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"And my Sigurth, compared to my brothers, was like a garlic stalk that towers above the grass, or like a tall stag that towers over other beasts, or like ember-hued gold next to tarnished silver."
— Guthrun, The Second Poem of Guthrun, Poetic Edda

Sigurd Fafnirsbane is a legendary human fighter and distant descendant of the Norse god Odin.

Appearance and personality

Sigurd is tall and muscular, with heroic stature. He has long blond hair and a beard, like many among his people.

In battle, Sigurd wears a golden chainmail tunic, and a helmet which strikes supernatural fear into those who see him. He wields Gram, a rare and powerful magical sword.

Sigurd is of lawful good alignment. His bravery and heroism are of wide reknown.

Abilities and traits

Sigurd is a warrior of truly legendary ability. He is supremely strong, tough, wise, and clever, as befitting an ancestor of a Norse god. His skill with the sword is unmatched among all humans.

Only when fighting is ineffective does Sigurd use his magic, in the form of runes taught to him.

History

Origin

Sigurd was born to Sigmund, warrior king of Hunaland and a great-great grandson of the god Odin; and Hjordis, daughter of king Eylimi. King Sigmund fell in battle against Odin himself, leaving his son to be raised by the legendary craftsman Regin.

Slaying of Fafnir

When Sigurd he came of age, Regin tasked him to slay the dragon Fafnir and recover a stolen treasure of cursed gold. With the help of the Durin dwarves[1] he re-forged Sigurd's father's broken sword, Gram, a weapon gifted to his family by Odin himself.

Sigurd tracked and slew Fafnir, then roasted the dragon's heart for Regin to eat, as he requested. Fafnir's blood dripped onto Sigurd's finger, and without thinking he licked it off. Suddenly, he gained the ability to speak with animals, and heard nearby birds warning him that Regin planned to betray him.

Believing the voices, Sigurd killed Regin on the spot, and ate Fafnir's heart himself. The birds also told him how to find a sleeping valkyrie, Sigrdrifa, who slept under a curse until Sigurd revived her. Thereafter she taught him runes of magic.

Death

Sigurd used the sword Gram to rescue the sleeping valkyrie Brynhild from a ring of fire.[2] He promised to marry her, but broke his word due to an enchantment cast by Gudrun's mother. Brynhild instead married Gudrun's brother Gunnar, and in vengence for breaking his promise, she had him murder Sigurd as he slept.[1]

The sword Gram was lost thereafter.[2]

Ascension

Sigurd was elevated to quasi-divine status by the Norse god Tyr, who watches over every battle and guides the Valkyries to selects the bravest of slain mortal warriors.[3]

Cultural significance

Sigurd is a popular male given name in many lands, including the Northern Reaches[4] and other northern climates.[5][6]

Individuals named for Sigurd include Sigurd Gustafson, captain of the Ghost Maker[7]; Sigurd Snake Eyes, captain of the Sea Ghost[8]; the dwarf Sigurd of Earthfast;[9]; the fossergrim Sigur;[10] the viking Sigurd Hairy-Cheek;[11] Sigurd of the Giantdowns;[12] Sigurd Gandolfsson;[13] Sigurd Helmudson;[14]; and Jarl Sigurd of the Orkneys.[15]

Publishing history

Original D&D

Sigurd is briefly mentioned in Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.34-35.

AD&D 1st edition

Sigurd appeared in the article Giants in the Earth, Dragon Magazine #41 (Sep 1980), p.18-20.

AD&D 2nd edition

Sigurd and the Sword of Odin (Gram) were mentioned in Legends & Lore (2e) (1990).

Creative origins

Sigurd, also called Sigurth or Sigurthr, is a major character in Norse mythology. He appears prominently in the Poetic Edda, a collection of ancient Norse myths recorded in the Codex Regius around 1270s AD, but which are thought to be centuries older; the Prose Edda, another record of myth; and the Saga of the Volsungs, a collection of stories of the legendary Volsung dynasty.

All of these works have been translated into English in modern times, and formed major parts of the original inspiration for Dungeons & Dragons, both directly and indirectly via works like The Hobbit. The stories of Sigurd are one of the earliest tales of core D&D tropes, such as a hero slaying a dragon to recover his hoard of treasure.

A translation of Saga of the Volsungs was released by Jackson Crawford in 2018.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.186.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.173.
  3. On Hallowed Ground (1996), p.148-149.
  4. Player's Survival Kit, Character Book (1995), p.10.
  5. Xanathar's Guide to Everything (2017), p.189.
  6. Historical Names Make For Better Games, Dragon #40 (Aug 1980), p.33.
  7. DA4 The Duchy of Ten (1987), p.18.
  8. U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (1981), p.19-20.
  9. Spellbound, Campaign Guide (1995), p.2.
  10. DD1 Barrow of the Forgotten King (2007), p.16.
  11. HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991), p.41.
  12. King of the Giantdowns (1997), p.16.
  13. FR5 The Savage Frontier (1988), p.25.
  14. FR2 Moonshae (1e) (1987), p.50.
  15. Dragon #35 (Mar 1980), p.20.
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