GameJoy: GM Advice: Make Your Own Snail Races!

The Wild Beyond The Witchlight has rekindled the crafty DM spark in me, and I’ve found myself once again wanting to draw handmade maps and make miniatures and terrain for play.

The Witchlight Carnival is full of possibility for miniature scale set pieces, but the one that caught my attention first was giant snail racing. The adventure describes the scene thusly:

The grandstands next to this racecourse are filled with cheering fairgoers ringing bells, swinging rattles, and waving flags. On the starting line, eight giant snails are having their shells scrubbed by pixies. Above the circular course, a wooden gantry hangs from the branches of a central tree, where two goblins officiate the proceedings.

That sounded like something that would be fun to play out with minis.

I started by taking the description of the racecourse and drawing a map on my wet-erase vinyl grid-map. Using blue and green wet-erase pens I drew a large central tree with a small wooden platform for the goblin officiants.

Around it I roughed out a circular race track, complete with exterior stone barrier and wooden fence interior. Enough space for the racing snails to zip around, and a finish line to track their progress.

Once I had a racetrack, I had to have some snails to race on it.

I didn’t have enough time to sculpt or fashion 3D miniatures, so I opted for some double-sided cardstock standees. The snails are doodled on, then colored with brush pens and gel pens. Most are ordinary cartoon snails, but I filled in a few with unique shells. Giant acorns, a huge thimble, a hollow gemstone. One of the snails is a mimic masquerading as a racing snail, which I thought was a fun touch.

It all took less than an hour to create, using materials I had around the apartment.

It goes to show that you don’t need a lot of money or prep time to craft a memorable experience for your players. Even just a little bit of effort and creativity goes a very long way to making an amazing session!