First Meet. A poem.

Audacious, the old me would have said,
To fly so straight and true,
Like an arrow knocked and loosed
To sail into the air above the heads
Of warring knights and daring do,
To find it’s mark in the heart of hearts,
The tree of chance that lies in you.

No mysticism here, without/within,
To charge a sense of fertile whim,
No voodoo dance upon a grave,
No flight of fancy, or too close a shave.

Just an unsure step in the midst of things,
A minefield of broken hearts and cherubic thoughts,
Of misdemeanours, tales of woe
All heaped and gorged upon, just so.
An all-you-can-eat bonanza
Of insecurity and misanthropes.

How are you, it’s nice to meet. Would you like a coffee,
Maybe something to eat?

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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Footsteps Away. A poem.

I walk through the dark,
The sound of my feet echoing
Through the empty streets.
The dog stops and sniffs,
A victim of instinct,
circumstantial scents
and sense.

In the distance,
The thump of a kick drum—
Faster than my heart beat,
But just as reassuringly present.
Occasional passers by
Nod their heads or not,
Their shadows passing
Like uncommitted storm fronts.

Past restaurants where diners
Make faces in pantomime;
Charades played between lovers,
Long time friends
And new acquaintances.

This walk and sidewalk
Has seen better days,
The patterns laid down
For all to miss and misplace
In the quiet solitude,
As ostentatious fervour plays out
Just footsteps away.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Trading Places

During long campaigns, some players might not turn up for sessions, some might retire, new players will join. There are good reasons for changes in your ongoing cast—work and family commitments, sports, meetings and significant events in peoples’ lives. And some players just move on because your game might not be what they’re looking for.

So, what can you as a DM, do to prevent players from dropping out of your game or to cover short-term absences?

  • Accept that some things are outside your control. Don’t stress unnecessarily about it.
  • Get feedback from your players. Ask them what they like and don’t like about the games you run. Take the feedback on board and use it constructively.
  • Have you picked up the signals being given off by your players? Boredom, non-game-related cell phone usage, missing sessions for no reason? Ask the player if they’re okay. Ask them what you can do to re-engage them with the game. What type of game do they prefer? Work with your players to make the campaign one you all want to play.
  • If a player has real life reasons why they can’t attend, work with them by making it part of the story. Maybe the PC goes off to a monastery to study and only joins the party once ever four adventures. I have a standing rule that if a PC drops out for a short period they can drop back in anytime—when they turn up the party comes up with a story reason for why the PC was absent from the earlier part of the adventure.
  • Use Milestones for PC advancement rather than Experience Points. That way all PCs stay the same level, whether they are there or absent from sessions. The other players will understand because there will be times when they’re absent as well.
  • Treat everyone equally and even-handedly and don’t play favourites.

And hopefully you’ll have less player movement. Or at least you’ll be more prepared for when it happens.

Game on!

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

Enfilade. A poem.

The enfilade is over
And bodies lie strewn
Across the battlefield
Like broken bottles
Leaking last regrets

You have cut me down
Your machine gun wit
And explosive rejoinders
Creating a no man’s land
Where I lie fractured.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Influence. A poem.

I have read your words
And seen my influence

My mind is contours of constancy
Of riotous colour and ascendancy
My words spill across the canvas
Every emotion eagerly revealed
A zeitgeist for you to watch
And absorb and capture
Like a winsome butterfly

You take these pieces of me
And make them yours

But I am not bitter
I am a proud father
For a little part of me
Like strands of encoded DNA
And mental prevarication
Is birthed and lives on
In everything
You write

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

I Live. A poem.

I live

         Amongst

                          Serrated tongues

                          And plastic

                         Hearts

                                                      Amongst

                         The detritus

                         Of bitter

                        meaning

And

                        Forlorn hopes

I live

          Because

                       I can

                                And will

                     Always

I live

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Hole. A poem.

The hole stares back at me,
A great, unblinking eye
That will not let me be.
The hole is black as pitch
And filled with pain and lies,
Every scar and every stitch.
The hole it draws me in,
Inescapable gravity,
A match I cannot win.
The hole encloses me
And I am down again
Never to be free.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Life, Finally. A poem.

My wanderings,
part of me, intrinsically.
My wonderings,
ostensibly necessary.
My heart and head,
as one, not separately.
My head and heart,
all I need, invariably.

My turns of phrase
never lead me astray.
My phrasing, beguiling,
when it turns that way.
My life is finally, where I
want and need to be.
My life, the sum, is the
worst and best of me.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Curse of the Weeping Woman. A movie review.

The Curse of La Llorona, or The Curse of the Weeping Woman as it’s called for Australian release, is an okay horror movie that does its best to scare you with a rejigged ghost story that’s fun to watch but fairly shallow and somewhat forgettable.

I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, as I tend to compare them to my fave, The Grudge, which was actually scary. It’s not often that I’m surprised by a horror genre flick, and The Curse of the Weeping Woman is no exception. Sure, there are a few jump scares (okay, I jumped once), but this ‘ghost coming for your children’ story seems a bit old hat, and not just because it’s set in 1973.

The actors are good—the mother and kids are especially great at displaying fear and shock. The practical effects are effective and it’s only when the director decided to use CGI at the end that the effects suffer.

This movie is loosely part of The Conjuring universe, although you don’t need to be a fan of that series to see this one. The Curse of the Weeping Woman is an okay horror movie, which Conjuring completists may enjoy more.

Rating: C (Conjuring fans C+)

For more Movie Buff ‘n Stuff, click here.

The Search. A poem.

I have yet to find
The erstwhile substance,
The peace of mind,
Free from nomenclature
And chilled regrets.

The ice upon my lake,
Covered in spider filigree
And waiting to consume
Me with every overly
Anxious step.

My navigation clears,
The further I go,
But slow-witted overtures
And death-defy requests fall
On ears long since deaf.

The search goes on,
The snow ever deepens.
Each footstep harder
In this trackless realm of
possibilities and deep unrest.

But still I seek,
Still I yearn alone,
And eventually I will find
The one true love that will
forever free my head.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Leash. A poem.

A vague and secondary feeling
Unkempt and untrusting
Creeping through my head
Like an uninvited stranger
And yet so familiar

Just as I’m feeling good
about myself and my world
The black dog bites me
A subtle reminder
Of his taut, choking leash

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Bad Memories. A poem.

You still haunt
An incorrigible spirit
Infecting like
a wasting disease
And reducing us
To a mockery
of ourselves.

Here you sit
Having grown
Complacent
Upon our shoulders
A ghostly monkey
Upon our backs
Rearing your ugly head
In constant remembrance
And bitter scorn.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Creator’s Call. A poem.

The call of creation
Echoes in my mind,
Oscillates in my ears,
Reverberates in my soul.

This call cannot go unanswered;
It is the call of wild and reckless abandon,
The puissant grace of the cheetah
And the wind rustling the reeds.
Every word and image
Cast upon the page
and melded with my very heart,
Pumping lifeblood and illuminating
Each and every star above,
Pouring into every single
Excruciatingly luxurious ink stroke.

The overwhelming grace
That You have given me
Is clarity beyond simple hope,
And a new day
Every day.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Trapped. A poem.

Isolated
Alone
Weary
Waiting

Life without meaning
Contemptible in reproach
Self flagellation
And inimitable doubt

Tired
Empty
Sad
Succinct

Selfish and self-absorbed
Mired and wallowing
The constant reprobate
Entwined and enshrined

Endless
Pitiful
Artless
Vacuous

Circling down the drain
Longing for escape
Dead thoughts and dead time
Grasping for hope

Longing for an end
In a world without end

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Cast. A poem.

Line cast before the storm,
Sent and received
Let waters churn
Offer up your burdens
And your soothing grace
So that the tide might carry
All concerns beyond
This harbour’s boundaries
And out into the wide
And yearning sea.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Invisible. A poem.

Sometimes, I feel invisible,
someone the crowd will never see.
The collective and the individual
residing here inside of me.

Sometimes, I feel invisible,
my words a faint reprieve.
Their subtlety and subtext,
misconstrued and unperceived.

Sometimes, I feel invisible,
no recognition behind her eyes,
to signify a reminder of
a long, overdue goodbye.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Rosella

I like to think I’m a bit of a photographer (that’s just the upstart in me). I also like to think I’m a bit of a poet (also the upstart). Let’s put them both together, shall we?

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Rosella. A poem.

At rest, before play,
Amongst a forest of chair trees
And table islands where
The highlights play upon
Your brilliant rainbow sheen.
Timidity gone, consumed
By time and overtures,
A domesticated flood
Of wary travellers
And after dinner mints.
“I’ll just rest here awhile,”
You think, before the
Busy tread of holidaying feet;
The rush hour cacophony
Of the morning tourist trade
And breakfast at the bar
.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Overkill. A poem.

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Recollection. A poem.

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Reach You. A poem.

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Have Merc(er)y on Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

For more Laidback DM, click here.

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

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Rebirth. A poem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

A Duel. A poem.

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

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Due Date. A poem.

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

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

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Upstart Photographer – Nightwalk

Photos and poems. I never tire of them.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Nightwalk. A poem.

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Alike. A poem.

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Rose Garden. A poem.

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Abstinence. A poem.

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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

Hi all!

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

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

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Airport Carpark. A poem.

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

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

.

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

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Elixir. A poem.

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Perilous Logic. A poem.

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Steve 🙂

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Aged. A poem.

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Fences. A poem.

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

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

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

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Code. A poem.

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

poetry books - stevestillstanding

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

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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