Would-be witchers fight occult forces in Polish castle

Would-be witchers fight occult forces in Polish castle

Fans of the 'Witcher' book and video game series attend a 'school' where they dress up in costumes and role play witchers fighting supernatural creatures. Picture taken October 10, 2019. Reuters

As anticipation builds for the launch of streaming giant Netflix's 'The Witcher' series later this year, fans of the book series of the same name gathered at a castle in the author's native Poland to take part in a live-action role-play game.

The adventures of Geralt of Rivia, a 'witcher' with supernatural powers tasked with hunting and slaying monsters and the undead, started as a series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski in the 1990s and found fans across the world, boosted by an award-winning video game trilogy.

Polish and international players have come to 'Witcher School' events at castles in Poland's south west since 2015, to role-play as trainee witchers in stories created with the help of dozens of organisers, including writers, costume designers, make-up artists and experts in sword-fighting and blacksmithing.

"For three days you just forget who you are entirely in your life and just leave it all behind, literally be somebody else," said Fuoco Maria Balduzzi, an Italian filmmaker and fan of the series.

In the game, players create their own characters who learn to banish evil creatures and spirits using swords and sorcery over four days - all in full costume.

Balduzzi, who travelled from London for the game, plays both male and female characters when role-playing. This time she has taken on the role of a young nobleman sent to learn to be a witcher by his family.

Witcher School organiser Piotr Kucharski said the scenario in the game takes place 200 years before the events of Sapkowski's books and is told in episodes, with players often returning to develop their characters and find out how the story has evolved.

Speaking of the upcoming Netflix TV series, Balduzzi said she was excited and curious to see it. "I know it's definitely going to be interesting," she said.

'The Witcher', starring Henry Cavill in the title role, is expected to premiere on Netflix before the end of 2019.

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