Advice: How to Make Somebody Pregnant

pregnant warrior with deer-hooks

'Nuff said

Did that catch your eye?

This post isn’t about the mechanics of intercourse or reproduction–this is the Internet, after all, and there are other sources to learn about that. This is also not about intercourse in role-playing games, because talking about that would inevitably lead to a discussion of F.A.T.A.L.–the game that serves as a stand-in for Hitler when Godwin’s Law is applied to RPGs.

No, this piece is a follow up to my post on Druidic rituals, and Chase’s article on “heavy gaming.” I want to address two things: first, the utter impropriety of Chase using the word “heavy” in a piece that talks about pregnancy (man, I bet HE’S in the doghouse!), and second, how to include a pregnant character (NPC or, deities forbid, a PC!) in a game without making it over-the-top serious.

But why?

Because Chase is a relatively new father, and needs to be made fun of just a bit…

Oh, you mean “why” to the second point? Why would players want a pregnant character in a game?

Because pregnancy is a mother-effing archetype! (Give it a minute.) I’ve not had the pleasure of reading either Jung or Campbell, and so admit to being inadequately educated in the use of that word (that is, “archetype,” not… well, you get it). However, as someone who has both seen a child being born, and been born himself, I feel somehow qualified to speak about the subject.

Everyone is born.

And birth (and thus, pregnancy) evokes powerful emotion. Powerful emotion is the stuff of heroics. Ergo, your RPG needs a pregnant chick in it.

So why would the Chase-described “heavy woman” go on an adventure?

Simple: either the mother or the child is the key to something. Prophecy is an easy way to do this: perhaps an old story tells of a woman of the South pregnant with the heir of a dying king. Her child, born atop a mountain in the firelight of a dragon’s breath, is destined to deliver the nation from a great evil.

So, all the GM needs to do is give the players a pregnant woman, a dying king, and a nation facing a great evil. It becomes the player’s job to see to it that the rest of the prophecy comes to pass. That is, they need to get her to a mountain, and find a dragon who can be coerced to help. If the evil facing the nation is desperate enough, the inconveniences of pregnancy begin to fade away.

There are other reasons–some that come to mind include:

  • A tough-as-nails adventurer won’t let a little thing like “being with child” slow her down
  • A mother wants her child born in a far-off land so s/he will become a citizen of that land
  • The mother learns that she or her child are ill, and seek a healer who is difficult to get to
  • The mother knows that the child will be visibly different (skin color, hybrid race, disability), and fears for her/his safety, so wants to give birth in a more welcoming climate

Then how does the person Chase says is “fat” go on an adventure?

Anyone who’s spent time with a pregnant woman knows that they become superheroes in the second trimester. I saw my wife lift a car with one hand to rake out the leaves from under it. OK, it was just a Yugo, but still…

Seriously, it seems inevitable that the focus of an adventure featuring a pregnant woman will be keeping her safe. Remember the archetype? If your players are invested in the story, they likely will not be able to refrain from coming to her aid at the smallest signs of danger. In fact, it will probably make for some interesting RP situations, as the soon-to-be mother will likely get annoyed with the overzealous offers of help.

Timing-wise, there is something about the second trimester. Assuming the adventure begins after the woman finds out she is pregnant, it will likely start toward the end of the first trimester. This is when all the stereotypical annoyances like morning sickness and seventeen naps a day raise their head. It’s also a great start to the adventure, because it will be a constant and early reminder that there is a pregnant woman with the party.

This should cut off after a few adventures, when the second trimester starts. These adventures could easily contain scenes of the woman trying to do too much–and the players making significant choices about risk and reward. Finally, when the focus of the campaign arc draws near, the pregnancy becomes very apparent again. And if the baby is born before the destination is reached–well, then, you’ve got yourself a sword-and-board fighter who has to learn how to deliver a child real quick.

All in all, the timing of a pregnancy and the pacing of an adventure work well together.

But isn’t this all kind of heavy for a game?

(Dude, seriously, lay off the heavy references!)

I don’t think so. There are a number of ways to approach pregnancy in a game. Comedies on television show us that pregnancy can be handled with a very light tone, and the pacing can be somewhat dynamic. There’s no need to include the sex scene, or give a vivid description of the birth unless it fits both the story and the expectations of the group.

Having said that, I wouldn’t advise including pregnancy to a gaming group who can’t take the topic seriously. If the players are not motivated by an innate desire to come to the aid of the pregnant person, or don’t have some degree of excitement about the birth, it probably isn’t the right group.

Have you ever gotten anyone pregnant (in your game?) Are you one of those people who have actually played FATAL, instead of just talked about it? Do you want to chastise Chase for calling pregnant women “tubby” (his word, not mine)? Tell us about it in the comments!

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