Dan Davenport was kind enough to host lead The Witcher TRPG designer Cody Pondsmith on his #randomworlds IRC channel last night! The Q&A session lasted for a little longer than two hours and featured Cody answering questions from both Dan and the audience.
Photograph of Cody Pondsmith courtesy of Tara Jones
A full transcript of the Q&A session can be found on the Hardboiled GMshoe’s Office blog. A lot of questions were asked and answered but here are a few of the highlights!
Calyboi96: Okay, so, the witcher is a world with fast paced, cinematic and gritty action, even Witchers can be taken down by a human who get’s a lucky shot in! What does your system do to capture the qyuick and deadly feel of those fights? ^_^
Cody Pondsmith: I spent a lot of time going over the deadly system to make it fit the world as much as I could! Being based on cyberpunk it is already a very deadly system, that tends to be fairly unforgiving! To add to that I put in a series of “critical wounds” which allow you to impose penalties by breaking bones, rupturing organs, cutting arteries and the like. These wounds are based on how much more skilled (or lucky) you are compared to your opponent so if you are a really great swordsman you can massacre a bunch of opponents with devestating attacks. But (just like geralt) you can also get unlucky and wind up with a critical wound scored on you. I wanted to write the system so you didn’t always rush into combat. You had to think it through and gauge what would be the best approach to the combat.
molamolafish: In the series, we see plenty of examples of Witcher ablilities and even mage abilities. How have you come up with specialties/abilities like for priestest, men at arm’s, bards, ect. That have not been explored as much into deatil in any of the books or games?
Cody Pondsmith: Every class has a skill tree that establishes 3 different ways of playing that class. The skill trees total 9 abilities but they give you a lot of options. Men at arms for instance have abilities that make them amazing snipers at tremendous range, abilitites to shake off death temporarily, and make rolls to gauge the intent and actions of everyone around the sort of like Deathstroke. Bards can be devious manipulators who can make enemies into their pawns but they can also make huge crowds in the street to block paths during a chase or generate patrons who will help them out in a pinch. My favorite is merchants, who can be the greatest tool for acquiring good, but can also become mafia style mob bosses who use threats and blackmail to manipulate people around them. Instead of taking away from Witcher to make other classes viable we tried to give other classes abilities that would be as cool as Witcher abilities.
Steamin661: How many pages does the core rulebook have? What would you say is the breakdown bettern lore and rules? 40% lore and 60% rules? Lastly, is the “never before seen info” found in the books considered canon with the games?
Cody Pondsmith: the core book is 336 pages and of that the “World Section” is 32 pages of concentrated lore (including a lot of new information on Nilfgaard)! That being said there is enough lore sprinkled through this book to choke a horse. It’s hard to put a number on it but it’s a lot of lore.
We spoke directly with CDPR about the cannonicity of the new material and some of it i even got to sit down with the Witcher Story team and work out together! Everything in this book is cannon to CDPR’s Witcher video games!
Vinipac: What is your favorite Relic in the game?
Cody Pondsmith: The fun part is, we decided to make Relics really epic! So while relics are not craftable they are unique items with their own story attached to them! My favorite is probably….Ogh’r! It’s this HUGE war maul with the face of a cave troll carved into it. The short hand of the story is that this dwarf winds up in a territory feud with a bunch of Cave trolls. and the only way the cave trolls will settle it is a head butting contest. the Dwarf knows he can’t win so he makes this enormous meteorite war maul and carves a face into it. Then he convinces the troll that the hammer head is a real head, because it has a face on it!
Motulev: this was kinda asked above, but does the game handle an all Witcher group, a no Witchers at all group or a mix of the two?
Cody Pondsmith: An all witcher group is a small group of hardened, usually bitter, monster hunters who (due to a system of Social Standing) have a hard time entering a town without folks fleeing and are often given the short end of the stick. But they can focus entirely on hunting monsters and breaking curses. There’s also a lot of fun to be had, comiserating about being a witcher and sharing stories from your past (we have a special Lifepath for Witcher that allows you to discover your characters history).
A group with no witchers is often a group of people who are displaced by the war and traveling together for the saftey of numbers. With so many profession choices you can get a really varied group with a lot of wild interactions and they can do everything from monster hunting to High court espionage. I’ve been planning to run a whole game where my players are members of the Nilfgaardian war machine, having a band of brothers style journey up from the south.
Groups with one witcher are a lot of fun. You tend to think the witcher would take the lime light but a lot of the time they let someone else do the talking and sit in the back grumbling comically about peasants until there’s a monster to fight. Often times the witcher grows fond of their traveling companions (like geralt for instance) and sticks around.
The above are just a small sample of the questions asked and answered during the Q&A. We’ll be releasing The Witcher TRPG on August 2nd at Gen Con, where convention goers can purchase it at our booth (#1752) for $50.00. A bit later, we’ll also release the PDF version on DriveThruRPG. The physical book will be up for order on the R. Talsorian store website as soon as we get more books from the printer post-Gen Con.