Is my idea for handling space combat in my setting any good?

I’ve been using a homebrewed system and hard sci-fi setting (not originally designed for tabletop RPGs, but for writing stories and as my worldbuilding project) with a group of friends for a while now and they are ready to leave the starting space station. Thus the first space battle comes ever closer, but I’m uncertain whether my ideas on how to do space combat are any good or not.

The setting is very hard sci-fi set several millions of years in the future, so while technology is very advanced (Torch-drives, antimatter, hand-held energy weapons, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, transhumanism), none of the typical soft sci-fi technologies (FTL-drives, teleportation, useful forcefields, …) exist. This has worked fine so far, yet the players haven’t yet come into contact with truly advanced military equipment like spacecraft.

The hard sci-fi nature of the setting means that space combat is an extremely automated process involving a mind-bogglingly rapid dance of probability and vector math paired with deception and elaborate bluffs. Evasive maneuvering, firing solutions, and tactical decisions must be calculated, made and remade in a matter of nanoseconds. This does obviously mean that human intervention in space combat will be minimal.

Thus my idea was that if players can’t make tactical decisions, having them win battles because of strategic ones and good preparation would be the way to go. If normal combat would be akin to playing Fortnite, my space combat would be akin to Dota Autochess or LoL‘s TFT mode: You make strategic decisions and whether they were good or not, you have to live (or die) with the results). I would describe the strategic options the players have and tell them as the spacecraft AI the probability of success, critical success, failure, and critical failure. Thus the space combat would be very narration heavy opposed to usual dice heavy combat.

It is worth noting that in the absence of energy shields and usable spacecraft armor, the negative outcomes would either be vaporization of the party in a nuclear blast, overheating and thus loss of the vessel’s combat effectiveness or loss of a critical resource or component (main drive, ejection mass, ammunition, …), making victory extremely unlikely. This means that space combat will always involve very high stakes, since there are no fantasy means of getting out of bad situations.

Mechanics

My system in general works by adding up all the related stats a player has to a number of dice he can throw for the roll. Each die is considered a success if it shows more one of the upper 50% of its eyes. (if D6: 1,2,3 == Failed_Roll; 4,5,6 == Succeeded_Roll) For minor decisions, like what kind of loot is found I use a “Destiny_Roll”. I roll a D20 and ask the player in question if he wants high or low numbers. The result may be a yes/no or how good/bad answer, depending on the situation.

In space combat, they will have flat dice boosts due to their vessel’s equipment (adding a railgun or a fresh dagger shield will give extra dice) and maintenance status (attrition during the battle will drain dice if a second round happens). (They will start with an ultra slow solar sailer without armor and only armed with defensive point-defense IR-laser arrays, which is pretty much rock-bottom as far as spacecraft go.) Then they will discuss their battle plan with the spacecraft’s AI, where they can use character skills and creative suggestions to gain extra dice. Additionally, the vessel will have limited resources, namely heat-capacity, heat sinks, reaction mass, power, armor, and slugs whose use-up-rate depends on the players’ decisions and the outcome of the dice rolls. These plans are made prior to the battle or during downtime. (The bad guys shot a volley of missiles at them and it will be an hour before the next volley arrives, thus the strategy can be adjusted.) Short-term adjustments will be handled via “Destiny_Rolls” and will have little impact.

Player decisions would be whether the vessel should focus on defense or offense, how much resources it may use, which weapons to prioritize, what range to keep, etc. Each of these decisions will give specific buffs to the encounter, which won’t necessarily be flat dice boosts (sacrificing dice to gain guaranteed damage on a success, etc.)

What issues might I run into with this system?

motivation and idea of defining non-deterministic Turing machine

This is a very basic question but I spent some time reading and find no answer. I am not computer science majored but have read some basic algorithm stuff, for example, some basic sorting algorithms and I also have some basic knowledge of how computers operate. However, I am really interested in the idea of a Turing machine, especially the non-deterministic one.

I have read Wiki about the definitions of a Turing machine (and watched some youtube videos) and I sort of accept that, although I really feel that this is a huge jump from an algorithm to an abstract machine. From my understanding (you are more than welcome to correct me):

  1. A Turing machine is a machine performing works specified on a cookery book (algorithm).
  2. The pages of the cookery book represent the “states” of your machine and each page contains a table saying that which state and which cell your machine will move to given the alphabet the machine read and your current state. (NB. This is not a function but a partial function because it is possible that the machine stops.)
  3. So, to guess the idea and motivation of defining an abstract Turing machine, I imagine that the algorithm corresponds to the partial map, the memory of the computer corresponds to the (infinitely long) tape and what’s finally on the tape is the answer to the question you wanna solve.

So, Turing machine looks like a machine to realize any algorithm to solve problems. One just “translates” any algorithm to a set of mysterious simple rules (i.e. the partial function) and let the machine do the laboring job and then we get the solution.

In this respect, Turing machine is always deterministic, because algorithms are deterministic. It tells you what to do next precisely. This is no uncertainty. Turing machine is just a machine to realize any algorithm.


OK, This is very abstract and I sort of accept it. However, then I read something called non-deterministic Turing machine (NTM) and then I was knocked down. A NTM is pretty much similar to a Turing machine except that the partial function is now replaced by a “relation”. That is, it is a one-to-multiple map and it is no longer a (partial) function.

Could someone explain to me why we need such multiple options? I would never expect to encounter something uncertainty in the implementation of an algorithm. It is like telling the machine: you first do A, then if you find yourself in a state B and find the data is now B’ then you choose for yourself one of the 10 allowed next steps?

Are NTM’s corresponding to a set of algorithms that need uncertainty? for example the generation of random numbers? If no, why do we need to allow multiple choices for a Turing machine?

Any help will be appreciated!

Is 2FA via mobile phone still a good idea when phones are the most exposed device?

Everyone knows that two factors are better than one. My problem is that often the only second factor allowed is text messages to your mobile phone. This creates two concerns:

1) I travel frequently overseas and lose access to 2FA accounts any time the associated SIM card can’t touch a network.

2) Your phone is inherently your least secured device. I install way more software and download way more files on my phone than anywhere else with much less ability to verify sources or control access. For example, nearly every app requests sweeping permissions to function correctly. Even apps that aren’t granted explicit permissions have been found to backdoor those permissions through google services.

I feel like linking my phone to sensitive accounts (such as banking) would actually make them more exposed to attack and more difficult to maintain legitimate access.

Idea behind using binary search to solve rolling ball?

What is the idea behind using binary search to solve this problem:

There is a segment of length meters, and there are $ L$ positions on it, numbered $ 1,2,…L$ , equally spaced by 1 meter apart each, in the given order. There are $ n$ balls on it, at positions $ s1, s2,…s_n$ . Each ball is either rolling to the left of to the right at the speed of 1 meter/second. Whenever two balls hit each other, both of them change direction instantly but keep the same speed. A ball also changes direction when it reaches one of the ends of the segment (position $ 1$ or $ L$ ). You are given $ q$ queries, each one gives you two numbers $ t_i$ and $ p_i$ , and you should output the position of the $ p_i$ -th ball after $ t_i$ second.

https://www.hackerearth.com/practice/algorithms/searching/binary-search/practice-problems/algorithm/rolling-balls-b8923a50/

My solution moves the ball after every second and does not use binary search:

for query in range(q):   for ti, pi in array_ti_pi:      ti = ti % (2 * L - 1)      for i in range(n):         if dir[i] == 0:             balls_pos[i] = balls_pos[i] - ti         else:             balls_pos[i] = balls_pos[i] + ti      for i in range(n):         if balls_pos[i] < 1:             balls_pos[i] = 2 - balls_pos[i]         elif balls[i] > L:             balls_pos[i] = 2 * L - balls_pos[i] 

Two Generals Problems – What’s wrong with my idea?

Some time ago, I’ve come across the Two Generals Problem and that it cannot be resolved. Now, recently, I’ve had an idea how to resolve it (to a certain degree). IMHO, it is a very obvious way to handle it, but I haven’t found this way to handle it anywhere and therefore assume my idea is flawed but I can’t stop thinking about what’s wrong.

General A sends a message to General B when to attack. The message contains the following information:

  • Attack at time $ T$ .
  • Send confirmation of receival.
  • I will not confirm your confirmation.
  • I will resend the time of attack after time $ t$ if I did not get a confirmation.

That way, General A can be sure General B got the message when he gets the confirmation. General B can be $ (1 – p)^{m \cdot c}$ sure that it passed after not getting the time of attack again, where

  • $ p$ := probability the confirmation passed
  • $ m$ := multiple of time $ t$ that has passed.
  • $ c$ := count of messages sent per time unit (one of the solutions I’ve come across is to send a lot of messages at the same time).

It does not solve the problem that General B can’t be 100% sure that General A received the confirmation but after some time, he can be very sure.

Now, if we were to change the scenario slightly, we can reach a 100% certainty for both:

Assume both Generals do not only communicate in order to synchronize the attack but also for other purposes. In that case, General A can send the message:

  • Attack at time $ T$ .
  • Send confirmation of receival.
  • I will not confirm your confirmation.
  • I will resend the time of attack after time $ t$ if I did not get a confirmation.
  • I will not send any other communication until I’ve received your confirmation.

That way, General A can be sure that General B received the plan, when he gets the confirmation and General B can be sure General A received the confirmation when General A sending messages about something else.

So, what is wrong with my idea?

Is Having my Players Control Two Parties a Good Idea?

I’m new to DMing, and I’m currently working on a 5e homebrew campaign that I’ll be running. At some point in the campaign (most likely towards the middle; this campaign will probably average-length), I’d like to have my players create another party. This one will be working for the main villain of the campaign, doing missions such as collecting artifacts and assassinations. My plan is to have the two parties meet at some point and fight, with the players controlling both sides of the encounter (save for a DM-controlled NPC).

Is this a good idea? If not, is there something else that could work? Should I have my party only control the good guys in the encounter?

Why is it a bad idea to use Same Page Tool as a survey?

The same page tool is a list of questions with answers which represent different approaches to playing role playing games. For more information, check the related question What’s the purpose of the same page tool?.

The starting points of this question would be:

  • I have some players who probably would like to play together, but probably won’t. I don’t know it yet, and they don’t really know each other.
  • I have GMed for some of them personally, but never for all of them at the same moment.
  • Some of them haven’t played with me before, but are not totally new to RPGs.
  • I don’t know exactly what might raise a conflict.
  • As a GM, I am ready to accept pretty much any set of answers to SPT questions, but want my group to be on the same page. As one of the answers in the “What’s the purpose of the same page tool?” question states, it is mainly intended to be filled in by the GM to codify things. I am not that kind of GM.

So my idea was to use Same Page Tool as a survey, which is contrary to its description. I wanted to understand which of those players might be compatible and which are totally incompatible with each other.

If they are just slightly disagreed, I may ask some of them not to do some things they expect — most probably, for example, ask one player who wants to have an intra-party conflict to avoid them, or to tell someone who I know is a rules lawyer that I am not going to rely on the rules at all — they won’t even get character sheets, and I don’t use dice.

If some of them want totally different games, I would rather play with each of them separately, or make several groups.

So, why is using it as a survey bad?

I want to remind everyone to only answer from your experience. For example, “I have used Same Page Tool as a survey, and here are the problems it caused, which could otherwise be avoided…”, “I have used it as a survey, and I didn’t get any problems, because…”, etc. Not “I didn’t use it personally, but probably it may cause this and this and this”.

“I have seen it used this way, but not by me” is OK.

[ Global Warming ] Open Question : Presidential Democratic candidate Marianne Willamson calls for conscription to combat “climate change.” Will her idea catch on?

Marianne Williamson wants a national mandatory service for people ages 18-26 to combat climate change —– Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY Published 3:22 p.m. ET Sept. 19, 2019 Passage from article….. “At a presidential climate change forum on Thursday, author and Democratic presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson floated the idea of a national mandatory year of service for young adults to tackle climate change. “I would like to ask your opinion, I think during the ‘season of repair,’ we should have a mandatory national service, one year, for people between 18 and 26 because we need you,” Williamson said. “We need to fix this climate. We need to fix this country.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/09/19/marianne-williamson-proposes-mandatory-national-service-climate-forum/2376414001/