About / Contact

About me: My name is Michael Iachini.  I’m a 30-something gamer living in Colorado with my wife Barbara and our four cats.  When I’m not playing and blogging about Dungeons and Dragons, I work in finance and enjoy traveling, golfing (badly), skiing (even worse) and playing board games (I’m not so bad at that).

I’m also a board and card game designer, under the Clay Crucible Games label. My first game, a quick-play card and dice game called Chaos & Alchemy, was launched in a small print run in 2012 and will be coming soon in an upgraded version from Game Salute. My second game, Alchemy Bazaar, is under active development.

Contact: You can always leave comments on the blog (I love those!) or send me an email at OnlineDungeonMaster@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Twitter as ClayCrucible.

Michael Iachini, the OnlineDM himself, wearing an awesome Chaos & Alchemy T-shirt

40 thoughts on “About / Contact

    • Awesome! I’d love to get in on that beta. I’ll definitely try out the Virtual Table when I get the opportunity to do so. I love MapTool, of course, but if the Virtual Table turns out to be better I’ll be happy to switch.

  1. Hey, I was looking at your blog and noticing you had experience with MapTools. I was just curious what you did for visual aids. I currently use Fantasy Grounds 2, but we find it kinda buggy and were thinking of switching. One thing I do like though is being able to have a library of images and flash a couple up during the game.

    • If I have an image I want my players to be able to see, I simply put it in a directory that I’ve mapped in MapTool and drag it to the tabletop. It’s extremely easy – I’ve done it on the fly many times.

      I haven’t tried Fantasy Grounds 2, but I know a lot of people like it. For me, though, I’ve been completely happy with MapTool, and since it’s free I’ve seen no reason to switch to anything else.

      If you need any assistance with MapTool, just let me know!

      • If I drag an image onto the tabletop it seems to show up as a token – and is very small. Is there a way to just drop an image onto the tabletop without resizing?

      • This, I can help you with. Before you drag the image to the tabletop, change the layer that you’re dragging it to from Token (the default) to Object or Background. On those layers, the image will be pulled onto the map at its native size, whereas on the Token layer it’s automatically resized to fit in one square.

  2. Ah… perfect. Do all the players need the repository before I can do this, or can it be on the fly from my archives?

  3. Yeah, I think I’m about due for one of those! Send me an email (onlinedungeonmaster@gmail.com) with information about when you’re available to play and what kind of character you might like, and we’ll go from there!

    • Yeah, I think the Microsoft Surface attempts are more promising for D&D just because of the size, but this is similar. I don’t know that it’s something I’d personally use (the projector’s fine for me), but I’d certainly love to try it out if anyone had a setup like this one!

  4. Michael,

    Thought you might be interested in this alternative take on online roleplaying:

    http://playconclave.com

    Not so much about enabling traditional live, GM-based roleplaying online, but rather about providing the cooperative, party-based roleplaying experience via an online game. Good for those of us who have trouble not only getting groups together in real life, but who also struggle to schedule sessions.

    • Nick,

      Yeah, this isn’t the sort of thing I’m particularly interested in. It’s an online role playing game in the vein of World of Warcraft and the like, not a game run by a DM/GM. I’m sure it’s loads of fun, but there’s a lot of that sort of thing online, and it’s not something that I have any expertise in.

      Michael

  5. Just wanted to say that your blog is fantastic! It’s been incredibly helpful and has been a big part in me realizing that I can still find a way to roleplay even with my hectic life. Your use of Maptools is great! I’ve started up a game using Facebook groups to do a faster play by post style, and trying to document my results as well in my blog.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jason – thanks for the kind words! I’m glad I’m able to inspire you to fit roleplaying into your busy life. Have fun!

  6. Hi there,

    I searched for you because I used your MHR framework, and was very impressed! It worked great for me and two others. This Saturday morning I’m planning to have five players.

    I’m going to check for any updates. I’m also curious if you have the Breakout game coded into a framework? If so, and are willing to share, that would save me a bunch of time making it up on my own.

    Again: Kudos on making a great framework! I look forward to any updates you make!

    Thanks,

    Pat Estes

    • Pat,

      Thank you for the kind words! I believe this makes you only the second person so far to have confirmed to me that you’re using my MapTool framework for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game. I’m glad it’s working for you and your players!

      I haven’t updated it since the second draft I posted, but I’m always open to feedback. Now that it’s built, it’s not too hard for me to change if changes are needed. I haven’t coded the Breakout scenario – I actually haven’t finished reading the Marvel RPG book! If I had done so, I would certainly be happy to share it; alas, I have not.

      If you end up putting together the characters for Breakout using my framework and would like to share the results here on the blog, please let me know – I’d be thrilled to post your work if you like!

      Michael the OnlineDM

      • Hi Michael,

        Ok, you asked for it! I’d like to see the dice roller create tokens representing the dice in a window or container. This would allow the players to move the “physical” dice around to represent the Total and the Effect Die right there on screen for everyone to see.

        Even more fantastic would be the ability to move those dice into areas called “total” and “effect” and have the program display the results. EX: The player rolls 2d6+2d10, and gets to keep 2 Total dice and 1 Effect Die. He puts a D10 into Effect, and 1d6 and 1d10 into the Total. Maptools displays the total of the D6 and D10 (say: 4&5 respectively) as a 9.

        On a smaller scale, I think the player macros window could be rearranged to put the more-used buttons up top. After a few more games I will try to give you feedback on which ones we all used the most.

        Thanks again,

        Pat

        • Pat-
          Wow, those are some cool ideas! They’re not that easy to implement, but they’re not impossible, either. I have some higher MapTool priorities right now, but I’d like to get to these one day, too.

          Thanks for the suggestions!

          Michael the OnlineDM

          • Hi Michael,

            Can you get in touch with me via the email I left here? I’d like to email you some feedback about our Maptools MHR game, and give some suggestions from the players.

            Thanks,

            Pat

  7. Hi Michael,

    I haven’t played a PnP/tabletop RPG in years, but stumbled upon your site and thought I’d ask you a question.

    Do you know of a service/company that uses some of the online tools (Maptools, Fantasy Grounds, etc.) that allow a group to have a DM and other players work solely through online? I am envisioning a service where you could pay a $10 monthly subscription fee and have a way to network to make a group of four, with a dedicated DM to meet once a week. Since the DM would be getting paid (and possibly running a number of groups on different schedules, all of high quality world building and freedom), theoretically this could be a great way for players to team up with a really good DM and a way for experienced DM’s to turn their skill and passion into extra money…?

    If this idea has already been done (or if the current tools have no way of accomplishing this), just let me know. After a few quick internet searches, I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for and figured I’d start here.

    Thanks!

    -James P.

    • James,

      It sounds like what you’re describing isn’t about the technology; it’s about the DM service. I haven’t heard of any DMs offering their services for money like that, neither in person nor online. I suppose it could work, but I would be surprised if anyone were willing to pay for it.

      The tools can handle this just fine, of course.

      Michael the OnlineDM

  8. Thanks for the reply, Michael!

    I was just thinking that often the obstacles to finding a good group is finding people who are willing to commit to a set time and schedule, the time investment of doing manual rolls for lots of checks and the quality of a good, motivated DM.

    If you have a service where people are paying, people are (financially) motivated to show up at scheduled times, so you would have a dedicated group. And while oftentimes online DMing is seen as an obstacle to overcome, with the right tools I’d imagine checks, inventory management, modifiers, etc. could be more easily handled in a computer environment. And if it were the DM’s job (either part time or possibly full time if the demand was high enough) to create great campaigns that were custom made around players and their characters, this could be a good enough service that someone who wanted the combination of all of these things could possibly pay for.

    I was just curious about your opinion on the concept and the technology available. Thanks!

    • James,

      Well my opinion is that the technology can definitely handle it, and I think it’s cool, but I’m guessing that players probably wouldn’t actually pay for it. But I would love to be proven wrong on that point!

      Michael the OnlineDM

  9. Hello,

    I have been trying to muddle my way through Maptool by myself, with no previous programming or macro experience, and you, sir, are a godsend. I can finally understand the jargon that had been so confusing. I wanted to thank you for being here, and supporting beginners like myself.

    Thanks!

  10. Was wondering if you knew the answer to my question…I’ve got macros set up on Maptool to roll dice so the players and I can see the results, but not the roll: [r:d20+4], etc. My problem is I keep forgeting crits! Especially when we are now at higher levels. Do you know of a way to set the macros so that either: I, the GM, can see the roll AND the result, but the players only see the result, or put something in the macro that says “Crit!” when a 20 (or 19 or 18, etc) is rolled? Thanks for the help and love the site…

    • Certainly! If you look at my MapTool Macros page, you’ll see several macros that do exactly this (look for a crit and let you know about it).

      The key is to store the result of your d20 roll as a variable:

      [h: d20roll=d20]

      And then check later to see if it was a crit:

      Result=[r: d20roll+4]
      [if(d20roll==20), CODE:
      {–CRITICAL HIT–};
      {Just a regular hit.}
      ]

      I hope this helps!

      -Michael the OnlineDM

  11. I’ve been trying to get into a steady online D&D group. I’ve started a few campaigns but they usually go dead after a couple months. I have tried searching the internet, but while many groups have websites, the inactivity seems be a common aspect. I was wondering if perhaps you knew a place that had active players for a beginner. I say beginner because as mentioned I never completed a campaign due to the group ending. Any help to get into D&D would be great. I really would like to play online.

    • Well, I can tell you what worked for me. I went onto the forums at EN World and got involved in a thread where people talked about wanting to play D&D online. No one else volunteered to DM, so I stepped up! I ended up running that game for almost two years before I had to wind it down (I moved into board game design and had very little time for D&D).

      It’s mostly about finding a dedicated person to run the game, I think. Maybe you could be that person! I had barely any experience as a DM when I started, and it all turned out really well. I say take the plunge!

      Good luck!

      Michael the OnlineDM

  12. Is there a site I can go to find active campaigns? It’s very difficult to find active D&D campaigns. It’d be great if ther was a site someone could go to to find a campaign to join.

  13. Hey,

    I was hoping to get an opinion on something.

    So my group and I have been having a little bit of back and forth on when Shroud of Warning kicks in (Invoker lvl 2 power, PHB2 p104).

    The question is: Do you have to declare that you’re using this power *before* everyone rolls for initiative, or can it be used *after* the players roll their initiative? (but presumably before the DM reveals the enemies initiative rolls)

    It gets classified as a Reaction (since it doesn’t specify Reaction or Interrupt), so doesn’t that mean it takes place *after* the players roll? (The trigger is “You and your allies roll for initiative at the beginning of an encounter”)

    Depending on which way this question is answered, it’s a big shift in how useful this power is.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    Fish

    • Billyfish – Well, I’m no rules czar, but this is something that I think is up to your table and your DM.

      At my table, I usually interpret unclear powers in the way that’s most beneficial to the players (unless that would make it ridiculously overpowered in my opinion. For Shroud of Warning, I’d let the players see their results before the Invoker decided whether to use the Shroud or not, but I wouldn’t let them see where they fall in the initiative order relative to the monsters.

      So, for instance, if the Invoker rolls an 8 for initiative and his pal the Wizard gets an 11 and the Invoker isn’t satisfied with that, he can use the Shroud. But I wouldn’t let him know if the monsters were above them or below them yet, and I certainly wouldn’t let them know by how much (“Ooh, the goblins are on 12…” “Wait, I want to use my Shroud!”).

      That’s just how I would run it at my table, though; your DM may have a different opinion.

      Michael the OnlineDM

      • Hey Michael,

        Thanks for the reply. I am the DM in this instance and was/am leaning to the method you mention. There was some back and forth within my group and seeing that we are new to 4E I thought I would toss out a “life line” to some of the forums I’ve been reading and respect.

        Thanks again and keep up the good work!
        Fish

  14. Hey Michael!
    Can you add a “follow your blog” widget of some sort? I would like to keep up with all you do, but I will never remember to come back without some sort of email reminder or something.
    Thanks!

    Christina

    • Christina – Thank you! I had completely forgotten about the “subscribe” widget when I did my last site redesign. It’s been added on the right rail now.

      Michael

      • I gotcha now! I added you onto our reader and email. Our game blog is scribelifegames.wordpress.com, the other is not game related. Now I will watch you more closely! I also added a link to your blog on our FB gamer page. We can work together to make this happen!

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