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In September 1981, Steve Jackson and his regular freelance cover artist Dave Martin discussed their shared admiration of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and the latter suggested a game. Steve Jackson decided against adapting the novel because of the expense of game rights, and the difficulty of adapting a novel with such convoluted plots. He decided “a game about the secret-conspiracy idea behind Illuminatus!” was viable. After researching the Illuminati and conspiracy theories, and “extensive and enthusiastic playtesting” it went on the market in July 1982 in the (at the time) usual SJG Pocket Box format.