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Ymir, also called Aurgelmir,[1] is the primordial ancestor of the frost giants. He is associated with the Norse pantheon.

Appearance and personality[]

Ymir is truly massive, on a scale of miles in height. His skull is large enough to form the dome of an entire world's sky, and his body as massive as an entire planet.

Little else is canonically known about Ymir's appearance or personality.

History[]

Creation[]

The humans of Midgard tell that the world began in the void of Ginnungagap, with frozen Niflheim to the north and fiery Muspelheim to the south. Layers of ice from Niflheim slowly formed across the gap until they reached Muspelheim, where hot winds blew and began to melt the ice.

From this melting primordial ice rose Ymir, a truly massive frost giant. Drops of Ymir's sweat formed the first frost giants. Next rose the great cow Audhumla, whose milk sustained Ymir and the giants.[2]

Death[]

The cow Audhumla licked the salty rime stones and uncovered a man named Buri. From Buri's descendants came three sons: the gods Odin, Vili, and Ve.[2]

The three sons murdered Ymir. Their reasons for this are uncertain. Ymir's blood flowed and drowned all of the frost giants except for Bergelmir, who survived and went on to be the progenitor of all living frost giants.

Odin, Vili and Ve built the world of Midgard, where humans now live, from Ymir's corpse. His skull became the blue sky, his brains the clouds, his blood the ocean, his hair the plants, and his shattered bones the rocks and stones. From his eyelashes they made a great fence to keep the giants out of the land of humans.[2]

The frost giants still hold a grudge against the Aesir gods of the Norse pantheon for the murder of Ymir. The name "Ymir" is given to some giants, particularly male frost giants, in honor of their progenitor.

Publication history[]

AD&D 2nd edition[]

The story of Ymir is recounted in the HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991).

The name "Ymir" is given in HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991) and Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999) as a name for male giants.

D&D 3rd edition[]

The story of Ymir is recounted in Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002).

Creative origins[]

The story of Ymir and the creation of Midgard appears in several pieces of Norse mythology.

Vafthruthnismal, stanza 21, the giant Riddle-Weaver, who is just old enough to remember the funeral of Bergelmir, tells the story of the world's creation:

"The earth was made from Ymir's flesh; the rocks were made from his bones. The sky was made from the skull of that ice-cold giant, the sea was made from his blood."

The poem describes Aurgelmir (supposedly an alias for Ymir) formed from drops of poison from the rivers Elivagar, which gelled together to form Aurgelmir, ancestor of all giants. The poison which created him is why all giants are evil. Aurgelmir had a son, Thruthgelmir, whose son was Bergelmir. Stanza 33 explains how he was able to reproduce without a wife:

"They say two giants, a man and a woman, grew under his armpits—one foot had a child with the other foot, and their son had six heads."

In Voluspa, stanza 9, the dwarves are also made from Ymir's body:

"Then all the gods went to their thrones, those holy, holy gods, and came to a decision: they would make the lord of the dwarves out of Ymir's blood and his rotting limbs."

References[]

  1. HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991), p.88.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.163.
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