Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

“Where is ADB?”

He’s over here, technically homeless.

More accurately, how is ADB?

In short, he’s great. But more on that in a moment.

Lately, I’ve been asked about a bajillion times where I’ve vanished to, and what made me vanish. Usually it comes with a side order of “I hear you’re struggling with your mental health” along with a genuinely humbling show of support from many, many people.

To get the technical stuff out of the way, we’ve been getting work done on our house, so we’ve been living at Katie’s parents’ house since last July. Which is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a not-insignificant amount of time to be technically homeless.

Also, we had a baby in December. As adorable as Madeleine is, she eats up a lot of everyone’s time, focus, time, energy, time, and time.

This creature respects no deadlines.
Scout meeting Mouse.
Shakes meeting Mouse.

Additionally, when we painted eggs for Easter, I got out the Macragge Blue spray and made Mr. Bump. This isn’t really a contributing factor to why I’ve been totally offline, I’m just really happy with him.

It’s pathetic how proud of this I am.

Anyway. Where were we?

Probably the most common sentiment I’ve seen is the double-edged blade of how my mental health might affect my writing. This is coupled with a recent delay to Echoes of Eternity, which has my inbox heaving with conjecture about how the novel’s going. Let me set your minds at ease and, if you’re in the market for it, give an answer with slightly broader context.

You’ve probably seen this by now. Sexy, right?

Firstly, I finished Echoes of Eternity last year, back in September. I did the signing sheets for it back in November 2021, and that’s the last thing an author does in the process. Right now, the book exists somewhere, drenched in delicious secrecy, imprisoned in the metaphorical chains of scheduling. Perhaps this admin-based embrace makes the text all toasty and warm? Perhaps not; perhaps it grows increasingly sour with the resentment of the untouched.

I know not.

I really want to have a cool story here, but release/sales schedule jiggery-pokery is a sadly boring and uncontroversial issue. Things are pretty crazy in the world right now, especially in terms of global supply chains and release schedules. It’s coming out this year, I know that much, and Warhammer Community’s website tends to know this stuff, so check there if and when they announce something.

Here’s Scout helping me do the signing sheets, last year.
It took me about ten hours. She got bored and wandered off after a solid twenty minutes.

Secondly, and totally relatedly, there’s been a mountain of “How will his mental health affect his writing?” which is absolutely a fair question. I can offer some context on that, though, which I fear will be another boring answer.

And the answer is: You already know. 

You already know how my mental health affects my writing, because most of you have been reading my work for years. When I went public with my mental health struggles, it wasn’t a sudden snap that came out of nowhere. My suicide attempt was a decision to end twenty years of mental gears grinding and going nowhere. I can point to the peaks and valleys of my mental state over the last twenty-ish years, thirteen-ish of which I’ve been a novelist. The stuff released at my highest ebbs hasn’t been reviewed any differently from the stuff I released at my lowest – and vice versa. Trust me, I’ve checked. Relentlessly. Endlessly. It’s been literally my greatest worry for my entire career. 

So while authors and artists pour a lot of themselves into anything they create, it’s also a notion that wallows in the wilderness of assumption. What I’m saying is, you mostly get to choose what you pour in. The same way you get to choose what face you present to the world.

There’s also a timeline factor here. I didn’t go public with my issues in 2020 until I was well over the hump. To be honest, I was terrified of being accused of talking about it for attention, or being defined by it, so I didn’t want to talk about my mental health until most of the chaos was safely in the rear-view mirror. By the time I started Echoes of Eternity, I was feeling better than I ever had in my life – a state of mind that I’m happy to say still holds true.

My reply to a Reddit comment on this very subject.
I don’t know why my flair is “Warmaster”. I logged in one day and it was there.

If you’re looking for specific insight into how writing Echoes of Eternity went, I can offer some of that, too.

Really slowly. Just like always.

The writing itself went great, with the massive asterisk that I find writing anything to be a stupefying uphill grind, which I confess isn’t a great trait to be found in a writer. But relatively speaking, in terms of my writing process – it went great. 

Like I said in the Reddit post above, I’d been holding out these golden hopes of being mentally healthier suddenly making the writing process into sunshine and rainbows. But, nope, it was the usual spread of staring mystified at nine sentences on a screen for 14 hours a day, desperate to turn them into ten sentences.

I put everything I had into it, and I’m peachy-keen for it to get out into the world. The only difference these days is that after a book launch, I won’t spend weeks in a state of capital-A Anxiety, ignoring thousands of positive comments as mere digital vapour, while taking lone misreadings or occasional negative reviews as a damning indictment of my supposed hackery. I’m sanguine now. (Pun not intended.) I’m finally taking the advice of all those older, smarter writers than me, and doing what they do.

So all of this circles back to the original question: Why have I basically vanished offline?

In case you missed it: My last social media message on Instagram, FB, and Twitter. (October 2021)

That summation still holds true, and it’s hard to add anything more substantive on top of it. I haven’t gone offline because things are bad, but because they’re good. I’m enjoying other stuff, trying to hobby more, see more of my kids, more of my friends. All that good stuff. Admittedly, COVID and the chaos of the house move and the baby and oh God OH GOD… ahem, has slowed all of that down a little.

But to make a long story slightly shorter: Thank you for giving a shit about how I’m doing, and all the messages worrying where I’ve been. I’m sorry it’s not much of an exciting development, but the boring truth is that I’m doing great. It’s constant work, but that’s the trick, right? Happiness is a process. It’s maintenance. It’s the journey, not the destination. I hate how cliched that sounds, but it’s absolutely true. Regarding why I don’t talk about it more, I really don’t want to be defined by people online by a specific patch of my life, so you can probably see why I’d rather not discuss it too much. I felt like I’ve said all I can usefully say, especially now I’ve been over the hump for a long while.

Oh, and since it’s ended up being asked a crazy amount, I’ll answer this here, too: Yes, I’m incredibly freaking excited for the Horus Heresy to come out in plastic. My shriek of delight hit such a pitch that condors fell dead from the sky. And yes, I do have plans.

My plans.

tl;dr — Some useful links covering my withdrawal from online spaces:

Before I vanish, let me just say if you’re struggling with your own mental health – if the gears are slipping in your skull, or your thoughts are going in a hundred directions at once, or you can’t summon, master, or even feel your emotions: You’re not alone. I talked about this in the Twitter thread I linked, including my reluctant offer of advice, but it’s worth restating here: Often the hardest thing to do is getting help in the first place. I was incredibly lucky with not only NHS counselling and therapy, but with an incredible support network of friends and family. Talking about it was its own special agony, as well as frequently humiliating and upsetting, but it was worth it. Someone else getting it and believing you can be the most important step on the right road.

As always, be excellent to each other. We’re all just people. The older you get, the less trite that sounds, and the easier it is to see.

May 23, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

“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 | 6 Comments

Three Freaking Hours of ‘How to Write for Warhammer’

My voice is a bit hoarse today. 

Last night I was lucky enough to get invited by Anthony, the AoS Coach, to talk (for three bloody hours) on his channel about writing for Warhammer, including answering a bunch of questions about how I personally write stuff, musings on Intellectual Property writing in general, a lot of Warhammer talk, and some advice on how to approach Black Library in terms of getting your own stuff published.

Had a blast doing this one, and I hope it’s useful. Enjoy!

January 26, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Siege of Terra Interview!

I can’t stand watching myself in these things, and I can’t remember what I said in any of it, so… enjoy!

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I totally have a website now…

Which I keep forgetting to mention here.



I hope you like it.

I made it myself and it took me 193 years of intensive labour, which is true and really not a lie or an exaggeration, so shut up.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Spear of the Emperor! (Totes on sale)

Hello and stuff.

So, in case you fancied getting the new novel several months in advance – the Limited Edition of Spear of the Emperor is on sale today, riiiight here on Black Library.com and also riiiight here on Games Workshop.com.

Go buy it. Or maybe don’t? I, Aaron, a mere human man, will not judge you either way.

Here’s a look at what’s in it:


Even though I’m usually cautious of Limited Editions, I have to admit… that’s a lot of stuff.

The full list of what’s in the Ltd. Ed. is as follows:

  • The novel (because of course).
  • An additional short story: ‘The First Primaris’.
  • An additional Afterword/outro.
  • A 16-page Index Astartes book, with some ace Jes Goodwin-approved artwork that shows the making of a Space Marine in new and sexy detail.
  • A transfer sheet that, as you can see, has the symbol of the Adeptus Vaelarii on it, as well as bunch of Spear icons, natch.
  • A Chapter Tactics rules card.
  • 3 art prints of some major characters.
  • A pin badge.
  • A purity seal / bookmark.
  • A metal coin that is weirdly and awesomely heavy.


Watch in awe as this becomes worth more than any of my novels on eBay in the coming years!


Brêac — Anuradha — Amadeus

If you’re curious about the author’s introduction to the novel, I posted that the other day, and it should hopefully enlighten y’all a bit about the process and the themes going on. For added kicks, here’s a Rapid Fire interview I did with Track of Words for the release today.

And once more, for those at the back, here’s the link to buy it.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Spear of the Emperor – The Intro


As you may or may not know, the limited edition of my new novel Spear of the Emperor is out for pre-order very soon. Like, imminently.

I’ve posted the blurb before, but in case all of this is news to you, here’s what the story is about:


After beseeching the pantheon of marketing demigods, they said it was cool for me to post this. So here, for your skull-nourishment and to appease the capering goblins of curiosity, is the Preface from the novel.

I hope you find it interesting.


This isn’t the book I planned to write. It’s probably not the book you’re expecting to read, either.

If you don’t usually care for an author’s awkward ramblings, feel free to skip ahead to the story. I won’t hold it against you. (Hey, I’ll probably never even know!) But if you’re interested in the context that helped this novel come into existence, then stay a while and I’ll get you up to speed.

I went into the synopsis phase of Spear of the Emperor with the intention of writing a traditional look at a Space Marine Chapter, with a Space Marine protagonist typical of his Chapter’s culture. I like to read those kinds of novels, with those kinds of protagonists, and I enjoy writing them from time to time, too. It’s a tradition for a good reason: those character tropes make a good foundation for exploring the various complexities within Space Marine existence. In the same vein, I also intended to explore an essentially unknown corner of the Warhammer 40,000 setting, rather than focus on the big-name, big-selling Chapters that everyone’s already familiar with.

The Emperor’s Spears were nothing but a striking, slightly unusual colour scheme, so they were safe ground no matter which direction I took them in.

On a more personal note, I was also coming off a run of novels focusing on extremely well-known characters and vastly important historical events (The Talon of Horus; The Master of Mankind; Black Legion…) so I wanted something more personal and grounded. Something on a much smaller scale than any of those other novels, each of which was a deep look into the guts of the setting, through the eyes of very well-informed characters.

So far, so good.

Several weeks into the first draft, Alan Bligh, one of my closest friends, died after a short confrontation with cancer. For a while I could barely write anything at all, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has ever lost a close friend or loved one. When I managed to start getting words onto a screen again, I was disillusioned with what I’d planned. I started straying far and wide from my synopsis, feeling the pull of a new direction.

Through several rewrites, the narrator went from a generic Spear officer in the middle of his culture to a human thrall, utterly on the outside of it. Finally, it clicked. Finally, I had the voice that felt right for the new story being told.

Crucially, it also finally matched more with the tone of Imperium Nihilus, which Alan himself once described as ‘Picking up the pieces of the Imperium after all the bombs have gone off.’

Using human supporting characters to highlight the differences between humanity and the indoctrinated, transhuman inhumanity of Space Marines is nothing new; I’ve even done it myself several times and I really enjoy both reading and writing about the contrasts it brings. With Spear of the Emperor, I went all-in with it. Anuradha went from a supporting character to the narrator: the ultimate outsider-looking-in. And with that shift, the story turned a little darker again. Everything became just that little bit more vulnerable.

Explaining the Spears in detail was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t want to quantify them, I wanted to show how it might look and feel to see a transhuman existence through a human lens. Focusing on the impossible weariness forced on them by the burdens that they alone can carry. Their refusal to back down, and their curious mix of civilisation and barbarism. They don’t fight for glory but for survival. They stand against the unending tide of night because someone has to do it; because they’re the last ones left who can still fight. Their brother-Chapters in the Adeptus Vaelarii are either dead or punishingly diminished. The duty and burden of defiance is theirs until the last Spear falls.

The largest appeal was the idea of a character who wasn’t always sure what they were looking at when they were confronted with the mysteries and horrors of a story. Someone who wasn’t immune to fear or distant from human emotion.

What is it like to live among Space Marines? What does it feel like to serve them, and live on the edge of a culture you will never be truly part of? How would serving such masters change you and your perceptions? What do their customs and rituals look like from the outside? How does it feel, to see them move and fight and so utterly annihilate their enemies with inhuman brutality? And what is required of you, to live up to their expectations?

The flip side of that coin is the heretical half of the equation. What would it mean, to meet the Adeptus Astartes’ dark reflections, the Traitor Marines? What would it be like, when you’re not clad in ceramite and holding a bolter—you’re just a man or a woman standing in front of a monstrous creature that has lived in the warp / a mythological underworld for uncounted years?

Anuradha offered a great chance at seeing all of this from an entirely human perspective, and a less formal voice for the text. She hasn’t been through hypno-indoctrination like a loyalist Space Marine; she isn’t an angelic weapon that struggles to understand the people of the empire she was born to defend. Similarly, she isn’t motivated by bitterness and hatred; burdened by the magnified emotional array of Traitor Marines, either.

Anuradha is at the mercy of her masters, drawn into the wars they make her fight. Like all slaves (or indentured servants, if you will…) she has very little agency over the direction of her life, but she can choose how she reacts to the twists and turns of circumstance. Narratively, that was a challenge, but one that defined the tone of the story. She has agency, but it’s personal and grounded. She doesn’t decide the fate of wars. She chronicles them.

She’s just a human—albeit valuable to her masters and highly trained—in a difficult situation. The story isn’t about her, not really, as you’ll see. But she’s perfectly placed to tell it.

Like many high-status Chapter thralls, Anuradha is extremely knowledgeable in several specific areas. Unlike most of my previous protagonists, she’s also not equipped with a Space Marine’s angelic, psycho-indoctrinated detachment to process it. She’s just a human like you, me, and everyone else.

For those story elements, I ended up being fortunate enough to get a huge range of first-hand accounts from soldiers, firefighters, police officers, doctors… And more than once I thought back to conversations I’d had years ago, when I was lucky enough to talk to a man that had served in WWII as a deck gunner on HMS Belfast; and to another that had been in a Japanese POW camp and who’d undergone privation and torture. I wanted to jump as deeply as I could into the psychology and headspaces of people who’d done these things.

On several occasions I kept backing out of writing the book, considering redoing it in a more traditional way; playing it more to type with a Space Marine protagonist doing Space Marine things, totally informed about the setting and his surroundings. In the end it was my friend, the author John French, who stopped me redrafting it all from scratch yet again:

‘Are you trying to be popular or are you trying to realise a vision? To quote the man you dedicated it to, “You need to have the courage of your convictions and not be infirm of purpose”.’

All of this is a long-winded and self-indulgent way of saying that I loved and hated writing this book. It wasn’t harder than any of the others, but it certainly felt different. I can’t even imagine what you’ll think of it.

I don’t use Alan’s death as a banner or an excuse for any changes I made. If you like the novel, that’s great, and if you don’t, that’s on me—not on the circumstances surrounding the book. Whatever the truth, I hope you enjoy this look at the benighted half of Mankind’s empire.

Welcome to Elara’s Veil, domain of the Emperor’s Spears.

Skovakarah uhl zarûn.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

League of Legends: ‘From the Ashes’ and ‘Ryze: The Burning Lands’

So, uh, I may have dipped my quill in some League of Legends-coloured ink.


My short story ‘From the Ashes‘ is about a Freljordian tribesman called Kegan Rodhe, who in time will become… a certain fiery fellow you may be aware of, by the name of Brand. It was awesome to write some characters outside of ceramite armour and carrying bolters, for a nice change of tone and pace.

I also recently co-wrote the comic Ryze: The Burning Lands with Ant Reynolds (of the Word Bearers Trilogy fame). Ant is now at LoL HQ over there in the New World. I’m given to understand Ant is also still irritatingly good-looking, but let’s not hold that against him.

(But seriously, just look at the handsome fucker. So annoying.)

In a move that will shock nobody, Ryze: The Burning Lands is about (gasp!) the Rune Mage, Ryze.


Both of these projects were an absolute dream to work on, not least because I got to brainstorm with Laurie again, as well as meeting some ace people at Riot Games, who I won’t namedrop here for fear of embarrassing them. (But really, their names were Ariel Lawrence and Ellie Pyle, and they lovely and blessedly generous with their ideas.)

If you’re into LoL, I hope these new tales scratch some of your itches. If you’re a stranger to it, I hope you dig this look into Runeterra.

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Spear of the Emperor – Cover Art

I’ll spare you the words and move right on to what matters – the stunning cover by Marc Lee:



Check out his Artstation, it’s well worth it. Clicky-click!



July 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

The Shittiest Anniversary


It’s the 26th May, so it’s been a year today since Alan Bligh died. A year since I wrote my post about it, literally in the hour after we all heard the news. At Alan’s funeral, when Phil Kelly mentioned he’d read that post, I found myself apologising for it because it was unedited emotion and, I felt, not a great obituary for all Alan did and all he deserved. I said in the post itself that better remembrances would come, and indeed they did, most notably from John.

Alan’s funeral was absolutely one of the worst days I’ve ever been through. I got no measurable comfort from it at all, no closure, and if I’m being honest, it laid the wounds open instead of starting the healing process. That surprised me, and I withdrew a little after it. I didn’t even go to the memorial event that John and co. organised, because the entire thing just felt saturated in uncomfortable misery. I made transparent excuses that my friends all saw through at once, and stopped replying to them when they wouldn’t leave it alone. Fuck them, right?

Not going to the memorial was a mistake, and it was selfish, though I didn’t realise either of those things at the time. I’d not considered that other people might not have wanted to go either, but that they were going to support each other. I ran a cost/benefit analysis that started and stopped with me. Something John said later would put it in perspective: “Yes, but I wanted you there.”

In a way, this is typical of Alan. The fucker abandons this earthly realm ahead of the rest of us and still finds a way to teach me a lesson about perspective and living inside my own head. I guarantee you that would make him smirk, entirely pleased with himself.

I won’t bore you too deeply with all my feelings, not least because I feel exactly the same as I did a year ago. I tear up when I watch his old interviews or read his old emails. I message him with questions I know he’ll never answer. I occasionally update him on stuff, even if he’ll never read the email/text/message/whatever. Sometimes that feels self-indulgent and silly. Sometimes it’s sort of funny. Imagine if he did answer. Bloody hell. That’s pretty scary.

He was one of my closest friends (one of the 2-3 people I spoke to the most, overall), and instead of the numb scab I expected by this point, there’s more of an amputated stump, which stings when you put pressure on it. Occasionally you’ll try to turn on a light or go for a walk, and you’ll realise it’s not happening because, hey, shit, you don’t have an arm or a leg there any more. Alan not being around feels like that. Whenever I think about him, it still takes that treacherous half-second to process Oh, yeah, he’s actually dead. It’s surreal. And it sucks. But there it is.

Several of his friends are in a Facebook chat thread that originated in the week Alan died, and it’s still active. Although it’s become a general conversation thread now (and, let’s be honest, mostly talking about GW and various games), we also occasionally do recollections and impressions of things Alan used to say. The man was eminently quotable. Creative geniuses usually are.

On that note, his deadpan and sarcastic Alan-isms are endlessly useful as a parent. I’ve lost count of the times Shakes (now 6) has been banging on about something for the 80th time that day, and I’ve said “No, do go on, sir. Please.” in Alan’s exact tone, exactly the way Alan said it to me countless times when I was complaining about something.

I figure this is going to be an anniversary that his friends, and the people that loved his work, will mark for the rest of their lives. So here’s the first of them. Hoo-fucking-ray.

Y’know, Alan was always weird about his age. I asked him a few times how old he was, and every time he’d do his little chuckle (once he even nodded sagely like I’d asked a mountaintop guru The Right Question), and say “Older than you, my dear boy. Older than you.”

I’m going to cut this short. Sort of crying now.

I dedicated Spear of the Emperor to him. John wanted screenshots of all the novels and rulebooks dedicated to Alan over the last year, and here’s mine right from the Word.doc.


If you’re one of the many thousands of people whose lives were enriched by Alan’s work, and the passion he brought to the page, today’s a day to throw some dice in his honour.

Unsurprisingly, I have an Alan-ism about rolling dice, too. He tried not to jinx a dice roll by saying someone needed “anything but 1.” Instead, he’d say “You need anything but the smallest number.”

Weird, what sticks with you, when someone is gone.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 18 Comments