In The Witcher‘s universe, witchers are made through a series of trials, the most important of which is the Trial of the Grasses. Witchers are humans taken as children, trained, and physically mutated for the purpose of killing monsters. They were created to protect settlers from the monsters that roamed the wilderness before the continent was fully settled, and they possess superhuman strength and speed among other unique abilities.
The most important part of creating a witcher is the Trial of the Grasses. The Trial of the Grasses is a process in which the subject is administered a combination of mutagenic herbs and virus cultures that modify the body, gifting those few who survive a host of abilities including superhuman speed and strength and the witchers’ extended lifespans. While much of the process of the Trial of the Grasses is now known, certain aspects remain a mystery. The process can be different for different witchers as well, as we know Geralt of Rivia was given more of the mutagens than any previous subject, causing his hair to lose its pigment.
What Happens During The Trial Of The Grasses & How Long It Lasts
During the trial of the Grasses, subjects begin with a tea of the initial herbs which render them immobile. Next, a combination of further herbs and elixirs is injected directly into the bloodstream. The mutagens and elixirs are allowed to work for three days, by the end of which the majority of subjects have already died. Those who are still alive at this point enter a deep trance and are given another dose of the mutagens, herbs, and elixirs (some of these herbs/elixirs are the same ones used in witchers’ pre-combat potions).
At this point subjects become sicker and typically begin to vomit violently, suffer cold sweats, and sometimes experience seizures. As the body sickens and becomes weaker, the mutagens’ work becomes easier, and they begin to remold the body. After a week, the trial is over and those who survive have gained the various abilities of a witcher. The Trial of the Grasses is the first part of becoming a witcher, and it provides nearly all the mutations that set witchers apart from normal humans in The Witcher universe. Every witcher from Vesemir to Eskel undergoes this trial.
The Effects Of The Trial Of The Grasses
The first change noticed in those who survive the Trial of the Grasses is that they develop cat-like yellow eyes with vertical pupils capable of expanding or shrinking far more than normal human eyes. This provides witchers with improved eyesight to go along with improved versions of their other 4 senses. Witchers from any of the witcher schools experience these changes after the Trial of the Grasses, along with superhuman strength, uncanny reflexes, and extended lifespans. All of these trademark witcher mutations come from the Trial of the Grasses.
The changes witchers experience make them incredibly powerful compared to any normal human. The unnatural amount of power witchers develop through the trials also has the indirect effect of making normal people terrified of them. Witchers were originally respected because of the valuable purpose they serve, however, as monster populations waned following the creation of witchers, people began to fear and resent them, ultimately leading to the sacking of Kaer Morhen (depicted in Nightmare of the Wolf), the witcher fortress belonging to the School of the Wolf.
Why The Trial Of The Grasses Is So Dangerous
The Trial of the Grasses is exceptionally dangerous because the first dose of herbs is meant to open the body up to mutation. Essentially, the body is weakened until it becomes unable to fight off the virus cultures and mutagens that cause a witcher’s mutations. Moreover, even if the body survives in such a weakened state, it must survive the actual changes themselves. Any candidate hoping to survive long enough to earn a witcher’s medallion, must survive seven days in a weakened state as the body physically transforms itself according to the mutagens they are administered. Furthermore, the entire process is excruciating, and many candidates are unable to survive the pain.
Witchers also go through a series of other trials though only the Trial of Dreams causes further mutations. The other trials are a series of tests and training exercises that teach the witcher students swordsmanship, survival skills, herb lore, and other skills essential to monster slaying. While each of the other trials is important, and they can vary depending on which school they are administered at, the Trial of the Grasses is what gives witchers their superhuman mutations and truly sets them apart from other humans in The Witcher. Surviving the Trial of the Grasses, something only 3 or 4 out of 10 do, is what truly makes a witcher a witcher.