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
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.
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;
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.
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.
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
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!