Welcome to DNAphil.com

You have found the online home of Phil Vecchione (aka DNAphil).

I am an Author, Game Master, Project Manager, and owner of Encoded Designs.

Here you can find out more about me and my writings, as well as the other places online where I spend my time. If you want to know more about Encoded Designs, follow the link for more information.

Parkinson's law.: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. — Unknown author

Online Writings

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Making some custom index cards for GenCon. Come find me for a limited edition index card. 7/28/15 - 1 [...]
Tue, Jul 28, 2015
Source: Google +
Gen Con StuffSo next week is Gen Con. In the past, on Gnome Stew, I use to let the community pick out something for me to review. I had to stop doing that, because reviews are time consuming to do well. I still want to try to do something for the community, especially for those who are not going to be attending.So if you have something you want me to check up on, check out, etc, let me know in the comments. I will do what I can to try to find out answers for you, and I will try [...]
Sat, Jul 25, 2015
Source: Google +
Sprint 003 is up!Forget the fact that Gen Con is days away and that +Encoded Designs has been working feverishly on Con prep, we also got the latest Sprint of Cybertek out the door, in time for playtesting tomorrow. Included in this Sprint are the following: --Rules for SimStim--Rules for SkillChips--Rules for Computers/AI as gear--Initiative system using the Deck of Fate--Plus a few things we cleaned up from previous sprintsDownload a copy, take a scan, and give us any feedback you have. Cybertek_sprint003.pdf.pdf - Google Drive [...]
Sat, Jul 25, 2015
Source: Google +
Phil Vecchione @DNAphil Gen Con prep finishing. Playtesting this weekend. Encoded Shirts are in. PTGoF books are arriving for KS backers. Whew! #progress [...]
Fri, Jul 24, 2015
Source: Twitter

Gnome Stew




If you want to contact me, please use the form below. I look forward to your messages and will respond as fast as possible.





philinparisI was born in Mt. Vernon NY, and spent my childhood in Putnam County, NY, specifically the town of Carmel, NY. My parents divorced when I was young and both remarried, for the better, during my youth. I graduated from high school in 1990 with dreams of going into biological weapons research. To that end, I attended Brockport State and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1994. During those four years my desire to create weapons of mass destruction subsided and a desire to do research and teach emerged.

I was accepted into the PhD program for Biochemical Pharmacology at the University of Buffalo. Three years into my pursuit of a PhD, my focus on pure research waned. I found myself more interested in running and maintaining the computers in the lab than I did with splicing genes. I left the university before completing my thesis and entered the IT/IS field doing clinical trials data management, combining my knowledge of science and my interest in computers.

Over the years my career has morphed, grown, and re-invented itself. I went from data management to programming to corporate analysis to project management. Today, my science background is mostly a footnote, but I have come full circle and returned to higher education as an IT project manager for the State University of New York.

RPGs and Game Mastering

1981 was not the easiest year, but would be one of the most pivotal of my life. My mother and I had moved back to NY after living with my grandparents in Dallas, TX for a year. Shortly after returning, my mother met my future step-father (my Dad). At the same time we had lost our place to live, and had to move in with one of my mother’s friends. This friend was a divorced mother of two children. The older child, Patrick, was a few years older than me and had been playing Dungeons & Dragons with his neighborhood friends. He introduced me to the game, which quickly became one of the largest passions in my life.

philwithgarygygaxI started playing the Moldvay edition of D&D and never stopped. My childhood is full of memories of me on the floor with graph paper and pencils mapping out new dungeons or starship deckplans. It has been the focal point of all the lasting friendships I have made during my life.

Early on in my gaming career, I became the Game Master, often by default, as my other friends did not relish the position. Over time I came to appreciate the role and by the 90s, after reading the Amber: Diceless Roleplaying Game, my understanding of the role deepened, and I began to seriously hone my skills, which included learning about group dynamics, game theory, writing, and storytelling. All these things would help me in my future careers as a project manager and author.

I have over the years played many different types of RPGs like an avid reader explores different genres and authors. I like to say that I am system promiscuous, rarely playing the same system more than once. What I gave up in system mastery has been made up for in diversity of experience. Having played so many different systems has had a direct effect on how I GM, as I have numerous points of views and styles from which I evolved my own. That evolution has led me from being a structured GM presenting complex stories, to more of an ad lib GM who presents challenges and plays off the players to create the story as a group activity.


I have always had an interest in writing. The earliest occurrence was when I was 10 years old, writing my own comic strips and comic books at school. I was a writer and editor of my middle school newspaper, and I took creative writing classes in high school. I wrote mostly short stories and poems. By college my writing was a lot less creative and consisted more of research papers and lab reports.

It was not until years later when blogging became popular did I once again consider writing as a hobby. For a few years I tinkered around with some personal blogs and the occasional guest post, but nothing with any solid following.However, it was enough to attract the attention of Martin Ralya who was putting together a new RPG blog called Gnome Stew.

In 2008, I was one of the founding authors for Gnome Stew – The Game Mastering Blog. Over the years I have written articles on GMing advice, session preparation, campaign management, interviews with game designers, and reviews. The success of Gnome Stew led to the foundation of Gnome Stew’s publishing company, Engine Publishing, in 2010. You can see the books I published under Engine in the Published Works section.

Today, I have a renewed interest in the craft of writing and find myself writing more and more each day. While these days my writing has been mostly focused on Game Mastering advice, I am looking to expand that into fiction in the near future.

Project Manager

philprojectmanagerMy mother would tell you that the roots of my project management career started in kindergarten when I was the director of the class play, The Billy Goats Gruff. From there I have always wound up leading various groups, including the above mentioned game mastering. Perhaps it was natural that at some point I would gravitate to a career that involves planning, coordination, and leadership.

I am an IT project manager for the State University of New York, where I run projects developing new IT services and enhancing existing services. Outside of the office, I have done project management for the larger books by Engine Publishing, Eureka and Masks, working with large groups of writers, artists, and editors around the globe. I have also lent my skills for planning and coordination to the convention organizers for Buffalo, NY’s own Queen City Conquest, helping to plan their 2013 gaming convention.

Family Life

thecoupleI am happily married to a wonderful woman who has been a great supporter of my gaming and my writing. She is not a gamer herself, but she did try out some gaming when we were dating, and attended a few conventions. While she no longer games, she is my go-to source of inspiration when I need fresh ideas or a weak idea needs some bolstering. From time to time she is my editor as well, one of a number of editors who keep my raw text from reaching the public.

We have two wonderful children, a son and daughter who are both on the Autism Spectrum. We are supporters of the ABA method and have had fantastic results with both our children. Our son, is now mainstreamed in elementary school, has achieved a red belt rank in Tae Kwon Do, and is an avid boardgamer. Our daughter, has graduated pre-school and is making great strides towards being mainstreamed. While raising our children and supporting and advocating for their special needs has been hard work for my wife and I, it has rooted us as a family and has given us great strength as a unit.

What does DNAphil mean?

The nickname DNAphil came about when I was a graduate student in Biochemical Pharmacology, involving a mis-labeled box of plant DNA samples. The nickname was kind of silly, and not that funny, but as with many things, timing is everything, and that mis-labeled box became my nickname in the lab. At about the same time as my labmates were calling me DNAphil, Yahoo! Mail was becoming the in thing, and everyone was getting accounts. While registering for mine, I dnaphil320did not want a generic name like phil9352, so I chose to use DNAphil. After all, I was studying Molecular Biology, and I had always had a fascination with DNA, with its shape, with its ability to store and transmit genetic information, and its ability to control the flow of that information. It seemed like a good idea at the time, which is what many say about ill-conceived tattoos.

Grad school did not work out the way I thought it would, but for a while I kept working in the area of clinical data management and programming, still in the sciences. I kept the Yahoo! account, and as the internet started to expand, I started to use DNAphil for my account name in different forums and discussion boards. Over time, DNAphil cemented and became my online persona.

With grad school long behind me, most of my scientific knowledge fading, and my career no longer in the pharmaceutical industry, the moniker DNAphil has become less and less relevant to who I am. Yet, the internet does not forget, and many people know me by DNAphil, so dropping the handle would not be feasible. I put some thought into how I might re-invent the DNAphil name and image, I came upon an idea…

Gaming is in my DNA.

I have been gaming longer than anything else I have done in my life. It is still my greatest passion, and it is the focus for my writing. Now that I have had children, and they are starting to take up a passion for boardgaming, I am sure that some of my gaming genes have been passed down. So DNAphil will continue on.


Published Works

Below are my published works in the form of books, games,  articles and blog.



Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

cover-unframed Engine Publishing 2014

Contributor – Hitting Rock Bottom 


Gold Seller at DriveThruRPG.com

More Info At Engine Publishing 







Dangerous Space Jail

Thumbnail for Drive ThruEncoded Designs 2014


Copper Seller at DriveThruRPG.com

More Info At DriveThruRPG 







Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide To Campaign Management

odyssey.indbEngine Publishing 2013

Phil Vecchione and Walt Ciechanowski


Gold Seller at DriveThruRPG.com

More Info At Engine Publishing

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide To Session Prep

never-unprepared-cover-450wEngine Publishing 2012

Phil Vecchione


Nominated 2012 Golden Geek Award

Nominated 2013 Origins Award

Nominated 2013 ENnie Awards (Best Writing)

Platinum Seller at DriveThruRPG.com

More Info At Engine Publishing


Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPC’s for any Role Playing Game

masks-front500Engine Publishing 2011

Co-Author with the Writers of Gnome Stew


Ennie Gold 2012

Nominated 2012 Golden Geek Award

Platinum Seller at DriveThruRPG.com

More Info At Engine Publishing


Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters

eureka-coverEngine Publishing 2010

Co-Author with the Writers of Gnome Stew

Platinum Seller at DriveThruRPG.com


More Info At Engine Publishing


Open Game Table: The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs, Vol.2

Open-Game-TableOpen Game Table 2010
Johnathan Jacobs (Editor)

An anthology of RPG blog articles. Articles included:

Story Pacing, The Chris Carter Way

More Info At Amazon


GM-FU: Session Prep

gmfuTabletop Adventures 2008

A handout from a Gen Con workshop I gave with Vicki Potter, and Philippe Menard, in 2008.

More Info At DriveThruRPG



Shaintar Guidebook: Goblinesh Gathers139298-thumb140

Evil Beagle Games

Savage Worlds


More Info at DriveThruRPG






Minions of the Source

MotSCover3egstoreThird Eye Games 2014

Part-Time Gods


More Info at Third Eye Games







Return of Dragons

PTG-ReturnofDragonsCover3egThird Eye Games 2014

Part-Time Gods


More Info at Third Eye Games








Momentum Dice


Fate Codex – Volume 1, Issue 4

Magpie Game

More Info at Magpie Games








Tools, Companions, and Gods – Using Computers in your SciFi Game


Tsunami Quarterly Review Issue #7

PT Publishing 2013

More Info At DriveThruRPG







Be An Interesting Player

tsunamiquarterlyTsunami Quarterly Review Issue #2

PT Publishing 2013

More Info At DriveThruRPG


Gone Digital

savageinsiderSavage Insider Issue #8: Technology at the Table

Mystical Throne Entertainment 2013

More Info At DriveThruRPG




Gnome Stew – The Game Mastering Blog




ENnie 2010 -Silver

ENnie 2011- Silver

ENnie 2012 -Gold

ENnie 2013 – Gold (Best Blog and Best Website)

Stuffer Shack – Site of the Year 2013

ENnie 2014 – Gold