Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

“So, you want to redden the earth.” (Collecting & Playing the Emperor’s Spears)

There’s been a storm (no pun intended) of Emperor’s Spears info lately, in terms of lore, painting guides, and rules on actually rolling some dice to Redden the Earth.

If you’ll excuse the brief personal note, this has been somewhere between a three-way of surreal, surprising, and overwhelmingly cool. The novel was wonderfully received, but I never expected the explosion of hobby that spread in the aftermath. Suffice to say, there’ve been a few serious Bucket List moments in this whole deal so far, including the Index Astartes article in White Dwarf, getting mentioned on freaking Goonhammer and on Auspex Tactics, and the maestro himself, Duncan Rhodes, doing a painting tutorial.

I figured it might be cool to break my blog silence by gathering up a guide of useful resources for anyone thinking of entering Elara’s Veil and collecting a force of Emperor’s Spears.

  1. Index Astartes: Emperor’s SpearsWarlords of Nemeton (White Dwarf #460)

First off the bat, a bunch of lore, a painting guide, and the rules for actually fielding the Chapter. Index Astartes: Emperor’s Spears appeared in White Dwarf #460, and is a rewritten, updated version of the IA booklet available in the limited edition of the first novel. Getting to do this was so damn cool, and I’m hugely grateful to the 40K and WD teams for asking. Special Thanks to Elliot Hamer for doing all the hard, crunchy stuff in the article involving dice. He deserves way more credit.

In addition to all the fluff and crunch, it also heavily features an incredible Emperor’s Spears army by Tangui Jollivet, which has to be seen to be believed. You may already know him online as Melcor, and you can find him on Instagram, which is absolutely worth doing if you’re a hobby inspiration thief, like me.

Here’s a sample of his process:

2. Goonhammer

I’ve had nothing but love for Goonhammer for ages now, as you may recall from the massive interview I did with them not so long ago. They’re my go-to place (and I guess, just about everyone’s go-to place, these days) for written rules analysis, reviews, and army tactics.

Goonhammer covering the Spears, like, as an actual thing, as a thing in the actual game, was so surreal and unexpected that at first I was too weirded out to be happy, but that faded fast and I remembered to act and react like a normal human being. My therapist would be thrilled, I’m sure.

Credit: Rob ‘TheChirurgeon’ Jones

Goonhammer published some immense coverage – so much so, in fact, that I’ve almost forgiven them for not giving me my own monthly column, which I in no way deserve and have zero ideas for, yet still desire out of basic-arse entitlement.

Firstly, there was a review of the Index Astartes article that served as an overview to what was available to the Spears on the tabletop, and then the more comprehensive Start Competing: Emperor’s Spears, covering their rules in detail and way greater context. As if that wasn’t enough, they also did How to Paint Everything: Emperor’s Spears, with a variety of methods.

Obviously, this is all very cool and good.

Please enjoy this charming picture of Nemeton, a planet you in no way would ever want to visit on holiday.

3. Auspex Tactics

Then there was this. As a fan of Auspex Tactics (congrats to him, by the way, on his channel blowing up last year), it was just as laughably surreal to see the Spears’ Chapter symbol in a thumbnail, and hear such a familiar voice actually saying my name out loud in a video. Just when you think you’re used to this job, honestly, it throws you some seriously weird and awesome curveballs.

Auspex Tactics goes into some immense detail on the rules and tactics for the Emperor’s Spears, and as many of my friends will know (and are sick of hearing), I’m big on recommending his videos in general.

4. Duncan Rhodes’ Painting Academy

At the risk of being blasé, it’s Duncan, so I really don’t need to say much, here. Duncan did a beautiful Spears’ painting guide only a few days ago for the Painting Academy, and that’s absolutely the coolest sentence I’m likely to write this week. It’s in the members’ section, and the DRPA comes with a subscription, but as you’re about to see from my own inbox, it’s a subscription I’ve happily been paying myself for ages, so I have no hesitation recommending it.

Look at that handsome bastard.
(I wasn’t kidding, I really am a subscriber. Though apparently I deleted March’s receipt.)

5. RaddiCraft (An Airbush Guide)

Last but not least, the painfully talented RaddiCraft did a conversion and painting guide, which is waaaay out of my skillset since it uses an airbrush. Incredible results, though! There’s not much to say for this one, because the image basically speaks for itself…


A tedious addendum: This video is quite literally the only time I’ve ever heard my name spoken online in the exact way I pronounce it. All three parts of it, the Aaron, the Dembski, and the Bowden. I actually laughed when I heard it, because it was so novel.

A doubly tedious postscript: I’m not precious about the pronunciation at all (with a name as fucking weird as mine, you can’t afford to be precious) because I know different pronunciations are a regional and national thing, not a disrespect thing. Most of my friends, and even Katie, my own wife, say one or more parts differently to me – usually the Aaron or the Bowden. It’s all good! If we cross paths in real life, I promise you I couldn’t care less how you pronounce it – except for this one Turkish guy who called me Haroun, which was The Coolest Shit.

6. Sonic Sledgehammer Studio

Mea culpa, I missed Sonic Sledgehammer’s painting guide, from an earlier draft of this post. I’m always fond of Sonic’s work because he’s so jovial and I both crave and respect positivity in the hobby. This one’s especially handy since it’s about my level of painting talent.

I totally can’t forgive him for not drilling the barrel, though. For shame, man. You’re an artist! How could you?

The Word.doc draft of the second novel is genuinely called Codex: Aquamarines 2, because I’m still not 100% sold on the final name.

I hope that’s of use to you, gang. Happy, uh… earth-reddening and… Spearing.

Hmm. Really should’ve thought harder about a decent sign-off, there.

April 20, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Actually reading (and enjoying) this one right now. Currently on chapter 22 and have just met Ekene, about to hear the bad news of what the council has gathered for…

    Comment by Aaron Spuler | April 20, 2021 | Reply

    • It… it’ll probably be fine.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | April 20, 2021 | Reply

      • (whether you believe Aaron based on prior form is, of course, entirely at your own discretion…)

        Comment by Dawfydd Kelly | April 20, 2021 | Reply

  2. Congrats! Seeing all this pulled together is a real trip.

    I cannot imagine how much of a thrill it must be every-single-time someone sends you a snap of their newest Emperor’s Spears mini.

    The dudes in your head became dudes on the page, and are now dudes on other table tops.

    And righty so. Fantastic novel.

    Comment by thejaymo | April 20, 2021 | Reply

  3. Aaron, while I am not at the Spears level of things on hobby or the reading front (I do have it on my shelf), I just recently read one of my first novels done by your hand. First Heretic was great! Just wanted to say that. Thank you for this update post as well I now know where to go to for more lore and info when I get to reading Spear of the Emperor🤘🏻

    Comment by savageddt | April 21, 2021 | Reply

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