20 October 2014

Medieval art, Blanche and, obviously, snails

Some of you lovely readers will be aware that I've been writing my own set of dungeoncrawl rules with an ever-changing name always involving the key word "quest" because that is the core of them. The ideals and panoply of errant chivalry (along with classical and scandinavian mythology) are what undoubtedly drew me into fantastical worlds in the first place. In fact, I hold strongly to the idea that chivalrous mores need not be an interesting historical footnote, but rather something upon which a modern chap can found his behaviour, as I try to - but that's not for this post. No, this post is about art. Specifically, the sort I want to use to illustrate said rules when they are complete, tested and I'm happy with them. This happy event is getting closer and so thoughts of presentation are bubbling upwards in my what-I-call mind.

It would fit the fantastical-medieval theme of the rules to present them as if they were an illustrated manuscript so I've been having a good old poke through some of my prettier books (the only thing I spend more on than miniatures!) as well as perusing the internet to find suitable examples that could serve as inspiration. And, blow me, if they aren't full of Oldhammer goodness!

From The Gorleston Psalter

Have you ever seen a more Blanche-esque shield? I've been painting something just like it for the latest of my orctober orcs. Why he's in need of such heavy armour to fight a snail, even a two-foot tall gastropod, is beyond me; a chaos snail?

But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. You want mutants?

More marginalia from The Gorleston Psalter

You want killer beastmen?

You want demons of Slaanesh?

Or trees of Slaanesh?

Or castles straight from the Realms of Chaos?

Or skeleton warriors?

And the list goes on! There does seem to be a weird recurring thing (a manuscript-meme, if you like) of people fighting snails. Now, I don't remember many plagues of giant land-molluscs that necessitated such actions, but just in case there should be a zombie snail apocalypse, take some hints from the pictures below:

Check out the shield again!

I hope you've been paying attention, should the inevitable happen in your lifetime!

I'll leave you with this last image, especially for JB Asslessman, a knight on a ginormous cockerel:

Right, gotta go - my lady-love most fair has brought me some truly delicious cake and I want to give it my full attention.



  1. That was already a splendid article until the last picture made it totally legendary !
    You must have spent some time to find those pearls.
    I've read my fair share of medieval novels and I've always found them full of creativity, humour and depth. Same goes for the illustrations I suppose. You can also find many intersting things in architecture if you take the time (or know where to look), finding gargoyles in weird poses or characters making fun of viewers is always a delight.
    Can't wait to see the result of your work !

    Oh and I can only agree about chivalry ^^

    1. "creativity, humour and depth" - sounds like the reasons we prefer the earlier gaming output from GW, eh? I'm glad you liked the cockerel.

  2. The snails are allegorical. They represent the French ;^)

    1. OUCH !
      The rooster represent us because it's the only animal to act proud with his feet in the dirt (and because in Latin gauls and chicken were homonyms which gave plenty of silly joke opportunities to romans).
      We EAT snails !

      Seriously speaking, I think I read (but might be totally wrong) that snails were considered evil creatures because they are hermaphrodites

    2. Now, now, Graeme! Latinate linguistic tomfoolery is much more interesting than diet-based stereotypes... and anyway, it's St. Crispin's day on Saturday which is the traditional day for saluting our French cousins ;)

      The hermaphrodite link is an interesting one - Slaaneshi snails!

  3. Interesting post,great illustrations and I do hope you post soon about your views on chivalry in the modern world.

    1. Thanks - I'll definitely try to organise my thoughts into something coherent at some point. For now, I'll just say that I'm convinced the world would be better if more people strived to behave with integrity whether observed or not, with loyalty and honesty, even to one's temporary detriment, and be prepared to defend those unable to defend themselves.

  4. love the images (and debate in fb group about the snail theory/conspiracy)
    I may have to look to medieval art as an inspiration in my own attempts to get back into drawing, due mainly to the simpler nature of some of it and warped proportions of other pieces... I have a small number of scibors chaos snails lurking somewhere half painted... perhaps now would be a time to dig them out and finish them?
    also totally putting giant snails into my roleplay setting, I think they'll feel at home in the vast woodlands of the north and jungles of the south of the world I'm doing.

    1. I'm delighted to have inspired you Jessica, it was plenty of fun selecting which images to use - there are so many marvellous examples of bizarre marginalia to choose from. The giant snails have inspired a new monster for my own dungeoncrawl now, and those Scibor monstrosities would be perfect - I'd love to see them if you get them painted.

    2. may get on with them today... as they are on my mind now and am waiting for greenstuff to dry on other projects.

  5. The snails will be unable to withstand my mighty salt golem! I personally have never noticed snails in medieval art before, I must not be looking hard enough. I found the penis harvest to be the most disturbing. It's enough to give one a complex. Be prepared for my butchering of your game coming to my blog soon.

    1. making a note of this... If ever in my roleplay experience we come against giant slugs/snails attacking a village or need to clear a road through a heavy wintry landscape... mighty salt golem!

    2. I like the way your minds work! I guess this explains why communities of the highly territorial helix infestus giganticus ("giant aggressive land snail") are always found inland, and away from salt water. And sailors think that only they know all about slimy monsters!