The Daily Illuminator

Past columns

May 30, 1995

Today I'd like to start off by thanking Chris Williams for helping me out with getting the Daily Illuminator up on the web. I make the cake, Chris bakes it for me. Hats off to the baker!

Susan arrived back today, as did Jeff. Steve returns tomorrow. The party rages on . . .

In light of the fact that my last two entries in the Illuminator could very well qualify for the Longest Entries Ever, I will make this entry, in what very well could be my last day as captain of the U.S.S. Illuminator, strangely short. Steve will undoubtably have tales of Danger and Adventure worthy of the web appearing soon, so keep watching and we'll keep a light on for you.
-- Rick Martin

May 26, 1995

Welcome to the Daily Illuminator, bringing you the very best in vacation updates. Pull up a chair and listen to stories of Travel and Leisure.

Steve: Exploring the jungles of Montana where he's the Guest of Honor at MisCon. Rumor has it that he appeared in the office briefly on Wednesday, but evidence to support this claim is spotty at best.

Scott: Only a few days into his highly ambitious road trip which will eventually bring him to the sunny shores of Florida. I'm borrowing his chair while he's gone. It's this really nice Deluxe-O office chair that looks as though it's been ripped from a Lexus or something. Very comfortable. And with a single push, you can spin around and around and around and around and around. Heaven is mine.

Derek: Still leaving footprints in Europe. His last telegram read: "Where are the reinforcements STOP I was told they would be here in two days STOP Holed-up in this god-forsaken bunker STOP Sorta hungry STOP Very sleepy STOP This is not happening, this is NOT happening STOP" Be strong, Derek.

Jeff: Hanging out with his wife Angie in New Orleans where I'm sure they're avoiding the city's Seedy Underbelly and are instead enjoying Cultured Things like spicy soup and . . . spicy sealife? I'm sure he'll elaborate on his return.

Susan: Yellowstone National Park is the vacation spot of Susan and her husband Matt. I know they flew ther because when the postwoman came to deliver the plane tickets, she volleyed-off three or four "disgruntled postwoman" jokes at us. Curious.

Eric: Embarking on a mammoth, one month vacation in California, which is really how it should be done. May it have as little to do with shipping as possible.

Brenda: Is enjoying a four day weekend visiting with her family. I want a four day weekend. Feh.

Becca: Is also taking advantage of this Memorial Day weekend to visit family in Florida.

Suzanne: While not on vacation, will be enjoying a vacation-like existence telling everyone who calls that, "(Blank) is out of the office until (Blank). Can I take a message?" Suzanne is living the good life.

Please have a safe, yet action-packed weekend!
-- Rick Martin

May 25, 1995

After a brief but pleasant rest, the Illuminator lurches to life.

Even web pages get sleepy sometimes...

Since nobody's here, I've be able to yell and scream, fire off my new semi-automatic cap gun, and play my Hank Williams albums (my secret shame) as loud as possible. I've also learned to cook a wicked omelet using the heat from my monitor! (Mmmm...Trinitron.)

Much of the office is still scattered across the globe searching for those elusive pieces to a strange and mysterious machine that, once assembled, will finally crush the...I'm sorry, I've said way too much already...

Suffice to say, it is very quiet here (except for me) and everyone needs to return soon so I can stop being the only one who's not on some fun-filled vacation.

Plus, if these monitor omelets pan out, I bet I could make a pretty penny around here at breakfast...
-- Rick Martin

May 19, 1995

So here's the deal:

Steve's in Brazil, and he'll be back for about half a day toward the end of next week before he turns around and heads out to be the Guest of Honor at MisCon in Missoula, MT. If he gets a chance, I'm sure he'll post some news about his trip.

I leave for two weeks' vacation tomorrow morning. Those of you who care can check out a special vacation home page I set up. Jeff Koke and Susan Pinsonneault will also be gone all of next week, too. Lillian Butler will be out of town the week after Memorial Day. And Derek Pearcy is still in Europe.

So who's going to do the Illuminator? Rick Martin, our newest layout and graphics wizard, has volunteered. Be gentle.

Other news: We have playtest files posted for IO members to check out:

We'll have these files available over the World-Wide Web, too, right after Memorial Day.

Everybody have a nice holiday -- see you in a couple of weeks!
-- Scott Haring

May 18, 1995

Not much to report today, unless you want to know my golf score . . . OK, but only because you asked: I shot a 90, an all-time personal best! Thanks for asking.

To wrap up a little vacation news, it turns out that Lillian (Butler, our Art Director) is going to Mississippi to visit family, and Jeff (Koke, a designer/editor and graphics/layout whiz) is celebrating his graduation this weekend (from the University of Texas, a Masters in some sort of English/Writing/Literature thing) by taking a week to visit romantic New Orleans with his lovely wife.

Tomorrow's Daily Illuminator may be the last one in a while, what with so many people planning to be out of the office . . . more on the mass exodus tomorrow.
-- SDH

May 17, 1995

Today's developments -- the Principia Discordia reprint arrived today, and Pyramid #13 arrived at the collators to have those two free Ice Age cards inserted inside. And we saw bluelines on the GURPS Cyberpunk reprint. Life marches on . . .
-- SDH

May 16, 1995

Steve left this afternoon for Brazil -- let the party begin!

I wish . . . actually, most of us are trying to get a few last things done before embarking on vacations of our own. Let's see, Susan is heading for Yellowstone, I'm headed across the South, Derek's still in Europe, Jeff is going -- where is Jeff going, anyway? I'll have to ask . . . and Lillian's got plans, too.

Another brick in the international wall -- we just saw a French version of GURPS Space, just out. Pretty-looking language, though I hardly understand a word of it . . .
-- SDH

[INWO Book Cover]

May 15, 1995

Steve stayed home and worked on the first INWO Expansion Set today . . . and The INWO Book arrived from the printer this morning! One down, two to go -- Pyramid #13 is having its two free Ice Age cards stuffed in it even as we speak, and the Principia Discordia gets here later this week. Then they all go out to distributors next Monday.

It looks like Steve is really leaving for Brazil tomorrow -- bulletins as they occur. And we heard from Derek Pearcy on his European jaunt -- he's made it to England, where he is enjoying the hospitality of James Wallis of Hogshead Press, the folks who do the Interactive Fantasy magazine and have just gotten the license to bring Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay back in print. (Heck, they're taking care of Derek, the least I can do is give them a plug . . .).
-- SDH

May 14, 1995

Much better today - thank you for asking (grin).

So I was supposed to tell you about my San Jose trip. So all right, I went to San Jose last week. This was fun. The real reason - well, okay, I can't tell you the real reason, but the official cover reason was to visit with the guys at Ultimate Games, and arrange for evil Illuminati interference with one of the cards in their expansion set for the Ultimate Combat trading card game. So we took some pictures . . . and I'm sorry, but that's all you're cleared for today.

I also went by Inkspot Games in San Jose. They got copy #1 of The INWO Book, and I signed some cards. (I'm now on a Media Sensation card or three. Who was it who suggested always carrying a Media Sensation around, so if you meet a celeb you can get them to sign it? That's EVIL.) And we ate some sushi and schemed about things to put in the Assassins expansion and generally had a good time.

And I went to the California Academy of Sciences, and saw a T. rex skeleton mounted in the new-style pose, and some really nice full-size dioramas, including some truly scary raptors. And I saw a Monet exhibition . . . late-period paintings, mostly water lilies. Beautiful.

All in all, it was a nearly perfect trip. I should have got to actually play something; there should have been some Lego somewhere; and I should have gotten to stay longer. Other than that, a pretty perfect few days. (Oh, yeah, and on the perfect vacation I don't get sick. Details, details.)
-- SJ

May 12, 1995

It's not quite as bad as Scott made it sound yesterday. The important part is the sinusitis. It'll be all right in a few days, and the doctor assures me that my head will not explode as long as I make sure to stay below 10,000 feet.

So I'll write a bit about my trip soon. I promise. In the meantime, here's a bit of A CFV (call for votes) is being held to create a new Usenet newsgroup: This would be a group specifically for GURPS discussion. The CFV has been posted on, which is where GURPS discussion happens right now. To learn more, check that group and search for the string "CFV" -- that should locate it.
-- Steve Jackson

Or you can just go directly to the article from here, by using the URL <>.

In fact, you will find that you can always go to a CFV by using a URL of the form, where is the new group's proposed name and n is either 1 for the first CFV or 2 for the second one.
-- -JimC

May 11, 1995

Slight change of plans . . . Steve isn't leaving for Brazil just yet, as his doctor has a strict policy against allowing people who look like death warmed over from engaging in international travel. If the prescriptions rid him of his various creeping cruds, he'll be leaving Monday.

Steve just got back from San Jose, CA, where he was the guest of the folks who do the Ultimate Combat trading card game. What did they want with Steve? I'll let him tell you . . . some other day.
-- SDH

May 10, 1995

Steve's been out of town for a couple of days, but he's due back tomorrow. I'll get him to post tomorrow's Illuminator, because that'll be his last chance for a while, what with him going to Brazil and all.

Yes, Brazil. And Derek's having a fine old time in Amsterdam. We're just a globe-hopping little bunch . . .

We sent Pyramid #14 to the printer today -- looks like we've finally got that bad boy back on schedule! This will be another 96-page, nearly-full-color, ota-bound issue, just like #13, which is still on the way back from the printer. Now that may make it sound like #14 is early, but really, it's just on time. We lost a month in the Pyramid schedule a couple of issues back when all our production people were busy finishing INWO, and it's taken us until now to get caught up. But it doesn't end there -- because we want to show it off at GenCon, Issue #15 has to go to the printer early . . . no rest for the wicked . . .
-- SDH

[Robots Front Cover]

May 9, 1995

Progress on the release front. GURPS Robots shipped yesterday -- finally! I won't bore you with all the details, but that was looking like a product that would never get finished. Thanks to editor Susan Pinsonneault for infinite patience, and Art Director Lillian Butler and Print Buyer Monica Stephens for hard work and long hours.

And we saw the advance copies of two more products today -- Pyramid #13 and The INWO Book! They're both on the truck and on the way.

And there was much rejoicing . . .
-- SDH

May 8, 1995

Another anniversary all over the news and the newsmagazine TV shows this past weekend was the 50th anniversary of V-E Day, the day Germany formally surrendered and the European theater of World War II closed.

The reason I bring it up is my memory of planning meetings held at the game company I worked at eight years ago in preparation for this day. Just about everybody working for game companies ``back then" were still first-generation roleplaying designers -- which means we all came to the hobby from wargaming, and still had a strong love for the genre.

Anyway, we figured that the various 50-year anniversaries of the major milestones of WWII -- from Pearl Harbor to D-Day to Stalingrad to the Battle of the Bulge to Midway -- would be a great chance to do a definitive series of WWII wargames. We'd time the releases to coincide with the anniversaries of the various battles they simulated, and do a lot of publicity and sell, well maybe not millions, but bunches, especially for a wargame.

Obviously, it didn't happen. Even the few remaining wargame publishers didn't do anything special for the various 50th anniversaries of WWII milestones. We knew wargaming was a dwindling hobby, but how far it has fallen (and how fast) has taken a lot of us by surprise. And by the time these anniversaries actually rolled around, there were a lot more game company executives and designers out there who hadn't come to roleplaying from wargaming -- people who had never been exposed to wargames at all.

So I understand what happened. That still doesn't make it any less sad.
-- SDH

May 5, 1995

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo is a pretty big deal down here in Texas, and in most other states with a sizable Mexican population, though if you're from the North (or another country) you might not know about it. It's Mexican Independence Day, and it's an excuse to eat Mexican food, dance a few traditional dances, put a little tejano on the jukebox, drink cerveza and pound down a few margaritas.

Which brings me to today's fun fact: The margarita is named after a real person -- Margarita Sames. She invented the wonderful concoction of tequila, Cointreau liqueur and lime juice many years ago, and the world is a better place for it. Senora Sames is presiding over Cinco De Mayo festivities down the road in San Antonio, where -- among other things -- they are mixing the world's largest margarita. They're doing it in a tanker truck. My weekend is set . . .
-- SDH

May 4, 1995

Take a look at this, trading card game fans . . . is this silly, or what?

[Robots Front Cover]

May 3, 1995

Today's product update spotlights GURPS Robots, which is on the way. We've seen sample copies from the printer -- no really! We have, honest -- and it will be shipping to distributors the day we get it, which is looking like May 8.

The rest of the May releases will ship on the 22nd. They include The INWO Book, the reprint of the Principia Discordia and Pyramid #13. All those products are safely at the printer, and should be back on time.

As for future months . . . well, I've got to have something to talk about tomorrow. See you then.
-- SDH

May 2, 1995

The German edition of INWO goes to the printers as soon as we can get it there (due to scheduling, the files pass through our hands last, before going to the printer). By the skin of its teeth, it should be ready for the German "Conspiracy Convention" in May.

Some of the cards are new, and many have gone through art changes. But "Infobahn" still has the same name . . .

May 1, 1995

We turn the calendar page on another month . . . remember, you can click on the past columns link at the top of the Daily Illuminator to look at the many past glories of this fine little column. We've been doing this on a nearly-daily basis for almost half a year now, and you could get quite a history of the company from these little slices of life.

Derek Pearcy and Dana Blankenship are currently at the Capital Cities Trade Show in Chicago, IL, telling any comic book retailer who will listen about how they should be stocking lots and lots of our games. Dana will be back first thing next week, after taking a few days' vacation after the show. Derek's another story -- he won't be back until June. Where will he be? England, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany -- it's a European Vacation! Derek has promised e-mail missives for the Illuminator, and I'll share them with you when they come in.
-- Scott Haring

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Steve Jackson Games <>--last modified 95.Jun.05