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D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Tortle

3 Minute Read
Jan 31 2024

If you’re looking for a character who’s built for adventure and brings their home with them wherever they go, you may want to be a Tortle.

Tortles are the giant humanoid turtles of D&D. With their homes and armor carried on their backs at all time, though, they are also one of the most functional of the little-used races.

“Tortles have a saying: “We wear our homes on our backs.” These turtle folk live on many worlds, most often journeying up and down coasts, along waterways, and across the sea. Tortles don’t have a unified story of how they were created, but they all have a sense of being mystically connected to the natural world. Carrying their shelter on their backs gives tortles a special feeling of security wherever they go, for even if they visit a far, unknown country, they have a place to lay their heads.”

Tortle Traits

You may be surprised to hear that Tortles have the same 30 ft walking speed as most other races, even with the weight of their shells. And this shell also provides them with a natural 17 AC as a base. Unfortunately, they can’t wear any kind of armor, but shields would add to their AC as normal. Perhaps the biggest benefit to the shell is that a Tortle can withdraw into their shell as an action for an additional +4 to their AC until they emerge as well as advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws.

Unfortunately, it also comes with a prone status,  speed of 0, and disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws.

When building your Tortle, you can increase one ability score by 2 and another by 1, or three different scores by 1 and pick one additional language to know.

But as turtle-folk, Tortles also have helpful natural turtle abilities like a 1D6+STE claw attack as their unarmed strike and the ability to hold their breath for up to an hour. Finally, they have a connection to nature that gives them proficiency in Animal Handling, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival.



Best Classes

Since you can pick where your ability score boosts go, Tortles can sort of be built for any class. But with a natural AC, they may be a good excuse to make a spell-casting character. Wizards are known for being a little extra squishy, and a Tortle’s 17 AC before shields will give them the little bit more protection that they always need.

With their connection to nature and extra proficiencies, to nature-based skills, Ranger may be another good choice. With so much overlap, it would allow you to finish rounding out your ranger skills.




The Tortle I’ve been referencing comes from Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse. But the supplemental sourcebook, The Tortle Package, has a slightly different version of the player-race Tortle.

Here Strength is always increased by 2 and Wisdom by 1. Tortles are also generally larger in this supplement, always standing between 5 and 6 feet as opposed to allowing the player to choose between a medium and small creature character. Finally, this Tortle’s claw attack is a little weaker at 1d4+STE.

Tips & Tricks

Tortles consider their shells to be their homes and carry their homes on their backs. So they are a race naturally suited to exploring and adventuring. So let them explore. But don’t forget about that shell! The natural AC is great, but hiding inside their shell is definitely not something to forget about. It’s both their protection and their house, it’s important.


Have you played a Tortle character? Have you had one in your party? Which version of a Tortle would you rather play? Let us know in the comments!

Happy adventuring!


Author: Clint Lienau
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