Perilous. A poem.

Perilous
Dark clouds above
In churning
Storm-painted skies

And here I am, in between

Black depths below
In churning,
Storm-blown seas
Perilous

For more poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding
To find out more about my poetry books, click here.

Fractured. A poem.

A fractured existence
Broken bones/broken heart
Enduring, crawling
Striving to forget
On splintered limbs
Forged in pain and regret

Time heals all
But feel the filigree lines
All cracks and calcified
Where movement grinds
And creaks and groans
To melancholy rhyme

Reminded constantly
To heal, one has to hurt
Breaks and sprains, a legacy
That never truly mends
And never truly dies
Nostalgically

Shattered bones
And shattered dreams
Obtuse perspectives
Regrown but never straight
Every missing jigsaw piece
Of your fractured existence

For more poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding
To find out more about my poetry books, click here.

MAPS YOUR PARTY WILL DIE FOR 2: MEGA-DUNGEON in Digital and Print!

As a DM, I like to have dungeon and cavern system maps on hand just in case my players like to…wander. Come on, you know they do. One minute they’re traveling overland to the next adventure you meticulously planned and wrote and the next they’re checking out the caves on the low lying ridge you just happened to mentioned as flavor text!

Fret no more, my friends. The MAPS YOUR PARTY WILL DIE FOR 2: MEGA-DUNGEON Digital Bundle for any fantasy tabletop role playing game is here! So what is MYPWDF2 (let’s call it that for short – my typing fingers grow weary just thinking of the whole title lol)?

The MYPWDF2  Digital Bundle includes:

  •  52 hand drawn, full color, inter-connectable dungeon geomorphs that you can print out for live play or drop into your favorite online virtual tabletop (Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Foundry, etc.). Every map is sized 1750 x 1750 and comes in both grid and grid-less versions – they fit perfectly onto Roll20 – no more fiddling to match grid sizes! 
  • A Royalty Free License to use the maps in your own commercial and non-commercial projects (note: you can’t sell the maps individually or as part of a separate digital maps package). 
  • The MYPWDF2 DM’s Workbook – a 130 page PDF book you can use to stock your dungeons or take notes as your players explore during live play. With four double-page awesome art spreads by Daniel Comerci! 

The MYPDF2: MEGA-DUNGEONDigital Bundle is on sale on DrivethruRPG at Maps Your Party Will Die For 2: Mega-Dungeon Bundle [BUNDLE] – Laidback DM | DriveThruRPG.com

PLUS If you want a hard copy of the MYPWDF2 DM’s Workbook you can write in, you can also purchase the book separately in print!  

The MYPDF2: MEGA-DUNGEON DM’s Workbook in PRINT is on sale on DrivethruRPG at MAPS YOUR PARTY WILL DIE FOR 2: Mega-Dungeon – Laidback DM | DriveThruRPG.com

YOU decide on the scale of your dungeon and the orientation of the map. 

YOU decide what your players find and fight. 

YOU create the Mega-Dungeon of your dreams – as big as you like, or as small as one map. 

AND there’s End Game Boss Maps as well! 

Tomb of Annihilation: Week 14

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 14

Into the Wyrmheart Mine, while Hew Hackandsleep rested up and watched the Giant Strider mounts. “I’ll have my day in the sun,” said Hew. “After I catch a little shuteye.”

Highlights included:

  • How to split the party multiple times – that always works out well…
  • The party was joined by Dylan, whose Firbolg Barbarian fell right into the hack and slash of things.
  • Most of the party took a mine cart ride, only to stop around the corner and climb up a rise to meet some Kobolds. Mark’s Kenku Monk and Steve’s Human Rogue got up the 15-foot slope and commenced the dialogue. Gareth’s Druid and Morgan’s Dwarvish Barbarian couldn’t get up the first time, falling on their asses (how embarrassing). Davor’s Human Ranger tried twice before giving up.   
  • Jake’s Aasimar Warlock decided that there was no point talking anymore, so he turned murder hobo and killed everything he saw. Negotiators, hostages, you name it (he was obviously still smarting from talking to that Medusa…). His warlock climbed to a bridge crossing the cavern where he started sniping the Kobolds while they were talking to the monk and rogue. They exploded into lots of entrails. The other kobolds took off down a side passage. “My work here is done,” the Warlock cackled. He then went on to vape some Kobold Inventors and then a bunch of kobolds in the egg chamber.
  • Daniel’s Human Bard, obviously unhappy at being usurped as the serial killer of the party, decided to head down a cave by herself and ran into some Specters. DOH! Luckily Jake’s Warlock and Mark’s Monk turned up to help.
  • Into the cart again, riding it down, hit by a giant boulder trap, derailed. The party fought some Urds (winged kobolds) and Morgan’s Barbarian took one hostage after slicing off its wings. (I guess the stoning at the medusa’s house REALLY traumatized these guys!)   
  • Thirty Kobolds streamed down the tracks, confronting Dylan’s Barbarian and Steve’s Rogue head on, many of them getting burnt by Gareth’s Druid after stepping on his spell-heated rail (DOH!) and getting a mining cart hitting them from behind thanks to quick thinking from Daniel’s Bard.
  • Jake’s warlock killed Morgan’s Barbarian’s hostage, so the barbarian got upset and attacked him. Jake responded by leaping off a 150-foot drop, intending to lightning lure the barbarian off the edge and then blink back to safety. Unfortunately, both failed, so he fell to the bottom of the mine, a bloody mess. After the warlock failed his first death save, Mark’s Monk leapt down and stabilized him. The moral to this story: if another party member is planning to torture a hostage, don’t take that away from them? Something like that. Or maybe: look before you leap?

Next Week: The Main Event – Tinder, The RED DRAGON!!

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Tomb of Annihilation: Week 13

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 13

After failing to persuade the Medusa of Nangalore to allow them to take their statuesque friends with them, the diminished party slunk back to its camp site in the jungle. “Where did everybody go? Got bored and went home?” guffawed one-armed Hew Hackabogan, underpaid and underworked guide.

Miraculously, at that very moment, three new adventurers were making their way through the humid, sweaty and rain-soaked jungle. They arrived (again, miraculously) at the camp site and the party, immediately suspicious, eyed them warily.

“How about something to eat, and maybe some mosquito repellent?” said Hew HackaLugie. And so, Mark’s Kenku Monk, Jake’s Aasimar Warlock and Dan’s Halfling Warlock (two at once – what are the odds?!), and Gareth (a newbie!) with a human Druid, joined Davor’s Ranger, Daniel’s Bard, Steve’s Rogue (No Chloe Cleric this week—must be sleeping it off somewhere) and Morgan’s Tabaxi Ranger—hold it! After a sudden race and class change, the ranger was now Morgan’s Dwarven Barbarian. Possibly due to some magical Chultan jungle virus – I think it’s called the ‘wishful thinking’ disease. But was it due to a disease, or was it the fact that his archer/ranger was down to six arrows…

Hew HacksaGob delightfully declared it would take seven days of grinding—um, walking—to get to the next stop, the Akaaz Wykhsljsdfatfdihjtfnsbusatyti, the fabled entrance to the Valley of Lost Honour. “You don’t mean the ‘Valley of Lost Arm’,” said one card, pointing to Hew’s missing appendage.

“That’s incredibly insensitive,” replied Hew HacksComputersRegularly. “But ‘armless’!” After rolling around the ‘Chultan jungle amongst ancient ruins and deadly monsters’ floor laughing (that’s the fantasy version of ROFL), the party was on its way.

A few days in, two undead Tyrannosaurs vomiting zombies. Yawn, said the party. One zombie, Grom the magnificent (third of his line) showed you can’t keep a good zombie down by making his undead fortitude save FIVE times! Keep on keeping on, Grom.

After fighting some mantrap plants and lots of giant spiders (ho-hum), the party arrived at the black basalt canyon of Akaaz Wyklkijuihfrbeygedijwwdij. Davor’s Ranger elected to chat with the Fire Newt warriors camped there, revealing himself as a Dragon Slayer supreme, on the lookout for Tzindelore, the red dragon occupying these parts. Dan’s Bard played a merry tune and helped out. The Fire Newts revealed they hated the dragon, and would assist the party to defeat it.

“Actually, we want to ride it to Omu,” said Hew HackandCough.

“What was that?” said Fire Newt Warrior Number Three.

“I said ‘send it back to the fires of Hell’.”

Morgan’s Barbarian decided to check out a forty-foot basalt pillar. On top, a rock. “I’m gonna kick me that rock,” said the barbarian. Suddenly, a trapdoor opened and a voracious Sand Spider dragged him down thirty feet into the spider’s tight-fitting lair, where the barbarian was knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, Mark’s Kenku came to the rescue.

“Mind if I drop in,” said the Kenku in blinkety-blink-this-is-the-closest-I-get-to-speech.

Soon, everyone was helping out, with the warlocks blowing a hole in the basalt column to expose the battle raging within and Gareth’s druid summoning two giant eagles to get in everyone’s way. Steve’s Rogue did some very nasty damage as he leapt down to backstab the beast.

After the battle, negotiations for food and mounts were on, ending with the purchase of Giant Striders. After a nice long rest, the party departed for Wyrmheart Mine, which they got to in a day (saving lots of time). That night, Mark’s Kenku did some scouting, revealing an old office, supply hut and mine cart in need of repair at the entrance. Very exciting.

The party agreed to rest for the night, so they might assault the mine in the daylight.

Next Week: Wyrmheart Mine! But wait, there’s more!

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Vacant Block. A poem.

Here lay a vacant block,
Strewn with the detritus
Of travellers, neighbours,
And vagrant necessity.
Overgrown and empty,
Awash in a sea of cynical
Disregard and circumstance.

You found it there,
A fine purchase, almost lost
In the crowd of lots
And auctioned showpieces.
You bought the block and built
It up, like Rome in a day,
Or perhaps Pompeii.

A vacant block, reborn,
Renewed and reconciled
And brought to life
Like Frankenstein
To stand tall again,
A furtive flower among trees,
A coal among diamonds.

And once you’d had your way
You left it as you found,
No patents on this concourse,
No reprieve or shallow grave.
Just a vacant block,
Overgrown and dreaming
Of more permanent renewal.

For more poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding
To find out more about my poetry books, click here.

Another Day. A poem.

Another day and dollar down
In the exhibition of years
Trials and tribulations
Meted out like punishments
Confined and minimised
Resigned and popularised

And every walk alone
Is a walk nearer the edge
That threatens to topple
Mansions to the ground
And make mountains
From molehills

So I persevere
Resilience found and lost
An erstwhile friend
In a heart-shaped box
Time and time and time again
I wander through

Another day

For more poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding
To find out more about my poetry books, click here.

Advice for the Young at Heart…Stuff for Beginner DMs

I see a lot of Tweets asking about advice for new Dungeon Masters (DMs) or Games Masters (GMs) – which I will henceforth refer to as DMs. Rather than answer the plethora of questions there, I thought I’d do one consolidated response here. A caveat before I begin: even though I am what you would call a very experienced DM, I am NOT proclaiming to be an expert by any means. There are far more exemplary, qualified and professional people around who can claim that. I do okay lol.

Laidback DM - Stuff for Beginner DMs

Here are some of important things I think beginner DMs need to know (these are not in order of importance and I may have forgotten some stuff. So, sue me).

  • Know Your Rules: When playing or running any game, whether it be a Tabletop Role Playing Game (TTRPG), board game, sports, or the stock market, you need to know the rules. Read them thoroughly and have a good understanding of how the mechanics work. This is important because you will be making decisions about what the players can do based on your knowledge of the rules. This is especially important if you are teaching a bunch of brand new players who have never played before – they are having their first experience and learning how to play from you. If you have more experienced players in your group then they can assist in the learning process. In the end you are the final arbiter of the rules, so make sure you have a pretty good idea how the systems work.
  • ...But Don’t Be Too Concerned if You Forget The Rules: And yes, you’re going to forget stuff. I still do, even now. That’s fine, don’t get too anxious or worry about not knowing a rule. Unless you have an eidetic memory then it’s expected you’re going to forget something. Looking up rules can slow the game, so make a decision based on what you know and check up the answer later. In the next session explain what you did wrong and what you will do next time, and your players will be fine. And if you decide to house rule stuff (i.e. replace official rules with your own), discuss it with your players first so that everyone is in agreement.
  • Don’t Over-Prepare: Preparing for a first session may become a bit nerve wracking. Do I have enough stuff for the players to do in my first session? (Yes, you will. Even if you don’t, the players will fill in the gaps with their shenanigans.) Am I a good enough DM? (More than likely, and even if you aren’t at first, you will become one in time.) What happens if they don’t like the adventure? (You’ll pick up cues as things go along – if players look bored, are checking their phones, are chatting among themselves about non-game content – if so you can throw in something to bring them back. Provide that clue they didn’t know about. Introduce an NPC to pull them back into the story. Ambush them with some monsters, which have a map or information that will get them engaged again). You will NEVER be able to prepare for everything the players decide to do in a session. Learn to prepare just enough – the basic adventure, a few maps as needed, a few NPCs, a few rumours, etc. – then improvise the rest depending on decisions the party makes (see further below).
  • Listen to Your Players: Your players are there to have fun and they want to be engaged. Some want the cool backstories they spent hours laboring on to become part of the story. Some want to impress others with their knowledge of the game. All want to shine. It’s your job as a DM to give your players the opportunity to do all this and more, but it’s also your job to keep it together and not crack under the pressure (real or perceived). Listen to your players and incorporate their ideas – remember – you don’t have to do all the creative work.
  • Learn to Improvise: Some DMs have a problem with making stuff up on the spot in response to player actions. That may not be you, but if it is, learn to improvise. Say “Yes, and…” more often. It’s an improv strategy designed to allow improvisation in a situation comedy/story context. That doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything your players do. But learn to run your adventures in a freer and less structured way. To see an earlier article of mine on flying by the seat of your pants in games, click here.
  • Take Notes: Come up with an organisational system to keep track of both short term events (in the gaming session) and long term (campaign) story points and player subplots. This can be something as simple as an exercise book you update during the game or a spreadsheet on a laptop. Or a post-it note. Although post-it notes are not the best system (trust me on this – I’m a post-it man from way back lol).
  • Keep Worldbuilding to a Minimum: In your first and early sessions, keep the world limited to a small area – a keep on the borderlands, a small village and its surrounds, a single dungeon. Let your world expand as you play, and let your players help to expand it. Why so small to start with? I know you want to create an entire fleshed out world from day one, but time is always an issue and much of the work you do on creating a fully-fleshed world will never be seen or experienced by your players. Feel free to build an entire world before the first session if that is your thing, but I’d suggest you focus on that session first. Just saying. For more on world building, click here.
  • Don’t Try to Be Matt Mercer: I love Matt Mercer, but he is a professional actor and is (now) paid to DM on Critical Role. That means he has a heck of a lot more time to prep for his games then you do, and he is a master of improv and voices. You are not Matt Mercer. No one expects you to be. Be you. Every game is different, and your game will have its own strengths. Want to read more about not being Matt? Click here.
  • Have Fun: This is the number one rule! You and your players are there to have fun. If it’s not fun, ask everyone at the end what you can do to make your game better. But remember: you will always be your own worst critic – things are often not as bad as you think they are when you’re a DM. Accept criticism and advice, but make sure you don’t take it too much to heart. When you’re starting out, remember that this is just the beginning. You will get better. And soon you will take on the world.

I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a few things lol. But it’s a start.

My absolute best advice is: Don’t be afraid. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Before you know it you’ll be DMing your favorite TTRPG like a champ.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Primal. A poem.

I rise to the occasion

Dragged forth from
Primordial ooze
Fashioned from mud
And precocious instinct

Who are you to say
Who I am or who I should be 
Just because I’m not
The way you envisioned me

I am primal 
Forged in fire and fission
And I will 
Rise to the occasion

For more poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding
To find out more about my poetry books, click here.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 11-12

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s Tomb of Annihilation. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 11

This week Chloe joined the group with her Drow Cleric! Welcome, Chloe!

On their way to the ruins of the Palace of Nangalore, the party encountered and made short work of three Allosauruses. Steaks all round! “Why did we ever bother buying rations?” said Davor’s Ranger.

At Nangalore, the river had broken its banks and flooded the entrance to the ruins. “Right!” said Dan’s Paladin. “I’ll just get across that river and scale the wall!” Giant Crocodile. “Right!” said Steve K’s Rogue. “I’ll just get across that river and scale the wall!” Giant Crocodiles. “Ouch,” cried Steve K as he lapsed into unconsciousness, painting the river red for good measure. A flurry of fighting in which Davor’s Ranger was knocked unconscious from the tree he was in by a Giant Croc. Guide Hew Hackindumbledore came to the rescue and saved him from lunch. And not the good type of lunch, where someone else pays.

Morgan’s Tabaxi Ranger/Archer proved he knew how to shoot arrows. Chloe’s Cleric was all about saving the cheerleader (Steve K’s Rogue) and the crocs were all about taking names. Dan’s Paladin had the final say there. He shall now be known as ‘giant croc head-splitting headache’.

“Hey everyone, let’s forget about resting and rush into the next encounter,” said Dan’s Paladin and Steve K’s Rogue (they’re almost twins—not), obviously having learned nothing from the last 11 weeks.

Jake’s Aarokocra Sorcerer decided to make friends with the Eblis natives, who liked the fact he could speak Auran—they just didn’t like him. “Here’s two lightning bolts up your ass for your troubles,” said Jake. The Giant Spider harassing Dan’s Paladin didn’t like electricity either. His new name is Smokey the Spider.

Steve K’s Rogue discovered you can’t fight Yellow Musk Zombies when you have no hit points, and realised he was safer hiding behind Chloe’s Cleric. Davor’s Ranger showed Morgan’s Ranger who was archer first by helping to take out some zombies with his arrows. “So how do I go about getting some more arrows?” said Morgan. “I’ll sell them to you for 10 gp each,” said Davor. “Supply and demand, baby…” Then everyone took out the Yellow Musk Creeper, which they all realized is a pretty hopeless plant monster once you resist its musky allure.

“Wow, I’m glad you decided to sneak into this place. Who knows how it would have gone if you’d assaulted it directly,” said guide Hew Hackinwatsit, as he cracked a tinny and reclined in his beach chair, safe on the river’s shore.

Week 12

The party took a much-needed long rest, then headed back to Steve’s beautifully rendered (in texta), three-colour map of Nangalore, defeating a zombie-vomiting undead Tyrannosaur on the way!

At Nangalore, Daniel’s Bard tried the old ‘pull down the tree and use it like a catapult to send me flying into the ruins’ trick—she plunged straight into the river next to the tree. DOH!

Furious fights between the party, Yellow Musk Zombies, Eblis, and Assassin Vines ensued.

The big dome at the back of the palace contained a mad Medusa, who used to be an Omuan queen and who continually spoke to her long dead lover as if he was still alive (“Who cares,” cried the ever lore-conscious party). Several saving throws were failed – badly. Jake’s Sorcerer was petrified! Mark’s Cleric was petrified! Here was a chance to negotiate. “NEVER!” cried brave and foolhardy Davor’s Ranger (who had finally worked out how to calculate his arrow damage correctly ). Dan’s Paladin was petrified (in Dan’s most vocal and demonstrative tantrum yet – and that’s saying something, considering he once tore up his character sheet after being knocked unconscious)!

“Okay, let’s negotiate,” said Daniel’s Bard very persuasively as Steve K’s Rogue hid behind her (that’s becoming a habit, Steve). Chloe’s Cleric agreed. Daniel’s Bard convinced the Medusa that finding the Soul Monger would raise her long-lost love. She decided to keep the petrified adventurers as hostages, just in case. She refused to offer any further assistance like teleports, food or magic items (nice try, Daniel). Davor’s Ranger was still chomping at the bit to kill her. Party – nil, Medusa – three.     

Meanwhile, guide Hew Hackinstab waited patiently for the party in his deckchair by the river, sipping a margarita and blissfully unaware of what had happened.

Next Week: More grand designs with statuary? Post-Nangalorian whatsits and thingies.

  

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Wounded Heart. A Poem.

Alas my wounded heart
Limped homeward from the war
The bayonets dug deep
Revealing every jaded flaw
My long recovery
Many memories to store
A traumatic state of mind
Infected deep within my core

Alas my wounded heart
One day you’ll rise again
To walk the fields of No Man’s Land
Every thicket, every fen
While the bed holds you immobile
Dreams filled with there and then
Chin up, poor wounded heart
For soon this heart will mend

For more poetry, click here.

Weightless. A poem.


The core of being
Scooped out
Like ice cream
Left to melt it seems
On the kitchen side
Sugary, sticky residue
The uncomfortable remains
Of purpose and memory
Just a smear
Weightless

A hollow shell
A phantom
Walking halls
Sandwiched covers on
A pageless memoir
A fiction without meaning
Without character
Revealing all and nothing
Left in between
Weightless

For more poetry, click here.

Pathfinder 2e Review: Bestiary 2 Battle Cards and NPC Battle Cards

I know I say this all the time, to the point where I’m probably a bit like a droning LP (“What’s an LP?,” say Millenials almost everywhere), but Paizo continually puts out great products, and on such a regular basis they really put WOTC’s D&D schedule to shame. I am, I’m sad to say, somewhat hooked on their products, and so buy almost everything that comes out. My bank account has seen better days.

The recent releases of the Pathfinder 2e (P2e) Bestiary 2 Battle Cards and NPC Battle Cards contain all the monsters and NPCs listed in the Bestiary 2 and Gamemastery Guide books. I’m a fan of using cards for monster stats – they are convenient and I don’t have to refer to hefty books or screens for information during games. In my live games (oh, how long it’s been since I’ve played a game face-to-face! Don’t worry, Roll20 – I still love you) I find it’s easier to use a few cards than refer to a bunch of books, and in battles featuring multiple opponents it saves me paging around between beasts. I made my own cards for D&D 5e, but Paizo conveniently releases Battle Cards to save me the hassle.

BUT (and that’s a big but) it still infuriates me that Paizo STILL doesn’t always list all the special ability information on their Battle Cards. This was a problem I identified with the first Bestiary Battle Cards set (click here for more about that).When a monster has lots or lengthy special abilities, Paizo uses more than one card. That’s fine, but some special abilities STILL refer me back to the Bestiary 2 book! As always, my question to Paizo is: if I wanted to refer to the Bestiary 2 book, why would I have purchased these Battle Cards (at great expense, I might add). Example: Ancient Cloud Dragon Cloud Form – “see Pathfinder Bestiary 2 page 90”. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I know what you’re gonna say. Stop complaining, Steve – the cards are beautifully presented with great art, a handy size and have most of the stats you need at a glance. Yes, I agree, but isn’t the point of monster cards to save you time as a GM? To make the stats more convenient so that you can run the game without having to refer back to the books during play? As a designer, I believe that convenience and ease of use for DMs/GMs is a primary factor. Pathfinder 2e has a lot of rules – there’s a lot to remember and a lot of admin during combat. (Don’t think so? Check out the conditions and ongoing condition levels you need to keep track of each round.) I love Pathfinder 2e’s attention to detail but I believe if you’re going to design a product to make a GM’s job easier then you ACTUALLY have to make it easier for them.

By now, you’re probably thinking I really hate these cards. Nope. I really do like them. But I think I have a valid gripe.

In the end, the decision about buying these cards is up to you. The problem I’ve highlighted only impacts on a small percentage of cards – maybe 5-10%. The rest are good to go. I would have liked it if Paizo just spent that little bit of extra time to summarise the text a little more so they could squeeze on more information without having to refer GMs back to their manuals. That said, the NPC Battle Cards are simple and straightforward, and thus don’t have the same problem as some of the Bestiary 2 Battle Cards.

So should you buy them? I guess that comes down to your level of Paizo addiction and whether or not you feel Battle Cards are really going to save you time in a game. If you don’t mind occasionally looking up a manual when you have a card in front of you, then this is the product for you. But if you feel you’re doing fine using the manuals, forget about investing in Battle Cards.

I like Battle Cards, and these ones are very nice. I know Paizo probably won’t fix the issue of making sure all the info is on the cards for bigger monsters, but since I’ve bought them I guess I’ll put up with it. Time for me to buy some more P2e stuff to feed my ongoing addiction. Big sigh…

Ratings:

Bestiary 2 Battle Cards – 7/10

NPC Battle Cards – 9/10

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Juxtaposed. A poem.

How can one’s surrounds
Be such aching bliss
Where all the light and shade
Should meld as one, sublime?

Yet inside, the cloying dark;
The whispers and the thorns
That tear a soul apart
And leave the shell to die?

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 Riddle. A poem.

This riddle:

This trial of decay
Has shaken me from my
Wide-eyed stupor
And recruited me
To a war of consequence
Where life and limb
And bold indecision
Bear me back
To suffering and pain
Until the riddle’s solved

I play and lose the game

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.

and again

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 8-10

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s Tomb of Annihilation. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 8

For literally the first time in years, we didn’t have enough players to play (only three plus me, the DM, turned up). I was concerned there might be some…unnecessary fatalities…if we ran a session, so, we played some cool fantasy card games (whose names escape me) and had a fun time anyway. Yeah, I could have run a little one-shot but the card games looked geeky cool. And it turns out they were!

Week 9

The party travelled from their convenient teleportation spot to discover a broken airship in the branches high above them. Some sailors were yelling for assistance, so Dan’s plucky halfling Paladin climbed to the rescue. The crew had seen better days, as they’d been starving in the trees for some time. Just then a Zombie Girallon attacked, which the halfling had to fight up top by himself, as the ground crew were attacked by ghouls. Jake’s Aarokocra Sorcerer flew in, zapping beasties left and right.

A few more Zombie Girallons and lots of experience points later, all the noise attracted a lumbering Tyrannosaurus Rex, which ended up being main course for dinner that night. 

The party rested in the humidity, flies and the cacophony of the jungle all around them. In the distance, a high rock tower extended phallically into the sky, a wisp of smoke curling from its summit. “That’s one of the Firefinger towers,” said Hew Hackyabutt, the redoubtable one-armed Scottish Dwarven guide. “There was once a network of those old towers across the Omuan kingdom, hundreds of years ago. Some of them still exist. They were used for signalling and messaging.”

“Experience points!” cried the meta-gaming party.

Jake’s Aarokocra Sorcerer bravely decided to lead the local Pterafolk away so the party could approach the tower undetected. Climbing up the tower ladder to the first cave opening, Mark’s Cleric successfully broke some rungs and ate the ground. Eventually the party got to the cave, which was infested with Giant Wolf Spiders. Dan’s halfling decided he just had to have one, and decided to wrestle and tame it to make it his mount. Steve’s Rogue decided to kill it (harsh words were spoken) and Dan ran off to grapple another. Dan’s halfling realised it’s not that easy to train a dragon, I mean wolf spider, but eventually it all came good. Meanwhile, Daniel’s Bard and Mark’s Cleric decided to leap/fall (badly) down a ten-foot hole. Steve’s Rogue decided to join them.

Jake’s Sorcerer very coolly led one of the Pterafolk to its doom, straight into the side of the tower.

The party fought with the Pterafolk on the ledge in a pretty rough battle, then decided to climb down the tower to rest. That’s alright, I’m sure no one noticed all that stuff happening or all the noise from spells and the like…

Week 10

After resting the party headed back to Firefinger. Jake’s Aarokocra Sorcerer flew up to the top to draw a few Pterafolk away, only to find that they had disappeared. Meanwhile, Dan’s halfling Paladin used his wolf spider mount to climb the walls easily to the first level, and Daniel’s Bard and Steve’s Rogue followed up the first ladder. Climbing up the chimney to the second level, Dan’s halfling was swarmed by Stirges, which also took a liking to the rogue and bard. Jake’s Sorcerer managed to kill all of the Stirges using a few well-placed Shatter spells. Unfortunately, Dan’s mount was shattered as well.

Climbing up to the next level, the party encountered more Pterafolk. After zapping one, Jake’s Aarokocra Sorcerer experienced a wild magic surge and he lost all his feathers. Plunging to the ground, he grabbed the ladder which then started pulling off the wall. Meanwhile, Dan’s Paladin crit failed and cut open the bag containing his reversal stone, which reversed gravity and sent everyone up to hit the roof, except for Daniel’s Bard who flew up in the air and out of potential combat. Jake’s Sorcerer managed to climb down to the first level and then sat naked and humiliated for a long time.

Dan’s paladin and Steve’s Rogue fought more Pterafolk, and found Morgan’s Tabaxi Fighter, a prisoner who freed himself and then recovered his weapons to fight the last Pterafolk on that level. He had been held captive by the Pterafolk after his party were killed exploring Chult for the very same Soul Monger that this party was after. Nice segue, new player!

Climbing up to the top level of Firefinger, the party (sans Jake’s Sorcerer) confronted the last three Pterafolk (Daniel’s Bard creating a giant nightclub bouncer from his phantasmal force spell to prevent one of the Pterafolk from leaving). Soon the pterafolk were no more – treasure was gained, including a magical mask of the beasts, which Dan’s paladin initially didn’t want, but then found out that it makes animals your friends (DOH!). Daniel’s Bard ended up with the mask. From the top of Firefinger, they could see the ruins of Nangalore. A good choice for their next experience point-accruing destination.  

A long rest, then off to the Monkey Bridge, where the party defeated a Stone Golem, which turned out to be their biggest challenge yet!   

Next time: The ruins of Nangalore!

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Winged but Won’t. A haiku.

See them spread their wings;
The implicit irony
Is they never fly.

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.

Essence. A poem.

The essence of your smile
Wrought with heavy heart
And tempered word
Would smite me where I stand
And deliver me to chaos
Where misdirected logic floats
Wildly on a sea of chance

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.

Still. A poem.

I think of you still

And wonder whether you’re still you
Wandering through routine and habit and ritual
Each picture perfect rainy day in May
A pallet mix of awkward reds and blues

I should know better

Because hindsight is clearer in the rear view
Because everything that leaves us bitter
Must have happened for a reason, too
Or so it seems to someone looking back on me and you

But I still wax lyrically

Ponder what went wrong and how it came to be
And think just how good it was and how it could have been
If I hadn’t chosen the multiple choices that I did
Hadn’t opened our window and let the rain in

I think of you still

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.

Crash Course. A poem.

This is a crash course
In crash courses

(Life is funny
Like a cartoon
Slapstick, yet profound
And breaking your heart)

This is a crash course
And this train wreck
Is just about to start

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.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 6-7

Hi all,

I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s Tomb of Annihilation. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 6

The party was released from the prison cage in Dungrunglung by the Grung Tribe’s Shaman, so they could kill crazy King Groak. Steve K’s Rogue climbed over the vine-covered roof of the temple and leapt down on the good king to assassinate him while Daniel’s Bard and Dan’s Paladin performed a musical number for the various Grungs present. Unfortunately, Steve K’s Rogue’s dice rolls turned out to be pretty bad, so the fight was on!

During an extended battle in which Dan’s Paladin utilized Mark’s Cleric as a mount (because Dan likes to ride into battle and William’s beast shape-changing Druid was absent), Steve K’s Rogue’s dice rolls went from worse to worse, Davor’s Ranger underwent a CHA/CON crossover/sex change and Daniel’s Bard was knocked unconscious four times, being revived each time by Mark’s cleric.

Finally, King Groak and his loyal elite guards were dispatched. Mark’s Cleric recovered the king’s golden circlet. Outside the temple, the Tribal Shaman announced the good king was dead, to the cheering of many Grungs gathered outside. Rhoark went inside to find the circlet while the party hightailed it out of there. Discovering it gone, he commanded the Grungs go after the party. Mark’s Cleric, realizing it was the circlet they wanted, threw it into the crowd, who swarmed to get it. The party made their way out of the magical maze, avoiding a Grung patrol and pit traps, then made their way back to the ruin from the other day where they took a much needed long rest. Phew!

Faced with a choice of heading to Firefinger or going back to Yellyark, the party decided to go back to the goblins to show them they had dispatched King Groak as required. On the way to Yellyark they fought some Zombie Girallons and some immature Assassin Vines.

Next week: Yellyark! And off to Orolunga, home of the Guardian Naga! And maybe Camp Vengeance

Week 7

The party finally arrived back at Yellyark, where Queen Grabstab provided them with a Goblin guide to help find the lost city of Orolunga.

Battling through the jungle against Tri-flower fronds, Giant Crocodiles, Kamadan and Pterafolk, the party arrived at the overgrown ziggurat that was all that was left of Orolunga.

Ascending the ziggurat proved challenging, and required them to mimic the actions of some tiny Chwingas and hold orchids, a parrot feather and swallow a snake (Mark’s Cleric wasn’t very good at that!). Upstairs, the Guardian Naga Saja N’Baza informed them that the lost city they sought was Omu, that the evil Ras Nsi (remember him? He was the one responsible for the undead masses overrunning the land) was in the city and in league with Yuan Ti and that he must be destroyed. She also told them they should seek out the red dragon Tzindelor in the Wyrmheart Mine, who might be able to fly them there. Saja then gave everyone some temporary charms to help them on their quest, and conveniently teleported them a good 10 days travel south (ah, a convenient “let’s avoid some XP grinding” solution).

A battle with Giant Snapping Turtles later and the party was off for further adventures in the wet, humid and ever dangerous jungles of Chult.

Next Week: The Valley of Lost Honor! Fabled Nangalore! Death! Destruction! Dysentery!  

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

I Do. A poem.

I long for a reprieve
From life and death
Misery and regret

All the hooks
A chorus of fools
Making me sing along
As if I had a choice to

Oh, wait
I do

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.

Face to Face. A haiku.

Face to face, again.
Faced with reality, we
Shrink back in our shells.

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.

Free Map: Behir Caves

Time for a free, hand drawn map! This one has no grid, perfect for Roll20 / Fantasy Grounds!

Behir Caves

I originally made this map quickly for a side-mission for my Phandelver’s Pact ongoing D&D 5e campaign (if you want, you can follow that group’s adventures on Twitter). At one point they lost their treasure to a Green Dragon in the ruins of Thundertree, which they later tracked and killed. Meanwhile, the maze-like underground lair the dragon adopted was taken over by two Behirs. When the party finally located the lair, they were quite surprised when they confronted the first Behir only to have the second turn up and attack them from behind! Oh, how they screamed in terror – I mean laughed – about that one.

Of course, I’m sure you have your own plans for this map…

For my game, those tunnels were about 20 feet wide, but as there’s no grid you can make them as wide or as narrow as you want.

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

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

Game On!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Purge. A poem.

Purge yourself
Of every eloquent dream
And existential monument
To what was and could be

Purge yourself
So your bulimic brain
Can watch those thoughts
Cascade down the drain

Purge yourself
For all the bad and good
It will and won’t do for you
So you can stand renewed

Purge

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.

Vacant. A poem.

Vacant look,
vacant head

If only I had dreams instead

To fill my airy,
vacant head

And put this emptiness to bed.

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.

F$&@ed Me Over. A poem.

You F$&@ed me over

And under
And in between

Just a waste paper memory
Consigned to a basket
Of inconsequence

And suddenly

I’m not there
And never was

I was just your forbidden fruit
Turned too ripe and rotten
For consumption

And suddenly

You F$&@ed me over

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.

NEW Shotglass Rounds Adventures available on DrivethruRPG!

Need a One-shot Adventure for your next D&D 5e session?

SHOTGLASS ROUNDS are one-and-done, no fuss, no prep adventures for the busy DM. Lights, camera, maps, ACTION!

From Laidback DM, winner of the 2019 and 2020 One Page Dungeon Contests.

And for more Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg by clicking the link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/13989

Laidback DM Products on DrivethruRPG

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 4-5

Hi all,

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 4

Travelling to Dungrunglung took several days, in which Dwarvish NPC guide Hew Hackalot explained that the centre of Chult is filled with the remnants of the evil Ras Nsi’s undead army, which was disbanded after the aforementioned bad guy was soundly defeated after failing to capture the city of Mezro. “Good,” cried Mark’s Cleric. “We won’t have to worry about him, then!” Um—undead army?

The party came across a number of bodies staked out as warnings for anyone entering Grung territory, and a pack of nasty, carnivorous Ghouls feasting on the festering carcass of a stegosaurus. Steve K’s Rogue and Dan’s Halfling Paladin sneaked up on them, but Dan was discovered, attacked and knocked unconscious. Thinking he was about to die, Dan tore up his character sheet in a fit of pique (also known as a tantrum for adults), only to find out the rest of the party caught up and saved him. Time to write out that character sheet again… 

The party discovered an improvised ruin (just because), where several characters were overcome with an enticing Yellow Musk Creeper’s scent, and battled the plant and a number of Yellow Musk Zombies. Steve K’s Rogue made the worst series of saving throws in gaming history, leading to him standing around for most of the battle… Downstairs, in the murky darkness of the natural tunnels where jungle roots grew through the ceiling and provided nice monster hiding places, the party was attacked from above by several albino Su Monsters. Afterwards, theyalmost fell in quicksand and found a room where gravity reversed every few rounds. Across the room: a plinth with a mysterious, darkness-enshrouded crystal. Eventually, William’s Lizardborn Druid changed into a Giant Wolf Spider and traversed the walls with Dan’s Halfling Paladin roped to his back. The crystal was taken as Indiana Jones theme music played in the background.   

Week 5

This week Courtney (remember her from a couple of weeks in Curse of Strahd?) returned to the party as a Tiefling Warlock. After her party was wiped out in the steaming jungles of Chult, she stumbled upon the ruin where the party were camping. Having just lost Aron, the Wizard (his wife changed shifts and called him home, so he was teleported out…), they gladly accepted the Warlock replacement, no questions asked (as you do in the steamy jungles of Chult). Davor’s Ranger returned from a long kip, ready for action and experience points.

The mysterious crystal rock was a Reversal Stone from the plane of homebrew, which could be thrown 30 feet to create an area of reverse gravity. But how many times could it be used? “Bwah ha ha,” cackled the DM.

The party set off the next morning for Dungrunglunglunglunglung. On the edge of a valley overlooking the village, they discovered it was surrounded by an everchanging maze. They decided to wait for a hunting party to ambush. Unfortunately, Dan’s halfling paladin proved to be a hopeless shot with the reversal stone, only capturing five of the Grung hunting party in the reverse gravity field. The rest of the party fought another five Grungs, while Daniel’s Bard showed her true colours as a serial killer, eater and destroyer of all things remotely human or unhuman, by eviscerating most of the floating Grungs with several cloud of daggers spells, while performing The First Cut is The Deepest for them (they clapped as they died).  

In the meantime, the commotion attracted a number of Zombies, which the party also dispatched. The rest of the Grungs, seeing the gruesome handiwork of the Bard, decided to hightail it to the village, despite the valiant efforts of Mark’s Cleric to attempt to capture the leader using an illusion through which he could cast charm person (fail x 2!).

The party managed to capture one Grung, who revealed good old King Groak was a bit crazy and wanted to get it on with Nang Nang, the Grung’s goddess. There was another Grung called Rhoark who might help them overthrow the king. Meanwhile the Grung’s expletive-filled pleading for his life revealed a tower in the jungle called Firefinger, where a magic item resided that might help the party.

Back to the ruin for a long rest, then back to the overlook at Dungrunglung. The party were attacked by twelve Pteradons, then a huge swarm of Grungs with more trained pteradons. The party surrendered, chatted to Rhoark and persuaded him to help overthrow mad king Groak. The party were taken through the maze into the village, kept in the prisoner’s cage, and then released by the village’s Cleric so they can take on the king and his five bodyguards…

Next week: Role reversal, or floor reversal? I have a feeling the new magic item will be used again…  

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Recycle Me. A poem.

I, the scrap,
On a detritus field
Of tumbledown moments.
I, the waste,
Along with the stains
And bitter reprieves.
I, the torn,
Of paper cut truths
And angst-worthy solemnity.

I, the scrap
Rusted, bent, broken
And, finally, discarded.

Recycle me,
But without
The endless drama,
Bad decisions
And bitter irony.

So, I may
Be of use

Finally.

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.

Salt Mine. A poem.

My salt mine
Is mine and mine alone
I’ll mine this salt
For all its worth
For it’s mine and mine alone
If I am worth my salt
If it’s all mine and mine alone
I’ll mine this salt
Until I’m done
With my salt mine

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.

Slip. A haiku.

Slip the knife in there,
Just between my ribs and soul.
Makes you feel good, eh?

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.

Black Dog Abyss. A poem.

When hope is lost –
Flushed, like paradise
Down a whirlpool
Of hyperbole

I embrace the coming
Riptide, let it drown me
In consequence
And swallow me whole.

“Back again,” I think,
As the undercurrent
Draws me down
Into my circuitous
Black dog abyss.

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.

Tomb of Annihilation: Weeks 2-3

Hi all,

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 2

The party was joined this week by Aron, playing a human wizard with a penchant for charm and magic missile spells.

Underneath the dark, humid streets of Port Nyanzaru, the party faced off against the deinonychus that sliced up their companion last week, and killed it. They then charmed two thieves, who led them straight to their den and boss. After some amazing performances by Daniel’s female Bard and Dan’s halfling Paladin from an improvised stage above crates of stolen goods, the thieves were dispatched (Steve K’s Rogue decided to burn the head of one in a brazier, just because). All the goody two shoes decided to return the stolen goods (but got some rations and a discount at the markets for their trouble). Taking the thieves’ leader to the local coppers didn’t help as they were apparently corrupt, releasing the leader not long afterwards. Doh!

The next day, the party slept in until 11:00, and was up just in time for the weekly dinosaur races. Dan’s Paladin rode an immature Tyrannosaurus to victory (for piddling returns – it was the favourite), and Mark’s Cleric managed to gamble all of his GPs away (very much in character). Stocking up on supplies, the party headed off into the jungle the next day with their guide Hew Hackinstone in the lead.

Rain is a regular thing in Chult, as was diarrhoea and vomiting for Davor’s Ranger, who had gone swimming in sewer crap a few days before. He slowed the party down to a crawl for two days as he recovered. On the way the party escaped a herd of fleeing hadrosaurs and fought pursuing velociraptors, and later came across two plesiosaurs which caused much angst as PCs were knocked unconscious left and right. No fear, dried plesiosaur jerky all round!

Week 3

The party was captured by Batiri Goblins during the night, and marched for several days to Yellyark, their camp, which was hooked up to a big net and a bent tree so that it could be flung away from the site in times of trouble. Davor’s Ranger, who hated Goblins but bit his tongue while translating, spoke to the Queen of the tribe. Queen Grabstab made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: travel to the Grung village of Dunggrunglunglunglunglunglunglung and assassinate the Grung King Groak, and she would provide guides to lost Orolunga, where a Guardian Naga would “help you find what you seek”.

Hew Hackinstone knew where the Grung village was located and led the party back across the river, where the party battled Jaculi (jumping snakes), Mantraps (large venus flytrap-like plants) and some hungry Allosaurs, before arriving at Camp Righteous, a deserted Order of the Gauntlet camp near a temple called the House of Man and Crocodile. Hew explained the legend of the man and the crocodile, which might impart some clues as to how to deal with the death traps within. The party promptly ignored this, of course.

Inside the temple, Steve K’s Rogue decided to do his Rogue thing of checking for traps, then almost fell into a pit trap. Further inside: deadly swinging blades. Daniel’s Bard went out by herself, ripped up massive supporting tent poles and brought them back to chock up some of the blades, while the rest of the part stood around watching. William’s Lizardman Druid shape-changed into a giant owl and flew past the top of the blades, over a magically trapped floor, got zapped by a magically-trapped door, found his way in, flew to the top of a column with magically trapped stairs, grabbed the jug of alchemy resting there, dodged the falling roof and flew out. Meanwhile Dan’s halfling Paladin made it through the blades to the edge of the trapped floor, just in time for the giant owl to grab him and return to the party.

Next Week: (And, yes, later on I realized William’s Druid should not have been able to change to a flying beast at that level – I guess the gods smiled on him. Doh!). The rest of the trip to Dungrunglung-lung-lunglung-lung-lung, deep in the territory of the undead…

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Free Fantasy Map – Mesa Bridges

This map comes in grid and grid-less versions ideal for tabletop or Roll20/Fantasy Grounds!

Mesa Bridges

A valley between mountains and within: a number of high mesas connected by rope bridges. Someone lives on one of the mesas at the center, high above a number of deep, chasm-like tunnels below. What lurks on the valley floor and below it? And what does the lone hermit have to do it? Are they mind-controlling purple worms? Or protecting the world from the threat that lies beneath them? That’s up to you…

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

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

Game On!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Memories Lost. A poem.

Thoughts desiccating,
Like snow on afternoon tarmac;
Turning elegant meridians
Into mist.

An inelegant design,
Fractured by uncertainty
And regret
And all left to chance.

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.

Free Fantasy Map – Field Hospital

You can use this cool map for your tabletop or Roll20/Fantasy Grounds.

Field Hospital

War is hell! But you need to patch your troops up somewhere and this ramshackle M.A.S.H-style Field Hospital includes trenches, tents and an underground bunker. Maybe the bunker has been sealed off because the officers there were killed in a magical assault. Now their spirits prevent anyone accessing the documents in the Colonel’s chest in the back of the bunker. Sounds like you might need a party to recover it…

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

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

Game On!

Steve 😊

For more Laidback DM posts,click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG

Escape Book. A poem.

Texture and scent;
Wafting, consoling.
Old friend on empty nights,
When time and tide have made
A joke of sudden pretence.

When every tiny sliver of doubt
Is a tear working
The stone of your heart –
Slow and condescending
Erosion of the subtle kind.

The book takes you away
From blithe thoughts of bitterness,
The feel and the pulse,
An escape from all
You would despise.

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.

Tomb of Annihilation: Week 1

Hi all,

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

Game on!

Steve 🙂

Week 1

The PCs

The new party is all 1st level and consists of D&D Wednesday regulars:

  • Mark – with a rotund and boisterous Human Cleric (“Ho ho ho!”)
  • Steve – with a devilishly evil Human Rogue (“Come to the dark side, Luke…”)
  • William – with a quiet and well-spoken Lizardman Druid with local knowledge of Port Nyanzaru (“That’s Lizard Folk. We’re not sexist or racist here,” I said.)
  • Dan – with a good looking, performing, Halfling Paladin (who goes out of his way to try to chat up the ladies. Okay, maybe Dan’s sexist.)
  • James – with a vigilante Tiefling Warlock (whose partner was killed only 2 weeks from retirement.)

Plus newcomers:

  • Davor – with an outspoken Human Ranger (“I choose the guide that looks like Zoe Saldana!”)
  • Daniel – with a female Half-Elven Bard (who prefers females and who’s performance roll beat the halfling paladin at open-mike night at the inn)
  • Morgan – with a Dwarven Ranger who mysteriously knows all about jungle terrain (even though he’s never been to Chult before…)

The Story

Summoned to the home of archmage Syndra Silvane, the PCs learned that souls are being stolen by a magical device called the Soul Monger, based somewhere in the steaming jungles of Chult. People who had been raised from the dead were dying, and no one who died recently could be revived.

The PCs were teleported to Port Nyanzaru, where they got a taste of the local culture and made some purchases at one of the local bazaars. Dinosaurs were used as pack animals, there were regular weekly Dinosaur races (one due the next day) and the city was a melting pot for trading races from around the world.

The party met a bunch of guides at the inn they were staying at, and after much discussion voted to employ one-armed Dwarven guide Hew Hackinstone. Hew claimed to be the greatest guide ever, so hopefully they would get where they were supposed to go (he was a bit sparing on the details, though…).

That night, as everyone slept at one of the local inn, William’s Druid awoke to find a thief scarpering with Davor’s Ranger’s haversack. The race was on, except for Dan’s halfling, who stayed at the more expensive hotel across the road. He played soothing chase music out the window… Mark’s Cleric decided to stay behind to look after the baggage in the room. Then the door opened, another thief entered, and Mark’s Cleric charmed him.

After a line up at a manhole round the corner, Daniel’s Bard jumped down the 20 feet to land on Steve’s Rogue, still climbing down the ladder. They both fell, with Daniel’s Bard deciding to return to the inn as she was too wounded to continue. Davor’s Ranger leapt into the sewer water to overtake the PCs’ line-up (the perils of a large party in confined spaces) and was immediately swamped with a swarm of rats.

Meanwhile, Mark’s Cleric has been happily chatting with the charmed thief. Daniel’s Bard returned and promptly skewered the thief. Dan’s halfling came across to see what the commotion was all about. Daniel’s Bard realized she had cure light wounds all along, healed herself and everyone headed to the sewers. 

Meanwhile, in the sewers, James’ Tiefling scared the crap out of Steve’s rogue (who was pretending to get friendly with the runaway thief so they could take him to their leader. Morgan’s Ranger and Davor’s Ranger finished off the rats, then continued on by jumping the perilous two feet of rat-filled water and running ahead. James’ Warlock faced off against the thieves’ pet Deinonychus and was promptly torn limb from limb (sorry, dude – Raise Dead doesn’t work any more). Davor’s and Morgan’s Rangers peppered the dino with arrows from the other side of the channel, but it headed for Steve’s Rogue who hid around the corner so he could backstab it. Davor’s Ranger fought another thief, the one controlling the dinosaur…

The moral to this story? Don’t split your 1st level party up so soon…

Next: Does Davor’s Ranger get his backpack back? Does Mark’s Cleric chastise Daniel’s Bard for killing his conversational partner in cold blood?

For more Laidback DM, click here.

For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.

Laidback DM products at DrivethruRPG
%d bloggers like this: