Hey everybody, Cody Pondsmith here! Last time, I gave you a basic idea of what was going to be in A Witcher’s Journal! Today, I thought I’d take a more of an in-depth look at how I chose the monsters that are going into the book!
When we first started working on the Witcher TRPG, our lore expert, Lisa Pondsmith, went through all the Witcher novels and compiled a list of all of the monster mentioned, spotted, or encountered. Let me tell you, it’s one heck of a list! One of the interesting things about the series is that Andrzej Sapkowski’s writing style led to him referencing many monster that then never made appearances in the novels. This left us with a number of monsters which never depicted but only hinted at. Luckily, most of them are easy enough to reference based on their real-world folklore. Sapkowski drew heavily from various European folklore when populating the world of The Witcher and that makes extrapolating what certain monsters are a bit easier.
At the same time, I was going through the video games and making a list of all of the monsters that are encountered or mentioned. That was also a pretty long list but not quite as exhaustive. When we were writing the Witcher TRPG Core book we knew that there were certain monsters that we had to include based on their prevalence and popularity. Obviously, the griffin (which became almost a mascot for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) had to be included as well as a number of staples of the Witcher world, like drowners, noon wraiths, and fiends. But keeping the book to a manageable size meant we didn’t get to represent every monster I had planned so a number of them got shelved.
With A Witcher’s Journal we’ll be offering players a wide variety of monsters with variations in size, attack type, level of threat, and even level of sentience.
As an example of a lower level threat, I’ve been having a blast statting out small horde monsters like the barbegazi. These little hairy insectoids were mentioned in The Tower of the Swallow. They like to live in caves and high up in the mountains and can curl up and disguise themselves as rocks. The best part about these wee beasties is that they can mimic human speech and they use this ability to lure people into traps and overwhelm them!
We also take a “page” from The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. A Witcher’s Journal will allow players to venture in the depth of mines to clear out nests of rotfiends and their bullvore rulers. Anyone who’s played Assassin of Kings will remember wiping out droves of these dangerous necrophages! The corpse-like rotfiends love to leap on their opponents and claw them with their sharp, digging talons. The worst part is, they have a tendency to violently explode when killed. And when you’ve fought your way through the rotfiends you’ll might come face to face with the huge and horrifically mutated bullvores, behemoths of rotting flesh and muscle. They spit toxic acid and can break through shields with their boulder crushing claws!
In urban campaigns, A Witcher’s Journal will allow players to tangle with bruxa, who have made their homes among the people of the city and come out at night to feed on the living. These powerful vampires appear to be beautiful women possessed of incredible grace until they choose you as their prey. Then they unleash their incredible speed and piercing sonic attacks, among many other dangerous abilities. I’m particularly excited to bring in more sapient creatures in order to expand the options available to campaigns focusing on intrigue, crime, or mercantilism instead of combat! With monsters like bruxa it’s possible that players may be able to avoid a deadly fight by negotiating with or charming the creature into leaving or making some other deal to accomplish their goal!
These are just a few examples of the monsters you’ll see in A Witcher’s Journal! As work progresses, I’ll be revealing more additions to the Witcher TRPG’s bestiary. We also hope to be share with you some exciting stories from our initial playtesting!
Keep your swords sharp, everybody! And I’ll see you next time!