Monday, 18 May 2015

Enter the Stargate, if You Dare!

I watched the original Stargate movie in the theatre back in 1994. At the time, I characterized it as “Power Rangers for adults”…which is not to say that I thought it was bad, but that there is a certain flash to the effects, and a lack of grit to the story that reminded me of my son’s (then current) obsession with the Power Rangers. I dismissed it early, and never watched the television series, which I understand has a somewhat different continuity.

I rewatched it to create this blog post, and my opinions have changed somewhat. The plot is still lacking in grit. The protagonists have things far too easy in the film. The effects are far too clean…like prequel Star Wars compared to the grittier, used-universe feel of the original trilogy. And, time having passed, it looked very much like “John Denver’s clone travels to another world”.

On the other hand, there is a lot of potential here for gaming. Although much of what follows is based on the extended version of the Stargate film, I have delved a little into the spin-off series via Wikipedia and the Internet in general. Because I am not greatly familiar with the extended Stargate mythology, feel free to correct me, make changes for your own game, etc. – stuff you should feel free to do anyway!

(As a side note, since other things happened between re-watching and writing, I might still not be so great in this post, but it is an attempt!)


These devices appear as large, circular rings of an unknown metal. Each requires seven tablets to be decoded in order to align properly (DC 18 Intelligence check per tablet; a retry is allowed each day for three days, then each week for three weeks, then each month for three months, and so on). When properly aligned, the symbols on the stargate allow a portal to open between the current stargate, and another stargate on another world. This second stargate opens only briefly, and must also be properly aligned to allow a return journey. Once a PC has decoded one series of tablets, it requires only a DC 10 Intelligence check to align the return stargate, as long as all tablets are available.

The Judge should not feel constrained to the locations used in the film, television, or novel series. A stargate can lead to any world or plane the Judge wishes. The stargate in the film led to an unnamed world ruled by Ra. Although there might have been more to it than seen in the film, it appeared to be a desert world with a definite Egyptian motif, which nonetheless managed to sustain a rather large population of human slaves. Ra took the ancestors of these slaves from Earth, so they are not native to Ra’s slave world.

The mere existence of the stargates suggests an obvious adventure possibility: One or more tablets must be recovered to open the stargate, either to pass through it initially or to return home thereafter. If this brings Perils of the Purple Planet to your mind, you’re not alone. I would not be surprised if Stargate was inspirational to some aspects of Harley Stroh’s masterpiece.

Domesticated Animal

The one creature we see which is, presumably, native to Ra’s slave world is a domesticated creature – strong, easily spooked, but apparently also reasonably friendly and loyal. It has a good sense of smell, apparently using it to find the sparse vegetation on the slave world, as well as the occasional chocolate bar travellers might be carrying.

This creature also gives us a good example of a really bad Luck check. When you burn too much Luck, ropes just kind of get wrapped around your ankle, and creatures sort of drag you through the sand for a while. Luckily, in this case, it was all subdual damage.

Domesticated animal from Ra’s slave world: Init +0; Atk bite +0 melee (1d4) or kick +1 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 3d8+3; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP strong sense of smell; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

Special Encounter: This creature is a stray, wearing a harness with a long, dangling rope. The first being who approaches it must succeed in a Luck check, or the creature is spooked, running away for 1d5+4 turns. Unless the approaching PC succeeds in a DC 10 Reflex save, the rope catches around his ankle, allowing the creature to drag him away. The sand causes 1d5 subdual damage for each turn of dragging. A PC rendered unconscious in this way awakes to the animal licking him in the face.


Ra is protected and served by troopers wearing futuristic armour. Their animal-headed masks withdraw at will, disappearing completely into the body of the armour. Trooper armour has a +4 AC bonus, a –4 check penalty, and a d8 fumble die. This armour reduces movement by 5’.

Trooper weapons are treated as polearms with slashing blades (1d10), but they can also fire an energy beam up to 500’ (3d6). Once fired, these weapons need time to recharge – there is a 1 in 5 chance per round that the weapon is ready to fire again (i.e., 1 in 5 on the first round, 2 in 5 on the second round, etc.). If an attempt to fire the weapon is made before the recharge cycle is complete on the 5th round, and the weapon is not recharged, nothing is accomplished apart from looking menacing.

NOTE: PCs may spend Luck to move the recharge die roll in their favour. For example, if John Denver fires a trooper weapon one round, and then tries to fire it again on the subsequent round, he rolls a die to see if it can fire. It comes up a “3”. By spending two points of Luck (3 – 2 = 1), he can shift that to a successful recharge.

Trooper: Init +0; Atk polearm +1 melee (1d10) or energy beam +3 ranged (3d6); AC 14; HD 1d6; MV 25’; Act 1d20; SP weapon recharge; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0; AL L.

It should be noted that Ra’s troopers are human. They are simply the most privileged slaves on a slave world. Both armour and weapons are powered by a unique, unnamed metal that has the ability to store and amplify power.

Air Support

Some of the troopers also fly cool-looking fighters, which are presumably capable of travelling in space as well as in the atmosphere. A half-way descent tactician would use these far more effectively than Ra. Ra uses them for the occasional strafing run and little else. Perhaps this is due to a limitation on Ra’s unique metal’s storage capacities…the Crawljammer stats below assume that this is the case.

Ra’s fighter: Init +3; Atk energy beams +3 ranged (2d6); AC 15; HD 5d10; MV 90’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +2; Crit d8; Fumble d4; Composition: metal; Luck pool: 0.

Strafing Run: The sky is split by the scream of alien ships. They pulse beams of blue fire toward the people massed below, followed by panic, screams, and explosions.

Somehow, for all their destructiveness, the strafing runs seldom injure important characters. Each PC (and significant NPC) make a Luck check. On a failure, they take 2d6 damage from incidental shrapnel, trampling, etc. If an NPC has no Luck score, assume success 50% of the time. Background NPCs are not so fortunate – 3d8 of them are killed. The judge may modify the number killed depending upon circumstances.

Miracles and Wonders

Teleporters: Ra has mastered the use of teleporting machines. Each of these machines must have a terminal at both ends to function.

Resurrection: Ra has a machine that can resurrect the fallen. If recently slain (within 48 hours), the machine is 100% effective, and the subject suffers no ability score loss. Every day thereafter, there is a 5% reduction in the chance of a successful resurrection, and a +5% chance that a point is lost from a random ability score (not including Luck). If an ability point is lost, there is chance that another point is lost (base chance –10%). If that is lost, there is another chance (10% less than the previous) that another point is lost, and so on, until the chance reaches 0 or it is rolled without ability point loss.

Non-human characters have a –25% chance of resurrection, and a +25% chance of ability point loss if resurrection succeeds. Something about humans makes them easier for Ra’s machines to repair.

Nameless Metal: In its pure form, this may be used as a special material component in spells which capture or release energy. The caster gains a +1 bonus to the spell check for every ½ pound of the metal sacrificed for this purpose. Extracting this metal to a usable form for spellcasting requires an Intelligence-based DC 20 Skill check related to smelting, metallurgy, or smithcraft. Failure by 5 or more causes an explosion for 1d6 damage per ½ pound of metal, with a radius of 30’. Failure by 10 or more doubles both damage and radius. A natural “1” on a failed check triples the damage and radius.


Long ago, an alien from an unnamed species was dying, and searched the universe for the means to stave off death. Eventually, it came to Earth, where it became known to the Egyptians as the god, Ra. By possessing a human host, the alien was able to prolong life indefinitely. Although Ra now appears as a rather androgynous adolescent boy, when he is angry flashes of the possessing alien become visible – a dark-eyed creature similar in many ways to the classic “Close Encounters”-type aliens.

When Ra strikes a creature, there is a 1 in 3 chance that an energy discharge will cause an additional 1d6 damage and fling the creature back 3d6 feet. Any creature subject to this attack must roll a DC 10 Fort save or drop any held items, and a DC 15 Reflex save or be knocked prone.

Ra: Init +3; Atk unarmed strike +3 melee (1d5) or by weapon +5 melee; AC 13; HD 8d6; hp 30; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP energy discharge, regenerate 3 hp/round, damage reduction 5; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +10; AL L.

Goa'uld System Lords and Anubis Prime

In the movie, Ra was the last of a humanoid alien species, but in the television series he was one of the “Goa’uld System Lords” – a species of eel-like parasites from planet P3X-888, which could infest and possess humanoid hosts. Remorseless creatures bent on dominating others, the Goa’uld parasites could be encountered on many worlds. The most powerful of these creatures was known as Anubis. Anubis was so dangerous that even the other Goa'uld System Lords didn’t want him around.

I don’t have enough knowledge of the Stargate universe to even attempt to stat out the Goa’uld System Lords or Anubis. Anyone more knowledgeable than myself, who cares to take a crack at it in the comments section, is more than welcome to do so!


  1. I run a campaign once in the GURPS Infinity Patrol setting. Rather than be UN affiliated, I had the players be members of the U.S. World Gate project with their conveyors located under Cheyenne Mountain. :)

  2. I've always considered reading the books based on the original movie and basing a game on that, rather than the tv series. The books are still sitting on my book shelf waiting for me to get around to them.