A Mind Of Their Own

Lured to the remote jungle world of Pishon by a strange psychic signal, a pack of Tyranid warriors find themselves cut from the Hive Mind when their Swarm Tyrant is trapped in an arcane device. Deprived of the collective mind as their greatest asset and stripped down to instinctive behaviour, Gorger and his brood soon discover that their thoughts are still connected to each other. They have to deal with the rudiments of their own unfamiliar individuality while realizing that they have to destroy the prison holding their connection to the hive mind and kill its Adeptus Mechanicus gaolers...

My unofficial Warhammer 40k short story got published on Cold Open Stories.

Last year Black Library, popular tabletop games manufacturer Games Workshop‘s in-house publisher, had an open submissions window, inviting established as well as aspiring authors to pitch them a story. Like thousands of other Warhammer fans, I cooked something up.

Unfortunately Black Library did not pick up my pitch. This was not entirely unexpected, the premise was a little far out and the competition was fierce. Encouraged by positive feedback from the #writingcommunity on Twitter (bless you all!) I wrote it up as a short story and submitted it to Cold Open Stories for their second short story anthology.

Founded in 2019, Cold Open Stories publishes unofficial stories from the Warhammer 40k universe. As of today, they have published some 25 short stories on their website, and even produced five as audio dramas! And I am excited that they have accepted my short story and relased it today!

click image to read the story on Cold Open Stories

An obvious difference between original fiction and tie-in fiction is the imbalance in prior knowledge an author can presume in the readers. So in case you are unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40k universe, here is some things you need to know to understand the story:

  • Setting: Warhammer 40k is set in the 41. Millenium. Humanity has conquered thousands of planets all over the galaxy, but is beset by enemies and war on all sides; every day is a fight for survival. It is grim and dark and the life of an individual counts nothing.
  • Tyranids: An alien race with a collective mind (=swarm intelligence). Think Alien meets the Borg. Tyranids have highly evolved killer machines, all they want is to devour all the biomatter in the universe and incorporate it into their species. There is no way of communication with them, you either fight them or they kill you. The smallest creatures cannot communicate directly with the hive mind, they need so-called synapse creatures (like the mighty Hive Tyrant, but also mid-tier creatures like Tyranid Warriors) for that. In the game (where all of this is based on), once you eliminate these synapse creatures, the remaining Tyranid army will lose its cohesion and the player is not able anymore to fully control their behaviour.
  • Adeptus Mechanicus: They produce all the great technology of humanity. Much of what humanity once knew has been lost to time, it is their desire and purpose to retrieve this knowledge. Their home base is on Mars, but they are also stretched throughout the galaxy. Technically they are human, but most of them enhance their bodies with technology to “be closer to the machine”, which they view as infallible.

The state of my hobby

As we start with a new year, it’s time to tack stock about the state of my hobby. Last year I resumed painting models, and in March I proclaimed Summer of hobbying 2019. My primary objective was to have more painted models. All that grey plastic is no fun to look at, and it even substracts a little from the playing-experience. My army with the most painted models are my Dwarfs, and even if the paintjob is not very good, I always enjoy playing them a little more than the unpainted armies. That had to change.

I decided to paint my Night Goblins first, as they had the lowest model count and a fairly easy paint scheme. I knew right away that painting the whole army was still a very ambitious goal and not likely to be achieved, but it was important to get the engine running. Later that year Games Workshop released their new line of Gloomspite Gitz with some gorgeous new models, and since they are basically all backwards compatible to Warhammer Fantasy, naturally I ended up with new models for my Night Goblins, setting me back even further. Still, even if I am not much closer to my goal model-wise, I did get some work done and put some paints on some models.

I started with my Night Goblin archers. I had a particular color scheme in mind and wanted to try it out on the models I deemed most expendable. I settled for classic black hoods, as is tradition, the obvious green skin color and a nice turquoise-blue as a highlight color. A simple scheme with a limited color palette. It turned out pretty well and I am very satisfied with the way those archers turned out.

I also magnetized them with those adhesive magnetic bases, which is what I almost like best, since it is a huge advantage for playing. For all future models I will shift to neodym magnets though, as they are far superior. I might even replace them on the shootaz. So these 40 shootaz were a great start into this army project, but it took longer than it should have. Increasing my paint speed is going to be one very important aspect of my hobby in 2020.

From my shootaz I went on to the infamous Night Goblin fanatics. The main reason was that I had these models already basecoated and their small model count meant that I would be able to have another painted unit in relatively short time. I continued on with the established paint scheme, with the addition of more mushrooms.

Next up was my unit of Night Goblin stabbaz, the big kahuna, a full horde of 100 models. It took me a while to figure out how to base them, since I had exactly 100 models, but wanted to both deviate from the strict rank and file of organized troops to a more ramshackle mob, as well as be able to build two command groups out of the models. I am very happy with what I came up with, but the unit is not ready, so this ingenious method will have to stay hidden for now. I started again with some test models and used this to have a step-by-step-tutorial which I also posted to paintpad.

So, in the end I painted about 60 Night Goblins out of around 175 (counting only the ones on foot). It’s not bad and I like the result. I hope that I can now increase the pace, at least until I arrive at the characters, which will require more work. After I have painted all the actual Night Goblins, I will move on to the Squigs, which at this point also amount to about 50. Last will be the trolls and anything else which is neither Goblin nor Squig.

Last year did not only see me pick up a brush again, I also finally in earnest discovered what the internet could mean for my hobby. I started following hobby blogs and youtube channels (favorites: Goobertown Hobbies, Age of Squidmar, eBay Miniature Rescue), I was inspired to improve my hobby in a broader sense then just how to apply paint to a model. I learned how to take better pictures of my models, how to build my own hobby supplies for easier and faster painting and I was inspired by Dana Howl to try out a new painting technique on my Squigs. Eventually.

So, the summer of hobbing 2019, and later the fall of hobby and winter of hobby, was it good? Yes, definitely. For a time I had a pretty decent streak going, but eventually it got disrupted again. I guess that happens easily, I have to be more focussed there. To help me in 2020 I will join Painthammer2020, a social-media-project to track the hobby progress. My goal for 2020 is similar to 2019, finish the Night Goblins. I already split the army in three phases, – goblins, squigs, trolls. I don’t know whether I will get everything done this year, especially since I will have to learn a new technique for the squigs, but it remains the goal. For sure I have to (and will!) finish phase one, let’s see when that is.

The second big thing for 2020 will be a complete overhaul of my other existing armies. There are still some models unassembled, that has to change. For some other models, notably the High Elves, I apparently did not use enough glue, or the right glue, in any case they are falling apart. And I have to magnetize them, again especially the nimble High Elves, sturdy Dwarfs are a lot better in that regard. Any regard, as the beardy part of me will always insist on. So, every Night Goblin, Dwarf and High Elf needs to be assembled and have a magnetized base, that is the other big thing for next year. And then, as a bonus level, I do have another whole 2.5 unassembled armies in boxes, maybe I can do something about them…

Honolulu Roosters

Tag 22: Zurück nach Deutschland

Es hilft ja nichts, heute ging der Flug nach Hause. Viel gab es nicht mehr zu tun: Auschecken, paar Mitbringsel einsammeln, ab zum Flughafen. Und zum Thanksgiving-Verkehr in L.A. dauert so eine einfache Reise zum Flughafen schon mal ein paar Stunden, vom Chaos innerhalb des Gebäudes ganz zu schweigen. Wir haben also ausreichend Puffer eingeplant und saßen pünktlich am Gate.

Honolulu Roosters

Tag 21: Whose House?

Wer richtig glücklich ist, hat im Ausland nicht nur ein Paar Freunde sondern zwei. Und so waren wir heute morgen bei Lindsay und Dimitri zum Frühstück eingeladen, die zufällig in Pasadena wohnen! So konnten wir erfahren, was es bei ihnen seit der Hochzeit vor drei Jahren, die wir ebenfalls mit ihnen gefeiert haben, so alles Neues gibt. Gegen Mittag mussten die beiden sich für ihren Flug nach Philadelphia fertig machen, aber auch wir mussten los, denn für den allerletzten Tag unseres Urlaubs hatten wir schon vor Monaten einen weiteren Höhepunkt organisiert: Tickets für das NFL Spiel der L.A. Rams gegen die Baltimore Ravens!

Und weil sich im Leben einfach manchmal Dinge einfach glücklich fügen, sind Anne-Marie und Andrei große Football Fans und Andrei ist zu allem Überfluss gebürtiger Baltimoreaner und natürlich glühender Anhänger der Ravens. Und so saßen wir also zum Monday Night Game (das ist ein großes Ding) im traditionsreichen Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum neben den beiden und sahen eine überragende Leistung der Ravens, die ihrer Favoritenrolle um Starquarterback und MVP-Kandidat Lamar Jackson mehr als gerecht wurden und die Rams im eigenen Stadion mit 45:6 vom Platz fegten.

Honolulu Roosters

Tag 20: Die Stadt der Engel

Einigermaßen gerädert erreichten wir Los Angeles. Die Nacht war kurz und nicht sehr erholsam, es war nun 6:30 Uhr Ortszeit und es würden noch viele Stunden vergehen, bis wir in unser Hotel einchecken können. Um das Beste aus der Situation zu machen haben wir uns also in unser Cabrio gesetzt und sind hoch zum Griffith Observatory gefahren, einen der wenigen wirklich schönen Plätze in Los Angeles (wir sind insgesamt keine großen Fans). Obwohl wir ja echt früh an einem Sonntag morgen da waren, war schon richtig viel los. Der aktive Kalifornier geht offensichtlich im Griffith Park walken oder joggen, ein paar Touristen waren natürlich auch da. Trotzdem war es ganz schön da oben.

Griffith Observatory

Anschließend hatten wir uns noch eine mittlere Spritztour vorgenommen, wir sind über Hollywood und Beverly Hills bis raus nach Malibu gefahren, das ist schon eine Strecke! Die Strände dort sind auch für Gäste nur so bedingt einladend, am Zuma Beach hat es dann aber geklappt. Dort angekommen war es aber auch schon 11 Uhr! Nach einem kurzen Beine vertreten sind wir also direkt wieder los Richtung Pasadena, wo unser Hotel ist. Wir hatten gehofft, ein wenig vor 15 Uhr einchecken zu können, letztlich hat es um 14 Uhr geklappt. Das Hotel war auch überraschend angenehm! Um 16:30 Uhr waren wir dann nämlich in Glendale bei unseren Freunden Anne-Marie und Andrei zu einem köstlichen Abendessen verabredet, es ist einfach immer so schön, wenn man im Urlaub dann Freunde trifft. Abends konnten wir dann mehr als gut schlafen!

Zuma Beach