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Stargate SG-1
This text is ©1999 John Tynes
The Stargate intellectual property is owned by MGM/UA.

In January of 1998, I was hired by a company known as West End Games to design and write a new roleplaying game. WEG was known for their Star Wars game, among others, and they had bought a license to the television series Stargate SG-1. This show is based on the movie Stargate, a largely terrible movie with terrific production design.

As it turned out, the television series was much better than the film. I saw most of the first season (at that time screening on the Showtime cable channel) before starting work on the game, and found that a couple of episodes were genuinely terrific, most were passably entertaining, and a couple stunk. On the whole, their batting average seemed to be in the same league as later seasons of X-Files, and well above out-and-out garbage like Star Trek: Voyager.

More importantly, however, the premise of the series proved to be tailor-made to roleplaying games. It was really pretty amazing; I can't think of another series offhand that is so completely appropriate for translation into gaming.

To summarize: Stargate SG-1 posits that an ancient alien civilization set up high-tech teleportation/wormhole gates on planets across the galaxy. You set the coordinates, walk through the gate, and boom, you're on another planet. Much later, a parasitic race finds these abandoned bits of technology. Since they use humans and other races as host bodies, but prefer humans, this parasite race deposits humans on hundreds of these linked worlds, so that wherever the race travels, they'll always have more host bodies. This kidnapping/relocation occurs in a vaguely defined period of "ancient times," so you find colonies taken from Greece, Egypt, Mongolia, and on and on.

In the movie, one of these stargates has been found on Earth. Some government explorers travel through the gate, briefly fight the aliens, and come home.

In the series, it's a year or so later. The government sets up nine teams--SG-1 through SG-9--to begin exploring the various worlds reachable from the Earth stargate. Their main priority is to gain information and technology and allies to fight the evil parasite aliens, but they also want to explore, learn stuff, and do all that sort of thing.

The teams are where this really turns into great gaming fodder. SG-1 is the first-contact team, and it's a typical gaming party: about six people, including a soldier, a linguist, an anthropologist, and even an alien, just for good measure. They're the first team to explore any given locale, and they have most of the fun.

So clearly, that's a great gaming premise right there. But the other teams offer other options. One team is a pure military/special ops group, to fight evil aliens; one team is full of academics, who move in after SG-1 is done to do deep exploration; one team negotiates treaties; and so forth. Basically, this series lets you play just about any kind of campaign you want, with just enough genre rationales to vaguely explain why you can walk through a stargate and experience some sort of ludicrous adventure.

Anyway, I wrote about 30,000 words worth of stuff, adapting WEG's house game system--the "D6 System"--for Stargate. Along the way, WEG began to implode, the people I was working for were fired, and the project was cancelled. I never saw a dime.

Oh well! Here's what I wrote. I think the adaptation I did of WEG's system is pretty good. There isn't quite enough here to play the game--the main things missing are equipment and character templates--but it's almost there, and you might get a kick out of it.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the project was that I decided to write the entire rulebook as if it was a big training program for potential Stargate team members. From start to finish, the game would never admit it was an RPG you bought it in a store; it's all written as if it's all for real, and that the Stargate team is using the RPG format as a training tool to test recruits' ability to think fast in strange situations. This made for some interesting writing.

Anyway, here are the files. I doubt I'll ever write another word about Stargate, but it was kinda fun while it lasted.

Letter from Colonel Jack O'Neil, USAF; credits; contents listing


Chapter One: Characters

Chapter Two: Attributes and Skills

Chapter Three: How to be a Supervisor

Chapter Four: The Rules

Chapter Five: Combat

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