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I recently watched The Witcher on Netflix, and just started reading The Last Wish. I'm curious what the full extent of Geralt's powers (specifically his magical powers) are? Or, more generally, what are witchers capable of and incapable of in terms of their magical ability?

From the Netflix series, it seems like Geralt's magic is far inferior to that of the mages. Is there an "upper bound" to what he and other witchers can do?

This might not be comprehensive, but the series shows him:

  • to have cat-like eyes;
  • to have super-human strength / physical abilities;
  • to have an above-average lifespan; and
  • to have some sort of telekinetic ability, used while fighting.

I'm sure I'm missing some!

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Witchers are humans who since childhood undergo extensive training, mental and physical conditioning as well as passed through the extremely dangerous - with about 25% survival rate - alchemical and mutagenic process that greatly enhances their abilities. Geralt is a bit special because he was the only child that survived the advanced mutations (most likely because his mother was an enchantress).

The abilities of witchers are mostly physical:

  • Enhanced senses: Witchers can identify the animal species from the smell of its blood, hear a heartbeat of nearby creatures, but the most impressive are their cat-like eyes, that allow seeing in near-absolute darkness or notice minuscule details of the surrounding.
  • Resistance to toxic substances: witchers can further enhance their abilities using special elixirs that are normally toxic to humans. They can also resist many poisonous attacks, that would normally kill an ordinary human in seconds.
  • Enhanced speed, reflexes, endurance and to a bit lesser extent strength, far beyond any normal or well-trained human, that allows them to swiftly end fights with minimal effort, and perform physical feats non-witchers couldn't hope to match.
  • Much faster healing rate and near immunity to diseases
  • Greatly extended longevity - while no Witcher ever died from the old age, it has been speculated that the oldest living witcher - Vessemir - can be as much as ~300 years old, but he appears to be around 60.

There are a few, probably unintentional side effects such as complete sterility. Few enchantresses also mentioned that even an innocent touch of a witcher can bring a pleasant tingling sensation.

The magic of the witchers pales in comparison to their physical skills - they don't know any spectacular magic, although they know a few basic spells that they call "signs":

The so-called Sign of Aard, Ciri, is a very simple spell belonging to the family of psychokinetic magic which is based on thrusting energy in the required direction. The force of the thrust depends on how the will of the person throwing it is focused and on the expelled force. It can be considerable. The witchers adapted the spell, making use of the fact that it does not require knowledge of a magical formula—concentration and the gesture are enough. That’s why they called it a Sign. Sign. Where they got the name from, I don’t know, maybe from the Elder Speech – the word ‘ard’, as you know, means ‘mountain’, ‘upper’ or ‘the highest’. If that is truly the case then the name is very misleading because it’s hard to find an easier psychokinetic spell. We, obviously, aren’t going to waste time and energy on something as primitive as the witchers’ Sign.

The power of the signs also pales in comparison to power of trained mages - there is a scene somewhere in the books where Yennefer says, that using the same technique as the Aard sign, she could send a rock to the moon - in comparison, Geralt can "barely" use it to knock someone off their feet.

There are a few known signs (there were not greatly explained in the books but the game series explained them nicely):

  • Aard is a psychokinetic push
  • Igni allows creating a small stream of fire
  • Yrden is a magical trap briefly immobilizing opponent
  • Quen created a small magical barrier
  • Axii was allowing to briefly charm someone or calm a panicked horse

The books and games also mention the sign of Heliotrop in a few places, but its purpose is inconsistent - i.e. onece it is described as an offensive sign, once as protection from magic and once it is used to put someone to sleep.

Also, contrary to wizards, witchers don't take the magic from their surroundings/primal Chaos/elements, but instead, they fuel it with elixirs.

  • You're somewhat overstating physical abilities there. "Normal" Bonhart could defeat a witcher. Without elixirs, witchers weren't all that super. – Mithoron Feb 26 at 14:54
  • @Mithoron Witchers don't get any skills through the mutations. They have to learn swordplay just like everyone else, even though they use a special kind of fighting style. Bonhart was a very skilled fighter and not all witchers had someone like Vesemir as their fencing teacher. – Amarth Feb 26 at 17:49
  • Btw in addition to what's mentioned here, Geralt in particular seems to have some minor talent of Oneiromancy. At several times he dreams about Ciri and that she is danger. It's never really established if this was a gift of his or if it was just Ciri subconsciously projecting her powers on those closest to her and sending the dreams. – Amarth Feb 26 at 17:53
  • Sure, but my point is their physical traits don't put them outside of harm's way and aren't "far beyond any normal or well-trained human" without elixirs. – Mithoron Feb 26 at 18:28
  • @Mithoron IIRC we don't know how Bonehart killed the witchers, but it wasn't necessarily a fair fight - he could as well shot them in the back, set a trap or stab them when they were drunk. But I wasn't trying to make an impression here that each witcher is like a Superman - there will be a rare people that could be stronger or faster - but those would be exceptionally rare and they would be far more than just "well-trained" – Yasskier Feb 26 at 18:37

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