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The Triptych

Triptych (trip-tick) n. A picture or carving on three panels able to fold over the centre; a set of three associated works so placed esp. as a centre piece; a set of three writing tablets hinged or tied together; a set of three artistic works; such used as an altar piece; a treatise in three parts.

Each year, Pheno invites three respected designers to present a systemless single session game as part of a triptych. Each game showcases what we consider the best of Pheno roleplaying: characterisation, drama, entertainment, innovation. Each game will be judged separately, but teams competing in all three games will also be eligible for the Triptych Perpetual Trophy.

Previous triptychs

The games

The Mask and the Moonlight

by Stuart Barrow

With a mask and a brace of pistols, a sword and a fearsome steed,

With villainy in his eyes and malice in his heart,

With honeyed words on his lips, and a dark brooding in his soul,

With the powers of Darkness at his command,

The Highwayman rides tonight!

For 5 players, as a black-hearted villain. More or less.

(Supporting CanTeen).

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 3-4 Rules knowledge Rules are a tool of oppression! We ride free tonight!
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 2 Adult content PG



By Xole Karman

In two days, Corporation Dee’s golem assembly lines will begin producing the Familiar, the latest thing in home help. Familiars will clean your house, look after your pets, and fret when you come home late. They are designed to closely mimic human empathy, a feature which helps them to anticipate their owner’s needs, and to learn new behaviours through example. Their most basic desire is to serve, and they experience actual pain if rebuked.

But are they sentient? And if they are, do we as their creators have a right to make them slaves?

Corporation Dee invites interested persons to attend a special preview of the Familiar, including a Q&A session with project incantors and animists.

A not-quite-freeform for 10 players, set in a world not unlike the Buffyverse. An Unshelled Turtle production, written by Xole Karman.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 Genre 4 Rules knowledge 0
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 2 Adult content PG


Something wonderful

Gray alien from 'UFOs: Fifty Years of Denial'  1998 produced by Quick FOX Production, James Fox, Executive Producerby Andrew Smith

Two years ago the Greys came to Earth, their titanic starships hovering in the upper atmosphere blotting out the sun. End War, they told us. End Hatred and Suffering; End the Rape of the Environment; End the Consumption of Sentient Animals.

Or We Will Make You.

We resisted them at first: we held dear our freedoms to cause evil. But the Greys used frightening, unstoppable weapons on our recalcitrant populations and landed invincible troops to enforce their Harmony upon us. They apologised for the violence: they said they only wanted us to grow up, to be peaceful and good like them.

We now shelter in the ruins of our city, in the shadow of the Greys' floating cloud-city. The Greys offer us so much: security, health, wisdom — even the stars. They ask only that we embrace their ethical lessons, to join them in Harmony. We have always been adaptable as a species. Next week, the first human candidates will be selected to help govern Harmony alongside their Grey mentors.

Ambassadors or traitors? What choices do we have anyway?

The Greys tell us only that if we learn our lessons, our future will be something wonderful.

A triptych for five humans.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4+ (well, it is a triptych) Genre 2 (all pop culture references will be supplied) Rules knowledge 0 (systemless)
Story/plot 4+ (ditto) Seriousness 4+ (despite the pop culture references...) Adult content PG13+, but the director's cut is M for sexual references, horror and violence.


Previous triptychs


Robbie Matthews — Mayhem Over Manhattan

Peter Rousell — Last Night in Eden

Eric Henry — The Fishbowl


David James — Can you go home again?

Mike Walker — Psi

Ingrid Bean — Silence


Ben Hunter — Project Hydra

Robert Barbetti — Something Wicked

Mark Bruckard — This Way Comes


Larry Larkin — Once upon a time

Ryan d'Argeavel — I knew she was trouble the minute she walked into my office

Jon Naughton — They don't advertise for killers in a newspaper


Michael Hitchens — You are Number 4, I am Number 6

Caitlin May — What is Honour?

Tony Guyot — Citius Altius Fortiu

1999 [The year Pheno ate Cancon]

Richard Canning — Memory Lost

Jo Ellem — Signor Jacemo's Circus of Wonder

Morgan Morningstar — Redemption


Liz Argall — When I Meet My Family

Felix White — Lost Highway

Scott Walton & Daniel Wilks — Spazmo


Andrew Smith — Fatalism

Diana Leithead — The Charity Gig

Antti Roppola — Understanding Ellen West


Richard Percy — Covenant

Mark Barnes — Prometheus Rising

Brent Steves — Graenlendinga Saga


John Hughes — Fallen Angel

Madi — Freaks

Grant Allen & Lindsay Beaton — Portents


Ian Wanless — The Breaking

Robert MacLean — Faded Giant

Chris Slee — Uncle Jurgen's Happy Hour