The Goa’uld are vile, parasitical worms who take human hosts, command extremely advanced technology, and are obsessed with galactic domination. They’re also the chief enemies of Stargate Command, the branch of the U.S. military dedicated to protecting Earth from interstellar attacks while simultaneously exploring the universe through a series of inter-connected stargates.
Living Gods is a supplement for Alderac’s Stargate SG-1 Role-Playing Game (Internet Archive), based on the television series of the same name. It details the System Lords, ruling class of the Gou’ald who pass themselves off as gods with names taken from human mythology.
The book’s divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 covers the history of the goa’uld, including the origin of the specifies and numerous dynasties. Chapter 2, the largest chapter, covers the Goa’uld System lord. Each lord includes a statblock and biography, write-ups on notable followers, and details about planets controlled. Chapter 3 introduces numerous new game rules. Additions include new alien specialties, new feats and new alien weapons and armors. Rounding out the book is the appendix, which should really count as a fourth chapter. It’s dedicated to actually running system lords, and gives advice for GMs on playing one of the Goa’uld, new prestige classes, and guidelines for building a system lord.
One Book to Rule Them All
The Stargate SG-1 Core Book provides everything GMs need to run a campaign, and includes brief summaries of the major Gou’ald enemies. That’s good, but Living Gods is far better.
For one thing, the book gives complete histories and stats for each of the various Gou’ald threats that SG-1 has faced. Having a few dozen-odd ready-to-run villains is always good for GMs, and truth be told, its something I don’t think we see enough of with Dungeons & Dragons. For another, it backs up this Rogues Gallery with numerous supporting characters who are also fully fleshed out and statted, and numerous world write-ups. It’s not an exaggeration to say that with its NPC and location write-ups, Living Gods provides the seeds for dozens of potential Stargate adventures as well as numerous campaigns. As I’ve said before, any time I pick up a source book and find myself imagining different adventure scenarios, I know I’ve got a winner.
While I love having access to pre-generated NPCs, I can never resist the temptation to create my own evil overlords for my players to fight. Living Gods helps with that by providing six new “system lord” prestige classes and a system for generating your own system lords. The prestige classes play off of the typical Gou’ald stereotypes and give them the larger-than-life abilities so important to inspiring the proper amount of fear in your players. For example, the “tyrant” prestige class is dedicated to power-hungry Gou’ald, and its various class abilities allow it to dominate others, providing the Gou’alds minions with bonuses to various Charisma-based checks and ultimately allowing the System Lord to force others to do his bidding through sheer force of will. The “Manipulator” works behind the scenes, and has the ability to use his minions to suppress news about his activities, culminating with the ability to simply shrug off anything bad that happened to him or his allies in a given round (since any failed saves or damage taken was just a clever ruse). All of the prestige classes are “short” five level ones. That’s a nice touch — it allows GMs to give their System Lords impressive powers without having to end up with 30th level characters.
The rules for creating a System Lord are simply excellent. It’s based on the concept of “Dominion”, which is a measure of how powerful a Gou’ald is within the System Lord hierarchy. Each lord gets a certain amount of “dominion” based on how powerful the GM wants him or her to be. This dominion is then spent acquiring resources like planetary strongholds, advanced technology, Jaffa armies, and industrial bases. It can also be spent to provide a System Lord with feats, skills and abilities above and beyond what would normally be available to a PC or NPC of their level. Some might view the later as GM cheating, but personally I think it’s a brilliant idea — the System Lords are supposed to be far more powerful than their human, or even Tok’ra, counterparts. These rules simply provide a frame work for giving them those extra abilities (though such improvements come at the cost of the Gou’ald’s larger empire).
Presentation-wise, the book looks and reads well. The original Stargate SG-1 rule book had some pretty glaring errors in it — fonts that didn’t display right, tables improperly laid out, content inconsistencies — but I couldn’t find any similar errors in this book.
Living Gods is an essential resource for Stargate GMs, providing NPCs and additional rules that enrich and enliven their campaigns. You could run a SG-1 campaign without this book — but why would you want to?