This text is taken from the old, nowadays out of print original SLA Industries GM Screen.
written by David “Jimbo” Boylan, James “Freddy” Lennon, Morton T. Smith, Jared Earle
Copyright © 1995 by Nightfall Design Team
SLA Industries is a dark horror game filled with treachery and deception – most of this coming from the company itself. It is the job of the Gamemaster to bring this to the attention of the players at every possible point. This should make the players feel that they are not just part of the deception but are helping to create it, without making them feel like the sheep that they are. In this setting, SLA Industries is the biggest power there is, and they own everything and everyone (including the players). There is nothing that can stop the company from doing whatever it pleases (although some try) in any way they see fit, including sending them on missions without telling them the truth or the whole story.
The feeling of deception starts with the BPN (Blueprint Newsfile). Telling the players very little information about the mission they are on, these tell them almost all they absolutely must know, and nothing else. This gives the players a real sense of achievement on completing their mission, giving the impression that the company knew most of this all along. It usually did. As more information reveals itself to the players (by serious investigation and dirt-digging on their behalf) then have SLA Industries own internal watchdogs, Cloak Division, stop them from investigating too far as most of the problems on Mort actually tend to stem from SLA Industries itself and the company doesn’t want anyone knowing this, so investigations are kept shallow and information is given on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis. The official SLA line usually is “You don’t need to know!” In the World of Progress, knowledge is power ans SLA Industries wishes to keep this power for itself.
The game is set in a futuristic universe where nihilism and oppression are ways of life. It should be run along the line of a psychological horror, with fear being a better weapon than a bullet. SLA Industries is not a ‘big guns’ game; although there are big guns in the game, importance is not placed on them (and people tend to get fed up very quickly of scenarios about ‘another crazed maniac with a Power Reaper tearing up DownTown’ genre either). SLA has no cyberware in use (although it was used in its past) and as far as SLA Industries is concerned “Cyberware was a passing phase in the World of Progress. Its time came and went many years ago. A fashion statement with batteries, the age of the ‘Chrome Warrior’ is gone.”
SLA Industries’ background is steeped in subjugation, paranoia and corruption, with treachery and deception being its watchwords. Image is the culture of SLA Industries, and Operatives have a far better chance of being noticed if they look good, work hard for the company and don’t pry too far into matters which ‘don’t concern them’. Some players will never learn that the one with the bigger gun will not necessarily win. Quite the opposite is true, in fact; if an Operative wanders through his life just mowing down his opponents he will spend his entire time with BPNs involving Carriens massacres and Serial Killer hunts. No high life or fame for him.
As the characters evolve, their missions will change until the game eventually revolves around the characters’ lives and how what they do affects life on Mort (and Mr Slayer’s Big Picture). At this point the characters will be privileged to know a lot of the secrets denied to them previously. They will not be bothered by Cloak Division, because the more they learn, the more they become damned to live the corporate lie. Those who don’t just disappear.
The whole aim of the game is to survive in a corporate world of lies and corruption (of both body and soul), and as a Gamemaster it is your job to make this clear to the players as they struggle their way through the ranks of hopeful young Operatives. SLA Industies accepts no excuses for mistakes, and there are no second chances in the World of Progress. Dog must not only eat dog, but anything else that moves to have even the slimmest chance of survival. Background is the most important part of SLA Industries, and it should be read carefully to make sure the mood of the game is conveyed. SLA Industries is not a game which can be played properly without a thorough read of its background material. Words are knowledge, knowledge is power and power is everything.
Several films portray the image SLA Industries has tried to capture. These films include: 1984 (a totalitarian vision of the future where the choices are made for you), the Harkonnen family in Dune (corruption and fear at work), Batman Returns (the styling and architecture of Gotham City and the corporate evil of Max Schreck), Brazil by Terry Gilliam (but with blacker humour), Max Headroom (for its television-junkie culture) and of course, The Crow (for its visual style and depth – the city was reminiscent of Mort’s DownTown).
Additional Inspirational Material
The list of inspirational material in the original GM screen essay is pretty short; I think that these titles are additionally of particular interest to a SLA GM.
- Escape from New York
- The Crow
- Dark City
- The Matrix
- Session 9
- The Exorcist
- From Hell
- Jacob’s Ladder
- Land of the Dead
- The Devli’s Rejects
- Dawn of the Dead 2004
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003
- Evil Dead
- The Exorcist
- The Professionals
- Greg Rucka & Michael Lark, Lazarus (comic)
- Andrew Vachss, Burke Series (essential early works): Strega, Blue Belle, Hard Candy, Blossom, Sacrifice, Down in the Zero, Footsteps of the Hawk; Short Stories: Everybody Pays, Born Bad
- Frank Herbert, Dune Series
- Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho, Glamorama
- Caleb Carr, The Alienist
- Philip K. Dick, et al.
- John Douglas & Mark Olshaker, Mindhunter, Journey into Darkness, Obsession (serial killer non fiction)
- Clive Barker, Books of Blood, Damnation Game