Excited for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but can't bear to wait until next February to get some fresh Witcher action? The Witcher Kings mod for Crusader Kings 2 might tide you over in the meantime. This full conversion mod (still being developed) transforms medieval Europe into the Witcher's world. Go to war with Nilfgaard (or rule them), employ sorcerers and witchers in your court, and send your children to magic academies in hopes of developing their arcane talents. Or, like I did, become moderately obsessed with the idea of becoming besties with Geralt himself.
The mod is set around the time of the events that take place in Witcher 2, which we all know are... um... okay, to be perfectly honest, I have not played any of the Witcher series. So, I'm probably not the best person to say how accurate, or faithful to the fiction, this mod is. As far as I can tell, though, it's been made by real fans of both the games and the book series, and to my uninformed eyes, they seem to know their business. They've even gone so far as to note, in every single character's traits, whether they're a legit canon character from the Witcher fiction or just a game-generated NPC.
AND YOU HAVE MY AXE!
Right off the bat, there's some lovely new portrait work, with some of The Witcher's non-human races, like dwarves, elves, and dryads being skillfully represented. Even Geralt looks pretty accurate, right down to the vertical scar across the eye that 86% of video game heroes have etched into their faces at the Badass Academy graduation ceremony.
Don't I know you from somewhere?
Naturally, my first order of business in the mod is to find Geralt and make sure we become bestest buddies. As fate would have it, I've chosen to play as King Foltest of Temeria, and there, just chilling in my court, is Geralt himself. Well, that was easy! Geralt has a decent opinion of me, but not a great one, so I send him a gift of some gold, award him an honorary title, and just as insurance, have my court magician the mod gives you one as a council member cast a charm spell on him.
Even not knowing this world, how can I not get excited about a map like this? I love CK2 mods.
In the mod, there are sorcerers, witches, and druids, and each has magical abilities available to you if they're on your roster. Sorcerers can heal you, charm others (as I did to Geralt), and aid you with stat boosts during battles and sieges. Witches can heal but also curse, which I didn't witness in game but I assume applies penalties to some of your stats. Druids can heal, but in ways a bit more spiritual than physical: their spells lift the burden of stressed and depressed traits. Using spells drains the health of the spell-caster and prevents them from casting further spells for several months.
Ain't much to look at, but the tuition is way cheaper than Hogwarts.
Magic isn't just for adults! Every child born has a chance to posses some magical traits, and these chances are improved by magic already running in the family (so marry a magic-user, if possible). To help bring these talents out, you can send your kid to a magic academy for tutoring, though they'll have to remain there, essentially disinherited, until they fully graduate: no running off half-baked like Luke Skywalker. These magic towers, by the way, dot the map as special counties. They don't serve as a tax base but come with some custom building options, and must be run by a sorcerer.
Nilfgaard! My ancient enemy I've just become aware of!
As far as my own game goes, being besties with Geralt is problematic. He's nice enough to go fight some hellhounds that are running rampant around my country (though he gripes that he "got hurt" doing so), but shortly after leaves my court to go work in Maribor, a sizable city to the south of Wyzima. I invite him back, and he accepts, but is shortly off again, this time to Dorndal. Again, I invite him back, but he soon splits to Loc Muinne.
It eventually dawns on me that, oh, right, he's somewhat of an adventurer, crisscrossing the world for various reasons, which is presumably why his games are so beloved. Who would be interested in him if he just bummed around one county his whole life? Eventually I just have three children and name them Geralt, Geralt Jr., and Geralt Again in hopes they turn out as cool as the real dude.
Do you think he'll be flattered? Or creeped out?
As with just about every full conversion mod I've played for Crusader Kings 2, this one is enjoyable, stable, and well put together. Again, I'm not the best to judge if they've done a good job bringing all the lore and flavor of The Witcher faithfully into CK2, so I'd love to hear thoughts from any tried and true Witcher fans who have played the mod.
Installation: Download it here. Extract it to your CK2 mod directory (even if you have a Steam copy, it'll be in My Documents > Paradox Interactive > Crusader Kings 2 > mod). Start up CK2, and check the box that says Witcher Kings.