Witcher 3 spoilers ahead!
I’ve learned a lot the past couple days about morality through the Witcher 3. I mean, I had before, but I looked some things up on Reddit, and it taught me even more.
There were three crones in a swamp. They kept an orphanage of kids. These children were unwanted by their parents because the parents couldn’t afford to feed them, so the children were sent to the witches.
These children had a keeper. She was an old woman, and also happened to be the baron’s wife I was looking for. I went to the crones and asked for them to free the woman, and they said as long as I did a deed, they would free her from her burden. I agreed. I’m a witcher. I do deeds.
I was to go to a local village, find out about an evil spirit in the area, and kill it. Easy. I’m a witcher. I kill evil spirits.
I go to the village where they practically worship the crones. It’s creepy in that, “If I never come back here, I’m okay with that.” Which elevates to, “I’m never coming back here again,” after you see some of their rituals.
The villagers point me to a tree. I go to the tree, get under it to the roots, and there’s a weird growth that’s breathing. Weird may not be the right word. Really weird.
I am a diplomatic soul, and honestly an enemy of the crones could very well be an ally of mine. If I kill the crones, they’ll let the woman go too. Because they’re dead and can’t really say anything about it.
The spirit tells me it will defend itself if I try to kill it (I already slayed a werewolf it used as protection, so really what was the tree going to do? Bark at me? Get it?). It gives me the option of freeing it, and it will go far away.
There was a book on this spirit. She-Who-Knows. She went by several names: She-Who-Knows, Lady of the Woods, the Mother. All creepy monikers. I like to know my enemy, so I read the book before proceeding. She was a pretty good ruler of the peasants. She only took sacrifices once a year. Then she started to increase it. She went mad and the countryside was drowning in bloodshed, so her daughters, the crones, locked her away.
That’s pretty evil. I mean, when an entity crosses the lines for your bar of “You’re evil,” there’s something wrong.
So this is pretty cut and dry. I can kill the crones later, but this creature must be put down. Then it tells me something. “The crones eat the children.” I’m not going to lie, not a shocker.
“I can free them, and then I will go far away.”
Now she has my attention. She can free the children, they will be able to live out their life, and this may weaken the crones and give me a chance to kill them. Heck, maybe the spirit and the crones clash and I just need to finish off what’s left of the monstrosities.
I freed her. Told the villagers the spirit wouldn’t bother them anymore. They cut off an ear and gave it to me for me to give to the crones. I told you it wasn’t a preferable vacation spot.
I return to the children are freed. Good job. However, in punishment for losing the children, the woman I was trying to save was turned into a water hag. I can’t show pictures. They’re too grotesque. The crones are also not dead, and a great evil has been loosed into the world. But it’s not my problem.
I go back to the baron, tell him what happened, and we marshal a small force to invade the swamp. Background on the baron and his messed up family.
This all starts because the baron wants you to find his wife and daughter, for that he’ll give you information on your adopted daughter.
Ultimately you find out the baron was a great soldier, was out a lot, his wife ended up sleeping around with another man while he was out, eventually left with him. The baron found her, was going to bring her and his daughter him, but when he saw the man plowing his wife, the woman he loved, he murdered him. The wife hated him, she was forced to live with him, and basically it spiraled into the wife trying to commit suicide, kill the baron, and the baron drinking and beating his wife. Fantastic family environment. The daughter became a warrior cultist. To be honest, I think it’s an improvement.
However, the baron loves them dearly, even if he’s wretched at showing it, and he charges to certain death, stating to the Witcher he’d rather die then let his wife to her fate.
We went to the orphanage, killed a lot of monsters, found the curse on the wife, and went into a cellar. I had to pick a doll and if I pick the right one, curse lifts. Pick the wrong one, she dies.
I did both ways. One way she burns up and it’s horrible. The daughter’s really angry. The other way the mother dies slowly, but in her normal form. She says goodbye. The daughter warms up slightly to her father. Either way, the baron goes home, hope drained from his eyes, and says, “Come back to the manor. You’ll get your pay there.”
As you approach the courtyard, everyone is gathered around a tree. A tree that baron is swinging from. The first time my breath caught. I looked away from the TV. Then I steeled myself and moved on. The stakes were too high, the Witcher said, when picking between two evils. It was better to pick none, but if you have to pick, never look back.
I was a little shaken, but it wasn’t going to ruin my day. They were horrible people. I saved a bunch of children. There was an evil spirit roaming the countryside that one day I’d likely get paid to kill. I wasn’t thrilled the spirit was out, but she seemed to have gotten her head on straight. Despite the outcome, I justified what I had done. Oh, and the evil spirit slaughtered the creepy village. Now it’s a wraith farm I visit from time to time when I need wraith supplies. But they picked the way they’d live. The children didn’t.
I checked Reddit because I knew there was a path where they survived. There was a way to keep the woman and baron alive. The woman was still wasting away and they had to go searching for a cure, but they did. It was a sort of happy ending, if you could ignore the children getting eaten.
On Reddit people said that was the good ending. They saved the family. They were able to destroy an incredible evil. The loss of the children was acceptable. I was blown away.
Yet the death of the baron and wife, the slaughter of the creepy cult village, the loosing an evil entity on the world was okay to me. I rationalized it, or at the very least reached a point where I was okay with what I did. Mind you, for the most part I try to block out those decisions, where it led, the lives which were lost. But I found people rationalized the death of those children in the same way I rationalized the death of the baron and his wife.
It’s a video game, but don’t we do this in real life?
Our current election. My Bernie friends were adamant that Bernie was the only choice and Hillary is a horrific choice. They posted article after article about how bad a pick Hillary was. Now Hillary is likely the DNC nominee. Their Facebook lights up with why Hillary is a great candidate. Yet she’s beyond corrupt and unethical.
Republicans swore they’d never vote for Trump. Fortunately most my conservative friends still refuse to vote for him, but there are those who not long ago claimed he was a mad man, and now they say he’s the person our nation needs. He’s a self-serving narcissist.
We have two obvious evils, but we’ll vote for one because it’s not as bad as the other. We even decried it as evil not that long ago, but now that it’s the only option, we’ll do it.
We do this all the time. I, however, really like Geralt’s advice on picking the lesser of two evils.