Reviews | Written by Ed Fortune 26/04/2022

Stargate SG-1 Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook

One of the nice things about sci-fi table-top roleplaying games is that your experience has an infinite budget. You can have epic space battles one moment and then extravagant balls the next and you can achieve things that would make a CGI producer weep. (Though of course sometimes it’s good to have a few pictures on hand just to make the point.)  And the thing about the TV series Stargate SG-1 is that had some amazing concepts hampered by a budget that was just about able to stretch to make the space guns go zap.

The appeal Stargate SG-1 Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is that you can take your players to worlds that the show could never afford to pull off. Cyber-punk art-deco Vikings? Hyper-captialist eco-tech Aztechs? A jelly based planet? All of this is now at your grasp without everything looking like it’s filmed in Canada.

Plot wise, you’re a Stargate team based off-world in a place called the Phoenix site. The idea is that you’re separate (but equal) to the core events of the show and have more flexibility with aliens. You’ll be exploring new worlds through a network of portals known as Stargates and thwarting parasitic alien conquerors and the like. There’s enough setting information to create your own stories and give them the right flavour without needing to watch the entire series.

Rules wise, it’s loosely based on D&D 5th Edition (namely the open license), so your characters have six core stats with modifiers, advance via levels etc. However they’ve made substantial adjustments to make it feel ‘more Stargate’. Basically if you’ve played D&D 5th then you know the basic rules, but they’ve added some cool twiddles.

One is that skills top out at 5th level. You still level, you just gain feats and these let your character become more specialist. This means that as the campaign wears on, you’re still never guaranteed god-like levels of success. Character progression is through resolving missions, not combat. Solving problems through courage and intelligence is a key theme of the TV show, after all.

We also have tension dice; these are extra dice that make certain encounters tougher or more dangerous. This allows the DM to up the stakes as needs be, depending on the game. They are also determination points, which can be best described as a way of encouraging players to hold their actions until it’s critical to the plot/their character. It’s not a smooth way of doing this, but it does work and make the game feel more Stargate. Combat does away with the idea of a battle map, it’s theatre of the mind only, and the rules reflect this freedom.

They are five playable races. Humans, Jaffa, Tok’ra, Unas and Aturen. The first one needs little explanation (and in Stargate they’re the most common race). The Jaffa are the same as the TV series, genetically altered incubators for Goa'uld symbiotes. Tok’ra are essentially ‘good guy’ Goa'uld. The Unas are the reptilian humanoids who appear in a handful of Stargate shows who co-evolved with the Goa'uld and in this setting, have only just started to spread out amongst the stars. Finally we get the Aturen, a race unique to the RPG. Influenced by the god-like Nox, the mostly human Aturen seek enlightenment through peace. Well, they try to.

Character creation is very customizable. Different roles, places of origin and culture apply various modifiers, so you end up playing an actual character instead of a stereotype. Not all Aturen are peaceful. Not all Tok’ra are smug, and so on. They are character classes (Medic, Scout, Engineer) etc and yes, they lean into tropes, but this is meant to be a TV show style RPG.

The art for the book nails the vibe of the show very well, and they are plenty of resources for a group to build stories around.  Sessions feel like Stargate, so if you don’t like the show, avoid this game. If you’re a fan though, this is one of the best ‘screen to table top’ adaptations we’ve seen in a long time . Recommended.