When talking about the best quests of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the Bloody Baron's storyline is almost always mentioned. There's no denying it, the tale of Filip Stenger, steeped in shades of grey, is powerfully multifaceted. It deals with many difficult topics, often seen as taboo, and connects so deeply with the player's emotions that you simply can't shake it off and move on easily. The fate of Baron and his family stays with us long after finishing The Witcher 3.
You could say that CDPR showed remarkable cunning by placing this thread at almost the beginning of the game. Assuming we follow the order suggested by the developers, namely going through Velen first, and then Novigrad and Skellige. After experiencing such an intense story in the first few hours of your adventure, it's hard not to want more, right?
First, however, the story about the Bloody Baron had to be written. Don't forget, however, that it's not just one quest, but several – all strongly linked with each other and closely intertwined with the main plot of the third Witcher game.
If you've ever wondered what drove the authors of this story and where they drew their inspiration from, Pawel Sasko quenched your curiosity. He’s the main quest designer on Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. Our Adam Zechenter questioned him about these and many other topics in an interview we recently published. You can read the whole thing by clicking the link below.
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In Pawel Sasko's comments, there are spoilers about the Bloody Baron's storyline from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. So if you've never explored his story on your own, we recommend you stop reading at this point.
GP: You mentioned "Bloody Baron" – now I have a mandatory question, but from a slightly different angle. It's a very interesting, complicated story. We all know what it's about, but where do you get inspiration for writing these kinds of stories?
PS: How about while answering this question, I will mention one more story that, surprisingly, no one ever asks about. This is a story about a spoon collector and Marlene from Blood and Wine. Geralt, in order to lift the curse, must sit down with her at the table. At that time, I was reading a lot and I had a person in my environment who was suffering from eating disorders. And this quest tells their story.
About The Witcher 3 and "The Bloody Baron" – this quest deals with post-traumatic stress and domestic violence. These were the topics I was thinking about. Whenever we think about stories, we rather look at those things that are relevant for us personally as people. And we're trying to find an interesting, narrative background for it which is consistent with the lore.
For instance, I know a person who went through a tragedy – she had a miscarriage. For her, such a poignant experience was the moment when it turned out that the Baron's wife had lost a child, and the whole part of this peregrination, this pilgrimage, when he carries the miscarriage to the threshold to turn it into a demon.
Through these kinds of stories, we go back to things which are universal human experience. Because of them, people can actually feel something. And they have the impression that the game is for them, that the game is something that touches them, moves them, and in this way, in my opinion, it's best to draw inspiration, looking at life. Our world is incredibly divided. We have so many conflicts and topics we could talk about. It's a boundless field. When we were designing "The Bloody Baron" – it was 2012 when I was writing this story – there was nothing like this in games before, but of course, this changed over time.
I deliberately bolded the last sentence of the quote to draw your attention to when the Bloody Baron thread was created. Indeed, we, the players, only got to know it in May 2015 – at a time when developers were becoming more daring and ambitious in their approach to storyline design (let me just mention that Rockstar was working on Red Dead Redemption II at that time). Despite that, it was this story – just like The Witcher 3 in general – that proved that games can address difficult topics in a mature way, not subpar to books or films.
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