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Industry Insights: From The Industry Side

An Interview with Ken Hite

by Gareth-Michael Skarka
February 8, 2002 Second of our three-interview series.

This interview originally ran in "THE RELEVANT CONUNDRUM" at the Gaming Outpost, and we appreciate Gaming Outpost and Gareth-Michael Skarka for allowing us to republish it!


Kenneth Hite is perhaps best known for his weekly column of bizarre theories and supernatural historical deconstruction, Suppressed Transmission, found on Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid ezine. He's also the author of GURPS CABAL, one of the best supplements of 2001, filled with secret histories and occult conspiracies. He's a strange one, alright...

GMS: First question: what the hell is wrong with you, anyway? I was going over the two collected editions of Suppressed Transmission last night, and it should be obvious to anyone who reads those that you are a deeply troubled man. In all seriousness, though-- where does that column come from? What was the impetus, and how do you go about crafting these essays of high wierdness?

Hite: I like to say that roleplaying games got me into black magic, and the rest followed from there. I bought possibly the first ever copy of Call of Cthulhu sold in Oklahoma. Soon after I started running it, I began looking into more stuff for the Bad Guys to use -- black magic, conspiracies, and so forth. That tied in with being twelve when Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out -- I soaked up the rich juices of America's second (well, third) great UFO flap right along with the Nestle Quik. Stir that together with one of those trick brains that takes SATs well ("the Templars are to Majestic-12 as the Matamoros murder cult is to...") and you pretty much have Suppressed Transmission.

The specific impetus for any given column, to paraphrase Edison, is 10% inspiration and 90% desperation. I either have some brilliant thing I've just read about that I want to share with everyone, or I just cruise through my library and the Web until enough stuff congeals and a column falls out. Occasionally, there's some topic like manticores that I just want to research anyway, and I discover whatever neat stuff there is right as I'm writing it. Every now and again, I buy a book that looks good and use it to write a column from -- when I bought Michael & Sophie Coe's History of Chocolate, I wrote a column on the conspiratorial secret history of chocolate just so I would have an excuse to read the thing.

GMS: A common lament among writers in the RPG industry is a lack of time to actually get any gaming done. Are you currently playing anything?

Hite: I've run a game every Monday for about the last twelve years. Right now, I'm running Unknown Armies; I'm not sure what's next -- either I'll let the players pick, or I'll force everyone to play a pulp game. I'm also running a modern-setting Call of Cthulhu campaign on Wednesdays, but that may end since two of my players are moving. We'll see.

GMS: The collections of your Suppressed Transmission columns have exposed this work to a wider audience than just the subscribers of Pyramid. Are the collections going to continue?

Hite: That's up to Steve Jackson; I imagine once he and I get enough time to talk about it, we'll try to get a Third Broadcast out -- I've got another year's worth of columns built up.

GMS: What's in store for you? Games? Novels?

Hite: I'm working full time for Decipher on the upcoming new Star Trek and Lord of the Rings RPGs; besides that, there's a few other projects in tangential stages of development for some other companies.

As far as novels go, I just have to pick six months or so when I don't take on any other work and write one -- I have no idea if I'm any good at it, but it would be neat to find out that I am. It's just that if I suck, I've wasted six months of theoretically productive time. Plus, as I'm sure you know, it's difficult to write something "on spec" again after years of having anything I write basically pre-sold. But, if I get over that hump, I've also got a few other notions for some non-fiction books which may or may not ever see the light of day depending on my free time.

GMS: Describe your "dream game" (or "dream campaign", if it's for an existing game.)

Hite: My dream game varies. Although right now I've hit the supernatural horror stuff pretty hard, I'd still love to run either a Call of Cthulhu or Unknown Armies game set in Georgian England, maybe centering on the infamous Hell-Fire Clubs. Either that or a wild pulp-fantasy type game set during the 16th century Age of Exploration. I use the Call of Cthulhu rule set for almost everything I play, although if I run a pulp game, I may switch out to a more forgiving mechanic than pure, beautiful, brutal percentiles -- GURPS, or even a dice pool system.

GMS: Thanks for your time, Ken!

Hite: No problem! TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

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All Industry Insights

  • Gareth-Michael Skarka interviews China Mieville, April 24, 2002
  • lizard's Condensation of All Game Fiction, April 18, 2002
  • Sandy's "God or Whore?" GTS'02, March 26, 2002
  • Allan Sugarbaker with GAMA Trade Show '02: An Inside Report, March 22, 2002
  • Aldo of Impressions on the GamePlay CD, January 3, 2002
  • Gareth-Michael Skarka interviews Ken Hite, February 8, 2002
  • Gareth-Michael Skarka interviews Tim Powers, January 18, 2002
  • Aldo Ghoizzi on Inside the Making of GamePlay, January 3, 2002
  • The RPGnet Awards Cabal presents the RPGnet 2001 Awards Results!, December 5, 2001
  • Ken Whitman teaches us with A Note About Creating a Good Promotional Campaign, October 12, 2001
  • Sean Jaffe on The Fallout, September 27, 2001 [about 9/11]
  • Sean Jaffe on Interesting Times, September 21, 2001 [about 9/11]
  • GodLike: Dennis Detwiler and Greg Stolze, September 14, 2001
  • Jared Nielsen on Tribe Gamer, August 31, 2001
  • Mark Bruno teaches about Copy Editing, August 16, 2001
  • Ratings not just kid's stuff for RPG industry, reported by Matt Snyder, August 9, 2001
  • GenCon '01 News, reported by Matt Snyder, August 3, 2001
  • Origins Report: Would you send your mother to buy from them?, part 4 of 4
  • Origins Report: Booth Babes, part 3 of 4
  • Origins Report: Overview, part 2 of 4
  • The Origins Awards, part 1 of 4, reported by Jason Paul McCartan
  • Gary Gygax Interview, part 1 of 3, by Scott Lynch
  • Why I Write Gaming Materials by Greg Stolze, November 16, 1999
  • Blowing out the Nostalgia Candle by John Wick, October 19, 1999
  • Interview with Sean Pat Fannon, Shards October 5, 1999
  • Portuguese is not Spanish! by Thad Blanchette, September 14, 1999
  • Intuition and Surprise by M. J. Young, July 27, 1999
  • Fear and Loathing in the Wizards of the Coast Game Center by John Tynes, January 26, 1999
  • Breaking In,, on how to break into writing for RPGs, by Steve Kenson, December 22, 1998
  • ALT.RPG, first of a series looking deeply at what gaming is all about, by Matt Miller, September 1, 1998
  • The Night They Tore Old Mecca Down, GenCon report by Randy Porter, August 20, 1998
  • GenCon Fun: con, city, and even housing tips from Randy Porter, June 30, 1998
  • GenCon Lore Vol 3: Program Books, update on GenCon 98 attendance, by Randy Porter, June 23, 1998
  • The Missing and the Dead, update on GenCon 98 attendance, by Randy Porter, June 2, 1998
  • The Definitive Count on who is and isn't attending GenCon 98, by Randy Porter, April 28, 1998
  • How to Scam Games Part II by Steve Johnson, March 24, 1998
  • The Perils of Penniless Publishing by Aaron Rosenberg, February 3, 1998
  • Polyhedral Dice & Mirror Shades, by Greg Costikyan (or, the death of paper).
  • Ken Whitman: A Love Hate Relationship by (of course) Ken Whitman
  • Interview with Sean Punch, GURPS line editor, by Bob Portnell, October 1997
  • YOU DID WHAT? Perspectives On Becoming A Full-Time Writer In The RPG Industry, by Steven Long, September 1997
  • A Resurgence of Role Playing, by Gary Gygax, August 1997

    Other columns at RPGnet

    TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg