The Witcher 2 and 3

…in Sword of Destiny, Geralt and a side character have a conversation about how obvious it is women have the right to terminate pregnancies and it’s so weird anyone could ever have been against that.

In Time of Contempt, the pregnancy plotline involves a young woman wishing she had chosen to have an abortion earlier so she could continue on her journey.

In Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there’s a questline that involves aborted and miscarried babies coming back as gremlins to brutally murder women because they never received the love they were due from their mothers.

And that should really tell you all you need to know about the Witcher video games as adaptations.

As wRPGs, both 2 and 3 are thoroughly mediocre.

70 Comments

  1. Cosmogone says:
    Holy shit, did somebody really tried to sell these games as good canon adaptations/sequels, of all things? I’m sorry you had to go through this sort of disappointment.



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    1. Act says:

      I mean, I kind of deserve it because it was super clear after the second game that the writers didn’t understand Sapkowski’s books at all, but I still don’t even get how that’s possible considering they’re unsubtle to the point of preachiness.

      I pushed through mostly fueled by the irritation that they could be such shitty adaptations.




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      1. illhousen says:

        Well, I mean, even the first game couldn’t claim to be a faithful adaptation, what with the very first scene undoing the series’ ending and all.




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        1. Act says:

          That was stupid but at least kind of understandable. The botching of characters/plot/themes is both stupid and nonsensical.




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          1. illhousen says:

            Weren’t characters Butchered in the first game as well, though? I actually don’t remember. I don’t remember anything about it except for vampire tit pics.




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            1. Act says:

              Geralt and Dandelion were basically the only major characters in the first game, and the rest of the game was so WTFy that I think Geralt’s OOCness kind of got lost in the shuffle. I also played it before I’d read the books, so that was a factor, too.




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      2. Cosmogone says:
        Horrendously late, but I think the main problem is that the main enthusiasts of the team are basically ficwriters with funding and, well, that was destined to go wrong.



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  2. illhousen says:

    The image doesn’t work.




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      1. illhousen says:

        GASP! My slander is exposed! Curse you, Detective Act! Curse you and your administrative powers!




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  3. Roarke says:

    Yeesh, that’s a right-wing fantasy straight out of left field. Or maybe not, maybe it’s completely expected and I was just trying out a turn of phrase. Yeah, probably that.

    I bought the game a while back and it was high on the list, but now it’s going to the backburner, which is just as well.




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    1. illhousen says:

      I don’t think it’s any sort of coherent political stance at play here, right wing or not. The likely thought process here went something like this:

      – Embryos are kinda creepy, so the idea of them coming back to life to haunt the living is scary;

      – But we want a twist here, so how about they crave love they were never given?

      And then nobody stopped to think about what the result says on the thematic level.




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      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Agreed, but it’s fucked up they come specifically for the mothers instead of both parents.




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        1. Cosmogone says:
          Actually, in the quest Act is referring to the embryo does come for the father, who is basically the reason shit ent down in the first place… But these monsters are created, as Act said, specifically by the lack of mother‘s love. I almost think the devs were going for a more subversive and female-friendly plot here but failed in every way possible. This quest is a clusterfuck and really, really not how anything works in the Witcherverse.



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          1. Act says:

            Weirdly, the bestiary entry specifies they only attack women. I think the idea was that it was breaking out to go after women but the father had to deal with it because only a family member can stop it.




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            1. Cosmogone says:
              Well, here go my attempts to be charitable. :/



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        2. Act says:

          Yeah, that’s the part that took it to the next level for me.

          Then again, the games aren’t subtle about their view on women. There’s apparently a torture scene where as the woman is being brutalized the camera just sits on her bare breasts the whole time, and then their defense of it when it made people uncomfortable was that it was ‘realistic’ because All Violence Against Women Is Sexual Violence. Which is way more than I ever wanted to know about the dev team.




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        3. illhousen says:

          That’s a valid point.

          I feel like there is a decent story buried in here somewhere. Maybe if revival of embryos was someone’s deliberate plan, with the thematic framing revolving around how other people would not allow the women who went through abortions to simply move on and resurrect the past in an attempt to “punish” them for perceived sins or something to that effect.




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          1. Farla says:

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen this actually done, but I did see a similar failure that had a similar solution.

            There was this Filipino horror comic, and one issue had aborted babies coming back for their moms, which people said seemed rather misogynist. But it’s their culture that tiyanak are aborted babies that murder them! It’s not sexist, monsters just happen like that!

            But aside from the fact monsters come out of those same cultures, the monster itself isn’t specifically about abortion. The monster comes from an abandoned dead infant, including aborted ones. The comic had them getting thrown into a dumpster after being aborted, so they’re mad at the disrespect. In-comic, this was presented as just part of how bitches had it coming – look at their heartlessness! – but it was also because abortion was illegal. It would have been easy to present this as a situation where everyone had a hand in creating the monsters by pointing out the reason all the bodies were going unbaptised, unnamed, and unburied was because of the laws against abortion in the first place  meant the women and doctor had to hide what they were doing. And that also better lines up with the real issue around abortion, which is things like access to contraceptives, about money and social support, about being “ruined”, etc that result in situations where so many women have no choice about getting pregnant and no choice about what to do about it.




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            1. Noypi says:
              Tiyanak come from dead abandoned babies? AS a Filipino my knowledge is tiyane are ugly evil changelings. 

              Although,  yeah, the Catholic/church view tend to dominate even now.




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    2. Act says:

      The weird thing is that I also don’t get how it won so many awards and people were like THIS IS THE BEST VIDEOI GAME EVER MADE. It’s… okay. If you’re completely desperate for a wRPG and this is for some reason your only choice, it will scratch that itch. But it’s so boring. The story isn’t interesting, the gameplay isn’t interesting, and the quests are of the ‘go talk to x and see a cutscene telling you to talk to y; go talk to y and see a cutscene telling you to alk to z’ variety.

      It’s also technically an open world but I get the sense it wasn’t originally designed as one. The progression through the map is incredibly linear, and there’s not really many sidequests. It may be unfair to compare it to Skyrim but it was being called the BEST GAME EVER so I feel justfied: in Skyrim, you get to the first town and there’s five quests sending you in five directions, and you run into quests by chance constantly, and even the villages are huge and elaborate with named NPCs going about their lives. In W3, the vilages and even the cities are tiny filled with generic Peasant NPCs who are completely disposable, the sidequests are all local, and most are simple fetch quests. In comparison to how much content there is, the map is weirdly big. There’s no reason for it to be as big as it is, because it’s mostly empty.

      Overall it’s just super mediocre.




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      1. Too lazy to log in (Roarke) says:
        Well, it was going to be behind BattleTech (which is a fun mech tactical RPG), finishing Pillars, and now Pillars 2 anyway… if I can stop playing goddamn FortNite for twenty seconds.

        And I apparently need to play Umineko if I ever want to show my face in a comments section again…

         




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        1. illhousen says:

          If you didn’t play Umineko, it’s OK. I will judge you silently.




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          1. Roarke says:

            Feel free to judge me out loud. Indoor voice, maybe.




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        2. Act says:

          The tough thing about Hirgurashi and Umineko is they’re soooo long. I adored every instant of Higurashi but it’s so hard to sell to people because it’s like 70 hours minimum. Howlongtobeat says the average for Umineko is 73 hours.

          Like they’re definitely worth all of the time but it’s still a lot of time.




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          1. Roarke says:

            I mean I’m sure I’d be faster than that average, but yeah it’s huge. I’m trying to put it in perspective by like, remembering how long it took me to read the Chalion or Fifth Season series. I’m actually sleeping healthy these days, a big achievement for me, so I can’t just all-nighter Umineko like I did those books.




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      2. illhousen says:

        Power of the franchise + fans with superficial understanding of the books. Note that many people in the fandom dislike Ciri and think that Geralt should have been the sole protagonist. They also view him, well, the way the games portray him: a badass power fantasy who carries two swords because one is not badass enough. The games do deliver on that front.




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        1. Act says:

          That… explains a lot. 




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  4. Are you judging the Witcher series based on storytelling or specific aspects of the game/other forms of media? I’ve heard good things about it, even if I never played the games myself.

    As for abortion, it’s a sticky issue. The problem is, by saying women can’t have one, it’s forcing them to carry around a great inconvenience. The other problem is, a lot of people believe that life exists at conception, even if it is on a much more primordial scale, like how a baby is less developed than an adult human. For the camp who does not believe that a fetus does not constitute as human life, the inability to have an abortion is kind of like imprisoning a womb and the woman with it.

    But for the camp that says that it’s life, the side that says you can’t just bash a baby’s skull over the head because it’s crying too loud and inconvenient and annoying, abortion is the killing of your own child. It’s a really, really sticky situation where you’re dealing with conflicting ideologies and no way to really prove that they’re right. I’m not factoring religion into this because things just go to hell when you do, but I can actually see where people see life as being important and special from conception.

    People get excited over pregnancies. They throw massive parties for instances of pregnancy — baby showers. They get scans to see what this pebble of human flesh looks like and freak out over a heartbeat, even if it still isn’t very developed yet. Being able to snuff that out does seem rather like legalized murder, but asking a woman that does not want a child to grow said child in an increasingly swelling womb is also problematic.

    And then there’s the whole “Well, that’s what happens when you engage in reproductive activities statement,” and when you combine that with the school of thought that says life begins at conception, a woman would be killing her baby (excluding cases of rape) because she wouldn’t want to deal with the consequences of her and some guy’s actions.

    And back over on the “Life does not begin at conception statement,” you’re asking a hell of a lot from someone to finish growing a human being. While you aren’t legally obligated to raise said child, it’s still there and might even try to find the woman that gave it up for adoption. It’s a mess. A sticky, sticky mess with conflicting philosophies that can’t really be proven one way or another with completely opposing goals.

     

    TLDR; There isn’t one “right” side to the abortion issue. It’s a hot, sticky mess. If you want my personal stance on it, because I’m already this far in, I do think that life begins at conception, but because there exists that ambiguity, abortion should be legal. I’m just personally not a fan of it.




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    1. Cosmogone says:
      Dude, no offence, but I don’t know why did you write this sort of overly long responce if you missed Act’s point anyway. It doesn’t matter what general population thinks about abortion. Everything else aside, what matters is that the games do a 180° on an issue the series’ author feels very strongly about, hich is shitty and disrespectful toward both the writer and his fans. Another important fact is that this is not at all how curses work in this universe, thematically or logistically.

      Finally, why do you have a problem with Act here praising certain messages and condemning other? This is a feminist blog so people here don’t try to take some sort of enlightened neutral stance on social issues (and why should they, really?)




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    2. You might want to take a look at Farla’s UnWind readthrough.




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      1. illhousen says:

        One thing UnWind has taught me is that attempting to find middle ground on this issue seems to lead one to batshit country.




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        1. Roarke says:

          The author was in no way attempting to find middle ground on the issue. The lesson is that if a batshit, biased author tries to find middle ground, the result will still be biased and batshit.




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          1. Farla says:

            Hm. Actually, specifically I’d say the issue is thinking they’re hanging out in the middle ground when they’re actually way off to the side, so they’re incredibly smug about being reasonable and fair while they have no real idea what the actual range of opinions on the subject are.

            A straight up Jack Chick style thing is still reprehensible, but it at least admits it’s making a stand instead of throwing out something horribly biased and claiming it’s the rational midpoint and we should start the discussion there.




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            1. Roarke says:

              I see, so they’re so far removed that an attempt at compromise on their part is still alien, but they think they’re being magnanimous. Like people who think not blaming women for miscarriage is the height of grace.

              I do have to give Jack Chick some credit: like you say, he’s not gaslighting.




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            2. illhousen says:

              Mmm, yeah, the issue is that UnWind presents itself as a satire of both pro-choice and pro-life, but its pro-life portrayal is just an exaggeration of real beliefs (or, in some cases, just plain real beliefs taken to their logical conclusion), while its pro-choice portrayal is pretty much perfectly removed from actual pro-choice position and concerns and only makes sense if you buy into pro-life preconceptions in the first place.

              The end result is that the supposed middle ground is a lot closer to pro-life default position than the work seemingly goes for.




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            3. Hyatt says:
              My theory is that the pro-life side won but both wanted the guaranteed supply of transplants and also wanted to vilify the pro-choice side so nobody would ever join it again. Thus they came up with Unwinding and sold it as a compromise.



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      2. Hyatt says:
        AUGH why did you have to mention that

        is she going to review the rest of the series




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    3. Act says:

      Putting aside that this weird screed has nothing to do with the point I was making…

      TLDR; There isn’t one “right” side to the abortion issue. It’s a hot, sticky mess. 

      Oh, it’s complicated. I had no idea! Here I was thinking I could evaluate my own life experiences and decide for myself, but that was just my ladybrain fooling me! Thank god a man is here to tell me I’m not capable of grasping all the nuance. My mind is blown.




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      1. @ Act, I was never implying that your experiences should be invalidated or that a male’s words are worth more than your own. The statement wasn’t to you specifically, more of to the audience at large. I’m sorry for not making that clearer. This blog occasionally has discussions over themes and such, as I understand it. All I wanted to do was add my input on the subject. I don’t think that it was too far off the mark, as it does go over a controversial topic in the video game this post goes over, but if you disagree, I’m really not all that invested to argue. 




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        1. Farla says:

          The thing about abortion is that we’re very rarely discussing the thing itself.

          For example “Should horrible things happen to women to punish them for abortion, which in turn is really about punishing them for having sex in the first place and trying to dodge their rightful punishment of pregnancy (and poverty and shunning)?” The word abortion is in there but it’s not actually about abortion, and no one is discussing fetal/infant rights in it.




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          1. The Reeds of Enki says:
            @Farla: My misunderstanding, then. I’m new here, so I don’t really know all of how things go down and such, so I’m sorry if I say something irrelevant, especially if it comes across as offensive. Yes, the issue of fetus-monsters gunning after one half of the equation that made them is a serious issue, and should be addressed. I’ll try to understand the context of these posts better in the future. Thanks for letting me know.



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            1. Yeah, a big issue with abortion discourse is that a lot of it is actually dogwhistling for other, much worse ideas. Any time a hot-button issue is being discussed, it pays to analyze related beliefs.




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            2. Act says:

              It’s not so much that it’s irrelevant, as I’ve never really cared about staying on-topic here, but that you felt the need to write a condescending essay explaining, to a nearly-30-year-old American woman who manages a feminist blog, possibly the most visible women’s rights issue of our time, as though it was something I’d never heard before. It was a a helf-step from explaning my own post to me.




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            3. @ Act, I never intended it as a comment made specifically to you. Again, I’m sorry if it came across that way, I can see how it could have. My bad. It was meant to open up a topic discussion, not to preach to you something that I’m sure you’re quite aware of already. Again, my intention was never to belittle or even address you specifically for the majority of the post.

              The first bit, where I used the word “you,” was directed to you. After that, I tried moving into a more generalized audience and failed miserably at conveying that change-of-audience. I at no point in time was telling you that you were incapable or unaware of anything related to that issue. The people here seem, to me, to be very, very capable and intelligent; I was not willfully inferring anything that would be contradictory to that.  

              I can also see where my comment came across as that, though. I did not mean it as a direct offense, or as an offense at all. I simply meant to open up civil discourse, which is part of why I made sure to include points from both schools of thought.

               




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  5. Act says:

    Just in case you needed more evidence that these books are. not. subtle. and that the devs can screw off:

    https://s9.postimg.cc/8aklrnfpb/20180509_093954.jpg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdhU2n8dyiE

     




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    1. pokken says:
      I was wondering how long it would take.

      Good job mate.




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    2. Act says:

      What point are you trying to make?




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      1. Farla says:

        That they didn’t read the comments or quite possibly the post itself, I guess.




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        1. Act says:

          Yeah I was going to just ignore it but this is the third or fourth iteration of this post they’ve tried to make and morbid curiosity has won out.




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          1. pokken says:
            My point is that the reason for your outrage seems rather unfounded. You seem to imply that the Bestiary entry (and by the extension, the botchling quest) was written with a pro-life mindset to undermine women’s right to abortion. In reality all it is doing is referencing the Slavic mythology and folklore that the Witcher series draw so much of its monsters from. It was not written with the intention of offending your feminist views or promoting alt-right beliefs.

            It’s been a while so I went back and replayed the entire Velen quest line. It seems pretty obvious that Geralt does not condemn or chastise Anna for making a deal with the Crones. What’s more, the Bloody Baron quest is less about women’s rights regarding abortion and more about domestic violence.

            As players, we do not see the botchling running around in game killing pregnant women. What’s more, during the botchling’s quest it is clear that the emphasis is placed more on the Baron’s regret at hitting Anna and (in his view) causing the miscarriage. Note that his regret of abusing his wife does not stem solely from the fact that it caused her to miscarry. The Baron’s regret of mistreating Anna was there before the incident.

            The bestiary’s information regarding botchlings killing women are referenced, to my knowledge, twice within the game. Both of the instances are attributed to Geralt, first when he is speaking to the pellar and the second when he is speaking to Baron. In both instances it seems like Geralt is only reciting what he has learned from his training or books, and his tone suggests that he is neither pro-life (expressing disgust at the mothers) or pro-choice (expressing hatred at the botchling); he speaks in a matter-of-fact tone that indicates that the only problem he has with botchlings is that it harms living. Which makes sense, because he is a Witcher.

            Again, we as players never see a botchling harm another woman in game. If CD Projekt Red wanted to promote an pro-life narrative it is completely possible for them write a version of the story the botchling kills Anna or she is shown to be repentant of her “sin”. Instead the story we *do* get is the Baron regretting how he had abused his family.

            With all this in mind, it would appear to me that your outrage at the game’s supposed misogynistic representation of abortion seems to be somewhat confused. The bestiary is only referencing folklore, Geralt still thinks women should be able to abort their babies and the quest doesn’t even touch that much on abortion anyways. I suspect the question of abortion might come up in some of the smaller side quests, but I cannot recall anything of substance to my memory. Not now anyways.
            While the Witcher 3 certainly isn’t a shining example in its representation of gender equality, your outrage of “fuck you, maybe, just a little bit” at this particular aspect (abortion), especially in respects the quest and the bestiary you mentioned, is moot.

            Also, in your post you mentioned “In Time of Contempt, the pregnancy plotline involves a young woman wishing she had chosen to have an abortion earlier so she could continue on her journey”. It’s been a while since I last read the books, but I believe you are referencing Milva. However the plot line in question appears in Baptism of Fire, not Time of Contempt. Again, it’s been a while since I read the books, so could you please be so kind to explain what you meant?




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            1. Act says:

              So, nothing to do with the point I was actually making, then. Good to know.




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            2. Farla says:

              So, to pivot a moment, there’s a movie coming out that people are upset about.

              Could the things depicted in the movie happen? Yes. They are a sequence of events that are not impossible in this universe. Does that mean there’s nothing questionable about thinking the world really needs a story about a boy who pretends to be trans to fuck a lesbian into heterosexuality who then states that only cis men are real men? Weird, isn’t it, how others line up to describe this thing that just so happened to reinforce a lot of damaging lies as “so realistic”?

              Stories about how dead babies turn into monsters that murder women take place in a cultural context that says women should die for murdering innocent babies. You could argue the writers are merely incompetent for not noticing the implications, but that doesn’t mean the implications stop existing, it just means they accidentally wrote a bad thing instead of purposefully wrote a bad thing.




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            3. Act says:

              Holy fuck that plot, what is wrong with people.

              edit: Just in case anyone wants their faith in humanity back, The Bride Was a Boy is amazingly adorable 10/10.




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              1. Farla says:

                Yeah, the opening lines of the post was so gently phrased I tried to parse it as “this is championed as being the LGBT film but it’s focused on a cis boy romance with no other representation so let’s not get super excited” and then nooooooooo it is not.




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            4. Hyatt says:
              Is there anything not awful about that book.



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    3. illhousen says:

      And judging folklore monsters that modern devs decided to use by modern standards is wrong because…?

      Like, changing monsters to fit the themes of your story is not exactly a new concept. Literary vampires have very little in common with folklore vampires (who were closer to zombies in appearance and function, being a mtaphor for plague rather than sexual predation). Werewolves used to be sorcerers with the power to turn into wolves whenever, with zero connection to the Moon. Demons are portrayed as anything from embodiments of human sins to eldritch abominations beyond our understanding to just a race with good and bad people among their ranks, etc.

      That the monster used in the game is accurate to folklore inspiration is pretty much irrelevant to the point made since using monsters accurate to folklore is not inherently valuable in any way. Especially in Witcher, which started as a collection of short stories subverting fairy tales and changing their details as necessary to fit author’s vision.




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      1. pokken says:
        Using “accurate” folklore monsters isn’t valuable.

        Using *recognizable* folklore monsters is.

        It is of course impossible to adhere to one single “version” and claim that that is the most “accurate” of them all. I never claimed that details in particular were a strong point. The strong point is that they’re *recognizable*.One of the reasons why the Witcher series was so popular in Eastern Europe was because the author drew a lot of the monsters from generally established preconceptions. This way a Russian and Pole reading the series can both stop for a moment and say “hey, that monster kind of sounds like what my grandma told me when I was kid!” At the very least they can recognize the name (even if it is written in a different language) and immediately have some preconceived image come to mind. For the majority of North Americans, of course, it doesn’t matter as much because they didn’t grow up with these stories. But for the people who did, you bet it matters. It gives them a way to reconnect to childhood fairy tales through the cynical eyes of a witcher.

        Using “demons” aren’t really very fair because it has religious concoction and it serves as a more abstract entity rather than something with defined characteristics. As Christianity constantly changed and reorganized itself, of course you are going to end up with a great variety of interpretations.
        Sure, werewolves used to be sorcerers with the power to turn into wolves whenever, with zero connection to the moon…but the integral part of “a man changing into a wolf” is still the same, isn’t it? The same goes with vampires. Regardless of what reinterpretation or creative spin you put on it, a vampire still has to consume blood.

        That’s what the devs are trying to go for. They are trying to draw from pre-established and recognizable ideas of monsters that already exist in Slavic mythology, just as Skapowski did for a lot of the monsters in the books. The fact that in this case, the Bestiary entry’s details matched almost exactly with the Wikipedia article is irrelevant.

        The post implies that the game was somehow being unfaithful to the cannon. It isn’t. It draws from the same set of cultural folklore and mythologies as the books did. Just because the particular monster that the game used as a plot-device was sexist or misogynistic does not mean that it was being unfaithful to the source material. Why? Because a lot of the cultural folklore in Eastern Europe is pretty sexist and misogynistic in the first place. Please don’t try to pretend that the books were some shining monument of gender equality. They aren’t. They’re written by a straight white man. What did you expect?

        The Witcher 3 may not be a perfect adaptation of the books, but whatever it is it’s not bad.

        What is ironic is that while Act here is fuming about the mere existence of such a politically incorrect monster, the devs are probably patting themselves on the back and congratulating each other about how they handled the botchling quest.

        “We managed to make a quest about an aborted fetus without including anything about killing mothers! We only mentioned it as some bonus trivia! Instead we focused on chastising the father for abusing his family! How socially advanced we are!”

        Shame that got lost in translation.




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        1. Act says:

          . Please don’t try to pretend that the books were some shining monument of gender equality. They aren’t. They’re written by a straight white man. What did you expect?

          Just because you don’t want Sapkowski to be an EEEEEVIL feminist doesn’t make it untrue. The book were clear to the point of preachiness about Sapkowski’s stances on these issues. An ‘adapation’ that directly contradicts those stances is a shitty adaptation. Though I have to say, that you could read this series and somehow not come away thinking, “Wow, Sapkowski really thinks women’s right are important,” explains so goddamn much about these games.

          The Witcher 3 may not be a perfect adaptation of the books, but whatever it is it’s not bad.

          No, like I said, as a videogame it’s ‘meh.’

          More to the point, dude, you’re allowed to enjoy things I (or anyone) don’t like. You don’t need to write massive irrelevant essays justifying your choices. You can just say, “Well, that’s a shame, but I still enjoyed it for what it did with Polish folklore and gameplay,” and no one will be like BURN THE HEATHEN. It’s okay to like problematic things. It’s not okay to froth at the mouth that anyone dare disagree with you. Said frothing is also not actually a super convincing argument.

           How socially advanced we are!”

          If they are thinking this they are not just bad writers, but incredibly stupid human beings.

          Act here is fuming

          Lol, project harder.

          edit: Ahaha, I just realized this was in response to illhousen. You’re lecturing a Russian man about how much he misunderstands Russian men’s feelings.




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          1. pokken says:
            If they think this they are not just bad writers, but incredibly stupid human beings.

            Actually, with all seriousness I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the writers thought that. You have to understand the world is not America. CD Projekt Red is a Polish company based in Warsaw, and while I hate to make generalizations it is pretty well known that Eastern Europe is pretty conservative. Domestic violence might still be a thing in some rural parts; it might not be extensive, but it’s not inconceivable that there are less social stigmas against it, especially compared to places like Western Europe or North America.

            With that in mind, you’ll realize that the Bloody Baron quest might not sound as far-fetched as it is to a North American. Some people living in the region may very well know similar stories or even know men who beat their wives. It’s conceivable that a female player may actually have been in such relationship or face the possibility of it later in their life. Now take a moment to consider what message the game’s quest is sending out.

            Of course I am not going to pretend that game was some sort of a super ground-breaking progressive step in social issues. It wasn’t. It’s a video game. Nor will I pretend that Eastern Europe is some sort of a domestic abuse hell hole. Nope. But one should always consider that other places in world have different scales of what is considered conservative or liberal.

            I don’t think Sapkowski is an “EEEEEVIL feminist” and I agree with you that he was pretty progressive in a lot of issues regarding womens’ rights. But we can see in books that he does have occasional lapses and seemingly indulges himself.

            For example Geralt alternates between the subversion of a manly man with Yenniefer being the dominat partner and actually being a beefcake that ladies want to have sex with. Despite how strong Renfri is as a character, why did she have to sleep with him….? It smells suspiciously like male fantasy to me, and I’m a guy myself. Essi Daven falls in love with Geralt simply because…well he is a grizzled man. Because it is so cold at night in Brokilone, Braenn presses her body against Geralt for warmth because he is such a big man… apparently being a dryad means you can’t use blankets. In Season of Storms Geralt runs away with Mozaïk and then later ditches her, but at the end of the story it is hinted that she still likes him. Also in the same book Tiziano Frevi basically knocks on his door at night to have sex with him. They’ve only known each other for several hours. Three Jackdaws basically own two voluptuous female warriors of some sort and it is hinted that they willingly have sex with him. Stergabor has a very attractive female illusion in his tower. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head but I’m sure there’s more.

            Anyhow, a lot of Slavic mythologies and folklore aren’t exactly politically correct anyhow. Which is completely understandable given that they are millennial old legends. For example in Witcher series we have the rusulka. A quick google search reveals the following:

            “…a female ghost, water nymph, succubus or mermaid like demon in Slavic mythology that dwells in waterways…many different variations of how one becomes a rusulka, but they are always women (usually virgins) who died before their time near water. They become rusalki either becase they are unclean souls or souls who suffered violent deaths”

            http://nokkandmyling.blogspot.com/2011/06/slavic-mythology-i-water-spirits-and.html

            That doesn’t sound very flattering. Is being a virgin an important requirement?

            Next we have the dryads, not monsters exactly but featured extensively in the books. Although I believe they have Greek and Roman origins, they apparently have a presence in Slavic fantasy literature as well. A quick google search reveals this:

            “These woodland goddesses are described as incredibly good-looking young women. They personify nature’s beauty that is too unique and valuable to spoil”.

            https://antipodeanodyssey.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/the-eco-friendly-dryads-of-slavic-fantasy-literature/

            Of course. It wouldn’t do to have ugly or even average looking dryads.

            So with all this incredibly ancient sexism in mind, is it really surprising that we have botchlings in the game? Slavic mythology aren’t particularly well-known for their politically correct stances on gender equality, and this even extends into some of high fantasy literature’s reinterpretation of them. Sapkowski’s Witcher series is one of them. Yes, it was pretty progressive in a lot of areas of women’s rights, but it’s still true that the source material it draws from doesn’t always seem to agree with that. The series still manages to reconcile the two very well.

            Thus your implication that the existence of the bocthling in the game represents some fundamental betrayal of the Sapkowski’s Witcher books – because the botchling represents a sexist viewpoint and the books would never include such a sexist thing – seems a bit off.

            It’s true that concept of a botchling is pretty misogynistic, but we can also see examples of sexist representations of other monsters in the books. Especially monsters or non-humans of female variety. Again, Slavic mythology in general isn’t very politically correct in the first place, so is it really unfaithful of the game to have a monster that is an aborted fetus who kills pregnant women? Not really, because there are female monsters in books that aren’t very flattering as well.

            “In Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there’s a questline that involves aborted and miscarried babies coming back as gremlins to brutally murder women because they never received the love they were due from mothers”

            Again…that really isn’t what the Bloody Baron quest was about. We never see the botchlings murdering pregnant women. Geralt does not condemn women who abort their babies. Actually I don’t think anybody in the quest condemns pregnant women who abort their babies. The quest isn’t some political statement on abortion. We simply laid the botchling to rest – either with sword or burial – and then ask for its help in locating some people.

            While the decision to include the botchling in the game is…questionable to say the least, we have to admit that the devs did not really do anything offensive with the character. They did not make any political statements about abortion or show the botchling attacking pregnant women. Instead of showing the mother interacting with it, as one might expect, the game instead throws the spotlight on the father’s guilt. Geralt literally finds it wandering around at night.

            Your summary of the quest feels misleading.

            Basically…what I have been trying to say is that the reasons of your outrage as shown in your original post seems alittle groundless. The game isn’t being unfaithful by being sexist, because unfortunately the books also had some sexism in them. And your summary of the quest is, to say the least, misleading. That was never a major part of the quest. I don’t want to have screenshot the in game quest logs.

            And no, I’m not trying to shout you down because you have a different opinion. I am just another witcher fan trying to point out that maybe you should reconsider some of your views and trying to offer evidence.




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            1. pokken says:
              One last thought:

              The notion that the existence of a botchling would somehow contradict Geralt’s presumably “pro-choice” views does not hold any ground in reality. Just because an improperly buried aborted fetus may turn into a monster does not mean Geralt will stop believing in a woman’s right to abortion. I don’t think most of the other women will think so as well.

              Just because the botchling exists in game does not mean that it is the developer’s intention to use it as way of striking the fear of abortion into the virtual npcs that populate the world. Again, the existence of the botchling itself in the game does warrant criticism, but it does not mean Geralt or the general view held by the writers of Witcher franchise will not continue to stand by the (existing) pro-choice beleifs.

              So in essence, yes, it is possible for Geralt’s pro-choice views and botchlings to exist in the same universe. All this means for Geralt is that there is another monster to kill.




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            2. Act says:

              Geralt’s pro-choice views 

              You should learn to distinguish between the attitude of the book and the feelings of individual characters. No one is talking about Geralt, who is not a real person. We’re talking about Sapokowski.




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            3. Farla says:

              This actually comes up a great deal in the Dresden reviews.

              If we’re to believe the character relating the information is impartially telling us how reality works in their universe, then yes, it doesn’t prove anything about the character’s own opinions (though, if you know for objective fact that in your universe abortion is murder and the souls of innocent babies end up suffering for it, that’s probably going to factor into the opinions you form). Instead, it means the constructed reality as a whole was made with that opinion in play, which is far worse. An individual character’s opinions may be wrong, but when someone says, “The world objectively just works this way!” is a much stronger statement. Barring a tiny fraction of works that are about raging against God itself, it’s cloaking opinion in fact.

              Look at your own argument here – “because reality, we can’t argue with it, we just have to tolerate it”, as if this is like the fact entropy sucks, even though what we’re discussing is fictional and as such is an non-neutral reflection of people’s own history and biases. The worlds people construct are far more powerful, and have the ability to do far more damage, than anything presented as individual opinions.




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            4. Act says:

              Holy shit dude, if you aren’t able to participate in an actual conversation without just posting irrelevant massive walls of text, maybe stop and consider you’re not saying anything anyone cares about.

              I usually don’t care about on-topicness, but if you can’t stay focused I’m just going to spam your comments. I do not have time for some self-important dudebro’s pages and pages of ranting about how wronged he is for my not liking his favorite game. I do. not. care.




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            5. pokken says:
              Wait no Act you are admin of the site right??

              Okay thats makes it easier. I think I’ve already spammed a couple of long wall of texts bc of my slow internet. I kept clicking lol.

              Anyways sorry to be a bother but yeah please feel free to spam the stuff I just posted. I’ve given up on arguing here.

              Also feel free to delete the comments that I did post earlier in week. I hope my spamming didnt cost you too much data.

              Have a nice day.




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        2. illhousen says:

          Because a lot of the cultural folklore in Eastern Europe is pretty sexist and misogynistic in the first place.

          Yes. Therefore, using such monsters unmodified produces sexist and misogynistic stories, which was the point of the post.

          It was the devs’ choice to use this particular monster instead of turning to other folklore tales, nobody held a gun to their head. Therefore, they can be criticised for it.

          And the point about modifying the monsters is about thematic change, redefining what they represent. Vampires were about a plague, a threat from within that spreads uncontrollably. Dracula changed them to be about the evils of sex and foreigners, basically. Later works reframe them farther. Werewolves used to be about someone making a deliberate choice to harm the community, now they’re about a curse one must endure, about the horror of losing control over one’s actions. Demons can basically represent whatever, and quite a few examples I could name have nothing to do with any branch of Christianity. Might & Magic demons, for example, are just straight up aliens with sci fi tech and everything.

          From what I understand, the game doesn’t change the thematic makeup of the monster in question, and so, even if you place value in using recognizable monsters, the result can still be criticized with modern sensibilities in mind.




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          1. pokken says:
            I don’t disagree that it produces sexist and mysognistic stories, but *again* I want to call into question the quest that is actually being dicussed. I agree that the concept of botchlings are sexist, but I must stress again that we never see it happen in the quest. Not really anyways. We never see the botchling attacking pregnant women. It was never part of quest in any relevant way.

            So one might argue that the devs didn’t actually use an inherently sexist monster to do sexist things. They just used as plot-device the bridge the player over the next cutscene or plot point or whatever it is.

            Yes, I agree that the thematic nature of the monster warrants criticsm. Why did they include the thing in the first place?

            Act’s summary of the quest in the post (all the way at the top) does not seem to reflect this. Instead she seemed to be claiming that the quest was about botchlings killing pregnant women. It wasn’t. That wasn’t the focus.

            What I have been trying to say all this time is that the post seems to misleading with what it’s saying, especially in regards to the quest and the notion the books didnt have sexism in them and so any sexism in the game is a betrayal of source material.

            We may very well have a dicussion of sexism in Witcher series in general, but that’s not what I am trying to explain to Act. I’m sorry if I dragged you into the mess with my unclear wording. Again, I agree with most of what you say.

            Btw did you read the Witcher series in russian? I heard russian is as close as you can get to the original polish translation without actually having to learn polish. I would love to hear your thoughts on the Witcher series.




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            1. illhousen says:

              That is a better position as it’s rooted in content rather than the notion of historical accuracy, so to speak.

              I would still question the use of this particular monster, given how it plays into preexisting narratives. Even if its actions in the game are not objectionable, its existence still tells us that the world operates under pro-life assumptions.

              As I’ve said before, the monster can probably be salvaged if it were an artificial magical creation or something else that divorces it from natural laws.

              As it is, the quest is at best needlessly questionable.

              For what it’s worth, I don’t think the devs were actively malicious in deciding to include this element in the game as malice is honestly a pretty rare motive is such situations. Most likely, they didn’t think about the implications of their work as much as they should have.

              Btw did you read the Witcher series in russian?

              I did, but it was over a decade ago, so the details are hazy, and I don’t hold strong opinions on the books one way or another.

              If, as you say, similar issues can be seen in them as well, that is worthy of discussion. There is a few posts about the books themselves on this blog, which can be found through tags, you may want to bring it up there.




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