Phenomenon 2014 is a roleplaying game convention. Its goal is to offer a wide range of exciting, creative, imaginative, challenging and fun roleplaying games for your enjoyment. Pheno aims to extend the roleplaying community in Canberra—to provide a place where you can relax, chat, make new friends, play games both familiar and unfamiliar, and otherwise do stuff you wouldn't normally do in a weekend.
What's a roleplaying game (RPG)?
Do you remember playing 'Let's pretend' when you were small? Same thing, only with rules. Did you ever watch a movie or TV show, or read a book, where you wanted to be a person in that setting? Or one of the main characters? Did you ever want to show them how it would be done properly?
In most games you have an invented persona, your character, who interacts with a fictitious world via your dialogue with the other participants in the game.
In most RPGs one participant makes up the world and arbitrates any challenges the world may throw at your character, or conflicts between your character and other characters. This role is called by a lot of names: Dungeon Master, Referee, Keeper, Hollyhock God. We tend to call it a Game Master—GM for short.
In most RPGs there is no winner. You play to help invent/tell a shared story or have a good time with your friends. When everyone has a good time, everyone wins.
In most RPGs there is no set ending. A game can be short, or continue from session to session until the story is told.
Convention games like the ones you will experience at a Phenomenon are a little different. They're designed to tell a short story with a beginning, middle and end. Often a spectacular end…
Although RPGs have no winners and losers, most Pheno games are judged competitively. The GMs (who mostly, have written their own games) are looking for the players that best depict their characters and that entertain them—and the players you're with—the best. They will give trophies or certificates to these players.
But that's only one aspect to playing in games at a convention like Pheno. If you have fun, if you meet new people, if you laugh, you cry, you swear undying enmity on your (fictitious) new arch-enemy, then you're doing it right.
So what now?
Check out the games on offer. The team (tabletop) games are the most traditional kind. Freeforms are live action games, more like improv theatre. The Triptych and Diptych are our showcase games, sets of three and two games that teams complete to compete to win perpetual trophies for. But you can play any of them you want—they're pretty cool.
If you want to play some games with us in June, you can pre-book a place. Otherwise, you can just turn up at the door and sign up.
You don't have to have a team!
You can enter as an individual and Pheno's Mysterious People Scheduler will schedule you into team games before the Con. Freeforms are all individual entry, so no problem there.
Because most games are designed for five players, part-filled teams will be really keen to meet/recruit you. This is a fabulous way to meet new friends and try out new games.
If at any point you're not sure what's going on, ask an organiser. They're wise in the ways of prophecy and are always happy to help you out.
Can I write a game for Pheno?
Yes. We'd love you to. Whether you've never written for a convention before, or you've been doing it since before dice were invented, we'd love to hear from you. We start this process about a year in advance, so have a think about what you'd like to write for us in 2015. You can find the paperwork here.
In the late 1980s Necronomicon was born to raise money to compensate an early CanCon organiser for the theft of their computer at a CanCon. It raised more than enough—enough in fact, to seed a second Con during the year in Canberra. That convention is Phenomenon, since Necronomicon stayed in Sydney.
Phenomenon was created at a meeting in late 1993. The first Phenomenon was arranged to be held at Karabar High School (later referred to as "No Hoper High" in a game run at another convention…), in Queanbeyan, NSW. At the time, ACT school prices were fixed by the local government and would've cost Pheno about 10 times the amount it paid for Karabar, so the alleged Canberra con was held in New South Wales.
Four beats to the bar
In its second year Phenomenon was also held at Karabar High School but after that it was helped with a venue by the ANU Roleplaying Society (ANURPS). So, from 1996 to 2002, Phenomenon was held at the ANU, with one exception.
In January 1999 CANCON ran for the 21st time. For financial reasons they were seriously considering not running any roleplaying events. Phenomenon agreed to run the roleplaying portion of CANCON 99, in January, and also ran Recon in August. Recon was organised as a one-off event of previously run convention games to allow a small but fun second convention for Canberra.
In 2000, Necromicon ran at Easter, instead of its usual October, due to the Sydney Olympics running at the same time. Pheno decided to run in Necro's normal timeslot to offer people an excuse to leave Sydney during the closing ceremony.
In 2001 Pheno moved to follow Necronomicon, in December. Its preferred date (first weekend in December) was not available at the ANU and so it had to settle on mid-December.
In 2002 Pheno returned to its old time of August to spread the warmth in a Canberra winter.
Age of Iron and Blood
2003 saw Pheno breaking from the script to retake the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June! It also ran for the first time at Daramalan High. This was also the 10th Phenomenon.
2004 Pheno celebrated the Weird Science that brought it to its 11th year of roleplaying.
In 2005 Pheno saluted the Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets, with a spot of Dickensian duality and steam-powered conspiracy.
In 2006, Pheno speculated wildly on the counterfactual, with Unwritten Earths!
In 2007, Pheno returned to its soapbox roots, with a guaranteed 200% more fun.
In 2008, Chairman Morph led a Glorious Phenomenon Revolution!
In 2009, Don Morpho sent the troops to mattresses as the State declared Phenobition!
In 2010, Everyone got a time portal and went forward to the future to go back in time to 2010,000 BC!
In 2011 a muddy paddock and several dozen gamers with rhythm and two chords between them transformed into Phenopalooza!
In 2012, the end is nigh with Phenopocalypse!
In 2013, our own little Pheno is All Growed Up and turned 21!
In 2014 we boldly go where no other convention has gone. (Well, maybe some, but don't tell Morph, he's really proud of his spaceship.)