Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Problem and Opportunity: Why less Efficient and Cheaper Boosters First?

Question:  Should Referees require players to calculate how many and how big the Boosters do they need to Escape a 1G world? 
Answer: No. The Referee only needs to know the Price of the Services to get them out to orbit, if their Ship is not Full-Escape Velocity Capable. its basically the Mass Tons of the Ship and the factor of the Gravity. 

Questions: Ships Cannot just land and Escape 1G Worlds? 
Answer: Yes. Some TL9 and everything below cannot simply escape 1G. In fact the Types of Starports and Economics will change a bit. Mathematically its just adding a couple of Zeros in the Population and the Size of the Economy of Worlds with Down Ports that Expect Interstellar/Intrastellar Trade. 

TL9 is special, the way metal is special in DarkSun, or Gunpowder is special, or Magic is Special. 

Questions: What are the Implications. 

  1. I have to use the UWP of the world to determine the Administration Cost to Orbit. Notes in the World Codes to help the GM price the Admin fees. 
  2. Orbit Capable Downports in 0.6G+ worlds will have a huge Economy around it. Worldbuilding wise this is as important as a Space Elevator. (Space Elevators are TL8). Just adding 000 or 00,000 zeroes to the Populations and the economics of the worlds. 
  3. Remaking all the "Common Ships" using the Spreadsheet in the new Shipbuilding Rules for TL6 to TL8 ships. The spreadsheet has gone through 4 Versions already, niccos MGT2, my MGT2, my CE, and my Current mass-based Shipbuilding which will be called Mneme Ship Design Variant for Cepheus Engine.  
  4. Adding the Space Infra of Heka KTon and Mega Ton Habitats, Networks of Tethers, etc... 
    1. How to use the Ship Building Rules for this. 
  5. Changing Combat Doctrine with Auto-Cannons, Gyroc EM Cannons, TL7 and TL8 Lasers, ECM, Mass Launchers and Receivers, Point defense Missiles and Cannons, Grapeshot Missiles and Missile clusters (100mm missiles bundled in a 400mm case). I did something like this before basically I took Ultra Tech and Examine all the Optimal Strategies and their costs and Mapped out every increase of potency and effectiveness one can squeeze out of a TL. Probably 4 pages of equipment and 6 pages of Doctrine Notes - a table of all the options so the GM and the players are not Blind Sided by Best Industry Practices (this takes out of immersion if the Doctrine or the Best practices and where they breakdown is not known by the designer; its hard to prepare a Military campaign when the unknowns and knowns are not clearly laid out).   
  6. The hardest parts the Change in Operations 
    1. Launching into Orbit are the Nailbiter rolls.
    2. Pushing the Limits of the Ship are the Nailbiter rolls. 
      1. Gravity Slingshots and Skidding on the atmosphere
      2. This would be maxing out the KM/s of the ship and using AIR BRAKES to slow down! 
      3. Entering Rad belts to Cut corners. 
    3.  Making the Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Ship a spreadsheet that takes less than a Minute to Fill up or a Written process that takes 5 minutes to do the quick math (back of the envelope math)
    4. I'm making sure Trade and Operations Notes are in one place and all the Tables are there. 
  7. All the 3d Assets are available for GM and instructions how to render it into scenes for your game. 
    1. Includes a Crew Suit I made (TL8) free and Creative Commons for people to use for their games - it comes fully rigged for posing. 
    2. The ship is Rigged for Posing also, from opening bay doors, and landing gear. (Nicco will do commissions for custom ships and animations for games). 

Kickstarter Milestone. Number of sales is for bonus material. I'll see if I can do this model where I use the number of sales to fund future improvements. All old and future versions will be sold to people who already bought it - i will just keep adding more files to download - (the price might increase though so those who got in early get the best deal  - like mount and blade when it came out in Beta and i was able to participate). I can do this because I have a day job as an IT head and Plant head so (Not much i earn less than working class in the US, but comfy enough to afford services to make this better, my project management skills are what makes this RPG project different). 

Current Challenges
  1. Why is the Less Efficient Thruster used to Boost? I don't understand the logic? I don't know how to model it in a Cost Efficiency method - controlling for the factors of Fuel Costs why is it better to use a less Efficient Booster and save the more efficient boosters for 50-100km up? I know the players don't need to be bothered by that but its distracting not to know. 
  2. recovering from a flu, I tested negative in an RNA-TPCR test. Still feeling unuaully sleepy earlier in the night. 
  3. the Anxiety on my Art investment - It seems Im doing the art first because I need to see a "200dton" or a 1400m3 ship really does fit 10 cabins and enough fuel, engine, and cargo to reach orbit and transit. 
    1.  a 1400m3 Ship Docks to its 200mT spinhab powerplant, radiator, and ion drives, and Nuclear Thermal Rockets it all has to make sense on paper and on the 3d. One of the mistakes made was not fully visualizing the process and the assets would be awesome to animate using Lightning Boy's Cell Shader if I can get it to work. I need the Books Ready to play not just Ready to build worlds
    2. Fortunately, Nicco can help me write once he's done with the art. But I'm tempted to start counting my chickens before it hatches by funding his Lightnin Boy Cell Shader studies so we can do it for all the assets. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Learned the rocket equation. Been sick.

Yesterday I learned the Rocket Equation, instead of simply calculating burn Time and adjusting the mass for every second in s spreadsheet because the Rocket gets lighter as it burns through fuel.  Scott Manely had an old Video about it. 

  1. I hit a problem as I cannot reach 15,000m/s with just Raptors without making the Entire ship 90% Fuel. 
  2. I tried simply adding boosters and I hit the Tyranny of the Rockets Equation: "there is a limit to the amount of payload that the rocket can carry, as higher amounts of propellant increment the overall weight, and thus also increase the fuel consumption.[7] "
  3. I started googling which lead me back to Delta-V budget, which references the Rocket Equation... which I didn't understand until I tried to design a rocket on paper that would reach 15,000m/s. This lead to discovering the Awesome Delta-V Map https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Solar_system_delta_v_map.svg  which lead me to review how much I really needed. I didn't need 15,000m/s - that's if I'm straight from the surface to leaving the planet - which we take for granted in Traveller - I just needed 9.6 or 10.6 km/s 
    1. Just Enough to get a Ride from a Space Tether... one of my favorite Scifi Concepts. 
  4. Travellers with a 1000 Mass Ton ship with Antiquated TL7 Boosters will need to pay the cost of  Booster Rental (which is about 500,000usd x 4 for 2M) to get about 5km/s and then blast the rest of the way with their high Impulse (Specific) aka Efficient Rockets to Low Orbit (Not saying earth because this is not only about earth). 
    1. The boosters will fall away and begin their Automated descent 
      as the Travellers climb they see other such services being conducted, scattered in the horizon 2-3 other ships being launched to Low orbit the way Planes in the sky are common occurrence. 
  5. As the Traveller reaches Low orbit exhausting much of the 1000 MT ship's fuel, they pay for the Services of a Tether to travel either to Geosyncronous Orbit or Lunar Transit for Refueling. the Ship will be paying for fuel twice because of the gravity well. They feel the skyhook catch the ships anchor and begin to hurl them forward accelerating. the Sound they hear is conducted through their suit into their vacc suits. the Ship master having booked some passengers and cargo on the moon a week earlier is hurled that direction. 

  6.  The Tether hurls the ship another 2Km/s (used to change orbit) and the ship begins another 1Kms burn to reach Lunar orbit and be caught by another Inertia Tether to slow down when they arrive. The Travellers take 4 days to arrive on the moon along the way shedding KMs as they encounter tethers that will slow them down where they will refuel and link up with their Habitat Ring, Radiators, and Fission Power. 

So my tests came back and its not Covid. still the wife and I are quarantined to protect the kids. Hope to be able to focus more by next week, the 25th. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Missiles and Scale. Checking the numbers.

 Imagine a 400mm diameter missile made up of a ring 8 60mm solid x 3000mm rockets. Inside its core is a barrel for a 60mm x 500mm APDS round, HE, or smaller shotgun/grapeshot rounds of tungsten and depleted uranium.

It is launched with a burn time of 10 minutes. Being able to reach 36Kms at 6Gs and firing the 60mm round at 3kms

Fired and with its tiny computer, it will fire based on the predictive algorithm the gunner encoded. It will fire where it will predict the target would be within 1 second (as everything is traveling kms per second) factoring all the factors and vectors affecting it.

A magnetically assisted launcher hurling 8, one of these every second as the ship burns and flips, the missiles sending a spiraling tail at a pursuing Raider. a hundred Kilos ejecting pushes the ship the opposite direction. 

The raiders turrets activating near the speed of light seeing the signatures - firing 35 of a similar ringed missile - a missile ringed with smaller missiles that explode with directional fragments as point defense. And the smaller missiles ringing it ignites as it exists the turret - separating in the spreading out to explode close to the missile it seeks to intercept.

Crew feel themselves against their seat belts as the ship spins to point more turrets at the incoming missiles. Their trajectory altering from the Reaction mass.

9000m3 (ton) ship being chased flips to burn several time to confuse the predict models of its future position.

The pursuing raider unleashes Emp head 7 600mm x 7000mm missiles as the preprogrammed engagement range kicks in. Missiles with 80Kms burns are launched throwing the ship back.

This all happens in 2-3 seconds as both systems are preprogrammed based on each of their crews estimates.

In 6-8 minutes everything will happen, and they will know if they're dead or alive only after making the system checks if they are able to be conscious. 

A second before they black out from the centrifugal force of a spin - they can feel the heavy vibrations of point defense cannons hurling 3 hundred kgs of 20mm rounds. Human brains blacking out, and distorting the sense of time.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hard Scifi - Why would you want to Play with Rockets in a TRPG?

 Do you remember the number of rolls you make as you leave the Star-port and Roll for Jump. The Risk of a Misjump? A game designer who wants to make ROCKETS and hard Scifi fun needs to be able to tell an engaging story and challenges of a Crew and Ship - escaping from a Gravity Well. 

Escaping a Gravity Well. This is one of the scariest things in a Cepheus Engine TL6-8 Setting. Second to that is the Radiation Belts and the Flyby and Slingshot. The Players need to roll for supplies and maintenance, making sure the ship is ready - and then the Players roll if they have Problems when the Launch, or Boost towards their destination. 

I guess this is why I'm taking so long - my strengths is not in storytelling but in Logistics and Planning. I'm the guy who gives the Plan for Executive approval - the executive in this case being the Players and Referee. Do you like my work and research and think you can use it for your game - Do you think these challenges are exciting for the Players? 

As we move towards TL8 TL7 Commercial Space Flight will mean wearing more HATS. your logistics expert, your crew, may have to do more work with regards to the Preparation of a Ship to Launch not just to Operate the Ship as it travels 14kms escaping earth gravity. 

I have to give you, the referee and players, problems in a way you can solve and feel good solving or juggling. It has to feel like a real space project and program but not too complicated that you throw the book I wrote.  

Remember that the FAILED launch, the hardware problems IS the adventure. A rocket launch that doesn't involve a TPK means this is one of the monsters the players have to beat. 

The RULES we study and create for the GAME signify what matters. I will write the following: 

  1. A way for you to roll a rocket launch or begin your month long trip.  
  2. Listing the Problems and Challenges and giving CONTEXT to these - they can be thorny troubles or serious crises. 
  3. CONTROLS - options for the Referee and Players in how to solve problems. 
  4. World Building and Doctrine - impact of the technology and practice, and economy. World building helps build stakes - because it gives PCs their Place in the world and what can be reasonably expected. Expectations set up stakes - from the payoff, benchmarks, risks and opportunities the players will encounter. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sizing Ships - Part 1


My process is so cumbersome and slow. 

Here I am comparing visually the scale of a 8:1 cuboid and cylinder. 

They tend to the 8-7:1 ratio used for Maritime ships because of the Thrust potential. 

  1. It cant be too long because it does "Flips" where it will burn to re-orient. 
  2. It can't be too thick, because of the way engines are pushing on it. You can't have an Engine Push on a smaller point of the square or thick cylinder - you would need side structural strength to be higher. You want it always spread out because of the Thrust. Thrust makes them cuboid or cylinders. 
Below is a 1000 volume Ton or vT and a 3000 vT shape. It looks like 3000 dtons is the sweet spot and I may be making the ships around 7.2m cross section or 3.9m radius at a Long endurance Scale. 
Ships are designed to travel for Weeks up to a Year. Anything unable to hold enough supplies for such are "vehicles" or "small craft". 

I cannot Use the regular Encounter 2D roll because its tapers off at the ends. I need a Randomizer that gives me the Common FIRST then the rarer occurrences later. I typically use 1d6!/2 round down. Which gives a distribution making the higher numbers rarer and the lower numbers more common. Since its a Roll20 formula  is easy to automate this. Its going to be a simple table where there is a Base probability and the higher the Traffic the Rarer events become more possible. Took a while to research this probability curve for both its simplicity and doing whats its supposed to do. 

What you see is 1000m3 (60DT), 3000m3 (200DT) and 10,000m3 (600DT). 

What am I doing?
1) Doing the math is one thing, TOO OFTEN, I check in 3d and REALIZE that I got the math wrong because the proportions are out of whack! So I always Check the 3d to make sure these numbers make sense - One thing to know 2.8m radius and 50m length, another is seeing it and having a person there for scale. 
2) I am going to Throw out the 100dton per Turret Rule. Sensors, Comms, Drones, etc... so many things depend on Turrets. And Airframes require Pop-up turrets
3) SKETCH model is modeling something to be close enough like a 747-100 and a AIrbus a380, the Apolo and Dragon Command Capsul within a margin of Error. Like how much more Surface area does a X-33 or a Boeing have. Double checking in this way is Tedious but it helps prevent embarrassing mistakes and this is my Unique Value proposition given my skillset.  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

When to Roll for Information and Senses.

 JUST a simple breakdown or decomposition technique in providing information. 

When to Roll for Information and Senses. 

Narratively. Does the story encounter problems if the PCs fail to sense or detect the object, threat, clue? 

If Yes - then provide the information, otherwise, let the dice fall where it does.   

How much Information to Give? Ask “What is the minimum amount of information does the PC’s need to move to the next part of the story?” 

If Too Little - repeat the question and add a little more

If Too much, what is the next challenge the PCs will encounter through their actions (acting on the information). 


Since I'm a process writer in our company -  sometimes i find myself Breaking Down Assumptions and in breaking them down get to how Intuition works and see how to Better intuition. 

Its this Intuition where I realize that one I mastered it i start doing multiple steps of it without thinking, but when I perform the steps too quickly I cannot Troubleshoot why it went wrong. Like opening the Computer Logs or Rewatching a CCTV video of an incident I have to play it back slower to understand the disconnect. 

Most GM's I encounter have a Problem when the PCs think to QUICKLY and move on to bounds and other clues. THE GM DOESN'T NEED TO THINK FASTER THAN THE PCS. He just needs to ask the PCs what Kind of problem will they encounter. 

Just ask the PCs "How can this go wrong?" You can say it the most Naive and Humble way, or you can shift your tone to a Knowing Question. Always ask the Players who can this go wrong and this buys the Referee/GM Time to both think and work on the story. 

If the PC cannot imagine where it will go wrong, the Referee can "Scrub the timeline" like in youtube as you fast forward or rewind in the slider and slow down the speed. You don't need to be a genius, you never needed to - Patient yes, Thoughtful yes, and keen listening or motivated to Listen - Yes. 

Like in the Problem Statement where the Solution seems to appear simultaneously or teasingly once uttered - the Next Challenge that will excite the PCs will come from their understanding of the uncertainty and risks of their actions. 

Key Assumptions
  1. Knowing your players, even a clueless GM can use Session 0 as a way to navigate what the players will find interesting and challenging. 
  2. Knowing some basic storytelling techniques - like presenting a problem or identifying uncertainty or assumptions. 
  3. Learning from Experience - if a newb, then make the mistakes you've never made. if experienced then apply ones experience in working with the techniques you know and testing the techniques you believe you need to master for everyone's enjoyment. 
  4. Lets go back to basics, if we didn't master it thoroughly as to be able to do it reliably and automatically then we are taking more risks and uncertainty with techniques that are more complex applications of basic techniques. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

New Spreadsheet - that would add another month. Probably Dec

This Ship Design System is going to be Complicated, holding more Detail than the current CE ship system BUT because you will have access to the Spreadsheet and ALL the sample Ships it would be easier. 

  1. MINING. the first Ship in Common Vessels is mining BUT the Mining Rules lack the Following: 
    1. How do I go about Mining? Checklist for Mining? 
    2. How does actual Mining Work vs mining in this Game? 
    3. How does the World and Opportunities look like if my Party are Miners? 
  2. It breaks down in TL8 and below. I will address this since I've been using Simple Rockets, Kerbal, Children of the Dead Earth and Universe Sandbox to study - testing out theories and troubleshooting "Why didn't that do what I thought it would do?" 
    1. Curious Droids Buran-Energia is quite interesting imagining TL6 to TL7 setting. 
  3.  Simplifying a lot
    1. Life Support Cost/day (I'm going to make it simply TL based but simple like)
    2. Quality of LIFE Expenses - wealthier having more exercise, recovery time and access to recovery services (like more medical access, less inconveniences, and more time free to waste or invest). The more QOL expenses the more stability and time. The character who has to cook, clean, maintain, pay their taxes, take care of their stuff, etc... has less time and the higher the QOL the more TIME the character has. 
      1. QOL are the services, technology, medicine, and access that lets players have more time. 
    3. EXPENSES and INCOMES. Since Pre jump ships really are charge TIME or DURATION of the stay's expenses (including overhead) + margin. 
      1. FTL ships really charge a PREMIUM for the TIME they SAVE. 

The Technical Debt of the current CE ship building are the following: 

  1. Table Based instead of a Formula which GURPS, MGT2E, CEDelux, and others have migrated to. Instead of Calculating Grades of Engine with A being the worse (Counter-Intuitive after playing Twlight 2000) Tons of Engine. 
  2. The way Components should work is pretty much the same as a way I can put SUB Components. One of my problems was the BAY occupying Space and the Thing in the Bay counting Double. 
    1. A Escape Pod BAY (so that an Escape Pod can Eject and be accessed) cannot have the ROW item beneath it: the escape pod line up its DT because it doesnt really ADD DT, the DT is already there in the BAY. 
    2. Engine and FUEL is important to be Linked because they affect each other. Delta V calculations need to know the Total Fuel available. 
  3. One of the HARDEST problems is: How do I present it in a Spreadsheet while...
    1. Easy to Cut and Paste to a DOC. easy to clean and make pretty. 
    2. All the other Metrics like HP, Hit Location, and Revenue vs Expenses. 
    3. How do I Build into the Document all the RULES so that a Ship Table is self contained  with all the relevant Rules for running it without Jumping back and forth between Ship Ops being there. The book sold is really the text to do this manually or a way to contribute to the cost of the spreadsheet. 
      1. Players knowing their RISK and Taking ACTIONS to manage those risks and hoping their strategy pays off. Thats one of the weirdest things about the game for Entrepreneurs go its weird when they don't look before they leap as my family history which has both Elements of Luck, Entrepreneurship, Skill, and Careful calculation reflects how Financial Illiteracy is one of the main causes of Suffering and business failure. I want the PCs to be better than the rest in approaching a business - I guess its an Middle class Developing World thing where basic financial literacy makes us behave strangely (It should provoke the empathy to understand systemic poverty).

New Spreadsheet

So this spreadsheet took like 4 weeks and the previous version which Nicco made took about 4 weeks also. But I wasn't satisfied and I know what I want is beyond my current ability - because I don't know how I'm going to achieving it some of it. How do I bring it to  4 Columns and allow for Sub-Items listed in another Row? For example: having A Shuttle under the Shuttle bay. 

I learned query allowing me to recompile the Table,  and learned how to better use index and match for the more Complex Engine performance.  

Isn't that Sad and part of reality - we set out to do something and we realize it is beyond our current ability and we do the research to figure it all out and try again. We make drafts and drafts because we;re not geniuses and since its part time we have to juggle our passions with reality. 

The Great thing about a Spreadsheet that is well made is that I plan to look for a Javascript Tutor in Fiverr and ask to be tutored (at a budget of 5-10usd/hr for about 200usd all in) to be taught to make this into a Javascript app that References a Sheet. 
The purpose of Javascript is so that I'm not LIMITED to the layout of the table. Generate a PDF of the ship and other details that make anything to do with the ship on that pdf. too bad Roll20 cant host pdfs 

Other Challenges

  1. My Blender skills got Rusty as I focused more on the Writing. There is SOOO much i want to do. 
    1. Imphenzia, Daniel Grove Photo, Josh Gramble have to be rewatched because I forgot so many. 
    2. the ship Nicco is making is great there are serious challenges - nicco knows rigging better than me, I on the other hand had the formal training as an apprentice to Hernan Javines and have a strong workflow development.