Random Inc presents a Phenomenon Labs games convention

Phenomenon 2013

Phenomenon 2013

Phenomenon crew & writers

Here's a big shout out to the organisers and writers of Phenomenon 2013 games and activities!

Buy them lots of drinks at post-Con drinkies.


President — That lovely woman in the red dress by the potted palm, Ingrid Bean

Vice-President — That equally lovely woman with the green top and the sparkler, Sarah Hall-Kearins

Secretary — Her twin sister in the turquoise top with the nerf gun, Sarah Hall-Kearins

Treasurer — That guy with the great vest, Mark Ashcroft

Writer Wrangler — That also lovely woman with the amazing hair and the bracelet, Jacinta Smith

Volunteer Wrangler — So maybe she's triplets, Sarah Hall-Kearins

Webmaster — Is Andrew Smith going to do that thing where he turns into someone else again?

Canteen Manager — That handsome guy in the kitchen who does the story about the coffee — no really, you should ask him about that, Nick Matthews

Marketing/Graphic Design — Oh, well, she's totally out of your league, Nadina Geary-James

IT Guy and Gal — Such a cute couple, Elissa Feit and Shane Donohoe

Game writers

No party would be complete without these fine, fine humans.

Triptychs and Diptychs

Fi McConachie

John and Philippa Hughes

John Hughes has been active on the Australian convention circuit as a writer, con organiser, and player since the world’s first freeforms in 1983, and is a pioneer of the Australian systemless tradition. He  has produced over fifty modules for publication or convention play, and writes game material and fiction for Glorantha games such as RuneQuest and HeroQuest. John’s recent Pheno modules include Quest: Mask of Heroes, Kwaidan, Gaze, and Xenomorph.

Pip Hughes has been playing and writing roleplaying games for more than thirty years. She started reading science fiction when, at the age of ten, her father tossed an Isaac Asimov novel to her. Pip then tried to write her own, but at that age you have the attention span of a newt. She found, however, that building a story with other people is both far easier and far more enjoyable. Ah, roleplaying… she hasn't stopped since.

Pip’s recent Pheno games include Kwaidan, Gaze, and Xenomorph. Someday, she will get back to writing that science fiction novel.

Game: The Gate of Heaven

Mike Walker

Mike prefers running and playing in games that focus on deep characterisation and are low in game mechanics, such as the Amber Diceless RPG.  Mike has a lot of nostalgia for the 1980s, and co-wrote the popular teen 80s freeform This Party Tonight in 2010. Buffy and the Breakfast Club each contain much teenage humour and angst, so they are a perfect combination.  Mike has been writing for Phenomenon since 1997, including the Triptych Psi in 2003, and the Triptych Death Journey in 2012. Game: The Breakfast Slayer Club

Peter Rousell

As one of the original members of the organising committee, Peter was excited to hear about Pheno's 21st Birthday!  That makes him, uh... at least 22.

Shannon Spencer

Shannon’s introduction to roleplaying was in 2007, where she helped the Brisbane Vampire court fight what she’s pretty sure was a werewolf by throwing glass at it. During that fight, she observed someone draw tens on kicking this thing in the nads two turns in a row, and it instilled within her the knowledge that successful silliness is better than successful seriousness. And with this knowledge, she won the 2012 Phenomenon Best New Designer Award. Game: Immortals

Debutants and Debutantes at Pheno 2013 new designer star

David Woodruff and Jon Lowe New designer

Jon is usually referred to as JLo, why he answers to this is anyone’s guess. JLo started roleplaying 12 years ago at uni as a way of staying sane. It sort of worked. He has previously run D&D and Spycraft campaigns, but The End of The World... is his first freeform and convention game. When not planning world extinction, he can usually be found playing computer games while procrastinating about exercise (triathlons and iron mans excluded).

David has been a complete person role player since attending Monash University and joining a low magic, no politics, low xp D&D 3.0 game… He has since realised that that game was a nadir in gaming, and it’s all better since then. He has run a number of table top games (usually
high magic, high xp, lots of politics), but this is his first
freeform. Hopefully there is no magic in this one. JLo then pointed out Clarke’s Third Law...

Game: It’s the end of the World… Or I feel fine

John Machin new designer star

John (Trithemius’) Machin has an interest in how systems can support and enable effective narrative in roleplaying games and tries to explore how this can work in games which he participates in. Lately he has been playing Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World, Monster of the Week, Durance, Cold City, Mouse Guard, Fiasco, and Esoterrorists. He has been involved in university roleplaying and conventions in NZ since 1997 and has been attending Australian cons for even longer. He has been frequently accused (by the same people...) as being a lumberjack. This is the first Australian convention game that he has facilitated. Game: Apocalypse World: The Understate

Mael Reale new designer star

Mael has been role-playing for about 6 years now and GMing for just as long. First in France then in Australia he has been exposed to a huge variety of games both published and amateur and of all sorts of genres. Having a passion for writing he decided to create his own games and loves to adapt movies, books and video games into tabletop RPGs. So far he is working on 3 original games and a few more inspired by Assassin's Creed series or the night angel book Trilogy by Brent Weeks. This is his first time writing for a con. Game: Wolknien

The Writers you'll always find in the kitchen at Pheno 2013

Barb Kearins

Barb ran her first St Tyrants over 19 years ago at a convention in Sydney with a recently born baby in tow. Despite that experience, she has continued to write games for conventions and has bought the St Tyrants world out of mothballs for Pheno's coming of age. Barb's more recent games include Up-time Girl (co-written with Stuart Barrow), and Positions Vacant. Game: A Certain Reputation

David James

Roleplaying since 1982 and writing for cons since 1986 places David very securely in the 'Classic' or 'Retro' GM category. David's games tend to place the characters first, with the main plot of the game becoming the stage for the character's personal lives, hopes and dreams to be played out upon. His more recent offerings at Pheno were World of Darkness High in 2010 and the Tryptich In Sceadure last year. This year he returns to freeform writing with What do you do with a problem like Dresden?

Greg Tannahill

Greg is a Canberra-based GM with twenty years of experience in running systemed and system-lite games for casual and serious audiences.  His past Pheno games include the post-apocalyptic community-building game Begin Again (2012), the zombie drama Every Body Else (2011), and the fast-paced crime caper The Heist (2010). His other games include The Last Days Of The Kingdom of Magpies (Arcanacon 2013), Sharkscraper! (Arcanacon 2012), and The Penance Box (Swancon 2010). Game: Carol of the Bells

Hugh Fisher

Game: Spreading the Message

Jacinta Smith and Michael Hitchens

Jacinta has been around for a while. At her first con, she won an award for being a red shirt in a Star Trek freeform and has been stepping forward to volunteer ever since.  The first game she wrote was a tactical based one using MechWarrior.  Since then, she’s written all kinds of games (and learnt she sucks at comedy), helped run early Neronomicons, took a break to have babies, come back and done it all again. Currently she helps out with Phenomenon and explores collaborative games.

Michael told us a year ago that he has been attending roleplaying conventions for over twenty years (still ouch) and writing for them for almost as long. He has written 19 (he thinks) convention modules, including Tender Prey (Sydcon 1993), Dead but Dreaming (Necronomicon 1994), The Rain like Dust (Sydcon 1996), The Loyalty of Men (SAGA 1994 and Necronomicon 1998), Bridge of Dawn (Phenomenon 1994 and Macquariecon 1995), Silver, Tears and Ashes (Phenomenon 1999) and You are #4, I am #6 (a Triptych at Phenomenon 2000). After a break from conventions he returned to help GM one of the Triptychs in 2007, wrote Am I Here for Phenomenon in 2008 and in 2010 wrote Floodland as a Triptych.

Game: Remembrance and Remains

Joe McNamara

Joe has been a regular contributor to Pheno, writing both freeforms and tabletops. If they can be typified at all, they display deep affection for their genres,often ghoulish senses of humour, and a great deal of romp. Game: Black Feather Shrine.

Kane Edwards

Kane has been roleplaying for six years, and a gamer all his life. Within the last three years he has been moving into the wider world of roleplaying, getting involved in live action roleplaying and competitive play. His style of storytelling is most often described as player-based, with a view to letting the rules slide in favour of awesome. Last year, Kane ran Honeygrit, a game best summed-up as American McGee’s Winnie-the-Pooh. This year, Kane seeks to cement his role as the destroyer-of-childhoods with his game One. One Dead Snuffleupagus.

Michael Wenman

Running, writing and designing games since before most current gamers were even born, the elusive principle behind Vulpinoid Studios has been a part of the convention circuit along the east coast for decades. You might recognise him, you might even know him by name. Vulpinoid Studios is one of the few profitable Australian RPG design companies, you may not have heard of it yet, hopefully that will change in the near future. Game: Walkabout

Mik Bonsall

Raised by itinerant cauliflower farmers in the Ruhr, fleeing persecution at the hands of irate South African Neo Nazis during the Clinton Administration, Mik has resigned himself to the fact that any lie he writes in an author bio will probably be ignored. This won't stop him from hoping someone will read this and then buy him a pint of Guinness at the after party. Game: The Beach

Nick Matthews

While having been around Pheno for most of his life, Nick finally became part of the Dark Cabal of Phenomenon last year, co writing Antiques Roadshow of Doom. Since then, he has been working with the Pheno Committee, running the ACT's premier ridiculous anime themed ongoing freeform, and trying to cover for last years embarrassing lack of apocalypse. In his free time, he enjoys the libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan and engaging in long drawn out sniper battles with escaped genetically engineered KGB super bears. Game: Mission: Improvable: Rejigged

Oliver Granger, Dan L’Estrange & Jacinta Smith

Dan, Oli and Jac play together on occasion in the spirit of experimentation, wandering through a wide variety of Indie games, systems and settings. Some work, some don't. We picked a number of the best and are ready to share them with you :) Game: Story games à la carte

Peter Rousell

As one of the original members of the organising committee, Peter was excited to hear about Pheno's 21st Birthday!  That makes him, uh... at least 22.

Rod Kearins

Rod Kearins has been playing, writing and running games since 1976. Some would say that puts him in the same timeline as the ancient Egyptian GMs. He feels that there must be something to this roleplaying thing to have done it for so long. He has written and run games previously at Phenomenom, both as a solo effort and as part of a creative collective. Game: A Coming of Age

Stephanie the Great and Robbie the Ancient (Matthews, that is)

We've got nothing. My father and I have never written before. Our pyschologist said we need a way to work through our differences. We are trying out this "roleplaying" malarky because it was on our list, and this was the first site that came up when we typed in "Roleplaying Canberra" into Google. We're not sure how our names got on the website before our discovery today. We suspect black magic and gnomes plotting against us. We intend to solve this mystery. My father is well armed with a sawn-off shotgun and I have very sharp teeth. Bring it on imposters!

(But for reals, we got this.)

Game: Welcome to the Mystery Shack

Stuart Barrow

Stuart has been writing games for Pheno for some years, usually with a comic bent. Games include The Lake District Needlework and Adventure Society, The Mask and the Moonlight, the PG Wodehouse-inspired Last Man Standing, and Pack. Games written in collaboration with witty and clever people include Don't Know Where, Don't Know When, Uptime Girl and last year's Antiques Roadshow of Doom! Game: FUD

Xole Karman and Andrew Smith

Xole (that's pronounced 'Kole') writes freeforms replete with soupy politics. She is rather too fond of Zelazny’s ‘Amber’ setting and does scary things to mythology. She has been writing freeforms since 1996, which is rather longer than she likes to think about.

Previous incarnations of Andrew have run a lot of games over the years for Pheno and other cons. This one, however, came down in the last shower, and you'll find him a complete pushover. Particularly if you offer him Guinness.

Game: A Game of Suns