Here's your first look from author Joseph A. McCullough at the new supplement for Stargrave: Science Fiction Wargames in the Ravaged Galaxy, with Dead or Alive!

"Welcome to Dead or Alive, the Stargrave supplement of solo bounty hunting! With this book, your independent crew can travel the galaxy, hunting for outlaws and criminals with a price on their heads. Your crew might be in it for the money, or they have a personal score to settle, or maybe they just want to see justice done. Whatever the reason, they are in for some tough fights against a rogue’s gallery of unique desperadoes.

Perhaps more than any other supplement I have written, this one needs a bit of an introduction as its history is somewhat convoluted. When I began working on Stargrave: Wargames in the Ravaged Galaxy back in 2019, I focused on creating an open-ended, narrative-driven, science-fiction wargame that was balanced for friendly competitive play. I knew at some point I would work on rules to play the game either solo or co-operatively, but my first priority was to make it a fun game I could play with my friends. In fact, I did start tinkering with solo play while working on the first supplement for the game, Quarantine 37, and made plans for a full solo/co-operative campaign for the third supplement, Hope Eternal.

Then, irony of ironies, the whole country went into quarantine, or at least lockdown, along with many other parts of the world. Suddenly, unless you were lucky enough to live with another gamer, solo wargaming became one of the few options available. As lockdown stretched on, it became increasingly likely that it would still be in place when Stargrave was released.

An illustration of futuristic soldiers battling around high-tech gun emplacements as lasers whizz past them, with large energy explosions and spaceships in the distance

It’s a terrible thing for a game to be released at a time when few people can actually play it as intended. So, I started to think about what I could do to make Stargrave fun to play, even for those who were stuck on their own. After a discussion with Phil Smith, Head of Osprey Games, the idea for Dead or Alive was born. Writing as fast as I could, I managed to produce a 5,000-word booklet, that introduced solo rules to Stargrave and allowed a player to randomly generate a bounty-hunting scenario. The Osprey team quickly turned it into an attractive PDF and Dead or Alive was released, for free, at the same time as the release of the rulebook.

As it turned out, by the time the book was released, lockdown had mostly ended in Britain, as well as most other parts of the world, and hasn’t returned since. Dead or Alive wasn’t really needed in the way I thought it would be. But something surprising happened. The groups and message boards devoted to my games exploded with people playing Dead or Alive scenarios. Players may not have needed solo play, but they clearly wanted it. Such scenarios not only served as a great – pressure free – introduction to the game, but also opened the game up to a whole new world of possibility. Now, you didn’t have to wait until your friends could gather to get in a game. Alternatively, if you lived in a place where other gamers were few or far between, you could still enjoy regular shoot-outs in the Ravaged Galaxy. There was clearly a thirst for this type of supplement.

By that point, I was already hard at work on other supplements, so it has taken me a while to circle back around to Dead or Alive, but I’m glad to be back. This new book includes everything found in that original booklet, but also so much more. Where that original booklet had five different ‘marks’ or bounties you could pursue, this book has 20. The original also had five settings and five complications. This book has 20 of each. Just taking those three variables, this book has the capability of generating 8,000 unique scenarios – and that’s before you apply your own creativity in inventing new marks, settings, and complications, as well as shaping them to suit the story of your own independent crew!

An illustration of a hunter with a mechanical arm and a large high-tech rifle sat on the body of a massive dead alien beast

For the more competitive players out there, this book still has a lot to offer. The settings are all mini-scenarios in their own right and all of them have an option or two to make them even more difficult. So, even if you aren’t chasing a bounty, you might find yourself battling in a crystal forest, among cyclopean ruins, or even in the belly of a space whale! The marks can all be used as tough encounters, or non-player characters, to add some additional challenge to any scenario. More than any other Stargrave book I have written, this one is a toolbox filled with bits and pieces that can be selected for use in your own games, however you choose to use them.

It’s been fun to return to Dead or Alive and expand it into a full supplement to sit beside the others on the shelf. I hope you enjoyed the original edition, but I hope that you like this one even better! Go ahead and make a copy of The Galaxy’s Most Wanted Sheet from the back of this book (or download it from the Osprey Games website) and start making your plans to bag some bad guys!

Many thanks for returning once again to the Ravaged Galaxy. It is your enthusiasm for the original edition of this supplement that brought me back to expand it. Without your continued support, I doubt I would have the time or the drive to keep exploring this game both mechanically and narratively.

If you want to keep up with all the Stargrave news and all my other goings on as a writer and game designer, check out my webpage:"

Stargrave: Dead or Alive is out June 27th in the UK and July 23rd in the US.

Find the original free solo rules on our gaming resources page.

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