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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.

Witcher Dev Note #6: Life Path

As part of Witcher character creation we included the Life Path system that makes appearance in most of our games, (such as Cyberpunk 2020 and Mekton Zeta), a series of rolls or choices that help you flesh out your character before you play them. For Witcher, we decided to expand the Life Path to give a more detailed description of your character's background and how it affects you.

The first several rolls establish what your character's family and early life were like. All of these can be chosen instead of rolled though I've always liked to roll them. You first choose whether you are a Nordling or a Nilfgaardian. Then you make your rolls. Then you make the following rolls:


Where you were born:

This section tells you in which country you were born. It tells you a bit about what the people of your country are like and how the culture and environment affect them. This should tell you what you are probably like at a very basic level. From your place of birth you get a bonus to a skill based on what your country deems important.


What your family status was:

This will tell you what your parents did for a living. Your family's standing will tell you a lot about how you grew up. From this you gain a useful tool or object that you would have growing up in that family.


Whether your parents are alive and well:

If your parents are alive and well, you move on to family but if something happened to them you roll on this table. This is everything from fatal monster attacks to dreadful curses to assassinations. These events are assumed to have happened very early in your character's life and they give you a goal. Each event has a sub-quest. When your character completes this quest they receive a reward.


Whether your family is safe and sound:

Just like the state of your parent, you can have had a perfectly safe and happy family. But there's also a chance that your family had something wrong with it. This can be anything from crippling debt to long term familial rivalries and, just like with your parents, each one comes with a sub-quest that rewards you for solving it.


Who the most influential person in your life was:

This establishes the most influential person in your life and what they taught you. This is the person or group of people who contributed most to who you are today and who you remember the most fondly. These can be simple townsfolk or relatives all the way up to powerful mages or social outcasts and each one leaves you an object to remember them by. This is not necessarily a tremendously useful object but something of sentimental value to your character, that reminds them of better times.


How many siblings you have:

Lastly you roll how many siblings you have. This not only tells you how big the family you grew up in was but also allows you to play a brother or sister of your character if your character dies in the course of the adventure.


Once you know these basic things about your character you roll your life events. For every year after 16 you roll 1d10 and see what happened in that year of your life. This section of Life Path has remained the same as Cyberpunk 2020 but with changes to make sure that your characters life reflects the world of the witcher.

Witcher Dev Note #5: The Feel of the Witcher

As we start filling in the descriptions and writing for the Witcher RPG, I thought it would be good to do an update on the feel of the Witcher RPG. After all, no one who's read the books or played the games can call Witcher “Standard Fantasy”.

Besides the dark fantasy elements of the Witcher, one of the most important parts of the setting is it's anachronistic touches. In the original set of stories Geralt is effectively a detective who happens to kill monsters as well. He solves mysteries, hunts down clues and does a fair bit of negotiating, only really drawing his blade when absolutely necessary. The games, especially Witcher 3, get this feeling across excellently. You just know that Geralt has his own internal narrator and it doesn't take much to imagine Geralt as a gritty film noir hero. Aside from Geralt we see mages who are effectively mad scientists, locking themselves away in towers and experimenting day and night on morally dubious experiments for the furthering of science. We see cross dressing boutique owners and collectable card games, on par with Magic the Gathering, sweeping the nation. But still the Witcher is heavily rooted in fantasy.

No matter how dark the world may get much of it still has this fractured fairy tale style to it that lends to the atmosphere. While many classic fantasy plots still show up, many side quests and stories unfold like classical fairy tales and usually people, especially Geralt, tend to be fairly aware of this, making wry comments about princesses trapped in towers and young lads venturing off to defeat dreaded beasts. In fact the first collection of short stories reads almost like a book of fractured fairy tales with Geralt stumbling into stories very similar to Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and more.

As we sit down and write the descriptive and setting pieces for the Witcher RPG we are trying to keep these factors in mind. We want the Witcher RPG to be unique in it's field just like the Witcher games and books are.

Witcher Dev Note #4

Things are coming along here at Talsorian. Unfortunately there hasn't been a developer note for a while as we've been hard at work and, to be honest, the work has been pretty mundane. Tweaking small things and writing descriptions for weapons and armor.

We have, however, spent quite a bit of time on the relic items in the Witcher RPG. In the video game relic items become the norm after a few levels. Anyone who's played Witcher 2 or Witcher 3 knows the feeling of going to a smith or a merchant and selling off 2 or 3 titled weapons with magic abilities because you found better. Or, even worse, being gifted titled weapons but already having a better one. To some extent that won't change but we wanted to make sure that each relic item felt important. To that end we sat down and wrote background for all the relic items we would have in the game. This seems easy but it turned out to be surprisingly hard. Save for swords such as Unicorn and armor like Raven's Armor there are very few relic items that actually have cannon backgrounds. Swords like Maugrim and Cleaverhood and armors like the Mountain Folk armor have no cannon background and thus we had to create backgrounds for them. We wanted to make sure that when you found a relic item, either through a quest, in a monsters horde or as a plot point the item felt like it was a legitimate reward. Besides giving you an interesting item the relic background hail from all over the continent giving you a feel for the history and tales of the different regions. Even if it's stats may not be amazing it had some cool history behind it and maybe even the seeds of a quest for your party.

Secondarily, we realized that there were almost no relic items that weren't swords. As we want to support fighting styles of all types we created some relic weapons other than swords such as axe, polearms and bows. In the Witcher video games we get what's important to Geralt and Geralt is a swordsman, but there are plenty of people out there who use other weapons and many players who would rather use other weapons.

You can expect many interesting stories and varied relics in the Witcher PNP RPG!

As a side note: A lot of people have asked about the release date of the Witcher RPG. As we are working closely with CDPR we cannot disclose a dedicated release date yet, just as they can't release a dedicated release date for Cyberpunk.

Witcher Dev Notes #3

Witcher Dev Notes #3: Combat in the Witcher RPG

One of the most important things to take into account when writing the Witcher RPG was the combat system. The combat of the Witcher, especially in Witcher 2 and witcher 3, is vastly different from the standard, hack and slash combat of traditional RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. The combat of the Witcher is constantly in motion. Attacks are immediately deadly and “critical wounds” do much more than just lower your hit points. The way your survive in a battle in the Witcher is to constantly reposition, aim for enemies weak spots, knock them off guard and prepare ahead of time.

As I mentioned before CD Projekt was very specific about wanting the Witcher RPG to be similar to our game Cyberpunk 2020. This meant bloody, viscous and unforgiving combat. However, Cyberpunk relies heavily on guns, (being a dark future game), and gun combat doesn’t translate too well into melee combat especially in the fast paced, frenetic combat of the Witcher. So I set out to make the combat system for the RPG fit the world while still delivering the deadliness CD Projekt was looking for. In the end the combat system is about where I was hoping to get it thanks to three major system tweaks and a major system addition.

The first tweak was to take an in depth look at melee combat. We wanted more granularity to combat in the Witcher. More than just, “I hit him, he misses me, I hit him, he hits me.” In the Witcher RPG, when using melee weapons you have specific attacks that you can use. We took this approach in Cyberpunk as well but because it was relegated to martial arts mostly it didn’t get a lot of play. In each round of combat you can take 2 seperate attacks:

  • Fast Strikes: You can make 2 fast strikes during a turn. Both are rolled separately and can be rolled against separate targets.

  • Strong Strikes: You can sacrifice your second attack to make 1 strong strike against an opponent for double damage if you really need to get through tough armor or you want to bet all your damage on one attack.

  • Pommel Strike: You can strike your opponent with the pommel or heel of your weapon to stun them temporarily.

  • Sweep: You can sweep your opponent’s legs out from under them to get them on the ground.

  • Disarm: You can attempt to disarm an opponent.

  • Grapple: You can grab an opponent which keeps them from getting away and then leads to further attacks you can make.

  • Throw: Once grappling an opponent you can throw them a distance based on your strength or just throw them to the ground.

  • Pin: Once grappling and opponent you can pin them to immobilize them.

  • Choke: Once grappling an opponent you can choke them.

Similarly you have an arsenal of defenses based on the style of your character or what you need at the time:

  • Dodge: You can simply dodge an opponent’s attack.

  • Reposition: Similar to the combat roll in Witcher 2 & 3 you can dodge and move yourself into a new position to get behind an opponent or avoid being ganged up on.

  • Block: If you don’t trust your dexterity you can block the attack which negates damage.

  • Parry: If you feel confident you can try to parry the opponent, negating the damage and staggering your opponent..

The idea is to give the player options in combat that would make their combat less predictable and less static. With this system people can think about their options, stay in constant motion, re-positioning, striking, tripping their opponents, going for grapples and parrying blades.

The second system tweak is healing. While there are some healing items in the RPG such as healing potions and healing magic the major brunt of healing must be done over time. Part of the realistic, violent feel CD Projekt wanted to get in the RPG is that you can’t always just drink a health potion and get all your hit points back immediately. Healing items allow you to regenerate hit points but you still have to stay on your toes until you regenerate. Unlike the video game you can’t get hit points back by eating a ham sandwich or some raw wolf meat. Unless you have a mage or some potions on hand healing is done through R&R.

To really capture the feeling of combat in the Witcher I created a critical system for the game. In the Witcher books the brutality of combat is often underscored and characters never just “get hit”. Bones are broken, arteries are cut and emphasis is always put on how Geralt is able to get by due to his incredible skill, (and high pain threshold). In the Witcher RPG you can score “critical hits” on opponents by rolling a higher attack roll than their defense roll and the larger the difference between your totals the more damaging and hindering the attack is. Low range examples are things like dislocated limbs, lost teeth and minor head wounds with which you can battle on but which impose small penalties and give more feeling of life and danger to a combat. The most dangerous of critical strikes can kill you outright if not treated and always take a piece of you such as dismembered limbs, septic shock and lost eyes. This means that if you have a high weapon skill you know that it will count for something in combat. If a master swordsman fights a peasant he knows he can almost always take the peasant apart with ease. But it also encourages players to weigh their options, and keep on their toes. If their opponent is far more skilled than them they might want to wait and try a more stealthy approach rather than risk broken bones or worse. All critical wounds can be stabilized on the battlefield so the victim won’t bleed out or the like but to fully heal them they must be treated by a Doctor, Priest or Mage and, as with standard healing, they take time to heal.

In the Witcher RPG we want to deliver a combat system that feels as risky, and dynamic as the combat of Witcher 3. Something that stands out and has it’s own feel and encourages players to think before they leap into combat.

Witcher Dev Notes #2

When we sat down to plan out the Witcher PNP RPG I wanted to put EVERYTHING in. If it was in the franchise I wanted it in the RPG. As we've continued to put the RPG together I have learned a hard lesson. Not everything can be crammed into one book and sometimes you don't want to cram everything into one book

When I first began working on the RPG it was before Witcher 3 had been announced and I had just finished playing Witcher 2. I began incorporating everything I could find. I got a ton of content into the first draft of the book. It was then that I started reading the original Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski and started truly discovering the depth of the franchise. Instead of writing an RPG based on 2 video games I was writing an RPG based on 2 video games, an entire book series and a comic series. Suddenly it was no longer just Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Witchers! We had Gnomes, Halflings, Lizardmen & Beaver people... Tons of history opened up and really cool characters were discovered! And then Witcher 3 was announced and another flood of content came washing over us! Changes to the map, new locations, new monsters, new gear!

But it all meant one thing. Not everything could be done in the core book for the Witcher RPG. I was told by my boss that the book had a limit and not everything could be put in. Later, when we did expansions and supplements for the RPG we could go indepth on certain subjects, but for now the core book needed to have the things people would need to run a campaign in the Witcher World. As I've begun to cut things back I've realized that it's better this way. The Witcher world is rich with lore and background and if I tried to cram everything into one book I would have a book 3 feet thick that would cost and arm and a leg and be overwhelming for anyone who wasn't already a fan of the Witcher. In the core book for the Witcher RPG you will have:

A basic background of the Witcher world with a section on what it's like in between Witcher 2 and Witcher 3, (which is the official setting of the Witcher PNP RPG)

Character creation information for the most prevalent races and professions

A moderate number of weapons, armor and bits of gear from the Witcher video games

A moderate bestiary with at least one representation of all of the monster types in Witcher 3

Stats for many of the major characters in Witcher 3

And a list of relic weapons and armor to find on your adventures with a description of their legends.

Unfortunately, with the core book for the Witcher PNP RPG we won't be giving information on many of the plot points in the Witcher video games. This is because we want to make sure that when we do we can devote the proper amount of time and space to them. We would rather wait and do an in depth supplement on, say for instance, the Wild Hunt, than write a few lines about them in the back of the core book and leave it at that.

In the end we want to make sure that everything that goes into this book feels important and gets it's full due. Trust me, anything we don't cover in the core book will be in later supplements. I love this world far too much to let anything fall by the way side.

Witcher Dev Notes 1

Hey All,

Cody Pondsmith, Design Lead on the Witcher table top RPG, here! It's been about a bit since Total Con and we here at Talsorian are hard at work! We got a lot of great feedback and input at TotalCon and it was amazingly fun! So, much thanks to Angelia, everybody at the Con and Jay Libby, (for dragging us away from our computers). But on to Witcher!
The Witcher RPG has been in development for a while and I got a great chance to test it out at TotalCon with some fresh faces and show it to some industry professionals. What I learned was this:

Convention players will cook and eat a sentient creature as long as it looks enough like a fish monster...

But in all seriousness, the game I was able to run at TotalCon was a great look into the RPG. I had 6 wonderful, (if somewhat derranged), players who played members of a raiding crew from the Skellige Isle of Spikeroog. We had:
A dwarven craftsman who believed he was doomed to die since he had escaped death on a previous raid,

An elven criminal who was the stoic bowman of the party who probably racked up the most kills,

A human priestess of Freya who spent most of her time out of combat but aided now and again with her Spell Bomb Jars and hazy visions of the future,

A human bard who had a hell of a time in combat, (markedly bad roll), but made an absolutely amazing roll to convince the enemy captain to surrender,

And twin human mercenaries, named Hans and Franz, (Who were the best fighters and also the life of the party).

Through the course of the adventure they fought a siren, (which, sadly, killed one of their NPC crew), battled a Nilfgaardian transport cruiser, adopted a captive Nilfgaardian mage, and battled a lamia, which nearly killed them.

It was a ton of fun and everyone had a great time with it. But you probably noticed there were no actual Witchers in the game. That was done on purpose. I wanted to test whether the game could be done and be fun for everyone if there was no Witcher. Obviously Witchers will be playable in the RPG but they are rare and I wanted to show that you could have just as much fun in the Witcher world as a human, elf or dwarf. In the world of the Witcher, Witchers are rare, almost extinct, and while you definitely can have people in your game playing a Witcher it's much more likely that it's only going to be one, or MAYBE 2 players. The other players will be other types of adventurers. And I didn't want any of those other players to feel like they got the short end of the stick. To that end, the Witcher RPG will have 4 playable races and 9 playable classes.

The 4 Races being:
The Humans: Well respected, socially powerful and accepted by society.

The Elves: Sneaky, talented in the wilderness and excellent archers, though hated by society.

The Dwarves: Tough & strong as stone with an eye for appraisal and tolerated by society.

The Witchers: Rare and stoic super soldiers, who are feared by everyone.

Each of these races will give the player 3 abilities or bonuses and a social standing which determines how each faction will treat them.

The 9 Classes are:
Bard: Charismatic entertainers who can befriend anyone, inculcate themselves into societies and worm their way into their opponent's minds.

Craftsman: Talented artistans who are skilled not only in crafting weapons and armor but also craft alchemical concoctions and can make augmentations to weapons on the battle field.

Criminal: Smooth operators who can crack any safe, take a man's life with no witnesses and rally gangs around themselves.

Doctor: Calculating physicians who are trained in field surgery allowing them to treat wounds with double the efficiency, or cause grevious wounds with their anatomical knowledge.

Mage: Scheming politicians and manipulators, removed from power and now using their often earth shaking power to escape persecution and get revenge.

Mercenary: Grizzled warriors with ages of combat experience who can calculate their opponent's moves, take down targets from extreme range and unleash devastating attacks.

Merchant: Canny salesmen who know the power of coin. They can use their knowledge of product to find vulnerabilities in armor and track down cheap suppliers and when need be they can acquire favors & allies to break the competition.

Priest: Men and women of the Gods who use ancient blood rituals to commune with nature, heal the sick and injure or hunt down heathens and burn them with holy fire.

Witcher: Restricted to those with the proper mutations, Witchers are consummate monster hunters who dabble in mutagenic potions, simple field magic and incredibly deadly sword play.

Each class will have a skill tree that holds special abilities that only that class can acquire. As you progress you can follow each of these branches which will tailor your character into exactly what you want to play.

In the end I want people to have myriads of options for their characters and to have fun, eclectic parties. After all, if 5 Witchers all walk into town, half the town would probably run in fear or bar their doors. Expect more Witcher Notes on a regular basis detailing more of this bizzare adventure to create the Witcher RPG!


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