D&D General ‘Witcher’ Style Adventures?

TheSword

Legend
So having watched series one of The Witcher again, and about to start series two, I’m enchanted by the style of storytelling! This is on the back of loving The Wild Hunt game.

Key themes seem to be…

  • The politics and dynasties of kings and lords
  • The meddling of sorcerers and sorceresses.
  • Elder races as outcasts pushed from their lands
  • Monsters with backstory and reason for being where they are
  • Lore and history key to the stories
  • Powerful magic
  • Strong folk tale element

What published adventures… any edition of D&D or third party (or D&D adjacent) adventures are there out there that capture some of these themes?

For my own submission, Tales of the Old Margrave carries a lot of this feel. Though not the politics and courtliness.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

CAFRedblade

Explorer
Well, while that can be done in most games and settings with some homebrew work.

If you do enjoy the series and want some of the work done, with some guidance, you can check out the R.Talsorian official Witcher RPG.

For 5E, I'm not entirely sure of a particular campaign setting that all of those requirements. Although perhaps Eberron which just came out of a Great War, could be adapted.
 

TheSword

Legend
Well, while that can be done in most games and settings with some homebrew work.

If you do enjoy the series and want some of the work done, with some guidance, you can check out the R.Talsorian official Witcher RPG.

For 5E, I'm not entirely sure of a particular campaign setting that all of those requirements. Although perhaps Eberron which just came out of a Great War, could be adapted.
Thanks for the link to the rpg. I’ll check it out. I’m mainly looking for adventures that capture even some of the themes above. I don’t expect there to be anything that captures them all.

Essentially which adventures lean into the folklore and myth rather than the dungeon crawling.
 

I've only read the setting but you might want to look at Midgard, which, contrary to it's name which implies a lot of Viking-ness, is heavily Central European-inspired in the "main" setting (as I understood it), has a lot of folk/fairytale-themed stuff, and the adventures probably have some of those themes. It's very much D&D so obviously far more multi-species and so on than The Witcher. It's also available in PF1 and Fantasy AGE.


My brother is a fan, though we haven't run it yet because he's running Odyssey of the Dragonlords still.
 


grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
Symbaroum is very similar to Witcher. They have an overarching mega-adventure but also some stand-alone adventures. The 5E conversion Kickstarter was successful, but I am not sure when it will be released.


Fria Ligan | Symbaroum
 

So having watched series one of The Witcher again, and about to start series two, I’m enchanted by the style of storytelling! This is on the back of loving The Wild Hunt game.

Key themes seem to be…

  • The politics and dynasties of kings and lords
  • The meddling of sorcerers and sorceresses.
  • Elder races as outcasts pushed from their lands
  • Monsters with backstory and reason for being where they are
  • Lore and history key to the stories
  • Powerful magic
  • Strong folk tale element

What published adventures… any edition of D&D or third party (or D&D adjacent) adventures are there out there?

For my own submission, Tales of the Old Margrave carries a lot of this feel. Though not the politics and courtliness.
Except for the powerful magic, official WotC isn't particularly good at any of these things, unfortunately.
 

Except for the powerful magic, official WotC isn't particularly good at any of these things, unfortunately.
A couple of those require pretty deep and specialised knowledge to do properly:
  • The politics and dynasties of kings and lords
  • Strong folk tale element
Then making it generally interesting is even more of a challenge!

I have a player who is a huge Witcher fan, and I have been reading books on folk tales looking for stuff I can include. It aint easy.
 
Last edited:

A couple of those require pretty deep and specialised knowledge to do properly:
  • The politics and dynasties of kings and lords
  • Strong folk tale element
Then making it generally interesting is even more of a challenge!

I have a player who is a huge Witcher fan, and I have been reading books on folk tales looking for stuff I can include. It aint easy.
I agree. But if WotC wanted to put in the effort (perhaps in a new setting book) they could.
 

I agree. But if WotC wanted to put in the effort (perhaps in a new setting book) they could.
I think that connects to the "looking for staff" thread. In order to make it they need to recruit someone who is a huge folktale buff. Currently the WotC staffers are well qualified writers and designers, not the obsessive geeks you want for such a project!
 



TheSword

Legend
I think the thing I like most about the Witcher, is how well defined the NPCs are. They’re boss. Be it general, sorceress, Witcher, Queen. Powerful and impactful, but flawed. The characters are driven, and robust and keep cropping up. It makes for a very powerful story, and I think a great inspiration for adventure
 

I think the thing I like most about the Witcher, is how well defined the NPCs are. They’re boss. Be it general, sorceress, Witcher, Queen. Powerful and impactful, but flawed. The characters are driven, and robust and keep cropping up. It makes for a very powerful story, and I think a great inspiration for adventure
Best way to do this IMO is drop alignment all together for that setting. Characters do stuff because reasons, not because they are goodies or baddies.

A couple of other thoughts on a Witcher style campaign:

Don't You know there's a war on?
One way to incorporate an open war as background is to plan it out in detail beforehand, and track the date accurately. The drawback is it can feel railroady - although the sense of having no control over the course of the war is realistic, it's not what players are used to in a narrative. It can mean that PCs are elsewhere when key events happen - again, realistic, but not as per the laws of narrative.

Something else you could do is play out the war using strategic wargame rules. They don't have to be specifically 5e D&D rules since the PCs aren't going to directly interact with them. Any rules will do.

Monsters exist as a consequence of human Sin
The comes from the folk tales referred to previously. The consequence is each individual monster needs an "origin story". Monsters are not part of the natural ecology of the world, as they are in a conventional D&D setting.

Addendum: This rather limits what WotC can do in an official product. The games and TV series have 18 or 15 certificates, whereas WotC can't do anything stronger than a PG. But I've always believed if you want a job doing then do it yourself, no one is obligated to do it for you.

In order to kill a monster you need to know it's weakness
I think this is the hardest to do in 5e, which leans heavily on the mechanic of killing monsters by hitting them repeatedly over the head until they fall down. It means redesigning a lot of monsters and leaning into research/knowledge skill checks.
 
Last edited:

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
A couple of those require pretty deep and specialised knowledge to do properly:
  • The politics and dynasties of kings and lords
  • Strong folk tale element
Then making it generally interesting is even more of a challenge!

I have a player who is a huge Witcher fan, and I have been reading books on folk tales looking for stuff I can include. It aint easy.
Another part of standard Witcher-esque adventures (and folk/fairy tales in general) is that they often have a strong "moral of the story" attached to it, like "never choose between two evils, even if you pick the lesser one", "don't try to force people to love you", and "the consequences of neglecting your responsibilities won't just hurt you, but also innocent bystanders", and so on.
 

MarkB

Legend
Another aspect is that fighting monsters is a specialised and rather thankless task - that to even qualify for the job you need abilities whose means of acquisition may make you ostracised from society, and that you'll be seen as little more than a necessary evil by those who employ you. That's a tricky mood to pull off without the players kicking back at those who are looking down on their characters.
 

Another aspect is that fighting monsters is a specialised and rather thankless task - that to even qualify for the job you need abilities whose means of acquisition may make you ostracised from society, and that you'll be seen as little more than a necessary evil by those who employ you. That's a tricky mood to pull off without the players kicking back at those who are looking down on their characters.
That depends really. The idea that adventurers are a necessary evil, who we don't want around when they are no longer needed is a quite common trope in some D&D games. Some players at least will be used to it.

I think some military vets have the same experience in real life.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Another aspect is that fighting monsters is a specialised and rather thankless task - that to even qualify for the job you need abilities whose means of acquisition may make you ostracised from society, and that you'll be seen as little more than a necessary evil by those who employ you. That's a tricky mood to pull off without the players kicking back at those who are looking down on their characters.

It worked quite well in our best campaign ever, 3(.5) that lasted about 10 years, a shared world with multiple DMs, where the adventurers were basically indentured slaves, charged with exploring the wilds around the new settlement, a necessary but thankless task in which many perished. Everyone in town despised them in particular for their weirdness but also for a number of bad occurrences within the town (the environment was so dangerous that there were incursions of the wild that left many dead, etc.).

That being said, after a few years, the adventurers, having grown powerful on the magic of the new world managed to band themselves in a guild, which made things better, changed their legal status, started to explore beyond the frontier, saved the town multiple times from threats from within and without, grew to be heroes reverred by the population, understood the cosmology and the cycle of decay and managed to ascend, replacing the dying pantheon. And now, whenever we start a campaign, the adventurers are the deities of the campaign... those that survived...
 

The extent that the Witcher stories only work because Geralt is Geralt has to be considered. You can't force PCs to act that way. "Evil Superman" might just happen.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The extent that the Witcher stories only work because Geralt is Geralt has to be considered. You can't force PCs to act that way. "Evil Superman" might just happen.

That's the case with every translation from a book/movie/show into a RPG, and I agree that it's part of the difficulty, which is why sometimes settings built for RPGs are better than other genre ones, especially if those are built around a single character rather than a party.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top