Tortle (starting race)

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The tortle is a starting race that appears in EvilHack and Hack'EM.

Tortles are a humanoid reptilian race that resemble an upright tortoise, complete with a large protective shell on their back.

Racial benefits and restrictions

Tortles have a natural ability to swim: this allows them to breathe underwater and inside water elementals and sea dragons, though they can still be strangled by other means, and they are not slowed when walking through raw sewage. They gain intrinsic warning at experience level 5, and hungerless regeneration at experience level 12.

Tortles have a unique ability - they can hide inside their shell for up to 200 turns at a time, using the #monster command. This takes a few actions to perform, and will take longer if they are wearing any hard armor. While inside their shell, they are blind, cannot move or attack, and are unable to perform most other actions beyond passively regenerate hit points/power and praying. Hiding in their shell confers the following boons:

  • They receive a massive 40-point boost to their AC and gain half physical damage.
  • Sting and bite attacks from monsters that are large or smaller deal no damage.
  • They are also impervious to stinger attacks, being grabbed and crushed, or being decapitated.
  • They can come out of their shell early if they so choose (same command used to enter), and will have to wait 300-400 turns before being able to hide in their shell again.

Tortles start with a natural AC of 0 from their shells, but the shell also severely limits what kind of armor they can wear. They are restricted to helms, gloves and shields only: helms and gloves made of any kind of hard or rigid material interfere with their ability to retreat into their shell, with the Mitre of Holiness being an exception to this rule for tortle Priests. As a tortle 'grows up' and gains experience, their shells grow thicker and become better able to repel attacks, giving the tortle an extra point of AC every three levels - this caps off at 10 points total for experience level 30.

Tortles that start with a trident as their weapon will be given a rustproofed one. They also have a 14 chance of starting each game with an oilskin sack, and any tortle in a role that starts with a plain sack will be given an oilskin sack in its place. Most tortles starting as a role that would normally have body armor are typically given a toque instead.

Attribute caps

Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Tortle 19 10 18 18 20 14

Tortles are wise and quite stronger than most races, but move much slower and aren't quite so nimble.


In EvilHack, tortles can be lawful or neutral, and can play as an Archeologist, Barbarian, Healer, Monk, Priest, Samurai, Tourist, or Wizard.

Starting equipment

Many roles' normal starting armor are changed to accommodate the body size and shape of a tortle. The differences in starting inventory are as follows:

Standard item(s) Replacement item(s) Affected roles
jacket +0 leather gloves Archeologist
two-handed sword
+0 trident Barbarian
cloak of magic resistance amulet of magic resistance
+0 leather gloves
ring mail +0 toque Barbarian
splint mail +0 toque Samurai
robe +0 toque Monk, Priest
Hawaiian shirt +0 toque Tourist


In Hack'EM, tortles can be lawful or neutral, and can play as the same roles available in EvilHack, with the addition of the Jedi and Undead Slayer.

The tortle's ability to hide in its shell is moved to the shell technique. Tortles can wear mummy wrappings like other large monsters (since they can stay wrapped while in their shell), giving them one more valuable armor slot.

Starting equipment

In addition to the above accommodations from EvilHack, additional roles have their starting armor exchanged to account for the tortle's body size and shape. These differences in starting inventory are as follows:

Standard item(s) Replacement item(s) Affected roles
robe +0 toque Priest
robe of power +0 toque Monk
silver spear silver trident Undead Slayer
chain mail leather gloves Undead Slayer
helmet +0 toque Undead Slayer


Level Technique Gained
XP 1 shell


Tortles are creatures that originate from Dungeons & Dragons, where they debut in the 1986 Creature Catalogue.