Upstart Photographer: Wreck

Photo, Poem – mix and match. Hopefully match.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Car wreck

Wreck. A poem.
Like some Greek tragedy
played out upon a silver screen,
the bullies and the demons
had their way with you, you see.
Left you naked and abused,
charred and anaesthetised,
just a step away from paradise
and a world away from prying eyes.
Another roadside nightmare
come to life; without life
your struggle epitomised
in every passing headlight.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Absent. A poem.

You who remain absent
Don’t celebrate your hypocrisy
Sliding on a sheen of contrariness
Recognise the source of their upheaval
You think time will make a fool of all
But it seems your veneer is wearing thin
And justice awaits your feeble excuses
To grasp what lies within

This poem is for all the abusers who think they got away with what they did. Justice comes to all.

Steve

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Save the Poet!

via Save the Poet!

Like my poetry? For poems you haven’t seen before, try The All or the Nothing, my first book. It’s available now, in print and e-book formats.

Click on the link above to find out how to get your copy, and help save this poor poet from extinction.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Discontentment. A poem.

Too plain, too pretty
Too full, too empty.
Too big, too small.
Too short, too tall.
Too rich, too poor.
Too fine, too sore.

A constant interchange of
histrionic and catatonic,
a test and trial of long-held resentment.
Find a balance and make your point
before you exceed your quota
of angst-filled discontentment.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Anvil. Part 20.

The Anvil stares down at Johnston, who unflinchingly returns the look. “You have a problem?” says Johnston.

“Why am I not with Violet?” says the Anvil.

“You’re too close to her. Might impede your judgement in combat.” Johnston raises his flechette carbine. “Now you better back off, friend. I like my personal space.”

Olsin steps between the two. “He’s fine, sugar—aren’t you?” She raises an eyebrow at the Anvil, who nods and backs away.

Johnston frowns. “You better keep the synthetic in line, Olsin.” He walks over to where Sarain leans against the corridor wall. Glancing back at the ex-Triad guard: “And Lady Chao is still keen to have a chat with you when this is all over.”

Olsin tries hard not to, but swallows anyway. “That’s a conversation I so look forward to,” she says under her breath. She moves over to where the Anvil stands, gazing out a transteel port at the clusters of ships surrounding the station. The glowglobe lights above are still red, giving the corridor and its occupants a crimson hue. Distant, muffled sounds of shots and explosions are background white noise—Bester’s mercenaries are advancing into the station from the end docks.

“You okay, sugar?” Olsin says, before lowering her voice. “Those memjets kicked in yet?”

The Anvil glances down at her, shakes its head, then eyes Johnston and Sarain standing opposite them, speaking in hushed tones with each other.

Johnston looks at the Anvil. “That one’s going to be trouble,” he says. Sarain looks and nods. She pats her arm-mounted EMP cannon, her glowing neural fibre hair highlighting the barrel. “Don’t worry, boss—first sign of a problem and I take him out,” she says.

* * *

Jayle and Kanji lead Chun, Jimmy and Violet through the stark scarlet-illumined corridors of Flotsam station. Kanji’s ruby visual receptors highlight her frown, framed by her burgeoning dreadlocks. “The boss is upset with me again, isn’t he?” she says. “He didn’t even mention I was on your team.”

Jayle rolls her eyes. “I’ll never understand why you need his approval so much, Kanji.” She winks at the big African woman. “Maybe you’ve got the hots for him.”

Kanji starts and almost blushes. “He’s a fine-looking black man,” she says. “But I don’t mix business and pleasure.”

“Must be daddy issues, then.” Jayle ribs the big woman, laughs and winks. Kanji grimaces and giggles, her girlish titter at odds with her hulking presence and the barbed metal appendage that masquerades for a right arm.

Granny Chun holds one of Violet’s hands, the obligatory teddy bear glued to the little girl’s other. “You okay, sweetie?” says Chun. Violet looks up and nods, sucking her thumb. Chun smiles.

Big Jimmy moves up beside them, his fingers hovering reflexively over the auto-pistol in his leg holster. He looks up at Chun and whispers. “I assume you have a plan to get us out of this?”

Chun raises an eyebrow and whispers back. “Of course, what would that be? We’re on a Triad-owned space station about to be assaulted by the private army of richest man in the solar system, all in an effort to get back his little girl. What sort of plan did you expect me to come up with?”

Jimmy scowls. “Well, you always seem to know what you’re doing.”

Chun shrugs. “Of course, this time I’m just going with the flow. Let’s see where Lady Chao’s plan gets us.”

“As long as it doesn’t get us dead.”

* * *

Lu Chi has been an electrician on Flotsam for five years. It’s not a bad life, repairing faulty conduits and replacing broken glowglobes. The pay’s reasonable, the hours great. His wife and son share quarters with him (it’s not often that’s allowed on small stations); a quiet, unassuming life. At least, it was. The attack on the station threw him a curve ball. As soon as this sensor is replaced, I’ll get Lee and Xi and we’ll find an escape pod, Lu thinks. Get out of this place and never look back.

The red lights dim a moment. Lu glances up, curious, then returns to his work. There’s a strange metallic tapping sound on the floor behind him. He turns. The raptor tilts its head, a long strand of saliva dripping from its razor-sharp jaws as its silvery artificial eyes scan the technician. Lu drops his soldering iron and screams.

* * *

Shi Cho turns away. It isn’t often that he’s turned off by violence, but he never imagined the ferocity of the creatures. Bester smiles as he observes. “The perfect predators,” he says. “They didn’t deserve to stay extinct, so I brought them back—improved, of course.” A moment more and it’s over, the last of the technician consumed by the three beasts. Blood trails and spatter covered the surrounding walls.

Bester brings up a hologram display above his watch face: a three-dimensional schematic view of the Flotsam; a red dot indicator, about 500 metres away.

“You can track her?” says Shi-Cho.

“Only at short range,” says Bester. He whistles for his pets and the raptors scramble to his side. “Listen up, my beauties. You can kill anything you like, but not Violet.” The raptors nod, recognising his command syntax and pre-programmed vis-cues. “Now let’s see if we can find my daughter.”

* * *

The Anvil grabs its head, collapses to the floor. Johnston raises his pistol, steadying it with his other hand. “Olsin! What’s the matter with him?”

Olsin crouches beside the armature. “He’s taken memjets. He’s accessing lost memories.”

Johnston lowers his sidearm. “Just great. How long will he be out for?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, sugar.”

Sarain eyes the unconscious form on the floor. “And just what memories would those be?”

* * *

A rush of images, scents and sounds, blurred and wavering in and out, topped with strange popping sounds, as if from an antiquated speaker. The Anvil sees a man, the same its seen before, on the roof garden of Bester’s building. He’s dressed in a suit, with an ear piece. A tall, good looking fellow, stern faced and lean. A beautiful woman is talking to him, but the Anvil is too far away to hear.

The scene comes into focus, and the Anvil pushes his consciousness forward. The woman is Angelique Bester. The man is Dominic Casheur, one of Bester’s many security agents.

“I want to save Violet from him”, she says. “You’re the only one I trust to help me, Dominic.” Her hand on his face, a gesture of intimacy and closeness. “I have access to funds and a doctor. I’ll fit you out in one of the newest armatures. You’ll be Violet’s protector. I’ve hidden her away in the waveruins, but it’s only a matter of time before Bester tracks her down. You need to get her to the Loop. Promise me you’ll do it.”

They kiss, long and lovingly. Casheur says nothing, just nods.

The images spiral away and the light hits the Anvil’s eyes like a sledgehammer.

* * *

Olsin gasps as the armature’s eyes flick open. “Are you okay, sugar? You had me worried.”

The Anvil rises, rubbing his head. “Call me Dominic,” he says.

“You know who you are?”

“I know the who and the how. But not why I was brainwashed into thinking I was Violet’s mother.”

Johnston hovers over them. “What kind of messed up crap are you talking about?” he says.

The Anvil rises to his feet. “I think someone’s playing me. I just don’t know who, yet.” He turns to Johnston. “More than likely they’re playing you as well.”

* * *

Lady Koga’s interceptor hovers several hundred kilometres away from Flotsam, scanning and observing the surrounding mercenary flotilla and the massive Hyperion hanging over all. Her craft has the latest black horizon dead space tech, allowing it to be undetectable to the cruiser at this distance. She’s still cautious about getting too close, though—Bester is renowned for all sorts of off-the-grid experimental technology. The man is a scientific genius, after all.

Koga’s readouts indicate Bester is actually aboard the tiny cylindrical station, courtesy of a high-powered and undetectable nano-tracker the Triad sneaks into all their business associates. She frowns and runs her hand over her bald pate.

The spherical and limbless black robot strapped into the acceleration couch next to her rotates its single green eye to her. “Mission impact?”

“Let’s wait and see how this develops,” says Koga. “Patience is a virtue, and some lessons take time to teach.”

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here.

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’m creating week-by-week to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out by clicking here). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Winding Down Yet Winding On

I’ve been blogging every day for a little over one and a half years. I’m never short of material and I’m not one of those writers who suffer from writer’s block.

No, this is not a ‘brag’ blog. This is my way of saying it’s time to wind back so I can focus more on the other important things in my life.

When I started blogging, my main purpose was to use the web as a place to exercise my creative muscles, to force myself to write everyday. More importantly, it was cathartic, enabling me to address my various inner demons and hang ups—depression, anxiety, unrequited love, anger, pain, heartbreak—the whole box of dice.

Over time I’ve explored many of my other interests on this blog: role playing games, music, photography, short stories, movies, poetry. In fact, my first published poem was written and posted on this blog back in March 2017, what seems like a lifetime ago.

But life catches up to everyone, and the inevitability of uni, work, relationships, socialising (wow, hard to believe there was a time when I never thought I’d ever leave the house) and writing, mean something has to go. Or at least, reduce.

So, I’ll only be posting once every two days in future. That might not seem like much of a change, but it’s a big thing for me. For some of you it will be a relief—less emails from WordPress, for one.

Thanks for continuing to support me, and I hope to catch up with many of you in comments sections and future posts.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing

For my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM – Free Map! Dungeon A La Carte

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: Dungeon A La Carte

A simple dungeon map I drew with a 1st-level party in mind. Some easy monsters, a few traps: the north-east room fills with water while the PCs solve the puzzle; the south-east room has two teleporting pools that shift stuff back and forth while gargoyle heads spew poisonous gas; the central chamber is a floor tile puzzle that, when solved, reveals the secret door behind the statue (an easier way to the main treasure room); several trapped and impossibly locked doors; pit traps; triggered floors; undead guardians. Phew!

Dungeon A La Carte - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding copy

Above: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve

P.S. I’m writing a 52-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Fell For You. A poem.

I don’t know why I fell for this—
it was obvious you were oblivious,
and my dreams were cloaked
in pointlessness.

I don’t know why you caught my eye,
why I invested all my precious time
creating a melodious portfolio,
that you alone inspired.

Who did I want you to be
when you looked on me so distantly,
you were just a narcissistic,
attention-seeking tragedy.

You didn’t realise the truth:
we were meant to be as one, you see,
and be like living poetry.

But, then again, you never knew.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Bohemian Rhapsody. A movie review.

Rami Malek of Mr Robot fame playing Freddy Mercury? Lots of Queen hits with amazing sound? Bring it on!

I’m a Queen fan from way back. I have all their albums, and Brian May continues to be my all-time favourite rock guitarist. So as soon as I heard word Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic of Freddy and the band, was being filmed I was as good as in a seat. They had my money, no matter what.

Now I’ve seen it I can honestly say I enjoyed it. However…

I guess the biggest letdowns were the missed opportunities to see not only some of the major issues the band faced early in its career (the stoush with their first manager, for instance), the other band members getting short shrift in terms of screen time, and Freddy’s character seeming a little two dimensional, given the amount of story devoted to him. Some of the scenes dragged, especially the ones with Freddy and Mary. But a movie can only be so long, and for the benefit of story a few things needed to be cut, a few liberties taken. Rami Malek makes up for it with a wonderful performance as Freddy, capturing the essence of the man, if not always the presence.

Bohemian Rhapsody is an enjoyable ride, even if it’s not destined to be the best Queen movie ever made. I’m sure that’s yet to come.

Rating: B-

Upstart Photographer: Flowers

Photo. Poem. Yep, it’s happening.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Flowers. A poem.

Delicate, handled by one
as ham-fisted and indelicate as I
Effulgent petals and tapered stems
A majesty denied but gained again
The vase a minor price to pay
For a life ensconced in beauty
(As short-lived as it may be)

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Reach. A poem.

I reach
And ellipses of time
and motion
Quixotic
Remote-controlled emotion
The loving
contentment
of the
discontented
Repeated over and over
Masticated and
Manipulated
in my head
Like daffodil moments
and chloroformed thoughts
Venting in subspace
A dream prison
Of complexity
and indecision
From finish to start
and ending with
a question:
Where
Are
You
And
Why
Are
We
Apart?

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.
Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM – Free Map! The City State of Ranisvlad

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: Ranisvlad, City State of Thieves

Anything goes in Ranisvlad, a murky, muddy and depraved city state in the outlands, ruled by Ranislov, so-called Lord of Thieves. Humans, humanoids and otherworldly creatures mingle and mix, fight and trade. Dangerous job offers and shady deals can be found all along Skull and Dagger Way. Disputes are settled in the Lord’s Arena, the only real justice in town. In Ranisvlad, you can find fame, fortune or a quick death, if you choose.

Beware the dark secrets of Barislev Tower, where vampires and wizards collude to raise the Demon King of Bats. Lone travellers are often waylaid by cannibal brigands on the Bridge of Thieves. The necropolis of Death’s Throne is the repository for Ranisvlad’s dead, who rise from their graves at night to claw at the cemetery gates…

Ranisvlad City State of Thieves - Laidback DM - stevestillstandingAbove: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

P.S. I’m writing a 52-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

The Pantomime. A poem.

The tears keep me awake at

night;

they burn my eyes and ducts,
sodden flames licking,
smoke broiling,
consuming the room of my

head

until I’m fit to choke
on all the pointless

condescension,

spluttering, unkempt,
raw and misbegotten.

Soaked in a pantomime
of longing and rejection
until the show is

over.

Those tears remain,
salty dew trails
that scar my cheeks,
a tattooed reminder that

never

leaves my side.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Rehasher. A poem.

Don’t you tire of the same old thing?
A less-than-subtle rehashing,
a troublesome re-treading,
a more meagre repetition
of what’s come and gone before.

Finally time to
Uproot all those
Common thoughts and
Kill them dead.

Your groove has become a rut
that gets deeper every
overwrought time.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Beginnings and Endings

Life should not be about hellos and goodbyes.
It should be the sum of everything in between.
Stephen Thompson

My life is punctuated with hellos and goodbyes. And like most tragedies, they’re played out upon a stage, with an audience looking on—sometimes cheering, sometimes gloating.

I wish things could be simpler, but that’s not what my life was meant to be. I’m hamstrung by the beginnings and the endings, rather than enjoying what lies in between.

I’m at a new beginning, again. A fresh start? I live in hope.

Cheers

Steve

Mad Method. A poem.

The method in my madness,
is often overrated.
But then again my madness
is often overstated.
Eternal slings and arrows
do permeate my mind,
with each outrageous fortune
lying not too far behind.

But the madness in my method
and the madness in my mind
is never just inflated,
understated or unkind.
The method in my madness
is the way that sees me through
the anger, pain, mind suicide
every thought outlined in blue.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM: Free Map – Demonic Prison

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: Demonic Prison

Ever wondered where evil wizards keep their raised demons? How about a special-built magical prison in the side of a cliff? Heck, why not? Have fun using this baby!

Demonic Prison - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

P.S. I’m writing a 52-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Why do we blog?

Why do we blog?

Some say it’s cathartic. Some say it encourages and develops us as writers. A creative outlet. Some say we do it for fun. To get in touch with like-minded souls. Some say they just need to vent—anger, tears, love and fears. Some say they want to inspire. To express their opinions. And some say their blog is only for them, that they don’t care what others think.

All of these things are true. But there’s another, underlying truth: we blog because we want validation. We want people to acknowledge our efforts. We want people to like us and our work. Let’s not fool ourselves. If we didn’t we would write private journals, rather than sharing everything publicly.

The blog is an amazing tool. We create, and in creating reach out to others, raise spirits, inspire and influence.

I’m so happy I started blogging. Without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. Maybe you wouldn’t be, either.

So, why do you blog?

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Hurt (happy when I see you). A poem.

I hurt when I see you,
a mad combination of anger and pride.
Selfish and shallow,
Tear-filled and callow.
So glad you’re doing well;
I know you wallowed for awhile,
as indeterminate as I.
Now, you’re bouncing,
a supercharged rubber ball,
denying the laws of physics.

I’m happy when I see you,
but know I see right through you.
Liquid transparency in our eyes,
like life and death combined.
Memories fade but the rearview
ghosts will always stay the same.
I’m glad you made your way
and left me wandering
in front of headlights,
a deer awaiting the next
bull bar and asphalt kiss.

I hurt, but I’m happy when I see you.

Maybe you do, too.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

First Man. A movie review.

First Man is, hands down, the best movie I have seen in the last five years. It’s in my top 10 movies of all time. It’s that good.

First Man is the story of America’s race to get a man on the moon before the Soviets in the 1960’s. But more than that, it’s the very personal story of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) coming to terms with the loss of his daughter, and his wife (Claire Foy) facing her husband’s emotional distance and the prospect of losing him at any moment.

Armstrong is isolated and driven, and First Man brings this home in dramatically awkward fashion—he interacts with friends, workmates and family, and never connects in any real way. He’s methodical and smart, his emotionless level-headedness ideal for missions. Gosling gives a suitably understated performance, with Foy matching him in intensity.

Director Damien Chazelle has created a work of filmic art. The opening flight scene and those in space are incredibly harrowing. The ancient tech and DIY feel of the rockets makes you wonder how the astronauts got anywhere—it’s not surprising there were so many fatalities. The use of handheld video camera gives the movie a documentary feel, with many scenes filmed in intense close up, emphasising the intimacy and tension.

First Man is not for those who thought Venom was a smart film. It’s intense, painful, gripping, intelligent and moving. It’s everything good movies should be, and it needs to be seen on the big screen.

Rating: A+

Unforgiven. A poem.

Have I forgotten who I am?

Not when every turgid thought
drags the ocean bottom,
the silt clouding my mind
with all the pain I wrought.

Not when my perpetual aching heart
is torn in two with every memory
of every rancid moment
from dusk to red-eyed start.

Not when every apology
is a litany recited over,
every prayer a reminder
of wasteland perpetuity.

No, I won’t forget myself,
and I won’t forgive myself,
until you tell me so
and release me from this hell.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Quake. A poem.

I have spoken long with you
so many, many times,
each airy conversation
measuring low on a Richter scale
that never rises much
beyond the surface—

no evidence of my success
just artful whimsy
it never shakes your earth.

Just once I’d have you see beyond
the artifice I’ve set in place,
to the real, the bold, the dreams,
the grace—
let it grind tectonically
and crumble these placid walls
to reveal what’s behind the facade.
To be a quake worth waiting for.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Upstart Photographer: Beach Cave

Photo. Poem. They sort of go hand-in-hand.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Beach Cave. A poem.

Your wailing darkness,
meets with the implacable tide
in a passionate nightly affair;

a restless sculptor of eons,
she licks your ebon sides
and strokes your clay;

makes you fit for audiences
with kings and queens
of the brightest day,

whose presumptive impressions
ironically last no longer than
the briefest of sparks.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM: Barrow Mound – Free Map!

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: The Barrow Mound of the Ghengar Urgs

The Ghengar of the mightiest Orc War Band to ever plague the world was put to rest in a burglar-proof  barrow mound, his many Urg Leaders buried with him. Magical energies seeped up from the underworld and re-animated the bodies, changing them into Wights, Zombies and Unger Dogs; the Ghengar himself was transformed into an undead Deathlok. For a hundred years they have waited for release.

Recently, an adventuring party came across a strange Orcish statuette, one that sages informed them fits the oddly shaped depression in the barrow mound’s door…

Barrow Mound of the Ghengar Urgs Map - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

P.S. I’m writing a 48-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Curio. A poem.

A curio of times past,
rolling around a sea
of fingers and palm,
undulating on currents
of virtual memory
and static electricity.

Tactile and fertile,
like an ex-lover
with time to kill
and an ever-present urge
to explore old avenues.

Tempting as that may be,
some curiosities
are better cast into
the trash of entropy.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Intoxicated. A poem.

I was so into you—
every thought, every move,
was a riot of ecstasy
that shook me to my core.

More than destiny,
more than waking dreams
or midnight fantasies.
You were the bottle
and I was the alcoholic
reaching for just one more drink;
just a crazy intoxicant,
a fevered dream
that burned me up,
like a tenement fire
in a city-lost soul.

But like every addict
I had to come back down.
And when I finally touched ground,
shivering and drenched,
the cold light of day
reflected in my pain,
I realised the time had come
to give up the drink
and become a better whole.

And you?
I guess you became
someone else’s need,
someone else’s game.

Someone else to blame.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Humble. A poem.

The essence of humility
Is all I ever need of be
Humble is as humble does
The other side of piety.

I am forever in Your debt,
my honour long impugned, you see.
You paved the road with grace for me
to be remade from aimless sin.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Shiver. A poem.

This shiver, a sliver
of ions up my spine,
a delectable point
of contention on my mind
shaping continuities
of ecstasy, baking
hormones in my pituitary,
activated by your touch
in mine.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

My Son My Sun. A poem.

My love for you is bottomless without end infinite it is sunbeams and moonbeams and cluttered thoughts laughter and pain you are my sun and my moon and all the cliches in between and while your light shines I will forever bask in it yeah I’ve screwed up your life at times that’s what parenting is all about but hopefully I’m not doing it as much you can be a pain in the ass but I know you’re just working things out love is forgiveness good with the bad compromise and all that always rising above like sunbeams and moonbeams and cliches but never ending and always beginning my son my sun you are my world keep the light on and shine bright

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM: Free Cave Map/Encounter!

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: The Caves That Bleed

Find the missing kid! The Caves that Bleed await! The notes are self explanatory.

Cave Map - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

P.S. I’m writing a 48-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Upstart Photographer: Things#5

Another photo. Another poem.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Lighthouse. A poem.

A hollow betrayal;
you were pushed aside
and swept under the rug
of failing and fatalistic light
(what irony, it seems).

A ship’s memory is short;
they no longer need your eyes.
The ocean, whose detriment
you did long prevent,
has had its revenge after all.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Lazy Movie Reviews: The Predator and Venom

Yep. I love movies, but I’m over long movie reviews. Maybe you are, too?

The Predator

  • Unlikeable protagonists. The gung ho military men are caricature crazy, like everything in this franchise.
  • “Let’s make the bad guy even bigger”. What is this, Jaws?
  • The world building would be more interesting if the movie wasn’t so dumb.
  • 20th Century Fox should leave the Predator franchise alone. At least the earlier movies weren’t trying so hard.

Rating: D

Venom

  • Tom Hardy is good. Shame he’s wasted on such an unnecessary and pointless story/anti-hero.
  • So many plot holes, so little time. Sigh.
  • Decent special effects. The bike action sequence is well done. The rest? Yawn.
  • No likeable characters anywhere; the villain is one-note: “I’m rich and crazy. Oh, and now I’ve got a symbiote in me.”
  • You’ll forget this movie not long after exiting the cinema.

Rating: D+

Tonight. A poem.

Am I mad and destitute
on this anxious road to success?
Or am I lost and found again
in artless vanity and regret?

Is this path I walk alone
of the living and the dead?
Or a marathon that leads me on
far from a shameful mess?

Do you hear my silken cries
or feel my sullen tears?
Do you smile all the while
or simply laugh at me?

Am I selfish or justified
to think and feel this way?
Or is it just another cross
I think I bear, today?

Will you pray for me again
as I walk the quivering wire?
Trying not to glance below
into the waiting fire.

No, You will hold me subtly
each and every time I tire.
You will always ease my pain:
right here, right now, in time.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Your Kiss. A poem.

Your kiss
takes me to places
I’ve been before
and long to revisit.

When the voyage is over
I’m longing
for that travel bug
to capture and
enrapture me again.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Haiku Friday: Unwanting. A haiku.

Unwanting
This poor man walks in
grace, so humble and contrite
and wanting nothing.

What is a haiku? Glad you asked. Click here to find out more.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Dirty Dancing. A poem.

Dance on my grave

OnE sTeP, tWo StEp, ThReE sTeP, fOuR

Pat it down and into place

OnE sTeP, tWo StEp, ThReE sTeP, fOuR

Celebrate the death of me

OnE sTeP, tWo StEp, ThReE sTeP, fOuR

Now you’re done, wash the dirt away

You wish you COULD, but you CAN’T.
You’ll always have dirt on your hands.

And feet.

OnE sTeP, tWo StEp, ThReE sTeP, fOuR…

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Laidback DM: Free City Quarter Map!

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for D&D adventures. I have far too many, though, so I give them away any chance I get.

This week: Poorside – A city quarter map

You can use this map for any overcrowded area in a walled city. It’s nestled against the ramparts and includes lots of back alleys for shady deals and ambushes. Many buildings’ floorplans are exposed for you to use them as bases, lairs, safe houses, taverns, inns, etc.

Poorside Map - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

P.S. I’m writing a 48-page book of dungeon maps, adventures, tables and tips! Coming soon!

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

The Real Book. A tale of two formats.

Remember that poetry e-book I released a year ago? Yeah, I thought not. The All or the Nothing is a book I’m very proud of, but it’s only sold a few copies so it’s safe to say my grand dream of being recognised for my poetic talents (real or illusionary) has fizzled somewhat.

Then I realised, as a book reader I still prefer hard copies. Maybe my readers (or at least my Mum) would want an actual book?

Being a redoubtable (yet depressingly down) fellow, I decided I would get a print copy together. So, after labouring hard in Adobe Indesign, I’ve put together a 96-page book version of The All or the Nothing on Lulu, which can be printed on demand.

I’m a bit proud of it. So much so, I’m preparing my second book of poetry for release in hard copy before Christmas.

Want a ‘real’ copy? Get it here. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

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