R.Talsorian Games Inc.

Witcher Update #15: World States

Hey there, everyone! It's been a busy time for us here at Talsorian. Last week we were running around the convention floor at the GAMA Trade Show, scoping out the industry and talking to distributors and retailers about the Witcher RPG! Back at the office, things are going well and the book's layout is coming along smoothly. I want to talk about the world state part of the GM section. One of the great things about setting the PNP RPG in-between the settings of the Witcher 2 and the Witcher 3 is that the setting can change based on the events of the first 2 Witcher video games. I know that I love to reference things that happened in my play-throughs. It allows you to continue your story that you played through in the Witcher video games. And if you haven't played any of the Witcher video games, this small section allows you to customize the world that you play in. All of the major world decisions are listed with their outcome.

Granted, this choice can be difficult. Describing world lore in other sections of the book without mentioning any of the direct outcomes is a bit challenging, (especially when you have to describe the fate of an entire region). But we feel that it would be cheating to just decide on one world state and throw all of the other options to the four winds. If you played the video games we want you to be able to play in the world that you built and if you didn't play the video games we want you to be able to customize your world and decide how the events of the first two Witcher games unfolded.

Witcher Update

Hey there everyone!

We’ve been head down here at Talsorian for quite some time but I wanted to drop in and talk a bit about the project. I know people have been asking about a release date but I can’t clarify a release date for the book yet. We’re working with CDPR to make the best game we can and as they say “it’ll be ready when it’s ready”. I can say that we are deep in layout and have been working with CDPR to finish the Lore section of the book. It’s taken some time, to compile information from all around the franchise and clarify certain confusing contradictions but it’s all coming together nicely. In the next week I hope to get some free time to post a Dev Note about the Game Master’s Section, specifically the world states and how to integrate parts of the video games into your table top campaign.

Witcher Dev Note #14: Nilfgaard

Hey Everyone,

We're two weeks into 2017 and nothing's exploded at Talsorian, which is nice. We had a bit of a rough December, with half the staff falling prey to a nasty flu but we're back on our feet and hating life a little less! Work on Witcher continues and I wanted to get on and talk a bit about Nilfgaard.

In the process of writing the PNP RPG for the Witcher we've discovered there are a lot of mysterious places in the Witcher world and not all of them are meant to be that way. Looking through all the material we have to draw from, it became obvious pretty soon that most of the vast expanse that we call Nilfgaard is reasonably uncharted. Very few cities are mentioned, only 8 or 9 people are ever mentioned from each vassal state, their religion and cultures are almost unknown. We're aware that there have been more in depth explanations, such as the old PNP RPG that was only released in Polish, (to my knowledge), but unfortunately those aren't included in our list of sources we can draw from. So the vast majority of the land is essentially unknown.

Obviously this isn't the way it will be in the final product. Not only would it be foolish to leave so much of the known world vague but we want players to be able to play Nilfgaardian/Vassal State characters. There's a lot to be said for being a Nilfgaardian spy, a Mettinese cavalryman, etc. And considering the reasonably small time line of Nilfgaardian expansion, characters in their 30 or 40s who come from vassal countries like Angren, Nazair and Mag Turga were alive before they were absorbed into Nilfgaard allowing for interesting plot points.

So we've been collecting all the information we can find about Nilfgaard, the Great Sun and all of the Nilfgaardian Vassal States. We'll be working with experts at CDPR to build accurate lore and interesting descriptions for these vast areas. Our goal is to create a fully fledged game where you can set your campaign anywhere from the top of the North to bottom of Nilfgaard and have enough information to run an interesting game.

Witcher Dev Note #13: Witchers

Hey there everyone! Things are progressing smoothly over here and the book is coming together nicely. I though I’d sit down and write a Dev Note on the thing I’m sure a lot of people have had questions about: Witchers as player characters.

We’ve put a lot of thought into this topic because it comes with a few difficult issues. The greatest of these issues is of course balancing the Witcher class with the others so that it doesn’t overshadow everything else. In the books and the video games Witchers are very much the focus and it shows. Counting up all the things witchers can do gives you a large list of racial abilities, special skills and faction affiliation bonuses. It can be difficult to balance a player who starts in such a, technically powerful position. The second problem is keeping true to the narrative of the Witcher novels and video games. In keeping with the novels, and to a lesser extent the video games, Witchers are an endangered species. In total there are probably only 10 or 12 left in the entire known world and in the books it’s dubious whether there are even that many. Witchers also haven’t been made for many decades meaning that you won’t be playing a young man fresh out of Witcher training. The third problem is that it's hard to capture the life of a Witcher in standard character creation. Witchers are incredibly long lived and have lived through most of the historical events of the known world. They've hunted hundreds of monsters and have hundreds of stories to tell.

In a way, however, one problem sort of solves to the other. With the Witcher PNP RPG set in early 1272 we assume that all of the schools have stopped functioning decades, (if not centuries), ago and that no new Witchers have been made in that time. Though we have little information on schools like the Bear and Viper we assume they all went the way of the Wolf. We know that most of the Witchers have either been killed in their keeps or died at the hands of monsters or angry mobs. This means that those Witchers that are left are old Witchers who happened to be in the right place at the right time and managed to avoid enough trouble to still be alive.

When you set out to play a Witcher you are playing a character who not only exists, primarily, in a different world than the rest of the party, but is a old grizzled warrior who has been alive for decades upon decades, (perhaps even a century or two), and has lived the hardest life imaginable. To get this across players who make Witcher characters use a separate life path that clocks their life from when they were first taken into a school to the current day. It begins with your early training, (including your school affiliation and early training events), which is designed to give you a feel for how your characters life went before they took the trials to become a fully fledged Witcher. The rolls focus around how you were trained and how well your body took to initial mutation and eventually the Trial of the Grasses. Much like the rest of a Witchers life this section of the Witcher’s Life Path is high risk and high reward with one bonus based on your school and then a split between achievements and mishaps. The life path then jumps into your life as a Witcher, where you roll for each decade after you finished training. In this section your decisions to play it safe or take a risk effect your chance of positive and negative effects. The more risky your hunts and the more involved you got in current events the higher your chance of making powerful allies, gaining bonus knowledge on monsters and getting cool rewards is. However the risk of danger also goes up and the chances that you’ll make equally powerful enemies, suffer hindering wounds or loose the few people in your life you care about.

Over all the life path is designed to give you the feeling of being a Witcher and help you create the most authentic Witcher that you can.

Witcher Dev Note #12: Balance

Hello everyone! We’re back in the states and I wanted to share a bit of what we got out of our meeting with the Experts at CDPR! Lisa and I got to sit down with two of CDPR’s best sources on The Witcher and talk over some of our lore questions and some concepts on how we could make the PNP RPG as true to the heart of Witcher as we could.

In the end after a long meeting we decided on a few things that will definitely make the game feel just right. The primary concept we decided was to split the focus of the PNP RPG much more between CDPR’s video games and Sapkowski’s original books. From the beginning we had been taking information from all facets of the Witcher franchise, (except the movie, TV show and prior PNP RPG), but the focus had understandably been CDPR’s video games, especially The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. In our meeting we worked out that this could be not only limiting to the PNP RPG but also might make for a less unique RPG. It’s true that in trying to simulate the video games there was not only more of a “video game” feeling to the game but also an overwhelming sea of items, some with little variation other than statistics. It’s also true that, while absolutely mind blowing, the Witcher video games had to change some things in the world of The Witcher to make it play well as a video game. Things like the prevalence of monsters and the easy accessibility of items that were rare in the books, such as bombs, magical traps and silver weapons. In a video game the dark and unrelenting world of The Witcher novels is hard to transfer across verbatim but in a table top RPG it is much easier. Monsters can be rarer but much more dangerous and unique to the situation, certain gear can be harder to find but much more useful in a pinch and the world can be a bit more relentless, giving you more of the dark fantasy aesthetic that we all love from The Witcher.

But don’t worry fans of the video games, we are opting to take both the video games and the books in equal parts! The time line will remain the same and you’ll still have access to cool gear from the games. In the end it’s all a matter of balance. Trying to simulate the games we all love while also trying to stay true to the books that made those games possible.

Witcher Dev Note #11

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since the last update. We’ve been hard at work here at Talsorian working on Witcher. We recently finished a trip to Poland where we got to meet with experts at CD Projekt Red about the RPG! We sat down with them and talked over  what fit well and what things we could change to make the PNP RPG feel just like the Witcher novels and games. It was a really productive talk and next week we’ll be putting up a Dev Note on a concept we’ve been working on.

Witcher Update #10: Religion in Witcher

Hi folks,

Another area we’re working on now is religion. How much effect does religion have on the people of Witcher. In this time of destruction and death do people hold to their religion more or less? What is the territory of a given religion?

The Eternal Fire is at its strongest in Redania, specifically in Novigrad and in the lands that Radovid has granted their order. Many of the Order of the Flaming Rose, the militant order of the church, are becoming part of Radovid’s witch hunters or have joined the Redanian army at the Temerian front. Will this affect the church’s slow spread throughout the North? Or will the idea of light out of darkness appeal to people in difficult times?

Information on Witcher says that Veyopatis, the druid like religion, and the Church of Coram Ag Tera, a tribal cult of death and sadism, are old, old religions fading away. But with the war comes legions of people who have seen and experienced violence and death. Would those people turn to Coram Ag Tera because their current churches do not have a place for them? Which churches seem relevant when everything around you is dead or burned? Will Veyopatis have meaning for the people forced to bring farms out of the ruins. They may have prayers for rain and good harvest as people must once more pull themselves together and rebuild society.

They would also pray to Melitele, the mother goddess religion? The largest sanctuary of Melitele is in Ellander in Temeria. They send out healers who travel the world. We see it often when Geralt goes to visit its high priestess of the temple, Nenneke. What happens when Nilfgard gets there? Will they wait to see if Nilfgard just ignores them, or will they disperse just as their missionary’s do, to find a better place? Of course, they could go to Skellige which has a slightly different version of Melitele worship. If you have read the novels that come before the video game there are radical things going on in Skellige in the Tower of Swallows.

We know that technically The Great Sun is the religion in Nilfgard, centered on the emperor, sort of like Rome. But is that enforced in Nilfgard? What about countries like Angren and Maecht? Is the emperor going to take the time to convert the north with sword and flame? Are other religions tolerated? Will any of the religions become a church militant to try to fight back?

As you can see, religion in the Witcher isn’t as simple as it might seem.

Witcher Dev Note #9: A Word From Lisa

Hey everyone, things are quiet here. I'm waiting for approval from CD Projekt Red on the skeleton of the game. In the mean time, here's the other half of the Witcher PNP RPG team: Lisa Pondsmith. Lisa is writing all the world information and background for the book. Lisa is one of our best writers and has done work on Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads, Castle Falkenstein, The Book of Auberon and a lot of our other products.


Lisa: As Cody mentioned, I've been writing part of the world section country by country. Its a challenging job for a couple of reasons.

First, how best to describe a country in the Witcher world so that a person who is not familiar with the world can run a game there? How much detail and of what sort? How do you do that briefly so that the book isn't 1200 pages?

There is so much material! Cody is most familiar with the video game and the comic, and I'm most familiar with the novels, but each knows some of the other so we can discuss and decide.

What you've probably never noticed, if you have read the books, is that there are very few dates. It can be very difficult to coordinate different events.

There are some countries that have very little mention in the books, but your characters will, of course, go right for that blank spot of the map. We have to look at the location of the country, look at the larger countries around, dig all the mentions out of the sources and do our best.

I think Cody has the hardest job. He has to decide what's happened or hasn't happened yet in this timeline.

So you know what I'll be doing today!

Witcher Dev Note #8

Hey there everyone. A lot of people have been asking when the PNP RPG is coming out. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to give a direct release date. We want to make sure that this is the best Witcher PNP RPG that we can produce so we’re putting as much time in as we need. I can say that things are progressing smoothly and it won’t be long before we can speak more on a release date. We thank you for your patience and support.

Witcher Dev Notes #7: World States

Hey there, everybody! It's been a productive week here at R.Talsorian Games! Things have been rolling along on Witcher and we were able to attend Gen Con in Indianapolis to gauge the market.

This week I'm working pretty heavily on the varied world states of the Witcher PNP RPG. As we all know, the number of choices that you make from the beginning of Witcher 1 to the end of Witcher 2 is pretty impressive. There are choices that mean very little in the grand scheme of things, but also choices that shape the course of history. This has to be taken into account when we write the PNP RPG. The way we've chosen to handle this is to leave things very vague in the general history of the world. Players will hear rumors of all options that are presented in the games. Some people say that Geralt sided with the Scoia'tael in Vizima, some say he sided with the Order, but nobody knows for sure. If the players interact with some part of this choice or the GM wants to solidify the choice there will be a section in the GM section devoted to what the options for these choices are and how they affect the world state. Since the game takes place months before the events of Witcher 3 most of the Witcher 3 events will be inapplicable but there will be a mention of how outcomes affect the world for the major decisions in case you want to play through them, such as the bloody Baron quests or deciding an heir in Skellige. Also since the game takes place before Nilfgaard has reached the Pontar, there will be some decisions the players get to make and influence that will be mentioned in the GM section that weren't offered in the video games. These will include things like, helping Saskia fight the Nilfgaardians in Vergen, fighting off the Nilfgaardians in Vizima or undermining the Temerian military.

I also wanted to make sure people know that comments written on these updates get logged on the site and I will be trying to respond, via email, to all of them.


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