Tortle Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Tortles in D&D 5e

Tortles are the turtle-folk of the D&D universe. They stand upright with sturdy shells on their back and have a ponderous attitude towards life. Innately independent and amicable, Tortles wander the land seeking stories and knowledge to share with the next generation finding a home in nature rather than in great cities or even small settlements.

Tortles were introduced to D&D 5e in the Tortle Package and have since been updated in Monsters of the Multiverse. Our guide is here to tell you everything you need to know to create a Tortle character for yourself.

What are Tortles?

Tortles are bipedal turtles with the intellect of most intelligent creatures of the D&D universe and the hardy reptilian exterior of turtles – shell and all. Tortles typically explore the breadth of the land sticking close to bodies of water and staying above ground where they feel most at one with nature.


As you’d expect, Tortles look like upright turtles. They have shells, typically come in shades of green, have tough, scaly skin and are reptiles. Most Tortles like to use their shell as a demonstration of their personality so will adorn it with trinkets, paint and whatever else they think conveys who they are.


Tortles are immensely independent and love to explore. This is due mainly to how they’re raised. Tortles only settle down and have a family when they’re old and nearly ready to die. They’ll pair with a mate, have children and may only parent those children for a year or 2 before they die. At this point, most Tortle children are ready to strike out on their own anyway and will wander the land to discover more knowledge and stories to share with their future offspring.

This habit means that there aren’t many Tortle settlements to speak of as most Tortles only stay in one place for a few years of their life before setting out to explore the world. Tortles consider their shell their home and they take great comfort in its presence with them at all times.

Tortles tend to be respectful of other cultures and races. They’re slow to pass judgement and generally generous when they do. They have no gods of their own to speak of and have little knowledge of how they were created. That’s not to say that they don’t become involved in religion and worship and they do have a natural affinity with nature, particularly the sun and the moon.

How to play as a Tortle

Calm, thoughtful and reserved are the main traits of a Tortle. You may of course choose to play an outlier from most Tortles (like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Bowser) but most Tortles are very chilled out. A Tortle is likely to find amicable solutions to problems, treat others with respect and have a great desire to explore and learn. This doesn’t mean that they’re pacifists and they’re perfectly comfortable protecting themselves and their friends if they need to (it’s a dangerous world out there after all and a Tortle needs to be prepared).

Tortle features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores
Creature TypeHumanoid
SizeMedium or Small
LanguagesCommon and 1 other language
TraitsClaws, Hold Breath, Natural Armour, Nature’s Intuition, Shell Defense
Book found inMordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, The Tortle Package

If you want to play as a Tortle, your character will have the following traits and abilities:

Tortle traits

Claws – You have claws that you can use to make unarmed strikes. When you hit with them, the strike deals 1d6 + your Strength modifier slashing damage, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Hold Breath – You can hold your breath for up to 1 hour.

Natural Armor – Your shell provides you a base AC of 17 (your Dexterity modifier doesn’t affect this number). You can’t wear light, medium, or heavy armor, but if you are using a shield, you can apply the shield’s bonus as normal.

Nature’s Intuition – Thanks to your mystical connection to nature, you gain proficiency with one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival.

Shell Defense – You can withdraw into your shell as an action. Until you emerge, you gain a +4 bonus to your 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.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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