Ladies, gents, and Keltoi battle-automatons. The day is here.
The Road to Jove has its plush new website and a Patreon page, complete with Milestones, Rewards, and a teaser video done in a crackling, corrupted, post-apocalyptic “recording from the 1920s” feel which (thanks, David) I’m dead happy with.
The 14 pages of the prologue are already up on the new site, and the first page of Chapter One: Black Feathers starts on Monday.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, here’s all you need to know about the Road, and the story so far.
Sevatar, as a child on Nostramo – by Disarmonia, on DA. Oh, man. I get spoiled in terms of reader art already, but it’s been incredible recently. I adore this.
Flesh, flesh, flesh, the crows cawed.
Jago dropped the dead boy’s ankles and sat down, catching his breath.
Flesh, he replied. Save me some, he said to the birds as they flocked down onto the corpse.
Yes, Boy, they kept cackling. Yes, yes, yes. Save some for Boy.
You can have the eyes, he told them. I don’t like the eyes.
They croaked crow laughter at this oldest of jokes between them. They knew the Boy never ate the eyes. He’d tried once, and the meal had made him see things. The Boy bled sweet man-blood from his nose and ears for hours, and slept all night, twitching on the stone.
By OutlandIdol, on DeviantArt.
Wow. Seriously in love with this.
Thanks to everyone that linked it to me on various forums and FB groups, and anyone that commented on it on FB with spoilers is now my enemy.
Good news and bad news, my pretty chickens. The good news is that I just about have a new office now, after many hours of construction work, ballache, and cash money. It’s taken a long time, but the Aaronorium has gone from one room (a games room) to three (a games room, an office, and… I guess another games room).
The whole thing is basically a series of braced and insulated wooden rooms constructed inside a previous structure: the latter of which takes the form of these old linked farm sheds, which used to hold cows, mud, dust, mould, and the skeletons of five million dead birds. Perhaps even their ghosts, too. I lacked the requisite equipment to check for bird souls trapped between this life and the next.
Here’s a photo of me in a storm of rock dust, just after we finished grinding through the wall between the second and third rooms.
I’ll give you guys and girls a proper tour inside when it’s decorated in a week or two, but at least the fucker’s built.
Anyway, the bad news isn’t that I’m using all the construction work as an excuse for no progress. No, the lack of progress was because I’m me, and I’m eternally useless. I painted half of 3 World Eaters that I didn’t like, half of 1 Thallax that was too dark and which I hated, and built 4 Tau Stealth Suits (5 tau models in total if you count the marker drone – and let me assure you, you bastards, that I do. I take every teeny-tiny victory that I can.)
No, the bad news is that I had to sell a huge amount of my Heresy (and Blood Angels / Angels Numinous) stuff to recover from the financial ball-flicking of all the construction work. A treasure trove of bits, kits, and every bolter variant you can imagine, into the aether. It’s set me back no small degree, as well as being about as heartbreaking as the time I hocked all my RPG books on eBay to pay my rent for 3 months. That one still hurts. But needs must, right? Onwards and upwards.
Also my grandma died, and so did my car. But these events aren’t related, either to each other or to hobbying.
I’ve got a Myrmidon Destructor on my painting table at the moment, and he’s going to get some love in the next few days. I’ve also scavenged a chunk of Mechanicum models from here, there, and everywhere, so I may press-gang them into the firing line just to have something, anything, done – just to get myself going.
Either way, I’m down but not out. And it gives me an excuse to use the new Martian Ironearth, which looks lush. Anyone using that already? Reviews in the comments, please.
Rather than put the update off any more and wait for me and Neil to get our thumbs out, I wanted to show you what’s been done so far, because Jesus Christ, guys, for really reals, look:
Jordan’s been learning/using airbrushes for the first time, with some smugness-inducing results. He was the first to Go Big on the new Space Marine bases, but we’ve all done the same as well. (I’ve got them on my XV25s, too. They look rad.)
He’s got a huge-ass Forge World order on the go for next time, which is beautiful in its promise of midnight-clad carnage:
John’s been busy, too – he got his Blood Angel Command Squad done, with his next project already built:
It’s sort of weird how effective the simple helmet swaps are, ageing the models back to an entirely different era. I dig that.
My first thought at seeing them was “Oh, shit, I should do that with my Angels Numinous Sanguinary Guard”, and my second thought was “Oh, shit, I sold all the Sanguinary Guard boxes and now I’m sad.”
My third thought was “Damn you for doing stuff when I’ve been useless, John”.
And my fourth thought was probably about basketball, because although the Phoenix Suns are a hot mess, I still love them.
Without further ado, here’s Eddie with some more Fallen Angels, many of which reach between the 30K and 40K eras in irritatingly cool ways. I’ve seen a fair bit of Heresy Traitor armies that can double as Chaos Marine armies, and I’m always pretty taken with the idea, especially given how much more common it’ll be as the Heresy advances towards Terra.
These are the Iron Wardens of Aldurukh. Look upon them and despair.
No? Not enough for you?
Have some Fallen Angels Obliterators because Eddie was in the mood to do them:
And then, one of the Iron Riders of Caliban:
And in the man’s own words: “Those troublesome Dark Angels, left behind by the Lion on Caliban have been experimenting with forbidden Daemonology (when the cat’s away…)
So now, when they find themselves in a pickle, they can call in reinforcements on the fly (ba-dum-tish).”
I think it needs expressing again that he does these, out of boredom, while waiting for the rest of us.
And lastly, there’s a Fallen Angel Lord on a daemonic Black Lion of Caliban.
This makes me think two things:
1. Imagine Lion El’Jonson’s face when he goes home and sees the Fallen Angels again. “Hey, Luther, how are you guy d– OhmyfuckingGod.”
2. Even for Eddie this is pretty damn magical.
Update concluded, my lovelies.
More to come soon.
Late-Breaking Edit: Getting an unexpected expression of sympathy on FB and Twitter over the current impoverished state. Which is lovely! But honestly unnecessary. Yes, we’re currently dirt-poor, but it was a noble sacrifice that basically gave me a new office with two nice side rooms. Selling minis to cover a housing spending spree definitely sucks, but we’re not starving or homeless, so please don’t take my teeth-grinding confession of mini-selling as anything more than a hobbyist’s lament. (Plus, all the bitz went to good homes, so I’ll probably see a fair amount of those bitz shooting at me from across a table next year. Every cloud, silver linings, all that jazz. Thank you, though – what a surprisingly sweet reaction, you crazies.)
House Dembski-Bowden recently got back from a trip to Portugal, which was a cross between beautiful, serene, a hellish skullfuck of being without decent wi-fi, and the easily imaginable chaos of a toddler in the middle of his toilet training.
D’you want some photos?
Tough shit. Here are some photos.
And last of all:Katie took all of these pics. Well, except the Rihanna ones. I took those.
This is the first time I’ve seen them and had a genuinely gut-punchy emotional reaction. Not just “This person gets it” or “This really captures them perfectly” – or even “They look better here than in my head”, the last of which is true with surprising frequency. Not even “I love that my characters meant so much to someone”, which is about as perfect a feeling as an author can get.
In this case, I mean an actual wrenching internal lurch that made me feel – just for a moment – the same way so many people feel when they tell me they miss First Claw. It was the first time that seeing them again actually made me miss them, too.
Here’s Augustus’ thread if you want to see more of his work.
As you’re probably aware, our webcomic The Road to Jove is up and running, and we’re about halfway through the Prologue: In Crow Country.
I’m getting a lot of questions about it and I thought it was probably time to shed some light on a few of the recurring ones. Firstly, thank you if you’ve been reading and enjoying it so far. The feedback’s been awesome considering how new it is, and how little we’ve promoted it through traditional webcomic channels.
Here’s where we’re at right now.
- The Website. We know, we know, it’s very bare bones, but the fact it exists at all is an engineering marvel. I wanted to say thanks to a surprising number of people who’ve come forward and offered to do us a website for free. That’s incredibly generous and super-humbling. The prologue was a soft opening so we could get our wheels spinning, and we’ve got a new site in the making by the wonderful gentlemen at 49th Floor. Everything should be ready for y’all when Chapter One: Black Feathers goes live in about a month or so.
- Physical Copies. The intention was always for RTJ to be a webcomic, but there’s a constant stream of requests for physical copies – and that’s something a lot of webcomics do at various points in their run, too. We’re looking into it. It’ll definitely happen at some point, in some form, but we want it to be great. Throwing up a temporary website for the prologue is one thing. Releasing and distributing physical copies of something like this will need a fair amount of work. tl;dr – Yes, at some point.
- Is It Free? We’ve both had various friends in marketing shout at us about this, as well as other artists and writers saying we’re insane for doing this for free. Not because any of those guys and girls are tools, but because it’s taking a lot of work and a lot of our time, as well. We’ve even had interest already from traditional comics publishers, which is sort of scary. David and I went into this as endearingly naive as you can imagine about the whole process, which is probably understandable, so we had no idea just what a bitch it was going to be on our free time. I mentioned elsewhere that we now have over 100 reference images and a novel-and-a-half’s worth of notes for the project (about 150,000 words at this point). The prologue going online first like this was our canary down the coal mine to see how everything worked in reality. That means it’s free, but it’s also very, very slow. We can’t sustain more than one page a week with all our other work commitments, so we’re looking into the possibility of monetising it in order to speed the hell up. That may take any number of forms since we’ve got a few decent options on the cards, but the most likely angle will be Patreon, like X-million other webcomics. If we do that, RTJ will still be coming out for free but voluntary monthly patronage will speed us up significantly, and come with a bunch of extra rewards. More on that later, if and when we do it.
- How Much Do You Bring It Up? Not very much. Weekly update links and links to interviews, as you’d expect. Recent changes at BL have a tighter lid on current projects so I share my novel stuff a lot less on social media, but I have a personal rule of keeping self-promotion to only about 25% of blog posts or Facebook/Twitter updates at maximum. (Yes, I’m aware this is much less than a lot of writers. Shut up. I’m shy.)
For the record, here’s our first RTJ interview with Liam Salt at The Cult Den, and I keep forgetting to mention that David’s doing commissions for kicks as a change of pace, so hit him up if you want something done.
That’s the Legion I finally settled on.
We’re a week from the first deadline so I thought it was time to share a little more jazz behind the process. Those who’ve read my work might think that the XII Legion was the most obvious answer in the world. The truth is that there’re several reasons that the World Eaters were dead last on my list of possible Legions, but have risen inch by inch – clawing over the carcasses of fallen and unworthy ideas – to stand proud at the apex of my hobby pile.
Maybe they’re holding axes in their hands while they’re up there, screaming their hatred to an uncaring and distant genetic grandsire. Maybe! That’d be pretty dramatic, right? How super-deep.
However, it’s much safer to assume that they’re really looking at every other project I’ve abandoned in the past and wondering if their place is already assured on what John French calls my “Shelf of Shame”.
As I’m fond of reminding people, I used to play with a 4,000-point High Elf army, of which a single Phoenix Guard was the only painted fellow. I like to think that in the narrative of that particular army-wide failure, his rank-upon-rank of elven friends exalted him as a hero. They probably just bullied him, though.
I had some nice results with a variant Emperor’s Children colour scheme that Eddie suggested, so I may have them show up at some point. I like that idea a lot, and I prefer mixed-Legion Expeditionary Fleets as a general rule.
I sense we’ve strayed, here. What the fuck was I talking about?
Oh, yeah, World Eaters. Specifically, the fact they were dead last on my list.
I’ll go into that later, as it’s not all that interesting or relevant. Here’s why I ended up deciding to do them, instead.
1. My impatience is maximum. I think it’s probably fair to say that – of the Legions – the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, and Thousand Sons, will be the most distinctive four, and I’ve got a feeling they’ll be the most ornately done; the most popular and attractively sculpted. That’s probably not an unfair guess given how distinct those Legions look in artwork, how different their rules are likely to be in some cases, and how overwhelmingly popular they are in the license. It feels like a safe bet to say they’re probably going to be something special. The Ultramarines are a similarly safe bet to make that Top Four into a Top Five, but I digress.
The first reason I’m choosing the World Eaters is because I can’t be bothered to wait for any of those guys. Fuck that.
2. The models are lush. The second reason is that the World Eaters look great. Their shoulder pads, their Contemptor, and their head/torso upgrade kits are dead lush. A lot of the Legion-specific torsos work for any Legion anyway, but the World Eaters are especially sexy.
3. My friends are all on the Blue Team. The third reason is because of who I actually play with beyond the Tale of Five Heretics and its various guest stars. My local 40K/RPG pals are almost uniformly into loyalist Chapters or the various branches of the Mechanicum. They’ve already said they’ll be going along similar lines if they ever get into the Heresy, and the rough landscape here looks a bit like Mechanicum, Imperial Fists, Space Wolves, and a Knight Household, so… Yeah.
In that respect, the call of the Red Team is somewhat inevitable. I have no real preference on Red or Blue Teams. I just need a decent storyline to run with.
The fourth reason is the main one, and that’s because I had an idea for an army.
4. Cohort LN-27-5555. Cohort LN-27-5555’s serial number is a bastardised mesh of its original garrison assignment code and its subsequent place in one of the many Expeditionary Fleets ranging far from the light of the Emperor and his primarchs. There’s nothing especially noteworthy about them in this regard. The cohort has always been said to serve as a haven and exile for squads blighted by disciplinary failures, but the same is often said of countless World Eater forces. The veracity of this claim has variously been challenged or ignored by the cohort’s command structure, depending on the officer in charge at the time.
By the way, no points for spotting the blatant referential nod in the name.
5. “So how ’bout them bolters?” Cohort LN-27-5555 was utterly unprepared for the Heresy. While the same could be said for many Legiones Astartes forces spread across the galaxy, in the cohort’s case it was more a matter of lacking the requisite armament, not reluctance or a lack of information.
Since its inception, LN-27-5555 has been armed for service primarily against xenos threats, leaving compliance of human worlds to its secondary forces, such as the Mechanicum and Army counterparts present within its Expeditionary Fleet. In keeping with such duties, the cohort still possess an abundant armoury of volkite weaponry, rotor cannons, chainaxes, and rad-weapons for annihilating alien targets. If you’ve read the rules, those the kinds of things that tend to either be specifically designed to kill xenos in the lore, or aren’t all that brilliant at killing Space Marines in general.
In contrast, the cohort lacks the increasingly abundant supplies of plasma and bolter weaponry more tactically viable against ceramite, and they now themselves relatively disadvantaged in confrontations with their own kind as the Heresy rages closer to Terra.
6. From Rebels to Chaos Marines. This is the big one in terms of the army’s appearance. White is one of the few colours I can reliably paint fairly quickly, if not particularly beautifully, and that makes it pretty tempting right away. But bear with me, as I’m doing mine red.
One of the questions I get asked a helluva lot is: When do the World Eaters go from white and blue to red and brass? It’s a great question; one that’ll be answered in the fullness of time. I can answer when mine go from white to red, though. Right now.
I want my cohort to have a transitory vibe. They’re up to their necks in the Heresy, partway between the unstable Space Marine Legion they were and the blood-maddened Chaos Marines they’ll become. Not yet Warp-touched or decorated in symbols of Khorne’s favour, but definitely on the way there.
The ways I’m going to show the transition from “rebel” to Chaos Marine won’t win any awards for originality, but I think they’re going to look distinctive and effective all the same.
One of my favourite pieces of old World Eater lore is the way it’s common to see a single piece of their old heraldry and colour scheme showing through all of the red and brass that they’re more commonly associated with as Khorne’s chosen. I love that image, and it’s stuck with me for years. With the cohort, I think it’ll be done with their Legion shoulder pads. The rest of them will be red, but they’ll keep their original colours on their shoulder guards.
They wear the Eye of Horus on their opposite shoulder guards to show their allegiance to the Warmaster, not just as a Heresy-era practicality but also as a modelling nod to their eventual fate. A lot of Chaos Marines have the Eye of Horus on their armour, and while the cohort has no idea of its future in the Eye, the grand tradition followed by so many Chaos Marines shows it has its roots in simpler, more innocent and ignorant (and conversely, more loyal) beginnings.
My first month’s pledge is a Despoiler Squad, kitbashed to heck and back from a squillion kits. (I don’t ever convert. I just kithbash lots.)
Anyway, that’s why I chose the World Eaters. I have to admit, I’m, dead psyched about all this.
As promised, the reasons why the World Eaters were dead last on my list are below. I try to avoid playing anything I write about, and writing about anything I play, and I’ve always played very shooty armies. I’ve mentioned this in interviews a bunch of times, but if you’re at all interested, here’s the dealio:
- Excuses, Excuses…
The reason for several failures at getting a Chaos Marine army going (along with the usual amateurish gripes about Forge World’s Plague Marines being too hard to paint) is because one of the easiest – and wrongest, and stupidest – ways to make a writer look bad is to say “She/He only made Faction X look good in a novel because he/she loves them”. It’s never true for anyone over age 12, but the myth persists.
Admittedly I don’t get it a lot, but it still annoys me when I see it said about anyone.
It’s the licensed fiction equivalent of saying a musician has sold out. “They sold out” might’ve once meant something, but now it means something completely different to almost everyone who says it (like “hipster”, these days) and is usually teenage shorthand for “I don’t like this but other people do, thus I’ve remained pure and other people suck”.
So to avoid that particularly stupid trope, as if anyone is that unprofessional in their day job, I’ve tried to avoid my hobby and writing crossing over too many times. Plus, I like so many things in 40K that it’s not really hard to avoid that crossover.
I’ve been getting over that pandering, lately. The more I write, the less I care about triggering a frothing opinion somewhere. These days, I trust most readers and reviewers with the discretion and intelligence not to make those kind of assumptions, and if someone is the kind of soul to genuinely think “He made a faction good because they’re his fave army” then you know there’s basically no reasoning with them, anyway.
I write what I have ideas for at the time. If I wrote what I loved most, you’d all be proud to ignore One Ratskin Guide’s to Life in the Necromundan Underhive, interspersed with instalments in That High Elf Love Story Which Will Never Be Written Now Because of the End Times.
I don’t like any faction more than any other; I just like different aspects of different factions at different times, the way people’s favourite songs can rotate and shuffle year by year. For nostalgia reasons, I tend to dig the Blood Angels sliiiiightly more than the other Legions but that’s nostalgia, not: “I think these guys are more interesting”. I like the Transformers cartoons out of nostalgia and still enjoy them. I don’t think they’re better than, say, Deadwood, or HBO’s Rome.
This is the kind of headache-tastic handwringing that has plagued me for years, but I’m getting over it now like a big boy.
Another thing that put the World Eaters dead last is that I’ve played shooty armies for most of my gaming life. My 4,000pt. High Elves did a lot of shooting. My 1,000pt. Wood Elves did nothing but shoot. My 1,000pt. Chaos Marines were Marked by Khorne (not even my favourite god)… and apart from the Biker Squad they did nothing but shoot all the time. My House Cawdor gang, who were juiced up with bonuses for hand-to-hand combat, also did nothing but shoot and throw grenades.
Well, they also died a lot. That should go without saying.
So, y’know, an army predicated on melee often needs transports (which I’ve historically been too scared to paint and risk fucking up) and when it comes to playing I tend to default to what I’m used to. Which, of course, is standing back and shooting.
But I’m trying something new, here.
And now you know.
This is probably the last of the annual videos for Shakes to look back on one day and hate me for. I’d always planned to do three – not just for him, but for distant friends and family, too – so here’s (probably) the last. I know I wouldn’t want my entire growing-up reduced into bitesize chunks on my dad’s blog (or, in fact, anywhere…) so I don’t want to inflict it on the beloved heir, either.
As with the first and second years, the usual rules apply. Feel free to give it a miss if you have zero interest in the Dembski-Bowden clan. No harm, no foul. You don’t force-feed me videos of your kids, after all. It’s only fair if you ignore mine, too. I still love y’all.
Allies of the family, take note: there’s a big announcement in this one.