Mythological Figures: Brünnhilde (5E)

Are you ready for a valkyrie? Let’s hope so because today in Mythological Figures we’re getting into one of Norse mythology’s premier shield-maidens: Brünnhilde!


There’s an enormous amount of information about Brünnhilde (see her her Wikipedia page) and I’ll try to summarize it here. First off there are two versions of this valkyrie: one germanic and the other norse. Whichever one you’re looking at she’s responsible for the death of Siegfried (an epic dragonslaying hero) thanks to a spat with his wife. Ostensibly she’s based on either a Visigothic princess named Brunhilda of Austrasia or less popularly the wife of Ostrogothic general Uraias (slain by king Witiges for insults with his spouse).

In the Prose Edda she’s an armor-wearing mountain hermit living behind a wall of flame. Sigurd (same guy as Siegfried) approaches her then later he introduces his buddy Gunnar to her brother (Atli) who reveals Brünnhilde will only wed someone able to ride through the fires. Gunnar wants to but can’t so Sigurd swaps forms with Gunnar, rides through the flame wall, marries her, puts a sword between them to avoid consummation the night of their wedding, they exchange rings that morning, and then he leaves and changes places with Gunnar. Later on she’s washing in the river with Sigurd’s wife Gudrun but gets catty about sharing the water because Gunnar (her husband) is braver than Gudrun’s husband—so Gudrun reveals the trickery of Sigurd and Gunnar. Brünnhilde convinces Gunnar to kill Sigurd, and then afterwards kills herself.

Earlier legends sort of conflate her with a figure named Sigrdrífa who’s much more valkyrie-like—Sigurd is led there after tasting the blood of the dragon he famously slayed, she’s sleeping behind a wall of shields, wakens when he cuts the armor grown into her skin, and she demands a fearless suitor. More importantly she teaches Sigurd about runes.

There are a bunch of different legends that frequently argue with one another. Sometimes Brünnhilde/Sigrdrífa loves Sigurd so much that she has him killed because she can’t have him, sometimes other people get involved and the murderer is someone other than Gunnar, and the prerequisites for marrying her change too (they must know and overcome fear, not just be fearless, and so on). She’s kind of a mess.

Design Notes: We’re hearkening back to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 3 and updating their valkyrie build. To that end we’ve got a tough warrior with some neat extra abilities—she packs a wallop, has staying power, high mobility, and the ability to pop weakened targets (using Power Attack she has a decent chance to unleash a devastating 52 magical piercing damage with a melee Vital Strike). Enjoy!

Medium celestial, chaotic neutral

Armor Class
20 (plate, shield)
Hit Points 133 (14d8+70)
30 ft., 90 ft.

18 (+4)17 (+3)20 (+5)13 (+1)18 (+4)19 (+4)

Skills Animal Handling +8, Athletics +8, Insight +8, Medicine +8, Perception +8
Damage Resistances acid, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities cold, lightning, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages Celestial, Common (tongues)
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the Brünnhilde hits with it (included in the attack).

Choose the Slain (1/Day). Brünnhilde can innately cast imprisonment without the need for material components. She is only able to target a recently killed creature, it must be a willing target, and Brünnhilde must choose the Minimus Containment effect. The target is stored inside of Brünnhilde’s sword, regaining 1 hit point after 24 hours.

Innate Spellcasting. Brünnhilde's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
Constant: tongues
At will: aid, death ward, gentle repose, plane shift (self and mount only)
3/day: call lightning, geas
1/day: conjure celestial, heal,revivify

Magic Resistance.
Brünnhilde has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Powerful Attacks. When Brünnhilde makes her first melee weapon attack in a turn, she can choose to take a -5 penalty to her melee weapon attack rolls in exchange for a +10 bonus to melee weapon damage. In addition, Brünnhilde can use a bonus action or reaction to make one melee weapon attack after she uses a melee weapon to reduce a creature to 0 hit points or scores a critical hit with it.


Multiattack. Brünnhilde attacks six times: four times with her spear and twice with her shield bash.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) magical piercing damage. Immediately after hitting or missing the target, Brünnhilde’s spear returns to her hand.

Shield Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) magical bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Vital Strike. Brünnhilde makes a single attack, automatically hitting her target and scoring a critical hit. She makes an attack roll with advantage and if she would have successfully hit, the critical hit does twice the maximum damage.
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

Mike Myler

Have you been to yet?
Rather than Imprisonment, could you use Soul Bind from 3E?

Six attacks at double base damage is a lot!

You could swap that in, sure. Took a little bit of digging to find a 5E equivalent that made sense.

As for her double damage attacks, she gets two fewer than a marilith. ;)


We're about to start a campaign of viking dwarves in a couple of weeks' time. My artificer character is the son of Fafnir, and he worships Brünnhilde (yes, he knows she's a valkyrie, not a god, but he sees that as a feature rather than a bug).

If we ever wind up meeting Sigurd, he's going to have issues.

Marvel comics and movies aside, I don't think Valkyries were known for their fighting. To paraphrase Danny DeVito from a commercial: your job isn't to fight, it is to get them to fight and then pay you for it. If 5e had an Enraged condition, then the Valkyrie's job would be to show up, inflict the Enraged condition on some melee type, get out of there so the melee type can fight to the death, and pick up the soul afterwards. I could see something like each round the Valkyrie can force one person in combat to look upon her and make a DC x wisdom check or enter a frenzy similar to a berserker's: you make a single melee weapon attack with your bonus action, but you gain a level of exhaustion every minute of combat (don't forget the Valkyrie's goal is for you to die and grab your battle-happy soul). If the Valkyrie is banished/killed, the affect ends (the rest of the party can try to save the Enraged PC). I would give her some mobility abilities, some illusion spells (so the PC sees the other PC's as the "enemies", also Enraged types has disadvantage on the save), and maybe some paladin auras.

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