Random Inc presents a Phenomenon Labs games convention

Phenomenon 2013

Phenomenon 2013

Team (tabletop) games

These are the traditional games that everybody plays at that kind of party. The table is optional but traditional. Some of these games are system-based (which often just means 'a published system'), others systemless (which also tends to cover 'home-brew system'). There are also multiforms, which encourage you to stand up and move around a bit. A bit like a party.

These games are for 5 players unless otherwise indicated.

The Triptych

The Diptych

Other games

Apocalypse World: The Understate

By John Machin New designer


The Understate was built as a hedge against the end of the American Way as fears of nuclear Armageddon ran wild. For decades it was the province of bats and spelunkers. Then, as the true end became clear, it was hastily converted to serve a new purpose – but too late. The world died and those that survived had no thoughts and fewer cares for the Understate.

Not that you know any of that.

To you the Understate is home. It is all you have known; this sprawling cluster of holds and ways. What else matters? What else is there?

Apocalypse World: The Understate takes a group of iconic characters and examines their lives in the World of the Apocalypse (http://apocalypse-world.com/backpitch.html). The old world died decades ago, the new world is strange, violent, and eerie. All around, largely invisibly, whirls the psychic maelstrom; whether this phenomenon was the agent of end or merely a symptom is unknown – but it is a fact of life in this new world. The setting is an underground would-be haven, but not a traditional ‘vault’ – it instead takes the form of a stretch of highway, with communities and industrial areas strung along its gloom-shrouded length.

Players will pick an archetypal role(http://apocalypse-world.com/ApocalypseWorld-playbooks.pdf) and generate the characters, situation, and relationships with assistance from the Master of Ceremonies. Then, as they deal with the issues of their post-apocalyptic day-to-day they will confront, or be confronted by, “fronts” – thematic clusters of different threats that provide some of the antagonism needed to experience entertaining play. No-where is entirely safe though, and the home front can be the most threatening of all. In dealing with each other, and the threats, they will make ‘moves’, which are resolved with dice. Every move is consequential, and the consequences flow from – and back into – the narrative situation.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 3-4 Genre 4 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 3-4 Seriousness 2-4 Advisory rating M-R


The Beach

By Mik Bonsall

Everyone’s stuck in this crappy holiday town where all the families have holidayed for too long, there’s no mobile reception unless you’re with Telstra, there’s no net access and no one has a license, so it’s either bicycle or walking. At least there’s the beach. The guys’ll be heading down there to the Spot, where plans are made to make the interminable summer pass that much quicker.

Jay was down as well, but he had to go back into Melbourne last night, his dad was coming down from Sydney and wanted to spend some time with him before the school holidays ended now that Jay’s parents are talking again after their divorce. It really sucks, as Jay was the only one with an iPhone who could get any reception down here. Now there’s no SMS, no Twitter, no Facebook, no nothing worth doing any more. Except the beach.

The Beach is a game for five players.

CONTENT WARNING: This game contains themes which players may find confronting. This game has provoked very strong/intense emotional responses in people for different reasons.

The Beach has run previously at Arcanacon 2011.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 Genre 0 Rules knowledge 0
Story/plot 3 Seriousness 4 Advisory rating R


The Breakfast Slayer Club

By Mike Walker

Breakfast Slayers' Club

Dear Mr. Vernon:

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong.

What we did was wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay, telling you who we think we are.

What do you care? You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.

You see us as: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7 o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed.

We know better now. We know each other’s secrets, and the things we do to keep this school safe.

We’re heroes, and you should be grateful.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Slayer Club.

P.S. There is a hellmouth in the school basement. You should really do something about that. Sorry about the mess.

Using the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG system. Players are free to choose a systemless or system-lite version of the game when they play. A 5 player game inspired by the idea of a 'Breakfast Club' style story in a 'BtVS' style world.

For questions, please email

This game is part of the 2013 Diptych.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 ( it’s all about the characters) Genre 5 (80s tropes and Buffy lore are both prominent) Rules knowledge 1 (easy to learn system, diceless version avialable)
Story/plot 2 (only to be used in an emergency) Seriousness 2-3 (has potential for character development) Advisory rating (PG) (teen sex and drug references)


Carol Of The Bells

by Greg Tannahill

A game about desperation, friendship and Christmas, for 5 players

Henchpersons extraordinary

6 pm on Christmas Eve, and time is running out. The sun is setting. Shops are in their final hours of trading. Police sweep the streets in pairs, searching for someone or something. And a deeply unseasonal bitter cold has set in, bringing with it an impossible but ever intensifying storm of snow.

For five friends gathering in the city centre, this may be the last time they ever meet as a group. Tomorrow, Mark leaves the country forever, and his friends will likely never seen him again. But more is at stake here than any of them know. Over six hours, they are about to go through violence, terror, romance, hope, and grief. And not all of them may live to see the sun rise on Christmas Day.

Carol Of The Bells is a dark character-driven drama for five players. Players take on the roles of five friends on the night that will change all of their lives. Gameplay focuses on characterisation and collaborative storytelling, and conflict resolution is by GM fiat. The game requires mature players.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 (Characterisation forms the bulk of the gameplay) Genre 1 (Christmas drama, no knowledge necessary) Rules knowledge 1 (All rules and expectations will be explained before play)
Story/plot 4 (The game delivers an engaging story and players can expect closure) Seriousness 4 (Game deals with serious subject matter) Advisory rating MA (contains violence, adult themes, emotional honesty)


A Certain Reputation

By Barbara Kearins

If only your parents hadn't been top of their classes, or such highly noticeable individuals. You've only been at school three weeks but already the teachers are looking at you with a hint of disappointment.

Still, your parents and their friends may have freed a bunch of slaves in their first term - but they never really uncovered the mastermind behind that and all the other criminal schemes that they thwarted.

If you and your friends can do that maybe finally you can relax and just be yourself. Doing it without breaking any school rules will be tricky though...

A St Tyrants Adventure for 4 to 6 students with something to prove. St Tyrants is a cross between Hogwarts and St Trinians. Though it predates Hogwarts. Royalty send their offspring there on the theory that if they can survive St Tyrants, they can survive anything. The school rules have been developed over many centuries and include the mundane (you must wear your uniform at all times) as well as the exotic (you must not put your uniform part way through a magical portal).

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 3 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 3 Seriousness 2 Advisory rating PG


A Coming of Age

By Rod Kearins

You know it was really cool to be finally turning 21. You know the freedom, the big party with all my mates, and oh yeah, I will finally get control of the 100 million dollars my Mum and Dad left me.

That is if I can survive the party. I mean the way my Uncle now looks at me is just creepy.

And if that wasn’t bad enough I have been kept awake most of the night by the Ghost of great grandpa, who visited with a warning and a test

The warning… watch out for the family members, none of them can be trusted.

And the test, well he will be trying to assess if I was worthy of inheriting the family fortune.

“But not to worry” he said, “There would be assistance “


“Yes”, he said “Soon you will have four visitors who will guide you through the next few hours, you will have a few important decisions to make”

“Do I know these guides?”

Great Grandpa sighed “Not yet but they probably know you better than you know yourself. In many ways it would be like I was helping myself”…

Something about the way he said it made me wonder, and a little worried.

A systemless table top for one brand new millionaire, and 4 out of time guides, helping to determine their future.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 1 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 3 Seriousness 3 Advisory rating M



By Stuart Barrow

You knew where you were in the old days. The Communists of Alpha State would stop at nothing to infiltrate the Complex, destroy the Computer and bring down all that was good and true.

Nowadays, things are different. Secret societies flourish openly. The Free Marketeers have as much control of C-BAY as the Computer does.

The First Church of Christ Computer Programmer preaches in corridors that hormone suppressants are unnatural and that Soylent is immoral.

Teela-O-MLY has been replaced by the O-Men, dark and gritty mutants fighting for freedom.

Mutants. On the Vid.

And PURGE...

PURGE will blow up a food vat and call it a statement. They'll pilot a fly-bot into a reactor core to strike at "The Man." They'll send a sniper to shoot up a First Church rally. No rhyme, no reason, no manifesto, no ethos.

Three thousand clones on starvation rations, with no light or heating. No vid. Huddling in fear.

The biggest threat to Alpha Complex is from our own people, for reasons that no-one can even guess at.

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.



Pheno ratings
Characterisation 3 Genre 3. Knowledge of the Paranoia setting and left-wing conspiracy theory a boon. Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 3 Seriousness 3, which is more than you thought. Advisory rating PG. We'll say "Adult Themes".


The Gate of Heaven

by John and Philippa Hughes

Due to unavoidable circumstances, the Triptych 'Gate of Heaven' has been pulled. As a result, this years Triptych will only consist of two games.

We realize this may come as a disappointment to those who have signed up, especially with the announcement this close to the convention. Players affected by this are more than welcome to sign up to a different game on Friday Night at Registration, or can see the organizers over the course of the convention to acquire a refund.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Ushas Nebula

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe

- The Beatles.

We can never stay the same without changing. As individuals. As cultures. As humans.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
The colony: imperilled, at war with itself.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
The Redoubt: forbidden repository of technology and power.
Nothing, nothing.
The refugees: orbiting, denied planetfall, increasingly desperate.
Nothing, nothing.
The nebula: a deadly jewel in the night sky.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.

Five women of an ancient and powerful settler family. Keepers of the Redoubt. Mothers, daughters, sisters: united by blood but divided by civil war.
Five women, younger than the dawn, older than starlight.
Five women. Hoping for life. Waiting for death.
As the stars burn red.
And the mountains too.

A science fiction meditation by John and Philippa Hughes. Our themes are family and power, secrets, war, loneliness, love; and the terrors of ecstasy.

Details at http://myth-o-logic.org/convention-modulz/the-gate-of-heaven-2013/ .

This game is part of the 2013 Triptych.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 What makes these powerful women really tick? Genre 5 Family and political drama set in an isolated Iain M. Banks 'Culture' style utopia. Or is it? Rules knowledge 0 You're here to share a story.
Story/plot 3 The end of the world – on a screen near you. Seriousness 4 The end of the …. yeah, that bit. Advisory rating MA (adult concepts, girly bits, boat people, religious cults, intimations of genocide.)



By Shannon Spencer

“Well, this is awkward. You realise you’ve managed to kill half of the Gods that govern this area? That’s BAD, you know. We can’t have a half full roster, it just won’t work. SOMEONE needs to step up to accept the responsibilities of that power. And seeing as this mess was all your fault, I’m thinking YOU should do it.

"No, sorry, made up my mind. You’re being Gods and that’s that.”

What would YOU do? Come tell the story of five adventurers, stripped of their mortality, who must find their powers, choose their domains... and try to stay on the good side of a bunch of Deities that aren’t too impressed with you.

This game is part of the 2013 Diptych.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 Genre 2 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 3 Seriousness 2 Advisory rating PG



One. One Dead Snuffleupagus

By Kane Edwards

Five “friends” come together once more, for an evening in the bitter Memorial that inhabits their old home. But on this dark street, a dark murder has occurred. In the foyer, lit by passing headlights and flickering lamps, is a body.

The rotting carcass of a woolly mammoth rests in the foyer: the long-deceased Vulture’s childhood, and very imaginary friend.

The door to the Sesame Street Memorial slams shut, trapping you and your acquaintances inside, with a murderer. The lights are on, the cameras are rolling, and the action is about to begin.

The Count turns, regards the corpse, and speaks: "That is one, one dead Snuffleupagus.

"Ah, ah, ah."

One. One Dead Snuffleupagus is a tabletop boardgame RPG for five players, in the vein of Betrayal At House on the Hill. A murder-mystery, where the detectives and the criminals are the players.

Players will select one of five remarkably-familiar characters, and discover what a decade of loss and pain has made them become… and perhaps learn of what they are now (and perhaps always were) capable of.

Maybe you will uncover the mystery behind the Memorial. Maybe you will discover the identity of the killer. Maybe you will be discovered on that 21st hour, when the doors to the Memorial open for their last, final day, on that grisly, grisly scene.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 3-4 Genre 2 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 3-4 Advisory rating R



By Peter Rousell


Since the first recorded ascent in 1936, several people have disappeared while climbing Shiprock.

Their bodies have never been found.

Welcome to Shiprock, New Mexico, on old Route 666.

“It’s illegal” they say. Well, it’s only illegal if you get caught.

“It’s dangerous” they say. Well, what’s life without a few risks?

“It’s haunted” they say. Well who believes that superstitious bullshit anyway?

A ghost story for five thrill-seekers trespassing on sacred Navajo land.

Five climbers. One peak. No way off.

This game is part of the 2013 Triptych.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation Genre Rules knowledge
Story/plot Seriousness Advisory rating


The Silent Ones

By Fi McConachie

The glittering lights, the beautiful music, the fabulous feast. The Caerleon May Ball is indeed a grand event. Dancers and entertainers pass through the night and the garden party is heading to be one of the most celebrated events in Avalon. That is until a man is found dead in a fountain, murdered, the knife still protruding from his back.  What villain would have cause to cut down the honourable Viscount Cunningham in cold blood?

Meanwhile across town in the dark back alleys of Caerleon where brave men will fear to tread death strikes again. This time it is a double; a young man and young woman who have fallen foul of a simple a mugger. Only one person truly believes there is more to these deaths than a crime of opportunity but she will not be taken seriously. The victims were just a couple of employees at the Golden Ball, a place well known for its ‘entertainment’...

This is a multiform for 2 teams of 5 set in the world of 7th Sea.

This game is part of the 2013 Triptych.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 5 - 7th Sea is about being the Hero Genre 3 - The style is more Captain Blood than Yellow Beard Rules knowledge 1 - There are simple rules that will be explained before
the session
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 4 Advisory rating MA (Adult concepts, Violence, People Trafficking)


Spreading the Message

By Hugh Fisher

The clacks company wants to extend the network from Ankh-Morpork to the Brown Islands. (Yes, there's a lot of ocean in between. The company has been buying albatross.) A team of expert negotiators is needed to gain permission or better yet enthusiastic approval from the locals to build some semaphore towers.

Regrettably, the expert negotiators are currently in a Klatchian dungeon due to a slight misunderstanding, so you'll have to go. A pleasant ocean voyage and a chance to see the sights. And it can't be more dangerous than training those bloody albatross.

A single session adventure for 4-6 Discworld inhabitants caught up in the information age.

Costumes not required, but if you want to, why not?

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Enjoy yourselves Genre 4. You need to know what Discworld is Rules knowledge 3. GURPS as guidelines
Story/plot 3 It might help Seriousness 3. More Rincewind than Vimes Advisory rating PG



By Michael Wenman (Vulpinoid Studios)

Walkabout 1
Walkabout 2
Walkabout 3

"It was like thunder when they came.

But unlike thunder it did not come from the sky, and it didn‘t stop. It was a low rumble that shook the ground relentlessly.

There were five of them, each astride a low metal horse echoing with the dark and ominous roar.

I remember my parents telling me to hide.

We hadn‘t seen outsiders for years, and those few that I could remember had looted our town and set fire to the town centre as they left.

I remember peeking through the boarded up windows. I don‘t remember much about them except for the fact that they were covered in muddy body paint, and tattoos. And that I wanted to become one of them. They were the first Wayfarers I had ever seen. They spoke to my parents and to the other surviving adults of the town, and after their passing, things seemed to get better.

The crops started growing again, and the bandit raiders came less frequently. The Wayfarers came back to our town once a year, riding what they called their 'Hogs'.

Occasionally other groups of Wayfarers passed through our town as well. In time I joined a Wayfarer circle, to pass on the good deeds that helped our town."

Walkabout is a game focused on the stories of heroes bringing order back to a dangerous post-apocalyptic world where the spirits of the past have come back to lay waste on the civilisation of man. It is a game where every choice made by players matters, and no good deed goes unpunished.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 3 Rules knowledge 1
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 3 Advisory rating M


Welcome to the Mystery Shack

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

In 1972, a gravitational anomaly was discovered in the woods near Oregon.

One brave man has encapsulated this singularity into the world famous site called the Mystery Shack.

Come see all the mysterious and wonderful things that occur as a result of such phenomenon. Proof that there is more to this world than meets the eye.

* Our final tour is at 4pm, and currently there are 5 places available. Entry fee of $6.50.

You’re five uni students on road trip. What could go wrong?

*The Mystery Shack takes no responsibility for any mental, physical or supernatural trauma you may receive upon entering our premises.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 4 Genre 2 Rules knowledge 0
Story/plot 4 Seriousness 1 Advisory rating PG



by Mael Reale New designer

Welcome to Wolknien, heart of the Empire.

It is a time of peace, safeguarded by the Imperial family, the Heïr. They have ruled down the generations thanks to ancient artefacts of great power.

Welcome to Wolknien, city of the damned.

Two years ago, the curse began. The infected lose all reason, gaining devilish powers as they succumb, becoming puppets to an unknown evil driven only by hate and rage.

Welcome to Wolknien, city of opportunity.

The curse is a lie. We are not puppets. We have been rejected by those who knew us. We are hunted by Imperial forces our friends have turned on us  we have lost our place. Some of us have become insurgents, using our curse to fight the Empire. Some seek knowledge, unravelling ancient mysteries to find the source of our powers. Some try to hide their gifts, to pass as ‘normal’.

Hero, god, monster or rebel, all find their fates in Wolknien.

In this game players will choose their character’s powers. Characters will evolve and have a real impact on the world. The possibilities are endless, but all come with consequences.

Pheno ratings
Characterisation 3.5 - While I don't expect everyone to fully act out their character a certain effort is asked to play out the character Genre 3 – a power vs. technology fantasy in a world that has elements from medieval times as well as Victorian times as well as futuristic (sci fi) times. Rules knowledge 2 – a bare minimum is needed but with a cheat sheet and through game play one should get the hang of it fairly fast.
Story/plot 4 to me but variable - Players and their characters get to build on the basics of the story and have an impact on the world. Seriousness 3 – Spider-man is very funny but can be greatly dramatic and dark as well, this game is kind of like spider-man. The world is dark but good times and fun are what makes it bearable. Advisory rating M – A dark world with full of dark things. Nothing to worry about.