Movie : The Game – The Rules

Well, here is the final draft of the rules for Movie : The Game. I am posting here first since I didn;’t want to make you wait for the Kickstarter to be up and running (it’s a much more tedious process than I had originally envisioned).  In the next few days I shall post the Character and GD Sheets as well as the Genre Cards once I figure out how to transfer Word tabling format across to the blog.


An Introduction of Sorts

Have you ever watched a terrible movie and thought to yourself; Sweet merciful crap! I could come up with a better story throwing darts at a board covered in plot points!?

Well now you can…

Dice Rolling Conventions

There are 2 distinct differences between Movie the Game and other games when it comes to rolling the dice. First is the Kitagawa Method for generating Primary Statistics. The 2nd is Pre-Rolling for Dramatic Effect.

Kitagawa Method – The player sets up 2 columns of 6 rows on a piece of paper. He then rolls 1D20 and places this number at the top of the left hand column. He then rolls a 2nd time and places this number at the top of the right-hand column. The 3rd roll is the first decision point for the player, he may place that number in either column based on which side would be most advantageous. The 4th roll must then be placed in the opposing column from the 3rd. He continues this pattern until a total of 12 rolls have been performed. At this juncture the player chooses which column to keep as his stat block for his character. For Protagonists, the other column is discarded but in the case of Victims it is kept as the back-up stat block for when the 1st character dies.

Pre-Rolling for Dramatic Effect – All Players and the GD will make 10 rolls on a 1D20 and record the results on their Character / GD Card. The rolls made by the GD are kept secret from the players, unlike the player which must reveal all of them. These numbers are then used as the players and GD sees fit to determine the results of all actions (Skills and Combat for example). Once a roll is used it is scratched off the list. All rolls must be used before another block of 10 rolls may be made.

Primary Statistics

There are 2 types of stats that describe every character in the game, Mind and Body. These are broken up into 3 Primary Statistics each; for Mind you have Intellect, Insight and Personality; for Body you have Strength, Health and Agility. The Kitagawa Method is used for generating these numbers for Main Characters and the Modified Kitagawa Method is employed for Victims and Extras.

Intellect – The raw intelligence possessed by the character and the primary attribute for all Intellectual Skills or intellect-based abilities found in the Character Cards.

Beauty – Rarely is a Protagonist in a Movie not beautiful (unless they are Uglied-Up for Roscoe Bait).

Personality – The power of a character’s Will and Charisma. He uses this attribute to determine whether he can bluff, intimidate, fool or otherwise convince others of his intent and ability.


Strength – The raw physicality of the character. The higher number the bigger the fist (metaphorically speaking of course). In game, this also determines the total damage points with melee weapons and unarmed techniques (equal to their Strength score + their Total Level +Stars).

Health – The character’s physical durability. For example, John McClain must be a 17 or 18 at least. In game, this means that the character can take damage in combat equal to their Health score + their Total Level + Stars.

Agility – This comprises a number of the character’s innate abilities: manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and body equilibrium. In game, this also determines the total damage points with thrown (and projectile) weapons and firearms (equal to their Agility score + their Total Level +Stars).

Level Points and Total Level

Level Points are awarded at the end of a game session, at the end of a Scene, as directed by certain Cards and/or upon successful completion of a Roscoe Moment. This point can be spent immediately or banked for later use in Stunts or Action Set-Pieces. The point can be spent to learn one new Rank 1 Skill OR increase an existing skill by one Rank OR used as a Free Draw from the Character Deck. Obviously, this means during the course of a Movie a very lucky Victim player could graduate to Protagonist status if they purchase at least 2 Free Draws with their Level Points (this is known as an Ascended Victim).

Protagonists & Victims

Protagonists are the main characters in any Movie, as such they are written with much more depth than everybody else. Protagonists get 3 draws from the Hero Deck at the beginning of the Movie. Victims are the character actors and oh-that-guys that fill out the cast, due to their lesser importance they only draw a single Character Card. The important difference is that if a Victim dies the Player may use the 2nd set of stat rolls to create a new character on the spot (also with a single draw from the Character Deck). When Protagonists die the Player is finished in that game session, but may roll a new Protagonist if there is a sequel (and will still earn Stars for his participation in the Movie) or choose to play a Victim immediately but earn no Stars for that Movie’s completion. Captured Protagonists must be rescued (Rescue Scene) by the end of the Movie or the Main Villain of the Movie must be defeated. If neither of these occurs then the Protagonist has died.

Any Victim that survives to the end of a Movie will not be eligible to return for any Sequels, the Player must roll a new Victim or Protagonist in that case. This does not apply to Ascended Victims, they are treated as Protagonists.

To determine who plays Victims we look to real-world movie making: generally (not always, there are the rare exceptions) the most attractive or famous actors ascend to star status and character actors are usually more average in their looks and/or popularity. The Players with the most Stars earned before the start of the Movie are awarded with Protagonists first followed by everyone else in order of Beauty from highest to lowest. Uglied-Up characters use their original Beauty scores.

Protagonist Linking (Optional)

At the start of play the Protagonists (not Victims) pair up. In the case of an odd number of Protagonists the last character is assumed to start solo; Horror and Comedy always have the weakest link solo to start, Sci-Fi and Action always have the strongest character solo to start. Obvious pairs are obvious: Action Mom + Action Dad for example. Each pair and the soloist experience one Scene apiece before meeting up for all further Scenes. Victims may choose to stay as a single group or individually link with any Protagonist pairing.

Stars & Character Actors

When a Player acquires his 2nd Star he has a choice, to continue progression of his career as a Star or take the safer path as a Character Actor. This is a onetime choice and can never be altered by the Player with the same GD forever. If the Player chooses to be a Character Actor he can never have more than 2 Stars but never takes losses for Flops and Bombs, unlike Stars which are at the mercy of the whims of success. Yes, you become “that guy”.

Massacre Mini-Game

The last player to die receives a bonus Level Point for their Main Character.

Roscoe Moment

Any player that successfully performs a Roscoe Moment immediately receives a bonus Level Point.

Stunts and Action Set-Pieces


Any player may elect to expend a Level Point to perform a Stunt. This immediately awards a +5 bonus to all rolls related to that Scene. A Stunt can be performed in any time-constrained or high-stress situation, anything from a gunfight to computer hacking or even emergency surgery. Dramatic or Dialogue scenes do not allow Stunts.

Action Set-Pieces

When an Action, Fight or Chase Scene is played the players involved may choose to invoke an Action Set-Piece. An Action Set-Piece requires that at least 2 players are involved and they most both spend a Level Point each. This immediately awards a +5 bonus (per player) to all DIFF rolls related to the Scene. Thus, a Scene with 3 players would apply a +15 bnous, for example. NOTE: If even a single player does not have an available Level Point to spend then no player may spend their points and no bonus is applied to any of the players!


Movies can be spun-out into Franchises if they are successful enough and from certain Genres. Any Movie that concludes with a Total Protagonist Level Points of 5 or more and is in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Action or Comedy Genres will be optioned for a Sequel. Any Player of a surviving Protagonist may choose to continue playing that character in the next Movie with all Level Points earned so far. Each succeeding sequel requires 5 more Level Points than the previous one; the 2nd sequel requires 10, the 3rd requires 15, etc.


If a Movie falls short of the Level Points requirement for another sequel but still earns at least as many as the previous installment then it may be Rebooted if the GD allows. A Reboot means all Protagonists start without Level Points, just the Characters and the Cards they drew for the 1st Movie.


If a Movie fails short of even the previous installments Total Level Points (and has at least one Sequel) then the GD may choose to invoke a Re-Imagining. Only the Setting and Character Names remain the same. A Player may choose one Character Card to keep, all other Cards are redrawn.

Roscoe Bait

Any Movie that has at least 3 Roscoe Moments and a Total Protagonist Level Points Minimum of 10 is considered Roscoe Bait. If the Movie also fulfills one of the 3 following criteria then it is a Roscoe Nominee: 1) a Protagonist Uglies-Up for the role, 2) the Movie has a Downer Ending, or 3) it is a Romance, Drama or Biopic. If the Movie fulfills 2 of the 3 criteria then it will win a Best Picture Roscoe. Any Sequels retain the highest attained Roscoe achievement of any previous installment. Once a Best Picture Roscoe is received then all progress is reset for the subsequent Sequels.

Player Stars

Players can earn Stars that act just like Level Points but they are held by the Player not the Character and thus are transferrable from Movie to Movie. A Player can have a maximum of 5 Stars and at the end of a Movie regains all Stars spent on the Protagonist. Stars can be earned in a number of ways: 1) the first time a Protagonist survives to the end of a Roscoe Bait Movie; 2) every Roscoe Nominee the Protagonist survives; 3) all Players earn a Star if the Movie wins a Best Picture Roscoe; 4) and the first time a Protagonist survives a Sequel.

Game Director Accolades

A GD gains an extra Villain Card draw and an extra Scene Card for every one of the following accomplishments they attain:

  1. The Movie reaches a successful Ending.
  2. The Movie gains a Roscoe Nomination.
  3. The Movie is awarded the Roscoe Best Picture Award.

All of these accomplishments may be completed multiple times for an ever increasing number of card draws.

Flops & Bombs

This is what happens when the players lose the game, they end up with a Flop, or even worse, a Bomb. Flops happen when no Roscoe Moments are played during the Movie, OR if the Protagonists are not able to complete the Ending successfully. A Flop is critically declaimed and thus all Players lose 1 Star at the end of the movie. A Bomb is a critical and financial failure and costs all Players 2 Stars, this happens when the Ending can’t be completed and there are no Roscoe Moments during the entire Movie.

Skills and Ranks

All skills have 4 Ranks to indicate the degree of expertise a character has in that skill. For example, Medicine at Rank 1 means the character knows First Aid and basic pain relief, Rank 2 is paramedic/nursing training, Rank 3 is General Practitioner or Surgeon, and Rank 4 would denote such specialized training as Neurology, Radiology or Psychiatry.

Skills not actually known by a Character can still be attempted but there obviously is no Rank bonus to the DIFF Check and the Check also suffers a further -5 penalty.

Every Protagonist and Victim begins with 10 skills; 1 Rank 4, 2 Rank 3, 3 Rank 2 and 4 Rank 1 skill. The Player may choose any Skill he or she can think of, but the GD has final say in cases of a Skill being too broad or too specialized and may require the Player to redefine the Skill. For example, Weapons is far too broad a group for a single skill so the GD would request the Player specify such as Personal Firearms or Swords or Martial Arts Weapons. Neuropharmacology would be too specific and could be broadened to Neurology or Psychiatry.

Skills are broken down into groups based on the Primary Stat that is added to the DIFF Check; Melee Combat Skills are linked to STR, Ranged Combat Skills are linked to AGI, Social Skills are linked to the higher of PER or BEA, Intellectual Skills are linked to INT, Artistic Skills are linked to the highest of INT, AGI or PER, Physical Skills are linked to the highest of STR, AGI or HEA, and finally Manual Skills are linked to the highest of STR, AGI or INT. Most skills fall obviously into one of the categories above, if you are unsure what group a skill is from the GD has final say.


Combat is initiated by certain card draws, usually Protagonists versus Mooks or Villains. The Protagonists always shoot first unless the Scene Card states that the Villains get the drop on the Protagonists or the Villains are fighting Victims exclusively. The Pre-Rolls made by the Players at the beginning of the Movie plus Skill Rank plus Primary Stat are compared to the DIFF of their opponents, if the roll is higher than the DIFF rating then the Player hit the target and did damage. The damage done is equal to the Rank in the appropriate Combat Skill + the Strength (for melee) or Agility (long-range or fencing) of the Protagonist + Total Level. This number is then subtracted from the Health of the opponent. If this number exceeds the Health of a Mook or Villain then he dies. Health of Mooks and Villains is equal to their DIFF rating.

The GD then chooses his Pre-Rolls to attack the Protagonists in kind. The GD should always remember that he is trying to fulfill The Ending successfully so you should choose your Pre-Rolls carefully. The DIFF of a player character is equal to his Agility + Total Level + Stars. The Damage done by an attack is a single point for a Mook or 2 for a Villain (certain Cards can modify this number). Remember, Protagonists and Victims cannot naturally heal these points back during a session. On the other hand, the players remove all damage to characters at the beginning of a new session (even within the same movie).

Order of Play

The GD begins the Movie by drawing the Genre Card(s). Players are then assigned Protagonists with first choice going to players that are returning in the Sequel, 2nd choice going to players that were Victims in the previous game, and finally all remaining players. In the case of a completely new game or ties then a simple Hi-Lo roll on a D20 is used between them. The GD then proceeds to draw in order 1) The End Card; 2) Plot & Setting Cards 3) Scene Cards and finally 4) Villain Cards. The GD draws 3 P&S Cards and 3 Scene Cards. The GD also draws 3 Villain Cards but only one of them may be a Villain, all others must be either Mook or Ability cards. Any duplicate Villain cards are redrawn until the remaining cards are a combination of Mook and Ability cards. Simultaneously the Players will be dealt their Character Cards; 3 for Protagonists and 1 for Victims.

The GD plays the 1st Scene Card. He does not need to set the order of scenes beforehand but may play them as he sees fit in an attempt to achieve The End Card parameters. He draws a new Scene Card when he plays one to always maintain 3 Scene Cards in his hand. He continues to draw and play Scene Cards until he fulfills the Ending or fails. If he fails then the GD can no longer draw new Scene Cards and the Movie continues until the GD has played all his remaining Scene Cards. NOTE: GD Accolades increase the number of Scene Cards the GD holds in his hand as stated earlier.

Movie Cards


Hero: The Players draw from this Deck first.

Abilities: Protagonists draw 3 Cards and Victims 1 card unless they are otherwise directed by the cards drawn. A card with an F must be placed face-up when drawn. A card with a P is hidden from the GD but shown to the other Players. A card with an H is kept hidden from everyone until played. Stacked multipliers are added together not multiplied (combining 2x and 3x equals 5x not 6x for example). The GD also draws from this deck, once for each Mook and 3 times for the main Villain. Villain only cards are kept hidden from the Players until the Ability is used. Then it is face up for the remainder of the movie. In the case of P cards the GD keeps them hidden until that Mook or Villain is directly encountered by the Protagonists, then it is face-up for the remainder of the Movie. The GD deals everyone starting with himself and proceeding clockwise one card at a time until everyone has received their allotted number of cards.

Genre – This is the first card(s) that the GD draws. The GD draws the first card, if it is a Genre he owns then he follows the draw rules displayed on the card and adds up all Protagonists from all cards drawn. If the Genre Card is not one he owns then he continues to draw cards until he draws a Genre he owns, at which point he stops and adds up all Protagonists from all cards drawn. Any excess Players are assigned to Victim Characters. On the other hand, if there are more Protagonists available than Players then any time a Protagonist dies it is replaced with a newly rolled Protagonist. Once the maximum number of Protagonist is reached then the standard Death Rule applies (see Protagonists & Victims for more detail). The Players with the most Stars earned before the start of the Movie are awarded with Protagonists first followed by everyone else in order of Beauty from highest to lowest.

Villain – These cards are the enemies played by the GD against the Protagonists to attain a successful ending. Some cards may be denoted as F; these cards are to be shown to the players either as soon as they are drawn or at the first encounter with the Villain. The GD draws 3 Villain cards; the Card with the highest DIFF is the main Villain and the other 2 are Mooks. There is an infinite supply of Mooks but only a single Villain. If the Villain dies the Movie immediately ends which may cause a GD Ending failure depending on the Ending parameters.

DA & DADA – DA means keep this card and draw another one. DADA stands for Discard And Draw Again, meaning you must place the card at the bottom of the deck that it was drawn from and draw a replacement card.

Style – Applies to either an individual or the movie overall. It’s a distinctive look or tone that sets the character/movie apart from those around him or her or it. It always adds style points to actions denoted on the Card.

Timeframe – Only one Timeframe card may be drawn when setting up the Plot. The GD may choose to allow a 2nd under unusual circumstances (Always At Night & All Hallows’ Eve for example).

Death Scene – These Cards do not count against the initial 3 Draw Limit. Keep secret from the Players until a character dies, at which point it is revealed.

Setting – Only 1 Setting Card is drawn unless otherwise stated on the Card. Cards with an F are shown to the players when drawn.

Catch Phrase – Yes, you actually have to come up with one for the duration of the Movie. Make sure to establish it before you actually have to use it. The phrase must be written down and placed to the side before the 1st Scene card is played. It must be said out loud at the start of a Scene to gain the bonus it confers. Single Use Catch Phrases must also be verbally invoked though they do NOT need to be written down prior to the start of the Movie.

Improv – The Player and GD role-play out a scene in the movie, the DIFF is used for all rolls required whether it is skill use or combat. The GD wins the scene if the Protagonist fails a single roll and the Protagonist wins otherwise. The reward is one LP for every successful roll. But no reward is earned if even one roll fails. The number of DIFF checks are equal to the Total Stars of the Player, with a minimum of 2 checks. If a Protagonist wins a scene then he reduces the number of fatalities in the Ending by one. If a GD wins a scene then he increases the fatalities in the Ending by one, this does not apply to Endings with zero fatalities (obviously the Players won’t know that *evil grin*).

Chase Scene: Played against the Protagonist or Victim with the highest Rank in the required Skill. Other players may choose to join the chase and thus may attack the Villain during the Chase but the DIFF for hitting is the DIFF of the Chase Scene COMBINED with the DIFF of the Villain. Any players that join the chase suffer the consequences of failure as well.

Roscoe Moment: The DIFF roll is based on the highest of Personality, Beauty or Intellect.


A very long overdue update…

I have let this blog molder for far too long but now I have something to actually report! Over the holidays I purchased the 5th Edition D&D rules and I was very impressed with the new iteration. Because of this, over the coming months, I will be posting a revised version of the Magic Earth Campaign using the new rules. I also have a writing project I am working on set in the same world that I will be intermittently posting.

On yet another front, I am also finalizing the rules for Movie: The Game in preparation for a Kickstarter campaign. When I have more details I shall preview that here as well.

Once again, I apologize for the quiet period but I look forward to an active 2016 here at Still Waters of Time!

Captain Hit-Guy