Upstart Photographer – Detritus

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Detritus. A poem.

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

My Prayer. A poem.

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

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

Bring you back to life.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Vice. A poem.

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Beach Morning

Photography, poetry – why not, I say? 😊

Cheers

Steve

Beach Morning. A poem.

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Depression Is. A poem.

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

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 18

Hi all,

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

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

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more Laidback DM, click here.

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A Loss. A poem.

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

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Share. A poem.

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Distressed

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Distressed. A poem.

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Sunlight. A poem.

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

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

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 15

Hi all,

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

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

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more Laidback DM, click here.

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I Suck at Social Media.

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

I suck at social media.

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

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

And that’s where I fall over.

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

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

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

I can only hope.

The Book. A poem.

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

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Why? A poem.

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

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

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

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

And that was it.

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

Why?

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Bittersweet. A poem.

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

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

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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

Worst Enemy. A poem.

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

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Vexed. A poem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 14

Hi all,

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

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

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 14

This week, it was unexpectedly foggy in Barovia.

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

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

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

Lots of history uncovered this week:

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

So, a few things to do now:

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

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

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

 

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These Tears. A poem.

These tears are not for you

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

These tears are not for you

Of course they’re not

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Spoke Too Soon. A poem.

Perhaps I misconstrued
The intention of content
Perhaps I spoke too soon

Perhaps I failed to see
The disappointment in your eyes
Perhaps it will always be

Perhaps the fear inside
Amplified the angry tide

Perhaps it’s best
Not to reason why

Perhaps I spoke to soon

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Together. A poem.

How can you be?

In a universe of complex biorhythmic uncertainty,
Where chaotic tides dance
And random polarities flicker
Like afterthoughts,
Where silken geometries
Defy natural orders
And ebb and flow and dance
To fundamental and existential
microcosmic transmissions

You are the one thing
That makes sense

Part of the subtle weave
That binds both of us

Together.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Wait Outside. A poem.

The wait outside
With city lights and vacant looks
Of passers by and wannabes
Perhaps the tune we’ll sing tonight
Will change the course of mediocrity
And reverse this season of discord
With discourse so ebullient
That fire and ice could not compare
And could not even try

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laugh. A poem.

It builds, it shudders
Creeping its way up
From gut and soul
Slicing through proximities
Of weariness and ennui

Now

Surging up so easily
No Marathon or Thermopylae
Stretching wings of fearsome resolve
And filling our worlds
With promiscuous promise.

I laugh with you
Like no other.

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Hanging on a Message. A poem.

Hanging on a message
And a welcoming tone
So distinct it’s almost surreal
And blistered ears and eyes
With next to no regrets
Should seek its welcoming crèche
As a baby seeks a bottled breast
And the fulfilment
Of a cherished goal

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

A Letter.

Hi SS,

I know you’re not going to read this.

I know these words are simply an elegy sent out into the wires, read by strangers and not the intended.

I had never before connected with anyone the way we did. We saw the best and, ultimately, the worst of each other. The ending, like so many convoluted stories, was hopelessly misconstrued. Two uncommunicative communicators and a texted aftermath swathed in hurt and regret.

(Such irony: knowing what we know now, we would sync even better than we did.)

I tried to persuade myself it didn’t matter. Just another stopover on life’s insistent highway. Time to move on, move forward – the urgency of age demands continuity.

I didn’t know until today, but I’m in mourning. And trying to lose myself in other pursuits provided no catharsis. Not even writing this.

I find myself wondering what you might be going through, whether you might feel the same. Purely projection and wish fulfillment on my part.

I know you’re not going to read this.

But I miss you.

More than you will ever know.

Sincerely,

SSS

To the Ground. A poem.

Reap the whirlwind of your faith
The circuitous tirades and malcontent
Of a tyrant fettered in disbelief
Hyperbole and untruth
May it shake you to your core
And tear your existential mockery of existence
To the ground
.

#BlackLivesMatter

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Night Conversation. A poem.

The ebon flame burns
Long and fulsome
Requited and requisite
Melding two minds into one

The art of conversation
Once lost, now unearthed
We discover the profound
While digging for treasures
Our holy grounds desecrated
In only the best of ways

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

All Apologies. A poem.

What did I see? Mirage or destiny?
Outstretched hand, grasping for life 
And failing so miserably

Seems you weren’t the one for me
We misread the contours of the land
Now what’s left is all apologies 

For more Poetry, click here.

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

 

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 13

Hi all,

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

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

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 13

Sunny Barovia just keeps getting foggier, if that’s at all possible…

This week, the party (reduced in number with a few away) were about to be attacked by werewolves and wolves, so they retreated into Van Richten’s tower and let the tower defenses take care of the wolves. Unfortunately, Isaac’s Tiefling Warlock was on the roof, and got electrocuted as the defenses kicked in. After jumping through the ceiling to save herself, the Tiefling joined the others who watched as the wolves all ran away. Exiting the building to get on the road, they were very lucky as once they got out the entire tower collapsed, destroying Ezmerelda’s caravan in the process (“…but that caravan was a gift from my dearly departed grandmother” – okay, she didn’t say that, but she wasn’t happy).

William’s Dragonborn Paladin persuaded the party to try a location they didn’t know anything about, in preference to one they did, to save themselves from certain slaughter. So, off to the mansion of Argynvoshtolt they went.

In the courtyard they discovered a huge silver dragon statue that failed to freeze them at the front door (a bit old, you see), a grand reception, a nifty dining room with carved dragon chairs and a bunch of revenants hanging out in the chapel, who attacked them. The fight that followed was one of the hardest and most exciting the party has experienced yet, as the revenants proved harder to beat than expected. During the fight, Natasha’s Gnome Druid used Moonbeam to great effect, Dan’s annoying Halfling monk had her wings clipped a bit (seems he was using too many bonus actions in the past for his character’s additional attacks), and Ezmerelda bit the big one as Isaac’s Tiefling decided to assassinate her in the midst of the battle.

The party was surprisingly nice about the death of the major NPC that the Taroka cards had predicted they would need to defeat Strahd. “If you do it again,” said Natasha. “We’ll have to leave you behind.” Suitably admonished, Isaac promised to be a good Tiefling.

No he didn’t, I just put that bit in for effect.

William changed into a wereraven (remember, he picked that little curse up last session) and flew around outside the building, scouting out the premises, spotting an old dude on a throne and lots more revenants. Natasha changed into a spider and crawled under several doors and scouted internal rooms. In the store room next to the kitchen, she spotted a wounded elf (and here we thought there were no elves in Barovia, racist nation that it is…)

Next week: Who is the wounded elf? Who is the old dude on the throne? Will those revenants make mincemeat out of the party? Why is the Tiefling being so nice? Where does the druid store all her gear when she transforms? How many more questions will Steve ask before he finishes typing?

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The Last Word. A poem.

The last word
Is a flail across my back
Stripping flesh bare to bone
A blood eagle worthy of Vikings
Exposing heart and soul
And ready for the killing thrust

Your pain mingles with my own
As you strike again, again
And I’m drawn and quartered
On the yoke
Hung out to dry
A pendulum in the wind

Blithely embracing my only friend
His scythe scratching my cheek
He who lingers, unblinking and unmoving
And always waiting in the wings

The black dog growls and snaps
In the background
And I’m underground
My coffin little comfort in this repose

Today I die a little more
Today I take one more step
Towards the door
Where Death beckons to me greedily
“Perhaps today,” I say
“Why not?” He replies

He offers the silvered razor
So many have admired and aspired to
His gift in memoriam
An everlasting metaphor
Of our misbegotten friendship

And I reach with greedy, outstretched fingers
And lonely, fettered veins

For more Poetry, click here.

So Many Ghosts. A poem.

So many ghosts
Pleading from the past
Negotiating with the future
Throwing off chains
And screaming from rooftops
For attention in a sea
Of ignorance

Don’t shut your eyes and ears
For these many ghosts
Are deserving of respect
And hope and love

Or do you prefer
Not to learn at all
Like so many before you

#BlackLivesMatter

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

March. A poem.

Your clubs and fists
Your horses and mace
Cannot quell or diminish
Voices united as one

To drown out despots
And desperate hypocrites
Who would hold us down
With guile and inequity

We march and pray
We cry for justice
And will not be overcome
Because

Black
Lives
Matter

#BlackLivesMatter

For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Weeks 6-12

Hi all,

Over the next few weeks (months, years, who knows) I’ll be posting some warts-and-all summaries of several campaigns I’ve run in the past. This is one from 2017 – The Curse of Strahd. Some of it will be dull, some of it may be amusing; some of it is written in present tense, some of it in past tense. These are the unedited email summaries I sent the players each week, so you’ll have to forgive their somewhat chaotic nature.

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 6-7:

After returning from the Old Bonegrinder windmill, fighting scarecrows and dire wolves on the road and facing Strahd for the first time in battle in the Vallaki Town Square last week, this week saw the party headed to the village of Krezk (“To the left,” said direction-accurate Steve), where they were told they couldn’t come in unless they could bring them some wine…how convenient.

Off to the Wizard of Vines vineyard this week, where the party met old Davian Martikov and his family. Davian has been making wines for the valley of Barovia for many years, providing his services for free to keep up the spirits (see what I did there?) of all Barovians. Unfortunately, his evil druid neighbours and their blight servants had taken over the vineyard (as they do).

After a huge battle, in which the John and Dan’s Monks proved they were better than any fighters, Nigel’s Barbarian took more damage from friendly fire than he did from blights, Mark’s Bard was the damager via multiple thunderwave spells, Isaac’s Warlock enjoyed blasting blights back 10 feet, William’s Paladin rushed in where fools fear to tread (“I run toward death, not away from it”, should be his catchphrase) and Courtney’s Dwarf saved the day several times with mass Healing Word (without it the party would have been creamed, to put it bluntly).

Weeks 8-12:

Yep, we’ve been campaigning in sunny, effervescent Barovia for 12 weeks now. And don’t the kids just love it! Sunshine every day, mountain fresh air, gallons of ice cream, and such friendly, helpful people! Who would want to leave?

 But seriously, I’ve been a bit lax the last few weeks and have forgotten to send out summary emails…

In week 8, you all (mostly) fought a giant tree blight called Wintersplinter, that had been sent by the evil next door neighbours of the vineyard to destroy it! Being the heroes you are, without any need for financial recompense, you promptly slaughtered the poor tree, took its green crystal and then made Davian Martikov pay you all 250 gp each to have it back. You were told that the third crystal may have been taken by a witch who operates out of the ruins of Berez, just across the valley there. Because you are all caring, sharing souls, you promptly decided to take the remaining wine and head off to Krezk, so you can gain entry and drop Ireena off at the Abbey of St Markovia, on the hill overlooking the town. 

Escorting three big casks of wine to Krezk, you came dangerously close to being slaughtered by masses of dire wolves…

In week 9, arriving back in Krezk, delivering the wine and visiting a lovely sacred pond on the far side of the town, you prevented Ireena from merging with the spirit of her long lost lover from the past, and then everyone was zapped by a lightning bolt from the clouds above. Unfortunately, Ireena was barbequed. Ismark had heard that the Abbot could perform miracles, so the party traipsed up the hill and entered the abbey. After encountering lots of Mongrelmen, all locked up by the Abbott as they are all a bit crazy, you spoke to the man himself who revealed he made a flesh golem woman for Strahd to marry, but needed a wedding dress. Obviously the mongrelmen weren’t the only crazy ones.

Mark’s Halfling bard got into a feud with a spidery mongrelman down a well, who ended up eating Mark’s beloved toad. Exploring one of the other abbey buildings, the party fought another flesh golem, battled loads of shadows (where Dan’s annoying, I mean, heroic monk was KILLED (gasp!)), and located Ezmerelda D’Avenir, who was foretold in the card reading of Madame Eva as being a person of note who could help the party defeat Strahd. She joined the party, but not before Mark tortured a poor raven…The Abbott promised to grant the party three raise dead’s if they get the dress. The Monk was raised (doh!), and the party decided to head back to Vallaki to see if they could get a wedding dress from the Baron’s wife, who, conveniently, had one lying around. 

Arriving in Vallaki, the party found that Rudolf van Richten, famous vampire hunter, had left town with his wagon and sabre tooth tiger and nobody knew where he was. Everyone’s favourite (read: annoying) Halfling monk decided he wanted to burn down the Baron’s house. He was attacked by vampire spawn, who had started ransacking the town. The rest of the party were at the inn when the major vampire spawn assault started…

In week 10, Natasha’s gnome Druid and Isaac’s Tiefling Warlock went undercover via an invisibility spell, to find the wedding dress in the baron’s mansion. Luckily the town was in turmoil, so after a tension filled search of the upper levels, they found the dress and headed out the back window to the inn.

The wereravens running the inn persuaded the party to escape from the vampire spawn attack through an escape tunnel under the fireplace. The party sent a number of villlagers through the tunnel, who then ran off into the woods and were promptly killed by nasty night creatures.   

Meanwhile, Dan’s annoying Halfling Monk made his way upstairs and started searching for the dress himself, as he didn’t know that the others had found it already. Ending up in the Baron’s bedroom, resting at the window and surveying the chaos, he saw William’s Holy Symbol of Ravenkind casting light from outside the north wall, and decided to head through town over the wall to join the rest of the party.

The party hid in a cave, and then headed back to the abbey, giving the Abbott his dress. He raised Ireena from the dead. Ismark and Ireena decided to head back to the church at Vallaki where they couldn’t get blown up.

In week 11, the party headed to Yester Hill to deal with the nosy druidic neighbours. They discovered a huge wicker statue of Strahd, which didn’t burn. They fought lots of druids and berserkers. They then went to a huge Gulthias tree on the property, fought loads of twig, vine and needle blights.

Week 12, and William’s Dragonborn Paladin got the magic axe from the tree, and he and Isaac toppled the tree. Twiggy blights continued to grow from the roots, but by that time the party couldn’t be bothered doing anything more and headed back to the vineyard for shelter before night.

At the vineyard, the party found out Davian and his family were wereravens and related to the Martikovs who own the inn in Vallaki (small world…er, valley). William promptly got them to bight him, so he could fulfil his life time dream to fly. Naked. Without any equipment. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.

The next morning the PCs had to battle a large number of scarecrows sent from the witch in Berez (no one seems to like this vineyard, despite the fact they give their wine away for free). Steven’s elvish wizard (back after a long stint away) used his fireballs to perfection, but still managed to get knocked unconscious. The party decided to head to Van Richten’s tower to see if they could find him. On the way, they fought more dire wolves, and Steven’s wizard was knocked out again! A lesson learned – remember to protect the spell caster…

At the tower, both Mark and Steven touched the door and got electrocuted. Dan’s annoying Halfling did the fancy dance to bypass the trap and then they all got in. After spending the night on the roof, because she didn’t want to offend Van Richten (who wasn’t there and couldn’t have known), Isaac’s Tiefling got pneumonia and had to suffer a level of exhaustion for a day…

 Exiting the tower to head to Berez, the party is about to be attacked by werewolves and…yes, you guessed it, more dire wolves…

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