Thursday, 29 September 2011

Everyone have their own view!

Each one has his/her own view of the world. Brilliant picture I came across depicting this! Have a great day.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

13 year old giant

And that is none other than - Google

Changing almost everyone's lives. So big in just almost a decade, quiet a oxymoron isn't it?
Happy 13th Birthday Google! (By the time 'Teenage' and 'Adulthood' is reached I wonder what will happen)


Friday, 23 September 2011

i - iCaptain!


Not Today But One Day

Below is a poem written by a Bansalite in November, 2010 during his study at Bansal Classes.

As it was the last day of Bansal Classes.
So I thank B.C. for making thousands of students to wear glasses.
Thanks Bansal for making me to realize where I am weak.
I will work hard, I will encore and one day I will reach the peak.
Today, I don’t have a good batch.
But I have a FIRE.

Today, I don’t have a good cumulative rank.
But I have a DESIRE.
Yes I agree that I don’t belong to the layer of cream.
But I have a DREAM.
I don’t have the “AUKAT” of A-1 Batch today,
But remember “EVERY DOG HAS IT'S DAY”.
So what in there two years at B.C. I don’t become a HERO.
But remember Sachin Tendulkar in his first match scored just a “ZERO”.
Thanks Bansal for making me to realize that life is about hard work and competition.
But one day I will swing this world with my sensation .
One day, I will have that “AUKAT”
You just wait and watch.
Today you don’t find any thing extraordinary in any activity of the mine.
But remember every “Diamond” take some time to shine when it comes out the mine.
Every one say that I have not developed so much as compared to the rest of the masses.
But  I know that I have developed a lot as compared to the first day I arrived at Bansal Classes.
I know for selection in JEE a good batch is very important.
But remember “Students makes batches, Batches does not makes student”.
I promise you, I will be sharper one day, I will be smarter one day, I will be faster one day.
Life is much Bigger than any competition.


Being an ex-student myself this clearly reflects what most of us faced and everyone else in general. Thanks to Jitendra and BCPL for these beautiful words. Original can be found here.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Who is a Teacher?

From A School Principal's speech at a graduation:

He said that a Doctor wants his child to become a Doctor,
Engineer wants his child to become Engineer,
Businessman wants his ward to become CEO,
But a teacher also wants his child to become one of them!
Hardly anyone wants to become a teacher 'By Choice'. Very sad but that's the truth!

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education and the system, the endless lists of flaws. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

To stress his point he said to another guest;
"You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"
Teacher Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,

"You want to know what I make?
(She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 minutes without an iPod, PC or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them how to write and then I make them write, keyboarding isn't everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.
(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make?

I make a difference in all your lives, educating kids and preparing them to become CEOs, Doctors and Engineers...

Well, what do you make Mr. CEO?
His jaw dropped; he went silent.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

(Play with the) Hamster


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Hacker Manifesto

+++The Mentor+++
Written January 8, 1986

Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...

Damn kids. They're all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?

I am a hacker, enter my world...

Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...

Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...

Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...

You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert. 

This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Politics of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Part 2: The Kingslayers (spoilers)

Read Part 1 if you haven't already.

See Part 3

After making the brief overview for all factions involved, both major and minor, I thought it would be enlightening to look at one of them indepth. The Kingslayers, four Witchers of the viper school led by the giant of a man Letho, are the main antagonists of the game, and their quest to fullfill their mission would lead them to interact, ally with and backsab several factions. This impressive maneuvering orchestrated by Letho, the leader of the kinglsayers, will culminate in a sequence of events that would sow chaos in the North and pave the way for the Third Nothern War.

Before starting, I must emphasize that much of what I wrote is my personal interpretation based on the knowledge we are given. A lot of it is left ambiguous and not explored with great detail, especially considering that a lot of it happened outside the game. The assassin that appeared at the end of The Witcher 1 in particular, is not mentionned at all, barring the first scene and a flashback sequence with seemingly a fourth Witcher in it next to Geralt, Letho, Auckes and Serrit, who most likely is our mysterious assassin. Also, I will not delve into their hunt of...the Wild Hunt with Geralt. My focus will rather be on what transpired in Nilfgaard and after.

I- Caught in Nilfgaard

After a long pursuit, Geralt, thanks to the help provided by Letho and three other Witchers from the viper school, finally caught up with the Wild Hunt in the Hanged Man's tree near Nilfgaard, intent on freeing his lover Yennefer from its grasp. A long and brutal fight ensued and a stalemate was reached. Unable to defeat the King of the Wild Hunt, Geralt exchanged his soul for that of Yennefer, and disappeared with The Hunt. Staying true to his short lived friendship with Geralt and returning the favor after the White Wolf saved his life, Letho took Yennefer under his care. Her time in captivity with the spectral riders caused the sorceress to lose her memory and later behave erratically, much to Letho's annoyance. She attempted to drive a wedge between the remaining Witchers by seducing Auckes, and because of her deliriousness started attracting too much attention.

In Nilfgaard, mages are regarded with much suspicion and little tolerance. It was only a matter of time before the band was caught by the imperial secret police, headed by Vattier de Rideaux. For weeks, Letho and his band were held for questioning, albeit non-violently, before the Nilfgaardians made a significant discovery. Through Yennefer's memories, magically extracted by a Nilfgaardian sorcerer, they learned of the Lodge of Sorceresses, a secret organization of sorceresses de facto led by Philippa Eilhart which aims to spread the influence and political power of mages and save guard the North from the Nilfgaardian empire. Mages have proven to be an obstacle to Nilfgaardian expansionism in the past, in particular during the battle of the Sodden Hill. After weeks in captivity, Letho was led to the emperor of Nilfgaard himself, Emhyr Var Emreis, who had certain plans for the Witcher.

The plan was brilliant in its simplicity. Letho and his fellow witchers were to sow chaos in the North, by assassinating kings and laying blame on the sorceresses. It would veritably be hitting two birds in one stone, causing chaos and weakening the North, softening it up for invasion, while depriving it of a powerful weapon that is the mages by turning it against them. In exchange for this service, the emperor promised to rebuild the School of the Viper, the virtually extinct Witcher school where Letho and his comrades came to be.  Only Emhyr, Letho and Vattier knew of the mission. Letho accepted, most likely realizing that the old ways of Witcher neutrality can no longer be maintained. He was given complete freedom and leeway to complete the mission assigned to him.

The Kingslayers thus came to be.

II. Meeting Sile de Tansarville

Sile de Tansarville was one of the names extracted from Yennefer's memory. She was one of the founding members of the Lodge, and was present in the court of Kovir and Poviss, a wealthy kingdom in the far North. How the Kingslayers met her and under what circumstances is unknown. Letho acted like her personal Witcher for a time, slaying monsters for her, while making sure that reliable witnesses saw them together and were able to link one to the other.

Mages in general, especially those of the North, are highly sophisticated and knowledgeable about a variety of subjects especially politics. In addition sorceresses in particular were known for their glamorous looks. It is also true that mages are not impressed with the magical signs Witchers command. In addition to what can be seen as haughty attitude generally shared by her kin, Sile herself was reserved and had little patience for nonsense. All these traits were easy for Letho to exploit.

Taking advantage of his bulky looks, Letho acted like the oaf Sile seemed to think he is. Perhaps exploiting pride in her sophistication, Letho presented himself as a naive melancholic man who thought the world was simply unfair. This seems to mirror Geralt's exchange with Zoltan in The Witcher 1, where he genuinely expressed how his antiquated world views no longer fit the new order. It seems likely that Letho wanted Sile to believe that he had a naive antiquated world view as well and was easy to manipulate. Since sorceresses in particular also use their looks to manipulate, it is not impossible for Letho to have faked physical attraction to her as well.

During this "rapprochement", Letho planned to strike the first blow. He planned to assassinate the king of Kovir and Poviss, Thyssen, and probably shift the blame to Sile. Kovir is the largest exporter of mineral ressources in the continent, and it financially supported Northern Kingdoms against Nilfgaard. Causing chaos there would be a decisive blow against the North. But fate smiled on the Viper as a better opportunity presented itself. Before he can carry the deed, Sile herself, thinking that the naive oaf is easy to manipulate and use, came to him and asked him to assassinate King Demavend of Aedirn for her.

Could there have been a more fertile soil to sow chaos in? The Lodge signed its own death warrant by ordering a regicide which Letho was all too happy to carry out.

III- Assassinating King Demavend

The Lodge of Sorceresses wanted King Demavend out of the of the picture to pave the way for the rise of Saskia, the dragonslayer who had rallied peasants in open revolt against the unpopular king, and the establishment of an independent Pontar State with egalitarian principles, treating nonhumans equally. The Pontar Valley is a land rich in mineral wealth and of high strategic importance. The Lodge secretly controlling it behind the scenes would go a long way to spread its influence in the North.

Sile thus provided Letho with the financial and magical assistance to assassinate the King of Aedirn. To facilitate his escape, Sile also contacted a group of Scoia'Tael whom were part of Iorveth's cell (the Scoia'Tael leader however was in Eastern Temeria at the time and seems to have been unaware of this alliance). They were to support the kingslayers and help them escape and hide. Sile's plan was well though-out, and thanks to the Scoia'Tael, no one would be able to trace the "big oaf" to her. Except she severily miscalculated.

Letho managed to assassinate King Demavend, and despite Scoia'Tael assistance, barely escaped with his life. Most probably led there by his Scoia'Tael allies, Letho found Iorveth in his hideout near Flotsam, and struck an alliance with the veteran warrior. The crowned severed head of Demavend was to be the first of several more decapitated heads, contrary to what Sile wished.

At around the same time, it appears that the Kingslayers also aimed to assassinate the king of Temeria, Foltest. Perhaps seeking to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Vizima uprising and the attempted coup d'Etat by the Order of the Flaming Rose. The mysterious fourth assassin failed however as Foltest was narrowly rescued by Geralt of Rivia. The Witcher assassin was killed in the process. Very little is known of him and the game makes almost no mention of him at all barring the first scene. So a lot of it is speculation and hopefully it will be clarified in the future.

IV- King Foltest is next

Following the first failed attempt, Letho and Iorveth planned a second attempt on the king of Temeria's life. Temeria is a main bulwark against Nilfgaard and was key to inflicting a severe defeat at Brenna on the empire in the Second Northern War. Despite the victory, the kingdom suffered from internal instability, starting with the Vizima uprising and then spreading to La Valettes on the Pontar river. Spreading further chaos in Temeria would be greatly beneficial to Nilfgaard. Baroness La Valette gave birth to Foltest's illegitimate children, unknown to him, whom several barons sought to use as their banner to overthrow the king.

Tensions rose and it was only a matter of time before king Foltest delt with the rebels and recovered his bastard children. This Letho and Iorveth knew. Children were usually taken to the monastery during a siege, so Letho had to become a monk, for he was sure Foltest would seek them out. He had to become a monk ahead of time however,  so Aryan La Valette's patrols one day stumbled on a defenseless blind monk who was being tortured by Scoia'Tael. They were driven off, and Letho was taken to be healed. He paid a large sum of money to the healer to be quiet about his lack of recent injuries, only to kill him later as only the dead could keep a secret. Letho was thus exactly where he wanted to be.

Letho and Iorveth's prediction was vindicated, when Foltest mounted a siege on La Valette Castle and defeated the rebels relatively easily despite the chaos caused by the unexpected intervention of a dragon. As Letho predicted, Foltest rushed to the monastery to recover his children. Only he was accompanied by Geralt of Rivia! How could Letho ever have predicted this? How did he escape from the Wild Hunt? Geralt would have no trouble recognizing an old friend and exposing him! Thankfully for Letho however, Geralt was suffering from amnesia and was not able to recognize his old companion.

This proved fatal to Foltest. One of the mightiest kings of the North was slain, with Geralt being unable to prevent it. Letho escaped thanks to the Scoia'Tael, and Geralt was accused of the assassination. The plan was proceeding well, the complications caused by Geralt's return notwithstanding.

V- Hiding in Flotsam

In a span of three months, two kings of the North were assassinated by the Kingslayers, and both their kingdoms plunged into chaos and civil war. But Letho's mission was far from complete. He opted however to wait for two weeks after his murder of Foltest. Letho was likely waiting for King Henselt of Kaedwen, who had been mobalizing his army south, to start his campaign on Upper Aedirn. His comrades Auckes and Serrit were in Uppper Aedirn at the time, preparing with a group of Iorveth's Scoia'Tael to kill the Kaedweni king.

The Kingslayer also felt that his hands were tied so long as Iorveth was around. He recognized that Iorveth was a cunning fox who could see through him at any moment. The Scoia'Tael were betrayed by Nilfgaard after the last war, so them discovering Letho's true purpose would lead to unpleasant results. So the viper attempted to orchestrate an internal coup d'Etat, by overthrowing Iorveth and replacing him with another Scoia'Tael, one more amenable to manipulation. He tried to persuade Ciaran to do so, but miscalculated and underestimated the loyalty the Scoia'Tael showed to their leader. He was forced to slay Ciaran and his unit to keep what happened from Iorveth.

Letho was thus in a precarious position. It was exacerbated when Sile de Tansarville arrived in Flotsam to pursue her betrayer. She was followed by Geralt of Rivia and Vernon Roche, who were also hunting Foltest's killer. Letho's miscalculation with regards to Ciaran almost proved fatal, as the elf was not dead, but taken captive by Loredo's men. Geralt learned from him of Letho's attemted backstabbing of Iorveth, and used that to drive a wedge between them. Geralt and Iorveth set a trap for Letho, where the two old friends confronted each other for the first time, in the elven gardens where he often spent time thinking. But the trap was jeopardized by the intervention of the Blue Stripes and Loredo's men. Letho and Geralt crossed blades during the ensuing the skirmish.

Trading blows, both verbal and with the sword, the two former friends clashed in the elven ruins, matching each other in skills and abilities. Letho however proved to be the better fighter in this round. He defeated The White Wolf and had him at his mercy. He was the only obstacle in his mission, removing him would make life easier for the viper. But Letho did not kill him. Didn't Geralt save his life once? Weren't they friends who fought the Wild Hunt together? Wasn't Letho doing all of this to revive the Witchers? Geralt was not his enemy.

The Kingslayer walked away from his beaten foe, and rushed to take hold of the sorceress Triss Merigold, Geralt's present lover or friend. He caught her in Sile's room using her megascope, fatally wounded Cedric who was assisting her, and forced her to teleport both of them to Upper Aedirn. Letho had eluded Geralt, the Blue Stripes, the angered Scoia'Tael and Sile de Tansarville.

VI- Time at the Pontar Valley

The teleportation was successful; Letho let Triss go and went on to join his brothers Auckes and Serrit. They massacred the Scoia'Tael unit they were preparing with considering what has transpired in Flotsam, and proceeded with planning King Henselt's assassination. It was shot down however as the curse Sabrina Glessivig inflicted on King Henselt three years ago while being burned alive, activated and summoned a spectral mist. It delayed the Kaedweni invasion, and the kingslayers' attempt.

At around this time, Letho found out that fate had once again smiled on him. He learned of the planned conference in Loc Muinne, which aimed to revise the borders in the Northern Kingdoms, and more importantly re-establish the magi Conclave and Council, which were dissolved after the event of the Thanned Coup. The main kings of the North would be there, along with emissaries and the sorceresses as well. This would be the ideal setting to complete his mission.

King Henselt's death no longer became necessary after the discovery, so Letho decided to go to Loc Muinne and prepare; he entrusted the assassination to Serrit and Auckes. They failed however, as either Geralt of Rivia, if he sided with Roche, stopped and defeated them, or most likely Sile managed to do so on her own if Geralt sided with Iorveth and was on the other side of the mist. In either case, Sile finished them off in the hopes of removing all evidence pointing to her and to bring an end to the slaying of Northern Kings that was contrary to the Lodge's plans. Geralt however, via different means depending on location, still managed to find out that Sile was behind King Demavend's murder.

VII- The Grand Finale

Letho arrived at Loc Muinne and met with Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, the emissary of the Nilfgaardian empire. It is not clear if the latter knew the extent of the emperor's plans or of Letho's mission, but it's clear that he was instructed with dealing with the Lodge. Indeed, Shilard captured Triss Merigold after Letho let her go, most likely to be used as evidence against the Lodge seeing how she is a member. Letho revealed his mission to the emissary, and together they planned for the grand finale where the Lodge would be exposed and the Northern Kingdoms would turn on the mages. It was the ideal setting, for the ampitheatre was protected by a spell that supresses magic. The mages would be defenseless. Depending on Geralt's choice, one of two scenarios took place.

If Geralt decided to help Roche / Iorveth to deal with the Temerian / Pontar Valley question instead of trying to free Triss from Nilfgaardian captivity, Letho is bound and led to the conference by the Nilfgaardians, where he "confessed" to have been behind the assassinations on the orders of the Lodge. King Radovid of Redania and the others turned on the mages, destroyed the Lodge and stopped the Council and Conclave from being created, and soon after a witch hunt ensued. Perhaps still feeling indebted to Geralt, Letho saved Triss and protected her from the Nilfgaardians. They both waited for the White Wolf in the Temerian encampment in the ruined city.

If on the otherhand Geralt decided to save Triss, he takes Shilard hostage. The emissary however was killed by Imperial bodyguard Renuald, revealing that Shilard is expandable in the emperor's plans. He is soon after killed by the witcher, and Triss was freed. She revealed in the conference the Lodge's culpability vis-a-vis the assassinations but made sure to dissociate the rest of the mages from their crime. The Lodge was seemingly destroyed by King Radovid, while the Council and Conclave were established. Letho, knowing that Geralt would continue pursuing him, waited in the Temerian encampment for the final confrontation.

In either case, the dragon controlled by the Lodge intervened during the conference to save Sile de Tansarville, who tried to teleport away using her megascope. As it turns out however, Letho had played his "final prank" by replacing one of the diamonds used to operate the device with a defective one that would cause her to be torn to bits. Geralt either helped her or left her to die. Letho despite his cold demeanor genuinely seemed to want to end her life quickly instead of letting her be caught and suffer painfully.
Wanting to bring the chase to an end, Letho waited for Geralt. In the ruins of Loc Muinne, the two old friends stood face to face in their final confrontation. Geralt had been gradually recovering parts of his memory, and by that time recalled his time and friendship with Letho and the rest of the kingslayers. Letho was willing to put all his cards on the table and answer any question Geralt wished to ask vis-a-vis Yennefer and his mission, but not before offering some of vodka. Geralt can drink some of it with his nemesis, talk with him and walk away, letting the Kingslayer go. Or they both fight to the death this time. Geralt walks away victorious.

Regardless, Letho was in large part successful. Two monarchs were killed (potentially, King Henselt as well depending on Geralt's choice), the two kingdoms standing as bulwarks against Nilfgaard were destabilized, and the Lodge was destroyed possibly alongside the Council and Conclave. With chaos sown, the way was paved for Nilfgaardian invasion. The Third Nothern War had begun, and the kingslayers were pivotal in its erruption.

PS: The Witcher is one of the best games made in today's generation and the entire universe is an epic of its own. Being one of my most favourite games, always wanted to post something and glad founded this to share.



The Politics of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Part 1: Factions Overview (spoilers)

by KnightofPhoenix

This first blog is a brief overview of all the factions, both major and minor, involved in the game that Geralt can interact with and in some instances, influence their fate. By "major faction", I mean the major players that are present more or less throughout and / or have a dominating presence in the Loc Muinne Conference in Act 3. By "minor", I mean the smaller players that are confined to one act or small locale and / or have a minor role in the Conference of Act 3.

After the brief overview, I will attempt to explain how they all interrelate, which they do, in a vast and complex political web of intrigue.

Before all of that however, we should take a look at the map of the North.

As we can see, the major kingdoms of the North are Temeria (blue), Redenia (red), Kaedwen (green) and Aedirn (brown). The black bloc is the mighty Nilfgaardian Empire. The game deals with all five polities and more. For a detailed summary of the history of the Witcher universe, please check the Witcher wiki. Or this trailer that briefly sumarizes the situation in the North immediately prior the game.

Please keep the map in mind for I will refer to it several times, more notably when it comes to Flotsam and especially the Pontar Valley.

Major Factions:

I. The Kingslayers:

Letho: "I want no gold and have no interest in a killer's fame."

Comprised of 4 Witchers from the Viper School, led by Letho of Gulet, the kingslayers are responsable for the assassination of King Demavend of Aedirn, the failed attempt on King Foltest of Temeria's life and later on his succesful assassination, and finally the attempt on the king of Kaedwen, Henselt's life. The Witcher 2 is focused on them as main antagonists and on Geralt uncovering the conspiracy, to clear his name as he was wrongly accused of Foltest's assassination.

The game starts with Letho assassinating Foltest during the siege of La Valette's castle, where we see the Kingslayers employing the aid of the Scoia'Tael, specifically Iorveth's band of nonhuman freedom fighters / terrorists, while at the same time trying to undermine Iorveth and orchestrate a pseudo-coup d'etat, but without success. It is later on discovered that the Lodge of Sorceresses provided them with the order and ressources to eliminate King Demavend. Only to find out later that Letho had in fact tricked them, pretending to be a mindless grunt while in reality he is quite a competent chessmaster, and went on an assassination spree targetting Northern Kings which the Lodge did not approve of.

At the end, it is revealed that it was in fact the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr Var Emreis, who was behind the conspiracy. The objective of the kingslayers was to sow as much chaos as possible in the North to pave the way for a Nilfgaardian invasion, by eliminating the major leaders and putting the blame on the mages. With a combination of luck, resourcefulness and trickery, Letho was more or less succesful in his mission, though how much he succeeded depends on Geralt's choices. In exchange for this service, the Emperor promised to rebuild the Viper School of Witchers, which like all Witcher schools, is on the verge of dying out.

It is also revealed that Geralt has history with them, once saving Letho's life, who in turn made sure that Geralt's lover, Yennefer, was safe. Letho also returns the favor by sparing Geralt when he defeated him in Act 1, and potentially further by saving Triss Merigold, Geralt's friend or lover, at the end. The Kingslayers, Letho specifically, are in my opinion one of the best examples of a non-villanous antagonist that are competent but also reasonable. The game can end with Geralt deciding not to fight Letho (my favorite ending).

II. The Blue Stripes:

Vernon Roche: "I carry out orders others are incapable of executing."

Near the end of Act 1, Geralt is confronted with a choice of siding with two opposing factions, to help him in his hunt for the Kingslayer. One of them is the Blue Stripes.

The Blue Stripes are Temerian Special Forces commanded by Vernon Roche. They are essentially a counter-terrorist / guerilla fighter specialist commando unit. The Northern Kingdoms all had their own Special Forces, created during the war with Nilfgaard to counter the Scoia'Tael, nonhuman fighters who employed terror and guerilla tactics.  Somewhat inaccurately dubbed "nonhuman hunters", the Blue Stripes fight the Scoia'Tael and clamp down on rebelling nonhuman communities, with ruthless determination and cruelty, but the nonhumans who abide by the law are not touched by them (of course they are still more or less treated like second class citizens).

In addition to this role, the Blue Stripes also aim to secure Temerian interests against human enemies as well.  Indeed, they helped secure the Eastern border, helped finance and organize rebellions in other kingdoms, and as we see in the prologue, participated in the war against the rebelling La Valettes. In essence, they execute every command the king gives them. Vernon Roche is genuinely very loyal to Foltest, who looked past his commoner and rather "low" standing (he is a bastard son of a ****), and raised him in rank based on his merit and loyalty.

The Blue Stripes are also known for being the only Temerian unit that has a woman in it. Ves is indeed virtually Vernon Roche's right hand woman, who was able to look past gender and appreciate her skills and determination. Though of course her womanly charms are something that the Stripes exploited to their advantage on occasion.

Vernon Roche is almost fanatically devoted to his country Temeria, and even after Foltest's death with no one ordering him, he continued to serve Temeria in the best way he saw fit. He aimed to assassinate the traitor Loredo (Act 1), helped organize dissidents against Henselt (Act 2) which resulted in the massacre of his unit after his actions were discovered, and finally sought to free Foltest's daughter and heir to the throne, Anais, from Dethmold's clutches (Act 3), with or without Geralt's help. At the end depending on choice, Roche ends up either joining up with Regent Natalis of Temeria to help protect and raise Anais to become Queen of Temeria, or runs off with Anais to raise her on his own, or gives Anais to Radovid of Redania and joins the Redanian army.

III. The Scoia'Tael:

Nobleman on Iorveth: "He's been fighting humans for a century!"

Saskia the Dragonslayer: "But for the first time in scores of years his fight makes sense. The Scoia' tael know no peace, they've died for Nilfgaard, for the Valley of Flowers; in vain. They've been betrayed and cheated. Now they have a new goal. The Pontar Valley can be the first state where no man would have to fear elven arrows when venturing beyond city walls, and elves and dwarves wouldn't live in ghettos or on reservations"

The second choice is siding with the Scoia'Tael led by Iorveth. The Scoia'Tael, which means "squirrels" in Elvish, were established during the war with Nilfgaard, as allies of the Empire agains the Northern kingdoms. They are a militant band of nonhuman freedom fighters and terrorists, comprised of Dwarves and Elves but mostly the latter, who are responsable for the devastation of many human settlements. They were betrayed by Nilfgaard at the end of the war and most of their leaders were sacrificed in order to ratify the peace treaty.

One surviving Scoia'Tael leader is Iorveth. A tactical genius and cunning fox, Iorveth managed to outsmart and defeat all Northern Special Forces (he took their crests as trophies, which can be seen on his outfit), with the exception of the Temerian Blue Stripes. He is also a notorious mass murderer, feared and hated by many including nonhumans. His involvement in the story begins with him supporting Letho in his assassination of King Foltest, and preperation to assassinate King Henselt of Kaedwen. However Letho, not underestimating his current ally's cunning, attempted to eliminate him and replace him with another elven leader before he realizes that he is being used. He failed as Iorveth's men displayed remarkable loyalty.

After learning this thanks to Geralt, Iorveth turned on Letho and offered his support to the White Wolf in hunting him down in Upper Aedirn.  We also learn that Iorveth has a change of hearts of sorts, and has found a purpose other than terrorizing human woods. He wanted to support the creation of a Free Pontar State (Upper Aedirn), led by Saskia the Dragonslayer also known as the virgin of Aedirn, where humans and nonhumans can live equally. We later learn that Iorveth was in fact behind the whole idea and myth of the dragonslayer surrounding Saskia, who herself is secretly a shape shifting dragon. Iorveth and his Scoia'Tael participated in the battle of Vergen against Kaedwen, where they potentially (depending on Geralt's choice in Act 1), turn the tide of the battle.

The Socia'Tael and Iorveth specifically, evolve from a band of desperate freedom fighters / terrorists with no hope of victory, to a band of warriors dedicated to a higher cause that quite remarkably (though not without complications and inner strife), has them fight side by side with humans.

IV. Kaedwen:

King Henselt: I’m the King of Kaedwen and soon of Lormark. The North won’t survive without me. I’ve won! Do you know why I rushed into battle? Do you? I had to resolve it before Loc Muinne. A new world order, new borders. Everything will change. All the kings and princes of the North will be there. Do you know the old saying? He who controls the Pontar Valley controls the North."

Geralt of Rivia: "Have the mages been invited?"

King Henselt: "It’s their idea. They want to revive the Council and Conclave. They want to regain their rights and privileges, their place in society. What tripe! I’ve outsmarted them all! I’ll be the one to dictate treaties. I’ll show them who’s ruler!"

The largest state after Nilfgaard, Kaedwen is a northern Kingdom ruled by King Henselt. Henselt is notorious for his oppression of nonhumans, and much more for his backstabbing of Aedirn during the war with Nilfgaard and his deal with the invading Empire to annex the Pontar Valley, then part of the kingdom of Aedirn. The invasion was aborted however, and Kaedwen joined the coalition that defeated Nilfgaard at the battle of Brenna. One year after the war with Nilfgaard, Henselt once again attempted to take the Pontar Valley by force, but suffered a pyyrhic victory that forced him to abort the invasion due to the intervention of Sabrina Glevissig, his then sorceress advisor, who was secretly working with the Lodge to make sure that the balance of power in the North was not disturbed.

The Pontar Valley, called Upper Aedirn or Lormark, depending on who you are asking, is a stragetically very valuable piece of land that borders Temeria, Kaedwen and Aedirn, is rich in mineral wealth, and is bordered by the important river Pontar in the north and the river Dyfne in the south. It thus naturally a very contested land, claimed especially by Aedirn and Kaedwen (it was once Kaedweni lands), and a rising movement of Upper Aedirnian natives (dwarves and humans), led by Saskia, who wish to secede and form their own state.  Henselt, despite his defeat in Vergen a few years back, reassembled an army of 5000 men to try and take the Pontar Valley again, which due to King Demavend's assassination and the civil war in Aedirn, was de facto ruled by Saskia at the time. The Dragonslayer mustered a force of a thousand men for the defense of Vergen, the capital of her nascent state.

His ambitions are hinted at in Act 1 when we learn that Loredo, the de facto ruler of the very strategically valuable Flotsam (refer to map), struck a deal with the King's sorcerer advisor Dethmold. Act 2 deals with his invasion of Vergen, the capital of the Pontar state in formation. His objective is two fold. Acquire the Pontar Valley, which in and of itself is very important, but also strike a preemptive checkmate prior to the Loc Muinne Conference. Him siezing the Pontar Valley would increase his political leverage, and thus his influence on the conference.
Depending on Geralt's choice in Act 1, Henselt either conquers Vergen (though could be killed by Roche), or is defeated due to the timely intervention of Iorveth and his Scoia'Tael. In the latter scenario, Dethmold is executed and Philippa Eilhart imposes her associate from the Lodge, Sile de Tansarville, as his advisor. He is later forced to relinquish his claim on the Pontar Valley and recognize it as an independent state at the Conference.

Henselt is not without opposition. His past deeds, coupled with his current rapprochement with the hated Nilfgaard, to the point of inviting its emisary, Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, to the Loc Muinne Conference, angered Kaedwenis, nobles, soldiers and commoners alike. With help from Vernon Roche, they formed a hidden dissident group that uses Square Fish coins as symbols. However, the resourceful and cunning Dethmold was successful in dealing with the conspiracy, rather ruthlessly.

Should King Henselt win and still be alive, we see that he has a dominating presence in Act 3 at the conference and we also learn that Dethmold acquired Anais, King Foltest's daughter, given to him by Shilard who was using her as a bargaining chip. Henselt was planning to spread his influence into Temeria itself, dividing it up with his neighbour Redania. Depending on Geralt's choices, he either succeeds, or is checkmated by King Radovid of Redania, or neither get what they want for the time being. Regardless, Kaedwen reached its zenith and the people of Kaedwen prospered thanks to Henselt's expansionist ambition and ruthlessness. Should Henselt die with no heir, Kaedwen falls into civil war.

V. The Free Pontar:

Saskia the Dragonslayer: "Inns will be marked "Humans only". Dwarves will choke in the mines, elves will perished, hunted in the forests! Lords will slaughter peasants because they didn't bow low enough! Is that the land you want to leave to your children?!"

For the sake of simplicity, I'll refer to this faction as the Free Pontar, which Geralt interacts with and explores up close if he sided with Iorveth. The Virgin of Aedirn, Saskia, rallied around her a peasant army that revolted against the Aedirnian monarchy. King Demavend's assassination further resulted in a bigger civil war in Aedirn that prevented the ascension of his son, Stennis, to the throne.

In such chaos, Henselt mobalized his forces to take over the Pontar Valley. Faced with a common foe, the Dwarves of Vergen, peasants and some Aedirnian nobles rallied under Saskia, the only capable commander at this point, to defend it against the Kaedweni invasion. Saskia, with the help of her adviser the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, sought to create an independent Pontar Valley with egalitarian principles, where dwarves, elves and humans can live together equally. The importance of the valley has been explained beforehand. She is thus joined by Iorveth and his Scoia'Tael. This coalition of human peasants, dwarves and Scoia'Tael laid the foundations for the state to be, with the relunctant and ambivalent support given by nobles, knights and the Prince of Aedirn. The coalition managed to muster an army of a thousand men for the defense of Vergen.

Of course such an arrangement is hard to maintain. Dwarves of Vergen are fearful of human peasants overflooding their city, while peasant and noble tensions are rising, while everyone looks at the Scoia'Tael with suspicion, while Prince Stennis refuses to consider Saskia an equal let alone accept her proclamation of independence. This is shown especially when Saskia, the only one holding the coalition together, was poisonned and fell into a coma, before she was cured by Geralt.

On Iorveth's path, where Saskia and the Free Pontar defeat Kaedwen, it is revealed that she was being mind contolled by Philippa Eilhart and the Lodge who have their own agenda, and that she is in fact a dragon (dragons can shape shift in the Witcher universe). The same dragon who tried to help La Valettes against King Foltest in the prologue, because she was apparently impressed with Aryan La Valette, and maybe to gain an ally for the future. Her victory at Vergen allowed her to participate in the Loc Muinne Conference and proclaim the Pontar Valley's independence. Her defeat results in the annexation of the Pontar Valley by Kaedwen and the succumbing of the rest of Aedirn to King Henselt's influence.

VI. The Lodge of Sorceresses:

Philippa Eilhart: "The restitution of the Council and Conclave, and the creation of a strong, independent state with Saskia as its leader. As a bulwark. A defense against Nilfgaard. After years of chaos and destruction, the time has come to build. We wish to rule, yes. Where is the fault in that? Everyone wants to rule! And I know how to do that - better than any monarch in this city."

After the Thanedd Coup, which ended the old mage order as mages turned on each other with regards to whether they should join Nilfgaard, the Northern Kingdoms or remain neutral in the war, a band of sorceresses established a secret society called the Lodge. The Lodge sought to advance mage interests and establish their political dominance. There were 8 founding members, including Philippa Eilhart the de facto leader, Sile de Tancarville, Sabrina Glessivig and Triss Merigold. Many of them were already advisors to kings and in prominent political positions, especially Philippa who was the advisor of the late King of Redania Visimir and his son Radovid after the former's murder (Philippa is hinted to be behind it).

The Lodge's ambitions became much more explicit. They sought to establish an independent state in the Pontar Valley, which they would secretly control via their puppet Saskia (it is thus very likely that Philippa was behind her poisoning, as it is her antidote that brings Saskia under her complete control). In addition, they sought to establish a Conclave and Council of magi, an international organization that they would also control behind the scenes, that would regulate magic and more importantly, appoint mage advisors to Northern Kings. This would allow them to control a very rich and important piece of land and control who gets to advise the kings of the North. In essence, they would control the North behind the scenes.

To achieve this goal, the Lodge needed King Demavend of Aedirn dead to pave the way for the rise of Saskia and the Free Pontar. Letho and the Kingslayers, who were already there trying to start their mission, couldn't believe their luck when the Lodge itself in the person of Sile, unknowingly signed its death warrant by asking them to assassinate the king, providing them with the contacts and ressources to do so. They gladly siezed the opportunity, while faking naivety and compliance. Of course as the sorceresses later realized, Letho outwitted them and went on to assassinate King Foltest, which the Lodge never wanted. It was not in the Lodge's interests to have the North fall into chaos. Hence Sile de Tancarville, predicting that Letho would seek to assassinate Henselt, joined the King's side to both protect him and make sure that the trail leading to her is removed (Geralt still finds out however). She was also there as it was planned that in the event of Henselt's defeat, his advisor Dethmold would be executed and replaced by Sile. It is also interesting to note that while Foltest's death was not part of the plan, it was still slightly convenient. As Triss reveals in Act 1, Natalis is endebted to Philippa Eilhart, through his stakes in Vivaldi's bank which she controls.

The Lodge was not that succesful at the end. King Radovid turned on his advisor Philippa (who either dies or escapes after losing her eyes), Saskia is possibly either dead or freed of her control (though there is the choice to spare her while she's still under their control), and the Lodge was revealed (either by Triss or by Letho who is pretending to be captured by Nilfgaard), partially wrongly, to be behind the assassinations. The Free Pontar could have been defeated, and the Conclave of mages is either disbanded before it even started, or was established, thanks to the intervention of Triss, but while denouncing the Lodge.

VII. Redania:

King Radovid V the Stern: "Politics is like a complicated puzzle. Every piece may prove useful. Or equally useless, even harmful. A breakthrough awaits us at Loc Muinne, by my hand no less. This will be no second Thanedd. Soon, everyone will learn what the Redanian king is capable of."

While Redania and Radovid only show up in Act 3, I'd consider it a major faction because of Redania's importance in the conference, its role in dealing with the Lodge, and its influence over Temeria's fate.

After the murder of Redanian King Visimir the Just, the nobility competed to hold power, while the rightful heir Radovid was still a boy. Philippa Eilhart, hinted to be behind the murder of the king, quickly imposed herself as the most powerful figure in Redania alongside the Regency council to restore stability to the kingdom, and helped raise Radovid (though disregarded his authority as king). However, unexpectedly to all including perhaps Philippa, Radovid turned out to be an astute and cunning politician who would outmaneuver his rivals, impose himself as king and establish for himself the moniker of "The Stern". One way he outmaneuvered mages, Philippa in particular, is his very recent absorption of the Order of the Flaming Rose, a religious-military order that deals with monster, nonhuman threats and more importantly sorcerers (indeed Redanian intelligence helped create it for this purpose).

At Loc Muinne, Radovid aimed to hit several birds in one stone. He immediately turned on an unsuspecting Philippa, the last remaining obstacle to his undisputed sovereignity in Redania under the pretext of her being behind the assassinations as Shilard told him. She is either killed or escaped with her life depending on Geralt's choices on Iorveth's path. He also sought to bring a fractured Temeria under his influence. In order to avoid having to split it with Kaedwen, he asked Geralt to free Anais, King Foltest of Temeria's daughter, from Dethmold's clutches and bring her to him, on Roche's path. If Aryan in the prologue is spared, we see him asking Radovid to free his half-sister. In addition, depending on the choices in TW1, Radovid could have married Princess Adda, King Foltest's daughter (from incest). Both would help Radovid in his quest to make Temeria his protectorate. Depending on Geralt's choice, Radovid is either successful or would have to find another way to sate his ambition.

Furthermore, if Triss is not saved, Radovid deals with the Conclave and the Lodge with an iron fist. If Triss is there to dissociate the Conclave from the Lodge, he brings the Lodge down only.  It is also revealed that Radovid and Nilfgaard concluded an arrangement of sorts, but the specifics are not revealed. It is possible that Radovid helped Nilfgaard deal with their own mage problem (some of the founding members of the Lodge are Nilfgaardians).

Depending on Geralt's choices in both Roche and Iorveth's path, Radovid is either supremely succesful or slightly undermined. But regardless Redania still remains a major power in the North with significant influence and will undoubtedly have an important role in the coming war. And Radovid is the only Northern King who cannot end up dead in the game.

VIII. The Nilfgaardian Empire:

Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen: "I am no warrior sire, I must admit. I prefer to joust verbally or with a pen, the emissary of peace that I am."

King Foltest: "Hogwash! You're the emissary of The White Flame Dancing on the Graves of His Foes, the emperor of Nilfgaard, who spared no blood conquering over a dozen sovereign realms."

Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen: "Thus bringing them laws, culture and peace above all."

The mighty Nilfgaardian Empire is ruled by Emperor Emhyr Var Emreis, and representated in the game by Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen, the Empire's cunning and eloquent emissary and ambassador.

Shilard is present in the Prologue, Act 2 (on both paths) and Act 3. In the Prologue, we can potentially see Nilfgaard playing its own game already if Geralt killed Aryan La Valette. Shilard persuaded the Baroness La Valette to accept Nilfgaardian protection. Already Nilfgaard can be seen projecting its influence.  We furthermore see in Act 2 that Shilard captured Triss Merigold, Geralt's friend / lover, which as we learn later was to extract the name of members of the Lodge and as "evidence" of the Lodge's guilt with regards to the assassinations. We also find out that Shilard was the one who took Anais (and probably killed Boussy, King Foltest's bastard son and Anais' brother), and used her as a bargaining chip with Kaedwen, giving her to Dethmold, most likely to make sure that Temeria would be divided. And as we have already seen, Nilfgaard was in fact behind the assassinations to pave the way for its third invasion attempt, by promising Letho that it would re-establish the Viper Schools.

In Act 3, if Triss Merigold was not saved (which requires Geralt to storm in the Nilgaardian camp and it ends up with Shilard dead), Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen pretended to have captured Letho, who subsequently "confessed" that the Lodge was behind all the assassinations at the Loc Muinne conference. Which led to exactly what Nilfgaard wanted, the elimination of the Lodge and the blaming of mages. If Geralt chose to save Triss, he opted to take Shilard hostage, but Renuald aep Matsen, an imperial bodyguard, killed the emissary himself, showing that he is in fact expendable in the Emperor's plans. Triss revealed in the conference the Lodge's guilt, but dissociated the mages in general from it, which allowed for the Conclave to be created.

How much the Emperor's plan succeeded depends on Geralt's choices, but it was more or less successful, and at the end it is revealed that the Nilfgaardian empire's army crossed the Yaruga River and is marching North.  The Third Northern War had begun.

Minor Factions:

I. La Valettes:

Aryan La Valette: "Hear that men? The king sends a witcher and we are to surrender, forgetting the very nature of honor and pride. We must choose, shame or a witcher's sword. Is that how you would live? Will you bow your heads before Foltest?"

La Valettes' rebellion is delt with in the prologue. La Valettes, alongside opposition to Foltest made up of nobles and knights, rose up to remove the King, by using the Baroness Marie Louise's children, Boussy and Anais whom she concieved with Foltest, as their banner. Temeria thus fell in civil war.

The rebellion made its last stand at La Valette castle, but was defeated by Foltest, despite the curious intervention of a dragon that only targetted the King's men. However, during the battle Foltest was assassinated by Letho and Temerian lords quickly maneuvred to secure or advance their position, causing the virtual collapse of central authority.

If Aryan, Marie Louise's son and commander of the rebelling army, is killed, Shilard is shown taking up the Baroness under his protection. If the former survived, we see him in Act 3 appealing to Radovid to aid him in recovering his half-sister Anais.

II. Temeria:

King Foltest: "Piss on the laws! I'll change them if need be. Above all I'll not allow a band of treacherous barons to use my children as their banner."

King Foltest of Temeria was assassinated by Letho after his very short lived victory against La Valettes and the recovery of his bastard children and heirs. The death of one of the mightiest kings of the North, plunged Temeria into civil war. Nobles competed against each other and threatened to divide the kingdom up.

Constable John Natalis, the victorious commander at the Battle of Brenna, siezed power in an effort to prevent the disintegration of Temeria. Due to his apolitical skills however, the now Regent of Temeria was in a very precarious position, admitting that he could not guarantee maintaining his position for a week. It is as such that Temeria was the weak link of Act 3 to be devoured by Redania and potentially Kaedwen. It must be reminded that Natalis is indebted to Philippa Eilhart via Vivaldi's bank as well.

Geralt however could deliver Anais, Foltest's daughter and heir, to Natalis, though it remains to be seen if that would strengthen his position or cause more civil strife as nobles fight to control the girl. Another alternative has Roche free Anais and flee with her, intending to raise her to one day reclaim her father's throne. And finally if Anais is given to Radovid, Temeria becomes a Redanian protectorate, with the Stern King taking the girl to Redania where he would look after her as her regent.

III. Loredo:

Loredo: "King Foltest is dead. It's likely that the Scoia'Tael had a hand in this heinous murder. So you see, none of you can feel safe. That is why today, wagons with armements will roll out on Flotsam's streets. I hereby declare a state of emergency! Await orders, prepare to fight, and ready yourselves to avenge your fallen king."

I'd consider commandant Loredo a faction due to his dominating position in Act 1, especially over a very important trading hub on the Pontar in Temeria, Flotsam. After Foltest's death and the virtual collapse of central authority, Loredo essentiallly became the de facto ruler of the city, by using his garrison and the fear and hatred of Iorveth's Scoia'Tael to bring everyone in line. He is also contributing to the rising tension and hatred of nonhumans of the city, potentially provoking or allowing a pogrom targetted at nonhumans to take place in Flotsam, should Iorveth be victorious in the skirmish just outside the city's walls.

We also learn that Loredo is corrupt, practising nepotism and traficking in fisstech (drugs). And that he was making deals with Kaedwen via Dethmold, showing his true colors as a traitor to Temeria. Needless to say, Vernon Roche wanted him assassinated.
Loredo dies on Roche's path and can be killed on Iorveth's, should Geralt elect to not save the elven women from burning and hunt down the commandant.

IV. Square Fish Coin Rebels:

Anti-Henselt pamphlet: "A new order must arise in the Northern Kingdoms. A wave of turmoil has passed through Aedirn and Temeria, and now it rushes towards Kaedwen. A swell murky with blood rises in its wake. Once it reaches Henselt's realm, we shall not speak of regicide, but of the simple slaughter of a pig."

As said earlier, King Henselt is not the most popular king during the game. His past and present overtures to Nilfgaard, in addition to Dethmold's notoriety, had angered soldiers, commoners and nobles. With the assistance of Vernon Roche, under the order of King Foltest, a secretive dissident movement rallying noblemen and soldiers was formed 3 years prior the game, which uses square fish coins as its secret symbol.

Indeed, King Henselt faced opposition a few days before the second battle of Vergen, where apparently a number of officers and nobles refused to fight without being guaranteed land in the Pontar. It seems that Henselt was only able to command part of his army to attack. That said, it's not clear if these individuals were part of the secretive dissident movement, and it became evident that with Foltest's death and Dethmold's gradually more severe and volatile crackdown, that Roche could not longer sway a number of nobles to continue their opposition.

Dethmold successfully and ruthlessly cracked down on the conspirators during the 3 days prior the battle and after discovering Roche's complicity in the conspiracy, eliminated the Blue Stripes. Which pissed off Roche tremendously to say the least.

V. Aedirn:

Prince Stennis: "In this world there are crimes that can be forgiven! And crimes that, by any means, cannot! Just as a mother killing her own child or a man slitting his own brother's throat cannot be forgiven. A crime against one anointed by the gods themselves can also not be condoned! He who raises hand against divine right is not worthy to walk this world!
[...] I am the one you should look to for guidance. Let my deeds be the flame that lights up your darkness."

After King Demavend's assassination, several factions began contending for the throne, including his son Prince Stennis. Some such as Count Felart, fearful of the peasant rebellions, even desired to assist King Henselt of Kaedwen in his invasion of the Pontar Valley.
In order to increase his legitimacy, Stennis on the otherhand decided to join forces with Upper Aedirnian forces, led by the only capable commander at its disposal Saskia, to fend off the Kaedweni invasion. The hope was that they'd see him as their leader and savior and that victory would be attributed to him, which would boost his legitimacy and his prospects of gaining the throne. Unfortunately for him, he underestimated Saskia's popularity and the disdain the commoners, who were now used to egalitarian rethoric, showed him, as well as overestimating their ability to tolerate his arrogance.

On Roche's path, Stennis died even before the battle started. On Iorveth's path, he survived and it is heavily implied, though not clearly shown, that Stennis was behind Saskia's poisoning. In any case, the mob is quite sure it was him and sought to lynch him. The nobility stood behind the Prince, not because they believed he was innocent necessarily, but because they were afraid what the mob might do to them as a whole if they got out of control. Indeed, the human mob went as far as to say they wanted to kick the dwarves out of their own city.

Depending on Geralt's choices, Stennis is either killed by the mob, or simply imprisonned, where he is later on freed and crowned the king of Aedirn (minus the Pontar Valley, in that scenario, it would have been an independent state).

VI- The Conclave:

Carduin of Lan Exeter: "The document describing the charter of the Council and Conclave is, as perviously ascertained, an exact copy of the charter found in the ruins on Thanedd Island. The more important question relates to the Conclave and its power to designate royal advisors. Today, randomly chosen mages and sorceresses reside at many courts. However at the time of the previous Conclave, such persons were carefully chosen."

After the Thanedd coup, magic and mage advisors were no longer regulated by an international organization. The Lodge desired to re-establish such an organization, but with them secretly controlling it. The purpose of the Loc Muinne conference, in addition to redrawing the map of the North, was to establish the Conclave, a new international organization that would regulate magic and appoint mage advisors to the Northern Kings.

However, if Triss is not saved, the yet to be born Conclave is declared guilty of the assassinations alongside the Lodge and a witch hunt ensued, preventing its creation. If Triss Merigold is freed however, despite being a founding member of the Lodge (which she does not reveal publically), she denounced her colleagues and revealed them to be behind the assassinations. Carduin, the main spokesman of the nascent Conclave, immediately and quite astutely removed Sile from the conclave and denounced the Lodge. This allowed the Conclave to be established.

Inter-Faction Dynamics:

This is a tough one because virtually all of them are linked in one way or the other, that the game shows quite well. And this web develops throughout until its glorious climax in Act 3.

So I decided to try and show all the dynamics at play via a (poorly made) diagram:

And that's it for the Faction Overview! The blogs coming afterwards would deal with more specific issues, in more detail, such as the nonhuman question and the Pontar Valley, and attempt to draw real life parallels.

See Part 2

See Part 3



Sunday, 4 September 2011

Operators vs. Operation Systems