Geralt of Rivia
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"This world doesn't need a hero, it needs a professional"
- – Geralt of Rivia
"I hate portals"
- – said so often that it's practically his catch phrase
Geralt of Rivia is the main character and protagonist of The Witcher series of novels (imagine a mixture of G.R.R. Martin's ASOIAF and J.R.R. Tolkien's LOTR and you get a pretty clear idea of what's going on) and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. He's also the main character in a series of video games made by CD Projekt Red, which are pretty awesome.
However, not many people are aware who and what Geralt is so pay attention 'cause it's story time!
What is a Witcher?
Glad you asked.
In the world of the Witcher, an event known as 'The Conjunction of the Spheres' occurred, when the normal world collided with another. The result of this collision was magic and monsters. Monsters such as trolls, vampires, werewolves and a whole manner of nasty things arrived and promptly began eating and killing humans. Normal people had no chance against these horrors and so to combat the problem, the mages began to make Witchers.
In a fashion similar to spehss mehrens, young boys would be taken from their homes, taught how to fight and subjected to agonizing magical and alchemical experiments which made them faster, stronger and tougher than ordinary humans. (Don't worry, girls could become Dryads if they fancied though later the Witcher process was altered to work on girls too; speaking of Dryads, in addition to becoming naked green beauties who protected nature, Dryads became the best archers in the world who could make Legolas sob in envy).
The experiments, among which includes the infamous 'Trial of the Grasses', were extremely brutal, with few as 4 out of 10 surviving. The result was a nigh-unstoppable killing machine who was an expert in killing monsters and even combating dark magic, curses and spells if needed. But don't think that they do this out of the goodness of their hearts. A Witcher is first and foremost, a mercenary. They will only kill a monster or lift a spell so long as they are paid to do so.
Perks of being a Witcher
- Sterility. As a result of the mutations the Witcher has been through, they cannot have children to pass their alterations on. Don't worry, you're not impotent, you only shoot blanks...which wouldn't be an issue unless you ever consider settling down.
- Immunity to disease and illness. Witchers can't get sick or catch any diseases. This fact in addition to the above-mentioned sterility makes them God's gift to women, all the fun with no risks of catching something (or getting pregnant as of the introduction of female Witchers). They are also highly resistant to poisons and toxins, useful when fighting venomous monsters and ingesting otherwise lethal amounts of alcohol. Kinda helps that they've already been introduced to some really terrifying stuff as part of their trials.
- Dramatically increased physicality. A Witcher's physical skills are sufficient to defeat most monsters if combined with extensive training and proper weaponry, and this makes them more than able to handle your average cutthroats.
- Increased lifespan. Provided they are not killed, Witchers can live for centuries. Then again, none have ever died of old age due to the nature of their work.
- Accelerated healing that grants quick recovery from most injury.
- Expert swordsmen. Due to the years spent honing their skills, Witchers are among the greatest warriors in the world, mostly specializing with one-handed swords though that's mostly based on what school teaches them.
- Each Witcher carries two swords and has a pretty good reason for this. One sword is meteorite steel and is reserved for killing mundane enemies and another made of silver to combat threats of a magical or monstrous nature. Combined with the right oils and tonics, this can make a witcher the deadliest foe a monster can make.
- Magic. Wondered why they focused on one-handed weapons? So they can use the other one to cast spells. Each Witcher has access to simple combat spells known as Signs, that, while not as powerful as the spells used by mages, are actually useful in close quarters.
- Aard- A force push that knocks back or down enemies.
- Igni- Set your foes on fire with this trick and watch them fumble.
- Yrden- Set a magical trap that holds enemies in place. Useful for ones that turn invisible or teleport.
- Quen- Surround yourself in a magical shield that acts as extra armor, gets destroyed if it suffers too much damage.
- Axii- A Witcher's Jedi mind trick that charms enemies and even brainwashes people to do what you want and fight for you.
- Alchemy. If magic and sword skills wasn't enough, Witchers have a masterful knowledge of herbalism and alchemy and can craft a variety of potions, oils and even bombs from the right ingredients.
- Cat eyes. One easy way to spot a Witcher is via his eyes, which resemble a cat or a snake. Besides looking cool this allows Witchers to see in the dark, useful when facing nocturnal or underground monsters.
- Medallions. The other useful identification mark of a Witcher is his silver medallion, resembling the animal from which school he trained in (Wolf, Cat, Griffin, Bear, Viper). This little beauty allows Witchers to detect magic easily.
Downsides of Being a Witcher
So you would think that being a Witcher would be great and people would be appreciative of you doing a valuable service in the world. Wrong. Due to their status of being mutants, wandering warriors and potential child kidnappers, (as well as the generally grimdark tone of the setting) Witchers are generally hated and feared by most people. They will need you for your help, but never want you to stay. A result of this discrimination was a pogrom which resulted in nearly all the Witcher schools being destroyed and the Witchers themselves cast to the four winds. With no more recruits and no way to learn the process required to make more, the Witchers are slowly dying out. Of course, less Witchers means more monsters. Yeah, people are idiots. Also for some reason, cats really don't like them. You might wonder, oh who cares it's just a cat. You would be wrong. Cats, alongside dragons, are capable of absorbing magical energy and for this reason, they like to hang around mages and areas with great magical significance. Why they do this, we have no idea and what they do with this magic is an even bigger mystery.
- Emotional Deadness.Your emotions are either muted or totally absent, the combination of magic, mutations, brutal training, and the stuff you have to deal with on the job have turned you into a borderline sociopath. You'll probably still have your emotions, but you won't be using them much given your occupation.
- Discrimination. People treat you like shit. The stupid, uneducated peasants who are paying to get rid of their ghost problem hate you 'cause you're different from them, nobles treat you like a disposable tool, and you can't do shit about it...well, not unless you think you can handle an entire army reinforced by a pitchfork-and-torch-wielding mob with just two swords.
- Failed Mutations. The mutations can leave you disfigured, traumatized, and bitter.
- Unwanted. Chances are, you were given to a Witcher School because no one loved you or you were too much of a burden to care for, if your family isn't already dead. Good thing that you'll most likely forget them by the time you become a Witcher.
- Retirement=Death. You'll most likely die unmourned in some godforsaken hole at the hands of some unspeakable monstrosity. If you aren't killed by the human pricks.
- Forbidden Knowledge. You have to deal with all the depressing or horrifying shit that creates ghosts and curses in the first place.
- Paycheck? What Paycheck? You're always really poor due to the fact that maintaining your gear is expensive and monster contracts barely cover your expenses, because either the aforementioned peasants can't or won't pay enough, or the nobles that do hire you occasionally are greedy, back-stabbing douchenozzles.
About the Man Himself
Alright, intro out of the way.
Geralt was, like all Witchers, ditched at the front of a Witcher School, in his instance being the one in the frosty Kaer Morhen. Like all Witchers, he got subjected to the whole gauntlet of experiments and training, and even got a few extra experiments because he took to the normal stuff well. He survived all this as well, but as a result his hair's all white and now he'll look either like a Hot Topic reject or an old man depending on what point of his life we're talking about. Incidentally, the 'of Rivia' part of his name is a lie, as Geralt himself wanted a cool name to suit his new image and tried to learn a Rivian accent.
With all that done, he took a horse, named it Roach, and then went off adventuring in a miserable world filled with monsters, inept nobles who are no better than the monsters, and anything in between.
At some point during all this adventuring, Geralt managed to solve a kingdom's succession crisis. As is custom, he has the reward for this favor be subject to the "Law of Surprise" (essentially: I do something, you give me something of vague value). This surprise happened to be Ciri, the grandaughter of the queen of that kingdom, which has now gone to literal shit with barbarians of the north (not those ones) having killed everyone. Geralt, having no clue how to raise a child, decided to raise her as a mini-him...it took the intervention of a good friend that wasn't a Witcher to explain how this was a terrible fucking idea, but he was set in training the kid how to use a sword.