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Looking at the article for Flail Snails on the Forgotten Realms Wiki, it states that removed flail snail tentacles can be regrown or restored using the regenerate spell.

The description of the Regenerate spell itself in 5e says, in part:

The target's severed body members (fingers, legs, tails, and so on), if any, are restored after 2 minutes. If you have the severed part and hold it to the stump, the spell instantaneously causes the limb to knit to the stump.

For the purposes of this spell, if one could somehow separate the snail from its shell without killing it, would regenerate consider the shell to be a severed body part like a limb, tail, etc.?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In real snails, most of what we have in the chest and belly is in the shell. So the question is, is your game using a realistic approach to anatomy? If yes, then I'll turn this into an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Apr 12 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’d say it’s playing a bit fast and loose with it, but trying to be informed by the logic of real biology if that makes sense? I spent some time looking at what would happen to a real snail if you could break off it’s shell (bad things), but technically only fatal in that it can’t be naturally regrown \$\endgroup\$
    – howlieT
    Apr 12 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps regenerate restores the shell, but the new one isn't magical? \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Aug 14 at 3:51

2 Answers 2

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Overcoming our vertebrate bias

There is no particular reason we should expect real world biology to apply to rulings like this; D&D is not a Biology simulator, and this is a game where for the purposes of spells mushrooms count as plants and scorpions count as insects.

However, if your DM does wish to consider real world biology, I would say that most of a snail's shell is a dead mineral, calcium carbonate. Only the thinnest outer lip of the shell is alive, the part that is continually added to by an organ called the mantle. For our mammalian bodies, the hair and fingernails would be good analogies, since they are (keratin-based) dead materials that have a living edge connecting to our body where they are grown. This is why you can cut your hair or clip your nails without damaging yourself; those parts of your 'body' are already dead. This is not a perfect analogy, though, since as Mołot points out, a snail's shell encloses and protects its living organs - much the way our skull encloses our brain, but our bones are much more alive than a snail's shell is.

So, if something had ripped out my fingernails including the nail bed, or tore out my hair including the skin cells of my scalp, what would the regenerate spell bring back - just the scalp and nail bed, or the full-length hair and nails as well?

BBeast, in their answer to Does hair count as “body parts” for the Resurrection spell?, points out that Dream, Scrying, and Simulacrum all explicitly include both hair and nails as "body parts". This is more about western traditions of sympathetic magic than real world biology, but there is clear precedent within the D&D spell rules for saying that hair and nails count as body parts. If they count, then in this DM's opinion, snail shells should also count for Regenerate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, but with one reservation. Without a shell, internal organs inside may lose support and pretty much fall out. And soon after, they would dry out. So it'll be a DM call if the snail can live long enough to benefit from regeneration, and if so, how disfigured it would be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Apr 13 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ IRL, bees count as fish sometimes (Hello, California). I totally second the need to shed the bias. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Yes, time would be of the essence. OP posits "if one could somehow separate the snail from its shell without killing it" so I took this as assumed for my answer, but agree that it would be difficult to do. Perhaps with a sword of sharpness, or, if the DM rules that the shell is a non-living mineral, transmute rock \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 13 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MindwinRememberMonica What are you even talking about? Your comment is totally unrelated. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 Bees aren’t fish, but it’s good that a California court thinks they are. Related just in the sense that sometimes things count as other things that they are clearly not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 17 at 0:09
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Ask your DM.

The rules don’t really define this for us. That is, while regenerate gives some examples, it also includes the phrase “and so on”. Is a shell an “and so on”? The rules don’t say. The DM must make a decision, and either way seems reasonable to me.

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