Dragon turtles are one of the most beautiful, awesome, and feared creatures of the water. With their deadly jaws and breath weapon, and their penchant for capsizing ships, dragon turtles are dreaded by mariners on large bodies of water, both fresh and salt.
When a dragon turtle surfaces, it is sometimes mistaken for the reflection of the sun or moon on the water. The turtle's rough, deep green shell is much the same color as the deep water the monster favors, and the silver highlights that line the shell are patterned like light dancing on open water. The turtle's legs and tail are of a lighter green, and they are flecked with golden highlights. The coloration of the creature's head is similar to the legs and tail, but its crest spines are golden with dark green webbing connecting them. A dragon turtle's shell can reach to 30 feet in diameter, and an adult turtle can measure over 40 feet from its snout to the tip of its tail. Dragon turtles speak their own highly-developed language.
Though dragon turtles may be mistaken for the pleasant sight of light glinting off of water, that illusion is never maintained for long. Dragon turtles are fierce fighters and will generally attack any creature that threatens its territory or presents itself as a potential meal. In combat, dragon turtles will usually (90%) attack with their formidable claws and teeth first. Its shell provides the turtle with excellent protection, though once the dragon turtle strikes a victim, it rarely needs to rely upon this safeguard.
The dragon turtle's shell also provides the creature with a weapon to attack ships that foolishly pass through its territory uninvited. Sinking as deep as necessary, the dragon turtle will wait for the ship to pass over it and then rise up underneath the vessel, using all of its considerable bulk to capsize the unlucky target. Ships under 20 feet in length will be capsized by this attack 95% of the time, vessels from 20 to 60 feet long will be capsized 50% of the time, and ships over 60 feet will be capsized 20% of the time. Ships not capsized will sustain some damage.
In combat, when neither its bite nor its capsizing attack is enough to defeat an enemy, a dragon turtle will use its breath weapon. The turtle can belch forth a cloud of scalding steam that will cover an area 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 40 feet high. This attack causes 20-120 points of damage (20d6), and characters or creatures making a saving throw vs. breath weapon take half damage. Like true dragons, dragon turtles can use this deadly breath weapon three times a day.
Dragon turtles are extremely solitary creatures. Large, desolate sea caves and secret underground caverns that can be accessed only through the water are their favorite lairs. These lairs are difficult to find, but adventurers locating a dragon turtle's cave will find it filled with treasures of all types. The turtle gathers this treasure, which it will protect to the death, from the ships sunk in its territory.
A dragon turtle's territory is well-defined and may cover as much as fifty square miles of open water. Other dragon turtles are allowed into this area only during mating season, though turtles of the same sex will always fight to the death upon meeting. It is this hostility toward their own kind that keeps the number of dragon turtles relatively low.
Mariners of any experience recognize the territorial claims of dragon turtles and will often make extravagant tributes to the turtle controlling areas necessary for safe and speedy trade.
Dragon turtles are carnivorous and will eat almost any creature, including humans or other dragon turtles, to satisfy their voracious appetite. Large fish seem to be the prefered food for dragon turtles, and the turtles can often be found lurking in the weeds and muck at the bottom of a lake or sea waiting for fish to pass. In particularly poor years for fish, dragon turtles have been known to use their breath weapon to kill large groups of sea birds that stray too close to the water for food.
Conflict often arises between dragon turtles and the many intelligent aquatic races, like the locathah or mermen, because of competition for ideal lairs. Like many of their land-based relatives, dragon turtles are considered treacherous and selfish by all creatures that share their domain.
Dragon turtle shells make outstanding shields and armor. Because of the shell's strength and natural resistance to the dragon turtle's own breath weapon, armor or a shield made out of this material gains +1 to its defensive rating. The shield or armor will also save as an item against destruction by fire or steam-based attacks at +4.