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Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Potential Supernova Mechanics
« on: September 07, 2022, 06:31:09 AM »
For those players for whom sending the Earth into the sun isn't a big enough disaster scenario (like me), I am looking at implementing Supernova explosions in Aurora. In basic terms, this would involve a star exploding and destroying everything in its own system, including any jump points, then sending out a massive spherical wave front of radiation at light speed to irradiate many other systems. The candidates for this explosion would include stars not yet reached by survey ships. This could involve a very small random chance, or a manual SM trigger.

This will only happen in Known Stars because the 3D locations of all systems are mapped. So if a star explodes, there will be a timeline for each system to be hit with the radiation wave front, with greater damage to those systems closer to the explosion. You will know that System X will be hit in 25 years (for example), so you have that long to evacuate. If Sol is threatened, you will need to find an evacuation route, but some jump chains may lead closer to the inbound supernova, rather than away. I would add a new 'real space distance' display option.

I've been using this paper as a basis for the mechanics. For this exercise, I am going to ignore the different varieties of supernova and assume the energy outputs from the paper. If implemented, I could add some variance to the size of explosion, probably within a single order of magnitude.
https://www.irpa.net/irpa10/cdrom/00063.pdf

Below are some calculations based on that paper. Row 1 in bold is the distance from the explosion in LY. The next two rows show the radius and area of the sphere in cm and cm^2 for that distance in LY. Rows 4 and 5 show the energy in ergs per sq cm on the radiation wave front at each distance for a gamma ray burst and a supernova. The paper converts this into Grays (absorption of one joule of radiation energy per kilogram of matter), which I have shown on rows 7 and 8. 1 gray is equal to 100 Rems (line 9), which is probably a more commonly understood measure.

At that point I require a conversion from real world radiation into Aurora radiation. Line 10 shows this as Aurora Radiation = Rems x 100. In general, 500 rems will kill 50% of the affected population within a month and 1000 rems will kills 90% in a week. If Aurora Radiation (AR) = 100x Rem, then 500 rems = 50,000 AR, which is -500% production and -125% growth. If AR was lower, say 10x Rem, that would be -50% production and -12.5% growth, which doesn't seem to reflect the severity of that amount of radiation.

The above paper discusses the protection afforded by Earth's atmosphere and (for marine life) the oceans. In short, that protection is significant. For gameplay purposes, I am planning to divide the radiation impact by 1 for evert 0.01 atm - or by 100 for 1 atm (shown on line 11 - line 12 was an alternative view). This is considerably underselling the protection in reality, but it makes things a little more interesting.



A SN with the above energy output (1.00E+47 ergs) would hit Earth with almost 100,000 Aurora radiation at 30 LY, 35,000 at 50 LY, 9000 at 100 LY and 2200 at 200 LY. This translates to -250% growth at 30 LY, -87.5% at 50LY, -22.5%  at 100 LY and -5.5% at 200 LY. Industrial production would be pretty much wiped out below 100 LY. Anything unprotected by an atmosphere is going to be rendered useless if it is within a thousand light years (9000 radiation at 1000 LY), although that is unlikely to be an issue within the likely timeframe of the game.

Given the massive potential radiation doses for unprotected planets, that leads to a few conclusions.
  • I need to change the current mechanics for radiation decay to be something more reasonable in those circumstances - a % reduction rather than 100 per year.
  • Should I also introduce some form of radiation clean-up capability, possibly as a ground unit function, while trying to avoid making GFFP a viable strategy.
  • What about planets hit by truly massive radiation - maybe within 10 LY. Should they be destroyed entirely.
  • What does the radiation do to jump points within a similar range
  • What about damage to ships. I could perhaps convert the radiation wave front into damage points - perhaps 100,000 AR (1000 rem) is 1 damage point. Damage would be applied as a barrage of S1 hits.
Open for comments on the idea and the potential mechanics
« Last Edit: September 07, 2022, 06:33:18 AM by Steve Walmsley »
 
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Offline Destragon

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2022, 07:19:08 AM »
Sounds like a hilarious idea. It's too bad it would only apply to real stars games, but oh well.

What would happen to populations on ark modules?

For radiation cleanup, maybe an installation would be more interesting than a ground unit, because with ground units, you can just spam them out and dump a lot of them on a planet, but with installations you need to actually divert a portion of your worker pool to the planet cleanup duty, maybe even needing to use an orbital habitat to clean badly messed up planets.
Edit: Now that I think about it, terraforming installations could also be used to remove radiation?

Also, in what form would you give the player the information about what systems will be affected by the radiation and when?
Would you get a big text in the event log when the nova is first detected, giving you a list of all the systems and the date at which they will be affected?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2022, 07:23:42 AM by Destragon »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2022, 07:40:12 AM »
Sounds like a hilarious idea. It's too bad it would only apply to real stars games, but oh well.

What would happen to populations on ark modules?

For radiation cleanup, maybe an installation would be more interesting than a ground unit, because with ground units, you can just spam them out and dump a lot of them on a planet, but with installations you need to actually divert a portion of your worker pool to the planet cleanup duty, maybe even needing to use an orbital habitat to clean badly messed up planets.
Edit: Now that I think about it, terraforming installations could also be used to remove radiation?

Also, in what form would you give the player the information about what systems will be affected by the radiation and when?
Would you get a big text in the event log when the nova is first detected, giving you a list of all the systems and the date at which they will be affected?

Ask Module populations would be fine if the Ark itself survived the radiation.

For SN information, I am firstly going to implement a real space equivalent of the current galactic map distance display, so you can see how far apart systems are in general. Secondly, a 'distance from nearest supernova wave front' option (because distance and time are the same in this situation). I will also need some form of radiation display post-impact for systems (probably lowest system body radiation in system).

Installations to remove radiation sounds like a good idea. I don't want to use terraformers because I want to avoid the GFFP (Genocide for Fun and Profit) strategy that was so prevalent in Starfire. You should not be able to nuke the planet clean and move in shortly afterwards. Having a second module type for radiation makes that a more conscious decision than using existing terraformers.
 

Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2022, 07:43:19 AM »
I think it would be cool as a SM-only option initially, to implement the mechanics for testing and then worry about making it happen "naturally" later. Supernovae are such rare events that I don't think they would happen more than once in a game period anyways (unless Stormtrooper was writing the fluff  ;)).

Maybe instead of destroying the JP network a black hole remnant could be left in the former star system? Otherwise I think the potential to split apart one or more empires into completely separated regions would be...well, it would be different for sure!
 

Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2022, 07:52:00 AM »
Removing JP in the system itself is good as it makes them more part of the universe but in other systems, they should be quite hardy and not get removed unless the star is massively affected - after all, the fluff is that JP's form around the star based on its mass.

 

Offline Vandermeer

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2022, 10:26:52 AM »
There seems to be a bunch of misunderstandings regarding the findings of the paper, and there is also is an issue with unit terminology when translating rem to Aurora-radiation. Both of those are pretty seriously impairing the validity of the idea I fear. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to state this nonetheless.

-> Let's start with the terminology of Aurora radiation, since clearing this up will be foundational for thinking about the rest:
At that point I require a conversion from real world radiation into Aurora radiation. Line 10 shows this as Aurora Radiation = Rems x 100. In general, 500 rems will kill 50% of the affected population within a month and 1000 rems will kills 90% in a week. If Aurora Radiation (AR) = 100x Rem, then 500 rems = 50,000 AR, which is -500% production and -125% growth. If AR was lower, say 10x Rem, that would be -50% production and -12.5% growth, which doesn't seem to reflect the severity of that amount of radiation.
The paper states that the energy of 10^47 ergs is delivered over the span of a couple weeks, so it doesn't come all at once, and subsides completely after. From the presented idea frame, I could not read out how this was supposed be handled. It could be that, -let's assume 5 weeks-, the radiation could be delivered in 7 separate accumulating doses for example, but that could be a very wrong interpretation of how Aurora radiation works. Essentially you'd be trying to represent the dna-damage that all the inhabitants received by some other properties equivalence.
To clarify, Aurora radiation obviously has some sort of lingering effect to it, which seems to summon more the image of poisonous still irradiated material lying or flying around everywhere. One could attempt to argue that the continued decimation after the event might simply be the incredible cancer incidence that follows after, and though this sounds good at the start, one still would have to explain how you could ship fresh colonists from somewhere else, which will then immediately begin suffering the planet's same radiation effects. ..The irradiating event that caused all of this harm has already vanished, so why would new colonists be afflicted by anything.(the afterquake ionization effect should be nowhere on the scale of decimation that would befall everyone if the radiation wasn't removed)

The big problem is that Aurora radiation really leaves no way to accommodate the supernova 'one-time-radiation-dose' type effect. ..Because you could for example try, let's say to have the intense radiation for 7 construction cycles at about 1/7th of the calculated total local intensity each, and then return to 0 radiation. ..But now it is the lingering cancer effects and such that aren't accommodated for.
So translating rem into Aurora radiation is essentially like trying to equate something like "how many 'stubbing your toes on furniture' until = 1x'news of the dog getting hurt'". It should be clear that the 1rem=100Arad is not an exact formula, but an attempt to equate the two by projection of their similar properties.
One way or the other, there are corners to be cut and aspects to be dropped, because Aurora radiation does not operate on the physical basis of SI-units, but is an abstracted value that essentially means "radiation consequences", not dosage, or energy directly, so there are shortcomings in what it can simulate.


Btw. the doses are also insane in the calculation. Nearly 1 million rem at 100Lys even with atmosphere? I looked up the health effects of such dosage, and apparently the cancer risk scales lineraly by 0.055% per rem, so that would be 55,000% more cancer risk. Yet in Aurora that is only -25% growth per year too, while any human experiencing something like this would be toast a hundred times over wayyy before cancer even becomes relevant.
..Yeah, given that the paper also cites there are 1-2 supernovae in the milky way per century, and it is barely 100,000lys across, it is safe to say that for life to still be here, there must be some error in the math, and there is, which brings me to the second critical point.

-> The findings of the paper:
The above paper discusses the protection afforded by Earth's atmosphere and (for marine life) the oceans. In short, that protection is significant. For gameplay purposes, I am planning to divide the radiation impact by 1 for evert 0.01 atm - or by 100 for 1 atm (shown on line 11 - line 12 was an alternative view). This is considerably underselling the protection in reality, but it makes things a little more interesting.
The word "significant" here can not be understated, for the effect is the difference between a camera flash or looking into the sun without any protection. As the paper describes tangentially in Table 1, but mostly in Table 2, even the most apocalyptic assumption, -which is all supernova energy being 'somehow' discharged as natures most penetrating photonic 50meV  radiation-, still is reduced by a factor of nearly 10^8 after passing through our atmosphere.
..Maybe describing the Attentuation Coefficient from Table 2 is in order. The calculation to (somewhat) get the numbers you see there out of the coefficients cited in the header is:

..where d is the distance the radiation has to travel through the medium in centimeters.(in regards to water. air turns out to be more complex [see below] and is cited here as "1000cm water equivalent", which is sometimes done)
You can quickly check this by using the attentuation coefficient of water for 50meV of 0.0167 like this:

or

..to find this as the result of 10 cm and 1m water radiation reduction respectively.
(The paper link again for convenience: https://www.irpa.net/irpa10/cdrom/00063.pdf)
Now, it is important to note that the result diverges more the deeper you go (the 100cm number is already a few percent of to what was quoted for example), which happens because it is not actually important how much distance the radiation travels through the material, but how much matter of the material it really travels through. Since there is of course a density gradient throughout, the real calculation is more involved, and it is why the units in the header are actually given in a shape that cites mass instead of just distance.
So while you can also do the calculation with the air density like this:

..the result is obviously overstated by a factor of 8 from the quotes 0.0102 here already. The real result would instead be by about ^1133 or so, which is taking into account the shifts of density.


Now, the next point. Also cited in the paper is that most supernovae deposit their photonic energy in forms of a few hundred keV, which even at the peak range are absorbed much more quickly as also stated in Table 2. If you started with a 'top-of-atmoshere' incredibly high 1,000,000 Gray dose, the amount of radiation of such a more realistically emitting supernova that would even reach the ground drops to 1.8x10^-32, which is not even enough to reheat the thoughts of one's first lost love. Note that for the initial dose to even be that high, the supernova would need to be nearer than 1 parsec (see Table 1), which is closer than the closest star to Earth.


Ahem, so again, it really pains me to be the bearer of bad news, since this was a good idea for a new catastrophy event, and I do like more stuff like this or other space curiosities be added to Aurora. So I didn't want to dim their shine, but it is as it is, and deadly glaring supernovae simply don't exist as long as you are on ground. Their lights are literally just Christmas decoration. ;)


///Gamma-ray bursts though. Yes, a whole other league and the few more mysterious extinction events are actually hypothesized to come from those, not supernovae as the paper claims.
Also, I find it interesting that the paper observes that ideas of Panspermia are much reduced in likelihood due to supernovae acting as an astral sanitizing agent.(because the radiation still hits hard without good shields) I had never thought of that.



///Edit: Here a picture that shows which parts of the spectrum make it through the atmosphere. It would take extremely brute force to be able to overpower this near 100% shade effect we luckily have going for us.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2022, 10:47:48 AM by Vandermeer »
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Offline Aloriel

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2022, 10:30:58 AM »
The mechanics seem appropriate so far as radiation, but I would only want to see stars that *can* go supernova in reality be able to do this. Additionally, I'd like to see the results of the SN be on the more realistic side, with black holes and pulsars resulting from the event.

In order to have a supernova, a star must already be in its end of life phase and be more than 1.8 solar masses. This would result in a pulsar of varying size unless the star was over 8 solar masses. At 8 solar masses, the collapse of a star is guaranteed to produce a black hole after an SN event.

For most stars, end of life is the asymptotic red giant phase, but larger ones such as O, B, or A might become Wolf-Rayet stars or variable stars prior to SN. Betelgeuse (ARG phase) and Eta Carinae (Variable O star) are two highly likely SN events in the near-ish future.
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Offline Destragon

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2022, 12:07:46 PM »
The mechanics seem appropriate so far as radiation, but I would only want to see stars that *can* go supernova in reality be able to do this.
I read Steve's post as it only happening to stars in systems that haven't actually been visited yet, so I guess whatever system it happens to is just assumed to have an appropriate star that was ready to explode.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2022, 12:19:17 PM »
There seems to be a bunch of misunderstandings regarding the findings of the paper, and there is also is an issue with unit terminology when translating rem to Aurora-radiation. Both of those are pretty seriously impairing the validity of the idea I fear. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to state this nonetheless.

Firstly, I am not attempting to accurately simulate the real events of a supernova. I am trying to introduce interesting game play mechanics using this paper as a basis for the general outline. The primary goal is to get an idea of the likely range for different levels of damage. This concurs with other sources of information regarding the potentially catastrophic impact of a supernova around 30-50 LY from Earth.

Atmosphere massively reduces the effect of cosmic radiation, well beyond what I have in the proposed mechanics, but again there is far less gameplay impact (and less interesting decision-making) if atmosphere essentially negates all but a tiny fraction of the potential damage, so I decided to use /100 instead of the /100,000+ in reality.

I agree that lingering radiation from fallout is not the same as gamma rays and I could create different mechanics for different types of radiation, with different effects and varied half-lives, but how far do you go with that? Do I start tracking cancer rates in populations? In the end, it's a game, not a physics simulator. In this case, I am using the lasting radiation to simulate the lasting effects of the gamma rays on a population rather than having two separate mechanics.

The idea of the supernova mechanics is to create a deadly threat, expanding over decades and leaving a trail of destruction behind it, that will force the player to make very consequential decisions and add some fascinating emergent gameplay. If that involves compromises on radiation effects and the amount of atmospheric protection, I am happy to live with it. After all, we have imaginary elements and fluidic space. Its always about suspension of disbelief within a framework of consistent internal mechanics.
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2022, 12:29:56 PM »
The mechanics seem appropriate so far as radiation, but I would only want to see stars that *can* go supernova in reality be able to do this.
I read Steve's post as it only happening to stars in systems that haven't actually been visited yet, so I guess whatever system it happens to is just assumed to have an appropriate star that was ready to explode.

There are readily available lists online of which stars are supernova candidates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_supernova_candidates), so there are 3 options:
1) Only allow that list of stars to potentially explode. The downside is the nearest one is 154 LY away and the second nearest is 250 LY - not really a problem in most games.
2) Allow similar types of stars to potentially explode, which is effectively massive stars or white dwarves that are accreting matter. The latter are more common but smaller explosions. I would need to run some checks to see how many close to Earth
3) SM Trigger. Pick a star and blow it up :)
 

Offline Laurence

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2022, 12:31:30 PM »
How about a small random chance of messing with an Ancient Construct detonates the star?
 
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Offline Vandermeer

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2022, 01:27:27 PM »
There seems to be a bunch of misunderstandings regarding the findings of the paper, and there is also is an issue with unit terminology when translating rem to Aurora-radiation. Both of those are pretty seriously impairing the validity of the idea I fear. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to state this nonetheless.

Firstly, I am not attempting to accurately simulate the real events of a supernova. I am trying to introduce interesting game play mechanics using this paper as a basis for the general outline. The primary goal is to get an idea of the likely range for different levels of damage. This concurs with other sources of information regarding the potentially catastrophic impact of a supernova around 30-50 LY from Earth.

Atmosphere massively reduces the effect of cosmic radiation, well beyond what I have in the proposed mechanics, but again there is far less gameplay impact (and less interesting decision-making) if atmosphere essentially negates all but a tiny fraction of the potential damage, so I decided to use /100 instead of the /100,000+ in reality.

[...]

The idea of the supernova mechanics is to create a deadly threat, expanding over decades and leaving a trail of destruction behind it, that will force the player to make very consequential decisions and add some fascinating emergent gameplay. If that involves compromises on radiation effects and the amount of atmospheric protection, I am happy to live with it. After all, we have imaginary elements and fluidic space. Its always about suspension of disbelief within a framework of consistent internal mechanics.
You took it personally, I am sorry for that. I tried to not be a downer on just ideas, but it was simply too outwards for me to let it go.
See, they say good science fiction is when all that we know of is accounted for, and then afterwards you can come with the warp drives, the quantum slip communication, yes, also fluid space of extra dimensions and such. Essentially a god of the gaps thing where you don't violate the science we know of, and simply dream about all that could be.
Bad science fiction however is when the director of the show says, "what do I care how the laser works. We can store laser light now, it is all fiction anyway!"
While you need to know some things to realize that there aren't any supernovae that would be a threat out there (from ground that is), it is still quite the hard break to suggest they would just go sterilize all life for 100+ lightyears around.

Also, don't bite me for this, but I can't help but see the 'fiction'-cudgel as an out. You went out of your way to find a paper about this matter specifically so that you could introduce some numerical basis for the event in Aurora. The mechanics of inverse square law are no secret and didn't need this, and you did take the 10^47 ergs out as a direct starting point, citing real science.
However, given how the following calculation only yields numbers that are just as well as made up, -just as they would have with some random starting point and inverse square applied-, my only conclusion can be that you actually intended to at least approximate this right, but simply made some mistakes. ..Which is ok, I am just saying, because someone has to before it is done and then everybody asks 'how much sense does that make?'.


Btw., since Gamma Ray Bursts literally do all the things that you wanted, why not just switch to that in some way? If the word is not as catchy and trademark as "Supernova", maybe some fluid space interplay (perhaps an alien artifact causing this?) could be thrown in to have special supernovae that go out in a Gamma Ray Burst instead. That way no real science would be violated/ false ideas or urban legends planted, and the whole event can still be used, which, again, I have nothing against.

Quote
I agree that lingering radiation from fallout is not the same as gamma rays and I could create different mechanics for different types of radiation, with different effects and varied half-lives, but how far do you go with that? Do I start tracking cancer rates in populations? In the end, it's a game, not a physics simulator. In this case, I am using the lasting radiation to simulate the lasting effects of the gamma rays on a population rather than having two separate mechanics.
I know that would be too much, and my remark was not aimed at trying to make it more complex. I share the simplicity philosophy, but I wanted to mark that there is a serious modelling issue when it comes to gamma blitz radiation as it stands with Aurora tools. How that could even be dealt with I have no idea, and thus I stated none, but this is a brainstorm thread, so maybe someone would come up with something?

Now thinking about it, -and since you remarked radiation was too slowly declining in the current model after this-, perhaps this event would have much quicker declining radiation for a while? Yes, new colonists would suffer, but not for long, and we would get the quick superradiation deaths represented and then peace. (also, more colonists increase the death rate, yes, but it isn't stated who the extra deaths are in the end :-X)
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Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2022, 02:04:38 PM »
I didn't take it personally - I was just explaining that for Aurora, gameplay is more important than 'realism', within the confines of internally consistent rules. Terraforming is a gross simplification, as is movement, mineral extraction, shipyards, weapon mechanics, etc.. Each one is a very complex subject that has been distilled down to something that has the same 'flavour', but with mechanics that allow interesting gameplay decisions.

You chose the example of the laser in your reply, but no one really thinks that Aurora lasers reflect reality - they just have the right flavour to represent them. You could call them something else and it would still fit the game and be internally consistent. The proposed supernova mechanics are the same. They create the impression of what everyone thinks of when they hear 'supernova' but with mechanics that work within the game. I am sure that for most Aurora mechanics there will be some players who find it hard to accept the simplifications, probably dependent on their own areas of expertise.

Have a look at the rules I created for Newtonian Aurora. Much more 'realistic' than TN Aurora, but in the end I abandoned it because too much realism detracted from gameplay and it wasn't as much fun.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2022, 02:06:59 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 
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Offline JacenHan

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2022, 02:25:14 PM »
Perhaps applying direct damage to the population in addition to a reduced ongoing radiation dose would be more effective at representing the large but brief radiation wave? I don't see this in the original post, but you also suggest the idea of destroying planets very close to the supernova system and doing the same to ships, so maybe that was something you already had in mind.
 

Offline mike2R

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Re: Potential Supernova Mechanics
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2022, 03:12:37 PM »
Its been a long time since I read David Zindell's Neverness series, but this is giving me that sort of vibe.  Maybe it could be a new (or existing) spoiler race that is detonating stars for some inscrutable reason of their own.  It could be what the Swarm ultimately does if left unchecked - builds a fleet of star killers that surrounds a star, and when they have enough of them, sends themselves and anyone in the local area to the next life.