If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love the Stargate franchise. I recently watched all of Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Universe, and I’m almost done with season 8 of Stargate SG-1. In the case of SG1 & SGA, I’m rewatching — I have seen all of these before, except for the series closer of SGA.
I should warn: there will be motherfucking spoilers here.
At its heart, SG1 & SGA are pulp serials. (SGU is a very different beast — a BSG take on the universe — and I didn’t care for it for a number of reasons, so I’m not going to touch it much.) That means that, as an engine for these stories, I’d go to Fate — ideal for pulp adventures.
Fate’s fantastic for this! Look at Samantha Carter & Daniel Jackson — they’re characters with high authorial intent. In Fate terms: they have the privilege of creating broad aspects about a situation, like “Clearly this is Ancient™” or “Modified Frequency Blaster.” The high-intellect pulp characters like Doc Savage are represented well here, which SG is full of.
Setting the tone is also something one does with global aspects. “Named cast don’t actually die” is an aspect on the shows, though occasionally subverted against pretty harshly. (And then sometimes un-subverted. Hi, Carson.)
Add to that the fact that the stress system suits pulps well, the mechanics allow for different courses of action, etc., and you have something strong for SG. (And it’ll be even stronger when Fate Core comes out, for serious.)
Things about Stargate
The interesting thing about wormhole physics is how it constrains options. Matter going only one way means you can be cut off from an escape, but that there’s a maximum window means you can time an attempt to connect out. Along with that, the fact that the DHD can be moved or broken independent of the Stargate can cause all sorts of potentially stranded problems.
All of that’s crafted to introduce problems in the narrative. And that’s what we need to think about, from the perspective of the aspect “Wormhole Physics” — the ways in which the group can be compelled by that aspect.
The Goa’uld have the same hot point that the Vaylen in Iron Empires have — the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” vibe. I dug the Wraith from SGA enough, but I wouldn’t want them as my main foe. So, that enemy who can infiltrate us and take our will away, that’s juicy stuff. Add to that the Jaffa, the warriors bound to service because of their symbiotes, and you have a sense of complex motivations that can come from a people that are, 99% of the time, near-faceless mooks to fight.
Going Beyond Stargate
Here’s the thing that really drives my crank about this show: there keeps being a risk of public exposure. I want to see the world where that’s come to pass. We got a hint of one possible world when we saw Earth as a part of the Aschen Federation, although that was of Earth being effectively subjugated. Still, when I saw that episode, when I saw the firefight with Anubis over Antarctica, all of that, I was excited.
So that’s what I want. I want the world that’s five or ten years after the Stargate’s public, with a couple Earth-orbit battles in recent history. That’s the world I want to play in.
If there’s anything I’d ditch, it’s the whole “you Earthlings are too primitive” vibe that you get with some early- and mid-series episodes. From a gaming perspective, that just opens up a fucking huge can of worms, so it’s best to say “this is Earth’s level, and aside from the Big Nasty threats and the occasional distant allies that rarely show up, that’s what the world’s at, yo.”
It’s more interesting to make it a story about resources rather than about capability. The “if only we had more naquadah & trinium, we could build more ships” thing.
So, let’s take a page from the Aschen Federation episode, where humanity has advanced rapidly in ten years. We can pin part of that on other cultures who have advanced, some of that on technology left by the Ancients and discovered by humans of Earth, and some based on captured enemies. Let’s see stories about this Earth Defense Force stomping through the gate, about a hard war at times, though with many worlds that are still left untouched by that war (so that we can take a break to tell B-plot stories). Stories about what few ships our planet’s been about to build and maintain (and keep from being destroyed). All that stuff.
And let’s see how the world we know changes because of that.
(If there’s some familiarity here, that’s because Mass Effect did this, albeit later in the future and with a longer amount of time between public knowledge and game start.)
What Do You Want?
A bunch of you guys are Stargate fans. What fires you up? What would you like to see?
 Which, as a San Franciscan-in-exile, brought a couple tears to my eyes