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...
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
What's in store for you? Games? Novels?
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.
Describe your "dream game" (or "dream campaign", if it's for an
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.
Thanks for your time, Ken!