Table-Top RPG: SLA Industries

Disclaimer: SLA Industries is a horror based RPG and therefore isn’t recommended for young people. I think this important to point as a lot of parents or siblings involve young people to bring them into the glorious world of roleplaying, and personally this is a dark RP that most likely will upset some children.

3 Operatives in triangle formation firing their weapons.SLA Industries was first published in 1993 by Nightfall Games, created by Dave Allsop. It is set in the future where most of universe is owned by SLA Industries, the planets that are owned, either directly or indirectly, are collectively called the World of Progress. SLA Industries is a corporation owned by the abstruse and mysterious Mr Slayer and you play as some of the freelance employees, known as Operatives, that live on Mort. Your aim is to keep the peace. It is a 2d10 system (2 lots of 10 sided dice) that is for 2 people or more, with the optimum number of players being between 4 and 6.

Mort City, where the corporations HQ is located, is a bleak and dark setting. It is a heavily populated city that is surrounded by urban ruins that are known as the cannibal sectors. . The planet has been stripped of all natural resources and the ecology has been destroyed. The city has no natural beauty, only solid structures.

You have a choice of species to play; Human, Frother – human clan born drug addicts, Ebon – beautifully coloured humanoids that manipulate and understand Ebb , Brain Waster – similar to Ebon but are generally more aggressive and arrogant by nature, Stormer – About 2.60m hulk that is covered in thick muscles with an overall facial feature that resembles that of a skinned horse, Shaktar – Similar to that a Stormer but covered in scaly skin that is similar to an alligator,  and finally Wraith Raider – Resemble large humanoid lions that are covered in fur that thickens on their home planet. There is a 2 page spread for each species (with drawings) but I’ve condensed it into one sentence the best I could. There is a large range of weapons that can be chosen too depending on what you prefer, my eldest brother was quite general, my second eldest brother preferred a claymore and I was a sniper freak. I also had a motorbike, just because I felt a Wraith Raider should have one. There is a lot you can add to your character and make your own little life for them that may affect an assignment but then again may not.

That is a very quick and condensed overview of where the game is set, what you have to do and what you can be. The corebook is exceptionally detailed.

Blueprint News, a small form that details the assignment given

It describes the history of SLA Industries, discusses important people within the corporation, gives articles from operatives, and discusses the races in depth. The races section will tell you an insight into each creature, their background, their appearance, quotes from them, and their opinion of other species. You will be able to get a clear image of exactly what these guys are meant to be. The corebook even has paperwork (you don’t have to do all of it) which adds to the overall feel of it all. There is a character sheet, corporation contract, extermination warrant, medical exemption certificate, release form, and Blueprint News. A BPN tells you what you have to do, what level you have to be within SLA Industries to take it on, what the pay is, and how much media coverage you will get. That’s right you get media coverage in the world of Mort for doing your job, the more exciting it is the more you could be rewarded. To the right is an example of a BPN.

Word the Nerd’s very own Jesse Grant, tried to play SLA Industries with others but found it hard, as GM, to portray the rich world to the players. His view was backed up by one of my own friends who said that it was such a detailed world that it requires a lot of time just to set the scene and have everyone on the same page. This, I agree with, but I think the richness of the setting and the detail that it goes in to makes it a lot more appealing, there isn’t an assumption that everything is like Earth and it makes the game is a lot easier to get lost in.

One of my brothers has played SLA Industries for at least 15 years and says it is a game of its era. The rule system isn’t as smooth as it could be but it was made in the early 1990’s. However, once you get past the initial paperwork there is a brilliant opportunity to go crazy with your imagination, which on many occasions he did so and my character was torn apart only to be rebuilt later. It’s also these details that allow players of completely different styles to play together.

A figure standing on rubble surrounded by operatives

I’ve always enjoyed reading about Mort and the world I would be playing in. I’ve happily spent time reading articles by Operatives, interviews with various people, and learning more and more about this dark world. However, I am a woman who does enjoy horror, violence, and a chance to go mental so the game seemed perfect for someone like me. I will never grow tired of the blissful moments where I roll 20 on 2d10’s and get to snipe some guy and take out his friend behind him. I will always look back and laugh at moments where one of my other brothers was a Frother and would fully re-enact scenes, or where a friend of mine rolled two 1’s and was a Shaktar worm that managed to bite the head off a carnivorous pig.

SLA Industries does require time to get everyone on the same page in regards to setting and the mood, and if wanting to do all the paperwork can seem more like a mini live roleplaying event rather than a couple of mates/relatives sitting in a room. However, the very detailed world allows you to escape and fully immerse yourself in the environment of Mort. What operatives do can be so vast and, of course, is only limited by the imagination, and the playing style of your fellow operatives doesn’t matter as everything is resolved by the dice.

It certainly isn’t that mainstream, and isn’t recommended for children. If you’re a horror fan who likes slicing, dicing, and shooting stuff then you should certainly give this a go.

About the author

Susie Cumberland

Susie is from the dark side of Nottingham and is a Research Data Analyst. She spends her free time watching movies, killing things in games, and pretending to work. Also, Susie has her own science based craft business called Astrodoodles. She is a keen doodler of space things. She can be found floating around on twitter @susiecumberland


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  • Susie, one thing the GM can do to really set the mood for this game is create a playlist. Dark, oppressive music for the slow parts, hard metal thunder for the exciting bits. Back in the day, me and my friends made mix tapes (we were all radio DJs so we had access to a huge music library). Like playing Vampire the Masquerade by candlelight, the right music really can make a SLA game come alive. I also recommend dissallowing Brain Wasters and Stormers as PCs. they’re so inhuman and they can better be used as menacing NPCs and rivals. But that’s me. I always thought the Shaktar were Predator-knock offs. Didn’t stop me from playing one. Her name was Hate Machine and she was both short and dressed to the nines. Lived in an APC.

  • The GM is really the one to set the mood and pace in general, they are the ones who decide the assignments and such. Though, we often let each other make some assignments just to spice it up. As for disallowing Brain Wasters and Stormers as PCs is down to the group, I find some those who are into theatre love the challenge but they would definitely make menacing NPCs. I think they were trying to create a creature that would match all types of people, there are often people who want to be like lizards! I find watching sci-fi/fantasy films help. Often gives people ideas.

    Personally a wraith raider is the way for me! They are cold, calculating, and I think they make the perfect snipers. I called mine Palus Somnii, she was a beautiful killer, being into my space and such.

  • Oh, I agree, Wraith Raiders are the best. The reason to move Stormers to NPC status is because the players who’d make good Stormers would also make good Frothers or Shaktars, and Stormers are so horrifying and nasty that making them a PC race automatically makes them nicer, approachable. Since Stormers are genetically engineered SLA soldiers, turning them into barely controlled corporate thugbeasts doesn’t detract anything from the player options and means that every time they show up, the PC’s should be freaking out… but not as much as Necanthropes. Brainwasters however are another matter. The Ebons are SLA’s elves. Not quite human. Making Brainwasters not PCs means you’ve got pissed off, evil looking Elves who are other… but still allowed in society. That can add to the unnervingness. Necanthropes are badass… but so badass they have to be used sparingly. Having three non-PC races who all serve the corporate Machine adds to the feeling on alienation.

  • As a GM I personally wouldn’t make any of the races NPC and decrease the diversity of races, certainly don’t think making them PC makes them nicer nor approachable. I do entirely believe that is down to the player themselves. I wouldn’t advise making such drastic changes on first go of this game either but decide over time if they wish to adapt it. I feel the book CS1 gives a rich variety of things to be scared of, such as machines, carrien, scavs, clanman, and all the “definitely not human” enemies. Don’t forget the diseases you can catch in the Cannibal Sector too or the traps, the DarkNight too. There is already a lot available to make PC’s freak out without changing what races PCs are allowed to play. It is something to think about though.

    As for calling Ebon’s SLA’s elves, I felt that could be taken in too many different ways to visually say they look like elves, so I referred to them as humanoids. Afterall, someone could imagine this tiny little thing with a loving personality when they are just more emotionally intuned. Also, I find most people picture elves from other fantasy worlds and Ebon certainly don’t have pointy ears unless someone makes them that way, especially when it said for them in the corebook that they have human features. Necanthropes are the final stages of an Ebon being and have to have earnt their place and improved their formulae rank through knowledge and experience so would highly be unlikely for someone to start out as an Necanthrope on their first go, it is a stage that is generally is worked up to in a game. I especially think this will also be better due to the changes Ebon’s and Brain Waster’s go through while they are getting close to the point where they enter The White and transform. It can be a fun process.

    • You are more than welcome! SLA Industries is my favourite RPG of all time and I have a deep love for. It was a pleasure to write about it.


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