Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
Hey kid, I heard you like turtles. Know what’s better than turtles? Dragon Turtles! These fearsome behemoths of the sea grow as big as any of their traditional dragon cousins, themselves equipped with fearsome jaws, claws, and a breath weapon all their own. Their shells mimic the colors of the depths of the waters they inhabit, with silver streaks that could easily be mistaken as the sun or moon reflecting off the water. Another thing they have in common with true dragons is their tendency to collect treasure, usually by sinking ships, swallowing the treasure, and then regurgitating it into their lairs. However, they tend to not be as intelligent as true dragons though this doesn’t stop them from taking up a good deal. They can speak, and thus can make deals with pirates, usually receiving a portion of the pirates’ treasure in exchange for not being killed. They can also be bribed by other aquatic life forms, helping them with raids against ships and coastal cities or serving as colossal mounts for those they deem worthy.
Dragon Turtles find themselves in the of adult dragons when it comes to sheer power, though their size is that of even older dragons. Their shell is near impenetrable, and even when you do break through it will be a long battle to deal enough damage to the behemoth to take it down. However, they do move slowly on land to make up for the fact they are a reptilian fortress, and although they could catch up with a normal human underwater there are plenty of creatures that could out swim them. Once you find yourself face to face with a Dragon Turtle, you’ll find they attack with a flurry of bites and claw attacks, sometimes exchanging their claws for a devastating tail whip. And finally, rather than fire, lightning, or other elemental essence, Dragon Turtles breath scalding steam, essentially burning their prey alive underwater.
Due to their size and limited communication skills, non-violent encounters with a Dragon Turtle need a bit of finesse or quick thinking since the players are more likely to find one as their ship sinks with a giant bite taken out of it than the Dragon Turtle politely asking them for treasure. Speaking of which, instituting a mechanic where the Dragon Turtle is attacking the ship and any who fall overboard makes for great fun, while sahuagin crawl in through the holes to attack the crew. However, if the players are aware of the Dragon Turtle, they could seek it out in hopes of making a deal. So long as they are promising the Dragon Turtle greater wealth it may be even willing to help them, possibly by helping uncover a sunken ship it was previously unaware of or lead a counter-raid against some pirates who have been especially ruthless and are carrying treasure that would be better off in the Dragon Turtle’s lair than in the hands of the pirates.
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