Common Hazards

As players explore, fight, sneak about, and otherwise adventure, they'll encounter many hazards; here, we have compiled only a few.

What is true elsewhere is true here: these rules are only guidelines, which GM's should use, adapt or discard as the situation (and their intent) merits.

Warning: some of these rules are gruesome, and many readers may not wish to read mechanical descriptions of the process of starving to death, for example.

Mundane Hazards

The following are common hazards on the Emerald Plane. Some may be the result of carelessness, some may be imposed by the level of technology available, and some are the result of the deliberate cruelty of some cultures.

It should be noted now that all of these hazards are also likely to be stressful, as per the rules for mental health and trauma.


There are few hazards more mundane than falling.

When a player hits the ground (or some other solid obstruction that puts an abrupt and unyielding end to their fall), they take damage based (primarily) on how far they fell. To determine how much damage a character takes, first compute their effective falling distance (which is the distance that they fell, plus any appropriate modifier from the table below) Then, look up their falling damage on the given table.

Damage taken from a fall ignores armor (plate armor doesn't help you if you've fallen off a parapet).

Effective Falling DistanceDamage
3m or lessno damage
6m or less(distance - 3)d10 DV
10m or less(distance)d10 DV
more than 10mkilled
Successful Roll (requires Athletics check)-2m
Landing Badly (e.g. head first)+2m
Very Hard Surface (stone, brick)+1m
Soft Surface (sand, grass)-1m
Very Soft Surface (pile of goose down)-2m
Sloped Surface-1m (or more depending on degree)


Fire is a common hazard — the consequences of its misuse can run from a minor burn up to a destroyed city.

Small fires — like candles — are not particularly dangerous. While they might light combustible materials on fire, they only deal 1d10÷3 DV on their own. Armor applies (without modification) to damage caused by small flames.

Being exposed to a larger fire — like falling into a camp-fire — is more dangerous, and does 1d10 DV per turn that the character is exposed (including the first). If a character is engulfed in flames, there is (obviously) a much higher risk that they (or their garments, or anything that they are holding) will catch fire.

Ordinarily, attacks with the Fire tag do not automatically set a character on fire — although this may happen on an exceptional success, at the GM's discretion.

A character who has been set on fire themselves takes 1d10 DV per turn as long as they are on fire; only apply this damage as long as they are not engulfed in flames as above (effectively, you're either in fire, or on fire, but not both).

Armor is only partly effective against fire: if you trip into a camp-fire, plate armor may save you at first, but it will also heat up; eventually, if you don't get out, your own red-hot armor will be doing as much damage as the fire. For every turn that you are exposed to fire, reduce the AV of (one of) your worn metal armor(s) by 1. Once the AV (of all your worn metal armors) reaches 0, start adding heat points; you gain one heat point per turn (in which you are wearing metal armor, that has no AV left, and that you are exposed to fire). You take 1d10 DV during each turn in which you are wearing armor that has a heat point. Reduce your armor's heat points by 1 per turn that it is not exposed to fire.


Most creatures need to breathe; being unable to breathe can be rapidly fatal.

Whenever a character cannot breathe — whether because they are diving underwater, holding their breath, choking on food, being choked or for some other reason — use the following rules:

  • The character suffers no penalties for DUR÷10 turns; then
  • they are severely impaired as their air runs out. They must make an Endure Physical Hardship test, and can remain active for 1 turn per 10 points of MoS; they suffer a -30 penalty during this time. Then,
  • they loose consciousness. If they still cannot breathe DUR÷10 turns later, they die.

A character can prepare for asphyxiation — like someone who is about to hold their breath, dive underwater or enter a room with no air — by taking a several deep breaths; this is a Quick Action, and doubles the amount of time you have before you must make an Endure Physical Hardship test.

Normally, a character who is voluntarily holding their breath will start to breath again if they pass out. In children, this is a good thing; a character who was holding their breath in a room filled with poisonous gas may find this to be less beneficial.

Exhaustion and Deprivation


Characters who work without rest for long periods may suffer exhaustion; their situation may be worsened by inadequate food or water, or by harsh working conditions. Characters may face exhaustion because their social situation demands long hours of work, because they are being led on a forced march, because they have been captured and are forced to labor, or simply because they are obsessed or driven and refuse to stop working until their task is completed. In any case, once a character starts to exceed their physical limits, they should make an Endure Physical Hardship test; they suffer 1d10 DV if they fail (armor does not apply; other damage mitigations, like resistances, may or may not apply at the GM's discretion). If conditions do not improve, characters will have to make additional checks, each one suffering an additional -10 penalty; eventually, when their cumulative penalties would reach -40, the character collapses from exhaustion (without making a check).

How often these checks must be taken is subject to the GM's discretion — as are any additional penalties that apply, of course. Characters undergoing a forced march might make checks at the end of each day — or twice a day if they are being forced to keep up a jogging pace. Characters laboring in a Goblin prison-camp may be forced to make checks every few hours — Goblins are unconcerned for the long-term survival of their captives.


Characters who get inadequate food, water or rest may suffer from deprivation.

Characters can survive without food for one day per point of DUR — although they begin to suffer significant penalties long before they starve to death.

  • After going a full day without food, they suffer a -10 penalty to all tests from hunger.
  • After going DUR÷5 days without food, the penalties worsen to -20.
  • After going another DUR÷5 days without food, the penalties worsen to -30, and the character suffers WT DV (which causes a wound). Most damage mitigations (including armor) do not apply to this damage.
  • After going another DUR÷5 days without food, they suffer another WT DV (as before), and they are debilitated; they are lethargic and in pain, they likely cannot stand, and they may be unconscious or delirious. At this point, any significant physical action requires an Endure Physical Hardship test.
  • After another DUR÷5 days, they loose consciousness (and take WT DV), and
  • DUR÷5 days later, they die.

Most characters can survive for three days without water.

  • After the first day, they suffer a -20 penalty from thirst.
  • After the second day, the penalty increases to -30, and they take WT DV.
  • After the third day, they die.

Most characters who go without adequate sleep will suffer exhaustion and delirium.

  • After a night without sleep, characters suffer a -10 penalty to all tests.
  • After a second night, the penalty increases to -20.
  • After a third night, the penalty increases to -30.
  • After a fourth night, characters will struggle to act. They will fall asleep very easily, will be difficult to rouse, and will be in extremely poor mental condition. Physical strain will put them at risk of heart failure (requiring an Endure Physical Hardship test). They will also incur TT SV, which will automatically impost a trauma.
  • After a fifth full night, characters minds will crumble. They incur another TT SV, and they become delirious and are unable to act rationally.
  • After two more nights, they will die.

Keeping a character awake for so long that they die is difficult; after the fourth night, they will tend to fall asleep rapidly if it is at all possible. At this point, if a character is trying to stay awake — maybe because some spirit will invade their minds if they sleep, or because a concussion will kill them if they fall asleep — they will find it very difficult to do so; Endure Physical Hardship tests may be required, possibly as often as every few hours.

Partial and Combined Effects

The above penalties assume complete deprivation: no food, no water, no sleep. Partial deprivation — the situation where characters have access to inadequate food, water or sleep — is less dire. GMs may represent this situation by "spacing out" the above effects (i.e. by having each step take longer), or they may waive the above procedures and instead apply a "flat" penalty based on the degree of deprivation.

In many situations, characters may suffer both exhaustion and deprivation simultaneously: characters captured by Goblin slavers may taken on a forced march into Goblin lands, during which they won't have access to adequate food or water. GMs should feel free to adapt (and simplify) these rules in such cases: rather than trying to track the effects of exhaustion, partial starvation, and partial dehydration separately using the full rules above, they may simply represent the inadequate food and water as penalties to the Endure Physical Hardship tests caused by the forced march.

Environment and Terrain

Difficult Terrain

A wide variety of hazards — from hip-deep water to thick forrest — can be considered difficult terrain. In general, characters cannot safely move faster than their base rate for a given movement mode in difficult terrain; a character attempting to do so needs to make an Athletics check. On a basic failure, they simply cannot move faster than their base rate; if they've already moved further than their base rate before entering the difficult terrain, then their movement simply stops immediately inside the difficult terrain. On an exceptional failure, they suffer a minor error — tripping and falling prone being a particular common one. On a critical failure, they suffer a more substantial error, like running at speed into a tree or tripping and landing head-first; these commonly inflict 1d10÷2 DV, in addition to the player landing prone.

Of course, specific types of difficult terrain may impose other penalties; some examples are given in the table below.

Difficult TerrainEffectsEffects on Athletics Failure
UndergrowthNo AdditionalNo Additional
Narrow SurfaceNo AdditionalFall on a Critical Failure, React Quickly to grab surface
Slippery SurfaceNo AdditionalSlide on Exceptional Failure
Hazardous SurfaceNo AdditionalNo Additional

Thick Forests

Thick forests can be dangerous if a character is moving at speed, or not paying attention to their surrounds; players can slip on rocks, run into trees, or trip on roots. (Forests frequently aren't level terrain, and these hazards are enhanced by uneven terrain; if players trip and fall into a gulley, consider the rules for Falling, above.) Therefore, thick forests are usually treated as difficult terrain.

The thick growth also imposes penalties on ranged attacks (-20) and (visual) Perception (-10); can make it difficult to find a lost or dropped object (-20 to related Search checks). Additionally, instead of scattering like normal, on an Exceptional or Critical failure, a thrown projectile might collide with a tree, rock, or unfortunate animal; this might cause a grenade to detonate much closer to the person who threw it than they intended.

On the plus side, thick forests provide plenty of cover for stealth (providing a +20 bonus), and plenty of wildlife for skilled woodsmen to exploit (+10 bonus to Survival checks, except to navigate).

Forests generally do not slow walking overland travel much — although it's difficult to get a wagon through thick forest.

Shallow Water

Shallow water is considered difficult terrain; however, running through shallow water isn't particularly difficult, and so an Athletics check isn't normally required. But it is exhausting, and so someone who moves for more than a few turns through shallow water needs to make a Feat of Endurance check to avoid becoming exhausted.

This assumes that the bottom isn't particularly treacherous; if the bottom has concealed hazards, then an Athletics check can still be called for. However, the consequences of failing such a check are usually mild, since water isn't particularly hard or sharp.

One potentially amusing hazard for shallow water can be running into aquatic wildlife—tripping over a baby alligator can make for an amusing story.


Rapids, conversely, can be very dangerous.





Traps, Defences and Hazards

Reasonable Traps

Here we list traps defensive hazards as they are commonly used in both hunting and warfare.

Note that these are distinct from highly mechanical "classical dungeon traps," which are described below (and which we recommend against).


Called a "thistle" in Common, caltrops are ubiquitous weapons: they are cheap, highly effective, and require no special training or upkeep. Though there are many subtle variations in size and design, one of the caltrop's strengths is its simplicity: it consists of four equally-spaced points, arranged so that, when throne, the weapon rests on three of the points while the four sticks up. Caltrops are not designed to be immediately fatal: instead, they lame and disable both infantry and mounts. Though caltrops can in principle be coated in poisons, this often isn't necessary: contact with soil and weather will often do the job just as well.

Caltrops are used by scattering them into an area; this can be days or weeks in advance of an enemy's charge, since caltrops require no upkeep once deployed, or this can be done during combat in response to an enemy's advance. Several caltrops can be thrown at a square using all the normal rules for throwing; infantry can sow a large area — say, selectively scattering them in the area around a fortification — as a one-hour Task Action. (Note that throwing caltrops directly at an attacker is usually ineffective.)

Anyone who enters a squared (on foot) covered by caltrops risks stepping on one and being injured; roll a Luck check with a -10 modifier; on a failure, the character suffers 1d10+4 DB at -2 AP. (Note that armors that do not include greaves or boots will not apply; metal armors can usually be assumed to include greaves, while other armors do not.)

Caltrops are small, and are often dull-colored and difficult to notice. A perception check can reveal the presence of caltrops in a square (this will likely be a passive check, unless the character is actively searching for concealed items or traps); if they succeed, the character notice the caltrops, and can move cautiously to avoid them. On a standard success, only some of the caltrops are detected: a character who moves cautiously must still make a luck check, although they receive a +30 modifier. On an exceptional success, the character notices all of the caltrops, and moving cautiously will completely evade them (for at least that square or area). In any case, moving cautiously is slow; the character cannot move faster than their base rate.

We assume that it takes about 6 caltrops to cover a one-meter square, but more or less can be used. More caltrops are easier to detect, but also harder to avoid — a very large number might make the square impassable until they are cleared (allowing no test to move safely, and automatically wounding anyone who enters). Conversely, a smaller number might be much harder to detect, but also easier to avoid.

Normally, caltrops are simply dropped or thrown in an area, but they can also be actively concealed. Though this is a more time-consuming process, it makes it much less likely that an adversary who enters the area will notice them; both Perception checks to notice them and Search checks to clear them (see below) suffer a -30 penalty.

An area sown with caltrops can be cleared. This is a slow process; clearing a square is a 1 minute Task Action while clearing the area around a fortification could take hours or days. A Search check is required to find and collect all of the caltrops.

When clearing an area, it is very common to miss some of the caltrops; innocent civilians can be lamed days, months, years or decades later. For this reason, the Commonwealth are less frequent users of caltrops than other militaries — although they have been a vital part of their defenses against the mounted raiders of the Shaded Sea People and the knights of the Kingdoms of Men. Conversely, the Goblin Empire are frequent users of caltrops on the Ruby Plane — as, increasingly, are the peoples of the Ruby Plane attempting to resist them. Imperial troops typically do not recover caltrops, which allows their opponents to recover the weapons and redeploy them.

A dozen caltrops can be purchased for Cost: Minor.

Wolf Pit

Wolf-pits consist of deep pits dug with sloped sides, with a spike or spikes planted at the bottom; the pit is often covered with a false floor, such as a thin framework covered with dirt or leaves. When anyone heavy enough (normally anyone Size: Small or larger) walks on the false floor, it breaks, causing the victim to fall into the pit and be impaled on the spike. As with many traps, the intent is not to kill the victim, but to hobble them; wounds from the trap are most commonly to the feet and legs, and safely extracting a victim from the pit is difficult and time-consuming.

Characters near a Wolf Pit may notice them with a Perception check (normally a passive test, unless they are actively keeping a look-out for traps or hidden objects). A character who walks on the pit has little hope of avoiding it, since the irregular, dirt-walled pit offers little purchase a character can use to save themselves; they may attempt a COO+SOM check at a -20 penalty to grab hold of some part of the false roof, or claw purchase out of the soft dirt wall of the pit.

Characters who fall into a Wolf Pit take 2d10+5 DV at AP -5; they may be impaled on the spike at the bottom, making retrieving them a grisly, time-consuming and traumatic process.

Note that this trap differs from the tongue-in-cheek Fally-Jabby below in that it is a field-expedient trap dug into dirt, while the Fally-Jabby is a deep pit built into the permanent structure of a castle or dungeon, with a significant mechanical component its pressure-sensitive and self-resetting false floor.

Fantasy Dungeon Traps

"Fantasy dungeon traps" are somewhat out of place in Renaissance. For one, Renaissance is not primarily a game about "dungeon delving"—we're never going to be as good at that as D&D is, and that's not a theme we're going for anyway. For another, they don't make a lot of sense if you think about them. Who builds them? Who maintains them? Who resets them? How do they last decades or centuries? Why not just use a conventional garrison? Why risk your own garrison falling victim to them?

Nevertheless, they are such a fixture of fantasy RPGs and we cannot realistically expect GMs to completely dispense with them. So, we present here a list of common "fantasy dungeon traps"—and we beg the reader's forgiveness if we cannot quite bring ourselves to take these silly things seriously.


This trap consists of a giant stone slab that descends from the roof when someone (who is Small size or larger) steps on a pressure plate beneath it.

The blocky-crushy descends very quickly; players may make a COO×2 check to avoid it. If they succeed, they land prone in the square either directly in front of or behind it. If players are caught under it, they’re probably squished: most Large-or-smaller creatures will be crushed, while very large creatures may “only” take 5d10 DV.

A comical spring attaches the blocky-crushy to the roof: it will reset the trap after the adventurers are one room away.

The Fally-Jabby

This trap consists of a section of false floor, which breaks away if anyone (who is size: Small or larger) steps on it.

A character who walks onto a fally-jabby can attempt a COO+SOM check to grab the edge of the trap. If they succeed, then they are left clinging to the edge of the pit.

Characters who fall to the bottom of the fally-jabby take normal falling damage (the traps are often about 5 meters deep), plus 2d10 damage from the sharp stakes on the bottom.

The fally-jabby resets after the party leaves the dungeon.

(Given our criticism of traps above, we should concede in all fairness that trou-de-loup were real things.)

The Trunky-Thunky

Similar to the blocky-crushy, the trunky-thunky consists of two tree trunks (or other large objects) suspended in the forest canopy on either side of a trail (or otherwise similarly concealed). A trip-wire is laid across the trail; when it is triggered, the two tree trunks swing down and crush whatever tripped it. Small, arboreal teddy-bears not included.

The Trunky-Thunky gives slightly more lead-time than the other traps listed here, and characters may be able to avoid it by simply dropping prone (depend on how high it strikes); doing so requires a COO×3 check. If they fail, they are thunkied by the trunkies; Large and smaller creatures simply die; very large creatures only take 5d10 DV, with AP -10.

One advantage that the Trunky-Thunky has is that they can be set up anywhere in a forest, not just in dungeons.