Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Forum Life

I need to cut down on the amount of time I spend on forums.

Firstly, it eats up a surprising amount of time to reply to a bunch of stuff related to my work, and that’s despite having very little released yet. Secondly, I go to 40K forums, and have for years, for conversion ideas and painting inspiration. Add the natural cycle of forum clickage to my newfound commenting habits, and you’re racking up a lot of lost minutes. Thirdly, I’m aware that familiarity breeds contempt, and as someone wisely said: “You’re not their mate. It’s going well now, but when you do something wrong, the fact you’re there and they know you will make it easier to tear you to pieces.”

And I think there’s a serious truth to that. But still, I’ve been addicted to various forums for about 10 years now, and I enjoy answering questions, offering a little behind-the-scenes insight, and just generally talking to people about the fact we all like the same sort of stuff. That’s not the problem, really.

The problem is, I’m probably doing a bit too much of it, lately. Since I quit WoW a few months ago, fucking around on forums has taken up increasingly more of my time. Today, that sort of came to a head when I realised I’d spent 3 solid hours going across various sites, answering questions, generally chatting, and checking out how some guy had painted up his Black Legion. (Awesomely, by the way. They were painted up most excellently killerish.)

But 3 hours, man. That’s not good. This is not optimal. So I’ll work on it.

Recently, the BL website came back without forums, and I couldn’t be happier. I wasn’t a massive fan of the place anyway, the undercurrent of entitlement was a little ragged and raw, the amount of fanfic I got asked to read was unbelievable (although, please note, I’ll do that for my friends or nice people in a heartbeat, if I have the time), and too many people liked books I didn’t, so it was hard for me to take people’s opinions seriously. This is why I never read my favourite authors’ reviews, by the way. I got tired of going across various genre forums and getting throat-deep in shit-pits over the fact Robin Hobb isn’t boring, David Gemmell had more than one storyline, and Dan Abnett would be  the next Frank Herbert by now if he didn’t do licensed fiction. “Have you read Legion? No? Then fuck off, because it’s liquid genius. On one hand, it’s one of the best sci-fi books of the decade. On the other hand, you smell like a rhino’s balls.”

But seriously, folks.

With the demise of the BL forum, I’m mostly pleased because adding another forum to my track list would bring me closer to one of those writers who just talks about writing instead of actually doing it. You know the type. If you’re at university on a writing degree, you probably are the type. We’ve all been there.

Here are the forums I go to. It’s a list that may or may not help any lost and lonely ex-BL forumite looking for a new home.

1. Heresy Online.

This place is killer. It’s quiet, but far from empty, and has a fairly sizable population. So far, all the reviews and chats I’ve either seen or been part of have all been decent conversations. It has a modest but keen BL section, in addition to all the various gaming/hobby stuff. I’m really keen on it, even if I’ve had to cut back on my posting there to get some actual writing done. But so far: smart people, good talking, nice conversion ideas to steal. This’d be the one I recommend to wayward BL forumites.

(They also have a cool medal thing, where, like, you get all these medals under your name if you do certain stuff on the site. They look fun.)

2. Bolter & Chainsword.

Definitely a hobby forum rather than a BL one, but the various subforums get a fair bit of discussion. On a forum this size you’re always going to get some… ineloquent debate… but I’ve been going to B&C for years now, and I’m an unashamed fan. The people that comment on the novels run the gamut, obviously, but the standard of debate is usually pretty damn high. The positive response to Soul Hunter there has absolutely floored me, with some really insightful discussion – whereas during the novel’s actual writing, it was the one place I was secretly certain they’d want me dead.

3. Warseer.

The king of 40K forums. Insanely huge traffic, and often referred to as Warsmear or Warsneer. When it’s good, it’s absolutely great. When it’s bad, it’s 6,000 kids screaming at each other and 12,000 adults sighing at how shit everything is. I do my best to check back there, but it’s a lot of effort to sift through everything, sometimes. So many of the users seem to hate absolutely everything – although I have to say, Soul Hunter’s reception there has been pretty much as awesome as everywhere else, thankfully.

It’s kinda weird, but as a wiser man than me once said: “Gamers are haters”.

4. /tg/.

I don’t post there, but I’ve looked around for a few years. I don’t really know why. They hate a lot of stuff, too. Unless it’s not popular, in which case, it rocks. RPGnet used to be like that.

5. The Black Library Bolthole.

I’m divided about this. Some BL fans are on this mental, sneering tirade about the death of the official forums, and it’s difficult to look at people behaving like that and respect them, even if you know they’re the people that might be buying your work. I also hate the site’s colours, and can’t work out how to edit my posts, because I’m a glorious retard. And since it’s the most recent (only been lurking there since BLL), it’s difficult to muster enthusiasm for adding another site to the cycle, especially when it’s currently rammed with self-important, misguided people whining about the Death of Everything because BL decided it was bored of  moderating forums. It’s also the closest thing to an official BL site, though it’s currently fairly humble in size.

On the other hand, it has an Ask the Author section that I should probably at least try to engage in, and is run by Sarah, who I adore – despite the fact she’s a LARPer.

So consider yourself updated.

March 18, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. I know the feeling, A.D.B! I got quite a few forums I frequent and tend to lose time on them. *Sigh.* But a few have good people on them. You’ve been to the main one I frequent mostly! *Shifty eyes.*

    When BL came back with their website, I jumped for joy basically. Though it did sadden me with the lack of forums. I kinda think it’s a bit of a slap, but something to get over. I don’t really need/want to many of the other fan sites/Facebook/Twitter.

    Anyways onto the list of forums:

    1) Heresy Online: Never really been there sadly. So I can’t comment.

    2) B&C: It’s a pretty awesome forum and the people there can be awesomer. Friendly to cruel, it’s got everyone.

    3) Warseer: Ehh… I lurk there (Not even a member) and I really don’t have much good to say about the place. It’s good with all the forums you can look at, but the people tend to make me gag. If it weren’t for reading BL books before visiting the site, I doubt I would have even gotten into WH40k.

    4) /tg/: *Shudder.*

    5) BL Bolthole: The same as Heresy Online, though I have never heard of it.

    Comment by Lord of Insanity | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. I don’t hang around forums anymore. I used to hang around the WW forums but after the big change over from the black and orange forums to the blue and grey ones, I just never went back.

    Comment by John the Great | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. Forums are the bane of productivity. It’s amazing how one more post can lead to hours of lost time that in the end when you think about it, gained you nothing. (“Hold on honey, can’t come to bed now, somebody on the internet is wrong!”)

    As far as I recall, you have a background in computer game writing, MMOs specifically? (Age of Conan?) Anyway, same here, and it seems to be those who have had something to do with the computer games industry suffer from the forum addiction thing on higher levels. Not sure why that is. Possibly also a side effect of WoW withdrawal. I went cold turkey on WoW a few months back here as well and suddenly found my forum browsing shot up to ridiculous levels.

    Check out a blog called ‘Elder Game’, they have an article about how to utilize forums well and avoid pitfalls, which was primarily aimed at game developers, but I think it fits well with your situation as a writer on some points: http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/taming-the-forum-tiger/ (Warning, more time wastage ahead)

    I’ve seen so many creative works bashed on forums by barely literate mouthbreathers that I honestly would stay far away from any forum that discussed anything I did. The quality of what you do has nothing to do with it. I’ve seen people vehemently opposed to Dan Abnett’s 40k books.. I mean seriously… That’s not a taste difference, that’s just an idiocy difference. I’ve seen staunch defenders of stuff that is agreed by most players to be sewage in literary form (which I won’t mention here). I’ve seen c-beams glitter in the darkness near the Tanhauser ga… oh wait.

    In general, the only thing you can gain is ‘what do the majority think’. That is, if you have the mental and testicular fortitude to endure having everything you do torn apart, shred by shred, and every word you say twisted into something else.

    If I had to do it, I’d post under a pseudonymn and absolutely never, ever let on to who I was. (That would include links to my personal blog in my sig.)

    Comment by Plastic Rat | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. I miss Portent. It was never the same when it returned as Warseer. Though apparently while I frequented Warseer on a regular basis I was “Queen of the Wastes”….though I never found this out until last night when I joined The Bolthole.

    Overall, I have forums swings. I’ll either be on my chosen forums all that time doing an average of 50,000 posts a day or I’ll not be on at all…which usually means someone or something has happened that’s really annoyed me and will think “I don’t have to put up with this crap!” and I’ll disappear for three months.

    As for no BL boards….I’m with you on that on Mr. Dembski-Bowden. Plus I feel rather ashamed by the conduct and comment of others over the website and the removal of the forums….almost to the point where I don’t want to call myself a fan as I don’t want to be affiliated with such behaviour.

    Truth be told, I think I’ve grown/fallen out of forums….i joined The Bolthole and as but as it was an ego shot in the arm to be welcomed with open arms and remembered by some…I’m not sure I belong there as it’s more of a writer’s forum more than anything….and I don’t write.

    And bugger…..since I like 90% of everything I read in some way/shape/form, my opinion won’t be taken seriously. …..Hang on a minute, that means I can say really outrageous things now and get away with it. Awesome!

    Comment by Xhalax | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Do it, Xhalax. I dare you. Say something outrageous and gone right here and now.

      *Shines light.*

      Comment by Lord of Insanity | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  5. Nothing for me to add to what’s been said already really.

    I would just like to mention http://www.thegreatcrusade.co.uk (I know, I know, you’re trying to reduce your forum time, not increase it!). It’s run by Laurie from BLTV and I’ve found it to be one of the best forums around – a fairly small but dedicated group of (Pre-)Heresy modellers/gamers/readers with a really good vibe.

    Comment by Ilmarinen | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. I’ve found the same thing, lately. I’ve had to restrict myself to only checking forums once I’ve done my self-imposed quota of real work for the day (uh, though I must have allowed myself an exemption for Facebook, which is where I found the link to this).

    I find that when regarding tabletop RPGs, I have to be very careful with everything I post on forums — keeping it scrupulously professional, avoiding giving anything away, and being staggeringly polite and patient with the haters. I check other forums like 40K ones and live roleplay ones to blow off some steam and NOT have to be professional, or have patience with idiots.

    I like B&C best, of the ones mentioned, though I think I like DakkaDakka.com even more.

    As for “despite the fact she’s a LARPer” — ha! I’ve heard larpers say the same kind of thing about tabletop wargamers…. as long as she’s about this kind of LARP, who cares?

    (perfect shot apart from the bin and the beercan… have these people never heard of Photoshop?)

    Comment by Ian Sturrock | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Where. The fuck. Did he get. That chainsword.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | March 18, 2010 | Reply

      • Suddenly envious of LARPers? 😉

        Most weapon-makers will do chainswords, if asked, though they’re usually custom items. This is the event, incidentally — a bunch of my friends crewed it and pronounced it awesome:


        It’s even GW-approved, apparently (so long as it remains non-profit).

        Comment by Ian Sturrock | March 18, 2010

      • Aaron, you know my feeling’s about LARPing (I think it’s up there with animal cruelty and open sewers, for those who don’t know me.)

        But I would wear THIS sitting around the house, watching TV, doing the Wii Fit:

        Also, I was looking for a different suit (made by some Dutch guys, I think) and found this one. I think only Black Templar fans make power armour. So brace yourself for power-armoured dudes asking you to sign Helsreach.

        “Can you make it out to Sword Brother Gerhardt of the Unheimlich Crusade?”

        Comment by G | March 18, 2010

    • See, that’s the sort of person that makes me never want to put on a costume ever again….not that I do it very often…but it’s not something I could ever do and look anything other than shit.

      I suspect even my menial costume is going to look crap….and crap suits such a costume choice.

      Comment by Xhalax | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. B&C rocks if you are a power armour fan.. It’s my favourite website… Closely follow by Boot Camp (Imperial Guard to B&Cs PA).

    The very best part of B&C is the Liber Astartes – where people with two much free time mimic the “old” Index Astartes articles from GW.

    Amusingly, I find people who talk to authors to be rather sycophantic – it’s like they’re all 12 year old girls at a *insert popular music group here* concert.

    And you can never spend too myuch time on forums – wht else would I do when I’m not working.. Hell, even when I am!

    I think I’ve been rambling.. 😉

    Comment by Archangel | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. Set a time limit and stick to it. Faff around for an hour a day on forums, but no longer. It’s good to have an on-line presence, but remember that it’s not what you do for a living. You’re not getting paid for it, and it eats into real writing time.

    There’s a bunch of forums I skim, all of which are related to universes I write in and I’ve recently added BL Bolthole to that list. What all the sites have in common is that they’re not “official” but they have a marked presence of “official” people on them. They have places where readers can feel comfortable openly discussing their opinions, but they also have spaces put aside for authors to come in and participate in the discussion. That ‘step back’ that it provides means you don’t have to wade through discussions that are time-sinks or annoying.

    Comment by James Swallow | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  9. Thank god for blogs and RSS feeds. It’s all so much quicker.

    I can do all my net crawling in one sitting that way.

    Comment by G | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  10. Actually, the Bolthole has been around since September.

    I’m working on the skins thing.

    I will sort out the post editing thing later.

    I adore you too, you miserable swine.

    Also, I’m a LRPer who tabletops. I’m clearly above average.

    Comment by pyroriffic | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  11. Time limit!

    If you have shit to do, set the time you have for forum serfing in iron.

    Divide the time between the different forums, and when it runs out, piss off. If you have spare time because you can’t find much on one forum, go back to the ones you like the best (Which is obviously the Bolthole)

    Comment by Ragnar blackmane | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  12. I wouldn’t worry too much about people being too familiar with you on the forums – you’ve got a blog. If someone wants to tell you that your latest book is pure rubbish, they can just do it here. Sure, you can delete ’em, but it’ll still be a pain.

    Gone are the days when writers were mysterious figures tucked away behind publishing houses and literary agents. Now five minutes on the internet can put almost anyone within e-mail or facebook distance of their favorite (or most hated) author.

    So meh, forum away. I’ve seen you posting to B&C; I’ll dig through there now and then, as well as Da Waaagh!. Those are really my only two major forums. I used to patrol a lot of RPGing forums, but while most of ’em are still up, RPGs have moved very heavily to the blogs in the last few years. It just seems a more neatly packaged space for a lot of discussions, but there’s room for both blogs and forums (and even – shockingly – that old dinosaur, the mailing list).

    Comment by Badelaire | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  13. Actually, I picked up “Cadian Blood” because of comments you left on B&C ,where I lurk occasionally. I was impressed that the author took time to engage in some of the more vocal fans’ odd ramblings. So, your “wasting time” on forums has generated more interest in your work. I loved the book, by the way, and will be picking up “Soul Hunter” on Friday.

    Comment by seebo | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  14. We knew it, we always knew you lurked around /tg/
    ooohh you magnificen/tg/entleman you.

    Comment by The Transien/tg/entleman | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  15. You can now edit your posts.


    What colours would you prefer?

    Comment by Pyroriffic | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  16. I was little disappointed when the forum was dropped.

    Although many of the topics were the usual ‘what if’ rubbish.

    I did like the very lengthy discussions about the HH novels especially surrounding Legion and some of the fanfic was really interesting.

    The only thing i recall specifically about your personal comments is that whenever any one asked you anything your first line would be ‘Mr Dembski-Bowden is my father!’.

    Thank you for the info about the other forums. I was aware of B&C and Warseer but had not spotted Heresy Online.

    I can appreciate the issue with forums eating into your work time. I also quit WoW a while back and quickly got hooked on hanging on forums too long.

    Like James says set a time for forums and stick to it. I leave it til the end of the day then i know i’ve done something and it’s a reward (hehe – sad i know!.

    Best of luck – looking forward to The First Heretic and got Soul Hunter on order. Absolutely love the concept of the Night Lords, but don’t like the way they have been represented in the codex in the past. I’m sure you’ve given them a great angle from what i’ve heard.

    Anyway super long post as it’s my first.

    Ta ra

    Comment by Robert | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  17. See Mr. D-B; what you see as ‘faffing’ I see as ‘research!’

    Also agreed with you on Legion – loved that book and inspired my reneging on my Blood Ravens project to begin a project painting up Alpha Legion as loyalists.

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  18. I find it deeply disturbing that you read Whineseer…but not Dakka?

    For Christ’s sake, Aaron, there’s an entire CULT devoted to your novels brewing over there!

    (not that myself, Alpharius, or Reds8n have any particular part in that. Ahem.)

    Comment by Nick Risley | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  19. Here’s an idea- don’t log onto the bolthole at twenty to five in the fricken morning!

    Jesus christ, we don’t have lives… but I expected better from you!

    Comment by Ragnar blackmane | March 19, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m working nocturnally at the moment. Usually do when it’s close to a deadline.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  20. Hey mate (or technically not my mate)!

    thanks for the Heresy-Online shout out. Glad to see that you find the place enjoyable. I’ve done my best to run a good Fiction section as well as the 40k Fluff forum i’ve recently taken hold command of. Hope to see you back soon, although hopefully not for 3 hours! you need to get to writing more kick ass fiction! I’m sure Heresy is the reason that The First Heretic is “wicked late!” Sorry about that, but i understand where you could get sucked in. haha.

    We’ve got a great crew, civil and well-mannered. If any of you want to see what Aaron is talking about, just head on over to Heresy-Online and find out for yourselves. Even if you’re on another forum, i’m sure you’ll find the experience rewarding. Cheers mate, and thanks again for joining the Heretics Aaron, your posts are extremely welcome and you input highly insightful.


    Dave (Commissar) Ploss
    Heresy-Online Fiction and Fluff Moderator

    Comment by Commissar Ploss | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  21. … and where, pray tell, is the Duck agent ?!

    He’s the one we all want to hear from.

    I have a pitch for a TV series with him in, a kind of cross between “House” and “Kitchen nightmares”.

    I figure the show will get cancelled after 1 season but we can embezzle loads of the money and pretend we spent it on expensive CGI instead of hookers and blow.

    Comment by reds8n | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  22. As per the “tirades about BL dropping the forums” on the Bolthole alot of that was happening within the first 48 hours of the news breaking and the whole point of internet posting is that you don’t wait to think clearly about things, the people you are insulting are miles away and don’t know who you are or what you look like so you can just vent. Also the friendly folks at BL did point everyone who was angry on the facebook to go to the Bolthole which wasn’t going to make them less angry just angry at a different location. The last few days haven’t been normal for the community which has been more or less acting like the true core of the BL community I remember since September even annoyingly obsessed with a fair democratic helpful support structure for fanfic writers.

    That said I’m probably not the best one to judge I’m almost 10 years into having internet forums as my main outlet for social interaction with people because it prevents me having the oppotunity to punch them in the face which I believe is still frowned upon in society so they all rock to a degree.

    Comment by Schafe | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  23. […] Bolthole, so if you miss the old boards you could do worse than head over there. AD-B has also listed some GW-based forums, most of which have some BL content. Definitely worth a […]

    Pingback by No forum? No problem « Chris Wraight | March 23, 2010 | Reply

  24. Bounce, Bounce, bounce and here I arrive with no idea who you are… actually; not true, I do know who you are but just found out like ten minutes ago. I beg your forgiveness for my previous ignorance.

    So a quick scan of your blog shows you to be sufficiently mysanthropic for my tastes. For that and one other thing I now intend to buy a book written by you.

    The other thing is the props to Legion. Opinion seems to have been divided but I esteem this book greatly, if not more than that. If Glen Cook or Steven Erikson wrote in 40K, they’d write a book like Legion. You should mention to Dan Abnett that he should do more of this, the Alpha Legion to my [humble yet brilliant] mind offer possible more scope for freedom of writing than any other legion.

    Comment by Tom | March 24, 2010 | Reply

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