Welcome to DNAphil.com
You have found the online home of Phil Vecchione (aka DNAphil).
I am an Author, Game Master, and Project Manager.
Here you can find out more about me and my writings, as well as the other places online where I spend my time.
Once a new technology starts rolling, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road. — Stewart Brand
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I 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.
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.
I 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.
My 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.
I 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.
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 did 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.
Below are my published works in the form of books, articles and blog.
Phil Vecchione and Walt Ciechanowski
Nominated 2012 Golden Geek Award
Nominated 2013 Origins Award
Platinum Seller DriveThruRPG.com
Co-Author with the Writers of Gnome Stew
Ennie Gold 2012
Nominated 2012 Golden Geek Award
Co-Author with the Writers of Gnome Stew
An anthology of RPG blog articles. Articles included:
Story Pacing, The Chris Carter Way
A handout from a Gen Con workshop I gave with Vicki Potter, and Philippe Menard, in 2008.
PT Publishing 2013
Mystical Throne Entertainment 2013
Ennie 2010 -Silver
Ennie 2011- Silver
Ennie 2012 -Gold
Stuffer Shack – Site of the Year 2013