What many tortles consider a simple life, others might call a life of adventure. Tortles are born near sandy coastlines, but as soon as they’re able to walk on two legs, they become nomad survivalists eager to explore the wilderness, experience its many wonders, put their skills to the test, and make new acquaintances.
Life of a TortleA tortle hatches from a thick-shelled egg and spends the first few weeks of its life crawling on all fours. Its parents, old and near death, spend what little time they have left telling stories to their offspring. Within a year, the young tortle becomes an orphan, though not before it learns to speak and to survive on its own. A young tortle and its siblings inherit whatever tools, weapons, and gifts their parents left behind. Each young tortle is expected to fend for itself. It leaves the place of its birth and finds its own corner of the wilderness in which to hunt, catch fish, and get by. With each passing year, a tortle hones its survival skills. It forms friendships with its neighbors while also respecting their privacy. At some point, a tortle feels an almost overwhelming urge to venture far away from home and see more of the world. It gathers up its possessions and heads into the wilderness, returning months or years later with stories of its exploits and new skills. When a tortle nears the end of its natural lifespan, it seeks out a mate and procreates. Tortles lay their eggs (numbering as few as one or as many as a dozen) in a fortified compound enclosed by stone walls that are easily defensible. If no such compound exists, they build one. The parents spend the remainder of their lives guarding the compound, defending their offspring, and sharing a lifetime of knowledge before they die. When the children are old enough to leave the compound, they pick up whatever weapons and tools their parents left behind and set out on their own.
BeliefsTortles don’t have their own pantheon of gods, but they often worship the gods of other races. It’s not unusual for a tortle to hear stories or legends related to a god and choose to worship that deity. In the Forgotten Realms, tortles are especially fond of Eldath, Gond, Lathander, Savras, Selûne, and Tymora. In the Greyhawk setting, they gravitate toward Celestian, Fharlanghn, Pelor, Pholtus, and St. Cuthbert. Tortles are often drawn to the Gods of Good in Dragonlance and the Sovereign Host in Eberron. Among the nonhuman deities, Moradin and Yondalla relate to tortles most of all. Tortles believe that night and day watch over them and other creatures. The moon is the eye of night that watches over them in darkness, and the sun is the equally vigilant eye of day. Tortles feel most at peace when one or both of these “eyes” are looking down on them. They become more nervous and uneasy when neither orb is visible in the sky. Tortles tend to be most uncomfortable underground, where neither the sun nor the moon is visible to them. Blessed are the days when both the sun and moon are visible in the sky at the same time. Tortles often choose such days to leave their homes and begin a wilderness expedition, or perform some other task they know to be dangerous.
Adventurers at HeartTortles have a saying: “We wear our homes on our backs.” The shells they carry around provide all the shelter they require. Consequently, tortles don’t feel the need to root themselves in one place for too long. A tortle settlement is primarily used as a kind of moot, where tortles can socialize with one another, share useful information, and trade with strangers in the safety of greater numbers. Tortles don’t regard these settlements as places worth defending with their lives, and they will abandon a settlement when it no longer serves their needs. Most tortles like to see how other creatures live and discover new customs and new ways of doing things. The urge to procreate doesn’t kick in until the end of a tortle’s life, and a tortle can spend decades away from its native land without feeling homesick. Tortles embrace a simple view of the world. It is aplace of wonder, and tortles see beauty in the ordinary. They live for the chance to hear a soft wind blowing through palm trees, to watch a frog croaking on a lily pad, or to stand in a crowded human marketplace. Tortles like to learn new skills. They craft their own tools and weapons, and they are good at building structures and fortifications. They marvel at the works of other civilized creatures, humans in particular, and can lose themselves for years in a city, studying its architectural wonders and learning skills they can put to use when building forts to contain their offspring. Although they spend a considerable portion of their lives in isolation, tortles are social creatures that like to form meaningful friendships. They have no inbred animus toward people of other races. In fact, a tortle will often seek out friendships with non tortles to learn new customs and new points of view.
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. Claws Your claws are 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 Aquan and Common.