Laidback DM: Free Map – Tinsen’s Bluff

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

This week: Tinsen’s Bluff

From a recent adventure I ran for my 13th-level players. Tinsen’s Bluff was a quiet backwater until the people started mutating into crazed, blighted beasts. The Duke’s distant cousin sent a letter indicating this might be some kind of infection that could spread across the country. But what is the source? No one has heard anything more from the town. Time to investigate. Don’t forget to wrap up – it’s the dead of winter and you know how the snow brings out those mutated abominable yeti and white wolves…    

laidback dm - tinsens bluff - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

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

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

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Shotglass Adventures – 10 adventures for D&D 5e and OSR Role Playing Games – KICKSTARTER LIVE!

Hi all!

I’ve been working very hard over the last few months to write a book of D&D adventures, and the Kickstarter to fund the project is live right now!

Follow the link below to read all about it! I’d appreciate your support, as this is the first time I’ve done this!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

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Airport Carpark. A poem.

There are far better places
to while away the time,
yet we continue circling
like reverse-vultures.
This obtuse concrete garden
(no doubt designed by Daedalus,
whose Labyrinth was but a flea
compared to this circus)
leads us astray in every moment,
much like our heart’s content.

No way out, it seems,
no exits or reprieve.
The human and inhuman cost spirals,
much like our heads and souls,
relentless and yearning
for release.

.

The two worst carparks in my world (and possibly THE world) are the tiny Spotlight car park in Newcastle, and the Sydney Airport International Terminal car park. Seriously, who designs a car park where you can only drive upwards, with the only way out by driving through one-way lanes?

I believe everyone has a carpark nightmare. What’s yours?

Cheers

Steve 🙂

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Elixir. A poem.

The elixir that drowns
is a draught without measure,
a flood like no other,
an unstoppable well.

‘Tis the sweetest lifeblood,
and an undying treasure
brings me all the more closer
to the place where He dwells.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Perilous Logic. A poem.

Oh, perilous logic,
cast me upon the jagged knives
of your perspicacity.
Take these ramshackle emotions
and reduce them to tears,
aimless fears and accidental truths.
When my ego is broken,
my perspective becomes
the precarious precipice
upon which I’m choking.

Oh, perilous logic,
I believe in you at my behest.
When it comes to love, though,
I’ll gladly throw you off the edge
with all the other misconceptions
and misconstrued jests.

I like to think I’m a fairly logical person. I see a problem, I itemise, rationalise and rectify the situation. That doesn’t mean I sacrifice emotion for the sake of it. Hey, I’m the guy who cries openly in soppy movies.

In fact, logic is the first thing I shoot down when it comes to love – every time. I’m a pretty good shot by now.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

PS I live in Australia, using English spelling. No ‘Rationalize’ for me 😉

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Free Map – Elemental Cruxis

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

This week: Elemental Cruxis

The party have to recover elemental seeds from each part of the cruxis, teleporting from the column room to each of the elemental crucibles and facing various elemental hazards and creatures. Once the seeds are joined, they summon an elemental god of your choice. Who’s not very friendly…    

elemental cruxis - laidback dm - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

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

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Aged. A poem.

Cranky at the portents:
The breeze, it smells of winter,
Even though the summer
Has settled in
Like a squatter, rent-free,
Taking advantage
Of your misdemeanours.

Have your eyes aged
With the rest?
Or are you seeing as you did
Before the withered cheeks
And dragging jowls,
When everything was new
And you were innocent
As hyenas on the veldt.

Age has not wearied
The sullen and the sacred.
You had a vision of the sea,
But it was simply
Hallucination.
Time is and was and will be,
And you will follow suit.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Fences. A poem.

I thought I’d mend some fences
Build them up to break them down
Fill in all the trenches
Dig the mines up from the ground

I thought I’d build some bridges
And meet you in the middle
No more complex negotiations
No more angst or pointless riddles

I thought I’d mend some fences
It was all I’d ever want
But the fence needed agreement
To break this long détente

I thought I’d mend some fences
Build them up to break on through
Instead I’m tilting windmills
And I’m no closer to the truth

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Code. A poem.

I am yet to crack the code,
the enigma that I see.
These thoughts temptation sowed,
this conundrum that you’ve been.
I will try each combination,
I will twist and turn and pry
and after a long privation,
I will crack your code—in time.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Free Map – Ruined Tower and Crypts

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

This week: Ruined Tower and Crypts

Here’s a map you can spring on your players. The labels may be misleading – after all, the map’s pretty old, and it may have passed through a few sets of hands and many years before it got to the current possessors…  

ruined tower and crypts - laidback dm - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

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

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Poets Loved: Epith. By Carol Muske-Dukes.

Epith. By Carol Muske-Dukes.

Here’s the little dressmaker
on her knees at your feet,
mouth full of pins:
fixing you in the dummy’s image.

Your belled satin shivers like
a goblet of fizzled brut–
You wanted it late in life,
happiness, wanted little family

but after the kids grew up.
Like a saint on her death pallet,
you longed for an erotic God
but a refined deity–

not some oversexed Zeus
in a see-through raincoat,
spritzing gold coins,
rattling the canopy. No,

at last you’ve found a groom
born to forget the ring,
the bride’s name–
a regular holy ghost.

You forget yourself
with each glittering pin,
each chip off the old rock,
each sip of the long toast

to your famous independence,
negotiated at such cost–
and still refusing to fit.

A poem by Carol Muske-Dukes. I really enjoy her poetry.

Don’t know her? She’s a brilliant poet. You can find out more about her by clicking here.

Upstart Photographer – Rock

I take photos. I write poems. Chalk and cheese. Not.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Rock. A poem.

Rock of ages,
how do you stand
so firm and undeniable,
when every dog
has its day with you?

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Music in Me. A poem.

Why the sadness,
the music tugging
at heartstrings
in pizzicato fashion,
stretching my angst
beyond reproach?

Why the darkness,
flowing in a
syrup-like tsunami,
to swallow my horizons
and the shoulder I’ve
hung my head upon?

This rhythm and rhyme
brings me down
and wrecks me,
wrapping me casually
around the telegraph pole
that should instead
have been you
and
only
you.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Crowd. A poem.

From there, upon his pedestal,
he lingered longingly
on the crowd surrounding him.
Dialogue and dialectic,
commentary and whimsical surprise,
his cult of personality
awake and on the rise.

But fate is fickle, as is the crowd
and it passed subsequently;
a brief rejoinder as it exited,
a momentary lapse and then return
to unregarded reason
and art lost in the daily churn.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Free Map – Mountain Monastery

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

This week: Mountain Monastery

Nothing like a remote mountain monastery and temple full of crazed monks for the player characters to discover. Not only will they have to fight those jazzed-up, battling ninja monks, they also have to deal with the deadly demons the monks made pacts with to fuel their power…

This is a bit different from my other maps – I spent a bit of time getting the architecture of the temple sections right. All hand drawn, of course. I thought it turned out pretty good!

laidback dm - mountain temple monastery - stevestillstanding

Above: Just right click and save.

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

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM posts, click here.

Poets Loved: Fame is a fickle food. By Emily Dickinson

Fame is a fickle food. By Emily Dickinson

Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the
Farmer’s corn
Men eat of it and die

A poem by Emily Dickinson. I really like her poetry.

Don’t know her? She’s pretty famous. And she’s a brilliant poet. You can find out more about her by clicking here.

Glass. A movie review.

Minor spoilers!

Glass is the sequel to Unbreakable and Split. It’s the culmination of one journey and the start of another. It’s really good, and deserves more appreciation than it’s gotten from some critics.

M. Night Shyamalan is an auteur director with a reputation for ‘twist’ endings and a distinctly uneven quality to his releases over the years. Unbreakable starred Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a man discovering superpowers and coming to terms with his true purpose, aided by Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Elijah, who believed superhero comics were a mythological representation of real events and people. The film premiered in 2000 as superhero movies were making their comeback and starting to dominate screens. Unbreakable was quiet, deliberate and allegorical. And under-appreciated by critics and the box office.

Split was a more recent (2016) conventional horror/thriller which showcased James McAvoy’s wonderful range as serial killer Kevin Crumb, a man with 23 personalities who could call forth the super-powerful ‘Beast’. Whilst it could have been deeper, it took a more conventional approach and did well at the box office. And included a final reveal that it was set in the Unbreakable ‘universe’. My initial impressions of Split were lukewarm, per my review in early 2017, but this has improved somewhat on consecutive viewings.

The scene was set for a sequel to both, bringing the best elements of the two movies together and providing a fitting conclusion to a trilogy that wasn’t really a trilogy (it’s now referred to as the ‘Eastrail 177’ trilogy, in relation to events from the first movie).

Glass brings together all the major characters from the two prior films. And it does this well, affording each character reasonable screen time to establish their current status quo and motivations. The first act sees David Dunn confronting The Beast. The second act takes place in a psychiatric institution, where David, Kevin and Elijah are assessed by psychiatrist Ellie (Sarah Paulson), who attempts to convince them they are merely human. The third act is the final showdown between the protagonists, with a setup for future movies in the same universe.

Glass succeeds admirably as a sequel. On its own, however, it doesn’t have individual narrative strength—those who have seen the previous movies may appreciate it (as I did), but newbies may find themselves at a bit of a loss without the context of the previous films.

Don’t expect this to be a Marvel-style movie, just because it’s about superheroes. It’s a serious take, and it works. There’s a time and a place for mindless, humorous superhero antics, but Glass is not one of them. Glass is thought-provoking, dark and visceral. The acting, script, direction and music are top notch and show what superhero movies could be if the current mainstream gave intelligent superhero dramas a chance.

I loved Glass. I didn’t find the second act dragged. I didn’t feel any character received short shrift. I felt the movie was balanced in its storyline, and the dialogue was good, in keeping with the prequels. Shyamalan is a stylish director, who can deliver fine films when he puts his mind to it. Smaller budgets appear to have reined in his excesses, and this “franchise” looks like having feet for some time to come.

Rating: B+ (if you haven’t seen the two prior films: C)

Castaway. A poem.

Poker-faced,
a nascent clarity
before my eyes;
while behind
confusion and
regret in tides,
that while away
the dawdling time.

I seek to speak
but find no words
to fill the vacant mire
that fills this space
with more pregnant,
hesitant desires.

I am wrecked again
upon this island;
coastal reefs and waves,
burgeoning waters deep,
and no way off
for this lonely castaway.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Rope. A poem.

Tease this silver filament,
an ambit claim on every foot,
squeezed and cajoled through
calloused hands.

Climb this tensile fibre,
climb until the heavens bloom
and your body retches from
the unyielding pressure.

When you reach your goal,
set free the cord of Theseus
that led you ever-onward
in your rise to Olympus.

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 or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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