Slavic Mythology behind the popular Witcher series

jensjunge (CC0), Pixabay

The Witcher  is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by CD Projekt RED and published by Atari. The game is based on the book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The Witcher takes place in a medieval fantasy world and follows the story of Geralt, one of a few remaining “Witchers” – traveling monster hunters for hire, gifted with unnatural powers. The game’s system of “moral choices” as part of the story line was noted for its time-delayed consequences and lack of black-and-white morality. Now after reading these few facts that we brought up here you will be even more hyped about this game. It is completely filled with Slavic details and today it became the most viral promoter of Slavic culture and Slavic developer quality that is spreading all over the world and winning awards world wide for it’s gameplay, atmosphere, lore and storyline! Let’s take a look:

Sword with Glagolic script (Great Moravia and Croats)

The Glagolitic alphabet (Glagolitsa) is the oldest known Slavic alphabet.  It was created in the 9th century by Saint Cyril and was sent by the Byzantine Emperor Michael III in year 863 to Great Moravia to spread Christianity among the Slavs in the area. The Glagolitic alphabet was preserved only by the Croats who have been using it from the 12th until the 20th century, mostly in liturgy.

Striga (Strzyga) Vampire that comes from Slavic mythology

A strzyga is a female demon somewhat similar to vampire in Slavic (and especially Polish) folklore. People who were born with two hearts and two souls and two sets of teeth (the second one barely visible) were believed to be strzygas.

Koschei the Immortal (Kościej)

In Slavic folklore, Koschei is an archetypal male antagonist, described mainly as abducting the hero’s wife. Just like in witcher where his female companion was abducted!

Runestones are named by Slavic Gods

There are various modern theories about the supreme Slavic deity being Rod or Svarog, and historic sources show that deities such as Svarožič, Svantevit or Triglav were worshipped as supreme by certain tribes. Well in Witcher 3 you also worship them and use their runes!

Crones are inspired by Baba Yaga

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being (or one of a trio of sisters of the same name) who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking woman. Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs.

Term vedmak is translated as “witcher” in English due to The Witcher fantasy saga

The term Vedmak comes from Proto-Slavic *vědě (“to know”) and Old Russian вѣдь (“knowledge; witchcraft”, compare the use of the term “cunning” in English folklore). Under the influence of The Witcher fantasy saga by Andrzej Sapkowski, the term vedmak can be translated as “witcher” in English.

Towns carry Slavic names such as “Novigrad” (similar to famous Kievan-Rus city Novgorod)

There are actually many towns in Slavic countries that are combination of Nov and grod. It’s because “Nov” stands for “New” and “gorod” stands for “town”.

Oh and did we mention you can get Witcher 3 for 50% discount now on steam because it’s Christmas time? 🙂

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