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 others. 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 an 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.
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