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Spoilers for the end of the Bald Mountain/crones quest

Butch:

We take a break from talking about games from the 80s, games that aren’t even out yet, and classic literature to go back to Witcher 3.

Why?

Cuz I did stuff! I’ll get the gwent stuff out of the way first. Did “High Stakes.” Beat everyone. It was so very satisfying. But I still don’t have the trophy for “Find every card” and I don’t know what I missed. I’ll never know. And it will bother me. I must find a way to move on.

This quest took me a long time. You might be thinking, “Why? You are a gwent master!” and I am. But, after round three (of four) the guy tells you you cheated and there is a…..fistfight. I am not a fistfight master and I died three times. I honestly thought I wouldn’t complete the quest cuz of a fucking fistfight. But I finally won (turning down the difficulty) and beat Tybalt. But then someone stole the prize money and a manhunt ensued and there was a spy from Niilfgaard and a sex scene. Seriously.

See what you miss not playing cards?

In stuff you did, I also went through that door (thanks for the warning on that….eww). Killed two crones and Imiletth or whatever his name is. Great stuff. (By the way, there was also all SORTS of nudity in the gwent quest. Topless dancers, sex, whole bit. Good to do these two back to back without the kids about.)

THOUGHTS!

So who are these people who come back all joyous and lead wondrous lives? Are they a myth that people tell the youngins so they go? Or what? Cuz those dead people didn’t look joyous.

The crones are simply awesome creations on every level. And I liked that Ciri got to fight them. That was a good fight, cuz each crone needed a different approach that fit Ciri’s style. HOWEVER I thought it a little cheap that they gave her this great fight scene but didn’t let her finish the deal. I mean, I thought she earned the right to complete that.

Why didn’t Vessimir do that grab him with the flaming hand trick? He was being held the same way. Cuz narrative. Still, good scene.

So now I want to mop up a few contracts for old time’s sake, make the rest of my griffin armor, and then off to final preparations.

Not bad. Not bad.

Feminina:

I saw your gwent trophy screencap! Nice. Too bad about not having found every card. Maybe you’ll still stumble across it in the rest of the game.

So much story in the gwent contest makes me wonder if there was anything this detailed in the fistfighting and horse racing quests. I suppose we shall never know.

They never really clarified it about the “joyous people” who were chosen every year, did they? I tended to conclude that it was probably an illusion, and that in reality they were all dead, but it could also be that they were just enchanted/memory wiped and could only say “oh yeah, it was awesome!” about the experience for the rest of their lives. (Or maybe it really WAS awesome when we didn’t come butting in and ruining it. Drug-fueled orgies, booze, bonfires…nothing about that NECESSARILY screams “bad party,” depending on what you were there for.)

Did that women say the people always moved away afterwards, or was that some other story I’m thinking of? Because if they “moved away” and were never seen again, then I’m leaning towards “brief illusion of happy person while real person is dead.” The crones stirring their bloody pot suggests that SOMEBODY is definitely dead, and who better than those people?

But if they’ve been seen to hang out in the town for years afterwards, probably the “enchantment” is more likely.

It was interesting that you couldn’t kill all the crones. One gets away. Why? In keeping with the “magic is dying” theme, maybe Ciri isn’t QUITE ready to completely wipe out this manifestation of old magic, even though it’s horrible. Or, if we don’t read it as some subconscious hesitation on her part, maybe in story terms the crones represent a certain monstrous old magic that, if it were completely eliminated, would be too much of a final ending point for old, magical monsters in general. Maybe they wanted to leave one of the crones alive, even while “The Crones” as a unit have been destroyed, as a symbol of the continued hanging-on of old monsters.

Because without some old monsters, what have you got? Ghouls and nekkers and drowners from sunrise to sunset, day after day. Bores a witcher after a while, that does.

Butch:

Or not. I take pride in knowing that I am a “Gwent Master” and I didn’t even need every card to do it. Take that, Count Tybalt, and your stupid glasses.

You know, knowing this game, there probably was extra story around the horse races and boxing. But you can’t do it all. Especially when it’s annoying. But yes, I pretty much expected gwent. Not spies and detective work and sex. In other games, gwent is gwent. Races are races. This game, less so. I should’ve known.

Ate dinner at 9 is what it meant.

As for the crones, well, SOMEONE was in that pot. Quite a few someones from the look of it. Must’ve been an illusion. I sorta don’t feel as bad about that horse tree thing I unleashed. These crones were bad crones.

Yes. That’s the one. They supposedly move away…to where? Illusion. Gotta be.

We could go into religion and all here, but…. ah what the hell?

So did you go back and loot Imereth? Cuz I did. And what I found was a magic acorn, the kind that the crones gave to the villagers who used them for the meager bounty they provided. So when I went back down the mountain, and the people were all “The oak’s dead!” I said “I have an acorn, yours if you want it.” And they took it, and said “But only one? What will we do?” And I said “You’ll make it work. On your own.” Which was both condescending (why weren’t you already?) and rather optimistic, really. “You’ll make it work.” Not “Try to make it work.” But you only got to do that, I think, if you told Ciri NOT to go back right away, and you went to loot.

What’s that say about things?

Ciri TRIES to kill the last crone. It gets away. With Vessimir’s medallion. Crone grabs the medallion, Ciri throws her sword to kill the crone, and, at the last minute, she turns into ravens and flies away.

See, I was reading that as “Well, we’re letting the big buff hero man Geralt kill the last one,” but I guess not. She gets away for good? Hmm. And the “youngest” crone at that.

I could be cynical and say this is CDPR doing what CDPR generally does, which is leave things open for sequels (or even tease games that AREN’T sequels in their games). Or I could be hopeful that Witcher 4 is Ciri chasing down the last crone, cuz I’d play that.

Feminina:

Everyone’s glasses are stupid. They have yet to develop lightweight, elegant frames and well-shaped lenses. Still, I suppose it’s better than not being able to see.

Of course I went back and looted the Wild Hunt dude! And yeah, gave the acorn to the villagers (although, weirdly, I still have it in my inventory…maybe I secretly handed them a DIFFERENT acorn just so I could come back later and be all “you did it yourselves through the power of teamwork! Like I told you you would! The acorn wasn’t magic at all!” or something).

The crones WERE bad crones. Here’s something I found weird: when they were standing around stirring their pot of blood-and-limbs stew, they were hot naked women. Then when they went to fight, they turned into terrifying crone forms. So the implication is that their natural form is hot and naked (I mean, that’s how they looked when they were just hanging out at home by themselves), and they only take on hideous form to scare people? Don’t get me wrong, the crone forms were horrifying and scary, so that seems like a sound plan, but…why do they just hang out naked while cooking? Aren’t they afraid of spilling boiling blood on their bare skin? I was puzzled.

Butch:

What’s with the hinges between the lenses, though? In case your eyes get further apart?

Oh, really? You still have the acorn? I didn’t check. I was kinda bummed I couldn’t take that bigassed hammer thingy. I could have gotten like 14 gold for that.

I was a bit puzzled by the crones’ cooking outfits as well. I’ll not be cynical and say “Well, they wanted naked women in it but killing three naked women would have been bad PR.” We do know that a) the crones are old and b) they at some time, or times DID look like that, as the first time we see them is in the tapestry that gran or whoever stands in front of to commune way back when in crookback bog and they’re young and hot. There was some of that ambient throwaway dialog (the kind that you tend to miss) as you’re approaching the yucky pot where you hear one crone say “I feel 200 years younger,” so I got the impression that the crones need this annual thing to either stay alive or get young again for a while, and that we interrupted the spell. That was my takeaway.

Feminina:

Yeah, the hinges are weird. Maybe they don’t custom-make these frames, so you just buy a pair and adjust it to fit? “One size fits all, from halfling to troll!”

I totally buy that the crones need this ritual to stay alive/youthful. They’re that kind of monster. Feeding on the blood of the young and lovely to retain those qualities (sometimes) for themselves is classic. I’m just curious about exactly how the “let’s be young and lovely while we cook, oh wait, intruder, ASSUME CRONE BATTLE FORM” thing works. Because, indeed, we cannot simply be cynical and say they wanted naked women but didn’t want to kill naked women. It seems like they might even have been thinking about going there, since if you’re going to be killing naked women, one way to try (unsuccessfully, probably) to duck the bad PR would be to have another woman do it, and it was Ciri who went down there to fight them, but if so, they wisely backed off.

Honestly, the crones in their crone shape are such great monsters, it would have felt cheap not to have gotten the chance to fight them in their familiar form. Plus, how much more interesting are they to look at than they are in their “standard naked hot chick” appearance?

Perhaps, as you say, it’s that we interrupted the spell. We’re annoying like that.

Butch:

I wanna see a troll in glasses. I really, really do.

Balls, mysteries, drunken parties and trolls. Games gotta have ’em.

Nah, I think Ciri was gonna get to kill SOMEONE. I mean, we’ve had enough time as Ciri that she’s earned herself a boss fight or two. And the crones did kind of try to kill her way back when.

Frankly, and we’ll never know this, I got the sense that, at some point in the design of the game, there was an idea to let the player choose who killed who. That whole “rock paper scissors” bit. I was expecting to be able to pick rock, paper or scissors, or to have SOME say. That whole conversation felt like it was built for the player to have some effect on the outcome. Maybe they had to leave something on the editing room floor. That would have meant a ton more dialog/cutscenes etc.

They really are great monsters. One of the great joys of witcherland is that they don’t rely on the familiar tropes of monsterdom. Creepy, interesting, even themey monsters. I’m very, VERY interested to see what they can do when they bring that creativity to the modern age in Cyberpunk.

Feminina:

Trolls want to see clearly too! If only they could remember that the glasses go on your face, and are not attractive belt buckles.

No, I agree, Ciri was going to get to kill someone, and she does have a legitimate grudge against the crones. But then, she has a legitimate grudge against the guy who killed Vesemir, too. He did kill Vesemir, and even if he hadn’t he’s a member of the Wild Hunt that’s been chasing her all over creation. One could argue that Geralt has more “right of revenge” for Vesemir’s death than Ciri does, since they were both witchers, but Vesemir trained and raised Ciri too.

Maybe the only reason she didn’t object to Geralt being the one to go after him was because she had the chance to pursue the crones instead. Really, there had to be two major enemies in one spot for balance, didn’t there?

Butch:

That would be even more awesome. “Use shiny circles to keep pants up! Me forget pants.”

Not only does Ciri have a legitimate grudge, the story sets up that SHE’S the one with revenge on her mind. Indeed, oldassed Dandelion told me so a hundred times.

But if we had to do a long, long series of quests for the crones, Imereth, Eredin, AND the battle of Kher Morhen even Mr. O’ wouldn’t be finished. I mean, the endgame can’t go on forever.

Can it?

Feminina:

The next part of the troll’s quest: find some pants.

The endgame can’t go on forever, it’s true. Only for about another 15 hours.

Butch:

Stop it. Just stop.

At least I have some hope that I’ll be done by November 10th.

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