Overkill. A poem.

A stream of consciousness,
As deeply philosophical
And wittingly succinct
As Plato would suggest—
Taut and streamlined,
Delivered with equal measures
Of eloquence and cynicism,
Of fecund elucidation
And resonant aspiration.

Not every dinner conversation
Needs such enigmatic,
energetic discourse.
Perhaps the weather will suffice?

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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Kickstarter Completed Successfully!

The SHOTGLASS Adventures Kickstarter has completed, and I’m more than happy with the outcome. It means I can pursue a career in writing and game design, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager playing my first role playing game.

I love poetry, and will still publish poetry regularly in book form and on this site, but it’s the RPG work that will pay the bills in the long term (not there yet, this is just the first one lol). I’m sure most poets out there (aside from the few published ones who might make a decent income) will agree that poetry is a labour of love, and love alone.

Thanks to everybody who supported the Kickstarter, and to all the poetry lovers who waited patiently for me to post poems in between Kickstarter updates!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

Recollection. A poem.

I have a recollection
Of the man I used to be
Whilst I don’t want him back
There are aspects that I see
Parts and pieces that I miss
A heady mix, a potpourri
But I’m glad he’s in the past
So I can be a better 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.

Reach You. A poem.

I skirt the eggshell minefield,
Tip-toeing between
The thick and thin,
Navigating longitude
And withering latitude:
Just so I can reach you.

But every step draws veiled threats
Masking vengeance
In a trial of death defiant,
A tightrope can-can
Above a viper’s pit:
Just so I can reach you.

Weary from the tidal surge,
Anxious from the UXB.
These tender hooks
Are not as tasty
As they used to be.
But I’ll consume them anyway:
Just so I can reach 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.

Laidback DM: Have Merc(er)y on Me

Matt Mercer hosts Critical Role on YouTube, one of the many D&D online channels that have helped propel the game’s popularity into the stratosphere, and is arguably one of the best DMs around. A trained voice actor, he has a wonderful storytelling ability and excels at immersive and engaging story telling. And for the rest of us mere mortals, that can be a little bit of a problem.

I don’t get the chance to play that much, but when I do I like to observe how other DMs run their games. As one would expect, there are differences in style, the way some rules are interpreted, the way people manage their players. Some are good, some are average. Some are appalling. One aspect that shows up more often or not, however, is DMs trying to be Matt Mercer.

Now, I have the utmost respect for Mr Mercer, but the fact that he is so good makes it difficult for most DMs to measure up. Many DMs just don’t have the range and acting chops that he does, and sometimes it comes across like they’re trying too hard to be like him. Here are a few things DMs need to realise (especially beginners).

1. You don’t have to be Matt Mercer to be a good DM. Just be yourself and establish your own style.

2. Matt Mercer is a trained actor. He also does a LOT of preparation for each session you see. And while he was previously an unpaid DM, now he is employed to do that job. Many of us mortals have full time day jobs or are full time students or have full time family responsibilities. Remember you can still be a good DM, but you need to be aware of your own limits.

3. Long, drawn-out Matt Mercer-style descriptions during combat can be great and really bring combat to life, but they do slow combat down (which can be a long and sometime frustrating process to start with if you have a lot of players at the table). Include your players—let them take part in describing the scene. If you do everything it seems like the game’s more about you being the centre of attention than them.

4. If you want to be an evocative DM, don’t forget to learn how to narrate the non-combat scenes. This is an area that some DMs appear to struggle with.

5. You don’t have to do accents if you’re not good at them. Focus on telling a good story, and involve your players. Evoke the scene with interesting descriptions. Play to your strengths.

6. You shouldn’t focus on jokes if you’re not good at them. If they fall flat every time, it’s generally a sign. Adventures with a serious tone can be fun, too. And if you’re not a funny DM, your players will fill in the humour gaps.

Yes, Matt Mercer is great, and he has a wonderful style. But be aware you aren’t him. You can always learn from him, but be yourself and you and your players will still find the game rewarding.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

Support the Shotglass Adventures Kickstarter at
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laidbackdm/shotglass-adventures-10-adventures-for-dandd-5e-an?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=d%26d

Shotglass Kickstarter Ad5

Rebirth. A poem.

I wondered how
You were, you see
Tracked you down
More than easily

Just a single look
I knew, though hurt
On, you’d moved
From that cold, cold birth

Which was all I wanted
Both then and now
To take that pain
And slice it out

Cast on the pyre
With sullen doubts
I’m glad your sails
Brought you about

And I thank the one
Who achieved the task
Who put to rest
Your weary past

Just one last glance
Into eternity
I’m gone, you’re gone
Reborn as seeds

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.

Poets Loved: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? By William Shakespeare

Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

By William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Bill is the MAN! To find out more about him, click here.

A Duel. A poem.

We long for a less-than-guarded
conversation, as conventional
as that may seem in times
as conventional and guarded
as these.

A dual of wits and natures whereby intent is disguised and
discursively dismissed
as quickly and as slowly
as it isn’t.

The epitome of vengeance in every
word and phrase: a calculated
duel, a parry and a flourish
with each riposte
and dare.

We long for a less-than-guarded
conversation; of this I am
myopically aware.

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.

Due Date. A poem.

The bell rings
(or tolls, or so it goes)
and I’m under fire again
rushing into no man’s land
without a weapon or a plan.

A last minute dash,
as if it were all she wrote
(and perhaps it is and was).
A lucid trance to carry me
through torrential rain and home.

And then, I wait,
with and without regret,
until fortune or misanthropic fate
deals me a winning hand.

I could strategise,
as a manager in prior life,
to sooth the way, somewhat,
to marry my goodwill
with happenstance.

Until it’s time to dance
this merry dance
untold times again,
and leave as I arrived:
to subtle refrains
and shotgun chicanes.

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.

Steam. A poem.

Air currents
Blowing the humidity
Beyond mere degrees
Fan blades
Circulating hungry thoughts
Along with captive desire
Sweat and sin
Recuperating
In the steamy night
To ply the gulf stream
One more 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.

Upstart Photographer – Nightwalk

Photos and poems. I never tire of them.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Nightwalk. A poem.

Stone beneath toes,
wrinkled, yet timeless.
Glistening darkness,
an envelope for thoughts
sublime or unkind.
Theseus’ lifeline
into the distance:
a path to follow
until the real maze begins.

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.

Alike. A poem.

Does she sit and cry?
Does she pray at night, as I?
Does she feel the patina
of a life less inspired?
Does she mirror my repose
and ask the question: why?
Perhaps we are, more or less,
Alike.

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: Villains – upping the ante

Role playing games enable players to take part in their own ongoing TV show—a soap opera of sorts, with a growing number of support characters, a fantastic and evolving environment, and ongoing stories linked to the players’ backgrounds and adventures.

As with any melodrama, what can make or break a long form story is the villain. A good villain is worth a thousand henchmen, as it were. Here’s a few ideas to up the ante with your campaign villains.

1. The Recurring Villain

Some of the best villains are the ones that come back to aggravate the player characters (PCs) again and again. This can be tricky in a game where the bad guys are regularly dispatched. If you want a villain to return, make sure he has an escape plan. One of my fave villains was a quirky NPC with the mannerisms of Captain Kirk, as played by the inimitable William Shatner. Great fun for the players and me, and one of the reasons they didn’t kill him.

2. The Apocalyptic Villain

This guy is set on destroying the world. Always great for a campaign, as it ups the stakes and drives the heroes onward to stop them. Must be immensely powerful, so that the PCs have a great challenge and really feel like they’ve earned their win (or death). I like using a major villain who was defeated in an earlier campaign but has come back more powerful than before, using his followers to harangue the PCs and providing gradual insights into his nefarious schemes of revenge and world domination.

3. The Sympathetic Villain

This villain has a backstory or motivation that puts the PCs in a moral quandary, forcing them to choose between helping or hindering them. I love these types of villains, and use them a lot. One of my faves was a priest who lost his wife and child to a scouting party and sought revenge by tracking down the murderers. The PCs were tasked with protecting the murderers, but as they gradually discovered the villain’s backstory they had to choose who to back. Made for some fiery discussions.

4. The Hidden Villain

This is the ‘slow burn’ villain. You don’t know much about them as they manipulate from behind the scenes. It’s often someone known to the PCs as an upstanding citizen, supportive of the party in public but secretly working against them behind the scenes. As long as they remain a mystery, the big reveal leaves the PCs gobsmacked, making it all worthwhile.

Great villains are the foundation of great campaigns. Spend a bit of time creating your villain, and the payoff will come in spades for you and your players.

For more Laidback DM, click here.

Support the Shotglass Adventures Kickstarter at
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laidbackdm/shotglass-adventures-10-adventures-for-dandd-5e-an?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=d%26d

The Rose Garden. A poem.

She was a rose in thorns abound,
As cliched, it seems, as that may sound,
Who grew from seeds of bitterness
And contempt for those she kept around.

She mastered the art of formless thought,
Of tactless speech and schisms sought,
And tended her garden without regard
For all the pain and hurt she brought.

But the days would master her as well,
Cocooned in her acerbic shell,
For the entourage did fade away,
And the hole she dug, into, she fell.

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.

Abstinence. A poem.

You abstain in the light
At night, small confessions
Are saltwater wreaths
Around your neck
Dragging you along
In a relegated riptide.

This abstinence
Has carved a furrow
And driven conversations
With shadows and mosquitoes
Wondering when the light
will answer you again.

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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