What is a Witcher?

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Witcher: All You Need to Know About Witchers Before Watching the Show

So, we’ve Netflix about to dive into the witcher universe. I have no idea, if it’s gonna be great or absolutely terrible but those who haven’t read the books or played the games may have some questions.

Before watching the show, the most obvious being what is a Witcher?

Before we delve any further into that explanation, it’s important to note that there are some differences between the
books and the games. It’s likely this will be the case for the show. This is relevant because in Andrzej Sapkowski’s original books a Witcher is referred to as a Wiedzmin, which surpass key, then translated as a Hexer. The term Witcher only became the established translation when CD Projekt RED adapted these books into games. Since, then Sapkowski has used the term Witcher and honestly The Witcher sounds much more catchy than the Hexer.

Witcher: How do anyone become Witcher?

Somewhat sets these witches apart from normal folk. How does one become a Witcher and how are they able to slay these supernatural creatures and monsters?

When the first humans arrived in the continent in the area that we now call Temeria. These harsh lands were unforgiving and filled of new threats they would have to defend themselves from. This task fell to a group of warrior monks. The very first witches who would use the surrounding environment to enhance their own abilities and mutate and transform themselves into beings capable of fending off this new world’s monsters.

The process involved a mixture of mutagenic mushrooms, herbs and plant stimulants. It would later be refined into much more of a science. But this granted them supernatural abilities and powers that would even the playing field. Allowing them to hunt creatures and monsters that were used to being the ones doing the hunting. It’s at this point in time the demand for witches was at its highest.

The process of becoming one starts as a child. Very few children were ever selected but those who did demonstrate potential would undergo trials at selected keeps and castles, known as witcher schools. Care Moyen, being one of the most famous mentioned in the books as well as one that you can explore in the witcher 3.

These witcher schools took their names from animals and you can tell which school witcher belongs to by the medallion they wear. Witches from other schools do appear but this is further expanded upon by the games. Where you have schools belonging to the Cat, Gryphon, Viper, Bear, Crane and Manticore. Each of them is located in a different area with a different focus. So a witch’s training is never quite the same.

Witcher: Process of Being Supernatural

Children chosen by these schools would go through an intense and grueling process known as the trial of the grasses. This involved ingest in those same mutagenic compounds that the original witches discovered all those years ago. It said that less than a third survived the trial of the grasses and the rest died an extremely painful death.

So, if you consider the fact that only a few are chosen to be witches and only a third of those even make it past the apprentice stage. It explains why they are somewhat of a rarity. Those lucky enough to survive or essentially mutants bred for the purpose of hunting these monsters. Their entire physiology changes.

They now have enhanced speed, strength, reflexes and endurance which allows them to chase and kill creatures non witches wouldn’t stand a chance against. Their wounds heal at an accelerated rate and their boosted immune system makes them immune to most forms of disease.

This also accommodates for the large amount of potions they consume. Allowing them to augment their own abilities without fear of a chemical overdose. These potions sent them into a trance or frenzy during combat allowing them to ignore pain and continue fighting even if severely wounded.┬áChanges to their sensory system means they can identify and track what creature they’re hunting by the mere scent of their blood. The most iconic of these sensory mutations are the cat-like eyes which allow them to see in extreme light and darkness.

Witcher: Side Effects of Their Power

Another side effect of this mutation is an extended lifespan, allowing witches to live for centuries. In some cases while still maintaining a youthful appearance. So, if witches can live for so long, it’s not unreasonable to ask why they don’t just breed a bunch and pass these traits down to their children. Removing the need for the trial of the grasses in the first place.

Well, that’s not really an option. The entire process of becoming a Witcher makes them sterile. So, they need to select children from the outside to undergo these trials. Another side effect that comes from the trial of the grasses is a stance in their emotional growth. Many consider witches as emotionless monsters unable to feel empathy. But we see enough from Geralt especially in the games to suggest that this may not be true.

From a very young age these children are taught to control their emotions. If you also consider that they are trained to be cold-blooded killers who have seen an experienced horrors, normal folk could only imagine. Being able to detach yourself emotionally seems to be the only way to remain sane. It also makes it easier to deal with humans refusing to pay for their service.

I think it’s more of a case of witches choosing not to show emotion because remaining calculated and disciplined is what keeps them alive. It also may be interpreted as a sign of weakness, which they are certainly not. It really just depends on the individual.

Witcher: Are They Magical ?

Magic itself plays a fairly large part in the witcher universe. Casting these spells often requires an in-depth knowledge of their magical formula. This isn’t really a witches area of expertise nor is it practical in combat. Instead they adapted these spells of the use of magical signs. This means they can cast simple spells by mimicking the sign of their fingers.

Allowing them to cast a spell in the middle of combat of one hand and still wield a weapon with the other. They may not be spells as powerful as you may expect from a mage or a sorcerer. But signs are quick require little concentration and provide witches with another trick up their sleeve. These signs can be anything from a telekinetic wave and that offer protection to trap sudden snare, foes and a gush of flames that incinerates enemies.

But even with all these physical mutations and the use of magic, they still required extensive weapon training. There is one weapon that every Witcher can turn to their sword or in this case swords as many prefer to carry around. A sword made of silver to cut through the supernatural. The sword made of steel to deal with any human issues.

Witcher: Are They Human?

Despite being human, witches were often seen as outcomes and some of this comes down to fear of what they were capable of. In order to hunt and kill monsters, they had to transform themselves into something that many labeled as non-human. It creates a dynamic whether people need the witches. But there’s always that fear that when the monsters are gone, they’ll be left of the ones, they created themselves. This idea of a lack of emotion and empathy only further perpetuates this fear.

With the threats the humans diminishing over the years, the need for witches was also greatly reduced. However this meant attentions then turned to the witches, who along with their schools were attacked by those who opposed the use of magic. To summarize witches are essentially mutated super soldiers or Monster Hunters. It may be a dangerous and thankless job but someone has to do it.

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