Old Hat Monsters: Passing Out Cigars
If you couldn’t tell, I’m an old school gamer and 2nd Edition AD&D was my jam. I held onto the system I grew up with through 3rd Edition, and into the death and rebirth of 3.5. My more progressive gaming friends pressured me to revaluate my position on the system time and time again, but I had invested so much into AD&D. I had all the handbooks, the spells and options, and the boxed sets for just about all of your favorite trademarked gaming worlds. The Monster Manual was as treasured as a priest’s bible.
Then there were the notebooks. My homebrew world was a monster that ate four 5-subject notebooks, and my house rules ate another notebook and several 3.5 disks. Eventually 2nd Edition players became hard to find, and all those treasures ended up in a chest in my basement as I moved on to the golden age of White Wolf and specifically Vampire LARPs.
I’ll save the story of my conversion to 3.5 and Pathfinder for another time. This week’s templates are inspired by a legend at my old gaming table. I might elaborate more on this legendary tale in the comments section, but the short version is that a character was pregnant with a werewolf’s baby and got hit with an aging effect that aged her 10 years in a fight. The GM was kind enough not to pull an alien scenario, but it often triggered lively conversation on how to handle that situation.
In the real world, lots of thing happen to a woman when she is pregnant from a physiological standpoint. Hormones go crazy, things happen in the digestive system, there are random pains, and commonly areas of the skin darken. This alone is some interesting fodder for gamers that can handle and want to handle such a topic, but what happens when the child is magical? What happens when the mother isn’t human? What effects accompany the pregnancy if the child is a fey or of a particularly potent sorcerer bloodline?
Join me after the jump for a discussion and some templates regarding magical pregnancy along with possible story tie-ins. If there’s enough interest, I might be persuaded to share some stories from my gaming table, which addressed this subject on three occasions.
I’ll start with the out-of-game stuff. Know thy group. My old gaming table consisted of three women in their late twenties and two guys. One of the guys was the GM and married to one of the ladies, and the other guy was me—I was the youngest in my early twenties. A romance plot between the characters was common. Everyone was mature enough to handle the subject matter, and it added a spice to the game that just isn’t there when a group stays with hack and slash. If you want to introduce these types of plots and themes, you need to have an out-of-game discussion and understand everyone’s comfort levels.
Magical Pregnancy, First Trimester, Weeks 1–12 (CR +0)
At the beginning of each day, the character must make a Fortitude save DC 10 + number of weeks (or their equivalent scale) or become sickened for half the day.
Any at-will spell-like abilities are usable by the character up to three times per day. In the case of a sorcerer bloodline, the mother may use either the arcana three times per day or the first power three times per day.
Assuming the player is cool with this, you could use the pregnancy as being an excellent way to eventually retire a character. It could lead to interesting party dynamics if the father is a member of the party or an interesting or unusual NPC. You could also go with a dream sequence and pull an immaculate conception (again if player is comfortable).
Magical Pregnancy, Second Trimeste, Weeks 13–28 (CR +1 or +2, depending on base creature)
The Fort saving throws are over at this point, though the character temporarily gains a +2 to Strength and a –2 to Dexterity and Wisdom for the duration of the pregnancy to represent increasingly difficult movement and hormonal shifts.
On the magic side of the equation, the character gains all defensive abilities of her offspring from DR to SR and immunities. At-will spell-like abilities are now also at-will for the character, and any ability that is useable three times per day is now useable once per day.
The world is in jeopardy, and the mother-to-be has skills critical to the party for saving everyone. This creates an internal conflict as the needs of the mother-to-be have changed. Does that character act more conservative? Is that character more likely to try and talk away problems?
The powers from the pregnancy can be a real boost, but the price is higher stakes in every combat. This can add a lot of tension in scenes.
Magical Pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeks 29–40 (CR +0 or +1, depending on base creature)
The Dexterity of the mother is further infringed by an additional –2, and movement is always considered difficult terrain.
On the magic side, the mother now has access to all the child’s possible spell-like abilities at the level of the base creature and can be treated as a 1st-level sorcerer/oracle if the child is destined to be a sorcerer/oracle. The child now also has an independent health pool and can possibly be saved should the mother die of hit point loss.
At this point, some might claim it’s a little nuts for the mother to still be adventuring, but in desperate times, this can happen. The pregnancy is now on a timer, and the stakes of success or failure have an additional element. Equally interesting is the reaction of the father-to-be.
Protection magic or items can be an interesting carrot to place in your game. Problems with the pregnancy that need specific magical ingredients to correct are another way to use the situation to raise the stakes. The satyr baby might need music from the satyr’s pipes, for example, and the angelic child might need to be regularly dosed with positive energy.
In the comments, you can request some examples of what I’d recommend for certain character and magical being pairings or ask for some war stories. I cannot promise I’ll address everything, but I will try. Also follow me on Twitter @GM_Solspiral for the latest in Old Hat Monster, Winding Road, and Flying Pincushion news.