Abraham Lincoln


Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff is the podcast of authors and game designers Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws. Stuff talked about includes hobby gaming, history, occultism, chrono-travel, food, cinema, narrative, art, politics, food, maps, Cthulhiana, and in fact any matter subject to jocular yet penetrating erudition.

Robin D. Laws designed the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, including such games as The Esoterrorists and Ashen Stars. Feng Shui 2, his reboot of his classic action movie roleplaying game, can now be found in all its glory in a friendly game store near you. Hillfolk, his game of riveting personal conflict, won the 2014 Diana Jones Award and the Indie RPG Award for Indie Game of the Year. Recent highlights of his nine books of fiction are New Tales of the Yellow SignBlood of the City and The Worldwound Gambit. As Creative Director of Stone Skin Press he edited such fiction anthologies as The New HeroShotguns v. Cthulhu, andThe Lion and the Aardvark: Aesop’s New Fables.

Kenneth Hite has designed, written, or co-authored more than 70 roleplaying games and supplements, including the Star Trek Roleplaying Game, GURPS Infinite Worlds, Day After Ragnarok, Trail Of Cthulhu, and Night’s Black Agents. Outside gaming, his works include Tour de Lovecraft: the Tales, Cthulhu 101, Zombies 101, Where the Deep Ones Are, and the graphic illustrated version of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. History. He writes the “Lost in Lovecraft” column for Weird Tales magazine, and his essays and criticism have also appeared in Dragon Magazine, Games Quarterly Magazine, National Review, Amazing Stories, and in anthologies from Greenwood Press, Ben Bella Press, and MIT Press. He lives in Chicago with his wife Sheila, two cats, and many, many books.

101 Responses to “About”

  1. James McGlothlin says:

    Hey Guys,

    Love your podcast! Even though it’s mainly about game design, I love all of the “stuff” you guys talk about. Very interesting.

    I was at a conference this past week in Milwaukee and could not help going on a little DnD nerd pilgrimage after academic duties were served. Using Robin’s book *40 Years of Gen Con* I was able to locate in Milwaukee Renaissance Books (which evidently has only recently gone out of business) and the Safe House bar. In addition I took a very short trek over to Lake Geneva and, again with the help of Robin’s book, found the original TSR offices, Gary Gygax’s home, and the original locations for the first Gen Cons.

    I’m not sure which hut this might go under (The Nostalgia Hut?) but I’d love to hear some reminisces concerning the “golden age” of gaming (70s? 80s?), especially any anecdotes from early Gen Cons or encounters with well-known giants in the field: Gygax, Sandy Petersen, etc. Just a suggestion.

  2. Brett Myers says:

    Great episode as usual, guys. Any chance we you can post your Top Ten Films lists online so I don’t have to try to take notes while driving/working/shopping/dishwashing/etc?

    • Chuck Cooley says:

      I think the army of loyal Patreon backers need to get the monthly total to $2,000 for that to happen. I’ma double my pledge.

  3. Steven Roman says:

    Just wondering … is this the best place to leave questions for Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws?

    If so, I was wondering–for each of you, which game/system is your “go-to” system for running games. And which systems or games do you think you’ve run and enjoyed the most, if different from your current “go-to” system?


  4. Brett Evill says:



    Now that I’m aware of the Universal Translation and Turning Japanese functions of Ken’s time machine, I wonder whether Ken might like a trip somewhat further afield than usual and a chance to attend some Classical Greek symposiums on the company’s drakhma. So I’d like to hear a proposal for using the usual methods to extend the golden age of “Periclean” Athens by, say, another thirty years.

    The clients are interested in increasing the artistic and literary legacy of that episode rather than the political power of Athens, and they might be open to sponsoring projects that promoted the production of similar art and literature even if that wasn’t done in Athens specifically. Even just arranging for more of the stuff to survive to the present might suffice.


    Brett Evill

  5. Fridrik Bjarnason says:


    RE: The Nordic Revolution (1809 – 1815)

    We, (expunged), would like to hire Time Inc. to create a revolution in Nordic Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and any colonies such as Iceland, Greenland, Feroes Islands). We request that this is done by facilitating the success of the Dog-Days revolution started in Iceland (then Danish colony) by Jorgen Jorgensen in the summer of 1809. We thereafter require that the the revolutionary spirit spreads to the other Nordic countries, mentioned above, be it by Jorgen himself of any other method that Time Inc. deems prudent. The final goal of this is that all Nordic countries become republic by 1816. Thereby achieving our goals of (expunged), (expunged) and the end of the royal lines of Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

    We expect request that your operative Kenneth Hite is assigned to this job, for the following reasons (expunged) and his love for alcohol.

    Great care must be taken when engaging with Jorgen as it’s suspected that, given his strange life, he might be a rogue time traveler.

    Appendix (A)
    Some preliminary information

  6. Hello Ken. Hello Robin.

    Thank you for a very delightful show. I eagerly await each new episode.

    I do have a suggestion for a topic, in the field of contrafactual literary history. This could also concievably be an installment of Kens time machine. What if Lovecraft had not died in 1937? Since he seems to have perished from malnutrition I Think that would be an easy thing to solve, right? I mean, had the man lived a long and health life he might have been around into the 1970-ies or even 80-ies. How do you think his writing would have developed? And how would his rise to fame have been impacted if he’d still been alive? I can’t help but wonder about how a writer of his sensibility would have reacted to things like the reality of the Atomic bomb or the images of survivors exiting Auschwitz. Please, elaborate!

  7. Portland Indie Team makes Big Moves

    Hello Ken and Robin.

    My name is Donald Fergus, a game designer in Portland Oregon.

    I’m getting in touch because my game design team is running our first indie Kickstarter! Our game is called “Pits”. It has a fast paced brand of tabletop combat with simple rules, taking about 5 minutes to learn, with games lasting between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on number of players or whether someone gets lucky and becomes a titanic juggernaut. Players battle each other with random weapons, shields and potions drawn from a randomly placed treasure chest that moves about the board. Games can be set up as death match or team games, and for a those who have a more tactical taste, each player can take control of multiple characters for a breezy war gaming experience.

    We’ve got a prototype build online if you want to get a taste of what it will be like on mobile devices, and we’ve got a full boxed tabletop version as a baker reward. We would love to hear what you think, and if you’re interested in playing it around your gaming table, I’d love to send you an early copy of the instruction manual so you can give it a shot right away. A chess board, a set of dice including D4, D6 and some D8’s, a deck of cards and some basic D&D tokens are all you need!

    Thank you for your time and all the great episodes.

  8. Bryan Mullins says:

    Ken and Robin,

    Crisis! I’ve run out shows to listen to until the newest one comes along. I’d like to “ask” you please recommend some other great pod casts that I can listen to while I wait for your next episode?

    Thank you!

  9. craig says:

    Where can I aquire a copy of the nerd trope cards used on the Dragonmeet and FanExpo Canada episodes?

  10. Ed says:

    Hi guys! Long time listener first time…commenter?

    I just picked up a great space opera game whose name rhymes with Blashen Bars, and was wondering if Misters Ken and Robin had any particular advice to running the Space Opera or Sci-Fi genre, distinct from how us blue collar GMs approach the well worn genres of fantasy and horror? Also, why hasn’t Space Opera had a pillar game in the hobby like D&D or CoC?

  11. Brett Evill says:

    As a fan of Jack Vance whose enthusiasm is so unhinged that I can’t describe it without off-colour similes, I am more thrilled than I can say in a PG-13 blog comment by the prospect of Robin’s up-coming “Gaean Reach” RPG. From the crumbs of rumour I hoover up around the ‘Net I gather that the game will be specialised to support adventures dominated by Vance’s common theme of the protagonist taking revenge for a devastatingly traumatic wrong against an enemy accustomed to impunity. “The Demon Princes” series would seem to act as an archetype story, though of course one can readily imagine it stretching to cover, say, “Maske:Thaery” or “Emphyrio”. But what if one’s favourite Vance SF were more about the struggle of the protagonist against the unalterable horribleness of [a] society: “Durdane”, perhaps, or “Wyst: Alastor 1716”, even the Tschai series. What if one wanted to run investigative scenarios in the Gaean Reach and Alastor Cluster, like the “Araminta Station” or “Marune: Alastor 933”? What if one were inspired by one of Vance’s less traumatised and driven heroes, such as Glinnes Hulden (“Trullion: Alastor 2262”) or Myron Tany (“Ports of Call”, “Lurulu”)? Is there love for Magnus Ridolph? Please tell me there is an appendix suggesting these variant modes, like the “Martini, Straight Up —” and “Dunwich Sanction” variants in “Night’s Black Agents”.

    Talk, Robin! Whet my appetite for the “Gaean Reach RPG” to the point of frenzy.

  12. Brett Evill says:


    Does it occur to anyone else as it does to me that it would be convenient to be able to post comments to huts rather than to episodes or “About”? That seems like the obvious and tidy way of offering commissions to Time Incorporated, Asking Ken and Robin, and whittering about any of the many hats that have not recently been worn in public.

    — Brett

  13. Brian Kelsay says:

    Question about the iTunes feed. I recently subscribed and find that I can only download from iTunes episodes 57-65 or 67, whichever is the latest number. I don’t seem able to get the ones older than 57 to pull down thru iTunes.

    Maybe I’m missing some wizardry of iTunes or I need to wave a dead chicken whilst invoking the power of Shub-Niggurath. I have done a right-click on the title in my podcast folder and chosen download old episodes, but still no Cthuloid love.

    Perhaps I should just go gibber in the corner and await he who comes, but I would really like to listen to these on my crappy work iPhone.

    I wait.

    • Robin says:

      A flare has been sent up to our technical wizard.

      • Matthew Baskerville says:

        I can confirm, as someone who is listening through classical Ken & Robin episodes, that this has been a problem with iTunes and Apple podcasts for some time now. To listen on my phone, I have to download mp’s as files directly from this website.

    • Jeromy French says:

      I got behind on listening and when I came back, there are episodes no longer available to listen to on iTunes which is now only showing the last 10 at any given time like the above listening also noted. Of course, one can also download the episodes from this website which I had to do.

      • Robin says:

        Our tech detective is on the case.

        • Hyperlexic says:

          Just a quick note that I’ve just learned of this podcast as well and I have the same issue… i’ve downloaded the first 4 by hand, will check again later to see if there’s an autodownload version.

      • Brian Kelsay says:

        I like to start a podcast from the beginning once I decide I like it and usually grab 3-4 at a time. Yes, I could manually get them, but 56 downloads is a bit daunting. I imagine also, if I gorge myself on that many that they will cap out on bandwidth. It is the end of the month though. 😀

        • Brian Kelsay says:

          All episodes have now appeared in iTunes. Thank the tech wizard and throw the poor boy a snack. He did his job well so we mere mortals may now bathe in a smorgasbord of occultism, history, Torontic film and wild statements by our dear hosts.

          I really appreciate the effort and this most intelligent of shows.

          • RDA says:

            Sadly, all episodes no longer appear on the RSS feed (ala, Android users). They “begin” at episode 54.

          • Robin says:

            This has happened before. I’ll get our tech guru on this when he returns from his present sojourn in the woods.

  14. Jeromy French says:

    Not that I haven’t gotten more than my fair share of love on the podcast, but one question I’ve had in the back of my head for awhile is for the Writing Hut:

    How does one go about writing short stories? How do they differ from novels in approach?

    Also, would love to hear more about how the Stone Skin Anthologies are put together. How do you select authors? Do you give them ideas? Do people get rejected or revised? A window into those books (especially since another couple are coming out soon) would be fascinating. To me at least.

  15. Steven Roman says:

    On the flip side, this long-time fan thanks you both for many years of excellent gaming products and materials (I still have and use Feng Shui, Nightmares of Mine, and Suppressed Transmission, among others), and for this excellent podcast, where every episode has quality topical conversations and considerations, and useful, gameable ideas.

    I do wish there were more podcasts like this one.

  16. Leeman says:

    I’d love to hear a consulting occultist about gay, right-wing, Thelemite film-maker Kenneth Anger.

    Sounds like a story that has everything!

  17. Brett Evill says:

    Do you suppose that Time INcorporated would warm up the Time Machine and send Ken to prevent the Fourth Crusade from sacking Constantinople?

  18. Eugene Katz says:

    Looking forward to your next episode where I’m guessing this will get some hut time:

  19. greg gray says:

    A question first-time game groups and rule-book format.

    I’ve never played a roleplaying game before but I have read several rulebooks and roleplaying blogs so I think I have at least a rudimentary idea of what roleplaying is. I’m not in a position to join an experienced group but do have several friends interested in starting to play as a group.

    But while reading a rule-book for a generic system recently I realised that for a novice like myself and my friends, such rule-books are structured back to front and present little of the information we need to begin to play.

    The common format seems to be to start the book with the largest section, covering character creation, continue with a smaller section on game mechanics (mainly covering combat), and then end with the smallest section of all on running and playing the game.

    For people wanting to play their first game, this last section, I’d argue, is the most important aspect of the game while character creation is the least important.

    Are rule-books generally written assuming at least one player in the group will have played roleplaying games before?

    Are there commercial reasons why first time groups of players are, in my opinion, not catered for better?

    Learning to roleplay is daunting and without joining a preexisting gamegroup I feel that, the books I’ve read at least, don’t teach me how to do it.


    • greg gray says:

      Are games ever play-tested on first time, or at least very inexperienced gaming groups?


  20. Jeff R. says:

    I’ve been slowing working my way backward through the archive and recently reached Episode 15, where you did an interesting Ask Ken and Robin about an alternate history in which a more reasonable Great Britain leads to no American Revolution and, ultimately, a Dominion of America. I’d like to Ask Ken and Robin to tackle the opposite scenario in the same way, in which a less reasonable Great Britain induces Montreal, Halifax, and Quebec to become the 14th, 15th and 16th colonies, discussing the specifics of how this more north-heavy United States comes to be and differently grapples with the Slavery question.

  21. Fridrik Bjarnason says:

    Request for the “Time Machine / Ask Ken and Robin”
    Would Ken be so kind as to talk about characters in history who are so serendipitous or who’s life is so ridiculously unlikely that they must have been under cover chrononauts/time-travelers.

    Of course I’m only asking for chrononauts who’s identity has been declassified, we can’t ask him to break the nondisclosure agreement.

  22. Chris O. says:

    Ask Ken and Robin:

    One of the major distinguishing characteristics between table top RPGs and video games has been that the latter were limited to pre-scripted and randomly/procedurally generated elements. Video games, while providing a great deal of immersion through visuals, provide a relatively flat experience compared to the paper and pencil variety –at least from the table top player’s perspective.

    There are a number of virtual tabletops which can facilitate RPG play via computers or mobile devices, and they are increasingly using more elaborate visual elements. Recently, however; this is being approached from the opposite end. “Game Master” modes are creeping into multiplayer computer games. While this is nothing new for games that bear ancestry to the table top, it’s been appearing in other genres. The starship bridge simulator Artemis has a game master console, and the shooter/military sandbox series Arma now has a Zeus mode.

    Both of these features allow an elected player to populate and depopulate the environment spontaneously, throw in pre-scripted events or content, take control of or direct in game-entities, speak through characters, and alter the properties of entities on the fly; in addition to granting the player a god’s eye view of the world. Beneath this layer, these games function normally; handling things like combat, movement, actions, physics, inventory, and skill use.

    What do Ken and Robin think? Is there potential here? If the interface was not too cumbersome, would combining a digital “real time” environment with traditional role playing enhance the experience or detract from it?

  23. Brett Evill says:

    TO: Time Incorporated

    RE: The Albigensian Crusade

    Dear sirs:

    Without endorsing the heresies of the Cathars or condoning their repellent customs, the clients nevertheless deplore the loss of life, the brutal maimings, and the lasting economic damage done in the Languedoc 1208–1229, also, the fatal disruption of Occitan culture and the permanent rupture between Catalonia and Languedoc occasioned by the French annexation of the County of Toulouse. We would therefore like to entertain a proposal by Mr Hite for an intervention using his time machine to either head the whole thing off early or to bring it to a more satisfactory result.

    Yours faithfully,

    Agents for the clients

  24. Brett Evill says:

    Dear Ken

    What happened to the Knights Templars? Why did it happen to them rather than to, say, the Hospitallers, the Order of Calatrava, the Order of Alcantara, the Mercedarians, the Teutonic Knights, the Knights of St Thomas Acon, the Knights of Santiago, or some others of that bunch? Why have the Templars and their fate exerted such a powerful hold over the imaginations of conspiracy theorists and that lot? What’s the best use of Templars you have made in one of your games? How can I best use the Templars in my games?


    — Brett

  25. Brett Evill says:

    Ken? Robin?

    What do you have to tell us about the problems of RPGs in which the PCs’ adventure activities are subject to the orders and supervision of their superiors, whether those be NPCs or fellow PCs. I’ve had only occasional trouble with it in my own games, despite running lots and lots of adventures in which the PCs were a small team with one of them in an official leadership position and all subject to direction from an NPC field controller. Also, I’ve run a lot of spaceship such in which the captain (PC or NPC) was in charge. But I hear other gamers complaining that they find it very troublesome and steer clear of the situation. What am I probably doing right that I can’t put my finger on?

    — Brett

    • Sean Phelan says:

      I would like to second the motion on this topic as a discussion point.

      I’ve been running a campaign for fifteen months where the players are juniors in an uber fascist organization that orders them around with regularity. The Cell of Dark Heresy acolytes continue to seem quite fine with this arrangement, but from time-to-time player agency concerns come to mind. I would love to hear luminaries wax eloquent upon this.

  26. Chris Lehrich says:

    Supposing (just hypothetically) that one were wishing to enter the freelance writing world, and wanted among other things to get known as an “interesting person with interesting and potentially bizarre or exciting ideas.” On the off-chance that you know anyone like this…

    What kind of blog post length, structure, and so forth seems to you most effective in reaching the rapid-skimming online audience? That is, when you don’t have a set contract to fulfill for X words and Y structure, what’s a good baseline default for “I had this neat idea” or “I was just reading this weird thing” if you want to post online and get some recognition? (Assuming, obviously, that you write well, do so regularly, and are in fact interesting — you’ve talked about those issues in other parts of the podcast.)

  27. Agentwestmer says:

    Hi Ken! Hi Robin!

    When you get a chance, could you talk about Eliptonic Benjamin Franklin?

    Also, do you have any word on the Best of Fenix Crowdfunding on IndieGogo? They’re not responding to any messages.

  28. Tom Vallejos says:

    For consideration by Time Inc.
    Making the Ford Peace Ship of 1915 relevant.

    Thank You

  29. Jeff Diamond says:

    Hi, Ken and Robin!

    A friend and I run a Palladium podcast, and I’m interested where you get all your freaky material for Consulting Occultist. I’m particularly interested in whether there are any places out there in Internetland that might have some sort of collection you draw from. I’m fine “borrowing” scary stuff from you, but there’s got to be other stuff out there to keep me and my players up at night.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Jeff Diamond

    • Robin says:

      It’s mostly from Ken’s vast knowledge of the subject, and personal library. Occasionally I’ll run across something new to him, but not in a central Internet Occultism Database.

  30. Bob Jamieson says:

    A suggestion for a time incorporated mission:

    How would you go about ensuring the success of the failed 1690s project by the Scots to colonise Panama (the Darien Scheme)? Or, if this is impossible how would you (and should you?) mitigate the disaster and prevent the collapse of the Scottish economy.

  31. Sami Uusitalo says:

    Hi Ken and Robin.

    I would like to make a request/suggestion for the Gaming Hut. Inspired by Armitage Files (and Dracula Dossier) I am thinking of running a Trail of Cthulhu adventure in a similar style (albeit much shorter). The idea is that Sherlock Holmes actually died at the Reichenbach Falls like Arthur Conan Doyle initially intended. A year later Holmes’ notes/diary are found. The players take the roles of Watson, Irene Adler and Inspector Lestrade, who then try their best at Holmesian deduction to track down a Mythos threat. I am thinking of including references to Professor Moriarty’s The Dynamics of an Asteroid, for example.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on what clues to include in Holmes’ notes.

    Thanks for a great podcast.

  32. Michael R. Smith says:

    A question to toss into the revelatory fires of the Gaming Hut:

    I have been working on a scenario for my Fear Itself campaign and realized there seems to be little in the way of material on creating monsters, horrors and assorted beasties with which to bedevil the players. Specifically I am concerned with stats and powers and other such things. I have a copy of both Trail of Cthulhu and the Book of Unremitting Horror but am still somewhat at a loss. Any advice/help/directions would be appreciated.



  33. Martin says:

    Hey Ken, hey Robin — Ever thought of writing a campaign of ‘Lovecraft-ed’ Sherlock Holmes stories?

    Just became a proud owner of Shadows of Film Land, can’t wait until the hard copy of Dream Hounds of Paris and the Dracula Dossier arrive in the new year, and am re-re-reading Book Hounds. Which prompts my quizzling … err.. Ask Ken and Robin question.

    Doyle has, of course, lost his poor mind, and channeling the ‘spirit’ of a ‘Dr Watson’ has attempted to account for the results of his Lovecraftian endeavors under the tutelage of Dr Bell. Hounds of Tintalos become dogs covered in phosphorous; white apes become aged men on steroids; cultists become Masons and Mormons; Yithian swapped agents become fake beggers; Nyarlathotep is a math tutor.

    It’s in a seance attended by the investigators, naturally, where Doyle finally snaps totally and reveals the darker aspect to the popular stories. If it’s actually Doyle, of course, and not (spoiler) a mind swapped Houdini…

    Thanks and best wishes!

    (PS: Huge fan of the podcast, huge fan of ‘Trail’ and have NBA and Hillfolk on my reading and playing lists. Thanks for all the great stories!)

  34. Steven Roman says:

    “12 Year Old Girl Discovers That All But One U.S. President Are Directly Related to Each Other”

    If this story is true, then surely the Illuminati (or the Masons? Both?) have suffered some sort of terrible information leak.

    Surely Ken can do something marvelous with this!

    (Sorry if this sends twice–the Internet got hung up.)

  35. Just ran my first Night’s Black Agents, 4 players, 1 was a first timer. AWESOME – could not have gone better! Over the Edge is my fav rpg but you are angling for its spot Ken. So I would like to Ask Ken and Robin: How did you come up with the idea for OtE and NBA, respectively?
    …my NBA players will be visiting Al Amarja for their 2nd session:D

  36. Johan Lundstrom says:

    An “Ask Ken & Robin” here:

    Could you tell us about Thor Heyerdahl’s racial theories, and put them in context? The notion of a great white race that goes around spreading civilization all over the place in order to explain how the natives ever got anything done isn’t exactly new to the listeners, but I would love to hear more about its lineage and specific details in this particular case.

    Love the show,

  37. dae says:

    Could this explain the vampires power to control others? Mid part of this latest radiolab episode talks about the empathic effects of hearing another person’s heartbeat.

    ‘A few days ago Radiolab performed a live show and this episode we’re bringing you a few of the highlights. They were stories of what motivates us, our drives, our loves and losses. Producer Molly Webster tells us the story of life, near-death and what happens when your heart starts to work against you. And we visit with Dr. Oliver Sacks one last time to reflect on his life, his loves and his endless sense of wonder’

  38. Tom Miller says:

    I’ve just recently discovered KARTAS and have been enjoying it immensely. As a new listener I have a question and a suggestion:
    A) Robin drew a distinction in a past episode between “iconic” characters and “dramatic” characters. Could you explain the differences and implications more fully?

    B) We might be able to sustain a higher number of female gamers if the Gaming Hut were held to a higher standard of hygiene. I mean, throw away the pizza boxes already.


  39. mike hill says:

    Hey guys – can you (will you) talk about your contribution to Storium? I am an early kickstarter supporter and am interested to know how you got involved, how familiar you are with it and any other good news you can share. I am gearing up to run a Cold War Berlin hybrid of Trail of Cthulhu and Le Carre. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  40. Matt says:

    Do you guys talk about anywhere the mics & recording software you guys use? I’m impressed with the consistent quality of your podcast.

    • Robin says:

      I use a Samson Meteor mic. Ken was using a garden variety headset until it broke and will be switching to the Samson as well. We record the show using Reaper. The real secret of any audio quality you may perceive is the wizardry of editor Rob Borges.

  41. Michael Freeman says:

    TO: Time Incorporated

    RE: The Eggnog Riot of 1826

    Apparently a riot began in 1826 at the West Point Military Academy when students smuggled liquored eggnog into the barracks for a holiday celebration. Two officers were on hand to break up the riot, one f which was saved from murder only because the cadet firing at him was too drunk to aim properly. I believe I detect the subtle hand of Ken Hite’s high-proof intervention. Can you comment on this?

  42. Tom Pleasant says:

    Time Incorporated

    How would Ken go back and let Napoleon win the Battle of Waterloo, and what impact would this have on global history?

  43. Mike Coleman says:

    Hi Ken and Robin,

    I enjoy the show and I have been binge listening to it these last few months.

    I have a time machine question for Ken. I recently read a stupid internet article ( on the revolution being a mistake. I got me thinking about what would Great Britain need to have done to prevent the American Revolution and what would the world look like now. Would we be in union with are Canadian cousins or would the Germans have conquered the word?


  44. Hi Ken and Robin greetings from Stockholm in Sweden

    I am a new convert to the show but am trying my best to catch up:s I found you guys originally because I’m an hobby tabletop games developer but the content here goes way beyond that and I love it, thankyou for your great work. Anders.

  45. Andrea Clark says:

    I’m part of a group of nerds who love to play roleplaying-style of tabletop games (and listen to several podcasts including yours). We’ve created a campaign setting, called ZodiacEmpires, that we’re trying to get the funds to launch our book. I was wondering if you do any advertising on your podcasts, and if so, would be able to submit something? Our KickStarter is linked below, as well as the website for ZodiacEmpires, if you’re interested in getting to know more about it. We look forward to hearing back from you.

    Thank you for your time,
    Co-Organizer for ZodiacEmpires
    Kickstarter –
    Website –

  46. Evan Harding says:

    Hey Ken and Robin,
    I’ve got a possible topic for the Cinema Hut, and I have to figure at least one of you are familiar with this film.
    I recently watched Possession, the 1981 French-German horror film directed by Andrzej Żuławski and starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. I went in with absolutely no prior expectations and my mind was blown.
    Like the Ring, I’ve already passed it on once, so I’m safe, but I’ve become interested in hearing what other people have thought of the film, particularly the ending.
    Wikipedia article
    Birth Movies Death article
    The Projection Booth #167

  47. Jonathan Keim says:

    I have been fascinated with several articles recently on the possible discovery of a lost Nazi treasure train.
    Real or fraud, this could make for some fascinating gaming. Perhaps even a split game – heisting or stopping the train during the war, and if that fails, playing as treasure hunters today.

    Any chance you could add this to a hut segment? I would love to hear the two of you riff on the possibilities.


  48. Hey,

    I’m looking to buy some advertising space on your website
    Is this something that you’d be interested in talking about further?

    If so, then please reply to this email so that we can kick things off.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Best Regards,
    Charmaine Joy Young

  49. Dwight says:

    Question of design and tigers –

    In a veritable jungle of game design discussion over the last 15 odd years, and more blogs than tigers, I have not yet found the answer to this question:

    A fundamental principle of game design is that elegant mechanics encourage the type of play that the game is about. In D&D, XP is the reward for murder-hoboing. In Fate increased refresh or an uptick on a skill is the reward for meeting character narrative milestones.
    These are all player weighted design economies though. What are some mechanics that encourage some type of behavior in play for the GM? Or is the role of sub-creator and the fact that the players want to come back to the table the GM reward transcendent of mechanics?

  50. D. Upton says:

    What was the REAL cause of Jack Parson’s death in his laboratory explosion in 1952??

  51. Jeremy Bauer says:

    I have a question for the Gaming Hut.

    Many games have XP award guidelines that include “good roleplaying”. Is this a good idea? As a GM should I be judging my players roleplaying ability and rewarding or punishing them with XP or any other in game resource?


  52. Brian S. Roe says:


    What REALLY happened to Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana on Vintém Hill? It seems like a perfect set-up for some creepy, 1960s era shenanigans.

    Thanks for the show,


  53. Dwight says:

    I can’t think of two more qualified people to comment on this question: what do you think is essential to balancing a place where Yog-Sothothery and Wuxia legendry and folklore intersect? What must be observed and what must be avoided?

  54. neverjaunty says:

    Ken and Robin, a question for the Gaming Hut:

    Obscure tomes and secret knowledge seem to have lost their zest in an age where information can rapidly spread worldwide. A century ago, getting a look at the Necronomicon meant finding one of a handful of copies at academic libraries or from mysterious booksellers, but now? Anyone with a copy of “The King in Yellow” could tweet it one line at a time to thousands of followers. Anyone can scan in the Necronomicon and e-publish it on Amazon. Satellites make it a little hard to hide mysterious structures on the sea floor or in Antarctica.

    Are secret, crumbling tomes gone the way of old tropes like “nobody’s ever mapped this part of the jungle” or “there’s not a payphone within miles”, or is there some other way to make the obscure relevant?

  55. D. Upton says:

    Unless it has already been done somewhere I have not found in linking them, have you ever nerd-troped:



    The Black Eagle Fund?

  56. Paul Sexton says:

    1. Have you watched “The Americans”? If not, you REALLY should.
    2. For Ken: related to (1) – how about a “straight” espionage RPG, along the lines of Night’s Black Agents minus the vampires? You could set it now but it might be more fun set in the 80s. Soviet illegals and Directorate S seem like they could be as fruitful a premise – either as enemies or protagonists – as vampires, eldritch horrors etc.

    Thanks a lot for the podcast.

  57. Edwin Nagy says:

    Some time ago, perhaps a year, and again more recently, Robin (I think) mentioned Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism as important to his literary development. Perhaps even critical to it. Based on the recommendation, I borrowed it from the library and it has helped hold down my nightstand for close to a year now. This morning, whether from some unconscious New Year’s pressure or just from it being the closest thing to a lazy body, I read the Polemical Introduction. An amazing piece of persuasive writing. I was hooked from the first somewhat apologetic sentence. While too late, I suspect, to be life changing, it has already been mind-opening, fun, and in multiple ways, challenging. I look forward to its remainder. Thank you for the tip.


  58. Evan Harding says:

    Ken and or Robin, are either of you familiar with the Person of Interest series? The procedural episodic plots are eclipsed by the (too-slowly?) developing myth-arc. I think the series isn’t well served by delaying the most interesting elements of its premise emerging until the second season.

    There’s a system-suggestion thread on that has gathered a number of votes for using Night’s Black Agents to model the series at the gametable.

  59. Tom says:

    Hi Ken and Robin,

    Do you know much about the current music scene in Hong Kong? Particularly regarding the club scene where a Feng Shui game might end up? And are there any groups I could track down to listen to?

  60. Michael Maneval says:

    I’m the President of a Science Fiction and Fantasy Club. We are interested in summoning Cthulhu so that we do not have to take our final exams. Do you have any tips/fun rituals that we might be able to use to summon Cthulhu?

  61. Hector Trelane says:

    Okay Ken and Robin, I’ve got a question for “Ask Ken and Robin”:

    I’ve always hated the term “MacGuffin” because it seems reductionist in an un-fun kind of way. The Ark of the Covenant isn’t a MacGuffin, for instance: it’s awe, wonder, a radio to God, and created a sense of the mysterious in big screen Hollywood glory, at least when I was a kid. The stash of gold in an overlooked Clint Eastwood film, Kelly’s Heroes, isn’t just a MacGuffin, it’s *gold*, baby, look at all that gold these misfits actually got their mitts on.

    Okay maybe the Maltese Falcon is just a MacGuffin of no consequence, but reducing external objects of all quests to mere MacGuffin status would seems a hard line view of narrative tantamount to saying only dramatic scenes matter and procedural scenes are just window dressing.

    What’s your take on whether MacGuffins can be more than just MacGuffins?

  62. Axel Widén says:

    Hi Ken and Robin, would be awesome to hear some riffing on the murder of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme in 1986. I’ve heard Ken mention it briefly in the past. There’s lots of good conspiracy fodder in the mess that is the official investigation, not to mention some of the crazier books that have been written about it. Thank you for an amazing podcast!

  63. Amit Moshe says:

    Hi Ken and Robin,

    Do you guys cover new game systems? I created a game engine that mashes up concepts of Apocalypse World, FATE, and Lady Blackbird into an incredible cinematic experience. It’s also a detective game, and being a fan of GUMSHOE, I’d love Robin’s opinion. Plus, it’s a super-powered noir setting focusing on ordinary people struggling with having a legendary power awakening inside them. And it’s vey high production value. You guys should really check it out (it’s free):

  64. David Garrett says:

    Robin, could you have Time, Inc. send Ken back to influence the outcome of the Council of Constance so that the seat of the Holy See is in France today instead of Rome?

    P.S. I just want a free history lesson on the Western Schism given by Prof. Hite.

  65. Ray says:

    Dig your podcast and was wondering if you would want to take a look at an unreleased game called Dhovaine. Feel free to check out the web page. I look forward to hearing from you.

  66. Josh F says:

    In a recent episode, Ken mentioned having taken a trip to Moscow in 1984. I don’t know if this has already been discussed on the show before, but I would love to hear his impressions of it. My parents emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1979, so I grew up with their stories of what life was like there. I’m curious to hear the perspective of someone who had some academic expertise on the matter but did not live it firsthand (apart from the trip in question), and who is also actually entertaining to listen to.

  67. Ted says:

    So – what would it take for Ken and Robin to spend some time talking about their dislike of Joseph Campbell? I’ve heard it mentioned tangentially several times. Thanks – and keep up the great work!!!

  68. Erik Isford says:

    …what happens if Time Inc. saves Huey Long from assassination by reminding Carl Weiss he’s got a surgery booked in the morning, and that he’s really better off sticking by his family? Does the USA become a socialist utopia with “every man a king?” Or, does it result in a dystopian hellscape of corruption not too far from what we’re used to today? Or… something else? Something closer to the USA of Chambers’ King in Yellow perhaps?

  69. B Morrison says:

    //Kenelm Digby Weapon Salve…

    I read a speculative fiction short story using Kenelm Digby’s Weapon Salve idea, but I have no idea who the writer was. Anyone know?

  70. Hector Trelane says:

    I’ve done it! I’ve finally listened to every last, blessed episode of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff! Where’s my diploma? (Or at least a cool graphic I can post on social media…)

  71. RE: / Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff WEBSITE SOLUTIONS
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  72. Galeno says:

    Gain eternal gratitude, sizzling karma, and voting privileges on Tell Me More Items (dependent on reaching the Ken and Robin Consume Media milestone)

  73. My deep appreciation for your incisive discussion of my book Scan Artist: How Evelyn Wood Convinced the World That Speed-Reading Worked in your podcast of Feb. 19, 2021 (Episode 433.) Yes, there are striking parallels between the belief in the paranormal and the once widespread belief that people can learn to read thousands of words per minute without losing an iota of comprehension but rather improving it. It was also, as you noted, a very American hoax, framed as self-help but exploiting insecurities. I must admit I was surprised to encounter the best review ever done of my book on a podcast that is largely about game design! I wish I’d made half the observations you did in my upcoming interview with BBC Radio, already recorded.

  74. Joel says:

    Going to the back catalog of your episodes, somewhere around episode 130, the podcast cannot be played due to a broken source. I skipped forward by fives and then by 10s until I got to episode 276, which worked, but 277 did not. I have used castbox for the first 130 episodes, and then when the broken source issue occurred I switched over to your website and I’m still having issues. Just thought I’d let you know. Thanks for all the amazing huts that y’all have opened!

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