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Cosmic Peril Fantasy: Survival & Travel

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While every game of CPF is different, this page contains an overview of how CPF evokes a sense of gritty, yet simple-to-play survival and travel.

Topics include Status Effects, Hazards, and Travel.


Status Effects, also known as conditions or ailments, are states that player characters (PCs) in CPF can acquire and heal from. Each condition or family of conditions is acquired and healed in different ways. The list is as follows:

Condition Name How to Acquire: Effects: How to remove:
Healthy Characters are created healthy. No advantages or disadvantages. Suffer any of the below conditions.
Dead Characters can die in various ways:
  • You can die by first being brought to 0 hp (i.e., mortally wounded, or nonlethally KO'd) and then receiving any additional damage.
  • You can be instantly killed, bypassing a "mortal wound", by receiving overwhelming damage--such a large explosive, or being crushed by a large vehicle or animal or object.
  • You can be suffocated in a liquid or particulate solid or from lack of oxygen.
  • You can fall into a hazardous substance or area--harmful liquid, gas, solid, plasma or radiation--and fail to be rescued in time.
  • A helpless human -- restrained, unconscious, etc -- can be killed by an attacker with a single action, no roll needed.
While dead, a character can take no actions, and their body rapidly rots to inert materials. If it exists, their soul departs, and it is not known where the soul goes. Generally, the player of a dead character must make a new character to keep playing. The GM will fit in the new character as quickly as possible as long as there is no active battle. Death is usually incurable, but players can try to use the magic spell "Revive" or "Resurrection" to attempt to cure it. Resurrection usually leaves permanent side effects however, usually in the form of mild insanity.
Exhaustion Characters can become exhausted in various ways. The most common is by receiving a mortal wound, but you can also become exhausted by lack of oxygen or low oxygen, excessively high or low gravity, ionizing radiation, rotten food, starvation, or lack of sleep. In most of these cases, the GM might ask players to pass a Resilience check or receive 1 or more levels of exhaustion. Exhaustion has 4 levels:
  1. Exhaustion 1: -1 disadvantage die on all physical tasks--combat skills, tool use, athletics, stealth, etc
  2. Exhaustion 2: All above, and -1 disadvantage on all mental tasks--knowledge skills, computer use, spell casting, etc
  3. Exhaustion 3: All above, and you now must roll with disadvantage for basic tasks such as driving or climbing stairs.
  4. Exhaustion 4: All above, and your HP drops to 1, you must crawl rather than walk, and you will die in 24 hours without aid.
If you are exhausted due to a mortal wound, then you must cure the mortal wound first. Otherwise, you can cure exhaustion from other sources with one level cured per full 24 hours of good comfortable rest (minimal movement) and good healthy food. You can also use the 'cure exhaustion' spell.
Fear Characters are assumed to be brave in CPF and normally fear is up to the player's choice of roleplay. However, you may want to create an enemy who can inflict fear magically or who is particularly horrible looking. Generally, players will roll Resilience or Meditation (their choice) to resist fear. If they fail to resist it, roll a 1d4 to see their fear reaction:
  1. Fight: The character must fight this round, in whatever way they choose.
  2. Flight: The character must run away this round, in whatever way they choose.
  3. Freeze: The character is stunned, only able to move and take free actions.
  4. Shaken: The character can take any action but with -1 disadvantage.
Fear effects generally dissipate after 1 round or when dispelled, or when the source of the fear is defeated or removed.
Paralysis Paralysis in this game is generally caused by spells and toxic hazards, i.e. paralytic brine pools on an ocean floor. The GM may ask players to roll Resilience to resist a toxic paralysis, or Meditation to resist a psychic paralysis effect. Paralyzed characters can speak haltingly and take 1 free action per round, but otherwise cannot act. If left unattended they may crawl 1 meter per minute, but otherwise cannot move. They may make a Meditation or Resilience check at the start of each turn to resist the effect. Attackers of paralyzed targets can kill them instantly if out of combat or receive a free critical hit in combat. Paralyzed characters automatically fail dodge rolls. Removing the person from the hazard, medical care, the spell "cure affliction", or dispelling the spell or disrupting the concentration of the enemy sorceror can all end paralysis.
Poison/Disease/Infection/Etc. Characters may become poisoned, diseased, or infected in a variety of ways:
  • Successful attacks by a poisonous enemy such as a viper or ghoul, or being hit by a poisoned weapon.
  • Being in contact with corrosive gas or inhaling toxic gas unprotected.
  • Eating poisoned or rotten food and drink.
  • Exposing fresh or bandaged wounds to filth and dirt, or failing to promptly treat fresh wounds.
Each of this type of affliction is unique, but symptoms generally comprise a loss of hit points over time (linear or rolled) and often also increasing levels of exhaustion. The first step to curing afflictions is to make a medical check to diagnose the issue. Then, the player can either be fed the proper medicine from a medical supply room or a character skilled in chemistry could brew the cure themselves in a laboratory. The spell "Cure Affliction" might also help.
Recovering Characters who were mortally wounded and then stabilized are considered Recovering until their mortal wound is fully healed. The character cannot recover HP until their mortal wound is fully recovered. This takes ~1 week of bed rest, nutrition, and care. Light activity such as reading and meditation is allowed, but turbulent traveling will cancel the recovery. They will not regenerate HP during recovery week. If brought to zero hp while in recovery mode, that player will die instantly. If the character is forced to walk/work/fight while recovering, they may receive a permanent crippling deformity. The character will be healthy again (and begin regenerating HP naturally) after 1 week of good comfortable rest and care
Sleeping Characters may fall asleep by choice, because of tiredness, or by magic. The character cannot act while asleep. The character is usually prone. They have severely decreased senses while asleep. They may generally be killed without rolling unless they are some kind of extremely durable alien. Loud noise, strong smells or firm touches will wake them. If magical sleep, then dispelling will cure them.
Stabilized Characters who are mortally wounded and then bandaged are now considered stabilized. Stabilization is the first step to recovery from a mortal wound. After being stabilized, the character needs a week of good rest to recover from the mortal wound. A week of good rest will help a stabilized character make a full recovery.
Stunned Some special attacks and spells might cause a character to be stunned. Stunned characters can move normally and take free actions but not other actions. Attackers have +1 advantage die to hit them with attacks and they automatically fail to dodge explosions or similar effects. Characters usually stop being stunned after 1 round of being stunned. The spell "Cure affliction" can also help.
Traumatized NPCs subjected to normal or magical torture or other horrific experiences may become traumatized. This generally does not happen to PCs unless the group wants it to. For a traumatized NPC, when exposed to anything recalling or triggering a recollection of the traumatic experience, the NPC may react with sudden panic, fear, rage, breakdown or flight. They may find it difficult to hold a job or social relationships. Long term therapy or the spell "heal mental trauma" can help.
Unconscious Caused by reaching 0 HP due to nonlethal damage, or general anesthesia and other drugs of various forms. The unconscious character is prone and automatically fails dodge rolls. They may or may not be wounded. They have no ability to sense or defend themselves while unconscious. Attackers may generally kill them without rolling unless there is some other context. If not mortally wounded as well, the character will generally wake up in 1d8 hours, gaining 1 hp if they had 0.
Insane Insanity can be caused by spells or exposure to mind-altering effects. This fictional condition is difficult to define and never looks exactly the same. In mild cases, the player merely sees and hears and feels things that healthy players cannot. In serious cases, the player may temporarily or permanently lose control of their actions to the game master, and may need to make a new character to keep playing. Depending on the specific type of insanity, it might be cured by simply preventing the victim from hurting themselves and waiting a few hours, or it might be able to be cured by therapy or by magic, or it may be incurable by any known means.
??? The universe is a dangerous place and stranger things can always happen. Parasites, brain-sharing posession, symbiotic slime and more are all quite possibe to encounter in CPF. Focus on seeking solutions by consulting with allies and in-game abilities and resources.


Hazards are a very important part of making an interesting exploration scenario, because dealing with the hazards will consitute the majority of game play.

With enough hazards, you can create a fun and challenging multi-session exploration adventure with no combat necessary.

As an example, consider an adventure where the goal is to get to a place in a magma cavern beneath a deep, dark high-pressure ocean swept by an eternal hurricane and patrolled by invincible, dangerous megafauna. Overcoming those four hazards can be done in a wide variety of ways depending on player skills, and finding items to help navigate them can also consitute a lot of interesting play.


On any planet, and even in space, bad weather can make adventures much more challenging and dramatic.

  1. Ion Storms: These strange storms occur in interstellar nebulas and on some planets. Strange clouds form, bathing everything in a weird pale-gree light. Charged ions bombard buildings and ships, shutting down electronic devices and corrupting stored data, and randomly destroying constructions with bolts of bruised plasma. Random sparks may cause fires to break out on flammable liquids or materials.
  2. Solar Flare: Particularly big explosions or flares from a star will not only raise temperatures suddenly on nearby planets, but also send out an electromagnetic pulse that disables, but does not erase, electronics.
  3. Storms, Tornados and Hurricanes: Lightning deals direct damage. High winds may push or lift unsecured objects, building parts and vehicles, and cause disadvantage on driving and skill use. Huge waves may form on oceans. Rain may cause flooding and give disadvantage on the use of ranged weapons.
  4. Blizzards and Snowstorms: Heavy snowfall and high winds causes both intense visual occlusion to within 5 meters and disadvantage on ranged weapons and other utility skills. Large amounts of snow may make it impossible for lower or higher-tech ground vehicles to move properly.
  5. Fog: Heavy fog may reduce humanoid vision and that of lower-tech robots to 1m or less, meaning that any skill requiring vision becomes a question of guesswork. Sonar and radar can help here.


Humands and humanoids generally do not feel at home in water and liquids, which can create interesting tension and challenges.

While unprotected in water, the following rules apply:

  1. Disadvantage on all skills involving the use of hands or talking
  2. At athletics 1, swimming speed is half your normal speed, and may require athletics checks depending on currents
  3. Player characters can hold their breath for 30 seconds + 6 seconds per Resilience skill rank. Speaking, or losing consciousness counts as loss of breath.
  4. One full round past losing breath = death by suffocation
  5. Add 1d6 pressure damage per round to non-native creatures and vehicles starting at 200m depth
  6. Every additional 100m past 200m depth, add another +1d6 pressure damage per round. So, 1km depth is (1d6+8d6)=9d6 damage per round.
  7. Special suits and vehicles will have safe dive ratings that will modify the original 200m threshhold.

In addition to these challenges, some liquid oceans will be made of a substance other than water such as oil, gelatin, acid, lava, toxic sludge, etc. which provide additional challenges.

Generally speaking, falling into or being doused with liquids of the following substances will cause the following damage:


Radiation can have widely varying intensity and particle types. Some are more dangerous than others. Generally we are speaking of ionizing radiation.

  1. Special suits and vehicles have specific levels of tolerance for different types of ionizing radiation. These may be measured units of "rems".
  2. Light amounts of radiation might cause a Resilience check for ill effects after an hour of exposure, and then apply radiation sickness or a level of exhaustion on a fail.
  3. Significant radiation in an area might demand Resilience rolls every 5 minutes.
  4. Extreme radiation will likely forgo the Resilience roll and provide continuous direct damage and/or exhaustion levels.
  5. Some more exotic types of radiation might cause bodily and genetic mutations.
  6. Other types might specifically damage the brain, causing difficulty with tasks requiring intelligence or focus.
  7. Special meta-dimensional radiation might permanently change a person's brain, allowing them to see things that, from a "normal" point of view, do not exist--strange messages, creatures and doors. The more that this is investigated, the further the brain damage progresses until the subject appears completely insane or disappears from "reality" entirely.

Other Hazards:

Here is a sample though not an exhaustive list of dangers that might challenge players:

  1. Falling damage. 1d6 per 3 meters fallen in standard gravity.
  2. Low/high gravity. Low gravity causes muscle atrophy over time while high gravity causes exhaustion over time.
  3. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, mundane, nanite, and psionic
  4. Extreme temperatures and equipment which protects against certain levels of it
  5. Pools of acid, magma, toxic waste, paralytic brine, liquid nitrogen, nanite sludge, electric arcs, poison gas
  6. Oceans of exotic liquids such as fuels, acids, gelatin, etc


Overland Travel

Normal Space Travel

Hyper Space