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Shotglass Adventures: Mined Games Kickstarter is LIVE!

SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane 2: MINED GAMES is the sequel to the successful Shotglass Adventures: GRAVIS TOWN BLUES Kickstarter and the 7TH book from Laidback DM!

Compatible with D&D 5e and OSR fantasy role playing games, SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane 2: MINED GAMES is series of adventures that can be played as One-Shots or as the second module in a four-part campaign, taking your players from 1st– 14th level.

Gravis Town is locked down as the Kal-Zar’s Bane virus runs rampant. A journal found in a lost shipyard provides the location of the long-hidden library of Kal-Zar Ro. The party must travel to the Orinspeak, a mountain trapped in perpetual winter in the heart of the forest.

There are questions to be answered, secrets to be uncovered. The truth about Kal-Zar’s Bane may be revealed. And the quest to find a cure can begin…

So, what’s in SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane 2: MINED GAMES?

· 7 adventures – puzzles, investigations, dungeon crawls, quests, social encounters – complete with full color maps! Varied adventures from 5th – 7th level, designed for minimal preparation and flexible delivery. Each adventure can be run as part of the ongoing Kal-Zar’s Bane campaign, or as a One-Shot. Every adventure has both Campaign-specific and One-Shot-specific hooks. The One-Shot hooks ignore all the sub-plots and provide you with exactly what you need to run each adventure as a one-off for your players – you can either slot them into your existing campaign or run them as separate, individual side quests.

· Hand-drawn, full-color Maps, New Monsters and New Magic Items!

· Fully detailed village and region setting– The Elven tree village of Ai’Pa’El is home to the An’st’rm elves and a potential regional base for the PCs in the vast Orinwood Forest. The elves harbor a secret that may start to unravel the truth about Kal-Zar’s Bane

· Expanded map of Verona Province – including the Jarldoms of Skandara – a new, expanded map and brief gazetteer of the Invician Empire and Verona Province! More new and expanded lore for the Shotglass Adventures campaign setting!

· Full guide for OSR conversions!

The Kickstarter is live! To support this project, just click on the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laidbackdm/shotglass-adventures-kal-zars-bane-2-mined-games

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Drawn 2. A poem.

Drawn

2

your

flame

2 ashes reduced

2

rise

again

2 return & burn

Drawn

2

this

fate

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Free Map!

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for Dungeons & Dragons adventures. I have far too many, though, so I like to give away my hand-drawn maps when I can. This one is grid-less, ideal for virtual tabletop platforms like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

This week: Not-so-General Store

Ever needed a map for when your players suddenly decide to rob the local store, rather than buy stuff like normal people? I have. I made up this map for just such an occasion (and to make sure I wasn’t caught out again by an off-the-cuff party decision).

So, why would you need a map of a store? Let’s just say the proprietors are retired adventurers and they don’t take too kindly to being woken up by silent alarm spells in the very early morning hours…

Just right click and save on PC, or hold you finger on the image and save on mobile.

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 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are on sale at DrivethruRPG.

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Laidback DM: Free Map – Labyrinth Tunnels

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps for Dungeons & Dragons adventures. I have far too many, though, so I like to give away my hand-drawn maps when I can.

This week: Labyrinth Tunnels

I drew this map for a recent Out of the Abyss campaign I ran. It’s a section of the Underdark area known as the Labyrinth, and features the vagrant community of Filthriddens. Feel free to use it for other purposes!

Just right click and save on PC, or hold you finger on the image and save on mobile.

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 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are on sale at DrivethruRPG. LaidbackDM - Product Line

Laidback DM – Theater vs. Grid

As a DM I like to run combat different ways. Sometimes it’s with miniatures and pawns on a 1-inch square grid. Sometimes it’s all in the imagination, what we like to call ‘Theater of the Mind’ (TOTM).

Here’s the pros and cons for both:

Grid/Battle Mat

Pros:

* Precise – allows players and DM to see the combat area, make specific measurements, areas of effect, move figures realistically.
* Tactile and visual – allows players and DMs to envision the scene with the aid of physical pieces, similar to a board game, but also adds to the drama and assists those players who prefer visual aids.

Laidback DM - gameplay

Cons:

* Gridlock – sometimes combat becomes very static with limited tactical movement e.g. player attacks monster, stays where they are to avoid opportunity attacks.
* Less use of imagination – RPGs are games of the imagination, built on description, acting and improvisation. Sometimes grids can take away from that, making the game more like a tactical board game.
* Physical aids – the DM and players need to supply miniatures, pawns, mats and/or terrain. These can be a pain to transport when you’re already bringing books, dice, paper, screens, tablets, etc. It can also make the DM reliant on or set up an expectation that physical aids are needed for their session.

TOTM

Pros:

* Quick combat – this depends on how descriptive you are with your combats, but generally speaking it’s faster because you’re not reliant on exact distance and counting squares for movement.
* Story-focussed – it’s easier to make the combat flow as a story, incorporating elements on the fly, than using a grid.
* No need for tokens/miniatures/maps/terrain – all happens in the head, potentially saves you a lot of money.

Cons

* Pressure – lots of pressure on the DM to remember everything that’s happening and describe the environment adequately so the players can picture the scene. Everyone visualises things differently and may be hard for players to get a consistent understanding of the scene.
* Lack of visualisation – some players prefer visualisation and rules lawyers may question DM decisions more because of the lack of specificity of the environment e.g. spell areas of effect, etc.

So which one is it for you? Grids or TOTM? Or both?

Game on!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are now on sale at DrivethruRPG.

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Back. A poem.

You went away
Journeyed far
Through flaxen fields
And bauxite dust
History replayed
Without rewind moments

A tenseness between
Interspersed with
Rear view lightness
And sanitised propriety
A photographic record
Of colours and hues
Revealing the distance
You’ve come and overcome

So glad you’re back

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Hysteria. A Haiku.

Your hysteria
Does not make you rational
Or remotely sane.

#Vote

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Pawns vs. Miniatures

When I run face-to-face (IRL for all you young whippersnappers) role playing games I like using a grid and pawns for combat (that’s not to say I don’t like using Theater of the Mind – I do, I just prefer using grids for larger scale battles). In some games I’ve used combinations of pawns and miniatures. But which is better? Pawn or mini?

Laidback DM - gameplay

What do I mean when I say ‘pawns’? Pawns are upright standing 2D tokens, often backprinted, that provide a visual representation of a character or monster. They are normally colour, but you can also get black and white ones.

What’s the difference between a pawn and a token? A token lies flat on the table, whereas a pawn stands upright. This means the pawn can display a whole image of the creature its representing, and can accurately represent not only the number of spaces a creature takes up (via its base) but also its height.

Miniatures are printed, moulded plastic or die cast metal 3D figures, which come unpainted or pre-painted. Collecting and painting miniatures is a hobby unto itself, and can bring years or a lifetime of enjoyment. Anyone who’s played Warhammer 40K will know it can also become an obsession!

For most DMs and players, the choice between pawns and miniatures comes down to cost, time, immersion, transport and personal choice.

Cost

When it comes to pricing, pawns are hands down cheaper than miniatures. You can generally buy several backprinted pawns (depending on the company you buy them from) for the price of a single, unpainted miniature.

Once you have pawns, you also need bases to hold the pawn upright. Some companies supply bases (yay!) with their pawns, but others you have to buy them separately e.g. The Pathfinder 2e Bestiary Box from Paizo includes bases, but you may want to buy extra base sets.

Laidback DM - Pathfinder 2e Product Reviews

The issue for most DMs and players purchasing miniatures is the amount of money you have to invest in the hobby. If you want lots of fancy miniatures, be prepared to spend big. And if you like 3D terrain, to spend a LOT more. (Yes, you can also purchase and/or print out low cost cardboard buildings and walls – DrivethruRPG is a good place to find a variety of these kits.)

Time

Miniatures are awesome on a tabletop, but unless you buy them pre-painted (expensive!) you’ll need to invest time painting them (okay, you don’t have to, but grey miniatures on a tabletop look awfully dull, which defeats the purpose of having miniatures. Pawns are already colour and ready to go.

Immersion

There is no doubt that having cool painted miniatures and colour battle mats increase player immersion in play. Pawns look cool, but there’s no getting away from the fact that they only have two sides – three dimensional beats two dimensional every time.

If you’ve got a limited budget, you can always use both. Use pawns when you have hordes of minions, and miniatures for major monsters. It’s up to you.

Laidback DM - TPK - stevestillstanding

Transport

This won’t be an issue if you run games from your own home, but if you’re like me and travel around between venues the transport of several cases to carry miniatures becomes an issue. They are bulky, and if you can’t take all of them then sorting and packing is required as part of your prep time for a game.

Pawns are flat, and easily stored in folders which can be alphabetised if you’re into that. Clear sheets in the folder make it easy to locate the pawn you need for the job.

A few folders versus multiple plastic carry cases? I know what I prefer. I used to be a drummer, and drummers are usually the first to arrive at a gig and the last to leave – they lug the most gear. But they do get the groupies, so it’s not so bad lol.

Summing Up

In the end it’s always going to be a matter of your own personal preference. I’ve seen some awesome pawns that blow some miniatures out of the water e.g I acquired some great pawns from a recent GTGminis Kickstarter.

I’ve seen brilliantly painted miniatures and terrain that makes you feel like you’re right there in the dungeon. For me, it comes down to cost and portability. But you and your players will have your own preferences. And in your game that’s all that really matters.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are now on sale at DrivethruRPG.

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Laidback DM: Products for Sale!

Hi all!

Far be it for me to spruik for a living, but hey – it’s how I make a living now.

So, here are some of my role playing game products available on DrivethruRPG in print/PDF/digital formats. You can buy any or all of these fine products by visiting this nifty little link:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/13989/Laidback-DM?term=laidback

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Laidback DM - Shotglass Adventures Gravis Town Blues Ad
LaidbackDM - Product Line

P.S. WordPress – your new block editor sorely tries my patience. Give me the classic mode any day. Unfortunately, it seems I’m unable to select it when using my PC. Thanks for taking my money and annoying me.

Upstart Photographer – Mural

I love to take photographs. I love to write poetry. Here’s both, all in one.

Steve 🙂

Mural. A poem.

Rippled reflection
An imperfect memory
Casting its gaze
Upon the flocks below
An endearing shepherd
Without judgement
Or recourse
Offering flowers
In recompense

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM – Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 19

Hi all,

Over the last few weeks I’ve been posting some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. This is the first campaign I started sending summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that).

Some of the summaries may be dull, some may be amusing; some are written in present tense, some in past tense – these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar.

If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 19

This week, after a long rest in Asgarte’s chamber, the party elected to burn the demon with Natasha’s Gnomish Druid’s wall of fire. This didn’t work, instead burning away the magic sigils keeping the demon imprisoned. Before Asgarte could get out and ravage the party, William’s Dragonborn Paladin decided to grab the Gnome and drop him on the back of his spirit horse in the corridor they had previously traversed while the horse was flying (they were expecting a trap, after all). Unfortunately the spirit horse wasn’t flying this time. The corridor floor became a slippery downward ramp and the Gnome and the horse slid down into the opposite wall and then further down to the bottom of the shaft, 40 feet below the double doors of the previous room.

Meanwhile Asgarte decided to take advantage of the situation and push the Dragonborn Paladin and Kasimir, the handy dusk elven NPC wizard, down the ramp. Kasimir, being an all-around weakling, went all the way home, crashing into the horse and gnome. The Dragonborn was made of sterner (stupider?) stuff and stood his ground. Asgarte took a few swings at the paladin, and then decided (in what turned out to be a bad move) to slide down the floor to take out the magic users. Dan’s Halfling monk, casually poisoning his blade, decided to slide down the ramp and give the demon a damn good rodgering. This wasn’t entirely successful, and he ended up flat against the demon’s back. The paladin decided to slide down with a javelin and missed by that much, both the demon and the monk. So now all the party was down at the end of the slide, packed in like lemmings.

The Gnome cast another wall of fire just in front of him. The NPC wizard cast some magic missiles. The monk stunned Asgarte for a round, and the monk and paladin took advantage of this to finish him off. A mighty divine smite was the killing blow, with William’s paladin claiming the title of “Demonslayer” forevermore. Or until someone else killed a demon. Either way.

The party climbed back up to the room, took the 4 x 2000 GP diamonds from the walls and made their way out of the tomb. The short, skull-encrusted romp was a success. “That’s the most treasure we have ever found in Barovia,” said the Dan’s monk, telling everyone what they already knew: Barovia is full of poor and depressed people.

Meanwhile, what to do? After much discussion, the party decided to take a wagon and some horses and go to Vallaki, as it was really close. There they found much of the population had deserted the town, due to lack of wine the party had failed to deliver. Oh, and that little Vampire Spawn massacre a week ago. Looks like the church where Ireena and her brother were holidaying was destroyed as well. Ireena and Ismarck were missing… 

The party headed back to the Inn, where they had a free meal on behalf of the Martikovs. The dragonborn changed into a raven to show solidarity with his wereraven chums, then had to put all his armour back on. The wereravens got a good laugh out of that. 

The party decided to question the burgomaster to find out what they could do. The monk got antsy during the discussion, attacked and killed the burgomaster (despite a valiant attempt by the Gnome to save the burgomaster by changing him to gaseous form). The rest of the party set about supporting the guards who took the monk off to gaol. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 GP. 

The burgomaster’s wife was not amused.  No, dragonborn, it wasn’t a good time to ask her about that strange mirror in her bedroom. “And how did you know I have a mirror in there, anyway?” said the lady. “And where did my wedding dress go?”

“We’ll just be going, we’ll make our own way out, no need to fuss, see you next time,” said the party, tip-toeing to the door).  

While the party went back to the inn, the monk shared some pipeweed with her guards. The druid felt bad, went back to the monk’s cell, changed into a spider and walked under the door, changed the monk to gaseous form (that spell has been pretty useful this time around) so she could escape and then toddled out again. The Halfling monk decided to hide in her wagon as she wanted to avoid the dragonborn, who was a bit peeved the monk had killed the burgomaster (“I didn’t have anything to do with that,” said the paladin, having conveniently turned the other way when it happened). 

The party decided to go to Berez and recover the third green stone for the Wizard of Vines and also find whatever it was the Tarroka Cards were referring to that lay there. Somewhere. Their wagons got bogged (lots of mud in Berez) and they crossed the river to talk with a wereraven spy who gave them intel on the witch Baba Lysaga who lived in a tiny hut in the center of Berez with her freaky scarecrows.   

Next week: Back  across the river, and taking out that witch. Or making friends and influencing people. Or smoking pipeweed. Or whatever they want to do.

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are now on sale at DrivethruRPG.

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A Writer’s Prayer. A poem.

I slowly turn each page
And every emblazoned word
That lights the air
In a breathtaking display
Could not be any more
Resplendent than it is

These are my words
And whether kind or cruel
Winsome or fulsome
They are mine and mine alone
And my world shines far brighter
Because they live and breathe

In print

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Embrace. A poem.

I remember your embrace
Enfolded and ensured
Encapsulating all and nothing
Bittersweet and banked upon
Softly sweet and silky smooth
And as fettered and lasting
As a dream

I remember your embrace
And the downy remorse
That feathers every memory
Of the loss

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Occasion. A poem.

Regulate this feeling
Clamp it down and fix it
In a final, vice-like repose
‘Tween twilight and morning

Unburdened by the hollow
And fulsome moon
Let all your tears flow freely
And whisper words
Retained for this occasion

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Sometimes. A poem.

Sometimes, I feel old.

I feel the weight of years
And the stress and strain
Of injuries and tears
That make it hard to lift
Myself from bed.

It hits me, awkwardly,
When I’m lifting a box
Or philosophising alone,
Shooting through my brain
And body and bones.

Or when I see the young
Living carefree lives,
Neglecting masks
Far too selfishly,
Because “only others die.”

It’s the burden of memory
(And sometimes lack thereof)
That gets me calculating,
Writing, learning, gaming;
That fires me off and up.

It’s the strength I feel
When I hit the weights
And lift like I never have,
Watching records break
As if I were half my age.

Sometimes, I feel old.

But not today.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES: GRAVIS TOWN BLUES now in print!

Published under the OGL and compatible with 5e and OSR fantasy role playing games, SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane: GRAVIS TOWN BLUES is a 68-page book with adventures for characters of 1st-4th level, that can be played as One-Shots or as the first module in a four-part campaign

So, what’s in SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane: GRAVIS TOWN BLUES?

· 6 adventures, complete with full color maps! Varied adventures – investigation, assault, river raid, rescue, dungeon crawl, escape – ranging from 1st-4th level, designed for minimal preparation and flexible delivery. Each adventure can be run as a One-Shot, or as part of the Kal-Zar’s Bane campaign. Every adventure has both Campaign-specific and One-Shot-specific hooks. The One-Shot hooks ignore all the sub-plots and provide you with exactly what you need to run each adventure as a one-off for your players – you can either slot them into your existing campaign or run them as separate, individual side quests.

· Hand-drawn, full-color maps – old school style with new school flair!

· New Monsters – 11 new monsters and NPCs!

· New Magic Items – 10 new magic items and a new spell!

· River Encounters & Adventure Seeds – 8 short encounters, as well as adventure seeds that can be expanded into mini-adventures!  

· New Ships – 2 new ships, fully compatible with the ship rules in official adventure GoS!

· Fully detailed city & region setting – Gravis Town is a rich frontier town, fueled by sapphire mining. It’s based in the vast and wild Orinwood on the northern periphery of Verona Province, just south of the Daggershield Mountains that form the border with Skandara. The setting includes maps, gazetteer, NPCs, rumors, adventure seeds, additional short river encounters and more!

· Expanded map of Verona Province – including the Jarldoms of Skandara – a new, expanded map and brief gazetteer of the Invician Empire and Verona Province! New and expanded lore for the Shotglass Adventures campaign setting!

· Full guide for OSR conversions!

To get your copy in print, simply click on the link below:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/327887/SHOTGLASS-ADVENTURES-Gravis-Town-Blues

Game On!

Steve 🙂

All Laidback DM products are now on sale at DrivethruRPG.

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RPG. A poem.

My game is never done
Or lost or won
Even when the final die is cast
And the last
Player upon this infinite stage
Writes their page
Another memorable tale
It’s safe to say
That lives on in mind and soul
The final
The ultimate
And ever-lasting
Goal.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

For more Laidback DM, click here.

All Laidback DM products are on sale at DrivethruRPG.

LaidbackDM AD DrivethruRPG

Mind Maze. A haiku.

The mind is a maze;
Navigating snares and pits,
We long to escape.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Detritus

Photography & Poetry – P&P for all the RPG fans lol 😊

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Detritus. A poem.

Cast ashore by storied seas
A mishmash of memories
And undefinable surprises
From the ocean’s turned out pockets
A lost and found of salty treats
Waiting and wanting to be reclaimed

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

My Prayer. A poem.

My prayer is for today
And yesterday and tomorrow,
For every lost soul counting time,
Standing rooted to the spot.

Perhaps one day you’ll learn
To get on the road
And into the headlights
Of a truckload of realisation,
That may, somewhat ironically,

Bring you back to life.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Vice. A poem.

A tightness in my torso
In my arm and in my jaw
Unlike anything I’ve felt before

(Maybe indigestion, it’s a start)
Everything I know says fit
Healthy, young of heart

This dreaded feeling I confess
Grips me harder than the vice
Squeezing life from my chest

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Beach Morning

Photography, poetry – why not, I say? 😊

Cheers

Steve

Beach Morning. A poem.

Rainbowed cloud and
Circuitous seas
Casting ancient wisdom
Like dice upon the shore

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Depression Is. A poem.

I always work so hard, you see,
With such effort and resolve.
Working towards my lofty goal,
Another problem I can solve.
Setting the bar too high, it seems,
But reaching every time.
Again, a pinnacle achieved
And a feeling so sublime.

But then the mighty outcome,
The success which I have craved,
Turns out to be so minimal
And all the thoughts I’ve saved
Turn inwards upon myself
To a sickening degree.
And suddenly I’m burdened
By self-doubt, hypocrisy.

As if all of that endless effort
Was not it’s own reward,
As if the milestone that I reached
Was falling on a sword.
And the black dog deep within me
He just smiles his toothy grin
And laps up all the hatred,
Despair and self-loathing.

Maybe one day I’ll learn again
To take each small success
With the pleasure and conviction
That will, black dog, address.
And send him far from this place
So he will plague me never more.
But until that day, depression is
All I am and more.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 18

Hi all,

Over the last few weeks I’ve been posting some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. This is the first campaign I started sending summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that).

Some of the summaries may be dull, some may be amusing; some are written in present tense, some in past tense – these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar.

If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 18

After a two-week enforced delay, the game was afoot.

The party was pleasantly surprised by…you guessed, it, fog! And lots of treasure (most un-Barovian). After ransacking the remains of the Vistani encampment, everyone seemed more excited at the prospect of horses and wagons, rather than gold pieces. But it’s been that sort of campaign – it’s all about sore feet and the indignity of walking.

While searching the main tent, William’s Paladin discovered a well, hidden under the campfire (isn’t that where all the best wells are hidden? In Barovia, anyway…). The wall of the well were studded with human bones and skulls. Naturally everyone felt a bit worried. So, the next day, after a very brief discussion, money signs flashed in their vision and they decided to explore it.

Natasha’s Druid shape-changed into a bat and scouted the well and the first corridor below, seeing through the illusion-covered pit with her echo location (“Damn,” said Steve. “Foiled!”). To get across the pit, William’s Dragonborn Paladin piggybacked individuals as he climbed the walls. He only fell off once. The floors were also covered with skulls and bones (a Barovian designer choice, perhaps: “I think I will go with skulls for the floors and walls, it’s so in, this season”).

The first set of doors opened easily, and the Paladin’s spidey-sense picked up lots of undead (“Damn,” said Steve. “Foiled again!”). The party very slowly made their way across the room, tested the doors at the other end and that’s when the undead skeletons and a mummy made their brief guest appearance, thanks to the Dusk Elf leader’s fireball (“Damn,” said Steve. “Foiled again!”). Yeah, turns out he’s a bit of a wiz. Wizard, that is.

Next room, a teleporting hole in the floor over a water laden pit, guarded by two Hook Horrors. Lots of fun, with William’s Paladin’s spirit horse activating the trap and the paladin being dragged down into the water after grappling with one of the monsters. The party hung back at the door, using ranged attacks (“Damn,” said Steve. “Foiled again!”). Eventually the horse and paladin were saved. The Wiz cast fly on the horse and the party were safely transported over the floor. The Druid fell into the floor with the Wiz, changed to a giant spider and carried the Wiz out (“Why do I bother with traps at all,” said Steve).

The last room was home to a trapped Demon called Asgarte, who promised the party anything they wanted if they freed him. So, the party slept on it, taking a long rest in the room and thoroughly annoying Asgarte, who stood watching all night with crossed arms, tapping his foot.

Next week: The end of the mini-adventure (Steve’s excuse to use his new dungeon tiles), and back to Barovia-proper!

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A Loss. A poem.

I feel the absence
The missing jigsaw heart
That once made me whole
And now makes me hole

I feel every teardrop
Every rip and tear
Every shake and rattle
And every distant sigh

I feel the darkness
These clouds and storms
That weather and wither
My very being

An emptiness
That can’t be filled
One day to the next
The lost suffering a loss

For more Poetry, click here.

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For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Angry. A haiku.

You make me angry:
Your choices and selfishness
Robbed him of a life.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Share. A poem.

Would that I could share this success with you?
All the excess and fortune
Pointing to moments unsolicited
And gratuitous and circumspect
All these worlds and words
Of self doubt and self pity
Replaced by self esteem
And confidential confidence
Would that I could share this success with you
Even if only for one last time.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Distressed

Photography and poetry – a two for one deal, but for a short time only 😊

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Distressed. A poem.

Your interminable display
A marriage of metaphor that
Adds rings to eucalyptus fingers
As the elements play out
A millennium of bad hair days

So stand tall and despair
Oh lady of distress
For your long day into night
Is just another season of many
In your constant pantomime

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Sunlight. A poem.

Clouds upon an onion soul
A lattice of incidental grief
Whispering and blowing
Winds of contentious intent

Shimmering summer rays
Cannot pierce this veil
This black hole that crushes
All in its event horizon

Each season cries “winter”
An icy arctic freeze
Knowing no end or beginning
I’m frozen in time and place

But then the break
The dappled beams that slice
Through these clouds
And warm me to the core

Your sunlight is
The furtive spotlight
I’ve been waiting for

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 15

Hi all,

Over the last few weeks I’ve been posting some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. This is the first campaign I started sending summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that).

Some of the summaries may be dull, some may be amusing; some are written in present tense, some in past tense – these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar.

If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 15

Barovia, Barovia, we so love Barovia
It’s dark and foggy, we’re so fancy free 
So sunny, so bright, please won’t you save me
Barovia, Barovia, we so love Barovia
It’s chock full of wolves and so much desperation
Damn the devil Strahd and his cursed temptations
Barovia, Barovia, we so love Barovia
It may not be as good as we made out before
So give me some wine or I’ll show you the door
– Barovian National Anthem

Curse of Strahd continues, inexorably, to its exciting conclusion…which is actually a fair way off. In the meantime:

The party argued over whether to go to Berez and face the Witch, or to go and save Baron Van Richten, who they learned had been taken hostage by the Vistani and was about to be delivered to Strahd. Eventually, they agreed (begrudgingly, in some cases) to undertake a rescue.

On the road they fought a couple of berserkers (obviously the Druids at Yester Hill were still a bit miffed about them hacking up their Gulthias Tree…), capturing and interrogating one, whom they then killed (such a pleasant party).

Savid the Dusk Elf led the party to the Vistani Camp outside of Vallaki. On the way, they came across Van Richten’s carnival wagon and signs of a battle. They found an absolutely fascinating page of the egotistical Van Richten’s journal and his dead sabretooth tiger.

A quick wereraven/Paladin reconnoitre of the camp showed the Vistani were mostly drunk and a bit lax at guard duty. Sneaking (and riding) into the Vistani camp, they met with the Dusk Elves’ leader, Kasimir Velikov, still peeved that Strahd killed all the women of his tribe hundreds of years ago and pining over his dead sister Patrina, who wanted to be Strahd’s bride. Kasimir explained the Amber Temple might hold the secret of Strahd’s curse, and he would willingly escort the party there.

In the meantime, the party needed to rescue poor old Van Richten from the clutches of the Vistani. Natasha’s Gnomish Druid changed into a spider and snuck into the Vistani leader’s tent, where Van Richten was being tortured. That’s where the plan started going a bit askew. Meanwhile, Mark’s Gnome Bard tried a distraction (amazing juggling, by the way) and Dan’s annoying Halfling Monk hid under the eave of a building(!).

A big fight ensued, with William’s Dragonborn Paladin riding in on his skeletal spiritual warhorse and slaughtering Vistani left, right and centre. Isaac’s reticent Tiefling Warlock provided support and it was on for young and old. Dan’s monk managed to dispatch the assassin leader, and eventually took out the Vistani second-in-command as well.

Unfortunately, poor old Van Richten was killed. Oh, well, you can’t make a Barovian omelette without cracking some vampire eggs (or so goes the old Barovian saying…). The friendly wereravens, who had been following the party’s progress, stopped the Dusk Elves from slaughtering the fleeing Vistani (seems the Dusk Elves have long memories…).

So, now the party can get down to what they really need to do. Looting!

I know I said don’t level up, but I’ve decided you’ve all done a lot over the previous few weeks, so I’m changing my mind. You can level up to 8th. Yay! Why? ‘Cause I think you’ll need it…

See you all Wednesday night, same Barovian Time, same Barovian channel!

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I Suck at Social Media.

I have a confession. One that’s obvious to some, especially those who know me.

I suck at social media.

Social media as a forum is both a treasure and a bane. It’s an information and networking portal and a source of disinformation and anxiety. Not to mention underhanded data collection, stalking, cyber bullying and echo chambering.

To be ‘good’ at social media means taking the bull by the horns and engaging on a regular basis, making contacts, commenting, reading, and generally using up time that I would consider better used writing or reading books. But social media is an essential marketing tool for those of us with online businesses, and the time we spend on it is an essential investment in our work.

And that’s where I fall over.

Without the interest or inclination to do more on social media, my network and business contacts are meagre. My reach is limited and as a result my business is as well. This became readily apparent in my last promotional campaign, which struggled against larger and better social mediated projects. My product and materials were good, but my reach was ineffective when faced with powerhouse competition.

I know I have to make greater efforts to utilise social media the way it should be. But my naturally introverted self shies away from the narcissistic tendencies required to run social media sites properly (I’m sure many of you will disagree on this point, but let’s not kid ourselves: social media is generally about self promotion).

So, I’m going to try. I’m going to try to use social media a little more effectively. I’ll still suck at it, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn a bit as well.

I can only hope.

The Book. A poem.

There’s a lot of typing here,
Exposition to be done.
A hard fought war on grammar
And literacy that’s often won.
Occasionally a photo finish
(A second or a third),
Or an error left in print
That’s obviously absurd.

Another book is done
And another now begun:
Eighty thousand words or so,
The constant to and fro,
Endless drafts and rewrites
That bring confidence undone.
And, eventually,
As sure as sunrise on the sea—
The hard fought deadline battle
That’s always lost and always won.

The long night’s fever dreams,
Burning, stinging with ideas,
To fingers poised on patient keys
Just waiting to break free.
Where wilful thoughts give wilful birth
To each line’s encoded worth.
A literary child of hate and love
And inspiration from above.

And soon the war is won.
The book is finally done.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Why? A poem.

I can see your place
When I turn the corner.
I’m shifting gears,
Downshifting and slowing,
Braking and breaking
To the sound of singing tyre tread
And siren goodbyes.

Such a short time,
But what a time.
And how we wished
It would last and would be different
From all the times before,
When empty promises and vague circumstances
Made the weight of everything
So much less
Than ought.

Defences raised,
A call to arms,
And suddenly every scrutiny
Seemed ridiculous
And uncalled for.
Lingering at the door
Without a last word,
All left for text messages,
Bound to be misconstrued.

Every fire burning (b)right
Was put out in the storm
That followed.
Harsh rains
And lightning wit
To paint a picture
Few artists would admit to.

And that was it.

Another tally on the board,
But not one you or I wanted
To be scored.
Not a picture perfect ending,
Not a thank you or goodbye.
Just a shopping list
Of indignations,
And a lonely question:

Why?

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Bittersweet. A poem.

You were there
You were gone
We had sung
Our last swan song

Now a whisper
Just a pall
Just an echo
Heard in the halls

I did wrong
So did you
Two separate paths
Two lonely fools

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Just a poem
Just a memory
Of bygone days
Of bittersweet whimsy

Worst Enemy. A poem.

All the hells that we conceive
Nurture in our heads and breed
Far worse than any promises
That the end could throw at us.
My greatest and worst enemy
You are mine and whole in me.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Damocles. A haiku.

A Damocles sword
By a thin thread suspended
Over all our heads

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Vexed. A poem.

Why do you continually
vex me so?
And how much further
Must we go?

You want my ear
And the rest of me
Yet all I ask
Is some interest

In the things I do
And say and need
And yet that’s too much
To ask, it seems

Far too much
For you to do
When it seems that I’m
Just there for you

It vexes me
And I cannot say
How long injustice
Will have its way

Before the sun sets forth
The world turns again
And I repeat the dance
That we all must play

Why do you continually
vex me so?
And how much longer
Until you finally

Know

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 14

Hi all,

Over the last few weeks I’ve been posting some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. This is the first campaign I started sending summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that).

Some of the summaries may be dull, some may be amusing; some are written in present tense, some in past tense – these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar.

If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 14

This week, it was unexpectedly foggy in Barovia.

In further exciting news, the party, still recovering from the Revenant fever of last week, spoke to wounded Dusk Elf Savid, who was resting after being attacked by needle blights  while looking for the daughter of the Vistani chief. Savid explained that he was part of a colony of Dusk Elves located in the Vistani camp outside of Vallaki. They were a lovely elvish community, but a long time ago Strahd decided to punish them by wiping out all the females and kids. The Dusk Elves are now “overseen” by the Vistani. Savid noted that a carnival performer matching the description of Van Richten had been captured by the Vistani recently, and was due to be delivered  to Strahd any day now.

The party was joined by Pablo, new player Jame’s crazy Half Orc Fighter/Wizard with low intelligence and a penchant for mending stuff (hey, he spent two hours magically mending sheets. First time that’s happened…). Pablo decided to make his mark by stirring up the revenants upstairs and getting the bard and monk injured in the process. Nice use of that magical fog cloud to prevent everyone from seeing, but hey, nobody’s perfect. We look forward to Pablo’s high jinks next week (or should that be high jinx? Time will tell…)

Eventually the party made nice with the Revenants, having a good old chin wag with Sir Godfrey Gilfrim and the mightily depressed Vladimir Horngaard, leader and mightiest warrior of the Knights of the Silver Dragon (lucky you didn’t fight him, eh?)

Lots of history uncovered this week:

  • Argynvost was a silver dragon who liked to pose as human who fought and was killed by Strahd and his armies, before Strahd became a vampire.
  • Argynvost’s spirit appealed to the characters to save his fallen knights, who had fallen into darkness. Isn’t that everyone in Barovia, really?
  • The revenants were originally good human knights, part of the Order of the Silver Dragon. They fought Strahd’s armies to a standstill, and were originally in Barovia to prevent anyone from getting into the evil Amber Temple down south.
  • Argynvost’s body was cut up and shipped back to Ravenloft as trophies. If the bones are returned to the mausoleum at Argynvhostholt, and the beacon relit, then the knights will be saved and sent to their rest.
  • When Strahd became a vampire, Horngaard and his knights marched on Ravenloft, but were confronted by Madame Eva (remember her – not such a spring chicken after all) who told them that Strahd was now a prisoner in his own land as a result of his pact with the evil forces that made him a vampire (bummer). The knights did not go to their rest, and over time have become consumed by hatred. Obviously, they’re all in need of a good hug.

So, a few things to do now:

  • Recover the green stone for the Wizard of Vines vineyard and the thing alluded to in the card reading, from the ruins of Berez.
  • Rescue Van Richten from the Vistani camp outside of Vallaki, before he becomes vampire stew.
  • Talk to the leader of the Dusk Elves that Savid informed might be able to help.
  • Visit the Amber Temple and see just what all the fuss is about.
  • Traipse on over to Ravenloft and collect some dusty old dragon bones (I’m sure it will be a bit more complicated than that…).

Oh, and Ezmerelda’s body disappeared (no one thought to do anything about a decent burial. The party was more interested in stringing up revenants from the rafters just in case they came back to life…).

Next Week: Get the feeling that everything is coming to a head? No? Must be just me, then.

 

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Inflexible. A haiku.

So inflexible.
Time to loosen up, my friend.
Just let it all go.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

These Tears. A poem.

These tears are not for you

Not for the moments shared and lost
Not for the conversation, trust
Not for the heat and aftermath
Not for a future that’s now dashed
Not for the glass I raise to you
Not for the player, now the fool
Not for the one who got away
Not for dreams of yesterday

These tears are not for you

Of course they’re not

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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