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CPA: Survival & Travel

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While every game of CPA is different, this page contains an overview of how CPA 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 CPA 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, and are healthy when they have full health points and no other conditions. No disadvantages. Suffer any of the below conditions.
Hurt Characters that are damaged (taken below full health points) by a lethal or nonlethal weapon, or suffer damage from a hazard, are Hurt. You are low on health points, and if you are untreated for an hour or more, you must roll Resilience to see if you get an infection, tetanus, or similar disease.
Bandaged Characters that previously were Hurt, but received some medical attention, yet are still not at full health points, are Bandaged. You are low on health points. Rest in a clean, safe, comfortable place with good food. For each 8 hours of rest, a bandaged character will regenerate health points equal to [1 + Resilience Skill level].
Unconscious Characters that were brought to zero health points by a nonlethal weapon such as a tranquilizer dart, punch, or taser are unconscious. The character cannot move or act for 1d6 hours. After 1d6 hours, the character will awaken with 1 health point. At that time, they will be considered freshly Exhausted.
Dying Characters that were brought to zero hit points by a lethal but not heavy weapon, such as a sword or pistol, are Dying. Suffocation can also cause this state. Dying characters's armor is broken, and they will become dead in 1d20 * 10 minutes (rolled secretly by the GM). They cannot heal hp, have a movement speed of 1, are prone, cannot stand, and can take no actions except to crawl 1m, speak a few words or fumble with their hands at heavy disadvantage. A dying character stabilized by a doctor or arcane healer becomes both Exhausted(+1) and Bandaged at 1 hp.
Exhausted Characters who were just brought back from Dying, are now Exhausted. Additionally, other effects such as forced marches, toxic gas, lack of 8 hours of sleep per day, and starvation can increase exhaustion. Exhaustion has 4 levels:
  1. The character has -1 disadvantage die on all physical OR mental (roll 1d2 or choose) tasks.
  2. The character has -1 disadvantage die on all physical AND mental tasks.
  3. The character has -2 disadvantage on all skills, must make a normal roll for basic tasks.
  4. The character dies.
An exhausted character who rests in comfortable, nutritious and healthy conditions for a full 24 hours without working cures 1 level of exhaustion. The care of a skilled healer will reduce this by half.
Dead Characters can die in various ways:
  • A character who is Dying and then receives additional damage, is Dead.
  • A character who is brought to zero HP by overwhelming damage--such a large explosive, or being crushed by a large vehicle or animal or object--is Dead.
  • A helpless human -- restrained, unconscious, asleep etc -- can be killed by an attacker with a single action, no roll needed.
Dead characters are out of play. Generally, the player of a dead character must make a new character to keep playing. The GM will introduce the new character in the very next scene (i.e., after the current battle or escape resolves). Death is usually incurable, but players can try to use the level 6 spell "Resurrection" to attempt to cure it. Resurrection usually leaves permanent side effects however.
Fear Characters are assumed to be brave in CPA and normally fear is up to the player's choice of roleplay. However, you may want to create an enemy who can cause psychic fear. If so: Generally, players will roll Meditation 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 end after 1 round, when dispelled, or when the source of fear is defeated or removed.
Paralysis Paralysis in this game is generally rare and GMs should avoid applying this to players, because being unable to take actions is not fun. 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 zombie, or being hit by a poisoned weapon or a poisoning spell.
  • Being in contact with corrosive gas or liquid, or inhaling toxic gas unprotected.
  • Eating poisoned or rotten food and drink.
  • Exposing fresh wounds to filth, flies and fungus, or failing to promptly treat fresh wounds.
Each of this type of affliction is unique, but symptoms generally include 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 science or medicine could brew the cure themselves in a laboratory. The spell "Cure Affliction" might also help.
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 hit without needing to roll. Attacks, Loud noises, strong smells, vibrations or firm touches will wake them. If magical sleep, then dispelling will cure them.
Ignited Some special attacks and spells might cause a character to become ignited (on fire). Ignited characters usually take 1d10 fire damage at the start of each turn. A character can extinguish the flames on themselves by moving into water (or another non-flammable liquid), or dropping prone and rolling on the floor.
Shocked Mundane and magical electric and lightning effects might shock targets. Shocked characters will take double damage form the next attack they receive. To discharge, they can touch a freestanding metal object (such as a chain link fence) or just wait 1 minute until the charge dissipates.
Frozen Some magic spells and high-technology cold attacks can cause the Frozen condition on characters. Frozen characters drop to 0 initiative and until then receive double damage from physical attacks. Either wait until the end of the combat round, when the frost will melt, or burn them with fire or another heat source to immediately remove this condition
Stunned Some special attacks and spells might cause a character to be stunned. Stunned characters generally have only 1 action per turn instead of 2. Characters usually stop being stunned after 1 round of being stunned. The spell "Cure affliction" can also help.
Traumatized People subjected to torture or other horrible experiences may become traumatized. This generally does not happen to player characters unless all players agree to it, because it is often too emotionally intense to roleplay in an adventure themed game. For a traumatized person, when exposed to anything recalling or triggering a recollection of the traumatic experience, the person may react with sudden panic, fear, rage, breakdown or flight. They may find it difficult to maintain a job or social relationships. Long term therapy or the spell "heal mental trauma" can help.
Memetic Virus Memetic Viruses are transmitted by seeing, hearing, or reading information containing the virus, whether a book, physical document, computer file, drawing, or verbal speech. Memetic viruses are measured in degrees, often on a 1 to 5 scale. At low levels, the infectee will occasionally perceive things that non-infected people cannot. These are often objects at first, but they are completely real to the infected. At mid levels, "un-real" people and dangerous monsters may appear to them--again, only the infected can interact or are vulnerable. At higher levels, the infectee percieves reality as false and fake, and their own perceptions as more real. They will begin to perceive doors leading out of reality and be able to use them. Infection by a memetic virus is measured in degrees, observance and willful investigation of the virus' signs causes infection level to increase, willful rejection and avoidance of the virus' signs floors it at a minimum level where symptoms will only occur once a week or so. No full cure is known.
??? The universe is a dangerous place and stranger things can always happen. Parasites, demonic ride-along posession, symbiotic slime and more are all quite possible to encounter in CPA. Focus on seeking solutions by using knowledge skills, consulting with allies, and leveraging in-game abilities and resources.


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

With plentiful hazards and limited resources, 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 goal across a magma cavern beneath a deep, dark ocean swept by an eternal hurricane and patrolled by invincible enemies. 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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Ion Storms: These strange storms occur in interstellar nebulas and on some planets. Strange clouds form, bathing everything in a sickly green light. Charged ions bombard buildings and ships, shutting down electronic devices and corrupting stored data, mutating animals, and randomly destroying things with bolts of bruised plasma. Random sparks may cause fires to break out on flammable liquids or materials.
  6. Hyperstorms: Travel through the shadowy clouds of hyperspace is sometimes occluded by dangerous storms that can damage ship hulls and shut down subsystems, cut your journey short, change the paths of hyperlanes, or cause weird metadimensional effects.


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. For all skills involving the use of hands or talking, roll with 3d8 keep lowest 2 instead of 2d8.
  2. Swimming speed is half your normal speed, and strong currents may require athletics checks to make any progress at all.
  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. For creatures or vehicles not designed for underwater operation, apply 1d6 pressure damage per round starting at 50m depth, and add more as depth increases.
  6. Special suits and vehicles will have safe dive ratings that specify a safe maximum depth.

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 hazardous or toxic liquids will cause damage per round and negative conditions.


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. Falling damage cannot be reduced by armor or any other damage reduction effects.
  2. Low/high gravity. Low gravity causes sickness and muscle atrophy over time while high gravity causes exhaustion and inability to heal.
  3. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, cancers: biological, 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