Lord Surtur

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Lord Surtur, H, is the Valkyrie quest nemesis. He is generally considered one of the easier to defeat. Novice players should still beware, however, as Lord Surtur may be the first enemy they encounter who teleports to the upstairs to heal. He is generated asleep at the center of his lair, surrounded by his fellow fire giants, as well fire ants and a handful of squeaky board traps. A valkyrie starts off with the stealth intrinsic, so if she doesn't wake the nemesis by stepping on a squeaky trap or in any other way, she can clear out the fire giants before facing Lord Surtur in single combat. He has fire resistance but not cold resistance, so any cold attacks will do 50% extra damage. A wand of death is also effective. He is not a spellcaster, so magic resistance is not necessary, but the Orb of Fate does not grant it, either.

It is popular to tin Lord Surtur's corpse, whether to eat for the strength gain or simply to keep as a trophy.


Lord Surtur can be defeated easily by a prepared Valkyrie. There are several ways one might go about doing this:

  • Lord Surtur does respect Elbereth. This can be used to buy time in a bad situation, as Lord Surtur will not pursue you if he has just turned to flee. Do note that since 3.6.0 and later versions, attacking will instantly remove the engraving.
  • Like any other quest nemesis, Lord Surtur also respects the scroll of scare monster, so this can be placed on the upstair for an easy fight, provided that you can get there.
  • Zapping Lord Surtur with a wand of death will instantly kill him.
  • Lord Surtur will take additional damage from cold attacks. Zapping him with a wand of cold or a cone of cold spell will quickly finish him.
  • Make sure you take out his fire giant and fire ant minions before engaging him, if possible. Lord Surtur will hit fairly hard, and you don't want to be dealing with other enemies at the same time.


The mythological name is spelled Surtr in Old Norse, and Surtur in modern-day Icelandic.

The Nethack Surtur draws directly from the source of Norse mythology, as suggested from the encyclopedia entry. The Prose Edda is an unnamed collection of old Norse poems. In the Norse mythology, Surtr is an important giant of Ragnarök, the Norse end of the world.

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 ]