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Surtur, also spelled Surtr or Surt, is a deity in the Norse pantheon. He is god of fire giants, and is worshiped as such on many worlds.

Description[]

Appearance[]

Surtur is a gargantuan fire giant, with burning red hair and skin as dark as coal.[1] His hair and eyebrows burn like flame, and he wears iron armor that is hot enough to seriously burn any human who touches it. He is rarely seen without his enormous flaming iron sword.[2][3][4]

Personality and alignment[]

Surtur has a powerful hatred of the Aesir gods of the Norse pantheon. He anxiously awaits the day of Ragnarok, when he can destroy the Aesir.[5][6]

Surtur is more clever than Thyrm, and revered as a skill craftsman.[7]

Surtur is lawful evil in alignment.[1]

Titles[]

Surtur is called the Lord of the Fire Giants,[1] King of the Fire Giants,[8] and Lord of Muspelheim.[9]

Abilities[]

As a deity, Surtur has numerous abilities. He is immortal, and while he can be slain, he is invulnerable to old age, disintegration, poison, transmutation, and cold. He cannot be banished or magically imprisoned.

He is an exceptional warrior, possessing incredible strength and skill at arms even for a giant. His favored enemies are the gods of Asgard, against whom he excels at fighting, though he is also skilled at hunting fey, humans, and wild beasts.

He can conjure fire and fire elementals, and has particular mastery of fire. He can cast numerous spells, and readily craft all but the most extremely legendary of magic weapons, armor, or items related to fire or metalworking.

He can see, hear and otherwise sense at a distance of 14 miles from any of his worshipers, holy sites, holy objects, or anywhere his name is spoken, and automatically senses events related to giants or large fires.[1]

Holy weapons are particularly harmful to him.[8]

Portfolio[]

Surtur is a god of fire, war, and strength. He is the particular patron of fire giants.[1] His primary concern is the fortunes of fire giants.[10] He is also known as a god of craft and knowledge.[11]

Worship[]

Dogma[]

Followers of Surtur revere fire as a vital, yet dangerous force. They believe that fire is an important cleansing agent, such as when a forest fire allows for new growth. It can be used as an important tool, but must be respected, as it is dangerous when uncontrolled.[1]

Followers of Surtur sometimes carry statues of their deity, and will wage war in his name.[12]

Worshipers[]

While the people of Midgard typically worship the Norse pantheon as a collective group, Surtur is particularly followed by fire giants and other giants.[1] Fighters also revere him.[13]

A few cults to Surtur exist among humans, where they collaborate with Loki's followers. They seek to oppose and undermine Thor's followers at every opportunity, and are unfriendly toward Thrymm, god of frost giants.[1]

Clergy[]

Surtur's clerics are almost all giants. He accepts a small number of human clerics, who carefully conceal their dedication to the destructive fire god. Surtur accepts lawful evil, lawful neutral, and neutral evil clerics.[1]

Fire giant shamans of Surtur often carry a severed human head dipped in molten steel.[14] They are forbidden from being defeated in personal combat; those who do are marked upon their face with the silver symbol of a flaming sword. They are skilled in the summoning of fire elementals.[15]

Witch-doctors dedicated to Surtur exist, but they are rare.[16]

Surtur's clergy keep the magical secret of producing firestone, a form of rock which remains hot.[17]

Holy sites[]

Surtur's temples in Muspelheim are grand fortresses, where the giants prepare for Ragnarok.[1] Some temples are guarded with a password, changed weekly. Even among the lands of humans, such temples commonly feature an environment favorable to fire giants, such as burning braziers which create heat and thick smoke. They are depicted with images of warfare and violence, with Surt destroying his various enemies.[18]

Like Loki's temples, Surtur's temples in human lands are hidden and highly secretive. They produce and store weapons and tools for the cult, so that they will constantly be ready to fight alongside Surtur at Ragnarok. Visitors are treated with hostility unless they can quickly prove their devotion to Surtur; if they fail, they are quickly executed to prevent them from revealing the temple's location.[1] Even most fire giants are not permitted to know the location of such secret lairs.[7]

Shrines to other giants sometimes see additional use to honor Surtur.[19]

Crude shrines to Surtur have been found which bear connections to the four princes of Elemental Evil, including Imix.[20] Shrines exist in the City of Brass, tended by efreet, although those fire genies do not worship him. Fire giants there guard the Smoking Hammer Shrine, an ugly iron construction.[21]

The Rift of the Fire Giants is visited to invoke the blessing of Surtur. There is a lava pool here known as Surtur's Pool, where fire giants are known to worship. Items of value are thrown into the lava as offerings to the Surtur, while his name is loudly chanted.[22]

Holy symbol[]

Surtur's holy symbol is a flaming sword.[1]

Favored weapon[]

Surtur favors the longsword.[1]

Defenders of the Faith (2001), p.92 and Complete Divine (2004), p.124, instead list his favored weapon as a greatsword.

Relationships[]

Family[]

Surtur is a son of Annam, an ancient, quiet giant god whose role in the creation of the world and the giants has been re-interpreted differently across human cultures.

By Annam, Surtur is a brother to Thrym, god of the frost giants; and Skoraeus Stonebones, god of the stone giants. They are the second generation of Annam's children; the first being Hiatea and Stronmaus, and the third Grlantor and Karontor. He is also brother to Memnor and Iallanis.[23]

Starkad the Sorcerer claims to be related to Surtur.[24]

Enemies[]

Surtur's primary enemy are the Aesir gods of the Norse pantheon, whose most famous members include Odin, Thor, and Tyr.

Surtur is an enemy of the dwarf deity Clangeddin Silverbeard,[25] the Seldarine deity Rellavar Danuvien.[26]

Surtur is the enemy of frost giants.

Allies and minions[]

He is allied with Kossuth, a fire deity of Faerûn.[27]

Surtur is destined to lead the fire giants and other giants against the Aesir gods at Ragnarok.

He has at least one demigod servant, a spellcaster whose name is unknown, and about who little else is known except for his conflict with the trickster goddess Diancastra, who stole his spellbooks.

Surtur is served by a number of red dragons.[8]

He has the allegiance of six balors, who he can call upon once each year.[8]

The titan Uldrak serves Surtur.[28]

Legend says that Surtr created the merchurions, originally a race of fire giant metalsmiths who were transformed into living metal.[29]

Artifacts[]

Surtur himself wields a powerful flaming sword which shines more brightly than the sun.[1] Frost creatures will commonly flee at the mere sight of it.[8]

In Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), Surtur's sword is specifically given as a gargantuan-sized +5 brilliant energy flaming burst longsword. This gives it the ability to pass through most armor. Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976) asserts that it can instantly kill frost giants.

Realm[]

Surtur makes his home in Muspelheim, fiery range of the fire giants.[30] Here, the Spire of Surtr, the Forges of Surtr, and the Surtr's Beard Foundry are named for him.[31]

In the Great Wheel cosmology, Muspelheim is found on the second layer of Ysgard, also called Gladsheim, as it borders with Asgard, or Ysgard.[32]

In other cosmologies, Muspelheim is located in Midgard.[1]

He is also said to reside in Jotunheim, land of the giants.[2] Here he occupies Meerrauk, though he returns to Muspelheim often.[31]

History[]

Origin[]

Surtur was born the son of Annam, ancient progenitor god of the giants. According to legend, he is the twin brother of Thrym, god of frost giants, and the two immediately began competing over who could be the first two cry, walk, and talk. They have been rivals ever since, although some legends tell of them adventuring together at times.[7]

Surtur's brother Skoraeus Stonebones taught him the knowledge of smelting.[33] Surtur showed promise in craft, while his brother Thyrm showed better promise in violence. However, Annam was more impressed with Surtur's gifts than his brother's.[7]

Future[]

Surtur is prophecied to lead the forces of the giants against the Aesir gods at Ragnarok, the great battle in which most of the gods of the Norse pantheon will be slain. Surtur will set the world on fire, burning it down to make room for a new world. His forces will be so many that the marching of their feet will break down the Bifrost bridge.[34]

The god Frey will fight Surtur with his bare hands, having given his sword to his shield-man Skirnir.[35]

Publication history[]

Original D&D[]

Surtur first appears in Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.30.

AD&D 1st edition[]

Surtur appears in Legends & Lore (1e) (1984), p.106 and Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980).

AD&D 2nd edition[]

Surtur is detailed in Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.184.

D&D 3rd edition[]

Surtur appears in Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.190-192.

D&D 4th edition[]

The Norse pantheon does not appear in D&D 4th edition. However, Surtur still appears in his role as Lord of the Fire Giants, where he rules the kingdom of Muspel from Jarnfell in the Iron Mountain. He is first mentioned in Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters (2008), p.60. The Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008), p.66, places this in the Elemental Chaos. The Plane Below (2009), p.59, has him rule Sakath-Mazim, Kingdom of the Ashen Storm.

D&D 5th edition[]

Surtur is one of twenty Norse gods listed in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014). He is mentioned in Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.153 as the god of fire giants.

Creative origins[]

Surtur, often written Surt or Surtr, is a figure of Norse myth. He appears in both the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse myth; and the Prose Edda, a later literary work on the topic by Snorri Sturluson.

In Voluspa, the prophecy of Ragnarok, Surtr is described coming from the south with the destroyer of branches (a kenning for fire). He is mentioned in the context of Ragnarok in Vafthruthnismal and Fafnismal.

In Gylfaginning in the Prose Edda, Surt is again mentioned in the context of Ragnarok. It is described that he shall defeat Freyr after he gave his sword to Skirnir in the story Skirnismal.

Reception and influence[]

Surt inspired Dungeons & Dragons' fire giant, with Thrym inspiring the frost giants.

In the real world, various places are named after Surt, including the volcanic tunnels Surtshellir in Iceland; the volcanic island Surtsey, Saturns' moon Surtur, and the volcano Surt on Jupiter's moon Io.

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.190-192.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Legends & Lore (1e) (1984), p.106.
  3. Encyclopedia Magica Volume One (1994), p.82.
  4. Encyclopedia Magica Volume Four (1995), p.1406.
  5. Legends & Lore (1e) (1984), p.108.
  6. Legends & Lore (2e) (1990), p.184.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.26.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.30.
  9. HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991), p.52.
  10. Defenders of the Faith (2001), p.96.
  11. Player's Handbook (5e) (2014), p.296.
  12. Storm King's Thunder (2016), p.18,167.
  13. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.164.
  14. Legends & Lore (1e) (1984), p.93.
  15. Orcs Throw Spells, Too!, Dragon #141 (Jan 1989), p.27.
  16. DMGR4 Monster Mythology (1992), p.74.
  17. Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999), p.92.
  18. Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999), p.74-75.
  19. FOR7 Giantcraft (1995), p.113.
  20. I12 Egg of the Phoenix (1987), p.71.
  21. ALQ4 Secrets of the Lamp (1993), p.26-29.
  22. Night Below, Book III: The Sunless Sea (1995), p.10-13.
  23. DMGR4 Monster Mythology (1992), p.73-74.
  24. The Fire Giant's Daughter, Dungeon #39 (Jan/Feb 1993), p.46.
  25. Demihuman Deities (1998), p.49.
  26. The Seldarine Revisited, Dragon #236 (Dec 1996), p.16.
  27. Faiths & Avatars (1996), p.88.
  28. Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (2019), p.109,113.
  29. Monster Manual V (2007), p.102.
  30. HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991), p.88.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Planes of Chaos, Book of Chaos (1994), p.115,123-125.
  32. Manual of the Planes (1e) (1987), p.94.
  33. Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016), p.30.
  34. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.165.
  35. Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.174.
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