Basic Information

Autoinfanticide is a specific variation on the Grandfather Paradox. This Time Travel Trope is form of Temporal Paradox, and is also a term used in Philosophy. It refers, as the name implies, to going back in time and killing yourself when you were but an infant. This, of course, is a rather morbid, and potentially dangerous, thing to do.

Some have proposed that the notion of autoinfanticide itself is proof enough that time travel into The Past is impossible. For an opposing view point, see Novikov Self-Consistency Principle. Certainly in the context of an RPG the GM is free define things as he or she sees fit.


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Game and Story Use

  • Attempting autoinfanticide is a rather risky proposition, but one that is likely to resolve many unanswered questions about the nature of time travel in the universe / setting. Players who are curious about the setting, but not terribly invested in their characters might be tempted to try this.
    • If you succeed, yet you still exist, it's likely that time travel produces parallel universes or alternate timelines. Chances are you've now slipped into another branch of reality.
    • If you fail due to an amazing and barely believable string of coincidences, then chances are the setting features strong Ontological Inertia, and/or applies the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle rather heavily.
      • Of course, there's always a chance it'll smack you later in the form of a Delayed Ripple Effect.
      • Or, it might have just been coincidence that stopped you. Maybe you should try again…
    • If you cease to exist just at the moment of your success (and none of your former friends have any memory of you thereafter) then that's a strong indicator that this is one of the Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Not that that's any real form of consolation, since you no longer exist to notice it. Good luck with your new character!
      • An additional possibility - possibly one involving serious ontological inertia: the PC kills his infant self, the universe hiccups and he finds himself back at the moment before he took the shot - eliminating himself eliminated his killer and thus the paradox self erased. This could be extended to any intervention in the past which would prevent the PC from undertaking the action he just undertook…
      • It would make for a very interesting campaign if the GM and other Players played from that moment forward as if the old PC had never existed. Might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it could have the same appeal as an inside joke.
    • If the GM scoops his dice and books, wrapping up the campaign at that moment, then you've just learned a valuable lesson about the fragility of space-time within the setting.
  • It would be interesting to consider a plot where a poorly informed person tries to prevent the murder from taking place. For at least the first couple of attempts, the likely outcome is that the intervention effectively coincides with a new intervention killing the victim at another moment in time, giving the appearance of a very determined and powerful enemy at work (true, in some sense). After that, the would-be rescuer would be wise to do some research and consider his next moves carefully.
  • In a game where time travel is commonplace, autoinfanticide may be the most popular form of suicide. You would, after all, be saving yourself from nearly all the pain and misery you'd ever suffered. (Note: Arcana Wiki does not condone or encourage suicide, even for those who have a working time machine. Please step back off of the ledge.)
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