A pregnant woman shown from thigh to shoulder holding her belly, wearing a white dress
Can D&D Characters Get Pregnant?

Written by Phil

Phil was a world-traveler, writing, playing games, and exploring. Now he lives in Toronto and plays D&D, Root, and Terraforming Mars online. Most recently, he has been exploring the asymmetric games by Leder Games. Links to Other Writing: Persuasive Writing; Coffee Website.

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Many player-controlled bards in D&D enjoy a good roll in the hay, often to other players’ annoyance. But are there ever any unexpected “surprises” from these trysts? Can a character get pregnant? I’ve been playing D&D and other TTRPGs for many years, and I’ve seen PCs fall in love, get married, and have children more than once.

Whether by natural or magical means, there’s nothing in the official D&D rules that mentions pregnancy. However, characters can get pregnant and have children; the real question is whether they should. This must be agreed upon by both players and the DM.

Before we get into the fun of how characters might get pregnant, let’s address the question of when it should happen.

Why Consent Is Critical, Even in D&D

Just like real life, pregnancy and childrearing will profoundly impact a character’s life and add complexity to the game for both Dungeon Masters (DMs) and Player Characters (PCs). Since it is a life-changing event, the single most crucial factor is player consent.

No DM is ever obligated to allow character pregnancy in their game, nor should they ever require a player to roleplay a pregnancy – or anything else – unwillingly.

According to Sean K. Reynolds and Shanna Germain, authors of the excellent book Consent in Gaming

It is always your choice, and nobody ever gets to make that choice for you. Even if the GM is really excited about a particular idea for a game, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Even if the other players are really enthusiastic about an idea, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. They should not persuade or pressure you into going along with a game idea you’re not comfortable with (and if they try, that’s a sign of poor respect and a lack of trust at your game table).

When we talk about player consent, we mean out-of-character consent, which is negotiated between the DM and players. Some people enjoy dark, gritty campaigns where characters may be subjected to circumstances beyond their control; that’s their choice, but it should be discussed beforehand. These are all topics to discuss in a Session 0, which we go through in detail here.

As long as the players had already agreed to the idea, a character can be impregnated against their will. If the players object, as a concept, it shouldn’t happen.

You can argue all day about the value of gritty realism, but D&D is a game. People play games because they want to have fun. Including elements that make the game unfun for anyone at the table is antisocial at best. At worst, it can be terribly hurtful and disrespectful. 

Every table is different; having a Session 0 helps establish a consensus between all the players that can guide handling difficult in-game situations.


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How Does It Work?

Official D&D lore establishes that only certain races can interbreed without magical intervention. 

Humans can interbreed naturally with some humanoid races, though only half-elves and half-orcs are canonical in 5e. In the Dark Sun campaign setting, humans and dwarves could interbreed, and their offspring were called muls

Kobolds can slowly change their biological sex over time and often do so if most of the males or females in a tribe are killed – just like chickens. One of a same-sex pair of Kobolds seeking to reproduce could simply choose to become the other sex for a while. 

Most DMs prefer to err on the side of realism: races that gestate their young usually can’t have babies with races that lay eggs, and for obvious reasons, a halfling couldn’t safely carry the child of a goliath.

Given the existence of magic, it’s theoretically possible for any two characters of any race, sex, or gender to have children together

In theory, there’s no reason three characters can’t have a baby together, or one character by themself, via magical means – as long as your DM allows it.

One obvious solution is the Polymorph spell. In official D&D lore, dragons can polymorph themselves into any creature with a lesser or equal CR (Challenge Rating). By doing so, they can interbreed with most anything – much like Zeus – regardless of biological constraints. 

If dragons can do it, a magic-user with access to any of the Polymorph spells should be able to do the same. That being said, they’d likely have to be male, as Polymorph comes with time constraints.

Other potential ways to circumvent the issue of biocompatibility could include:

  • Wish spells
  • Surrogacy (perhaps involving the Telepathy spell during conception)
  • Alchemy or Potions
  • A pact with a higher power (e.g., Deity, Celestial, Fiend, or Djinn)

More problematically, a Wild Shaped druid could potentially interbreed with the creatures whose shape they take on, but it would be evil and unethical (unless the creature in question is awakened and thus able to consent).

The DM is the final authority on what’s possible in your campaign. If they say your high elf wizard can knock up their orc barbarian sweetheart, it might be time to start knitting baby chainmail! (Or taking birth control potions.)


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Playing a Pregnant Character

The official D&D rules don’t address character pregnancy. It would be a lot of work to design game mechanics around something that may never be used at most tables, especially something so personal to both characters and players.

Most DMs and players agree that the best way to roleplay the effects of pregnancy is to leave them entirely within the realm of roleplay. This is the method I like because it ensures that player agency remains intact.

Some people may prefer to use tables from other game systems, or create their own, so that players can roll for whether pregnancy occurs and how the pregnant character is affected. I recommend against these rolls for two reasons

  1. There’s nothing funny about a miscarriage; and
  2. A well-timed bout of morning sickness can be hilarious.

That said, if everyone agrees that it will be more fun to leave your fate (and that of your potential offspring) to the dice, then that’s what you should do. Only you know whether the risk of a mischievous clutch of half-aarakocra, half-tortle triplets running amok in a tavern is one your table is prepared to face.

Summary

As this is something of a niche consideration for most DnD players, there are a few things that need to be considered.

They are:

  • Consent: Both DM and Players need to agree to pregnancy as a possibility, and discuss the mechanics behind them.
  • Probability: If everyone agrees, what should the odds be of any given event happening?
  • Caution: It can get extremely dark, extremely quickly. What if a pregnant character dies? Has a miscarriage? Is everyone at the table, both in and out of character, prepared to deal with the aftermath? People mostly play games to relax, not experiencing/reliving emotional trauma.
  • Genetics: How does it work between different species? Can magic fix this?

In the end, it’s up to you and your table to decide what is acceptable and how to deal with it. There are plenty of roleplaying and plot opportunities to be had with pregnancy as a mechanic, but it is far from essential.

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