Surtr (Dungeons & Dragons)
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|Title(s)||Lord of the Fire Giants|
|Power level||Intermediate deity|
|Portfolio||Fire giants, fire, war|
|Domains||Destruction, Evil, Fire, Law, Purification, Strength, War|
Surtr was detailed in the 2nd edition AD&D book Legends & Lore (1992), including details about his priesthood. His role in the cosmology of the Planescape campaign setting was described in On Hallowed Ground (1996). His role in the giant pantheon of the Forgotten Realms setting is detailed in Giantcraft (1995).
Surtr was described briefly in Defenders of the Faith (2000). He was detailed in the third edition version of Deities and Demigods (2002). His priesthood is detailed for 3rd edition in Complete Divine (2004).
Surtr looks like an immensely large fire giant with crackling flames for hair and eyebrows. He wears armor of blazingly hot iron and wields a flaming iron sword 15 feet in length.
Surtr, a son of Annam, is part of the second generation of giantish deities, born at about the same time as Skoraeus Stonebones and Thrym. While Surtr's cult is similar to that of Thrym's, fire and ice do not mix. Other gods in the giantish pantheon include Stronmaus, Hiatea, Grolantor, Karontor, Iallanis, Memnor, Vaprak, and Diancastra.
Surtr rules Muspelheim, an ever-burning realm on the fiery second layer of the plane of Ysgard; the layer is also called Muspelheim, named for Surtr's realm. Surtr's domain contains portals to the City of Brass and to an efreeti outpost called the Suhkteh Albarrana where fire giants often hire themselves as mercenaries to the genies of flame. The realm of Muspelheim can also be reached through certain volcanic regions on the first layer of the plane.
At the highest point in the earthberg upon which Surtr has built his realm is a range of mountains called the Serpent's Spine. The only liquid in the realm is the Lake of Lead, a body of molten metal where the fire giants drown their criminals. Other prominent sites include the town of Njarlok, a blacksmithing site called the Forges of Surtr, and the magical tower of stone known as Surtr's Spire.
Fire is pure, cleansing, and strong. The weak and impure burn, while the strong survive. Fire is useful as a tool, but must be respected. It is dangerous when uncontrolled.
Nearly all of Surtr's worshippers are giants, but a select few members of other races have earned his approval. They conceal their devotion to the giant destined to end the world.
Fire giant priests are normally architects or smiths. Those few who aren't are charged with the responsibility of keeping the rest of the tribe productive, largely by recounting inspirational tales.
Clerics of Surtr wear war helms and iron plate. Their color is fiery red, and Surtr's favored weapon is the greatsword.
Surtr's temples in the lands of men are hidden affairs. Those that are not hidden are huge buildings ringing with the sounds of forges and storing weapons in preparation for the battle at the end of the world. Visitors have only a few seconds to prove their intentions before the fire giants attack. Fire giants do not enjoy leaving witnesses to their activities.
The holy day of Surtr is the Summer Solstice. Surtr does not demand sacrifice or propitiation.
Myths and legends
At Ragnarok, the battle at the end of the world, Surtr is destined to set the world on fire, burning it to ashes to make way for the new world to come. He will destroy Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, beneath his weight and that of his subjects.
In Norse mythology, Surtr (modern Icelandic Surtur, sometimes Anglicized Surt) is the leader of the fire giants in the south, the ruler of Muspelheim, the realm of fire. His name means "Swart" or Black, and at the end of the world, Ragnarok, his hordes will rush north like a south wind to overwhelm the gods.
In Snorri Sturluson's Edda (1179-1241): "Surtur is the one so named who stands on Múspell's border, guarding the land. His sword is flaming and as the world ends he will go out, make war against and triumph over the gods. And he will burn the whole world with fire" (Gimlé Gylfaginning, iv). Only Hodmimir's Forest will remain, because that is the only thing his sword can not destroy. He will kill the unarmed god Freyr as well.
In the final battle, Surtr and his Fire-Giants burst forth: "In Surtur's grasp the Sword of Revenge blazes, adding a blood red colour to the twilight of the whole world."
- Ward, James and Robert Kuntz. Deities and Demigods (TSR, 1980)
- Ward, James and Troy Denning. Legends & Lore. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990
- McComb, Colin. On Hallowed Ground (TSR, 1996)
- Winninger, Ray. Giantcraft (TSR, 1995)
- Redman, Rich and James Wyatt. Defenders of the Faith (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
- Noonan, David. Complete Divine (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
- Baker, Richard and James Wyatt. Players Guide to Faerun. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
- Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:
- Sargent, Carl. Monster Mythology. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
- Smith, Lester W., and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Chaos. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.