The Daily Illuminator
Home New Releases Our Games Catalog General Info Pyramid Feedback

February 28, 1998: Follow the Straight Line to GURPS Russia!

Enter a land of white snow, red blood and black humor! This book presents medieval Russia, with all its legends, mythical creatures and folklore, as well as detailed, accurate history and backgrounds.

Written by S. John Ross (GURPS Warehouse 23, GURPS Black Ops), GURPS Russia will support medieval or fantasy adventure with any game system.

This is the first release in our "Straight Line" series . . . it's not sold in stores, but is only available direct from SJ Games. See our web catalog to order GURPS Russia! (And if you've already ordered, look for your copy to arrive within the week.)

-- Cecilia Remus

February 27, 1998: Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Illuminated Site of the Week: You've heard our President talk about them. Now they're out in the open! It's the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!

In their own words: "The Right Wing Conspiracy is a loose but highly effective conglomeration of individuals, groups, corporations and groupies who want to see the United States enter into an era of Glory where government is restrained, people lead their own lives and are solely responsible for them. Where character counts and morality and ethics form the basis of personal choices. That, and we like to screw with the liberals."

This page is hard on your eyes, poorly proofread, and highly Illuminated. Do not read it while drinking a Coke unless your keyboard needed cleaning anyway.

- Submitted by Leon Stauffer

February 26, 1998: Be a Discworld Wizard!

Here's the story: GURPS Discworld will be released this summer. Among the illustrations by Paul Kidby, many never seen before, will be a study of three Unseen University student wizards. And he's agreed to draw them from photos. Note that since UU has never admitted women (with one memorable exception), any female winner of this honor will either be drawn as her male alternate-world version, or be shown wearing a really bad false beard ... it's her choice.

So we are auctioning off those three slots in the book. If the enthusiasm for this from GURPS Discworld fans is as great as we expect, this will go a long way toward covering a new processor to speed up this website. We thank both Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby for agreeing to this bit of foolishness.

There are three identical lots, and time is short. When you go to the auction page, be sure to read the special bidding rules for these three lots, only.

-- Steve Jackson

February 25, 1998: Game Causes Spontaneous Human Combustion?

According to a Washington Post report, a player in a recent "murder mystery" game was found in his closed room, burned to death, two hours after the game ended.

Stephen Hricko, a guest at the Maryland resort which sponsored the 200-player game, was discovered dead with burns on his head and upper torso. His clothing was also burned; in some so-called "spontaneous human combustion" reports, the victims are burned to ashes while their clothes appear untouched.

Investigators of the death had ruled out neither accident nor foul play, nor had they either established or ruled out a connection between the game and the death.

February 24, 1998: This Just In . . .

When a new goodie arrives from the printer, everyone gets a warm and happy feeling inside. Today's warm fuzzy comes from the reprint of GURPS Alternate Earths and the latest In Nomine supplement, Liber Reliquarum, The Book of Relics.

These were just the advance copies, mind you -- a precious handful overnighted to us while the rest labor across America on a huge truck -- but it's still great to see the fruits of our many labors. We'll be shipping these books out as soon as they get here, so look for them in a store near you by the middle of March.

-- Scott Haring

February 23, 1998: Gaming Night with Chessex

We invited the crew from Chessex Southwest to our last gaming night. Much pizza was consumed and many dice were rolled. Life is good.

A lot of attention went to Formula De, the European race game (and our guests gave us a copy to keep! We have to ask them back...). There was more Pit, of course, this time with a real bell.

We also played a couple of interesting prototypes that we've been sent for evaluation, but I obviously can't go into details. Yet.

February 22, 1998: Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy

This event was in Austin this year (sponsored by the UT law school). I was able to take in a few of the talks, including a very interesting presentation on Online Communities. And it appears that the Secret Service case is not forgotten; it's still helping to shape law and procedures, if only by serving as a horrible example. -- Steve Jackson

Gencon Boycott Update

David Bolack, of Plaid Rabbit/Pharos Productions, writes:
"I'd like to ask you to add our two imprints to the list of folks not going to GenCon this year. We'd originally planned on being a sizeable part of the GPA booth this year, but are instead, using our money elsewhere."

February 21, 1998: Pyramid #29 to the Printer!

We got Pyramid #29 off to the printer this week . . . it features a cover by Rogerio Vilela, a complete adventure for GURPS Goblins, support for Whispering Vault, Feng Shui and In Nomine, designer's notes for GURPS Bio-Tech and GURPS Discworld, plus Industry News, Bruno!, Murphy's Rules and a whole lot more.

Pyramid #29 should be on the shelves at the end of March.

-- Scott Haring

February 20, 1998: The Anagram Engine

Illuminated Site of the Week: George Herbert Walker Bush = Huge Berserk Rebel Warthog. Hmmm. See what secrets you can uncover with The Anagram Engine. A tool of the Secret Masters.

-- Number 2, Illuminated Sitekeeper

In Other News: Imperium to "Catch Breath"

In response to rumors that Imperium Games was discontinuing production of their Traveller, 4th Ed. game line, Imperium issued a press release saying that they merely need to "stop and catch (their) collective breath."

The press release touted the release of over 20 Traveller products in the past year and a half and their substantial licensing work, including the upcoming GURPS Traveller. Marc Miller finished up the press release with the news that he is working on a second edition of the T4 rules (Of course, T4 stands for Traveller, 4th Edition, which would make this the 2nd edition of a 4th edition -- wouldn't that be an 8th edition?). Miller promises the new edition will be the "best ever."

February 19, 1998: Vehicles, 2nd Ed. Reprinted

Now off to the printer is the reprint of GURPS Vehicles, 2nd Edition. This printing is not a new edition, though we did fix all known errata. Look for Vehicles on the shelves in March.

-- Scott Haring

February 18, 1998: Heavy Gear Novels Start in November

Dream Pod 9, publisher of the popular Heavy Gear game, has announced that Bryon Preiss Multimedia will be releasing Heavy Gear novels starting in November, 1998. Bryon Preiss Multimedia also publishes novels based on Traveller.

New in our auction . . .

GURPS Special Ops is out of print. Well, here's a copy. But not just any copy, and you might not want to play with it when you get it. Or you might. This is Plaintiff's Exhibit #3 from the Secret Service case, with the little yellow sticker on the cover.

February 17, 1998: R. Talsorian Scales Back Operations

Mike Pondsmith, president of R. Talsorian Games (publishers of Castle Falkenstein, Teenagers from Outer Space, Cyberpunk, Bubblegum Crisis, and other roleplaying games) announced today that the company would be scaled back to a part-time operation. New releases will continue to appear . . . just not as often.

Pondsmith said "This was a personal decision . . . I'm not retiring, just shifting gears. After 12 years, there's other stuff I want to do, and it's about time I did it."

For R. Talsorian's complete explanation of the decision and its consequences, see their company website.

February 16, 1998: Warehouse 23 Fills 3rd Level

The third level of Warehouse 23 has now been filled to rated capacity. Arrangements have been made with [CENSORED] to dig and finish out a fourth level using [CENSORED]. In the meantime, appropriate arrangements have been made to house the overflow. (It appears that security on the overflow area was temporarily breached, but all intruders have now been tracked down and replaced with exact duplicates.)

A [CENSORED]-cutting ceremony will be announced when the fourth level is ready to open.

February 15, 1998: Excerpts?

Too often, when we do something neat for our customers, we fail to spread the word as well as we should. We've got the steak, but we don't always make sure you can hear the sizzle.

But we're getting better.

One of those little "sizzles" I want to tell you about today are Excerpts. For the past six months or so, when we send a new product to the printer, we go through the book and find a handful of cool pieces of art and three or four chunks of actual text from the book as Excerpts -- and we put them up on the web site for you to check out.

This gives you an even better opportunity to size up a book before you decide whether or not to buy it. An informed gamer is a happy gamer, we think . . .

One of our long-term projects is to go back and add Excerpts for all the books on our website -- but that will take a while. For now, you can check out Excerpts of the following recent products: GURPS Bio-Tech, GURPS Black Ops, GURPS Ultra-Tech 2, GURPS Planet Krishna, GURPS Russia, Angelic Player's Guide, Liber Reliquarum, Night Music, The Marches and Heaven And Hell. Enjoy.
-- Scott Haring

February 14, 1998: The Continuing Shakeout

We have been informed by Heartland, one of our (fortunately, smaller) distributors, that they are ceasing operations. Many industry observers have speculated that we would be seeing a lot of distributors go out of business this year, but it's depressing when they actually start dropping.

On the other hand, business is apparently good for Chessex, the largest game distributor. We just got a fax announcing "Chessex Distribution is proud to announce the opening of its fifth and newest distribution facility on Monday, February 16 . . . Chessex West, located in Visalia, California, will focus on serving the retailers in the states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and countries of the Pacific Rim." This is territory currently dominated by Berkeley Game Distribution, generally ranked as the #2 game distributor.
-- Steve Jackson

February 13, 1998: Society of Crystal Skulls

Illuminated Site of the Week: I first encountered these ancient artifacts on a TV show they aired in Britain years ago, `The Mysterious World of Arthur C. Clarke'. It has long been a point of debate how such delicate pieces could be crafted by `primitive' cultures. This of course presumes that the skulls are terrestrial in origin... View an online Crystal Skull gallery, learn about Skull myth and legend, and join in on the debate. All at the Society of Crystal Skulls.

--Number 2, Illuminated Sitekeeper.

February 12, 1998: Alternate Earths Being Reprinted

GURPS Alternate Earths only came out two years ago, but it was one of our quickest-selling supplements ever, and we're pleased to be bringing it back into print. The book covers six "alternate history" versions of Earth for GURPS Time Travel players (though any of the six settings could be the basis for its own long-term roleplaying campaign in any system).

GURPS Alternate Earths will be back on the shelves at the end of February.

-- Scott Haring

February 11, 1998: Off to WarCon!

I'm a guest at this weekend's WarCon '98 on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. If you're in the area, come by -- it's not a real big con, but everybody has a lot of fun.

I'll be running some Ogre Miniatures and In Nomine, as well as an INWO tournament.

I guess I've mentioned this before, but I'll tell the story again: WarCon was the very first game convention I ever attended, back in 1976 when I was a freshman at Texas A&M. So it has a soft place in my heart, and as long as I'm a gamer, I'll go back. See you there.
-- Scott Haring

February 10, 1998: Angelic Choirs

We've just set up a page showing the In Nomine Angelic Choirs, along with their choir logos. And we've also updated the In Nomine Jewelry page with some much better photos of the new In Nomine choir pins and pendants. We are taking preorders through February 15th for the initial shipment of these. Visit our online catalog to order.

February 9, 1998: Welcome Back, Mindy!

Actually, she never quite went away. We are delighted to announce that you can ignore the previous announcement: Melinda de la Torre, our beloved direct mail person, will not be leaving us. (If you don't believe she's beloved, you should see some of the mail I get. We *like* her, but you folks . . . whew!)

The moral is, if you are part of the team that keeps the customers happy, your employer will move mountains to keep you.

Now where are we going to put all these rocks? Time to resurface the driveway...
-- Steve Jackson

February 8, 1998: Loren Wiseman -- In The House

Stepping through the fog of a lonely Austin train station on a cold Friday night, Loren Wiseman emerged from a 26-hour Amtrak adventure from central Illinois . . .

So now he's here! Loren Wiseman joins the staff as Art Director (taking the burden off me after six weeks of barely scraping by, thank you) and GURPS Traveller line editor. We'll also let him do a little production work, too, once he gets settled in.

But for now, it's enough to just say, "Welcome!"
-- Scott Haring

February 7, 1998: The Littlest MIB

Lynette Cowper, our INWO line editor, gave birth to a baby boy at 4:37pm Friday. His name is Ren Stuart Cowper. He weighed 8 lbs 2 oz and is 21.75 inches long. Everyone is doing fine!

And Lynette was sending us editing comments on SubGenius until day before yesterday...
-- Steve Jackson

February 6, 1998: The Museum of Non-Primate Art

Illuminated Site of the Week: Dedicated mostly to art done by cats, the MONPA is the source for all sorts of cat-painting information and supplies. Be sure to check out the online store where you can buy the book that started it all "Why Cats Paint" and the set of flash cards that you can use to determine your cat's CreativityQuotient (CQ)! Amazingly, though, there is no mention of the art of elephants, many of which (at least in captivity) learn to use brushes and paint with their trunks.

Suggested by Diane Epke (

And in real news, the GenCon exodus continues.

I just spoke on the phone with Jean Carrieres of Dream Pod 9. (For those who somehow missed the snazzy yellow-and-black stripes on all their stuff, this fast-moving Canadian company is the creator of Heavy Gear). Anyway, they're skipping GenCon too. They issued a very eloquent press release describing their reasons.

And their release lists TriTac as yet another company that won't be in Milwaukee, though I haven't heard that directly.
-- Steve Jackson

February 5, 1998: Liber Reliquarum to the Printer

The In Nomine supplement Liber Reliquarum has gone to the printer.

Liber Reliquarum -- The Book of Relics -- is full of the artifacts and relics that both sides of the Great War have used for millennia in their struggles. Some are common, even mundane . . . and some are imbued with earth-shattering power. Any and all should be handled with extreme caution, if handled at all.

The Liber also has rules for creating relics of your own and gobs of adventure ideas. This book will add entire new dimensions to your In Nomine campaign.

Look for the Liber Reliquarum on a store shelf near you at the end of February.
-- Scott Haring

February 4, 1998: We're Skipping GenCon

SJ Games will not be attending, or supporting any events, at this year's WotC GenCon. Other companies which have announced that they will not be going to GenCon this year include Palladium, R. Talsorian Games, and RPGnet.

This decision was not a casual one for us, or for those of our colleagues who have reached the same conclusion. For us, it was reached only after long discussions on a mailing list which included representatives of both Andon (the WotC subsidiary that now runs GenCon) and WotC itself, as well as many other companies.

The main difficulty had to do with WotC's pricing policies. GenCon booths, already very costly, went up again this year. Some prices increased more than 50%! WotC representatives insisted that GenCon was a bargain, compared to the things they wanted to compare it to . . . and recommended that we all just consider it a necessary expense, taking fewer booths if necessary. And in fact, many companies are decreasing their presence without dropping out -- at least, not this year.

In the end, though, several companies have already concluded that it's no longer worth our time to go to GenCon at all.

Within the next week or so, we'll be posting a web page that discusses this decision in more detail, lists any other companies that have dropped out, and talks about possible alternatives for this and later years. (One hint: the World Science Fiction Convention, in Baltimore this year, is the same weekend as GenCon. Guess where we'll be?)

We have been unsubtly warned by WotC employees that any company that doesn't come to GenCon will be seen by the gamers to be on its last legs. All these companies need for the word to get out: we're staying away because we chose to, not because we're dead.

We've also been formally *requested* to sponsor events even if we don't attend, because the convention's gamemasters (and by extension, all the gamers)s "aren't aware and shouldn't be aware of [the] "business" side of this industry. But we can't accede to that request. We will NOT sponsor GenCon events, and we WILL tell you why. Much as WotC might like to have its business practices remain unexamined, we feel that the state of the hobby is everybody's business. So . . . sorry, we'll have more to say about this.
-- Steve Jackson

February 3, 1998: Austin CGDC

Last Friday, SJ, Micah, and I went out to the Austin Computer Game Developer's Conference mini-event, which is a little cousin to the main CGDC event in California. We each attended 4 different presentations. The best two sessions I went to were led by Ken Demarest of Titanic Entertainment. Got some good ideas, and hopefully we can apply some of them to the next version of the Metaverse, which gets closer to alpha all the time.

If you're planning to go to the CGDC in May, look for SJ and Micah - they'll both be there.
-- Kira

February 2, 1998: GURPS Grimoire to the Printer

As the headline says, the reprint of GURPS Grimoire is now at the printer.

Grimoire is a sequel of sorts to GURPS Magic, with loads of new spells and two all-new colleges, Gate Magic and Tech Magic. This is not a new edition, just a new printing it does fix some errata from the last printing.

Look for GURPS Grimoire back on the shelves at the end of February. -- Scott Haring

February 1, 1998: Price Increase

Effective today, February 1, our price for the "standard" 128-page GURPS or In Nomine book will go up to $19.95. Larger books will go up proportionately. There are a few exceptions, most notably the GURPS Basic Set and In Nomine core rules, and other lines are unaffected for now.

This affects not only new books, but also those already in print; we are restickering the backs. Check the catalog to see the new prices in general.

This essentially catches us up with two years of increase in paper costs. Are you as anxious as we are for the day when we can distribute game materials digitally? (Though improvements in printing technology are already promising to reduce the price of short-run printing enough to make it possible to keep more books in print, at a reasonable cost. Maybe within a couple of years. Maybe sooner.)

But for now, we had to kick the prices up. Sorry about that.
-- Steve Jackson

Past columns

Steve Jackson Games
Top of Page | Home