Random Inc presents a Phenomenon Labs games convention

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.

The Triptych games are all for 5 players.

Body Corporate


by Andrew Smith

In the evening gloom only three houses show lights amid the dark McMansion hulks of Talbot Ridge Estate. The home loan crisis was not kind to aspirations here.

It's a bad time. The only employer in town is SomaTech. You all work for ST, dreading each week to get that note in your pay packet saying this one is your last — “right-sized” out of your career.

It's the Memorial Day weekend. Your little community gets together for a street cookout and the Indy 500 on the plasma TV. It's good not to worry for an afternoon.

It's a shame this is not that afternoon.

They say a community is made up of its people, and a company its employees, like a body is made up of its organs.

When organs go bad the body dies.

When organs go weird, the body…

A modern horror for five corporate bodies, using Dread.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 4 Rules knowledge 1 (Can you play Jenga?)
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 3 Advisory rating MA+ (adult themes, horror, fruiting bodies)


The Cabinet of Doctor Makundi


by Ryan d'Argeavel

In these, the first days of a new dawn for our country, it is the people behind me, the people who placed me here to lead us into the future, it is these people to whom I entrust the running of our glorious Democratic Republic. I give you the ministers of my new Cabinet.

— Dr. Makundi, in his inaugural Presidential Speech, 2010

We do not support the actions of rebel governments. We will not be pressured into any decision. Our team will investigate all claims of sovereignty from the so-called Democratic Republic of Tego, and only then, with their report will the Security Council of the United Nations make their decision.

— UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard, March 2010

A single-session systemless game for 5 ex-pats in the heart of Africa.

From Two Guys without a Team Name

Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

— African proverb

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 Genre 3 (modern-day Africa) Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 4 Advisory rating MA+ (adult themes, horror, violence)


by Michael Hitchens

Egypt. The Desert. The Nile. Mystery. Sounds great, hey?

Once you spend six months on an archaeological dig, it loses whatever romanticism it may have had. Sand gets in everywhere. The heat goes on and on. And all you see are the people you work with, for months on end.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I like being an archaeologist, it’s just not what most people think. There’s no magic. There’s no unfathomable mysteries of the ancients, only things we don’t know yet.

For three thousand years the Gods and Pharaohs ruled Egypt
Their justice, their magic, kept the land safe
Safe even from the wars between the Gods

The Pharaoh’s curse is just a media beat up, and this is the last unexcavated burial of a Pharaoh anyway. The only way the dead reach out from the grave is by what we learn about them from scientific study.

Cursed be the tomb robber
Cursed be he who opposes the will of the Gods
And doubly and triply cursed be he who is caught in the war of the Gods

The gods are just myths. Hard work, not mystical revelation, is what teaches us Egypt’s secrets. Nothing odd or mysterious here.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. Every night, before I go to sleep. And hope the dreams stay away.

For what is faded shall rise again
The pharaohs will walk amongst us
And the evildoer will suffer their just punishment

A one session systemless module for five archaeologists.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 Genre 4 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 5 Seriousness 4 Advisory rating PG


Previous triptychs


Mik Bonsall — Dead Man Walking

Fi McConachie — Silence of the Bush

Nick Argall — Vengeance of the Vampire Lord


David Hollingworth — Crime and Punishment

Andrew Smith — The Fall of the Family

Mike(y) and Liz Argall — The Group


John Hughes — Quest: Mask of Heroes

Jacinta Thomler — Six Soldiers

David James — Those Left Behind


Liz Argall — Being There

Joe McNamara — Killing De Villefort

Ingrid Bean — Rebirthing Eden


Stuart Barrow — The Mask and the Moonlight

Xole Karman — Familiar

Andrew Smith — Something Wonderful


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