Tag Archives: the witcher

So I just played the Witcher 3 game, and I was marveling at the fighting style Geralt uses. Obviously there are so many differences between that game and realistic swordplay, but the main one I wanted to know about was where you’d store your sword when you’re not fighting. I know you’ve said storing a sword on your back isn’t very practical, but what I’m wondering is where you’d store a long sword or a hand-and-a-half sword. Would it still be at the hip? Thanks in advance for the reply!

I love the Witcher 3′s combat system, so you get no arguments from me.

The sword is called a sidearm, you may have heard that term before in reference to handguns. It’s the same, the modern handgun has replaced the sword as a weapon but serves a similar purpose both functionally in combat and culturally. You wear it buckled on your hip.

For a weapon to function, it needs to be in a place that’s easily reached and at the ready. Whether it’s a sword buckled on our back or the staff we left in our room or the pepper spray buried at the bottom of our purse. A weapon doesn’t do us a lot of good if we don’t have access to it.

When you’re trying to come up with ways your character might store or what places on their body they carry their weapons, here’s some simple rules.

1) Accessible

2) Easily drawn

3) Nowhere that hinders

4) Sensible i.e. not annoying

The action of drawing your weapon, whether it is a knife, a gun, or a sword should be one smooth motion that transitions quickly into a defensive stance. If you’re about to be attacked or in process of being attacked then time is a luxury you don’t have.

On to the Witcher:

The Sword’s Path has a great breakdown on The Witcher 3 combat vs HEMA (Historical Martial Arts) fencing. I would give it a look. He talks a lot about the fundamentals of sword combat and how you could use techniques similar to what we see in the Witcher 3 but would actually work. He also does a great job of explaining the fundamentals and logic behind it. He’s got a nice video for beginners interested in HEMA with a great breakdown of the longsword and lots of resources.

I’d also checkout sieniawskifencing, a channel run by
Sztuka Krzyżowa dedicated to the Polish fencing discipline called Cross-Cutting, Sabre Cross-Cutting, or Polish Sabre Cross-Cutting. Compare with Scholagladiatoria dueling with what will be probably be the more familiar 19th century British military sabre.

The Witcher 3 is a video game made by Polish developers. The games are loosely based on The Witcher series. The books are written by a Polish author, Andre Sapkowski and are basically the Polish Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. If you ever want to hear Sapkowski get testy about the video games, you can find it. (Read his books, you’ll understand.)

Both draw heavily on Polish history, Polish culture, Polish fairy tales/mythology, and the Polish approach to medieval/renaissance/longsword combat in their design rather than what we see from Western Europe like France, Germany, England, etc. They’re Polish. Sword combat in Western and Eastern Europe is not unified, it varies culture to culture, sometimes a lot within the same culture, and the limitation in HEMA is that its a historical reconstruction based on the sources available. The only documentation we have is from the people who bothered to write it down, and were lucky enough to have their writings survive. So, pointing to a historical text and saying “that’s how this German swordmaster did it” doesn’t help us that much when it comes to looking at Poland.

Geralt’s fighting style is obviously over the top and built on flourishes, but I remember seeing that The Witcher 3′s combat was based off a fencing style or there were fencers who consulted. I unfortunately can’t source it. However, if you look at Polish Sabre Cross-Cutting you may see some move sets that are similar even though they’re performed with a sabre instead of a longsword.

The combat in The Witcher 3 is not quite as far out of reach as you might think. It just needs a little tweaking and less spinning.


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I’ve got a character who was trained since he was thirteen by an institution to become a knight/soldier/monster-hunter. He was meant to be one of several selfless, all-purpose peace-keeping machines. What kind of mental/physical training might go into that? (this is set in a pre-renaissance type era, if that makes any difference)

Ironically (or not) The Witcher novels by Andrjez Sapkowski come to mind. If you’ve never read them, I strongly recommend taking a look. There’s a fair amount of space dedicated to talking about the kind of training, and genetic modifications the Witchers underwent. There’s also more specialization than you might want, and they’re very specifically not peacekeepers. One word of warning going in, The Witcher is deliberately anachronistic in it’s talking points, including things like “genetics” and “superheros” into a medieval fantasy setting. It’s part of the series’ philosophical bent, but it is something to keep in mind, when going through it.

The game series based on The Witcher is also very good, but, honestly, the books blow those out of the water, and the games are far less interested in telling you about the training the Witchers underwent. So, while you might enjoy them, I’m not sure they’d give you the information you want.

If you want more general supernatural peacekeepers, rather than dedicated monster hunters, the Night Watch books by Sergei Lukyanenko might be more in line with what you’re looking for, though they’re specifically urban fantasy, and spend a lot less time talking about the specific training the Watch members go through. (To be fair, I haven’t read anything after Day Watch, so that might be further in the series.)

If you can get your hands on them, the Warhammer 40k tie-in fiction focusing on the Inquisition, particularly Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn trilogy, might also be worth looking at it. Inquisitors serve as a kind of impromptu law-bringer/monster hunter, so it’s more on point than you might expect.

I’m not sure about the equivalent Witch Hunter fiction from Warhammer Fantasy because I’m just not as familiar with the Fantasy setting, but there might be something to look at there, I’d need to defer to someone more familiar with WHF, though.

I’ll try to dig up a copy C. L. Werner’s Witch Hunter trilogy and let you know if it’s useful, but at the moment it would be a blind recommendation, and the quality of Black Library stuff isn’t consistent enough to justify that.


UPDATE: I found a copy of the Witch Hunter Omnibus at a used bookstore in the area. While I haven’t had the time to go through it fully, at first glance, it’s not bad, (though it does assume some familiarity with Warhammer Fantasy going in), so it might give you some things to think about. Just be aware you might need to use the Lexicanum wiki to clarify some details about the world.