The opposite of the Time Travel Trope callled For Want Of A Nail, In Spite Of A Nail refers to situations where events that should logically have broad-sweeping impact are ignored or diminished, and thus the status quo is more or less maintained.
In Spite Of A Nail is sometimes a sign of poor writing, such as when They Just Didn't Care. Other times, it's explained away logically due to Ontological Inertia, or enemy action. The actions of a Deus Ex Machina along the lines of the Time Police or Clock Roaches could be seen as either.
The ultimate In Spite Of A Nail error, one made by nearly any time travel tale, involves the way sexual reproduction works. The particular sperm that fertilizes an egg is a function of a huge number of variables, and sperm are being produced (and lost) every minute of the day. Tiny changes in timing (or maybe even diet) should logically result in major alterations in the genetic makeup of a child. It's perhaps understandable that this fact is largely ignored.
Game and Story Use
- This may be a way to avoid Temporal Paradox or other particularly complicated ramifications of player actions. If everyone's willing to just look past the elephant in the room, you might be able to keep on gaming and never look back. It happens in movies all the time.
- For some players, though, this might just kill their ability to maintain Suspension of Disbelief.
- A very overt instance of In Spite Of A Nail might foreshadow the existence of Clock Roaches. Again, care should be taken, as this could be seen as a game-breaking mistake on the GMs part.
- Temporal combat could be waged by simply delaying the procreative act of your enemies parents by a few hours, making them no longer the freshest or fastest sperm. You could undo your foe completely without ever having to hurt anyone. GMs will have to determine where the campaign falls on the issue of Nature vs Nurture.