It was my fault sadly, which makes me all the more upset about it. The modchip I got was a weird Chinese chip that I couldn't find any tuts for online at all. After plugging it in and getting no response whatsoever (we're now assuming it was faulty ribbon cables) I idiotically touched the power connector to the main power in the back of the system, which switched everything off on my surge protector and either fried the disc drive or the ribbon cables. My friend is much more experienced than I am at this sort of thing and she believes once we get some new ribbon cables everything should work. So we're just waiting in the mean time, but yeah it's sort of frustrating and I feel like a dumbass. Soldering and that sort of thing just isn't my game at all. Still not sure if the mod chip even works though, it might not, and a Saturn without a chip is almost totally worthless to me. If we get the system back in working order I'll probably just use the swap trick since at that point the Saturn's already living on borrowed time anyway.
I should add, ruining an old system also makes me feel like shit as there's only so many working Saturns left and who knows how long they have.