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Saturday 18 March 2023

Quick-Start Saturday: SLA Industries

Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.

Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.


What is it?
SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start is the quick-start for SLA Industries 2nd Edition, a roleplaying game of dark dystopian splatter punk and corporate noir horror.

It includes a basic explanation of the setting, rules for actions and combat, details of the arms, armour, and equipment fielded by the Player Characters, the mission, ‘The Cleaners’, and five ready-to-play, Player Characters, or SLA Operatives.

It is a fifty-two page, full colour book.

The quick-start is lightly illustrated, but the artwork is excellent. The rules are a slightly stripped down version from the core rulebook, but do include examples of the rules which speed the learning of the game.

The themes and nature of SLA Industries and thus the
SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start means that it is best suited to a mature audience.

How long will it take to play?
SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start and its adventure, ‘The Cleaners’, is designed to be played through in one or two sessions.

What else do you need to play?
SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start requires six ten-sided dice per player. One of these dice should be a different colour to the rest.

Who do you play?
The five Player Characters are all SLA Operatives who recently graduated from training and formed a squad called ‘Blistering Rain’
. They consist of a Malice Stormer 313 with the Close Assault package, an Ebonite Medic, a Neophron with the Investigation & Interrogation package, a Frother with the Heavy Support package, and a Human with the Strike & Sweep package.

How is a Player Character defined?
An Operative has six stats—Strength, Dexterity, Knowledge, Concentration, and Cool. The sixth is Luck, except for the Ebonite, who have the Flux stat instead. Stats are rated between zero and six, whilst the skills are rated between one and four. Ratings Points represent an Operative’s ratings in various areas, such as televised action, corporate sponsorship, or faith in his own abilities. They are expended to overcome obstacles, perform cinematic feats, or avoid certain death or defeat. They are divided between three categories—Body, Brains, and Bravado—and indicate the ways in which an Operative will perform best on camera. For example, with Body 5, Brains 0, and Bravado 2, the Malice Stormer 313 will best seen performing an ‘Impossible Feat’ or going to ‘Tear Right Through Them’.

An Operative also has various traits such as Anger, Ambidextrous, Drug Addict, Arrogant, and so on. Each Operative sheet includes a thumbnail headshot illustration, some background, and several weapons. Each ‘SLA Operative Security Clearance Card’ or character sheet is clear and easy to read and understand.

How do the mechanics work?
Mechanically, SLA Industries, Second Edition uses the ‘S5S’ System. This is a dice pool system which uses ten-sided dice. The dice pool consists of one ten-sided die, called the Success Die, and Skill Dice equal to the skill being used, plus one. The Success Die should be of a different colour from the Skill Dice. The results of the dice roll are not added, but counted separately. Thus, to each roll is added the value of the Skill being rolled, plus its associated stat. If the result on the Success Die is equal to or greater than the Target Number, ranging from seven and Challenging to sixteen and Insane, then the Operative has succeeded. If the results of the Skill Dice also equal or exceed the Target Number, this improves the quality of the successful skill attempt. However, if the roll on the Success Die does not equal or exceed the Target Number, the attempt fails, even if multiple rolls on the Success Dice do. Except that is where there are four or more results which equal or exceed the Target Number on the Success Dice. This is counted as a minimum success though.

How does combat work?
Combat in SLA Industries is designed to be desperate and dangerous. It is detailed and tactical. It takes into account offensive and defensive manoeuvres, rate of fire, recoil, damage inflicted on armour, cover, aiming, and so on. The scenario features a lot of combat and the Game Master should pay particular attention to those rules in the quick-start.

All SLA Operatives are combat trained, though some do specialise. The Frother is also addicted to a combat drug which gives him an advantage in combat.

How does the Ebb work?
One of the pre-generated SLA Operatives is an Ebonite and can calculate the formulae underlying the Ebb disciplines. In play, each discipline is treated as a separate skill, requires the expenditure of Fluxx points, and can be used in and out of combat. The Ebonite has the Heal, Thermal: Blue, and Communicate disciplines. Thus she is capable of conversing by thought, healing wounds, resisting heat, manipulating the cold, and forming temporary blades of ice.

What do you play?
The SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start includes
‘The Cleaners’, a short BPN or Blue Print News file assignment which starts out in intentionally frustrating and dreary fashion with the SLA Operatives waiting around to receive and assignment, before being transported by a squad of Shivers—local law enforcement and occasional riot squad—to the site where strange sounds coming from the sewers are heard. No one is really pleased to see the Operatives, but they are least pleased that someone will deal with the problem. There are some nice opportunities for roleplaying here before the SLA Operatives climb down into sewers.

The BPN involves a sewer sweep and clear of rats and other vermin, such as carrien and carnivorous pig. As the Operatives work their way through the sewers they will find clues suggesting that something else is going on.

Is there anything missing?
The SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start is complete and it even comes with a pair of extra BPN files which the Game Master could develop and run if her players want to discover what happens next to the members of Blistering Rain. If there is anything missing which would made the scenario easier to run, it would be a map of the sewers, but this is not absolutely necessary. The Game Master may want to assign some names to the antagonists of the scenario as it is something that the players and their Operatives will ask about.

Is it easy to prepare?
The core rules presented in the
SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start are relatively easy to prepare. The Game Master will need to pay closer attention to how combat works in the game as it is the most complex part of the rules and highly tactical in play. There is decent advice for the Game Master on how to run the scenario.

Is it worth it?
Although the SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start does not touch upon the weirdness and true horror that is part of the World of Progress, it presents a solid introduction to the ‘S5S’ System and the rules for SLA Industries 2nd Edition, as well as to the World of Progress and how it works for Operatives at the bottom of the ladder, being assigned a rotten job and not getting the full recognition for it. This means that it will work as a one-shot as a taster or convention scenario, but can also be added to or used to start a campaign. The scenario has an atmospheric tension from paranoia and the lack of trust that those around have for the SLA Operatives, which will ultimately end in a crescendo of violence down the sewers...

Where can you get it?
The SLA Industries 2nd Edition: Quick Start is available to download here.

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