Papa Vesemir: The Oldest Witcher’s Lore & Story Explained

Affectionately dubbed Papa Vesemir by Witcher fans, Vesemir is the oldest surviving monster slayer and a father figure to Geralt.

In this fourth installment of our Witcher Lore series, we’ll cover Vesemir’s character in the game, books, and Netflix show. Who is he and why is he important? How is he related to Geralt, Ciri, and other major characters?

Disclaimer: We’ve done our best to avoid spoilers, but proceed with caution if you haven’t finished the main questline of The Witcher 3 or watched The Witcher’s second season.

Who is Vesemir?

“Vesemir was really very old. Who knows, he could be even older than Kaer Morhen. But he walked toward her with a brisk, energetic and sprightly step; his grip was vigorous and his hands strong.”

Blood of Elves

Vesemir is a highly experienced witcher and the oldest surviving member of the School of the Wolf. He lives at Kaer Morhen, the fortress where he trained countless young witchers in sword-fighting.

Just how old is Vesemir? No one knows Vesemir’s exact age. He was born sometime during the 11th century, which places him somewhere around 200-300 years old during the books and games. He is believed to be the oldest living witcher and may be older than Kaer Morhen itself.

Many humans consider witchers “freaks” due to the mutations they must undergo. Sometime during the mid-to-late 12th century, the witchers of Kaer Morhen were slaughtered in a pogrom. Vesemir is the only known living survivor of that massacre.

Geralt, Ciri, and the two other Wolf School Witchers — Lambert and Eskel — see Vesemir as their father figure. 

Vesemir, Lambert, and Eskel at Kaer Morhen.

Vesemir taught them practically everything they know about fighting and slaying monsters. In the books and games, Ciri affectionately calls him Uncle Vesemir. Geralt also calls him Papa Vesemir in a deleted scene from The Witcher 3.

Despite being the oldest known witcher in the world, Vesemir is a skilled swordsman. He spends each winter at Kaer Morhen. 

Then, Papa Vesemir begins walking The Path each spring, setting out to fulfill witcher contracts throughout the Continent, the landmass where the Witcher takes place. 

Vesemir’s character entry in The Witcher 3 states that he’s “seen more beasts than all his students put together.”

Vesemir in the Witcher Books 

Let’s briefly cover Vesemir’s portrayal and roles in the books. We’ll explore his significance more in-depth later in this article. Vesemir is first mentioned in “The Voice of Reason 4” of The Last Wish, the first of two short story collections preceding the main Witcher books. 

Geralt describes Vesemir as his father to the priestess Iola the Second, while healing at the Temple of Melitele from his fight with a striga.

Vesemir is again briefly mentioned in The Sword of Destiny, the second Witcher short story collection. When Geralt first meets little Ciri in the Brokilon Forest, he reminisces about Vesemir telling him and the other witchers bedtime stories when they were young.

Vesemir finally makes his appearance in Blood of Elves, the first Witcher series book, after Geralt brings young Ciri to Kaer Morhen to train. When Vesemir asks who she is, Geralt replies, “She’s my destiny.” 

In the book’s second chapter, the sorceress Triss Merigold arrives at Kaer Morhen to help decipher Ciri’s strange prophetic visions (Ciri is a child of the Elder Blood, a powerful genetic mutation that gives her special magical abilities). 

When Triss arrives, she calls Vesemir “grandfather,” while he calls her “child” throughout the book. 

Vesemir with Ciri.

True to his grandfatherly nature, Vesemir tries his best to help care for Ciri. He makes a tunic for her to practice in, which ends up injuring Ciri during a run-through of the Trail, a difficult path surrounding Kaer Morhen that young witchers use to improve their speed and endurance. 

He also teaches her about monsters, witcher decoctions, and fighting techniques. The book establishes Vesemir as a trusted leader and advisor to Geralt and the other characters. Ciri asks “Uncle” Vesemir if Triss can stay longer to help out at Kaer Morhen, and he agrees. 

Although Vesemir has the last word, he also trusts Triss and heeds her advice during her time at Kaer Morhen.

Vesemir in Witcher 3

Vesemir plays a much more active role in The Witcher 3. Vesemir’s voice actor, William Rogers, also voiced him in the first Witcher game.


The game opens with Vesemir and Geralt searching for Geralt’s lover, Yennefer, a powerful sorceress and a mother figure to Ciri. She’d sent Geralt a letter requesting a meeting in Willoughby. 

Later in the game, Yennefer reveals to Geralt that Ciri is being chased by the Wild Hunt, a group of elven soldiers who want to “steal” Ciri’s power to move effortlessly between worlds. Finding and protecting Ciri is the main objective of the game.

After breaking camp, Geralt and Vesemir travel to White Orchard. Along the way, they battle a group of ghouls and chat about the ongoing war before encountering a griffin feasting on a horse. They later accept a contract to kill the griffin. 

Later on, Geralt and Vesemir rest at the tavern in White Orchard, where Vesemir waits for Geralt while he searches for clues about Yennefer’s whereabouts.

At the end of the prologue, Vesemir and Geralt find themselves embroiled in a bloody bar brawl during which they’re forced to kill most of the peasants. 

They exit the tavern to find Yennefer and an escort of Nilfgaardian soldiers waiting for them. Yennefer reveals that Nilfgaardian Emperor var Emreis is awaiting Geralt in Vizima. Here, Vesemir and Geralt part ways. Vesemir says he’s heading back to Kaer Morhen.


Act II

Geralt and Vesemir reunite at the beginning of Act II, during the main quest “Ugly Baby”. 

During this quest, the Bloody Baron agrees to let Geralt take “the ugliest man alive”, also known as Uma, a cursed being who Geralt and Yennefer believe is key to finding Ciri. Geralt decides to take Uma to Kaer Morhen to attempt to lift his curse.

When Geralt arrives at Kaer Morhen after a brief detour to Vizima to update the emperor on his progress, Vesemir greets Geralt by the entrance to the keep. After a brief catch-up, Geralt leaves Uma with Vesemir.

Throughout Act II, Vesemir and Yennefer butt heads many times. When he first greets Geralt, Vesemir calls Yennefer an “emancipated, strong-willed woman,” but asks if manners count for nothing. 

He complains that Yennefer has put the other witchers, Lambert and Eskel, to work without so much as saying hello.

Despite his quarrels with Yennefer, Vesemir takes an active role in attempting to lift Uma’s curse. During the main quest “No Place Like Home”, Vesemir suggests using another, less invasive method to try to lift the curse. 

He plans to take Uma into the mountains and perform a ritual he’s used many times. A sarcastic Yennefer tries to interrupt him several times, but Vesemir retorts, “I’m not asking for permission.”

Vesemir’s method doesn’t work and he returns with Uma. Yennefer and the witchers subject Uma to the Trial of the Grasses — the process by which young boys officially become witchers that involves ingesting powerful, potentially deadly potions. 

Yennefer successfully lifts the curse. Uma turns out to be Avallac’h, a powerful elven Sage who helped Ciri escape the Wild Hunt.

Vesemir also participates in the Battle of Kaer Morhen against the Wild Hunt.

Vesemir’s Death

“You always were an unruly child. I adored that about you.”

— Vesemir’s last words

Vesemir’s death is one of the most tragic scenes in The Witcher 3, but as the old saying goes, no witcher ever died in his own bed.

Vesemir meets his end while protecting Ciri during the Battle of Kaer Morhen. As the Wild Hunt blasts through the inner gates of the keep, Vesemir pulls Ciri to safety behind a stone wall. The Wild Hunt freezes everyone else solid.

Vesemir returns Ciri’s sword, which was knocked away in the blast, before retrieving his own. As Vesemir urges her to flee, Ciri hesitates, wanting to save Geralt.

Eredin and Imlerith capture them. Although Vesemir fights them off briefly, he falls to the ground. When he attempts to grab his sword, Imlerith steps on his hand, picks him up, and pins him to the nearby wall.

Vesemir urges Ciri to run but she refuses to leave his side, a choice Eredin remarks is “impractical.” Eredin extends his hand to Ciri, who drops her sword and takes a few steps toward him in a move to save Vesemir.

Vesemir says he forbids her from going with them, but then says she’s an unruly child, a trait of hers that he always admired. Then, using a secret dagger, Vesemir stabs Imlerith in the stomach. Imlerith breaks Vesemir’s neck.

As the Wild Hunt closes in on her, Ciri stumbles, overcome with grief for Uncle Vesemir — then unleashes her power and forces the Wild Hunt to flee, nearly killing everyone in the process.

Avallac’h intervenes and Ciri collapses. Later, Ciri, Geralt, and Yennefer mourn for a moment by Vesemir’s body before Geralt remarks they need to start planning for Vesemir’s funeral. 

Uncle Vesemir receives a hero’s farewell surrounded by those he loved most. After Ciri and Geralt pay their respects, Geralt lights the pyre and the group continues preparing for their final battle against the Wild Hunt.

Does Vesemir Have to Die?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to save Vesemir in The Witcher 3. Vesemir’s death is part of a cut screen toward the end of the main quest, “The Battle of Kaer Morhen”.

Vesemir’s funeral.

Vesemir Netflix’s The Witcher

Vesemir appears in The Witcher’s second season. Although Mark Hamill (best known for portraying Luke Skywalker in Star Wars) expressed interest in playing Papa Vesemir, Award-winning Danish actor and director Kim Bodnia ended up getting the role.

While he does look the part and takes the same fatherly role he has in the game and books, there are some key differences in his character.

kim bodnia as vesemir in netflix's witcher
Kim Bodnia stars as Vesemir in the Netflix show.

In the books, Vesemir has a nostalgic tone about the end of the witchers since all the mages who knew the process of creating more of them were killed. But he eventually comes to peace with it. He also clearly cares for Ciri in the books and Witcher 3, teaching and protecting her.

But in the show, Vesemir is willing to use Ciri to try and make new witchers: a procedure never mentioned in the game or novels. He’s even divided about rescuing Ciri from Voleth Meir and has no problem stabbing her.

As with Eskel, these changes in Vesemir’s — from the caring, wise grandpa, to a somewhat erratic old man — drew the ire of some fans.

Vesemir also suffers an awkward defeat against the mage Rience in the show, whereas in Witcher 3 he appears to be a much more formidable warrior, holding his own against the Wild Hunt.

In the Netflix show, we know Vesemir is supposed to appeal to a greater audience, not just fans of the book or the game. However, we still hope that from now on, he will present his more caring and collected demeanor that fits the oldest and wisest witcher in the world.

Vesemir In The Witcher Anime Film

Released on Netflix on August 23, 2021, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is an anime film that explores Vesemir’s backstory. It takes place when Geralt and his fellow Wolf School witchers are still children.

Nightmare of the Wolf details the story and exploits of a young Vesemir, including how he became a witcher.

Scriptwriter Beau DeMayo wrote the film’s script as well as the script for the third episode of the Netflix show. DeMayo is excited about the possibilities of the animation medium, commenting in a recent interview: “It is a story we could not have told in live action.”

In the film, Vesemir is voiced by British actor Theo James.

Witcher Nightmare of the Wolf
Vesemir in the anime film.

Vesemir’s Significance

Vesemir is an important character in the Witcher saga. The first time he’s mentioned, Geralt speaks very highly of his adopted father:

“Who’s Vesemir? My father. Why are you so surprised? What’s so strange about it? Everyone’s got a father, and mine is Vesemir. And so what if he’s not my real father? I didn’t know him, or my mother. I don’t even know if they’re still alive, and I don’t much care.”

— Geralt in The Last Wish

In Sword of Destiny, Geralt meets his biological mother, Visenna. A healer and sorceress, Visenna comes to Geralt’s aid after he is nearly killed by ghouls. 

During their conversation, he urges his mother to look at his cat-like eyes and asks her if she knows how they got that way. She replies, “Stop it, Geralt.” To which Geralt exclaims:

“It’s Vesemir who called me that. Geralt of Rivia! I even learned to imitate the regional accent. Probably to fill an inner need to belong somewhere. Even if the sentiment is fictitious. Vesemir… gave me that name. He also revealed your identity to me. Not without reluctance.”

In TW3, during the main quest “No Place Like Home”, Lambert gets angry when Yennefer makes fun of Vesemir’s plan to lift the curse:

    “What will you do? Howl at the moon together?” — Yennefer

    “A bit of respect, you’re not talking with Geralt.” — Lambert

These are just a few examples of Vesemir’s reputation. Vesemir’s bond with the main characters is evident during his funeral scene in the game — not a dry eye on the hill! (I’ll admit I even teared up a bit after the battle.)

Vesemir: Final Thoughts

The ultimate father figure, Vesemir is an iconic character. He’s protective and nurturing yet savvy with a sword. Despite his old age, Vesemir can battle with the best of them, and his resilience and wisdom command respect.

Although his journey in the books and games has come to a close, Vesemir’s story continues in the Netflix show and animated film. We’re excited to see what’s in store for Papa Vesemir and hope his future portrayals will be faithful to the books.

What are your favorite Vesemir moments? Share them with us in the comments below!

Want to learn more about Witcher Lore? Check out our articles on Gaunter O’Dimm, Avallac’h, and Nilfgaard.

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