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.

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7th Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

The 7th stretch goal is unlocked!

Print and Play 5e Condition Cards to use in D&D 5e games! I use these two-sided cards to keep track of PC and monster conditions during combat. Just pop them on the table next to the miniature, or if you’re playing theater-of-the-mind, hand them to the player. They include a brief summary of the condition’s rules to save you and the player having to remember them all. They’re also a great visual reminder for everyone at the table. This package contains 16 double-sided print and play cards, which can be printed in multiples (for those times when players and monsters suffer numerous conditions during combat).

Condition Cards Cover - Laidback DM

Also, I’ve come up with another stretch goal to be unlocked if we reach $4000 (okay, I’m grasping at straws, but here’s hoping)!

Connectable Fantasy Town Maps

Ever had your players wander into one of those random towns along the road and start raising a ruckus, just because they could? I have. Players are nothing if not unpredictable. In fact, they’re predictably unpredictable. That’s why I put together a little maps package.

This stretch goal consists of six A4-size print-and-play maps you can print out and arrange anyway you want, for any occasion the players enter a new town or village and you don’t have one available. Use all six maps in any number of combinations, or just a few of them, and voila! A new town/village. On each map I’ve left several buildings open with floor plan exposed, deliberately leaving out furnishings, so you can use them any way your story requires.

Included in this stretch goal are grid and grid-less versions, so you can use whichever version you prefer. Oh, and a commercial license so you can use them in your own publishing projects as well (‘cause I like to share the love).

Town Maps V1 - Laidback DM - stevestillstanding

Game on!

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

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Kickstarter: 6th Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

Woo hoo!! The 6th stretch goal is unlocked! Four 600 DPI maps have been added to the digital maps collection (unfortunately, we’re out of space in the book – any more added and the printing cost increases).

The maps are:

  • City Corner Cross Section – a fantasy city intersection with cutaways of the buildings and houses
  • Barrow Mound – who doesn’t love some undead hunter/killer action?
  • Descending Caves – Caves are always better when they’re deeper
  • Halfling Hole – because I’m not allowed to call them Hobbits – DOH! I just did

Here’s a preview:

6th Stretch Goal

That means we’re now up to 43 total maps in the package (which includes grid and grid-less versions for many of the maps, plus original pre-book versions of some maps, plus unlocked maps).

Next Stretch Goal: Print and Play 5e Condition Cards to use in your games (see below)! I use these two-sided cards to keep track of PC and monster conditions during combat. Just pop them on the table next to the miniature, or if you’re paying theatre-of-the-mind, hand them to the player. They include a brief summary of the condition’s rules to save you and the player having to remember them all. They’re also a great visual reminder for everyone at the table.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Laidback DM - Condition Cards

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

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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.

Kickstarter: 5th Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

The 5th stretch goal is unlocked! A new, old school, hand drawn map with adventure seed has been added to the book as a bonus for supporters to use for their own adventures. And for Excelsior Supporters, another 600 DPI map added to the digital maps collection.

The new map is called ‘The Lonesome Heart’.

The Lonesome Heart is a lonely peak overlooking a stark plain, with a dwarven mine, forest giant camp, a wizard’s tower, ambush caverns and a strange mountain top refuge.

Laidback DM - Kickstarter Map Stretch Goal

The mountain peak called Lonesome Heart stands incongruously on a stark plain. The bizarre cloud-covered structure crowning the summit is home to a metallic hovering globe. No one has returned from climbing to the summit and the globe’s lightning prevents flyers from getting too close. Along the mountain path: a lone Dwarf seeking help to free his family’s mine from the monsters within; a camp of Forest Giants searching for their lost child; a gang of cave-dwelling ambushers with a penchant for kidnapping; an evil wizard in her tower using dark magic to take control of all. And what of the mysterious globe? What treasures await those willing to venture to the summit of the Lonesome Heart?

Now, let’s unlock some more!

Cheers

Steve 😊

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.

Kickstarter: 4TH Stretch Goal Unlocked, PLUS New Stretch Goals Available!

Hi all!

We’ve unlocked our 4th stretch goal – a new, hand drawn map with adventure seed to be added to the book as a bonus for you to use for your own adventures. For Excelsior Supporters, another 600 DPI map is added to the digital maps collection.

The new map is called ‘The Tomb of Meshkua’.

The Tomb of Meshkua is full of traps, puzzles, platforms, hidden rooms and a poisonous underground lake for good measure!

Laidback DM - Map Stretch Goal4

The great, great, great grandson of the Pharaoh Meshkua has asked the party to break into the ancient tomb of his forefather. He’s dying of a hideous wasting disease and suspects the Pharaoh’s curse. Below Meshkua’s ancient step pyramid lies a maze of rooms, filled with traps and puzzles, and three tombs that must be breached prior to visiting Meshkua’s final resting place on an island in a toxic underground lake. The grandson and his entourage are coming with you. But is it the curse he’s suffering from, or something else? What does he really want from inside the tomb…

Also, a whole bunch of new stretch goals have been unlocked, which you can see listed below:

Kickstarter Stretch Goals

Gotta unlock ‘em all (to paraphrase Pokemon)! Why not tell your friends all about the Shotglass Adventures Kickstarter!

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

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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.

Kickstarter: 3rd Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

We’ve unlocked our 3rd stretch goal in the Shotglass Adventures Kickstarter – a new, hand drawn map with adventure seed to be added to the book as a bonus for supporters to use for their own adventures. For Excelsior Supporters, another 600 DPI map is added to the already burgeoning digital maps collection.

The new map is called ‘Hartlis Abbey’. Hartlis Abbey has multiple levels, a bell tower, underground caves and burial catacombs, and lots of space inside for big battles.

Laidback DM - Map Stretch Goal3

I’m adding adventure seeds to each map – supporters don’t have to use the seed, it’s more a way to kickstart (forgive the pun) some ideas for ways they can use the map for their own adventures.

The Abbey of the Goddess Hartlis sits on a cliff overlooking a wild and windy coast. The monks and friars there have worked in solitude for decades, having occasional contact with surrounding villages at fairs to preach and sell produce. But all contact has ceased, and now farmers go missing from the fields around the Abbey. A demon lord has taken control and is using the monks to gather human sacrifices to increase its power. But are the monks mind-controlled, or are they worshipping the beast? The underground tunnels and cellars below the Abbey are a hive of activity, as the demon lord prepares its army for the coming storm…

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

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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

Kickstarter: 2nd Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

Another update about the SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES Kickstarter that’s running as we speak!

We’ve unlocked our 2nd stretch goal – a new, hand drawn map to be added to the book as a bonus for supporters to use for their own adventures. And for Excelsior Supporters, that also means another 600 DPI map added to their digital maps collection.

The new map is called ‘The Twisted Tree’.

Laidback DM - Map Stretch Goal2

And I’m going to add adventure seeds in the book for each map, as well. Just thought it would be nice to have them in there as well. For this map:

The Twisted Tree’s dark and moss-encrusted boughs and roots are home to giant spiders, snakes and strange woodbeasts, and its ancient magics prevent teleportation and flying spells in its vicinity. Inside the tree, mazes of passages lead explorers astray, while living root systems and branches attack the unwary by surprise. Each level has a challenge – a creature to defeat, an environmental puzzle to overcome. And at the very top awaits The Twisted Guardian, an ancient and powerful druid who does not take kindly to trespassers. She protects the tree’s magical living heart, sought far and wide as an ingredient for powerful potions and magic items…

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
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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.

Kickstarter: First Stretch Goal Unlocked!

Hi all!

Just an update about the SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES Kickstarter that’s running as we speak!

We’ve unlocked our first stretch goal – a hand drawn map to be added to the book as a bonus for supporters to use their own adventures. For Excelsior Supporters, that also means another 600 DPI map added to the digital maps collection.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the map I call ‘The River Caverns of Argolus‘.

Laidback DM - Map Stretch Goal1 - small.jpg

The caverns feature a fast flowing underground river connecting them, rapids, cavern shelves for ambushes, a copse of giant fungi, strange crystal formations dotted throughout, a cave in and living root systems. I picture Argolus as an powerful underground plant elemental, charged with protecting a number of living fungi and underground plant creatures. Unfortunately, something in the ecology is polluting the river, which flows to a nearby town. The town has sent adventurers to find the source of the pollution and stop it – at any cost! A moral quandary – how to solve the problem of the pollution without slaughtering the plant creatures? Maybe it won’t matter to the adventurers, who are just keen to loot and pillage. What would your players do? I can hear your DM gears grinding already at the possibilities!

If you’re a DM who’s interested in supporting this Kickstarter, click on the link below to find out more.

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
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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.

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.

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
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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!

Click on the link below to find out all about the project:

Cheers

Steve 🙂

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.

Laidback DM: Free Map – Serial Killer Inn

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: Serial Killer Inn

The party stops overnight on the road between adventures. It just so happens this roadside inn is run by a serial killer, who preys on travellers who stay overnight. They kidnap unsuspecting guests during the night and hold them in deep, sound-proof pits in the cellar. They only go after individuals. Looks like each party member will be getting a room to themselves, tonight…  

serial killer inn - 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.

This Maze. A poem.

This maze we walk,
denies a bitter truth.

Our fingers trace its periphery
and yet still we walk in circles.
If escape is what we truly yearn

then perhaps there is
no maze at all.

Or perhaps the maze
is just a labyrinth of pain,
navigated by fools
like me and 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.

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