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– by Campbell Clark

It’s been known for some time that Netflix is moving ahead with a TV show based on The Witcher, and while fans of the books or the PC/Console games may well be excited by this prospect, a lot of other potential viewers have likely hardly even heard of it.

This could well be a serious Game of Thrones contender and a real rival for Amazon’s super expensive upcoming Lord of the Rings show. I had heard people raving about the Witcher video games before, but I wasn’t sure a deep RPG-type game was for me, I was wrong. I was looking for something different to try and many friends had said I would like RPG games, keeping up with video game news, I already knew that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was considered one of the greatest games of this generation. I, therefore, decided to pick up a cheap “Game of the Year” edition which has all extra DLC included. This was around early January, I don’t game much, but since that day, the only game I have been playing is this and I’m still not finished yet. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best game I have played on the current generation of consoles.

So I guess I became intrigued to find out more about the story at large and interested suddenly in the TV show coming from Netflix.

Scripts have been written for the show, but no casting has taken place yet, it’s therefore unlikely we would see this hit the streaming service until 2019, at the earliest.

The Source Material

The Witcher universe is based on a series of novels and story collections by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. These were written in his native Polish starting in the ’80s. Since then Sapkowski has written many more stories and started rewriting them all in English several years ago now. The books themselves had initially taken on a bit of a cult following and probably never got the exposure of other titles by not being initially written in English, which as we know remains the dominant language for entertainment. The tremendous success of the video games made by Polish studio CD Projekt Red (CDPR), however, has really increased the popularity and demand for the books.

We then have the three video games themselves made by CDPR to consider. These games were written as almost sequels to the novels rather than adaptations of them and they reference the same history and characters as the novels do. As of right now, the games that make up the series are The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

While I have not yet had the time to read the novels, I have tried to research the roots of these stories and the makeup of this universe. The game I played is really designed as the end of the story, but it also does a really good job of getting you invested in the backstory of these characters. So for any mega fans out there, please feel free to forgive and correct any mistakes I make here as a bit of a noob to this franchise.

The Genre and the Universe

It’s definitely high fantasy as you will see from the small video game cinematic video above, but with more mature and realistic people in it, so if I had to use Tolkien’s work as one end of the spectrum and GRR Martin’s work as the opposite end of the spectrum I would say The Witcher falls somewhere in the middle, but closer to the work of the latter rather than the former. The universe is complicated so I will try and give a brief summary.

There was a planet somewhere which housed several sentient species such as Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and some other creatures. Thousands of years ago there was a massive interdimensional rift which they call the Conjunction of the Spheres. This event meant other dimensional planes crossed over with one another in strange ways. As a result, many species who were not native to this planet were deposited there and stranded. Many of these beings were ferocious non-sentient creatures, but there were sentient beings like Vampires also and the worst of them all…Humans. Yep, we Humans are at it again and since we breed faster than any of the native races, it’s not long before we dominate this world and push back and marginalize these Elder races. By the time of the stories, Humans control the whole world and have committed various racial atrocities against the Elder races. The world is split into various countries which are reminiscent of medieval Europe and just like home, we don’t seem to get along very well. The countries much like the houses in Game of Thrones are always trying to get one up on each other to vie for complete control.

The stories take place mostly in the Northern Realms where ever the threat is to the south from the massive Niilfgard Empire. Niilfgard is like the Rome of this world and they seem intent to conquer all the lands they can find. There is almost a constant state of war at one time or another between the various factions.

What is a Witcher?

I find the origin of Witchers to have similar themes to those of Spartan origins in the Halo series if any readers are familiar with that story. Witchers are an order of Human who recruit young male children from whoever they can get them either as payment or through neglect. After some rigorous training, these boys are subjected to a series of mutations called the Trial of the Grasses which only 3/10 boys will survive. If they survive, the body changes to have special abilities beyond normal humans, these include strength, agility, resistance to pain, resistance to toxins and diseases, and advanced eyesight and hearing. A Witcher’s place is to travel through all the lands looking for contract work, paid for by simply gold, or other trades and codes of conduct. The work is usually tracking and killing ferocious non-sentient monsters, though some Witcher’s have been known to investigate mysteries, lift curses and even take on Higher Vampires on occasion. A Witcher would never normally involve themselves in politics or any kind of groups, preferring to drift from place to place looking for fair pay for fair work. There will always be those that try to use a Witcher to further their own interests or try to fool a Witcher into working for free, but most come to understand that crossing a Witcher is not the smartest thing to do. It’s also worth noting that Witchers heal faster, live a very long time/age very slowly and are also infertile.

Turn to page 2 for more information about The Witcher.


Page 2:

The Story & Potential

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