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Getting Ready to Enroll in Witcher School Again

Witcher School makeup

You might remember reading about how I went to a castle in Poland to get my ass kicked back in April.

Well, I will be going back next week, so lots of preparations are underway.

To the fortunate ones who haven’t been forced to listen to me gush endlessly about this: Witcher School is a three-day LARP held in Poland with participants from all over the world. It’s held at Moszna Castle and, as the name might suggest, it’s based on the Witcher games and books. It’s also quite unlike anything I have ever experienced before, which is why I’m going back to hunt monsters in the forest in the middle of goddamn night and get yelled at by men with swords around dawn.

This is an entirely new storyline, meaning I will also be playing an entirely new character.

Last time, I got in a little over my head when I played a hot-headed Skellige warrior and Witcher adept, because, while I might have the attitude, you’re unlikely to find anyone less “warrior”-like than me.

(Seriously, I kept trying to pick fights, but no grown man can bring himself to even yell at a petite 5’6″ baby-faced woman. They kept being all diplomatic and patient, and it was infuriating.)

Which is why I was thrilled when I received my new character.

This time I will be playing Stella, a Nilfgaardian woman who ran away from home, because all she could expect from life was to be married off to some man her parents chose for her. She was eventually kidnapped by bandits who were going to sell her as a slave, but ended up losing her in a game of Gwent to the Grand Master of the School of Cat.

Since I went through the whole adept-thing last time, I decided to play a full-fledged Witcher this time around, which means that my character has already gone through the Trial of the Grasses. And here’s where it gets good: My character survived the Trial, but is suffering from far more after effects than normal.

(Apparently, the School of the Cat isn’t too good at doing genetic experiments.)

Yes yes, I know it’s weird to be excited about playing a sick character, but I was no good as a Viking princess, so I’m totally embracing this. Which is also why I’m going to take things a bit further.

My character sheet doesn’t mention any visible signs of the after effects of the mutagens, but I thought it would be much more interesting if everyone immediately can see that Stella isn’t well. So I went makeup shopping (a horror in itself) and tried out a new look based on how Geralt looks in Witcher 3 when he overdoses on toxic potions.

Witcher School makeup

The bonus is that if I perfect the look, I’ll be all set for Halloween as well!


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The Witcher 3 – A Few of My Favorite Quests

Witcher 3 Oxenfurt Drunk screenshot

I’m replaying The Witcher 3 and I thought I would talk a bit about what makes this game so very special.

I could choose to talk about the great storyline, the amazing characters or even some of the big decisions you have to make throughout the game. But plenty of games have good overall storylines and characters. What makes Witcher 3 stand out from most other games I have played is how even many of its side quests manage to be memorable. I have picked out a few of my favorites while I played.

Mostly, I have chosen quests that are either hilarious or downright horrifying. Somehow, The Witcher 3 manages to stuff both extremes into one game and make it all work.


The Dark Ones

There’s some really messed-up shit in the Witcher games…

A Towerful of Mice

I’m sorry, what did you say? There’s a haunted island where everyone died mysteriously?
What are we waiting for? Let’s go!

In “A Towerful of Mice”, the sorceress Keira Metz gives Geralt a magic lamp and sends him to a haunted island. When he gets there, he uses the lamp to reveal ghosts relieving memories of the island’s terrifying history. You get to the tower at the center of the island where you find a lot of rats, as well as clues to how a mage who lived there experimented with disease on both rats and humans. You also discovers how the starving peasants attacked and killed the highborn family living there.

At the top Geralt encounters the spirit of the daughter who tells him how she wasn’t killed by the peasants, because she took a sleeping potion given to her by the mage. However, after the peasants murdered everybody, they left her there among the bodies, and then she woke up she was paralyzed and could do nothing as the rats ate her alive.

And that wasn’t even the end of it. Geralt still had to lift the curse and it all ends horribly. And I looked it up, and turns out I got the “good” ending…

Witcher 3 Plague Maiden Towerful of Mice

Carnal Sins

In this one you’re chasing a serial killer who murders his victims in the finest Jack the Ripper-style.

It starts when one of the characters Geralt has befriended, Priscilla, is attacked and nearly killed. It turns out that it’s far from the first attack of its kind, and Geralt has to break into the morgue (through the sewers, of course…) to examine the body of the last victim. After that, you start hunting for the murderer who gouges out the eyes of his victims and replaces them with burning coals, and forces them to drink formaldehyde.

While searching the sites of the attacks, Geralt finds religious propaganda promoting the Eternal Fire, signed by “A Concerned Citizen”. Geralt also discovers that the killer leaves behind notes with the next victim’s name in the mouth of those he kills, causing him to race to save the next on the list.

I’m quite sure I ended up killing the wrong man, but that’s the great thing about this game. You might make a rash decision, but it will stick. In this case it meant Geralt assumed he had gotten the right guy and didn’t pursue the matter further. You only find out you got the wrong guy far later, when you stumble upon the corpse of another victim by chance.

The Witcher 3 Carnal Sins

Scenes From a Marriage

This is part of the main questline for the DLC Hearts of Stone, but it got everything a horror story could wish for: A haunted mansion, a mystery, a weird Frankenstein-like caretaker and talking animals.

Olgierd von Everec sends Geralt to his old, abandoned estate to find the violet rose he gave his wife the last time he saw her. When Geralt gets there, he finds the whole place shrouded in an unnatural fog, and while it’s clearly been abandoned for a long time, the flower beds are strangely well-maintained.

In the back garden, you find this strange patchwork man digging a grave for a thief who broke in and got killed by this ‘Caretaker’. Best of all, when you kill the Caretaker, you can loot his spade… which is, for some reason, one of the best weapons you come across in this game. I’ll never get tired of whacking bad guys in the head with a spade. Never.

Anyway, you have a chat with this weird cat and dog who refuse to give clear answers (what is up with talking animals always being annoyingly vague?) and then you enter the house to try and find Lady Iris, Olgierd’s wife. You immediately catch a glimpse of her creepy ghost crawling out from an old painting before she disappears off to god-knows-where and leaves you to explore the obviously-very-haunted house. While you do so, chairs will randomly fall over, ceiling beams will fall down, and Lady Iris will whisper encouraging things like “You will die here” from somewhere close-by.

Eventually, you find Iris’ body, lying on the bed in her bedroom.

To appease her wraith, Geralt holds a burial for her and her wraith arrives, creating a world of memories from a painting that she makes Geralt enter.

It’s all rather trippy from here on out…

Witcher 3 Caretaker


The Funny Ones

Luckily, it’s not all horror and tragedy!
(Except possibly for the poor fellow who got hit in the head by the flying cow…)

The Oxenfurt Drunk

Another quest with an investigation that starts in a morgue, yet this one gets to go under the funny ones!

Oh sure, it’s about a vampire on a killing spree in the city of Oxenfurt, but it’s about an alcoholic vampire on a killing spree in Oxenfurt, meaning Geralt has to get drunk off his ass to lure it out. This katakan only attacks and drinks the blood of drunkards, so after Geralt empties the nearest inn for cheap wine, he staggers around in the street, singing rowdy ballads.

One of the best parts is the grumpy man yelling out his window, complaining about the noise and vulgarity. At one point you can hear him go, “Young people, these days!”

Geralt’s probably close to being 100 years old, yet he still goes, “Alright, alright, sheesh” and stumbles on into another street.

Eventually the katakan attacks and you have to do half the fight while completely pissed… but of course you eventually chase it down and cut its head off.

Witcher 3 Oxenfurt Drunk screenshot

Of Dairy and Darkness

Before I played Witcher, I didn’t know what a Tyromancer was.

A Tyromancer tells the future… from cheese. Tea leaves are for amateurs!

In this quest, Geralt goes to investigate the abandoned tower, formerly owned by the mage Aeramas, and finds a labyrinth of stinking, poisonous cheese in the basement. The quest log describes it as “fouler smelling than a drowner’s scrotum”. For any normal person, that would be the cue to leave, right? Not for Geralt. Geralt decides to pass the Trial of the Cheeses.

In the end, Geralt finds a valuable sword and names it “The Emmentaler”, and I considered whether or not it’s possible to smack the player-controlled character…

Witcher 3 Tyromancy screenshot

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Granite!

Okay, so how do I describe this quest to do it justice…?

Geralt is hired by a very distraught art curator because the statue of Reginald d’Aubry has had its testicles stolen. Apparently, these stone balls are rumored to give all who strokes them unparalled virility.

I’m not making this up.

Since Geralt will do a lot for money, he sets out to locate the thief who took off with poor Reginald’s crown jewels. He tracks the thief to a house and finds him… busy. With someone else’s wife.

And let’s just say that the thief is not a young man. But apparently, him and Rosalinda have already been at it three times that day. And just to make it a little more awkward, Rosalinda’s husband comes bursting in during this conversation and Geralt has to explain that he’s not having a threesome with his wife and the old dude.

In the end, if all goes well, Geralt might end up running around with “Reginald Statue’s Genitals” in his inventory until you finish the quest. As part of his reward, the art curator invites Geralt to the opening and promises that he can stroke Reginald at no charge.

…Someone at CD Project Red actually had to sit down and write this.

Witcher 3 Reginald Statue Screenshot


When Geralt returns to Touissant in the Blood and Wine DLC after many years away, he meets an old acquaintance who wants to pay him for an old contract he fulfilled. All Geralt needs to do to get his reward, and all the interest that has piled up over the years, is to go to the bank and get it…

So Geralt goes to Cianfanelli Bank and asks the clerk to withdraw his money. However, the clerk finds that the account holder, meaning Geralt, is noted as deceased. Her information is clearly inaccurate, but she still requires a Permit A38 from Geralt. She directs him to window number one.

At window number one, Geralt is told he’s got the wrong window.

The unhelpful clerk at this window leaves him no other choice than to ask around for Permit A38.

When he finally finds the clerk who issues Permit A38s, he’s asked for his Form 202. Geralt does not have a Form 202.

He’s told to get a Form 202 from window number one.

The clerk at window number one is now on her break.

When the clerk finally gets back, she very reasonably explains to Geralt that she can’t issue a Form 202 to someone who’s been declared dead.

To Geralt’s credit, he lasts a long time before he starts threatening people enough to have the guards called on him.

Witcher 3 Paperchase Screenshot

Contract: Boving Blues

This one makes the list simply because all you’re told when hired by the quarry foreman is that a cow fell out of the sky and landed on one of his workers.

Understandably, this is considered to be a bit of a problem.

Witcher 3 Bovine Blues cow

No Place Like Home

Not quite a quest, considering the objective is to get drunk with fellow witchers Eskel and Lambert, but seeing the three usually serious witchers drunk off their asses and reminiscing about old times on the job is amazing. And Geralt and Lambert drunk-bonding is adorable! Throw in Lambert stealing Vesemir’s hat and doing impressions, a game of witcher “I have never” and then breaking into the sorceress Yennefer’s room and dressing up in her clothes to drunk-dial her friends with a megascope, and you have a party!

Witcher 3 No Place Like Home Dresses

So these are my personal favorites. Or, at least, a small selection of them. It’s hard to choose with this game!

What is your favorite quest in The Witcher 3? Or any of the other games, for that matter?

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I Signed Up for Witcher School… Again

LARP Sword Witcher Medallion

LARP Sword Witcher Medallion

I have always been a very cheap person. The only thing I ever voluntarily spend a lot of money are PCs, and even then, I’m currently keeping the lid on my laptop together with laundry clamps because it goes against everything I believe in to replace a fully-functioning laptop, just because it happens to be falling apart.

So when I decided to sign up for Witcher School and go to Poland, I spent a lot of time telling myself that it was worth the expense because it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As you will no doubt know if you have been following my blog posts, I just got home from this once-in-a-lifetime experience less than a month ago.

And less than an hour ago Witcher School released the tickets for another LARP event in October. I already bought mine.

Once-in-a-lifetime, my ass…

It’s not even the follow-up to the event I went to in April, but instead the first episode in a brand new season. Apparently, the individual events are part of seasons where each episode continues the story from the last one. And these seasons have 6-7 episodes, roughly one a year.

The event I went to in April was episode 5 of a season. Meaning that I have 2 episodes left of that one, then 7 of the season I just signed up for.

I might as well move to Poland.

Not to mention I had planned to dedicate 2019 to working on my books, so I could get both my new book and the new editions of the old ones released. I was so certain I would have them all done with lots of time to spare before the summer convention season.

But I’m not even close to being done. From January to April, my sole focus was preparing for Witcher School (but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it was okay, right?), which, for one thing, meant I spend a lot of time exercising. It’s no wonder so many writers take up drinking instead. Being healthy does not leave you a lot of time to get work done.

If I end up going to Witcher School twice a year from now on, I will never get anything else done.

I’m just going to put all the blame on Andrzej Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red and call it a day.

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Witcher School Withdrawals

Carlsberg Beer Witcher Medallion

Getting back to real life has been tough.

I think I dodged the Post-Game Depression I know to be common among Witcher School graduates, but that might just be because I haven’t fully let go of being a witcher just yet.

I had expected the constant thoughts analyzing the stories and characters I encountered at Moszna Castle. I even expected insisting on wearing my Wolf School medallion to work every day, even though it stands out in a consultant office and constantly knocks stuff over on my desk whenever I reach for something, like a small canine-shaped wrecking ball.

But I didn’t expect to be unconsciously practicing fencing pirouettes in the office bathroom. Or sitting at my desk at 7:30 in the morning, going through emails and suddenly thinking, “I should be at morning workout.”

I’m a lazy person. I like doing nothing and not moving all day.

So why am I itching to swing a sword? I wasn’t even good at it!

I even miss all the yelling.

I hate people raising their voice. Usually, nothing makes me angrier than someone thinking they need, or even have the right, to yell at me.

Now I can’t get used to how softly everyone are speaking when addressing me.

The other day, I found myself reaching for one of the beers I bought for a party more than a year ago and which is still standing in my fridge.

I had to remind myself that I had only been drinking a lot of beer in Poland because my character liked it. If I had liked it, it wouldn’t still be in the damn fridge.

Carlsberg Beer Witcher Medallion

Witcher School lasted 3 days. I’m convinced you shouldn’t be acting like this unless you got used to something over several months, at least…

If I start missing Pebbles the Earth Elemental, promise you’ll all stage an intervention for me.


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Witcher School – Where I Got Beaten Up by Elementals and Strigas, and Almost Stabbed a Cat

Moszna Castle

OBS: Spoilers for episode 5 of Witcher School.

I got home from Poland Sunday night. When I woke the next day, it wasn’t fully light out and I was like “Wow, I managed to wake up before noon?”

…Nope. I slept through 3 alarms and woke at 7:30 in the evening.

If you have been following my posts, you of course know that I went to Moszna Castle in Poland to attend Witcher School for three days. It was my first time going to this LARP and I’m honestly not sure I can cram all the amazing stuff that happened into one blog post.

But damn it if I ain’t gonna try!

Disclaimer: This post is going to have stronger language than usual, because it would feel a little silly staying all PG when talking about an event where we were woken up in the morning by someone yelling “Rise and fucking shine!”… 

My Character

Let me start by introducing my character. I already talked a bit about Eydis of Clan Tordarroch, the daughter of a Skellige jarl, in an earlier blog post.

Eydis is a total badass, who grew up disappointed in her father, who she viewed as weak, because he, unlike most Skelliger, didn’t care for invasion and conquest and didn’t stand up to the ones who mocked their family name. As she refused to sit back quietly and spent her life as someone’s wife or mother, she got involved in Skellige politics in an attempt to prove herself and regain respect for her clan.

Her father did not approve and sent her off with a witcher to teach her a lesson.

Eydis was a difficult character for me to play, as her confidence and arrogance comes from being a good fighter, and Michelle is… not a good fighter. I will probably be playing her one more time, as it seems like next episode will be the final one in the season and it would be silly to create a new character for one episode, but I will definitely work towards getting a character more suited to me the next time around.

Witcher School

The event ran from the afternoon on Thursday 4th of April to 3-fucking-am on Sunday 7th.


I got to Poland on Thursday and met up with the other players at around noon at Wroclaw Airport to catch a bus to Moszna Castle where we were going to live for the next three days. After signing a bunch of papers, basically saying “If you die, it’s not our fault” or something, I was standing around awkwardly, because everyone else were traveling with friends or knew people from earlier episodes.

Luckily, some guy from Bulgaria took pity on me and approached me, so I didn’t have to be a total wallflower. We talked about everything from previous LARP experience to murder, and the only time there seemed to be a language barrier was when I mentioned living with an owl and he said he wasn’t sure he was understanding me correctly. I’m pretty sure he was.

After a 1½ hour bus ride to the middle of nowhere, we finally arrived at Moszna Zamek, and as we approached the castle, my first thought was “Oh my god… I’m at Hogwarts.”

Guys, I can’t even begin to describe how utterly beautiful this castle is when you see it in person, knowing that you’re going to live there for the next three days.

Moszna Castle

The organizers had rented out the entire castle for the event and decorated the inside, so all modern things were covered up. The only areas that were off-game during the event was the parking lot, the basement where the crew areas were, the bathrooms and the player rooms if we chose to make them so.

Meaning that, except from when nature called, you could be in-game non-stop unless you chose to take a break.

This had both advantages and disadvantages. It was much, much easier to roleplay when you never had to break character, but my room was on the third floor and you very quickly get tired of navigating stairs at night with only the light of the tiny LED candles placed around the castle.

Luckily, “for fuck’s sake!” is perfectly in-character Witcher language, so skipping a step didn’t make me break character.

Also, no matter how beautiful Moszna Zamek is, after the third time I got lost trying to find my room, I did find myself thinking, “Authencity is all well and good, but would it kill them to put up some signs?!”

Organizers Making Sure We Don’t Kill Each Other (and Ideally Don’t Even Have to go to the Hospital)

After finding our rooms and receiving our costumes, we had to go to the introductory workshops.

This was basically a lot of different workshops where we were told how we all got through this LARP without:

  • Sending ourselves to the hospital
  • Sending the crew to the hospital
  • Setting fire to the woods
  • Setting fire to each other
  • Setting fire to ourselves
  • Wreaking havoc in general

We also sat through a workshop where we got a sex talk, and a combat safety workshop, which was by far my favorite because it included the advice, “Be careful in the woods. It’s full of trees and shit.”

We were herded around to 6 or 7 workshops, and half of them had at least one segment dedicated to telling us not to use lit torches as weapons, so I can only assume that, at some point in the past, someone got set on fire…

The Game Begins

After the workshops, we were finally ready to begin.

A bit of backstory:
The story took place about a hundred years before the Witcher books/video games and was centered at Kaer Marter, the Witcher School of Cat.

As a new player, you weren’t told anything about what happened in earlier episodes (this was episode 5), but we soon learned that the King of Temeria was trying to get the Witcher Guild to give up their independence, sign a treaty and bend the knee to Temeria. The Grandmaster of Kaer Marter had refused, and as a response the Temerian army had laid siege to the castle.

From our character sheets, the new players knew they had been captured by Temerian soldiers, but the returning players didn’t know how we would be introduced before the game started.

This brings me back to the game. Just before game start, I was marched into the darkening forest together with the other new players and the Temerian NPCs, and when the game started for real, we were all ushered into two lines and frogmarched back to the castle by the soldiers.

We got to the courtyard where everyone were waiting for us, and the witcher masters confronted the Temerians about what was going on. Unfortunately, I was at the back, so I couldn’t see what was happening, but it was clear that a fight was breaking out and someone was screaming. After that, the Temerians left, leaving behind the captured adepts in the care of the witchers.

After that, we all met up with our respective groups. Mine were the Blue Birds, and after meeting with them I found out that the master of our unit, Master Vester, had been killed in combat when he defied the Temerians after we arrived. We were assigned a new master, Master Jaeger, but Jaeger made it clear to us that he was not interested in replacing Vester and that he wasn’t going to order us around, but would be there to give us advice if we wanted it. Instead he entrusted the senior member of our group, Falk, with leading us.

Drinking and Gambling at the Tavern

We didn’t have classes that first night, so eventually I ended up at the tavern with a fellow Blue Bird (I believe his name was Yorrick). We joined a Zerrikanian witcher who taught us a couple of dice games and then proceeded to beat our asses at them all night. There was also a fair bit of drinking, and even though Michelle doesn’t like beer, Eydis is a true Skellige girl and would never refuse an ale, so I ended up drinking more beer than I ever have in my life. Seeing as the bar only accepted Temerian currency (or, as it was called off-game, Zloty) and I only had Skellige coins (Euro), I ended up either getting others to buy me beer or, failing that, simply “confiscating” it from others.

It’s not stealing when I inform you I’m doing it.

It was at the tavern that I first met Baron Vulko Stenger, the Temerian commissioner. He explained to me and a few other adepts about how we should all sign the treaty, and that all this bloodshed was completely unnecessary. All the while Eydis was slinging insults at him, getting slightly miffed at how he kept up his diplomatic facade while she was obviously trying to pick a fight with him.

Rather unconvinced by the baron’s talk about how forcing the treaty on the witchers was completely reasonable and how it wouldn’t change anything for us, I went for a walk with the others and caught a bit of conversation suggesting the other witchers were going out to hunt a werewolf.

We all decided that we didn’t feel like being torn to pieces that night and went back to drinking.

At some point, me and another female adept was asked by some guy with a beer mug in each hand to come with him for a minute. I told him that was an awful lot of beer for a minute, but we went with him anyway. I’m still not sure exactly why we needed to go to the courtyard with him to meet some big Master with a beer of his own, but I have a feeling the Master simply had made a bet that he couldn’t fetch a couple of girls. Eydis didn’t really care. But she did confiscate the first guy’s beer.

It turned out that the big guy was Master Njall, and in Eydis’ character sheet, it said that the witcher she had been sent away with was a Skelliger named Njall, who had tried to defend her when the Temerian soldiers arrested her. So once we etablished our shared history, we caught up on the “good old times”, mainly by exchanging off-hand comments about how it was nice to see the other hadn’t been killed off.

When I got back to the tavern, we had been joined by a couple of bards, so I got back to gambling with Yorrick and the others. As I couldn’t buy anyone drinks and didn’t own anything of value, I started betting favors instead. By the end of the night, Yorrick owed me two, while everyone else had lost everything they owned to the Zerrikanian witcher, Aynye. But the beer was still flowing, so soon Yorrick was arm-in-arm with another adept, singing along to the rather raucy songs one of the bards were playing.

This went on until far into the night, and at 2 am I decided that everyone had lost enough of their dignity and went to bed.

Classes Begin

The next morning, at exactly 7 am, the whole castle shook with some guy yelling, “WAKEY, WAKEY!” at the top of his lungs. He started two floor below us and we still heard him clear as day in my room. He kept on yelling, until we all dragged ourselves out of bed and got down to the courtyard for morning workout.

After a grueling workout, we were lined up in the courtyard, waiting to be told breakfast was ready.

What we were told instead was that we would have to prove ourselves deserving of breakfast.

We were only allowed into the dining hall in groups, and if we wanted to be the next to go, someone from our group could challenge someone else and defeat them in a sword fight.

This little charade would turn out to occur at every damn meal, and the Blue Bird challengers weren’t having a lot of success, so soon the rest of us cheered them on with truly inspiring battle cries like, “Go, Blue Birds! We’re hungry!”

Luckily we got to eat in the end, and afterwards we waited for the horn to blow, signaling our first class.

We met up with Master Bastian, who was going to teach us how to throw and fight with axes.

Real axes. We were actually throwing around sharp metal weapons.

We were all getting ready, axes in hand, when Baron Vulko marched up and went to Yorrick, telling him he did a good job and that he could change into proper clothes. And that’s when the bastard I had spent all night drinking with removed his witcher adept gambeson to reveal a blue insignia with three white lilies on it.

The fucking Temerian Coat of Arms.

The one friend I made in my group and he turned out to be a Temerian spy. Eydis was not amused. But Michelle really should have seen it coming – his moustache was way too perfect for him not to be an evil NPC…

Surprisingly, no one axed him and brought the Temerian army outside the castle down on us, and we went on with the lesson. The great thing about the class was that Master Bastian could turn absolutely anything into an innuendo, and axe-throwing is a rich subject in that area. We were taught how to block and attack with the tomahawks, and Master Bastian went through all the useful body areas you could aim for. His most notable advice was “going FOR THE PLUMS!”

I tried that when he had me help with a demonstration, and I have never seen a man so pleased that I tried to hit him in the balls with an axe.

I turned out to be kind of shit at throwing the axes. But at least no one died.

Our next class was Alchemy. We were led down in the rather creepy alchemy lab with Master Killian, the rather creepy Alchemy teacher, and I spent the next half hour paying about as much attention as I used to do in High School Chemistry.

Meaning, not at all.

After the theory, we went into the forest to pick flowers. Then we were attacked by a ghoul. Then Master Killian went, “screw the flowers”. Then we dissected the ghoul.

Good times were had by all. Except the ghoul.

After that, I went to sit in the courtyard in the beautiful sunshine. There, I was approached by Yorrick the Temerian Whoreson, who apologized for the deceit and tried to tell me how he wanted to help us out. Unfortunately, he was called away before I could tell him to go fuck himself (I searched for him for the rest of the game in order to tell him just that, but I think he had to go play other characters, because I was unsuccesful).

For lunch we once again had to fight for our food, and after that, it was time for Hunting with Master Jaeger. Jaeger wanted ghoul blood, but since Master Killian got there first, we were all out of luck while hunting for something to provide it. Instead we went off to get spinal fluid from a fiend.

Fiends are these guys:

Fiend Witcher 3

Fiends are fucking terrifying.

Did I mention that I was unarmed?

I was unarmed.

To sedate the fiend (we weren’t going to kill it, as it’s always good to have a supply of spinal fluid nearby), we made a toxic smoke. And obviously, anything that would stun a fiend was strong enough to cause a horrible and painful death for the rest of us, so we were adviced to stay up-wind during our ambush.

We found the fiend, and while I know it was just an actor in a costume, it was a damn impressive costume and I was totally prepared to believe I was closing in on a monster capable of tearing me apart.

We spread out and surrounded it, approaching carefully… and then the people with smoke and swords charged it, while the rest of us stayed back and were generally rather useless.

We got our spinal fluid, Jaeger decided that he could just steal some ghoul blood from the alchemy lab, and everyone was happy. Possibly except the fiend (and maybe later Master Killian).

Last up was Signs. This was also the class where we got our witcher medallions. Out of the 6 different witcher schools, we got to choose whether we wanted to join the School of the Cat or the School of the Wolf. I went with the last one, and got an awesome metal medallion shaped like a snarling wolf (the same one that appears on the logos for the various Witcher games).

Witcher Wolf School Medallion

Then we were ready to go to the woods to practice signs.

To the ones unfamiliar with the Witcher universe, a Sign is a sort of spell witchers use. The ones you’re introduced to in the video games are Aard, Axi, Igni, Quen and Yrden.

We were taught Quen, Aard and Igni.

Quen is a defensive spell, basically a magical shield, and the way we illustrated that in the LARP was to cross our arms in front of us and yell “Quen!” If we weren’t any good at it, Master Dirk hit us very hard in the ribs with a latex sword. Don’t be fooled: A latex sword might not break anything, but it can certainly still hurt like hell!

Next up was Aard, which is used for blasting an opponent, a locked door, or anything else that’s in your way. For that, we had to assume a combat stance, draw the sign in the air before us, then thrust out our arm and yell, you guessed it, “Aard!”

We practiced this on a training dummy named Bob, and some hidden strings made sure that our spell was able to knock over both Bob and nearby foliage, depending on how succesful we were.

Last, but so very definitely not last: Igni.

Anyone who’s into Witcher knows why I’m excited for that one.

It sets stuff on fire.

The casting technique was just like with Aard, but instead of strings, the special effects crew has prepared pyrotechnics. It is so very satisfying to yell “Igni!” and have something burst into flames 5 meters in front of you.

I went to dinner that night, very pleased with myself, and it only got better when a Temerian officer joined the Blue Birds at their table and tried to recruit us. Eydis’ teammates were carefully choosing their words, while Eydis jumped on the chance to insult another Temerian official, since she hadn’t been able to find Yorrick, and the baron had been boring. This woman, Corinne, on the other hand, was not having any of Eydis’ shit and gave as good as she got.

I’m sorry to say I probably lost this Bitch Off.

She asked me if death was really better than bending the knee, and one of my fellow Blue Birds told her I was from Skellige and fighting was what we did. After commenting on how I clearly wasn’t one of the more impressive of my countrymen, the Temerian went, “Do you also drink like a Skelliger?”

And I went, “Oh, I do. Are you buying?”

…I was so close to getting someone to buy me lots of beer just because I was a bitch and she wanted the chance to break me, and I missed it by not having time to lurk around the tavern later that night. I was having no luck finding my Temerians when I needed them.

After dinner, I went up to my room to take a break. Me and my roommate (her character being Agnise) had decided to keep our room off-game, so I was sprawled on my bed, reading a book when Arina/Agnise came in, slightly out of breath. I asked her if anything interesting were going on down there, and as our room overlooked the courtyard, she took a look and went, “Oh, they’re hanging the bard.”

“They’re WHAT?!”

Remember the bard singing raucy songs at the tavern the first night? Oh yeah, he ended up dangling in the courtyard, executed by the Temerian baron. Apparently he was a Redanian spy.

All my drinking buddies were goddamn spies.

Monster Hunt by Torchlight

After dark, I found the Blue Birds, along with a large percentage of the other witchers and adepts, assembled in the courtyard, waiting for something. I asked Falk what was going on and he told me we were going hunting. I decided to join them (after all, I was almost out of drinking buddies) and the Blue Birds split into two groups, one being led by Master Jaeger, the other by Master Hakon, this incredibly terrifying Skelliger with an eyepatch, a permanent grim expression, and a heavy Eastern European accent to go with his whole ‘Russian murderer’-vibe.

Of course my group went with the Master who looked like he was ready to murder us all if the monsters didn’t do it themselves.

We were one of the last groups to leave. We went into the forest with 8 people, one of them being a Master not prone to providing reassurances, and just a single torch. It was pitch black in the forest and we could hardly see anything outside the circle of light cast by the torch.

That’s not terrifying at all when you know there’s monsters out there, right?

We were all on edge, going through the silent forest, and it didn’t take long before our first adversary rushed past us, nearly making all of us scream like little girls.

…It turned out to be a cat.

Master Hakon scoffed and said, “It’s a cat school. What did you expect?” and walked on, radiating indifference, while the rest of us struggled to regain our composure.

The next encounter turned out to be far more difficult.

We saw the fuses before we saw the monsters and as soon as we realized it was a distraction, we formed a circle, protecting the torchbearer. Soon, the entire area was filled with thick fog and we all knew that could only mean one thing:


Foglets are horrible, not because they are all that powerful, but because they work in groups and only attack in fog that won’t hinder their own sight, but will effectively blind the enemy. As soon as we were surrounded and disoriented by the fog, they came out at us from all sides. Only the fact that we kept up our formation and didn’t panic meant that we all got out of the fight alive and defeated the foglets.

When the smoke cleared, we stepped over our fallen foes and went deeper into the forest. It wasn’t long before we glimpsed something glowing in the distance and someone quietly told us there would be an earth elemental ahead. The more experienced members of our group told us that we might as well put away our swords, because they wouldn’t have any effect, and not to bother with the Quen sign, because while that might defend you from an arrow, it wasn’t going to do much good against a creature that shattered your bones when it hit you.

The way to defeat it was to collect the magical stones that would be lying in the forest close by (the ones emitting the light we saw) and make a circle around the elemental to trap it. While a few of us collected the stones, the rest would distract the elemental.

I have absolutely no idea how well the rest of my team did, because we weren’t very far into the fight before Pebbles (which is apparently what this monstrocity was called) knocked me over and started pummeling with stone fists, each one roughly the size of my whole body, while I laid helplessly on the ground.

My teammates managed to distract it, while one of them grabbed me under the arms and dragged me off to the side, frantically pouring a Swallow potion (a powerful, but rather toxic, healing potion) down my throat and deposited me on a nearby bench (but for the sake of roleplaying reasons, I was otherwise pretending there wasn’t a nice park bench in the monster-riddled forest) before going back to the fight.

So I was sitting there, watching my teammates entrap the elemental and everything seemed to be going well. Then, suddenly, light flared to my right (opposite of the elemental and my team, meaning I was trapped between) and a loud, obviously evil voice started mocking us. Before I knew it, I heard someone from my team scream, “Run, run!” just before the mage released Pebbles from his prison. I sat there frozen in the dark, staring wide-eyed at the mage’s silhouette, and then turned back to see my team fleeing in wild panic, Pebbles chasing after them…

…leaving me alone in the dark.

It took me a bit too long to realize that, broken bones or not, I would have to get away before Pebbles came back. I started limping through the undergrowth, the only light source being the illuminated mage behind me and the torch that was disappearing into the distance together with my team. The forest floor was absolutely covered in leaves, so every step I took made a lot of noise.

And then Pebbles came back.

Of course that meant my fellow Blue Birds had gotten away safely, but it also meant that I now stood paralyzed in the dark, about 10 meters from the raging monster that would hear me and kill me (with no one around to save me) as soon as I made another step.

Let me tell you: Even if the logical part of your brain knows it’s just a person in a costume, the more primal part is totally panicking at being abandoned in a dark forest with a monster about to kill you if you breathe too loudly.

Luckily, my team was organized enough to do a count off after a flight, so after a while I could hear them panic in the distance as they realized they had left me behind. I’ll be honest with you, I’m glad Falk was the unofficial leader of the Blue Birds, because I’m not entirely sure Master Hakon would have made the decision to come back for me.

But they did. I saw the torch come closer and heard my team agree to distract the elemental, while someone called for me. As soon as Pebbles was distracted, I called back and when Pebbles charged, Falk pushed me ahead and yelled “Run, run, RUN!!!”

Technically, my bones should still have been too shattered for me to run, but at that moment I decided to say screw roleplaying. I fucking RAN.

This endeavor had resulted in two grievously injured Blue Birds, but Master Hakon still had one more task for us. He led us back to the castle and down in a small basement room behind the alchemy lab. There he told us the witchers kept a striga, a cursed creature created from the body of a stillborn baby or a dead child, and that we had go get her back in her coffin.

Yep, this school is more unsafe than fucking Hogwarts.

We went in, me at the back because of my injuries, and that was fortunate (for me) because the first guy who went in were tackled by a wraith.

No one told us there would be wraiths.

Once again, I’m not quite sure how we managed to defeat the wraiths and push the striga back in her coffin. I just know that I was in a small, dark tomb, and screaming ghost women were coming at me from all sides. I was totally useless down there, but my teammates got the job done.

After that, we staggered back to the courtyard and I stumbled back to my room. I nearly shat myself when I turned a corner in the dark halls and saw a big guy walking towards me in the opposite direction, for a second thinking I was about to be charged by Pebbles again, before I got my shit together.

Apparently, LARP PTSD is a thing.

Another Day Dawns

When the wake-up guy announced his presence at 7 am the next morning by yelling “RISE AND FUCKING SHINE!” downstairs, I woke up feeling nauseous and running a mild fever.

All in all, not in the shape for morning workout.

I reasoned with myself that since they had given me a toxic healing potion last night, and I hadn’t yet undergone the rituals to become a proper witcher (and as such immune to toxins), I had a good excuse for being too sick for workout, both in-game and off-game. Of course this didn’t mean that I didn’t do my very best to sneak past all the Masters when I went for breakfast after skipping it, though…

The fever and nausea had eased somewhat after breakfast, allowing me to enjoy my lesson in archery with Master Niklas – the one subject I was actually skilled at – but after that we had Fencing with Master Diarmind and I quickly realized that I was in no shape to be training pirouette movements.

By the time we finally got to take a break, my head just kept on spinning even though my feet had stopped.

Luckily, I managed not to throw up on someone’s boots and I was feeling alright for the Monster Knowledge lesson with Master Rodrick after lunch.

Good thing, too, because that was the most fucking insane class I have ever taken.

It started out alright. We sat with Master Rodrick in the tavern and he taught us the importance of knowing what kind of creature you were dealing with before engaging it in combat. He told us a bit about curses, but in my humble opinion, not enough for what he put us through right afterwards.

He took us back to the room with the striga.

At first, he rounded up the whole class and took us into the tomb, explaining a bit about the striga and why she was there.

Then the lunatic let her out of her coffin.

Again, it’s hard to imagine a normal person being inside the costume when they shoot out of a coffin with the speed of a cheetah on acid, snarling and clawing at you. Luckily, she was chained, so she couldn’t get at us as we all, very quickly, backed up when Rodrick went to the coffin.

Master Rodrick must have had a rather sick sense of humor, because when it seemed like the striga had calmed down, he promised a beer to anyone who touched her. One of the Blue Birds slowly approached her with his arm out and the striga sat there watching him, growling softly, but not aggressively.

That is, until he came within the reach of her chain, and she charged at him before he could even blink. The entire class had to rush in to save him as she dragged him back and tried to tear him apart.

After that, we left the basement and went back out into the sunlight. We were all relieved to be out in more or less one piece.

Then Rodrick told us we had to go back in.

Separating us into groups of 3, he told us that we had to get past the striga and get an item from her coffin. I nearly told him to go fuck himself.

My group got together and discussed our battle plan. One said that he would run to the coffin if we distracted her, so we decided that I would bait her and another would be behind me, ready to stun her with the Aard sign as soon as the last one ran.

Of course, that all went out the window when we actually got down there and the striga wasn’t letting herself be distracted at all. At some point, one of the others kept screaming at me, “Why aren’t you running?!” and I kept screaming back, “Since when was THAT the plan?!”  and in the end I just had to take the chance once I thought there was an opening.

I was tackled immediately and then the striga had me in a deathgrip from behind as she clawed at my throat. Once again, my teammates had to get me free and we fled from the room. Once we were outside again, I staggered up to our self-appointed group leader and very pointedly told him,

“If you decide to change the plan, YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!”

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. The crew had a professional makeup team in the off-game area, so when I got the chance, I went down there and told them I took a striga to the throat and they made me a little souvenir:

Special effects scar

The last lesson we had was Survival with Master Ansgar and Master Rewald. Compared to our last class, this was pretty dull, but Master Ansgar insisted we proceed into the forest, even when we started hearing explosions coming from the castle. Apparently, it was “just some sorcerer teleporting” and it could just as well be our own sorceress, Francesca Findabair, as an enemy one attacking. Eventually, we stopped arguing, but we did exchange glances when the explosions kept happening and our Masters kept ignoring the fact that Findabair wouldn’t need to teleport that many times in a row.

The class was very similar to a boy scout lesson. We learned how to make a fire with knife and flint, and how to make a water filter. Quite unexpectedly, nothing burst out of the lake to attack us.

When we came back, the castle was still standing (though I did notice how there always seemed to be more bloodstains every time I returned to the stairs by the courtyard…) and if Gildart (Pebbles’ lovely master) had attacked and engaged Francesca in some epic mage duel, no one told me about it.

There was only one last thing on the agenda after dinner:

The Trial of Grasses.

Again, to everyone not familiar with Witcher lore, the Trial of Grasses is the horrifying process adepts have to go through to become true witchers. They had to undergo a series of mutations and most don’t survive.

Of course, the adepts knew that there would be a bit more to it, but no one would tell us anything. I passed the Blue Birds’ leader on the way out to the courtyard and he just said, “Don’t die”.

I took the time to yell back at him, “Oh thanks, that strategy didn’t even occur to me!”

Now, the Trial of Grasses is a witcher secret, and I’m not going to tell you about what happened. Let’s just say that it was fairly terrifying.

But I survived. I became a witcher.

…Just in time to be rushed out of the castle right after my trial and being told that we were abandoning Kaer Marter and breaking through the Temerian siege.

No one gave me a sword, so I just had to stay out of the way while we rushed through the forest, fought our way through Temerian soldiers and then ended up at a standstill at a Temerian camp.

By this time, it was far after midnight, my blood sugar was dangerously low and I hadn’t had time to grab a drink before leaving the castle, so I was feeling quite horrible and was, unfortunately, unable to enjoy the end of the game. It didn’t help that the final showdown started by Pebbles charging out of the dark, meaning I had to flee the spot where I had collapsed in the grass.

I’m not ashamed to say I hid in the cover of darkness while everyone else went to fight Gildart and I was immensely relieved by the time the organizers announced the end of the game.

It was 3 am by the time we got back to the castle to take a group photo and start the afterparty. I did feel better after raiding the snack buffet, but after a quick search to see if I could find anyone I knew, I went upstairs, thankful that I finally got to navigate the stairs with overhead lighting, and then collapsed into my bed.

The Startling Return to Normalcy

The next morning, I went down to breakfast, slightly confused at having to judge elderly tourists on the way. When I got to the dining hall, I had to stop for a moment and take it all in, because seeing the people I had gotten to know only as Witcher characters over the last 3 days in normal clothes was so. Fucking. Weird.

After a bit, Falk (who I still didn’t know the real name of) joined me and eventually some of the other Blue Birds showed up as well.

I left them to go outside and take in the castle one last time. It was beautiful out, just at it had been all the time we had been there, and I must admit I almost got a bit emotional at the thought that I would no longer be waking up to this place. Having finally received my phone, I took a few pictures, then went to join the others taking the bus back to the airport.

I had almost 7 hours to kill at Wroclaw Airport, so I spent as much time as I could chatting with the other players before they left. One of them looked at me and burst out laughing, telling me I might want to wash my face before going through security.

Yep, I still had the striga scar.

Also, when you’re removing a fake scar in an airport bathroom, in the same way you would peel the scab off of a barely-healed real wound, and accidentally makes eyecontact with someone in the mirror… it gets a little awkward.

Today I was back at work as a web designer, having to go through a mountain of emails, and feeling the crushing boredom of everyday life. Usually, I would be immensely relieved to be home after something even a tenth as strenous as this trip, but right now I’m just feeling a little lost at the thought that it’s all over.

I’m taking comfort in the fact that the dress code at my office is very lax, so I haven’t had to give up my witcher medallion yet.

I do miss my scar, though.

I’m sad that there’s so few pictures in this post, but obviously I couldn’t take any photos while we were in-game. Hopefully the official pictures will be up soon!

Here’s a few of the castle after the game (and the one I snapped from my window of the morning workout I skipped):