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MAPS FOR FANTASY RPGs 4 & 5 Kickstarter Launches Soon!

Hi all,

Maps for Fantasy RPGs 4 & 5 is my 18th Kickstarter and it launches soon!

DMs and fantasy TTRPG designers always need maps, but they’re not always easy for people to make, especially if you want a particular hand drawn aesthetic that you can’t get with digital map making applications.  Maps can be expensive to commission, and when you’re a small indie TTRPG game or product designer, your profit margin can be tight on every product.

The solution: MAPS FOR FANTASY RPGs 4 & 5: 2 Digital Maps Packages, one containing hand drawn, OSR-style B&W maps and another containing hand drawn, full color maps – royalty free and ready to use in your next private or commercial print/digital/streaming project!

Designed to inspire you creatively, these maps are ideal for any situation – design an entire adventure around one, use a map as a fill in or one-shot, or ad lib entirely as your players stumble across one.  There are maps of all kinds: dark dungeons, unexplored wilderness, frozen tundra, ruined fortresses, temples, haunted mines, massive tombs, cavernous caves, lava-filled caverns, cuthroat-filled river boats, dangerous lairs, underdark ruins and more!

Sign up to be notified on Day 1: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laidbackdm/maps-for-fantasy-rpgs-4-and-5-royalty-free-maps

Sign up to be notified on Day 1: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laidbackdm/maps-for-fantasy-rpgs-4-and-5-royalty-free-maps

Onward!

Steve 🙂

Kal-Zar’s Bane 4: Bane’s Requiem Available in Print and PDF!

SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane 4: BANE’S REQUIEM is the sequel to the successful Shotglass Adventures: TITANOTHAE RISING Kickstarter and the final book in the Kal-Zar’s Bane Quadrilogy!

Published under the OGL, compatible with 5e and easily-convertible to many OSR fantasy role playing games, SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES – Kal-Zar’s Bane 4: BANE’S REQUIEM is 154 pages of adventures that can be played as One-Shots or as the last module in a four-part campaign.

What’s in the Book?

  •  7 full-length, lavishly illustrated adventures for characters from 11th – 14th level, the adventures include an inter-planar rescue, dungeon crawls, puzzles, mini-games to be completed to gain an audience with the King of Thunar-Zin, a battle to save the city of Gravis Town and a final showdown with the Big Bad! Designed for flexible delivery, each can be run as part of the 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 the campaign sub-plots so you can run each adventure as a one-off for your players – slot them into your existing campaign or run them as separate side quests!
  •  New rules for the Battle for Gravis Town – for playing the the allied armies versus the Bane Army Horde! 
  •  Puzzles and Mini-Games, including increasing attendance at the S’und Day Festival and the mad entry puzzles to Sha-Din’s Tomb!
  •  Campaign Wrap Up – finishing up the Kal-Zar’s Bane campaign, with suggestions for the future of the campaign and world and new adventure seeds based on multiple outcomes! 
  •  Loads of hand-drawn, full-color maps – caverns, dungeons, tombs, inter-planar space, city streets, sewers, a desert plain and a Dwarven city! 
  •  33 new monsters & NPCs, including the frightening, level-draining N’etherwyrm, the horrifying Bane Lord, the fog-like Effluvium, inertia-draining Spirit Golem, super-skilled Kalzarist Special Ops teams, the lightning-fast Ozagu and voice-mimicking Unseen Ooze! 
  •  19 new magic items, including ancient artifact, the Axe of Thunar-Dal, paralysis-inducing Demon’s Breath, explosive Ice GrenadesThe Vostok  (a flying longship) and the mammoth Titanothae! 
  •  Towns, villages and region settings, including Gravis Town, the Dwarven Shield City of Thunar-Zin & the Sha-Din Plain! 
  •  Expanded Lore + Map of Verona Province (including the Frozen North) – expanded lore for the world of the Invician Empire  and Verona Province, the frontier setting for  Shotglass Adventures! PLUS every single Laidback DM adventure listed and mapped for your convenience!
  •  Guide for running the adventures with OSR systems!

You can buy it now in PDF or softcover on DrivethruRPG at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/399888/SHOTGLASS-ADVENTURES-BANES-REQUIEM

Onward!

Steve 🙂

Beacon. A poem.

Here I lie
Across the miles
from your ordered life
Formally informal thoughts
And elegant surprise

Beauteous and wise
Fettered ofttimes
By perspective and abstraction
But sharp, never dulled
A knife keen and true

And like you
I find myself longing
To be held and revealed
In such a forgiving light

Whose longing and fire
A gleaming beacon
Shining from on high

Desire to be matched
By nothing less
Than mine

For more poetry, click here.

Life in a Faded Moment Available in Print!

Hi all,

My fourth book of poetry, Life in a Faded Moment, is now available in hardcover and PDF at Drivethrufiction! Life in a Faded Moment is a collection of poems for all your fated and faded moments – poems about Love, Sorrow, Anger, Death and Life.

You can buy it at https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/396390/Life-in-a-Faded-Moment

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 37-40 (Campaign’s End)

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget 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. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 37

The party was separated from each other. Davor’s Ranger met up with Dan’s old Halfling Paladin, who we last saw petrified in the gardens of Nangalore (a friendly party came by and restored him, and he made his way with them to Omu and the tomb. As expected, they were all killed and he was the lone survivor…), who met up with Daniel’s Bard and Clinton’s Fighter (still underwater). Dan’s Paladin cured the Fighter (and would cure Morgan’s Druid as soon as he had his next long rest).

Off to the long sloping corridor where they found a three-armed gargoyle statue and a crawlspace leading to a secret room with a giant rolling Stone Juggernaut. Dan’s Paladin and William’s Goblin Monk decided to climb all over it, activating it and causing it to roll over several party members in the corridor beyond. Eventually Dan’s Paladin recovered a 5000gp gem and the party escaped to die another day. 

Off to fight the Shambling Mounds in the hexagonal entry room, then to the next room where the party found five wardrobes, each of which had to be opened and the inhabitants fought in order to progress. Battles with Orcs, Mezzaloths, Will-O’-Wisps ensued. And they met a friendly Modron Monodrone, as well, who wasn’t much help but was cute. 

Next, one more cupboard to open…

Week 38

The party finished off the last wardrobe, battling a Bone Devil. Through the portcullis to a long corridor, where a magic ring in a devil’s head caused all clothing and metal to dissolve. Mark’s Barbarian ditched his weapons and claimed the ring to switch off the trap.

Beyond the arch was a huge Mechanus Chain, flowing between two interplanar vortexes. Realising jumping into a vortex might hurt a bit, the party went down the stairs into the den of the Sewn Sisters, a coven of night hags (who weren’t home). They encountered a feeble clone of Mark’s Barbarian, three dolls created from children’s souls that granted charms to the owners. After battling the Sewn Sisters (with Davor’s Ranger popping off to the ethereal plane twice to do so), the party moved onto the five doors, using the heads from the skeletons they collected.

Solving a puzzle in each of the rooms (including gaining some boons by eating magical food, destroying a Scarecrow servant and Davor’s Ranger using up his final etherealness to pull a ghostly lever), the party opened the skeleton gate and walked down the stairs into the room containing the Atropal and the Soulmonger!

Next week: SHOWDOWN! Don’t miss it!

Week 39

The party confronted the Atropal, a huge, gurgling and quivering mass of creature linked to the Soul Monger via an umbilical cord. Dan’s Paladin tried talking to it using his comprehend languages charm, but it wasn’t in much of a mood to chat. While Daniel’s Bard used her wand of wonder to cast a stinking cloud around the Atropal, Mark’s Barbarian broke the ice by literally breaking the Soul Monger’s shell. Dan’s Paladin used his smites to do massive radiant damage and Daniel’s Bard finished the crystal cylinder off with a cloud of daggers spell. The Soul Monger was destroyed, the death curse lifted from the world! 

Meanwhile, Clinton’s Fighter and Davor’s Ranger fought a wraith summoned by the Atropal, Morgan’s Druid successfully polymorphed the Atropal into a cat (meow!), but it changed back when it was hit by shards of the breaking Soul Monger. Fighting in a poisonous cloud ain’t fun, as Morgan’s Druid found out when he beast-changed into a giant eagle and flew into it. Mark’s Barbarian and Dan’s Paladin, along with Davor’s Ranger, finally took the Atropal down. Then the troubles began…

Acererak appeared, straight outta’ Compton! He showed what a 20th-level Necromancer Lich can do, spells-wise, zipping his sphere of annihilation around the room and using power word kill on Daniel’s Bard (yay for possessing spirit I’jinn’s temp hit points!), blasting the party with chain lightning, other nasty things and using counterspells. Mark’s Barbarian bravely confronted Acererak face to face, but was taken down, revived and then taken down again. Morgan’s Druid and Davor’s Ranger were taken out. Dan’s Paladin fled through the magic gate to another part of the dungeon, where he stabbed Artus Cimber (who was tied up in a bag on an altar, so naturally you’d stab him) and freed a Nothic he ended up fighting. Daniel’s Bard was frightened off but came back to revive Davor’s Ranger. Meanwhile, Acererak followed Dan’s Paladin, who made a run for a corridor and head butted a few walls before finding a way through to another room, where Artus Cimber was getting his gear on!

Phew! So much tension!

Next week: Will Dan’s Paladin survive? Will Artus get dressed in time? Will Mark’s Barbarian and Morgan’s Druid wake up? Will Acererak destroy the party and have his revenge for them killing the Atropal, his baby god, perhaps making a dreary monologue at the same time? The very final instalment of Tomb of Annihilation is next week! Same bat time, same bat channel!!!

Week 40

Dan’s paladin ran into Artus Cimber in Acererak’s library, which they promptly hightailed from via a secret passage and returned through the portal to the Atropal lava room. Acererak followed, raised some dead minotaurs and faced off against Mark’s Barbarian, who bravely sacrificed himself to leap with Acererak into the lava below!

Thinking it was all over, the party decided to go home, but Acererak, looking a bit lava-worn, dragged himself up and then had to face off against Clinton’s Fighter, Morgan’s Druid and Dan’s Paladin, who delivered the killing blow, pushing Acererak’s body over the edge into the lava (“And I would have gotten away with it, too, if not for you dang kids…” Acererak was last heard saying). I’jinn said goodbye to Dan’s Bard, dissolving his wonderful wand of wonder.

As in all B-grade movie endings, the place started falling apart, so the party ran heroically back to the portal to the temple and through a secret door to a black ooze pool that transported them to the obelisk outside the front of the tomb. Then the whole cliffside collapsed.   

After an uneventful return to Port Nyanzeru, the party were rewarded with magic items and the thanks of a grateful world. Or at least, a few bawdy ballads in the local inns. Mark’s barbarian received a statue in his honor, where his son eventually journeyed to pay his respects, only to be eaten by a Spinosaurus (Doh!). The rest of the party hopped a boat through the Bay of Chult, encountered the dragon turtle, escaped with very little dignity and eventually made their way back to the Sword Coast on another ship, pretending that incident never happened.

All’s well that ends well!

The END

Vindication. A poem.

Post-overwrought ballet,
Pervasive humidity and a
Creased mountain range
Reveal a satisfied canvass:
Spent libertines draped
‘Cross plural landscapes.

Confident and confidential,
An oblique sculpture
Of hearts and minds
And loneliness forfeited
In dual vindication.

For more poetry, click here.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 34-36

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget 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. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 34

With the party temporarily weakened by the loss of two members to holidays (holidays?! No rest for the wicked in the tomb of annihilation…) they faced the next few challenges with aplomb. And a fair bit of death.

The party worked out the golem puzzle pretty quickly, killed the clay golem, used the key around its neck to open the chest, and recovered the final crystal eyeballs to open the mirror door. And then everything went to hell…

A big room with a veil-draped ball hanging 20 feet in the air, niches filled with treasure, a magically slick floor and an invisible Beholder (excellent guess, Dan). William’s Druid—dead. Mark’s Cleric—disintegrated. Clinton’s Fighter—asleep. Dan’s Warlock dragged Clinton’s fighter out and high-tailed it to the dungeon safe room to rest, posting an “Explorers Wanted” ad on LinkedIn at the same time.

Conveniently, Mark’s dilettante Dwarven Barbarian and William’s Goblin Monk (who believed he was the reincarnation of a red dragon) responded to bolster the ranks. Giving the mirror room a pass, they headed down to dungeon level 4, exiting into a throne room where they killed some mute and blind wall-painting zombies and fought a Tyrannosaur Zombie. Then William’s Monk tried on the Minotaur skull and went a bit crazy, so the party had to put him down (unconscious, not dead—what kind of party do you think they are?!)

A door needed blood (what a drawn-out solution that was…) and a bunch of ghasts were fought. Some clues from the sign on the central stairway, a bunch of Four-armed Gargoyle statues and a stairway to a chest and another mysterious room…  

Week 35

With two members on holidays, the intrepid Party of Five (sans Neve Campbell, who has gone on to co-star in the upcoming Skyscraper, with Dwayne Johnson) made their way through a series of trap laden rooms…

First up: big ball on the stairs, a pit of acid and an interplanar maze mural with some crystal keys. William’s Goblin Monk showed he can be a real ass by stealing the key Mark’s Dwarvish Barbarian found and opening the sarcophagus, to claim a robe of scintillating colours, a charm of nine lives AND be inhabited by the spirit of Unkh for extra high CON! Oh, and doesn’t he love those shell bracelets… Then a big fight with ten Minotaur Skeletons that had the party worried for a bit.

A long rest later, then off to a stone door with a picture on it that almost made the party give up trying to get in. Copious hints later, and the party faced off against two death-dealing Bodaks and Mark’s Barbarian recovered a fabled crown worth 5000GP. “That’s enough to kill a fellow party member for,” said Davor’s Ranger, with a wink. Unable to escape the maze, Mark’s barbarian sacrificed an arm to get out, then grew it back with the charm of the maimed.

Then Davor’s Ranger decided to stick an arrow into the mouth of a big demon skull, killing the talking lizard who resided there. “I only had two weeks left until retirement,” gasped the lizard. “Potentially a smart lizard that could have helped guide us through the tomb?” said Mark’s Barbarian.

Onto the bottom of the staircase, where the giant, four-armed Gargoyles needed payment in one of every coin. Unfortunately, the party didn’t have any coppers or platinum. DOH! Big, worrying fight, where the Gargoyles trounced the party (five attacks per round each – ouch!), knocking Davor’s Ranger, Mark’s Barbarian and William’s Monk unconscious (well, William’s Monk has the charm of nine lives, so he came back with 1 HP…), to be saved by Dan’s cowardly—I mean brave—halfling Warlock.

Another big day out in the dungeon!

Week 36

Morgan was back from hols this week, rolling up a new Druid. Welcome back!

After a well-needed long rest (they just had a big fight with Four-armed Gargoyles, after all), the party decided to check out the pit in the centre of the room. Down on a rope went Mark’s Dwarven Barbarian, who found a hexagonal iron room filled with lots of sickly plants and compost. The party joined him and then decided exploring a new level probably wasn’t the thing to do right now, so climbed back up the rope to level 4 and went to the last unexplored room on their map.

The room contained a mirror of life trapping that sucked in Davor’s Ranger, Clinton’s Fighter and Dan’s Halfling Warlock. Mark’s Barbarian broke the mirror, releasing all sorts of trapped beasties into the cramped 15-foot by 15-foot space, leading to a very squashed and messy fight between a Troll, a Minotaur, a Stirge, some humans and the party.

The party decided to use the alternate hidden spiral staircase to get back down to level 5. At the bottom of the stairs a door and a corridor. Taking the door, they found themselves in a huge cavern with a lake and three giant pentagonal rooms on massive gears. The door closed and a magic mouth appeared on it wanting to be fed. Mark dived into the water to recover a phosphorescent crab from the bottom, attracted the lake’s Aboleth and the battle was on! The Aboleth was finally defeated when Morgan’s Druid polymorphed it into a cat and Mark’s Barbarian threw it into the door’s mouth, where it was eaten (changing back into its true form when it died). Meanwhile, Clinton’s Fighter and Morgan’s Druid succumbed to the nasty Aboleth disease and can now only breath underwater. Doh!

Another long rest, more exploring (that’s one big cave, but with no secret doors). Davor’s Ranger decided to climb all the way up a waterfall to Level 1, then climbed back down and almost fell to his death. Thank the Lord for all those inspiration dice handed around by other players…

Through the garden hex room to an acid hex room, where the trap wasn’t working (use-by date expired, obviously), into a control room, used to make the hex rooms turn and change configuration. Davor’s Ranger took off to the garden room to test the hypothesis, while Mark’s Barbarian fiddled with the controls and Dan’s Warlock conveyed what was happening from the corridor. The hex rooms turned, poison gas flowed into the garden from a side room, three Shambling Mounds grew from the compost and Davor’s Ranger scrambled up the rope and out of harm’s way. Mark’s Barbarian, clutching at straws, hit the button that closed the iron door, and Dan’s poor Warlock, after a number of really bad saving throws (including a few inspiration dice from himself and other players) was crushed under the door and eventually died. Mark’s Barbarian, feeling really bad about that, had also released Aboleth slime into the room and tried all sorts of stuff to stop it. Eventually he had to dive in and try to open the door, and after many checks and many lost hit points, eventually lifted it. Unfortunately, by this time Dan’s Warlock was a smear.

Next Week: More dungeon crawling and nasty death traps! Yes, it’s the Tomb of Annihilation, and it’s nasty.

Southward. A poem.

On the black tar veld,
Surrounded by beasts
And wavering heat.
We travel the path:
Forever southward,
Across lost lands,
‘Neath forgotten stars.

Here, Hand-in-hand,
Ear to the wind,
Avoiding pitfalls
And predators
That might bring us low,
Wary yet unawares,
Forever on, we go.

Because we are lost
In each other’s tales
And each other’s minds
And each other’s souls;
And from here on in,
We will always
Share this road.

For more poetry, click here.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 31-33

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget 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. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 31

The Tomb of the Nine Gods – Level 3!

The wet corridor, a crawlspace leading to a dead end, a magic curtain of water that exploded like a tidal wave if you walked through without a trident, and two more eyeball things on pedestals.

Another crawlspace to a dusty room and then a huge area with floating platforms, a skeleton with a pentagonal head (William’s Druid recovered that one), a demonic statue clutching two more eyeballs, a lever that made huge winds and drove William’s druid and Daniel’s bard temporarily crazy (although the bard managed to swipe the eyes and get away, while William’s druid fell off the balcony – doh!)

Splitting the party is always such fun! A fight with a Tomb Guardian, a plaque with hints about the current level (it’s so nice when nasty wizardy bad guys leave hints lying around), another crawlspace with a steel trapdoor, a revolving room that ended up killing Clinton’s Fighter/Rogue, with Dan’s Warlock and Morgan’s Rogue (cool wall running, man!) escaping to the next room.

A big pit with a statue, a treasure chest and a silver key in the bottom, shielded by a wall of force, two statues up top and an empty plinth. No one could work out what to do with this one (more party member heads required). A corridor leading to a mirrored disco door that gradually turns your reflection undead when you load eyeballs in the slots.

Daniel’s bard saved William’s druid by skewering him with roped crossbow bolts and dragging his sore carcass out of the crazy, windy room. William’s druid drank his healing potion and found out it was poison – aghhhh! The party joined up again and are now facing two tomb guardians previously attached at the neck by a chain (no longer, thanks to Daniel’s Bard’s judicious use of a heat metal spell at 4th level).

Next week: Finishing that battle! Finding five more eyes! What lies beyond the mirror door?

Week 32

The Tomb of the Nine Gods – Level 3!

The party finished off the Tomb Guardians in the corridor. Clinton’s new fighter appeared, keen for a fight and genuinely Lawful Evil. Welcome back Clinton!

Into the tomb of spirit guardian Kubazan, where Daniel’s Bard (possessed by I’Jin), tucked one of the special masks into her pack, lit the candle on the shrine and raised four Wraiths. One big fight later, Mark’s Cleric and William’s Druid turned into frogs. Mark’s frog decided to eat the ceremonial cockroaches and four wraiths appeared again. Everybody had to change their pants, the big Dao the party befriended previously decided to intervene and the wraiths were eventually vanquished, but not before a few party members almost died. “That’s two times I’ve assisted you,” the Dao said to Mark’s Cleric. “One left.” During the battle, Dan’s Warlock decided to Thunderstep, which teleported her to the refuse room and an Otyugh! Just escaping with the Otyugh in tow, Dan’s warlock leapt through a grate into the river below, swam to safety and long rested on a ledge.

A long rest for the rest of the party later, they returned to the tomb, worked out the correct sequence and Mark’s Cleric got himself some nice Bracers of Archery (and held off a possession by Kubazan).

William’s druid found a secret door, picked up a hitchhiking golden skull called Yaka who used to be the court fool to the royal family of Omu and is now cursed to follow and insult William’s druid (and everyone around him). Another tomb guardian killed by Daniel’s bard and Dan’s warlock (who found the party again) was lost in a crawlspace.

A spiral staircase and the party headed up to level 2, where they found a room full of ghoulish equipment and a bunch of Tomb Dwarves in the process of creating something. Yaka lived up to his name—it looks like surprise is forever off the table. That’s one loud skull. “Hey,” said Yaka. “I’ve had no one to talk to for hundreds of years, gimme a break.”

Next week: The secrets of the tomb revealed!! Or not.

Week 33

At the tomb lab, the party defeated a bunch of tomb dwarves and a hot-off-the-presses just-created tomb guardian. Mark’s Cleric turned some of the tomb dwarves and ended up getting a ghost lantern. Dan’s Warlock pursued the tomb dwarves up the staircase and through the secret door to level 1, where he ran into the lovely Otyugh he let lose from the waste room. Then the tomb dwarves showed up, and the fight was on in a tight corridor. Davor’s ranger proved he could do the splits Jean-Claude Van Damme style, Morgan’s rogue got killed (much to Morgan’s delight as he can now use a new character) and Clinton’s fighter got mashed by the Otyugh but also managed to kill it when it ran in fear from Daniel’s bard’s fear spell.

While they were resting Daniel’s bard went to the alternate tomb in search of easy experience points and ended up (just) besting a wraith, with a good use of the curse spell and some decent rolls!

Down to Withers’ office, where the party fought some wraiths and crawling claws, but Withers escaped (gasp!). William’s druid got his hands on the manual of golems (“thanks bard, for loaning me that, it’s mine now—bwah ha ha!”) and Davor’s ranger received the bracers of archery (and fended off the spirit).

Off to the leftover rooms to find more eye keys. A room of yucky veils and a big nasty, chomping boar head. Dan’s warlock got scared and ran away. Mark’s cleric almost lost a few fingers…

Off to the rotating corridor, where another eye was recovered from the body of a dead adventurer.

Then back to the room with the golem in the pit!

Next week: The golem in the pit! More eyes! The big room with the mirror ball disco door!

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Bond. A poem.

Here we are
Two souls enshrouded
Caught between dunes
Of desert seas
Twin oases in bloom
Beckoning between mirages
And unsubtle forays
Into dated wilderness
To join as one
And cast aside doubts
In nascent fires
Of pleasure and pain

For more poetry, click here.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 29-30

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget 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. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 29

The Tomb of the Nine Gods – Level 2!

Meanwhile, in the secret corridor, Mark’s Cleric opened the Genie bottle there and now has a Dao who will help him three times (or will she…). She doesn’t like Acererak, either. That Lich really knows how to make friends and influence people. 

In the next chamber, a shield that threw magic spears and six glass cauldrons full of bones that spouted skeletons, a chariot with treasure and a sarcophagus. Dan’s Halfling Warlock took to the cart to swipe some treasure and activated the trap! One big battle later, and Daniel’s Bard was taken over by the spirit of Papzotl after handling an amulet. What is that mysterious amulet? Only time (or a long rest attuning to it) will tell…

While the party was short resting, Daniel’s Bard wandered off to the mirror tomb and set off the trap in the wine tomb. Why not, I guess?

William’s Druid found a secret door in the corridor and a scrying pool, where he could see through the eyes of some wandering monster. Suddenly, a tomb guardian erupted from the pool and another battle ensued.

Week 30

The Tomb of the Nine Gods – Level 2!

The party decided to go around the circular dimensional corridor to the alternate tomb and check out the pentagram room again (the one they did earlier, but a different one). The invisible Grey Slaad fireballed their asses – twice! Then they creamed it. Nothing in the sarcophagus (gasp!), so they decided against revisiting the skeleton room and headed back to the actual tomb, over to the devil’s head floor hole and down to the next level through the magical darkness

The Tomb of the Nine Gods – Level 3!

Down to I’Jinn’s tomb, where they couldn’t touch the floor. Daniel’s Bard (with the spirit of Papazotl in him, protecting him from falling damage), decided to dive head first into the darkness and hit a floor tile, activating the trap and being shredded by locusts! Clinton’s Fighter/Rogue also got eaten by locusts. Chloe’s Sorcerer ingeniously used lightning lure to save both Daniel’s Bard and Clinton’s Fighter/Rogue and they were healed by Mark’s Cleric.

After a lot of tile testing (and lots of locust swarms), William’s Druid changed into a tiny spider, crawled through a peep hole in the door, discovered a disc with symbols on it on the other side, found another peephole which allowed him to see the symbols in the right order and telepathically tell the dudes and dudettes in the other room which tiles to press in order, and so the sarcophagus was opened. Daniel’s Bard got the Almiraj horn before anyone else, and I’jinn displaced Papazotl. She also got a cool wand of wonder

Next room: a shadow thingie (a version of the character who entered) and a font of green soup! Chloe’s Sorcerer controlled the shadow to drink the soup and find an orange eyeball (strange…) – thank you Davor’s Ranger, for the drinking suggestion. William’s Druid and Morgan’s Rogue both got scared sh%@less by the shadow’s front end.

Daniel’s Bard and Dan’s warlock found an uneventful crawlspace. Or was it…

William’s Druid located a new room with wet floors and a water curtain…

Next week: Watery room! Other rooms! Some nice corridors. Furniture. Perhaps a kitchen suite or bedroom ensemble.

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Upstart Photographer – Sunset Screened

I love to take photographs and write poetry.

And show them to you right here.

Steve 🙂

Photo by Steve Still Standing
Sunset Screened. A poem.

Light peeks gingerly
From behind feathered lines
Burnished in the Autumn light
From whence the night
Seeks the gentle touch
Of its spurned lover
Hidden, yet revealed
For all the world to see

Dragon Warriors Resources – Free Map, Roll20 Rules & Casket of Fays

About a year back (has it been that long?) I played a few games of Dragon Warriors, a cool OSR game by Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, which features some annoyingly inconsistent systems lol. Despite that, the combat was fast moving and the atmosphere was great! For a full review of Dragon Warriors, click here.

Free Maps

I play all my games on Roll20 at the moment, and for one of the adventures I decided to make a bigger map (because the tiny B&W one just wasn’t doing it for me lol). The map below is a slightly revamped version of The Tomb of Vallandar from The King Under The Forest in Sleeping Gods (I did it pretty quickly so please excuse the mistakes).

This map is based on the original by Andrew Law, published in Sleeping Gods, Serpent King Games edition.

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image and save

Below is an old school map of the village square in Maiden’s Vale, from The Darkness Before the Dawn, the introductory adventure in the rule book. It’s perfectly sized for Roll20 (1750×1750), so it can just be dropped straight in (and yes, this was a rush job, too lol).

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image and save

I also made up a couple of other maps, one of which is The First Ambush from The Darkness Before the Dawn – I posted in on this site about a year ago. You can find it here.

Here is Queen Fhionn’s House from that same adventure. It’s perfectly sized for Roll20 (1750×1750) so it can be dropped straight in. Yes, it was a rush job. Hey, I was playing a lot of games online during lockdown and didn’t have a lot of time to prep lol.

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image and save

Of course, you don’t have to use these maps for Dragon Warriors – they will work perfectly well with any other fantasy Table Top Role Playing Game (TTRPG).

Roll20 Rules

The interesting thing about playing an old school TTRPG written before the miniatures craze and the advent of the Virtual Table Top (VTT), is that you need to interpret some rules in a different way when you play via VTT. It’s fine if you’re playing ‘theater of the mind’, but VTT requires a bit extra, like dynamic lighting and movement. Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you. Here are the VTT rules I made for Dragon Warriors on Roll20. By the way, I used hexes in place of the standard squares on Roll20 with a distance of 1 meter per square and they worked really well.

Combat Range

  • Each Hex = 1 meter (about 3.1 feet for the American readers).
  • Every character controls the hex they occupy and 1 hex around them (their ‘personal space’). Their token occupies 1 hex.
  • You must be in a character’s personal space to attack them, unless you have a spear/polearm or a missile weapon, then you can attack them from 2 m away.
  • For Missile Weapons, DEFENCE is taken into account if the missile user is within 2 m, but split between that attack and another if the target is in melee.

Movement

  • A character can normally walk 10 m (10 hexes) per turn.
  • A character may close – move 3 m (3 hexes) and attack in the same round, if their weapon is drawn.
  • A character who surprises another may close – move 5 m (5 hexes) and attack in the same round, if their weapon is drawn.
  • A character can run 20 m (20 hexes) per turn. A character who runs this round must either run, move normally or do nothing the next round. 
  • Difficult terrain halves movement (5 m).
  • Very Difficult Terrain halves movement again (2 m). 
  • RETREAT: defend normally and move 3 m (3 hexes).
  • ROUT: Turn and run 20 m (20 hexes) – opponent gets opportunity attack with defence zero and no shield.

Light Sources

  • Lantern: 8 m bright, 7 m dim, lasts 2 hrs on one flask of oil.
  • Torch: 5 m bright, 5 m dim, 20% chance will go out if dropped, lasts 1 hour, someone must hold the torch during combat. 

Casket of Fays

While I was playing the game I was recommended some Dragon Warriors zines that were available for free on DrivethruRPG (cheers, Simon!). I did, and they’re great! Heaps of ancillary materials, mini-adventures, fleshed out NPCs. They are ideal for anyone getting into the game, and can be found here.

I hope you like this Dragon Warriors stuff! I may eventually play a few more games in the future, as we all had a great time playing (and interpreting the spell rules lol).

Onwards!

Steve 🙂

FiveE Magazine Issue 2 is Out Now in PDF and PRINT and it’s FREE!

Hi all,

FiveE Magazine is available NOW in PDF on DrivethruRPG – you can download a PDF copy for FREE! Or you can get a PRINT copy for FREE (all you pay for is the base print cost + postage – I don’t make any profit from the magazine). https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/391814/FiveE-Magazine–April-2022

FiveE Magazine is a semi-regular periodical dedicated to content for the World’s Most Popular Fantasy Role Playing Game! 78 pages of amazing content, gorgeous art, free maps, new monsters, new magic items, new class, full adventure and village setting, new stories, articles and hints for new DMs, plus loads more! And it’s FREE

With articles by a host of contributors, including Laidback DM, Chloe the Cartographer, Milosz Gawecki, F.H Stevens, W.M Deluca and others.

  • A Session Zero for Every Table
  • Five Swords – Part 2: Be’Su’Ok
  • Dead – When a Character Dies
  • In the Maelstrom of Creative Chaos
  • Free Map: Eye of the Storm
  • Run for Cover: Olthug Giant
  • Magic Feature:
  • Making Magic
  • Runeforged Spellcaster
  • Counterpoints to Counterspell
  • The Stuff of Magic
  • Don’t Make a Scene
  • Beautiful Barbarians
  • Free Map: Orc Tribe Camp
  • Brutal Damage
  • A Bone, A Stone
  • Adventure: Show Your Metal
  • Free Map: Ambush Canyon
  • Village Setting: Tervissa
  • Story: Tail of the Goat
Above: The Print Version!

You can download or order your FREE PDF or PRINT copy (all you pay for is the base print cost + postage – I don’t make any profit from the magazine) at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/391814/FiveE-Magazine–April-2022

Game on!

Steve 🙂

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SHOTGLASS ROUNDS VOL.1 HARDCOVER on sale now at DrivethruRPG!

What are Shotglass Rounds?

SHOTGLASS ROUNDS One-Shots for 5e & OSR are flexible, convenient, super-charged adventures that won’t have you sitting up for hours doing prep for your next game session! Run them as a One-Shot, or pop them into your ongoing campaign as an exciting side mission! Each adventure is designed for 1-2 x 4-5 hour game sessions, with DM’s map and key,  new monsters & new magic items, a full-size player’s map with grid & a full-size grid-less player’s map, plus lots of cool art!

The Hardcover

Previously released in PDF, all 10 adventures in the SHOTGLASS ROUNDS series are now available in an awesome hardcover edition, available in print and PDF! In the book:

  • 10 exciting One-Shot adventures!
  • 21 new monsters! 
  • 22 new magic items!
  • New art!
  •  Verona Province Lore (the frontier setting for Shotglass Adventures) and maps showing the location of every adventure in the Shotglass Adventures series so far! 
A look at some actual pages! It looks great for use in your game or on the shelf!

Plus, for the first time:

  •  A full Digital Maps Package, containing 14 unique, hand drawn, full size, full color maps in grid and gridless versions, plus VTT-sized gridless maps – 42 JPEGs total – with a Royalty Free License for you to use them in your own commercial projects (note: You can’t on-sell the maps individually or as part of a larger maps package i.e. claim they’re your own)  

Get it now at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/13989/

Onward!

Steve 🙂

Fathomless. A poem.

And all at once,
That special someone
Will keep you
Hanging on their every word
As if they were the last branch
On the last tree
On the very last island
In the very last sea

And your hopes and dreams
Will be fathomless



Then you’ll f$&@ it up

For more poetry, click here.

Dating Abyss. A poem.

I cheer you on into the abyss
From whence we come and go
Always waiting for our turn
To be shot down in mid-flight
Target practice for the aimless
And the weary, worn out souls
Who capitulate to inevitability

And take their place
On the merry-go-round
Circling like vultures
For whatever scraps remain
Until the ride comes to an end
And each is deposited
(With all the rest)

Into a sea of islands,
Too remote and too far
Awaiting one last shipwreck
To rescue us from ourselves
(As long as we can endure
The inevitable weight
of each other’s baggage)

I cheer you on into the abyss
From whence we come and go

For more poetry, click here.

Dark Minds & Bright Souls: A book of poetry – available now at DriveThruFiction

Containing newly edited versions of the poems from The All or the Nothing (2017) and Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered (2018), Dark Minds & Bright Souls is a 160-page hardcover collection for all the bright souls and dark minds out there.

Available at https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/389015/Dark-Minds–Bright-Souls

Free Map: Mushroom Caves

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps by hand for Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy TTRPG adventures. I have far too many, so I like to give away my maps whenever I can.

This map comes with a grid sized at 30 x 21 squares and can be used for face-to-face games or Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry!

Mushroom Caves

Rumor in town is a huge dragon died in some caverns outside of town a long time ago and left its hoard to be collected by anyone who wants it! Of course, no one happened to mention that the mushroom forest within the caves gives off poisonous fumes, or that the wraith-like spirit of the dragon still jealously protects its hoard…

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image 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.

Onward!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Free Map: Waterfall Grove

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps by hand for Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy TTRPG adventures. I have far too many, so I like to give away my maps whenever I can.

This 44 squares x 31 squares map comes with a grid and can be used for face-to-face games or Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry!

Waterfall Grove

This lovely waterfall grove may be home to inconsiderate and troublesome fey, treacherous goblins or the lair of an ancient Green Dragon! It’s all up to you. And what about that standing stones encircling that strange green pyre? Time for some PCs to investigate…

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image 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.

Onward!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Free Map: 50×50 Square Caverns

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps by hand for Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy TTRPG adventures. I have far too many, so I like to give away my maps whenever I can.

This map comes with a grid and can be used for face-to-face games or Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry!

50 x 50 Square Cavern Map

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of drawing cavern floors and here’s one of the examples! This is a big map – twice the usual Roll20 space (so either double the size in Roll20 to 3500 pixels OR halve the size of the squares from 70 to 35 pixels) but once you’ve done that it will fit perfectly with no need to align the grid. I bet you’re already thinking about what you can put there to keep your adventurers on their toes…

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image 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.

Onward!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Maps for Fantasy RPGs 3 is now available for sale on DrivethruRPG!

Laidback DM’s Maps for Fantasy RPGs 3 is a collection of 20 hand-drawn, full color  maps (2 zip files, totaling 100 digital image files, in CMYK Print format, RGB Screen format, full size A3 & A4  grid and grid-less and grid-less VTT size). These maps come with a limited commercial license allowing you, the purchaser, to use them royalty-free in your own commercial or private publication projects.

Dungeons, mines, temples, ruins, lairs, tombs, fey wilderness and more! All map images are high quality 600DPI (print quality is 300DPI) full color JPEGS and are unlabeled, so you can add your own as needed.

These maps are system-neutral and can be used with any fantasy game. Available now at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/387203/Maps-for-Fantasy-RPGs-3

Free Map: Rushed Dungeon

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps by hand for Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy TTRPG adventures. I have far too many, so I like to give away my maps whenever I can.

This map comes with a grid and can be used for face-to-face games or Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry!

Rushed Dungeon

So why is this called “Rushed Dungeon”? Because I drew it really quickly, colored it pretty quickly and thus: Rushed Dungeon. I think it still came out pretty good, all things considered lol. So, here you go – rush in where fools dare to tread and stock it already!

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image 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.

Onward!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Free Map: Middle Class Merchant

Time for a free map! I love drawing maps by hand for Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy TTRPG adventures. I have far too many, so I like to give away my maps whenever I can.

This map is grid-less, is 1750 x 1750 pixels (25 x 25 squares) and is perfect for use in face-to-face games or on Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry!

Middle Class Merchant

Every party has a rogue, and pretty well every rogue wants to do some shoplifting in the dead of night, don’t they? Never be unprepared again. Here’s a middle class merchant/trader with lots of goods (and no doubt lots of protection…). Enjoy!

On PC, just right click and save. On mobile, just hold your finger on the image 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.

Onward!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 27-28

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget 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. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Note: There is no week 26 – we missed that week due to other commitments

Week 27

The Tomb of the Nine Gods! Welcome back Steve K, who was away at uni, but re-joined the party with a new Monk.

The party rested after Daniel’s Bard decided to slice and dice poor old Orvex’s body for food(!), still unwilling to admit that she was, in fact, a serial killer of epic proportions and undoubtedly evil. I’m sure she won’t put that on her Tinder profile.

The party found a room with a gaping mouth that could be passed twice before it chomped them, a sarcophagus, a young daughter of the Last Queen of Omu in the form of a telepathic skull, hordes of undead tarantulas and some nifty teamwork (including an incredible bow shot by Morgan’s Rogue that took out the swarm with one arrow – ricochets, I’m sure!). And gained a nice Staff of the Serpents for Mark’s Cleric.

Onto a corridor with a giant propeller blade and a pressure plate! Dan’s Halfling Warlock boarded William’s Druid who had turned into a Giant Wolf Spider and crawled across the walls and past the blades to the room beyond, where three chests and a 20-foot deep pit with a sarcophagus lay. Dan’s Warlock got stuck in one of the chests and lost all his metal possessions (including all his money). Steve K’s Monk was persuaded by William’s Druid to enter a chest and got disintegrated. DOH!

William’s Druid, Dan’s Warlock and Morgan’s Rogue (without his weapons – long story) confronted a mummy from the sarcophagus. Mark’s Cleric decided to Dimension Door himself, Daniel’s Bard and Morgan’s weapons (long story) to the room to help out but ended up in another room fighting an Otyugh. They eventually got out after defeating the beastie, getting a nasty disease and later healing it.

They gained a nice Mace of Terror for William’s Druid, plus he was possessed by the Trickster God Wongo, who gave him a psionic power and a nice psychological flaw…

The party rested at the front door, then headed off to level two and a room with a devil’s face and a deep, blackness-enshrouded pit, a corridor (possibly leading to an alternate tomb), a dead goat man body with a staff and spell book, the story of a previous party caught in the tomb, and finally a new room that smelled of wine (with a sarcophagus – how unexpected).

Next week: The winey-smelling room! Other stuff!      

Week 28

The Tomb of the Nine Gods!

Into the false tomb! William’s druid, inhabited by Wongo, went all Wongo on that sh%t and decided to open the sarcophagus lid, exposing the illusionary light to the wooden plaque, which triggered the block falling slowly to seal off the room, which led to everyone leaving except for Chloe’s Sorcerer and Daniel’s Bard (hey, thanks heaps, party of supportive friends). While the rest were sealed off outside, wine started to fill the room and three Wine Weirds (like Water Weirds, but with…well, wine) attacked the brave and soon-to-be-dead heroines!

Mark’s Cleric, Davor’s Ranger and Morgan’s Rogue headed off to the circular corridor to the alternate tomb, triggering the trap in the duplicate room and rushing back. Nice try, guys.

Chloe’s sorcerer found the hidden escape tunnel, Daniel’s bard followed and they ended up in another tomb room with a sarcophagus (ho hum) and a pentagram in salt. Ten minutes later the door rose and the wine rushed out. The party found the crawl space, Daniel’s Bard pretended to be a demon and told them to f%ck off. The party joined up and William’s Wongo-mad Druid decided to break the salt circle. A Grey Slaad went wild on the team and after a lovely, spell-ridden battle, succumbed to the pointy bits of their weapons.

After a long rest in the demonic tomb (as you do), the party located a secret door to a secret room…

Next Week: DOH! Or something that sounds like that. Or something else.

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

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