Geralt of Rivia is an absolute beast of a man. The Witcher is known for many things: slaying monsters, fornicating with sorceresses, getting too excited over a game of Gwent, and weirdly — getting blind ass drunk. Yet as much as we love Geralt’s drunken adventures, it’s hard not to notice a level of inconsistency with the portrayal of how alcohol actually works on a Witcher.
Sometimes, it seems our magic-powered merc is flat out drunk after a few glasses of vodka, whereas others he can down a hundred drinks and come off only slightly worse for wear. There are a few possible reasons for this, but it likely comes down to one of the key things that makes a Witcher exactly that.
Lest we forget, Geralt and his kind are far from your bog-standard human. Becoming a Witcher is a harrowing process that in many cases leads to death. Children are taken when young and go through a process of intense training combined with some magic.
Heck, even just the basic diet of the Witcher is enough to thin the herd. Alchemical processes and mutagenic compounds are forced upon the candidates and if they survive, they’re granted with a bunch of cool perks.
Witchers are strong, fast, can see in the dark, are pretty much immune to disease, can do a little magic, and as an added bonus they’re sterile for all that sleeping around. One of the biggest features of note is that they have incredibly quickenned healing and can metabolise potions quickly while maintaining a resistance to the toxins in them. This seems to include alcohol, sometimes.
In The Witcher 3, during gameplay, you can put back as many alcoholic drinks as you can find and Geralt’s vision will blur but that’s it. It may make you slightly worse at combat or walking in a straight line because of the double vision but mechanically, that’s all you really see. It also happens pretty much instantly which is a sign of the incredible metabolism of the Witchers.
To put this in the perspective of a regular human, your vision can become slightly impaired at as low as 0.8% blood alcohol, or about two standard drinks in the span of an hour. Full double vision tends to occur at around .14% blood alcohol levels however, this is usually also met with a bunch of other side effects.
So it seems about right that Geralt’s blood alcohol jumps to somewhere between the two as soon as he takes a drink. After one drink, in the span of let’s be generous and call it a minute (especially given how in-game time works) means Geralt’s metabolism is at least 120 times faster than a regular humans… at least for getting blurry drunk.
The difficulty here is that it doesn’t matter what he drinks on top of that, or what said drink is. We had him chug lagers and vodkas and the reaction was the same. When a witcher drinks, there seems to be an immediate intense hit, followed by the ability to just sort of maintain that – for far longer than you’d think is reasonable.
I’ve met some true drinkers in my time but they all eventually get more drunk, and this puts Geralt at a quite inhuman advantage when it comes to our good friend alcohol. Still, this seems pretty in line with how Witcher’s use the notoriously toxin laden potions. For example, a potion like Swallow which gives you back your health, you really want that immediate hit that keeps healing for a little while.
For other potions longer burn potions, like Cat which gives you night vision you need it to work immediately but also maintain that impact on your eyeballs for a bit longer. It’s likely that because of this, Witcher metabolisms aren’t simply faster, they’re actually just different.
Alcohol, generally speaking, is mostly absorbed through the liver using a particular set of enzymes. There are already people in our world who have problems where their enzymes just don’t really work properly so they have trouble breaking down booze. Given the Witcher’s mutagenic properties and ability to take harmful toxins, I’d say they’re equipped with a few extra enzymes which could dramatically change the way alcohol affects them.
Geralt of Livera
Anything not broken down is released through breath, sweat, and urine. Given Geralt doesn’t exactly wee and the speed at which he seems to absorb the booze, it’s kinda likely that there’s just a faint vapour of alcohol around him, especially if you forced him to drink over 100 beverages in quick succession like we did.
Obviously this is video game silliness for the most part, but it poses an interesting question. Does this even go through the liver or is it mostly just taken straight into the bloodstream via the stomach wall and then excreted? If anything it sounds like Witchers would make great drinking partners just to stand next to for a free, if slightly used hit. We get it Geralt, you vape.
There’s also the chance that there’s a level of control, be it subconscious or otherwise, that Geralt can exercise over this. He knows how he wants potions to work and when consuming alcohol in game, it’s a fair assumption that he mostly thinks of them as a grab for health, doing his best to ward off other effects. It makes sense that he’d be taking the good out of the drink while potentially minimising the bad which could explain other aspects of the game.
In cutscenes, he manages to get pretty hammered on multiple occasions. The key to these is even if they don’t work out well for him after the fact, he seems to be having a good time for the duration. Many of these sessions are held at Kaer Morhen with other Witchers so it’s pretty likely they’re drinking some special Witcher brew as well – not that anyone even needs to be drunk to want to try on Yennefer’s dress and become perfection herself.
When not palling around with other vatt’ghern, Geralt is sometimes known to partake with random strangers. I suppose this is the confidence of a muscular man with superior abilities coming through, but in one such case he gladly sits down with some vagabonds for a brew. They say they’re drinking vodka, and Geralt proceeds to get lit with his new found fam.
If he chooses to keep drinking midway through, he’ll wake up after passing out to be robbed by the men and have to seek his belongings and possibly his vengeance. At no point does he mention being drugged, so it’s likely this was just regular old vodka that still had the ability to make the Witcher sleep like the dead.
If this is the case, it’s likely that Witchers are actually the ultimate drinkers. No negative side effects, drunk when they wanna be,and the fortitude to drink anyone under the table should they so choose. It almost sounds worth going through the trials, until you remember the slim chances of survival and potential agonising death…