Actually, I’m lying. I didn’t see this in the wild, but it’s hit the desks at Black Library Towers, and I’m pretty much in love with how it looks.
I like how subtle and understated it is. It’s not wacky or cartoony, and credits the license with some intrigue and maturity. Admittedly, only in our beloved 40K license could you consider Hellpeople on Fire in the Shadows to be “subtle”, but let’s just say I’m pretty damn pleased with this one. The Night Lords Series has had some of the most consistently beautiful artwork BL has ever produced (Thanks, Jon Sullivan; look for your name in the Foreward), and even though it’s a change in direction, it’s one I’m dead pleased with.
As you may know, my sadfaced, lip-quivering rants about artwork are rare but, uh, “pointed” and “poignant”. I’ve never been afraid to sink to the lowest depths of unprofessionalism in saying I can’t stand a cover. But my last three have been this one, The Talon of Horus, and Armageddon. If it was BL’s intent to butter me up with lovely covers and shame me into hitting my deadlines, then… fuck, it might actually work.
Anyway, more details as they come in.
EDIT: Details have come in. Regarding the contents, here’s a l’il glance at what’s inside:
On another note, remember my Deathwatch Campaign? Brother-Intendant Deiphobus of the Minotaurs is rolling along with some slow painting progress. Better photos coming soon:
This weekend I paid my taxes and killed a tyranid hive tyrant. In that order.—
Aaron Dembski-Bowden (@adembskibowden) February 02, 2014
Last weekend saw our first game of Deathwatch in what’s looking to be a pretty long-running campaign, if the initial mission was anything to go by. You may remember me mentioning it before, when I showed you all the weapons our GM had made for atmosphere and inspiration.
As you might’ve guessed from the title of the post, we’re playing through the official Watch Station Erioch storyline (or our GM’s version of it) so no spoilers, thanks.
The first session went suspiciously well. It involved plenty of “Wait, wait, wait…” moments where we brought things to a mutual halt to consult the rulebook, but those moments are an inevitable part of playing a new system. Nothing too show-stopping or game-breaking, and we were always happy enough to call a break in order to get it right. What surprised me was the difference between how the rules read and how they actually played. I’ll clarify that though, because what’ll definitely improve this blog are my boring-ass opinions on RPGs. For really reals.
All five of us have been playing RPGs for 10+ years (close to 25ish in some cases) and came to it with a wealth of experience with different rules systems – added to the fact I used to design RPGs, like, for a living. So we went into Deathwatch with open minds and a good handle on a bunch of systems. I have no real game system snobbery; I’ve played crunchy games with rules as dense as the core of a collapsed sun, and I’ve played things as frighteningly free-form as, say, Amber Diceless. Similarly, I’ve read rulebooks that were a joy to study, and rulebooks that were absolute bastards of poorly indexed and looping-back text.
Deathwatch was nowhere near the worst offender on the continuum, but all of us felt on shaky ground before playing, just from reading the rules. Some things were explained with descriptions that took us several interpretations to get right, and I reckon it’s got a good shot in the running of Most Useless RPG Index Ever. On a couple of occasions, half a rule we needed to look up would be on one page, another quarter of it was half a book away, and the last chunk would be found in somewhere between here, there, and fuck-only-knows-where. (Hi, healing rules!)
But the way it actually played? Christ, that was a different story.
I love how it played. I love how the rules reflected the atmosphere – more than just the obvious lethality of being a Space Marine – down to how equipment worked and how freaking dangerous it felt to be out there in the wild worlds of M41. I don’t think any of us had any real complaints about actual in-game stuff (and let me be clear, that’s very rare for some of my friends, who can find something to complain about anything). So in short, yeah, I like the rules a lot. I like how smoothly it runs, I like the array of competent options at your disposal as a player, and I like that a lot of it was actually intuitive – again, despite the fact the rulebook read like the opposite was going to be true.
It’s nice to be able to sit down and say “Shit, this is well-designed” and really, really mean it.
Before we started, quotable nonsense was flying thick and fast:
Deathwatch quote #1: "We haven't even thrown any dice yet and I already hate the Ultramarine."—
Aaron Dembski-Bowden (@adembskibowden) February 01, 2014
A lot of the immersion came down to our GM, Mark. He took preparation to a whole new level, actually arriving with – I shit you not – crates of stuff.
The weapons were just the tip of the iceberg. Check some of this out:
Briefly, our kill-team’s first mission involved going to the moon Tantalus and recovering an Adeptus Mechanicus datacore of vague and dubious origin, along with secondary and tertiary objectives to achieve in the last hours before the entire moon was overrun by tyranids from Hive Fleet Dagon. In another example of Mark’s prep-work, he had prerecorded and voice-distorted distress calls to play us, as well as printed pictures of every NPC we met to be attached to the outside of his GM screen for us to see.
We didn’t roleplay all that brilliantly, in all honesty. We made decisions as our characters would’ve made them, but there was no real acting or talking in-character. Part of my problem there was that I’ve done what I always do these days, which is make the mistake of playing a quiet and/or surly and/or distant character. Not intentionally to be uncooperative (I’m enough of a vet to know how a loner can basically slaughter any RPG group with contrary stubborn bullshit, and it’s supposed to be a team effort) but I liked the idea of a paranoid, brooding typical Minotaur – with underlying distaste for other Chapters and Imperial institutions – slowly coming out of his shell into the bonds of brotherhood with his kill-team. That’s a great idea on paper, and would make for decent character development in a novel. It’s not as wonderful when it leaves you mostly silent at a gaming table, and doing no real roleplaying. It was a coward’s way out, and I’ll probably adjust it next time.
The idea behind Deiphobus, my Minotaurs Apothecary, is that he volunteered for the Deathwatch to explore a little more individuality beyond the unbreakable mass of full-scale Chapter deployment, a la standard Minotaurs tactics. There’s also the consideration of knowing your enemy: walking among the other Chapters and getting first-hand experience of how they differ from the Minotaurs, but he primarily wants to determine who he is (if anyone…) beneath the bronze armour, and test himself without the vast, vast resources of his Chapter’s hundreds of brothers at his back.
I really felt that, even if it didn’t exactly show in the roleplaying side of things. The isolation of it all; the sheer ball-aching distance of being out there, alone, with no hope of reinforcement. It was one of my fave parts of the whole game.
I was, perhaps unsurprisingly, way more into the idea of absolute violence for the most pointless of reasons when I was holding a bolt pistol in my hand.
One thing I was a little less keen on was combat, though again that’ll need some clarifying. I loved the lethality of it, how dangerous it felt. I love how true to the setting it felt, without being impossibly difficult, overwhelming, or overly complex. I thought it was awesome how some fights absolutely favoured the Devastator and his heavy bolter, while others showed the Assault Marine’s specialty, and the Tactical Marine was basically just good at everything. We’d decided not to use Squad Mode (or even much Solo Mode) on our first run-through, but I can see all the ways everyone (especially TacMarines) get even more useful when that stuff comes into play.
Apothecarying it up felt a little bland in comparison, though. I could heal like an absolute genius, and I usually enjoy support classes that buff, boost, and heal the rest of the group, no matter what game I’m playing. That worked in Deathwatch, too – just not quite as much as I’d hoped. Some of it came down to tactics, with our squad positioning being bad enough sometimes that I couldn’t really get to the others in time to heal them efficiently, but the ones I could heal jumped right back up and started killing all the Red Team again. That was cool.
What was less cool was how I was basically relegated to auto-attacking when I wasn’t healing, which was fairly often. And when I say “auto-attacking”, I mean in the MMO sense of doing basic automatic attacks while the others are using special abilities and controlling the fight. I could shoot my bolter, but with much less accuracy than the Tactical Marine and much less damage. I could use my chainsword, but only attacking once compared to the Assault Marine’s twice, and doing much less damage than him with each one. I just struggle to see an Apothecary being significantly less skilled like that, I guess.
It’s not a matter of my character’s stats (which are high, and awesome) or my dice rolls (which were stellar, for once). It also wasn’t a matter of feeling shitty for just doing less damage in combat. It’s more a matter of options. They had choices and options – special rules to get involved with – while I had a lot less of that going on. I could heal them, or do a less-useful version of what they were doing.
And looking at the advances, it seems to magnify as you level up and get more skills. Part of this is personal bias, mind you. One of my personal outlooks on Apothecaries is that they’re among the more courageous and capable fighters in a Chapter, rather than the doctor who hangs back, because they have to chainsword their way through where the fighting is thickest to recover their fallen brothers’ gene-seed. You see a little of it with Kargos in Betrayer. He’s one of the deadliest fighters among the World Eaters for precisely that reason. Not that I want to be The Very Best or whatever. Just “not significantly worse”. If you’re spending several turns healing the other guys while they do all the violent work, it feels a little like there could be some balance where you could contribute more efficiently in other ways when you’re free from kissing their aches and boo-boos.
I like kissing their aches and boo-boos. I just don’t want to be useless when I’m not doing that.
But again, we’re talking about a pretty tiny gripe in an otherwise awesome weekend. This campaign’s been the most fun I’ve had RPGing in freaking ages, and I’m itching for the second mission to get underway. Our homework for this month is to paint our Deathwatch minis, and for your viewing pleasure here’s Deiphobus “Dio” Lorec, Intendant of the Minotaurs. I was trying to go with an iconic look for an Apothecary – narthecium and chainsword – despite the fact I knew I’d almost universally be using my bolter. Aesthetic choice, etc.
Dio’s most intriguing slice of personal renown came from standing before a kneeling, dying hive tyrant, and puncturing its skull with his reductor to take a gene-sample.
CRACK-THUNK-CLICK. SAMPLE STORED. Take that, alien bitch.
You may remember that I’m starting a Deathwatch game soon – next weekend, in fact – with a few of the members of my 40K campaign group. It’ll also be the first field test of the (finally finished) Aaronorium, which is the best name for a games room since Futurama’s “Angry Dome”, “Calamatorium”, or “the Accusing Parlour”.
I’m making an effort to blog a little more this year, especially about hobby stuff, so we’ll start with a teaser. Our GM Mark (who plays Eldar, for the record) is notorious in our gang for going all-out in terms of effort at our 40K campaign weekends. His models are insane. As an example, he pro-painted a Blood Bowl orc team for me for my birthday. But this is above and beyond the call of duty. He had actual props made for when we’re sat around the table.
Check these out…
Holy fucking shit, right? I need a weapons rack for the Aaronorium so, so badly.
The guys in my DW group haven’t even seen these yet, so consider yourself on the bleeding edge of my delicious but ultimately futile existence.
Just bolting online in a hurry to say thank you to everyone for another wonderful year. If you’re crazy enough to like my work, thanks for supporting it – whether you did so through buying it, through reviews online, or through the simple act of not throwing human waste at me if we met in public. I appreciate all three of those reactions, but perhaps the last one most of all.
Thank you – friends, family, publishers, guildies, and readers – for your patience and support, as well as your ability to tolerate my stalwart refusal to abandon the Oxford Comma.
To inject a personal note into proceedings in the spirit of Christmas, may I also take the time to say that I thought Pacific Rim was absolutely shit, and I was gutted when the awful, awful, unlikeable, awful, shallow, awful main character survived. This review is over. Personal note complete.
tl;dr –Thanks again from the Dembski-Bowden bloodline, as 2013 draws to a close. Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings to you and yours. Please note that this is our second Christmas with the tiny heir (also known as ADB II in some circles, as well as Alexander, Shakes, and “Put that down, buddy, I’m begging you”) and he’d probably thank you too, if he wasn’t so small and largely focused on things like penguins, tractors, and books about dinosaurs.
The Black Library Weekender is mere hours away. So close in fact that me, Katie, and Shakes are flying over tomorrow for the traditional “Having dinner with Liz and John French on the night before an event” ritual. We were also thinking of taking up the McNeills on Graham’s offer of crashing at theirs, but Shakes has started a recent habit of getting up at 5:00am, so we’re trying to spread that delightfulness around as little as possible.
I love the Weekender. I love the atmosphere, I love the fast and loose feeling the authors get to have that disguises all the organisation the staff have put in,
Last year’s Weekender featured the Fifty Shades of Geek fellows (who can be found on their homepage, as well as Facebook, and Twitter) showing up wearing T-shirts with quotes from my novels running down the front, and I was so humbled and embarrassed, I dealt with this magnanimous gesture by hinting that I never wanted them to do anything like it again. Make note, people: try not to be such an uncharitable cunt when similar moments roll around in your lives. At one point, I actually fled from three of them in the T-shirts, in case a couple of the other authors thought I’d arranged it to make myself look special.
Here they are, saved for posterity. Tim (far left) recently joined our 40K campaign, The Thracian Caul, which I’ll have more details on soon. It’s undergoing sweeping changes based on me and John (French) trying to give it some more unity and purpose, rather than getting distracted and all momentum failing as they so often do with these things. It’s looking good; I’d be interested in your opinions when we start showing some of the datasheets, and stuff. Nikki (in the middle) looks half-asleep. I don’t know why.
Also of note, you may have seen this slice of lushness on various forums, but here’s David Sondered (from Studio Colrouphobia) ‘s freaking killer version of Konrad Curze. You might also remember his Talos, from a little while ago?
One of the things I love most about it is that he’s captured the primarch’s fundamental unhealthiness, which is something a lot of the more, uh, ‘badass’ artwork can ignore. For me, this is one of those images that becomes definitive the moment I see it, much like when I saw the cover of Aurelian, and made unstoppable sex noises for three days straight every time someone asked me about it.
David’s also one of the guys I’m musing over asking about doing some personal commissions in the near future, some based on my TOR character, some for a private project, and some for our games group. I mean, seriously. Just look at this. With the fact Jon Sullivan’s artwork doesn’t feature on the future Night Lords omnibus, I wish I’d discovered David earlier and pimped him, hardcore, to Black Library.
Last of all, I’ve had a bunch of requests for info on my Star Wars: The Old Republic character. I can’t be bothered to go into all the details (and I admit I’ve barely touched the game in about 3 months because of work, so most of my guild has forgotten me), but suffice to say, here he is:
Sometimes, just sometimes, the Candy Goblins will get caught in their own rattle-clanking machinery, and their saccharine corpses become yet another ingredient in the deliciousness they produce. And other times, I have no idea what happens, because just look at this fucker.
This is a jelly bean. I’m not even kidding. I can’t bring myself to throw it away.
Initial scientific analysis suggests that it would be unwise to eat this thing.
The main evidence is that it’s as hard as a golf ball and the colour of ass cancer, but I’m still waiting to hear back from the lab.
The Black Library Weekender is mere days away.
As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m “not a big events guy”. At GDUK, you’ll usually find me taking longer breaks than the other authors, or signing for less time, and going to spy on people’s armies instead. I like doing panels with Graham of the McNeill Clan, and John of the French bloodline (and anyone from Forge World who will sit next to me for more than three minutes with me lavishing kisses upon them), but BL’s brand new events overseer (who is called Claudia, and is lovely, by the way) was very thoughtful in arranging a slightly less hectic schedule for me than last year’s Weekender. I barely survived last year’s one. And this year, I may not have a surprise midnight kiss with a burly male prison guard to boost my morale.
So while I’ll miss the Everyone Sit In A Room With Aaron event (which was humblingly full, last year), I’ll be less frantic and rushed with 800 panels and stuff, so I won’t constantly be saying “Uh, fuck off, I have to go to a thing now” if you happen to stop me in the hallway or the bar.
You can find a schedule thingy here: http://www.blacklibrary.com/Events/weekender-2013.html.
Also of note, I think my Mum and Stepdad are showing up to collect Shakes on the Saturday morning/afternoon, so if you want to see what I’d look like if I was a couple of decades older (and female) then I’ve got you covered.
I should (should…) have finished The Talon of Horus by the weekend, as well. If you ask me about it at the event, and all I do is hang my head and weep soulfully, then you’ll know just how well that intention worked out in the end. As with every book I write, I hate it and I’m sure everyone will hate it, too. We’ll see if time plays it out that way. It’s the story of the warriors who form the Black Legion first coming together to seek the lost First Captain Abaddon, and ends with Abaddon’s inevitable return to confront the clones of Horus – the first thing of note in the Black Legion/Sons of Horus’s famous post-Terra history.
Which all obviously leads into the second novel being about the Black Legion’s first few years of struggle.
I’m a little worried about a storm of 1-star reviews (“Abaddon doesn’t show up until really late!”) just because he’s on the cover, but whatever. If I wasn’t second-guessing myself and rewriting every line three times in a state of awkward discomfort, it wouldn’t be me. I’d be, y’know, someone brave instead.
I feel a little guilty about anyone who makes the main characters, though. First Claw aren’t equipped to be great on the tabletop, but at least they’re pretty easy to model. The ‘main character squad’ equivalent in The Talon of Horus (and going forward through the series) is the Ezekarion, and they’re not going to be easy to model. They’re also not actually tabletop legal, and would cost about 3,000 points if they were. So I apologise in advance.
The Tale of Five Heretics is, as you can see, massively delayed. I’ve accidentally started a Minotaurs army, and the maddest thing is that – for once – I’m actually painting them. And it’s fun. I’m enjoying it. This is progress on an unprecedented scale for me, given that I’m the guy that recently fielded 1,000 points of unpainted Chaos Marines, and still claim victory with 4,000 points of unpainted High Elves in my teens. The good news is that from mid-November onwards, I have a lot more free time again. I’ll have a proper update around then, hopefully with my first 3-man Sky Hunter Squad in the bag. I went from hating those models to absolutely adoring them in the space of about a week, and now I can’t get enough of them.
In other news, here are some of the fruits of my Facebook wall and various inboxes.
Is it inboxes? Inboxii. Inbeexes.
Whatever. You may recognise Defreee’s freaking killer representation of these fine, polite young men:
Before I go, did I tell you a few of us are gearing up to play some Deathwatch in January? Hopefully a long-running campaign, and we’re looking to make it more than just a series of shooty-death-kill scenes. I’ll have more info soon, but right now the line-up runs a little like this:
- Varianus Noster, Praesarius of the Ultramarines 5th Company. [Devastator]
- Jorran, Battle-Brother of the Imperial Fists 5th Company. [Tactical]
- Droitus Mallory, Battle-Brother of the Lamenters. [Assault]
- Deiphobus Lorec, Intendant of the Minotaurs. [Apothecary]
Given my shameless love of Apothecaries, it’ll be no surprise that I’m playing Dio. It was hard resisting Devastator, Tactical, and Librarian (because of heavy bolter, awesome bolter, and psychic powers, respectively) but nothing beats a narthecium.
Some interesting tensions between the Chapters, too. Hope it works out.
And lastly, you can see Katie thinking about whether to join in or not, over at her blog right here. It’s a conundrum. She likes her D&D gnome, and Space Marines… aren’t D&D gnomes.
In recent months, as The Talon of Horus rolls ever onward, I’ve spilled a wealth of words on Ezekyle Abaddon and the Black Legion over emails and hastily-chucked notes to various other authors and IP-tastic souls in the dark conclave of Those Who Contribute to 40K.
This is a difficult book, not only because of the wealth of lore (much of which subtly shifts from edition to edition, meaning you need to choose what to focus on and run with that), but also because of the 40K comedy memes that do the rounds, just like in any fandom. Abaddon, however, gets hit hardest by a barrage of misunderstandings, and lore that remained fairly vague in the past. I hope you’ll forgive me for focusing on the positive and the reality behind the curtain, but I already spend long enough worrying about, and discussing, the negative perceptions. I can’t bring myself to commit several hours hashing them all up again here and now. Besides, they’re already out there. What I can offer today is something a little fresher. From the source, so to speak.
Over the course of all these exchanges with various people (who thankfully took the time to lay out a bajillion words and share their insights with me), a lot of the back and forth discussions revolved around just what it means to be Warmaster of Chaos. Everyone mostly said the same thing in different words, which matched my plans down the line, and that was a pleasant slice of reassurance, let me tell you. I’m sitting on tens of thousands of words from various people about Abaddon, the Eye of Terror, and Chaos Marines in general, as well as practically every word printed about the Black Legion since Rick Priestley and co. first said “Hang on a minute, I’ve got an idea…”
In short, this project has been an absolute dream to research. The more people you talk to, the more perspective and insight you get, and this has been freaking killer. I’ve learned a lot about stuff I already thought I had a brilliant angle on. I’ve had some of my best lore discussions over all of this madness. The really bizarre thing is that all these discussions have made Heresy meetings look like the easiest and smoothest thing in the world. No, really. I can’t overstate the number of times I’ve almost called Dan, Gav or Graham in shrieking tears, demanding they fly over and hold me in their arms until the scary times go away.
Okay, maybe not. But there’s an image for you, nevertheless. The reality is that I wanted to call Alan Merrett – GW’s IP overlord – but he’s really scary and would never hug me.
As an interesting extract, here’s something from one of the longer back-and-forth barrages, which managed to stand out as so painfully inspiring that I had to go make a cup of tea and sit down in the garden to recover, like the weakling Englishman I am.
Note:- Of course, because it’s Ireland, it was raining, so I came back inside almost immediately. Me – and my cup of tea – calmed down in the living room while Shakes watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but let’s just move on and stop slaying my quintessentially English reaction.
So, here. These aren’t my words – they’re from The Archive to End All Archives. The crowning jewel of said archive, as it happens. It aligns with the general consensus on Abaddon, but how it was phrased just resonated with me like nothing else quite had before.
Hope you find it as intriguing and inspiring as I do.
“Horus was weak. Horus was a fool.”
It sums up Abaddon. Horus allowed himself to be used by Chaos – Horus is the Chaos Powers’ dupe to get back at the Emperor. Abaddon will never let this happen. He will never allow himself to be a Pawn of Chaos. Simply surviving without choosing one as a patron is a massive achievement. Never succumbing to the temptation of becoming a daemon prince is a second. Seriously, Abaddon is so driven he’d rather battle and scrape and bite and claw his way up to achieve his goals on his own terms than achieve immortality and virtually limitless power, because the alternative is to open the slightest chink in his independence that the Chaos Gods will exploit.
If Horus was the vessel that all of the Gods poured their power into (right up until they abandoned him at the end), then Abbadon has become the vessel that the gods want to have for themselves but haven’t been able to claim. They’ve all offered him a chance to be their regent, to rule in their name, and he has turned them all down, playing them off each other. He is the New Emperor in a way that Horus never was or would have been. Abaddon has, through sheer force of will and dominance, made himself more than a pawn, he has made himself kingmaker. If he were to choose one god to serve, if he dedicated the Black Legion to a single power in his name, that God would crush his rivals almost to the point of victory.
Because Chaos can never win against itself, of course, and Abaddon has seen the truth of this. He knows that Chaos is a process, a state, not a goal, and the moment anyone surrenders to the journey and forgets the destination is the moment their worldly ambitions are forgotten and their spirit becomes simply a part of the Chaos Powers. Abaddon is utterly relentless in his pursuit of what he wants – whatever that may actually be. Revenge on the Emperor? Too petty. Vengeance for Horus? Too sentimental. Power? Yes. What kind of power? Mortal power. He could have all the immortal power he can handle if he but asks for it, but that is not what drives him. He sees the Primarchs disappear, fade, die or simply not care anymore and he understands that only a man can really rule other men. Abaddon doesn’t want to destroy the Imperium, he wants to succeed where Horus failed. He wants to be Emperor and have Mankind bow beneath his rule.
His rule, not the rule of the Chaos gods.
Abaddon has not failed because he is wilful or incompetent. He has mustered the greatest armies since the Heresy and unleashed them upon the material universe. He has amassed power and influence within the Eye of Terror greater than any primarch. He has done this through feat of arms and personality, but the one thing he can never truly do, because it is anathema to Chaos, is truly unite the ruinous powers. They can only come together in dominance, not subservience. Whenever Abaddon has been on the brink of victory his backers break ranks, seeking to gain some last-minute short-term advantage.
Ultimately, a win for Abaddon is a loss for Chaos. If he becomes Emperor he has everything he desires and they can hold nothing over him. And so they continue to dangle the carrot, continue to be his patrons, giving him daemonic power and servants, ordering their mortal representatives to debase themselves and serve his will, all in the hope of snatching the final victory of Abaddon for themselves.
It is the Office Politics of Hell. Literally… One of the beliefs surrounding Satan in many Christian theologies is that his defiance of God was his refusal to bow to Man when they were created. In refusing to submit to the rule of mortals, Abaddon carries this analogy perfectly – the Legiones Astartes were created by a god and were never meant to be corralled and curtailed by purely mortal ambitions. As Angels they have a higher purpose – and once had a higher regard in the eyes of their creator, who shunned them.
Quite how much of this Abaddon realises when Horus fails and how much he learns over the next ten thousand years (or three days, depending on warp time) is narratively elastic…
Bearing in mind the warp/ real interface, being the bearer of the Mark of Chaos Ascendant is not just having a shiny star of Chaos imprinted in one’s forehead. It is, when the Chaos gods are bestowing their blessing/ energy, to be the centre of a blazing star, to be surrounded by a coil of ever-replenshing Chaos energy, heralded by choirs of daemons of all powers, suffused with the essence of the four great Chaos Gods. To each worshipper and follower he appears different (much like the Emperor…). He is a schemer, a warrior, a self-centred iconoclast and a survivor.
But there are the times, after the effort, the glory, of being the conduit of so much power, when he teeters on the precipice of doubt, madness and physical corruption. He stands between mortals and immortals, his ambitions far beyond the understanding of the first, yet incomprehensibly alien to the second; constantly he is failed by the inherent weaknesses of both.
His enemies circle, material and immaterial, sensing potential weakness. His allies start to disappear. For a while the Chaos Powers are disinterested, choosing to split, becoming self-serving once more, raising up their champions, sometimes alone, sometimes together, hoping that these mortals will rival Abaddon. Yet they never do.
And he wonders if it is vanity. He wonders if he is deserving. He wonders if what he wants is possible.
And then the Powers come back, trying once more to win him to their cause, taunting, threatening, cajoling and coercing Abaddon to become theirs and theirs alone. And he listens, and he wonders. And always, from somewhere deep in his soul, from the darkest yet strongest place in his mind, the answer comes back, hesitant but growing louder with every beat of his twin hearts.
Yes, one day it will all be yours.
And he starts the struggle again. The Long War continues.
July 5th marked mine and Katie’s 2-year anniversary, and I thought – in lieu of actual content and updates about writing – this might interest one or two of you. With apologies for sound quality at the venue, and blah blah blah.
My friend John (who you’ll know as the ball-achingly talented and urbane gentleman John French) once told me that his wedding day was the best day of his life, and that it went by so fast that he could remember almost none of it.
As usual, John and I agree on pretty much everything ever.
As some of you know, I recently went to Phoenix.
As fewer of you know (but those who do possess this lore are among my very favourite humans), I’m something of a Phoenix Suns fan.
As many more of you will know, I take literally the shittiest photos of anyone in the world. On an incredible week-long trip to New York, the only photo I actually took was a weird pit of LEGO heads in the NYC store, which looked like something from a kid’s vision of Dante’s Inferno. In fact, here’s that bad boy right now, for the glittery fulfilment of your facial seeing-balls:
So my editor Laurie and I went to PHX on a stupid, last-minute whim, to go to the 20th Anniversary Babylon 5 reunion at PHX Comic-Con. This was a prohibitively expensive whim, and I’m sure I’ll come to regret it around tax season, but it also represented the first time I’ve left my house by choice rather than because I had to, in about 10 years. I think Katie recognised that (and maybe wanted a week to have all kinds of affairs) so she encouraged me to do it.
In Phoenix, it was (and I say this with great consideration, as someone who lived in Bangladesh for almost 4 years; has visited Egpyt; and had meningitis in Thailand) Human Rights-breachingly hot. We weren’t in a city. We were in the middle of a desert – there just happened to be a city around us.
Anyway, here are the photos. Despite meeting the B5 cast members; being served at every meal by uncomfortably nubile and embarrassingly luscious Arizonan nymphettes; and spending three full days around a billion people dressed up in various outfits, my photos are of… pretty much fuck all.
And then, lastly, this: