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I know from a gameplay point of view that challenging Geralt to a fight is to further the story or complete a quest, but witchers are made out to be the pinnacle of discipline and skill, and Geralt the very best of them, and yet every man and his dog thinks they can best him in combat.

So why does everyone think they can beat a witcher in a fight?

EDIT: One example is Ronvid, who wants to win 100 duels for Maid Bilberry, and challenges Geralt 3 or 4 times

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    Just to be clear, do you mean games, books, or all together? – Gallifreyan Mar 19 '17 at 10:49
  • Also, could you provide some specific examples of Geralt being challenged that you want addressed? Either games of books will do. – Gallifreyan Mar 19 '17 at 11:08
  • games specifically, like the random guy that shows up 3 or 4 times and challenges him to a fight – darthspongebob Mar 19 '17 at 11:57
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    I don't think your example is particularly relevant - that guy was clearly nuts, and didn't know what he was getting into. He was most probably intended as a comic relief, or something to persist across all chapters – Gallifreyan Mar 19 '17 at 12:11
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There are a couple of reasons that might contribute to this. Although I think you've nailed it in the question, with the fights being a tool to advance the plot, I can speculate on a number of things that may explain this in-universe. Spoilers ahead!

  • Witchers are mostly extinct

    As I've written in my answer, not many witchers are left in the world, especially as of the end of the 3rd game. This must be the main contributor to the fact that not many people know what a witcher really is, and what they can do with their swords.

    Also remember the excerpt about witchers from Encyclopaedia Maxima Mundi, which doesn't even acknowledge Witchers as products of mutation. This, I think, is the greates indication that witchers left very little trace in history, after being so useful in early times when the earth crawled with monsters.

  • Witchers are trained to fight monsters, not people

    Well, they are trained to fight people - some schools, as that of the Cat, even allegedly made that their primary concern - but this isn't what they were created for.

    Fighting a monster is not all about going to the lair and "dancing" with the beast - a witcher's job is mostly about preparation. This includes researching the monsters: their behaviour, weak spots, possible injuries; brewing and taking potions; applying right oils. Think about the games - you can take on a monster with only a sword (and you get an achievement for that), but that is very hard.

  • People mostly attack in groups

    When was the last time someone beat Geralt in a duel?

    1. Vilgefortz
    2. Letho


    The former is an overpowered sorcerer, so the outcome of the duel was predetermined, and the latter is a witcher like Geralt himself, and Geralt wasn't in his best condition. Apart from that, most peasants usually gather a clique of at least 3 guys, which brings us to the next clause...

  • Geralt has been killed by peasants before

    Sorry for spoilers, but this is how it went in The Lady of the Lake. Geralt was killed by a whiny guy with a pitchfork, because the crowd was too dense for him to move as fast as he needed. In fact,

  • Lots of witchers were slain by angry mob

    This is the reason why Kaer Morhen currently houses only ~5 witchers - they were all slain by angry mob. While there certainly were sorcerers involved (Geralt remarks that the mob couldn't have stormed the castle without magic), overpowering witcher with vast numbers has a historical precedent.

  • Geralt is not fond of unnecessary killing

    This goes for both monsters and humans (though I have the impression that he is more predisposed to spare monsters). But still, one of the reasons Geralt died was the fact that he pitied the guy he was about to kill, which resulted in him being stabbed. People might think that witchers are paid to kill monsters, so they will be more reluctant to attack humans.

    Also, since Geralt like to appeal to the "Witcher codex" (that he made up), people might think that they are protected by some honour code, which is obviously not the case.

  • Geralt is not in his prime anymore

    Geralt is at least 70 during the events of the last game, and though he doesn't have the appearance of a 70-year old, he's not a youngster either. Witchers don't age as noticeably as normal folk do, but his white hair and other slightly-noticeable indications of aging might give the expression that a younger person might take on him. In fact, one person did - Cahir was able to land quite a few blows on Geralt, although I'm not sure if this is a fair comparison since Geralt's knee was hurt at the time.

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    A great answer. I'd also add prejudice - I've only read the first book but I've been a huge fan of the game series from the beginning and I get the impression there is a massive amount of prejudice against Witchers amongst the general populace. Where there is prejudice, there is often underestimation - people who hate others don't tend to expect those others to be better/stronger/faster than themselves. Couple that with alcohol and peer pressure and it's no surprise so many peasants overestimate their chances. – delinear Mar 20 '17 at 12:47
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    @delinear Thanks for feedback! I agree, and the list could go on; but I think the main reason is just adding action to the game - it'd be pretty boring if you had to chase people across the Northern Kingdoms to fight with them :D – Gallifreyan Mar 20 '17 at 15:57
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I think it’s the fact that they are mostly extinct so people do think they take them on, and also maybe even the fact people’s lives are so bad they think if they can kill a famous killer such as Geralt they’ll receive fame etc

But to say Geralt is old and not in his prime is wrong plainly, witchers only get better with age Vesemirs age is centuries long, but he is better than a lot. As well Geralt in the games is 100, and is far better than he was in the books mainly cos Geralt always learns from experience, and also for the game purposes, but no doubt the Geralt in Witcher 3 is better than that of the man in the books, his skills are far superior.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Please read How to Answer and maybe rewrite this to be a bit more clear? In your first sentence "they" means "Witchers" twice and "other people" twice, unless you've confused me. It's also not clear how much this answer is based on the books vs. the games; you could improve it by citing a specific source (preferably by including a quote) for each point. – DavidW Apr 24 at 15:42

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