Is this homebrew mini-tarrasque race over-(or under-)powered?


The tarrasque is a fearsome one-of-a-kind monster with a terrifying bite, an impenetrable carapace, and unbeatable regenerative abilities. It’s also big, dumb, and ugly. The mini-tarrasque is mostly similar to other humanoids, but also possesses approximate versions of the legendary beast’s most noteworthy qualities.

  • +2 Constitution, -2 Strength. Without the benefit of size, the mini-tarrasque is surprisingly weak. However, it still possesses exceptional fortitude.

  • Medium: As a Medium creature, the mini-tarrasque has no special bonuses or penalties due to its size.

  • Mini-tarrasque base land speed is 20 feet.

  • Augmented Natural Weapon: The mini-tarrasque has sharp teeth and a powerful jaw. It can attack with its bite as a natural weapon, dealing piercing and bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 plus its Strength modifier on a successful hit and threatening a critical hit on a natural attack roll of 19-20.

  • Blindsense: Though it lacks the finely-tuned scent ability of the full-sized tarrasque, the mini-tarrasque can use its ears and nose to notice the presence of things it cannot see. It has blindsense out to 15 feet.

  • Cause Fear: Once per day, when the mini-tarrasque charges or attacks a creature, it can affect that creature as though using the cause fear spell with a caster level equal to the mini-tarrasque’s level and a save DC of 11 + the mini-tarrasque’s Cha modifier. This is a supernatural mind-affecting fear effect.

  • Rush: Once per encounter, the normally slow-moving mini-tarrasque can move at a speed of 90 feet.

  • Deflection: Despite not having a reflective carapace, the mini-tarrasque’s flesh is still able to occasionally bounce away rays, lines, cones, and even magic missile spells. Whenever the mini-tarrasque is targeted by such an effect, it can roll a d6. On a 6, the mini-tarrasque ignores the spell or effect.

  • Fast Healing: In contrast to the full-sized tarrasque’s complete immortality, the mini-tarrasque can be slain in ordinary combat. However, its body still heals at an extraordinary rate, allowing it to regain 3 hit points at the beginning of each of its turns. Unlike to most creatures with fast healing, the mini-tarrasque also regrows lost limbs or body parts after 3d6 minutes. It can reattach a severed member instantly by holding it to the stump.

  • Immunities: The mini-tarrasque is immune to ability damage and effects that would cause incurable wounds. Anything that would inflict ability drain deals ability damage instead. The mini-tarrasque automatically succeeds on saving throws made to avoid permanently losing one or more levels due to energy drain. If it would gain negative levels greater than or equal to its level, it instead gains negative levels up to a maximum of one less than its level.

  • Energy Resistance: The mini-tarrasque has resistance to fire 15.

  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against disease, poison, and energy drain. If it succeeds on its saving throw(s), the mini-tarrasque can overcome any disease or poison without the need for magical assistance.

  • +2 racial bonus on Listen and Spot checks.

  • Automatic Languages: None. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal.

  • Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass mini-tarrasque’s fighter class does not count when determining whether it takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing

  • Level Adjustment +2.

Why I did what I did

My overall goal was to bring the "unstoppable" feeling of the army-flattening tarrasque to something that can actually be built upon with normal classes in a reasonably-leveled setting.

  • I scaled down the tarrasque by reversing the size-increase process in the MM and found that it actually had 8 Strength and a ton of Constitution. The DMG says that +Con -Str isn’t an even trade, but gnomes have it, and it can be accomplished by passing through Dex (+Con -Dex, +Dex -Str) and I wanted to make the non-magical-beast version not have a puny smooth brain, so that’s what I went with.

  • Speed I kept at 20. Dwarves are also Medium with 20 feet, but can wear armor without slowing down. Mini-tarrasque’s upside to being slow is the rush ability, which (like everything else about it) is substantially nerfed from the regular-tarrasque version. But 1/minute and 1/encounter seem almost identical unless you’re going on an hour-long city rampage, so it seemed reasonable to make the 12-Con mini-tarrasque need a bit more rest between rushes than the 35-Con mega-tarrasque. The speed of the rush itself was nerfed down to the level of an aarakocra’s flying speed, since they’re also a listed Medium race that normally walks 20 feet per round.

  • Since the dawn of time, the tarrasque’s bite has been its most powerful weapon, able to crit on an 18 and inflict extra pain when that lands. But this tarrasque has a smaller mouth, and Savage Species suggests a LA increase for having more natural attacks than an equal-level fighter gets weapon attacks (in this case, one) or being able to deal more damage than a one-handed simple or martial weapon. I think natural weapons are light, so I gave it basically the same stats as a shortsword.

  • +1 LA for blindsight (which other abominations have, while the tehcnically-not-an-abomination tarrasque has blind-fight)? +1 LA for scent (which the tarrasque actually does have)? Naw, dawg. Let’s take the minimum stated range for scent and turn it into blindsense. Something that conveys the tarrasque’s extraordinary senses without actually being all that powerful.

  • According to Savage Species, Frightful Presence is worth +1 LA. Without RHD, though, that is an abysmal trade. So I made the tarrasque’s fear effect more like a quickened SLA, once a day. It’s smaller, so obviously it’s less intimidating. Still, probably enough to scare a common guard or what have you.

  • Being totally immune to rays, lines, and cones felt way too good. That’s a huge number of (sometimes very dangerous) attacks that the tarrasque can ignore. In 1e/2e, it was a d6 to decide if the attack was reflected or bounced harmlessly off. So I took that rate (about half of 3.5e tarrasque’s reflection rate) and made it the odds of the attack bouncing off versus hitting you normally. I felt like that kept a good portion of the idea intact, without increasing mini-tarrasque’s power too much?

  • Regeneration is the second of the tarrasque’s most famous and important abilities, but the fact that nothing deals lethal damage to it seems like it’d be entirely busted for most of a campaign. I kept its ability to recover from damage (including dismemberment, albeit at troll speed rather than tarrasque speed), but going from regeneration to fast healing makes the mini-tarrasque actually killable. It also gives a +1 to LA (instead of +2), according to Savage Species.

  • Like with being able to regrow/reattach body parts, I wanted the mini-tarrasque to be able to keep on trucking even against draining attacks. Almost no non-undead in the game has anything like this, so unsurprisingly Savage Species doesn’t even have anything to say about it. But all abominations–tarrasque included–have immunity to these things, so I gave it a sort of "resistance to ability damage/drain and energy drain", based on how the horizon walker prestige class "resists" exhaustion. The energy drain immunity doesn’t actually let it do that much that other races couldn’t (since it still suffers penalties while fighting with drained energy), but it fits with the theme and lets it avoid two of the most frustrating things that can happen to a character.

  • Again, immunity downgraded to resistance. Every version of the tarrasque is immune to fire (which is also in line with the fact that all abominations have an energy immunity, so it felt important to keep), but without the fire subtype (which would lead to cold vulnerability) that seemed like it might come with a hefty cost. Theoretically LA+1 for resistance to a single energy type of less than 20.

  • Keeping with the trend of "immunity to resistance", I gave mini-tarrasque dwarf-sized bonuses to saves against diseases and poisons, which for the normal tarrasque are immunities. I also gave it the ability to recover from magical diseases or whatever–basically just mummy rot, since that’s something that the tarrasque specifically calls out as being immune to, and that keeps with the running idea of not getting slowed down by some incurable effect other than being killed.

  • Tarrasque has +8 to Listen and Spot. Standard races (like elves) get +2 instead, so that’s what mini-tarrasque gets, too.

  • By default, the tarrasque doesn’t speak. Other abominations get Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal, though, so now that the creature in question has more than 3 Intelligence, it has the potential to learn some languages. Not having Common available seems like it’d be pretty inconvenient for an intelligent avatar of destruction, so I threw that in as another bonus.

  • Tarrasques fight. Fighters fight. I also considered barbarian, but felt like fighter was a more commonly-used favored class.


As you can see, I basically included Savage Species level adjustment increases only for the things that I had no choice but to increase LA for. I also left out things that would have forced me to increase LA beyond the absolute essentials (in my opinion, the things that most define a tarrasque but which are explicitly stated to give LA are regeneration and fire immunity). So, no horns/claws/tail, no natural armor, no spell/psi resistance, and certainly no +17 strength modifier. Even an LA of +2 is pretty rough (far more than Savage Species tends to balance around), I think, so I wanted to pack as much into those two adjusted levels as I could.

But did I pack too much? Or maybe even too little? Did I overlook anything that actually makes the mini-tarrasque way more or less effective than I’m thinking? If it’s stronger than the typical LA+2 race, that’s fine, because the typical LA+2 race is pretty awful. But if it’s way too dominant compared to every other possible option, then that would be not great.