The 1990s, Cranked Up To 11

For about as long as I’ve been into tabletop RPGs, SLA Industries (“SLA” pronounced “Slay” for comedy reasons) has kind of been lurking about there in the background. There was the original 1993 release that Nightfall Games helmed themselves; there was the brief period when Wizards of the Coast held the IP before they bought the wreckage of TSR and canned all their RPG properties that weren’t Dungeons & Dragons; there was the blink-and-you’d-miss-it period when Hogshead Publishing had the rights and put out “Edition 1.1” (basically the first edition with new cover art and a sprinkling of corrections and clarifications) before James Wallis pulled the plug on Hogshead; there was that fairly extensive period when Cubicle 7 were keeping the core book and some supplements in print but didn’t seem to be doing very much to promote it.

These days Nightfall Games have gone their own way again rather than relying on third party publishers. At the moment they are putting out a trickle of material with the hope of building up interest and reserves before ploughing ahead with a 2nd Edition of the game. In the meantime, Edition 1.1 is available for download via DrivethruRPG on a pay-what-you-want basis. That’s handy for me, because one of the members of my Monday evening group is going to be running some SLA after my current Ars Magica block wraps up, so now’s the perfect time for me to pick the thing up and see what it’s like.

My God, it’s full of 90s.

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Blame Canada: Fleshsculptors of Montreal in Vampire and Tribe 8

For some reason Montreal gets a rap in a lot of 1990s RPG material as being a centre of great evil. At least one Call of Cthulhu campaign came out then centred on the town (Horror’s Heart), Dream Pod 9 immortalised it as the setting of Tribe 8, and White Wolf placed it firmly in the hands of the Sabbat as far as Vampire: the Masquerade was concerned. And when you add “horror” to “Canada” you tend to expect the end result to be David Cronenbergian levels of stomach-turning body horror. In Vampire‘s case, one of the most overtly grimdark sourcebooks for the setting would take Montreal as its subject, whilst in Tribe 8 the bad guy sourcebook Horrors of the Z’bri would become a showcase for just how nasty Dream Pod 9’s imagination would get. But out of the Sabbat and the Z’bri, who comes away with the crown of “grossest dudes in Montreal”? Only one way to find out.

(Note: some people reading this know I crew the Tribe 8 LARP Falling Down, so I should probably stress at this point that Horrors of the Z’bri is not part of that game’s official “canon” and I’m not privy to what the referees’ plans for that game are, so trying to infer anything about Falling Down from anything I say about Horrors is a loser’s game for losers.)

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ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – March 2015

Time for another checkup of the ENWorld list of hot RPGs. Usual reminder applies: RPGs are scored on the chart based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as ENWorld can find RSS feeds for. It isn’t tracking sales, and it isn’t even tracking popularity (because conceivably a game could get onto the chart if there were a sufficiently virulent negative reaction to it). What I present here are the scores assigned to each game, not the percentages (which can tend to obscure whether there’s been a recent explosion of RPG discussion – as there has been for 5E – or whether things are comparatively quiet on the RPG talkosphere).

1	D&D 5th Edition				2106
2	Pathfinder RPG				 671
3	Old School Revival (OSR)		 578
4	FATE					 461
5	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 341
6	D&D 4th Edition				 225
7	Savage Worlds				 182
8	Call of Cthulhu				 173
9	World of Darkness			 161
10	Traveller				 143
11	Dungeon World				 118
12	Shadowrun				 113
13	GURPS					 103
14	Star Wars (FFG)				  88
15	OD&D					  84
15	Dread					  84
17	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	  82
18	Numenera				  76
19	Dungeon Crawl Classics			  74
20	The Strange				  70
21	ICONS					  69
22	Warhammer 40K				  56
23	Stars Without Number			  55
24	Warhammer FRP				  53
25	Dragon Age				  51
26	AD&D 1st Edition			  44
27	AD&D 2nd Edition			  41
28	13th Age				  40
28	Gumshoe					  40
30	Castles & Crusades			  39
31	RIFTS					  36
32	Star Trek				  35
33	Apocalypse World			  34
33	Deadlands				  34
35	The One Ring				  30
36	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  27
37	Firefly					  26
38	Exalted					  20
39	d20 Modern				  17
39	Earthdawn				  17
41	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		  14
41	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			  14
41	Gamma World				  14
41	Fading Suns				  14
45	Chainmail				  13
46	Iron Kingdoms				  11
46	BESM					  11
48	Eclipse Phase				  10
48	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	  10
48	Star Wars (d6)				  10
51	Colonial Gothic				   9
52	A Song of Ice & Fire			   8
52	Hackmaster				   8
54	CORTEX System				   7
54	HERO System / Champions			   7
54	Aberrant				   7
57	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   4
57	Mutant Chronicles			   4
59	Silver Age Sentinels			   3
60	Alternity				   2
60	Ashen Stars				   2
60	TMNT					   2
60	Feng Shui				   2
60	DC Heroes				   2
60	True20					   2
66	Smallville				   1
66	Runequest				   1
66	Other Superhero RPGs			   1
66	Ars Magica				   1
70	Brave New World				   0
70	Paranoia				   0
70	Hobomancer				   0
70	Rotted Capes				   0
70	Villians & Vigilantes			   0
70	Marvel Super Heroes			   0
70	d20 Future				   0
70	Marvel SAGA				   0
70	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   0
--	Dnd/Pathfinder				 DNC
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

Note that according to the chart page a 0 score doesn’t mean nobody’s mentioned a particular game – a statistically significant sample has shown up but no more than that. For sanity’s sake I’m only tracking zero-scores which previously scored. Games which did not chart presumably either failed to even yield a statistically significant sample or have had their categories retired from the chart (as appears to be the case with the redundant Dnd/Pathfinder category). At least, that’s according to the ENWorld writeup – though since I’ve not seen a game drop off the chart since the Dnd/Pathfinder and Stage categories dropped off, I’m sceptical about that.

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