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Meet the monsters of The Witcher 2

4:00 PM on 05.14.2011 // Nick Chester

You've met The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings' women. You've come to face to face with its men. That's great and all, but when do we get to see something that you'll get to kill?

Today's the day, as we bring you a look at the monsters that will populate the game's world. Trolls, harpys, and more await.

The Witcher 2 for PC is out next Tuesday, May 17.

Kayran

Near Flotsam, the kayran has made its home below the waters of the Pontar for over a century.  The villagers, who grew used to its presence long ago, call it the Old Man.  Until recently, they considered it relatively harmless.  This changed very quickly when the gargantuan creature turned aggressive and destructive.  It began shredding fishermen’s nets, snatching unwary people from the river banks and shattering ships.  Even the Temerian military has been unable to slow its savage rampage; the monster is extraordinarily powerful when it emerges onto the land, and may be impossible to vanquish within its aquatic habitat.

The kayran’s huge body is sheltered within a solid, knobbly chitin carapace that easily deflects the sharpest swords and spears.  Not that many adversaries get near enough to strike.  It’s no small feat to avoid the beast’s six massive tentacles, each weighing as much as a trebuchet arm, and capable of killing a fully armored soldier with a single blow.  Since these mighty appendages are covered by poisonous slime, just a touch can be fatal, and the creature also spits highly lethal venom.  Clearly, it will take more than ordinary bravery and skill with arms to end the monster’s reign of terror.



Elemental

Those who practice the art of sorcery draw their power from the major forces of nature, the Four Elements or Roots - Air, Water, Fire and Earth.  Each of these has its own plane, which is inhabited by genies and inaccessible to mere mortals.  With a sufficient command of magic, however, it is possible to fashion lesser creatures from these elements, and to bring them into the world to serve their masters’ or mistresses’ wills. 

Elementals seldom have more than a tiny measure of finesse.  As a result, they are almost always assigned to tasks primarily requiring brute strength. For example, they make truly excellent guardians for valuable items and important places.  Utterly without fear, they do not tire, never sleep, and know no pain.  They ask no questions and are unflinchingly obedient.  In addition, as countless thieves and intruders have learned in the final moments of the lives, they are completely diligent, absolutely unhesitant and unconditionally merciless in carrying out their designated duties. 

Made of clay and timbers, and armed with crude, heavy, wood-studded maces in place of hands, the earth elemental epitomizes these qualities.  It is every bit as formidable as it appears, more than a match for even the brawniest of flesh and blood foes. 



Harpy

Equal parts humanoid and bird, the harpy is as tall as a man, with a wingspan typically twice its height.  Across the Northern Kingdoms, it’s easy enough to find people who think it the most revulsive of all monsters.  Lacking even the slightest semblance of plainness, it is perhaps the ultimate incarnation of ugliness.  The creature’s predominant facial feature is a stout, sharp beak perfectly suited to tearing flesh and breaking bones to get at the marrow within.  It has skin more wrinkled than any crone’s, arms that stretch well below its knees, and hands and feet ending in sharp, hooked talons. 

Although capable of crafting primitive weapons from the bones of its prey, the harpy usually prefers to attack with its highly effective natural armaments, using its razor-like claws to shred enemies and its powerful wings to pummel them.  It is also known and feared for its invasive telepathic abilities which allow the creature to penetrate a victim’s mind and steal its dreams. Fortunately, it most often nests away from the outposts of civilization, building its lair in a remote, inaccessible place such as on a mountain peak or in a rocky ravine.  Were it not for this, the repulsive, nearly hairless monster would undoubtedly be even more loathed. 

Nekker

Relatively small of stature and thin of build, the nekker is bipedal denizen of the forest.  When glimpsed quickly, especially from a distance, it can fleetingly seem to resemble a deformed human child.  However, such an impression cannot survive a second look.  The creature’s upper limbs are overly long, reaching nearly to the ground.  They also end in long claws rather than hands.  Similarly, its head is not human, hairless aside from a few wisps, flat in front where one would expect a nose, with evil, deep eyes set too far apart.  But most disconcerting is the large, gaping maw filled with sizable teeth. 

Although a single nekker does not pose a grave threat to anyone who is reasonably fit and armed, it is highly unusual to encounter a lone specimen.  Many an incautious traveler has discovered that they hunt in packs, which can be large, voracious and extremely deadly.  Only a very fortunate few have survived to benefit from their new knowledge.  It’s said the creatures appear and attack in an instant, almost materialising from the forest itself.  According to rumors, they actually spring from an extensive network of tunnels through which they are able to move swiftly and silently while stalking their unsuspecting prey.



Troll

Whether trolls are monsters is a matter of opinion.  While they’re not entirely civilized, neither are they completely savage beasts.  They are clearly intelligent, albeit not to a high degree, and have a capacity for reasoning.  Their craftsmanship, especially when it comes to large wooden structures such as bridges, is widely acknowledged.  Many have lived near humans for some time, learned the rudiments of their language and adopted a number of their customs… after a fashion.  Consider jewellery, for example; it’s not unusual to see one wearing an unappealing item like a wagon wheel as if it were an ornate necklace. 

Most trolls wear primitive forms of clothing.  Due to their great size, they often use large sacks as pouches and barrels as small containers.  They mate in pairs for life, although whether this union can be regarded as a marriage is unclear.  When forced to protect their families or otherwise enraged, they are very dangerous opponents.  They can hurl heavy rocks with surprising accuracy and their thick skin shrugs off most arrows, so they are difficult to defeat from a distance.  Getting close, however, requires risking death from even a single potent blow of their massive fists.  And of course, they are known to heal so rapidly that many wounds bother them little. 

The first free DLC pack, which will be available on May 17, features a troll with a fondness for strong beverages.

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Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
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