12 Things You Didn't Know About Becoming A Witcher
Do you know how Geralt of Rivia became a Witcher? Do you even know how Witchers are made? The process certainly isn't as easy as one might think. How does being injected with various magical herbs and elixirs that will mutate your body and mind sound? And that's just the first Witcher Trial...
The vast majority of people who try to become Witchers end up perishing before the process is even finished. There are experimental mutagens that can enhance you further if your body reacts well to the initial batch, and rumor has it that Witchers are trained to get rid of emotion. Oh, and you become sterile in the process. Does this sound like a fun time to you? It worked out for beloved characters like Geralt and Vesemir, but it isn't exactly a walk in the park. If learning more about the lengthy procedures it takes to become a Witcher piques your fancy, scroll on down and learn a little more about Andrzej Sapkowski's dark fantasy world. We promise it won't be as harrowing as going through it all.
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Geralt Went Through Additional Mutations Based On His Performance In The TrialsPhoto: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf / Netflix
So, Geralt of Rivia seems like a pretty big deal, eh? What makes the silver-haired, mountainous brute so much better than other Witchers? Honestly, it's through nothing he did on his own. It all comes down to a choice that was made for him during the Trial of the Grasses. The young Geralt proved to be highly resistant toward the ill effects the herbs and elixirs usually had on people. This was highly unusual as most people were put through the wringer, and a good portion ended up dying as a result.
For whatever reason, Geralt handled the Grasses quite well and stood out from the pack because of it. That isn't the end of the story, though. Geralt was given experimental mutagens after showing such resilience in the face of mutation. As a result, Geralt is kind of like a super-Witcher of sorts. He's faster than the average Witcher, he's stronger than the average Witcher, he heals more quickly, and he even has better senses, as well. All the experimentation turned his hair white, though. Seems like a fair trade.
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There Are Three Trials Before Becoming A True WitcherPhoto: Gwent: Art of The Witcher Card Game / Dark Horse Books
Becoming a full-fledged member of a Witcher School is not an easy undertaking. While there is an application/initiation process, it will blow whatever you're used to out of the water. After all, when you apply to a job or a university, how often do you end up paying with your life? You think taking a bar exam is hard? Try mutating your body with magical herbs and elixirs... then get back to us about "difficult."
There are three main "trials" one must go through to become a Witcher: the Trial of the Grasses, the Trial of the Dreams, and the Trial of the Mountains. The Trial of the Grasses is, by far, the most harrowing as it is essential in transforming each Witcher-wannabe from a human into a mutant. Injected with all manner of unpleasantness, more than half of all Witcher initiates perish by the time the Trial of the Grasses was over. The Trial of the Dreams is both the least uniform and the most mysterious. Initiates are thrown head-first into mind-bending dreams designed to test their resolve and further their abilities. Each Witcher School had its own version of the Trial of the Mountains, which serves as a final exam of sorts. This usually involved some kind of physical test that would make the contestants of American Ninja Warrior shudder in fear. Also, there is an optional trial that only occurs when a member of a Witcher School doubts the ability of one of the initiates. It's called the Trial of the Sword, and the up-and-coming Witcher would have to either defeat a monster or a different Witcher in battle to prove themselves. Do all of this, and you're a Witcher!
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There Are Seven Different Witcher Schools That Create New Witchers
This is one of the fun topics to talk about when it comes to the wishy-washy canonicity of the Witcher multimedia franchise. When Andrzej Sapkowski was coming up with Geralt's world in the early 1990s, he created the idea of different Witcher Schools. For example, Geralt, Vesemir, and the rest of the main Witchers in the series come from the School of the Wolf. Sapkowski only mentioned three specific schools in his books: the Schools of the Wolf, Cat, and Griffin.
Alas, Andrzej Sapkowski is not the only person coming up with vital Witcher world-building anymore, and four more schools have been added since. CD Projekt Red, the video game company behind the production of the Witcher games, saw Sapkowski's three and figured that doubling it should suffice. Throughout its own Witcher series, CD Projekt Red added the schools of the Viper, Manticore, and Bear. And we're not done there! Tales from the World of the Witcher, the 2013 Polish short story collection, also brought another school to the table: the School of the Crane. Eagle-eyed viewers of the Netflix series can search for Witcher School Easter eggs in the form of Witcher medallions at Kaer Morhen in Season 2.
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The Process Renders Witchers SterilePhoto: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt / CD Projekt
In the books, in the games, and in the show itself, Geralt of Rivia gets around... if you know what we mean. The Butcher of Blaviken is a bit of a licentious sort. There are various women of the night that he consorts with, and let's not get started with the "Yennifer versus Triss" battle. Oh, and does he need to have so many romantic options in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? It's not a BioWare game, after all.
Central to Geralt's sexual profligacy is the fact that he cannot sire children. In fact, one of the fundamental draws between Yennifer and Geralt is their shared inability to have a child. The process of becoming a Witcher is devastating to the body. The vast majority of people who undergo the process end up dying by it. We're pretty sure most, if not all, of those people would exchange sterility for their lives, no questions asked. This does make it hard to keep the numbers of the Witcher order growing, though. There is, generally speaking, no family for them to draw on, and it's not like they can easily make more.
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The Sorcerers Who Created The Process Were Considered RenegadesPhoto: Gwent: Art of The Witcher Card Game / Dark Horse Books
In case you hadn't noticed, the world Andrzej Sapkowski created and unleashed upon us all is replete with horrifying ghoulies. The kinds of monsters that give children and adults nightmares. Average, everyday human beings are no match for the likes of bruxae, succubi, or djinn. Heck, most would cower in fear at the sight of a godling or a botchling, let alone something actually malicious. So, when humans started moving further north into the continent, kings and queens needed some kind of force to kill monsters.
The sorcerers who answered the call ended up being branded as renegades. According to a blurb in The World of the Witcher compendium, written by Yennifer's former lover Istredd himself, "the sorcerers responsible for creating and developing the process of Witcher mutations countless years ago were Cosimo Malaspina and his apprentice, Alzur." Istredd goes on to say that the two men and their proclivity for experimentation made them pariahs in their own field. "Renegades," Istredd calls them. Well, their horrible and brutal experimentation did eventually lead to what the rulers wanted. So, there's that...
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Each Witcher School Creates New Members A Little DifferentlyPhoto: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf / Netflix
People of different stripes and colors will, inherently, have different customs and traditions. Celebrating this fundamental truth of humanity brings us all closer together, in some way. It behooves us to honor our differences and not cast aspersions on others. And, just like humans in the real world, different Witcher Schools have rituals and practices all their own. If they didn't, what would be the point of having different sects of Witchers at all? That would be so boring.
The different Witcher Schools have unique ways of training their prospects how to fight, disparate kinds of armor and weapons, and even distinct methods when it comes to the trials. Vesemir goes into some detail about this in The World of the Witcher compendium. Although, perhaps he's a bit biased in his assessment of other Schools, as his heart lies with that of the Wolf. Do we take him at his word when he says, "some of the mutations carried out in these other schools were less than perfect," or do we see it as suspect? Vesemir also claimed the School of the Cat became notorious for creating Witchers that were a "cadre of psychopaths, madmen, and sadists." We'll stick with the gruff pragmatism of Geralt, thank you very much.