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The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
 
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The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2020 13:30:33

Monster-hunting in a grim fantasy world - a Mephisto review

# The Witcher The witchers are a special species. Originally they were bred to hunt monsters that were born through something called the conjunction of the spheres. The witchers are no longer normal humans, but mutants with lightning-fast reflexes and enhanced senses. Well equipped and perfectly trained, they face the fight against all kinds of monsters that terrorize the world. However, as these monsters become increasingly rare, the services of the witchers are also less and less needed. In the meantime, they became also feared and hated as mutants.

In fact, mistrust and hatred are omnipresent in the world of Witcher, because there are always open conflicts between the humans on one side and the elves and dwarves on the other side. Elves and dwarves have been pushed back into a niche and sometimes face open persecution. Some of them, therefore, resist with violence. After the betrayal of some mages, most of the magic users are now suspicious and feared in many places. The fact that the northern kingdoms are divided, and there is the threat of war with the empire of Nilfgaard has made times even darker. All this provides the dark backdrop against which adventurers can try to make their fortune - or simply survive.

The Witcher in roleplaying

The Witcher has become a well-known figure in the roleplaying scene - probably less because of the original novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, but more because of the computer roleplaying game series. In the meantime, a pen&paper roleplaying game has been released, which takes place in the world of the monster hunter.

The roleplaying game presents itself as a typical fantasy roleplaying game in which the players first choose one of the races and then a profession accordingly. When choosing whether characters are humans, witchers, elves, or dwarves, not only their abilities play a role, but also the social status of the individual groups. For example, in the north, elves are hated, and dwarves are only tolerated, while in the empire of Nilfgaard, these races are considered equal. Before the profession is chosen, the so-called life path is followed, where random dice results and tables can be used to define the background. This is about what happened to the family, the status of the family, friends, descendants, etc. and what special events happened in the life of the character.

The next step is to choose the professions, which always have a defining special skill that only they can master and which can later be expanded in three directions. It also determines which skills the character can invest points for at the beginning, which magical abilities (if any) are available, and which starting equipment can be selected. The professions include classics like bards, mages, fighters, priests, and, of course, witchers. But also professions like merchants, doctors, or craftsmen are available. In the game, the statistics are represented by attributes and skills. Tests always work according to the principle that an attribute and a skill are combined and added to the roll of a ten-sided die. The result must either beat a fixed difficulty or achieve a higher value than the opponent.

A special feature of the special abilities of each profession is that they can be expanded from their starting value in three different ways in three levels so that a fighter can develop more easily into a marksman, a bounty hunter, or a melee fighter.

The world of Witcher

The game provides a large arsenal of equipment, here above all weapons and armor, which besides the usual suspects, also contain the specialties typical for the setting. In the case of armor and weapons, there is the possibility of upgrading them. In general, Witcher offers a system to create or improve items by crafting yourself. Crafting always assumes that you have a so-called diagram (i.e., a kind of building instruction) and the necessary raw materials. Besides the production of equipment, an alchemy system also offers the possibility to produce special mystical brews.

In Witcher, magic works in such a way that a mage has to channel the magical energies through his body, which is a risk. If these energies become too strong and get out of control, they can cause damage. Magic is divided into four elements and their mixture. It offers different spells at three levels. In addition, there are the priests, who have their invocations, the quick, magical gestures of the Witcher, as well as rituals and witchcraft, which all work a little differently and offer many possibilities for magic.

Tough battles in a dangerous world

A large part of the rules is devoted to the topic of combat. The combat system is designed in such a way that both hit zones play a role, and critical hits can quickly lead to heavy damage. The approach of this fighting system is that fights should remain dangerous and always unpredictable to pose a threat in the brutal world of Witcher.

The rest of the book introduces the northern kingdoms and the empire of Nilfgaard. It also provides the character profiles of the most important characters from the Witcher series at the beginning of the book. In a separate chapter, the game master is taken by the hand and gets hints on how to deal with topics such as racism between humans, elves and dwarves, and the dark setting. Of course, the book does not do without a whole series of monsters that can serve as enemies. Especially the Witchers get their own chapter because their character creation is a bit different, and they can have special equipment. A short adventure provides a practical start for the setting.

The Witcher picks up a popular novel and computer game setting and presents it as a game for classic pen&paper gaming. It is a little bit striking that here the Witchers represent the most exciting game characters at first sight, but usually, only one Witcher should be included in the group. This can lead to imbalances in the group, even if the other professions are not really disadvantaged. The rules are based on classic concepts like professions, etc., but present them in their own style. Even when the setting is introduced, the reader quickly realizes that knowledge of computer games and/or novels is certainly an advantage. For example, the typical weapons of the country are described, but illustrations are missing. The short sections about the local kingdoms rather overwhelm the reader with facts than to create a picture in his head. It was undoubtedly a challenge for the authors to write something about the areas that have not been in focus in novels and computer games so far. With its solid layout and well-presented color illustrations, Witcher is visually well designed.

In my opinion, the fantasy system is mainly aimed at those who specifically want to play within the setting of Witcher. But also those who are looking for a dark fantasy setting, where intrigues threaten before a looming war, where monsters roam the countryside, where nobody can really trust anybody, and where a fight ends badly often, should take a look at this system.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Jonathan S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2020 22:06:11

Physical Book: Physical book craft is akin to a poor quaility modern magazine. Ink smudges, the pages are thin, feel cheap and are easy to tear. The printing ink warped the pages so they are slightly wavy. The Upside is the High Quaility images, though not a huge fan of the extreemly clean modern art style. I wish the art in the book was like the front cover art which imo is incredible. 2/10

PDF: Layout is uninspired. It is difficult to get excited about playing the game by reading the book due to the blandness. The complexity of the system is simply unessesary. Why do I need to know what the Control Modifer for a Horse or an OX is? Charts everywhere throughout the book which means u will be flipping through the book in the middle of the game constantly. Thus grinding the game to a halt, (if you want to play the game as 'Rules intended'). Most GM's won't run the game like this which will lead to imo over half the rules never being used and ignored. This leads to wasted pages in the book which could have been filled with useful content like adventures or towns. The character sheet hurts the eyes. The World lore section is nice though too brief and generally lack many adventure hooks. Life paths are interesting. Rolling for your defense in combat is very fun (as opposed to a static AC). There are some great ideas in this book but it will take a lot of homebrewing and changing to cut the junk and have a reasonably clean running system. 2.5/10

I'm very confused as to why there are so many positive reviews on this game... The witcher universe is great, and I am very happy this book was made! There are the bones of a great witcher game here, but you need to rip out a lot of pointless rules, charts and spend a lot of time creating your own content from scratch before you can enjoy this game. Not something I think is worth the price tag unless you are desperarte.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Blake O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2019 00:45:57

It's a system which isn't impossible to pick up, but is complex-- which works especially when you know where to look for the crit hits (which happen frequently with regular folk and monsters). For real: take a witcher with you, or at least a man-at-arms, or your group is without hope!

I enjoyed the lore about as much as I enjoyed playing, but if there is are a couple of notes it's what seems to be missing. There is almost nothing on the duchy of beauclaire; the monsters manual appears to be VERY lax. I get the distinct impression they are going to release supplements.

It's not perfect, but I have a blast when I play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/27/2019 07:34:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This RPG clocks in at 336 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 4 pages character sheet, 4 pages of index, 2 pages of author comments (which are actually fun to read!), leaving us with 320 pages devoted to the game, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a hardcover in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. I have consulted both the hardcover, and the pdf (v.1.2) for the purposes of this review. It was also requested to be released in time for the new Netflix series by one of my patreon supporters, so here we go!

Okay, so before we take a closer look at the mechanics, let us make a few things clear: The timeline of the RPG is set right before the Witcher 3, which makes sense, as it means that the political landscape is at its most volatile; the book btw. does have a detailed “checklist” kind of thing for important decisions that influence the metaplot, so that’s a definite plus. As you can glean from the game artworks, the RPG tends to be closer to the videogames than the books, though, if you’re like me and enjoy them, you’ll be happy to hear that, if you’re like me and prefer certain monsters to be susceptible to meteorite steel, rather than silver, the RPG has you covered.

Speaking of videogames: This is a pretty important notion from the get-go: You don’t play Geralt of Riva; you are not the legendary witcher; you can be a witcher, but you’re no lone wolf; you play as a group. As such, not everybody will be a witcher. This might sound odd, but it is important: This is a team-based RPG, not a solo-player experience, and as such, classes like the Craftsman or Bard are very much important, if perhaps slightly less “sexy” at first glance than the witcher, particularly considering that witchers are REALLY unpopular everywhere. The witcher should, as a general notion, pretty much never do the talking.

Which brings me to a second important note: This is NOT D&D or Pathfinder. This is NOT about high-fantasy. And since you don’t play Geralt or similar superstars of the Witcher world, the focus of the stories told will focus on grittier themes, with politics coming second; combat is NOT the main focus of this game, even though it does have an engine that can allow for pretty tactical altercations.

These two observations are entwined: Witchers are combat monsters, but without Geralt’s improved reputation (bear in mind, he does have renown far and wise and is treated better than his fellows – now picture what less-famous witchers go through!), lone witchers will definitely need help succeeding at their tasks. It is very much possible to play this game without a witcher in the party, and do things other than monster-killing. In short: You have to distance yourself from this idea of the lone witcher than can do everything; in these ways, the RPG hearkens closer to the books, which rather often face Geralt not only with human adversaries that can best him, but also see him rely more often on others – simply courtesy of the genre.

To clarify my position regarding the Witcher franchise: I am a HUGE Witcher fanboy. I have devoured all the books, and Witcher 3 is my favorite video game ever. (Even though I preferred Witcher 2’s more brutal, difficult and skill-based combat, and wish the quality of the DLC bosses had been implemented in the main game as well.) If you need to know, I think that “Deathmarch” is definitely the way to go when experiencing Witcher 3. But I digress. To summarize: This is a game for a group, and it very much is built in a way that emphasizes that; it is not high fantasy, and your adventures should reflect that. The latter point is pretty crucial, considering ho prevalent high fantasy as a RPG-genre is. Okay, are you intrigued? As a huge fan of dark fantasy whose games tend to gravitate in that direction, this theme is right up my alley.

While we’re on the topic of the videogames: The book begins with a recap of the history of the world of The Witcher, including an in-character summary by Rodolf Kazmer (called, hilariously, “Rodolk” in a bookmark); he and Brandon of Oxenfurt are two of the characters that add their own takes as in-character narrators and lighten up the reading experience. And before you ask: Yes, a series of iconic characters are fully statted: Geralt, Yennefer, Dandelion, Zoltan, Triss, Vernon, Iorveth and Letho get full stats as iconic characters – before the game explains its rules. Regarding sequence of presentation, I think that starting off with the world’s history and assumptions of the genre vs. high fantasy, as the game does, was a smart call; however, that out of the way, I think explaining the basics would have been smart. Also, I really hate it when NPC stats are clearly presented in sections that players read – the stats of these NPCs should be in the bestiary in the back.

As far as complexity is concerned, The Witcher RPG is not as complex as Pathfinder, but it is significantly more complex than the more rules-lite old-school systems; as a whole, I’d consider it to be mid-tier in complexity, somewhere adjacent to 5e or DCC, with a less granular magic system, but a more tactical combat engine.

So, what about the mechanics? The Witcher uses two dice – d10s and d6s, with d10s rarely used as d%, but that’s all you need to run the game – I’ll return to that in the combat section. The game uses a heavily-modified iteration of the Interlock system.

Character creation is a 7-step process, and begins with picking your race, with rules for elves, humans, dwarves and witcher provided. However, this section is prefaced with social standing – depending on the territory you’re in, you can be equal, tolerated, feared, or hated, with “feared” being special in that it can be paired with “hated.” A quick glance at the table shows you that the North is actually the least equal land out there; humans are hated in Dol Blathanna and tolerated in Mahakam, Elves are hated in the North, and dwarves are actually equal everywhere, except in the North, where they are only tolerated. Witchers? They are both hated AND feared in both the North and Nildgaard, and only tolerated in Skellige and the non-human realms. Mages are only treated as equals in Dol Blathanna…so yeah, the fact that this is the FIRST thing you see, should give you a good idea how important this factor is.

As for races, these generally have 3 perks (with Witchers being an exception) that are positive; Witchers have a stunted Empathy statistic (the game’s nomenclature for the equivalent of ability scores), capping at 6, minimum 1. These perks generally provide skill bonuses of +1 to +2; dwarves are thick-skinned, with a kind of natural armor of 2 SP (SP = stopping power). While you create the character, skills cap at 6, with a maximum cap of 10 – however, the choices made regarding races do actually allow you to go beyond these caps. Here is a bit of an issue: The game does not state how this works in the context of leveling up: If you, for example, are an aen seidhe, an elf, you gain +2 to Archery. Let’s say, you have an Archery of 7, so 5 +2 race perk. If you now want to increase that by 1, does this cost improvement points equal to the increase to 6, or is the cost required 8? Is the perk bonus added after improvement, or before? I assume the former is true, but the book does not explicitly state this.

This different focus also can be seen by the emphasis on the social context – depending on your race, your lifepath is of serious importance, and after you determine your country of origin (which is contingent on race) and your homeland (which nets you skill boosts), you also have to determine the state of your family, and what may have happened to them – there are tables for this, and it matters, big time. Same goes for determining your status in the society, and your most influential friend. Each of these tables provides a column for the Northern Realms, Nilfgaard, and elderland – so no, skelligers will have to use the northern table. Since death in the Witcher RPG is permanent, the module suggests using the (mostly) large families of particularly humans as good ways of introducing backup characters. For every 10 years of your life, you roll for life events – 1-4 = fortune or misfortune, 5-7 the forming of allies and enemies, and 8-10 deals with romance. Fortunes can have mechanical repercussions, or provide potent roleplaying boons (like a tamed wild animal, etc., a favor with a mage, etc.), while the bad things can include anxiety attacks, being feared or cursed, etc. I was slightly disappointed by the romance-section not having at least a small table for the (very rare!9 happy love affair, but more importantly, why is there no table for whores and debauchery?

Indeed, this may be one of the most puzzling oversights of the system – there are no carousing rules in the RPG, when that is obviously an important component of the narrative fabric of the franchise. That being said, the RPG also has a generator for determining your personal style.

After this, you choose the equivalent of the class – in this RPG, this is called the profession – obviously, if you’re a witcher, this choice is already fixed – witcher doubles as both profession and race. Each of the professions has a defining signature skill, a skill package, and a list of gear to choose from. If you’re playing a magical character, you also get a Vigor rating. The professions are bard, craftsman, criminal, doctor, mage, man at arms, merchant, priest, and witcher. Class-wise, there is one glaring oversight that has been relegated to the mini-expansion for the game that accompanies the GM-screen: The default game has no noble-rules, and makes mages the default courtly folks. That…bothered me more than it should have.

Having chosen this profession, we have to get to the statistics: There are 9 of those, and the game lets you choose the power-level of your characters via point-buy, providing suggestions ranging from average characters to legends. The game also explains what stat-levels mean. The statistics are Intelligence (INT), Reflexes (REF), Dexterity (DEX), Body (BODY), Speed (SPD), Empathy (EMP), Craft (CRA), Will (WILL), Luck (LUCK). Luck is special – before making a skill roll, you can expend any number of luck points, adding +1 per point added. These points refresh at the start of each session.

From these, you derive further statistics: Vigor is a threshold – it’s the total cost in Stamina (STA) of all the spells you can cast/maintain in a given round; exceed that, and you take damage. Stun is a save number – rolling under this number, divided by 10. Nonlethal damage lowers this number. Run is SPD x3; Leap is a tactical movement, and is the Run value divided by 5 – it’s also how far you jump.

HP, STA, REC (how much HP you regain per bed rest), and Stun are determined by adding BODY + WILL, and dividing this by 2, then correlating the value with a table. Body also influences melee damage bonus and hand to hand damage caused.

Now, the most meaty part is the skills: The first 11 skills are taken from the profession’s skill package and you get to split 44 skill points between them; you must put at least 1 point in each of these skills. Beyond this, you get Intelligence + Reflex Pick Up Skills that you have picked up at one point. Some skills are harder to pick up, and have a cost of (2) noted – these require 2 skill points per level. To upgrade, so upgrading Alchemy from 7 to 8 would cost 14 points. It should be noted that archery, crossbows, spears,. Etc. – all are skills. You roll a d10, add the skill’s statistic and the skill, and try to get ABOVE the DC. Meeting the DC does not suffice. Sample DCs are provided, and modifier examples based on circumstances are provided. The attentive reader will notice that this makes characters pretty reliably competent in what they do – this is not a bug, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always considered the “5% of something going horribly wrong”-angle to be a bit weird. However, if you want that type of D&Dish uncertainty, or simply are used to it, you might at first be taken aback by the fact that you sometimes won’t actually have to roll, and that luck isn’t as important. (Funnily enough, the example given for opposed skills illustrates this rather well – so yeah, definitely a feature and not a bug!)

Character advancement is handled via I.P. (Improvement Points) – these are used to learn new skills, improve old ones, and Teaching and book-learning are actually efficient! Raising statistics is btw. costly – 10 times the level of the statistic. Okay, is that the CURRENT level of the statistic, or is that the level of the statistic to which you want to raise it? The book should have specified that. IP is awarded not for monster slaying – but for doing something impressive, something out of the box, for participating often and efficiently, etc. – nice!

Well, Before, I mentioned the signature skills of professions, right? Well, each of these skills has a base ability, and three specialization branches, which present different focuses. These sport progressively better, unique ability, and within each specialization, must be attained in order. The difference between the different specializations is pretty damn pronounced – The surgeon treat of the doctor’s healing hands focuses on diagnosis, analysis, etc., while the anatomist can inflict bleeding wounds, halve wound healing speed with particularly nasty wounds and learn to execute even crippling wounds! These specializations btw. might have different statistics associated with them – for the Criminal, thieves can e.g. memorize locks and tumbler positions, which is based on INT, while an assassin’s eye gouge attack is based on DEX. Man at Arms can become marksmen, reavers or bounty hunters – in essence, these skill trees could be thought of as archetypes or class kits. These are NOT mutually exclusive, though!

After that, it’s just equipment that needs to be sorted out: Witcher knows 4 damage types (Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning, and Elemental), and well-crafted weapons have an optional bonus to hit, denoted by WA (Weapon Accuracy), they also have an availability, and a Reliability rating – this is the number of times you can block before the weapon breaks. Each weapon also notes its ability to be concealed, weight, and cost. Finally, weapons note how many slots for runes they have. These are weird – why does a dagger have none, but a stiletto has one?

Combat is lethal: Damage for swords ranges from 2d6+2 to 6d6, and there are descriptions provided for them all, with descriptors like long reach, ability to focus magic, etc. included. So yeah, gear is important, and good gear is great – however, you need to be careful and regularly maintain it – Craftsmen will be very popular. Armor, as noted before, stops damage, and can theoretically be layered, though this is not an advisable strategy; important: The Witcher differentiates between head, torso and leg armor. Kits, services and the like are covered as well.

Initiative is 1d10 + REF, with ties going to the players. You can improve this via fast draws, +3 to initiative, -3 to atk for the first round, and you MUST attack – so no aiming etc. Combat knows regular wounds, and critical wounds – the latter are potentially deadly, crippling, and will make you really congratulate yourself for sticking at least relatively close to a doctor or mage. Combat assumes 3-second rounds, and you can make fast or slow attacks (ranged weapons are limited), and STA may be spent for an additional attack or defensive action. Since attack rolls are executed with d10s, and so are defensive actions, skills are pretty important. Humanoid and monster damage locations are included, and cover types get their own SP-values.

You can use your action to make 2 fast or one strong attack, cast magic, initiate verbal combat, run (SPDx3), you can actively dodge, you can aim, take a Recovery Action to replenish STA (or HP out of combat), or Aim. Attacks that damage you also deteriorate your armor, and damage explodes – both in a positive and negative way. 1s mean you reroll, and subtract the rerolled number from yours; 10s mean that you get to roll again, and add the result of the reroll. Subsequent 1s and 10s do btw. stack. Critical wounds are incurred by beating the Defense of the target by 7 (simple), 10 (complex), 13 (difficult) or 15 (deadly), and in addition to the specific effects from their own tables, these inflict bonus damage. Yep, not only can damage explode, the nuanced critical wounds system makes serious injuries…well…serious. My one complaint here, is that we’re pretty much left with only humanoid-centric tables; no guidance is provided for creatures with a different anatomy. On the plus side, the game does differentiate between stabilizing and treating wounds.

The game knows a wound threshold, which is contingent on the Max Health – when your HP goes below it, you halve your REF, DEX, INT and WILL. Rules for various critical hits and prosthetics are provided as well – kudos: The book mentions Götz von Berlichingen as an example of a prosthetic-wearing badass. (And yes, the “Ö” is correct here – the book calling the fellow “Gotz” is not), and magical combat follows the same paradigm. The book also comes with optional Adrenaline rules, which nets you adrenaline dice when you score critical hits. As noted before, social interaction is supplemented by a verbal combat engine – the engine is solid, but I’d have preferred it to be a bit more detailed, have more things that can be done with adrenaline.

Mage spells have, as noted before, a Stamina cost, a range, a duration, and are grouped in three categories – novice, journeyman and master spells, and they use the classic 4 elements; Druids and preachers have the same 3-class division for their spells, but there are also arch priest invocations, which are only rarely taught and usually the purview of powerful individuals and/or saints. Rituals follow the same guiding principle, but also require components and DCs to meet to successfully cast them – artifact compression, golem crafting etc. fall under this category. There obviously are the signs, and Hexes are formulaic short-term curses; curses are plot devices. In case you were wondering: novice, journeyman/master determines the I.P. required to learn the magic; this takes time and checks versus a Learning DC.

Crafting is easily one of my favorite aspects herein – you need to ascertain you have the diagram, the ingredients, and then can craft the item – this engine covers basic crafting materials, hides and animal parts, alchemical treatments and components, etc. You pay half the item’s price in Investment cost, listed conveniently in the diagrams. These are btw. once more classified as novice, journeyman and master...but here, we also have grandmaster diagrams. Scavenging and repair is pretty darn important if you want to survive in The Witcher, so yeah – elegant, granular, like this one. Alchemy follows a similar angle, with the 9 basic components (Vitriol, Rebis, Aether, Quebrith, Hydragenum, Vermilion, Sol, Caelum, Fulgur) and items/monster parts noted – one look at the vitriol table, for example, nets you the knowledge that they can be found in nekker teeth, barley or troll hide. The game does not only faithfully render the whole crafting/alchemy component, it also emphasizes something I haven’t seen done this well: The loot-game aspect is strong (considering the differences in e.g. sword-damage output), but MAINTAINING the gear is actually not that simple. I love that – it adds grit and a survival aspect to the game. Spending all your gold on a single sword is a BAD idea – what help will it be once it falls apart because you can’t afford to maintain it? Big kudos there.

After this, the book provides an overview of the regions of the world of the witcher, and then proceeds to provide salient GM-advice, which includes advice on encounter scaling, rewards, tables for random possessions, how to handle min-maxers in a non-adversarial manner, as well as campaign advice.

Really annoying: All rules for witchers show up THEN. Not where all the PC information is, oh now – after the GM advice. This is, organization-wise, really, really annoying. That being said, the Hunt-engine should probably be in the GM-section, while the witcher gear section should be in the player part of the supplement. After this somewhat misplaced section, we get runes for magic runes and rune-based item enhancement (which should imho be in the equipment section), and in the same chapter, we have unique magic items, the relics…which are well-placed in the more GM-centric part of the book. After this, we have a short bestiary that includes stats for bandits, commoner knowledge/superstitions, academic and/or witcher knowledge, etc. – vulnerabilities are noted. This section is pretty comprehensive, though the only vampire included, as one of the most potent creatures herein, is the katakana. Cats, horses etc. also get stats.

Finally, there is a brief introductory scenario – “To all a Good Night.” This scaenario deals with vanishing children, has a political angle, and formally, features both read-aloud text, and the adventure establishes themes, difficulty, etc. rather well. The module comes with not necessarily good-looking, but plentiful maps of the entire town – manor, tavern, standard homes, etc. – all covered, and all presented in a player-friendly manner. Kudos.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. While I noticed a few guffaws, the book is fully functional as presented. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard, with each chapter featuring a differently-colored border, and information in sidebars. Artworks are taken mostly from concept art from the video-games: Fans of Gwent will recognize them. The artworks are high quality, though the endrega-artwork is oddly pixilated in my copy. The hardcover is a sturdy book and withstood the rigors of life with me well so far. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Cody and Lisa Pondsmith deliver a surprisingly cool licensed RPG here – licensed RPGs are often not that interesting, but this book not only manages to depict the world of the Witcher in a faithful manner, but does so well. The systems, particularly the alchemy and crafting components, show a dedication to things different from slaying things that is super-refreshing to see. The focus to tell different fantasy stories than in default fantasy games? Great. That being said, as you could see above, there are a couple of instances, where the rules could be a tad clearer.

Same goes for the layout and how it presents information and the sequence of information - sidebars somethings are fluff-commentary, sometimes crucial rules, etc. These should be visually more distinct from each other - I don't know, scrolls, different colors...something. That'd also liven up the comparably muted aesthetics of the book.

The main achievement of the game, though, is that it plays differently from the big fantasy games – neither 5e, nor PFRPG, nor the OSR-games, nor GURPS or WFRPG/Zweihänder, etc. play anything remotely like this game – The Witcher feels like a breath of fresh air in many ways in many of its components.

There is a lot to love about The Witcher; you can try it for FREE via the Demo dubbed “Easy Mode”, and if you’re looking for a change of pace, this certainly delivers. As per the writing of this review, I am hoping that we’ll get a full-blown campaign-book and/or further adventures and monsters – a monster/NPC book with further beasts and stats for Impera brigade etc. would be greatly appreciated – the game’s most significant obstacle right now is that it can’t lean on a wealth of adventures that teach adventure-crafting for the game, when the group-focus (in opposition to the videogame’s single-player experience) as well as the themes diverging from high fantasy could see some less experienced GMs struggle.

As a whole, there is a lot about this game that I love, but there also are more components of it than I’d like to see that could use minimal finetuning. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Ben N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2019 21:14:00

Really like this, its simple effective combat/skills system which supports; good character growth and back story, the setting is efficient and brutal they marry up well. its very accessible to new players as well. It reminds me of chaosium's Elric and the  various Conan rpgs but its a better system all round. Many of you might recall cyberpunk 2020, this is essentially the same thing adapted for this setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2019 15:50:13

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/03/16/ersteindruck-the-witcher-trpg-abenteuer-in-der-welt-des-hexers/

Die Videospielreihe rund um Geralt den Hexer gilt als Vorzeigestück des Rollenspiel-Genres und hat die düstere Fantasywelt aus der Feder des polnischen Autors Andrzej Sapkowski weltberühmt gemacht. Jetzt wagt sich Publisher CD Project Red mit dem Witcher-Franchise auf das Pen & Paper-Parkett.

Krieg, Rassismus, Pogrome, Intrigen, Verrat, Raub, Mord und Totschlag – der Einband des Pen & Paper-Grundregelwerks zu The Witcher lügt nicht, wenn er „adventures in the dark and dangerous world of the witcher“ verspricht.

Die Spielwelt Die Welt des Hexers präsentiert sich im Buch, wie sie im letzten Teil der populären Videospielreihe, The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt, zu sehen ist: Der dritte Nilfgaardische Krieg ist in vollem Gange und die ewig zerstrittenen nördlichen Königreiche liegen im Krieg mit dem riesenhaften Imperium, das sich von Süden her unerbittlich ausbreitet. Hunger und Not haben die Landbevölkerung fest im Griff. Kriegsbanden, Marodeure und Banditen machen das Land unsicher. Rassismus, Hass und Gewalt gegen alles, was nicht menschlich oder sonst irgendwie übernatürlich ist, grassieren. Vor allem einige Elfen und Zwerge wehren sich verbissen. Sie führen einen erbarmungslosen Guerillakrieg gegen die Menschen und machen dabei auch vor brutaler Gewalt gegen Zivilisten keinen Halt.

Die Botschaft ist deutlich: Das wahre Monster ist oft genug der Mensch (oder auch der Elf, Zwerg oder Halbling) selbst. Aber auch an wortwörtlichen Monstern herrscht inder Welt des Hexers kein Mangel: Diverse Bestien, Geister und Dämonen suchen das Land und seine Bewohner heim. Zum Schutz der Menschheit gibt es deshalb die Hexer: Zaubermächtige Mutanten, die als fahrende Monstertöter durchs Land ziehen und mit Silberschwert, Zaubertränken und Hexerei den Ungeheuern den Garaus machen – gegen Bezahlung, versteht sich.

Artwork aus The Witcher TRPG © R. Talsorian Games Es ist eine Welt der Grauschattierungen, in der echte Helden und Sympathieträger selten sind. Gerade dieser Mangel an genretypischer Schwarz-Weiß-Malerei und der oft fehlende klare moralische Kompass machen den Reiz der Witcher-Welt aus. Das Regelwerk selbst bringt es auf den Punkt: „This isn’t epic fantasy“. Wie die Geschichten um dem Hexer Geralt, Yennefer, Ciri, Rittersporn und Konsorten soll sich das Spiel hauptsächlich um das Überwinden persönlicher Probleme der Helden drehen, nicht unbedingt um die Rettung des Königreichs.

Die große Politik und Ereignisse von epischen Ausmaßen dienen der Geschichte eher als Kulisse denn als eigentlicher Inhalt. Dieser Spielstil ist allerdings nur als Empfehlung der Autoren zu verstehen, nicht als Zwang. Das Regelwerk gewährt große spielerische Freiheit – Eine Kampagne mit gänzlich anderen Schwerpunkten ist definitiv möglich.

Regeln Mit R. Talsorian Games hat sich CD Project Red (CDPR) die Spieleschmiede ins Boot geholt, die vor allem für das immer noch recht bekannte Cyberpunk 2020 berühmt ist. Dessen Videospiel-Adaption Cyberpunk 2077 ist derzeit bei CDPR in Arbeit – die Auswahl genau dieses Partners wundert daher wenig. Die Autoren Cody und Lisa Pondsmith sind Sohn und Ehefrau von Cyberpunk-Schöpfer Mike Pondsmith, der auch selbst im Layout mitgewirkt hat.

Als Regelbasis dient eine stark überarbeitete, auf das Fantasy-Setting und die Witcher-Hintergrundwelt zugeschnittene Variante des Interlock-Systems, auf dem auch Cyberpunk 2020 beruht. Dabei gibt sich das Regelwerk viel Mühe, das Flair von The Witcher 3 aufzugreifen – vermutlich vor allem, damit sich Quereinsteiger aus dem Videospiel-Bereich wohl fühlen und schneller zurechtfinden. Hier und da wirkt das System dadurch etwas videospielartig, etwa bei der Ausrüstung.

Hier gibt es, wie bei vielen Videospiel-RPGs üblich, ein steil ansteigendes Macht-Niveau. Das billigste Schwert etwa verursacht 2W6+2 Punkte Schaden, das teuerste 6W6, seltene Artefakte sogar noch deutlich mehr. Während das Belohnungssystem von Loot-Junkies und Charakter-Optimierern hier stark angesprochen wird, kommen Fans von fantastischem Realismus und ausgefeiltem Balancing eher nicht auf ihre Kosten.

The Witcher verwendet ausschließlich sechs- und zehnseitige Würfel. Selten werden mithilfe von zwei Zehnseitern auch Prozentwürfe simuliert. Das Regelsystem basiert auf neun Attributen und einer Reihe von Fertigkeiten, normalerweise jeweils mit einem Wert von 0 bis 10, die zu einem Basiswert zusammengezählt werden. Bei Proben wird ein W10 gewürfelt und zum Basiswert addiert. Die erwürfelte Gesamtsumme wird dann mit einem vom Spielleiter festgelegten Schwierigkeitswert – oder aber, bei direkter Konfrontation, mit dem Ergebnis des Kontrahenten – verglichen.

Ist der erzielte Wert höher als die festgelegte Schwierigkeit oder das gegnerische Ergebnis, gelingt die Probe. Das Talent-System in The Witcher ist breit aufgestellt und erlaubt es, alle möglichen alltäglichen Fähigkeiten abzubilden. Für eine minutiöse Alltagssimulation reicht die Auswahl nicht unbedingt, trotzdem ist das System definitiv weit mehr als ein Dungeon Crawler und es lassen sich damit alle möglichen Arten von Kampagnen gestalten.

Wie Cyberpunk 2020 ist auch The Witcher ein klassenbasiertes System mit insgesamt neun spielbaren Klassen: Barde, Handwerker, Krimineller, Arzt, Zauberer, Krieger, Händler, Priester und Hexer (jeweils sinngemäß übersetzt). Jede Klasse hat eine exklusive Fertigkeit und Zugriff auf einen kleinen Talentbaum mit weiteren zur Profession passenden Spezialfähigkeiten. Ein Klassenwechsel oder Mehrfach-Klassen sind, jedenfalls im Grundregelwerk, nicht vorgesehen.

Die spielbaren Spezies im Grundregelwerk sind Mensch, Elf, Zwerg und Hexer. Jede Spezies hat spielrelevante Eigenschaften und Boni. Die Auswahl ist frei, anders als bei anderen bekannten Systemen müssen keine Punkte oder andere Ressourcen ausgegeben werden, um eine bestimmte Spezies spielen zu dürfen. Andere Spezies oder Mischlinge wie Halbelfen sind vorläufig nicht spielbar, mit der ersten Erweiterung Lords and Lands sind aber Halblinge als neue spielbare Spezies angekündigt.

Charakterbau Die Charaktererschaffung in The Witcher ist einfach und unbürokratisch gehalten. Wenn man einigermaßen konzentriert vorgeht, ist eine Charaktererschaffung auch ohne Vorerfahrung ungefähr in einer Stunde zu schaffen. Der Spieler wählt zunächst Geschlecht, Spezies und Herkunft seines Charakters aus. Der folgende Schritt ist ungewöhnlich, macht aber einen besonderen Reiz des Systems aus: Der Spieler erwürfelt den persönlichen Hintergrund und Werdegang seines Charakters, angefangen bei der Familiensituation über die Kindheit, das Beziehungs- und Liebesleben und prägende Ereignisse seines bisherigen Lebens. Darunter können sowohl Glücksfälle als auch Rückschläge sein.

So kann ein Charakter beispielsweise mit Schulden, einem Todfeind oder auch einer Suchtkrankheit ins Spiel starten, aber auch mit Beziehungen, mehr Startkapital oder verbesserten Fertigkeiten. Der deprimierende Grundton der Witcher-Welt macht auch vor dem Lebenslauf-Generator nicht halt. Kaum ein so erschaffener Charakter kommt aus einer heilen Welt, hat zwei lebendige Eltern und nicht wenigstens eine Leiche im Keller. Oft ergibt sich daraus ganz von selbst das Grundgerüst für eine lebendige Hintergrundgeschichte und Anknüpfungspunkte für persönliche Plots und Storylines.

Es ist allerdings auch möglich und kann sehr frustrierend sein, wenn auf diese Weise ein Charakter mit nichts als Nachteilen ins Spiel startet, die sich teilweise recht stark auswirken können. Alle Schritte des Lebenslauf-Moduls sind, vielleicht gerade deshalb, optional. Wer seinen Charakter lieber etwas planvoller ausarbeiten will, kann auf das Auswürfeln einfach verzichten.

Im Anschluss folgt dann die Auswahl der Charakterklasse und die Verteilung von Attributs- und Fertigkeitspunkten. Jeder Charakter erhält festgelegte Punkte, die er verteilen kann. Welche Fertigkeiten gewählt werden können, hängt von der Charakterklasse ab. Jeder Charakter erhält aber zusätzlich auch Punkte für sonstige Fertigkeiten. Ein Händler kann so auch zum passablen Kämpfer, ein Krieger auch zum fähigen Dieb und ein Arzt auch zum passablen Handwerker ausgebaut werden.

Kampfsystem Das Kampfsystem ist schnell, schnörkellos und tödlich – Kämpfe dauern in der Regel nur wenige Kampfrunden und kommen ohne seitenweise komplexe Sonderregeln aus. Die Grundlage ist ein klassisches Hitpoint-System mit rudimentärem Trefferzonen-Modell. Ein einzelner glücklicher Treffer, selbst mit einer kleinen Waffe wie einem Dolch, kann einen Kampf bereits beenden und auch schwere Rüstung macht einen Charakter alles andere als unverwundbar. Der eigentliche Dreh- und Angelpunkt des Kampfsystems sind kritische Treffer. Wann immer ein Angriff deutlich besser gelingt als die entsprechende Verteidigung, landet der Angreifer einen kritischen Treffer.

Abhängig von der Qualität der Attacke und der getroffenen Trefferzone kann das ein verlorener Zahn, gebrochene Rippen, eine Gehirnerschütterung oder auch ein Schädelbasisbruch sein, schlimmstenfalls sogar der unmittelbare Verlust von Arm, Bein oder gar Kopf. Man erkennt den Versuch der Autoren, hier die „Finisher“-Moves aus The Witcher 3, mit denen Protagonist Geralt seine Gegner so bildgewaltig wie brutal verhackstückt, in das Spiel einfließen zu lassen.

Magie Das Magie-Kapitel ist überschaubar. Es gibt drei magische Klassen mit jeweils eigenen Zaubern: Magier, Priester und Hexer. Erstgenannte verfügen über Sprüche in verschiedenen Graden, Hexer bleiben auf die aus den Videospielen bekannten Hexer-Zeichen beschränkt. Ein Großteil der Sprüche sind Kampfzauber, es gibt aber durchaus auch eine Reihe von anderen nützlichen Zaubern wie etwa Heilung, Teleportation oder Geisteskontrolle. Darüber hinaus gibt es außerdem Rituale und „Hexes“ (Flüche), die bestimmte Vorbereitungen erfordern.

Eine Ressource wie Mana gibt es bei The Witcher nicht, gezaubert wird mit Ausdauer, die sich schnell regeneriert. Das führt dazu, dass Zauberer, verglichen mit anderen Systemen, ihre Magie sehr häufig einsetzen können. Wie beispielsweise bei Shadowrun riskiert ein Zauberer aber körperliche Verletzungen, wenn er beim Zaubern zu viel Kraft einsetzt.

Insgesamt 27 Seiten widmet The Witcher der Herstellung von Ausrüstung und alchemistischen Substanzen. Hinzu kommt, allerdings an anderer Stelle, ein kurzer Abschnitt zur Herstellung von Hexer-Ausrüstung und -Tränken und experimentellen Waffen wie Bomben und Fallen. Die Herstellungsregeln sind rudimentär und legen nur wenig Wert auf Immersion. Wie in der Videospiel-Vorlage braucht es den passenden Bauplan bzw. die Rezeptur und die nötigen Materialien, dann würfelt der Handwerker eine Probe und hat im Erfolgsfall das fragliche Ding hergestellt.

Großartige Ausführungen zu Herstellungsmethoden, Werkstätten oder ähnlichem gibt es nicht, die Spielmechanik steht im Vordergrund. Nahezu alles, was an Ausrüstung im Buch aufgeführt wird, kann etwa zu zwei Drittel des Ladenpreises hergestellt werden und das Regelwerk preist Crafting auch vor allem als Möglichkeit an, billiger an begehrte Gegenstände heran zu kommen. Außerdem können Handwerker Ausrüstungsgegenstände reparieren und auf spezielle Weise verbessern.

Durch den knappen, nüchternen Aufbau der Regeln fühlt sich das Ganze aber eher wie in einem Videospiel an: Nimm zwei Einheiten Eisen, eine Einheit Holz und zwei Einheiten Leder, würfle eine Probe und voilá, fertig ist das Schwert. Dank tragbarer Reise-Schmiede geht das sogar bequem unterwegs.

Material für Spielleiter Zusätzlich zu den Spielregeln umfasst das Grundregelwerk ein 31-seitiges Kapitel, das die Spielwelt näher vorstellt. Hier sind die wesentlichen Informationen übersichtlich und komprimiert zusammengestellt. Gerade für Witcher-Neulinge ist diese Spielhilfe sehr nützlich. Hinzu kommt auf 25 Seiten ein Leitfaden für Spielleiter, der SL-Neulinge an die Hand nimmt und eine Menge nützliche Tipps zum Leiten an sich und zum Aufbau von Abenteuern, Kampagnen und Rahmengeschichten liefert.

Die Spielleitersektion umfasst darüber hinaus eine Sammlung mit 20 ausgearbeiteten Gegnern, darunter die bekanntesten Monster, aber auch gewöhnliche Bedrohungen wie Wölfe oder Banditen. Dazu kommen einige Werte für häufige Tierarten. Auf längere Dauer dürfte diese Liste für abwechslungsreiche Abenteuer nicht ausreichen, für ein paar erste Ausflüge in die Welt des Hexers und den einen oder spannenden Hexer-Auftrag reicht die Auswahl aber allemal.

Zu guter Letzt enthält das Buch außerdem ein 7-seitiges, voll ausgearbeitetes Einsteiger-Abenteuer inklusive Karten und NPC, das gerade einer Neueinsteiger-Runde einen einfachen Einstieg ermöglichen soll.

Gestaltung und Erscheinungsbild Das Grundregelwerk von The Witcher kommt als A4-Hardcover in Vollfarbe mit 336 Seiten daher. Die Seiten sind glänzend gehalten, der Druck wirkt insgesamt wertig. Das Papier ist allerdings merklich dünner, als man es von preislich vergleichbaren Grundregelwerken gewohnt ist.

Das gesamte Buch ist randvoll mit Concept Art und Illustrationen aus den Witcher-Videospielen. Die Bilder sind fast durchweg sehr dekorativ und von guter Qualität, allerdings ist bei vereinzelten Illustrationen die Auslösung missglückt. So schön die Bilder aber sind, insgesamt wirkt die Illustration etwas sehr reichlich.

Ebenfalls enthalten sind eine rudimentäre Übersichtskarte des namenlosen Kontinents und eine leider unschön zurecht geschnittene Detailkarte der nördlichen Königreiche.

Das Layout wirkt insgesamt modern und gut strukturiert. Es gibt Randspalten mit hilfreichen Erläuterungen und farblich voneinander abgesetzte Kapitel zu den jeweiligen Themenbereichen. Außerdem hat das Regelwerk einen Index, der das Nachschlagen sehr erleichtert. Allerdings ist die Anordnung der einzelnen Kapitel hin und wieder nur schwer nachvollziehbar und Dinge, die eigentlich in einen Block gehören würden, sind auf verschiedene Stellen im Buch verteilt.

Außerdem finden sich im Layout hin und wieder größere Schnitzer, beispielsweise in der Größe verrutschte Textkästen. Wesentlich ärgerlicher ist, dass die erste Print-Auflage jede Menge inhaltliche Fehler aufweist, zu denen Talsorian bereits umfangreiche digitale Errata nachgereicht hat. Die Nutzbarkeit der Druckausgabe leidet deutlich darunter, was gemessen am Preis sicherlich Grund für Frustration ist. In der aktuellen PDF-Ausgabe des Regelwerks sind die Errata hingegen schon eingepflegt, die Layout-Fehler wurden allerdings längst noch nicht alle korrigiert.

Ausblick Zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt gibt es ausschließlich das Grundregelwerk. Die Erweiterung Lords and Lands (enthält einen Spielleiterschirm, eine NPC-Sammlung, eine neue Klasse und eine neue Spezies), das Monsterhandbuch A Witcher’s Journal und die Abenteuersammlung The Witcher’s Book of Tales sind in Arbeit, haben aber alle noch kein konkretes Erscheinungsdatum.

Zum Free RPG Day am 15. Juni 2019 soll außerdem das 24-seitige kostenlose Light-Regelwerk The Witcher Tabletop Game: Easy Mode erscheinen, sowohl digital, als auch gedruckt. Eine deutsche Übersetzung des Grundregelwerks als PDF und Printausgabe ist bei Truant Spiele in Arbeit, als Erscheinungsdatum wird die RPC 2019 genannt, die mittlerweile in der CCXP Cologne 2019 aufgegangen ist. Das wäre der 27. Juni.

Fazit The Witcher ist ein solides Fantasy-Grundregelwerk, das alles enthält, was ein Grundregelwerk braucht. Die vergleichsweise geringe Komplexität macht es attraktiv für Einsteiger, und das sicherlich mit voller Absicht. Wer von den Witcher-Abenteuern am Bildschirm schon nicht genug bekommen konnte, findet hier einen guten Einstieg ins Pen & Paper-Hobby und wird sich durch die vertraute Aufmachung und inhaltliche Gestaltung schnell zurechtfinden.

Auch für alte Hasen hat das System mit seinem einfach gestrickten Regelset ohne viel Schnickschnack und dem knackigen, harten Kampfsystem sicherlich seine Reize. Das Regelwerk begünstigt wegen seiner schlanken Linie eher ein freies narratives Spiel, in dem nicht alles minutiös durch geregelt ist. Das lässt SL und Spielern zwar mehr Freiheiten – wer hohe Komplexität und Regeldichte liebt, wird hier aber eindeutig nicht zufrieden gestellt.

Wie andere Talsorian-Rollenspiele bleibt aber auch The Witcher ein ungeschliffener Edelstein mit etlichen Ecken und Kanten. Das Regelwerk lässt an vielen Stellen Fragen offen, häufig sind Formulierungen unklar und überlassen Spielleiter und Spielern die Auslegung. Wirklich unspielbare Regeln oder massive Regellücken sind bei der Sichtung und beim Testspiel zwar keine aufgefallen, wer allerdings ein Regelwerk sucht, das alle Eventualitäten abdeckt und keinen großen Interpretationsspielraum schafft, greift besser nicht zu The Witcher.

Für einige vergnügliche Abenteuer in der Hexer-Welt ist das Regelwerk eindeutig zu empfehlen. Die Grundregeln sind vollständig, größer angelegte Kampagnen sind ebenfalls vorstellbar. Allerdings wird die enthaltene Auswahl an Optionen, Charakter-Ausbaumöglichkeiten, Ausrüstung und Gegnern auf lange Sicht gesehen vermutlich für die meisten Gruppen nicht genügend Abwechslung bieten. Das System ist jedoch so einfach aufgebaut, dass sich eigene Ideen und Hausregeln leicht einfügen lassen dürften, ohne dadurch ein fragiles Balancing in Gefahr zu bringen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Riccardo A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/27/2018 09:36:44

I'm a huge advocate of going straight to the point when writing about anything, and that's what i'll be doing in this short review.

This product, although a bit pricey, is definitely worth the investment for every single fan of the Witcher series. Its system works wonders and, after a bit of a steep learning curve, flows very smoothly during gameplay, although the combat rules are a bit more complicated than the rest. The manual itself is full of nice artwork here and there and a good section dedicated to the lore of The Witcher world (which is probably one of the best Dark Fantasy setting of the last 5 to 10 years) for those who haven't played the game or read the books.

It's not perfect, sadly. My score of 4/5 is influenced by 2 important factors that I can't objectly deny: the readability of the book is not the best: first, i found that the layout is somethimes confusing and that important concepts and rules are placed in sidebar that can be easily pass unnoticed; second, there are a lot of contradictions and lack of clarity in the rules. But the situation is improving: R.Talsorian Social Media manager proved to be an exceptional person that listened to us, the fans, since release assuring that thing will be fixed. He and the developers answered directly to every single one of our inquiries about the game, rules and everything we asked, basically.

Soon there will be an updated version of the PDF with errata included and included digital bookmarks (in the original PDF i had to put them in myself). So i can't do anything but suggest to buy this product to fans of the Witcher saga and of TRPGs in general: you'll have in your hands a great product that will definitely improve, real soon. When a full dedicated bestiary is released I'll probably switch to this system as my main one for the time being.

When the updated PDF will be released, i'll probably update both my review and the rating.

Tl,dr:

THE GOOD

  • Ruleset (Interlock)
  • Setting
  • Staying true to the books and the videogames
  • Frontpage artwork and artwork quality in general

THE BAD

  • Redability and Layout
  • Contradictions and lack of clarity in the rules

THE AWESOME

  • Communication with fans from the company itself
  • Friendly and helpful community


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Benoit L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/15/2018 15:27:40

I really enjoyed reading this book! As a Witcher novel (and video game) fan, I'm excited to have this game in my library!

It is not a perfect product, it is still being edited with Errata and corrected, but all in all I'm happy with the overall quality of the book.

Looking forward to getting more books from this company and project!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Marcel P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/25/2018 09:49:28

So it's fianally here: the "The Witcher TTRPG. And I should be overjoyed but... my feelings are more mixed than I hoped they would be.

The good

They tought me in Highscool that if you criticize something you should start with the good and that is what I'm going to to do.

  • The game captures the feeling of the witcher games very well, and even has a couple of options to bring the feeling a bit closer to the books.

  • The game is lethal as fornication - characters can die easily in almost any combat and I love it. A lot of time in other roleplaying games - combat becomes trivial rather quick - but not in this game, even a face of with a couple of bandits becomes an adrenaline rush.

  • Even if you're not that much interested in the system itself the book still provides a decent amount of information on the world of "The Witcher" (or rather CDPR's version of it).

  • All of the classes and races seem to be on similiar power levels. Whilst the man at arms class for example is leagues ahead of all the other classes when it comes to combat (even witcher's imo) they don't do that great without the doctor to fix them and the craftsman to fix there weapons. Whilst I have not yet seen all party compositions possible (with a 3 player + gm group that is) the ones that I have seen always worked well and it never felt like one character was outshineing another.

The Bad

Sadly not all is gold what glitters and this game has a decent amount of problems. Which is sad as without them this game would be close to perfect for the style of fantasy and ttrpgs I prefer.

  • Most of the problems this very promissing system has stem from the way the rules are presented. It is sadly a rather crappy lay out and often rules that interact with another are on two diffrent ends of the book. And the wording of the rules them self is often a bit wonky and leaves more room for interpretation than for example the very precicely worded rules of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

  • Another massive problem is that the rules are unfinished for the lack of a better term, there are rules in there contraticting each other, still left overs from playtest or simply rules that are just missing (or maybe not and they are just difficult to find in the messy layout). And for me that is what really brings the score down - whilst R. Talsorian Games Inc. is working on these problems and they are providing daily awnsers on the subreddit it would be noce to see a bit more transparity on the issues with the rules (like a disclaimer in the product discription here on drivethruRPG) as you are more or less buying an unfinished product.

The Ugly

Theese are more minor issues that I have with the Sytem/Product but do not really affect the raiting

  • The design of the Book/PDF is relatively bland and it doesn't really evoke the feeling of a dark fantasy RPG as it looks a bit to modern for my taste.

  • Now to my personal pet peeve with the game - the weight of the wepons in this game is horrible. Just to give an example arcording to this game a arming sword (so the classic knightly one handed sword) weighs 2.5 kilogramms making it as heavy if not heavier than some big two handed swords in our real world. And that would be alright if the rest of the weapons in this game would be in relation to that but the for example a Torrwr which is proably something similiar to agreats word is lighter than that. It just seems rather random.

Conclusion

It's a game with a lot of potential and it already does a lot of things right but be aware that you gonna by a product that is only 90% done!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Dario T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2018 17:02:39

An amazing product made by Talsorian Games that has all the flavor of the games and the books in various ways, starting with the lore of the Continent, set in 1271-72 (between the events of Witcher 2 and Witcher 3 and at the dawn of the Third Nilfgaardian War against the Northern Realms), continuing with the races and classes, each one interesting and useful in its own way, and ending with the rules of combat, crafting both weapons and armors, alchemical conconctions, and so on. The crafting system is a fine addition to the game, and is both useful and interesting. The magic section is enourmous for just one book and it's interesting to see the signs (Aard, Yrden, Quen, Axii, Igni) be able to be used by a Mage, other than a Witcher.

Is it a dated game system? Probably. Is it fun? I had fun only reading this rulebook, it would be amazing actually playing this TRPG! Deadly sure it is. In fact, after the live session at IGN GMed by Pondsmith himself it is pretty clear that a Witcher could die pretty easily against the wrong monster, it said creature strikes for the head.

I'm obviously biased, I love the universe created by both Andrzej Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red and this product is exactly what I was hoping for. Sure, there are some typos here and there, but nothing that could ruin the experience and that couldn't be corrected.

I recommend this PDF to everyone who is interested in a deadly and well structured TRPG and is a fan of books and/or the games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Andrew F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2018 11:03:36

The Witcher setting meets the Cyberpunk role-playing system.

Beautiful art, well-laid out and, a few bugs aside ( like maximum stats for starting characters being easy to find), a really really well done book.

Uses the Stat+Skill+Gear+Dice Roll system. Very nice, fast and makes the luck of the die only one component of success. Will please your dice-unlucky players.

Skills are easy to understand and describe the Witcher world well, the system behind them is simple and effective.

Combat is snappy and deadly - little overly-detailed for my taste, but you can omit a couple things like Recovery actions and Fumbles/Critical Successes if they are slowing you down. Overall, though, solid.

The world is well-described and the denizens drawn from the Witcher very nicely. As others have said, an expanded Bestiary would be nice, but people have always been a Witcher's greatest challenge.

Saying this, a real triumph is how otherwise OP classes like Witcher and Sorcerer are represented and well-rounded. Although potent, each class - Man at Arms, Criminal, Merchant, Witcher, etc shines - and magic has it's drawbacks, oh yes.

The class skill system is also a nice touch - some abilities are much more potent than others, true, but those can be tweaked as your game goes on.

Really a solid, solid title. A foible - I feel the title characters are a little super-powered - in the game and the books, they aren't quite so potent perhaps? Zoltan with a Body of 10, for example. But, again, a minor quibble.

I'd like to give the game an 8.5 to 9.5, but if I have to go out of 5 stars, I'll go with 5. It's closer to 5 than 4 for sure. IF you like Witcher and gritty fantasy game systems.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Siim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2018 09:47:00

The 25$ price tag is pretty steep, but what you get for it is pretty impressive. R Talsorian translated practically every mechanic from the video games into the tabletop format and from this you get some very interesting classes such as the merchant and craftsman, which offer a playstyle I havent really seen in other systems. The combat is as visceral and deadly as I was hoping, you can feel like a real badass kicking enemies into hazards and pirouetting your way around the battlefield, but at the same time you never feel like you know how battle is gonna go since everyone just one weak defense roll away from an injury thats gonna change your entire plan. Despite the pros(and this is reason I'm giving this book a poor rating) there are a ridiculous amount of errors. Some rules are confusing and explained poorly, others are based on information thats actually a left over from a previous version that conflicts with existing rules and some things are just flat out missing(How do you miss something as simple as the price and weight for a torch!?). If you plan on getting this book be prepared to spend a couple hours homebrewing content the devs forgot to include and deciphering how their game is actually meant to be played. Even though it was a headache to learn how to play, I believe it can still be the Witcher roleplay experience we were all hyped for years back when this was announced, there's just a ton of clean up needed before it can really shine.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Volker M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/23/2018 10:03:34

Beforehand, let me explain that I am a big witcher fan and think the PC games are among the best games ever. I expected a good game of this RPG. After years of "development", apparently by a single person as the author speaks in the 1st person, it was finally published. The layout is ok, yet I find it not very fitting for a fantasy/ witcher setting as it looks very modern. The content is sadly very much distributed over the whole book, especially the professional skills for witchers (e.g. character creation, perks, lifepath, etc.). This is not very good for playing and you will keep turning pages. The system is not very balanced. First of all the dice become quickly unimportant, due to the combination with stats. In addition it is bascially a less detailed than the game, but still too complicated for a free table top roleplaying game. You have certain pieces that you have to put together for crafting diagrams. But this becomes very generic and gives you little freedom, especially as a GM. While this was ok for a PC game, it does not work for a good story game. All in all, the game just adds certain patterns together, but it lacks "Witcher life". The spirit is missing, the game has no soul. You can just grab the world description "The world of the Witcher" and use any generic rule system, e.g. rolemaster, with some modifications and will have a better game, which more interesting character development. The same "soulless" issues are true for the example story at the end. It is not scary or tense or anything, just stupid. This does not fit the "brutish" tone the game ostensibly wants to set. Don't bother with this "product", which looks and feels like a half-baked fan work.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Tim E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/22/2018 15:09:39

I followed the development of this system and was really looking forward to it. We started playing it last sunday with the charachter creation and were looking to learn the mechanics while doing so. The text is very well written and i like the art. Nothing extraordinary but it brings the world of the witcher to live. But the layout is the big problem child. In most other rpg rulebooks they use the first few pages to convey to you the basic workings of the game, how the skill checks work, what dice are used and so on. But this book starts right off with the character creation and only on side 50 or so is it, where you finally learn, how the game works. Thats a big mistake on the writers parts in my humble opinion. And the there are all of those side notes. Some are just in game monologue and if you make the mistake to think they are just some side information, you are in for a treat, because some of them are crucial to the understanding of all the mechanics in the game. I do not understand why basic and critical information are shifted out of the main text an dumped to the side. I really like the alchemy, magic and gear and crafting system in general. Its in depth and if a player wishes to use it, it brings hours of play and can even lead to plot motivation and so on. Really ties in with the world and the experiences in the games. Then there is the combat system that i like so far, but here again strikes the difficult continuity in this book and how it ist written. It starts with how attacks work, and where you hit and what wounds are caused, with all the detailed effects and the "death state" But wait a minute. Why is there a reliabilty stat for my weapon mentioned? 10 pages later i know better. There is, why i do not knwo, a chapter with in depth combat slapped in. 3 pages where i learn how to block, that i can shoot a bow or use magic. Why, dear authors, why? I would have put it like that: Iniative, walking/running, actions, the different options of attack, special moves, ranged combat, magic, bombs etc., than the passive part of the attacked with the defenses, crit resolve and all of that, and only than do we come to the wounds and how damage is resolved, and end on the nice note of healing and the aftermath. Why all those side notes and step ins? A more consequent writing style with the informations in the right spot and the main text would have been better. The part of the witcher character creation would also do better as a complete chapter with all of the life steps, gear and all in one place for the witcher player and gm. Maybe after a few sessions i can give a more finite verdict, but right now this are the things, that really tickled me.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2018 15:09:08

Unfortunaly a number of ugly warts that makes this product fall short of (my) expectations:

  • A D10+attribute+skill vs Difficulty system where the fixed stats quickly make the D10 meaningless (which is already apparent in the first examples to explain the system in the rulebook, where a D10+26 is rolled against a difficulty of 19 (i.e. missing fit of stat range to standard deviation of randomizer)

  • Too many detailed modifiers (which will be eyeballed anyway in real game)

  • Crits and calld shots don't match

  • Too little choice in character design to allow e.g. a group of Witchers

  • Ugly layout choices (2-3 columns with changing width and overuse of italics; ugly coloured tables, totally unispiring character sheet) - look like straight from the 80s in a bad way

On the plus side is a treatment of the setting which is evicative and good crafting/alchemy rule



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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