Family planning

Does everyone in Empire have access to reliable, affordable, non-stigmatising and safe contraception, abortion, and sexual health services, or not? Do these count as magic or technology?

This is particularly useful to know for writing character background, because it affects all sorts of social structures, not just the obvious of family size.

I can’t answer your question, but I think that they would come under the apothecary / physick’s arts if they existed.

There is excellent ante/neonatal care in Imperial Lore, and I gleefully await the day someone comes to me and asks me for Ascetic Star of Atun despite having no obvious physical symptoms beyond walking funny, but my mental image says this is a Physick thing.

The only stated example I can think of is on this page:

profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Bravash

“Couples throughout the Empire inscribe the rune of Bravash on their beds, either upright or inverted, depending on whether or not they wish for a child (although relying on the rune alone is a risky proposition at best).”

The wording here implies to me that yes, other methods exist. I would presume that herbal preparations to reduce fertility or outright act as contraceptives are widely known (considering that there is, as far as I know, evidence for this being the case in the real world during the medieval period - it’s just not something that was often recorded in scholarly works particularly of subsequent, increasingly prudish generations of later centuries).

I think it’s something it would be good to have made explicit somewhere on the wiki, alongside such things as what sorts of “everyday” magics/technologies are available (e.g. glowstones? coldboxes that use runes to keep produce inside fresh? lodestones/compasses? how about timepieces?). I can see the argument for it being “below the abstraction layer” but it’s critical to know so that expectations can align with the vision for the setting.

Yes. I can’t remember why we didn’t put it in somewhere - I blame the same lack of a tech page as I blame for printing presses and lightstones not being common knowledge.

Glowstones are on the Urizen hearth magic page, at least.

[quote=“Iulian”]

Glowstones are on the Urizen hearth magic page, at least.[/quote]

They’re mentioned, but not in any particular detail. All we can say with certainty is that they exist and that Urizen invented them. Are they hard to make? Can anyone do it? How are they made? How common are they in Urizen, outside Urizen? is it legitimate for my character to own one so I can disguise a torch so I can see my way back to my tent at night? etc…

As sexual equality is explicitly part of the setting, safe, effective and inexpensive contraception is implicitly part of it.

As a woman you can’t combine a successful military career and an active sex life without it.

I assumed it would fall in to the category of ‘simple’ herbs, like willow bark or rose hip syrup, which are effective, but which do not require a Physician or Apothecary (as opposed to the ‘noble’ herbs, which do) and so are beneath the abstraction layer.

My favourite candidate is Silphion, which is extinct and semi-legendary. (It was apparently that good). :slight_smile:

[quote=“Cayce”]As sexual equality is explicitly part of the setting, safe, effective and inexpensive contraception is implicitly part of it.

As a woman you can’t combine a successful military career and an active sex life without it.

I assumed it would fall in to the category of ‘simple’ herbs, like willow bark or rose hip syrup, which are effective, but which do not require a Physician or Apothecary (as opposed to the ‘noble’ herbs, which do) and so are beneath the abstraction layer.

My favourite candidate is Silphion, which is extinct and semi-legendary. (It was apparently that good). :slight_smile:[/quote]

This doesn’t mean universal access and acceptance though, if the Anvil elite have access.

But other elements of the setting and our general game design approach men safe, easy and socially acceptable contraception for both sexes is a given.

I am vaguely recalling that the reason we didn’t make more of a deal of it was because we wanted to downplay the general LRPer obsession with naughty bits :wink:

The Civil Service maintains a clock in the hub, and I remember a ruling that pocket-watches are fine. (I don’t remember where I got that though…)

[quote=“Canashir”]

The Civil Service maintains a clock in the hub, and I remember a ruling that pocket-watches are fine. (I don’t remember where I got that though…)[/quote]

If I recall correctly, pocketwatches are tolerated insofar as they look less jarring than pulling out a phone or modern watch, but shouldn’t be made too prominent. I seem to remember that the ultimate consensus was that the best IC timepiece is one which looks like some innocuous piece of jewellery or similar that can be surreptitiously checked; pocketwatches aren’t explicitly condoned as in-keeping with the setting’s tech level but are the lesser of two evils. I may be wrong, though.

Considering the heroic surgical procedures that Empire Physicians can undertake without their patient expiring, and the astonishing things potions using the “noble herbs” can achieve, it certainly seems plausible that the state of the art in prophylaxis would be commonly available and very effective.

[quote=“Dre”]

The Civil Service maintains a clock in the hub, and I remember a ruling that pocket-watches are fine. (I don’t remember where I got that though…)

If I recall correctly, pocketwatches are tolerated insofar as they look less jarring than pulling out a phone or modern watch, but shouldn’t be made too prominent. I seem to remember that the ultimate consensus was that the best IC timepiece is one which looks like some innocuous piece of jewellery or similar that can be surreptitiously checked; pocketwatches aren’t explicitly condoned as in-keeping with the setting’s tech level but are the lesser of two evils. I may be wrong, though.[/quote]

What I would really like is a lenticular crystal pendant with a few concealed LEDs that displayed the time in binary when a concealed button was pushed (hardmode: when the rune Aesh is drawn in the air with the pendant). I think that at least the button variant could be done, using a cheap digital watch as the input (or potentially in software from an Arduino): I just about have the chops to do the circuit design but no way in hell could I miniaturise that to something smaller than a breadbox unless I wanted to make 10 000 of the buggers, so Arduino might be the way to go. LED non-numerical watches exist but look seriously OOC. Before this system ends I hope to have something that looks like a magic timepiece that works by the POWER OF CRYSTALS and could only be read by the initiated.

Until then I’m using a discreet pocket-watch, optionally with Aesh painted on it.

And I do not recommend relying solely on an inverted Bravash above your bed for contraception, because sometimes people are also upside down. (And don’t even get me started on using Hirmok instead.)

[quote=“Andy Raff”]But other elements of the setting and our general game design approach men safe, easy and socially acceptable contraception for both sexes is a given.

I am vaguely recalling that the reason we didn’t make more of a deal of it was because we wanted to downplay the general LRPer obsession with naughty bits :wink:[/quote]

How do you spot epidemiologists at parties?
They are the ones broken down by age and sex :wink:

Actually, we don’t tend to get invited to parties much. Tend to stand by the door with big bottles of alcohol gel, then try to make friends with anything interesting growing in the back of the fridge.

On the subject of contraception, one of the Marcher players asked for an official call. I quote the relayed answer here verbatim:

It was not stated who originally said this, but I’ve been sticking with that. (And as I play an Urizen character, Winter magic is clearly the safe choice.)

I can think of things in the bedroom that might use Hirmok, but contraception doesn’t sound like one of them…

“Assume the existence of a Winter ritual that makes you infertile for a year” sounds like a bit of a dodgy call to me. If this ritual existed it would need to be on the system in some fashion, since it’d presumably technically be a curse which would show up for Detect Magic and so on. It would also need to be at least magnitude 1 and therefore come with a cost, since there is no evidence for “minor” rituals that can be done without crystal mana.

Not that it isn’t a cool idea, but it needs to be consistent with the rest of the magic system for it to make any sense IC.

[quote=“Dre”]“Assume the existence of a Winter ritual that makes you infertile for a year” sounds like a bit of a dodgy call to me. If this ritual existed it would need to be on the system in some fashion, since it’d presumably technically be a curse which would show up for Detect Magic and so on. It would also need to be at least magnitude 1 and therefore come with a cost, since there is no evidence for “minor” rituals that can be done without crystal mana.

Not that it isn’t a cool idea, but it needs to be consistent with the rest of the magic system for it to make any sense IC.[/quote]

Uh, can I just note that (a) curses do not show up on Detect Magic (b) it could absolutely be an Instantaneous ritual (by analogy with Words of Ending). You’re right about the cost, but we’re headed right for the abstraction layer here -

But I think that many of the Empire’s hearth magics could be bent to the task of contraception -

I now propose to lower the tone.
[size=70]Urizen: Complete darkness.
Brass Coast: Contract forbidding pregnancy, or a significant piece of clothing from someone infertile
Dawn: Girding, need I say more.
Highguard: Bells, on a bracelet, anklet or necklace.
Orcs: A specific symbol, carved on the bedpost and painted on the body.
League: Casually, a mask. In a more committed fashion, a ring of, ahem. Some kind.
Marches: Poppet.
Navarr: Henna pattern. If permanence is wished, a tattoo.
Varushka: Being very, very clear what is not desired.
Wintermark: Runes.[/size]

[quote=“Iulian”]

[quote=“Dre”]“Assume the existence of a Winter ritual that makes you infertile for a year” sounds like a bit of a dodgy call to me. If this ritual existed it would need to be on the system in some fashion, since it’d presumably technically be a curse which would show up for Detect Magic and so on. It would also need to be at least magnitude 1 and therefore come with a cost, since there is no evidence for “minor” rituals that can be done without crystal mana.

Not that it isn’t a cool idea, but it needs to be consistent with the rest of the magic system for it to make any sense IC.[/quote]

Uh, can I just note that (a) curses do not show up on Detect Magic [/quote]

Except the ones that do! Which seems to be many of them indeed, based on how often I cast Detect Magic before Wisdom of the Balanced Blade to check if the ritual is warranted.

I suppose, but then it’s a bit weird that it has an effective duration. If it made you sterile permanently, sure. But even Mark the Flesh Incorruptible apparently gives a magical signature forever after casting.

Well, that’s my point really - rituals cannot sensibly live under the abstraction layer. I’d be extremely wary of following a call which said “oh, this ritual exists but it’s below the abstraction layer” because then it undermines the rest of the ritual system when expert ritualists have no idea what you’re talking about when you say that you had a ritual done that stops you getting pregnant.

And clearly the Highborn hearth magic is to put a bell on the end. :wink:

Surely the better analogous ritual for this purpose would be a Winter mirror to Spring’s “Midwife’s Recourse” rather than “Words of Ending”?

If you have any combination of decent weather-proofing technology, animal husbandry techniques (esp. skilled butchers), the ability to sew really finely and the the common sense to count on your fingers and toes then you have good enough contraception - for a given value of “good enough”

That said, there isn’t a potion that uses 1 marrowort and 1 bladeroot and looking at the description, I wouldn’t be surprised if every educated young lady in the Empire knows how to combine fractions of a dram of those herbs into their morning tea (or equivalent). It’s just not mentioned in polite company

Again, looking the description, I wouldn’t be surprised if chewing raw bladeroot acts as emergency contraception or even an abortifact, so much so I’m planning to include the line “I thought you were back in Sarvos, bladeroot prices spiked this morning” in my hypothetical Empire novel