Dallas: The Television Role-Playing Game
February 29, 2012 8:43 PM Subscribe
I catch a lot of flak over my description of the years 1974 to 1983 as the Golden Age of roleplaying games, much of it based on a misunderstanding of my original point, namely that, after this period, tabletop RPGs would never again command the same degree of broad cultural significance that they did during this time. A good illustration of my point is this odd product, from wargames publisher SPI: Dallas: The Television Role-Playing Game. Published in 1980, the same year as the company's more well known foray into roleplaying, DragonQuest, Dallas was designed by none other than James F. Dunnigan, famous as (among many things) the designer of the classic wargames Jutland and PanzerBlitz.
You have basic stats and you own certain Minor Characters or Organizations (represented by cards in the book) that give you bonuses to your core abilities. At the start of an Episode (adventure) each Major Character (PC) is given a set of objectives ("Control X Minor Character and 5 of the following Minor Characters/Organizations") as well as some secrets (like control of certain of the above).
Each scene has a Director (GM) phase where the action/location is set up, a Negotiation phase where the characters can maneuver and deal for what they want through roleplaying, and a Conflict phase where you deal with conflicts that couldn't be handled by Negotiation (you compare the appropriate abilities, subtracting the lower from the higher to get the result of the conflict, but this is when pulling a "But I control the local FBI office!" card off the table to surprise the other guy can come in handy and there's a Power resource you can use to further modify your situation).
There's also a little rules section for dealing with when PCs commit illegal acts, which boils down to a PC using their own Investigation skill or that of a Minor Character/Organization they control to call out the suspect and get them in trouble.
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