A roleplaying game set in the world of motion pictures
Version 1.1 (June 22, 1994)
This text is copyright 1994 by Mikko Kauppinen (
All rights reserved


Trailers are the best of what all too many films have to offer. Not so with this game. Lights, Camera, Action! gives you a chance to become a celebrated actor, actress or director, at least within the confines of your campaign. Tired of Hollywood's calculated-to-appeal products? You can do better right here. Just read on.

This game attempts to simulate movie reality as closely as possible. Because of this, there are very few hard-and-fast rules. The few that do exist allow for maximum GM interpretation. This way he can keep the story moving regardless of inconvenient dice results. These rules are aimed for the more experienced players and GMs. They assume that the general concepts of roleplaying are already familiar. In addition to this text, only paper, pencils and a few six-sided dice (usually called D6) are needed.


All player characters are actors who star in various films scripted and directed by the GM. They can be grunts in the jungles of Vietnam in one movie and slapstick comedians in the next. The game system does not in any way limit the number of possible films. The rules work equally well in action, drama, comedy and pornography. All PCs have four attributes: Body, Smarts, Style and Fame. The first three are determined by rolling dice; Fame always starts from a predetermined level. Fame is also the only attribute that can increase with experience.

When a new character is created, the player should roll 2D6 for the Body, Smarts and Style. If the result is 2 or 12, reroll. Also, if all three are below 7, you may reroll all of them. Fame always starts from level 3. The following table explains what the four attributes cover.

Attribute Table

Body: This attribute is used for all physical activities like running, climbing and fighting. It measures your strength, agility, constitution etc. Famous examples of high Body are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Bruce Lee must have had Body 10 or 11; it just was not as obvious as with the other three guys here.

Smarts: This covers all forms of mental activity, be it solving complex equations, writing an artful poem or designing a space shuttle. It is also used when the PC uses his senses to notice something. It is somewhat difficult to say which actors have good Smarts, but I would say Anthony Hopkins, Harvey Keitel and Daniel Day-Lewis rank pretty well. Somewhere I also read that Sharon Stone has one of the highest IQs among the stars.

Style: This includes appearance, personality and sex appeal. It is used for all kinds of interaction between people. This is a very subjective area, of course, but Madeleine Stowe and Sharon Stone (again) are high on my list, and Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner are popular with girls (or so I am told).

Fame: Fame measures how well known your actor is. It determines your status as an actor; see the table below. In movie reality, it is also used for any highly implausible but still successful actions (i.e. the more famous you are, the more incredible things you can do). It can save you from a lethal wound, help in jumping from one plane to other etc. You can make Fame checks a number of times equal to its level per each film. As you start out you have only a few Fame checks and they are not very likely to succeed. But with time you become the central character of the film and you can do many unrealistic (but fun) stunts. For examples of high Fame, see above and the latest issue of Premiere, Empire and the like.

    Level    Status
    -----    ------
     3-4      Extra
     5-6      Co-Star
     7-10     Star
     11       Superstar

After determining your attributes, you have to choose an occupation. It tells you what your character did (and might still do) to pay the rent before beginning his acting career. You can say that the PC has always been an actor, if you wish (Shirley Temple and Drew Barrymore began acting pretty young).

The chosen occupation should be related your best attribute. Thus PCs with high Body might be athletes, workers or soldiers. PCs with good Smarts could have been artists, engineers or accountants. And finally, characters with high Style are probably models, PR persons or actors.

During the game, you get benefits from your chosen occupation. The character gets +1 to all checks related to his former job (see Game System, below).

You might be wondering what exactly do the various attribute levels mean. Unlike most other RPGs, this one does not tell you exactly what the numbers mean. They are only used to compare characters' abilities. Statistically, 6 is a bit below average, and 7 is a little above it. This means that the mythical "average person" cannot exist in this game. Fame has a definite meaning when used to determine character's status, but otherwise there are no exact relations to the real world.

Many GMs (myself included) still would like to have some sort of an average person for quick reference. Lights, Camera, Action! recognizes a type known as 5-6-7. That kind of character has 7 as his best and/or most often used attribute, 6 as his "average" attribute and 5 as his worst attribute. For example, a typical muscleman might have Body 7, Smarts 5 and Style 6 (and Fame 3, of course). If the GM absolutely needs a truly ordinary person, all attributes might be at level 6. Note that most people also have an occupation, which gives them bonuses in certain areas.

If the GM wants to run combat-intensive adventures, he should make his goons and thugs considerably weaker than the average examples above. This is not even very unrealistic: Most thugs are people who cannot do anything else. If goons were useful members of the society, they would be doing something constructive instead of beating up others. End of lecture.

Fame is the only attribute that can be increased by experience. After every movie you star in, you can make a check against your best attribute (NOT counting Fame). If you succeed, your Fame is raised by one. The reasoning behind this rule goes like this: If you have high Body, you are likely to be a muscular actor, who excels in physically demanding scenes and does his own stunts. If you have high Smarts, you choose your roles well, hire only the best agents and otherwise make good career choices. Finally, if you have high Style, you look good onscreen, have lots of sex appeal and easily charm most people. Many actors are seen as one of these types; just look some of the names in the Character Creation chapter. They are most often offered roles which demand that certain quality.

In addition to the above, a PC can sometimes get an additional point of Fame (regardless of whether the attribute check succeeds) if the GM thinks his performance was truly exceptional, worth an Academy Award nomination at least. Other methods include bribing or blackmailing the GM. Anyway, bonus points should not be handed out very often.


The only roll that is used in this game is the 2D6 roll. The task resolution rules are very simple: Roll 2D6. If the result is smaller than or equal to the attribute used, you succeed. 2 is a critical success; 12 is a critical failure. The GM will interpret the roll as he wishes, taking into account the demands of the plot and the audience. In some situations there might be modifiers to the roll. All modifiers affect the attribute, not the dice roll. They are summarized in the following table.

Modifier Table

Difficulty: Especially easy or difficult tasks will have a modifier of +2/-2. If the GM believes that the task is most hard or easy to complete, he might decide to use -4/+4. They should, however, be reserved to the most extreme situations imaginable. Even if there are multiple factors affecting the check, the combined modifier cannot exceed +4/-4.

Fame: Famous actors often have roles in which they can accomplish unbelievable feats. The rules reflect this by giving PCs bonuses to their attributes according to their status. Extras get no additional abilities. Co-stars get +1 to the best of their first three attributes. Stars get +1 to all three. Superstars get +2 to their best attribute, and +1 to the other two. Note that these bonuses are not added to the character's actual attributes, because a Superstar might have a cameo role in which he would only have an Extra's or Co-star's abilities.

Training: The character creation rules say that a PC's occupation gives him +1 to related tasks. For most other things he would use normal, unchanged levels. The GM can always say that some tasks cannot be attempted by the unskilled (i.e. no nuclear physics unless you have the education) or that they become much more difficult (trying to guess which wire defuses the bomb and which one blows up the building, you, your partner and the cat).

If modifiers lower the chance of success below 3, a roll of 2 will still succeed, but it will not be a critical success. Likewise, if the chance is over 11, a roll of 12 will still fail, but it will not be a fumble.

Often, when a PC attempts something, someone will want to resist it. Combat is the most common example. This is handled simply by having both contestants roll dice. If both succeed or fail the situation is unlikely to change much. Otherwise the GM tells what has happened. If the result is unsatisfactory to the PC, he can use a Fame roll to change things. Note that it can only be attempted a limited number of times in each film (see Character Creation).

Modifiers have a special meaning in opposed tasks. If, for example, a female PC tries to charm a nerd, it would usually be an easy (+2) task. Most nerds would not even try to resist. If someone had told this particular nerd to let no-one in the house, he would have the opposite modifier (i.e. -2) for his roll. This generally works in combat as well. If you get +2 to hit targets in a narrow alley with your assault rifle, they would have -2 to their dodges.


Because of popular demand, I have thought up some slightly more detailed combat rules. Friends of the former freewheelin' system should not fear; the new system is basically the old one with better organization. All combat follows the next five steps.

1. Determine initiative for all participants: All persons in a film act in the order of their Fame attributes, with higher numbers going first. Someone with high initiative can wait and let others go first. In case of tie, roll 2D6; higher result wins. If the roll results in a tie, the characters act simultaneously. Sometimes the GM might need a random method of determining the initiative, for example if the persons involved do not know that the other one is also doing something. This is also resolved with the 2D6 roll. In combats where there are lots of people involved, it might be convenient to only roll for sub-groups (like squads instead of every man in the platoon).

2. Determine your goals: Everyone should now decide what they want to do. Some examples include knocking out a sentry, dodging a machine gun burst or hitting the Death Star's exhaust port with a well-aimed photon torpedo. This is the right time to say whether you try to kill, wound or just scratch.

3. Roll the dice: When the GM has chosen the appropriate modifiers (if any), everyone makes his check. If the attacker fails, there is usually no need for the defender to roll. If he succeeds, then the defender has a chance to avoid or reduce the damage. If the defender's check is successful, the damage is negated (if possible) or at least reduced. If it fails, he suffers full damage.

4. GM says what happened: After considering the roll results, the GM tells everyone what was the outcome of their action. As I said in the previous chapter, he should always take into account the demands of the plot. No director wants his film to be unsuccessful!

If there is a need for various wound levels, the GM might use -2 for wounded people and -4 for badly wounded. There is also an "official" stun; it lasts for 1D6 rounds. People can be stunned by falling from the roof, being kicked to the balls or seeing something incredible, like their friend's head exploding from a sniper's bullet. Gore rarely stuns in splatter movies, however. The GM can also say that someone has been knocked unconscious; this lasts as long as the GM wants.

5. Go back to 1: If there are still some fighters left, go to step 1. At this point actors may surrender or run away.


You have no doubt noticed that the rules are designed for human characters. This is because the overwhelming majority of films have no supernatural beings at all. The GM can still use aliens from outer space, ghosts and the like; he just has to do a little more work. He must determine the being's special abilities and vulnerabilities, and whether they fit the scale used for humans. A King Kong -size gorilla would be far stronger than any man. Its Smarts and Style would be below anything considered human. However, it could still be killed by man-made weapons such as attack helicopters and heavy artillery. It might have Fame at level 7 or even higher; after all, it has starred in more than one film and in a central role.


There is not much left to say. Perhaps the best way to start is to watch some of your favorite films and write down the plots. You can use them as a base to build your first adventures on. Of course, the PCs are initially in very minor roles, or else the film is low-budget crap, but it might be a refreshing change from the usual heroic campaigns. If you set your first film in the Star Wars universe, the PCs could be stormtroopers or Rebel soldiers. They appear, maybe deliver some lines and then begin shooting in earnest. Their death will not harm the story. In fact, it is expected.

If the PCs want to be more influential from the beginning, you can give them leading roles, if you wish. After all, they already have been in some films, since all people in this game have a Fame of at least 3. But these roles would be in very low-budget releases, or maybe in TV. This way you can create your adventures like in other games. By the way, this game allows you to use all adventures published for other RPGs. Since there are so few stats, you can copy the plot verbatim and quickly determine the attributes for important cast members.

This version has a lot of text that was not in the first one. I received good suggestions via e-mail and most of them are incorporated into this text. If you think that there is something wrong, or want to add something, my address is in the beginning of the rules. But now the spotlights are turning to you and the crew is ready... the stage is yours.