Silverscreen is a table-top roleplaying game intended to produce cinematic collaborative storytelling.


Games should be like movies. As we have moved away from stage plays and folk tales, cinema has come to dominate the way we consume stories. Beyond film, the television we watch, video games we play, and podcasts we listen to are increasingly described as “cinematic”: the quality of being like cinema. Calling something cinematic is almost a short-hand for “artful,” “engaging,” “impactful.” I do not think it is a stretch to claim that cinema is primarily how modern society thinks about story. So table-top games should be more like movies, more engaging and artful with their storytelling, and this game intends to do just that.

So what makes something cinematic? The nature of “cinematic-ness” is strange because the actual qualities that determine it are circular. What makes cinema cinematic? One thing that is for certain is that it is not realism. Real life is rarely cinematic, and cinema is rarely realistic — it’s real in a different sense, though. Cinema presents a heightened reality that often uncovers some deeper truth, a truth always there but perhaps just too subtle to have noticed before.

Another thing that is for sure, is that while not ever movie is cinematic, the medium of film at-large tends to be. Although this doesn’t solve the circular-definition problem from before, it’s good enough for what we’re trying to do here. Throughout this manual decisions will be justified by in this way: as being like film, or following the conventions of film, or achieving the same result as film. While this will not result is perfectly imitating the experiences of movie-going, that is not really the intention of this game. Instead, this game simply tries to streamline and encourage the already-cinematic type of storytelling that we naturally gravitate towards.

What this game is

This game has no pre-build story or world. It has no appendix of spells and no “classes” of players. What it does have is a set of rules and suggestions. The suggestions are things that, while not mechanical or enforceable, are good ideas to keep with you while you play. The rules are obviously much more ridged, but you will find that they are rather sparse. While there are many differences between The Lord of the Rings and Toy Story, there is also an overlap in the set of things we believe could happen. In The Lord or the Rings, we except that Gandalf can have powers beyond our understanding of what is possible. In Toy Story, we except that Andy’s toys can talk and move around. These are the “rules” of each movie. And while completely different, there are also rules that they share at their core: characters don’t randomly disappear, scenes depict things that are relevant, continuity exists between scenes, and so on. Silverscreen’s rules are this core.