The thrilling and often macabre The Witcher is a franchise that has left its mark across popular media, from books to video games. While it’s teeming with elaborately designed kingdoms, some very interesting characters and well-written lore to back it all up, there are still some aspects of the series that just don’t make sense. Notable among them are the Witcher signs: weak spells that can be cast by this intrepid breed of monster hunters by merely using hand gestures.
These spells range from fire streams to mind control, but the inclusion and usage of these abilities across the video games (as well as the novels and the Netflix series) is questionable at times. Here are some things that just don’t quite add up about these signs.
10 Why Have Them?
Witchers go through an arduous process to obtain their signature superhuman strength and reflexes. Geralt’s kin win most of their battles through sheer strength and impeccable swordsmanship with the finest blades, which makes fans wonder: why is the usage of magic necessary in the first place?
The Witcher signs are barely used by Geralt in the books and are only included in the games to make room for more dynamic gameplay elements. Magic is a complex force that is better left in the able hands of mages and sorceresses, rather than being diluted for use by Witchers.
9 Inconvenience Of Gestures
In the midst of battling a Griffin or a Vampire, Witchers have to employ the use of all their senses in order to survive. This makes using hand gestures to cast spells… inconvenient, to say the least.
Juggling between parrying, blocking, deflecting and dodging already makes for a difficult task, without the added bother of holding a sword with one hand and casting a spell with the other. This is especially true for the Yrden sign, as it requires a more complex hand gesture when compared to the other signs. It doesn’t affect all enemies either, resulting in the precious time being wasted when in combat.
8 They Are Not So Simple
The video games by CD Projekt Red use simplified signs and portrayed them as something which requires little to no concentration, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In the books, Geralt rarely uses the signs, because they require a decent amount of concentration along with the ability to execute each hand gesture flawlessly.
By design, the signs are supposed to be low-level magic that anyone with the required knowledge should be able to use. However, almost no-one except Witchers has the ability to actually use them to perfection. This is inconsistent with the way signs are sometimes presented.
7 Their Limitations
Signs serve as the most basic combat aid, via telekinetic blasts and shields. The lack of more potent abilities, such as invisibility or maybe teleportation, is questionable, as it restricts the options Witchers have during combat despite their being able to wield magic.
Signs such as Axii can really only be used on lesser foes, which can be defeated very easily with a swift blow or two of the sword. Yrden slows down enemies within a certain distance, but again, it doesn’t work on all enemies, thus limiting its usage.
6 Drainage Of Stamina
The power required to use any kind of magic is drawn from the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire. This is true for all kinds of magic except, well, signs.
Using Signs requires stamina, which is vital while fighting foes. However, it makes no sense for weak magic to take a toll on the person casting it, especially when the user’s line of work is fighting monsters. There are better and more powerful sources from which power can be drawn and used to cast these spells.
5 Ciri Cannot Use Signs
Ciri is one of the most powerful characters in the franchise. She is highly sensitive to magic and has the ability to destroy entire worlds if not kept in check. The Witcher signs cannot be used by Ciri in spite of her magical prowess, which makes things more confusing because Ciri was trained to be a Witcher (even though she did not undergo the various mutations).
To be a Witcher and possess all that knowledge but still not be able to use these simple signs is perplexing.
4 The Witcher Trials And Signs
The Witcher Trials are mutations and difficult tasks recruits must survive in order to become a full-fledged Witcher. It is clear, then, that one must go through them to acquire the ability to use the signs.
These Trials are strenuous and only three out of ten ‘recruits’ survive them. This makes the added difficulty of using simplistic magic (which is not necessary for survival) in these trials excessive. Witchers are better off honing their alchemy and combat skills to perfection while also increasing their chances of survival during the trials.
3 Heliotrop And Quen
The Heliotrop sign makes an appearance only in The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings, but is quite similar to Quen when it comes to its applications. It protects the user against physical attacks, magic, and fall damage.
Quen does the same thing, barring magical attacks, which makes having two signs for protection against different types of damage impractical. In a stressful situation, a single defensive sign serves a Witcher better than two different signs for the same effect.
2 Axii Is Underpowered
Axii is an interesting sign. It allows Witchers to influence the mind of their opponents and convince them to do certain tasks, turn foes against one another and, most usefully, calm Roach. Sadly, the Axii sign can only be used against low-level foes and does not work on most of the bigger monsters in the game.
Having to complete mundane tasks in order to acquire items for a quest, instead of just using Axii to simply make someone hand over whatever is needed, makes it a really underpowered sign. What a shame that it works only on simple enemies.
1 Lose The Medallion, Lose The Signs
“Medallion’s Humming.” While this may be a familiar phrase (as well as “Wind’s howling”) and almost a meme in the Witcher community, it is an important item in a Witcher’s inventory.
As is evident from the books, though, the gruff yet witty Geralt cannot use his magic without the medallion. This means that, as he traverses mountains and plains while fighting monsters at the same time, he cannot afford to lose his medallion, lest he foregoes the use of his magical abilities as well.
NEXT: The Witcher 3: All Of Geralt’s Friendships, Ranked
- The Witcher
Manuviraj Godara is an avid reader, video game enthusiast and writer hailing from Jaipur, India. He is pursuing a graduate course in English Literature among other immoderate hobbies that include PC Building and collecting classic rock music records.
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