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Loki is a deity in the Norse pantheon. An infamous trickster deity, he is at various times an ally and an enemy to the gods of Asgard. He is responsible for some of the greatest successes of the Norse gods, as well as some of the greatest crimes against them.

Prior to his imprisonment by the gods, Loki sits as one of the twelve most important gods at Asgard.[1]

Description

Appearance

Loki is a handsome young man. He is capable of changing his shape, and often assumes female form.[2] He stands six feet tall, and always wears red and black, even when he takes other guises.[3]

Personality and alignment

Loki is restless, impulsive, talkative, and highly sociable.[4] He is particularly clever, and enjoys subverting expectations. He often plays practical jokes on the other Norse deities. However, they also value him for his ability to think outside the box and solve problems in ways the other gods would not have considered.[2]

Loki is proud and vainglorious. He believes himself the best of the Norse gods, and will always take an opportunity to prove himself smarter and better capable. This attitude often raises the ire of the gods of Asgard, and they are rarely motivated to help Loki with his own problems.[5]

Loki's habit of treachery is so ingrained that it causes him significant psychological issues. Since he is so used to lies, he sees no truth or purpose in anything, and worships only his own mischief-making. This endless self-deception causes Loki to lead a hollow, unsatisfying existence.[6]

Loki is chaotic evil in alignment. However, he does not become truly evil until Ragnarok approaches, where his resentment for the gods of Asgard accumulates during his torture and imprisonment at their hands.[2]

Titles

Loki is known by many nicknames, often due to his exploits. He is called the Sly One; the Trickster; the Shape Changer; and the Sky Traveler. He is called the God of Mischief, Strife, and Fire.[2] Some call him Lokar, the Great Deceiver.[7]

Abilities

As a deity, Loki is immortal. He cannot die of natural causes, and is immune to normal dangers such as disease, paralysis, poison, magical imprisonment spells and planar banishment. He can still be slain.[2]

He can see, hear and sense at to a distance of 16 miles from himself, any of his followers, holy sites, holy objects, or any place where one of his names or titles is spoken.[2]

Loki can change his form at will, and often assumes the guise of a woman. He can take the form of other creatures or objects.[2][1] In the past he has transformed into a bridesmaid,[8] a mare,[9], and a needle.[10]

He is an excellent liar. His words act as mass suggestion magic. He can instantly tell the exact value of any treasure he can see, know every item carried by a creature he can see, and knows where on their body it is carried. He can perform any rogue skill instantaneously and with trivial ease.[2]

He is swift in combat, can dodge attacks, and can inflict bleeding wounds upon his opponents. He is nearly impossible to sneak up on. He cannot be harmed by fire. He can instantaneously slay all mortals within one mile, or raise them back to life.[2]

Loki casts sorcerer spells instantaneously, and counterspell magic that he knows. In addition to being able to cast sorcerer spells of 9th level, Loki can innately cast numerous spell-like abilities, including animate objects, chaos hammer, create undead, disintegrate, polymorph any object, and time stop.[2]

Loki can create any magic item related to rogues or assassins, even legendary ones.[2]

Portfolio

Loki is a god of thieves, trickery, and murder. He automatically senses all crimes, cons, practical jokes and tricks, and knows them up to sixteen weeks before they happen. Loki has power over the domains of chaos, destruction, evil, and trickery.[2]

Loki is considered a patron of illusionists.[11] This connection is so strongly held in Asgard that magic is considered less honorable than melee combat.[12]

Worship

Dogma

Most cultists of Loki revere the god's trickster aspect. They believe that practical jokes and pranks are beneficial to society, encouraging their victims to see the world from a different viewpoint. However, their tricks are often cruel and not well received by the victims.[2]

Loki often sends omens to his worshipers in the form of illusions. He often calls upon his followers to help him escape from trouble he has gotten himself into.[13] Loki rewards anyone clever enough to be able to steal from him.[14]

The spell animate dead, considered shameful and dishonorable by the Aesir, is acceptable to Loki.[15]

In the Known World, it is believed that Loki was once a mortal of the Antalian tribes, a mage and master of fire magic. His ascent was sponsored by Rathanos, who he betrayed in order to follow the Sphere of Entropy. He is depicted by the Northmen of that world wearing the furs of their people, having red hair, and carrying no weapons.[16]

Worshipers

While the people of Midgard typically worship the Norse pantheon as a collective group, Loki is particularly followed by rogues and assassins,[2] though social outcasts and troublemakers are often drawn to Loki.[6] Some sorcerers also revere Loki.[17] In some worlds, he is followed by the yuan-ti.[18]

Loki's followers worship in secret. They are mistrusted by society at large, and command little respect.[2] Clerics who revere the entire Norse pantheon as a group do not sanction the worship of Loki.[19] A few cults of Surtur and Thrym in Midgard have alliances with Loki's cult.[20][8]

A few darker sects of Loki practice outright murder, mayhem, and chaos.[2]

Loki is worshiped in many worlds, including the Northern Reaches of the Known World, where he stirs up political intrigue. He is known there by the aliases Bozdogan, Lokar, and Farbautides.[21][22][6]

Notable followers of Loki include the cambion Rule-of-Three, who is said to have worshiped Loki for a while before he tired of it;[23] Wastoure, a mage who worships him as Lokar,[24] and Bersi, who disguises as a follower of Thor.[25]

Clergy

Many priests of Loki are also rogues or sorcerers.[2]

Rituals

Unlike most of the Asgardian pantheon, priests of Loki are not required to perform any particular services or rituals. Those clerics who pray to Loki for divine intervention for some personal gain may, on rare occasion, receive a personal visit from Loki's avatar, though no individual has ever received this gift more than three times in their lifetime.[13]

Holy sites

Temples of Loki are usually maintained in secret. They may be hidden in other buildings, or in caves. Some use legitimate businesses as a front for the cult. Temples are often full of weapons, poison, and supplies for causing mayhem.

New visitors to Loki's temples are treated with suspicion, but giants are especially welcome.[2]

Holy symbol

Loki's holy symbol is flame.[2]

Other symbols variously used to reprsent Loki include a pair of red and black boots,[5] a drinking goblet filled with bubbling venom,[6] and a fly.[4]

Favored weapon

Loki favors the dagger.[2]

Relationships

Family

Loki is the son of the giant Farbauti and the giantess Laufey.[2] Despite his giant heritage, he is one of the gods of Asgard thanks to his adoption into the family of Odin, who considers Loki a blood brother.[1][5]

Loki is also brother to the ancient storm god Aegir, whose brother is Kari.[26]

With his first wife, Glut, Loki had two children, Eisa and Einmyria.[1]

Loki's connection to Aegir, Kari, Glut, Eisa and Einmyria are only mentioned in Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976). It appears to conflate Loki with Logi, "fire", a literal fire which beats Loki in an eating contest, described in later sagas as a brother of Kari who has power over flame.

Loki also has three monstrous children with his second wife,[1] the giantess Angrboda: the world-serpent Jormungandr; the wolf Fenrir, and the death goddess Hel.

Loki's third wife is Sigyn, who tends to him during his imprisonment. With Sigyn he has two sons, Vali and Narfi, who the gods will kill before his eyes when he is imprisoned.

A rumor asserts that the ancient obyrith demon Pale Night mated with Loki to produce a race of demon spawn, one of them the demon prince Graz'zt. However, Graz'zt's parentage is not known with certainty.[27]

Enemies

Loki is fated to be imprisoned by the gods as punishment for his role in the death of Balder. When he breaks free, he will fight agains the gods of Asgard at the final battle of Ragnarok.

Loki has special enmity for Heimdall, who he will fight at Ragnarok. Heimdall, watchman of the gods, often foils Loki's tricks and schemes.[5] He is envious of Balder's beauty.[28]

Thrym and his cultists hold a grudge against Thor and Loki for thwarting his attempt to win Freya's hand in marriage.[29]

The spider-god Korotiku is Loki's rival.[6]

Allies and minions

Loki has journeyed alongside Thor and aided the other gods of Asgard on numerous occasions.[2] However, thanks to Loki's arrogant attitude, they are rarely interested in helping him with his problems. Loki has attempted to form alliances with gods of other pantheons, but such alliances are exploitative and short-lived.[5]

Loki will side with the fire giant Surtur at Ragnarok. He is friendly with giants, as well as dwarves, who the gods of Asgard often look down upon.[13] On more than one occasion he has hidden out in Bast's plane of Merratet.[30]

Loki has several divine proxies, giants with whom he has granted a portion of his divine power.[31] One is Starkad the Gnawer, a cloud giant who watches over Loki's realm of Winter's Hall.[5]

Artifacts

Loki's envenomed dagger exudes toxic deathblade poison. It is infused with chaotic and unholy energy and is particularly deadly to beings of good and law.[2][32]

Loki's boots allow him to walk on water, fly, and travel with great speed on land.[1][33]

Loki is credited as the inventor of the sword of cowardice.[34][35]

Realm

Loki resides in Asgard with most of the other Norse gods.

Loki also has a domain in Pandemonium named Winter's Hall, where he hides from the Aesir for a time when he has done something to anger them, which is fairly often. The cloud giant Starkad the Gnawer is in charge of this domain, but does not take good care of it.[5] It is the custom for visitors of this to speak poorly of the gods of Asgard, so as not to offend Loki when he comes here to brood.[36]

Following his punishment by the gods for the death of Balder, Loki is buried in a cave in Midgard, bound by the entrails of his slain son Narfi, with venom dripping into his face. There he will remain until Ragnarok.

Loki once fled with Odin to Rime Isle, where Loki was imprisoned in a whirlpool off its coast. Loki's rage caused a great storm which sank an invading fleet.[37]

A rumour holds that Loki is secretly the ruler of Svartalfheim in disguise.[38]

History

Origin

Loki is the son of the giant Farbauti and the giantess Laufey.[2]

A legend says that Loki stood with Odin when the world of Midgard was first created.[2]

Exploits of Loki

The stories of Loki are numerous and infamous.

Loki once transformed into a needle to sneak into the tightly-built hall Sessrumnir. He once cut off all of Sif's hair as a prank, but dwarves crafted her enchanted hair made of gold to grow in its place. On more than one occasion he gave Thor fleas.[39] He has stolen the Golden Apples of Idun and the Necklace of Brisingamen from Freya.[40] He once attempted to woo Selune of the Faerunian pantheon.[41]

Loki once slew the dwarf Oter, brother of the blacksmith Regin and the dragon Fafnir. Forced by tradition to pay financial compensation, Loki robbed the dwarf Andvari to obtain the money. Andvari cursed a single golden ring so that men shall kill their own family for it.[42]

Loki has often helped the gods of Asgard; it is for these acts that he was made blood brother of Odin, and that he is tolerated by the gods.[3] He once assumed the form of a mare to distract the stallion of the giant who built the walls of Asgard, so that the giant would miss his deadline and could not claim payment; Loki became pregnant and birthed the horse Sleipnir.[9] He helped return Thor's hammer Mjolnir when it was stolen by the frost gaint Thrym, by disguising himself and Thor as women.[43] And when tasked with having the dwarves craft Sif's golden hair, Loki leveraged the situation to have them craft Odin's spear Gungnir, Odin's ring Draupnir, Thor's hammer Mjolnir, and Frey's ship Skidbladnir.[4]

However, Loki has also performed great sins against the gods of Asgard. He tricked the blind god Hod into killing his brother Balder with a mistletoe dart, Balder's one weakness.[44]

Ragnarok

For his role in the death of Balder, Loki is punished by the gods. Odin turns Loki's son Vali into a wolf and has him slay Loki's son Narfi. The gods use Narfi's entrails to bind Loki in a cave, with a poisonous snake dripping venom into his wounds. Loki's wife Sigyn tries to catch the venom, but cannot protect him from every drop. The people of Midgard say that earthquakes are caused by Loki shaking in pain from the venom.[2]

Loki is imprisoned for so long that the poison forms an entire lake of venom outside Loki's cave.[45]

Before the final battle of Ragnarok, in which nearly all of the Norse pantheon will be killed, Loki will be freed from his imprisonment. He is fated to be killed by Heimdall, who will then die of his wounds sustained in the fight. Loki will steal Heimdall's sword before the battle, but this will not change his fate.[46]

Current events

Loki enjoys ruining plans on both sides of the the Blood War.[39]

Cultural significance

The name Loki is used by others, including the illusionist giant Utgard-Loki and the half-elf wizard Loki Spellsinger.[47]

In esoteric mysticism, Loki is associated with the planet Mercury. Interestingly, so is Odin.[48]

A series of spells known as Loki's Path, also called Trickster's Road, are traditionally taught in a fixed order by certain sects of mages. Those spells are grease, jump, spider climb, taunt, fool's gold, Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter, castise, fool's speech, fumble, reverse gravity, and Otto's irresistable dance.[49]

Publication history

Original D&D

Loki first appears in Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.29.

AD&D 1st edition

Loki appears in Legends & Lore (1e) (1985), p.104-105 and Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980). In this sourcebook, he is a greater god.

AD&D 2nd edition

Loki is detailed in Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.82 and the Planescape sourcebook On Hallowed Ground (1996), p.147. He is an intermediate god.

His realm is described in Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.93-94, and he is briefly mentioned in other Planescape sourcebooks.

He is described in detail in For better or Norse: II, Dragon #110 (Jun 1986), p.27-29, which makes the interesting argument that Loki is chaotic neutral in alignment. Before the death of Balder, most of Loki's mischief consists of harmless pranks. Loki is often unfairly blamed for the Aesir's mistakes, and is the first to help out. He gives Sleipnir to Odin for free, and does not fight the Aesir at Ragnarok until after they murder his sons and torture him in a cave.

D&D 3rd edition

Loki appears in Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.183-184. He is a greater deity.

D&D 4th edition

The Norse pantheon does not appear in D&D 4th edition.

D&D 5th edition

Loki is one of twenty Norse gods listed in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014).

Creative origins

Loki is one of the most important gods in Norse myth. The main sources are the Poetic Edda, a collection of poetry in the Old Norse language; and the Prose Edda, a later more scholarly book about Old Norse poetry written around 1250 AD by Snorri Sturluson following the conversion of Iceland to Christianity.

He appears in several poems of the Poetic Edda. Loki's imprisonment is mentioned in stanza 34 of Voluspa, the prophecy of Ragnarok. Stanza 49 describes the giants' ship Naglfar approaching, with Loki as its captain, and among its crew are giants and the wolf Fenrir.

In Lokasenna, Loki attends a feast held by Aegir, where he is unwelcome. Loki is allowed in because Odin, his blood brother (family by adoption), swore to always share his drink with him. Loki subsequently insults the gods one by one, until Thor returns and threatens to kill him. Loki leaves, as he believes Thor will make good on his word.

A prologue to Lokasenna describes Loki's capture and imprisonment by the gods, after hiding in the form of a salmon. Loki is tied with his son Nari's intestines, and his son Narvi is turned into a wolf. Skadi places venomous snake is placed above Loki, with his wife Sigyn holding a jar above his face to catch the poison, but when she leaves to pour it out, the venom lands in Loki's face, and this is what causes earthquakes.

In Thrymskvitha, the giant Thrym steals Mjolnir. Loki borrows Freya's feather suit, which allows the wearer to fly, and learns that Thrym is holding the hammer hostage in exchange for Freya's hand in marriage. Loki instead disguises Thor as Frey and himself as a bridesmaid, and they steal back.

In Voluspa en skamma, a witch tells that Loki, brother of Byleist, fathered a wolf with Angrboda. He also ate the heart of a woman who had burned on a tree, became pregnant, and from that offspring all the troll-women are descended.

Reginsmal describes Loki killing an otter with a stone, only to discover it to be a shapechanging dwarf named Ottar. By Norse legal tradition, he must pay weregild, or financial compensation to Ottar's family. He catches the shapechanging dwarf Andvari, who has assumed the form of a salmon, in a net borrowed from the sea goddess Ran, and robs him for all of his money, down to his last gold ring. Andvari curses the ring to cause strife between men.

In Hymiskvitha, Loki is blamed for Thor's goat being lame in one leg.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.29.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.183-184.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Legends & Lore (1e) (1985), p.104-105.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 For better or Norse: II, Dragon #110 (Jun 1986), p.27-29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 On Hallowed Ground (1996), p.147.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 DDA2 Legions of Thyatis (1990), p.31.
  7. DDA2 Legions of Thyatis (1990), p.7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.194.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.169.
  10. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.165.
  11. Aesirhamar, Dragon #90 (Oct 1984), p.56.
  12. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.104.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.183.
  14. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.106.
  15. Plane facts on Gladsheim, Dragon #90 (Oct 1984), p.39.
  16. Hollow World Campaign Set, Dungeon Master's Sourcebook (1990), p.109.
  17. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.164.
  18. Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.94.
  19. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.6-7.
  20. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.191.
  21. Savage Coast Campaign Book, Atlas of the Savage Coast (1996), p.15.
  22. Savage Coast Campaign Book, Atlas of the Savage Coast (1996), p.69.
  23. In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (1995), p.56.
  24. DDA2 Legions of Thyatis (1990), p.28.
  25. GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, DM Book (1988), p.54.
  26. Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.31.
  27. Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Graz'zt, the Dark Prince, Dragon #360 (Oct 2007), p.10-11.
  28. On Hallowed Ground (1996), p.142.
  29. Frostburn (2004), p.56.
  30. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.118.
  31. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.90.
  32. Encyclopedia Magica Volume One (1994), p.366.
  33. Encyclopedia Magica Volume One (1994), p.195.
  34. Encyclopedia Magica Volume Four (1995), p.1352.
  35. Treasure Trove, Dragon #91 (Nov 1984), p.61.
  36. The Planewalker's Handbook (1996), p.47.
  37. Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar: The New Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser[Unknown book], DM's Book, p.13.
  38. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.127.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Hellbound: The Blood War, The Dark of the War (1996), p.71.
  40. Complete Adventurer (2005), p.189.
  41. Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.116.
  42. Giants in the Earth, Dragon #41 (Sep 1980), p.18.
  43. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.192.
  44. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.171.
  45. 101 Wondrous Whereabouts, Dragon #281 (Mar 2001), p.61.
  46. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.179.
  47. The City of Ravens Bluff (1998), p.101.
  48. The Seven Magical Planets, Dragon #38 (Jun 1980), p.28.
  49. Paths of power, Dragon #216 (Apr 1995), p.42-49.
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