With The Witcher 3 finally going gold, I thought it would be a good idea to make a thread to catch those jumping in for the first time up to speed. The series has never been on Playstation and many missed Witcher 2 on 360. Couple that with Witcher 1 never making it out of PC and there's a lot of lore to cover.
This OP is just for the absolute basics. The things that are "must know" to understand the Witcher series Universe. I'm sure there will be plenty of knowledgable people in this thread to answer questions so if you have any deeper questions than what the OP entails feel free to ask! Much of this info will be taken from The Witcher wiki since it can tell it better than I can which you can find here http://witcher.wikia.com/wiki/Witcher_Wiki
Also this thread will obviously be heavy on SPOILERS so prepare accordingly. With all of that out of the way, let's get started shall we?
Qestion: What is a Witcher? Answer: A Witcher (or Hexer) is someone who has undergone extensive training, ruthless mental and physical conditioning, and mysterious rituals (which take place at "Witcher schools" such as Kaer Morhen) in preparation for becoming an itinerant monster-slayer for hire. Taken in as children when their innate abilities can only be hinted at, Witchers-to-be are subjected to intense alchemical processes, consumption of mutagenic compounds, and other trials to make them highly versatile against their opponents (many of which possess superhuman speed, strength and/or other deadly powers). These procedures ultimately mean that each fully-trained Witcher is a mutant built specifically to hunt and kill inhuman prey.
Main Characters For The Witcher 3
Geralt of Rivia
Also known as The White Wolf and Gwynbleidd
Geralt was the son of sorceress Visenna and (presumably) a warrior called Korin. Shortly after being born, Geralt was taken by his mother to the Wolf School — the Kaer Morhen stronghold (from Elder Speech Caer a'Muirehen meaning "Fortress of the Old Sea"). Geralt survived numerous mutations during the Trial of the Grasses, through which he gained practically superhuman physical and mental abilities (increased reflexes, speed, strength and enhanced hearing) surprisingly well. Because of that he was selected for additional experiments, and of the few he was the only one that survived. His white hair, completely lacking pigment, is a side effect of these experiments. After finishing the witcher training, he embarked into the world on his horse called The Roach (he gave the same name to every one of his horses) to become a monster slayer for hire.
His best friend was Dandelion the bard, while his lover and the love of his life was Yennefer.
Cirilla or Ciri
Although Geralt did not believe in destiny, he demanded the unborn child of princess Pavetta and her husband Duny as a reward for his services. As the child turned out to be a girl, he did not take her. However, fate or blind chance caused Geralt and Ciri, the daughter of Duny and Pavetta to cross paths thrice, and after the death of her grandmother, queen Calanthe, Geralt ended up taking care of the girl and loving her as his own daughter.
Ciri harbors unbelievable power, including the ability to traverse space and time at will.
Yennefer of Vengerberg (born on Belleteyn of the year 1173) — a sorceress who lived in the capital city of Aedirn — Vengerberg. She was the youngest member of the Council of Sorcerers and later the Lodge of Sorceresses attempted to recruit her. She is the love of witcher Geralt of Rivia and a mother figure to Ciri. The lady of Vengerberg is famous for her beauty, even though during the events of The Tower of the Swallow she was 94 years old. She is always wearing black and white clothing, and uses lilac and gooseberry perfumes. She has remarkable violet eyes and raven black hair. She is a quadroon (meaning she had ¼ of elven blood).
During the Battle of Sodden Hill she was blinded by Fringilla Vigo, a Nilfgaardian sorceress. Her sight was later magically restored but she still bore the emotional scars.
As most sorceresses, she is sterile. She secretly sought a way of restoring her fertility. She gave her motherly love to Ciri — the child destined for Geralt by the Law of Surprise. She also taught Ciri about magic while in Ellander, at the Temple under the watchful eye of Nenneke.
She was royal advisor to king Demavend of Aedirn and a friend of Triss Merigold.
Yennefer first appeared in the short story "The Last Wish" (found in The Last Wish short story collection). She later appeared in other short stories, including "Granica możliwości", "Okruch lodu" and "Coś więcej", one "non-canon" short story: "Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna", and of course all the novels in the Witcher saga.
It is implied in the story "The Last Wish" that her attractive looks were a product of magic and had been acquired during her training, as with most other sorceresses. Geralt notes how her shoulders are slightly lopsided and by the end of the story realizes that Yennefer used to be a hunchback. Nevertheless, his love for her does not diminish.
Triss Merigold of Maribor is a sorceress. She is called the "Fourteenth of the Hill" because she was erroneously thought to have been killed during the Battle of Sodden Hill. She is a friend of Yennefer and witcher Geralt, and unhappily in love with the latter. She took care of Ciri at Kaer Morhen for some time and is like an older sister to her. It was through her intervention that Ciri was not inadvertently given harmful hormones which might have negatively impacted her "womanly assets". She was a member of King Foltest's royal council along with Fercart and Keira Metz, as well as a founding member of the Lodge of Sorceresses.
She is a skilled healer and carries with her many magical potions, but she never uses them on herself because she is allergic to magic. She is also quite a powerful mage, certainly when it counts most.
The Wild Hunt
According to the Nordlings, the Wild Hunt is a procession, or rather a cavalcade of skeletal horsemen. They rush across the sky on the bony remains of steeds. Clad in rusty remnants of armor, they wear jagged swords at their waists. Like comets, the Wild Hunt is an omen of war, which has been confirmed beyond all doubt.
The spectral cavalcade ventures out in search of victims every several years, but its harvest was never as rich as just before the last war with Nilfgaard, when over twenty souls went missing in Novigrad alone after the Hunt passed through. Curiously, elven and dwarven legends make not the slightest mention of the Wild Hunt.
Hope this helps get you up to speed! If there is more info you would like me to put in the OP just let me know! Can't wait for the Witcher 3 The Wild Hunt