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I'm GMing a game with a bunch of spellcasters who want to be sexually promiscuous but don't want to be pregnant or make babies. The players'/PCs preference both for fun and flare is to establish methods of contraception using magic on themselves, their sexual partners or each other (but not as partners). The spellcasters + level include:

  • Bard 4
  • Druids 3 and 4
  • Warlock 5
  • Paladin 5 who won't be casting on themself but might be convinced to cast on others
  • Sorcerer 3

They will all level up intermittently over the next two sessions and will have access to fresh spells accordingly. We're playing a lighthearted, at times silly, campaign (as you can see here and here) and we like to adhere to RAW and published material in the core books, as well as Xanathar's Guide to Everything, as those are the books most available to the players.

To provide some context, we've decided on some ground rules around this: no abortions, no graphic descriptions, no PC-to-PC relations and no non-consensual sexual acts. Also if any player gets uncomfortable with the way the game is going they can call a group convo at any time to revisit the decision to allow this. Additionally consequences will be real: disease (Lesser Restoration makes this a non-issue), pregnancy, and unknowns.

Question:

Are there any magical contraceptive birth control options available for PCs of any gender in D&D?

I am interested in D&D 5e spells, potions, magical items or other magical effects that could be used to stop conception from occurring. I am not interested in ending a viable birth before term.

If there are no spells for this purpose are there any that you have used as such?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 15 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ For those answering, please remember that this is not for idea generation. Answers should be supported by actual table experience on what things worked/didn't work/etc. Idea generation answers should be down voted. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 20 at 15:51

11 Answers 11

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Bestow Curse

It's a 3rd level spell with two possible anti-breeding abilities that could be made permanent.

Ability Score Reduction

Choose one ability score. While cursed, the target has disadvantage on Ability Checks and Saving Throws made with that ability score.

Set it to charisma and you significantly lower the chances of unwanted pregnancy.

Alternative Curse Effect

Joking aside, you could house rule a separate application of Bestow Curse - Infertility.

At the GM’s option, you may choose an alternative curse effect, but it should be no more powerful than those described above.

There are many examples of curses in medieval lore that remove a kings ability to create progeny, or a witch that forces a noble woman to be barren until amends are made.

In this case "Infertility" would not garnish any statistical combat advantage or influence any rolls, and thus could be argued is significantly less powerful than the other specified effects of the spell.

It would be thematically appropriate for a medieval fantasy world and wouldn't require you to bend over backwards to slip in a house rule application.

Also, if bestow curse is made permanent in this regard - a storyline can be put together to remove the curse later once the party is done with their carousing shinanigans.

After Note on Mechanics: Things could get "interesting" before the caster reaches at least 9th level to use a 5th level spell slot. At lower levels it suffers from a concentration requirement and limited duration. This may result in required concentration check at appropriate moments and/or the caster being in the room to precisely apply the contraceptive measures at the correct timing to the desired target.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I gave the 100 bounty to another answer, but I want to give this one a bounty too. I may have to wait before I can do that, not sure how that works. Great solution! and I've emailed it to the players to give them a heads up, though we're not meeting this weekend - again :( \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 20 at 3:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Bestow curse specifically allows the GM to approve an effect that is "no more powerful" than the effects mentioned in the spell description. I take this description to mean that the curse effects are open-ended and the GM decides what other effects are appropriate. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 21 at 3:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ The minimum level for any spellcaster to have a 5th level spell slot is 9th level. \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Mar 24 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlakeSteel True, and only the Bard can cast it in this party, which means they will be very busy :-P. Still I think it's the best overall solution as far as sticking to published spells and RAW goes, and it will only get better as they level up. In actual game play it will probably only be used by the Bard on himself until it becomes more feasible to use on others. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 26 at 14:21
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There aren't any

DnD 5e is a high-fantasy tabletop game with its roots deep in the wargaming scene. The bulk of its rules concern combat and adventuring. It's not a simulator of any realistic world and therefore many topics are left with little treatment. Sex, sexuality and procreation are not a part of the game's core content and as such they don't receive attention in the rules, and only passing mentions in the lore (eg. to describe where various hybrid monsters come from).

Given the nature of the topic, if you want to homebrew rules concerning sex in your table, your best option is to discuss with the rest of the players in the table to come to a consensus regarding how you want to handle sexuality, pregnancy and contraception.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 12 at 12:07
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Even though no magical item does seem to allow this, there are some published spells that may be of interest in your specific case. Let's review them by school:

Abjuration, Enchantment and Evocation:

Do not have anything to offer in currently published spells, really. They only may be used to prevent any sexual promiscuity - but that is not what you are looking for.

Conjuration:

May let characters summon magical beings (including Satyr), which may be an in-game method to find out solutions - if conventional research proves unsuccessful. And there is wish, of course. Both options should be used with caution though.

Divination:

Augury, divination, commune and contact other plane, may be used to predict fertile periods or child births - and then adapt behaviour accordingly.

Foresight may be a small improvement for some risky contraceptive methods.

Illusion:

Phantasmal force and simulacrum may allow indirect relations to happen, in a secure way - unless the DM decides a construct may be fertile, of course.

Necromancy:

Magic jar may be used to circumvent simulacrum's main issue : the character's soul may integrate it's simulacrum's body.

Transmutation:

Polymorph and the like may be used to shift to a race/form that is unable to reproduce with the partner's race, and avoid pregnancy - but obviously has its drawbacks. Depending on DM, there may also be risks of hybridization.

Overall, these solutions seem a bit costly and over-complex for the lighthearted campaign you are running; I'd encourage homebrew alternatives to strict RAW research. As an example, druidcraft would be thematically appropriate to predict fertile periods - but you may also include in your world other mundane and magical means to control pregnancies.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I always felt that the druidcraft spell had potential effects dealing with fertility and pregnancy, that were not mention in the book. However, RAW you could make an argument that the effect the allows you to cause flowers to bloom and seed pods to open could affect the fertility cycles of living things. \$\endgroup\$ – The Hidden DM Mar 8 at 6:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Polymorph is an interesting option. And there does seem to be some potential with Druidcraft. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 12 at 8:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good catch on enchantment allowing a D&D version of family planning contraception. You may consider restructuring your answer to have your strongest points first, instead of opening with a field of magic that doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 15 at 19:25
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Handwave pregnancy

As you've stated - you are the DM and this is a light hearted campaign. If they (and you) aren't looking to manage pregnancy/kids/etc and just want to make promiscuity a thing (and a thing without repercussions) - just do it.

It's your world and it can be as complicated or as simple as you'd like. If that's the fun that's wanted at your table, make it fun and just remove the unfun.

Just like you don't need to roll for something that's a guaranteed success or failure - the same applies here. You don't need to find magical (or mundane) methods if you just don't worry about it as a concern so you can focus on what your table wants to focus on.

Handwaving can mean lots of things

It can mean saying "Don't worry about it" or it can mean providing a 100% effective solution that easily or already attainable. That option can include anything from spells (whether or not they require a spell slot) to mundane herbs or solutions. The key is whether or not you want to make pregnancy a risk or not. If any solution is 100% effective, then there is no risk and it's basically handwaving the concern.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I could definitely do this, but I don't think it would be in line with expectations at the table (and I'm ok with that). The players enjoy the challenge of working with consequences like pregnancy - and they make it fun - as much as they enjoy all the shenanigans. I think the risk of consequences makes it exciting for them. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 6 at 0:22
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The ancient Romans used an herb named silphium as a birth control method. If the GM rules that silphium exists in your campaign setting, a character who has a proficiency with Herbalist Kits should be able to identify and harvest it for use as a contraceptive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Used it until they harvested it to extinction, which tells you quite a bit about the habits of the Romans, but also about how mainstream contraceptives have actually been in historical cultures. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Olson Mar 15 at 21:14
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Let the players come up with a solution

In a comment you said "The players enjoy the challenge of working with consequences like pregnancy". It sounds too me like they would also like the challenge of figuring this out for themselves. So put this as a challenge to them, "How do you prevent pregnancy?"

Under RAW I can't imagine there is a spell that will state, "creature's cannot fall pregnant while under the effects of this spell". And as spell's only do what they say they do, we can't give you a RAW answer. There are likely to be spells that would work with a little creativity and a flexible DM.

Let your players come up with an innovative solution. If they can sufficiently explain why it works then you let it work. This is a somewhat hand-waving approach but still makes them work for it.


One idea I did think of, though it is a pretty serious expenditure of resources is: Wall of Force. There are more than a few downsides to this, mainly being that is can't be moved once created, only lasts 10 minutes and is a 5th level spell. But it will definitely get the job done. Even if the partner is an angel since it extends to the ethereal plane.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh I'm quite certain they will have some creative ideas! I also want to have some ready just in case and also I told them I would look into it. +1 and bonus points if I could for "... even if the partner is an angel..." :-P \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Mar 6 at 5:33
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Create your own spell according to the DMG guidelines

I would not necessarily argue that this is the best solution, but it sounds like you want the most official WotC solution you can get, and this is probably it.

There is no official materials for this, but the Dungeon Master's Guide does provide official guidance on creating your own spells (pages 283-84). The most basic rule is to find the spell that has the most in common with what you are trying to do and try to make something with comparable balance to it (you can increase or lower the spell level if what you create seems a more or less powerful compared to the spell you are modeling off of). Also consider what classes to give it to. For example, it is probably thematic for a divine nature oriented caster like a druid to have control over a biological process, but perhaps you consider unnaturally inhibiting the course of nature more the purview of Arcane casters.

Alter Self could be used as a model

One candidate, for example, of a spell to model a self-targeted preventative contraceptive off of would be "Alter Self", which does seem to temporarily change some aspect of one's internal organs in order to sprout and use gills. Temporarily modifying one's reproductive organs seems a comparable sort of change with (arguably) comparable power. Whether you would want to make this a spell that could target other people or not is a consideration in terms of spell level by comparison to this example spell.

You can also use similar principles for modeling a potion or magic item and what sort of spell-like effects it has on existing magic items and potions. I would note that, given that most of your party gets a fairly limited or very limited number of spells known, making them actually devote a spell known to this is a fairly steep cost.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I posted the same comment on at least two other answers though? (one now deleted) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 18 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 18 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I rephrased it slightly to make it clear that my particular example of an "Alter Self" homebrew was merely an illustrative example of how to follow official guidance on creating such things as closely as possible. Within such a context my experience or lack thereof with the particular homebrew rule suggested is in no way the point. I think my intentions were unclear as I previously had it, which was primarily an editing oversight. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Olson Mar 18 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenjaminOlson good edit! Thanks for coming back and improving. I'll remove my comment and my downvote. I have edited also to make things a bit clearer by giving you a heading (which really helps to get attention and votes) and a subheading. I think it is good advice. Part of the reason I may have been hasty is all the other answers around this one doing the exact thing I said. Nice work. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 18 at 16:31
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Nothing that I know about in official books, but.....

In a recent homebrew campaign I played, a plague sent by a major deity caused all fetuses to be, after the 3rd month of gestation, transformed into wild abominations that would eat their mothers from the inside. The leading temporal and clerical authorities took the thing into their hands and started banning all sort of sexual intercourse. Clearly you can imagine how things escalated from there. It pretty much became a witch hunt for pregnant women, and (almost) complete abstinence from intercourse would have an extremely negative effect on the population's morale. You can imagine how witch doctors would perform illegal abortions, with little to no success. Gloomy and dark setting as you can see.

Flash-forward 20 years and the adventurers come in, disciples of a wizard, who has found the location of scrolls containing old knowledge allowing to free the world of this plague, and also to allow the world to start producing offspring once again. The adventurers found out that these scrolls where the work of an even more ancient wizard which had studied the ways in which to control life from before birth (trespassing often into necromancy). The adventurers also discover that the ancient wizard's research had been prompted by the fact that this was not the first time the plague had been cast on the land.

I will leave it to your immagination to continue the story. In any case, the scrolls that we found contained spells that the DM had taken from The Book of Erotic Fantasy. It is a 3e fan made book, still with pretty high standards in my opinion. There is really a lot in this book. From gestation times to possible crossbreeds, from performance checks to special spells

The magical birth control method you are interested in can be found on pg. 47 in the section regarding Pregnancy and Childbirth, specifically the section on Birth Control. It gives a whole list of methods regarding birth control, and in particular, it talks about the following spell

Block the seed

Abjuration

Level: Brd 1, Clr 1, Sor/Wiz 1

Components: V,S,M

Casting time: 1 action

Range: Personal

Target: You

Duration: 1 day/level

You are incapable of getting someone pregnant or becoming impregnated for the duration of this spell. You are still vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases unless protective measures [traditional birth control measures; editor's note] are taken.

In our campaign, we had to retrieve the spell scrolls so that our master could study it as to allow the extension of the target also to other people. The application of the spell is quite straightforward. Clearly, once the sorcerer learned about the spell, he could not wait to get his hands on it, leading to quite hilarious scenes, I must say.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting that this spell should be edited to conform to 5e design standards before use in a 5e game, for example the Level section should just have a spell level and it be on the bard, cleric, sorcerer, and wizard spell lists. Additionally, the duration should be constant (perhaps 1 day) unless it is upcast to higher spell levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Mar 24 at 17:46
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Settings I have played in older editions of (A)D&D have had homebrew solutions to this problem:

  • Contraceptive potions, which were about as easy to make as basic potions of healing, and were fairly readily available. They usually lasted indefinitely, so they were supplied with a counter-potion which ended them. If you lost that, you would have to buy another.

  • A first level clerical spell, usually available from the religion that covered motherhood, children, and so on. This usually lasted a season, or a year, depending on the mythology. It was cheaper than a contraceptive potion, but subject to Dispel Magic.

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I am not aware of any in the rule books...

While I have hardly reviewed all the rule books available, I have not seen anything in any of them that would meet this criteria. Because of the nature of the subject, I doubt it will ever be addressed. As other answers have correctly pointed out, this is well outside the primary competency of D&D as a system...

But fiction suggests that it is present in at least the Forgotten realms...

While I do not have titles handy, more than one fiction book set in the Forgotten Realms has referenced various forms of contraceptive magic, so there is fictional precedence for it...

One scene that sticks out in my mind involved Entreri and Jarlaxle. A female drow noble was trying to seduce Entreri, but there was a language barrier. She showed him a wand with contraceptive magic trying to let him know that there would be no consequences, but he interpreted it as threatening and killed her.

Remember that there are real world analogs from the medieval era...

For reasons of taste I won't go into details, but there were a variety of contraceptive methods used in the real world long during the middle ages that loosely inspires D&D. They had varying levels of effectiveness and drawbacks, but they existed and they were at least somewhat effective.

It is also a ridiculously common trope in fantasy fiction that "herbs", generally without more detail than that, can serve as an effective contraceptive with minimal side effects or fuss. It is referenced constantly in Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle series as their use, or lack thereof, leads to more than one major plot point.

Houserule recommendation

Based on the above, if I ever needed to houserule this, I would declare that both magical contraceptives and herbs to the same effect were reasonably available to the noble and adventuring classes with little difficulty and minimal side-effects. However, I would keep them out of reach of the peasants and laborers. If they were available to everyone it would change the pseudo-medieval setting in many ways just as they impacted the real world when modern medicine and technology delivered versions that were highly effective while being relatively cheap.

Since this is a houserule, how it would work mechanically is entirely up to the GM. But my recommendation is that anyone with proficiency with a Herbalist Kit should be able to brew a contraceptive tea that had virtually no side effects and was effective enough that a role was only required under unusual circumstances. I would also assume that that there was a first level spell available to all spell caster classes although possibly with different names that would create short term infertility. This structure requires enough resources that it would be extravagant luxury for your average laborer who generally earns approximately 1 silver per day but very affordable for your average adventurer or noble.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ mechanically how would those herbs work? Are you saying they're always effective (it did seem that way in Demon Cycle?) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 15 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I expanded to address my personal recommendations, but being houserule territory it basically comes down to whatever works for the GM. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Mar 15 at 18:31
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Wall of Force Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a 2-4 inch dome-shaped rubber barrier inserted into the cervix. It forms a strong seal intended to keep sperm out.

"Nothing can physically pass through" a wall of force - this presumably includes sperm. It can be a dome shape "up to 10 feet", so a 2-4 inch dome form is certainly possible. The wall of force can be cast "resting on a solid surface", which perhaps includes the cervix wall. The spell can be cast "at a point you choose within range" and does not specify line of sight, so there's no need to break out the speculum for this procedure.

The one downside to this approach is that the Wall of Force only has a duration of 10 minutes. This might not be a problem for characters with low constitution. Otherwise, you might want to time the casting of this spell mid-intercourse, which is perhaps a bit risky. The higher level Forcecage might serve as a longer-term substitute.

Unfortunately, no one in your party can cast Wall of Force, so you would need to hire a chaperone. That's not very fun. The following are some other, perhaps less fool-proof suggestions.

Shape Water

"You instantaneously move or otherwise change the flow of the water as you direct, up to 5 feet in any direction." Semen is mostly water, so perhaps it can be controlled with this cantrip. Just keep the flow going away from the uterus and you're A-Okay! Best of all, this spell does not require concentration, so there is reduced risk of performance anxiety.

Create or Destroy Water

"Destroy Water. You destroy up to 10 gallons of water in an open container within range. Alternatively, you destroy fog in a 30-foot cube within range." As above, we need to consider the definition of "water". I will leave the discussion of what constitutes an "open container" to you and your group. This solution requires fast timing.

Magic Circle + Arcanist's Magic Aura

This one is an edge case for sure. First, use Arcanist's Magic Aura to "Mask" the penis-haver as a fey-type creature. This should also effect the sperm, because they are part of the penis-haver's body and share the penis-haver's DNA. Then, cast Magic Circle on the vagina-haver's cervix, choosing protection against fey. The fey sperm of the penis-haver are now incapable of entering passing through the cervix into the womb.

Watery Sphere

Same idea as the diaphragm wall of force, except a little riskier because the sperm get to roll Strength saving throws and it's not clear where creatures that are ejected from the sphere will end up. Also, requires line of sight and only lasts 1 minute :/

Handwaving Options

Armor of Agathys? Depends if your DM considers sperm to be a "creature", and if their boring into an egg counts as a "melee attack". RAW, Creation can summon a 5-foot cube of natural-rubber condoms that will last for 1 day, but your character would need to know what condoms are for this to work.

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protected by mxyzplk Mar 12 at 12:08

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