Carnivorous Sand Clams

Treacherous sand clam infested jungle.

Treacherous sand clam infested jungle.

No Rogue Trader Deathworld Flora and Fauna Project is complete without a few of these.

“The clam is about 2 metres across, with two large serrated valves.  It spends most of its life submerged in the sticky mud… waiting.

“If a small animal strays within its grasp, the clam feels the vinbrations of movement above and rapidly opens, drawing sand and the victim into its shell.  Although too large to be fully drawn inside, man-sized creatures can easily be trapped, and can only then escape by destroying the creature.  A sand clam is a powerful animal, and its jaws can crush a leg or sever an arm.”

Occasionally used as an example of what isnt top drawer about the older Warhammer 40000 background, the sand clam is another weird thing from the bestiary section of the Rogue Trader rulebook that I definitely wanted to include as part of my Alien Flora and Fauna project.  In game and narrative terms essentially amounting to a biological (cud)bear-trap, the carnivorous sand clam is an entertaining, pulp sci-fi hazard reminiscent of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers stories.

And surely everyone wants a bit of Flash Gordon in their grimdark 41st millennium, right?  I mean surely nobody takes the 40k setting seriously, right?…  Right?


Primarily not bi-valves.

It may or may not surprise you to find that GW did not ever make a carnivorous sand clam miniature.  With that in mind I took a trip to a local beach to find some appropriate shells to get some prepared for my recent space jungle based games.

Those of you with marine biology tendencies may note that I only used a couple of bivalve shells.  I couldnt find very many bivalve shells on that beach, so I settled for a few barnacle shells to make up the numbers.  Space clams probably look like that anyway I reckon.

Although I was tempted to paint the clams something ridiculous like bright pink, I couldnt bring myself to fully cover up the attractive natural shell colouration.  I therefore washed and drybrushed the shells only a little bit, just to exaggerate some aspects to an extent.

Carnivorous Sand Clams







23 Responses

  1. GW could make a killer profit by selling official seashells…


    • With a skull pattern on it, obviously.

      Its the unreleased 1986 “skull-shell” carnivorous sand clam that Im after though (it can barely be seen in the watermark on the contents page of the Book of the Astronomican if you hold it up to the moonlight during the lunar equinox, when Libra is in the ascendant). Only minus-35 were ever re-not made, so I have my work cut out for me.



      • Well the Skull pattern is not that bad an idea. There are crabs that look like the face of a Samurai warrior in Japan due to the practice of fishermen throwing back ones that looked Samurai-ish:


        • Yeah, it reminds me of the various skull motifs that tend to appear on giant fantasy spiders.

          The natural colouring was a straightforward shortcut that gave a more realistic result than I ever could with paint alone. More than enough opportunities to play will skull imagery imagery at some later date I think 🙂


  2. Mother of perils? =) They look good!


    • Nailed. I might have to make one big momma clam now.

      Please disregard earlier statement about fulfilled miniature sand clam requirements.


  3. Great addition, and I like that you kept them in their natural colours. I immediately checked my seashell collection but found them all to be too large for this purpose. Time to hit the beach for some miniature collecting!


    • It’s not often that the hobby encourages outdoor pursuits. Best to embrace the rare opportunity. Don’t forget to bring a miniature (maybe a base too). I use an old plastic Orlock ganger to help gauge scale in public 🙂

      As for the natural colours, nothing that I could paint would have looked as authentic, plus it would taken an age. Natural look was quicker and better in this case I think.

      Thanks for the feedback.


  4. These are terrific! I’m afraid I don’t have any beach close to home, but I guess I must take a chance to get nearby the sea as soon as possible! Maybe some exotic colours would work fine there!


    • Im glad you like them Suber, they are a bit of thematic fun.

      Im more than happy to post a fellow RT bestiary enthusiast like you enough Irish sea shells to replicate these if you like. Let me know if you want me to do it and I will 🙂


      • Oh, would you? That would be great, I’d be totally grateful, the nearest beach is about 400 Km. far from me. But only if it is not a problem! I wouldn’t like bothering you searching and searching! 🙂


  5. Great work! I love scenery that is cheap and easy to make; provides a real sense of hobby satisfaction.


  6. > Occasionally used as an example of what isnt top drawer about the older Warhammer 40000 background <
    To be fair, Rogue Trader was pretty much just as much tabletop RPG as "miniatures wargame" when it came out, way back when, and in this context – of a GMed game with a narrative (or series of linked, narrative games) it makes sense as a biological land mine trap that the GM can place in a certain area and have some fun…


    • True, but its the idea that the current 40K background is somehow more sensible or coherent that the older iteration that tickles me 🙂 Its all goofy pulp: the modern background elements are just as absurd/realistic as the older things like the clams. Its the notion that something like these somehow dilutes the grimdark franchise that I find amusing.

      Not that its a big deal either way of course 🙂


      • I certainly see your point. I guess I just haven’t come across that particular argument myself. I like a lot of the new stuff – at least in terms of models and the HH stuff, but I guess a lot of the newer versions of the fluff appear to have lost much of the tongue in cheek and black humour of the earlier days, when things like 2000AD were stronger active influences.

        To be honest though, I don’t read all that many of the books, and I rarely read the Codex-fluff anymore since so much of it started to become rewritten rehashes of the same stories I read back in the 1990s…


        • My experience parallels yours I think Azazel. I have very little interest in moaning about whatever aspect of GW that is the current whipping boy. I like some of the models and designs and dislike others, so I pick up some of the ones that I like and leave it at that.

          I dont find reading about the background as engrossing as I once used to, but I put a lot of that down to being older and grumpier now. Im not sure whether its that the quality of the background writing got significantly worse or that my patience levels did. I do miss the wry, dark sense of humour and that does seem to have been removed almost entirely.

          There is something inherently funny about the sand clams I think. While I dont want my games to feel utterly stupid (recent space rk rock opera notwithstanding), I do think that there is plenty of room for things like clams and face-eaters in a game that still remains dramatic.

          Thanks for the considered feedback 🙂


  7. I really love the way you put those shells to good use. Going for the natural look really works here. I think they did add something charming to the background, just like the little comic drawings in the margins of the old Warhammer rule books. Fantasy and Grimdark Sci-Fi are inherently cheesy, corny and funny, so why not embrace it?


    • I agree wholeheartedly. I dont particularly want my games to reach a Three Stooges level of slippery banana skin and plummeting anvils/grand pianos level of goofiness, but the genre that I am trying to represent is inherently cheesy much of the time, so I do try to embrace it rather than rail against it.

      I have a line somewhere that shouldnt be crossed in my opinion of course, but it isnt at “carnivorous sand clams”. Thanks for the feedback 🙂


      • I think the right amount of cheesy is Arnold S. level. Commando or Conan etc. are good examples how it can add fun and awesomeness, but doesn’t become DnD the movie.


  8. This represents all the joy in Rogue Trader that I sadly find lacking in 40K these days.



    • Thanks noahms456, Im glad that you got some pleasure out of this rather lo-tech approach to aspects of the game.

      I like some of the new 40k stuff and some of the old 40k stuff, I try to take each element on its own individual merits.

      The Carnivorous Sand Clams are perceived as a more absurd part of the older background, but I regard that perception as incorrect: 40K is inherently, deeply absurd and meat eating ambush predator bi-valves make much more sense than, for example Necrons (not that it matters. I like both). I do feel sorry for anyone who cant see the funny side of any iteration of 40k really though.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

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