|Genre(s)||Gothic, cyberpunk, dystopia, splatterpunk|
SLA Industries (pronounced "slay") is a role-playing game first published in 1993 by Nightfall Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The game is set in a dystopian far-flung future in which the majority of the known universe is either owned or indirectly controlled by the eponymous corporation "SLA Industries" and incorporates themes from the cyberpunk, horror and conspiracy genres.
The game combined concepts inspired by a range of aesthetics and ideas. Elements include: song lyrics from David Bowie and the Industrial music scene, cyberpunk fiction (including Blade Runner and Max Headroom), anime / manga (including Akira, Appleseed, Bubblegum Crisis, and Trigun), and the growing cultural obsession with the media (including 24 hour news services and the Gladiator TV Show).
SLA Industries itself is a fictional corporation run by a mysterious and seemingly immortal creature called "Mr. Slayer", whose upper management team includes two other creatures like himself, "Intruder" and "Senti". The corporation is headquartered in "Mort City", a densely populated city-sprawl larger than Eurasia and surrounded by the urban ruins of the "Cannibal Sectors". It is all located on a vast planet (also called "Mort") that had been stripped of its natural resources to the point that the ecology had been utterly destroyed. SLA Industries controlled an undefined but vast number of planets, collectively referred to as the World of Progress, and governed them in accordance with Mr. Slayer's Big Picture. The setting is bleak and surreal, with much left deliberately ill-defined in the source material.
Players take the role of freelance employees of SLA Industries, called Operatives, living in Mort City and taking care of odd jobs assigned to them by the corporation. These jobs usually involve keeping the peace -- chasing serial killers, hunting monsters in the sewers, quashing riots, foiling terrorist plots, and silencing dissidents are common themes. Appearance, style and branding are emphasized in the game world as much as combat ability, due to the omnipresence of television; for ambitious Operatives public persona and TV ratings are often as important as professional abilities. A supplement, the Contract Directory, also provides the option for players to play as celebrity gladiators called Contract Killers. As a role-playing experience, the game tends to be predisposed towards splatterpunk horror, noir, dark satire, and/or gunbunny high action. However, the complexity and Byzantine politics of the setting allow for slower-paced campaigns based around subversion, inter-departmental rivalry, and cut-throat power struggles within the company.
Along with humans, playable races include the drug-addicted mutant humans called "Frothers", the stealthy feline "Wraith Raiders", the formidably violent saurian "Shaktar", and the two 'Ebb' / pseudo-magic using races: the emotionally sensitive and charismatic Ebon, and their more sadistic and violent evolution, the "Brain Wasters". There are also a variety of biogenetic vat-grown warrior races called Stormers, produced by SLA to fight in their endless wars.
SLA Industries was first published independently in 1993. The game was later bought by Wizards of the Coast late in 1994, after their success with Magic: The Gathering. It was later republished by Nightfall Games Ltd and distributed by Hogshead Publishing, until Hogshead was sold to its current owners, and since 2003 Cubicle 7 Entertainment has been working on producing new material.
The Writers' Bible
Nightfall Games produced the SLA Industries Writers Bible, sometimes simply referred to as The Bible or The Truth, to allow freelance writers to grasp the complicated background of the game. The terms of the associated non-disclosure agreement required that the contents of the document remain secret.
Following an extended hiatus in production of official SLA Industries material, editor Tim Dedopulos released the bible to the members of the SLA Industries email discussion list in 1998. The fans' reaction to The Truth was not entirely warm, and the remaining members of Nightfall Games made it clear that further redistribution of the bible was not permitted without their explicit permission.
The writers have since made it clear that the bible was not intended for mass consumption - it had not been edited to the same standard as the published material, as it was an internal document used only to keep the work of disparate authors consistent with the intentions of Nightfall Games. It has also been explained that the process of revealing The Truth was originally to have happened over the course of several publications, each one containing more elements of an increasingly refined version of the backstory.
In 2005 Angus Abranson at Cubicle 7 allowed the re-release of this old Writers Bible, stating that this was no longer the Truth used internally for further development of material. It was posted in its entirety, to the Team 8 SLA Industries forum, but is no longer accessible.
- SLA Industries Main Rulebook (ISBN 1 899749 23 3)
- Karma Sourcebook (ISBN 1 880992 56 6)
- GM Screen
- Mort Sourcebook (ISBN 0 9522176 6 X)
- The Key of Delhyread Scenario (ISBN 978 1 8997492 4 1)
- The Contract Directory Sourcebook (ISBN 978 1 8997492 9 2)
- Cannibal Sector One Sourcebook (ISBN 978 0 9555423 0 5)
- Hunter Sheets Issue 1 Supplement (ISBN 978 0 9555423 1 2)
- Hunter Sheets Issue 2 Supplement
- Klicks End Supplement
- Ursa Carrien Supplement
- Momic 0.1 Supplement
- Appelcline, Shannon (August 3, 2006). "Wizards of the Coast: 1990–Present". A Brief History of Game. RPGnet. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
- Wallis, James (1994). "S.L.A. Industries". Inter*action (1): 118–122. ISSN 1353-4548. Review