Getting into Character: The Witcher RPG

Hey guys! It has been a while since I have written a post, as lately I have been very focused on recording our podcasts and bringing interesting topics regarding geek culture to your ears rather than your eyes. But my writing flow is ready and back for you, so from now on, as we have reached our episode 20 benchmark, we shall be bringing you podcast and blog posts in a more balanced way. So today, to break the ice, I decided to share with you the back story for an RPG character that I literally started impersonating just yesterday. And the reason why I wanted to tell you about this is because this is really not the type of character I would play in an RPG so it has been a bit of a challenge though it has taught me a few things. So, I will share my thought on the subject with you and then leave you with the edgy backstory for my Witcher Kassya from the Gryphon School.

To Witcher or Not to Witcher; That is the Question

Being a Witcher was not my natural inclination and shouldn’t be a surprise for those of you who know me personally or have been following us for a while. I am not the kinda combat heavy player, and I tend to have characters with deep complex human emotions, ideals and wishes. I am a very emotional player: I feel my characters and so they feel too. Therefore, the prospect of an incredibly low empathy did intimidate me a little to begin with as I was making my character. I am not one to shy away from a challenge though, so I spent my time trying to fully understand who would Kassya be as a Witcher so I could come up with her back story. The book is good in the sense that it allows you to flesh out a lot of the background and life events and it is helpful to help you create a fully fleshed individual. Before deciding to be a Witcher, just rolling for my normal human details it was established that I was going to be of a nervous nature, indifferent to most people, but someone who valued honour. The dice also determined my parents were alive, I had a sibling who felt indifferent towards me but that I valued dearly and that there was a dark secret in the family that could bring its doom. In the process of trying to reconciliate this, I eventually decided to be a Witcher, and my fate was sealed: I was assigned to the Gryphon School which suits my play style better than Wolf or Bear may have, and my back story determined I was also given a child by Law of Surprise, as well as a rival Witcher. And suddenly Kassya made sense: no wonder she was so apathic and dulled inside. So, I tied all the knots together and you can see this in my back story (upcoming post).

Once I wrote Kassya up, I had to genuinely acclimatise myself to her and being a Witcher. I am a team player; I always help my teammates and the DM if I can. I am outspoken, I share my thoughts, I express myself fluidly and I am colourful – All Non Witcher Friendly Material. First thing I had to accept was that Witchers don’t lend their help to anyone for no good reason – so Kassya could be and would be helpful, but at a price. Witchers are feared and hated by most, and although this is a party where my companions are two elves and a dwarf, I had to accept interactions would be hard for me, so I embraced her nervous nature to be reserved. This meant that I had to choose carefully what I would speak with the group (or rather if and when), on what grounds/tone. I decided to embrace the more blunt, sharp tongue, and pragmatic side of me to portray her towards them in a way that would be believable, because if the group wouldn’t believe it, I wasn’t doing a good job (sorry guys!LOL). I didn’t even exchange names with the rest of the party. I didn’t bother checking anything about them. And that wasn’t me being rude, which I found hard to accept: that was me being a Witcher. My dialogue and my narrative for this character is going to have to be very internal, very confidential, and very personal. But that doesn’t mean that my Empathy 1 entitled me to act like a monster. So, I will finish this post in a way you can all understand what I mean.

The game came to a point that a temporary ally became troubled by the appearance of a couple of refugees (mother and child) seeking asylum. These were humans, and our allies were elves, so this was not going to work out. I couldn’t see what there was to gain or lose from the elf’s decision to kill this woman and child, so I tried to talk them out of it, but from a logical and not emotional viewpoint given the information these travellers had given us which actually endangered us all. I tried hard and my roll was good, but it still fell in deaf ears and the mother was killed on the spot. When the bow was readied to kill the child to, I decided enough stupid bloodshed was enough. I may not be an empathetic person, but that does not make me a monster. A Witcher hunts monsters, and perhaps one day starring too long into the abyss will turn me into one too, but it wasn’t going to be that day when all I wanted was to cross the goddamn river. So, to everyone’s surprise, I decided to grab the child and disengage from the fight by simply putting up a shield. I hadn’t been paid for fighting, I didn’t have any allegiances either way, so, as far as I saw it, that child was just in the same boat I was, simply trying to survive with no one but themselves to rely on. And sure, no Witcher is a great fatherly/motherly figure, but perhaps I could take them to someone who might be – I had to cross the river anyway…And, who knows, perhaps someone would even reward me for that…(My luck is 6 after all…).

So, here is my insight into how to break down getting into character, particularly if it’s a challenging one. And for those of you who may be considering playing the Witcher as a Witcher, some food for thought: you’re not murder hobos, nor are you happy bunnies. Just complex creatures travelling on the edge of humanity. Tune in a couple of days to read my back story 🙂

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