On a spur of the moment decision, I joined a Salvage Union playtest that was running tonight 5 minutes before it started. It was run by Panayiotis Lines, one of the creators of the game. The game is on Kickstarter until the 5th of January 2023.
Salvage Union is set in a post apocalyptic (but not dour or grimdark, at least not the way it was run) world with scarce resources. Your party goes on missions to bring back salvage. This allows your clan to maintain and grow the crawler (your mobile home). And it lets you “level up” your own mech by using salvaged resource. A lot of the crunch lies in that downtime.
Without spoilers, it was an introductory adventure designed to mix various elements of the gameplay. It took us through from the wilderness to a large city in ruins, placing fun obstacles in our way throughout.
We had 4 pilots, each in their own medium sized mech (they would be a character with a few levels under their belt in D&D). I was playing Twitch the Engineer and piloting a Magpie (a not so heavily armed mech with repair capabilities). I like support characters.
We had a soldier in his brawler mech, a hauler for cargo duties and a salvager to get the most out of the wrecks we found.
The game itself is dead simple to jump into. All you need is a D20, your character and your mech info (final stats sheets still being designed. The ones above come with the current quickstart). The one die roll can go well or badly for you or for the opponents you meet. You can push a roll, but there is a risk and a cost to it. Fun mechanic: if you suffer a “hard choice”, the narrator will tell you what it is. But if an opponent does, you get to tell the narrator what you think should happen to it/them. So it goes both ways.
The game also happily lets you use your wits rather than brawls to get out of sticky situations. And die rolls do not need to occur all the time.
I played with 4 unknowns and we quickly fell into our roles. Had fun dealing with some dilemmas and escaping dangerous situations. Even though we were in a one shot, the game made us want to plan what we would do in a campaign, what friends to make, what resources to prioritise (some needed to repair the damage we suffered) very naturally. All 4 of us were pretty enthusiastic by the end.
They made the quick start rules available for download here: Salvage Union Beta Quickstart Digital Edition (PDF) V1.2 – Leyline Press
If you have time and are curious about the campaign, I recommend joining their Discord and signing up for one of the playtest sessions: Salvage Union Discord