I love prehistoric fiction of the Clan of the Cave Bear, Mother Earth Father Sky sort. So if I spot a ‘serious’ Stone Age or Ice Age RPG I buy it.
Two of the recent (ish) ones I’ve bought - Wurm and Paleomythic - have rules for getting pregnant. On top of that they both have rules for increasing your probability of conceiving. Which is utterly pointless, because the authors can’t do statistics, so haven’t noticed that their ‘normal’ chance of conception is outrageously high.
Wurm: for most people - every time a man shags a woman (p41) the player of the man rolls 2d6. If he gets a double she’s pregnant. Then you roll on the table to see if it will be a girl, a boy or twins.
That’s about 17% chance of getting preggers on the first date, and if you have sex once a day then its 99.4% by the end of 4 weeks.
Wurm: for people with a special ability: if either of the couple have the Might of the Bison special ability, then the player of the man rolls 3d6. Again, if he gets a double she’s pregnant.
This is presumably for tax reasons, or some other reason you really need to get pregnant on the first
date (44%) or by the end of the week???
Paleomythic: for most people - every time a woman shags she has a 1 in 6 chance of getting pregnant. (It actually says on p62
“a person has a one in six chance of becoming pregnant every time they copulate”
so presumably men and lesbians can get pregnant too?)
So again about 17% chance for the first date, and Ms Once a Day will have a bun in the oven by the end of the month.
Paleomythic: for people nominated as the recipients of a fertility ritual - the next time they shag, they have a 2 in 6 chance of conceiving. That’s 33%, for those couples who just can’t wait until the end of the month.
Do the writers think that prehistoric people come into heat like cats, horses or elephants, so they need a huge probability for any one shag? Do they think stone age people only have sex by the light of the silvery moon, so you have to boost the fertility rate to keep your population going? Or do they think that stone age people had nothing to do all day but shag?
I’ve just checked Mythic Rome, and it has zero rules about getting pregnant. The nearest thing is a section about Roman attitudes to abandoning unwanted children. Do you guys have any examples of not-stone-age RPGs with rules on getting pregnant?
I envision scenes like these in these Prehistoric RPGs:
Old Wise Woman: hello Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies. What can I do for you?
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: According to our local shaman, Dances-With-Anthropologists, I’ll conceive my first child at 18 and not reach the menopause until 42.
Old Wise Woman: So?
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: My partner, Statistics-Hunter, says that means we’ll have 1 child a year, so that’s 25 kids. So I really, really, really need to know… Have you invented reliable contraceptives yet?
Old Wise Woman: Sadly, no. With a 1 in six chance of conception with every shag, I can only offer the real-world, stone age people’s solutions of abstinence, abortion or infanticide. Or you could move to some marginal environment where there is so little fat in your diet it curtails our tribe’s unfeasibly high fertility.
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: I don’t like any of those options.
Old Wise Woman: You could go on a quest to the Clan of the Cave Bear and beg then for some of their fictitious herbal tea from which acts as a morning after pill?
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: Hmm…maybe.
Old Wise Woman: Or hope that most of your kids get trampled by stampeding mammoths?
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: That’s a bit rough!
Old Wise Woman: Well then, your only two alternatives are… One - invent subsistence agriculture and climb that demographic curve up to a horrendous infant mortaility rate.
Ms Bonks-Like-Bunnies: And two?
Old Wise Woman: Hope your kids become PCs or NPCs and you are in a game system with a lot of TPKs and murder-hobos!