SLA Industries by Traveller
IntroductionOriginal SA post
Time to throw my hat into the ring!
I have a pumpkin mask and a chainaxe. Your arguments are invalid.
SLA Industries, or In The Grim Darkness Of Far-Future Glasgow, There Is Only Lousy Reality TV
SLA (slay) Industries, first published by Scottish company Nightfall Games in 1993, is a game of punk dystopia, gory horror, consumerist satire and a whole load of shit I'm not nearly Glaswegian enough to recognize, probably.
In the game's own back-of-the-book blurb:
Operative, Employee, Contract Killer, Necanthrope, Ebon, Biogenetic, Corporate. These are the lifestyles available to you when you enter SLA Industries’ World of Progress. Society split between truth and deception, conflict and political subversion, style and horror. Television and Insanity. Fighting for your life as an oblivious public watches on, awaiting your last breath between the adverts.
The media channels all the young hopefuls into their vessels. Nihilism is a way of life. Strive for originality in a world of outrage and conformity and diversity. The different get noticed, the truly original survive. Six o’clock horror, every hour on the hour. Halloween Jack claims another victim. Fifteen minutes of fame for the corpse. Don’t get famous like him. Change. Become. Evolve. This is the way forward.
The Big Picture rewards the loyal. Be true to yourself. Survive. The truth awaits the inquisitive.
Guns kill but so does the truth.
THAT'S CERTAINLY CHEERY, GAME. We'll learn what the weird terms mean later on.
The book opens with a piece of fluff! A girl is running away from something or someone in the rain, "rain mixed with the tears of terror." The girl hides in an alley, only for the mysterious figure to catch up with her. She starts crying, and it starts crying too, only it's TEARS OF BLOOD. It asks her not to cry: this will be a mercy kill, because "not even all the bitterness in the world... is enough for your eyes." And then they are gone.
I think I heard Robert Smith singing.
Next, a couple of pages of credits, a table of contents, and more fluff! This time, a bunch of in-setting people give their opinion of SLA Industries. An investigator of Cloak Division says that when you join, you think everything's gonna be great, you'll get rich and retire but no, you end up surrounded by monsters and freaks. He wouldn't advise anyone to join, he's worked for 30 years and still doesn't have enough money to retire, but he loves his job. An unemployed civvie from Downtown Mort says SLA is cool, they have good TV shows and that's what matters. A Monarch law officer disapproves of SLA, blaming everything on them, and decrying their television propaganda crap. A human scout thinks the World of Progress is messed up but hey, it's a job, right? And finally, an Ebon scout wants the truth SLA has hidden for the last 900 years, thinking they can discover the meaning of their life without risking it from SLA Industries itself.
Disjointed? You have no idea.
We get a one-page "glossary" defining the World of Progress (actually, it's about SLA Industries: the supreme power in the World of Progress, a megacorp that sells everything to everyone and will do whatever it takes to remain top dog); Mr. Slayer, the immortal CEO of SLA Industries, a right son of a bitch; The Opposition, being everyone fighting against SLA Industries, like political subversives and rival companies like DarkNight Industries and Thresher Inc.; and Mort, SLA Industries' main industrial world and capital. Under it, there is a pamphlet written by a Wave Lyndsay of "Downtown Phoenix 893", criticizing SLA and everything it stands for - rampant consumerism, environmental and cultural pollution, glorification of ultraviolence, etc - but cryptically hinting that they protect us from one true terror: the terror of the truth.
Ah, so this is a MATURE HORROR game of DARK ATMOSPHERE and SERIOUS
Neeeevermind. Also, that seems like an awkward way to hold your gun.
Next, the Introduction chapter! This is very basic "what's an RPG" stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. It uses a d10-based system, and it mentions how "most ten-sided dice" are actually twenty sided! I don't think I've ever seen a d20 marked as a d10, but this is not the first reference to them I've seen in a game. There's an example of play, with four PCs dealing with Downtown gangs in the middle of an investigation, and I like how it reads like an example of actual play rather than the dry, terribly fake transcripts in other games: here, players fuck up their modifiers and rolls, the GM puts on terrible accents (and fucks them up too), people cheer at their characters dealing loads of damage. It's not Call of Cthulhu and its "I'm not sending my professor up the stairs alone, he's going to get killed just like last time" lines, but it works. We get a small paragraph on things we need, like dice, paper, and snacks, tips on how to get started (i.e., go to the Character Generation chapter and make a character) and a small glossary on game terms. Thankfully, a PC is a PC and a GM is a GM, no Hollyhock Gods here.
A word on art:
The Hollow Ones have nothing on SLA's art.
Also, the rolls the players made in the example of play? I hope you enjoy them, because they're the only bits of crunch until about 100 pages later.
Next: No words. They should've sent an editor.
Thatcher Would Be ProudOriginal SA post SLA Industries: Thatcher Would Be Proud
The World of Progress, it is said, is powered by a particular driving force which keeps it healthy and alive. The driving force is greed, in every shape and form. The shape of knowledge and the form of finance.The finance in our World of Progress is simple. It is lust, desire, accepted, without question, by most. The Major Powers of today rely on this.
However, to some, the form of finance is not enough. The pulsing heart of knowledge is their quest, the very unknown of the World of Progress is their driving force...
Look, your average PC party.
The World of Progress chapter deals with SLA Industries' background story and major mysteries. Which the PCs won't be dealing with for quite some time, but never mind that, because you just have to hear about the IMPORTANT GODLIKE NPCS.
My apologies if the post looks disjointed and confusing: I'll try to do my best to make it look coherent, but as Halloween Jack said, this game is scattered as all hell. Onwards!
In the game's present, it's the 900th year of the World of Progress (the game's universe), with SLA Industries at its helm. We are told that SLA Industries is THE major company in the universe, outselling and outbuying any others. They have fingers in all the pies, and they keep control over the unwashed masses through the media - TV, specifically. They have successfully concealed their past from the populace, who is totally within their grasp and eating up the lifestyles SLA sells them. All of it, crafted by Mr. Slayer, its ruthless CEO. Some people don't buy their party line, and try to piece together the true origins of the World of Progress and SLA, which is not easy as the company is pretty ruthless about hiding the things it doesn't want exposed.
Now, I am bringing this up now because it's here, but the book returns to SLA RULES ALL THE MASSES ARE BRAINWASHED BY TV THE TRUTH MUST NEVER BE REVEALED like, every five pages or so, as if it wasn't clear enough that SLA Industries isn't exactly Ye Lovable Puppy Mom And Pops Brick And Mortar Shoppe.
Actual history! The Known Universe, as the World of Progress was called before SLA, was engulfed in war. Many wars, actually: the Conflict Wars. Which is... redundant I guess? Anyway, they were all poised to destroy each other and themselves, and at the time of SLA's rise, all life in the Conflict Societies would die within 150 years because of generalized moral decay. And the wars, one might presume.
But in the hostile planet of White Earth, a terrible storm raged on its surface! So terrible that even the battle-hardened Known Universe just stood by and took notice. The storm raged for three days, then fell silent. Not long after, a tall man appeared in Conflict Society - Mr. Slayer. Not a warrior, but a businessman, he was there to sell the warriors of the Known Universe new, awesome weapons and armor. If they got in his business, though, he had immortal bodyguards known as the Kilneck to set them straight. And there was Senti, too, a "strange, dark woman... proficient in the art called Deathwake."
What is Deathwake, you ask? This book won't say. It is the most stupid thing.
So, SLA Industries was born, trading Conflict war matériel with all the Conflict Planets for their Conflict Wars and Conflict Bowel Movements. The Kilneck were also offered up as mercenaries for anyone who could pay up the billions required. SLA needed mucho dinero because Senti was involved into some heavy duty research: biogenetics, or life generation.
SLA eventually managed to hire an army of its own, the House of the Black Church. They were an army of ill repute for its ruthlessness, and its commander, Cadavar (I swear to god, these names...) was feared and respected. They joined because SLA had the better gear, but most importantly, Cadavar was just as interested on biogenetics as Senti - only his attempts so far had failed hard. Implants he could do, but actually generating life from scratch? Nope, until SLA came into the picture.
The Stormer Project, as it was known, intended to mass-produce biogenetic killing machines to sell to Conflict Wars parties. Senti wanted to use Intruder, the leader of the Kilneck, as the original subject and tissue/mental state donor, but Cadavar wanted to take up his place. Senti was having none of it - Cadavar was just a brute warmonger in her eyes, not like Intruder, with his "violence, insight, and graceful insanity."
The fluff LOVES Intruder.
Animosity grew, and eventually Slayer stepped in - Intruder would be the first test subject and Cadavar would go with his troops to fight along the Kilneck. In return, he would have the chance to be the second test subject. Cadavar was having none of it, and absconded with his own biogenetic knowledge and Senti's plans - but she had already foreseen that and made certain amendments that would render them useless. Namely, the use of Deathwake. Slayer didn't care either way, as he was busy with a project called "The Big Picture." More on that later.
Senti and Intruder. This is not Intruder's goofiest picture.
Intruder was having misgivings too. Apparently, he had taught Deathwake to Senti, and realizing that (for some reason) Slayer would be incredibly pissed if he knew what was going on, he disbanded the Kilneck. They travelled beyond White Earth and away from the Known Universe. Slayer was pissed that such a great asset was suddenly gone, but did nothing about it - the Big Picture was consuming him. And Senti was jealous of it because she was in love with him, or something.
So, Intruder returned for testing, and brought with him a race called the Ebons, "feral mystics, gifted with the powers of Ebb." Psychics, in other words. Intruder took them under his wing, to teach them what they needed to know to control their powers, and to protect them from Slayer's charms. By now, Slayer was the single most powerful person in the universe, and his charisma was starting to sway entire worlds. Only Intruder knew just how dangerous he was.
Intruder finally submitted to Senti's experiment, which apparently involved using Deathwake to grab and twist his emotions, using them to create a clone. It worked, and now there was an exact physical replica of Intruder. Mentally, though, he was the complete opposite: evil, bitter, cruel. All Slayer ever wanted from Intruder, yes, but neither the original or his clone, Angel, could stand each other. Senti tried again, but Intruder now had little faith in her abilities, and his last thought before going under was one of malice. The next Stormer reflected that malice physically: a seven foot beast totally unlike Intruder in appearance, but resembling him mentally. He gave him the name "Taarnish", and all later Stormers have been patterned off him.
While Intruder was teaching the Ebons how to use their powers, Slayer was finally ready to unleash the Big Picture on the universe. Since by now all Conflict societies used SLA wargear and Stormers, the plan was to set their own weapons against them, and then clean up with the secret army Slayer had been busy preparing while his subordinates dicked around with biogenetics. Slayer brought Intruder into the plan, threatening him with the destruction of the Ebons if he didn't comply. Intruder swore to follow Slayer, as long as the Ebons had a place in the new society that would be born. He later told Senti about the plan, and both managed to rescue one alien race each from extinction: Intruder saved the Shaktar, honorable warriors, and Senti saved the Wraith Raiders, cunning survivors from the Ice Worlds.
In a year, all Conflict societies had fallen over their swords, swords sold to them by SLA. The Known Universe was now the World of Progress.
SLA Industries, now the unquestionable ruler of the universe, set up shop in Mort, formerly a resource world stripped of its natural wealth. Slayer cared because reports indicated that some sort of energy "gap" had appeared on its surface, known only as the White. Slayer figured it would help the Ebons channel flux (mana) better, but no explorer had ever returned from the White.
Why does this matter? Because MORE NPC DRAMA.
See, once upon a time there were three Ebons: Mandrake (bold warrior type), Dürer (emo introspective type) and Draco (waifu girl type). They were great employees, but both dudes were in love with Draco and their love was DIMINISHING THEIR EFFICIENCY. Slayer got mad, because now he had time to dick around with his minions' love lives, and ordered Intruder to order them to cut it out, which went against the philosophy of emotional expression he had taught to the Ebons.
Later, Intruder told Draco point-blank that she had to pick one or everyone had to part ways forever, before Slayer took more direct measures. She still couldn't pick, so Slayer made the decision from her: Mandrake and Dürer were ordered to get on a battleship and explore the unknown territories beyond White Earth. Dürer was already mentally unstable due to the possibility of losing Draco, so he jumped into the White before anyone could stop him. Mandrake was pissed and demanded to know why his buddy committed suicide (suicide goes against Ebon principles), but Draco couldn't bear to tell him that she was pregnant with Dürer's child. DRAMAAAAA
Anyway, Slayer's orders were final, so Mandrake got on his battleship and fucked off, never to return. Draco was devastated, but suddenly, a miracle! Dürer had returned from the White, now they could all be a happy family and
Dürer had evolved into what Slayer called a Necanthrope, the final stage of the Ebon race. He, now known as Teeth, gave zero fucks about Draco, and ended up banishing her from the Ebon race, but kept her child: Albrecht Dürer, an abomination born with charred eyelids. He would be the first Brain Waster - a generally more dickish variant of the Ebon.
Incidentally, Necanthropes are PC options. Just so you know.
By now, SLA Industries ruled all, but not all was well in the World of Progress. Small companies were thriving, all set to compete with SLA. Some of them are even staffed with ex-SLA employees. Wars, actual wars, are fought on specially designated worlds, but battles are still fought in Mort. All in the name of advancement and greed.
Fiction time! A SLA operative and his buddy are assigned an assassination job: they have to kill some random scientist from Karma, SLA's biogenetics division. The mission gets weirder as it is expanded to the assassination of the scientist's entire team and purging of his lab, but our duo pay it no mind. They get in and complete the job easily - only to find out they've killed the wrong people? In the wrong department? But all mission details said it was there. Anyway, mission done, bucks collected, but the narrator's buddy is restless and hacks into Karma's databases, only to find that yes, they've killed the wrong people. They were cosmetics researchers temporally reassigned there while their labs were being remodelled. The narrator tells him to calm down and stop doing illegal shit that will get them both killed, and puts on the news - apparently, an important Karma scientist has been murdered! By DarkNight operatives! The narrator can only chuckle as Internal Affairs comes for him.
But SLA Industries totally won't stab us in the back, no.
TORG DOES NOT LIKE BACKSTABBING
Next: the appropriate response to losing your arm is to get drunk and fuck your secretary.
YOU ARE HUGE THAT MEANS YOU HAVE HUGE BOOTSTRAPSOriginal SA post SLA Industries: YOU ARE HUGE THAT MEANS YOU HAVE HUGE BOOTSTRAPS
900 years have passed. Wars do happen, but they're unfashionable and boring, and they're settled far away from the public eye in designated War Worlds where the "Suppresor Powers" (SLA, Thresher, etc.) duke it out. You know what's fashionable, though?
SWEET AIR GUITARS
And the ol' ultraviolence, too, since people love their combat sports on the TV. SLA RULES ALL, MASSES ARE BRAINWASHED BY TELEVISION, etc. You would think war shows would be a hit, though, but oh well. Joining SLA is the quickest way to the top, either as a Corporate Climber or a field operative. There's basically two types of people in SLA - the blindly loyal and those who want THE TROOF. Guess who get rewarded and who end up with a bad case of lead poisoning.
SLA RULES ALL
SLA also has an environmental record worthy of a Captain Planet villain: most of its Industrial Worlds are hellholes like
THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND posted:
This is Third Eye News reporter Julia June reporting from the edge of Eastsector Downtown. Since the beginning of my career at Third Eye, I have been following a great deal of Contract Killers from all round the Circuit but today's slaughter, here at Polsun Avenue, is the most bloodthirsty encounter I have ever seen. Two weeks ago, 'Wide Boy' soft-company 'The Reevo Gang' decided to push SLA Industries and, as you cansee, SLA pushed back -in the most horrific manner. All I can see is bloody and outstretched arms pleading for mercy from beyond the grave. 40 lost souls chopped down by Intruder.
Gorezone reports that he has taken damage in several unsurvivable manners: They quoted 17mm HEAP to vital organs, 12.7 HEAP to his head and other forms of ballistic damage too numerous and gory to reveal in a news report. As the blood settles and reason prevails, Intruder weeps as onlookers, both civilians and SLA ops alike, are nausiated[sic] in the face of such carnage.
My only report is this: If you are as young as the kids who died here today, save Intruder his tears and join SLA Industries.
I believe the pic takes its title from here.
SLA RULES ALL THE MASSES ARE BRAINWASHED BY TV THE TRUTH MUST NEVER BE KNOWN etc.
Remember Wave Lyndsay from the opening intro? He is basically SLA Industries' Spider Jerusalem, an indie journalist that never bought into the party line. His paper, Downtown Phoenix, was dedicated to uncover SLA Industries' transgressions and crimes. The corp had managed to convince the public before that Lyndsay was a scaremonger, but he was beginning to make his voice heard by the masses. He was Dangerous.
Particularly since his last article, Integration Twenty, would change the World of Progress forever. Once SLA realized what Lyndsay meant to publish (obviously, the book won't tell us what it is) it was the last straw for them and they called in Internal Affairs: Downtown Phoenix was hit by a fire, all the staff died in it and Wave Lyndsay disappeared. Only three copies of Integration Twenty survived, and they are worth a fortune in Mort's black market, but even looking for the article is grounds for your termination and that of your whole family and friends circle.
The nonstop barrage of ultraviolent shows and contentless drivel through the TV is meant to render threats like Wave Lyndsay unable to damage the World of Progress.
Space politics! SLA has much to offer to planets that aren't part of it yet. Protection from rival companies like DarkNight and Thresher, a chance to join with the top dogs, employment for the planet's inhabitants as operatives and employees. Progress! Indeed, the contract SLA offers to a planet is called the Three Ps Contract (Progress, Prospects, Prosperity.) SLA doesn't push the issue too much - if a planet rejects their contract, they're happy to leave and use their media channels to announce to everyone that the planet is ALONE AND UNPROTECTED [/backslide]
For instance, the world of Cross once rejected SLA because DarkNight offered them a better contract. SLA apologized and left, but DarkNight left them alone two months later, a chance that Thresher (informed by SLA's news channels) took to conquer the defenseless world. Cross ended up a broken War World, no one ever takes DarkNight contracts seriously anymore and scores of planets pledged their loyalty to SLA. Why not? SLA protects your world, gives it a 95% success rate, lowers unemployment figures and doubles the working potential (statistics provided by media surveys ) SLA isn't a fascist dictatorship, either! Freedom of the press and choice still exists, even in SLA-owned worlds (according to the media ) You would have to be crazy to refuse SLA's advances.
SLA worlds are classified in three types:
Industrial Worlds : Mort and the like, SLA Industries' greatest sources of income, where everything is for sale. Due to civil uprisings, crime, subversion and mutation, these worlds are the ones that need operatives the most.
Resource Worlds : These worlds are actually taken care of, for a change. SLA doesn't strip mine them, and allow them time to recover after resource extraction operations take place.
Labour Worlds : Like Industrial Worlds, but without the glamour. They're basically world spanning factories and they're terribly shitty.
Fiction time! An interview with Mr. Slayer himself. After the suitably grandiose description of his office and security measures, we finally get a look at SLA Industries' CEO. We are told he is really tall (nine feet, three inches) and of unsettling facial figures - yellow, catlike eyes; razor-sharp teeth; no nose, but a skull-like opening. There's even a picture!
So basically, Giant Michael Jackson is your boss. I take everything back, this is the most horrifying game.
Anyway, Slayer says he is "one of a kind", from a pathetic little planet not worth saving. Intruder and Senti come from it too, but they're not the same as Slayer. They've left mortality and such behind. Intruder is known to be forbidden from sexual or emotional relations, and Slayer explains this is for his sanity's sake. Watching people you care for die while you stay young and healthy, and Intruder is far too "gentle and poetic" to cope.
What about Mort's Downtown and Cannibal Sectors? Well, Slayer says, Mort is a dead planet, and it's hard to live in it. Eliminating the Cannibal Sectors may destroy everything, and he won't risk that. As for Downtown, it's a giant maze for rats - the stupid ones are trapped there, and the smart ones climb to the surface and prove their skill. He won't upset their natural balance. Classy!
Perhaps improving the atmosphere? (Incidentally, it is always raining in Mort. All the time.) Slayer thinks "eternal tears" are a worthy tribute to Mort's sacrifice, and rain helps keeping people cool and chilled. However, he promises that one day, the rain will stop. He finishes the interview advising the interviewer to watch the TV, listen to SLA Industries, and don't try to find out about the dangerous things lurking in the background - they won't harm you if you don't go looking for them.
There's some stuff on SLA operatives here, but that's better explained later so I'll skip it. SLA Industries is divided into many departments, with the Corporate Sector (civil service, basically) managing and keeping the company's hold on the sometimes wayward and overly ambitious departments. It's Machiavellian and confusing as all fuck, but it's worked for SLA Industries so far. One thing departments do is issuing Blueprint News Files - mission briefings, basically - to field operatives in order to get a myriad of odd jobs done. For instance, the Department of Investigation doesn't use its own people to investigate murders or do bodyguard job - they hire operatives to do so. Financiers are like operative managers - for a cut, they try to get the operatives working for them the best BPNs.
In order to keep everyone under control, SLA uses its in-house troubleshooters: Internal Affairs and Cloak Division. Everyone lives in fear of them. There is also Stigmartyr: little is known about this secretive unit, only that they answer solely to Slayer and are known to have assassinated high-ranking employees with no repercussion. There is also Black Chapter, highly trained and loyal operatives that function as the personal bodyguard of Slayer, Intruder, Senti, and other bigwigs.
Technology! One of the World of Progress' greatest advances is the "colour codex bitstream analogue processing system." To summarize the technobabble, colour codex allow supercomputer levels of data processing without the highly expensive heat management systems required to maintain that kind of performance. Reality Overlay (augmented reality, in modern parlance) goggles and gizmos quickly became popular, though unlike, say, Eclipse Phase, they're mostly used for industrial and design purposes - a mechanic may have an overlay pinpointing individual parts on an engine, or a gun designer may use haptic feedback to feel the recoil of the weapon they are designing. They could even have a Sprite, a little cartoon style character that aids someone in WHY THE EVERLIVING FUCK WOULD YOU HAVE AUGMENTED REALITY CLIPPY OH MY GOD WHY WHY WHY
( Like Eclipse Phase, though, one of the most successful uses of the early reality overlay systems was... dildonics. )
Biogenetics! Before SLA, the question wasn't "are we playing God?" but "how the hell does he do it?". Then there was Cadavar, and Senti with her Deathwake. There's a journal of one of the original Karma researchers, with a historical note apologizing for the good doctor's "bigoted" attitudes (which are basically calling Slayer a "suit", Intruder a "weird, elfin guy" and Senti a "witch") Apparently, Deathwake isn't just a mystic technique, but an actual artifact - which even managed to rip the doctor's arm off. Not that he cared, because by then the Stormer project was complete and they understood enough of biogenetics to just grow him a new arm before the day was over. Science! Also, apparently Karma has only recently managed to replicate Cadavar's original techniques, because he was just that much of a genius or something. Biogenetics is just as common as cold fusion engines nowadays: you can buy a Stormer dog, cat, bird, etc. You're probably hallucinating if you see an actual cat somewhere. There's also self-cleaning sofas, regenerating futons, and all sorts of weird living furniture shit.
Next: Maybe we'll find out what PCs actually do in this game.
Sign your Psychological Evaluation Release Form here, please.Original SA post SLA Industries: Sign your Psychological Evaluation Release Form here, please.
Amber, Human Operative SCL 8A posted:
My three tips to you are these: get noticed, stick with SLA Industries and, most importantly, don't mess with Mr Slayer or you'll end up dead.
Finally, the game deigns to tells us what PCs will actually be doing in it.
SLA Operatives (Slops, if you have to be derogatory about it) are freelancers that provide the company with a variety of services. They have a wide scope of functions: investigators, combat operatives, counter-espionage agents, corporate administrators, etc. For all the bullshit and horror they will endure in the name of SLA, they get real good pay, and SLA grants the wishes of the best operatives. Of course, not every SLA employee is an operative: the company also has regular desk jockeys, bureaucrats and workers.
Operatives waiting for a BPN. I like how you have both cigarette ads and a no-smoking sign, and--- wait a second.
That's actual Japanese, not Kindred of the East squiggles. " Bearing the title of the Moon, Rose C'est La Vie... " I've heard this name before, but where?
Wait a second.
WAIT A MOTHERFUCKING SECOND.
ZEORYMER? IN MY SCOTTISH DYSTOPIAN RPG?
Operatives dislike being called mercenaries, as that's a term used for members of DarkNight. Many operatives have turned coat and joined DarkNight for "better offers", but you can imagine what Cloak Division did to them. In secret, that is: SLA may be very powerful, but it's still vulnerable in the realm of TV, and DarkNight loves to use pirate broadcasts and cutting into SLA feeds to show the public the things the company covers up, or the slaughter of SLA heroes at the hands of their mercs.
These heroes include Contract Killers, operatives sponsored by SLA's myriad sub-companies. Think of them as a mix between professional wrestlers and those costumed gladiators in The Running Man. They live a high-risk life, always in the sights of DarkNight, Thresher, random whackos and other Contract Killers, but on the other hand they get media recognition, great sponsoring contracts, customized weaponry and gear, and more.
Grimdark Tiger & Bunny: the RPG.
Now we get an explanation on Blueprint News Files. Fresh new operatives get their BPNs from the Blueprint News Hall, a place full of Paranoia-worthy queues and form-filling. Proven operatives can have BPNs offered to them. There are ten color-coded types of BPNs:
BLUE: Street maintenance. Riot suppressing, sewer clean-up, etc. Your "go down to the basement and kill 10 rats" missions.
WHITE: Investigation. Murder cases, tracking down serial killers, and so on.
YELLOW: Retrieval. Recovering missing or stolen SLA property, retrieval of present and ancient artifacts.
GREEN: Expeditionary. Missions into the deepest parts of the Cannibal Sectors. Rarely, off-world assignments.
RED: Emergency. Red Alerts. Things that have to be dealt with NOW.
GREY: Cloak/Internal. Uncovering and terminating disloyal employees and operatives.
JADE: Ebon-related. A squad needs at least one Ebon to take one of these.
BLACK: Suicide. Extremely high casualty rates, but with rewards to match.
SILVER: Media. Public speeches, promotions, etc.
PLATINUM: These are never missions an operative or squad can choose - they are only offered to high-ranking operatives. They're Mr. Slayer's personal requests, and you can't really say no to them. Usually highly secret and sanity shattering.
Two companies run mission control for BPNs: Third Eye News and Station Analysis. Third Eye News provides media coverage and surveillance, as subtle or blatant as the mission requires, and cover the entirety of the mission regardless of the results. Station Analysis, on the other hand, provides privacy from the media for the operatives. They usually handle investigation jobs and Grey BPNs.
Rewards include money and SCL improvements (more on this in a bit), but SLA also watches its operatives, looking for any angle that could get them to jump into a BPN beyond simple rewards. It then follows with a piece of fiction where SLA kind-of-sort-of blackmails a 17-year old Ebon kid into taking a Jade BPN, they don't want his girlfriend to know what that other chick is saying about him, do they?
Some stuff on SCL that's better explained later and... Internal Affairs! They're undercover and watch everyone for everything. No one knows how many agents are in their employ, or even who they are: your own mom could be one and you would never know. Cloak Division, on the other hand, is pure muscle and terror. They're the ones that 'disappear' traitors, big-mouth journalists and anyone seeking THE TROOF.
EBONY AND IVORY, LIVING TOGETHER IN HARMONY
Operatives that wish to prove their loyalty can have a Finance Chip installed into them: it grants them immediate access to their SLA credit account, a nifty HUD with time, date, operative name and remaining funds (just in case they forget), a 200 credit bonus per month and a direct line to Station Analysis for basic information... at the cost of having everything you see and do be broadcast back to Internal Affairs Observation Centers, at least 80% of the time. The media can join in on the fun, as the audiences love watching the action from the eyes of an field operative. Non-chipped operatives are, naturally, highly distrustful of chipped ones.
Fiction! A SLA operative squad (Barker, Kate the Brain Waster, Siris the Wraith Raider) watch from a vantage point and record some killer footage as a biogenetic tiger slaughters a bunch of civvies. Fun for the family! Below, Whisper, the Stormer brick shithouse of the group, gets ready to melee the beast (better ratings!), as Wilson, another operative, is away trying to find out what the kitty can do. It eventually charges Whisper, who steps aside and neatly hacks its head with his power claymore - to no effect. The tiger bites down on Whisper's armored arm... tearing straight through the armor, sinking into his flesh and giving him a massive electrical discharge that overwhelms him. The team try to help their buddy, but the tiger ends up beheading him. And then it heads to a school. Wilson calls in - the tiger is a Karma-designed killing machine meant to take out powersuits in War Worlds and it's got enough combat drugs and biodermal armor to make fighting it on foot a losing proposition. Against the wall, Barker orders Wilson to hit a bar in Downtown, find a certain contact and tell them the squad needs their help and that they "agree to the standard terms." He also asks Wilson point blank if he's chipped; after the expected response ("Fuck you!") he warns him that he won't make it out alive if he is. With no support available, the squad follows the tiger's trail...
Retirement? Theoretically, yes, but most operatives never manage to save enough and die before their time, or they become addicted to the job and use their funds on biogenetic rejuvenation treatments. Slayer is 900 years old and still kicking, so why not?
Now, the SCL. The Security Clearance Level is SLA Industries' employee ranking system. It starts from 11 for basic employees to 1, just short of Slayer himself, but each level also has a varying number of sublevels. Here's a handy chart! Operatives start at SCL 10.
Meet Sally from Accounting.
Then there is the Operative's Handbook, detailing the rights and duties of SLA operatives. Basically: SLA operatives have authority over Shiver Units (paramilitary corporate police) for support actions, but it's better not to abuse them. They can arrest and hold civilians for questioning and get search and seizure warrants. They can access restricted information depending on their SCL, purchase company hardware and software (which must be returned if the operative leaves the company), as well as stocks and bonds. An operative is of higher ranking than other if they have a superior SCL number or letter within the same number, but they can only give a direct order to someone that is two full numbers below them. They can own firearms beyond those available to civilians, though care must be exercised when using them in civilian and industrial areas. They can get liability release warrants if necessary, but again, better not abuse them. Operatives can be sponsored by companies, as long as such sponsorship doesn't contravene the terms of their contract with SLA. Obviously, operatives can obtain BPNs. Failure to complete one is deemed unprofessional. Operatives must reclaim all equipment lost in the field, with penalties for failing to do so and bonuses if the equipment is expensive enough. They can (emphasis on 'can', it is not mandatory) get a Finance Chip. A Finance Card is provided for operatives that choose not to be chipped. Operatives get a credit account opened to their name, with a free 100 credit deposit made by SLA. SLA credit can be used in SLA stores and bars, but not necessarily on civilian equivalents*. Finally, operatives must undergo psych evaluation every six months.
Fiction continues! The team reaches the school, its doors wrenched open and eerily quiet. They carefully cover the entire building, with no sign of the tiger - or the students and staff. Yes, the team had warned them in advance, but there's no way they could've evacuated an 800-student school in such short time, is it?
Next: FUCKING PIGS, FUCKING TAXES
*It comes way later in the book, but might as well get it out of the way now. There's two types of currency in the World of Progress: the credit, which is purely digital in nature and is basically SLA company scrip; and the UNI, civilian cash that everyone uses. 1 credit is worth 10 UNI, but there's a lot of things that can only be bought with credits - and viceversa, as not everyone can or wants to accept SLA credit.
STUPID MISCLICKSOriginal SA post SLA Industries: STUPID MISCLICKING
'Beast', Brain Waster SCL 2A posted:
Mort is just one big bucket full of rain. You ever looked at one of SLA Industries' fashion magazines? It's all cool and hip umbrellas, so much water and no swim wear in sight, sheesh.
Just in case you forgot this was a '90s game.
SLA RULES ALL, etc.
Mort! SLA Industries' capital world, it boasts the highest production rate ever, as well as the highest crime rate ever. It's overpopulated, stripped of almost all natural resources, with oceans of industrial waste, ozone-depleted skies, dark clouds that rain every day and night. And there are things in the blind spots of SLA's security agencies: criminals, mutants and worse.
But why is Mort's Downtown such a decrepit place? SLA's profits from a single year could fix the place up, some people claim . But see, Downtown is SLA's own fuckup. Back in the year 300 SD (SLA/Standard Date), when Downtown was only Mort's Central Outskirts (how does that work?) SLA awarded their civilian apartment a development grant to build a massive office complex, Salvation Tower, in Central Outskirts Sector 1. The office complex would organize housing and accommodation for the needy, deal with the Outskirts' health and safety issues, provide employment to slash unemployment figures by 70%, and more, but---
[Fiction! The squad gathers in the school yard.
Rusted old bicycle sheds ran along the fence facing the school's left wing, littered with the usual debris of school life - cigarette ends, sweet wrappers, dirty tissues, old vid guides, syringes and other trash.
---circumstances conspired against Salvation Tower from the beginning. Environmental damage had caused permanent rain all over the planet, and SLA Industries decided to empty the water reservoirs it had built to cope with the population explosion. One of them was right under Salvation Tower. The massive building fell in place, without breaking, but bringing down whole swathes of infrastructure. The Outskirts sectors were cut off from civilization, and not even SLA could cover the cost of rebuilding. They did the next best thing: building armored walls cutting off the lost sectors, promising new projects, and doing their best to make people forget the mess. What's now known as Downtown is separate from the corporate life by an armed perimeter, and rich employees live only kilometers away from the underclasses living on Social Security funds and small time employment.
Pick up that can.
SLA tries to control the rampant crime with operatives, of course, but for more standard police duty they use Shiver Units. They get lesser gear than the operatives, but there are more Shivers than operatives and, funded by Station Analysis and Internal Affairs, they're very loyal to SLA and have no problem bringing down traitorous operatives. The Shivers can't be everywhere, though, so some functions are subcontracted to an independent organization, Monarch Law Enforcement. They're traditional beat cops, armed only with civilian-grade weapons and flak jackets, permanently underfunded and understaffed. SLA doesn't mind: as long as Monarch is dealing with petty drug pushers and purse thieves, Shivers and operatives can take care of real (SLA-harming) crime.
Incidentally, every single quote by a Monarch cop in the corebook is more or less "FUCK SLA."
Mort is divided in four defined sectors:
Mort Central : the very center of Mort, where Slayer's Head Office is. No one but Slayer himself can live in Mort Central, but the place is packed with stores, shopping centers, night clubs... all the operative needs to be happy. Obviously, they're not open to the general populace. Even the rain is cleaner in Mort Central. It's naturally one of the safest places in Mort, with Shiver patrols everywhere, but sometimes BPNs will send operatives to Mort Central for debt collection and termination.
Uptown : this is where SLA operatives and high ranking employees live. It's a nice place, almost as well protected as Mort Central - and naturally crawling with Internal Affairs agents, always on the lookout for treason. Cloak Division also has its Dark Finders, biogenetically enhanced investigators and detectives, working here. Dark Finders are fanatically loyal and consider everyone but themselves and Mr. Slayer to be a traitor, potentially or otherwise.
Verdugo would be proud.
Suburbia : This is where the majority of SLA's regular employees live, as well as some unfortunate operatives that didn't manage to get Uptown housing. Everything is lower quality that Uptown here, and crime rates are also higher. Juvie crime is a particular problem in suburbia, with unsupervised kids brainwashed by the media's glorification of violence and the prospects of a lifetime of dull factory work. Serial killers are also a growing concern, either locally grown or from the more undesirable elements of Downtown, slipping through...
The Perimeters : Not a zone per se, these are the walls separating Downtown from civilization. There is a heavy Shiver presence in the Perimeters, and they're better armored and armed than the regular units. Downtown citizens can only legally cross the Perimeters if they have an SCL 11 card, a Civilian Visitor's Pass and they register at the gates, or else they get arrested as DarkNight mercenaries.
And then there is Downtown.
Zaeed, Downtown Shopkeeper posted:
Oh, bloody kids, y'know the little ones, I hate 'em, and the scary thing is, they don't nick the good stuff like cigarettes and girlie mags like proper kids should. No, it's t.v. guides for Chrissakes, I mean, not even chocolate! Freaks me out!"
Downtown is Mort's planetary slum. Most of it is built underground, and status in Downtown is measured by how close you are to the surface. It's an incredibly shitty place, with DarkNight mercs, Carriens, drug pushers and mass murderers becoming more common as you go down.
GAH I WASN'T DONE YET STUPID MISCLICK
Second half of post 5Original SA post
The best zones in Downtown are the closest to the Perimeters. The three largest gangs (Krosstown Traffic, the Kiestas and the Johannas) hang around here, and they're a good source of information for operatives that grease their palms. Pushing them too much is not advisable, as they have many members and the Johannas in particular are ruthless enough to behead arrogant Slops.
Cults and street religions are popular in the lower levels. Many times, their objects of worship are Downtown serial killers and mutant abominations. Sometimes, their prayers are answered, and things stir in the lower levels. Many of the cults are SLA-hating communities, too.
Halloween Jack, one of the signature characters, and an important figure in the metaplot - but he's not touched beyond a namedrop in the corebook. And the cover image, of course.
Downtown is labyrinthine and it's really easy to get lost, as there are no maps and the place has been built over time and again. Only DarkNight mercenaries really know where they're going. DarkNight loves to use Downtown to strike at SLA from the shadows, particularly by using Soft Companies (half gang, half indie corp) to sell to Downtown civilians weapons, drugs and other stuff through the black market that SLA would never give them.
Even the skin trade (slavery) is available if you have enough money in Downtown: Beckon Street, Mort's own red light district, is stacked with pimps, prostitutes, stripper bars and nightclubs. Young Downtown girls and boys disappear here all the time. But since this is not Cthulhutech, the game leaves it here, with a mention that the three major gangs want to put an end to the skin trade, whatever the Shiver Units may say. Slavery will not be tolerated.
HAVE YOU HEARD THE WORD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR
Another 'interesting' location is Rust Alley. See, there was a short-lived fad of cybernetics in Mort, with people replacing full limbs for 'chrome' equivalents. But these enhancements drained the patient's humanity, and their power cells only lasted for a decade. Now, they lurk in Rust Alley, a hideaway for powerless cyber-tramps, hiding their non-functioning limbs and eyes with rags. Why? Because FUCK YOU MIKE PONDSMITH THAT'S WHY.
Beyond Downtown there are the Cannibal Sectors. They're inhabited by mutants and worse, feeding on human flesh to survive. The most notorious of the Cannibal Sectors is Cannibal Sector One, where the remains of Salvation Tower are located.
Common creatures here are Carriens, vaguely intelligent creatures of unknown origin, ferocious and animalistic; Manchines, flesh-wearing cybernetic war machines that would've been used by SLA as a backup to Stormers in War Worlds, abandoned in the Cannibal Sectors when it was clear that their programming was irrecoverably malfunctioning; and pigs.
GIANT MUTANT FUCKOFF PIGS.
Fiction! And unrelated to the continuing piece of fiction because of REASONS. A Shiver sergeant debriefs a hoverbike pilot that had been flying into the Cannibal Sectors for whatever reason. The pilot had been approached by Sour Blood, a Contract Killer, who ordered her to run some recon for him - even bribed her to secure the deal, but she had the idea that he wouldn't take too kindly to a 'no'. He wanted her to take her somewhere in Cannibal Sector Two, and see if she could spot a Manchine: Digger, the most famous and deadly Manchine. She takes to the coordinates, which happen to be an eerily quiet place. Also right next to Salvation Tower because the fiction gives no fucks. The tower stank to high hell, and she suddenly spotted body parts in the floors of the tower - entire floors dedicated to a single bit, like Ebon eyes. The pilot vomited, then noticed that Digger had noticed her. As she got the fuck out of there, the Contract Killer gave her the money and jumped off the bike. The whole conversation is cut short by Cloak Division agents that terminate both Shivers.
Then there's a classification of serial killers that is boring so I'll skip it. Only worthwhile bit is the mention of Cognates, serial killer gangs. I don't know how those work, but whatever. DarkNight is mentioned as one of the main causes of the rise in insane killer madmen, due to their distribution of the DNA-altering combat drug known as Shatter. SLA is to blame as well, with their media glorifying the killers and their hunt by SLA operatives - shit, they even get killers their own franchise deals. They don't pay them a dime, of course, but they can sell kids masks of the latest famous killer, complete with plastic cleavers.
Living costs! An average employee makes about 200 UNI a week, which is enough for a cheap mortgage, a spouse, 2.4 children and a commuter motorcycle. Better than the dole, though - just 40 UNI and housing payments if applicable. With the media pumping lifestyles they can't afford and making them feel they deserve them, it's no wonder many civvies turn to crime and the black market. Fire services are the province of special Fire Shiver units: fires can destroy valuable infrastructure, and as such Fire Shivers are specially empowered to stop fires at any cost, civilian casualties included. Medical services aren't as aggressive, but only SLA operatives and employees get the better assistance. At least the civilian service is free.
Travel is usually handled by subway, bus or a motorcycle. There are also blue taxis for the wealthier, but normally only SLA operatives will be driving their own cars - there is a massive road tax only they are exempt from. Subways are dangerous since the Fall of 300 SD. Buses are slower, but at least you'll make it to your destination in one piece. Motorcycles are the most common form of private transport, as well as the Keshang, a personal powersuit (with attending hotrod culture). Long distance travel is covered by high-speed mag trains that break the sound barrier regularly, while off-world travel is handled by SLA Industries' Foldships. Air travel is almost non-existent, reserved for corporate purposes.
I can't let Bullet Tax go unmentioned. See, bullets are expensive beyond normal levels of taxation. SLA operatives complain about the prices regularly, since SLA Industries makes a consumable operatives use in the defense of the very same SLA Industries arbitrarily expensive. Their reasons are two-fold: first, they don't approve of wholesale slaughter of their consumers, but most importantly... the audience prefers bloody melee combat to firefights. It's all about the ratings.
And to finish with the damn tiger story! The strange suit asks Kate and Siris to agree to the 'standard terms', and casually reveals that Kate is in love with Barker. Once they do, he gives the squad a strange vial before disappearing in thin air. The vial is full of...
"Bitter tears," said the man simply. "Distilled from uncomprehending agony. It will do what you need."
Siris volunteers to feed the... toxin? to the tiger, and charges it. He gets a nasty gash for his troubles, but it works: the tiger stops, collapses and then just... breaks down, implants popping off his body. The gang is excited by the great footage, but Barker realizes quickly that this must never be known, and orders Kate to wipe out all recordings while he and Siris ruin the tiger's corpse. They're not going to try to find out what happened to the school kids or staff, because some things are best left unknown.
Next: SOME CRUNCH AT LAST
Phased Out, ManOriginal SA post SLA Industries: Phased Out, Man
In the World of Progress, fantasy meets reality. Anything is possible, within reason. These rules provide the reason...
Who is the brave SLA operative and who is the dastardly serial killer? This being SLA, it could go either way.
At last, the Game System chapter. It starts out innocently enough, mentioning the nine basic stats: Strength, Dexterity, Diagnose, Concentration, Charisma, Knowledge, Physique, COOL (always in CAPS) and Flux. Stats are rated from 1 to 15, and any skill keyed to a particular stat can only be raised up to the stat, so a guy with a Dexterity of 7 can have his Martial Arts skill up to Rank 7 max. They can also be used in rolls if no skill truly applies in a given situation. Speaking of skills, they are rated from 1 to 10, with a mysterious comment saying "[...]and above for masters...", whatever that means. The book won't tell us. Anyway!
Checks can be active or passive. Active rolls are 2d10+skill+modifiers. A roll of 11+ indicates a success, while a roll of 21+ indicates an exceptional success. Passive "rolls" are just checking your skill against a difficulty level set by the GM. If the skill is equal to or higher than the difficulty, it succeeds. If not, it fails, though if the skill is only a couple of points short the player can roll it, with penalties.
There is an amusing example of play where a Slop, searching for a lost Frother (fucking Frothers. We'll get to them in chargen) in the sewers and running across one of the pigs from the previous post. It ends poorly for him.
Fear rules! Any source of brick-shitting fear has a Fear Rating, which depends on the nature of the fear-causing thing and circumstances - for instance, facing a bloodthirsty monster while you're wired up and carrying an assault rifle would merit a different Fear Rating than if you meet it while brushing your teeth before going to bed. Fear checks are made as a 2d10+Fear Rating-COOL stat roll, with a result of 11+ indicating that the character has lost their shit. If a character's COOL is greater than the Fear Rating, they don't need to roll. A table follows with possible effects, most of them including permanent COOL loss - but interestingly, rolling low enough (11-15) can actually get the character a COOL increase.
Reputation! Your character can have reputations with different groups, which can help or hinder them in the course of their job. They are limited by Charisma the way skills are, and can be bought as advantages/disadvantages in chargen or be acquired in gameplay. A successful 2d10+Reputation check means they have heard of you - whether that's a good thing or not will depend on circumstances.
Aaaaaand Combat. Dear god, Combat.
OK. Combat time is divided in 3-second rounds, with each round subdivided into five .6-second phases. There's also a bookkeeping phase after each round.
It is not a phase as such but is a marvel of Einstenian physics in which the world has time to sit down and hit you with reality.
Each character can move in all the phases, but they can only act in determined phases depending on their Dexterity:
They can do one thing and one thing only when they get an action.
Fiddly? You can bet your ass it's fiddly.
So someone with a higher Dexterity will go on an earlier phase compared to someone with low Dexterity. But who goes first in a phase? Ebb powers go first (by order of Diagnose), followed by ranged combat (Dexterity order), followed by melee combat (again, Dexterity order).
I mentioned that movement was done in every phase, and the game actually bothers to note just how many meters a character can cover in each phase whether Walking, Running or Sprinting, which is further modified by their Running skill. Movement can also apply penalties to the character in motion (trying to take a shot at an enemy while running for cover, frex) as well as any characters trying to get a bead on the runner. And yes, the game explicitly allows to run "in place" in order to get the corresponding defensive bonus. At least the game acknowledges that phase-to-phase movement is annoying, so it suggests determining movement at the start of each round and bothering with detailed phase-to-phase resolution only in specific cases (like trying to determine if someone can reach cover before they get hosed)
Just because you're a cannibal mutant doesn't mean you can't get bitchin' trenchcoats and button badges.
Encumbrance rules! They're optional. Screw them.
Characters also have different stances (Standing, Kneeling and Prone) which give an attacker penalties to hit - unless they're right above the target, in which case they're reversed. So hitting a prone target is hard if you're at the same level, but if you're on a building overlooking the area, it becomes easier. There is a fourth stance, Firing Stance, which will come up in ranged combat, but it gets no entry in the stances table. No modifiers, I guess?
Melee! It's messy. One attack per action: damage is weapon damage+Strength bonuses (STR/3, round down)+ each Exceptional Success (over 20 in the attack roll) point, minus (armor's Protective Value-weapon's Penetration value, doesn't apply if it ends up negative). There's a minimum damage of 1 point per hit. Characters can also attempt to aim their attack at a specific body part, or just "aim" for a bonus to-hit. They can also split their applicable melee skills in attack and defense, with each point used in defense giving a -1 to any melee attackers.
A melee weapons chart follows, with weapon damage, penetration, and armor damage (more on that later) ratings. One thing that jumps up is the lack of an entry for plain unarmed damage, particularly since Shaktar and Stormer claws get entries, but I guess it's trivial to make plain fisticuffs a Damage 0, Penetration 0 weapon.
A list of miscellaneous melee modifiers and... ranged combat! Messier than melee. The hit/damage procedure is the same as melee (without STR bonuses, of course) but aiming is more involved. While in melee you could only spend one action to get a to-hit bonus, here you can spend up to four actions. As a matter of fact, you HAVE to spend at least one action aiming to use your weapon skill normally, otherwise it counts as a "wild shot" and you get penalties. Aiming beyond four actions requires, in order: Firing Stance, a rest for the weapon, and the Marksmanship skill.
There are also a couple of tables for ranged weapon damage and penetration, classified by caliber and ammo type. One thing that stands out is that CAF (civilian) weapons are real fucking shitty at only 2 Damage and 2 Penetration for pistol rounds and 3/3 for rifle rounds. Only 10 gauge shot has worse penetration, and for some reason 8mm Long AP and 10mm AP only have a single point of damage to their name. Better pray for those Exceptional Success points.
Auto-fire? Yes. It's terrible. See, it requires a weapon with a rate of fire of 3 or superior. Firing in bursts gives bonuses to-hit depending on ROF, as "it is no easier to hit a target if you use more rounds, but each round has a chance of hitting, increasing the overall probability of a hit." What? Anyway, here's how it works: you make the attack roll as normal, applying ROF bonuses, and then recalculate the roll using the Auto/Support skill instead of the weapon skill to determine how many rounds actually hit the target. At least one will hit on a successful attack roll: each Exceptional Success point on the Auto/Support roll is one extra bullet hitting the target, and rolling a natural 20 means all bullets hit. Extra damage from Exceptional Success in the attack roll only applies to the first bullet, though.
Recycled art! And what's up with her hair?
As for suppressive fire (i.e., just pulling on the trigger and hosing an area with lead), it's done as an attack roll against an area instead of an individual character, using the Auto/Support skill. It uses a smaller list of modifiers, and everything entering the area is hit on a roll of 11+, with each point over 10 being one bullet hit up to the maximum ROF of the weapon. You can also fire blind, which is worked out just like suppressive fire but with the only modifiers being ROF and range, nothing else (not even skills).
Grenade rules. Not much to look at here. They're nasty, you probably won't survive a heroic attempt at covering one with your body, and there's a mention that grenade launchers have been banned in Mort since 758 SD but there are rumors of the ban being lifted in the near future, with all major weapons manufacturers already making new weapon designs.
Optional armor damage rules (each armor has an integrity rating, and each weapon reduces it in a different fashion) and an "optional" recoil rule. I include the scare quotes because there's gear you can buy that interfaces with the recoil rules. Each firearm has a recoil rating, which is the Strength needed to fire it without problems. Anything over that is a penalty to-hit, with a difference of 4 or more rendering the user unable to fire the weapon without taking damage in the arm(s) equal to the amount over 3. You can install recoil baffling to reduce recoil, or hold a weapon in both hands in the case of pistols. It can also be increased if you're using, say, an assault rifle one-handed. Only Stormers need apply.
Range modifiers follow, and then there's how damage works. Each character has a number of hit points, and each body location (head, torso, arms and legs) has its own HP score as well. Any damage to a location is also taken off the general HP score. I've only seen some BRP variants do this before. If damage is equal to or greater than half the HP in one location the character needs to make a Physique roll (penalties if damage is over the stat, too) or fall unconscious. Now, it doesn't actually say that, for instance, taking max damage to the head kills your character, but I suppose we can assume that and not have a bunch of headless Slops traipsing around. It doesn't say if damage in excess of a location's HP runs over to the general score, or what.
There's also wounds: you take one every time you take damage and they give you a -1 penalty to everything. Plus, having one means you lose a hit point every 5 rounds. Each subsequent wound makes the HP loss faster, with 5+ wounds causing the loss of one HP per round for each wound over 4. So yeah, a frenzied mob can take down your badass armored dude with only CAF weapons if they can fire enough rounds at you (it's worth nothing that minimum damage does not generate wounds, though). Combat healing is handled by Ebon healing powers (two phases to use) or medical drugs (three phases). As for hospitalization, most wounds will recover in two weeks, while severed or broken limbs take three weeks. Stormers regenerate one wound every four rounds, or one hit point every four rounds if they have no wounds.
Some armor tables, miniature rules (SLA likes hexes, btw) and then there's the Vehicle rules. I don't think I've ever used vehicle rules in anything I've run. Anyway, there's top speeds, accelerations (in km/h and meters per phase, though there's some conversion rules to Imperial if you have to be colonial about it), turning rates, and the always amusing Failed Drive Roll table.
The chapter ends with notes on experience: it suggests awarding 2-4 points per adventure (with 1 or 0 for jerks that don't participate or pay attention and 5+ for the ultra-heroic). They can be saved, and spent on stats and skills at the same rate as character generation points. Only difference is that opening a new skill takes 5 XP and you can't buy Advantages and Disadvantages.
All in all, I guess it's not the WORST SYSTEM EVER, but it's certainly far too fiddly for my tastes. It could benefit from a cleanup, but I think the basic mechanics are solid enough if SLA ever gets a new edition. Feel free to point out SLA rule horror stories if you know them, though!
(Also, no drowning or falling rules? THIS IS NO RPG SAYS I)
WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT MY TEETH? UP YOURS, MATE
Next: we make Junkie William Wallace.
I Feel The Trade Union Overtaking Me, It Is A Good PainOriginal SA post SLA Industries: I Feel The Trade Union Overtaking Me, It Is A Good Pain
FRANK I KNEW I SHOULDN'T HAVE EATEN THOSE HORS D'OUVRES BLOOOOOAGH
We'll now cover the two chapters dealing with the use of Ebb, the Ebons' psychic powers. The first, and shorter one, starts going on about how the primitive Ebons had a rudimentary grasp of Ebb, how Intruder taught them to unlock their potential, how they are "highly-strung and emotional" and The Brain Wasters, on the other hand, are an aggressive, antisocial breed of Ebon with charred eyes and and
Technology! 'Science Friction' (yes, it's called like that) is the construction of Ebb flux into material form. Only one SLA department specializes in it, Dark Lament - staffed by Ebons only, they build all equipment for Ebon use in SLA. Earlier in the book, it's mentioned that there's a rivalry between Dark Lament and Karma, the biogenetic guys - mostly because Karma thinks Dark Lament are a bunch of pretentious wankers. Which probably fits, as everything Dark Lament is built in the traditional gloomy, forbidding, Giger-would-sue style of the Ebon.
Now, every known Ebon ability is represented by a glyph, a pattern Ebons read and calculate on the fly in order to use it. Glyphs used to come in the form of cards, and Ebons of old literally had to walk around with a deck of cards to sling Ebb powers around. That didn't go well in firefights, let me tell you what. Glyph cards were eventually put out of production and now they can only be found in Downtown black markets, ready to be snapped up by Rival Company Ebons. The rarest of them are the Advancement Glyphs, which can raise an Ebon's Formulae (more on this later) in +1 or give the poor bastard 1 Rank in Psychosis. There's no actual ruling on HOW to read an Advancement Glyph, though.
So the boffins at Dark Lament replaced the dumbass cards with the DeathSuit. They're special Science Friction suits that can store flux and charge abilities, and kind of look like skeleton man outfits because IT'S THE '90s. A DeathSuit filled to the max with flux becomes symbiotic with its wearer and reflects their emotions. It also acts like a suit of armor, and proper knowledge of the Protect ability can increase its defensive capability. Ebons care a lot for their DeathSuits, particularly as they start achieving sentience due to their symbiosis with their owners. As it stands, the race would collapse without them.
They still have to buy them suits with their own money, though. Why? Because this is SLA.
Back to Formulae. This ability is the measure of an Ebon's understanding and comprehension of the Ebb. Higher Formulae can recognize glyphs and such better. So... 2d10+Formulae to understand an Advancement Glyph? It doesn't say. It starts at Rank 1 at character generation and may not be raised there. It may only be raised through "learning, understanding and experience". I GUESS this means you need XP.
Now, when an Ebon or Brain Waster achieves a high Formulae (8+) they start undergoing the changes that will turn them into a Necanthrope. First, they start experiencing horrifying nightmares, made from their worst fears and memories. They need to start taking a drug called White Noise to keep the dream demons at bay, and many Ebons have become addicts to it. Reaching Formulae 9 means that the dream demons start plaguing the poor Ebon's waking hours too. They start getting flashbacks and short conversations with people that aren't really there, advising them to go into The White. Even White Noise fails to cut it at this point. By Formulae 10, they start being watched - by other Necanthropes. Day and night, they can see them around the corner, behind a car, and so on. They're usually dressed like corporate folk, and their faces are hard to make out. Other people can't see them, and the Ebon usually ends up feeling alone and paranoid as all fuck.
Now, the victim can choose to stay on White Noise for the rest of their life or give up and turn into a Necanthrope. When they make the choice, the dream demons and watchers will pull back - they know when the Ebon has made up their mind. The Ebon will know when they'll come to pick up, and at that moment they'll stop whatever they're doing and wait for a large Dark Lament APC. 8 Necanthropes will pop out and take him to their Society. Entering the APC, the Ebon falls unconscious and wakes up at a Dark Lament hall surrounded by a metric fuckton of Necanthropes, including Preceptor Teeth himself. A strange, alluring woman offers the Ebon a choice, Steel or Lead. Steel means the woman stabs the Ebon in the heart with a sword. Lead means the Ebon gets shot.
Dead and with nothing but their DeathSuit, the Ebon is sent into the White. Another choice awaits here - either the Ebon walks on into the afterlife beyond the White, or battles to be worth of becoming a Necanthrope. The challenge tests the Ebon to the fullest, one wrong move and they'll be lost forever. The right path involves shedding their old self, their past, and swearing blind loyalty to Preceptor Teeth. When they return from the White, they're a new Necanthrope and can stop shitting their pants at the sight of one. Also, they're immortal, as long as they don't get killed. Yay! They can only feel love and admiration for Teeth and the Necanthrope Society. The final choice is returning to their old friends or squad, or joining an Eight as One, a group of eight newly-born Necanthropes that act as one.
The Necanthrope Society follows five core rules:
You must not abuse your power : what it says on the tin. Newly-reborn Brain Wasters love to push around unchanged Ebons with their new powers, but elder Necanthropes do not approve. They're expected to act as an example to their lessers.
Respect your elder Necanthropes : Necanthrope elders are old as balls (Teeth himself is 921 years old), so even a 300 year old Necanthrope is 'young and immature'. BEHAVE YOURSELF BOY
Respect the Preceptor's wishes : the Preceptor has wishes for their race and they must be obeyed. After all, he is the first and oldest Necanthrope, and he can probably blast your shit to White Earth and back if you don't comply.
Do not force any Ebon or Brain Waster to enter the White : this one is important. Necanthrope Society will torture and torment their changing Ebons with watchers and dream demons, but they can never physically force them to enter the White. It has to be their call
Do not debase the Necanthrope Union : an Union is the Eight as One thing, a bandof eight Necanthropes, equal in power. They must stay with the group and guard each other at all costs. If one is killed, the rest must find another Necanthrope of the same stature and power, probably of the same family as the deceased.
So your average gang of psychic emo kids and psychic angry kids goes from this...
...to this. Improvement? You tell me!
Necanthropes can come in the traditional 'fuckoff monster with mouths where mouths don't go' variety or the 'angelic far too angelic no one should be that perfect' variety, or anything in between. They're effectively fused with their DeathSuit once they turn, and they learn to create and use the Gore Cannon (best fucking name), a disgusting swelling that fires psychoreactive Ebb matter loaded with nightmares and badwrong thoughts down the Necanthrope's arm. So yeah, the Gore Cannon lets you think FUCK YOU SON OF A BITCH and it will shot psychic snot loaded with FUCK YOU SON OF A BITCH at the enemy. Hilarious! It can also become sentient because nothing says 90s like a crawling biorailgun of mind rape.
Necanthropes also get a Vassal Ebon or Brain Waster (usually the same as their old breed). They're completely loyal and faithful, but can never be used to engage in combat or complete a BPN for the Necanthrope. At most, their field duties can involve acting as a watcher for a changing Ebon. The Necanthrope should not abuse their vassal, as it is a gift from Preceptor Teeth. SO DON'T BRING YOUR CTHULHUTECH/FURSONA CREEPY SEX GAMES HERE PLOX
Crunch! A new Necanthrope gets White Reverence (before your presence Ebons, particularly those of your breed, instantly respect you; CONC-5 roll to resist) Vassal Ebon (their vassal, already described), Incarnation (a psychic aura that affects other and varies from Necanthrope to Necanthrope) Interdermalisation (same as the Protect ability of the same name, only permanent; I'll get to this later), SCL Increase (SCL increses by a full number, though a Necanthrope that is SCL 2 ends up with SCL 2F instead of SCL 1) and Gore Cannon (2 free ranks in the Gore Cannon ability)
They also get 50 points to spend in special Necanthrope advantages and disadvantages. Highlights!
oVampire has NOTHING on this.
Bloodline : a hefty disadvantage at 4 points a Rank. It's an empathic link between two Necanthropes. What one thinks, feels, or even does, happens to the other. At Rank 6, one will feel pain if the other is hurt, and at Rank 10, one will end up mimicking entire actions performed by their partner (CONC-10 rolls to resist)
Emotional Intrusion : Advantage, 4 points/rank. Mind crush! The Necanthrope can probe a victim's minds, find their deepest fears and desires and make them flare. A Necanthrope could make even a Shaktar quake with fear. CONC-Emotional Intrusion Ranks to resist, and it can't be used in combat, only calm and social circumstances - unless the Necanthrope has already used the Intrusion successfully on the victim before.
Soul Weave : Disadvantage, 15 points (!). A "Soul Weaver" is an unconscious soul from the White that rides into the body of a turning Necanthrope and returns with them. The soul will never become fully conscious, but the Necanthrope will be hit with flashbacks of its memories at the most awkward of times (CONC-5 roll to push the memory back)
Alienation : Disadvantage, 15 points. Because you just had to play your ronin Necanthrope, didn't you. The Necanthrope is exiled from the Society and can receive no help from it, and is usually despised by other Necanthropes.
Compulsion : Disadvantage, 2 points/rank. And you were doing so well, SLA. Some Necantrhopes have urges , which are usually a lot sicker and more unnnatural than normal obsessions and perversions. They can grow out of hand and become uncontrollable, which can get operatives, Internal Affairs and Cloak Division on the Necanthrope's ass if necessary. Some examples? "Blood, Sex,Children, Sadism, Masochism, Sado-Masochism..." Goddammit.
And yet still doing better than Cthulhutech!
Then there's some rules on what else they can spent their points on, and it's kind of confusing because it reads as if you were making a Necanthrope from chargen (it talks about normal skills, normal advantages and disadvantages, and such). Necanthropes can buy new traits with XP, and they have the greatest racial maximums for stats.
So yeah, break the poor Stormer's arm without breaking a sweat, make the party Ebon shit his pants and then use your MAGICKS so that people want to bone you even if you look like Xenomorph Geraldo Rivera. Only price is SELLING YOUR SOOOOUL.
And looking like something straight out of RIFTS, too.
Next: Fireball Hot-Potato.
I Tap Two Black Mana And Cast TerrorOriginal SA post SLA Industries: I Tap Two Black Mana And Cast Terror
You know, the idea of character race as class is kinda cool in a cosmopolitan sci-fi rpg, it really is.
And the idea of geiger esque nightmare super agents powered by death as an advanced class is perfectly cool within SLA's aesthetic.
Why do you need to start as a spellcaster to GET TO BE the geiger esque nightmare super agent??
Because that's how SLA rolls. Also Ebon wank.
And now, for the second Ebb chapter. It opens with a speech by Preceptor Teeth to newly inducted Ebons (which is basically DO AS I SAY OR I'LL TURN YOUR BRAINS TO MUSH) and then, Ebb rules!
To cast an Ebb power, the Ebon must solve a hyperbolic equation. With a DeathSuit, it takes a very short time, 0.6 seconds - coincidentally, the length of a combat phase. A power is cast in one phase, paying the appropriate cost in FLUX, and if nothing happens that could break the Ebon's concentration (CONC-appropriate modifiers to hold the power) the power takes effect next phase, even if the Ebon couldn't act during it. Failure indicates the power and FLUX are lost and the Ebon must try again. An Ebon can also have a power prepared to cast (Formulae-5 roll): success indicates that the Ebon gets off the power in the first phase of the first round, otherwise they must wait until their first active phase. Either way, the power must be used, so watch out before you run with a charged Gore Cannon around.
Frost, Necanthrope, Mort 784 SD. posted:
Everything is numbers these days. 400 years ago, you had to feel for your abilities, reach out and touch them with your mind. Now it's all 'I just string a few equations together and POW!'. The art has gone, crushed once more by science."
Just because you're a Geigeresque nightmare super agent powered by death doesn't mean you can't also be a grognard. Moving on!
Characters can make an Ebb Save (CONC-rank of the Ebb ability) against Ebon abilities. Which is nice, but there's only two abilities they can use that save against - Communication and Senses. Oh well!
There are 13 standard Ebb abilities, each with 20 ranks of expertise. They are bought like normal skills at chargen, but the maximum starting Rank is of 10. Characters can buy any or all of those abilities, with the exception of Gore Cannon (wait, so all that talk about starting Necanthropes was bunk?) and Formulae, which... can neither be purchased or increased with experience. It literally increases only by GM fiat. What? Oh, and the totally illegal and dangerous Advancement Glyphs, sure, but again, WHAT?
Then again, it means the GM can run a game without necessarily worrying about the spellcaster PCs becoming Xenomorph Geraldo Rivera, I suppose.
So, abilities! Each comes with a 'free' trick, which I take it to mean it comes without a cost in FLUX. Each rank brings a new aspect of the power, or a progression in a previously learned aspect. One thing I'll give SLA as a book, as crazy as its editing can get, is that I like the way this chapter is organized: first a quick rundown of each ability per rank, followed by a longer list with detailed descriptions. You can use the detailed list for chargen, then flip to the summary list in actual play. That's actually cool. Anyway!
"I went to bed... WITHOUT BRUSHING MY TEETH." "DUDE."
Blast: Force Ebb Kinetic : attack power, beloved by all. Pretty limited in scope, only has two applications - Blast itself and Bomb, with an area effect. It's considered to have a RoF of 1 and it's used as a weapon, with the ranks in Blast as the weapon skill. At higher ranks, you could conceivably pull a Scanner on someone, but unfortunately it's pretty short ranged, 40 meters tops. Its free ability lets the Ebon crack ice and glass.
Blue Thermal: Glacial Ebb : ice to meet you. Ebons with this ability start learning how to resist heat, create cold and casting a freezing blast, eventually learning how to create blades of pure ice or even freezing people solid with a touch. Its free ability lets the Ebon make ice cubes, keep their drinks cool, etc.
Communication: Voice of the Ebb : telepathy! Communication starts with the power to send one-way messages, progressing to two-way messages, basic mind reading, and ending with the usual charm/mind slavery shenanigans. Its free ability lets the Ebon go "Notice me..." and have people around the Ebon, well, notice them.
Kirby energy circles or comic drunkness circles? It could go either way.
Detect: Ebb Awareness : these deal with the tracking and detection of Ebons and flux use. It eventually progresses to the detection of non-Ebons, precise information on the flux use to be tracked, and postcognition powers. The free ability lets the Ebon sense other Ebons.
Enhancement: Augmentation : for your budding Necanthropes. This ability allows the modification of the Ebon's body (and only their body, not others') It starts with the ability to grow sabre-tooth teeth and claws, basic attribute boosts, progressing through natural armor, DNA tattoos (which can be given to others, though) and ending with crazy shit like extra limbs and 'Ebb Demon', a fuckoff huge combat monster form. Its free ability gives the Ebon stronger teeth, nails and such. Nifty!
Healing: Art of Healing & Purification : never leave home without it. The game even says that all Ebons should have at least two or three ranks in this, as it's cheaper and faster than using drugs or a normal medkit. It starts with the ability to close wounds and restoring HP at 1 FLUX/wound or HP, becoming more efficient in flux use as the ranks increase; other powers include giving yourself temporary HP and the confusing "Soul Caging" ability, that lets the Ebon go into someone's mindscape and change things. I THINK. They only have 20 minutes, though, or they'll be trapped in the mindscape until someone else with Soul Caging gets them out. I don't know, this sounds more like a Communication aspect, though I guess you could use it to heal insanities and such. The free ability lets the Ebon heal scratches, bruises and so on.
Illumination: Ebb Illumination : light, electricity and redundant titles. Character can illuminate areas, zap enemies, get night vision and more. At Rank 20, they can create Glyphs, (semi)permanent Ebb powers stored in specially constructed Dark Lament objects. The free ability lets the Ebon dim lights slightly, make them flicker, or give small static shocks.
Protect: Ebon Guard : the DeathSuit ability. Putting ranks in this allows the Ebon to use FLUX to improve the DeathSuit in many forms, as well as allowing it to work as a FLUX store, giving it stat increases, and working all the way up to Interdermalisation (i.e. hiding the 'suit under the skin, with its protective capabilities intact) and, at really high ranks, allowing the DeathSuit to work as an independent living identity, or even storing the Ebon's soul after death. Its free ability keeps the DeathSuit clean.
Reality Folding: Ebb Manipulation : teleporting! The destination must always be known, and it's not possible to 'port inside objects or people unless by accident. It's pretty regular in power increase as Ranks go up, just allowing better teleportation at longer ranges. Eventually, the Ebon can learn how to fold space around one of Dark Lament's Foldships. Its free ability lets the Ebon palm small objects.
She's so about it.
Red Thermal: Inferno Ebb : the opposite of Blue Thermal. Its powers are similar to their Blue Thermal counterparts, but Red Thermal gets FIREBALLS instead of ice blades. Brain Wasters love Red Thermal. Its free power lets the Ebon be their own cigarrette lighter.
Senses: Sense Perception : these deal with sense and mindfucks. The Ebon starts with the ability to fuck with people's senses, scaring them, progressing to enhancement of one's own senses and blocking use of Detect by other Ebons and finishing with Backlash - the ability to send an enemy Ebon's power right back at them. The free ability gives the character +1 Rank in Exceptional Vision or Hearing, player's choice.
Telekinesis: Force Focus : the flavor text implies that Slayer force chokes a couple of annoying journalists. Fun! Telekinesis starts with the capability of lifting and throwing objects, the aforementioned force choke, progressing through force shields and the ability to fly up to 'force an intrusion' which deals a lot of damage and sounds pretty damn awful. The free ability lets the Ebon move small objects, very slowly.
Gore Cannon: Celrydreahad : Celrydreahad is Glyphspeak for Gore Cannon and is pronounced SELLREEDRIHAD, if you care. It's pretty damn nasty! It starts off with a DMG 10 attack that ignores all armor (at least it's short ranged) and it gets worse from there. The Gore Cannon can shoot paralyzing poison, stunning psychosnot, insanity-inducing psychosnot. It can also become self-aware and independent, like the world's most phallic familiar ever. It can even start sucking blood or FLUX from an unlucky victim, and its ultimate ability fires off a rain of blood that can turn anyone in range into a shivering wreck as horrifying flashbacks get into their heads. Free ability? 'Bad taste, curdle milk, etc.' FUN!
I shoot snot, your arguments are invalid.
Dark Lament also produces a piece of Science Friction equipment for each ability. Blast has the Flintlock , a baroque firearm-like device that lets the Ebon pay for the Blast effect as if it were 1 rank lower. The Thermals get the Thermal Gauge , which glows when the Ebon uses a Thermal ability and... does nothing else? What? Communications has the Distracter , a monocle-like thing that gives the targets an extra -2 to their saves. Detect has the Pathfinder , which is a clone of an older, more established game, and... wait. Anyway, it also has no specific benefit, because that's how SLA rolls. Augmentation has Pineal Stim , which is a drug and will be covered when we do Hardware. Healing has the Ebb Medkit , which is freaky as fuck and gives the user +2 ranks in Healing, as well as letting them store an extra 20 FLUX. Illumination gets the Illumination Gem , a small crystal that doubles the areas of the Illumination powers. Protect gets, guess what? The DeathSuit ! Reality Folding uses the Vector Box to double the ranges of its powers. Senses has the Jade Probe , which kind of looks like the goofy KOTOR tiaras and gives the target an extra -1 to their CONC roll. Telekinesis uses the Focus gem to double the weights and speeds they can work with, as well as doubling the duration of their abilities. Finally, Flux Gems let the Ebon store flux in them for later use.
The chapter ends with rules for Flux regeneration! 1 FLUX/hour if the Ebon is awake, all FLUX recovered if they can get 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Doesn't recover their DeathSuit FLUX if it can store it, but oh well. All in all, again, not the WORST PSYCHIC POWER RULES ever (though Gore Cannon is pretty damn overpowered, then again, it's quite a long way to get there) but keeping track of all the Flux costs and such can get pretty heavy on the bookkeeping.
And seriously, what's up with Formulae?
Next: fashion in 900 SD.
More Guns You Can Shake A Stormer AtOriginal SA post SLA Industries: More Guns You Can Shake A Stormer At
Spring Slaughter? Summer Skirmish? Autumn Armageddon? Winter Warfare?? Whatever the time of the year, SLA franchise is always in fashion...
What futuristic gun porn game would SLA be without its equipment chapter? It opens with some fluff about how SLA's myriad sub-companies work, and how they're in competition with each other despite them working for SLA. If one of them tried to escape SLA's sphere, SLA could 'nationalize' it by buying them out. Historically, only one company (Killa Chassis, a powersuit manufacturer) has evaded the buyout, by having the internal management buying up all their shares and relocating off-planet before SLA could bring their purchase order to bear. While SLA has tightened up their regulations after it, it has brought no retaliation against Killa Chassis - not even exiling them from Mort. They have since then returned to the world and now sell powersuit kits to everyone, including DarkNight. Beats me why they're still allowed to live.
Anyway, weapons! I won't bore you with each and every gun, but will mention the companies that build them. Most of them get an in-setting corporate report, which can work as plot seeds if your game is more about corporate skulduggery than splatterpunk. On to it!
(Incidentally, remember how RoF worked? Well, there are RoF 2 weapons listed here... and there's absolutely no ruling in the corebook dealing with them. At all. Googling around, it seems like every GM makes up their own houserules for them. SLA!)
General Armaments : they make solid, cheap 10mm weapons, but they're engaged in a corporate war with the giant FEN and are on the losing end. They may be looking forward to financial collapse and a buy-out in the future.
FEN : the major weapons manufacturer. They have the most variety of products of any single company in the corebook, and they make the 603 pistol all characters start with (a solid 10mm gun with burst fire capabilities). They also have SMGs, assault rifles, SAWs and a selection of sniper rifles.
Klip Killer : They make a 12mm pistol and a 12mm SMG-like arm. Their main draw is their clipping system, which clips the weapon to the user's arm or shoulder. Rules for it? None!
GAK : a joint venture between General Armaments and Klip Killer. They make a nasty 12.7mm sniper rifle.
Berenyi Light Arms : someone liked Lush. They make a single product, the BLA 'Blitzer' revolver, an expensive, customized weapon, as much a symbol of status as a powerful arm. Why do all futuristic gun porn games have an an expensive, customized weapon, as much a symbol of status as a powerful arm? Is that a rule or something?
Why yes, I do overcompensate. Anything else you want to say about it?
Kramer Production Syndicate : KPS makes a badass automatic shotgun, but its main feature is that it's headed by A. Kramer, the head of SLA's Corporate Division and the guy that does most of the corporate reports on the other companies in this chapter. He's said to have seemingly inexhaustible personal assets. Embezzling, in my SLA?
Military Assault Laminates : MAL makes a powerful 12.7mm assault rifle. RoF 2, though, so better ask your GM how it works
Advanced Gunnery: Berenyi : a newly born BLA subsidiary, AGB makes a specialized weapon that fires high-tensile razor wire packets. Slice and dice!
Scott Pelling Group : remember the razor disc-throwing thing from Unreal? SP makes it. It's silent and laughs at anything short of heavy power armor.
SLA Industries : the main company also competes with its sub-companies with a basic, solid 10 gauge shotgun.
Consolidated Arms Fabrication : ah, CAF, the civvie weapons manufacturer. They'll always have a large market, and their guns have badass names like Steel Death and Screaming Eagle, but they're still pants. At least they're cheap.
GASH : flavor text with a Shiver 'testing' a baton on an unemployed civvie that doesn't quite realize what's going on. Hilarious! They make the iconic Chain Axe, as well as the Shiver pacifier baton (will last for at least 200,000 skull fractures!)
Dynamic Precision Blades : DPB makes power weapons like the Flick Scythe, or an armored gauntlet with attached powered blades
Multi Angular Cutters : MAC makes the eponymous MAC knife, which is a really deadly weapon even without being powered. The DarkNight report attached to it mentions with dread the possibility of SLA making a powered version of it.
Ian Thomas Bradley Weapons : ITB bets on the Mutilator, a vibro-fist with fair armor-defeating capabilities, but will probably be bought out by DPB if it doesn't sell well.
Multi-Job Lacerates : in case you forgot Shaktars were Glaswegian Predators, MJL makes the Power Disc, perfect for close combat or throwing. They also make the Power Claymore for your crazyass Frothers.
BOSH : they make the standard SLA combat blade and as such are entirely funded by SLA itself. So, why bother having another company at all?
There's also a piece of fiction where a Shiver commander requests from Slayer permission to augment his men's firepower in response to the wave of knife attacks. Slayer's response?
Design Associates : the sole producer of explosives for SLA, they make all the available grenades. No demolition charges or WP, though, SLA doesn't want nutjob operatives blowing up half of Suburbia.
Power Projects : the major body armor producer of SLA. All of their stuff is powered, though at the lower end it only means that the armor supports itself. Their only competition is MAL, which makes cheap flak vests and motorcycle gear in cooperation with CAF.
They also make this.
Next, there is a list of general equipment. Highlights!
Third Eye Audio/Visual Recording Playback : cameras! Better believe the media wants video of your gory battles. They use "the first true 'multi-media' storage facility", the slug, which we are told is similar to a compact disc, but both visual images and sound can be recorded as well as played back on it. Which I guess it's not really off the mark if you think of slugs as USB drives. The camera is connected to a 'slugger', which does the actual recording and stuff, and also works as a computer data drive. This is actually close to real life hardware!
Third Eye Finance Chip Scanner : point at someone within 30 meters and, if they're carrying a Finance Chip, it will reveal their name, classification, training package, squad and SCL. It's really cheap at 50 credits, but doesn't it sort of ruin the whole point of making chipping a secret if any old operative can point the thing at you and blow your cover?
SLA Electronic and Manual Lock Picks, SLA Forgery Equipment Manual/Electronic : the kits themselves are not special, but I'm amused by SLA making gear that will most likely end up bypassing their own security checks.
Third Eye Laptop Computer 'Oyster' : technology has advanced so much that it's possible to carry a computer system... in a large overcoat pocket! Anyway, it's pretty much like a modern laptop computer, only without wireless networking capabilities. Hey, it was 1993, I'll give the writers a break. It's not like Kult and its elite 486 boxes.
FEN 270671 Scout Helmet : only available to the Scouting package operatives because it's really confusing to use. Its most salient features are that it uses Reality Overlay as a HUD, has a shitload of sensors and cameras, and for some reason uses up almost an entire page of description.
Pimpamobile is GO.
Vehicles! Two civilian vehicles are described, the Augustus (luxury operative car) and the Calaharvey Urbaniser (heavy-duty motorcycle). The rest is SLA vehicles, from simple jeeps, trikes and APCs up to Shiver gear like the Kilcopter or the SCAF hoverbike.
And now, drugs. SLA drugs are manufactured by the Soul Institute of Pharmacology, which has deliberately retained the addictive qualities in their products to keep employees and operatives purchasing their products steadily. Capitalism!
Anyway, rules. Drugs are injected in one combat phase and take effect three phases later. Drugs cannot be combined, and more than one dose in one phase doesn't work (with the exception of the medical drug KickStart). Drugs come with an Addiction rating, something like "-1 PHYS/4 doses": after a character takes their first X doses, they must roll PHYS minus the indicated modifier. Failure indicated they've become addicted, and they must either take the drug at the intervals mentioned in the drug's writeup or face detox side effects (which include temporary and permanent losses in stats or HP). Detox is nasty.
And yes, as mentioned before - Frothers? The variant human species that thrives on drug use and abuse? The guys that are literally born crunk? NO BENEFITS OF ANY KIND.
Combat drugs : first we have Rush , which grants extra actions a round and reduces damage; and Ultra-Violence , which is Rush squared. They give the user a major edge, but their Addiction intervals are Continous - addicts need to be on the drug all the time or face stat loss. There is also Pineal Stim from the Ebb chapters, which doubles the duration of Enhancement abilites at the risk of loss of FLUX and Enhancement ranks. Shatter , the DarkNight drug, is mentioned, but it gets no rules.
Soft drugs : here we have Beat , a standard pleasure drug, and Personal Interest , which... induces the sensation of sexual intercourse. Addictive, but not combat drug addictive.
Medical drugs : this includes KickStart , life saver of Ebon-deprived squads, and Pain Away , a powerful painkiller. They're both addictive - yes, even Kick Start, though it's hard to get addicted to it. This also includes Flush , a special drug designed to combat addiction to other drugs. And yes, you can get addicted to this too. . Finally, there's Streak , a nootropic enhancer drug; Honesty , a truth serum; and White Noise , for Ebons getting close to Necanthropehood.
The drugs section ends with a list of civilian drugs, like analgesics, vitamins and cigarrettes; they don't have rules, excepting for the steroids (1 tablet/day and four hours a day of exercise per month = +1 STR)
And finally, there are pictures from the in-setting Hardware magazine (like Soldier of Fortune meets Cosmopolitan.) You've seen pics of it already in the post.
But you wish you hadn't seen this.
Next: assorted bits.
The Bad Guys And...?Original SA post SLA Industries: The Bad Guys And...?
There are many rivals to the throne SLA Industries has created and sits upon, regally. A multitude of 'Soft Companies', hostile independent traders and renegade operatives (some more like street gangs than an organised force) struggle mercilessly to pull down the industrial giant. Up until now, SLA has scoffed at such feeble attempts, hiring standard operatives to thwart such subversion.
All, except three major corporations, are little more than hounds biting the ankles of a giant.
DarkNight, Thresher, Tek Trex
So, bad guys chapter! We start with DarkNight, which as we know, act as subversives trying to overthrow SLA. They claim to act on behalf of the people, but their terrorist acts take the lives of both SLA operatives and innocent civilians, so their actual motive is probably lining their pockets at their victims' expense, and nothing more. They are at the head of almost every organized crime ring in Mort. DarkNight controls Downtown's black market and most of the illegal activities in or around it. Racketeering in Suburbia is attributed to them, and their schemes reach as high as Uptown or Mort Central.
Most people in their payroll are just terrorists or average civilians trying to supplement their income. In fact, many people already work for DarkNight without knowing it (for instance, if the shop they work at is a front for a money laundering operation) Their best operatives, the Interceptors, love to strike at SLA operatives in numbers and show off their gory deaths in Channel Resistance. The most experienced of them are their equivalent of SLA's Contract Killers, and wear the logos of DN and other independent sponsors openly. It's said that Halloween Jack was once affiliated to DarkNight, but he left (or perhaps never listened to them in the first place) and killed civilians, SLA and Darknight agents alike. Oh, so he does get mentioned more than once in the corebook! They have some renegade Necanthropes and Ebons in their employee, normally employing Glyph cards without access to Dark Lament gear - with the exception of ex-SLA operatives, which carry their gear across when they turn.
I'm sure I saw this guy in Trainspotting.
Channel Resistance is DarkNight's mouthpiece in their propaganda war. It's not really a channel per se, but a fixed one-minute intrusion on one of SLA's TV channels. The intrusion is made possible by 'Vent' (Virtual ENTity), a "pseudo-sentient network dragon", which DN hackers use to mask their attacks. It's a highly effective system, and DN can even patch into live feeds as a result. Channel Resistance's face woman, Lisa Foden, has managed to evade discovery and capture so far, even by Necanthropes - there's more than meets the eye about her.
SLA's first encounter with DarkNight took place in 123 SD, when a reconnaissance battalion made a pitstop at the backwater planet of Tears, where they came under fierce attack. Fortunately, they fought it off with minimal casualties, and two prisoners that managed to provide some information on this new enemy. Soon after, DN became involved in a number of terrorist incidents in Mort. They weren't of major importance at first, but they grew in size and frequency and in 20 years DarkNight had become a power on its own. SLA intelligence reasons that 20 years is not enough time to become such a major player, so they assume that DN had a great deal of outside help. Their terrorist attacks continue, and they have attempted large offensives on War Worlds, but they've met with difficulty and destruction there. Their most effective offensive remains their involvement in Mort, which include the planting of sleeper agents with hypnotic suggestions, distribution of the Shatter serial killer drug, subversion of civilians, and more.
Gear! Though the rumors claim that DarkNight tried to plagiarize SLA's equipment, their construction techniques seem to be quite different. Crunch-wise, their armor and weapons in Mort are on the low-mid tier compared to SLA's stuff, but they're cheaper on the black market and readily available to civvies sick of CAF's shit. Their weapons in particular use common 10mm rounds to better scavenge SLA's parts and ammo, though DN agents are known to plain steal better SLA weapons when they need greater fire power. I'm just amused by the fact that all DarkNight weapons have a semi-auto/burst fire option (Most of SLA's auto weapons have a fixed burst setting for some reason, with the notable exception of the 603 pistol)
And now, Thresher! Their story starts in 232 SD, on a small, water-rich planet called Shalahs. The 127th Technical Support Group were waiting for the arrival of their attack force for refit and resupply, when one of their recon elements spotted an industrial complex relatively close to them. The salvage team that was sent to them found a gold mine of hardware technology: a Conflict Wars manufacturing plant. The commander of the 127th, Robert Adam, saw the opportunity of a lifetime and proposed to his men ditching SLA and becoming rich out of the new technology. Only 30 of the 750-strong force opposed the proposal, and they were given a small foldship with enough supplies for the journey home.
The supplies were poisoned, of course.
The attack force ran across the dead foldship and, fearing the worse, raced for Shalahs. They found the complex, but the 127th had hidden well and, lacking supplies, they wrote the 127th off and jumped out of the system. With free reign, the newly renamed Threshers (taking the name from a native type of shark) started working to get the complex up and running. Unfortunately, after a year only four of their fifteen ships was operational, and some of the ground crews became very uneasy. Complaints grew, Adam became paranoid, and ended up executing 50 of his men. When the rest marched on the complex, sick of being treated like prisoners in their new home, Adam's new powersuits were there to receive them. 100 people died that day. Soon after, the Threshers were effectively a police state, though that did little to soothe Adam's growing paranoia.
Eventually, a DarkNight mercenary force, the Cannon Callers, made planetfall and demanded the surrender of the complex. Adam and his closest advisors somehow managed to negotiate a settlement and the Callers became Thresher's own combat strike force, the Shark's Teeth I. They left with some of Adam's technical personnel, to maintain their shiny new powersuits and make sure no escape attempts were made. Three of them, however, managed to escape during a raid and make contact with SLA forces. At the same time, a memory core hidden in the complex revealed that there were no less than 400 complexes like the one the 127th found in the universe, with only 7 of them not ready for full operation. SLA forces were sent to eliminate Thresher, but Adam redeployed everything to ten of the newly discovered plants, and when SLA's 1st Nitro Legion raided the original compound it exploded, taking out SLA's troops and almost crippling their massive foldship.
RIIIIIIIIIFTS. Or MADOX-01.
Five years later, in the War World of Dante, SLA forces came under attack by highly mobile, seemingly indestructible powersuit units. Thresher grew in power and numbers, never to the level of SLA or even DarkNight, but enough to be reckoned with in the World of Progress. It would be Adam's micromanagement, of all things that would lead him to his downfall. Linda Spears, one of the three escapees, had joined SLA's Cloak Division and jumped at the chance to assassinate Adam and avenge his husband. It took her two years of covert work but finally she had her chance during one of Adam's endless personal inspections of a manufacturing plant. She managed to hack into Adam's powersuit through a maintenance port and locked him inside, where he would die two hours later after his air run out. Most impressively, Spears managed to survive the stunt, as Adam's bodyguards were too concerned about hitting him with their powerful weapons to get a bead on her. Spears escaped back to SLA, made a gigantic leap in the SCL ladder, and retired two years later, rich and avenged. See, SLA also has good endings!
Thresher ended up in chaos, with a large scale recall of their forces to their home worlds. After seven years, Thresher reinvented itself as a weapons manufacturer selling to the few independent worlds still left as well as activist groups under the yoke of the Suppressor Powers. Still without the numbers to take DarkNight or SLA head-on, they returned to their traditional hit and run missions. Today, Thresher is a secretive company, and their leaders are unknown (to prevent another assassination, most likely). They continue their raids on SLA, but in the last 150 years they've expanded to terrorist activities in Mort itself.
More gear! Their main draw is in their awesome armor. Even their basic infantry armor can match one of SLA's exoarmors, and their high-end stuff can take more of a beating than even MAL's Shock Armor. Most importantly, all of their powered armor is equipped with powerful VTOL propulsion units that give them speeds of up to 240 km/h. While SLA has some captured Thresher gear, they've yet to figure out how to reproduce it. As for weapons. they have everything from pistols to the fuckoff huge Thresher Cannon (THE most feared weapon on the battlefield), and they prefer to use uncommon calibers such as 11mm and 14mm to prevent scavenging of fallen Thresher units. Thresher doesn't fuck around, they tend to carry HEAP rounds and they deal a lot of damage. Most importantly, they're the only users of depleted uranium rounds, which are scary as hell - particularly to Ebons, as DU somehow depletes their flux stores. No rules are given for that, though, because SLA.
And Tek Trex! We had never heard of them before, but oh well. They were one of the most advanced cybernetics companies in history, though unfortunately they were hit by the death of the cybernetics fad. Their main product was independent cybernetic drones but something went horribly wrong with the prototypes. AI rebellion? Puppet Master? No, something much worse.
Awww, it's so cute and OW OW STOP SHOOTING AT ME OW OW OW
They were 1 meter tall. Rumors vary (either someone read the design blueprints wrong, people thought the prototypes were 'cute' and wanted more like them, they lacked funding and resources or the drones' feet were designed off walking shoes ) but the fact is that Tek Trex makes 1 meter tall drones for sale to everyone in the black market. They were relatively popular during the cybernetics fad (Tek Trex also made some of the cyberlimbs that lie dead in Rust Alley these days) and are now bought by whoever has money to burn on them. In large numbers, they can be particularly dangerous. Their three main varieties are the Vito , a 60cm tall recon drone with a 5mm SMG, usually showing up in large numbers; the Buzzard , a vicious attack 'dog' armed with a 5mm SMG and a small chain axe; and the Scarab , a highly advanced stealth attack drone. There's also the Fritz , a 3m tall combat drone armed with a power drill and a full auto shotgun, but it gets no stats because SLA.
And now, the media! We get a very long fiction piece on the life of a Third Eye News controller, and the history behind Contract Killers. Back in 35 SD, with the public still restless after a generation of warfare, SLA established SIC, a channel meant to showcase the violence inherent to the World of Progress and distract the masses from their other 'dealings'. The public began to identify with the more prominent operatives of the time, even sending fan mail to them. In 42 SD, Paramour Pizzas offered an operative a financial bonus in exchange for his wearing their logo on a shoulder pad. The operative, a drug addict, agreed and became 'Pizzaman', to great public approval. He died of an overdose years later, but he had already set the example. More and more companies offered sponsorship contracts to operatives, and SIC started making TV shows about these sponsored killers. When it was clear that operatives were becoming distracted from their jobs by the sponsorships, SLA stepped in, and established the Contract Circuit as it is known today. With SLA's official backing, pretty much everyone and their mothers wanted to get in on the sponsorship deals.
Rules! Companies won't offer sponsorships to anyone below SCL 9. At SCL 9, they can get sponsorship from independent companies (Al's Taxis, Weird Alien Surfwear, Flying Jelly Attack Confectionary...) at 50 credits a month. SCL 8 lets the operative attract basic commodity companies, like magazines and clothing manufacturers (Arducci, Track opticS, The Personal Interest Company) at 100 credits a month. SCL 7 means that Third Eye News and other media companies (SIC, Gorezone, Alien Sex Channel...) are now a possibility, paying 150 credits a month. SCL 6 is the big leagues: FEN, BLA, Power Projects, etc., paying 200 credits a month. And finally, SCL 5 means the largest potential sponsors: the SLA departments (Karma, Dark Lament, Cloak Division, etc.) It is mentioned, however, that some departments like Station Analysis or Internal Affairs cannot become sponsors.
Then, there's the Consolidated Bonus Scheme, SLA's official reward scale for BPNs and... Carriens! These strange creatures have plagued Mort for centuries. They breed real fast and it takes a long time to exterminate them. Their social structure is similar to rats, and they have a semblance of intelligence. They attack using teeth, claws and rudimentary weapons like clubs. Their origin is unknown, but they often wear armor similar to the base exoskeleton, so they could be the product of a rival company. There's no hard evidence to back this up, though. They come in three variants: standard Carriens, Greater Carriens and Mutant Carriens. They're all pretty nasty in close combat, but they have no armor worth a damn (maybe the writers forgot to give their exoskeletons a protective rating? ) and they all share an aversion to sunlight.
Remember, the one with the crazy hair is the GOOD guy.
Shit, that's it. GM sections and the like are for BABIES. There are some BPN samples, some art by Dave Allsop himself, sample contracts, warrants, BPN templates, the character sheet... oh, thank fuck, there's an index! There's also a quick introduction of the setting to photocopy and give to players, which is cool, though it suggests as a "truly dark playing experience" the option of letting the group play a Cognate serial killer gang. What the fuck? They also thank none other than Greg Stolze for the quickstart intro idea.
And on that strangely unsatisfying note, SLA Industries: The Corebook: The Game ends! Flawed, so 90s it hurts, but I can't help but like it. Glad you read this far!
I want to tackle some of the corebooks before diving into the morass of that is THE TROOF, but I think I'll do a smaller game in between.