Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

Adepticon 2010

Chicago – and the Adepticon experience within it – doesn’t translate well into a retelling. That’s why I’ve struggled so much to write this update.

People ask me if we went to see the bright lights of the big city, and the answer is no.

People ask me if we took loads of photos, and the answer is no.

People ask me if we brought back loads of souvenirs from the States, and again, the answer is no.

With disbelief straining their faces, people ask if  we even left the hotel, and the answer to that is “Yeah, of course, but not that much.”

For me, Adepticon in Chicago was something of a landmark moment, and one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The con itself eclipsed my preconceptions by a huge degree, with some serious crowds taking up the entire mass of the huge-ass hotel. I can see why so many gamers in the States flock there; it’s a nexus of tabletop carnage over 3 official days (and 1.5 unofficial ones), and the atmosphere was absolutely unrivaled. You’ve got conference room after conference room reserved for different games, packed with tables, and the aura is a clashing mix of laughter, clattering dice and cheap beer. I admit, before I went, I was expecting a humble little boredom storm in the ass end of nowhere, but it was absolutely fucking killer.

If I’m lucky enough to get invited again, I’m taking an army with me, so I can get some late night games in. Gaming at 2am in a decent hotel, beer in hand and sneer in place, is the only stylish way to destroy one’s enemies.

I’d planned to try and hang out with Hank and Bill, the Adepticon overseers, but that didn’t pan out – I spent my time either signing things, drinking things, or talking to people about things. I did get a cracking story from Hank about Graham McNeill getting wasted with them when he came over last time. I could tell it was the truth, because he mentioned the words Graham and Drinking in the same sentence. Only people that know him would make such an intuitive connection, cutting right to the core of his highlandish character.

Let’s break the weekend down into quantifiable parts:

  • Uncle Vince

Black Library’s American uberlord is Vince Rospond – a man I was greatly afeared of meeting. Is “afeared” actually a word? I thought it was, and I just used it there to be funny, but the auto spellcheck thing is red-lining it and calling me a retard. No matter. Let’s press on.

Vince wasn’t the slick, pony-tailed badass biker that I was expecting. (Which is good, because I already have Jim Swallow in my life for that. The quota is filled, the threshold is reached.)

In fact, I think in one of the interviews I did, I called him The World’s Nicest Maths Teacher, which sounds like an insult in the glories of hindsight, but wasn’t meant to be. Something that always defies the stereotype in the States is that once you’re past Immigration, everyone is always really, really nice, rather than the impolite Jesus-junkies you expect them to be from watching the news.

Vince exemplified this Transatlantic benevolence. Three minutes into meeting him, I wanted him to adopt me as some kind of hopeless, wayward nephew. In this family-morphing scenario, I’d know him as Uncle Vince, and whenever I was in trouble, I’d go to my Uncle Vince and he’d be nice and American at me, making it all better. I recall vaguely imagining this, while he talked professional for a while.

Over the course of the weekend, he variously put up with me a) needing naps; b) calling people cunts as I signed their books; c) drinking my bodyweight in coffee every hour; and d) asking about my American sales figures every sixteen seconds. (Very good, by the way. Go team.)

He was also one of those guys who has a story for every occasion, and as I’m the avataric embodiment of a socially-stunted hermit loathing everyone else in the world, I found that quite endearing.

Suffice to say, me and Katie left the States actually missing Vince, which was a good sign that his international niceness worked. I remain unadopted on the nephew scale, though. This displeases me immensely.

  • Interview Stuff

I did two podcast interviews, one for The Gamer’s Lounge, and one for 40K Radio. Usually, I hate doing these things without any prep time, but I think they went okay. I’ll do linkies to them soon.

The thing I recall most was realising this was the very best time to pimp myself to the masses, and instead focusing on how great I think Dan Abnett is. I don’t regret that; it was time well spent.

The first  was with Gamer’s Lounge, and although I only knew Bill and Jay from email, I was fairly confident they were decent enough human beings not to make me look like a tool. It went well, though during my “Jesus, I didn’t get any sleep and I’m totally hungover” nap, the two infidels pounced on Katie in my absence. She did an interview herself, which I’m sure she’ll link to at some point soon. If she doesn’t, I will.

It was around this time that someone (Nathan, I think) managed to get Katie into Blood Bowl. Oh, hell yes.

  • Soul Hunter

Although we sold out of Helsreach in the first few hours (Fuck yes), the thing I ended up signing by a ratio of about 5-to-1 was Soul Hunter. And not new copies, either. For the first time, I was confronted by people who’d already read my work, and were bringing me the book to sign. I’ve said before that the reception for the book has bordered on the “unbelievably, insanely positive” and that bore true in real life, rather than simply remaining on the aetheric waves of the internet. It would’ve been more awesome had it not been so surreal.

The sheer number of people saying they’re converting armies based on the novel is humbling and hamster-crushingly rad, too. That’ll be easier with a few more distinct groups, which’ll show up in Blood Reaver.

I even got to cross paths with a few guys I’d talked to on various forums (mostly Bolter & Chainsword – hi Dan’s friend Josh), but the first and foremost has to be David, from Heresy Online. David is 7 feet tall, and has stories about being bayonetted by a friend; shot in the chest at an ATM; and throwing people out of windows into ponds. I was surprised he turned out to be my kind of person, because from that description, he sounds like a right twat.

We discussed the week’s important matters, such as the possibility of making a fitness video for the new century’s lazier breed of man: “For maximum ease with minimum results”. This, I knew, was time invested in the right way. To hell with acting as an ambassador for the Black Library. I had Vince and Katie for that. My focus was on higher, more spiritual matters, like how gay the Rainbow Warrior Space Marines are.

  • 40K Radio

We spent a significant portion of the weekend drunk (or hungover) with the guys from 40K Radio. Vince had pre-warned me that I’d be doing an interview with them, and it was probably the thing I was most worried about before we touched down in the States. I’ve been listening to the show for months, so I felt like I kinda knew how it was going to unfold, but I also knew how many thousands of people listened to it… so…

Funnily enough, the one guy from the show I was most confident about meeting, Scott, didn’t make it, because he’s just had a son. But I knew from hearing him talk on the show that he liked Soul Hunter, so I figured I was on pretty solid ground there. I was also dying to take the piss out of his “Tau-riffic” catchphrase. My God, man. Stop saying that, I beg you.

So when he didn’t show up, the word “…fuck” slid around behind my eyes more than a few times.

Spencer and Chipley showed, though. One of the things I knew from the show was that these two are doing the job I wanted to do: they’re paramedics. So that was neat. I stole some ideas off them (and Nathan too, who’s a nurse), regarding resuscitation. If we’re being absolutely honest, Spencer spent all of Saturday in bed, annihilated from Friday night’s 5:30am drink-fest. But he did drink more than most of us, so I went light on the pisstaking the next day.

I enjoyed doing the interview, though it was surreal as hell to be sat in front of them, rather than listening at my desk. Though, a side benefit to actually being a fan of the show meant I recognised Spencer’s voice in the hotel lobby, despite not knowing what he looked like.

I didn’t get to say bye to them – Katie and I spent most of Monday in a state of post-con collapse – which was a shame. But they mentioned maybe heading over to Games Day UK, which would be fucking awesome. Uncle Vince threatened to do it, too.

Which reminds me: I’ll pace myself at the Games Day after-party next time, rather than drink everything in 3 hours and try to keep up with that barbarian McNeill. Some wars cannot be won.

tl;dr — Thanks for letting us come over, Hank. Adepticon was fucking amazing.

April 4, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. So, you’re saying that “American” is now a synonym for nice?

    How American of you!
    Shame I wasn’t able to make it, would’ve forced you to sign Cadian Blood just to spice things up.

    And “Blood Reaver” is the sequel to “Soul Hunter”, or did I miss a memo? Either way, I like it.

    Comment by Nick Risley | April 4, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s the working title for the Soul Hunter sequel, yeah.

      And I did sign a surprising number of CeeBee – about 50-60 in total, which isn’t bad for a low-key book like that.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 4, 2010 | Reply

      • Don’t sell CB short Aaron. My copy’s been circulating around the folks that I gamed with on WoW and has gotten something like 13 out of 20 interested enough to go into a hobby shop and walk out with the start of an army(even if it’s not Guard).

        It’s kinda ridiculous how amazing zombies and Guard go together 😛

        Comment by Nick Risley | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. You didn’t bring back any spam? Do you need me to refill your supply?

    Glad you had fun. Next time I hope that PAX East and Adepticon don’t coincide on the same weekend because it would rock to see you again!

    Comment by John the Great | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  3. Urk!

    I do so dislike 40K radio. I know I’ve only listened to two pieces by them but both times I ended the pieces spitting venom and wondering if they’d even actually read the book they were talking about/talking to the actual author about or if they’d just read the blurb and given the it a quick flick through.

    See….now I’m just angry talking about it. Though I must remember not everyone in the world has the exact same knowledge in their head as I have in mine. If that was the case…..well it’s too hideous to contemplate but needless to say we’d be screwed.

    I’m going to go sit in a corner now and grind my teeth until I’ve calmed down.

    Comment by Xhalax | April 4, 2010 | Reply

    • I like the show because they’re adults, and they have discerning taste. Not always tastes I agree with, but they back up their opinions, the times I’ve seen, with mature outlooks and actual thought. Like the discussions about codices, or the hobby as it relates to parenthood, or careers, or whatever else.

      I also like that they’re unashamed fans of GW and the IP, but aren’t unreserved with it. They don’t like everything no matter what, or rate it all highly with impunity. The vibe I’ve always got from the show was “I wish these guys were my gaming group”, and that was triply reinforced by hanging out with them all weekend.

      I’m not saying there’s never any hyperbole or bias in their reviews or whatever (I’m very sure there is, even if I miss it), but I like that they seem to view the hobby and the IP the same way I do: with a critical eye, yet a lot of love.

      I’m in no way saying there’s no validity in your opinion, Nikki, it’s just that 40K Radio and its style meshes with my headjunk, and scratches one of my itches in my overall view of the GW deal.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 4, 2010 | Reply

      • *The vibe I’ve always got from the show was “I wish these guys were my gaming group…”*

        If they can get me D&D characters quicker the rest of youse, they’re in.

        It is strange how the individual American is lovely, yet en masse they vote for George Bush, buy Black Eyed Peas records and keep letting Joss Whedon’s TV shows get cancelled. Still, in the UK we’ve got ASBOs, N-Dubz and over two hours of soaps on TV a night, so we can hardly judge anyone.

        See you soon, dude; I’ll facebook everyone tomorrow about D&D, birthdays and sundry good news.

        Comment by G | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the shout out. Can you send me a quickie email so I can send you old Dans address. I dont want it floating out in the web lol. Thanks.

    Comment by Josh | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  5. Good luck with that Xhalax.

    I for one enjoy the 40K aspect of 40K radio. I’ve been working through the back catalogue for months now listening to the Codex Review and the various news and such that the US get. And it’s good to hear some support for GW from various people as most of what I get is moaning and negativity.

    I have yet to hear a book review by them so I’ll have to remain quiet on the matter.

    Looking forward to the Podcast Mr. D-B. Congrats on surviving Adepticon.

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the excerpt! Wow, looks like i must have made an impression. 🙂 I had an absolute blast hanging out with you and Katie over the Adepticon weekend. Although driving home hungover isn’t as fun as i thought it was going to be. lol

    I’d love to get that fitness video done up. that would be fucking awesome. Not to mention that we laughed ourselves to tears over it behind the booth. Uncle Vince must have thought we’d lost it in our drunken stupor.

    If you go to Blue Table Paintings youtube channel, you’ll see a segment of me with Shawn.


    good times had by all! Hey, i hope to hang out with you two again! that would be some fun shit. Maybe i’ll grab a ticket and fly over for a week, sleep in my car like i did for Adepticon. best two hours of sleep in my life.

    cheers mate!


    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 4, 2010 | Reply

  7. Aaron,

    It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and Katie at Adepticon. I don’t recall if I mentioned it, but my wife is a librarian. She finds it funny, in both the amusing sense and the odd, that I spent a good chunk of my weekend in the company of an author. I keep telling her you’re just a gamer dude with a knack for wordsmithery, but she’s not buying it.

    It was great to just “hang out” and discuss, under varying states of sobriety, American health-care reform, the logistics of fornication while running, matters of literal life and death, and the finer points of hearing-aide cuisine.

    If ever you and/or Katie find yourselves in Dallas, you’ll always have a place to stay on my plantation.


    P.S. If my brief foray with passing Orks has remotely sparked a Blood Bowl interest in Katie, I am both shocked and honored. The last time I fumbled around that ineptly while a cute girl watched on there was a bra clasp involved…

    Comment by CrayolaSmoker | April 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. Glad you enjoyed your trip to the States, at least.

    And if you really want to get someone to help you with some Serious Drinking at an American convention, this is what you do: Have a few beers with them and comment that they seem like pretty decent drinkers… for Americans. Their sudden muscle-reflex urge to prove themselves ‘decent drinkers’ without the qualifier will grant them the stamina to stay with you until someone keels over vomiting up their liver.

    Comment by MythicFox | April 5, 2010 | Reply

  9. Only one thing for me to say “Honey stop scarring the Americans” Man it was great to meet you and Katie. Hope to be at Games Day UK to drink with you again!

    Comment by Victor (Regulator) | April 7, 2010 | Reply

  10. Cadian Blood, low key book?! What the f*** are you on about?! It’s a masterpiece! By the by, I generally don’t read the Chaos books. I found it hard to imagine a sympathetic character amidst all the dripping evil, well bugger me sideways if Soul Hunter isn’t just an awesome read. I’m going to have to do a review for bscreview.com

    Comment by Phillip | April 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Yes, Cadian Blood was a very good book and it’s tied for first place with Rebel Winter for me in terms of the Guard books.

      However, I think that the Imperial Guatd books do get a bit overlooked and foreshadowed in 40K due to things like the Horus Heresy, Guant’s Ghosts, the Ultramarines series and even the Cain novels by comparison.

      Comment by Xhalax | April 7, 2010 | Reply

  11. Lawl…you said “Rainbow”…

    Comment by Gorgonzola | April 7, 2010 | Reply

  12. Rainbow Warriors, AGAY!…i mean… AWAY!!!

    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 7, 2010 | Reply

  13. Hey Aaron,

    Just finished listening to your interview on 40K radio. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!! Pure entertainment brother! Looking forward to reading Soul Hunter. Peace out!


    Comment by Jonathan Blake | April 15, 2010 | Reply

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