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The Turtles of Elden Ring are so much more than premium meme fodder

Turtles are in everywhere elden ring. From the first time you encounter a player message telling you that a “dog is ahead” only to find a shelled creature wandering aimlessly, to the multitude of turtle-themed items you can find, it’s clear that someone on the FromSoftware team has a soft spot for these cute, docile reptiles.

And why shouldn’t they? Turtles (and indeed other neighboring creatures in the “Testudine” family, all of which Elden Ring refers to as turtles) are universally popular for a reason. In Elden Ring, that same admiration shows up in a variety of ways, big and small: in a wealth of lore text throughout the game, in the sheer importance of the creatures in the open world, and even in the community’s response to them.

In a game like Elden Ring that’s less about a rigid storyline and more about world building, throwing players into a vast, dark fantasy universe, it can be easy to dismiss the most familiar details when there are already so many overwhelming elements gives. Just as you wouldn’t prioritize why there are knights or claymore swords in this world where giant pots with arms and sentient fingers run amok and ask why turtles? feels like too small a question.

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Turtles have long been used as symbols in storytelling. The turtle’s slow pace and resilient nature can be used to draw attention to all sorts of things – but most commonly they are used to denote stability, endurance, and peace.

You may be familiar with Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which portrayed the tortoise as a creature who succeeds because of its resilience and humble demeanor (as opposed to the hare’s cocky pomp). Elden Ring doesn’t exactly deliver a moral message in the same way, but The Lands Between’s turtles certainly hint at some interesting thematic threads that the game itself seems to pick up on.

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FromSoftware is clearly no stranger to incorporating visual imagery with varying degrees of subtlety (think back to all that cosmic horror in Bloodborne). In the case of Elden Ring, the turtles aren’t just visual metaphors for their most virtuous qualities. No, instead they often represent an unattainable wisdom: a peace and tranquility now unattainable due to the circumstances of the “shattered” world of the Elden Ring.

The infamous “turtle pope” (once again, he looks more like a turtle, but I guess we’re not ready for this conversation) Miriel tells us a lot about this idea: It’s a giant, friendly creature that resides in the church the Vow, and an NPC the internet is determined to protect at all costs after a player described killing him only to see what happens.

We live in an undeniably cruel world where such things can happen, and Miriel herself reminds us of this by pointing to the pre-destruction world where diplomacy and peace were said to be valued and respected.

Miriel’s “Church of Vows” has a fairly clear and unique goal: to serve as a memorial to the previously united but now disparate factions of The Lands Between, restoring belief in the idea that people can communicate to solve their problems.

“Heresy is not native to this world,” he says. “It’s just an invention – all things can be connected.” This is obviously a kindhearted sentiment, but also one fueled by a blinding optimism hard to find elsewhere in the Elden Ring. While delivering such wisdom, Miriel takes a nap with a heavy head. From this alone it is clear that Miriel has seen a lot if it were not already apparent from the history lessons that the NPC is so happy to give.

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Of course, Miriel is one of many turtles that you can overlook entirely (or selectively choose not to engage with, if that’s more your playstyle). What seems like an important matter to a wise creature seems to matter very little to everyone else in this land of blood and death.

Elsewhere in The Lands Between, the turtles themselves are neglected: they are hunted to extinction for the healing properties of their meat. If you come across a turtle, you can one-shot it to have some white meat and a turtleneck that can be turned into useful healing items. The inlaid turtleneck item you can craft is one of the best restoration items in the game, and is described as “cooking out virtually endless power.”

Turtles’ innate healing properties – and the way they make them valuable targets for others seeking that magic – is a powerful message from the developer, highlighting the futility of Miriel’s desire for peace in this world: The Turtles can heal Tainted, but only if killed. A hollow contradiction. The turtles are not just a symbol of peace in Elden Ring: they are a demonstration that peace is uniquely unattainable in the “shattered” world of Elden Ring.

The endless war will end Miriel’s hopes of uniting. An endless war will bring the average turtle to its death. It’s unclear how different Miriel is from the average turtle that roams the Limgrave Lakes, but it’s clear that in context all turtles represent the same struggle for peace.

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This notion of turtles as a symbol of “lost peace” is consistently reinforced by anything in the game containing “turtle” symbols: the description of the Turtle Talisman, an item that aids in stamina recovery, tells us that the tortoise “is a symbol of inexhaustible power” but also provides the crucial detail that “those who think of tortoises as wise creatures find it barbaric to eat their flesh”.

Obviously, someone else thinks it’s odd to kill these magically powerful and obviously wise creatures for short-term gain. But since we never actually find out who writes the item descriptions in Elden Ring, it’s unclear who makes those observations and judgments.

Judging by the player news and community reaction to Miriel, there is at least some respect for the turtles shining through in the Elden Ring player base. Even the silly misnomer has an undeniably affectionate undertone.

But even if we find fans here in our world, the suffering of the turtles will continue in The Lands Between – at least possibly until you restore the major runes and become the Elden Lord.

So if you’ve ever needed another reason to end Elden Ring, now you have one: do it for the turtles.

https://www.vg247.com/elden-rings-turtles-are-so-much-more-than-grade-a-meme-fodder The Turtles of Elden Ring are so much more than premium meme fodder

Fry Electronics Team

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