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Having gotten through Witcher 3 a couple of times, I am curious about something that I don't think is really described in the story. By which I mean in the game - I haven't read the books, although I would gladly accept an answer based on them.

There is a part where Geralt talks to Johnny the Godling in Crookback Bog (and Johny uses gestures to answer, since he lost his voice). In this conversation Geralt asks Johnny: "Doesn't it bother you, having monsters for neighbors?" To which Johnny points at himself, and does a scary monster move - implying that he's just as scary as any of them.

What confuses me is that Johnny is a monster in name, but seems like a very different sort of creature from drowners and hags in Crookback Bog. He's kind, intelligent, has a sense of humor - in other words, not exactly a monster like the rest of them. And he certainly does not go around murdering people.

So my question is - what monster qualities does this gesture imply? What exactly are the powers godlings possess that would make drowners and hags scared of them?

There is a part in the game where a succubus expresses some degree of anger with witchers for killing monsters, so that gives some credence to the idea that monsters may not like to attack each other - in which case the gesture can mean that he too is technically a monster, and is therefore not subject to attack. But A. if that were true, Geralt would know it, and wouldn't have asked the question to begin with, and B. succubi and godlings are similar in being intelligent and not innately violent. I don't think that says a lot about whom monsters like drowners do or don't attack.

There is also a part where a godling gives bad dreams to a sleeping person. However, that, while certainly a power, wouldn't really prevent a godling from being killed by some drowner.

Godlings are supposedly inspired by the Slavic domovoy spirit - which possesses different powers, depending on whom you ask. But A. a domovoy is a house spirit, and wouldn't live in a swamp, and B. I'm curious whether the there is any Witcher-specific word on what monster-like qualities godlings possess.

  • This seems like multiple questions to me. – Forrest Venable Dec 21 '17 at 20:43
  • @ForrestVenable Just want to know what it is that makes Johnny such a scary monster. – Misha R Dec 21 '17 at 21:00
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    He is polevoi, not domovoi. A creature of the field not house elf. There are some... interesting legends about polevoi. But I can't give you more details, because I am not very familiar with witcher lore so I don't know how helpful my answer would be. So, I am making it a comment. Here's wiki link: witcher.wikia.com/wiki/Godling – jo1storm Dec 21 '17 at 22:28
  • @jo1storm Well, godlings do like to live in houses, as is the case with the other godling I mentioned. I'm also going by the Witcher Wiki page (witcher.wikia.com/wiki/Godling) - but, if you look in the trivia section, it mentions Bożątko as being the term for "godling" in the game's native language, and then goes on to liken it to a domovoy. Although, to be fair, you really wouldn't find a domovoy living in a swamp burrow. But polevoy or domovoy, I suppose the question remains the same. – Misha R Dec 21 '17 at 22:49
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The game repeatedly suggests that all creatures that entered the world during the Conjunction of the Spheres think they belong to the same collective/community as if they were related somehow. All these diverse kind of creatures are referred to as a collective group called "monsters" in the game. This is what Johnny refers to.

One example of this is the relation between the crones and Johnny. The crones don't really care about Johnny but tolerate him, as if he's some distant relative. For example the crones insist that Johnny visits their annual feast later on the game, even though they don't care about him otherwise. Supposedly drowners would have a similar attitude to other "monsters", treating them as distant kin.

As for canon and the books, they are not much like that at all - exotic creatures mostly care about their own kind but not about other monsters. For example there is a dragon who passionately cares about preserving other dragons specifically and is pleased that Geralt's witcher code forbids him to hunt dragons. But the dragon doesn't care about Geralt killing other monsters.

There are a few exceptions in the books though, where different "monsters" appear as if part of some sort of collective. In The Lady of the Lake some diverse creatures spontaneously band together to get revenge on Geralt for being a witcher and hunting monsters (something very similar to this happens in a side quest in the game). The vampire Regis is also dating a succubus during the party's stay in Toussaint, as if a succubus would be a more suitable match for him than a human. (Though Regis is admittedly very liberal when it comes to befriending other species.) The human Nivellen transformed into a monster by a curse also seems to attract vampires and other supernatural creatures.

Note however that "godlings" is, as far as I remember, something invented by the game makers. They don't appear in the books.

  • Can you cite some of the times when the game makes it clear that all monsters - even drowners - are a collective community? I cited a conversation with a succubus in my question - but, while it suggests that she may be offended by Geralt killing monsters (same as a human would be offended by a monster killing humans), it does not suggest that monsters get along with each other. Like I said in the question, if that were overtly true, then Geralt - a professional monster hunter - would certainly have known it, and would not have asked "doesn't it bother you, having monsters for neighbors." – Misha R Oct 17 at 20:16
  • @MishaR Citing the game is kind of hard as I would have to replay it for that. Though the mentioned side-quest in Skellige is the most obvious one, where several creatures, a werewolf, a troll, a godling etc band together to kill Geralt with a cunning plan to drop a rock on him. witcher.fandom.com/wiki/Contract:_Skellige%27s_Most_Wanted – Amarth Oct 17 at 20:19
  • @MishaR Though Geralt, in the game and books both, makes a clear distinction between sentient monsters and those who are animalistic. That might be what he is referring to in that dialog. – Amarth Oct 17 at 20:24
  • Well, yes, the game implies a difference between sentient and animalistic monsters. I don't think the side quest you mentioned had drowners, for instance, and there is not much to indicate that monsters don't make that same distinction. Geralt too has quests where he has a choice of whether or not to spare a monster, but quests with that choice seem to be restricted to monsters who can talk. The swamp, on the other hand, is filled with drowners, with only an occasional hag or foglet mixed in. – Misha R Oct 17 at 21:09
  • @MishaR Water hags are sentient too though and evidently get along with drowners just fine. – Amarth Oct 17 at 21:14
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I don't think godlings are scary monsters. I think Johnny believes he's a scary monster. He has a very childlike demeanor but is intelligent. He can clearly see that he has more in common with what the people living in/near Crookback consider monsters than he does people, at least in terms of abilities/looks. In addition, this is a world where the population is largely ignorant of anything outside of their own very localized area. If your world is already rife with danger and strange, aggressive creatures and you live in a swamp that is considered by everyone else to be even more dangerous than normal, it's safe to assume that you'd view anything that isn't human (yes, that includes dwarves and elves) as inherently monstrous. So Johnny is surrounded by monsters, knows he isn't a human, and has likely been treated as a monster by most (granny and the children, mostly). It's not a surprise that he labels himself as such.

In-universe, though, I don't think there was ever a definitive explanation. Unfortunately, I don't have sources to back me up on this but I believe there were only 2 godlings in The Witcher 3: Johnny and the girl in the haunted house. Geralt has the knowledge and experience to know that just because something isn't human doesn't mean it's evil, aggressive, or requires slaying. Godlings are innocent, playful, and love pranks. They're clearly not "monsters", but the humans in the Witcherverse are inherently racist and scared of things different than them (sounds familiar).

  • Except that Gran and the children don't treat him as a scary monster. From the one interaction Johnny and Gran have it's clear that they are on good terms, and the children don't seem especially terrified of him. One of them even hangs out with him regularly. If he does think of himself as a scary monster, I don't think he got the idea from them. Still, it's an interesting read on this. – Misha R Oct 18 at 15:23

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