Congratulations! Your PC is Pregnant!

The Dungeon Master is back with another awesome gaming question!  Our illustrious reader asks:

How do you feel about pregnant characters? How do you handle it and what does it change in-game?

This question comes at an appropriately awesome time, because my wife currently has a baby on the way!  Hoorays!

Just like real people, imaginary people can have babies too.  Not only that, but they should have babies.  Your world should not be populated entirely by adults.  In fact, in a world without contraception, there will probably be a lot of children and pregnant women.

But there’s a big difference between a pregnant NPC and a pregnant PC.  

As with all event and plot points in a good Roleplaying game, the DM should first ask themselves: “What does this do for the game?”  

Does it propel the story forward, add an interesting complication that supports the direction of the story, or is it just annoying for most of the Players?  It’s also important to consider the source of the idea: was it the DM or the Player?

If it was the DM’s idea, s/he better as hell have a good reason for it, and not just want to throw a giant wrench at the Players.  If you want one of the characters to birth some demon spawn for the sake of the game, that’s good, but if you want a character to get pregnant because you think it’s funny, that’s annoying.  Nobody likes annoying DMs, not even your mother.

If a Player personally wants a pregnant character, that’s okay too, but figure out WHY they want that.  How does it supports the story and their PC’s growth?  And make sure they understand the full implication of having a baby.  Which brings us to the next point: what the hell does it even mean for a PC to be pregnant?

dnd_4new_drtoc_406_pic3_en

If we’re dealing with a standard, non-magical pregnancy, than we’ve got 9 months (or 40 weeks) of in-game time to cover.  Getting pregnant obviously requires some sexy-time, and depending on the age of the PC, there’s around a 20 to 15% chance each time they have sex that they’ll get pregant.  Another use for percent dice!

The First Trimester

A lot of women don’t even know they’re pregnant for the first 3 weeks, so we can just skip over that.  Week 4 is usually when morning sickness starts to kick in, and that can last up to about Week 12 for most people.  How you handle morning sickness is up to you, but it can be triggered by eating and smelling gross things.  When a PC is puking, they’re pretty much out of commission, and I generally apply a -1 Penalty for Nausea.

By Week 6 the PC is going to be needing more sleep (Fatigue Penalties for another -1).  You’re going to be peeing like a maniac (more penalties if you can’t pee when you need to, or just go ahead and wet yourself), and you’re going to start getting emotional.  The emotional element is really just a matter of good Roleplaying though.

  • A Note on Miscarriage: There’s about a 15 to 20% change of Miscarriage within the First Trimester, and even more if your PC is an alcoholic.  I roll each Week, and stop rolling for this after Week 12.  Remember, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting isn’t good for pregnant women, so it’s not really compatible with the Adventurer lifestyle. This will definitely increase chances of Miscarriage as will direct blows to her uterus.

pregnant_elf_by_joelwiesmann-d2xlu4e

The Second Trimester

This is Week 12 to 27.  The Second Trimester is often cited as being the easier part of pregnancy.  The PC is still going to be more emotional and tired, and in addition they’ll probably be super gassy, so that’s always fun for Roleplaying, especially if they’re trying to impress Nobles and Lords.  This is also the stereotypical time for cravings to begin.

Week 15 is when they’ll start to appear visibly pregnant, and a lot of women will start to experience back pain by Week 18.  Again, I just apply penalties.  Most women will also have gained a 15 pounds by now, which if you track Weight Capacity and Encumberance, make a note of it.  If you don’t, just apply a Dexterity and Movement penalties.

The Third Trimester

This is Week 28 to 40.  Most women will gain up to another 20 pounds in the Third Trimester, so be sure to track this and penalize appropriately.  Aches and pains are going to be increasing and more regular (-1 Penatly). A lot of Women will also experience shortness of breath here, so there’s not a lot of hope in fleeing from Orcs and Owl Bears.  Penalties, penalties and more penalties!

At Week 32 I start rolling Percent dice for chances of premature birth.  I start at 10% and increase it by 10% each week to 100% at Week 41.  And in a world without hospitals and advanced medicine most babies would have a difficult time surviving before Week 37.

Not to mention Maternal Mortality in a world without medicine is around 10%, so you’re PC could die, and Infant Mortality might have been as high as 50% in the Ancient World.  I roll this each Month for the baby and reduce it by 10% until it hits 0.

Birth!

So, you made it through pregnancy and now your PC has a baby!  Good job, now you have a totally helpless creature to protect, feed constantly, clean up after, and keep all of your travelling companions awake all night with.  You jackass.

D_amp_D Baby

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5 Responses to Congratulations! Your PC is Pregnant!

  1. Loretta Burrow says:

    I would go with 1 roll on a scale that settles the if and when. Roll percentile; 1-10 miscarriage, 11-15 4 weeks early, 16-20 3 weeks early, 21 – 25 2 week early, 26 – 30 1 week early, 31 – 80 due date, (you could even break this down into 2 days early, 1 day early, right on time, 1 day late, 2 days late); 81-85 1 weeks late, 86 – 90 2 weeks late, 91 – 95 3 weeks late, 96-99 4 weeks late, 100 stillborn.
    Also, pregnancy chances; there are only 3 days in a 28 day cycle (for humans) that a woman has a chance of conceiving (that makes it about 10% chance for a random encounter). I would set the percentage at 46 – 55 and use the result to determine where in the cycle she is; under 45 she is close and another random encounter has the same chance of pregnancy, over 56 she is passed it and could have sex continuously for the next 3 weeks with no chance at all.. Regular sex in a relationship would have about a 75% chance per month unless measures are taken to prevent it.

    And last, the 9 month gestation only applies to humans. In my world halflngs take six months, dwarves 8, orcs 8 (and they tend to be low-birth weight), humans 9, half-elves 10 – 11, and elves a year.

    Ok that wasn’t the last, if elves can breed with humans and orcs can breed with humans, the orc’s can breed with elves. I have an NPC who is 1/4 human, 1/2 orc and 1/4 ogre, descended from an orog and a halfelf.

  2. Sandra says:

    Similarly, rolling 50%, then 40%, then 30%, then 20%, then 10% ends up as almost 85% overall.
    If you want decreasing numbers to end up at almost 50%, try 20%, 20%, 10% and 10% for a four week program that ends up at just over 48%, or if you really do want constantly decreasing for a full five weeks, try 20%, 15%, 12%, 10% and 5% which ends up as almost 49%.

    I don’t know any statistics for preterm births but again, cumulative rolls produce powerful numbers and with your method you have (again, since 10% cumulatively increasing up to 50% [your roll for week 36] is 84% and by week 37 you’re up to 94%. Even looking at a single week: 50% chance of being born on week 36 seems way too high given that you define that as preterm. Even if you only rolled 10% each week without incrementing the chance, it’d be almost 41% total on week 36 — seems super high.

    Infant death is so tragic — I guess most of those reading this has had experiences of this, either in our own families or in friends and neighbour’s — and 85% for this is too horrible.

    Mathematics saves the babies!

    BTW, many D&D settings have some sort of fantasy medicine, they’re not strictly medieval.

  3. Sandra says:

    Ugh, that “15% – 12%” was supposed to read “15% – 20%”.
    But yeah. 2d8 or 1d6+1d12 should be pretty good.

  4. Sandra says:

    A 15% chance every week, rolled twelve times, ends up being about a 86% chance.

    If you want to represent a 15% – 12% chance total over the whole trimester, instead roll somewhere between a 1.35% chance (for about 15% chance total) to a 1.84% chance (for about 20% chance total).

    One suggestion is getting two on 2d8, i.e. both dice showing ones. If you roll that every week for twelve weeks, that ends up as about 17% chance overall. (1.56% chance any one given week, but that adds up.)
    For something kinder, I recommend rolling 1d6 and 1d12, again it happens if both dice show ones. That ends up as about 15% chance overall. (1.38 % chance any one given week.)

    Or, better yet, don’t. If your players introduce a pregnancy into the story, they obviously have a reason. Why introduce a miscarriage into the game? I wouldn’t blame any player who left the group if the DM pulled anything like that. Let the player have this thing. We have so many tragedies in our lives when it comes to children already. Just let it be.

    • You are correct, of course. I think the most important thing to keep in mind here is, know your Players, which should be every DMs mantra. I know none of my Players have experience anything like this in real life, so for me making it difficult for them helps ensure that the game doesn’t get annoying for the other Players or myself.

      If you know a Player has experience tragedy, always use common sense, and make things as simple as possible. In this scenario the best option would probably be to roll a percentage once in the very beginning, and decide that means they have a successful pregnancy, and just be done with it.

      Every DM should know the limits of their douchebaggery and allow their Players what they need when they know it’s important, and likewise, they should be able to make things as difficult as possible when they see a need for it. Every game is different, every Player is different, and every DM needs to know when things are appropriate, and when they’re not.

      Thanks for commenting, and sorry for any difficult triggers this may have brought up for you!

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