SLA Industries?

After a very long time, SLA Industries has made a return to my table – and an actual (not virtual) table at that. The last time I ran the game was in 1994 or ’95, and we did not play the game for long or very deeply. I have wanted to get back to it ever since, but time can pass quickly and plans can change and be changed.

Now we are heading into the tail end of 2019 and many of the assumptions about life given shape in SLA Industries and other properties of the late 80s and early 90s have come to pass, intentionally or not. In many ways, I find the game a better fit for play now than it was then.


Which Version?

We are starting (note the word choice there) the campaign with the revised or 1.1 edition. Some readers may know that a second edition has a quickstart PDF now and is finishing up crowdfunding for a full-scale return. Those readers may be wondering why we would choose to run the old edition. The most important reason is to give the group the opportunity to compare and contrast the old game with that pending Second Edition in the truest sense, by playing them. Of minor impact is that I finally got an original hardcover of the revised rules 4 years ago and have felt it staring at me from the shelf ever since. I had some trouble presenting the setting and using the system 20-some years ago well enough to overcome my groups’ love of other games and campaigns, and I have been wondering if it will be easier for me now. I believe that gaming is a thing we can get better at, and this is a fine way to check my own progress.


Another factor is that there are a lot of reviews out there which generally praise the setting while placing the system on a scale between unplayable to hard to understand. Often, I find that these reviews come from some combination of not playing and not reading, but the game does offer some heavy lifting opportunities in combat that we can reasonably expect newcomers to be challenged to see the patterns and propose of – especially if they have no experience with games featuring simple dice mechanisms and broad need for modifiers.

For my part, I find much to be refreshing in the system, and in that difference can lie the attraction to or rejection of it. On this recent return to the game, I am pleased to report that I am already finding it to be much simpler to use than I remembered, and it was easier by far to explain its cool aspects to the players. Maybe, Virginia, there is progress. It is like Corn Flakes; we should try things again~

The PDF of this version is available from Nightfall Games and DriveThru and looks very good for a scan. Of course, print copies are available as well, both from way back when and also reprints from Nightfall to coincide with the release of the Cannibal Sector 1 skirmish game over the last few years.

Why play SLA?

Part of my development as a gamer and GM was in recognizing my strengths, weaknesses, and areas where I could stretch and improve. A grim SF game of dystopian backdrop with foreground of conflict, conspiracy, and corruption, that can balance investigation with ultraviolence is right in my comfort zone – and moreso now than ever before. As my face to face gaming time has been so sporadic of late, I feel choosing a game that relies on my interests and strengths will help maximize my enjoyment by minimizing the effort.


SLA Industries manages to manipulate extreme metaphors meaningfully and though very much a product of its time in look, manages to bridge the decades between then and now by virtue of humanity’s obsession with inhumanity and by our cultural imperative to become our own evil caricature. It is sobering to think of how good we could have it as a species if we stopped fulfilling dystopian projections. Given my outlook on the world, the people in it, and the hysterical Broadway musical cheer of the way it is all marching into madness, I know that a game like this will frame some powerful sessions that can help us to express our thoughts and feelings as a byproduct of having fun together.


Stay tuned~

2 Responses to “SLA Industries?”
  1. torgsblog says:

    WOW – I vaguely remember this game. Thankful that I read your blog today… and just got in on that Kickstarter for 2nd ed. Great points and insights as always.

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