Perils of Pregnancy

Eric Lis

As I write this, we’re in the midst of working out the second big expansion to Insults & Injuries. This new version is going to include an entirely new chapter on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the complications which can occur during those various processes. I’m very, very far from being an expert on obstetrical medicine, having had all of two months of training in the area, so the new chapter was written by a friend and colleague who practices primarily in women’s health. It’s absolutely overflowing in information that opens up whole new vistas for the storyteller looking for ways to complicate the lives of their players. Here’s a preview of what you can expect to see in the new edition.

New Profession: Midwife: The skills in the d20 and Pathfinder SRDs cover a lot of different areas of life, but as I’ve bemoaned before, the sections on healing are woefully under-developed. For all that I sometimes mock medieval medicine in this column, in many was it was very well developed, and by necessity, midwifery and childbirth has always been one of the main focuses of early medical advancement. The midwife profession describes the abilities and limitations of a character with formal training in bringing new life into this world.

Contraception: The world of an adventurer is a dangerous place, and most adventurers are probably more than a bit reluctant to bring new creatures into it. New rules for period-appropriate contraception will allow characters to seduce tavern maids and charming princes without some of the attendant risks. On the flip side, of course, these rules allow give the storyteller ways to ensure that surprises happen far more often than they ever did before when players didn’t think they had to worry about such things.

Pregnancy: Do inter-species pregnancies carry additional risks? If an elf and a human have a child, does it matter which parent is which species? Simple guidelines for adjudicating these questions will let a storyteller plan for the unexpected contingencies that players inevitably spring on them. At the same time, simple rules give guidelines for what penalties (and bonuses!) a character can anticipate when adventuring while expecting.

Complications: Pregnancy isn’t an easy process. Out of all human biological processes, in fact, it’s arguably one of the ones most prone to things going wrong, and for most of human history, mothers knew that there was a very real chance that becoming pregnant by no means guaranteed producing a living child. The section of pregnancy complications presents a couple of the common conditions which plague pregnancy and gives rules for some of the things which can and will not go as planned. Naturally, rules are also presented for how characters with appropriate training can reduce these risks and save several lives with a single skill check.

All of this plus new equipment, entertaining historical factoids, and countless seeds for storyteller use are presented in the manner expected of Insults & Injuries. Altogether, the new chapter adds more new content that you’ll find in most pdfs on drivethrurpg and is (more or less) guaranteed to make your games a little but more interesting and a little bit stranger. 

More than four years ago, Dr. Eris Lis, M.D., began writing a series of brilliant and informative posts on RPGs through the eyes of a medical professional, and this is the one that appeared here on January 24, 2016. Lis is a physician, gamer, and author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC OGL sourcebook Insults & Injuries, which is also available for the Pathfinder RPG system