Who is the Tortle in 5e? The Tortle race are a bunch of wandering reptilian humanoids with giant tortoise shells on their back. They were released in a supplement for the book Tomb of Annihilation to raise money for the Extra Life charity. If you want to support the charity and get the package for yourself, you can buy it here on DM’s Guild. It will go more into detail about the location they live in as I am focused on their class stats and roleplay. Without further a due, let’s take a look at the 5e Tortle.
Just the shell
• Ability Score Increase. The Tortle race gains a strength score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.
• Age. Young tortles crawl for a few weeks after birth before learning to walk on two legs. They reach adulthood by the age of 15 and live an average of 50 years.
• Alignment. Tortles tend to lead orderly, ritualistic lives. They develop customs and routines, becoming more set in their ways as they age. Most are lawful good. A few can be selfish and greedy, tending more toward evil, but it’s unusual for a tortle to shuck off order in favor of chaos.
• Size. Tortle adults stand 5 to 6 feet tall and average 450 pounds. THeir shells account for roughly one-third of their weight. Your size is Medium.
• Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
• Claws. Tortles in 5e, gain claws as natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
• Hold Breath. You can hold your breath for up to 1 hour at a time. Tortles aren’t natural swimmers, but they can remain underwater for some time before needing to come up for air.
• Natural Armor. Due to your shell and the shape of your body, you are ill-suited to wearing armor. Your shell provides ample protection, however; it gives you a base AC of 17 (your Dexterity modifier doesn’t affect this number). You gain no benefit from wearing armor, but if you are using a shield, you can apply the shield’s bonus as normal.
• Shell Defense. You can withdraw into your shell as an action. Until you emerge, you gain a +4 bonus to AC, and you have advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws. While in your shell, you are prone, your speed is 0 and can’t increase, you have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, you can’t take reactions, and the only action you can take is a bonus action to emerge from your shell.
• Survival Instinct. You gain proficiency in the Survival skill. Tortles have finely honed survival instincts.
• Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Aquan.
The Meat In The Shell
5e Tortle Traits: – Survival Pro
So, the ability score improvements are relatively basic with a +2 strength and +1 wisdom. This would make them great Clerics, Druids, or strength-based Rangers, since most melee weapons with these classes use strength, and wisdom is their spellcasting. That said, Fighters and Barbarians are viable with this class as well since their primary stat is strength and the wisdom is useful for perception and saves. All in all, it is not a bad improvement and has uses for multiple classes.
The next ability that is noticeable on Tortles is that they have claws. Now, what makes this noticeable is that most races do not have this feature and serves to be an excellent use when weapons are unavailable. For instance, say you are in a bar fight and need to punch someone. Usually, you would roll an attack, and if you hit you would only deal 1+your strength modifier in damage. However, with claws, you become the ultimate bar fighter as you now deal 1d4+strength modifier damage greatly increasing the damage of your unarmed attacks. This makes you ideal for times when weapons are not viable. Thus, making you one of the lead damagers for your party in tough times like these.
Now why not as great as being able to breathe underwater, this already makes you better off than most when it comes to being underwater. As an hour beats most races in holding their breath. That said, the Tortle rules do not specify it needs to be for being underwater. This makes it great for fighting poisonous creatures or if poison is filling the room. The reasoning, a lot of poisons must be inhaled to take effect, an example of this would be the spell Stinking Cloud.
But, if you can hold your breath, then you are unaffected by the spell. So, in this sense your ability becomes even better than breathing water as it uses have more versatility. I should note though, this may not be directly as intended so it may be left up to your DM on whether or not this will work. That said, if so, your survivability greatly increases.
This is your bread and butter and your most powerful survival skill. With a natural AC of 17, at level 1 you have the second-best heavy armor in the game for free! The downside to this ability is you cannot wear armor. This means magical armor that can give you resistance to certain kinds of damages cannot be worn by you. Nor can you wear the armor plate mail which would give you an AC of 18. This leaves you with increasing your defense via shields or other magical items to boost your AC up.
It should also be mentioned that a 17 AC cannot be increased with abilities like unarmored defense from the barbarian class. The reason for this is because in the Player’s Handbook the rules are you can only gain one ability to boost your base Ac, excluding shields. This means that if being a Tortle gains you an AC of 17 while a barbarian has an AC of 10+Dexterity+Constitution, it does not become 17+Dexterity+Constitution. Rather, you can choose. So, say your Dexterity modifier is +4 and your Constitution modifier is +4. So, therefore, you can choose to use your barbarian AC instead to gain an AC of 18 instead of 17. I know this can be confusing, so here is a Youtube video that has more visual representations.
Not only do you have a nice AC at the beginning, but you can also boost your AC to 21 and have advantage on strength and constitution. However, the cost for doing this is you become prone, cannot attack, and disadvantage on dexterity saving throws. This makes the ability, shell defense, not very useful, as in general prone means all melee attacks against you have advantage.
Moreover, the common statistic for having advantage roughly translates to getting a +5 to hit. This correlates to actually have a -1 AC against anyone who attacks you within 5ft, you cannot move to get away, cannot attack, and effectively have a -5 to your dexterity saves. So, I would say that the shell defense ability is relatively useless. In general, the 5e Tortle is a solid defensive race that favors a high AC in the beginning and for classes that do not have armor proficiency like wizards.
5e Tortle Personality: Loving and Wanderlust
In a nutshell, Tortles are described as believing their houses are on their backs. As a result, they wander wherever they please since the home will always be there. This result meant that they rarely have places where they feel a need to protect. While they rarely have the desire to protect locations, they have a deep parental protection instinct in their bodies. The instinct is so strong, that fathers often die soon after their children hatch from the eggs due to a refusal to sleep or hunt as they wait for them to hatch.
It is said, simple life to a Tortle is the equivalent to the craziest adventurer’s life. Due to always exploring, the Tortle in 5e became eager to learn new ideas and found beauty in the most ordinary things. This lead to a deep appreciation for nature much like Druids. However, they do not seek to protect it, but rather just appreciate it. Despite spending much of their lives isolated in the jungles, Tortles desire strong friendships to keep them company during their lonely moments. As such Tortles are quick to form fast long-lasting friendships and love learning about their lives.
After looking at their two big personality traits, I am sure you have come up with plenty of ideas on your Tortle’s personality. If not, don’t worry. I have some ideas to help you get those creative juices rolling. For example, take into account the Tortle’s deep parental instinct. Maybe you were protecting your eggs when suddenly a drow jumped you out and took your babies. This could cause a deep hatred for all drow, causing tension to form anytime you see them. Maybe so bad as to hate all elves seeing them all a part of the same race. Now you seek to find those who wronged you take back your children and protect them. Or perhaps you have grown to see one of your companions as your child. Now you are willing to throw away anyone else if it means protecting them. Causing tough decisions to be made in times of crisis.
Another way to look at role-playing the Tortle race is their sense of wanderlust. Maybe you have a desire to never stay in the same place. Now you get antsy staying in a location for more than a few days as you feel an urge to see more. Then again, maybe your love of nature causes you to want to stop and stay at areas with beautiful scenery. The options are endless with Tortles. So really do whatever you want with them. Make them nomadic, protective, or steadfast friends. Just whatever you do, I hope I could help get those creative juices flowing.
5e Tortle Lore: Weird but brief
The Tortle Race are mostly found in an area called the Snout of Omgar. The Snout of Omgar is an island that rests off the coast of the dinosaur filled peninsula of Chult. While many travel on their own, mating is huge in their culture. As such, they established the fort Ahoyhoy to help protect those who wish to mate and protect their babies. While not all use it, many do and favor it over the old ways. The result became a thriving market filled with adventurers and seamen, where Tortles could buy protective gear before protecting their eggs. While no government has ever been established in Ahoyhoy, they ran under a general rule of “behave well”. Failure to do so would be forced removal from the fort, leading to surviving in a land filled with dinosaurs, and no ships to take you off the island.
Strangely enough, the most documented lore for the 5e Tortle, is their reproduction. The first notable fact about their reproduction is only the ones who are elderly reproduce. The reasoning for this is due to the high mortality rate. You see, most female Tortles die soon after laying their eggs due to exhaustion. Afterward, the father’s parental instincts kick in where he does not sleep nor hunt until the eggs hatch. Soon after, many of them cannot handle the stress and die soon after. The longest recorded Tortle father, lived only a year after their children hatched.
Now why this seems terrible, the Tortle race sees it as a great honor and look forward to it. As such, they look forward to it as it comes nearer to their life’s end. They often will try to teach the children the basics to survival as soon as they are born. Soon after they learn the basics, the father will die soon after knowing his job is complete. From there, the baby Tortles will use their survival skills to explore the wilderness.
Roleplay the lore
Much like the personality section, the easiest attribute to roleplay would be their reproduction. You can do this by having respect for your elders and asking them when they will have children. Another way to act this out is to constantly be talking about what you want to do during your reproduction cycle. Leaving many awkward and funny conversations with your group.
But a few other ways to roleplay the 5e Tortle race is to play up their other aspects. For instance, Tortles have no gods of their own, so maybe they are fascinated by the idea of gods and seek out all the information they can on them. Then again, you could play up being a guide for people due to you being raised in these lands and learned first-hand how to survive in the wilderness. Then a final idea is to brag about what you have seen underwater or be baffled by the rarity of dinosaurs outside of your homeland. Thus, creating a sense of wonder for the other players when hearing your stories.
5e Tortle Description: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
If you can imagine reptilian-looking humanoid with large shells on their backs. Then you can imagine a Tortle. Outside of that, it is really left up to you on how you want him to look. Perhaps, you have a gigantic mouth with a strong bite like a snapping turtle. Then again, maybe you don’t, but you speak incredibly slow due to your turtle ways. Or what about looking like a teenage mutant ninja turtle? You know that is what you thought of when you heard about this race. I guarantee you that you would not be the first. I have seen at least three people do it so go wild and have a ratfolk be your teacher! Whatever you do, it is up to you on how your turtle man wants to look.
Now comes one of my favorite things to talk about; Dice! I love having sets of special dice for my characters that tie into their personality and backstory. For example, a rogue that was betrayed by his family would have a dark set of dice, but a paladin who upholds all that is good a white and gold set.
I find by having a certain set of dice that directly tie into a character, it serves as an excellent way to maintain roleplay aspect as it sort of creates a reminder of the ideals you had when creating it. Because of this, I decided to give you my recommendation for a set of dice for your new tortle.
Taking into account everything we talked about above, I love the Country House Dice Set. It’s rustic and simple feel make a great reminder for the tortles wandering lifestyle. Moreover, by being a blend of green and gold it creates this beautiful swirl effect that really makes it pleasing to the eye and also goes well with the whole turtle them for 5e tortles.
5e Tortle Summary: Great Defense Strong Parenting
The race was incredibly interesting to learn about. I do wish there were more details outside of their reproduction, but I believe it gives you a lot to work with regarding roleplay. That said, you can use the vagueness of other areas to your benefit. For example, you can now use the geography to create a more fleshed-out history for your character that really can be tailored to your character.
Also, the idea of having a race that can be designed to look or act like a ninja turtle is absolutely fantastic and fun. That said, I just hope people don’t limit the race to just that, as there is so much more, they can do. If you like this article, then be sure to check out my article going over Triton lore here. Well, I hope you found this useful and leave a comment with any ideas you thought of. I hope you enjoyed it and keep on rolling!