Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Always Knew Flight was OP

Overland Flight is one of the most OP spells in 3.X D&D. There's a lot of reasons why, but in any game with map combat, flight tends to skew to favor of the battle. Another example I can think of is Returners, an FFRPG game that's freeware.

But who would know that using flight in melee combat here in real life would be OP, too?

Just ask this ant, who's gonna get pwned by a wasp.

The link to the video is here, and it's from Science News. The basic description goes as follows - a wasp, looking for food, finds it - but ants are already there. Now, he wasp has to be at least 100x the size of those ants. So, in theory, the wasp has size modifiers working against it. in addition to that, the ant can cast Acid Spray. So I'm envisioning this as being something like an elder dragon targeting a pixie mage. Still, flight, being the OP ability that it is, gives the wasp the edge - it picks up one of the more annoying ants and airlifts it, dropping it from a large height.

Now, I wouldn't worry about the ant. See, there's this thing called the Square/Cube law. The Square/Cube law, if you've never heard of it, says that if you square the surface area, you cube the volume. In laymen's terms, it's twice as big, but holds three times as much stuff (and weights three times as much). The square/cube law is why elephants can be contained by just a shallow ditch around their pen, rather than a tall fence - if they were to miss and fall into the ditch, they'd certainly break a bone. This is because hey have more weight acting on those bones. The reverse is also true - smaller things have less surface area, and less weight, and are stronger for it. This is why you can see an ant pick up a bread crumb that's probably twice their size and, twice their weight. This is also why saying Spiderman is as strong as a spider isn't impressive; saying he's proportionally as strong as a spider is.

Ants are very small. Being very small, they have less surface area. This less surface area means that it takes them longer to hit terminal velocity. Because of that, and their smaller surface area, you can drop an ant from any height and the ant will not be harmed.

Thus, while the wasp is capable of dropping this acid spitting ant out of the way, it doesn't actually hurt the ant.

What's even more amusing is the fact that, biomechanics aside, the scientist behind this has never seen ant dropping in the species of vespa before. Ants and wasps are distantly related; they both come from a common ancestor in the same way that humans and baboons do, but I doubt that has any reason why this species of wasp would practice ant dropping - especially when they were more likely to do it when more ants were present.

Maybe it was making a demonstration of that one ant. It's unlikely, but you never know. Insects tend to be a little more intelligent than we give them credit for being; if this wasp is indeed doing it to try and make an example of the other ants, then it's likely a display of creativity. Of course, it could be just as likely that the wasp saw too many ants and decided to try and get rid of the most annoying one of the bunch.

Regardless what it is, this is just further proof that flight is overpowered in real life and in most games, and GMs are wise to moderate it.

No comments:

Post a Comment