Tortles are a race of anthropomorphic turtles who live simple lives as peaceful farmers on the Savage Coast of Mystara, a region expanded as the mini-setting of Red Steel. Though inoffensive by nature, they will fight to defend their homes and they are naturally very good at tanking. Like their fellow Red-Steel introducees the Aranea, they have never managed to get any semi-official update to later editions, in comparison to Rakasta (who became Catfolk in Races of the Wild) and Lupins (who got a Dragon Magazine article about them in issue #325). Their possible connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remains a mystery.
Tortles in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons have a maximum possible value of 18 for all stats; their minimum possible ability score for Strength and Constitution is 6, whilst all others can be as low as 3. When generating their stats, they suffer -2 Dexterity but gain +1 Constitution and +1 Wisdom. For classes, they are restricted to Fighter, Wizard (Mage, Abjurer, Conjurer, Diviner or Water Elementalist only), Cleric, Thief, Bard or Psionicist, being capable of attaining level 11, 9, 12, 9, 9 and 8 respectively, if you follow that stupid rule of race capping level limits. They can also be multiclassed as Fighter/Clerics. Tortle Thieves suffer a -5% penalty to their Move Silently and Hide in Shadows skills, a -20% penalty to their Climb Walls skill, and can't lift their body weight with just their arms alone.
Tortles are most notable for their powerful shells, which give them a base Armor Class of 3 -- remember, this was the edition of THAC0, so lower is better -- and they can drop it down to 1 by tucking into their shells, which also gives them +4 to all saving throws and immunity to gaze attacks until they come out. Of course, they're going to rely on this; their odd body shape makes it hard to get armor made for them and it really only provides a benefit if it's naturally superior to their shell's AC. Most tortles are going to be looking out for AC-boosting enchanted items like the old standard Ring of AC +1 or Amulet of AC +2, it's just more reliable that way.
They have infravision to a range of 60 feet, automatically proficient in swimming, and can hold their breath for 10 rounds automatically.
Weirdly, tortles die within a year of mating, so only those tortles who abstain from mating live to particularly great ages and children are mostly reared by their aunts and uncles, related or adoptive. Exactly why this is so, nobody frigging knows. 5e changed it so that instead tortles don't mate until in the final years of their lives - without any particular reason as to why this is the case. So, yeah, equally stupid.
For reasons that are probably obvious, tortles went fairly underdeveloped once Red Steel faded away. They haven't gone entirely forgotten, though.
In Dragon Magazine #315, 3.5 stats for tortles appeared as part of the brief look at the Mystara/Red Steel combined setting, with the following statblock:
Tortles then reappeared for D&D 5th edition as part of a special charity package tie-in module released to coincide with the release of Tomb of Annihilation through the DM's Guild website. This gave tortles the following statblock:
- +2 Str, +1 Wis
- Base speed 30 feet
- Claws: You can choose to inflict 1d4 + Str modifier slashing damage with your unarmed strikes.
- Hold Breath: You can hold your breath for 1 hour.
- Natural Armor: Your heavy shell gives you a base AC of 17, but its peculiar shape prevents you from using any armor, except shields.
- Shell Defense: You can use an action to withdraw into your shell, gaining +4 AC and Advantage on Str and Con saving throws, at the cost of being Prone, having Speed 0, Disadvantage on Dex saving throws and the inability to take reactions until you exit your shell. Indeed, you can't use any action, save for a bonus action to emerge from your shell, so long as you are using Shell Defense.
- Survival Instinct: Proficiency in the Survival skill.
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:|| Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
| Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|
An artist's rendition of a tortle female. Source.