What is Cinedrama?

Cinedrama is a larp playstyle. It’s a way of thinking about larp that we first came up with for the Crooked House event Captain Dick Britton and the Voice of the Seraph back in 2005, in which Heroes have a capital H. We also used it on All for One.

Yes, it is a silly name, but it allows us to subtitle events with “Presented in glorious Cinedrama“!

It’s a simple premise: our game isn’t about mirroring a world with sensible physical rules. In a Cinedrama game, the world acts in the same way that it does in the cinema; more specifically, in the cinema-world portrayed by B-movies, pulp action movies and action-adventure movies.

For example, in a Cinedrama game, if a Star says “Look!” and points past a Supporting Actor, then of course that actor will turn round, enabling the Star to make their escape or stun them with an artfully wielded baguette.

If a character has a set of papers giving away their secret identity, then of course those papers won’t be hidden terribly well, because someone needs to discover them so we can play out the Accusation Scene!

If someone is mortally wounded, then of course they won’t immediately expire, but will hang around until at least they can give the ‘Tell Them… I Love Them’ speech or be saved by the Doctor Who Did This Operation Only Once Before And Lost The Patient And Still Gets Flashbacks.

Tropes, clichés, Everyone Knows How This Works – that’s Cinedrama.

On top of that, we layer other cinematic business. Some scenes will require you to suspend your disbelief, because there are things we’ll need to fix In Post. You’ll hear ‘Cut’ and ‘Roll Camera’ or ‘Action‘ to start and stop play. You should pay no attention to the scenery shifters in their brown-coats and flat caps. Maybe some sets that you want to visit are still under construction, so you’ll only be able to take part in that scene later on. And maybe the story won’t be played out in strictly linear fashion. Montages, compressed-time journeys, drawing red lines across maps to travel across the world – all are staples of Cinedrama.

The supporting cast – or extras, or ‘monsters’ as some other systems call them – will not be using quite the same rules and abilities as the stars. After all, they’re just set dressing, put there to make you – the star – look good. Where would we be if every Evil Henchman was as heroic as you?

The emphasis is on (over-)acting and (over-)role-playing; on suspension of disbelief; on willingly pretending you don’t know things so that others around you have the chance to shine, on having a fantastical adventure rather than on winning a game.