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Kenneth Hite
Writer and game designer living in the Greatest City in the World.
Writer and game designer living in the Greatest City in the World.

Kenneth Hite's posts

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ENnie Awards voting, and therefore plugging the voting, remains open until July 21st, but I couldn't live with myself if I failed to provide you with the news you can use about Ken's ENnie Award Nominations:

Best Adventure: The Edom Files
Best Podcast: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
Best Family Game: Bubblegumshoe
Best Game: Bubblegumshoe
Best Rules: Bubblegumshoe
Product of the Year: Bubblegumshoe

I am also an NPC (the enigmatic Codex) in Atlas of Earth-Prime from my pals at Green Ronin, which as it happens is nominated for Best Monster/Adversary book.

And by a delightful coincidence the ENnies voting is open. Please do vote, and please do encourage your spouses and loved ones to do the same from their own IP addresses.

Now it can be revealed: I am the Lead Designer on Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition. Some pretty big Doc Martens to fill.

While waiting for the fever to burn out, I read Margaret St. Clair's The Shadow People (1969), one of the shadowy underlights of Appendix N that I'd unaccountably neglected until now. Not that unaccountably: St. Clair has been almost completely out of print for decades, although it's good to see that Ramsey Campbell is editing a "best of" collection from Dover due later this year.

This book is wild, beginning with elves kidnapping a young woman from 1968 Berkeley California and getting weirder from there. The elves and the Underearth combine Shaver's Deros with Robert Kirk's "Commonwealth of Fairies" (namechecked!) for a real tour-de-force of clammy horror and fairy tale structure. And then there's a nascent computerized fascist state in the last half for some reason, which works mostly because St. Clair's Underearth has jolted the reader out of their perceptual tunnel already. She also shows a real willingness to leave plot threads hanging and underexplain things, which might annoy some but for me remains part of the real frisson of fantasy and horror fiction, which this is.

If urban fantasy had followed Margaret St. Clair into the Berkeley Underearth rather than trailing after Emma Bull into the Minneapolis park system, I'd like it about three hundred percent more.

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I shall be a Guest of Honor at Gamicon Fe this weekend in scenic Cedar Rapids, Iowa alongside famed designer +Nathan Paoletta and minis painter Steven Groom.

And even before you have recovered from that breath-taking news, here's my Gamicon schedule as I know it:

*FRIDAY Feb 24

8pm - 10pm: Worldbuilding and Setting Design*
The setting - be it a whole galaxy or a single palace - helps define your game. Setting constrains plot and defines character; it's what the designer or the GM brings to the table before anyone else sits down. How do you build a setting that's robust and interesting? Do you alter history or design a whole new world?
Event Location: Elm


10am - 12 noon: Getting into the Industry/Business of Gaming*
Presentation and Q&A with Ken Hite & Nathan Paoletta on getting into the RPG business
Event Location: Elm

2pm - 4pm: Podcasting 101
Podcasting is a lot of work, & a lot of fun. Kenneth Hite and Nathan Paoletta will help you minimize the former & maximize the latter, in everything from picking a topic to audio editing. Put your beautiful voice out there!
Event Location: Elm

8pm - 10pm: Game Mastering Master Class
The Game Master's craft is a tricky one. What are the tips and tricks you find most useful when it comes to making your games come alive? And how do you handle... That guy? The answer may surprise you!
Event Location: Elm

*SUNDAY Feb 26

9am - 11am: Cthulhu in Gaming (What's the Attraction?)*
There are now several board and role-playing games featuring HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. What is essential to getting the mythos right? What are some common pitfalls when attempting to emulate Lovecraft's eldritch horror?
Event Location: Elm

You can pre-register for the convention and pre-sign up for these and all the other events at the website, but I suspect the kindness and openness of Iowegians means there will be plenty of welcome left for walk-ups and last-minute deciders. So come on out to Cedar Rapids this weekend and get your Gamicon on!

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Bring me to New Mexico for chile and gaming, and bring yourself some sweet indie RPG love in the process if you're of a mind to do so.
There's a little more than a week left for the NewMexiCon KS and we've just reached our stretch goal to bring +Michelle Lyons-McFarland and +Matthew McFarland to the Q! If we can manage another $1000 in the next week, then we'll add +Kenneth Hite to our list of designers in attendance! If you are thinking about joining us for a weekend full of great gaming with great people, or if you just want to snag our awesome PDF bundle, now's the time get in.

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Because it is February and because it is my heart, I once more flee the gray if not particularly inclement (this year) climes of Chicago for the apparently drenched confines of the Bay Area for DunDraCon in semi-sunny San Ramon this Presidents' Day weekend (Feb 17-20).

And once more I provide unto thee my schedule that thou mayest attend unto my words and consider them in thy heart, but not ask me if they shall be streamed for I know not.

Saturday Feb 18

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: What's new at Pelgrane Press
Presenter: Kenneth Hite
Pelgrane Press designer Ken Hite gives you the lowdown on everything from 13th Age to The Dracula Dossier. [Tri Valley 2]

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM: City Building: Post Apocalypse
Presenters: Michael Blum, Kenneth Hite, Anders Swenson

The long-running seminar about the nuts and bolts of building and using cities in RPGs. This year we’ll discuss post-apocalyptic communities, and develop one on our whiteboard. [Tri Valley 2]

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM: Alternate Histories
_Presenters: Kenneth Hite, +Chris Klug, and +Dana Lombardy _

The very popular War College panel discussion continues! Authors and game designers Dana Lombardy and Ken Hite are joined by DDC 41 Guest of Honor Chris Klug to examine possible alternate histories and what their impact might have been. Audience participation is encouraged. [Salon C]

Sunday Feb 19

Sunday, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM: What's Cool
_Presenters: Chris Klug, Kenneth Hite, +Bruce Harlick _

Three Icons of the gaming industry from 3 different viewpoints combine to present to you the best in current game products. [Tri Valley 2]

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Mmmm chile and gaming
Hey all! The 2017 New MexiCon Kickstarter is LIVE! We hope this year you will be able to join us for New Mexico's only small press indie game convention! Hope to see you! Let's play some games! Details are all on the kickstarter page here:

Or check us out at
Or our google+ community:

And finally the fourth of my nominees for our next campaign, as submitted to my players for their delectation and decision. This one began life as a Suppressed Transmission column way back when; my player +Gregory Kettler has a bee in his bonnet about pre-Punic Wars Sicily, which is to say the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and here this option was waiting for us. Archimedes has been allowed to drift out of his proper Punic War, and Hieron has assumed the throne three years early, but otherwise it's all pretty much straight history. Except for the flying ships.


"Aristarchos of Samos produced a book based on certain hypotheses, in which it follows from the premises that the universe is many times greater than the universe now so called."
-- Archimedes, The Sand-Reckoner (ca. 225 B.C.)

Sing, O Muse, of the four colors splashed across the world in the wake of the Divine Alexander! Sing of the cyan screens of the mausolikons! Sing of the magenta sails of the aetheremes! Sing of the yellow-bronze armor of the kolossi! Sing of the black dreams of kings and wonder-makers, who hold the key to power over all the world! It’s the year 39 (273 BC – ed.) and Seven Wonders tower over the known world: anything is possible! Neo-Aegypt rules the seas with the unsinkable battleship Iamatos and the deadly red Eye of the Pharos; the Seleucids launch griffin cavalry and aetheremes from their aerial base in the Hanging Gardens above Babylon; the kolossi-warriors of Rhodes guard their island republic; the Amazons grow monstrous and beautiful new life in Diana’s shrine in Ephesus; the artificer Philo guards his city-state Byzantion with clashing rocks while Archimedes builds the Solar Mirror for his own master Hieron II of Syracuse.

Still stranger powers grow on the rim of the Hellenistic world: Ashoka of Maurya spins reality-shifting wheels; the suffetes of Carthage heat their desert sands in the burning heart of Moloch to pen daimones into silicon frames; and Saturnus, the overthrown Icon, readies a new army in Rome. If we are to believe Metrodoros of Lampsakos, there are even men on Mars, who carried his teacher Epicurus off with them and now examine us with intellects vast and cool and ironic. But perhaps that doesn’t matter to you – you just have to live fast, love well, and leave a good-looking mosaic.

System: Most likely 13th Age, with the Olympians as the Icons, because hey guess what Alexander the Great won. (Although I would entertain a motion to try HeroQuest again.) This is fantasy history with a properly Hellenistic technic touch and maybe a bit of anime feel.

This third nomination for my next campaign is also a rerun, but not one you folks have seen. I first proposed it in 2003 under the title "Jack Kirby's War on Terror!" but the players went a different direction. (Into outer space, if I recall correctly.) But here we are back again, not least because we haven't done supers since the immortals game (Truth & Justice).


Sure, there were big problems in 1967 -- Vietnam, and Communism, and all that. And Captain America did his part, keeping death rays out of Chinese hands and rescuing buddies from Viet Cong sumo wrestlers. But Captain America had bigger fish to fry, too – Star Sapphire, and A.I.M., and giant robots, and MODOK, and Blofeld. It’s fifty years later, and the world hasn’t gotten any less dangerous – or any less menaced by giant robots. In that spirit, you, the super-agents of S.A.B.E.R. (Special Army Bureau for Extraordinary Research) have to take on not just ISIS were-hyenas and Zeta cartel swamp creatures but buried Nazi sentient tanks in Syria, cloned psychic supermen in North Korea, and the shadowy legions of The Claw!

System: Icons: Assembled Edition, which should give us plenty of Silver Age scope without bogging us down in rules minutiae. (It’s not impossible that we might sneak one or three DramaSystem sessions in as well, for proper super-soap.) The world is one full of Alan Moore’s “the beautiful and the pointless,” seen through a Captain America movie lens and painted a gorgeous Planetary.

Here's the second of the four proposed campaigns for my next game, for my players to choose from among. Long-time fans may remember this proposal from 2008. Recycling, kids, it's good for GMs, for writers, and for the Earth.


Cadamosto returned to Portugal in 1456 with staggering news: He had discovered the island of Antilia, far to the west across the Atlantic Ocean. Better yet, he had heard of other islands, rich in spices, gold, and cities -- Hy-Brasil, Cibola, Estotiland, Norumbega – and greatest of all, the legendary Calyferne, ruled by Amazons and guarded by gryphons! A chain of Indies stretches to the Kingdom of Prester John himself, and to the lands of the Great Cham of Asia, and you have a copy of Cadamosto's map and a ship that will take you west to find them. You are adventurers of the Order of the Golden Fleece; some learned in the wizardly arts, some practiced sailors or sell-swords, all willing to explore these new isles for Prince Henry the Navigator, and for treasures magical and mundane.

Do not be fooled by the cunning historical persiflage above! By old-school fantasy request, this game will feature: beautiful princesses, villainous pirates, aloof elves, clouds of black powder smoke, fearsome dragons, swarthy dwarves, enigmatic glowing gems, leering mandarin-viziers, heaps of gold, alabaster cities, hyena-headed gnolls, subterranean passages, sword-fighting, missing idols, magic rings, cruel giants, and the Mighty Kraken. Plus griffins and California, just like the title says.

System: 13th Age, with the specific Icons left (in part) to be worked out by us depending on who your characters are in tight with: Our Lady, Hermes Thrice-Great, the Buzzard, and the Green Dragon (royal supporter of the arms of Portugal, and possible patron of the Grand Cham) pop instantly to mind, given the setting. If you want to start out as members of a fantasy race, we can probably make that work – you’re Antilian natives come back with Cadamosto, if we can’t figure something else out. But consider the setting more human-centric, more Leiber than Tolkien … at least at first.
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