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Race: Testudo (Tortoises) (with PF points)

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  Testudo are humanoid tortoises created by School of Metamorphosis Wizards before the Collapse to be effective wartime workers during a time when raw materials for armor were becoming scarce.  It was decided that, given the relative ease of magical manipulation and availability of slaves, it might be beneficial to grow armored workers rather than pay to equip them.  After the war was over, they Testudo were left to their own devices.  Though they are heavyset and have the carapace and plastron of their tortoise ancestors, the Testudo tend to be bookish and quite conservative, and most of them eschew adventure.  They are long-lived - no Testudo has yet died of old age, and they were created over 200 years ago.  Testudo are universally vegetarian, and aggression does not come naturally to them.  The reproduce by laying and fertilizing one large egg at a time - as long as the egg's internal temperature is maintained, it does not have to be actively cared for.  Hatchlings that result, however, are cared for assiduously.  Testudo are not entirely reptilian.


Tesdudo tend to be bookish and conservative, concerned with lore, organization, and in things remaining much as they are.  Testudo are not wont to challenge authority, nor are they prone to be innovators.  They are conservators, and often feel that much of what Humans forget is in fact precious.  Testudo carefully consider their options before choosing.

Physical Description

Though they are not true reptiles, Testudo retain the plastron and carapace of their tortoise ancestors.  This means that they are wider and bulkier than other races, though not significantly heavier on average.  Unlike tortoises, Testudo cannot pull their limbs inside their shell - it is a good bit of protection nonetheless.  Testudo have short, thick fingers and toes and broad hands and feet.  Their arms and legs tend to be short, and they never grow hair.


Testudo potentially get along with everyone, as long as you are not too loud and don't make a lot of sudden moves.  Galidines can make Testudo nervous, but they are useful for running and fetching things when the Testudo can't be bothered.

Alignment and Religion

Testudo are quite Lawful, and do not tend toward great altruism nor are they particularly malevolent.  If virtue is the balance between extremes, then Testudo are the picture of virtue.


Testudo are superb Alchemists when they try their hand at the art, and some even become Bards since they enjoy both gathering lore and knowing a little bit about everything.  There is a school of Testudo Monks who practice a hard-hitting, methodical form of martial arts, drawing upon the strengths of their odd physiology.  Testudo who have an interest in religious lore sometimes become Paladins, devoting themselves not only to a particular religious path, but also to the preservation of traditional values in general.


Testudo might be encountered in any urban area, and simply choose appropriate names from the local culture.

Testudo Racial Traits

 -2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence.  Testudo are large, strong and resilient, but lack agility and can be slow to act.

Bestial Nature: Testudo are able to communicate with turtles and tortoises at will.

Bookish: Testudo receive one free Knowledge as a class skill at character creation, regardless of class.  If all Knowledges are already class skills, then the Testudo receives a +2 to a Knowledge of her choice.

Carapace and Plastron: +1 Natural Armor.  Testudo can wear armor, but it has to be custom-made and is bulkier than normal armor, and their nonmagical armor costs 150% of normal and weighs 150% of normal.  When a Testudo is attacked by an opponent who is flanking her, her carapace grants DR 2/- against the attack.  At the DM's discretion, this DR can be applied to area attacks which hit the Testudo when she has fallen prone, hiding under her carapace (a move action to duck-and-cover before the attack goes off)

Resistant to Change: Testudo receive a +2 to all Will saves.  They are very hard to convince or sway by any means.

Slow Breath: Testudo receive a +2 racial bonus to Concentration, and they can hold their breath 5 times longer than a human with the same Constitution score.

Sluggish: A Testudo's base movement speed is 20.  Testudo in heavy armor just don't get around.



Testudo speak Common as well as the Sylvan language that is common to Beastfolk of all kinds.

Related content
Back references from Relationships in Character for Creature type: Race: Testudo (Tortoises) (with PF points)
Title Author Last updatesort icon
Vosper robosnake 10/05/2010 - 14:30
Back references from Relationships in Creature type for Creature type: Race: Testudo (Tortoises) (with PF points)
Title Author Last updatesort icon
Beastfolk mikeb 04/03/2011 - 11:17


In light of MrCrow's

In light of MrCrow's comparison table, changed their ability score bonuses, trading +2 Strength for +2 Intelligence, which will make them truly killer Wizards.

mikeb's picture

DR from behind

There is no facing in Pathfinder so there really aren't ever attacks from behind. If you wanted to keep that thematically, you could perhaps have DR only when flanked or when hit with a sneak attack.

Good point

I like the DR counting against attacks made by flankers, so I kept that as well as the DM-discretion protection if the Testudo falls prone in a duck-and-cover maneuver.

Sea-of-Stars's picture

Comments and Questions

I like the concept of the race but a few comments and questions:

I assume they are medium sized? Given they were created as warriors this would make sense.

Should the carapace give the Testudo light fortification (25% chance to negate critical and sneak attacks) for attack from the rear? While it could lead to the occasion disagreement, it seems very appropriate.

It seem that you need a stronger word that 'Conservative' for their Will save bonus. "Resistant to Change" maybe?

Sluggish. Why not just set their base speed to 20? You could also lower their running multiplier by .5 if you felt that was appropriate.

Good ideas

I do imagine the Testudo as medium-sized, definitely.

"Resistant to Change" works for me instead of "Conservative", and is probably better

As for light fortification - that is actually a pet-peeve rule for me in D&D. It's just an extra roll that negates something dramatic/fun from the game (a critical hit) when you already need to roll and then roll to confirm. I'm against there being 3 dice-rolls to determine whether I critically hit The rule makes sense, I just avoid fortification wherever I can, personally.

For the base speed - I imagined the Testudo wearing lots of armor, being fighter-types, and didn't want to negate the advantage of being medium-sized entirely. On the other hand, they do get a lot of bonuses. I'm on the fence there. Is there a precedent in Pathfinder for having +/- 5 to movement speed?

Sea-of-Stars's picture

Glad to help

I understand you concern on fortification, I generally keep it as a PC only ability for those reasons. What about giving them DR 1/- against attacks that hit their carapace? Then they could have a feat that increased that DR.

What about leaving their base speed at 30 but reducing their speed when running? They can maneuver quickly but not cover great distances.

And for Testudo armor, should there be a rough guide by armor type (light/medium/heavy) as to how much more it weighs and costs?

Time for an update

A rough guide definitely makes sense, though I think it might be easier to just say increase both weight and cost by 50% - it'll be prohibitive at lower levels, but once you get to magical armor, it won't matter nearly as much.

I like their lower movement speed - it just makes intuitive sense that turtle-people will be a bit on the slow side, in combat and out.

I'd actually be ok with DR 2/- for attacks from behind. It won't come up that much, but it really should matter significantly if you are trying to stab a turtle through its shell versus someplace else. Maybe the feat can give them DR 1/- everywhere and 3/- on their back? Hmm...

These are all good questions.

Sea-of-Stars's picture

I was thinking that light

I was thinking that light armors, except the chain vest, being made of clothes or leather would be easier to modify for the Testudo, so +25% weight and price. Medium armors, and chain vests, being at least slightly flexible would be +33%/+50%. And the rigid heavy armors would by +50% weight and +100% cost.

For now, I personally prefer

For now, I personally prefer the simpler flat increase for them all. Part of what I'm imagining is that you don't just have the cost of extra materials and construction, but you also have to find an armorer who is accustomed to building armor for Testudo. It's kind of like finding a tailor vs. finding a tailor for turtle-man. All the measurements would be different, and what I imagine you're paying the extra for is the specialized knowledge and skill.

This also just justifies simpler math for the player in question. If it ends up being a no-go, though, I'd be more inclined to just make it a flat 25% increase (if the problem is that, because of the armor issue, no one wants to play a Testudo armor-wearing class)

Carapace and Plastron: I have

Carapace and Plastron:

I have a conceptual issue with the flanking DR. Basically, flanking occurs when two people on opposite sides of the creature attack it, thereby splitting its attention. That's why flankers get +2 to hit.

Applying damage reduction only when being flanked doesn't make sense in this context. The turtle suddenly becomes more able to defend himself when there are two people attacking him? Less able when being attacked by only one? And it also hints at facing a bit. One suggestion would be to allow the DR 2/ to stand, but have it function like the old dodge feat did. The testudo can select one target a round to apply the damage reduction to. He selects this target on his turn as a free action.

That's an interesting

That's an interesting conceptual issue - essentially what the current DR represents is just that, but in a simpler form. That is, the Testudo simply doesn't have to worry as much about being flanked because of the shell they have - unlike armor, it doesn't have articulated sections on the torso which a blade can slip between, and it is built in such a way that getting around it is also more difficult than doing so when a person is wearing armor.

If we made the change, I would want to see the DR 2 being able to be applied to any adjacent attacker, whether they are technically flanking or not. I think that would be an ok trade-off - the only concern I really have is that it is slightly more complicated, but I can see the argument that it makes more sense. So, anyway, that's what I would propose - that the Carapace and Plastron trait allows a Testudo to designate an adjacent attacker against whom he has DR 2.