SLA Industries: The Truth by Traveller
Chibi Slayer knows ALLOriginal SA post SLA Industries: THE TRUTH
Chibi Slayer knows ALL
So, THE TRUTH! Yes, there is a rhyme and reason for SLA Industries' bizarre universe, one that brings everything together and makes things make sense without making sense itself. This does not make any sense but that's how Nightfall rolls. One thing to keep in mind is that THE TRUTH is not a sourcebook in the way that, say, Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand is. THE TRUTH is an in-house document, written to keep the fluff straight and to keep freelancers from screwing with the direction Dave Allsop and his merry band wanted to take SLA Industries into. Now, of course, said freelancers were bound by strict NDAs, but as it happened, THE TRUTH was released to the SLA mailing list in the late nineties/early '00s. Reactions were mixed, to say the least, and it was made very clear that THE TRUTH was not meant to leave the mailing list. Which, as I understand, did not happen. Eventually, in early to mid-'00s, with the Stormer now well out of the bag, THE TRUTH was posted in its entirety in Team8's forums, with the understanding that it was not THE TRUTH SLA's writing team were working with from then on. So theoretically there is another TRUTH out there that only Nightfall knows about and that informs current SLA products, but this document is what people normally talk about when they talk about THE TRUTH of SLA Industries. The books I have reviewed should all fall under it.
THE TRUTH is divided in two parts: the Writer's Bible and The Truth itself. If it sounds even more disjointed than the corebook, remember that this was not for public consumption.
General Style posted:
IT ISN'T ABOUT BIG GUNS!!!
SLA Industries is about horror, paranoia and oppression. The guns just
up the stakes. We do not want to promote SLA as a gunfest, and material
which focuses heavily on combat, the war worlds or plain violence will, in
all likelihood, be rejected.
MATURE GAME FOR MATURE GAMERS. Yes, Nightfall does take their game seriously. There are warnings about being too witty and judgmental in one's writing, to keep humor in short, dark doses, and so on. Some guidelines on how to write Corporates (hint: not stupid) and Operatives (players should not feel they are forced to play amoral psychopaths), as well as civilians and Shivers (who have very little respect for Slops). Obtaining a BPN should be more than PRESS BUTAN, RECEIVE MISSION: going into Slayer's Crib to get one should be a harrowing experience, like Paranoia only played absolutely straight.
War Worlds! They're not like the 'Nam. You sign up for 6-month tours (what happened to all those War Criminals and their 10-year tours, anyway?) and regular troops have an average survival time of 28 hours. Hey, it's better than joining the Imperial Guard. War Worlds exist because they hold some rare resource, because one of the major powers has an important outpost there, or because the planet simply managed to piss everyone off, like Cross. Wars may end if the world loses its precious resource, or if a power actually manages to score a decisive enough victory, or they may end up intensifying like in Dante. Not all War Worlds are Dante-style fuckfests, though - Charlie's Point is more about light skirmishing and ambushes, for instance.
About them SLA spooks ! Cloak Division are the public face, and then the ONLY public face. Dark Finders are elite troubleshooters, Internal Affairs are a rumor and Stigmartyr are a barely-whispered source of terror. IA agents will not identify themselves as such (masquerading as Cloak Division if necessary), and only brought in when there is serious corruption involved. Dark Finders are used as hitmen, outranking Shivers and Slops, while Stigmartyr agents actively suppress The Truth from leaking out. Life expectancies when meeting Stigmartyr goons are of two seconds at best.
The SLA power structure: at the top is Mr. Slayer, of course, assisted by his inner circle of thugs - Intruder, Senti, Teeth and Taarnish. Preceptor Teeth is his closest confidant. These all have SCL1 and are aware of The Truth. The following power tier is the Illuminati: Commander Cradle, Dr. Hagen, and such. They get to talk with Slayer if it has been a particularly bad week, and they are constantly jockeying for power against each other. The Illuminati are very powerful, but they are not aware of The Truth. Beneath the Illuminati are the Influential - lesser department heads, university deans, city governors and such. Lord Shahanti is an example of this type. This tier is supposed to be the highest level of power PCs can aspire to. Beneath them is anyone with even the slightest whiff of power, and this tier is where most of the regular game politicking will take place.
A comparison of SLA security forces: Monarchs are basically mall cops. Insignificant power, at the beck and call of almost anyone. Shivers and SCAFs are the county police, keeping their turf running and making sure good citizens feel they are protected. Ops are kind of a freelance FBI, taking on subversives, terrorists and such, but they get to be bossed around by the same people that boss Shivers around too.
Cloak Division is the CIA, handling jobs that require a degree of central coordination and those delicate assignments that the "unenlightened" have no business knowing about - like running guns for the Contras in our world. They work with the Influential and are represented in the Illuminati. Dispersal Shivers are like the national guard, there to keep the public in their place. They answer to the Influential, and have a very narrow mandate. Enforcer Shivers are a Black Ops hit squad, used when the Illuminati need to get killing done. Internal Affairs are the NSA. Theoretically they try to make sure everyone is a loyal citizen, but in practice they are ones handling Black projects, internal surveillance operations, and all that jazz. The Illuminati controls them, and they are supposed to be secret the way MI6 is - they don't exist but everyone knows where their offices are anyway. I don't know how this is supposed to jive with the "IA are only a rumor" thing. Dark Finders are to Cloak and IA investigators what Slops are to Shivers: the ones that get shit done. For real emergencies there are hulking Darkfinder Stormers, deployed only when absolutely necessary. Dark Finders do not know The Truth.
The Ebon Guard get little mention in the books, but they are SLA's special Ebb-using forces. They are kind of Ebb-using Dark Finders, with specially modified deathsuits that ensure their loyalty to SLA. Ebon Guard are explicitly not Necanthropes - Necs in the intelligence community work for Cloak, IA, Stigmartyr or the Black Chapter. The Ebon Guard reports to Teeth, but are at the disposal of the Illuminati, and they do not know The Truth.
Stigmartyr are like the British military intelligence agency SI-8. Which I had never heard of prior to this, and the only reference I can find is to MI8, a WW2 signals agency. Their existence is almost completely unknown, and even within the Illuminati knowledge of them is scarce. They report only to Preceptor Teeth and they have a James Bond-style 000 rating - they can kill, steal and seize anything they want without the slightest shred of reason. All Stigmartyr agents know The Truth: the only SLA-loyal individuals that know the Truth aside from the legends are Stigmartyr or dead. There is no middle ground. Their only concern is keeping The Truth suppressed. Finally, the Black Chapter are Slayer's personal bodyguards, fanatically loyal to him. Whether they even have minds is open to question. They will refuse to even talk to anyone that is not Slayer, much less take orders from them.
On the most comical side of things, Doobries ! Freelancers are warned that they will probably never make it into a product and they should only be mentioned tangentially. Essentially, Doobries are chibi-sized biogenetic mascots made from leftover Vevaphon material. There are of all types and forms, some even emulating famous figures like Mr. Slayer, Delia, Halloween Jack and such. They are semi-intelligent, will show affection and clean up your place for you, as well as representing the character they are patterned off (a chibi-Slayer will boss other Doobries around, for instance) They are also programmed to review a Doobrie accessory catalog every month, select some items, and sulk until their owner buys them.
Ebb! FLUX is instability in the fabric of reality, created by possibilities that did not happen. The Ebon mind can tap into this quantum uncertainty, and use it for its own ends. Too much FLUX would destroy the Ebon mind, so the subconscious only allows it to draw as much as safely possible. Non-Ebon minds that managed to open themselves to the quantum probabilities of the universe would end up turning to mush. Ebb Formulae work, in great part, because they are expected to work: they have a long heritage and history, which is why inventing new Formulae is incredibly hard. There is a pretty long example on how Dark Lament would go on about creating a food-making Formula that reminds me uncomfortably of HAP/HOP/HYP oMage discussions. So yeah, the developers kind of dislike the idea of Feral Ebons just making up their own powers without recurring to Glyph cards. FLUX is a natural effect of the Known Universe, and has nothing to do with The Truth.
And speaking of that, secrets! Carriens are an SLA experiment gone horribly wrong. They were going to be genetic soldiers similar to current Stormers, originally created by crude mutation techniques used on humans, but the Carriens were too uncontrollable and wild. They were released into the Cannibal Sectors to save the Company's face, but they proved to be too resilient to be wiped off, and are now an even greater plague than the cannibals and mutants. Domino Dogs will also be a failure in the future, on a day that will be known as the Day of the Dog. See, they store memories of each target they face forever. When they run out of room in about two years time, the memories will start encroaching into their core memories - like, say, the ones that distinguish friend from foe. When that happens all hell will break loose in the Sectors and Lower Downtown.
DarkNight, as some of you may have already surmised, is a giant false flag operation by SLA. This is top shelf information, only known by DarkNight's leader, Mr. Slayer, Intruder and Senti. They are also behind almost all of the Soft Companies in the universe. Slayer created DarkNight as a convenient scapegoat for SLA's failures, as an unofficial hit squad for SLA employees seen as too successful and dangerous, as a way to keep actual subversives in check where they can be seen and manipulated, and most importantly, as a way to train operatives. Slayer wants his army to be ready when the time comes, and DarkNight helps him weed out the weak and keep the strong. Thresher , on the other hand, is legit - their threat against SLA is genuine. Their only secret is something not even themselves know: their technology does not date back to the Conflict Wars.
So, Stormers! Remember when I said Deathwake was the most stupid thing? Well, it is. Basically, Deathwake lifts a soul at the moment of death and uses it to create biogenetic creatures. Senti used to do it manually before the creation of the Deathwake Device (oh, that's the difference.) The Deathwake Device was too dangerous and vital, and so it was stored where no one would think of looking: in the Cannibal Sectors. Specifically, within Digger, the first and deadliest Manchine, and one made by Slayer and Senti in person. Digger will keep the Deathwake secret forever, and while already invincible when made, over the years of soulsucking it has grown even stronger. Alas, Deathwake is not perfect - the souls sometimes have memories of their pasts, and Stormers will malfunction due to memories that are not their own. In only one recorded case the soul remembered everything, and unable to live as a Stormer, it committed suicide.
Necanthropes are dead, which is why they don't age. They are souls dragged back from the afterlife to do Slayer's bidding. Most are loyal to him, and few have any respect for the living.
Now we get into the fun stuff. Remember poor Wave Lyndsay, and how his Integration Twenty article would destroy the World of Progress? Well, turns out that after Downtown Phoenix was firebombed, its staff killed and Lyndsay disappeared, a new killer appeared in Mort. None other than Halloween Jack himself. Yes, Lyndsay has returned as Mort's premier serial killer - at least, what was left of him after the fire. He is that hard to kill because an entity called Bitterness brought him back to serve as his avatar. Halloween Jack is a vessel for a portion of Bitterness's wrath, and simply cannot die by normal means, and will remain that way until Bitterness gets tired of him. The only reason Bitterness chose Lyndsay is because he could: Bitterness is Slayer's one real enemy, the cause of most of his problems, and the ruler of White Earth itself.
Why does Bitterness hate Slayer that much?
The answer does not lie in White Earth. It does not lie in the Known Universe at all.
The answer is here, in our world.
Strap in, kids...Original SA post SLA Industries: THE TRUTH
Strap in, kids...
In the immortal words of the Drakengard LP, it's gonna get fucking weird.
Realities are not born in fire, as our physicists currently think. They
grow from seeds planted in earlier, already-finished ones. They
germinate and develop, and then finally, when the time is right, they spring out
into the multiverse from the parent universe, as solid and real as any
other. The ground that a fledgeling universe grows within is consciousness,
and its germination occurs when that consciousness dies in its original
reality, and becomes the god -- the True Creator -- of the new one.
In our world, hereafter referred to as Real Time , there was once a young man named Brent Walker , from a small town outside of Glasgow. His world was empty, and lifeless, and his only real friend was a voice in his head that he called Tide . The fantasy world Brent built around him and Tide's voice were the only things that held him together, and protected him from the harshness of life. So Brent and Tide lived, isolating themselves until Brent barely even left his room, wanting no part of the outside world. His father denied him treatment, expecting him to "grow out of it", but after they had an argument about Brent getting a job, the kid tried to kill him, prompting him to find him medical assistance.
The psychiatrist that treated Brent, Dr. Burnen , was fascinated by the kid. Brent made practically no progress in his treatment, as Tide guarded him and told him what to say to dodge around Dr. Burnen's "psychobabble." The psychiatrist knew that there was more to Brent than the reserved, silent young man he appeared to be, so he approached the hospital board for help - and got more than he bargained for. The next day, a new research team appeared in Dr. Walker's office, led by one Dr. Crantham , a man in a black suit and poppy-red tie who in no uncertain terms told Burnen he was immediately off Walker's case. Crantham had power and government clearance up the wazoo, so Burnen was in no position to object. Crantham then had a long talk with Brent, telling him exactly what he wanted to hear - that he was a precious soul, gifted with the visions of his restricted world. Dr. Crantham had been gathering 'gifted' people like him in a foundation of his making, the Crantham Foundation , and told Brent that in the long run it would be better to develop his 'gift' than trying to cure it. Tide warned Brent not to trust the man: the voice suspected a trap, and for his sins, he was right.
Crantham gave Brent his first dose of Reathanol , a psychoactive stimulant like no other. Brent's world started to change, becoming more nightmarish and unpleasant. Reathanol increased the creative potential of the mind: in the hands of writers or artists, it would allow them to come up with new ideas every minute, and keep them from feeling fatigue or tiredness until they were complete. Reathanol was also deadly addictive, causing insanity and death within six months.
The Foundation turned out to be an asylum in the outskirts of Glasgow, where Brent was put into a straitjacket and tossed in a padded cell. Abandoned, he retreated even further in his fantasy world, fueled by Reathanol. Tide became scared as Brent's world took on more and more detail: would he disappear if Brent actually succeeded in creating it? As he did before, Tide took over Brent's body, but he was not ready for Crantham's response. The good doctor told Tide that Brent had abandoned him, retreating into a world he would not share with anyone. With his world and Reathanol, Tide was no longer necessary. But all would be alright, for Crantham was on Tide's side, and if he did what he asked of him, Tide could become independent from Brent. Tide made the mistake of his life: he trusted him.
Brent was allowed to leave his cell, and he met the other five inhabitants of the asylum: they were from all over the world, and there were other sites like the Crantham Foundation throughout the world. There were people like Gideon Dean , a middle aged failed priest; Romane Bourareff , a Hungarian serial killer; and Jeff Marceau , an 8-year old French boy. He became friends with Jane Burrows (drug addict that made regular escape attempts) and Harvey Everton (young rebel with extensive criminal records) but found out he was having spells of lost time, periods he remembered nothing about. It was Tide, taking over his body and mind. During one of his Reathanol trips, he met Tide again, but his friend now had a menacing posture, and told Brent he no longer needed him. Brent now feared Tide: he knew his voice had power, but nothing like this. Brent asked Tide how he had become like this, and Tide was all too pleased to reveal Crantham's plans.
All the inmates were part of something called the Real Time Project , a project backed by the government and the military but essentially run by Dr. Crantham. Each of the participants would go on to create their own universe, from their delusions and fantasies, after their deaths. But the one that outlived the others would make the strongest, most stable universe. Crantham needed a stable universe to make use of it, and convinced each participant that they had the greatest potential for it. Their final objective, he told them, would be killing all the other inmates.
Crantham first started with Gideon Dean. The priest knew about Tide, and was convinced he stood against everything he believed in, so he talked Romane into murdering him with the promise of sharing his universe with him. At the same time, Crantham talked Tide into killing the others, something he had little problem with. They were in the way of something he called 'The Big Picture.'
Oh, yes, this is going where you think this is going.
The next day, Gideon was found hung in his cell, a suicide note claiming he had heard the 'sweet truth of God' and decided to transcend this world. The 'sweet truth' came from Jeff Marceau, who could not remember how he had gotten to Gideon's cell. It had been Tide that filled Jean's mind with dark thoughts, and Crantham had the boy removed from the program, sent back to Paris to die. The next target was Harvey: he knew that Crantham was setting them all up and did not believe a word he said, so Crantham had him removed from the program too, never to be seen again. With so much death around him, Brent became even more brooding and retired, fighting against Tide's malign influence. Tide's dark thoughts influenced Brent's world, making it even more corrupt and twisted. Brent did not want to create a place like that.
Tide decided to save Jane for last as she presented no immediate peril, but Romane wanted Brent dead. The Hungarian could present some trouble, so Tide thought it was time to take matters into his own hands. He forced Brent's body to overdose on Reathanol, pushing Brent's mind to his limits. Brent's world finally clicked, but it was not what Brent wanted: it was the World of Progress , a cruel realm of sorrow. As Brent's mind created histories, worlds and people, breathing life into the universe, Crantham decided to speed up the conclusion of the project, releasing Romane from his cell. Armed with a makeshift flail, he stepped into Brent's room, where he was waiting for him, a wicked grin on his lips.
The screams were heard for hours. When the orderlies opened the door, they found Romane's body, chained to the light fittings by his legs, his blood all over the walls, each drop marking a place in the World of Progress. All that was left was Jane. Crantham locked her and Brent in the recreation room, where they sat waiting for the end. Sleep soon overtook them, but Tide decided not to kill her after all. Destroying her mind and her world would be more amusing.
Brent woke up in a beach he did not recognize. It was a twisted place, blood-drenched bodies floating on a sea of broken glass, like a child's dream gone horribly wrong. Brent recognized Tide's doing: it was Jeff Marceau's world, corrupted by Tide. He heard a scream, and followed it to an old barber's shop, where he found Tide. Jane was tied with razor wire to a chair, her body butchered without mercy. No damage would come to her body, Tide crooned, it was all in her mind. And, polite fellow that he was, he had saved the final cut for Brent! Brent took the knife Tide offered him... and used his creative powers to trap Tide in the chair. He slashed Tide's face, skinning it almost to the bone in places. That was no longer his caring friend, but a monster. A slayer, if you will.
When Slayer looked at his new face, he screamed in horror for the first time in his life, and a lock of his mane turned white forever. Brent told Slayer he could have his damned world, for all that he cared, but he could do nothing for Jane. She was too gone into shock. Brent woke up, the asylum abandoned, and only found a note and a bundle.
Dr. Crantham posted:
I knew it would be you.
The bundle contained a dagger Brent's parents had brought him from Paris years before. He decided to walk home. Eventually, Brent's body was found in a ditch, his wrists slashed. A man in a black suit and poppy-red tie claimed the body from the authorities, and days later a still-comatose Jane Burrows died of cardiac arrest. But it was not over.
Brent woke up again in another world, a world of bleached sand in all directions. It was Slayer's final trap: he would keep Brent there, chained by arcane rules of existence. Brent could not exist in his own world, and it mutated him painfully. Eventually, all that was left in his mind was bitterness at Slayer, his thoughts destroying everything they touched. He had become Bitterness , both physically and mentally.
Next: and you thought that was weird.
Not Iron Maiden, but Shoji MeguroOriginal SA post SLA Industries: THE TRUTH
Not Iron Maiden, but Shoji Meguro
The original cover for the first edition. That guy? Bitterness.
What does this means for the PCs? Well, first we need to understand the current state of affairs. I'll try to edit this part as best I can, because here is where THE TRUTH basically starts throwing shit at you without even trying to make it cohesive.
Bitterness is batshit fucking loco. He has twisted the world he landed in into his own realm of nightmares, White Earth, and built a pocket dimension of his own known as the Black Stump (more on this, later.) Bitterness can only think in terms of death and destruction: he wants both Real Time and this universe to be obliterated. Rarely does he leave White Earth, because one of the rules is that if Bitterness is not there, Slayer can strike freely. When he does, though, it is to sow misery and corruption, but above all, to create paradoxes. For instance, it was Bitterness who was behind Icon's murder of Delia the Destroyer, because a common street kid killing the top Contract Killer is the kind of thing that makes people question their reality. He is basically a chaos god.
Oh, and he is "a dedicated super-sadistic rapist" for some reason.
Here is the thing: the World of Progress is literally only nine hundred years old. The pre-SLA background fluff (the Conflict Wars, SLA's beginnings as an arms dealer and mercenary company, the execution of the Big Picture) is just that, background fluff and nothing more. Slayer spun it out of whole cloth, to give the reality he was making a base to be pinned on. The Wars never happened; there never were aliens other than Ebons, Shaktars and Wraith Raiders; the technology found by Thresher were stage props . Knowing that the universe is so much younger than you think, that everything was created as the figment of someone else's imagination - in other words, to know The Truth, for this is what SLA Industries has tried to keep a cover on for centuries - has a deleterious effect on a person. The strongest minds are merely driven insane. The weaker ones... vanish. Disappear. They are unmade.
When they said Wave Lindsay's Integration Twenty would destroy the World of Progress, it was a literal statement.
Everything Slayer does is ultimately to keep the Truth from destroying reality, and to make reality strong enough to resist the paradoxes. Stigmartyr goons can and will kill anyone in the course of their duties, but their objective is to protect everyone from obliteration - and even then, though they are specially trained to resist The Truth, all Stigmartyr agents eventually lose contact with reality and are unmade. Ideally, Slayer would love the World of Progress to just work , without paradoxes, intrusions from Real Time or crude reality patches.
For instance, Mort? It's an impossibility. It's a planet larger than Earth but with the same gravity. It's a world where it's always raining, all the time. Mort cannot exist, but it's held in place through the use of the "atmosphere generators" that actually do nothing, just so much window dressing. The White, that mystical place where Ebons go to become Necanthropes? Fucking goggles. Slayer has enough power to turn an Ebon into a Necanthrope by just wishing so, but surrounding the process with mysticism and ritual makes it more palatable to everyone's minds. Life after Death? That was Slayer editing Delia's character sheet and setting her hit points to maximum, masquerading as miraculous surgery, all to keep the World of Progress from collapsing on itself. But not everything works like Slayer wants: in forming DarkNight, he creates true subversives that believe the fake propaganda. In increasing the general level of violence as a distraction, he creates more and more serial killers and worse creatures. Slayer is holding on to the reins of power, but only barely, and he knows this cannot hold forever: someday, he and Bitterness will go head to head, but he intends to be ready when the time comes.
Being the Demiurge isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Bitterness, meanwhile, bides his time. He uses his agents to create chaos and paradoxes throughout the World of Progress: The Order of the Shard are a crazed blood cult that enforce his will and defend his faith. The Shard Angels are his true chosen, his lovers and confidants, feeding him their pain and sorrow because IT'S THE '90s, BABY. Monitors are spies and investigators, keeping Bitterness abreast of what goes on in the World of Progress. Anyone can become a Monitor by swearing allegiance to Bitterness and White Earth, if they survive the trip and meeting the bastard in the first place.
Slight detour to The Black Stump! Bitterness' playground, he does not keep a tight leash on it like Slayer does with the World of Progress, preferring to leave it to its own devices. Many factions fight here: Bitterness' own minions perform savage assaults on the others, but they are not the only ones. Remember Mandrake , that one Ebon guy from the corebook? The one with the stupid love triangle? He was part of an SLA Industries expedition to White Earth. Bitterness' planet twisted him and his crew, making them basically super Necanthropes, and Mandrake decided he would take the Black Stump for himself. The Cadavarous are the followers of Cadavar, the mercenary warlord obsessed with biogenetics. They also fled to White Earth, and now fight here for their own goals. If push comes to shove, Cadavar would side with Bitterness because of a promise he made with him a long time ago, but if all the reality holes were patched up and RT influence cut off forever, he would basically start fighting for himself alone. He is still obsessed with biogenetics, but cannot really wrap his head around reality grafting. The Root Dogs are another of Slayer's failures, though by no fault of his own. They were part of the pre-SLA background fluff, one of the myriad races that supposedly fell before SLA's armies and the World of Progress. Bitterness made them real a hundred years into the timeline, and put into them hatred of Slayer due to his "betrayal." EDIT: Most of these factions are fighting for an artifact called The Bloodbound Book because we haven't gotten our Clive Barker on yet. It is an artifact made of the skin, flesh and blood of an RT woman somehow pulled by Bitterness from Real Time into the World of Progress. If it is ever found and opened, the World of Progress will be unmade for good, and Bitterness will be able to escape back to Real Time. It is... somewhere out there.
And then there is the Kilneck. The Kilneck are only seven warriors (plus Intruder), but they are special in that they are real people form Real Time. They are Brent Walker's few original friends, who suspected Dr. Crantham was abusing him. The doctor had them killed to isolate Brent more, but both him and Tide were so angry at that that they basically made them be reborn in their fantasy world. The Kilneck know the score, and they know how bad things are getting in Bitterness land: one day, they will travel back to Mort, and warn Slayer one last time. If negotiations work out, they will ride with him one last time for the final battle. Slayer is not doing nothing, either: he plans to "soul graft" his best operatives to protect them against the ravages of Real Time and the Truth.
See, it's not just The Truth that unmakes the World of Progress: objects and people from Real Time can enter this universe (and others: see below), and they are seriously powerful. Now, this doesn't mean Joe Q Public could just jump into the World of Progress and play god: sure, he would be as hard to kill as Bitterness or Slayer, but nothing else. The World of Progress would probably drive him mad. The really powerful RT creatures like Bitterness and the Kilneck can actually use Real Time reality as a weapon. So can Bitterness' Monitors and Stigmartyr agents, but fucking with RT when you are not RT is very dangerous. This is why Slayer needs his people soul grafted for when Ragnarok comes a-callin'. How, then, would he do that? Deathwake. It's not just pulling souls at the moment of death: most of them come from Real Time itself. Souls transcend time and space, and they can be harvested more than once.
What else is left... oh, yes. Intruder! He is basically Slayer's final fuck you to Bitterness. Intruder is everything that was good and kind about Brent Walker, coalesced into a single entity, and then forced to do everything Slayer orders him to do. Intruder has been going mad for the last nine hundred years, all too aware of what really goes on but powerless to do anything about it, and coverup operations have had to be called the times he snaps. It's really not pretty at all. If somehow his agency were to be restored, he would be as powerful as Slayer or Bitterness. Senti is a RT woman named Jan Forest, who had the same affliction as Brent Walker, only her voice was named Senti. He met her after he escaped from the asylum, and told her about the World of Progress. Time later, after she killed herself by hanging, her spirit is reborn in SLA Industries. (Time in RT and the WoP doesn't match up: sometimes it goes faster, sometimes it goes slower.) She is what Brent/Tide should have been all along - a perfect meld of the RT human and his Voice.
Speaking about Inception, yes, theoretically a being of the World of Progress can create their own universe like Brent did. They would need to have a Voice like all the asylum inmates did, to consume Reathanol and most importantly, to have the necessary guidance. Unfortunately, the only known person that knows the right Reathanol doses and how to compile the new world is Dr. Crantham, and he isn't much available for someone in, say, Downtown. But theoretically, it is possible to have nested universes like that. The worlds created by the other Real Time Project patients can also be accessed, though they are incredibly dangerous places since they are not completely formed (think Jeff Marceau's world, seas of broken glass).
THE TRUTH warns that this is not the 'all just a dream' cop-out, though: the World of Progress is real. Its people are real. Not all the souls used by Deathwake come from RT. It's just that the WoP is much, much younger than our universe, and it hasn't had enough time to iron out all the paradoxes and reality wrinkles. In the end, though, the big question: how does this all affect regular SLA games?
Well, it doesn't.
SON OF A BITCH
Well, the PCs continue trudging along, fighting SLA's good fight. DarkNight are still legit bad guys, even if they are being controlled by SLA at the very top of things. Serial killers and mutants are still serial killers and mutants. There are real, innocent people to defend. Escaping shitty lives in Downtown is a worthwhile goal. Their ultimate objective, though, if the game does get up to EPIC levels, will be the defense of reality against obliteration: THE TRUTH assumes that, in principle, characters will follow Slayer. He is a son of a bitch and so much of the World of Progress's misery can be traced back to him, but he is also the main pillar of reality's defenses. Of course, if you want to ignore all this bullshit, or just keep it deep in the background as justification for outré shit , hey, it's your game.
Conclusion: SLA Industries is not 2000AD The RPG. It's Shin Megami Tensei via Morrowind.
Thanks for reading, all!