Tiers of good

I wrote an article about the tiers of evil using the Witcher in-game universe as illustration, but when I wanted to write a similar article about the tiers of good, I encountered a problem. You see, the pool of good but powerful characters in Witcher is so shallow, I had nothing to write about. I’ll give it a try, just so that you see what I mean.

The first ther are good and helpful, but ordinary beings, such as Tomira the herbalist, Dudu the doppler, Dandelion, Roche, Zoltan, Crach an Craite and others. They basically mind their own business, but they try to help people and join good causes.

Next come the witchers; they go around the world and basically remove things that kill people, making it a better place. Sure, they charge money, but considering how they spend it all on gear, it turns out they actually don’t profit from their labor at all, and in fact do it out of pure altruism. They could, in fact, use their skills for evil and be much better paid as hired assassins or thugs (and some, in fact, do), but the vast majority of them don’t, which means it’s a choice for good, and it produces significant good consequences. Geralt is an outstanding example even in that company, because he makes very deliberate and calculated choices to improve the world by his actions, and is personally very powerful.

Then we have the good mages – Triss, Yennefer, Ermion and others – who are sometimes annoying and irritable, but powerful and helpful. They are powerful in different ways than the witchers – more magical power, but also more sensitivity to physical attack – which means they complement with the witchers most excellently; if a witcher defends the mage from physical attack while the mage does his thing, the result is more than the sum of its parts. Also, you can pretty much reduce a mage to an ordinary person with a dimeritium bomb, while a witcher will shrug it off and kill you with a sword.

The next level are the higher vampires, specifically Regis; they don’t use powerful magic, but they possess innate abilities that look like magic, and they are extremely powerful, and also extremely hard to kill. When such a powerful being makes a conscious choice for good, like Regis, the result is someone who is powerful, smart and helpful, and when he combines powers with someone like Geralt, they use detective work, alchemy, magic and brute force to great effect, and they are also fun to watch and they always have interesting opinions about human society and politics. Also, if you observe what a mess a higher vampire can make when he is ruled by rage or malice, it makes you appreciate the good ones even more, because you get to see it’s a willing choice, and not at all an easy one. They are prone to strong passions as a species, and a choice for good requires quite a bit of discipline and control for them.

And here we bump into my problem – there are no gods in the Witcher universe. There are no super-powerful angelic beings. The best I can think of is the Lady of the Lake, who tries to promote and enforce some basic principles, or Gaunter O’Dimm, who is not really good in any true definition of the term, but more of a predator who selectively destroys evil, arrogant and worthless beings. He is occasionally helpful to the good ones, but excessive help from him comes at a high price that is seldom worth it. However, if we see him as some kind of a super-devil that selectively plucks the evil people out of existence and thus shows that a choice for evil and callousness might not be worth it, I am forced to classify him as a phenomenon useful for enforcing positive moral principles. The “gods” of the Witcher universe, however, are all false and ridiculous. The “prophet” Lebioda is an obvious caricature of Jesus designed by atheists; other “gods” such as Freya or Melitele probably don’t even exist, which is what “allgod”, the lardass sylvan living in a basement of an elven ruin, actually points out: sure, he’s not a real deity, but unlike all other false gods he actually exists enough to talk and offer some advice to the peasants. Basically, all the religions in Witcher are exactly what atheists think of religions, and this is why the Witcher imagery is useless for describing the actual good that exceeds normal human metrics. Furthermore, this is the case with basically every other fictional universe imagined by humans: they apparently don’t know what powerful good beings feel like, to the point where they can’t even imagine them properly. Also, since the experience of darshan is apparently rare among writers, they can’t write from actual experience.

And so, if people aren’t even capable of writing fictional good characters due to their lack of experience with actual powerful good beings, what does this say about this world, about religions, and so on? It’s something to think about, in any case.