Phenomenon 2016 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? That's roleplaying.
In most RPGs:
- You have an invented persona, your character, who interacts with a fictitious world via your dialogue with the other participants in the game.
- 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.
- 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.
- There is no set ending. A game can be short, or continue from session to session until the story is told.
However… 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.
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 College. 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.)
In 2015 Morph goes camping and tells scary stories by the firelight and indulges in “just one more” toasted marshmallow.