we proofread and we look at printer's proofs until our eyes go bleary, but when the magazines actually get here, we still find things about them we don't like. Derek is the worst about this, actually; I don't think I've ever seen him happy about a product the day it comes back from the printer, because he's obsessing over its flaws so much.
This issue was no exception, of course. This color screen here was a little sloppy . . . the color didn't come out right on that ad . . . where did all those little white spots come from? (Apparently, the guy at the printing plant who stripped in the negatives had a severe case of dandruff . . .). But after the initial panic passes (which takes longer for some of us than it does for others), I can look back with a lot of satisfaction. Really, this issue looks good. Real good. Cool articles, great graphics . . . but you'll see for yourself soon enough.
The main shipment of Pyramid magazines gets here Monday, they say. We'll ship them right out to distributors and mail the subscription copies, too. Given the holiday mail and shipping delays, you can expect to see the magazine in your mailbox and/or game store right around the new year.
-- Scott Haring

Dec. 14, 1994

Brenda Hurst is back, alive and more or less well, after having successfully sorted out the INWO packagers. Everything has been shipped. And there was great applause.
We've also signed our first overseas translation deal for INWO . . . Pegasus, for the German language.
And the SyQuest disk for GURPS Magic went out today . . . this will be the second printing of the second edition. Special thanks go to Jeff Gaines, who sent us a lot of little bug reports at the eleventh hour. We dealt with them . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 13, 1994

At last, the INWO Rare Card Giveaway happens . . . the small catalogs finally came in, and the envelopes are being stuffed right now.
If you missed the word on the giveaway, check out the INWO web area and read all about it, see the pretty pictures, and so on and so on.
T minus two and counting . . .
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 12, 1994

Well, the lumbering beast that is INWO continues to close in on us. Tonight at the office, we had our first group game and here are the results, as promised.
The players were (in order of play) Jim McCoy, one of the Servants of Cthulhu; Derek Pearcy, heading the Network; Jeff Koke, as the Bavarian Illuminati; Steve Jackson, fnording the Discordians; and Scott Haring as another splinter sect of the Servants of Cthulhu. It was a long game, over three hours -- although, like last time, some of that comes from us sitting there staring at the table and mumbling, "I can't believe it's actually done," rather than planning a move.
Scott won in the end, though both Jeff and Steve came within a Plot card of victory. Scott's deck was Cthulhu as done by Coppola, chock-full of Violent, Criminal groups like New York and the Loan Sharks: the Podfather, as Jeff dubbed him. Jim, the other Cthulhu worshipper, fulfilled his destructive nature in a more abstract fashion as the Weather God. Within two turns, Jim (with a +4 to destroy, just for being Cthulhu) had the Cycle Gangs (+2), the Robot Sea Monsters (+4), the International Weather Organization (+2, +6 to weather-related Disasters), the Semiconscious Liberation Army (+4), a Weather Satellite (+8 to weather Disasters) and the Loch Ness Monster (+4) on his payroll. All in all, he had a +32 to smite Places with his arsenal of Tidal Waves, Hurricanes, Meteors, etc. Jeff's Bavaria controlled the media and its wide range of Personalities, Steve went after Wierdos, and the Network somewhat feebly aimed for Space and Computer groups.
Both the Podfather's New York and the Network's Japan fell to Jim's mastery of Earth's weather, though Bavaria's Clone Arrangers were able to provide sufficient relief for New York that it was able to cobble itself back together . . . in time to welcome a falling chunk of rock the size of Long Island that turned the whole area into a giant, smoking crater. Such is life.
The Discordians, declaring Jake Day, made Stonehenge Weird. Inspired, Cthulhu turned it Peaceful as well, painting it pink and then (adding injury to insult) inflicted an outbreak of Giant Kudzu upon that parliament of stones like England has never seen. It was saved by the Harmonica Virgins . . . in time to welcome a falling chunk of rock the size of Long Island that turned the whole area into a giant, smoking crater. Such is life.
Ronald Reagan started his car one morning, only to have it explode out from underneath him. Luckily for Bavaria, a passing Clone Arranger intern caught his head as it fell from the sky, sealed it up in a jar and plugged it in. His wife, Nancy, was saved from two consecutive Hit and Run attacks by her more-than-able Bavarian-supplied Bodyguard. Ollie North wasn't so lucky; his destruction at the hands of the FBI was simple and irrevocable. But Bjorne was beyond the mundane trivialities of Assassination -- he became Immortal!
New World Orders stymied group takeovers by doubling Resistance, reducing the power of Government and Straight groups. But other annoyances plagued us as well. More Giant Kudzu. More Meteors. More Giant Kudzu. EVEN MORE Giant Kudzu. We'll be eating Giant Kudzu sandwiches for a week. ("What's for lunch, Scott?" "Erm, Giant Kudzu . . . soup?" "Doh!")
It was a long game with good decks and good players -- and real cards, finally. It gave Scott several good ideas on how to handle tournament play, and the first draft of our offical tournament rules should be posted to the net in a few weeks.
T minus three days and counting 'till you can find it in a store near you. Unfortunately, a distributor in Georgia has already made the mistake of selling INWO to stores before its release date. Though all the copies that snuck out have been returned to the warehouse, let me be the first Steve Jackson Games employee to officially deny the existance of Giant Kudzu creeping towards Atlanta . . .
-- Derek Pearcy (

Dec. 11, 1994

Over on the IO side, Cary Camden has been working on a script that will automatically generate a Web home page for any user. I got to beta-test it . . . and now I have a home page. Check it out! The URL is In a couple of days I'll stick a picture in there.
Have I mentioned recently how truly neat I think the Web is? I know . . . kid with a new toy. But this may be the "killer app" for the Internet. It will make the net truly useful to enough people, and interesting to enough more, to pull it off the gosh-wow pages of slick magazines, and into a lot of daily lives. I hope.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 9, 1994

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Maybe it was the cold front that swept through Austin last night, bringing the first real signs of winter we've seen yet. Maybe it was the Tree of Lights erected in Zilker Park. Then again, maybe it was the shipment of INWO Starter Sets and Booster Packs that ground the day's work to a halt around eleven. Steve played Santa in the shipping department, handing out cases of complimentary employee copies, while the rest of us showered each other with torn shrinkwrap and danced little jigs. Piles of torn Booster Pack wrappers gathered in the corners of our offices, and deck-building ensued.
Next Monday night will see an inter-office game of deception and intrigue. No, it's not another product planning meeting, it's the first company-wide game of INWO with real cards! We're all pretty jazzed about it. Jim McCoy probably has the most cards; he opened three Booster Pack POPs and three Starter Set POPs -- a grand total of 2,280 cards. Yow. Check out the Daily Illuminator three days from now for the results.
In other news, Jeff Koke is putting the finishing touches on GURPS Psionics, and it looks great. Thanks to Jeff, and the interior artist, Dan Smith, it ranks with the best-looking books we've ever done, many of which were also Koke/Smith collaborations. It goes to the printer Monday, and ships at the end of January.
One more thing -- after the card game went away, we decided to make some t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. Today we got the TEAM INWO shirts, and everyone who played a part in producing the game will get one. Makes it easier to spot the guilty when the revolution comes. And for our customers, Andy is finding out what it would cost to make up a shirt for each Illuminati group, bearing the logos that appear on the cards. We'll keep you posted.
T-minus even fewer days and counting 'till you'll have cards in your hands. Since we've insisted that distributors not sell the game until December 16th, some have arranged to open their doors at a minute after midnight, starting the INWO craze as early as possible. Be there or . . . well, I guess you're square either way, standing in the cold at midnight, waiting for cards. It's not like it's the new REM or something. But at least you'll be with friends.
-- Derek Pearcy

Dec. 8, 1994

We post-mortemed Principia Discordia today -- which is to say, a group of us (Steve, Andrew and myself, this time) sat around in Steve's office with copies of the book, flipping through it page by page and pointing out its flaws. A post-mortem is something we like to do for every project, but if it's either something we don't feel is going to be reprinted Real Soon, or something we feel we already learned our lessons from, we've been known to let them slide. But there we were, pens in hand, ready to attack the cold corpses of PD before us.
There is an inherent problem in trying to post-mortem a book that purposefully exhibits anti-social tendencies -- what's messed up, and what's the way it "should be"? Most of the book, we decided, is the way it should be. It is, after all, a book about chaos. Some of the pages needed straightening, though it would have been Discordian of us to pick some pages at random for the printer to unstraighten, and the mental note was made to replace the ads in the back before the book's reprinted.
Which will be soon. Right now, Principia Discordia is sold out so, we're planning for it to ship in May. Also, for those of you who wish we hadn't left St. Gulik (or the Sacred Chao or whatever) out of the Limited Edition, there may even be an offer for a unique INWO card inside. (Hey, it wouldn't be true to the spirit of the day if I didn't mention the card game somewhere. It's all we can talk about around here. Just try to get a word in edgewise about angels.)
-- Derek Pearcy

Dec. 7, 1994
"Hey," said Dana, our National Sales Manager, walking into the end of the Creative Staff meeting. "If we don't get some help labeling these envelopes, they're not going out today."
Which was bad news, seeing as how much of the rest of the day had geared up towards getting the 3,500 envelopes full of Illuminati: New World Order cards out to retail stores, timed to arrive before the actual game. Andrew Hartsock, in a great print buying frenzy, had some specially printed envelopes (soon dubbed "INWOlopes" by Steve) made up -- and if you can talk your local retailer out of one, the INWOlopes may very well be collector's items soon.
So the last part of the day consisted of a group of people upstairs, stuffing cards (and a cover letter) in the INWOlopes, Dana sealing them up in Direct Mail, with the rest of us on the floor in Editorial frantically sticking labels on (to INWOlopes and each other). A fine time was had by all.
Scott started his first edit pass for GURPS Places of Mystery, which he claims is very, very cool. Check out the playtest files in /usr/files/Gaming/SJG_Playtest/GURPS/Places_Of_Mystery. Pyramid, and Scott in particular, received high praise this month from Dragon Magazine in its review of the adventure gaming magazine market. During the aforementioned INWOlope stuffing, Dana took some time to do a dramatic reading for those less-fortunate of us who don't get their own personal copy of Dragon. And, once again, a fine time was had by all.
-- Derek Pearcy

Dec. 6, 1994

Jeff whacked himself on the forehead today and made the observation that, what with all these pretty cards sitting around, we could probably get a game of INWO going! He and I assembled our decks, and around 4:00pm the battle began.
It was a classic duel, the Bavarian Illuminati versus the Gnomes of Zurich. The Gnomes' Suicide Squad plundered Bavaria's Hidden City, but ended up being turned into so much gooey redness by Thor's Hammer; Japan and Hawaii were assaulted by unseasonable weather leaving Japan devastated for the remainder of the game; control of the Pentagon flipped twice, Bavaria lamented the lack of action tokens, Zurich cursed the existance of duplicate Midas Mills, the Earth shook . . . and the Gnomes, even in the face of Bavaria's might, pulled out a victory. We almost spent more time looking at the cards than actually playing with them.
Our shipping department received 50,000 cards today for our mass mailing to distributors, retailers and customers. Before the end of the week, tens of thousands of INWO cards will by in the hands of the Pentagon-less Post Office and on their way to someplace near you. T-minus 11 days 'till it hits distributors, and counting.
-- Derek Pearcy

P.S. We shot some footage of the Very First INWO Game With Real Cards, and tomorrow I'll web some in. So come back!

Dec. 5, 1994

Brenda's in Michigan now, and Booster Pack packaging is proceeding apace under her small, iron fist. We're still on schedule.
And as an aside from all our INWO ramblings, the bluelines for Pyramid Magazine #11 came in today. FYI: Bluelines are the proofs a printer produces (using blueprint technology, thus the name) of a book before it goes to print. With minor alterations, Andrew packaged everything up and sent them back. We're expecting the finished magazine in our hot little hands before Christmas.
-- Derek Pearcy

Dec. 4, 1994

This evening Brenda Hurst gets on that big silver bird and flies to Michigan to supervise final collation of the INWO Booster Packs and the drop-ship to distributors. Everything still seems to be on schedule.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 2, 1994

A new toy today - and one desperately needed. We bought a modern, programmable, plain-paper fax, to replace the Old Faithful desktop model that had been here so long we'd worn the numbers off the buttons.
It will be very, very good not to have to struggle with replacing fax paper rolls, or with making copies of that evil curly fax paper, or with calling people to say "Err, your fax didn't come out . . .
And no more will Dana or Suzanne have to sit at the hall table, re-faxing the same thing to 70 or 80 different distributors over and over and over again. (Yes, we have had a fax-modem for a long time, but the thing had problems of its own. You don't want to know.)
Plain paper faxes actually save paper, too - and the bond that we are using in the new fax is recyclable, which works out better all the way around.
-- Steve Jackson

Dec. 1, 1994

As you can see, we've moved the old columns into a separate area, so the accumulated text won't fill up your buffer every time you try to read the Illuminator.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
It looks as though yesterday's INWO adventure won't even push our ship date back. We might hear differently tomorrow, but it looks all right today. And Dana had a very happy afternoon, sending all here distributors the "Here's how much you're about to owe us!" faxes.
And my signed print of Zeleznik's "Galvanik" painting came back from the framers. This is the one that - some day - will be on the cover of Necrovore. Cyborg skeletons riding cyborg-skeleton dragons in black space . . . great stuff. It will look really good on the wall. When we have walls again.
-- Steve Jackson