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Conception is an interesting spell.

With the casting of this spell, you guarantee that on your next attempt, you and your partner will conceive a child. Conception overcomes sterility or infertility in either you or your partner, whether natural or due to an injury, illness, or curse, as well as herbal remedies that normally block conception. Alchemical or magical means of blocking conception, such as block the seed, counter conception and make the spell ineffective. (...)

This spell came up during an intrigue-related game. One of the players wants to guarantee that the queen will get pregnant from her lover to further their schemes. They planned to trick the lover into drinking a Potion of Conception, in the hopes of jumping over the barriers related to the queen's supposed infertility.

That's all good and fine.

Except the queen and her lover aren't exactly from compatible species.

They don't know yet, but the queen is actually a synthetic construct - a warforged-like being made to look exactly like a human being at any external inspection, with most of the functioning bits and pieces (she can eat, go to the toilet, cry, have carnal relationships, salivate, etc) while being effectively immortal, able to replace any part that is breaking down due to old age or damage by a quick visit to her automated repair chamber.

Obviously, if it was the queen the one to drink the potion, I would just rule that her anatomy is too alien and the potion has no effect. However, it is her lover that is drinking the potion. By a RAW reading of the rules, this synthetic, infertile replicant will end up getting somehow pregnant after the next session with her lover, even if no viable offspring was possible between then.

I can't even rule that she "doesn't have the proper equipment", because the spell overcomes sterility/infertility, be it natural or caused by some source. Since the queen is a synthetic being that is "naturally" infertile, the spell appears to work at a first glance, but I might be missing a nuance somewhere.

So:

  • If my players proceed with the plan, will the Replicant Queen get pregnant?
  • If she does, what would be the race of the child?
  • Would the queen still get pregnant if she was actually a Lich in disguise?

About the "Attempt" angle: If "willingness to conceive" from the part of the spell recipient is necessary, consider it present.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We are also assuming that the party has (or can hire a) Hedge Witch from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming material as well? \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 3 '20 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso That's correct! \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Sep 3 '20 at 10:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see two possibilities. First, she conceives, the the cells die because she has no womb. Second, he conceives and gets pregnant. \$\endgroup\$ – NomadMaker Sep 3 '20 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, is being a synthetic construct an alchemical means of blocking conception? \$\endgroup\$ – candied_orange Sep 4 '20 at 5:47
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It does what you want

You are, based on this text, the GM and responsible for deciding on how rules and edge cases work...

Mastermind: GMs work to keep a game’s momentum moving in directions that entertain all the players while exploring the stories and settings they desire. To such ends, a GM manipulates dozens of elements, from how narrative components unfold to what rules are used and how they function in every situation.

As well as attempting to foster a fun environment.

Host: Game Masters are the unifying force behind most of the game, not just organizing a social event but providing excitement and entertainment for those who participate.

You, then, must decide if this spell, which may or may not work in a given situation that doesn't seem to use RAW Paizo rules, works in this instance.

So ask yourself...

  • Is there a reason to not have the Queen be pregnant?
    • If this conflicts seriously with your ability to continue plot threads, have the attempt fail. The players will then have a mystery to solve.
  • Will your players be happy with either answer?
  • Will this ruling significantly affect future rulings on the spell? How common are your replicants?
    • If they're a major plot point, it may be important to decide if they're affected by this (and... similar spells...?)
  • What do you want the results to be?
    • You're here to have fun too, presumably

Once you have the answer to most of these, you should be able to decide for yourself if it works.


But if you really want another GM's answer

  • If my players proceed with the plan, will the Replicant Queen get pregnant?

Assuming the creature has the ability to attempt* to make a child (as is indicated by their ability to have a carnal relationship), then this spells seems to "supply" everything else. Infertility specifically seems to address this, being defined broadly as "inability to conceive children or young." It doesn't seem to matter if she or her lover drank the potion; either is a valid target of the spell.

  • If she does, what would be the race of the child?

Whatever you want, but probably either fully the race of her lover or something like an Android or a her lovers race modified by the Race Builder Half-Construct trait.

  • Would the queen still get pregnant if she was actually a Lich in disguise?

Yeah, probably. It's a weird spell that will likely have weird results

*Here, attempt may mean just having intercourse or it may mean that one or both of them would need to intend to have a child. The spell doesn't clarify if intent matters.

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I can't even rule that she "doesn't have the proper equipment", because the spell overcomes sterility/infertility, be it natural or caused by some source. Since the queen is a synthetic being that is "naturally" infertile, the spell appears to work at a first glance, but I might be missing a nuance somewhere.

I would make exactly the ruling that you say you can't, on the basis that "sterility" (in this sense) and "infertility" are normally only used in reference to things which would normally have the ability to reproduce. You would not, for example, say "the chair next to me is infertile" because, while technically accurate (the chair is incapable of reproduction, sexual or otherwise), chairs are not, as a general rule, fertile in the first place.

Aside from the semantics of the spell description, also consider how the other interpretation would affect the in-game world if it were true:

If no physical or species barrier applies, then I would expect a world full of strange half-human (or half-demihuman) creatures resulting from all the times that pranksters have slipped someone a Conception potion, and then the drinker went on to use a knothole in a fence or tree, a piece of cloth or tissue, or some other random item as a masturbatory aid.

If you read "attempt to conceive a child" to indicate an active desire to produce offspring, not just casual sex, then there would still be pranksters who actively wish to produce offspring with a handkerchief, solely for the sake of seeing what a pregnant handkerchief or a half-human/half-handkerchief child might look like. (The internet didn't invent Rule 34, it just made the phenomenon much more visible.) And, even in the real world, we have people who engage in bestiality and insist that they and the animals truly are in love with each other - many of them would surely wish to have children with the animals that they believe love them in that way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with this answer on the basis that OP indicated that the creature is capable of carnal relationships, which seems (to me) to be what the spell would consider an "attempt". Although you do bring up a good point that casual intercourse and attempting to produce offspring might make a difference. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 3 '20 at 13:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ "many of them would surely wish to have children with the animals that they believe love them in that way" So that's how minotaurs, centaurs and harpies were originally created! \$\endgroup\$ – zovits Sep 3 '20 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zovits And possibly owlbears. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Sep 3 '20 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is one thing that this answer misses, however - Conception is a third level spell, that is quite rare to be found in potion form. It isn't something everyone has access to. For the few people that do have access to it, most of them are clerics - that would probably not play around with blessings by their gods to just "see what happens". The other share of people that has access to it - the witches - are probably the type that would try those things out just for laughs, which plays well into their fantasy. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Sep 3 '20 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dave's answer is the most sensible. Sure a GM can do what they want but as written the spell doesn't give things which are non-reproductive the ability to reproduce it temporarily repairs something which is broken in one or both participants. There is no guarantee that 'carnal relations' extends into the whole reproductive cycle, and for a 'synthetic construct' it would be a very unlikely addition by the creator, but again... up to the GM. \$\endgroup\$ – niekell Sep 4 '20 at 4:46
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It's narratively interesting for the spell to "work", but with a twist

I'm going to operate on the assumption that, as warforged-like being, the Queen is actually imbued with a soul. She's not just a fancy toaster. It seems apparent that she knows that she is synthetic, and would know that she can't become pregnant.

But a pregnancy begins all the same. She starts to have cramps. She becomes nauseous and throws up. She suffers symptoms of pregnancy that should not happen. The repair chamber thinks all is fine and can not diagnose what's wrong with her.

At this point the story could go a number of ways:

  1. Lacking the anatomy to become pregnant, the spell requires for her to have a child in the way that synthetics do: the symptoms persist until she builds a synthetic baby. Magic is weird like that.
  2. The spell did everything that it needed to do to make the pregnancy work: She now has a womb and all of the other prerequisite parts to carry a baby.

If the spell only makes her need to have a baby...

Assuming that the spell does not drastically alter the Queen's body, she knows that she cannot be pregnant, and yet the symptoms occur anyway. Perhaps she gradually suffers worsening symptoms of "pregnancy sickness" until she constructs a new Replicant to be her child.

This may be difficult for her to do while keeping up appearances that she is Totally Not A Synth. If the Queen is already capable of creating other Replicants, perhaps this one must be extra special.

If the spell actually makes her pregnant...

As a synthetic, becoming pregnant is literally not something she was constructed to do. She now has organs that she didn't have before. She goes to the repair chamber to have the foreign objects cut out, but sparks fly and the machine shuts itself down because it also was not programmed for this. She may not be able to even process what's happening and may have a crisis of identity. Perhaps she falls in love with her baby and becomes a recluse; shutting herself away from the world in order to protect it.

Not only can the spell physically make her a viable mother, what if it mentally prepared her too? What if it replaced her synthetic memories with memories of growing up as a normal child, with a mother of her own that she never had, so that she would know what the baby needs? All the better for her to be ready for what's to come. The queen starts making references to memories, friends and family members that no one has ever heard of, and the court believes she's gone mad.

The Queen's change in behavior will indicate to the players that their scheme worked, but she may not react in the ways they expect

There's no telling how the Queen might react. If she were a computer, this would be like an Unhandled Exception, and her programming may mandate that she shut down and restore from backup, or risk "data corruption". It may take her some time to sort out her emotions which are in conflict with her "core programming". If the players were hoping that her pregnancy would force her to step down from her role, perhaps it has the opposite effect (e.g. she becomes increasingly paranoid in order to protect her progeny).

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Conceive doesn't mean viable, pregnancy is a very dangerous thing, and babies are most likely to die shortly after birth

You indicated two key things in your question that I'll try to address:

  • Except the queen and her lover aren't exactly from compatible species.
  • Since the queen is a synthetic being that is "naturally" infertile, the spell appears to work at a first glance, but I might be missing a nuance somewhere.

There aren't any written limits. It works. Conception is successful. The nuance you're missing is that what the spell doesn't do is ensure a safe pregnancy and you can absolutely die from pregnancy.

I normally don't try and mix real world with my fantasy clickety clacks, but I think this is a big omission if you wish to follow this spell to its natural conclusion. Thus, I've included real world issues that you can tweak however you need to.

Personally, I'm not too far removed from the whole process of pregnancy as one of my kids just turned 1. So it's pretty fresh in my mind how difficult (and dangerous) being pregnant can actually be. I would recommend considering this answer in tandem with Ifusaso's answer.

Real world pregnancy includes a litany of issues for the mother that are present when the species are compatible. Your proposed pairing creates the possibility of several potential issues during the first trimester alone:

  • Fetus attaches to some portion of the Queen which is not suitable (ectopic pregnancy, mother might die if baby is not aborted; this may be a real issue if she lacks a uterus and the ability to grow a placenta for the fetus)
  • Body rejects the fetus resulting in a miscarriage (potential threat to mother due to hemorrhaging)
  • Massive hormonal changes plus physical changes to prepare for a baby (leads to issues like 'morning sickness', shoes and bras not fitting, feeling bloated, etc.)

Second trimester the problems continue:

  • Preeclampsia is now an issue, which can cause the mother to suffer high blood pressure and the potential to damage her organs (can become a threat to the mother's life, may force a pre-term delivery)
  • Organs getting pushed around (a big reason for pregnant folks needing to regularly pee is because their bladder gets squished to make space for the baby; I'm not sure if your replicant queen is designed to handle having her organs pushed around but if not the baby might die and then you're dealing with a still birth situation)

Assuming the Queen's able to get passed those issues, then the third trimester is more of the second trimester but everything is worse.

Then you have the issues of actually birthing the baby as well, which I won't detail here for humans. But fun fact, did you know that due to the litany of issues caused by their breed almost all pug puppies need to be born by c-section? I guess what I'm saying is head size can be an issue and I hope she can accommodate it, otherwise, major surgery is necessary for delivery and mother may die from it.

Regarding the baby themselves, you can hybridize a lot of things. Whether they're compatible with life outside their mother is another matter.

  • Lion + Tiger = Liger
  • Donkey + Horse = Mule
  • Polar Bear + Grizzly Bear = Pizzly Bear

So hopefully whatever baby is born is capable of breathing, regulating their body temperature, swallowing, etc. And hopefully someone can feed said baby (does the baby need milk or motor oil).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your input. While I agree that there are more things around a pregnancy then just the conception itself, those things aren't what I'm worried for at the moment. My focus is on the limits and interactions of the Conception Spell. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Sep 3 '20 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar like I suppose I implied it in my answer, but there aren't any written limits. It works. Conception is successful. The nuance you're missing is that what the spell doesn't do is ensure a safe pregnancy. To that end, I'd recommend reviewing this answer in tandem with Ifusaso's to figure out what kinds of complications that creates. If the queen dies due to a pregnancy her body wasn't equipped to handle, that's not necessarily an unreasonable consequence of the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 3 '20 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical You may wish to clarify that in the answer, because it isn't obvious to me at least that your answer is trying to say that. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Sep 3 '20 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil revised to incorporate my comment response. Is it clearer? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 4 '20 at 12:37

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