About this blog

This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

Run by the players, we hope to achieve great things.

Where our journey takes us, who knows.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Interview with Robert Longtin

Q: I’m here with Robert Longtin, our recently elected Election Coordinator and creator of one of our new sims, The Witcher.

So, Robert, tell me a little about yourself.

A: Well I'm from Hamburg, New York. I'm in college for Mathematics Education, but I already have a BA in Mathematics. And I'm very fond of gaming in all its forms: tabletop/LARP, online post-and-reply, and video gaming.

Q: So, who or what is The Witcher?

A: The Witcher refers to both a single character and a group of people. Witchers are alchemically mutated human men (as it currently stands there has never been a female Witcher, at least none that I can find apart from Ciri who only went through the training, not the treatments). Witchers train in the arts of both physical and magical combat to defeat monsters. They have vast resources in both knowledge and training specifically for this task, and there are few others that can or generally do slay monsters. Geralt of Rivia is The Witcher, the main character from the books and the games and is a member of a small group of Witchers hidden in Kaer Morhen, a secret keep far from the rest of civilization.

Q: Which books and games would these be? Would I have heard of them?

A: If you haven't heard of the The Witcher, then you wouldn't have heard of the computer game which carries the same name. The books on the other hand, at least the ones translated to English, are called The Last Wish and Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski. Both books follow the story of Geralt of Rivia, but Blood of Elves is the first in a Saga which has already been released in Poland, but the next book is supposed to be released in English next year. The Last Wish is the first book as far as timeline is concerned. The next book is not Blood of Elves but rather Sword of Destiny which has not been released in English as far as I know, but having read The Last Wish followed by Blood of Elves I wouldn't say anything was missing, apart from the rest of the Saga of course, which I am looking forward to. The Sequel to the computer game, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings is set to release in this coming May and I would recommend checking out the E3 Trailer Online, this game is going to be big, far bigger than the last one. It picks up where the story of the last game left off, but from what I can tell you won't need to be well versed in The Witcher to get into the new game since the story in the new game involves a plot twist that has not yet been introduced via The Witcher to the English-speaking world. I'll be pre-ordering it soon.

Q: So, please tell me a little about the universe of these games.

A: Well to start I suppose I've told you enough about The Witcher, so I'll tell you a little bit about the history. The realm in which the stories take place is generally referred to as the Northern Kingdoms which is between a third and a fourth of what was once the Empire of Nilfgaard. What was once a massive Elven Empire, Nilfgaard was conquered by humans coming from across the sea many years ago. Intolerant of the humans who took their lands, most Elves retreated to remote areas and avoid contact with the humans, while some few Elves embrace the humans along with the Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings.

The world as it seems is run by humans, with the exception that mages and sorceresses who play a major role in politics have mixed human and elven blood. However not too long ago, the Elves reappeared and reclaimed land in the south from the humans, mercilessly slaughtering humans whether knight or peasant. Though a tense stalemate, the rest of the Northern Kingdoms remains relatively untouched apart from a rogue group of non-human bandits who call themselves The Scoia'tael, or "The Squirrels". That pretty much sums up the events to date as far as The Witcher is concerned.

For some time the Northern Kingdoms suffered monsters, vicious beasts both magical and non-magical that terrorized the lands both within and beyond castle walls. This is where Witchers found their calling - slaying the beast and collecting the reward. They often travel between cities, visiting anyone who has work and accepting the offers that were attractive enough.

Q: Sounds interesting. So what’s this particular sim about?

A: This Sim takes place before the resurgence of Elves in the Northern Kingdoms. I can't reveal too much, but essentially the major plot element is that a local Lord is assembling a group of mercenaries, Alchemists, Mages/Sorceresses, and Witchers to eradicate the nearby monsters for expansion and safety. Were it just a group of mercenaries, or just one Witcher or just one Mage or Sorceress, it would make sense, but a large force such as this draws a little more suspicion and rumors are circulating... Suspicions about what kinds of monsters are out there, whispers of upcoming War, tavern discussions that the King suspects a threat within his own court circulate, or hushed conversation that the King has gone mad; everybody has their own spin on what is going on now that signs are posted all over requesting the aid of warriors and spellcasters alike. The King has the intent of finding Elves after hearing a few rumors about people seeing Elves in the nearby vicinity. Whether or not those rumors are true has yet to be seen...

This story will largely take place outside the walls of Brugge, a city in the Southern edge of the Northern Kingdoms. The story being told here predates the stories of Geralt of Rivia by at least a century if not longer - I was intentionally vague on the date because I want to emphasize that none of what happens in this Sim is directly related to the games nor the books, as we will be exploring a time when Monsters really were Monstrous, as opposed to the time of Geralt of Rivia when monsters have started trying to fit into society, i.e. the Troll living under the bridge charges his tolls so he can afford to repair his bridge while making an honest living so he can afford to buy food instead of eating passersby and the horses they rode in on. This is a time when Mercenaries and Witchers could find work anywhere and might not feel the need to travel to find new work.

Q: Many don't know very much about the world of The Witcher, what might you compare The Witcher to that would be more familiar to Fantasy readers and gamers?

A: Well I would say The Witcher is very similar to Middle Earth in many ways. Actually you can draw a great many similarities between Geralt of Rivia, the main character from The Witcher, and Aragorn's alternate identity Strider from Lord of the Rings. The Witcher has all manner of mythical creatures and races, most of which also appear in Lord of the Rings. You have Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings. Then you have similar character elements, such as spell casting, mages, and sorceresses, mercenaries and warriors, commonfolk, nobles, priests, and so on. And then you also have wild beasts and creatures of evil that attack travelers and are hunted by mercenaries.

Technology is also very similar, bows and arrows, siege weapons, castles with walls, and wooden boats with sails. In Lord of the Rings there was a brief appearance of alchemical weapons in The Two Towers during the siege of Helm's Deep when a bomb was used to destroy the wall. Alchemical concoctions, both potions and small handheld bombs are present in The Witcher, though are rarely used by untrained people or alchemists who are often dismissed as mad scientists. The people and nations also have prejudices, injustices, social classes, and wars; common themes for many Fantasy stories and games."

Q: So what will players be doing?

A: The players will be playing characters in this group of monster slayers, going out and looking for trouble and taking on the beasts. They will be commissioned by the King to do so, so there will be some interactions with Royalty and the city of Brugge itself, but they can expect to be investigating monster appearances and problems in the outskirts, trying to locate monsters to defeat. The story will unfold from there, but that's the starting premise.

Q: So how do people join? Will they need to have read the books or played the games?

A: Players will need no experience with The Witcher to join. In fact knowledge of Fantasy settings in general is truly all that's necessary. Players that are interested in any non-Witcher class can for the most part rely on their own knowledge of Fantasy games to decide the aspects of their character both during design and gameplay. Players interested in playing spellcasters will be contacted by me personally to get them up to speed on where magical energy is drawn from and how that restricts spellcasters (and by restriction I mean preventing them from being Gods among mortals, apart from that the sky is the limit), and anyone interested in playing a Witcher, whether they have read our discussion here or if they have read the Witcher blog will already know as much as they need after receiving the information on spellcasters (though a Witcher doesn't necessarily need to be a spellcaster, there is one in the game who suffered a hand injury preventing him from casting spells). All other information that a player might want (and not necessarily need) is linked to on the Witcher blog I created.

Q: A dedicated blog. Excellent. Who knows, I may join. Thank you very much and I wish your game every success.

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