JTAS [Ad: GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces]

December 11, 2014

The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society (JTAS for short) is devoted to the science fiction game Traveller, in all its forms and incarnations. JTAS is published on the World Wide Web (http://jtas.sjgames.com/) by Steve Jackson Games in Austin, TX, under license from Far Future Enterprises, home of Marc Miller, Traveller's creator.

What We Want

JTAS will cover Traveller in all its forms and incarnations, so we are looking for articles on all versions and for all milieus. Try to include statistics for as many rules versions as reasonably possible.

We are looking for submissions of 5,000 words or less, which will be of interest to a wide variety of Traveller players and GMs (but not necessarily all of them). We want articles that fall into one of the article classifications below, but if you have something that defies classification, send it anyway – we might be interested. Is your particular Traveller universe especially interesting? Describe it in 5,000 words. Do you have ideas for a series of really great linked adventures? Write them up as several Amber Zones. Are you such a great GM that you make your games come alive for your players? Tell the rest of us how you do it. Do you have a really cool digital illustration of your PC's Far Trader landing in the jungles of Remulak? Send it in. In short, if it interests you as a Traveller player/GM, odds are we are interested in seeing it.

At the present time, we have no "slushpile" of accumulated submissions (well, not a very large one), and we need articles of all types. We use the article classifications from the print version, with a couple of additions. These are:

Amber Zone: Amber Zones are short adventure seeds, including enough information for a GM to run them, but leaving some details unstated. Amber Zones are usually divided into a Players' information section (which gives a basic summary of what the PCs know about the scenario), and a GM's Information section, which gives the GM certain details about what is really going on that the PCs must find out for themselves. The GM's section need not restrict itself to a single possibility – multiple plot lines are encouraged.

Bestiary: This includes descriptions of interesting and unusual life forms, except for alien intelligences (for which see Contact).

Campaign Setting: This is a description of a background suitable for several campaigns. It can be defined geographiclly (a world, or several worlds) or not as you see fit.

Casual Encounter: This is a short description of an interesting NPC, along with several ideas for how to use the NPC in a campaign. There is no set format, but enough information should be given to allow GMs to use the NPC with a minimum of work.

Contact: This category deals with sophonts (intelligent beings) including Human minor races.

Floor plans: This includes deck plans for ships and large vehicles, as well as building floor plans, maps of starports and other interesting installations, and other similar graphic items.

Ship's Locker: This category describes and details new items of equipment, including spacecraft, vehicles, weapons, electronics, and tools.

Features: This covers articles that combine several of the classifications, or which do not readily fit into a single category.

Reviews: We want honest and forthright reviews of products that will be of interest to Traveller fans, such as books, miniatures and computer programs.

Short Adventure: This is similar to an Amber Zone, but goes into more detail.

Variant: This covers non-standard rules, expansions to existing rules, or discussions that are not official, but are still very interesting.

What We Don't Want

Articles that aren't Traveller-related. While our readers are often fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, comics and non-game software, we don't cover those things (although see our sister publication, Pyramid Magazine for general gaming and roleplaying).

We don't accept submissions of fiction or poetry.

We are not interested in why one version of Traveller is the one true path to enlightenment and all others are heresy. We are not interested in a detailed explanation of why some key facet of the Traveller background is impossible and should be deleted and all existing books rewritten.

We're very picky about articles of any kind that exceed 5,000 words. Frankly, most articles that long are overwritten. There are exceptions, though, and if you've written something Big and Brilliant, we do want to see it.

Checklist: Before You Submit Your Article

Every JTAS submission sent to us via the Internet should be mailed to jtas@sjgames.com, and must include the following elements.

A proper subject line. If you're sending us an Amber Zone called "Rescue on Rhylanor" the subject line of the email should look like this:

[SUBMISSION]: Rescue on Rhylanor

It is not necessary for the subject line to state the category the article is intended to be (Amber Zone, Contact, etc.), but this should be part of the article's title ("Amber Zone: Per Accidens").

A cover letter. Keep it brief, but describe (in one or two paragraphs) what your article is like, and what part of our audience it's written for. If you like, you can also include a brief history of your published work; this helps us get to know you, but it's optional.

Your contact information. We want your full legal name, your phone number, your email address, and your physical (snail mail) address. If you have a Social Security Number, we want that, too. We can't pay you without it. If you are not a citizen of the United States, there's a form we'll send you if your article is accepted, to allow payment.

An article! The article should be spell-checked and proofread before we ever see it. Failure to do so seriously, seriously harms your chances of a sale. The article should have a title, and under the title should be your name as you want it to appear in the magazine (many writers forget this part! Don't!) The article should be in plain text in the body of your email. Do not send articles as file attachments. The article should be written in American English; do not use British/Canadian spellings of words like armor and authorize.

References. If your article would benefit from referring readers to a book or magazine article, mention them in a bibliography/reading list at the end of the article (or include a url so we can provide a link to a web resource). Try to make sure the works referenced are in print or readily available in libraries (referring the readers to an unpublished dissertation is not encouraged). Suggested reading lists are also appropriate for some articles. When referring to fictional works, keep in mind that novels often have different titles in other countries, even English-speaking ones. If you are aware of these alternates, include them.

Things You Should Have, But Not Send (Immediately)

There are two things (Specifically: WYSIWYG documents and graphics) you should have ready for us when you submit your article that should not be included in the email (because we don't like spending an hour downloading our mail any more than you do).

WYSIWYG: We don't accept submissions from new writers in WYSIWYG formats of any kind (including HTML); as stated above, we want them in plain text. If the italics and bolds are so vital to your article that you feel it can't be evaluated properly without them, then send us your submission via snail mail (see below).

That said, you should have a copy of your article available to us in HTML, Rich Text, or Claris formats. If we accept your article, we may ask for one. In any event, your article should be formatted with its ultimate fate as an HTML document in mind: This means that there should be no indents of any kind, and that there should be a line between every paragraph. If your document contains tables or other complex text-presentations, we'll deal with it on a case-by-case basis; just ask. When in doubt: keep it simple!

Graphics: If your adventure needs maps or diagrams (or photographs) of any kind, you need to be able to provide them. In the case of maps and diagrams, you needn't provide a professional-quality item. If you can, we will pay you extra. If you can't, just give us clear sketches for our artists to work from. But don't email us graphic files with your submission! Rather, include a note in your cover letter that you have such things waiting for us, should we ask to see them.

Where To Send It

We prefer to have submissions sent via email; send them to jtas@sjgames.com.

Submissions via Post

While we're used to getting most of our material via email, JTAS cheerfully accepts submissions via post, as well. Follow the guidelines given above, but apply them to paper. In particular, the "every submission should be a separate piece of mail" rule still holds true! Replace the concept of the "subject line" with an ATTN: note written on the envelope you mail your article in. Submissions should be mailed to:

JTAS Submissions
c/o Steve Jackson Games
P.O. Box 18957
Austin, TX 78760

Submissions via post should always include a clear, readable hardcopy of your article printed in black ink on white paper in a readable typeface.

All submissions should include a return envelope with sufficient postage to send you a reply letter. If you want your materials (disks, etc.) returned to you, include postage to cover that, too! Since there is no download-time issue, feel free to include maps, graphics and so on (either hardcopy or disk) when mailing us submissions physically. Note that, as mentioned above, your contact information is vital. Ultimately, you must be able to provide us with the article in electronic format; we don't type or scan in articles.

Queries and Follow-Ups

How often should you write to find out if your article is accepted? Should you email us with an idea before committing yourself to writing an article?

The short answers to both: never, and no. The long answers:

We do our best to evaluate any new submission within eight weeks of receiving it. If you haven't received a reply in three months, drop us a polite note to make sure we received it. Do not write us three hours after emailing it! If you didn't receive a bounce-message, then odds are we got it, and will respond to it in turn. We get a lot of email – sometimes hundreds a day.

If you are submitting via post, feel free to include a "confirmation postcard." This is a self-addressed, stamped post card on which you've written, "They got it!" or something similar. It's no trouble for us to drop something like this in the outgoing mail on the way home.

Query letters (where you ask us "are you interested in an article on Giant Mutant Space Snails?") are a reasonable idea, but the reality of it is this: our answer will always be the same. If it's game-related, we want to see your submission. If it's not, we don't. We can't tell if we want your article until we read it, so please don't expect any hints or revelations if you send us a query, and just because we want to see your submission is never a guarantee that we'll buy it.

What We Pay

JTAS pays 3 cents a word, shortly after the article appears online (we do the word count ourselves based on the final, edited article). Reviews pay a flat $25 each. If you prefer, we can pay in SJ Games merchandise credit instead of money. If that's your choice, the pay is doubled (in other words, we'll pay $50 in merchandise credit for an article we'd normally pay $25 cash for). We generally just cut checks; if you want merchandise instead, let us know with your submission.

Contributors do not get automatic access to JTAS. Non-subscribers will be mailed a copy of the HTML document (complete with graphics) if they like. If you wish to receive a JTAS subscription as part of your payment, we'll be happy to do that, instead (deducting $20 from your check, before any doubling for merchandise credit).

What Rights We Purchase

JTAS buys all electronic rights to any original article we publish; if it appears in JTAS, it may not appear in electronic form anywhere without permission or license from Steve Jackson Games.

We reserve the right to take the first crack at paper publication of any article purchased for JTAS – we may eventually publish JTAS anthologies in book form, for instance. If there are other parties interested in buying paper rights to an article we own the electronic rights to, contact us immediately to let us know. We reserve two months from that time to make a counter-offer.

JTAS is also interested in purchasing second serial rights to articles that have already been published (as first serial purchases) in other magazines, both in the original JTAS and elsewhere. We pay half our normal rates (1.5 cents instead of 3) for second serial rights.

Alternate arrangements to these can be made in special cases; ask us.

Reasonable permission is granted in advance to authors who wish to include JTAS articles in a writing portfolio. We would prefer not to have to define "reasonable"; in general, if you think you're skirting (or over) the line, you probably are.

Further Reading!

Every JTAS submission should make it plain to us that you've read these guidelines and are willing to follow them. You will also need to read our Writing for Traveller document; it was created as a guide for authors of new Traveller books, but it applies to JTAS too!

You should also show a familiarity with our general "house style" and other details described in the general Steve Jackson Games Authors' Guidelines. These guidelines are a supplement to those; treat both as gospel. Exception: don't bother with a Game Evaluation Waiver. Those are for manuscripts that you hope to sell to Steve Jackson Games for publication as a game product, not for magazine articles.

Where to Get the Document You're Already Reading

Our guidelines change occasionally as the magazine matures; you should be working from the most current version of these guidelines. If you're reading a hardcopy that you feel might be out of date, you can always find the most current version on the World Wide Web at http://jtas.sjgames.com/writing.html.

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Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society