Table of of Contents Introduction: 00:48 Skellige Isles: 03:17 The Tragedy of Undvik (Deceptions of Violence): 04:15 Madness in Spikeroog (Depictions of Self-Harm and Violence): 05:49 The Isle of the Gods: 09:45 Yngvar's Fang: 11:39 Ard Skellige and the Lighthouse (Violence): 12:13 Conclusion: 17:08 Welcome to D-Pad Diaries, a new game and story each… week, two weeks? [pause] Welcome to D-Pad Diaries, a new game and story in irregular time intervals. This episode: The Witcher 3 and a Tour of the Skellige Isles. Content Warning: This episode contains depictions of violence and mentions of self-harm. If you wish to skip these sections, please see the timecodes in the description. 00:48 Introduction You ever go to one of those restaurants that tout those large burgers, and say to yourself: “How big could it possibly be?” You get your significant other, your friend, and your 2nd cousin down to the restaurant, find a table by the window and order the Gut Buster 3000. You have a smug look on your face-- you can eat this monster burger with four people right? How big could it possibly be… oh my god the burger is being brought to by a team of professional weightlifters. The Gut Buster 3000 is The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. It is a game not only broad in scale, but in detail as well. Substantial villages, questlines, characters, and items might not ever be seen if you don’t go off the beaten path. The base map alone, according to Rashid Sayed at Gaming Bolt, is 137 km^2 which is about ¾ the size of Washington D.C. What do you do in such a big game? Well, you play a grumpy old man named Geralt of Rivia who is a witcher and slays monsters for a living. Our scrooge Geralt is a mutated human capable of incredible feats of strength and endurance and gets paid by kings and peasants alike to get rid of beasties. Basically Geralt is fantasy pest control. Why are there monsters in this world, and while we’re at it, what is this world that Geralt is in? Well some time ago, two worlds, one with beasties and one with boring humans, got a little too jiggy with it and smashed into each other. The beasties spilt into the human world, and ever since, we’ve had witchers to deal with things like dragons, harpies, and wraiths. In addition to beasties, there are also dwarves, elves, and your other expected fantasy creatures. One other important facet of the setting: this game is set in a dark and grim fantasy world with warring factions and political squabbles out the wazoo. 03:17 Skellige Isles A particularly interesting political arena are the Skellige Isles, a group of islands populated by a loosely associated group of sea-faring clans. You can obviously draw a lot of comparisons from Skelligers and the Vikings that existed several centuries ago in our own world. Skelligers and Viking share these traits: they are a sea-faring people, they raid and trade with foreign lands, they are considered a menace and brutes by their enemies, and they practice a polythestic religion. Interesting side-note: Vikings were much less interested in raiding and more interesting in settling and trading. Thanks Crash Course! There are various landmasses in the Skellige Isles which humans and other forms of life call home. I would love to talk about all of these places in detail, but unfortunately there is way too much to cover in one episode, so we’ll talk about my personal highlights instead. Let’s start with a tragedy on the island of Undvik. 04:15 The Tragedy of Undvik (Deceptions of Violence) Undvik, former home of Clan Tordarroch. To one half island a mountain that dominates the landscape and overshadows everything nearby. The other half, deep ravines and cliffs that drop into the ocean below with waves that rush up against the cliff sides. Nowadays, the only inhabitants are the various flying harpies that prey upon the lost sailor or foolhardy adventurer that dares to tread these coasts. Upon landfall, an explorer might notice the distinct lack of the living accompanied by the surplus of dead dotting the landscape in and outside of the villages all the while harpies circle overhead looking for their next meal. The astute may observe the smashed buildings and trampled carts and come to the conclusion that something bad happened here. Or rather a big bad thing happened here, for you see an ice giant awoketh. Giants are a head above the rest when it comes to the other creatures in the Witcher universe, as in they are quite large and grumpy and have a tendency to bash in things that upset them, and seeing that there was a whole island of aggressive vikings-- I think you can figure out what happens from here on out. So basically here you as the player, as Geralt of Rivia, on this island which you learn (a there was a giant here and (b you have to go rescue some idiot who goes off to try to kill the giant with a handful of other men. Nothing could go wrong right? 05:49 Madness in Spikeroog (Depictions of Self-Harm and Violence) Let’s see, what other place of interest is there on Skellige… oh, the island of Spikeroog. Quite a nice island with a large mountain on it and a picturesque beach. A Jarl by the name of Ulalryk who had violent delusions. Quick side-note: if you didn’t know, jarls are basically the equivalent of lords in terms of power— they own and rule over some land that others live on and tend to, these people are usually called serfs or peasants. They have lots of responsibility and should be pretty sound of mind when it comes to making important decisions for their court and whatnot. Typical Skellige stuff you know. Well we should get to more of this Ulalryk fellow huh? Oh, but first we should talk about Cerys! Cerys was a character that tried to be the first queen of the Skellige Isles. To prove her worth as a candidate, she needed to do a great deed to bring honor to her name and clan. Her deed: to free Ulalryk from whatever curse had befallen him. Geralt, having heard of Cerys’ plan from her father, sailed to Spikeroog to assist. Back to Ulalryk. As a boy, we learn (through Geralt’s perspective) that Ulalryk had expressed anger toward his father’s decision to give the family sword to Ulalryk’s younger brother. By speaking out against his father, Ulalryk had committed a grave dishonor against his father and Skellige tradition and, as punishment, was staked out at sea for 3 days. Pretty brutal parenting if you ask me. To make amends, Ulalryk decided to go fishing with his younger brother. As storms of the isle picked up and tossed and turned the boat, Ualryk’s brother was thrown into the sea and his cries for help were not heard. Ulalryk learned too late that his brother had drowned at sea while he was busy with the sails of the ship. Ulalryk was racked with guilt ever since. Our pal Ulalryk has had violent delusions that pushed him to do some weird things such as some sacrifices in the name of some unknown gods and isolating himself from the rest of the world. Those close to Ulalryk said that his personality changed quite dramatically in recent years and he hadn’t been the same since. As Geralt and Cerys reached the Jarl’s hall, they learned of something rather dark: the gods who spoke to Ulalryk demand his eye as a sacrifice. Geralt and Cerys decided they need to immediately intervene before things get worse. Cerys, being extremely clever and forward thinking, concocted a plan to draw Ulalryk to the old family home atop the mountain on Spikeroog and enlisted Geralt’s help. The only stipulation: Cerys will not be able to tell Geralt of any of the details. Later that night, Cerys stole the baby of Ulalryk and the Jarl and his guards chased after her. Geralt wasn’t aware of what was happening, but continued to trust Cerys. As Cerys entered the home of the Jarl, she threw the child into a burning oven and closed the door all the while Geralt fended off the guards and Ulalryk. Geralt, overcome with immense guilt for defending a child killer, learns first hand what had been affecting Ulalryk— a dark shadowy creature called a hym. Hymns feast on the feelings of guilt ridden creatures, acting as parasites that push their host more and more to edge. As the shadow creature revealed itself to Geralt, Cerys revealed her true design: she merely tricked everyone into believing that she had killed the child. What she actually thrown into the fire was just a swaddle of blankets. The real baby was safely hidden away. Geralt was relieved, and the hym was trapped with a host that did not actually feel any sincere guilt. As a result, the hym faded away. What a story! Now, please note that I did my best to research that quest and get as many details as accurate but also only tell the important bits of the quest. As a result, most information should be accurate but there may be a few errors here and there. 09:45 The Isle of the Gods Next up we have the island of Hindarsfjall, a Nordic paradise filled with lush forests and fertile farmland. Skellige is a rather religious region, with Hindarsfjall especially so with the priests of Freya calling this island home. Freya is one of the chief deities, so her importance is remarkable in the local culture. On Hindarsfjall, there’s an entire garden and temple dedicated to the deity of fertility, love, beauty, and motherhood. Let’s talk about Freya’s Garden, a religious site with marble columns and walls adorned with over growing ivy vines, a canal that runs through the complex providing water to all of the trees, bushes, flowers, and other plant life. One of my favorite places in the Witcher 3, Freya’s Garden is a lush and beautiful area that is reminiscent of both gardens I have visited in both my current home and the Rose and Japan gardens of Portland, Oregon. It’s not often that a video game setting can truly capture the wonder of nature on an electronic screen or bring to life a place that doesn’t actually exist, yet when visiting Freya’s Garden this is exactly what I felt. Sometimes I’ll just come back to this spot in the Witcher 3 just to revisit the beautiful setting and experience the captivating atmosphere. Of course, there are some very interesting stories about the garden, including that it is actually in ruins now (beautiful ruins mind you) and imprisons an immortal werewolf that can never get enough food or drink, forever trapped in the wonderful area with bountiful food yet one who is always starving. Sounds much like some Greek myths I’ve heard before. As this being the Witcher 3, you can dive into what is causing this and also learn how you can fix it. Yet I think that this is one quest that I don’t want to spoil for you listeners out there as it’s just super good. If you want to find out what happens at Freya’s Garden, I would encourage you to watch some quests of it on YouTube or even play it yourself. If you are a fan of fantasy and the Witcher 3, you certainly will not be disappointed. 11:39 Yngvar's Fang Before we get to the biggest island of all, I want to have a quick shoutout to the island of An Skellig which is a tiny island off to the north that has a really cool fortress on top of a mountain pass called Yngvar’s Fang. Here you can find that a previous witcher came to the Skellige isles before and actually befriended a Jarl from a long time ago. It’s a story you learn about while collecting an armor set and read through scattered journal entries throughout the Skellige Isles, but the circumstances as to why the witcher was there and where they ended up is pretty cool nonetheless. 12:13 Ard Skellige and the Lighthouse (Violence) Now let’s get to the biggest and most complex island of them all: Ard Skellige. Now this island is so big that it not only has one, but two clans locked in bitter rivalry over who owns the island. To the North we have the biggest seat of power in all of Skellige: Clan an Craite who owns the largest port and the most impressive hall of any of the clans. There’s a whole quest line that takes place in this setting involving the An Craites and political intrigue, and the ascension of the throne. That quest stabs right into the heart of the deadly clan politics and who is the ultimate ruler over the isles. It’s honestly one of my favorite quests and involves some of the best characters in the game including Cerys. If you like Game-of-Thrones-type-stuff, I would encourage you to watch some gameplay of the “King’s Gambit” quest line. One of the best quests in the Witcher 3 in my opinion. Again, I’m not going to spoil it for you, I’ve already done that for one quest. Traveling to the south Ard Skellige, we can see the other clan inhabiting the largest island in the Isle. The Drummond clan, fierce rivals of the Clan An Craite to the North, are led by a man named Lugos “Madman” Drummond, a leader with a fiery temper that even Skelligers are sometimes taken back by. Now let’s get to the last quest we are going to talk about today, The Phantom Of Eldberg. In a tavern (how many fantasy stories start out with this line) there were murmurs of phantoms haunting a lighthouse at one of the southernmost portions of the island. Many folks have gone there to try and rid the place of the ghosts, but none have come back alive. So they’ve decided they needed a professional. Geralt, being the capable monster slayer that he is, decided to take the job. After a boat trip, some inclement weather, and a few hours later, he was coming close to the inlet where the lighthouse was located. As he advanced forward, a fog began to grow thicker and thicker around the Witcher until it was incredibly hard to see. Geralt stumbled through the darkness until he heard a screech, then a sharp pain raked across his back. Geralt rolled forward and saw what had attacked him from behind: a wretched human corpse cowled in human rags with pale skin revealed just behind it’s hood and dress. Geralt pulled out his silver sword and got to work as the many other wraiths began to form. Sometime later and splattered in ectoplasm, Geralt finally stumbled through the fog and found what seemed like a little hut. Geralt knocked and waited for a response. A rather frightened man named Mikkjal said that he was going to go to the lighthouse to investigate, but due to the whole ghost thing, he decided to barricade himself in the cottage below. With the new information at hand, Geralt headed up toward the end of the inlet which contained the lighthouse. It was rather spooky, a stone tower that poked out of the mist and was unlit. The folks at the tavern had stated that with the lighthouse dark, it was virtually impossible to guide ships toward the safety of land. Getting closer to the tower, Geralt saw some strange runes drawn in what appeared to be blood. Always a good start, that. Being a diligent fellow, our friend the witcher decided to head further into the lighthouse to get some more clues. Some knick knacks, food, and other junk one might put together after occupying a space for a few days at a time was all that Geralt found at first. As Geralt rummaged through everything a little further, he did find a curious letter tucked away in a bookshelf. Hmm, very interesting: it appears that our friend Mikkjal had been purposely putting the lighthouse out as ships came in, and got half of whatever his associates scrounged up. Learning this detail, Geralt now had enough information to determine why these ghosts were there: a penitent, a wraith that haunts people who have wronged others in some way, had attracted them here. Knock knock Mikkjal answered the door: “Uh hello?” Geralt showed note. Mikkjal looks like he’s about to split. Geralt (who’s really me): “Na uh, you’re going to fix this shit and leave forever” Mikkjal eyes the two swords on Geralt’s back and agreed. So to fix this shit, Mikkjal had to climb all the way to the top of the lighthouse and light the beacon. As he did so, Geralt fought off several waves of wraiths until, yep you guessed, the big bad peninent came to wreck house. I played around with the thing for a second or two until Mikkjal finally lit the lighthouse, and only then was I able to have a chance of beating the penitent. It was actually not too hard, all and all. A few magic spells, a few swipes and the big bad ghost was killed pretty easily. After that initial encounter, I instructed Mikkjal to get out of Dodge, and that he did. After that, I went back to the tavern to collect my reward for ridding the lighthouse of ghosts. It was like 50 bucks and pat on the back. So much for being a witcher. 17:08 Conclusion And with that my friends, we have reached the end of our tour of Skellige and this episode on The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Thank you so much for watching. If you liked it, how about leaving a review on Apple Podcasts? You can also follow us on Instagram @thedpaddiaries and on Twitter @dpaddaires, and visit our website to view episode transcripts, news and more at dpaddiariesofficial.com.