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April 30, 1998: Spring is here

Here's a few pictures of the scenery around the SJG office these days. Don't you wish you were here...

SJ Games Ofc Bluebonnets
Gold Lily Iris Field by the Office

April 29, 1998: Real Life Car Wars!

Evidence that the violent highways of the future first predicted in Car Wars are quickly becoming a reality can be found in this news story. Drive Offensively!
-- Scott Haring

April 28, 1998: GURPS Traveller -- Let the Playtest Commence!

As of today ("Real Soon Now") the remaining chapters of the GURPS Traveller first draft have been posted to the playtest site, and the first draft is available for playtest, commentary, and dissection.

The first files of the second GURPS Traveller release (tentatively titled Behind the Claw: The Spinward Marches Sourcebook) have arrived, and we expect to have it up by the end of the week.

Pop over to the playtest site. We have room for more equipment descriptions than I counted on originally, and your comments and suggestions on what to include are welcome!

-- Loren Wiseman

April 27, 1998: Roleplaying the Net, Backwards!

That is to say, this is NOT a roleplaying game on the net, but a classic-style talk-to-humans roleplaying game (using FUDGE rules) about what it's like to be a denizen of Usenet.

You have Steffan O'Sullivan to blame for . . . for . . . for this.
-- Steve Jackson

April 26, 1998: GURPS Traveller Webmaster Chosen

Joseph "Chepe" Lockett has agreed to take over administration and maintenance of the GURPS Traveller web page. As a volunteer Web Wrangler, he'll oversee its coming expansion, adding information, art, and excerpts as the game universe continues to grow.

Chepe brings years of experience as a player and gamemaster in both GURPSand Traveller, from its "little black books" days through the most recent rules sets. "I'm happy to be involved in bringing my two favorite game systems together," he says. "I've enjoyed all of Traveller's incarnations, in both rules and background -- but I think GURPS Traveller has the potential to be the best yet!"

Among our plans are continuing updates of the revived Traveller News Service and an archive of the in-character news from the first edition of the game, a Frequently Asked Questions file to handle the growing interest and discussion about the product, and on-line access to Library Data, both new and old, on the Traveller universe. Your comments and suggestions are welcome -- "Free Trader Beowulf, help is on the way!"
-- Loren Wiseman

April 25, 1998: Return of the Vindicator

Vindicator was a fanzine published by Michael Friend in 1995 and 1996 for rules variants, strategy, reviews and more on science-fiction and fantasy Microgames, including our own Ogre, G.E.V. and Car Wars, as well as other classics like Melee, WarpWar, Outpost Gamma, The Creature That Ate Sheboygan and others.

But like many fanzines, momentum slowed, problems arose and Vindicator went on hiatus. Until now.

Under the stewardship of new editor Duke Ritenhouse, Vindicator is back. The latest issue, Vol II, No. 1, has articles about the history of microgames, some new units for G.E.V., and more.

Subscriptions are $11 for 6 bi-monthly issues ($18 foreign), $20 for 12 issues ($30 foreign) and $2 for a sample issue ($3.50 foreign). Duke is also looking for contributors. Contact him by e-mail, or write:

c/o Duke Ritnenhouse
2160 Lakeview Drive, No. 272
Ypsilanti, MI 48198

-- Scott Haring

April 24, 1998: The Internet Oracle

Illuminated Site of the Week: The Oracle knows everything. Absolutely everything. And if you ask nicely (don't forget to grovel) maybe it will TELL you. Or, if you're feeling Illuminated, you can incarnate yourself as the Oracle and share your wisdom with some poor clueless questioner.
-- Steve Jackson

April 23, 1998: Welcome, Lori!

[ pic of Lori ] Lori Schwartzberg has joined our staff. Like most of us around here, she has two jobs.

By morning, she is a mild-mannered Information Services specialist, keeping our computers humming along (as her first big win, she correctly diagnosed and repaired a nagging little back-up problem that had us all worried). By afternoon, she uses her graphic design training to help us out in the editorial department as a Production Artist. Welcome!

-- Scott Haring

April 22, 1998: Tired/Wired

Wired Magazine has discovered the hobby . . . in the May issue, their Tired/Wired column includes the following entry:

Tired                               Wired
Magic: The Gathering                   Lunch Money

April 21, 1998: The Knightmare Battle, Live!

Remember Scott told you about the epic Knightmare Chess battles between Shipping and The Rest Of Us?

Well, we just got a nifty little QuickCam (thanks to all you auction supporters) and we've aimed it at The Big Chessboard.

It shoots a new picture every 5 minutes between 9am and 6pm, Monday thru Friday. Thrill to the ongoing game. Wonder what cards are being played (we haven't figured out how to indicate that yet). Try to figure out who you're seeing, as our backs obscure the board while we puzzle over moves.

And feel free to suggest other nifty uses for the QuickCam!

Speaking of the Auction . . .

Currently on the block are three copies of the GURPS Basic Set in Korean . . .
-- Steve Jackson

April 20, 1998: Pyramid #30 to the Printer!

[ Pyramid #30 Cover ] It's the end of an era, as we bid farewell to the paper version of Pyramid magazine. This last issue features a Shadowrun adventure and lots more neat stuff, and should be on store shelves sometime in May.

But we'd rather look ahead than behind, and the future is rosy, indeed. The new online version of Pyramid is a big success; subscriptions are pouring in, the reaction is very positive, and we're having a lot of fun putting it together. If you haven't yet, please check it out.
-- Scott Haring

April 19, 1998: Shipping Department 1, Everybody Else 1

I promised, so as much as I hate to admit it, I must report to you that the Shipping Department won the latest Steel Cage Chess Death Match, mentioned in the Daily Illuminator several weeks back.

So, congratulations to the winners. But we won't take our defeat lying down . . .

Knightmare Chess Death Match Begins!

And it begins with an "Onslaught" -- all eight white pawns charge from the second rank to the third.

It's the great rematch, the Shipping Department vs. Everybody Else, this time in a game of Knightmare Chess, using the big magnetic board. We'll let you know how it turns out.

-- Scott Haring

April 18, 1998: Our Grand Designs . . .

. . . need a Grand Designer. Our New Media department (that's, um, me) is seeking a multimedia producer. Initially, this position will develop the GURPS CD-ROM and support other New Media functions.

Benefits include opportunity to bring your multimedia skills to the state of the art and keep them there, a wonderful locale (Austin, TX) and flexible working conditions.

Requirements include a solid footing in Quark, some demonstrable design history, relocation to Austin and high initiative.

E-mail me at with questions or a resume.

-- Gene Seabolt

April 17, 1998: Book-A-Minute

Illuminated Site of the Week: Ever wanted to sit down and get caught up on those great fantasy and SF classics, but just don't have the time to wade through trilogy after trilogy, not to mention the seemingly never-ending sequels after the trilogy? Well, never fear, the Book-A-Minute web page has solved your problem.

- Suggested by Scott Haring

April 16, 1998: This is Cruel . . .

and unfair and all that stuff, and we rolled on the floor laughing. It's located on Wolfhound's Sardonic Slapp-Happy Marvel Comics Page. Thanks to Michael P. Owen of the Seattle/Spokane Washington AutoDuel Team (SWAT) for calling this to our attention . . .

April 15, 1998: Gene Seabolt Promoted to Director of New Media

There we go; the whole story is in the headline.

Well, almost.

Gene has been working as producer of the upcoming GURPS CD-ROM. He will still be working on that project just from a higher box on the organizational chart. He will also be responsible for other computer-related projects from SJ Games.

Gene is replacing Micah Jackson, who has gone independent, forming his own company, International Entertainment Licensing.
-- Steve Jackson

April 14, 1998: GURPS lives up to its name!

Issue #36 of InQuest Magazine contains an adventure called The Exile Zone. In additional to being a pretty good adventure, it also includes game stats for GURPS, AD&D, and Earthdawn. Kudos to InQuest for overcoming its reputation as a CCG mag, and replacing it with its new rep as a CCG mag with some RPG content. Seriously, they're trying hard to adapt to the fall of CCGs and are doing an excellent job. Check 'em out on your newsstand or at your gaming shop. (And we're not just saying that because they named TOON "Best Miscellaneous RPG" in a recent issue.)
-- Micah Jackson

April 13, 1998: Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown

If you have not read this seminal work (which happens to discuss Your Humble Narrator and his adventures with the Secret Service in some detail), you can read it on the Project Gutenberg website. For some reason, it's indexed as "Computer Science" . . .
-- Steve Jackson

April 12, 1998: Playtester Search

Every once in a while, when a project takes a while to come to fruition, by the time the book comes out, playtesters and other contributors get lost. They've moved, or we lost the address, or the Secret Masters had a hand in things . . . anyway, here's the list:

GURPS Planet Krishna -- We're still looking for playtesters Nick Pennola and Kathy and Scott McClure.

Liber Reliquarum -- Daniel Kwon was one of the winners who got a design into the book.

GURPS Russia -- Playtesters Michael Rake, Marshall Ryan Maresca and Dean Kimes.

So if you know any of these people (or if you are any of these people . . . ), please drop me an e-mail so I can get you your stuff.
-- Scott Haring

Pyramid Update

Friday was Posting Day, and that means more new articles for Pyramid magazine. We have a new column from Steve Fritz, some new reviews and two new articles. Check it out -- Scott Haring

April 11, 1998: Evil Stevie Touches Base

[ img: Andy at I-Con ] I didn't report after my trip, even though I've been home for a week, because I was a wreck. I am very grateful for the large group of Men In Black who showed up to help at I-Con, because without them I might never have made it out of the airport. How can we say this? Usually I enjoy conventions a great deal; having survived this event will make me all the more appreciative of those con-runners who care about the health and comfort, let alone the enjoyment, of their guests.

(In the photo, we see Andy Dawson, preparing to run a game of In Nomine in the palatial room we were assigned.)
[ img: Bedford Capsule ]

After that con, I spent several days at a training session and cryonics conference at Alcor. One of the highlights of the event was a talk by James Halperin, author of The First Immortal. This is a very interesting book which paints a picture of the future that while not sugar-coated still offers more hope than most people will allow themselves! If you enjoy near-future science fiction, or if you have even the tiniest interest in surviving past your allotted threescore years and ten, I recommend it.

[ img: Alcor's Tanks ] (The upper picture shows the capsule which once held Dr. James Bedford, the world's "oldest" cryonics patient. It's now a museum piece; Bedford has been moved to one of the modern tanks being displayed by Alcor's Brian Shock in the lower picture.)
[ img: Desert Flower ] The conference was in Phoenix, and naturally I visited their beautiful desert botanical gardens. Here are a couple of pictures.

[ img: Desert Sunset ]

And when I got back, I had the great pleasure of logging into the online version of Pyramid, which went live while I was gone. I had watched Scott, Jackie and Gene work for weeks to develop it, of course, but it was neat to see it up and running for real. I am VERY pleased with the transition to an online zine. We already have over 500 people signed up, and last night's chat session had 4 of our staff members (me included it was fun!) and 18 subscribers!
-- Steve Jackson

April 10, 1998: Professor Wacko's Exothermal Exuberance!

Illuminated Site of the Week: Who needs to get bomb-making instructions off the Internet when you can blow up your house with Professor Wacko?

- Suggested by Stefan Jones

April 9, 1998: INWO SubGenius to the Printer!

Actually, the cards and the box (and wait 'til you see them -- they'll blow your mind!) went away almost two weeks ago . . . but with the final tweaks to the rulebook finally locked in, I can announce with glee that INWO SubGenius has gone to the printer.

Praise "Bob"!

And this is as good a time as any to invite you to visit the demented world of the SubGenius (and some amazing computer graphics) at the Church of the SubGenius web page.

Pyramid Chat Tonight!

Tonight in our Pyramid Chat Room, our own Dr. Kromm will be talking about new directions for GURPS, including the GURPS CD-ROM, GURPS Lite, templates and Straight Line. Join us at 8pm CDT!
-- Scott Haring

April 8, 1998: Wanna Go Camping?

When they first announced them last year, I believe I used the headline, "Signs of the Coming Apocalypse" in the Daily Illuminator story.

But now they're doing it again, so I guess it wasn't such a bad idea . . . Wizards of the Coast is not only repeating their Summer Camp program from last year, they're expanding it.

This summer, campers can not only attend any of five one-week Magic: The Gathering camps, they can also try an AD&D camp (two sessions), a Warhammer camp, workshops for Magic judge certification and Pro Tour qualifiers and a writing workshop for prospective TSR game designers.

And we thought them mad . . .
-- Scott Haring

April 7, 1998: The Illuminati are Subtle

...except when they're not. Sometimes they're about as subtle as a truck bomb. Look what I got in the mail...
-- Steve Jackson

April 6, 1998: New York Times Bestseller!

No telling where a career that starts at Steve Jackson Games will lead . . .

Aaron Allston, former editor of The Space Gamer and game designer for us back in the really good old days, has hit the Holy Grail of authors, the New York Times bestseller list! His "X-Wing" novel Wraith Squadron, the first of several Star Wars novels Aaron is doing, just hit #10 on the list. Congratulations!
-- Scott Haring

April 5, 1998: SJ Games Garners Origins Nominations

The nominees for the Origins awards were announced yesterday at the GAMA Trade Show in Miami, FL, and we were honored to receive three nominations.

The story A Bright Dream/A Dark Dream, from the original In Nomine rulebook and written by Derek Pearcy, was nomintated in a new fiction category, "Best Game-Related Short Work." And Derek Pearcy was honored again when In Nomine got a nomination for "Best Graphic Presentation in a Roleplaying Game." The third nomination went to Pyramid for "Best Professional Game Magazine."

The Origins Awards will be handed out at Origins, in Columbus, OH over the July 4th weekend. The public is invited to vote in the awards -- a ballot will be printed in Pyramid #30 and will be posted for download soon.
-- Scott Haring

April 4, 1998: Convention Signs -- Online!

In the latest use of this new technology to make this a better world for gamers in general (and Steve Jackson Games and its fans in particular), a collection of Convention Signs are now available for use.

The signs are in PDF format and ready to go. Just download 'em and print 'em out, and voila! You've got professionally designed signs for your convention events, in-store demos or game club.

Just another example of better gaming through technology . . .

This Just In . . .

Iron Crown Goes Direct to Retailers

In what may be the first shot in a drastic change in the way the adventure game business works, Iron Crown Enterprises announced that they were not going to sell products to game distributors any longer, and would instead sell directly to retailers. Chessex, one of the biggest game distributors in the country, is helping ICE in this effort -- not as a distributor in the classic sense, but as a warehousing and shipping fulfillment service for Iron Crown products.

"The Chessex network will serve as a hub for retail support," Iron Crown president Pete Fenlon said. "The burden will be on us, now.

"This is a rather creative direct to retail program. Chessex is involved as a fulfillment partner, but it is not an exclusivity deal at all," Fenlon said.

Iron Crown has been working on this arrangement with Chessex for about six months, and it arises out of a growing concern in the industry that, as Fenlon put it, "the current system is, at least for our purposes, dysfunctional.

"Because of the volume of new titles, the distributors and retailers are inundated with stuff. They see product releases as white noise. They're now in order-taking mode, not sales or promotion mode," he said.

For more on this story, visit the Pyramid Magazine site.
-- Scott Haring

April 3, 1998: Extreme Hobbies

Illuminated Site of the Week: If you like to blow things up real good, or jump off the WRONG things, or do any of the other things that you're not supposed to try at home . . . or if you just want to see a lot of pictures of people who have done this stuff and lived . . . then the Extreme Hobbies page is for you. It is a collection of links to . . . to all kinds of things. Some of them are even legal.

- Suggested by Liz Lindsay

Pyramid Picks Up Steam!

Lots of exciting news about Pyramid Magazine:

First, last weekend's launch was trouble-free (great job, Jackie!), and nearly 200 subscribers have already signed up in just the first few days -- thanks for your support.

Today is our very first "Posting Day," and we've got eight -- yes, eight -- new articles for you. I especially want to draw your attention to two new columnists that make their debut today.

Steve Fritz has covered the game business for the Mania! website for quite some time, and now he's brought his Action-Packed Strategies column to Pyramid. Steve will have the latest news and the hottest interviews, here every week. He kicks things off with the scoop on the upcoming Star Trek Roleplaying Game. Check him out!

Our other columnist is Kenneth Hite (co-author of GURPS Alternate Earths and In Nomine contributor). His Suppressed Transmission column will appear bi-weekly, discussing . . . well, whatever Ken thinks of. The first column has to do with early 19th-century conspiracy theory. Or something like that. Check it out for yourself.

And one more thing -- the very first Pyramid Chat is tonight! Join me (Scott Haring, Pyramid editor) and Jackie Hamilton (the technical wizard who makes it all work) in our chat room at 7pm tonight (that's Central time -- 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific, sometime around 2am Saturday in Luxembourg . . .). We'll get your feedback, answer your questions spill more plans about the future. See you there!
-- Scott Haring

April 2, 1998: GURPS Wizards to the Printer

[ GURPS Wizards ] Our latest GURPS book, GURPS Wizards, went to the printer yesterday.

Wizards has templates for designing all sorts of magic-using archetypes from every type of roleplaying campaign you can think of. Each template also has several sample characters, from all sorts of genres, Tech Levels and point levels. This will be a must-have resource for GURPS gamemasters, no matter what kind of game you run, and it will give players hundreds of new ideas for characters.

Look for GURPS Wizards on store shelves in early May.

-- Scott Haring

April 1, 1998: Whackin' Them at Game Night

Our last Game Night featured Junta (and Monica dressed for the occasion, in cammo and sunglasses, and we didn't get a picture). Scott was the first El Presidente, piling up a huge wad of money while putting down coup attempts with the aid of loyal flunkies Steve and Loren. Eventually his loyal flunkies put him up against a wall, and Steve became Presidente with Loren as Minister of Internal Security, but Scott's lead was insurmountable.

Honorable mention to Micah for acting as Chief Teacher to those who didn't know Junta already, and sacrificing his own chances of winning by cheerfully demonstrating several different ways to launch unsuccessful coup attempts and one way to succeed with a coup and then watched others get all the benefit.

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