I (heart) the Snail Flail

Some of the monsters of AD&D are so silly that I can’t help but love them. Number one on my list is probably the ‘Flail Snail.’ Imagine a snail, about the size of a pony cart… buy where the head should be are a bunch of tentacles, each of which ends in a spiky ball that the snail can wave around and smash things with. I’m guessing that, being a snail, it’s slow moving — so running away from the snail should present no problem… except the flail snail has a shell of dazzling, iridescent colors that glows, hypnotizing anyone who gazes upon it. So instead of running, you will just stand there, slack jawed, staring at the shell while the goddamn snail pounds you into a jelly with his tentacles. Like the runt of the litter, a creature that has been the subject of so many cries of, “How stupid!” or “That’s lame!” just makes me want to love it more.

In searching the interwebs for pictures of flails, snails and flail snails, I was interested to discover on a medieval history blog that there is a history of knights confronting snails illustrations in the margins of various medieval books. According to the author of aforementioned blog, illustrations of knights fighting or about to fight snails occur too often to be accounted for as the obsession of one or two insane illuminators — apparently this was some sort of inside joke or medieval psalter meme that has been lost in the mists of time.

Update: Looking at the blog roll, I see that Vaults of Nagoh has updated his blog with a link to the snail vs. knight motif in medieval arts: The Witless Warrior. Chris even posted this brilliant example:


One Comment on “I (heart) the Snail Flail”

  1. 5stonegames says:

    I like the flail snail too. Goofiness is part and parcel of traditional Gygaxian D&D


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