Phenomenon 2023 Phenomenon 2023


You have discovered the Tabletop games! The table is optional but mysteriously traditional, with usually space for 5 players and taking 2.5 to 3 hours to play.

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” (which actually means home-brew systems or games that otherwise do not rely on dice).

New designers are highlighted: 

All Night Long

By Greg Tannahil

A game about change.

From the creator of Every Body Else, The Carol of the Bells and The King in Winter.

Some things need to be broken.

After countless eons, Gwynnane the Goddess of Night has ended her marriage to the Sun God, taken back the Divine Spark she shared with him, and is setting out for something new.

Angry, wild and glorious, she has summoned her four best friends from among the pantheon of gods, and will lead them into the darkness beneath heaven to drink, to forget, and to shake the foundations of creation with the death-knell of an era.

But Gwynnane's new course has deeper implications than any of these gods will admit. Gwynnane's actions call into question the nature of the Divinity that each god possesses – and with it, their very identity.

Because Gwynnane's departure was an event that Althis, God of Knowledge, did not foresee.

Because Gwynnane's union was one that Cerwu, God of Marriage, did not dissolve.

Because Gwynnane's unhappiness was a wrong that Bralemborn, God of Justice, had not avenged.

And because Jennaby the Trickster, God of Luck, has a dark and wonderful premonition that change – true change – is finally coming to the gods...

But the future hangs in the balance. Because until Gwynnane's journey is complete, the sun cannot rise – and with each hour that passes the night grows longer, and darker...

... and Gwynnane's final destination is stranger than anyone can predict.

All Night Long is a cathartic system-lite tabletop game for five players. Players take on the roles of five gods on a devastating pub crawl through the grimy backstreets of Heaven, on a night that will change everything. The game is fundamentally serious and emotional. Gameplay is focused on characterisation and emotion, and is fully cooperative, with no betrayal/competition elements.

Trigger warnings: the game may deal with themes of binge drinking, self-harm, and suicide. This game is not recommended for players under the age of 18.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again?
Seriousness? Fundamentally serious and emotional
Genre/Setting Players take on the roles of five gods on a devastating pub crawl through the grimy backstreets of Heaven, on a night that will change everything.
System System-lite
Movie Rating Trigger warnings: the game may deal with themes of binge drinking, self-harm, and suicide. This game is not recommended for players under the age of 18.


Clownigator: Night of The Crocodilian Clowns

By Sean Allsop

When a lightning strike hits the bayou the same night a curse is laid upon the Bordreaux Action Circus and an out-of-control semi-trailer full of toxic waste takes a clown car off the road with it into the dark waters, a new breed of terror is born... the CLOWNIGATOR!

Part clown, part cursed reptile, all-consuming, these cartoonish crocodilians have only one desire: to devour the denizens of the circus, cut off by the storms from safety and sanity. Can these unlucky performers save themselves? Or are they destined to become clown chow?

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Clownigator: Night of the Crocodilian Clowns is a 5-player tabletop drawing heavily from SyFy Channel monster movies such as Sharknado and Frankenfish.
Seriousness? Mutated clown/alligator hybrids. ‘Nuff said.
Genre/Setting Modern day Louisiana circus in the bayous.
System Dice based take on Dread. Single d20 only.
Movie Rating MA for bloody horror nonsense, can dial down to M on request.


Cognitive Dissonance

By Ben Dawson

Sorry, this game has been withdrawn.

It’s not easy being a Perfectly-Normal-Person in a Perfectly-Normal-World at the best of times. It’s even harder pretending to be a Perfectly-Normal-Person when things in life are in fact, not perfect, or normal. There’s quite a bit of "abnormal" right now; enough for proper sensible thinking to be overtaken by messy reactionary emotion... Very non-optimal.

At this point, stability can only be regained by working through the problems with these conflicting thoughts one day at a time.

Cognitive Dissonance is a game about five emotional aspects trying to steer their human through a Completely-Regular-Day in the aftermath of a breakup. Thoughts will be had, resolutions reached, and hopefully there won’t be any sneaky public breakdowns.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? The aspects of a person's personality have to make it through a day in the aftermath of serious life changing events.
Seriousness? Low to moderate, a light-hearted game with some serious themes
Genre/Setting Modern day
System Narrative game with some low complexity rules
Movie Rating MA 15+, likely all of the adult themes.
Content Warning: The game deals with mental health issues.


End of Empire

By Daniel Ryan

“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.”
― Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The second stellar empire divides administration into sectors governed by a telepathic nobility. The collapse started in the core but is felt everywhere. Supplies from the core worlds are less frequent, competing claimants to the imperial throne demand military support, and local rebels operate increasingly openly.

The noble families of Morph sector will decide the fate of a dozen systems, make their mark on history, settle some scores, or fade into obscurity.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Politics in a decaying empire for 5 local nobility
Seriousness? Serious but flexible
Genre/Setting Space Opera inspired by Foundation
System Kingdom
Movie Rating PG


Fallout: New Vegas - Ocean's 38

By Mathew Sforcina

War, war never changes. And neither do heists.

Fifteen years ago, a courier came back from the grave and dealt out a mix of chaos and destruction on route to taking out Mr House and taking control of New Vegas.

Ten years ago, the Courier walked into her new home base, the Lucky 38 casino, after dealing with a rogue NCR squad.

She hasn't walked out since.

Now, a mysterious figure, Haode Ocean, has brought together a team of criminals, warriors, and misunderstood rogues to break into the Lucky 38 and find out what the hell happened to the Courier, to discover where they are now.

Although they might have other ideas. Such as stealing everything not nailed down...

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 3-6
What's the game again? A heist story in the Fallout New Vegas setting, a post-apocolyptic pseudo-western world.
Seriousness? Comedic with potential serious aspects.
Genre/Setting Fallout New Vegas setting. Knowledge of this will be useful but not essential.
System Fallout RPG system. Knowledge of this will be useful but not essential.
Movie Rating Rated M to MA based on character selection.
This game may contain themes of (former) slavery, drug use, sexuality, fascism, bureaucracy, and capitalism.


The Hellsing Corporation

By David James

I died last night.

To be more accurate, I was murdered last night. I never saw anyone move that fast. Both in the shift of personality from seductive to ravenous, and the speed at which they moved their body to wrap me in their unbreakable grip.

And the teeth. Oh the teeth.

Dying from having your blood drained away like that is painful, excruciatingly so. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. But even that was nothing compared to the soul-destroying hunger that greeted me when I woke up. There was a chasm in my body that cried out to be filled, and just metres away was a warm, inviting meal, asleep and unaware.

I knew it was another person lying there, a human drugged into unconsciousness. But right then, all they were to me was a meal. And one that smelled like ambrosia.

Before I could launch myself across the floor to devour them in a mindless frenzy however I felt steel hands holding me down. A funnel was pushed roughly into my mouth, breaking several teeth that were far longer than they should be, and I was forced to swallow to avoid being drowned by the viscous fluid being pumped into me. It tasted like iron, nothing like the promise of the blood flowing in the unconscious body just out of reach, but it did go some way to filling the void in my body and soul.

And then sleep took me once more.

When I next awoke I had been cleaned, dressed, and laid down on a fine bed. Sunlight streamed through an open window, bringing with it the smell of jasmine on a cool breeze. Seated across from me was an old man with a kindly face, and over the next few hours he told me about my new life, my "second chance" he called it.

I had been attacked by a Vampire, drained and then fed on a little of its blood in order to begin the process of turning me. That would have been completed with my first kill, burning out what little was left of my human soul as I fed, and turning me into a true monster. The Hellsing Corporation had found me before I could feed, and instead forced me to consume the artificial blood it had been developing. Now I was a kind of proto-Vampire. I had some of their powers, but not all. Some of their strength and speed, certainly more than a normal human, but nothing compared to what they commanded. I could however move about in the daytime, and walk under the sun, although I would burn more easily than most people.

And he offered me a job. Work for his corporation. Save others like myself. Destroy the creatures that did this to me. I still needed their artificial blood to survive, normal food would no longer sustain me, and if I fell to temptation and fed from a human then my transformation into a full Vampire would occur at the next setting of the sun. But they were willing to take a chance on me, and put me in a team with others like myself.

I said yes. What else could I say?

The Hellsing Corporation. A game set in the modern world for five proto-Vampires with an axe to grind and probably a couple of high powered firearms into the bargain.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? A group of well trained slightly supernatural people out to stop an evil plot. With Vampires.
Seriousness? Pretty serious, with some angsting over choices and possible sacrifices, but also moments of levity. This can very much be tailored to the wishes of the group.
Genre/Setting Modern day world with an ancient enemy. Think "Dresden Files" or "Rivers of London" style world building. This is an original world however.
System Narrative-style resolution with some elements of chance. 'Over the Edge' dice rolling with good roleplaying adding bonus dice.
Movie Rating MA. Supernatural themes, violence, blood, terrible puns.
Content Warning: Death/Undeath, Blood, Violence


Heroes of Tridentia

By Jason Cebalo

Six friends, six ordinary teenagers, transported to another world, chosen by the gods to tip the scales of fate. In the battle between freedom and slavery they will experience personal development, forge relationships with the gods and battle for liberation.

Friendships will be built and tested and some may find romance. In the midst of politics and moral compromise, will they be able to find a path to the greatest good?

Heroes of Tridentia is a Chronicles of Narnia inspired classic hero’s journey, with a contemporary twist, for six players wanting to engage in the battle for freedom and equality.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 4-6
What's the game again? A tabletop game for 4 – 6 players fighting for freedom and equality.
Seriousness? On the serious side.
Genre/Setting Classic hero’s journey in a fantasy setting.
System A simple, custom system.
Movie Rating PG – 13. Content Note: Religious themes. Slavery will be a theme in the game as will issues of oppression and inequality based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.


Into the Nothing

By Ian Bartlett

The nothing-men invaded our world, scorching the sky with dark lightning. Their faces were those of past enemies, clad in silvery metal that annihilated all it touched. To them, death was naught - if slain it would not be long before they returned. Our protectors - our friends, fell. The fight was over. We lost.

We needed a miracle, and from beyond the stars, one found us: Jethro. He united us with others just like us - the last heroes who faced the very same threat. We shared our gifts with each other, and that was enough to save our homes. We made a last, desperate push into the place from which the threat stemmed - the nothing.

Against all odds, we won. When slain in their nightmare world, the nothing men did not return. But when the dust settled, we found Jethro had given up everything he had to ensure we made it home. We had lost so much already, yet his death hit our group the hardest.

Years later, the sky crackles with dark lightning, and I see him again, shrouded in that horrible silver metal. We have to go back - into the nothing.

Into the nothing is a game for five sorrowful heroes from different worlds, to venture into a darkness from beyond the stars.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Into the nothing is a game for five sorrowful heroes from different worlds, to venture into a darkness from beyond the stars.
Seriousness? 4
Genre/Setting Homebrew, speculative fiction, not unlike your favourite sci fi or fantasy
System Homebrew, story focus over rules
Movie Rating MA. Content Warnings: Loss, Grief, Existential Horror


The Others

By Michael Hitchens

A year ago, five heroes set off on a great quest.
They never came back.
This is not their story.

The Others

You are the ones they left behind, friends, family, followers. Not heroes.
Everyone else has honoured the heroes, moved on, forgotten them.
How long until moss grows on their statues?
You don’t forget. You won’t forget.
The five of you have decided to discover the truth.
You’ve set out north, as they did. Into the empty lands. Into white nothingness.
You didn’t choose these companions. The heroes chose each other, forcing you together.
In the white, the winds blast emotions raw.
Love and hate. Bitterness, resentment and courage
In the white, the truth will be revealed.

The Others, a systemless fantasy for 5 players. This is not a combat or exploration game, but one focussed on the interplay and emotions between the characters.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again?
Movie Rating



By Elinor Jean

A game about friendship, adventure and small people standing up to an enemy too dangerous for them.

The Enchanted Wood is calm, unspoiled, and beautiful, home to a small community of tiny pixies. On this day, five pixies set forth into the depths of the forest to share a picnic and observe a once-in-a-generation solar eclipse.

But when an ancient threat returns, these five very small people will be called upon to save each other... and maybe the world...

Gameplay is focused on characterisation, group bonding, and imagination. The game is fully cooperative and there are no player-versus-player elements. The tone is similar to a Pixar film – emotional and moving, but suitable for all ages.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 5
What's the game again? Five tiny pixies face an ancient threat and have to overcome their own secrets to save each other and maybe the world.
Seriousness? Serious and cathartic, with adorable pixies.
Genre/Setting Cathartic fantasy adventure.
System Systemless
Movie Rating PG.


The Reichenbach Ritual

By Hugh Fisher

A locked research lab and three High Programmers. One died. One is now a human shaped cloud of quantum foam. And one ... vanished? The very destiny of Alpha Complex will be changed forever. Or maybe the mission assignment officer should have checked the expiry date on that can of Bouncy Bubbly Beverage.

If you've played Paranoia 2nd ed or XP before, you know what to expect. Roleplaying a Troubleshooter, satire, cheerful backstabbing, and hilarious explosions.

If you haven't played Paranoia before, here's your chance. On the surface this is a game of cartoon violence and terrible puns, but underneath is an RPG system and setting that has lasted for decades because it overturns our usual expectations. Roleplaying and characterisation do occur and are encouraged. Don't be surprised if you get shot during your soliloquy, but don't worry either: your character can come back.

Paranoia has a long history at Cancon and now Phenomenon. The best player becomes part of this by having their name added to the John Patruno Memorial Award.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? 4-6
What's the game again? A Paranoia murder mystery.
Seriousness? On the lighter side.
Genre/Setting Paranoia. The futuristic Alpha Complex, where every aspect of life is controlled by the all seeing, all powerful, and deeply disturbed Computer. Players are Troubleshooters in service of The Computer, sent on missions to eliminate commie mutant traitors and enemies, all the time hoping that nobody will discover their own treasonous mutant identity.
System Paranoia XP, lighweight. Rules and die rolls are guidelines, not destiny.
Movie Rating PG with cartoon violence.


Remembrance Day

By Random Jones

Sorry, this game has been withdrawn.

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
Genre/Setting Fantasy
System Systemless
Movie Rating Most of the game content will be player driven so will vary, but is expected to be at the more adult end of the scale, so a minimum rating of M is recommended.


Wheel in the Sky

By Dan Connor

The rules are simple. Once you have landed on Teran, you are to meet in Canberra, Australia at the Phenomenon 2023. You are not allowed to let anyone see you use your powers because of the rules of the Non-Interference Directive. You can contact fellow travellers and get help from them. This is your Journey and may many Mysteries be revealed along the way. May the Wheel in the Sky keep on Turning.

Pheno game ratings
How many players? Up to 6
What's the game again? Wheel in the Sky is about aliens' Journey and the Mysteries to be revealed along the way to Pheno 2023
Seriousness? On the lighter side
Genre/Setting Modern day
System 2d20 System Light
Movie Rating PG13