Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

So you want to write Warhammer 40,000: Part II – See?

Here’s a related example, to my post earlier today.

Look how they’ll talk to you. Look at that tone. The sneering, condescension-rich nonsense that froths from their mouths. You’ll have to deal with that. You can never prove them wrong. You’re wrong to them. Worse, they’ll invent reasons why you do your job, because they’re pure of heart trueblooded fans, and you’re just some filth who’s daring to Badtouch the sacred cow. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand the situation and are attacking you on assumptions. Why would reality and facts have any relevance? No, no, best to leap to the worst-case scenario. Yes, they’re right, and everyone else is wrong.

Look at this, and remember that I’m one of the ones with the best reputations for cleaving to the lore. Now imagine why so many other creators and artists in any licensed media avoid their settings’ fans online.

To slow things down, I just wanted to be 100% clear, here. I don’t hate this guy (you shouldn’t, either) – these two blog posts are purely a jokey stab at “So you want to write for 40K?”-style questions,  because I couldn’t be bothered to do a real guide, and this side of it never comes to light. The timing was perfect, with the cover out yesterday.

A five-minute argument online is hilariously undignified (the lack of dignity being the source of The Funny, for both sides), but I don’t judge the dude on one Facebook opinion. It wasn’t an “I have a boo-boo from a bad fan, please kiss it better” post. (Actually, if I do ever do one of those, please kill me.) That said, I do appreciate all the support. OH SHUCKS, YOU GUYS.

But seriously. Be nice to him, especially if you see him on Facebook. This is so, so not something worth going to war over. I’m trying to make The Funny, not beat the drums of battle.

March 29, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. I… I love you, Aaron. Have my babies, and give them all names that will send the “true” fans into nerd-rage. I’m begging.

    Comment by Patrick Freivald | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  2. Hehehehe, I praise you response sir!

    Comment by Rider | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  3. It’s weird that you waste time explaining shit when you’re the creator. Jeez, it’s like Michelangelo explaining the Sistine Chapel.
    Ignore ’em. If they don’t understand that it lasted 7 years don’t explain it to them.
    You’re wasting precious neurons & energy while we , your fans and they (your characters) need those items more than this ass hats deserve.
    So… I don’t know, as an unaccomplished author to a very accomplished author all I can say (and very respectfully, mind you) is: chill?

    Comment by Flying_Dutchman | March 29, 2012 | Reply

    • Sort of. But contact goes both ways. I’d never just only talk to the positive folks.

      Besides, I’ve done both of these blog posts (and the Facebook replies) in about 30 minutes total, on breaks from work. And I don’t sit here genuinely believing either of those guys are evil. I’m sure they’re cool as heck, they just posted ace examples of the kind of thing I was talking about. Beyond an eye-twitch, I don’t rrrreeeeeaaaaally think about this stuff very often.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | March 29, 2012 | Reply

      • but the smiley face emote at the end of his post means it’s all in good fun, right? A smiley face emote is like saying “no offense”, expunging any guilt of actually being a jackass, right?

        oh wait, no it doesn’t.

        Comment by majestyk0012 | March 29, 2012

  4. I’m amazed at how some people can go on and on about things like background lore. Something like the Horus Heresy is always going to be expanded on. I’ve always wanted to write, and I’m working on writing for Black Library. I wonder what he would think of HH work done by someone not writing for BL.

    Comment by Ryan Head | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  5. This is exactly why I admire you, and why I personally steer away from large population pages on Facebook. People aren’t bright, and are too opinionated, but you handle it very well (possibly because you don’t take shit from anyone).


    Comment by Jonathan Jonson McKeown | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  6. Honestly when I saw the cover, my first reaction was “where and when the bloody hell was this?” but before all of these shenanigans, I thought to myself (after rejoicing at the dead Ultramarine being sent via air mail to hell courtesy of Luminarum) “well hey, this probably happened during those unknown years of dark evillness between Istvaan and Terra!” This is not a stretch of fucking consciousness here people. Pay attention when you read, not just squeal when a Primarch kills someone.

    “This image concerns me greatly” woopdyfuckingdoo, get over yourself. You didn’t write the book nor were you contracted to do so, nor did you create the cover art nor were you contracted to do so. The people at BL know the story better than any of us dweebs out in the world because, well, they fucking have to and I have no qualms admitting this.

    If this is what I have in store for me writing 40k, fine. Pipsqueaks will not deter me from adding my name to the BL roster.

    Comment by S.A. Grisom | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  7. people like this remind me of Statler and Waldorf.

    except that Statler and Waldorf were funny

    and puppets.

    well, whatever. Very well written response AD-B.

    Comment by majestyk0012 | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  8. You’re my fucking hero.

    Speaking from my vast background in publishing random crap on internet forums, it’s the sheer nastiness and total condescending arseholery of some people that I don’t understand. It’s fiction, a story that someone’s cobbled together through the use of their own grey matter to entertain themselves as much as anything else. I think everyone writes the story they want to read and ultimately hope that others want to read it too.

    It’s not you barging into someones living room, kicking the TV over then pissing on their drapes whilst fingering their cat.

    People need to calm down a tad. Like it if you like it. Move on if you don’t. I seriously wonder how some of very worst of these ‘reviewers’ manage to function in day to day life without either having an aneurysm or being punched repeatedly in the face by a random member of the public…

    … meh. I’m going to put the kettle on.

    Comment by Gaz | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  9. I think the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ springs to mind… jesus freaking christ!

    Flying Dutchman cuts to the heart of the matter, dont bother with that sort of shit Aaron u r the best author in the whole of Black Library by far!! 🙂 nobody can ever take that from you.

    Comment by VDOG | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  10. So… Did Alberto have the balls to say something after that?

    Comment by Reinout Jansen | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  11. Awesome. Now sort out the Trekkies. Again.

    Comment by Alex Holly | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  12. Woah. You don’t do yourself any favours with that reply. Trust me, as someone accustomed to making an idiot of himself on the internet, it really is true that idiots drag you down to their level.

    But, you are right. It will say so in black and white. Bet that reply’s got a lot of thumbs up, as well…

    And by the time Angron is needed on Earth, he’s going to be able to pimp walk through a warp rift, high-fiving Bloodthirsters, before stepping out in a natty horns ‘n’ wings combo.

    Also, why is always people with Spanish / Portuguese names? Is there a Horus Heresy translation gap?

    Comment by G | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  13. I mean to be honest if I ever criticized yours or anyones lore, it seemms sort of etiquette (and common sense) to toss in something like ‘I may be missing something REALLY obvious here’, or ‘I’m not saying its bad or anything, i actually properly love it!’, or ‘feel free to metaphorically punch me in the face if Ive made a schoolboy error’…

    Not too often as it may devalue it that way but, like i said, etiquette. I know theres little call for it in todays society but etiquette on the internet would genuinely make it a better place…

    About the lore, I think that it is correct to say every BL author has their own slightly different take on it, I mean i like yours aaron because yours is always so nitty-gritty and realistic, I mean im not saying that graham or gav are bad their damnright awesome but with their space marines, their armour practically never needs maintenance and they never seem to vox anyone at all… like i said, every writer has their own take on it, tbh having a bit of variety is a good thing.

    Comment by VDOG | March 29, 2012 | Reply

    • Really? I think mine comes across as snippy and light-hearted, rather than bitchy. I mean, I wasn’t angry. Don’t want to come across that way.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | March 29, 2012 | Reply

      • well unless your commissar cain can u ever really be light hearted in 40k? debatable… :/

        Comment by VDOG | March 29, 2012

  14. Addressing every faction/chapter is quite succesful and necessary and this “alberto di fucktard” is just an asshole. Even though i dont approve some novels, I like the general heresy setting and the series of books that are published and will be published.
    It’s a standart procedure showing your source when you talk about something but thats not the case most of the time.
    I got my share of battle with local teen-nerds who know nothing about 40k and respond me like “OMG IG IS THE MOST POWERFULL ARMY EVAR”, and I also fought against youtube commenters and forum losers and Dow-fans who simply rage as “I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT 40K BUT BLOOD RAVENS ARE THE BEST CHAPTER”.
    Excuse my caps but this is the only way of showing their awesome intellect.
    If you dont like something stop bitching about it, if you think BL is stealing your money just dont buy other novels noone is forcing you to buy it.
    I dont say every BL writer is awesome and every novel/sourcebook is according to my thinking 40K universe. But I do something clever: I choose when i buy stuff. For example i dont buy James Swallow books anymore(reasons are long).
    But generally its not interesting to rage at a company whos main aim is to gain money, which is the main reason why companies exists in the first place.

    Comment by lambdagod | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  15. Awesome. Glad that you are up to the challenge! Hopefully evolution will take its toll on the trolls….

    Comment by northernhomesteader | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  16. And quite frankly that is the most retarded explanation for the Two Lost Legions I have ever seen. That is probably Alberto’s one good point Aaron you could probably take up that story and do it GOOOD 🙂

    Comment by VDOG | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  17. If its like this for you i wonder how Mr Dan Abnett feels when he writes for Marvel.

    I feel your pain, i think we all experiance it to a lesser degree on forums or during games….. But your response has the right amount of tounge in cheek humour to either stoke some epically hilarious nerd rage or perhaps make this gent see the light of day.

    Your next task is to “Dilute” the bible, plenty of missing years in that.

    Comment by mitch | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  18. I dunno what it is with some idiots. I’ve been involved in the 40K community (I can’t really call it being an active player, but, hey, I’ve been around some) for the better part of the last 20 years or so. As far as I can remember, (relatively?) very little was ever put forth about the Heresy, prior to the series itself; when it was mentioned, there’s always the indication that, hey, it was TEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO! Records were lost, or altered, or just plain forgotten. I’ve been awaiting the arrival of the HH series for a while, and I’ve not been let down so far. Each novel adds another piece to the puzzle, fleshes out characters, and makes a couple of paragraphs of fluff into a living, breathing, tragic event. Thank you, sir, for your powerhouse contributions so far (a better adjective fails to come to mind, presently). I think the series concept was just awaiting authors of exceptional charater to bring it to life.

    Comment by Greg C. | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  19. I think the last guy ADB cited as an example had an Italian name.

    Anyhow, thanks Aaron for writing awesome books and taking the time out to engage fans and critics alike. Takes a lot of balls to do that imo.

    As others have pointed out, you are by far one of the best writers in BL’s line up and just an awesome writer period. I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times over and perhaps its lost a bit of its luster, but I say it to remind you that for every whiny, ignorant, rude, and clueless reader there are maybe another 10 that are not so.

    Eh, I’m sure you keep things in perspective just fine. I’m sure its even amusing at times to engage trolls and half arsed whiners. I’m just giving you props for being engaged.

    Anyways, thanks for being so good at what you do. I enjoy your books immensely.

    Comment by steven | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  20. I find it amazing that someone would be happy to deal with fragments of “lore” written in only the most generic terms when they could get awesome stories from talented writers. Crap like that can make your head hurt.

    Comment by Ryan Peterson | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  21. bit unrelated aaron but did you get my e-mail?

    Comment by VDOG | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  22. GW owns the IP and can ret-con the crap out of everything if they wanted. The Black Library authors are the official sanctioned scribes. So every published book is “official and up to date”. That aside, I think the Horus Heresy endeavor has done wonders to add depth and texture to the hastily sketched narrative from the game manuals.

    The crazy part is with all the various issues with FTL travel and Warp time…you could probably fit a lot more into those 7 years than would otherwise seem possible. Why nit pick…just enjoy!

    Comment by S. Eric Rhoads (@WordTipping) | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  23. I just find the idea of the audience being resentful of the company that created the setting deciding to expand the setting to give the audience more to read about it (something they have clamoured for) to be so hysterically, absurdly, hilariously funny.

    I then generally tell them to fuck off.

    Comment by Tim Sweeney | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  24. Of course you shouldn’t rush to an ending with this series! I hope you guys can stretch another twenty or thirty books out of this deal! Some people will nit-pick anything. The Heresy writers are creating this ‘history’ as they go along and I applaud all of u on your work. First Heretic was incredible! The Word Bearers are the Legion that hooked me into WH40K with Dark Disciple. And your Night Lords novels are top notch. Can’t wait for the third to hit e-book availability this month. Death to the False Emperor!!!

    Comment by bigkingcurd | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  25. Hmm, you don’t sound flustered at all lol. I’m of course just giving you a hard time (which is what I gave her, giggidy).

    I hate to admit it, I had my fanboy phase (GHOST BEARS ARE TEH BEST) but this ridiculous. How much of WH40K is vague so that 30K could, at some point, be fleshed out. Every Codex says information was lost between the death of Horus and the the 41st Millenium. I could see if it was, say, British history and someone said that Napoleon wasn’t beaten by Lord Wellington – that’s history. This is a game. A GAME! Science Fiction, for that matter. Tis a bit silly to get THAT wrapped around the pole about it.

    So what you should tell him is that Horus was actually a puff. 🙂

    Comment by Christopher Meyer | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  26. A D-B, I have to say I enjoyed reading both of these articles. It is amusing to me deep some fans fall into our imanginary worlds. Im glad you are (mostly) able to let this kind of thing flow off you back and not let it upset you.
    Now when I was looking over the new cover art I was thrilled. It looks fantastic and I am sure your story will live up to the excitment of the art.

    On the other hand.. that Warhound titan is shooting guns from its snout….. 8-P

    Comment by Jimmy | March 29, 2012 | Reply

  27. ADB you write the setting like a boss! and I am glad for one that you bring the fire to the meatheads that call themselves fans. Everyone should relax and just enjoy the ride that the B.L is taking us on. And for the record as a fan of your word smithing, please, pretty please be the one to write the ending to the battle of terra. It would be epic. An thanks for all the hard work.

    Comment by Clint | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  28. I’m almost certain this will have been asked elsewhere but why did you chose to write about The Word Bearers (or for that matter The Night Lords)? Was it personal choice or were chapters divvied out by GW and you struck gold with two sweet chapters to write about?

    I do have to admit that fan boys do make me want to vomit up my own pelvis in frustration but you get it everywhere in geek culture. With the 40k universe being so fragmented and contradictory at points I can see how people just plain get it wrong. It’s just a shame that you guys (the writers of the Horus Heresy) get it in the neck when one of them proceeds to launch an assault via Keyboard Commando.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and don’t let the eye twitching get to bad or you’ll end up like Stressed Eric. (PS. write about Space Sharks and boarding torpedoes full of water, I here that’s rage inducing!)

    Comment by Stuart Clark | March 30, 2012 | Reply

    • *hear Christ I’m an ‘tard at times.

      Comment by Stuart Clark | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  29. Well, I guess many fans get over excited and enthusiastic about those particular parts of the lore that they like the most…thus, might not percieve the whole picture of someone who is building the lore itself, like you. And i suppose that the effect is multiplied when they expect something that will never happen (…like all those fans out there complaining about Mass Effect 3 ending).

    Comment by Dr Monkey | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  30. People having a go at the authors makes me laugh, I mean seriously. What S. Eric Rhoads says above – GW own the IP. BL are (an increasingly important and lucrative) part of GW. BL EMPLOY/COMMISSION authors to write the stories based on the IP the parent company owns.

    I really wonder how these “Lore” Fans would react if Rick Priestly had become an author and started mixing up and fleshing out his few paragraphs of lore that was originally written as background to a tabletop GAME!


    ADB – you carry on ENHANCING the lore as much as you like because a LOT of us are ENJOYING what you and the other HH authors are doing.

    Comment by Duke_Leto | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  31. Aaron you are too good for us!

    Comment by Antycarr | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  32. I think it’s a nice line of thought for aspiring writers, as the submissions window is just around the corner. “Oh, you want to write for Black Library, do you? Read the forums one more time and tell me you want to write for Black Library. Sit through another point by point disection of the Gaunts Ghosts books and the deviations from Studio canon (Even though they are neither more or less canonical than any other Games Workshop product) and tell me you want to write for Black Library. Go on, read another unending topic about which Horus Heresy novel is the worst of the lot, and tell me you want to write for Black Library. Read another topic about which author Black Library has employed should never write again, and tell me you want to write for Black Library.”
    To be honest, I’m just another nerd who has to wade through that crap at the best of times to find an interesting conversation or comment, and just as a fan have given up on forums. I dread to think what it’d be like as someone who’d be on the firing line for angry fanboys to wail and gnash their teeth about. The way some people whine on about writers, you’d think Gav Thorpe, James Swallow and Mike Lee had teamed up to simultaneously piss in their cornflakes. I’m less interested in the novel adhering 100% to existing canon, and more concerned with it being a good book.

    I’d like to at least give the submissions window a go this year, but I did find that, for once, XKCD had it spot on: http://tinyurl.com/38or4p

    Comment by Stuart | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  33. yeah after reading prospero burns i went thru a BRIEF faze of thinking ‘yeah this is the shittiest HH book of the lot, Dan Abnett must be a waste of space and I will never read him again.’ But then I went into GW and got into a convo with one of the guys working there about the book, sort of discussed a few issues about it and the themes it centres on (chiefly about being more about the wolves as a legion than keeping up with the whole HH series). dipped into the book again, LOVED IT, remembered that Mr. Abnett has written titles such as ‘horus rising’ and ‘legion’, then realized how amazingly awesome he is. On top of that Know No Fear has got to be one of my favourite books in the series.

    and i don’t know why everyone seems to think the two dark angel HH books were shit, I loved them!!!! They are the two best books BL has ever done in my opinion.

    The thoughts of a reader.

    Comment by VDOG | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  34. You know, you should simply use one and only one answer to anyone telling you you had “broken the lore” of 40K:

    “It’s a lie! The evidence has been falsified! It’s impossible! I never broke the lore, I AM THE LORE!”

    Comment by Nick Skylifter | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  35. Seriously Aaron, it’s the internet. It was practically invented to help people develop a thicker skin.

    Comment by Caz | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  36. I think for the most part, certain fan’s who, as you’ve said, don’t read or know much of the lore to actually put some time in the fill in the blanks. It just makes them look stupid when they go off on a tangent. Kudos Aaron dude.

    Comment by James | April 1, 2012 | Reply

  37. Oh, fantastic….perhaps telling them it is fiction would derail them….they know it’s fiction, right?

    Also, just go with Ricky Gervais(paraphrased) “Know what happened there? WHATEVER I EFFING WRITE, thats what happened!”

    Comment by Narceron | April 10, 2012 | Reply

  38. This is one of the more interesting phenomenon of recent years in regards to 40k. There seems to be a subconscious fan established movement in which canon has come into being where originally it was never really been a set in stone and wasn’t really even intended to be. Anything that challenges this “if it’s not in an official rule book it never happened” mentality is something that has perplexed me for some time now and speaking as a modeler doesn’t really add anything to the 40k universe especially from when building your own DIY marine chapter or creating any other new army of any race.
    Speaking as a Long Fang this is something that I have seen develop from the days of arguments that you could only paint your marines as one of the chapters mentioned in the RT rule book into some multi-headed monster of officialdom.
    The actual Heresy was covered in very little detail up until the BL books came out, the most in depth look we had prior to this were the Adeptus Titanicus, Codex Titanicus and original Epic Space Marine games and although they are the source of many of the established battles they never really went into any real depth. Primarchs came into being but we never really got to know them until the advent of the IA articles in White Dwarf.
    To say that the authors are making stuff up is a bit mad to be honest but fits the profile of this fan established canon need for officialdom mentality. You’ve got seven years of unimaginable conflict with billions of soldiers battling it out for the fate of the race that has barely been touched on. It is a tale of heroism and betrayal of the most epic proportions and it is a story that from the perspective of 40k fans everywhere should be told and enriched with the addition of new material. And that’s just the side of the story being told from the perspective of humanity, then you have all the aliens getting in on the action as well. It’s just too big to even begin imagining what it would have been like and it’s fantastic that we are now getting to look through the window into that fictional historical setting.

    Fortunately I believe there is change in the air, people are beginning to see this now and some sort of renewed understanding that not everything need be officially sanctioned by the minority and anything anyone comes up with adds to the mythos of our fictional universe can only be for the better. Whether it’s you guys at the BL working tirelessly to come up with new stories or some guy creating his own setting for his new army it only enriches the massive universe that we all know and love.

    In closing I would like to add the following in defense of my comments.

    “Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I’m a lawyer defending a major record company, and I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.”

    Keep up the good work mate.

    Comment by doghou5e | April 17, 2012 | Reply

    • really agree with you on the movement of Cannon over Creativity in 40k. The reason why they will probly never reveal the fate of the 2 missing legions is 100% for the good of the imagination of the 40k player/fan. There are many fantastic plots and stories and ideas that have an added lvl of mystery and darkness when the past that created them is suspiciously unknown. I love the Horus Heresy series, AND I think they have done a great job protecting that mystery while still telling a story that needs to be told. People need to see how this story evolution is going to be a long and awesome process and then sit back and relax as it unfolds before us 🙂

      Comment by edofthefist | April 24, 2012 | Reply

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