An Uplifting Discussion
Order of the Stick comic
Comic no. 1049
Date published 18 August 2016
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Roy attempts to explain aerostatics to Elan, but the splash panel took up too much room.

Cast Edit

Transcript Edit

Panel 1

The Mechane flies through the Summit Mountains. A sign on the mountainside reads, "Welcome to PASSAGE PASS". A second signpost in the foreground has three signs on it. The first reads, "CAUTION", the second "FALLING ROCKS" with an aimage of a boulder on a slope, and the third "FALLING ROCS" with an image of a bird on a slope.

Panel 2

Elan: Look how high we are! Did you ever think we'd be zipping around in a magical airship when we started Roy?
Elan: Back then, I just kinda assumed we'd be in that first dungeon forever.
Roy: Can't say I did, but then, technically, we still aren't. This ship isn't really magical.

Panel 3

Roy: I asked Andi all about it. The hull is enchanted to reinforce and lighten it—
Roy: —and they do conjure fresh helium from the Elemental Plane of Air—
Roy: —but the basic lift is provided by nonmagical physics.

Panel 4

Elan: How does that work? I just always assumed a wizard did it.
Roy: Nope! The balloons above are filled with a gas that has a lower density than air, so they rise.

Panel 5

Elan: How come the balloon doesn't float off into the sky then?
Roy: The ship we're standing on has a mass that pulls it down.
Elan: Then why don't we crash?
Roy: The lift is balanced with the force of gravity acting on the ship.

Panel 6

Elan: I don't understand.
Roy: It's... complex. I can't explain it in more detail than that right now.
Elan: Why not?
Roy: Because I just can't.
Elan: But why?

Panel 7

Roy: Because it involves a lot of speech balloons, and the splash panel already used up half the page!
Elan: Art triumphs over science! Hooray!!

D&D Context Edit

  • Rocs are a type of giant bird of prey with an 80 foot wingspan.
  • The Elemental Plane of Air is one of the sixteen Inner Planes in D&D's cosmology. There is one plane for each of the four classical elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. As well as Positive and Negative Energy planes. The remainder of the Inner Planes are semi- and quasi-elemental planes on the boundary of one of these six planes. In the Order of the Stick comics, there are also other inner planes, such as the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing, and Elementals from the modern Periodic Table of the Elements, though they seem to come from the classical elemental planes, as evidenced by the Gold Elemental in #1028, where there are other Earth-type elementals such as Xorn in the background.

Trivia Edit

  • Rocs derive from Persian and Arabian folktales and mythology, for example appearing in the tale of Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights. Rocs are often depicted as being large enough to pick up an elephant in its talons.
  • While Roy insists the airship flies on physical principles, a simple estimate of the envelope required to lift a ship of the size of the Mechane suggests that the helium gas envelope as drawn is an order of magnitude too small. Thus the enchantment used to lighten the hull is a larger contributor to the total lift of the airship than its gas envelope, making Elan's initial claim of being on a "magical airship" fairly reasonable.

External Links Edit

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