Phenomenon 2024 Phenomenon 2024


Tabletop games are the traditional kind of roleplaying game: a GM and a bunch of players around a table. The table is optional.

Pre-written characters are usually provided as part of the scenario, or sometimes created as part of the introduction.

Tabletop games at Phenomenon don’t always stay on the tabletop and some designers make use of the space available in creative ways.

Dice may or may not be involved. While some games at Phenomenon are system-based (i.e. a published system), others are “systemless” (by which we mean “light home-brew systems or games that otherwise do not rely on dice”).

New designers are highlighted: 

Battles of the Band

By Jake Nelson

Ah, the bard's life. Roaming the countryside, captivating audiences, getting free lodging and all the admirers you could ever want. Oh sure, there’s the odd bandit attack, the occasional angry spouse, but mostly you get to leave the adventuring to the adventurers. Let the meatheads go out and get their skulls split open by marauding hobgoblins – you'll be in the tavern, covered in other people's smallclothes, wooing a pretty young thing over the wine another pretty young thing sent to your table.

Or... that's the plan, at least. But when you’ve been on the road for ages and you roll into your next village expecting a welcome party – but are instead greeted with a ghost town – what’s a bard to do? Can’t call the guards when they're all missing. Can’t call in the adventurers when there’s none in sight. And the next town is DAYS away – you’ll run out of WINE before then!

Well, if nobody ELSE is going to save your ticket revenue...

Battles of the Band is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition game for 3–5 bards in way over their heads, using pre-generated characters. System knowledge not required – new players welcome! Please note that the following are not appropriate bard instruments: hurdy-gurdy; piano accordion; kazoo; one-man band; theremin. There is no such thing as a “left-handed gnomish battle zither”.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 3-5
What's the game again? A band of hapless bards try their hand at this whole "adventuring" lark for a change, in a desperate bid to save their next gig.
Seriousness? 1
Genre/Setting Medieval fantasy, with... some anachronisms. And copious music puns.
System D&D 5th Edition
Movie Rating PG


Biohazard Hard

By Mathew "No Relation" Sforcina

Christmas Eve, 198X.

Hans Gruber had a perfect team for the perfect heist.

The Face to keep everyone out. The Engineer to control the building. The Hacker to get into the vault. The Muscle to keep everyone in line. And The Killer for... unforeseen complications.

He just made one small, tiny, insignificant flaw.

He chose to rob Umbrella Tower.

And thus, Hans was the first one taken by the Biological Weapons he unintentionally released. Now, his team are trapped, cops outside, zombies and monsters inside, and one objective.

Not Die.

Kinda Hard, given the circumstances.

An action/horror/comedy game using the Neverwhere system for 5 players. Knowledge of the system isn't required, nor is knowledge of old school Resident Evil (1 through Code Veronica), Die Hard, or any other Bruce Willis film, although they may be helpful, if only to recognise the references and mechanics.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? You're the bad guys from Die Hard fighting Zombies and Monsters.
Seriousness? 2
Genre/Setting Comedy/Action/Horror
System Neverwhere
Movie Rating MA, featuring violence and horror elements


Of Death Rays and Destiny

By Jason Cebalo

The year is 1870 and Europe stands on the precipice of war. Prussia has made an alliance with the Unseelie Fae with the goal of dominating Europe. Right now, the small Kingdom of Bavaria is in their sights.

To make matters more complicated, word is circulating of a mad scientist developing a death ray; a weapon that would place great destructive power into the hands of whoever controls it. The Prussian government, the World Crime League and the Unseelie Fae all have agents seeking to gain the death ray for themselves.

Enter our heroes, five Bavarian agents, determined to keep this death ray from falling into the wrong hands. A Bavarian noble trained in diplomacy, a dwarf and master of clockwork, a dragon who spends most of his time in humanoid form, a flirtatious fae aristocrat and a beautiful Hungarian fencer who is hiding a strange secret from her friends. The stakes are high; the destiny of Europe is in the balance! Can our heroes save the day?

Of Death Rays and Destiny is a game for five heroic Bavarian agents fighting the tyranny of Prussia and the Unseelie Fae. It will involve a mix of investigations and action. The game will use the Castle Falkenstein system. Familiarity with the system may be useful but is by no means essential; it's a simple system that new players should pick up quickly.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 3-5
What's the game again? "A tabletop for 3 – 5 agents working to save Europe from a mad scientist building a deathray."
Seriousness? Mostly serious with some lighthearted aspects.
Genre/Setting Castle Falkenstein. Late 19th Century Europe with many fantasy and steam punk elements.
System Castle Falkenstein. A simple system which new players should pick up quickly.
Movie Rating PG


Goblin's Guide to Dealing with Adventurers

By Shannon Thomson

Some goblins are happy to stay in their clan homes. And for some goblins that's just fine. But if you want glory, you go to The Warren. The Warren has great food and great fires. The Warren has sprawling territory with wonderful hunting. The Warren has the best equipment for sale and resources to find. Buuuuut...

The only drawback about The Warren was the pests. Commonly known as human adventurers.

But when humans come, someone needs to send them running. The Matriarch of The Warren loves keen and clever goblins, and loves to see great feats performed while defending their territory. It's the perfect chance for any young goblins coming in from the country clans to really make a name for themselves!

Come enjoy some shenanigans in this game for 5 young country goblins trying to make it in the big city. Applicable content warnings may vary due to player actions, but will be generally restricted to common fantasy biff baff bosh combat damage with magic and pointy things.

Uses a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition inspired ruleset with HIGHLY simplified character sheet, and randomisation elements; no two sessions will be the same!

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Goblins gotta keep human adventurers away from The Warren and do cool things at the same time.
Seriousness? 1   This is silly town
Genre/Setting High Fantasy, but from the other side
System D&D 5e inspired. There will be d20s. Do not come in expecting D&D though! Randomisation mechanics to encourage roleplay and make every experience unique.
Movie Rating PG/M depending on player actions


Excitement is Off the Menu

By Hugh Fisher

The city of Quirm is being plagued by excitements, and the Duke is advertising for help in restoring Quirm's famed tranquility. This is a chance to make a name for yourself, or at least pay off your debts. And it's Quirm, how dangerous could it be? (Aside from the free-form hockey at the Quirm College for Young Ladies.)

A game to have fun playing your character. There is a story and a plot to uncover, but you don't have to. Violence is a last resort. Well, for most of you.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 4-6
What's the game again? Slightly out of their depth Ankh-Morpork citizens save the day in Quirm.
Seriousness? 3. More Rincewind than Vimes
Genre/Setting Discworld, around the time of Going Postal
System GURPS
Movie Rating PG



By Elliot Hickey

Nobody escapes the haunting whispers of their own hidden desires. Envy, spite, and resentment lurk beneath the surface of every soul, waiting for the right moment to surface. Perhaps even you have once harboured a dark wish; a secret longing that may eventually grow to threaten, or even consume your very soul.

In HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE, six individuals awaken in an unknown room, with barely any inkling of their past. With only fragmented memories and a cryptic box of evidence to guide them, they must navigate the tangled threads of fate that bind them together. But time is not their ally, and the influence of an otherworldly puppeteer looms large. What sinister forces lie at play, and what twisted truths will they uncover before the clock ticks its final seconds?

HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE is a murder mystery that explores connections and morality in an effort to shine a light on how the relationships around us (both big and small) can have profound impacts on our lives. This game includes themes such as neglect, emotional abuse, blackmail, body horror, and psychological horror.

Note: This game is completely gender-neutral and respectful of LGBTIQA+ play choices. Your character’s gender and sexual orientation are deliberately undefined, and how you choose to play and portray them is entirely up to you.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 6
What's the game again? A murder mystery about people recovering their memories after a mysterious event, and reconstructing what happened as these memories are returned.
Seriousness? 4.5 – serious
Genre/Setting Murder Mystery with horror themes.
System Systemless, with note-taking advised (but not mandatory)
Movie Rating MA (15+) This game includes themes such as neglect, emotional abuse, blackmail, body horror, and psychological horror.


Katabasis 2020

By Xole Karman

Deep within the HADES mainframe, something is very wrong.

Two Olympian AIs are missing. The great thrones of Aidoneus and Persephone are empty. Without them, what will keep the mainframe running? Without the mainframe, what will happen to the dead?

Five data-ghosts of long-dead heroes have left their assigned places. They have departed their glorious golden afterlife in the fields of Elysium. They have fled their endless hollow limbo on the banks of the Lethe. They have broken their chains and crawled out of Tartarus.

They have gathered in the empty throne room.

In the flickering light of dying myths, can they fix what is broken? Or will the vast HADES databanks fail, destroying the memories of the unnumbered dead?

A game for 5 dead testosterone-poisoned mythic cyber-heroes. Greek myth meets Cyberpunk 2020 with a stopover in San Junipero. No setting or system knowledge required. Seriousness 4, rating MA (themes of death and loss).

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? A game for 5 dead testosterone-poisoned mythic cyber-heroes.
Seriousness? 4
Genre/Setting Greek myth meets Cyberpunk 2020 with a stopover in San Junipero.
System Systemless
Movie Rating MA (themes of death and loss)


Raccoons in a Warehouse

By Elliot Hickey , run by Kristine Hertel

It has been at least *counts fingers* this many litters since Big Mama first brought you and your siblings into this world! Since that time, the strange two legger that used to dwell in the safe cosy closet space you all live in has gone missing for longer than usual! And with them has gone all the food that they used to provide to you and the rest of your incredibly large family! Even your special snack snacks stash has run out! So now it falls to you and you motley band of raccoon siblings to venture out to the great beyond and bring back food for your family from the place called Emmmm-PLOunge. There's just one big glaring problem and it's staring you right in the face... how do you get past that big barrier called "The Door"?

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 2-6
What's the game again? Raccoons get up to no good in spoopy eldritch *weird* warehouse whilst trying to get to the sacred land of food (otherwise known to the humans as the Employee Lounge)
Seriousness? 2 – You are intelligent (of various levels) raccoons with your own personality flaws.
Genre/Setting Raccoon Heist in a Warehouse 13 type environment
System FATE with Rule of Cool
Movie Rating PG 13


Remembrance Day

By Random Jones

When darkness rose to engulf the land, five heroes gave their all to beat it back.

Their sacrifice was mourned and memorialised, their names were whispered with reverence and honour and given to the children of the next generation. Their story became the tale performed by bards across the realms, and yet...

...Time passed. Recent events became history; history became legend; legend became myth; and in time even myth was forgotten.

Five people wake from what was thought to be forever, dressed in burial robes with no memory of who they were, but surrounded by evidence of their former lives.

Step by step, they uncover pieces of who they used to be, on this, their Remembrance Day.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? A tabletop for 5 heroes of the past, waking up to discover themselves in the new now.
Seriousness? High (Note: the game is serious, that doesn't mean the players have to be. There will be lots of opportunity for levity as the players tell their stories.)
Genre/Setting Fantasy
System Systemless
Movie Rating M


Seeking Refuge: A Dangerous Journey

By Ingrid Bean

This is a game about women.
This is a game about motherhood.

But this is also a game about displacement, about fear, about escape: about seeking refuge.

The Valley was a peaceful place: lush fields, thick forests, clear-running streams.
The people of the Valley were happy: accepted for who they are; they loved whom they chose.
Those from outside the Valley were welcomed: trade was regular; there was plenty to share.

The Regime is an autocratic, patriarchal, close-minded force, desiring only to own, to control, to dominate.

With the Regime closing in on the Valley, five women, babes in arms, choose to flee. Hoping to reach the City, they grasp what they can carry, and start off on a dangerous journey.

On sore feet, with tired arms, the women must carry their children. Relying only on each other, still bearing the scars of childbirth and motherhood, they must seek refuge from those who took their home and would persecute them if they could.

Seeking Refuge: A Dangerous Journey is an exploration of motherhood, of having to flee your home with no certain refuge, of friendship, and the strength of women.

CN: This game references reproductive issues including miscarriage and stillbirth, post-natal depression and psychosis, breastfeeding, babies (and all the attendant messes), menstruation and menopause, as well as transgender issues, cultural persecution (including transphobia and homophobia), and being a refugee.

We commit to explore these issues in a safe environment with sensitivity and supportiveness. Although the characters may often fear for themselves and their babies, nothing terrible will actually happen to them during the game.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Seeking Refuge: A Dangerous Journey is an exploration of motherhood, of having to flee your home with no certain refuge, of friendship, and the strength of women.
Seriousness? Deeply serious and emotional
Genre/Setting The characters exist in a fictional world that is vaguely pre-Industrial Revolution Europe.
System Systemless, story-telling style
Movie Rating MA 15+ (this game is not aimed at pre-teens or younger teenagers, though older teens are welcome if they are interested in the subject matter). See the CN above.


The Summer Republic

By Kell Shaw

Only you can save the world.

The People’s Revolution has failed. The ruling Collectivist Party is as corrupt as the royals it replaced. People are starving, inflation is at an all-time high, and the government-controlled factories lie idle.

You are a group of young, idealistic university students. And you’re also a secret society of magicians. Your mentor, the archeologist Professor Shearwing, has told you about an artifact that could fix society; a relic that empowers enlightened rulers. When the Professor is taken away to a labor camp, you have a limited opportunity to raid her crumbling mansion for the artifact before rival magicians descend upon the house like feasting vultures.

Who will inherit the power to change the world?

A heist story with idealistic, magical students, using a custom system. All rules will be explained during the game session and written on the character sheet.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? A group of students, who are also a secret cabal of magician, attempt a desperate heist for a relic that will enable them to overthrow the nation's corrupt government.
Seriousness? 4
Genre/Setting Urban fantasy
System Homebrew
Movie Rating PG. Political violence.