Hey there everyone. A lot of people have been asking when the PNP RPG is coming out. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to give a direct release date. We want to make sure that this is the best Witcher PNP RPG that we can produce so we’re putting as much time in as we need. I can say that things are progressing smoothly and it won’t be long before we can speak more on a release date. We thank you for your patience and support.
Hey there, everybody! It’s been a productive week here at R.Talsorian Games! Things have been rolling along on Witcher and we were able to attend Gen Con in Indianapolis to gauge the market.
This week I’m working pretty heavily on the varied world states of the Witcher PNP RPG. As we all know, the number of choices that you make from the beginning of Witcher 1 to the end of Witcher 2 is pretty impressive. There are choices that mean very little in the grand scheme of things, but also choices that shape the course of history. This has to be taken into account when we write the PNP RPG. The way we’ve chosen to handle this is to leave things very vague in the general history of the world. Players will hear rumors of all options that are presented in the games. Some people say that Geralt sided with the Scoia’tael in Vizima, some say he sided with the Order, but nobody knows for sure. If the players interact with some part of this choice or the GM wants to solidify the choice there will be a section in the GM section devoted to what the options for these choices are and how they affect the world state. Since the game takes place months before the events of Witcher 3 most of the Witcher 3 events will be inapplicable but there will be a mention of how outcomes affect the world for the major decisions in case you want to play through them, such as the bloody Baron quests or deciding an heir in Skellige. Also since the game takes place before Nilfgaard has reached the Pontar, there will be some decisions the players get to make and influence that will be mentioned in the GM section that weren’t offered in the video games. These will include things like, helping Saskia fight the Nilfgaardians in Vergen, fighting off the Nilfgaardians in Vizima or undermining the Temerian military.
I also wanted to make sure people know that comments written on these updates go directly to me and I do my best to answer them via email. This allows for more concise responses and less encouragement for trolls or flame wars.
As part of Witcher character creation we included the Life Path system that makes appearance in most of our games, (such as Cyberpunk 2020 and Mekton Zeta), a series of rolls or choices that help you flesh out your character before you play them. For Witcher, we decided to expand the Life Path to give a more detailed description of your character’s background and how it affects you.
The first several rolls establish what your character’s family and early life were like. All of these can be chosen instead of rolled though I’ve always liked to roll them. You first choose whether you are a Nordling or a Nilfgaardian. Then you make your rolls. Then you make the following rolls:
Where you were born:
This section tells you in which country you were born. It tells you a bit about what the people of your country are like and how the culture and environment affect them. This should tell you what you are probably like at a very basic level. From your place of birth you get a bonus to a skill based on what your country deems important.
What your family status was:
This will tell you what your parents did for a living. Your family’s standing will tell you a lot about how you grew up. From this you gain a useful tool or object that you would have growing up in that family.
Whether your parents are alive and well:
If your parents are alive and well, you move on to family but if something happened to them you roll on this table. This is everything from fatal monster attacks to dreadful curses to assassinations. These events are assumed to have happened very early in your character’s life and they give you a goal. Each event has a sub-quest. When your character completes this quest they receive a reward.
Whether your family is safe and sound:
Just like the state of your parent, you can have had a perfectly safe and happy family. But there’s also a chance that your family had something wrong with it. This can be anything from crippling debt to long term familial rivalries and, just like with your parents, each one comes with a sub-quest that rewards you for solving it.
Who the most influential person in your life was:
This establishes the most influential person in your life and what they taught you. This is the person or group of people who contributed most to who you are today and who you remember the most fondly. These can be simple townsfolk or relatives all the way up to powerful mages or social outcasts and each one leaves you an object to remember them by. This is not necessarily a tremendously useful object but something of sentimental value to your character, that reminds them of better times.
How many siblings you have:
Lastly you roll how many siblings you have. This not only tells you how big the family you grew up in was but also allows you to play a brother or sister of your character if your character dies in the course of the adventure.
Once you know these basic things about your character you roll your life events. For every year after 16 you roll 1d10 and see what happened in that year of your life. This section of Life Path has remained the same as Cyberpunk 2020 but with changes to make sure that your characters life reflects the world of the witcher.
As we start filling in the descriptions and writing for the Witcher RPG, I thought it would be good to do an update on the feel of the Witcher RPG. After all, no one who’s read the books or played the games can call Witcher “Standard Fantasy”.
Besides the dark fantasy elements of the Witcher, one of the most important parts of the setting is it’s anachronistic touches. In the original set of stories Geralt is effectively a detective who happens to kill monsters as well. He solves mysteries, hunts down clues and does a fair bit of negotiating, only really drawing his blade when absolutely necessary. The games, especially Witcher 3, get this feeling across excellently. You just know that Geralt has his own internal narrator and it doesn’t take much to imagine Geralt as a gritty film noir hero. Aside from Geralt we see mages who are effectively mad scientists, locking themselves away in towers and experimenting day and night on morally dubious experiments for the furthering of science. We see cross dressing boutique owners and collectable card games, on par with Magic the Gathering, sweeping the nation. But still the Witcher is heavily rooted in fantasy.
No matter how dark the world may get much of it still has this fractured fairy tale style to it that lends to the atmosphere. While many classic fantasy plots still show up, many side quests and stories unfold like classical fairy tales and usually people, especially Geralt, tend to be fairly aware of this, making wry comments about princesses trapped in towers and young lads venturing off to defeat dreaded beasts. In fact the first collection of short stories reads almost like a book of fractured fairy tales with Geralt stumbling into stories very similar to Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and more.
As we sit down and write the descriptive and setting pieces for the Witcher RPG we are trying to keep these factors in mind. We want the Witcher RPG to be unique in it’s field just like the Witcher games and books are.
This is the last weekend for the Castle Falkenstein Bundle of Holding. Pdf.’s of the core game and all the supplements are part of the complete bundle and at fantastic prices. If you’re interested in Victorian fantasy, diceless systems or steampunk gaming, or there are just a few more supplements you want to pick up, we recommend you drop by bundleofholding.com this weekend!
Things are coming along here at Talsorian. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a developer note for a while as we’ve been hard at work and, to be honest, the work has been pretty mundane. Tweaking small things and writing descriptions for weapons and armor.
We have, however, spent quite a bit of time on the relic items in the Witcher RPG. In the video game relic items become the norm after a few levels. Anyone who’s played Witcher 2 or Witcher 3 knows the feeling of going to a smith or a merchant and selling off 2 or 3 titled weapons with magic abilities because you found better. Or, even worse, being gifted titled weapons but already having a better one. To some extent that won’t change but we wanted to make sure that each relic item felt important. To that end we sat down and wrote background for all the relic items we would have in the game. This seems easy but it turned out to be surprisingly hard. Save for swords such as Unicorn and armor like Raven’s Armor there are very few relic items that actually have cannon backgrounds. Swords like Maugrim and Cleaverhood and armors like the Mountain Folk armor have no cannon background and thus we had to create backgrounds for them. We wanted to make sure that when you found a relic item, either through a quest, in a monsters horde or as a plot point the item felt like it was a legitimate reward. Besides giving you an interesting item the relic background hail from all over the continent giving you a feel for the history and tales of the different regions. Even if it’s stats may not be amazing it had some cool history behind it and maybe even the seeds of a quest for your party.
Secondarily, we realized that there were almost no relic items that weren’t swords. As we want to support fighting styles of all types we created some relic weapons other than swords such as axe, polearms and bows. In the Witcher video games we get what’s important to Geralt and Geralt is a swordsman, but there are plenty of people out there who use other weapons and many players who would rather use other weapons.
You can expect many interesting stories and varied relics in the Witcher PNP RPG!
As a side note: A lot of people have asked about the release date of the Witcher RPG. As we are working closely with CDPR we cannot disclose a dedicated release date yet, just as they can’t release a dedicated release date for Cyberpunk.
Witcher Dev Notes #3: Combat in the Witcher RPG
One of the most important things to take into account when writing the Witcher RPG was the combat system. The combat of the Witcher, especially in Witcher 2 and witcher 3, is vastly different from the standard, hack and slash combat of traditional RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. The combat of the Witcher is constantly in motion. Attacks are immediately deadly and “critical wounds” do much more than just lower your hit points. The way your survive in a battle in the Witcher is to constantly reposition, aim for enemies weak spots, knock them off guard and prepare ahead of time.
As I mentioned before CD Projekt was very specific about wanting the Witcher RPG to be similar to our game Cyberpunk 2020. This meant bloody, viscous and unforgiving combat. However, Cyberpunk relies heavily on guns, (being a dark future game), and gun combat doesn’t translate too well into melee combat especially in the fast paced, frenetic combat of the Witcher. So I set out to make the combat system for the RPG fit the world while still delivering the deadliness CD Projekt was looking for. In the end the combat system is about where I was hoping to get it thanks to three major system tweaks and a major system addition.
The first tweak was to take an in depth look at melee combat. We wanted more granularity to combat in the Witcher. More than just, “I hit him, he misses me, I hit him, he hits me.” In the Witcher RPG, when using melee weapons you have specific attacks that you can use. We took this approach in Cyberpunk as well but because it was relegated to martial arts mostly it didn’t get a lot of play. In each round of combat you can take 2 seperate attacks:
Fast Strikes: You can make 2 fast strikes during a turn. Both are rolled separately and can be rolled against separate targets.
Strong Strikes: You can sacrifice your second attack to make 1 strong strike against an opponent for double damage if you really need to get through tough armor or you want to bet all your damage on one attack.
Pommel Strike: You can strike your opponent with the pommel or heel of your weapon to stun them temporarily.
Sweep: You can sweep your opponent’s legs out from under them to get them on the ground.
Disarm: You can attempt to disarm an opponent.
Grapple: You can grab an opponent which keeps them from getting away and then leads to further attacks you can make.
Throw: Once grappling an opponent you can throw them a distance based on your strength or just throw them to the ground.
Pin: Once grappling and opponent you can pin them to immobilize them.
Choke: Once grappling an opponent you can choke them.
Similarly you have an arsenal of defenses based on the style of your character or what you need at the time:
Dodge: You can simply dodge an opponent’s attack.
Reposition: Similar to the combat roll in Witcher 2 & 3 you can dodge and move yourself into a new position to get behind an opponent or avoid being ganged up on.
Block: If you don’t trust your dexterity you can block the attack which negates damage.
Parry: If you feel confident you can try to parry the opponent, negating the damage and staggering your opponent..
The idea is to give the player options in combat that would make their combat less predictable and less static. With this system people can think about their options, stay in constant motion, re-positioning, striking, tripping their opponents, going for grapples and parrying blades.
The second system tweak is healing. While there are some healing items in the RPG such as healing potions and healing magic the major brunt of healing must be done over time. Part of the realistic, violent feel CD Projekt wanted to get in the RPG is that you can’t always just drink a health potion and get all your hit points back immediately. Healing items allow you to regenerate hit points but you still have to stay on your toes until you regenerate. Unlike the video game you can’t get hit points back by eating a ham sandwich or some raw wolf meat. Unless you have a mage or some potions on hand healing is done through R&R.
To really capture the feeling of combat in the Witcher I created a critical system for the game. In the Witcher books the brutality of combat is often underscored and characters never just “get hit”. Bones are broken, arteries are cut and emphasis is always put on how Geralt is able to get by due to his incredible skill, (and high pain threshold). In the Witcher RPG you can score “critical hits” on opponents by rolling a higher attack roll than their defense roll and the larger the difference between your totals the more damaging and hindering the attack is. Low range examples are things like dislocated limbs, lost teeth and minor head wounds with which you can battle on but which impose small penalties and give more feeling of life and danger to a combat. The most dangerous of critical strikes can kill you outright if not treated and always take a piece of you such as dismembered limbs, septic shock and lost eyes. This means that if you have a high weapon skill you know that it will count for something in combat. If a master swordsman fights a peasant he knows he can almost always take the peasant apart with ease. But it also encourages players to weigh their options, and keep on their toes. If their opponent is far more skilled than them they might want to wait and try a more stealthy approach rather than risk broken bones or worse. All critical wounds can be stabilized on the battlefield so the victim won’t bleed out or the like but to fully heal them they must be treated by a Doctor, Priest or Mage and, as with standard healing, they take time to heal.
In the Witcher RPG we want to deliver a combat system that feels as risky, and dynamic as the combat of Witcher 3. Something that stands out and has it’s own feel and encourages players to think before they leap into combat.