Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Witcher - Nilfgaardian Empire

Go To

Nilfgaardian Empire
The most powerful empire in the world, Nilfgaard controls the southern portion of the Continent and has continuously expanded through military conquest. Under the reign of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, Nilfgaard has repeatedly attempted to the conquer the nations of the north. During the events of the saga, Emperor Emhyr becomes interested in locating Ciri for his own purposes while also scheming to destroy the unity of the Northern Kingdoms to ensure his conquests' success.

    open/close all folders 

    Emperor Emhyr var Emreis 

Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd (formerly Duny, Urcheon of Erlenwald)

Voiced by: Charles Dance (Wild Hunt)

Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd, the White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies. The ruthless, calculating and implacable emperor of Nilfgaard, King of Cintra, lord of Metinna, Ebbing and Gemmera, sovereign of Nazair and Vicovaro. Through his iron-fist statesmanship, his expansive black-helmed power from the south of the Continent has overturned more and more of the Northern Kingdoms over the course of three separate military expeditions. His invasion of Cintra and secret alliance with Vilgefortz pretty much jump-starts the whole Saga, and even after that he's the driving force behind many of the events in the games as well.

  • Accidental Murder: Pavetta's death was his fault. After she discovered his plans for their daughter, her power caused her to have another uncontrollable fit, and she fell overboard. Emhyr tried to dive after her but the ship they were on was in the middle of being teleported because of his designs, and he ended up unable to save her from drowning.
  • Adaptational Heroism: To a very slight degree in the games. Make no mistake, Emhyr is not a good guy by any stretch of the imagination: he's still the ruthless and controlling monarch of an expansionist empire. That being said, his more murderous or straight-up creepy actions from the books are never mentioned in the games, making their canonicity as regards the game universe somewhat questionable. Ciri can even warm to him in one ending of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, referring to him as "Papa."
  • Aesop Amnesia: The novels ended with Emhyr rediscovering his humanity, indicating that he would at least try to become a better person and ruler. By the time the games take place, however, it's clear that he's back to his old tricks.
  • Affably Evil: He's a ruthless evil emperor and he's fine with it, but he's not The Caligula either, and knows when not 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: He's definitely considered to be one In-Universe for Radovid. Many characters who are involved (or at least interested) in the war are constantly comparing the two and speculating as to which one will defeat the other.
  • Arc Villain: In the novels. He’s the Big Bad of the War Arc that runs parallel to Geralt and Ciri’s respective stories.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: For a certain definition of "win", and depending on what choices Geralt makes in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. He can finally accomplish what he set out to do in the books and conquer all the continental Northern Kingdoms. And if Ciri chooses to become Empress, then he gets his heir as well. On the other hand, he half retires and is half forced out of ruling the empire he built, and Ciri makes it clear she won't be his puppet.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Back in his youth, he was turned into a hedgehog knight. Geralt helped him then.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's introduced in the "Question of Price" short story as a charming knight who is in love with Princess Pavetta, his future wife and Ciri's mother. His reappearance reveals that it was all an act, that he never cared for Pavetta, and that he was secretly the heir to The Empire with aims towards world domination.
  • Big Bad: Subverted. Upon his introduction, Emhyr is set up as a textbook Big Bad, being a ruthless, calculating Chessmaster who heads the setting's evil empire and who has a personal stake in hounding protagonists. With that said, his role as a villain remains largely detached from the main narrative. He prefers to focus on managing his empire and reserves the role of dealing with the heroes to his underlings, all of whom end up betraying him to pursue their own agendas. This trend continues in the games. See Greater-Scope Villain and Villain of Another Story for details.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: To some extent in Wild Hunt. As per the game's multiple choices, Emhyr was destined to lose to Radovid had the latter not been assassinated, and even if Radovid did get whacked, under Djikstra, the Redanian army would have steamrolled him. Geralt also learns that Emhyr's control over Nilfgaard was less secure since he waged a very expensive unprovoked war of conquest that was disrupting trade and commerce, upsetting fellow nobles and the merchant oligarchs of the trade corporation. Underneath it all, "The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies" isn't remotely as much of a tough guy he tries to present himself as.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He makes an appearance in the first book without anyone realizing it, including the reader. He's the hedgehog knight, Duny.
  • 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.
  • Consummate Liar: His very first appearance has him deceiving everyone around him - including Geralt - about his true background. He becomes more straightforward after becoming The Emperor, but is still capable of dishing out convincing lies if necessary.
  • Dark Is Evil: Like all of Nilfgaard, black is the primary color that he wears.
  • The Determinator: It doesn't matter how many setbacks he has. Nothing will stop this man from getting what he wants.
  • The Dreaded: Whether they're in a faraway kingdom or within the imperial court itself, everyone lives in fear of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis.
  • The Emperor: Well, naturally.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His daughter, Ciri, though they only meet briefly in The Lady of the Lake. He realizes that he can't go through with his Evil Plan because of the pain it would cause her. It's implied the reason he treats the imposter Ciri so well is because he sees her as a Replacement Goldfish for his true daughter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Though he reveals he never loved Pavetta, he also claims he never planned on killing her, no matter how inconvenient it'd be to keep her alive. The knowledge that he killed his own wife—albeit accidentally—still causes him to feel guilt.
    • His original plan was to marry his daughter—who was unaware of their relation—so he could impregnate her, passing her god-like power down to their heir, who would one day use it to save the world from its prophesied doom. In The Lady of the Lake, what prompts Emhyr's Heel Realization is that he can't cross that moral line, even if the ultimate goal is well-intentioned.
  • Evil Overlord: Though more in image than in personal brutishness.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Emhyr speaks in a very deep, refined tone of voice, courtesy of Charles Dance.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Arguably what his war in the third game amounts to. Sure, The Empire that he leads started the war and has spared no blood in waging it. With that said, they are fighting against a coalition of nations led by The Caligula who is doing more harm to his people than the empire he's fighting is.
  • Heel Realization: Undergoes one at the end of the novels. His meeting with Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri moves him deeply to a point where he realizes that being a Well-Intentioned Extremist can only go so far before he ends up doing more harm than good. He forgoes his plans for Ciri, allows her to stay with her adoptive parents, and aspires to make better decisions from now on.
  • Gambit Pileup: What happens when everybody (and their little dog too) have plans upon the plans, and are determined enough to see to their completion.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Of the second game. Despite never taking a direct role in the events of the story, it is eventually revealed that the resident Big Bad was acting on his orders all along.
  • Hourglass Plot: In the novels, Emhyr and his empire were unquestionably the darker of the two sides at war with each other, employing unrelentingly brutal tactics against the Northern Kingdoms. By the time the latest war in the third game rolls around, however, those same kingdoms are now at the mercy of Radovid's brutal reign. So much so that a future living under Nilfgaard's banner looks pretty optimistic in comparison.
  • I Lied: Doesn't uphold his end of the bargain he made with Letho, as seen in the third game.
  • Karma Houdini: Possibly, depending on Geralt's choices in the third game. Should Radovid be assassinated and you side with Vernon Roche, Emhyr manages to finish the conquest he began so many years ago. Furthermore, should Ciri agree to become his heir, he gets to retire from ruling, having accomplished all he set out to do.
  • Karmic Death: If Redania wins the war in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Emhyr will be assassinated, just like all the Northern Kings who were killed on his behalf in the Witcher II.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He's Ciri's biological father.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He has a hand in many of the schemes that happen over the course of the books. He is also behind the chaos that Letho causes in the second video game.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tricks Geralt and the royal family of Cintra into believing that he's a decent fellow who genuinely loves Princess Pavetta. His reveal as The Emperor shows his true colors.
  • Morality Pet: False Cirilla is this for him. He pities her and so treats her with much more tenderness and compassion than he does anyone else. He even goes against his pragmatic nature by refusing to have her killed even if he captures the real Ciri. By the final book, it appears that he views her as a Replacement Goldfish for his actual daughter.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Emhyr var Emreis, the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes.
  • Noble Demon: Cruel, despotic, and ruthless as he is, he still has some basic decency left in him; perhaps most notably, he will always keep his word, without using Loophole Abuse.
  • Older Than They Look: To save Calanthe's first husband and demand his (yet unborn and unknown) daughter, he must've been at least in his twenties, so when he finally married Pavetta sixteen years later, Emhyr should've realistically been pushing forty. Add to that some twenty three years that The Saga happened in, and by the third game time he has to be at least about sixty. Yet he's depicted there as just a forty-something man with nary a worry in the world. However, it's been said before: people in the Witcher universe are very long lived and age slower.
    • Averted. He was thirteen when he was exiled from Nilfgaard and presumably met Calanthe's husband around this time. When he married Pavetta he was probably younger than thirty (being 13 or 14 years her senior), making him late 40s in the games.
  • 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 of: The White Flame Dancing on the Graves of His Foes. A note on how he earned this sobriquet: After all the power struggles of ascending to the throne, he had all of his political enemies (now all dead) disinterred and used their gravestones to pave his ballroom.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Emhyr refuses his spymaster's recommendation to kill the False Ciri once they capture the real one because he pities her.
    • After admitting he'll have to kill Geralt and Yennefer because they know too much, Emhyr offers them the option to say goodbye to Ciri and then commit suicide. When the time comes, Geralt and Yennefer call out for one of Emhyr's guard to give them a knife as instructed, only to discover Ciri still present and Emhyr and all his guards gone. It turns out, Emhyr couldn't go through with his plan, so he hugged his daughter goodbye and left her in the care of those she considered her true parents.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Emhyr engages in equal amounts of cruelty and mercy, but not because he's a cruel or merciful man. He's a ruthless and calculating emperor, and if his soldiers are raping, torturing, and murdering their way through a land, it's because he's decided that's the most efficient way to conquer it and break his enemies' morale. If his soldiers are being gentle, he's forming stalwart alliances, and he's being generous and kind to conquered peoples, it's to ensure their loyalty and make his invasions easier. Pragmatism is one of his defining traits, even toward those he likes and is fond of, like Geralt.
    • In Wild Hunt, he is seemingly presented as not being interested in total control of the continent if an alternative serves him better. He makes a deal with the Temerian rebels that if they kill Radovid, the current king of Temeria and biggest threat to Emhyr's conquest, he will allow Temeria to become a vassal state of Nilfgard, which allows them to essentially self govern and do whatever they want as long as they fly the Nilfgaardian Sun below the Temeranian lilies. He's also presented as being a more vulnerable figure, owing to the influence of Trade Corporations and rival factions who dislike the Northern War dragging on and disrupting trade.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In Blood and Wine, if Empress Ciri visits she mentions that Emhyr has mellowed out since stepping back from high-level politics and even calls him papa by accident. However, she feels that if Emhyr were to ever view her as a Sketchy Successor he would have no problem going back on his word and retake the throne.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: As Letho found out.
    • Surprisingly averted in the third game. Should Geralt choose to bring Ciri to him, Emhyr will honor his contract with the Witcher by offering him the promised reward, which Geralt can refuse or accept. Emhyr doesn't even take an aggressive measures to keep Ciri for himself, allowing both her and Geralt to leave in peace. This is likely because Emhyr doesn't want to alienate Ciri. Not to mention being in a huge debt to Geralt for his past help.
  • Villain of Another Story: In the third game. He’s responsible for an unprovoked war of conquest against the neighboring Northern Kingdoms. In any other story, he would be the Big Bad who the heroes have to fight. Here, however, his villainous actions are largely detached from the main narrative involving Geralt and Ciri. If anything, his role is spent helping them. And of course, it helps that by this point the war is *heavily* morally ambiguous on both sides, almost to the point of Evil vs. Evil in some cases, and Black-and-Gray Morality in other.
  • Wife Husbandry: He intended on fathering a savior of the world with his own daughter, Ciri, a Magical Source of potentially immense power. But when he sees how heartbroken she is about the (at the time, yet to happen, but about to) deaths of Geralt and Yennefer, his resolve crumbles and he gives up on his plan, allowing Geralt and Yennefer to live and Ciri to stay with them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: His plans are ultimately to save the world from the oncoming Ice Age that Ithlinne's Prophesy has foretold. His methods of doing so include a ruthless campaign of conquest and siring a prophesied savior of the world with his own, unwitting daughter.
  • You Have Failed Me: When his generals lost at the Battle of Sodden Hill and his armies were driven back in their first invasion of the North, Emhyr had the generals responsible executed. Not out of cruelty or anger, but because the old, established leadership was ineffective and weak, and he purged it to replace those officers with younger, ambitious, and aggressive ones.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He's very fond of this trope. In the third game, he has assassins sent after Letho, instead of upholding his end of the bargain of letting him rebuild his Witcher school.
    • Emhyr himself almost ended up on the receiving end of this trope. In the novels, the nobles who backed his retaking of the imperial throne are angered by his refusal to grant them further privileges and form a conspiracy against him. Their plans are short-lived, however, as they are discovered and dealt with promptly.

Nilfgaardian Military

    Morvran Voorhis 

General Morvran Voorhis

Appears in: Wild Hunt
Voiced by: Geoffrey Breton

Commander of the Alba Division, Morvran is one of Nilfgaard's top aristocrats and generals. As a member of the House of Voorhis, he is closely related to Emperor Emhyr var Emreis and highly placed in the line of succession.

  • Affably Evil: Despite being an ambitious Nilfgaardian general, Morvran is never anything less than friendly and polite to Geralt. He even participates in a friendly horse race with him. It probably has something to do with him wanting to be on good terms with his prospective future father-in-law.
  • Arranged Marriage: Suggests that should Ciri be found and return to Nilfgaard to become Empress, she would need to marry a high placed noble to support her rule. Morvran clearly intends that this noble should be him.
  • Blue Blood: Not only is he an aristocrat, but he is a true pure-blood Nilfgaardian.
  • The Conspiracy: A group of conspirators who were upset by several of Emhyr's actions plotted to overthrow him and place Morvran on the throne instead. However, they were betrayed and executed. Morvran himself had no part in the conspiracy and was spared.
  • The Dragon: He is Emhyr's top general and responsible for many of Nilfgaard's victories during the Third Northern War.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Eventually becomes emperor in 1290 and rules until his death in 1301.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Geralt's very leery towards him and most of their interactions border on Passive Aggressive Combat, but he and Movran still attend and compete in a good-natured horse race
  • Hidden Depths: He is a horse racing fanatic. If talked to at the Vegelbud Estate races, Morvran can tell Geralt everything he wants to know and more about the horses there and will challenge him to a race.
  • Minor Major Character: Morvran is a very important and influential character in the Witcher setting. However, his role in the story is minimal to the point where he could be excluded entirely and nothing would change. Overall, his involvement is limited to implying that Emhyr is planning to marry Ciri off to him, bumping into Geralt a couple of times in Novigrad, and...overseeing Geralt's shave.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: After Geralt has his first meeting with Emhyr, Morvran states that he has no clue as to why the Emperor would want to speak with the Witcher. When later encountered in Novigrad he admits that he knows Geralt is hunting for Ciri, with the indication that he was merely being cautious as to what he said aloud in Emhyr's palace.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: He's a very affable and educated man in the Nilfgaardian military.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Geralt encounters him twice in social situations in Novigrad. The first time he is attending horse races with Baroness Maria Louisa La Valette, while the second time is at the Vegelbud's party on their estate.

    Tavar Eggebracht 

Tavar Eggebracht

Appears in: Wild Hunt

Quartermaster of Nilfgaard's Center Army Group during the Third Northern War. Tavar hires Geralt to find a group of missing soldiers who disappeared on patrol.

  • Affably Evil: Although he is a complete bastard who orders war crimes committed, his politeness towards Geralt is in no way feigned.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: At first he seems to be more friendly and easygoing than most Nilfgaardians. Then Geralt discovers that Tavar's missing patrol was in fact a death squad sent out into the forest with Redanian prisoners of war to execute them in secret.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: He cannot recall if one of the deserters he hanged had red hair or not. Considering how uncommon such a trait would be amongst Nilfgaardian soldiers, the fact Tavar cannot recall such a detail only a few days later indicates how little he cares.
  • Karma Houdini: He suffers no punishment in any form for having prisoners of war taken into the forest and executed. He regards Geralt thinking Tavar would ever think that he would be punished for such a crime is silly, especially since he believes there is no chance that Nilfgaard will lose the war.

    Peter Saar Gwynleve 

Captain Peter Saar Gwynleve
Appears in: Wild Hunt

Commander of a Nilfgaardian outpost in White Orchard during the Third Northern War. He hires Geralt to slay a Griffin terrorizing the area in exchange for information on Yennefer's location.

  • Cultural Posturing: Honestly believes that Nilfgaard is bringing order and civilization to the Northern Realms. One of his announcements on the local board declares that they are bringing modern methods of disease control to the North that have existed in Nilfgaard for decades.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gets some in good snarking back in at Geralt when the Witcher mocks him.
    Gwynleve: But I am not yet fluent in the common tongue
    Geralt: Mhm. Probably mastered the basics, though, - "Hands up." "Kill them."
    Gwynleve: No. First came idioms. "Don't play with fire," for example.
  • A Father to His Men: Several of his soldiers were killed by the Griffin and he wants it dead for that, along with the civilians it's killed.
  • Kick the Dog: Orders the alderman who had been previously reassuring to be subjected to fifteen lashes after several bushels of grain are delivered to the garrison spoiled. Based on dialogue Geralt can overhear when approaching the inn after meting Gwynleve, it was actually Vesemir who was responsible, but Gwynleve was determined to make an example of the limits of his leniency with the locals.
  • Morton's Fork: He was facing one of these before Geralt showed up in White Orchard: since he doesn't have the manpower to deal with the griffin rampaging in the region, he could either ignore the beast and risk the number of people it's already killed getting higher, or request aid in dealing with it and risk the locals revolting when they realise how thinly stretched the local Nilfgaardian garrison is. When Geralt shows up, he's more than happy to Take a Third Option and hire a professional to deal with the beast and solve his worries.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Does his best to endear himself to the peasants of White Orchard by only taking thirty bushels of grain from them instead of the forty that was offered, knowing that they were running low on wheat after the Temerian army had also requisitioned food from them. He tells the local alderman that he himself was a peasant farmer once so he knows what that life is like. He also takes steps to stop disease from spreading by having locals bury the dead bodies from the recent battle under protection of his soldiers and wants the Griffin killed to protect citizens and soldiers alike. That being said, he is more than willing to mete out harsh punishments to any civilians he thinks are undermining the occupation, though even then he does so by the book.

Nilfgaardian Secret Service

    Vattier de Rideaux 

Vattier de Rideaux, Viscount of Eiddon

Head of military intelligence and one of Emperor Emhyr's most trusted servants.

  • The Dragon: He serves as this to Emperor Emhyr in the novels, being one of the few trusted servants not to betray him.
  • Honey Trap: The woman he happens to be having an affair with and whom he confides in is secretly an informant for the Lodge of Sorceresses.
  • No Respect Guy: He's publicly and frequently slighted by Emhyr for his failures to locate Ciri, despite his other successes.
  • The Rival: He and Redania's spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra are frequently trying to discover the same thing and attempting to outwit the other.
  • Secret Keeper: One of the few to know that the Ciri in the Empire's possession was a imposter. And during Assassins of Kings, was the only one who knew Letho was killing the Northern Kings for Nilfgaard aside from the Emperor.
  • The Spymaster: He is Nilfgaard's chief spy and oversees all their secret operations.
  • Villainous Friendship: He was clearly close friend with Skellen, even going as far to personaly ask Emhyr for mercy before Stefan's hanging.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Suggests killing the False Ciri once the real one has been found and secured. Emhyr, who pities the girl and has taken a liking to her, refuses to let him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Even though he's married, he's having an affair with a young woman who he thinks is merely a Dumb Blonde. Turns that's just an act and she's really a mole planted by the Lodge of Sorceresses.

    Stefan Skellen 

Stefan Skellen

A Nilfgaardian coroner-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, conspiring with other Nilfgaardian leaders to replace Emhyr.

  • Big Bad Wannabe: While far from harmless, he's clearly trying to bite more than he can chew.
  • Butt-Monkey: Becomes more of one as the book series progresses.
  • Character Death: Sentenced to death by hanging for treason.
  • Co-Dragons: After the deaths of Rience and Schiru, Skellen and Bonhart effectively replace them as Vilgefortz's cronies.
  • Dark Chick: Differing motivation, teamworking, more socially minded than the other bad guys. Male however.
  • The Dragon: To the Emperor. Later becomes one for Vilgefortz.
  • Dragon Ascendant: He became one of these for a short while after Vilgefortz's demise, with he and his men attempting to stop Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri from leaving Stygga Castle. They fail horribly.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Skellen purposely holds back reinforcements that could help Vilgefortz kill the heroes, since he hopes Vilgefortz will either kill the heroes himself, or the heroes will be weak enough after the fight that he and his crew can mop them up on their own. Unfortunately for him, the heroes are still more than capable of curb-stomping his forces even after killing Vilgefortz.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: A proud one and makes little effort to conceal it. He doesn't give a crap about Vilgefortz conquering the world, he just wants his help in converting Nilfgaard from an autocracy into a democracy.
  • Enemy Mine: Works with Vilgefortz because he sees no other way to accomplish his ultimate goals in reshaping the Nilfgaardian Empire.
  • The Heavy: For Ciri's arc between books two and five. Sure he's answering to someone else (sort of), but he's the one responsible for hiring Leo Bonhart and personally leads the special forces team that hunts Ciri.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Despite everything, he can still be dangerous when it counts. That scar on Ciri's face? He gave her that.
  • Public Execution: He is hanged as a traitor in Nilfgaard's Millennium Square after being arrested by the Impera Brigade.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: He serves this role along with his team, as well as providing the manpower for several minor occurrences.
  • Red Baron: Known by many as "The Tawny Owl."
  • Rogue Agent: From Nilfgaard. He manages to stay under the radar until the penultimate book where he's exposed as a traitor and has to go into hiding with Vilgefortz at Stygga Castle, essentially him and his soldiers reduced to a band of outlaws.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Fancies himself an idealistic revolutionary with the potential to change the world. In reality, he's a glorified thug who's way out of his league.
  • Smug Snake: He's not nearly as intelligent or charismatic as he likes to believe. His long-term goals are openly mocked by his co-conspirators, who make it painfully clear that he is at their mercy and would do well not to forget it.
  • The Starscream: He's just barely loyal to the Emperor (and later Vilgefortz), making it clear to everyone that he's got his own ambitions in mind. Not that he comes close to achieving any of them.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He's prone to these when things don't go his way (which is often).
  • Villain Decay: Introduced as an ominous figure bent on murdering Ciri and reshaping the setting's political landscape. His later appearances gradually reveal that he's just a small piece to be used by the real players.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Vattier, which is odd, since de Rieaux is aristocrat, while Skellem is not only of common birth but also supporter of democratic changes.
  • Visionary Villain: He says he wants to convert Nilfgaard from a totalitarian autocracy into a constitutional monarchy and eventually a democracy where the common people will have their say and people are rewarded on merit instead of birth. It's ultimately subverted when one of his statements to his fellow conspirators puts his own motives in question, when he claims the common will be easy to manipulate. 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 due to how easy it is to conceal coupled with deadliness in a skilled hand.

Nilfgaardian Aristocrats

    Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen 

Ambassador Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen

Voiced by: Robbie Stevens

A Nilfgaardian aristocrat, member of the Guild of Merchants, and ambassador to Redania until being dismissed and exiled from Redania due to accusations of spying. He was later sent by Emperor Emhyr to supposedly negotiate a peace treaty with the nations of the North, but it was clear he had ulterior motives.

  • The Chessmaster: He plots covertly to sow chaos in the Northern nations on his Emperor's behalf.
  • Evil Old Folks: He's an old man working for a totalitarian empire that's causing political upheaval in the northern nations to set the stage for a Nilfgaardian invasion.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He certainly acts very polite around various influential people and has civil conversations with them which show how well educated he really is on matters about the Northern Kingdoms. However, he is also very crafty, tricking people into revealing crucial information simply by asking them a few seemingly trivial questions. He even has the guts to subtly taunt Geralt in King Henselt's camp about Triss while talking about a statue with beauty trapped within, the significance of which becomes clear to Geralt only later in the story.
  • Karma Houdini: If Geralt choses to rescue Anaïs La Valette or help Philippa Eilhart in Chapter III instead of rescuing Triss, Shilard successfully sows chaos at the Loc Muinne summit and lives to tell the tale. Though his absence in the third game and his death in the rescue Triss route in the second game on the Emperor's orders, implies Shilard may have outlived his usefulness.
  • Mouth of Sauron: He acts as one to Emperor Emhyr in the second game, serving as his ambassador.
  • Shoot the Hostage: A possible end for him. Geralt takes him hostage to enter the Nilfgaardian camp at Loc Muinne and rescue Triss. Renuald aep Matsen shoots him with a crossbow due to standing orders from the Emperor, although this results in Geralt going to town on the black ones with his steel.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Even if he survives the events of the second game, he is replaced by a new ambassador in the sequel with no explanation as to what happened to him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: If Geralt goes to save Triss in Chapter III, Emhyr finds out about Shilard's plan to assassinate Geralt and he sends secret orders to Renuald aep Matsen to eliminate Shilard, who in his view has become too reckless and has thus outlived his usefulness, not to mention a threat to his old friend.

    Carthia van Canten 

Carthia van Canten

Voiced by:

A young Nilfgaardian noble and the lover of Vattier de Rideaux, the head of Nilfgaardian intelligence. However, she also reports to the sorceress Assire var Anahid about Vattier. During the Third Northern War she is spying in Novigrad, where she encounters Geralt during a high stakes gwent tournament.

  • Action Girl: In Wild Hunt she joins Geralt in slaying a band of thieves who robbed the Gwent tournament.
  • Code Name: "Cantarella", which was supposedly a popular poison during the Italian Renaissance. She goes by Sasha while operating in Novigrad.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: A classic example of this trope, she uses her beauty to seduce men and gather information for the Lodge.
  • Ms. Exposition: Gives Geralt a rundown of the other major participants in the Gwent tournament.
  • The Mole: For the Sorceresses Lodge, gathering information across the continent on a variety of issues. After Assire's death, Carthia began reporting to Fringilla Vigo.
  • The Mistress: Her relationship with Vattier, which she abandoned once Assire had all the information she needed from the spymaster.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Around Vattier, Carthia was often quiet, which he mistook for dumb. This allowed her to use their relationship to find out numerous secrets for Assire.
  • Really Gets Around: Her list of lovers includes not only Vattier, but also Prince Anséis of Lyria and Rivia and possibly Geralt as well at the end of her sidequest.

    Rose var Attre 

Rose var Attre

Appears in: Wild Hunt

One of Ambassador Henry var Attre's two daughters who lives on an estate in Novigrad. Geralt meets her and her sister Edna while searching for Dandelion, who served at their rhetoric teacher.

  • Action Girl: Geralt notes that she is quite the talented swordswoman during their practice duels. Its noted that she has had difficultly keeping a fencing instructor because she keeps beating them senseless during training.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Although not nearly as malicious as many other characters, she reveals herself during her quest line as a vindictive, snobbish elitist. When attacked by a group of Nordlings who hate Nilfgaardians due to the war, she promises to later return and have their hands cut off for the attempted assault. No matter what happens, Geralt is disgusted by her actions and she is disappointed because she thought he was different from other Nordlings.
  • Fantastic Racism: Views Nordlings as inherently inferior to Nilfgaardians and is seemingly unable to understand how the war is affecting them.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She and Edna mess with each other's lives frequently, with Edna even writing love letters to Dandelion in Rose's name.
    Edna: Rosa, I had the best of intentions, you know that! I felt you needed help taking the first step... You blushed every time [Dandelion] sang a ballad.
    Rosa: He'll next sing at your funeral if you don't stop it right now!
  • Rich Boredom: Upon learning that Geralt is a Witcher, Rose is fascinated and wistfully notes that she would much rather have his life travelling, fighting monsters, and sleeping under the stars over attending balls, eating fancy foods, and the political games of the nobility.
  • Ship Tease: She and Geralt get along well and are quite clearly flirting at a few points. Then Geralt sees her nastier side and wants nothing to do with her.
  • Tomboy And Girly Girl: To Tomboy to her sister Edna's Girly Girl. Despite being identical twins, Rose loves swordplay and dresses in a tunic, while Edna is more gossipy and dresses in a noble's dress.

Nilfgaardian Mages



Appears in: Assassins of Kings
Voiced by: ???

"Mock me if you must, but I truly believe one huge empire is humanity's only hope. Many nations under one crown. With shared laws, advanced science, burgeoning industry and trade. And no wars, of course."

A Nilfgaardian sorceress posing as an Northern apprentice in Phillipa Eilhart's employ.

  • Ascended Extra: In the Enhanced Edition of Assassins of Kings there is an extended sidequest that features Cynthia after her exposure as a spy that goes deeper into her backstory and personality.
  • The Apprentice: She is posing as Phillipa's, but in actuality she has already been fully trained by Vanhemar.
  • Brains and Bondage: Geralt accidentally interrupts her and Phillipa in the middle a "training" session.
  • Enemy Mine: Teams up with Geralt to find the laboratory the mage Aep Dearhenna in the ruins of Loc Muinne in exchange for telling him information about his past that he has yet to remember. Depending on how the quest goes, she can side with Geralt against her fellow mage Adalbert or perish alongside him if Geralt refuses to let them take the artifacts within.
  • Everyone Has Standards: She despises Adalbert, who is a smug torturer and mocks the deaths of the scholars they hired to help in their expedition. Given the chance, Cynthia gladly helps Geralt kill him.
  • The Mole: She is spying on Phillipa, Saskia's rebels, and by extension the Lodge of Sorceresses, for Nilfgaard.
  • Playing with Fire: Her attacks revolve around fire spells.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: It was Cynthia who compressed Triss into a statue and delivered her to Ambassador Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen.

Other Nilfgaardian Citizens


Dominik Bombastus Houvenaghel

Cousin to Leo Bonhart, an extremely wealthy merchant who runs the Claremont Arena in the dependent kingdom of Ebbing.

  • Bread and Circuses: Houvenaghel points out that during troubled times, circuses might be even more important than bread, since bread can be taken out of people's mouths, but people always want entertainment.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Houvenaghel is a very corrupt merchant who reaps enormous profit off bloodshed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards/Pragmatic Villainy: According to Marchioness de Nemeth-Uyvar, Houvenaghel is "reproachful" whenever she and her husband, who are both pedophiles, abduct local children. It's difficult to say whether this is out of personal disgust, considering he still associates with them both, or pragmatic objection since the children are from land he owns and it could lead back to him.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Houvenaghel and his cousin Bonhart have a mutually beneficial business relationship. Houvenaghel profits from Bonhart's fighting prowess and fearsome reputation, while Bonhart benefits from Houvenaghel's business acumen and connections.
  • Fat Bastard: He's so obese that Bonhart jokes it'd be easier to go above him than it would be to go around him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: As Houvenaghel says, "It costs nothing to be polite." This is in contrast to his cousin Bonhart, who's an openly contemptuous Jerkass to pretty much everyone he meets, while Houvenaghel remains polite to people even while insulting them, and remains a criminal, slaver and owner of a blood sports arena.
  • Gladiator Games: He owns and operates the arena in Claremont, where people and animals fight to the death for the amusement of others who bet on the outcome. Ciri is forced to fight in the pit against her will by him and Bonhart.
  • Karma Houdini: Even though Ciri burns down his arena in revenge, Houvenaghel himself survives despite his association with Bonhart. Worse, according to the Encyclopaedia Maxima Mundi, tome VII, Houvenaghel goes on to become a trusted counsellor to the future Nilfgaardian Emperor, Jan Calveit, and Mayor of Neveugen and Viscount of Venendal. The closest he gets to karma is that the same year he gets those titles, he dies, but only after a long life of villainy.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Houvenaghel is incredibly corrupt and only cares about money, but he gained a lot of goodwill in Ebbing for his charity ventures, helping the poor, building orphanages, hospitals and daycare facilities. Also his arena was very popular with the locals for providing entertainment during troubled times. Houvenaghel's business successes also gained him respect from the Nilfgaardian emperors, to the point where he became the counsellor of one and lavished with titles.
  • Wicked Cultured: Not only does he share his cousin's taste for rare wines, he's also a lover of fine art, the theatre and sports. Unfortunately, by "sports" he means blood sports.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: