These are the primary protagonists of The Witcher saga: the unlikely family of witcher Geralt, sorceress Yennefer, and their adopted child Ciri.
Geralt of Rivia
The protagonist (or co-protagonist) of all the media set in the Witcher's world. He's a witcher - an artificially created mutant, a monster-hunter devoid of emotion. At least, that last part is supposed to be true, too. He made his name removing the curse from Temerian princess Adda, and over the years became a legend in the Northern Kingdoms.
While he is certainly a Jerk Ass in this regard, the specific incident that actually acquired him the title of Butcher had extenuating circumstances (hence the title of the story: The Lesser of Two Evils).
Famed in Story: To the point that tales of his adventures are played in puppet theaters. Still, not every person he meets recognizes him, as befitting a society lacking in visual media. And as shown in several flash-forwards, the events of the Saga grow in the telling and become a matter of legends, too.
The Fettered: How much exactly tends to vary, but he has his principles and he does stick to them most of the time.
Genius Bruiser: Part of witcher training involves years of formal education in chemistry, biology, animal behavior, history, magic, and other subjects, and Geralt apparently did exceptionally well. He's more than capable of having a surprisingly eloquent intellectual discussion when the situation calls for it.
As for Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, there were jokes circling around that he started to use big words in an attempt to impress a certain sorceress. This does not mean he isn't smart on his own, though.
Heroic Albino: "Total loss of pigmentation". As the result of the mutations and experiments that made him a Witcher.
Implausible Fencing Powers: Specific abilities made possible by witcher mutation include parrying crossbow bolts. Geralt's motion capture for the games is flashy and stylish to contrast with the more practical and realistic movements of heavy knights.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: By the nature of their mutations (they tend to paralyse higher emotions), all witchers are supposed to be jerks. The fact that he's not annoys him constantly.
Word of God jokingly states that being Jerk with a Heart of Gold is the case for many witchers, but only Geralt tends to angst because of that. Consequently, other witchers regard him as a bit of a drama queen.
He'll lose his way, start to philosophize and pity himself, then he'll do something heroic but pointless and get killed, presumably stabbed in the back.
And as the quote already mentions, he's also quite the angster. He reaches wangsting peak around the Saga's third book, when he's even called on this at one point.
Last of His Kind: Some sixty or eighty years ago the base of the Witchers, Caire Muirehen castle, was attacked and destroyed by an angry mob incensed by some demagogue (suspected to be a rogue sorcerer). Equipment, laboratories and elixirs required for creation of the witchers survived, but everybody in the castle was killed. As the process required a skilled magic user, and the sole survivor of the staff was Vesemir, a fencing teacher (away at the time), no new witchers were created ever since. Thus Geralt is one of the last witchers left.
Magic Knight: Witchers are created through magic, and thus have some affinity to it, giving them an ability to use simple combat spells called "signs" in battle. This is generally it, but Geralt, being the son of a druidess and inheriting The Gift, had the requisite ability to take up magic in full, but refused, and was even called up on it.
Master Swordsman: Considered to be the best swordsman in the Northern Kingdoms. In the games, it seems like he lost some of his technique due to his amnesia (Serrit, one of the witchers who attempt to assassinate King Henselt, writes in his journal that Geralt's swordsmanship makes him laugh, but also mentions that Geralt still manages to be a fearsome opponent regardless). It is assumed that Geralt recovered most - if not all - of his former skill with a sword by the end of the second game.
Meaningful Rename: The "of Rivia" part of his name was added by picking out of a bundle of sticks with different city names written on them. Initially, Geralt chose Geralt Roger Ericdu Haute-Bellegarde as his first choice for the name, but Vesemir "explained" it'd be awfully cheesy. The point of all of this was to make his name sound more impressive, which eases contacts with important employers.
Mr. Fanservice: YMMV whether he qualifies, but it seems to be what the devs were going for in the second game, as he loses his Carpet of Virility from the first game and was given plenty of shirtless scenes to show off his chiseled physique.
Fan Disservice: On the other hand, his extreme scarring causes this for some. Even one of his nipples has been torn out!
Really Gets Around: He seems to be rather popular with the ladies. Though it has to be noted the game exaggerated it quite a bit.
Red Baron: Known as the White Wolf in the Nordling Kingdoms, also Gwynbleidd (Elvish for White Wolf), the Butcher of Blaviken, and others.
Retirony: In the novels, he intended to retire when the Rivian pogrom happened. In the games, the siege by Foltest on the La Valette Castle could have been the last day of Geralt's service to Foltest, after which he'd be free to pursue his fortunes on his own (plus Triss), if not for the actions of a certain kingslayer...
Spanner in the Works: He has a tendency to get in the way of other people's convoluted plans, then slash his way out.
A Cintran princess, the Unexpected Child, Child of Elder Blood, and a stepdaughter of Geralt, Ciri is an unassuming girl who is a notable nerve, even more notable political asset, and a descendant of a really unique legacy. She appears first in the short stories, but becomes a co-protagonist in the Saga. She's but a child during her first appearance, but the events of the Saga lead (and force) her to grow up.
Meaningful Name: Cirilla is a corruption of "Zireael", Elven for "the Swallow". Swallows symbolize spring and rejuvenation, which is also why the standard go-to potion by witchers for healing is also called "Swallow".
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Initially not much more than a potential magician with a penchant for visions of the future, the circumstances force her to resort to various dormant powers granted by her genetic background: at first simple magic, then telepathy, culminating in the ability to move between times and places and, just possibly, to see and/or control ghosts of the dead. Since nobody could train her in them, How Do I Shot Web? is a recurring problem.
Oracular Urchin: Like her mother, she's given to the periodical bouts of prophecying. This is the most notorious of her abilities — falling into a trance and predicting death sure does break up the mood at parties.
Tangled Family Tree: see the entry above about Elven genetic experiments. You'll need a fair bit of paper for notes to trace her basic lineage from the explanation by a knowledgeable background character in one of the books.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: She is the girly girl to Mistle's tomboy. Despite the fact that she is better with the sword than her.
Waif-Fu: Geralt arranged her (heavily modified) witcher's training, and it pays off.
She hasn't received any heavy magical or chemical modifications, required for full witchers, because witchers lacked the skills needed for that, and it was probably a good thing, too, as a) these modifications were designed for boys, not for girls, and b) survival rate was about 10% even with the skilled operator and care.
A sorceress whom Geralt loves. They met each other long ago, and afterwards had a truly legendary string of breakups and makeovers, as befitting a moody killer and a strong-willed sorceress. Though they are in separation at the beginning of the Saga, at Triss' advice Geralt asks her to help with Ciri's training, and so she becomes stepmother to Ciri.
I Was Quite a Looker: Inverted. She's a looker right now, even without magical enhancement, and has been ever since becoming a sorceress. Before, she had a hunchback, but healing deformities of their adepts is a matter of professional prestige among the wizards. Geralt figures this out when he puts his hands on her shoulders and realizes they aren't even. Discovering this doesn't change Geralt's feelings for her.
Law of Inverse Fertility: Most magicians are infertile, but Yennefer qualifies by being really dissatisfied with this fact.
A famous bard and Geralt's old friend. He was a character introduced back in the short stories, and appears in the Saga as well, following the witcher in his quest despite cowardly tendencies and a lack of combat abilities.
Ironically, his original Polish nickname is Jaskier — or Buttercup in English.
The Dandy: Which is only natural in his line of work, bard and part time spy.
Everyone Went to School Together: unsurprisingly, as Oxenfurt Academy was the best and most prestigious university in the North, so it's only natural that many significant characters studied here, including him.
Knowledge Broker: Not above some little spying on the side to augment his troubadour income.
The Load: Dandelion is of pretty much no use to the party (until Toussaint), on the occasions his connections or talents could help, they don't by external circumstances or the problem is solved in a different way anyway.
Tagalong Chronicler: except that, him being himself, Dandelion is writing his own autobiography along the way.
Wandering Minstrel: Hey, he's the Bard in their world, easily the most popular and famous poet, musician, and writer of his time — and beyond.
A young woman with great bowmanship skills, acting as agent of forest-dwelling dryads among humans. She joins Geralt after his visit to Brokilon forest. Despite her tough, no-nonsense exterior, she is softer inside than she would like.
The Lad-ette: mostly so, although drinking binges aren't her forte.
The Mole: In the backstory. Sometimes, an angry human mob decides to hunt some dryads for scalps; conveniently, there is a guide — Maria, a hunter's daughter, who knows local forests perfectly. Alas, somehow dryads ambush the mob and kill everybody — except Maria and some wounded dude whom she carries out. Milva plays the guide four times before someone makes the connection.
Young Nilfgaardian knight under orders to capture Ciri. After his failure and to escape the inevitable punishment, he joins Geralt's party, who only reluctantly accepts his company. But his dreams prove that there is more to that than simple life debt, and that meeting the Child of Elder Blood leaves a mark on individuals.
Black Knight: He's not that bad; most of it is the colour of Nilfgaardian armours and the fact that they're the bad guys.
The Lancer: In line with Five-Man Band standards, he's the hanse's second melee fighter, and the younger, more optimistic counterpart to older, angsty Geralt.
Love Before First Sight: He fell for Ciri, after seeing her once as a child (and fueling her Black Knight nightmares ever since), and a second time in combat (she almost killed him). Both times he was under orders to capture her.
You Shall Not Pass: Dies pulling one against Bonhart so Ciri can escape. Cahir knows he has no chance against Leo when he does this but still manages to hurt — which is more than can be said for the Rats, and they fought him six on one.
Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy
A medic and herbalist who joins Geralt's party — supposedly, because he was already planning to go their route. Though friendly, he is an enigmatic individual, a man of intellect who lives in the middle of nowhere and has a share of habits someone paranoid might consider very suspicious.
The Alcoholic: A part of his backstory is that he got out of his addiction, after one drunk accident too many forced him to finally get a hold of himself. His drug was actually blood.
Cowardly Lion: He calls himself a coward. If not for that, you'd never think of him as one.
Evil Smells Bad: Subverted, inverted, zigzagged or whatever. He smells of all manner of herbs and perfumes (as befitting a herbalist and medic) to prevent animals from identifying him as vampire.
Insufferable Genius: He is intelligent, highly educated and experienced and really not shy to show it at the slightest opportunity. He later toned it down, for a while anyway, after being scolded by Milva.
From Dandelion's journal depiction of the incident: The most effective defence against intellectual dominance is a timely and thorough scolding of an intellectual who appears to be dominant.
Long Lived: Like all other creatures in the series, high vampires are not immortal as such, they just appear to be so from human perspective (their lifespan being roughly twice as long as that of elves).
He certainly can turn into a huge bat, put people into deep sleep, is invisible to long-range detection magic, and resistant to wounds and heat. By his own words, he can regenerate from most severe wounds, if given enough time. He also can turn invisible and/or teleport (the scene where he uses this power depicts him as simply "vanishing", which is somewhat unclear).
A young girl, around Ciri's age, who joins Geralt's party on his request as a part of his deal with local Nilfgaardian authorities to locate and remove a band of highwaymen to which she once belonged. Though Nilfgaardian law is harsh, she is granted parole — the local governor saw Geralt through, and knew better than the witcher himself that he would not leave without her.
Hair of Gold: She does have a heart of gold too, but rather than the standard image described in that trope's entry, she's closer to this one.
Whether for her political status, or her other qualities, capturing Ciri was a crucial part of these people's nefarious plots. Their actions are behind many of the Saga's events.
Vilgefortz of Roggeveen
One of the most talented magicians in the world, very young (less than one hundred years, which is considered young in the wizarding world), but incredibly talented and powerful, traits which also won him a seat on the governing body of Northern Kingdoms' magicians. His participation in the coup during the magicians' symposium on Thanedd Island revealed his Nilfgaardian backing, but his real motives are more sinister.
Big Bad: His plans set the Witcher Saga in motion and he's by far the biggest threat Geralt faces in the novels.
Bishōnen: Described as "classically beautiful". Later, though, he gets badly scarred in a magical explosion, ending with a freakish artificial eye in one of his eye sockets.
Bond Villain Stupidity: An utterly egregious case of this. He opts to fight Geralt in single combat, weapon to weapon, out of desire to crush him utterly when he is utterly capable of ending Geralt with magic. Guess how this little stunt turns out for him.
Magic Knight: He was the only human to soundly trash Geralt in a one-on-one fight. It is implied that his skill was magically enhanced.
The Man Behind the Man: He turns out to be the mastermind of the Thanedd coup as well as the one trying to kidnap Ciri. He's also the one who convinced Emhyr to father Ciri in the first place, so (figuratively speaking) he's behind Nilfgard's actions as well.
Mission Control: For Rience, whom he constantly sends out to run his errands.
Take Over the World: Though he hangs a lampshade, saying he's a little ashamed to admit such a down-to-earth motivation. Basically, he's in the game for the thought of being able to say "A God Am I", that people pray to turn away his wrath.
Vilgefortz's Dragon and errand boy, a wizarding school dropout expelled for theft and taken in by Vilgefortz to do the things not really suitable for respectable sorcerer. His background shows he was up to no good from the start, but as merely a servant, he pales in comparison to the rest of the villains.
Karmic Death: During the battle on ice in the penultimate book. Made doubly awesome by the way it was done — Ciri cut his fingers that were clutching the ice (he slipped and fell into the water) with her skates.
The Dragon: He's actually Co-Dragons with Schirru the half-elf, but the latter gets less screen-time.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has a huge burn on his cheek, from Yennefer's fireball and Vilgefortz's refusal to heal it.
Smug Snake: He loves to gloat at his victims and generally be a jerk, knowing that his boss will always support and cover him.
A bounty hunter tasked with eliminating Ciri's highwaymen friends and capturing her herself, what he does efficiently and without any incident. He then brutalizes her throughout one or a half of a book. As a good fighter and an intelligent man, he is a true professional, but the key to his choice of profession is something very different indeed.
Badass Normal: He claims to have killed three witchers, despite having the advantage of neither their mutations nor any magical abilities. In light of that, taking on six bandits at once is hardly worthy of mention.
Ironic Name: It doesn't take a linguist to see Leo Bonhart stands pretty much for Lion Good-Heart. While the first one might arguably fit, the rest definitely won't.
Villainous Crush: he develops one on Ciri, after witnessing her fighting skills. While probably not averse to sex, he may even be asexual as what really turns him on is fighting and killing. It means he'd like to impale her on his swordon an arena and feel her die, though raping her before or afterwards would be nice as well. And his last words are that their fight would be a great show.
Wicked Cultured: Though not exactly in the sense of refined taste, this trope (or its cross with Genius Bruiser) does appear in that Bonhart is actually quite intelligent.
A Nilfgaardian black ops specialist, sometimes nicknamed the Great Imperial Nobody by those few in the know. Initially tasked with cleaning up the mess after the failure of the Thanedd coup, he later received orders to search for Ciri when hints began to show up that she might be within Imperial territory. He however had ambitions beyond those of his superiors.
Dark Chick: Differing motivation, teamworking, more socially minded than the other bad guys. Male however.
Dragon Ascendant: He became one of those for a short while after Vilgefortz's demise.
Quirky Miniboss Squad: He serves this role along with his team, as well as providing the manpower for several minor occurences.
Visionary Villain: It's ultimately subverted when one of his statements puts his own motives in question. We are never told whether it means he only pretended to believe in his cause, or it's merely a spat of cynicism.
Weapon of Choice: His is an orion (which is pretty much a shuriken), explicitly stated as highly popular within cloak-and-dagger society for ease of concealability coupled with deadliness in a skilled hand.
Emperor Emhyr var Emreis
The infamous, ruthless and iron-fisted emperor of Nilfgaard, an expansive power from the south. His invasion of Cintra pretty much starts the whole Saga, and even after that he's the driving force behind many of the events.
Affably Evil: He's a ruthless evil emperor and he's fine with it, but he's not The Caligula either, and knows when there is no need to play up the fearsome image. Though he has a sudden change of heart at the last moment.
In fact, he considers Geralt his friend and is still grateful to him for his role in removing the spell that made him into a giant hedgehog knight in his youth. It still doesn't stop him from his machinations and conquests (and trying to kill Geralt — nothing personal, only business), though.
The Chessmaster: the extent of it depends on how much of his machinations he actually developed on his own, as he has a number of competent and trustworthy underlings, but the fact remains that he keeps up with the best of them.
He is also behind the chaos that Letho causes in the second video game.
Noble Demon: cruel, despotic, and ruthless as he is, he still has some basic decency left in him.
Overly Long Name: Emhyr var Emreis Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd, technically more of an overly long title/nickname. Doubles as Names to Run Away From Really Fast, as it means something along the lines White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of His Enemies.
His plans for Ciri are probably the greatest threat the world faces, but he doesn't play much of a role in the novels.
In the games, his conflict with Geralt forms much of the Myth Arc, but Salamandra and the Kingslayers have thus far proven to be the greater immediate threat.
The Fair Folk: As the King of the Wild Hunt, he kidnaps human children so they can serve the Aen Elle as slaves.
Fantastic Racism: He really hates humans. Even Ciri, who is vital to his people's plans, is little more than "a gold nugget buried in dung" to him, and the part about "gold nugget" referred to her Elven ancestry.
The Wild Hunt: His Dearg Ruadhri are seen as this by most people. It's not clear if their ghastly visages are solely a psychological weapon, or an imperfection of their ability to travel between the worlds.
Geralt and the others met many people, not all of whom were hostile. Some of them were. Others were friendly. Others yet were both or neither, clashing or cooperating with the heroes for their own reasons.
Yarpen Zigrin and Zoltan Chivay
Two dwarves, each with his own merry company, with whom Geralt travels at different points of the story. They meet each other only much later (or more like are shown to, as they appear to know each other well), but are put here together due to playing a similar role in the story.
Knight in Sour Armor: Zoltan strongly encourages this mindset, especially in the first game. As he says (reminiscing events of the Saga):
"Let me tell you something, witcher. Once we lead a group of women and children through a war-torn land. They slowed us down. We had to feed them, protect them, and we had to hide in the woods to pee instead of pissing by the road. In short, they were a burden, and ungrateful at that. Know why we helped them? It was the right thing to do."
A group of highwaymen that adopts Ciri, who captured by local authorities after her jump through the portal at Tor Lara, found herself imprisoned together with one of them and helped with the escape. Separated from her friends and stranded in a foreign land, she finds a company among them.
Just Like Robin Hood: When you are a robber, there is only so much to do with the cash. After having wasted enough on luxuries, you may as well give some away.
The spymaster of the Kingdom of Redania, and later its regent after the death of the king. His duties make him occasionally clash or cooperate with the protagonists, and even later he remains a background character important not only to the world, but also the story itself.
Acrofatic: Often described as a walking mountain of fat, he's nevertheless implied to be surprisingly agile for his bulk.
Face of a Thug: His character model in the third video game has a very scary and dumb looking face, but Dijkstra seems to be just as sharp as ever.
Genius Bruiser: He is described as a polar opposite of stereotypical cloak-and-dagger small-crooked-guy spy, yet he runs an extensive spy network and serves as an actual ruler during the Redanian regency.
Isengrim Faoiltiarna, an Elvenspec ops commander from Dol Blathanna, a man of considerable fighting prowess (he once bested Geralt himself), was visibly relieved when he found that Dijkstra is non-hostile during their encounter in less fortunate times.
He Knows Too Much: Dijkstra obtains a very sensitive piece of information about King Vysimir's assassination. He makes his move by telling it to exactly one person — and that proves to be one person too many.
Foil: He's somewhat of a foil to Geralt, also a man from outside the system (Dijkstra received the title of Count for practical reasons) having to mingle with highborn and deal with worldly affairs.
I Did What I Had to Do: despite his job, which includes things like a gulag-like (or at least that's how other characters react to it) prison, he is a rather decent guy in person, even with a Cincinnatus streak.
Reasonable Authority Figure: His interests are often at cross-purposes with Geralt, but still, Dijkstra is very fair in his dealings. For example, he forgoes having revenge on Geralt for his broken leg - not because of mercy, but because that would be using his power for selfish reasons.
Stout Strength: An extremely obese man, but his strength was legendary, up to the point that hardly anyone dared to test it.
A scheming sorceress and a former lover of Dijkstra, whose machinations tend to occasionally propel the plot. Events of the Saga lead her to setting up the Lodge of Sorceresses, a secret organisation of significant influence.
Animorphism: She can assume the form of an owl. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Ciri later nicknames her Miss Owl.
Does Not Like Men: She did like them, only she switched to lesbianism and decided to start up an all-female magicians' conspiracy. On the other hand, she is not hostile towards men, she just thinks that women (read: her circle) would make better rulers.
Man Behind the Man: she through Dijkstra (it's usually more like friendly deals and cooperation than manipulation, though), also her co-conspirators through similar or less voluntary means.
Mysterious Backer: She supplies the heroes with intel and political backing, if only of their use to her own agenda. Even then, she holds at least some respect for them, and remains at least coolly polite when their aims part.
Older Than She Looks: Described as looking about thirty, while being probably no less than three hundred. But this is usual for magicians of the Witcherworld.
Out-Gambitted: For a scheming, power-behind-the-throne, conspiratorial sorceress, quite a number of people managed to trick her out. Including Geralt himself, and in the games, King Radovid, who not only sees through her manipulations, but has her arrested and blinded.
The Owl-Knowing One: She's one of the most cunning sorceresses out there, and often assumes the form of an owl.
A short-haired resident sorceress from Toussaint, who has been recruited by Filippa into her conspiracy. When the hanse gets into the principality, she assumes an ostensibly advisory role, but only to manipulate them according to plans of the Lodge.
Blue Blood: Personally, she is a close relative of the ruler. She is also a distant relative of Cahir, although she apparently ceased to visit the Dyffryn castle before he was old enough to remember her.
One of the most influential people in the wizarding community, Tissaia is staunchly on the side of neutrality of magic, a stance that she cannot shake off even as it becomes obvious that a group of influential magicians conspire with Nilfgaard.
The Archmage: She pulls down the entire magical defenses of Arethusa, just so, in a heartbeat. For the record, raising them involved a whole year's work for a powerful magician.
A legal advisor and detective of renown. At a price, he can find out any secret — or conversely, befuddle any investigation, remove incriminating evidence, or arrange for any person to disappear. Geralt hires him to perform research on Ciri's heritage and find out who is after her.
The queen of Cintra, a kingdom lying to the south of Yaruga river. Once upon a time, she hired a certain witcher to solve a troublesome affair involving her daughter and a knight suffering from a powerful curse, which ultimately ended in the curse being lifted, the witcher making the request of the Unexpected Child, and the resulting tangle of the fates of everyone involved. Although she was a tough political player (nicknamed "the Lioness of Cintra"), she nevertheless could not prevent Nilfgaard from overrunning Cintra, and committed suicide to avoid falling into Nilfgaardian hands shortly after issuing a final edict to carry her granddaughter to safety. The girl eventually found her way into the custody of the same witcher who requested her years before.
Posthumous Character: For most of the cycle. The Saga takes place entirely after her death. The short stories cover the period both before and after.
An enigmatic — and eccentric — elven wizard, known only to few in the Witcherworld and then mostly in the context of the Tower of the Swallow. Among Aen Elle, however, he is one of the top dogs, the real brains behind the plans and actions of theirs.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He initially acts as a guide for Ciri in the Tower, but it turns out quickly that all he has in mind is his agenda.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Depending on how you interpret his behaviour, but he makes this kind of impression.
Evil Genius: It's heavily implied he's currently in charge of the old Elven genetic program, and he plays this role in the triumvirate ruling the Aen Elle elves. The prospect of being handed over to his lab is a threat that is used on Ciri once.
Fantastic Racism: He doesn't really have a stellar opinion on humans. You know, it's an Aen Elle thing.
Mysterious Backer: Acts as this for Geralt once, providing him with explanations. Vague, but still.
Troll: He just can't help himself once in a while.
Characters expanded in the games
Some of the story's characters were carried over to the video games. While they appeared in the books as well, they were there mostly minor or background characters, and their roles in the games were more pronounced than in writing. That does not mean the characters mentioned above don't appear or have no role in the games - what matters here is the difference in notability between their role in novels and in games. Triss Merigold is a specific example - she is an important character in the Saga and would fit as well above, but her role in the games is a lot more important to their plot.
Another sorceress, a friend of Yennefer and former lover of Geralt (mostly during his breakups with Yen). She makes the witchers realise they can no longer just keep Ciri hidden in their castle, and thus has her hand in starting the events of the Saga. Later she also becomes a member of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Triss is a good friend to the main protagonists, and is always there to help when they need it.
Badass: Not just in magic. She has the smarts to survive and navigate the tumultuous politics that being a royal advisor call for.
She Took a Level in Badass at some point during the Rivian pogrom, and later, apparently, through her membership in the Lodge. She had quite a timid, "girly" personality beforehand.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the books, she mentions boasting some impressive burnmarks on her body that prevent her from wearing low-cut dresses. There isn't an inch of her body that the second game doesn't show, and there isn't even a hint of this visible.
The Polish Playboy interview of Triss lampshaded it, with the interviewer asking Triss about this directly. Her response was "of course all women have ways of looking good. But those are our little secrets that are better for men not to know."
It is heavily implied that their Love Triangle with Geralt and Yennefer, is actually Type 8, although it doesn't save them from the intense jealousy. Yennefer even feels a perverse pride in the fact that Geralt fascinates Triss so much.
Cool Big Sis: to Ciri, whom she befriends during her visit to Kaer Morhen.
Defictionalization: An odd example. A series of nude digital pinups of her were printed in the Polish Playboy as marketing material for the second game. Similarly, models posing as her and Geralt shot for a calendar in Russia, also for marketing purposes.
Distressed Damsel: While not as bad as Shani in the needs-saving department, by the second game she becomes a repeat offender.
It's even more jarring if you really compare Witcher 2's Triss to Shani. In Witcher 1, Shani will fight along Geralt when she's in danger. As for Triss, by the time of chapter 1, she will be rendered mostly defenseless.
The Lancer: In the first game, especially on the Neutral route.
Ms. Fanservice: In the second game especially, though elements of this were present in the first as well.
Mundane Utility: Uses a spell to remove her clothes in the second game's sex scene.
Promoted to Love Interest: In the games. It's also clear, she's taking advantage of Yennefer's absence to get close to Geralt post-amnesia. All is fair in love and war.
Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: she fought in a battle during the Nilfgaardian invasion of Cintra, got wounded and disfigured, and nobody recognised her before her name got carved on a memorial. It kind of weighs on her.
A female doctor and one of Geralt's old friends. In her first appearance, a student of medicine; later, a veteran of the Battle of Brenna, where she served in a field hospital. She also appears in the first game, where she is one of Geralt's contacts and a potential love interest.
Action Girl: She may lack the mutations of a witcher and the spells of a sorceress, but she can still hold her own in a fight.
Clingy Jealous Girl: She does NOT take kindly to Geralt if he places Alvin under Triss' protection.
Doting Parent: To Alvin if Geralt chooses her over Triss to take care of the boy. In contrast, Triss has more strict views on parenting.
Fiery Redhead: Has no problem drawing a knife to defend her patients.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Nowhere in the novels she is shown as anything but a mundane, non-magical medic. The gamedevs nonetheless gave her a healing ability that looks rather magical when activated.
The 'arrogant, sister humping, warmongering' king of Temeria, as well as a whole bunch of other places he beat into submission. A major presence in the first game, and his death starts the plot of the second.
A Father to His Men: His popularity among his people varies. His soldiers, on the other hand adore him, and he not only recognises a common solder from a battle fought near four years ago, he promptly promotes him upon hearing of his hardships in the years since.
Big Good: He's more morally ambiguous than outright good, but he effectively serves this role towards the end of the first game since his death would make the chaos in Temeria even worse.
Bling of War: Averted in the first game with some eminently practical platemail. The sequel then takes it to the extreme without becoming tacky or impractical◊. I mean, it looks like it could be used as a loot for a dragon, but sturdy and well packed for a war.
Bodyguard Crush: Implied with Saskia. Bodyguard is a little bit of a stretch, though.
Dark and Troubled Past: alluded to on several occasions (the Hydra Valley), though it's kinda in the job description.
Defrosting Ice King: Iorveth mellows out a lot thoroughout the second game, at least towards Geralt. Culminates in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when, once they meet again after Geralt defeats the dragon, the usually grumpy Iorveth greets his friend with a friendly pat on the shoulder and a smile (arguably the first time he smiled genuinely in the entire game).
Escape Artist: got out of every trap the Temerian special forces (and Roche personally) set for him.
Eye Patch Of Power: His standard headgear consists of a headwrap that lowers down over his right eye, though you can notably talk to him without it during chapter 2, seeing that there isno right eye in his head.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Iorveth is not the most approachable individual, acting very mistrustful and hostile to anyone outside of his Scoia'tael unit. He is also very vocal about his prejudice towards humans on top of being a ruthless, remorseless killer. However, he very much cares about the elves under his command and, compared to someone like Yaevinn from the first game, who wants to flat out overthrow the humans, he has a much more reasonable and grounded goal: he simply wants a place where elves can live in peace, far away from the discrimination that non-humans have to face in places populated by humans. Also, for all his prejudice, he is fair: once Geralt accused one of his best swordsmen, a young elf named Ele'yas, of murdering innocent humans on Vergen, Iorveth demanded proof. Should Geralt find evidence that proves Ele'yas's guilt, Iorveth will seek the young elf out intending to punish him.
The Friend Nobody Likes: The townies of Vergen have this attitude towards him and the Scoia'tael: The only reason they're allowed anywhere near is because they're crack archers volunteering for the cause and there's an enemy army looming over them.
The Power of Friendship: To Geralt: "You're the most honorable d'hoine I've ever known... my hatred for the species has abated for a while".
The ruler of Kaedwen, the largest of the Northern Kingdoms. Plans to conquer the Pontar Valley, which he claims to be his birthright, but first he has to defeat the resistance led by Saskia the Dragon Slayer.
A Father to His Men: He's quite popular among his soldiers for the most part. Not enough to prevent an attempted coup however.
Acrofatic: Despite his bulk, he is rather agile and an accomplished swordsman.
Blood Knight: He prides himself on being the strongest king of the North, and won't hesitate to invade a country again and again if he thinks he can win.
Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a ruthless and manipulative individual, he was absolutely disgusted by Sabrina Glevissig's decision to cast a powerful fire spell on the battlefield of his previous campaign on Aedirnian ground, slaughtering a large number of soldiers, both friend and foe alike.
Although it has to be remembered that Sabrina's spell also cost him the victory, which probably influenced his decision.
Smug Snake: Really makes you want to let Roche kill him just to wipe that smile off his mug.
Ungrateful Bastard: Even though Geralt and Roche saved his life and Geralt freed him from Sabrina Glavissig's curse, Henselt orders Roche's men executed, without a trial, for being part of a conspiracy they knew absolutely nothing about (only Roche was part of it), and tries to kill Geralt as soon as he meets him on Vergen, even though he had all but taken over the town already and Geralt was not fighting for either side.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Invoked by himself when Geralt and Roche call him out on his villainous acts. Indeed, barring a few exceptions, everything he did was meant to benefit his kingdom in some way.
A powerful sorcerer who serves as King Henselt's advisor during the events of the second game. Has little in the way of morals, but is devoted to his king.
Asshole Victim: On Iorveth's path, he gets executed by a mind-controlled Saskia without any trial. Not that you'll feel any sympathy for him.
A sorceress from the kingdom of Creyden who is known for her reserved nature. In the second game, she was sent to Kaedwen and tasked by King Henselt with finding a cure for his infertility.
Absolute Cleavage: It's actually not *that* crazy like most examples, but it stands out because of her amazing... tracks of land, and the tattoo she's got on her chest, which was no doubt put there to draw the viewer's attention.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: She can ultimately be killed by her own teleporter; the very one she was intending on using to escape.
Ice Queen: She's mean, reserved, and coolly rational. Not to mention that, fittingly, the kingdom she's from lies to the far north of the world.
Ship Tease: With Geralt in Flotsam, assuming the player chooses the correct dialogue choices. Also overlaps with Defrosting Ice Queen. It doesn't last.
Smug Snake: She snidely taunts Geralt about his impending death just as she's about to leave Loc Muine and everyone in it for dead before stepping into her teleporter...which then begins to tear her apart. She has no choice but to beg the man she intended to die to save her.
Vain Sorceress: For being known as the "Koviri Loner" and infamous as a reclusive ice queen, she sure does seem to spend a lot of time taking care of her appearance. Her habit of wearing heavy make-up and Pimped-Out Dress had Bernard Loredo comment that she looks like "a whore on parade day".
In fact, she puts on makeup for the fight with the kayran. Geralt snarks at this, saying that the kayran cannot see in color.
A particularly violent member of the Scoia'tael. In the games, he becomes leader of the Scoia'tael in Vizima. Like Siegfried, he is one of Geralt's contacts in the first game. He wants to overthrow the humans because he believes the world would be better off under the leadership of the elves.
Break the Cutie: According to him, he once tried to live peacefully among humans. The humans would have none of that and made his life miserable. He eventually got fed up with human ignorance and decided to rebel.
Can't Argue with Elves: There's no way to convince him to back off on his attacks on human civilians. Unless you kill him.
Fantastic Racism: As an example, Druids are convinced most of the Scoia'tael have become indistinguishable from their oppressors.
A young boy whom Geralt rescues from Barghests right in the outskirts of Vizima. By all appearances, he’s a perfectly normal child, but he is also a Source, and has great potential for magic and especially a thing for seeing into the futureand traveling through time.
Chekhov's Gunman: He's introduced as some random kid rescued from certain death by Geralt. And ultimately becomes the Big Bad.
A mysterious Witcher from the School of the Viper who murders kings. Geralt seemed to know him, before the loss of his memory.
Anti-Villain: He is ultimately trying to secure a safe place for fellow witchers to live in due to the huge discrimination they receive. Whether this justified murdering kings and causing chaos in the North is left up to the player to decide.
I Owe You My Life: Geralt saved his life while chasing the Wild Hunt. So when Letho gains the upper hand during the duel in Chapter 1, he just lets Geralt go.
Knife Nut: He has a pair of daggers that we never see him use in the game proper. The animated introduction in the Enhanced Edition, however, shows that he's no less dangerous when he uses them.
Lightning Bruiser: Compared to humans, all witchers are very strong and fast, but Letho stands out for being, in Geralt's words, "a mountain of meat", and yet he is every bit as agile as his fellow witchers, who are a lot smaller and leaner by comparison. Letho's speed is even lampshaded in more than one occasion, first by Ciaran, the dying elf in the barge, and later on by a dying Cedric.
Mr. Exposition: At the end, he'll happily explain to you the reasons for his actions, finishing up the Backstory and cluing you in on what's really going on in the grand scheme of things.
Pet the Dog: Several instances of this. One, he doesn't kill Geralt after their first fight, due to feeling he owes the latter, and in general does not consider him his enemy. Second, in the past, he watched over Yennefer for a while after Geralt made his Deal with the Devil. Third, if Geralt does not rescue Triss in Chapter 3, then Letho does, and he protects her from the sorceress-hunting soldiers.
Professional Killer: One that’s only after kings. It’s part of Nilfgaard’s plan to weaken the north before their invasion.
Skippable Boss: At the end of the game, the player can fight him or let him walk away.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: When the player first fights him early in the second game, he is a very difficult boss. Defeating him even results in a cutscene where he defeats Geralt, but lets him live since Geralt saved his life before, making him feel indebted. The second battle feels a lot easier, as Geralt (probably) took the time collecting fancy new skills, weapons and armor, while Letho is largely the same.
Commander of the Blue Stripes, a temerian special forces unit tasked with handling nonhuman threats. Helps Geralt break out of prision in the Prologue under the condition that he'll help Vernon capture the kingslayer.
A Father to His Men: He takes his responsibility very seriously. And his rage when his Blue Stripes are killed is truly frightening.
He Who Fights Monsters: One of the reasons why Iorveth hates him so passionately is that Vernon, unlike his predecessors, becomes increasingly more vicious and accomplished the longer he leads the Temerian special forces division. There are even rumors that Vernon feeds on Elven ears.
Hot-Blooded: His solutions to most problems is, "find the person in charge and kill him. If anyone gets in the way, kill them too." It usually works.
Butt Monkey: First she is used as bait by the Blue Stripes to ambush Loredo, almost getting raped in the process; then she has to deal with discrimination on Kaedwen's camp for being a female soldier, and finally she gets raped by Henselt and is forced to watch her friends get executed even though Henselt said he might let them live if she behaves (and she does). And then there's herbackstory.
Fantastic Racism: Subverted. Even though she hunts non-humans and suffered a lot at the hands of elves in the past, she claims that she does not begrudge the race as a whole and that she simply kills who she is ordered to, and that she makes no distinction between human and non-human targets.
Only Sane Woman: Arguably the most stable-minded member of the Blue Stripes, Vernon included.
Rape as Backstory: She was held captive for years by a gang of elves. The leader took a liking to her. Vernon and the Blue Stripes rescued her eventually, but unfortunately the damage had long been done.
What Happened to the Mouse?: After being raped by Henselt at the end of Act II, Geralt mentions that she's lying about something. Roche sends her off to meet up with them later, and then she's never seen again for the remainder of the game.
Saskia the Dragon Slayer
Leader of the Aedirnian resistance. She dreams of a land where humans and nonhumans can coexist in harmony. Actually the dragon Saesenthessis, who came to sympathize with the other races and wants them to live in peace with each other. Ultimately ends up becoming an Unwitting Pawn to Philippa Eilhart and the Lodge of Sorceresses.
Action Girl: You won't know how much though until her true nature is revealed.
The Ace: She is a beautiful, brave young woman who is just as smart as she is charismatic, and rumor has it that she killed a dragon single-handily. She turns out to be the dragon all along, and the bit about slaying a dragon was invented by Iorveth to make her seem even more like an ace.
Interspecies Romance: Geralt can be implied to ship Saskia/Iorveth through one dialogue opinion in one of the endings. Saskia notes that she had heard many lewd things said about the two of them, but finds dwarves most interesting. Which apparently is a dragon thing. She does put some thought into the idea, though.
Jeanne d'Archétype: Leader of a popular peasant uprising, takes on the role of a warrior and leader outside of society's role for women, persecuted and thought a freak by her enemies. Yep, she's a Jeanne alright.
Our Dragons Are Different: Golden dragons in The Witcher can shapeshift into virtually any form they want, but because Saesenthessis is only partially a golden dragon, (her father is a golden dragon and her mother is a green dragon) she can only shapeshift into one human form.
Virgin Power: What a lot of people seem to believe she has. Since as Triss correctly notes, virgins are a dying breed in the Witcherverse, it isn't that crazy an argument from a peasant's POV.
Siegfried of Denesle
A knight of the Order of the Flaming Rose. He is one of Geralt's contacts in the first game. A well-meaning knight who just so happens to be terribly misguided.
Adorkable: His earnestness and desire to help the downtrodden makes him seem naive in comparison to the Crapsack World of the Northern Kingdoms.
Badass: He´s almost as good at swordfighting as Geralt is.
Belief Makes You Stupid: Subverted if you side with the Order. He is very suspicious of his Grand Master's motives, and doesn´t hesitate to fight knights that side with him. Played straight in the other paths.
Celibate Hero: Which makes him as rare as a unicorn in this setting.
Everyone Has Standards: If you side with the Order, It becomes clear that Siegfried and the Knights under him do not approve of the Grand Master's schemes and when Siegfried ultimately succeeds Jacques as the Grand Master, he promises to change the Order for the better.
Fantastic Racism: Averted. Compared to his fellow knights he is very reasonable and gladly helps out Geralt even though he´s technically non-human. He doesn´t even seem that hateful of any non-Yaevinn Scoiatael, going so far as to show pity to the starving rebels he fought. Played straight when siding with the Elves and sometimes on the Neutral Path.
Reasonable Authority Figure: As a frequent battler of the paranormal, he will listen to even the oddest of stories and requests from Geralt and help as best he can. Even more so when he takes over as the new Grand Master, and promises to change the Order for the better.
Spoiled Sweet: Apart from his posh accent, the disdain he shows for the witchers' practice of charging money for monster-slaying could only come from someone who has never been forced to work for a living (something Geralt dryly points out when they first meet). Nonetheless, he is one of the most admirable characters in the game.
Wide-Eyed Idealist / Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Order of the Flaming Rose is a xenophobic military Order of which Siegfried is an enthusiastic member. Subverted however in that Siegfried is both a Nice Guy and carries no ill will towards any race in particular.
The commander of the Viziman city watch. A harsh, but ultimately fair man who proves to be extremely loyal to those he trusts. He tends to disappear at night and no one knows where he goes. It is later revealed he is a werewolf who uses his condition to fight criminals
Androcles' Lion: When Geralt helps him cure his Lycanthropy instead of killing him, Vincent returns as an ally, warning Geralt of a plot against him.
The commandant of Flotsam’s town watch, Loredo is a corrupt slug who runs over his town like it’s his own personal fiefdom. He soon contacts Geralt for work and eventually buts heads with the Witcher, greatly lowering his own life-expectancy in the process.
Possibly also him. According to the insane asylum sidequest his mother was a madwoman who survived the burning of the asylum, only to be raped by the soldiers before she stabbed their commander and fled.
Corrupt Hick: Runs the town of Flotsam and controls its criminal rackets, drugs and illegal fighting rings.
Dirty Cop: He's the head of Flotsam’s town watch, and he does anything but instill law and order.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted. At first it seems like this is the case because he lets his insane mother live with him, but then it's revealed he holds her in contempt and uses her to manufacture the fisstech drugs he sells to Flotsam's addicts.
Fat Bastard: He's noticeably doughy and one of the biggest bastards in the game.
Fantastic Racism: Like many humans in the game, he doesn't care for the non-humans. He's instituted a pogrom against them in
Fight Clubbing: Not him personally, but he's in charge of the fighting pits.
Hookers and Blow: If you side with Roche, you'll see Loredo high on drugs while with a prostitute, really a disguised Ves. This seems to be regular behavior from him.
Hypocrite: Hates non-humans, but not enough to stop him from keeping an elf woman as a Sex Slave.
I Have Your Wife: Threatens to kill Geralt's two best friends, Dandelion and Zoltan, if Geralt doesn't do as Loredo wants.
I Own This Town: Both controls the town legally and through its criminal enterprises.
Jerkass: Introduced pretending to be about to show mercy to a soon-to-be hanged thief, only to kick the lever that sends him swinging. He only gets "nicer" from there.
Karma Houdini: If you side with Iorveth and save the elven women from the tower Loredo set alight, he’ll not only suffer no punishment for his crimes, he'll actually succeed in selling out Flotsam to Kaedwen.
The Quisling: Attempts to sell Flotsam to Kaedwen, rendering him a traitor to his country. Whether he succeeds depends on player choices.
Sadistic Choice: If you side with Iorveth, he'll set fire to a tower filled with elven women, forcing Geralt to choose whether to save him or kill Loredo.
Smug Snake: He's a fairly loathsome individual with no redeeming qualities, yet he seems to think quite highly of himself.