Netflix’s The Witcher, a fantasy drama series written by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, is an incredible adaptation of a game and book into television. It is captivating, mystical, intense, dark, and baffling, all together. The series is full of mystical elements: Witches, Elves, mages, supernatural powers, dragons, dwarfs, uncanny cursed creatures, to name a few.
The story revolves around the Witcher, a famous mutated monster hunter who earns coins for survival by killing dangerous monsters. Numerous times in the show, Geralt of Rivia drinks a concoction from a vial before combat. The only noticeable effect it seems to have is turning Geralt’s eyes black, but there has to be something more to it. It has left fans wondering what this potion is and what it does because the show does not provide any details about this. So let us dive deeper into it by answering some popular questions.
What Does Geralt Drink Before He Fights?
Before entering into a fight, Geralt takes out a vial from his bag and drinks its content, resulting in some noticeable physical changes. What are those vials?
Right before a fight, the Witcher drinks Witcher Potion, an alchemical concoction to enhance his abilities and give him an edge in the fight against his opponents. Witchers are professional monster hunters. They undergo special mutations to enhance their physical abilities and immunity from monster attacks. However, they still need potions to augment their capabilities further. For instance, the Cat potion allows them to see in the dark, and the Swallow potion helps them regain vitality quickly.
“Witcher elixirs are a very important part of being a Witcher,” said Tomasz Baginski, the producer, and director of The Witcher. “They are basically poisons, but for Witchers, they are actually like enhancers. For Geralt, to enhance his abilities as a warrior. The elixirs make him faster, stronger, and help him see in the dark.”
Drinking the correct potion is a part of the vital preparation to fight a given monster. They are also responsible for the scary look on Geralt’s face in some battles. The lore is not very specific about potions, and only a very few are mentioned in the books. For example, the Cat potion improves dark vision by enlarging the pupils, which we also noticed with Geralt in some fights. When Geralt fights the Striga, he takes the Cat potion, which helps him see in pitch blackness.
Moreover, the Witcher elixirs are highly toxic. Even a sip could kill a normal human. Perhaps, it is the reason why Geralt’s eyes turn dark as an effect. To quote from the book The Last Wish-
“He sat motionless, his eyes closed. His breathing, at first even, suddenly quickened, became rasping and tense. And then stopped completely. The mixture which helped the witcher gain full control of his body was chiefly made up of veratrum, stramonium, hawthorn, and spurge. The other ingredients had no name in any human language. For anyone who was not, like Geralt, inured to it from childhood, it would have been lethal poison.”
It hints that Geralt takes two potions, one made from veratrum, stramonium, hawthorn, and spurge, and the other, whose ingredients have no name.
Are there any safe potions?
Although no official information exists on this, there are no potions in the Witcherverse safe for the consumption of normal humans. Only magically enhanced beings like Witchers and some magicians can withstand the toxicity of potions. Geralt is a Witcher which means that his metabolism is slower, so he can absorb the Witcher potions, which would kill a normal human painfully. Because witchers had to go through a mutation process to become stronger and faster, they can take potions and not die and instead enjoy the benefits they bring.
Moreover, Witchers have no personal interest in making performance-enhancing potions for mass consumption. It might even put them out of their job. Magic is an economic asset of the privileged elite in Witcherverse.
Having talked about the Witcher Elixir, let us now assess its effects on the Witcher based on the books and games as there is no explicit information available to us from the series.
After Geralt drinks the potion, he receives an appearance change around his eyes and face. It is the toxins of the potions having physical effects on his body. He becomes faster, and his pupils dilate so much that they take all the space of his iris, turning them dark. Black veins also appear in his face, making him all the more fascinating.
Witchers drink potions to enhance their powers and make fighting monsters easier. There are the so-called “normal” potions, mutagenic potions, and a few others. They are used to increase the regeneration rate of healing, vitality, and endurance. They can also increase his overall awareness, reflexes, and more. In short, they make the already powerful Witcher even more powerful.
Although ingesting the potions increases the Witcher’s toxicity, it provides various benefits like enhancing different senses and abilities depending on what he needs. The potions also sharpen his senses. The black eyes are his pupils completely dilated, allowing him to see through the deepest darkness.
They also made him stronger, faster, more resistant to injuries, and made his blood dangerous to certain monsters. After taking the potion, his hearing is sharpened beyond measure, and could easily pick out a rustle of footsteps through the yard overgrown with stinging nettles.
The effects of the potions are described again in The Voice of Reason, The Last Wish-
“You’re sick, Geralt. You react to elixirs badly. You’ve got a rapid pulse rate, the dilation of your eyes is slow, your reactions are delayed. You can’t get the simplest signs right.”
We are also told in The Sword of Destiny-
“After the elixirs, you wouldn’t even have felt an open fracture, until the protruding bones started snagging on hedges.”
It was all about the intoxicating potions of the Witcher. The Witcher is currently streaming on Netflix with two seasons. The story of Geralt of Rivia therefore continues.