Lord Surtur

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Lord Surtur, H, is the Valkyrie quest nemesis. He is a unique fire giant that guards the Bell of Opening and the Valkyrie quest artifact, The Orb of Fate.

Lord Surtur possesses two fairly strong weapon attacks and a claw attack that can steal back the quest artifact if you have taken it from him. Like any other fire giant, he can also pick up and throw boulders. Eating Lord Surtur's corpse may grant fire resistance with a 12 chance (compared to 310 from any other fire giant), and also has a chance of raising the player's strength.


Lord Surtur awaits you in the center of his fortress on the goal level, meditating with the quest artifact and Bell of Opening beneath him.


Lord Surtur can be defeated easily by a prepared Valkyrie, who can use their innate stealth to clear the area of fire ants and his fellow fire giants before engaging him. As a monster that is fire resistant but not cold resistant, he will also take extra damage from cold attacks, such as a wand of cold.

Even so, Surtur is likely to be one of the first covetous enemies a Valkyrie will meet, and novice players in particular must still handle him carefully. Be careful when approaching Lord Surtur directly through the drawbridges of his fortress: there is a chance that he or another giant will have a wand of striking on hand and zap it at you as you cross, with either the exploding drawbridge or its debris (if it was closed at the time) resulting in an unceremonious instadeath. The lava-filled terrain can also prove hazardous to cross and even worse to fight near, as other monsters can block your path to the stairs while you pursue Surtur or else try to retreat.

Like all other quest nemeses, you can also awaken him remotely and bring him to you. Lord Surtur respects Elbereth and the scroll of scare monster, and can be killed instantly with a wand of death. A wand of polymorph or wand of sleep may also work to incapacitate him, but may take a few attempts due to his relatively high MR. It is even possible to take on Surtur in melee with a well-enchanted artifact weapon such as Excalibur or Mjollnir and defeat him, although it can prove very risky unless you can supplement this approach with major sources of HP restoration and other items or strategies such as the aforementioned ones.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Lord Surtur, like all uniques, no longer respects either Elbereth or scrolls of scare monster.

Like other giants, Lord Surtur is steadfast due to his size and can knock you backwards with his melee attacks - this can send you flying over and possibly into lava, and if you lack fire resistance this will spell the end of your game. Even with fire resistance, this can destroy several vital items in your inventory; levitation and/or flying can prevent an untimely spill.


Lord Surtur first appears with most other quest nemeses in NetHack 3.1.0.


Lord Surtur's depiction draws from his appearance in Norse folklore; the mythological name is spelled "Surtr" in Old Norse, and "Surtur" in modern-day Icelandic. Surtr is a jötunn attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Surtr is foretold as a major figure during the events of Ragnarök, with additional information given in a book from the Prose Edda: Surtr is stationed guarding the frontier of the fiery realm Múspell, and will lead "Múspell's sons" to Ragnarök from the south, bringing "the scathe of branches" (i.e. fire); "the sun of Gods of the Slain" (or sól valtiva) shines from his sword.

Surtr will lead the army of Múspell to Vígríðr, the field of the fated battle against the Æsir, with his army tearing open the skies and spreading flames all around them; the sons of Múspell will ride over the bridge Bifröst and break it. Loki and the frost jötnar will have arrived there alongside the wolf Fenrir and the Midgard Serpent, Jörmungandr. A fierce battle will later occur between the army of Múspell and the Æsir, with Surtr engaging in combat against the god Freyr and eventually defeating him; once Heimdallr and Loki fight and mutually kill one another, Surtr "will fling fire over the earth and burn the whole world", followed by the eventual rise of a new world from the sea, in which the surviving gods will meet again.

Encyclopedia entry

Yet first was the world in the southern region, which was named Muspell; it is light and hot; that region is glowing and burning, and impassable to such as are outlanders and have not their holdings there. He who sits there at the land's-end, to defend the land, is called Surtr; he brandishes a flaming sword, and at the end of the world he shall go forth and harry, and overcome all the gods, and burn all the world with fire.

[ The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson ]