The Witcher: Game of Imagination (Polish Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni) is a Polish Tabletop RPG set in the Witcher universe. It was released in 2001.During late 90's there was real hype around The Witcher in Poland. The last part of the saga was released and the author had a deal for a TV series and a film. In addition, there was a small project to create a tabletop RPG game based on the saga. The tabletop game was only one of the three to find success.There was no real competition for the game on the Polish market during that time, as it was the first Polish system to combine certain elements: it was based on an established media property, it had its own unique mechanics, and it had a fantasy setting. It was also helped by hype as it was faithful to the source material. Lastly, its rules are extremely simple and user-friendly - it's entirely possible to successfully explain the entirety of the mechanics to a layman within five minutes.The mechanics are based on d6 and derived from it d3 and d2. There are nine stats divided into two sections: six physical (Endurance, Movement, Strength, Perception, Dexterity and Agility) and three more or less mental (Intellect, Will and Savoir-vivre, the last being combination of generic Charisma and overall presentation). Each statistic (except Movement) has certain skills attached to it, like Alchemy and Economics being listed under Intellect or Acrobatics being listed under Agility. Both stats and skills range from 1 to 5 (skills can also be at 0). The higher the stat, the more d6 you use, e.g. 3 Strength means you grab 3d6 for rolls based on it.All tests go by the same rule - certain actions have either a set difficulty or a difficulty which is derived from certain parameters. The difficulty ranges from 0 ("no sweat") to 9 ("heroic deed"). Skills lower the difficulty by themselves, e.g. the difficulty of opening a basic lock is 4 and if your character has 3 in Cracking the final difficulty is 1. Then you take amount of d6 equal to your tested stat (so in case of mentioned Cracking you take d6 equal to your Dexterity) and you must roll an amount of successes equal or higher to the difficulty. Success is any outcome higher than 3 on any given dice.There are also Fate Dice involved in success tests. If your stat is 1, you only use Fate Dice. Any higher amount adds additional dices. Fate Dice are used as a critical success and failure meter, with 1 being a critical failure and 6 working as critical success.Certain stats are derived into sub-stats, like Endurance being calculated into Hit Points or Strength into how much your character can actually carry.The simplistic mechanics, while often criticized by D&D players, were intentional. As the title implies, it is a game of imagination, putting heavy emphasis on story-telling and pure fun, while both source books and later additions heavily discourage using mechanics as the sole way of controlling and judging players actions. Also, the GM is called "story-teller" (bajarz in Polish), to put further emphasis on story instead of dice rolls.And even when mechanics are used in combat, they are still dynamic and fast-paced. Aside from regular attacks, players can use called attacks targeting certain body parts (with increased difficulty) or use special combat moves... if the character knows any. It also happens to be one of the few tabletop RPGs, where even a small skill increase makes your character very visibly stronger in said field, as higher skills means lower difficulty and that means more successes during throws, which can lead to (much) higher damage, lower mana use, or automatic success in some trivial tasks.There are no levels, so the game is basically based on very slow and hard to do Stat Grinding. Why it's hard? Thanks to its mechanics, even the strongest character can die after 3 to 4 hits from regular thugs (while being able to kill them in one, which is trademark of witchers and well-trained rangers), not to mention monsters, powerful magicians and angry mobs. The game designers have taken a lot of pride and pleasure from such balance in fighting mechanics. And to grind your skills and stats you use your Points of Proficiency, which are mix between Experience Points and Skill Points.There are also no classes nor premade professions, but each race gets certain starting skills (and most of them are repeating, as everyone have basic knowledge about fist fight or talking) and most of races have minimal, maximum or both kind of caps on their stats (only humans don't have such caps).The game was first released as a "demo" pocket edition. Being a teaser, it only covers the bare basics of mechanics and contains a simple example scenario. Then the actual source book arrived, giving detailed descriptions of mechanics, expanded combat moves, spell and prayers book, massivechapters full of information about the setting, monster book and a hefty chapter full of advice for story-tellers. Later, two expansions were released: the first was a description of Nilfgaard and a supplement to basic rules (covering art of Min-Maxing, new fighting moves and new kind of magic based on Psychic Powers) and the second was premade scenario for a Cloak & Dagger campaign with only minor tweaks in mechanics.After those, a short-lived periodical called "White Wolf" was released. In fact, the whole "periodical" part was a marketing campaign to bring more attention toward the system. "White Wolf" lasted only three issues: one covering dryads and Brokilon, theirforest, one about Novigrad and one about spies, secret agencies and diplomats. It was never stated clear if "White Wolf" was cancelled because authors run out of ideas or because MAG Publishing House, resposible for the whole system, was facing financial problems and was slowly leaving RPG bussiness. Aside from all those direct expansions, magazine "Sword and Sorcery" - also owned by MAG - was printing articles even further expanding the game setting, giving handfuls of advices for story-tellers and providing few scenarios.There is also semi-official expansion, which covers the world a century before Witcher's Saga, as a tie-in to short story about Geralt's parents. It was intended to be released on official level, but after cancellation it ended up being released for free by it's author.
Tropes related to the game include:
Acrofatic:Halflings are pudgy, to put it mildly, and hardly look dangerous; yet their Splat requires the player to take at least 3 points in Agility.
Action Girl: By default, dryads and Zerrikanian Faithel warriors. The latter were introducted directly as a result of complains about all the limitations of playing as dryad and their lacking flexibility.
Amulet of Dependency: Witchers' medallions. They are the only source of Arcane Points for witchers and, not counting emergency meditations, they can't be recharged instantly. If they are depleted, witchers can't cast their signs until a recharge.
Annoying Arrows: Averted. After calculating everything, regular weapons deal about the same damage as the weakest type of bows. That makes them even already, without going for more powerful bows and crossbows. It's also far easier to shoot someone - shields, magic barriers, costly fencing moves and bad weather are the only things that can stop arrows.
Anti-Cavalry: Pikes and polearms by default. Magic barriers and some signs may be used to create invisible force-fields, breaking any possible charge and scaring horses in the process. The combat move Break charge may be used to stop any kind of charge, including that of cavalry.
Anti-Magic: The sign Heliotrop can block any form of offensive magic as well as concentrated sound-waves. Witchers are advised to use it from a safe distance — it tends to create a small explosion when the spell's energy is deactivated.
Anything That Moves: Being a product of Dying Race, elven sexuality descended into having as much procreation and conception as possible. It borders on Extreme Omnisexual - when given a choice, they prefer going to bed or raping humans and getting half-elves in the process than not having children at all. Because the aim is to get kids, homosexuality and purely romantic relationships are treated as Too Dumb to Live among elves.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Elves insist that they don't fight nor kill their own kin. The fact that Scoi'a'tel kill without a blink of an eye every elf they arbitraly label as Race Traitor is only a tip of the iceberg of hypocrisy.
Arbitrary Minimum Range: You can't use bows or slings at a range of under two meters, while javelins and spears are no longer considered ranged weapons.
Archer Archetype: Dryads. They could be poster-girls of this trope played very serious.
Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Armor restricts movement, making the complicated gestures needed for sorcery difficulty — doubly so if you're untrained in wearing it. Witchers, by contrast, use rudimentary signs created specifically to overcome this problem.
Armor Is Useless: Averted. When facing humans and humanoids, armour can be very useful, going so far as to make a character almost invulnerable. On the other hand, bigger animals and monsters deal so much damage that armour won't even stop the fixed part of it, not to mention the outcome of damage rolls.
Overseas weapons bypass anything less than plate mail, while there is a combat move allowing a character to bypass plate mail with any weapon. However this works only on crafted armour, not the natural armor of monsters.
Spells dealing direct damage by default bypass half of the target's armour, rounded down.
Ascended Extra: Every single monster ever mentioned (even if just by name) in the short stories or the saga is present in the source book, with description, stats, attacks and most of them - with picture.
The Assimilator: The Nilfgaard Empire, with political system designed to hold the vast empire together by both force and cultural means. Being (for given setting) very tolerant helps immensely.
Attack Its Weak Point: It's the only way to beat armoured opponents and bigger monsters. Dragons are extremely hard to take down, since the only body parts that can be effectively attacked are their eyes and the insides of their mouths. The skill Knowledge: Monsters is dedicated to figuring out the weak points of the monsters your character is facing.
Whips can be used for very flashy combat moves like tripping over, disarming and strangling, but over such short distances that it's easier to just draw your sword or shoot your enemy from afar. They are close to useless against armoured enemies, most of animals and monsters.
Exotic weapons bypass any armour except plate mail, but they also cost a small fortune and have only d6 damage roll, while normal weapons can be customised for the user to deal additional fixed damage and become easier to wield.
Two-handed weapons deal 2d6 + twice the Strength of damage, but they require sufficient Strength and many combat moves are restricted for one-handed weapons. It is more practical to use a combination of a one-handed weapon and a shield, as this grants protection and the shield may be weaponised.
Subverted in case of mini-crossbows and lamias (whips with metal spikes all over their lenght). The first deal relatively little damage and have a very short range, but they can be hidden in wide sleeves and shoot two bolts in a single round - right in your face. The other has the range limitations of other whips, but deals the damage of a two-handed weapon. And unlike other whips, it overcomes the problem with close-quarter fights, since the handle is a mace.
Bears Are Bad News: You really, really, really don't want to fight them. They are the strongest of normal animals... and stronger than most of the monsters. A single bear can tear a Player Party composed entirely of grizzled veterans apart, one character per round. It says something when short from flying dragons and high vampires, bears are the toughest creatures you may fight against. And they are much, much more common than the other two.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Cult of Freyja from the Skellige Isles takes this mindset to the logical extreme, since Freyja is the goddess of beauty and fertility. Her clergy is entirely made up of girls chosen for their looks and nothing else. It's assumed that if they are pretty, they must be chosen by Freyja to serve her and thus are good and innocent.
Berserk Button: Some of the disadvantages you can pick during character creation have those. Your character can be vengeful beyond reason, be extremely racist toward a certain race or just become Ax-Crazy when the blood is drawn.
Big Eater: Halflings are friendly and cuddly version of this trope. Then there are bigger monsters. And oversized arthropods.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: Just to name few out of a rather big bunch there are gigascorpions in size of a cow, crab-spiders able to chop your leg with their pinclers and ygherns, centripedes measured in meters. All of them are dangerous like hell, as they have strong carapace, most of them are poisonous and all of them are always hungry. Oh, and they are the only creatures immune to Chunky Salsa Rule.
BFS: The standard-issue Temerian Landsknechts' two-handed sword, which can be as long as its wielder. It also comes with additional punch.
Blue and Orange Morality: Humanity is the only race that has any form of (often misguided and exploited) patriotism. Other races barely comprehend why some oppressed villagers are more willing to die for their kings and political interest of their country than minding their own bussiness, especially since Humans Are Divided.
Bound and Gagged: The best way to deal with magic users when you don't have to kill them. Or at least a cost-efficient one, since dvimerite handcuffs cost a fortune. This can badly backfire if the mage in question is good enough to cast spells without gestures or words.
Shields. They make their wielders harder to hit with any kind of physical attack, add armour and are not penalized by anything.
Polearms and pikes are very good against mounted enemies.
Bow and Sword in Accord: Entirely possible, with mechanics designed to help doing so. The better the bow, the more required Statistics. Longbows require 3 points in Dexterity. Compound bows need that and 3 points in Strength. Weapons fighting and Hand-to-hand combat are Dexterity-based skills and melee damage got fixed bonus from Strength (weapons got twice the Strength). So with minor investment in Weapons fighting, archers can be deadly both on distance and in close quarters. Humans got it especially easy to do, since they've got 5 bonus points to skills during character creation, which can be only used on skills from their Splat. And Weapons fighting is one of them.
Brainwashed: The extent of it and how much it's lasting depends on the process used for it:
Mages can use Charm and Hypnosis spells. The first one turns it's target into very friendly toward caster. The second gives total control over it's target. Both can be broken by sudden sound, pain or strong will and can't last for more than an hour.
Witchers have the Aksji sign, which turns any creature friendly and obedient for a short while. Witchers can also use it on themselves, making them more focused on given task and lowering difficulties of actions related with fulfilling it. Aksji can be broken by roll of the Concentration skill and lasts for a single turn in the basic version.
Naturalised dryads are created by giving normal human girls the Water of Brokilon. Their memories of previous life are erased (some traces may remain) and they think about themselves as dryads. The effect lasts forever and is irreversable.
Depending how powerful psychics are and how much they focus, effects may range from a single, simple order to turning someone into a vegetable.
Break Meter: Played every possible way. Combat moves, especially those in melee, can affect defences of both target and user of that move. Most often using combat move expose it's user for next round (because of ending up in bad position for blocking incoming hits or being surrounded by enemies). They can also increase defence of their target, making it harder to hit (try to reach two people with a single slash of sword). Usually more powerful moves do both. There are also defensive moves - they make it harder to hit your character, often exposing enemy in the process.
Breaking the Bonds: Inverted to the point of a deconstruction. The spell Fire net bonds it's target and that's about all it does. Any attempt of movement will deal d3 damage. Breaking free? That's 2d6 damage - almost half of the maximum possible Vitality an average character may have.
Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Vitality is divided into four stages: Healthy, Beaten, Wounded and Dying, each corresponding to a quarter of total Hit Points. Healthy and Beaten represents situation when character is out of fight or sustained some minor bruises during fist fight and are rather harmless. Wounded will makes your rolls progressively harder, while Dying seriously lowers your stats and skills and requires medical attention in short time or a character will die. Reaching 0 Vitality or below it is instant death. Armour soaks damage, so it technically gives you additional points of Vitality for covered body parts.
Cats Hate Him: Witchers are driving cats angry, for unspecified reasons.
Chainmail Bikini: Defied. Source book treats armour as unisex. If some part of body is not covered by armour, it doesn't gain any protection. Even pictures in chapter about fighting mechanics gives few Action Girls in proper, functional sets of armour. They still look awesome.
Character Alignment: Inverted. There are no typical alignment, but there is Honor/Reputation/Adventure triangle in which players must put their characters.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: All kinds of prayers works this way. And the more people are chanting it, the stronger the effects get. On the other hand, spells don't require any faith and are not only more reliable, but usually also more powerful. Usually.
The Coconut Effect: The authors openly admitted that this trope is the only reason why armour add penalties to the wearer the way it does, e.g. plate mail is portrayed as heavy and constricting, in stereotypical RPG fashion. It didn't work - many players of other games still treat this system as "unrealistic" for not following other typical tabletop RPG fightingmechanics.
Cold Sniper: Dryads are entire race of those, armed with bows.
Combat Pragmatism: A running theme of the fighting mechanics. You can fight with honour and die horrible death. You can use only flashy moves and exhaust yourself before all your enemies drop dead. Or you can just fight as dirty as possible, surviving the whole ordeal without breaking the sweat. Story-tellers are advised to rarely (if ever) use Mook Chivalry and make humanoid enemies as bastardly during fights as it fits.
Combat Tentacles: Zeulgs have four tentacles with hooks and suction cups, but kelpies are made of sentient tentacles, so there is always more of them than your character can chop down before being strangled.
Subverted. While there is a language called "Common", it simply a language that humans use and not even all of them - people from Skellige use their own dialect, while Nilfgaardians and Zerrikanians use different variants of Elder Speech, language of the elves. Elder Speech itself is used in few different forms that are in similar relation with it as Romance languages are with Latin.
Starting level of any language skill is usually 2 (in 0-5 scale). Which means that even if characters use some tongue as their own, it's the local version and nothing more. It won't cover pronunciation from other countries and regions, not to mention knowing subdialects or understanding more complex words. This issue is constantly stressed out in source book, expansions and articles written for the game to remind players and GMs how suspicious their characters can be by the sole merit of talking in different way than the locals.
Compelling Voice: Starting advantage players can pick, which lowers difficulty of every possible test based on talking, from haggle and pillow-talk to diplomacy and leading troops into battle. Costly, but very effective for diplomat-type characters.
Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Bolts from crossbows may have enough force to stick out on the other side of their target, after passing through cover.
Most of combat moves for ranged weapons and some of signs used by witchers may count. But nothing can be compared with One-Hit Kill moves - they use more Combat Points than some characters can even have. For single attack. Which can be dodged. Or missed.
Averted in case of spells. At first glance all of them are ridiculousy overpriced, often costing more Arcane Points that it's possible to have, turning Spellcasting into highly inefficient playstyle. But if you carefully read the rules, they also state how high skill and additional successes during hit rolls reduce the intake of Arcane Points to almost nothing or at least to bearable amounts.
Cool Sword: Overseas blades, witcher's swords (both types) and those customized for the user.
Crippling Overspecialization: Diminishing Returns for Balance strikes in it's finest during character creation. Not counting race-related skills, rising anything beyond 3 points will cost you dearly, leaving almost no points for other skills. Rising too many things to level 3 will cost you dearly too. So it's a player choice if he or she wants the character to be really good at certain thing and virtually nothing else or being more balanced, but without any distinctive abilities.
Although authors gave players a choice if they want to use this aversion as a rule, as it leads to Harder Than Hard territory.
Critical Failure: Authors advise to be creative with their outcome, but never sadistic. There is no real mechanic for effect of such failures, so it's all up to the story teller.
Critical Hit: Criticals in fight multiply the outcome of damage rolls by two (three when aiming for head). Criticals in general may allow to pull action that would be otherwise impossible to do with given Stat and skill level.
Cult: Not counting druidism, none of religion or church organization have any official name, so they are referred as "cult of Place Name Of The God Here". Said that, Coram Agh Ter has The Cult, with all the nasty things you can imagine about worshipping Eldritch Abomination. Not to mention being prosecuted by law in all countries.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Being ambushed by dryads is in-universe example. Monsters in size of elephant or bigger will stomp (some of them literally) Player Party if no tactical cunning is used by players. Single dragon can take down small army with ease.
Cursed with Awesome/Blessed with Suck: In any other setting witchers would have it good. Thanks to their mutations they age very slowly, being always in good health and perfect condition. Said mutations also gave them such inhuman feats like night vision or ability to control their heart rate, not to mention healing faster than anything else. On the other hand the same mutations provide them with often hideous traits (strange eyes and pigmentation, albinism, overgrowing teeth). Their job is the worst possible, with constant risking of life for inadequate pay and no gratitude. It's hard to measure their life expectancy, since it always ends in desolated ruins or stinking dumping sites, when they are finally overpowered by stronger monster.
Cycle of Revenge: All racial problems are fuelled by this, but nothing can be compared with conflict between humans and dryads. Humans cut trees. Dryads scared them away. Humans cut more trees and hanged few dryads. Dryads killed all hunters in the forest. Humans went on small war with dryads. Dryads retaliated with killing everyone coming even close to Brokilon. Humans decided to burn down part of the forest. Dryads started kidnapping and brainwashing human girls for their ranks... On the other hand, races that decided to break the cycle and simply live together have it much easier.
Damage Reduction: Armour, both natural and crafted, works this way. If target is hit, the damage is reduced by certain value, depending on the type and/or layers of armour. Can lead to situation when no damage is dealt at all.
Damage Typing: Sort of. Damage itself is just damage, but during hit rolls, there are two groups of defences with three subgroups in each: physical (hand-to-hand, weapons and projectiles) and magical (witchers' signs, magic and prayers).
Darker and Edgier: While the source book and most of expansions are much more optimistic and less crap-sacked than Witcher's saga, expansion about Nilfgaard is dialing everything bad and horrible Up to Eleven, as it takes place During the War between Nordlings and Nilfgaard. Scoi'a'tel and marauders rampaging all around, abundant monsters, mages with more political power than ever before, famine, poverty, whole countries reduced into smouldering ruins... just name it.
Death from Above: If it flies, your character is a good candidate for it's dinner.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: If your character can withstand counterattacks, it's entirely possible to beat someone or something to death with just bare hands or a stick. Or at least when enemy is unarmoured and/or small enough.
Deflector Shields: There is a spell that stops projectiles. Witchers have two signs working this way - Quen can block projectiles and even smaller creatures, while Yrden creates impenetrable, stationary force field.
Detect Evil: More in form of Detect Magic - witchers' medallions will start to vibrate when close to magic of any sort. Since all monsters are magic-related, it allows to detect their presence.
Determinator: Starting advantage Tough guy allows character to ignore half of the penalties added for lacking Vitality. Characters with trait Berserker have removed all Vitality-related penalties for the duration of their killing frenzies. Powerful enough Hypnosis spell may force people to do things otherwise unthinkable for them, but after doing so the spell is broken.
Disc One Nuke: Witchers' starting swords. While one-handed, they are dealing damage of two handed weapons, and half of it fixed. Even in worst possible damage roll they still surpass any regular sword with maximum damage roll.
The main reason why Northern Kingdoms get beaten by the Nilfgaard Empire - they are numerous, they hate each other and it's much easier to pick on them one at the time. By the time they realise the implications of "not my bussiness" policy, third of them is under Nilfgaardian rule.
Do Not Run With A Bow: Using any type of projectile-based weapon while running increase the difficulty of hit rolls. Shooting while riding makes it even harder.
Does Not Like Shoes: Halflings, but to be honest they don't even have to wear them - soles of their feet tend to be harder than shoes and seems to be immune to cold.
Dryads are more or less aware what are their chances against the rest of the world. That doesn't mean they stop shooting down anything that cross what they consider as borders of Brokilon. And some of those places were deforested years ago...
Scoi'a'tel are thinking they are fighting under this trope. The irony comes from realisation that new wave of pogroms agains elves emerged afterScoi'a'tel started their so-called revolution - in source book elves are looked upon, but treated more or less fair. In expansion about Nilfgaard, where Scoi'a'tel commandos run all around, elves are treated as third-rate citizens, in form of collective responsibility.
Druid: Druidism is one of religions, with serious eco-balance preaching. Druids themselves have only few traits typical to other fantasy settings and are more closely to their real-life version. Sure, they take women to their ranks, choose new candidates from magic-sensitive people and the environmental message is added, but that's about all. No shapeshifting, no special orientation in healing, no Animal Talk and especially no control over nature, since they consider it a sin. Think about it more like fantasy-counterpart Taoism than anything else. Oh, and they are usually nice to people. Unless said people are not nice to nature.
Dual Wield: Penalized, but possible. With proper perks character can wield two regular weapons (without them, the weaker hand can only hold knives and lighter weapons) and penalties are removed.
Dump Stat: Movement. Dear God, Movement. The only thing it's used is for measurement how long distance character can travel during single round of fight (which is irrevelant, as sooner or later you will end in melee distance) and during travelling the world (which is irrevelant, as when riding or traveling by any other mean than on foot you use Movement of mount or vehicle). There are dozens of House Rules to derive it from different Stats to save Stat Points.
The Dung Ages: In poorer kingdoms and remote areas at least. It should be noted that persona hygiene is on rather high level for given setting - public baths are common and Nordlings take a bath at least once per week, while washing some body parts daily. The problem arise with lack of any serious public sanitation, dung piling on streets (if there is a street) and poor quality of water in more densely populated areas.
During the War: Expansion about Nilfgaard is set in times of the saga, with sizable part of it devoted to explaining the new political situation and how war affected known world.
Elemental Powers: Mages regenerate their Arcane Points from elemental sources of different size. The bigger the source, the easier it is to overcharge - the effects ranges from nausea and nose bleed to Your Head Asplode. Casting certain spells is easier after drawing from specific elements.
Temerian Landsknechts - most disciplined troops from Northern Kingdoms, armed with BFS and acting like a single body on the battlefield. They are the only troops from North to be descibed with standard Tactics and Cold Blood skills, so they are unlikely to panic or run away.
Troops of Nilfgaard proper are all like this, since they are using standing army with standarized equipment (including uniform and armour), well-organized logistics and are lead by professional officers, not random nobles.
Elves Versus Dwarves: In the backstory, first thing elves did after landing on the Continent was declaring dwarves not worth living and started genocidal war with them. This equally maimed both sides and paved road for easier conquest for humans. Both races still hold grudge against each other. Dwarves also like to remind how elves started talking about "us, older races" only after humanity decided that there is no room for elves.
Dryads and Scoi'a'tel agains humanity. Dryads are open with fact that in any other situation they would simply kill the elves, since they are not better than humans when it comes to nature preservation.
Dvarves are immune to this and whenever elves try to pull this against humanity, they coldly reply that elves only started talking about alliance after humans drove them near to extinction.
Evil Pays Better: Most profitable disadvantages - those giving most Stat Points and those not crippling a character - require from player to pick some criminal or outright psychopatic background. It starts with having Hair-Trigger Temper, advance through things like Revenge Before Reason or going into Unstoppable Rage when someone wronged your character and ending with being a wanted outlaw chased in whole country or urge to kill everything around you after drawing blood.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Highest achievable level of Stat or skill, 5, is listed as Legendary. Reaching such level of any skill allows to pull standard and mildly-badass actions without a roll. Legendary Stat grants you five dices for rolls related with that Stat, so even with zero skill you can pull some actions by sheer badassitude.
Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Inverted. While "overseas weapons" bypass any armour exept plate mail and thus can deal higher damage, customized melee weapons might have fixed bonus to damage (exotic got only d6 roll). Not to mention that exotic weapons are extremely rare and cost small fortune (especially true for bows).
Expanded Universe: Source book is this toward short stories and saga. Then there are expansions toward source book, dealing with more detailed subjects.
Eye of Newt: Components are rarely used and mostly for more ritualistic spells.
Eyepatch of Power: You can create one-eyed character. While it makes rolls based on visual perception just a tiny bit harder, it also grants 2 additional Stat Points during character creation, making it really powerful bargain.
Falling Damage: The safe height your character can jump or fall from is not only listed, but also influenced by Acrobatics skill. Of course, after certain point, it will be an instant death for everyone. Soft Water is also affected, so not even it will reliably save a character.
Fan Disservice: Vicious and/or unintelligent humanoid monsters are not only described as butt-ugly. All of them got also appropriate pictures.
Fanservice: Whenever it was possible or fitting, a picture of scandily clad or outright naked woman was placed. Some of them are for laughts (like the one under spell Teleprojection), other are outright fanservice (like the naked wenches in the chapter about healing). Whenever an Action Girl is drawn, chances are high that she will be also Ms. Fanservice.
Fangs Are Evil: If anything looks humanoid, but sprout sizable or additional fangs - run like hell. Better not wait for full analysis what you are facing, because it might be too late.
Fantastic Nature Reserve: Zerrikania, sort of. It's a safe haven for dragons (they are worshipped as deities) and Faithel warriors are dedicated into finding and bringing there dragons from the "barbaric west" - aka the Northern Kingdoms. Since it's country beyond the known world, there are also no witchers or their equivalent, thus monsters tend to be much more numerous. In fact, the mountain passes leading to Zerrikania being so heavily infested by all kinds and sorts of monsters is the chief reason why the country is barely known and almost mythical.
Fantastic Racism: One of the basic rules for world of Witcher is that every race is hated by other races. Humans are the most hated, as they are dominant. The only races not being driven by inter-racial hate are gnomes and halflings, but that doesn't stop others from prejudice toward them.
Fantasy Character Classes: Mostly averted. There are no classes and your character can end up as Bunny-Ears Lawyer or Jack-of-All-Trades and actually master of them all. The only exception is witcher/mage/priest combo, but it mostly comes from how those trades work in given setting, not actual game mechanics.
Kovir-Poviss is something between Britain and Venice - powerful, yet mostly uninterested with affairs of other countries amalgam of small kingdoms and dutchies with powerful fleet and merchant marine. Winter capital is Venice with British Weather. Their main goal is to profit on high-sea trade.
Nilfgaard Empire combines both Romanempires with many elements of Nazi Germany. Funnily enough, it's the most liberal country when it comes to race and gender.
Redania is Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth - numerous and equal nobles hold power, cavalry is the best in the world, main source of income is exported grain and commoners are treated like private property, while halflings play role of foreign settlers in Commonwealth. Even it's coat of arms is very similar to Polish from times of the Commonwealth.
Skellige Isles are blatant home of Horny Vikings, with many references to Norse culture and terminology.
Toussaint is late-medieval Provence and Piedmont, only without the sea.
Zerrikania has many vibes of Central Asia and steppe cultures, but under matriarchy.
Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Meta-example. When your hansa lacks witcher or at least powerful magician in his place, fighting monsters tend to be like this. Especially those immune to regular weapons.
Feel No Pain: Witchers under their elixirs and everyone else under drugs, but it's more dangerous than helpful - characters may exceed their limits and end up with even more wounds. Oh, and pray for anesthesia when drugs start to wear off and your open bone fracture wasn't treated yet.
Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Trait Race hater makes player's character like this. Unless a test of Cold Blood is passed, characters with this trait will lash, sometimes violently, against chosen race.
Fictional Holiday: They are related either with important days in history or are religious events related with solstices, while there is no equivalent of free Sunday.
There are many quotes lifted from short stories and saga, often as explanation from where authors took their idea. There are also flavour examples in expansions, all of them being Shout Outs toward politics, history and pop-culture, both international and Polish.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted. Projectiles, spells and signs will hit, hurt and kill whatever ended up as their final target.
Full-Frontal Assault: Dryads may or may not wear some sort of camouflage gear. Which is about all their "clothing". Then again, their preferred tactics are ambushes and stealth attacks, so seeing them naked is not that easy.
Functional Magic + Magic A Is Magic A: Magic is described as operating on scientifically explorable principles, with reliable and repeatable effects of every action. Which gives many opportunities for Mundane Utilities. Even if spell is cast in wrong way, the mistake will have roughtly the same result every time it's made. Rules like no resurrection or no time-travel are also in place.
Glamour Failure: Applying silver on natural shapeshifters usually revert them into their true form, which tends to be butt-ugly. Or at least it will give them severe allergic reaction, which doesn't look good either.
Global Currency: Inverted. Every nation is issuing own currency, often with different scales and sub-units made of different materials of different purity. Which leads to serious mess when travelling between them. Banks are evaluating everything in denars - an unit of pure silver of certain weight, which is used as currency in international trade and to cover travelling cheques in local currency. That said, it's possible to pay bills in currency of other country, but requires someone to do the Math... or overpay.
Gone Horribly Right/Wrong: The demo teaser version. The intention was to get more attention toward the game and provide a sample of unique, new and home-made game that can easily compete with imported ones. But since the franchise was at the peak of it's popularity, everyone knew the setting already, so no fluff was needed. The incredibly easy mechanics, based on d6 dice that everyone can easily get didn't really needed much more to be fully playable. Oh, and the teaser as part of it's marketing campaign was subvertingCrack is Cheaper by a tag-price of 3 bucks for the book. The effect? The game did became highly popular, but the source book sold below estimated numbers, while the teaser run out of copies long before the official premiere of the game. Adding to that rise of wide access to Internet in Poland and the source book ended up with more pirated copies than bought ones, even if it too subverted Crack is Cheaper.
Good Is Not Soft: Druids, Melitele's clergy and younger witchers tend to be like this. Just remember that while friendly, they can also kill your character without much effort.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Most basic hand-to-hand combat boils down to this. Advanced combat moves involve lots of grappling, joint-locks, takedowns and kicking every part of body that can be easily broken.
Good Shepherd: Priestesses of Melitele and Freyja are those by default, as their religions emphasis compassion and goodness. Less militant priest of Kreve can also count.
Groin Attack: As a combat move for hand-to-hand combat. Not only it deals bonus damage, but unlucky enemy must pass a test of Vigor or he will be knocked out for one round. Of course it works only on male opponents.
Guilt-Free Extermination War: Humanity versus dryads. Since dryads are not human, protect a primeval forest that can be cashed in and tend to kidnapp girls to fill their ranks, humans treat them as monsters and gleefully kill whenever possible.
Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Dryads get very high starting Shooting skill for free and are one of two races without any starting melee skill.
Half-Breed Discrimination: Half-elves have it really hard, almost always between a rock and a hard place. Depending on mother's race, they are treated bad by either humans or elves. The latter are more pragmatic, as they seek as much offspring as possible and thus accept half-elves. Meanwhile humans treat them as yet another race of non-human freaks, especially when elven heritage is highly visible.
Half-Human Hybrid: Half-elves are the most obvious case. Dryads use human, elven and half-elven males for fertilisation, but the offspring is always dryad girl.
Heel-Face Brainwashing: Naturalised dryads are human women in their teens or almost adult when conditioned with Water of Brokilon and bam, they are dryads, with no or almost no recollection of their former lives. Then you realise they were kidnapped from some village or lumberjack camp right next to the Brokilon, so they will shoot down their own family in first given chance... that is, if their family wasn't killed already.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Inverted. Combat mechanics list four groups of melee weapons: knives and daggers, lighter weapons, regular weapons and two-handed weapons, with damage related to each group as a whole. Swords are in "regular weapons" and thus dealing d6 damage, but so are cutlasses, axes, maces, heavy clubs, short spears and many other things you can handle with one arm.
Hidden Elf Village: Duén Canell, known also as Place of the Oak. Heart of the Brokilon, "capital" of dryads. Getting there without their permission and escort is simply impossible.
Hyperactive Metabolism: Averted for anyone who is not a witcher and Zig-Zagged for them. Healing process takes weeks under professional care and months without it. Eating food won't do you any good aside providing nutrition. The only expeption is witchers' immunity to most known diseases, which allows them to gorge themselves on rotting meat without any bad effects. They can also use their highly toxic elixirs to restore stamina and very small amound of Arcane Points, but that's all.
Hobbes Was Right: Only countries ruled by tyrants (benevolent or not) seem to avoid problems with infrastructure, fiscal system or governing in general. Whenever nobles are granted privileges, mages gain new rights or simply some political freedom exists, things spiral into feudal anarchy or worse.
Hobbits: You mean halflings? This race got traits both of Tolkien's hobbits and Dungeons & Dragons' halflings. It's not helping that in Polish both halflings and hobbits can be refered to by the same word (niziołki) and that's how they are adressed.
Holy Burns Evil: Not counting superstitions and what some priests believes, holy symbols do nothing to monsters. Unless they are made of silver and the monster in question is hit with them repeatively.
Humans start with Knowledge: Home area, which provides them with additional informations about the surrounding area of their place of origin. This may range from topography of some woodland to configuration of streets in chosen city.
The only way to beat dryads in Brokilon is to bring superior numbers of seasoned fighters. And by superior it means at least 10:1 ratio, so your typical hansa is virtually powerless.
Hopeless Fight: Dryads are waging one with humanity for decades, if not centuries. It's so hopeless that it can't be even called a war. It's clear for everyone how one-sided it is, but that doesn't mean dryads even considered to go gentle.
Horsing Around: Skill Riding is not about ability to ride - it's assumed that in given setting everyone can do that. Instead, it's used every time when rider is forcing mount to do something special, stupid or outright suicidal.
Hot-Blooded: Calm dwarf? You mean the too drunk to react one?
House Rules: The authors heavily encourage such behaviour, pointing out that their game and rules can and sometimes even should be changed to enhance the gameplay. They also discourage doing everything by the book, since it kills creativity of both players and GM.
Human Sacrifice: Coram Agh Ter has a reputation of demanding those. But not in the standard way, on altar's offering table, since he's god of sudden death.
Humans Are Bastards: Chapter devoted to describe humanity as a whole nicely sums it up in it's title - "Humans: Acquisitive and Brutal".
Not counting two (or three if you ask dryads) exeptions, all countries are made and mostly populated by humans. Said countries tend to wage wars between themselves more often than not and hate each other guts. Then there is society as a whole, with nobles playing their own games of particularism and political deals are always under the shadow of Capitule, pulling strings to achieve more profit for mages. When Nilfgaard soldiers knocked to the borders of Northern Kingdoms, things get only more messed up.
Elves learned the hard way to never, ever mess with humanity as a whole. While humans are divided, they have also unprecedented racial solidarity, putting their race (or at least country) before anything else. But after the common foe is defeated, they start to wage wars between themselves again.
The Hunter: Witchers. They are rised and trained for one and just one purpose. Track, find and kill monsters that are dangerous to humans. That's also their actuall job.
I Shall Taunt You: One of combat moves in hand-to-hand fight is special kind of dodge. When it's successful, you make your opponent to look like clumsy and pathetic wimp.
I Was Quite a Looker: All old priestesses of Freyja, since they are picked as teens by merit of their beauty and only the most beautiful girls presented during the initiation ceremony are chosen.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The difficulty of rolls is not only scaled, but also listed with appropriate names, ranging from "no sweat" through things like "for kids" or "serious" and ending with "heroic deed".
Implacable Man: Nosferates are practically unstoppable and unkillable. Even if you somehow "kill" them and chop into pieces, they will still regenerate after few years or decades. Pray to be dead by that time, because they might come with a visit.
5 points in Shooting combined with few traits and perks lead to this. All you have to do is live long enough to get it all...
Starting trait "Hawk-eye" alone grants such skills. Not only all rolls based on Perception (Shooting is one of them) have lowered difficulty - distance penalties are also halved.
Improvised Weapon: General rule of improvised weapons is very simple. If your characters can lift something and smack with it - it's a weapon. Be it a throwing crossbow, two-handed bench seat or nearby dwarf.
In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The Witcher: Game of Imagination by Andrzej Sapkowski is the full title of the game. Players and Witcher's fandom couldn't care less, since the game is usually called simply Witcher or now Witcher - Game of Imagination to distinguish it from video games. Sapkowski's involvement at best was very limited - the only mention of him is the title and small note after page full of credits simply stating "Based on works of Andrzej Sapkowski". On the other hand, he worked for many years with MAG Publishing House and it should be noted he's well-know critisizer of Choose Your Own Adventure genre for it's lack of real freedom and supporter of Wide Open Sandbox approach to Tabletop RPG instead of folowing stereotypes and archetypes. Which the game tried to implement as much as possible in it's rules and pre-existing setting.
Initiation Ceremony: Naturalisation of human girls into dryads can be treated as one and is downright horrific. After drinking Water of Brokilon, they fall into state of catatonia or convulsions for few hours, while their memories are wiped out. They experience vivid hallucinations for the duration of the process. It's not entirely clear if their memories are simply removed or are rewritten into those of a dryad.
Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Elves. There are also dryads and mermaids. Few kinds of monster are capable to disguise themselves as such. Of those all mermaids are the least vicious ones.
Instant Waking Skills: Trait Light sleep allows player to roll very easy test of Perception whenever something produce conspicuous sound - single success is enough to wake up instantly.
Interspecies Romance: Half-evles that were not concived during rape came from those. Subverted with dryads - they use human, elven and half-elven males for reproduction, but it's just for procreation and without any feelings.
Cockatrice is turkey-sized mix of lizard and pheasant, looking mostly like the latter. Doesn't sound intimidating? If you aren't careful, it will sneak on your back and peck your kidney or spine. With single strike. One success more than required and it will reach vital organ with it's peck, dealing additional 3d6 damage and another d3 from bleeding each round. It's enough to kill or incapacitate a character. To makes matters worse, it has enough Sneaking skill to easily ambush your character, lowering defences to almost nothing and thus having it even easier to strike a killing blow.
Echinopses are almost like porcupines. The only difference is that they can shoot few of their spines for very short distance. If those spines hit anything, they break and migrate deeper. It's not only painful, but also requires an operation or magic healing to remove them. Untreated it will eventually kill your character.
Lady Legionnaire Wear: Archer drawn in section devoted to bows wears one. By game mechanics, they work just like any other leather armour covering legs.
Land of One City: Free City Novigrad is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. There are also numerous small states and backward areas that have single city, resembling the way how Italian city-states worked. The term "city" by itself is often very generous.
Lead The Target: Not doing so provides absurdly high penalty for hitting running creatures (humanoid or not) and cavalry. There is even a special combat move designated for leading your targets, which nulls all possible penalties, but also takes a round to use.
Lean and Mean: Elves are slim and ephemeral, while tend to be utter jerks or plain monsters more often than not.
Lethal Joke Character: Halflings. Small, pudgy humanoids, acting somewhat childish and with well-earned reputation of gluttons. They've got severe cap on maximum Strength and Movement. But beware when they start throwing things. Or use slings. Or when you have to to actually hit one.
Lightning Bruiser: Witchers' Splat requires from player to take many Statistics on minimal level, creating durable, fast and able fighter in the process. Combined with skills granted for free, they land in Purposely Overpowered category.
Limited Loadout: Strength is calculated into Carry Weight and Maximum Carry. Taking more than Carry Weight will give serious encumbrance penalties and it's impossible to take more than twice the Carry Weight of equipment. Maximum Carry is considered as weight characters can lift above head level without suffering hernia, muscle strains and other injuries.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted. Part of it comes from the setting, part from game mechanics, but the most important factor was authors annoyance with such mechanics.
In a sense, everyone is quadratic, since the difference of single point in any skill is well beyond linear profit.
Line-of-Sight Name: All of them are lifted from short stories and saga, so it's not fault of game authors.
Load-Bearing Hero: The picture neatly placed next to the paragraph about how Maximum Weight works contrains a human male holding collapsing cave roof, while an elven maiden is crawling between his legs to retrive some fancy-looking staff from the rubble.
Loads and Loads of Rules: The whole concept for the game came from idea of averting this trope and making the game as intuitive as possible, with as much story-telling involved as possible. It worked. It worked brilliantly.
On the other hand, the fighting mechanics are firmly in Heroic Fantasy, at least when your characters managed to live long enough to rise their Stats and skills at level 4 or beyond. After that things like catching arrows, blocking numerous attacks with single move, disintegrating your enemies with mere look at them or shooting a rider off a galloping horse from 150 meters against the wind become a norm. And it's fun.
There is a small insurance during fights in case of critical failures or to enhance critical hit chance, but outside fight you can't do anything to prevent such failures. All you need to do is declare using Combat/Arcane Point during your Hit Roll and you can add it to the outcome to chosen dice, one point per dice. This may prevent getting 1 on Fate Dice, may give additional successes or turn the attack into critical.
Traits Lucky and Jinx are all about this trope. Lucky makes every 5 on Fate Dice to work as a critical success, while Jinx makes every 2 a critical failure. They are not mutually exclusive and take or give the same amount of points during character creation, allowing to effortlessly pick both if you feel giddy.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields are extremely usefull. They are the easiest way to get higher physical defense ratings (other require either grinding your skill or stat), soak damage and are the only conventional way to block projectiles. They can also block certain spells and special attacks of monsters (but after the later they are usually destroyed).
Made a Slave: Nilfgaard is using slaves on regular basis, so even debtors can end up being sold on slave market. Gladiator Games included.
Made of Iron: Witchers in their fluff. Technically speaking, they must start with at least 3 points in Endurance, giving them extra Vitality and being more than many players would usually put in this stat.
Magic Knight: Witchers are those by trade - they are created to fight monsters with swords and simple telekinetic spells known as signs. Also any mage who wants to survive in this world should arm himself and learn to use his weapon.
Magical Gesture: Almost all spells require some degree of gestures, to the point where Spellcasting is Dexterity-based skill. By contrast, most of them don't need any special component and half of them are wordless.
Difficulty of rolls is lowered by the skill, so with single point it's almost good for nothing, while at 4 and 5 standard actions are automatic success without even need for rolls whatsoever.
All fighting and magic skills provide 2 Combat or Arcane Points for each level of related skill, being the easiest way to get more of them. And the Points themselves can be used to further enhance your hit rolls.
Melee fighting skills not only allow to hit your enemies with ease, but also makes it harder for them to hit your character. With measly level 3 of Hand-to-hand Combat or Weapons fighting your character is virtually immune to attacks of random mooks.
With Alchemy at 1 your character knows that ice, steam and water are all the same. By 5 he or she is one step from creating Philosopher's Stone.
Magitek: To the point where such mundane things like weatherproof capes are created with magic.
In Northern Kingdoms, all adepts of Aretuza and Ban Ard pledge their allegiance to Council and Capitule. Council is parliament-like institution, while Capitule is made from most prominent mages, leading and governing the rest. Wizards and sorceress are expected to be completely loyal. Council and mages as individuals have very strong ties with politics, local courts and precious stones industry. Bigger towns and cities are almost guaranteed to held a resident mage as part of it's governing body.
Subverted in Nilfgaard, where mages are trained by the state for the state and must pledge their allegiance to the emperor and no-one else. There is no special - not to mention autonomous - governing body for them, so mages are subjects of the same laws and customs as the rest of society.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: Since the game world's dynamics are based on Fantastic Racism, inter-racial marriages are completely out of question, being a guaranteed way to get killed by angry mob during next pogrom. Or before there even is a pogrom.
Man-Eating Plant: Kelpies, which look for unexpecting victim like floating sea-weed. Their whole body is mass of fast-moving vines, attacking en mass and drowning or suffocating their prey.
In general, damage made by weapons (both from rolls and fixed part of it) is relatively low when compared with bonus damage coming from higher Stats and skills. For example, a witcher or a professional soldier will deal about twice as much damage as a random mook, using exactly the same sword. And that's by just whacking someone with the sword, without any finess or purpousefully-aimed attacks.
It's entirely possible to single-handly beat small pack of heavy armed thugs with a stick (not a staff, but a stick), as long as your character is good in Weapons fighting and with enough Agility to naturally dodge incoming blows.
Projectile-based weapons deal puny damage... unless shots are aimed for heads, unarmoured body parts and other weak points, which of course requires being a well-trained ranger in the first place.
Mana: Two kinds of it. Combat Points are used... well, for combat moves and aiming, while Arcane Points are used during spellcasting. Witchers got relatively high pool of both and as Magic Knights, they can use both types for combat actions and casting their signs.
Mana Potion: Inverted. Only witchers have access to anything remotely close to such potions, allowing them to regenerate part of their Arcane Points in no time. It's only a secondary purpose of those elixirs and they are extremely poisonous for anything not mutated to withstand their toxic effects.
Martial Pacifist: You probably expect that people from Skellige Isles, as Expies of vikings, will have an Expy of some warrior god from Norse Mythology? Wrong. They worship goddess of beauty and fertility, while kicking asses left and right.
The Medic: While there are no restrictions about skills and everyone can serve this role:
Hamadryads, a subspecies of dryads, are very proficient in herbalism and healing, both conventional and magical, as they are exeptionally connected with nature. They've got those skills from their Splat for free, but they can't leave Brokilon.
Mages trained in official universities take obligatory courses in alchemy, herbalism and healing. Creating character with graduation as background forces player to buy those skills on appropriate levels, seriously lowering available poll of Skill Points.
Medieval European Fantasy: Just like in source material, shamelessly deconstructed. The deconstruction is at it's highest in ''On Their Majesties' Secret Service" expansion, which deals with espionage in Bond-esque style.
Menstrual Menace: While Virgin Powers are not entirely clear subject (check below), it's at least agreed upon in-universe that one can't use magic before "gaining an adult body".
Metagame: Since fighting mechanics are so transparent, players may deduct without trying or even desire to do so Stats and Skills of enemies.
Spell Triangle within triangle is this, combined with Hulking Out and Power-Upgrading Deformation. It permamently increase it's subject's Strength and Endurance by 1, while reducing Intellect and Agility. Not to mention changing into over-muscled parody of it's former body.
If botched or purpousefully failedArtifact compression will turn someone into inanimate object with no way to turn back.
Mighty Glacier: Dwarven Splat requires from player to take at least 3 points in Endurance, while their Movement is capped at 3.
Minmaxer's Delight: Introduced in first expansion, as you can now raise amount of Stat Points during character creation by picking disadvantages raging from obesity to going berserk for no real reason or buy powerful buffs by lowering amount of Stat Points you got. Or do both.
Moody Mount: Using one makes all rolls based on Riding harder.
Moral Myopia: Just about every race has it's version of What Measure Is a Non-My-Own-Race.
More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Strigas have three sets of them. If that wasn't enough, zeulgs are a bulbous piece of meat that hosts tentacles and huge mouth equipped with dozens of sharp teeth. Said tentacles have hooks that look conspicuously similar to teeth.
If Artifact compression is used in it's most standard version, subject of the spell will turn into a tiny, crude figurine made of material used for compression.
Lamias can hide their snake-like body with ease. What will always reveal them is forked tongue, fangs instead of teeth and inability to create other voices than hissing.
Multishot: One of the most critisized combat moves added in expansions.
The Multiverse: Conjunction of Spheres, magical event that happend about 1300-1400 years before the setting, placed in this world out of sudden monsters, magic... and humans. It's not entirely clear if elves arrived during Conjunction or not.
Munchkin: The system is designed in such way to discourage this behaviour. Sure, the rules are simple and easy to abuse, but not without certainconsequences or a lot of time and work invested in your character.
Mundane Made Awesome: When combined with aiming and sufficiently high skill, basic attacks of any form allow to pull things so spectacular that special combat moves looks just drab and boring in comparison. Then there is shield & weapon combination, which looks dull and hardly creative, yet thanks to (more or less) realistic approach to combat mechanics it's both practical and reallyspectacularinaction.
Mundane Utility: Self-sharpening swords, weatherproof capes, bracelets that makes horse come to you no matter how far you are, flying brooms and carpets, hats of invisibility...
No Arc in Archery: Averted. It gets progressively harder to hit even a stationary target with increasing distance. Few of combat moves for bows use the arc actively for the advantage of archer.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Dryads don't develope any relationship with males that are impregnating them, treating it as procreation and nothing else. At least some of them outright rape still alive lumberjacks and hunters.
No Name Given: As in books, the actuall landmass the whole game is set is not referred by name in-game. For convenience it's called "the Continent" in source book rules.
No Saving Throw: Zig-Zagged. There are no typical saving throws, but during bleeding or drowning (or more specific - running out of oxygen) players must do roll for their Endurance and Vigor. If the throw is failed, their characters will instantly die.
No Sell: While wearing three layers of armour is heavily penalized, hardly anything remotely human can deal damage to such target. On the other hand, most of monsters and even normal predators don't have this problem, tearing or squishing the armour with it's wearer inside. Some monsters themselves are big and strong enough to simply shrug away attacks.
Not So Different: Humans and elves. Both races are almost enirety made out of jerks, bastards and monsters. Both treat every other race with smug smile of superiority, almost always undeserved. First thing both did after arrival to the Continent? Starting a war with local population. Elves like to use every opportunity to point out how barbaric humans are, glossing over their own equally horrific deeds. Meanwhile, humanity is over-jealous for many elven traits, be it longevity, beauty or magic powers. Which leads to constant conflicts, pogroms and wars.
One-Handed Zweihänder: Averted as one of core rules. Two-handed weapons are two-handed weapons, end of topic.
One-Man Army: Stats of NPC witchers sum up around 80-90 Stat Points. Meanwhile, with all possible Min-Maxing you can't start with more than 44 Stat Points and rising them takes forever.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Played With. If you want to play as melee, hand-to-hand fighter or use magic of any kind, Dexterity is this. On the other hand, Perception is used during shooting, to determinate who attack first, to spot and hear things, used for dodging and crossbows by themselves are the most powerful weapons in game. There is also Intellect, giving you more Skill Points during character creation and used by third of the skills during tests, so...
Only a Flesh Wound: Averted in normal situations and played with under drugs. Going below half of maximum Vitality starts to pile up more and more penalties. If that wasn't enough, taking sufficiently high damage to limbs may render them limp or broken. Taking too much and they are bite/cut/torn off or smashed into pulp.
Order Versus Chaos: Since monsters are unnatural creatures that came to this world during magic event known as Conjunction of Spheres, they clearly represent Chaos. Witchers are humanity's response to those monstrosities, so nominally they represent Order. Nominally, because Humans Are the Real Monsters and are much worse than all those creatures combined.
Original Position Fallacy: Lower ranks of Coram Agh Ter worshippers tend to fall under this, since they are usually some bored nobles or equally bored rich merchants, looking mostly for thrill in worshipping new, exoticdeity.
Our Dragons Are Different: There are dozens of dragon-like creatures and then we got actual dragons (more than 5 different species of them). They like to hoard treasures in their caves. Dragons are intelligent creatures and ignore humans and other races, but will get aggressive when they want to get some riches. All of them are No Sell when in combat and able to rip whole party in amount of rounds equal to number of party members. Or one, if they stand too close. Aside from conventional attacks they can use magic to different degree and all utilise telepathy (hence the superstitions that dragons know all languages).
White dragons from Far North breath ice instead of fire.
Black dragons are native for marshlands and like to lounge in the mud, hence their coloration. They spit acid able to corrode any known metal.
Red dragons are the closest thing to "classic" Western dragons.
Rock dragons live, as the name implies, in rocky crags and hills. They are the smallest of all dragons and don't breath anything, but can turn invisible.
Green dragons are the most popular species. They breath stream of chlorine, so it's effectiveness can be affected by wind and topography. Getting inside their lairs is almost guaranteed way to suffocate.
Our Elves Are Better: They are long-lived, pretty, and skillful, and have developed a sophisticated culture, but they're not that much better in terms of morality. To top that, they are Dying Race suffering the fate of Rome, with humans playing the role of barbarians adapting their culture, or perhaps Celts ran over by the Romans (with Boudicca and all). There is a distinction on "free elves" and "the rest". The free ones are living in the wild on stolen scraps (because farming is below their dignity), while the rest stays in their ghettoes or try to integrate with other races.
Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're good craftsmen, possibly better than dwarves at certain precise and complicated tasks, or those requiring theoretical expertise. Dwarves make excellent swords, but best swords in the world were gnomish. They are said to be aboriginal species.
Our Mermaids Are Different: Thanks to few dashes of Slavic folklore, aside from typical western mermaids (human torso with fish tail) and nymphs (they dwell in the sea), there are also rusalki (think about sweet-water nymphs), vodniki (think about impish tricksters with a knack for drowning pranks) and utopce (think about ghoulish creatures drowning anything they catch). Not counting utopce, all the rest are intelligent races, with friendly and playful nature.
Our Vampires Are Different: Where to start with? First of all, blood is like alcohol for them. There is also a clear difference between the 'low' and 'high' vampires. The lowly ones are no different from monsters and basically look like giant humanoid bats, while the high ones are the more familiar vampires, who can happen to be quite nice and friendly folks. Religious symbols do nothing to them and most of the 'high' vampires easily tolerate sunlight. They don't need blood to survive, but it's simply tasty and strengthen them. There is some sort of middle ground, as creatures like Bruxa are intelligent, but concentrate on sucking blood. Either way, when facing anything else than low ones, run like hell, as they are No Sell to most anything and will drink your party dry in no time.
Our Werebeasts Are Different: "Lycantropy" is a curse and a disease at the same time. Immunity to normal weapons and stock weakness toward silver are in place, but you still can just hack them to death. They turn into beast only during three nights of full moon and are unaware of their actions during that time or even about the whole thing at all. Also scent of aconite is said to repel them. While called "lycantropy", it covers many different species spliced with humanoid posture.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Averted. Real-life predators are as dangerous as fantastic monsters. And bears are only aced by dragons and higher vampires.
The Paladin: Witchers are deconstruction of everything related with such characters.
Perpetual Poverty: Witchers tend to get paid barely enough to sustain themselves for a while.
Pintsized Powerhouse: Novigrad is a city-state of immense wealth, that holds half of the world's economy in it's grip. But after all, it's just a single city with comparably small population.
Player Party: The authors advise to never play below three players. On the other hand, they discourage combining your party by countering weaknessess and lacks of players' characters.
Plot Armor: Mechanics are designed in such way that it's extremely easy to implement or take it off, depenging on requirements of the scenario. The authors advise to use or subvert it for giving either heroic feeling or atmosphere of uncertainity.
Point Build System: this or random-generated stats. It's players choice which one they want to use.
Poisoned Weapons: Blowguns by themselves deal mere 1 damage (a slap in face can't deal less than 2). The poison is what makes them so formidable.
Police Brutality: The aforementioned lamia whip is used by Guards of Eternal Fire, the police of Novigrad, as standard equipment for subduing crowd. It's entirely possible to maim or kill with a single strike of it. If that wasn't enough, lamias are illegal to be used all over the world, Novigrad included.
Dvimerite, lifted from saga. Rare metal which nullifies any kind of magic and harms magic users. Mages are advised to stay as far as possible from it when casting spells - side effects ranges from severe nausea to painful death.
Persecuted Intellectuals: Since all kinds of intellectuals, be them scientists, mages, well-trained priests or druids usually preach such silly things like gender equality, democratic rule, protection of enviroment or that all races are equall and should work together, they are treated as lunatics at best. If they don't have good connections or wield some power themselves, things usually end up nasty for them, with exile being the least concerning.
Protective Charm: Amulets and charms are one of few ways to increase defences against magic. Witchers' medallions may also count, since they can detect magic and monsters, alerting wearer in advance.
Punctuation Shaker: Elder Speech, the language of elves, runs on this. It's inherited from the saga to players' frustration, as it renders any attempt of more deep roleplaying impossible or outright unpronounceable.
To lesser extent, dryads. Just like in the books, they are capable of stealth in almost any situation and got absurdly high starting Shooting skill - just for the fact they are dryads. They will also track you even faster than witchers. Oh, and their starting bow is ultimate weapon for rangers. Sure, the damage and range are just above average, but unlike other high-damaging bows it doesn't require any level of Dexterity or Strength to be used, thus no Min-Maxing is needed.
PVP Balanced: Averted, as many aspects of fighting mechanics (at least before introduction of unrealistic combat moves from expansions) are Truth in Television. Instant kills, shooting from ambush, fast bleeding, breaking arms of armed opponents, cutting them off with your own weapon... the amount of dirty tactics that are actually impossible to block or counter is really long. And all of them are encouraged.
Rain of Arrows: First thing that will inform you about being ambushed by dryads and probably last your character will see. It's also possible to fire few arrows in single round using special combat move. With proper perk you can target them all as you wish.
Ranged Emergency Weapon: Weapons fighting is under Dexterity, while Shooting and Throwing are Perception-based skills, so this trope tends to be played very straight with dedicated melee fighters.
Read the Freaking Manual: A constant battle in Polish RPG community around this system and it's approach to mechanics and probability basically boils down to people who did read the manual and those who skipped everything beside basic fighting rules.
Ret Canon: Since Zerrikania is barely mentioned in the saga, let alone described, the article about it takes all the aesthetics (and their implications) from TV series, where they were introduced for more exotic flavour.
Skills take ten times your desired level of skill and all previous levels in Points of Proficiency. So upgrading something from 0 do 1 is just 10 Points, but from 0 to 2 it's 30.
Stats take fifty times your desired level and all previous levels in Points of Proficiency. So upgrading someting from 1 (and you can't have less than 1 in statistics) to 2 is 100 Points. Hoarding any higher numer of Points is simply inefficient and wasteful, so rising your stats beyond 2 (rememer that the scale for Stats is 1-5) is pretty much impossible.
It's hand-waved in the rules that it takes a really long time and lots of training to actually improve your body or mind, hence the price.
Nothing beats combat moves and high-end spells. Combat moves cost ten times their usage price in Combat Points, so learning some basic stuff is around 20-30 Points of Proficiency, while all high-end moves and flashy actions are as far as 150 Points - that's right, cost of upgrading your Statistics. Spells got fixed price in Points of Proficiency, with basic around 25 and high-end at 100. In both cases you must first find an NPC or any form of manual that will teach you new stuff, which is not that easy as it sounds in given setting and usually cost a lot of money.
During character creation, each subsequent level of skill or statistic cost more, in similar fashion to later Stat Grinding. It's generally considered more reasonable to start with more skills on lower levels than land directly in the middle of Crippling Overspecialization territory.
The Roleplayer: True to it's subtitle, the gama is written in such way to encourage this type of behaviour. Many actions require from players to act like their characters in given situation or to give a demonstration (like casting spells). First expansion introduced Points of Personality, granted for deep roleplaying, that are the only way to get perks.
Rules Conversions: Many players of systems based on d20 tried this, some of them even on official level. None of such conversions are even remotely close to being playable, thanks to Loads and Loads of Rules, which original game is averting by default. There were also many attempts to change fighting mechanics, with similar outcome.
Rule Zero: The only rule authors insist to follow.
Depending on their choice, players can pick different disadvantages during character creation for additional Stat Points. Those disadvantages include things like Forrest Gump idiocy, inability to talkor having a Motor Mouth. Then there are starting advantages, which cost you your Stat Points, so your overall pool of Points will be lower after picking things like Hawk-eye or Nerves of Steel.
Inverted with Uneducated trait - it gives you 2 more Stat Points... for sizable amount of Skill Points.
Scratch Damage: Subverted. Armoured humanoids and creatures can simply shrug away some attacks and weapons. In fact, wearing full plate armour with shield can soak up to 9 damage, while regular weapons have d6 damage roll, so unless attackers are very strong or skilled, they will do nothing.
Shapeshifting Seducer: Lamias are capable of turning into Cute Mute girls... then they scale up and eat unlucky adventurers. Devourers (Zjadarki in Polish version) don't have to be mute, while they tend to be very beautiful in their disguise of young women.
Shapeshifter Baggage: Doppelgängers can change their shape and mass as they please, even if their true form is that of a midget. Hell, they can also replicate clothes and equipment. Golden dragons are even more extreme, since they can take any form they wish, while being in size of barn. Lamias in their human guise are about half of their original size. Meanwhile, spells allow to turn into something smaller or roughtly the same size as the original form.
Shield Bash: If learned how to do, it's as efficient as using regular weapon, dealing d6 damage and with a chance to knock over your enemy. When combined with perk allowing second attack, it's devastating.
Silver Has Mystic Powers: Your best friend against all kinds and types of monsters immune to normal weapons. Some spells and magic artifact requires silver for different purposes. Working defensive charms against curses are made of silver. Shapeshifters loose their powers when in contact with silver.
The last one can be exploited whenever character suspect someone to be a shapeshifter - just toss him or her a silver coin.
Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Round by Round. There is also a clear distinction between rounds (no longer than 10 seconds) and turns (six rounds), which becomes very important when duration of special effects is given.
Soft Water: Present or averted, depending on the height characters fall from and depth of water. After certain height is reached, nothing will help.
Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Subverted. Witchers and dryads start with one of the best weapons. Nothing stops other characters from buying exeptional stuff whenever they have money for that or to get it by any other means. Or just craft it by themselves.
Space-Filling Empire: Kaedven. Since the saga didn't discussed how big it is, the authors used it to fill sizable chunk of the map. It's simply big - the population is small, the land is mostly pristine forest and it's political power is average. Many areas are under Kaedven rule simply because there is no-one else around to claim them.
Species Loyalty: Humans' hat, which is their main power and reason why they are dominant - whenever someone or something is threatening them, they put all their issues aside and band together to face the dangers. To a lesser extent it cover also dwarves - they might be your best Private Military Contractors, Only in It for the Money, but don't expect from them to fight their own kind.
Splat: Races are close to this. Each got it's own starting skills. Some of them are the same for all races (like 1 point in Hand-to-hand Combat or Throwing), while some are race-specific (like dryads' 3 points in Shooting or witchers' 2 points in Knowledge: Monsters)
Squishy Wizard: You will end up with one if using Min-Maxing. Really, not worth it. Not to mention that Spellcasting and Weapons fighting are both Dexterity-based skills, so being a good mage is an open field for becoming a Magic Knight.
Stat Grinding: The only way to improve skills and statistic of your character is to invest Points of Proficiency into them.
State Sec: Since Novigrad is run by clergy of Eternal Fire, town guards are this combined with inquisition. Very strict and brutal, which makes them universally hated, but at least the streets are safe(ish).
Stay in the Kitchen: Sexism is something of a norm, but the extent of it ranges from race to race. Almost all of women in human and dwarven (but then it's a forge, not kitchen) societies are expected to stay in the shadow, doing gender-related hores of their race. Other races treat genders more equally, while dryads are One-Gender Race of Action Girls. Mages have it much easier, since their trade is far more important and respected than their sex. Action Girl characters, particularly those non-human, will rise a lot of interest in rural and backward areas.
Stillborn Serial: Second edition was in drafts before even all suplements for first one were released and everything was going smoothly. In early 2003 there was even a small convention held by team responsible for the game and... the publisher went out of gaming bussiness soon after.
Stock Ness Monster: Turtledragons are big turtle-like creatures with very long necks. When they are swimming, usually top of their shell and head is above water surface, giving them characteristic silhouette.
Stray Shots Strike Nothing: Painfully averted. Targeting anyone in fighting group leaves plenty room for friendly fire or accidental hits - such shots and throws are not only harder than normally, but scoring less successes than needed means the projecticle still hit. Only someone else.
Suffer The Slings: Slings are on the weak side of damage - they use d3+1 for damage roll (for comparison, next are javelines with d6 and short bows with 3d3+1). Which is in the same time balanced with being only ranged weapon dealing fixed damage equal to twice the Strength of slinger, making it ideal choice for Unskilled, but Strong characters. Slings also surpass range of all throwing weapons and smaller crossbows.
Surplus Success Bonus: Every time your hit/skill rolls end with more successes than needed, you can use them to enchance the final effect, be it more damage, lower intake of Combat/Arcane Points, better healing result, extended time of spell effect and so on. It can be really devastating when combined with criticals.
Super Drowning Skills: Averted. Lack of Swimming skill makes simply any attempts very hard. Of course entering deep water in armour is practically suicidal.
Taught by Experience: Your character can learn new combat moves and spells by observing, analyzing, and through trial and error. It still costs you Points of Proficiency, requires a few tests based on different skills and stats and takes much more time than normal training, but removes the need for a teacher or manuscript to learn from.
TeleFrag: Inproper or instable teleports may kill you in different ways. Sometimes people tend to emerge in pieces. Sometimes they emerge in wrong spots, like underground, high in the sky or in the middle of ocean. In worst cases they don't emerge at all.
Teleporters and Transporters: Magic version of them, ranging from unreliable ancient artifacts to very stable links created by specialized mages.
Teleport Interdiction: There are many rules about opening a proper and reliable teleport. First of all, their maximum safe range is around 100 kilometers - any further distance will hit accuracy of the teleportation. It's better to use "hook" for opening a portal. Hook is any object or person related with place you want to travel, but be it poorly chosen and you may land in completely different spot. Portals, even if closed, leaves a trace that can be used to reopen the gate.
Tentacle Rope: Kelpies can do about one thing to attack - tie and drown or at least strangle their victim.
Torture Always Works: Defied. Effectiveness of tortures is rather low. They take a lot of time, tend to require some specialised equipment and it's very easy to kill interrogated person, even for skilled Torture Technician. Meanwhile, skill Browbeating allow to gather the same informations by sheer intimidation.
Total Party Kill: Most of real-world predators, especially when in packs. Anything bigger than human. Anything more numerous than your party. Angry peasants tend to be more dangerous than freaking dragon thanks to sheer numbers.
Training from Hell: Witchers spend many years on excruciating training before they leave Kaer Morhen. It's not even clear if unmutated human could survive that ordeal.
Troperiffic: The list doesn't look that impressive until you realise that the whole system and all informations about the setting come from single book, supplemented with two relatively short expansions and three thin magazines. Tropes exclusive to saga are not included.
Überwald: No, not Brokilon. Sodden, land now held by Cintra combines thick forest, infamous Miechun's Morasses and Angren Marshes with infestation of all kinds, types and sizes of man-eating monsters. It's not helping that in the past the region was regularly pillaged by Skellige pirates and now often changes ownership, leaving dozens of ruins - perfect nests and burrows for monsters. The place is seen as so dangerous that even witchers don't want to take "jobs" out there. Oh, and south of Cintra has Erlenwald, which pales in comparison to Sodden, but it doesn't need to be protected by law as royal forest - people simply don't want to poach there by themselves.
The Unpronounceable: Deliberately invoked with names of Zerrikanians, for laughs. But there is also a very simple principle of shorting them into three-letter long forms, containing single consonant and suffix "ea", so Alreaenerle becomes Rea and Alveaenerle will be Vea. Yes, they are not only nigh-unpronounceable, but very similar.
Unskilled, but Strong: Strength is calculated into bonus melee damage - flat for hand-to-hand combat and twice the Stat for weapons. In case of weapons, the sheer force of impact is usually more dangerous than where and what hit.
Urban Segregation: Novigrad is divided into few quarters. The segregation is quite strict and enforced by ruling clergy, thus the Red Quarter holds everything immoral: brothels, banks... and non-human citizens.
Virgin Power: In-universe there is centuries long debate if virgins can or can't use magic. Common people believe they can't, while mages don't deny nor confirm this superstition. It's up to players to decide - the source book left the question open.
War Is Hell: Conflict between Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard looks like a competition for the most horrible war atrocity between Nordlings, imperial forces and elven commandos. Whole regions are razed to the ground, sizable part of known world is turned into no man's land, summary executions are the only form of justice in place and most of armies scavenge and/or pillage for food.
With higher fighting skills comes lower difficulty, allowing to get more surplus successes. Each of them can be translated into fixed 3 points of additional damage.
Characters created with high Intellect are meta-example. Higher Intellect provides more Skill Points during character's creation, allowing to buy and train higher levels of more skills, but to rise Intellect you must first take those Stat Points from other Statistics.
Weapon of Choice: Specialisation, one of perks, allows player to choose single type of weapon (swords, axes, daggers, bare fists, short bows etc.) as weapon of choice. Such weapon deals always 2 points of damage more, difficulty during attacks is lowered and combat moves are less costly to use.
We Help the Helpless: Witchers and priests of some religions are this by trade... not all of them for free, to be honest.
Worst Aid: Healing difficulty is proportional to amount of Vitality the patient is lacking. If unsuccessful, the attempt will harm character for d3 damage, to show the incompetence of healer. So below 4 points in Healing it's often better to do nothing beside dressing the wounds (which can be botched too) than risking killing character or undoing last day of treatment.
You Can't Fight Fate: No matter which type of character creation was used by players, they must roll for characters' Fate. Outcome is checked in predefinied chart and noted in character sheet. Story-tellers should use Fates of players' characters during their adventure and to define outcome of different events.
For average human being, dryads are monstrous race of Always Chaotic Evil women, kidnapping young girls for their ranks and being an obstruction for prosperity. From point of view of druids, more enlightened people and their own they are personified Gaia's Vengeance and last defense of Brokilon, eons old forest every neighbourhood kingdom want to chop down for profit.
Averted with Scoi'a'tel. Their open goal is total eradication of humanity (a dominant race) and every other race that is not supporting their "effort". Brutal and sadistic methods they apply aren't helping their cause either. Non-humans hate them as much as humans, especially since actions of Scoi'a'tel often lead to retributions in form of pogroms on completely innocent non-humans.