Phenomenon 2023 Phenomenon 2023

About Pheno

So what's a Phenomenon anyway?

Phenomenon offers a wide range of exciting, creative, imaginative, and fun roleplaying games for your enjoyment. Pheno aims to extend the roleplaying community in Canberra – to provide a place where you can relax, chat, make new friends, play games both familiar and unfamiliar, and otherwise do stuff you wouldn't normally do on a weekend.

Phenomenon has a focus on games written by local designers (Canberra and all over Australia).

Sometimes, these games will use a familiar system like Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, PbtA, or Fate. Sometimes, these games will present a less well-known or indie published system. Sometimes, these games have custom systems written specially just for that one game. And sometimes, these games have almost no system at all.

Many of these games are prepared specifically for Phenomenon and are not published elsewhere. This can mean that our games can be very different to those at other conventions.

Ok, so what's a Phenomenon Labs then?

Phenomenon is organised and presented by Phenomenon Labs Inc, a registered association under ACT law. Phenomenon Labs' purpose is to support safe, diverse and creative spaces to build the ACT roleplaying and gaming community. Find out more about our team on Crew & writers, or take a look at our Values.

Phenomenon Is Only The Beginning

Thinking about running a games day, a monthly LARP campaign, or a tournament?

Phenomenon Labs is keen to offer organisational assistance to all kinds of gaming in our region. We can help you find venues, promote your event, and our insurance coverage is available by negotiation. Contact Pheno if you want to find out more.

What's a roleplaying game (RPG)?

Do you remember playing 'Let's pretend' when you were a younger? Same thing, only with more rules. Have you ever watched a movie or TV show, or read a book, where you wanted to be a person in that setting? Or one of the main characters? Did you ever want to show them how it would be done properly? That's roleplaying.

In most RPGs:

  • You have an invented persona, your character, who participates in a fictitious world via your interactions with the other players in the game.
  • One player makes up the world and arbitrates any challenges the world may throw at your character, or conflicts between your character and other characters. We tend to call this heroic soul a GM (short for game moderator or mistress or master or Morph).
  • There is no winner. You play to invent/tell a shared story and to have a good time with your friends. When everyone has a good time, everyone wins.

Although RPGs have no winners and losers, most Pheno games are judged competitively. The GMs (who mostly, have written their own games) are looking for the players that best depict their characters and that entertain them – and the players you're with – the best. They will give trophies or certificates to these players at The Prizegiving on the last day.

But that's only one aspect to playing in games at a convention like Pheno. If you have fun, if you meet new people, if you laugh, you cry, you swap toasts with your (fictitious) new arch-enemy, then you're doing it right.

So what now?

Watch this space for the games on offer in 2023.

Pre-registering and teams

Pheno encourages players to pre-register to play games via this site (the rego form will go live in early September). This helps us schedule games and make sure we have enough GMs and rooms.

You don't have to have a team!

Even though many games are designed for teams of 5 (or so), you can enter as an individual and Pheno's Mysterious Celestial Scheduling Astrolabe will put you into team games before the Con. Freeforms are all individual entry, so no problem there.

This helps everybody: part-filled teams will be really keen to meet/recruit you. This is a fabulous way to meet new friends and try out new games.

Can I write a game for Pheno?

Yes. We'd love you to! While our call for games for 2023 has closed, we will be looking for more games in future years. Pheno welcomes and encourages new designers. There is even a shiny New Designer award .