Dungeons and Dragons Cantrip – Gust
I’ve recently gotten into the web series, Critical Role. Where a bunch of nerdy ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons.
It’s often quite fun to watch, and very funny. A portion of the fanbase that seems intent on attacking a certain member of the cast aside. But it is a comment, one of many I’m sure, that prompted this post. Marisha gets a lot of hate, especially in the first series, which is what I’m currently watching. I started with the second campaign. For that minority of the audience, nothing she does is ever right, and everything is taken in the most negative way possible. To the point of exaggeration and making shit up.
In this case it was a comment about Matt, the game master, giving up on explaining that the cantrip (minor spells that can be used at will) Gust, only produces a small amount of wind. But does it? The spell as written states it can push a medium (a broad range covering between 4ft and 8ft in height, and 60-500 lbs) creature that fail a strength saving throw 5ft away. Basically you target someone, they roll to see if they can brace against the wind, and if they don’t it either makes them stumble back 5ft, or pushes them. Which is actually an important distinction.
Sure it’s a fantasy game, but the basic rules of physics still apply in most cases. Simplified of course. I do understand they can’t factor in everything. That sometimes a rule, or spell, has to be kept simple so the books aren’t 1000 pages, and impossible to use.
But Gust is a cantrip where the simplification is more than a little silly, it’s downright stupid even.
As explained before, a medium creature can be up to 500 lbs. That’s pretty fucking heavy. Now, let’s consider some real world physics here. It takes a minimum wind speed of 40mph to even budge someone that’s 100 lbs. That isn’t a small amount of wind. In fact, it’s tropical storm strength wind. To push someone of 500 lbs you’re probably talking hurricane force winds.
But here’s where it gets REALLY stupid. I’ll use some of the characters from the first campaign as an example. Grog is a Goliath, a half-giant who weighs around 400 lbs, all muscle. If he were to fail a strength roll, unlikely as it is, he’d be pushed 5 ft. Pike is a Gnome, a small creature… but she wears full armor. Which would give her the weight of a medium creature, still only 5 ft. Scanlan, another Gnome. He wears leather armor, much lighter. He’s the size and weight of a child. Under 4 ft tall and around 40 lbs. Still only 5 ft.
The implication is that, for some unfathomable reason, the spell only generates exactly enough wind to push the target it’s being used on.
You can also push an object weighing up to 5 lbs with the spell… Doesn’t matter how it’s shaped, a cube, a dart, or a kite. I was able to find one article on the force of wind, and it takes a 5mph wind to lift a kite. Which is designed to be lifted by the wind.
Like I said, I get it. They have to simplify things. But this is one case where the spell really makes no sense.
An issue with cantrips in general…
Cantrips that deal damage, get stronger as you level up in the game. Utility cantrips, do not. No reason is given. They just don’t. Makes no sense.