Running a game of Microscope that isn’t totally insane?

I purchased Microscope quite a while ago, and have played countless games that were really awesome. We’ve created things like superheroes with the power to turn any weapon into fish, people marrying the ocean, ninja training schools masquerading as pre-schools, gnomes being used as fuel for magic, a bear running for president but being beaten by the janitor who happened to be nearby, etc. It’s silly and great.

But I keep reading other people’s games, and they get pretty deep and meaningful. People want to find out, not what crazy stunt happens next, but small, personal thing happens next. Very little like our games at all.

Every single game of Microscope I have played has been silly to the core. Every single Microscope game I’ve read about has not. There has been silliness, but never to the same extent it has been in ours. We rarely make anything meaningful. It makes me think there’s something we’re doing wrong.

I imagine this is partially why the Palette is there. But it doesn’t seem powerful enough to handle this particular problem.

How do you make sure a Microscope game is meaningful, and not a random amalgamation of nonsense?

Key Lookup isn’t applied by default?

I’m trying to learn about covering indexes. In the Northwind database, I select from the table Categories:

enter image description here

As you can see the table has a non-clustered index on the column CategoryName.

This SQL query:

select CategoryName  from Categories where Categories.CategoryName like 'Beverages' 

returns an execution plan with an index seek:

enter image description here

However, this:

select CategoryName ,Description from Categories where Categories.CategoryName like 'Beverages' 

returns this execution plan with an index scan using the primary key index, which isn’t expected:

enter image description here

I can find the expected behaviour only when I force the query with the non-clustered index:

 select CategoryName ,Description from Categories     with(index(CategoryName))  where Categories.CategoryName like 'Beverages' 

enter image description here

What is the problem?

How do you handle random encounters if the GM isn’t supposed to roll dice?

I’m trying to deal with random encounters in DW. If my players are in a town, and suddenly decide to go into a random building how do I decide if the NPCs in there like the PCs? In D&D I’d just roll for a reaction and take it from there. Here I feel like I need to decide if the NPCs want to get along with PCs, and frankly I’m not sure what the NPCs think.

Sometimes I just think a roll of the die is exactly I want for my NPCs.

Pathfinding algorithm isn’t finding correct route

I am attempting an online coding challenge wherein I am to implement a pathfinding algorithm that finds the shortest path between two points on a 2D grid. The code that is submitted is tested against a number of test cases that I, unfortunately, am unable to see, but it will however tell me if my answer for shortest distance is correct or not. My implementation of the A* algorithm returns a correct answer on 2/3 test cases and I cannot seem to figure out what scenario might create an incorrect answer on the third?

I have tried several of my own test cases and have gotten correct answers for all of those and at this point am feeling a little bit lost. There must be something small in my code that I am not seeing that is causing this third case to fail.

More details

  • The grid is w by h and contains only 1’s (passable) and 0’s (impassable) with every edge having a cost of 1 and the pathway cannot move diagonally It all starts with the FindPath function which is to return the length of the shortest path, or -1 if no path is available
  • pOutBuffer is used to contain the path taken from beginning to end (excluding the starting point). If multiple paths are available then any will be accepted. So it isnt looking for one path in particular
  • I know the issue is not the result of time or memory inefficiency. I has to be either the distance returned is incorrect, or the values in pOutBuffer are incorrect.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am just about out of ideas as to what could possibly be wrong here. Thank you.

#include <set> #include <vector> #include <tuple> #include <queue> #include <unordered_map>  inline int PositionToIndex(const int x, const int y, const int w, const int h) {     return x >= 0 && y >= 0 && x < w  && y < h? x + y * w : -1; }  inline std::pair<int, int> IndexToPosition(const int i, const int w) {     return std::make_pair<int, int>(i % w, i / w); }  inline int Heuristic(const int xa, const int ya, const int xb, const int yb) {     return std::abs(xa - xb) + std::abs(ya - yb); }  class Map { public:     const unsigned char* mapData;     int width, height;      const std::vector<std::pair<int, int>> directions = { {1,0}, {0,1}, {-1,0}, {0,-1} };      Map(const unsigned char* pMap, const int nMapWidth, const int nMapHeight)     {         mapData = pMap;         width = nMapWidth;         height = nMapHeight;     }      inline bool IsWithinBounds(const int x, const int y)      {         return x >= 0 && y >= 0 && x < width && y < height;     }      inline bool IsPassable(const int i)     {         return mapData[i] == char(1);     }       std::vector<int> GetNeighbours(const int i)     {         std::vector<int> ret;          int x, y, neighbourIndex;         std::tie(x, y) = IndexToPosition(i, width);          for (auto pair : directions)         {             neighbourIndex = PositionToIndex(x + pair.first, y + pair.second, width, height);             if (neighbourIndex >= 0 && IsWithinBounds(x + pair.first, y + pair.second) && IsPassable(neighbourIndex))                 ret.push_back(neighbourIndex);         }          return ret;     } };  int FindPath(const int nStartX, const int nStartY,     const int nTargetX, const int nTargetY,     const unsigned char* pMap, const int nMapWidth, const int nMapHeight,     int* pOutBuffer, const int nOutBufferSize) {     int ret = -1;      // create the map     Map map(pMap, nMapWidth, nMapHeight);      // get start and end indecies     int targetIndex = PositionToIndex(nTargetX, nTargetY, nMapWidth, nMapHeight);     int startIndex = PositionToIndex(nStartX, nStartY, nMapWidth, nMapHeight);          // if start and end are same exit     if (targetIndex == startIndex) return 0;          std::unordered_map<int, int> pathway = { {startIndex, startIndex} };     std::unordered_map<int, int> distances = { {startIndex, 0} };      // queue for indecies to process     typedef std::pair<int, int> WeightedLocation;     std::priority_queue<WeightedLocation, std::vector<WeightedLocation>, std::greater<WeightedLocation>> queue;      queue.emplace(0, startIndex);          while (!queue.empty())     {         int currentWeight, currentIndex;         std::tie(currentWeight, currentIndex) =;         queue.pop();          if (currentIndex == targetIndex)             break;          int newDistance = distances[currentIndex] + 1;         for (int n : map.GetNeighbours(currentIndex))         {             if (distances.find(n) == distances.end() || newDistance < distances[n])             {                 distances[n] = newDistance;                  int weight = newDistance + Heuristic(n % nMapWidth, n / nMapWidth, nTargetX, nTargetY);                 queue.emplace(weight, n);                 pathway[n] = currentIndex;             }         }     }      if (pathway.find(targetIndex) != pathway.end())     {         int current = targetIndex;          while (current != startIndex)         {             int outIndex = distances[current] - 1;             pOutBuffer[distances[current] - 1] = current;             current = pathway[current];         }         ret = distances[targetIndex];     }          return ret; } 

What Is and What Isn’t Borgstromancy?

After reading definitions and asking for clarifications elsewhere, I’m to this day having a hard time getting an unambiguous understanding of what things are covered by the term Borgstromancy, and which ones fall outside of it. I know that people usually describe it as using rules (or, sometimes, other literal statements that people are prone to read metaphorically when they aren’t) to convey unusual or unexpected truths about the state of affairs relating to the setting or campaign.

For example, Exalted1 has a magical ability (Charm) that gives one an automatic success at a search for food (no buts, no ifs listed), which is a way of conveying that the Lawmakers are so awesome that they can find food (not make, not summon, find) even in the empty vacuum of space in a few hours of searching to feed themselves and their followers.

The above would seem clear enough on its own, if not for the fact that it turns out the term is not that simple: there seem to be many things which would seem to fall under the above umbrella but aren’t included.

For example1, the way the rules make it possible for the same groups to have different combat efficiency depending on whether they are fighting a party-level skirmish, or an organised mass combat, as well as the ability to apply some Charms to one’s unit, is not considered to be an example of Borgstromancy, but rather of rules not acting the way they should, even though elsewhere the lore hints that the laws of logistics and strategy are different in this setting just like the laws of physics are (some classify it as the Cargo Cult of Borgstromancy instead of the real thing).

What makes the first example a good example of Borgstromancy and the second not? What properties make some rule be or not be Borgstromantic?

1 I’m leaning towards Exalted examples because that’s the ones I’m familiar with. I’m just as interested in examples from or explanations related to other games (Chuubo, Nobilis or even non-Moran games!), though I’d probably be slower to understand them if I’m not acquainted with them.

What do I do if my group isn’t gelling?

It’s my first time playing D&D with a bunch of other first-timers (using the starter kit). One of the players is steamrolling over other players and his character is insufferable. What do I do if my group isn’t gelling?

After our last session, one of the players apparently told our DM, "It seems like we’re not all looking for the same kind of game," or something like that.

Three of us seem to be more interested in thinking around problems and the other two want to either smash open heads while yelling, "For justice!" or are making things weirdly sexual.

It’s kind of funny when the count says, "I am excellent at persuading people. I persuade him!" How do you persuade him? "With the dice!" But how? "With my mustache!" Sure. Sure! It is kind of funny. But it is also a very 2 dimensional character who takes up a lot of space and is getting on my nerves.

I might be a little more upset because this person is a family member who I’m rebuilding my relationship with, and I thought this could be a way for us to hang out in a light, fun way. He’s made a character, though, that is exaggerating the punitive justice, black-and-white thinking, my-way-or-the-highway attitude that makes it so hard to be around him in the first place. One of my friends said, "It seems like he thinks of himself as the protagonist". It just doesn’t make for a great group experience.

I feel pretty dumb for thinking this could work.

His wife is the player who’s making things very sexual, so that’s another element of "maybe funny, but mostly strange" that is in the mix.

Is there a way to turn this situation around? For those who have played in a game with tension like this: How do you break it down or adjust it? Or do you just give it up as a failed experiment?

How does the Avatar spell function if my character worships a god that isn’t listed under the spell?

more questions concerning Pathfinder Second Ed, but it’s something that I won’t need the answer to until MUCH later down the road. Right now, I’m about to start a 3rd level campaign centered around upper-class intrigue and pirates, so I figured I’d try playing a Cleric of Ng to fit a setting with implicitly ambiguous morals. However, I’m looking both online and in the physical copy I have of Lost Omens: Gods and Magic and cannot find any mention of what additional benefits you gain for casting the Avatar spell while worshiping this god and its contemporaries in the Eldest Pantheon. In addition, I was ecstatic when I discovered that Grundinnar (the first God I played a Cleric of back in PF1e) was included as a part of the Dwarven Pantheon, but he’s in the same boat as the Eldest since the Avatar spell does not specify either Grundinnar directly or the Dwarven Pantheon in general.

So my question is If a Cleric casts the Avatar Spell and their Deity isn’t listed under its effect, what happens?

Why isn’t there just one “keystone” activation function in Neural Networks?

This article says the following:

Deciding between the sigmoid or tanh will depend on your requirement of gradient strength.

I have seen (so far in my learning) 7 activation functions/curves. Each one seems to be building on the last. But then like the quote above, I have read in many places essentially that "based on your requirements, select your activation function and tune it to your specific use case".

This doesn’t seem scalable. From an engineering perspective, a human has to come in and tinker around with each neural network to find the right or optimal activation function, which seems like it would take a lot of time and effort. I’ve seen papers which seem to describe people working on automatically finding the "best" activation function for a particular data set too. From an abstraction standpoint, it’s like writing code to handle each user individually on a website, independently of the others, rather than just writing one user authentication system that works for everyone (as an analogy).

What all these are papers/articles are missing is an explanation of why. Why can’t you just have one activation function that works in all cases optimally? This would make it so engineers don’t have to tinker with each new dataset and neural network, they just create one generalized neural network and it works well for all the common tasks today’s and tomorrow’s neural networks are applied to. If someone finds a more optimal one, then that would be beneficial, but until the next optimal one is found, why can’t you just use one neural network activation function for all situations? I am missing this key piece of information from my current readings.

What are some examples of why it’s not possible to have a keystone activation function?

It isn’t harvesting results from Google & Yahoo

Hi, I am using 10 proxies from and after adding them I select Bing, Google and Yahoo to harvest the links.

It is only harvesting from Bing while Google and Yahoo have status as ‘Harvesting’ with zero results.
Here is the custom harvester:

These are my settings:

Harvester is set at Custom Harvester

I don’t know what seems to be the issue here

I would appreciate any help in getting started