Vernon Roche and the Blue Stripes

Gwent, our beloved card game was first born as a mini-game in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, replacing Dice Poker, an analogous feature present in both The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. But The Witcher's origins itself lie elsewhere – in a series of books published back in the 90's by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.

Many of the characters captured on Gwent cards have made at least some marginal appearance in the Witcher books, games, or both. And in I hope a series of articles, I'd like to delve deeper into the background of some of the, in my opinion, most interesting characters presented in CD Projekt Red's card game.

Let's start with one of the most iconic Northern Realms gold cards. My personal idol, and definitely, alongside Iorveth, the most colorful character, who made his first appearance in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

“Vernon Roche! Special Forces Commander for the last four years. Servant of the Temerian king. Responsible for the pacification of the Mahakaman foothills. Hunter of elves, murderer of women and children. Twice decorated for valor on the field of battle...”

Childhood

Vernon was born on Temerian streets, probably in Vizima, the capital of Temeria, where Foltest's royal court was placed. He never knew his father. His mother, pushed by poverty to extreme measures, became a prostitute, which eventually gave Roche his deeply loathed nickname: “whoreson”. The fate of his parents is unknown, while Vernon in his cups tells Geralt that if not for Foltest, he would have wasted his life on streets, just as many others raised in poverty.

In Temerian Majesty's service

After being pulled from the gutter, Vernon eagerly devotes his life to King Foltest of Temeria and joins (or establishes) the Temerian special forces called The Blue Stripes, acting as Captain himself. While leading his squad in Temerian assault on La Valette castle, he encounters Geralt, at present acting as Foltest's bodyguard. In the following moments of the game, he interrogates the Witcher for the purpose of finding out the truth about a certain murder, quite important to both of them. Throughout the following months Vernon and his Blue Stripes travel alongside Geralt and Triss in the Witcher's journey for his lost memories.

The Witcher's plot allows the player to experience several paths Roche's story may develop in. But in all of them The Blue Stripes commander eventually saves the future of his beloved realm, one way or another, with or without Geralt's help.

I personally think that the most touching and breathtaking part of their story involves the Kaedweni King, Henselt, and his puppet mage – Dethmold. The outcome of this stormy relationship and Roche's path may assign Vernon to rather noble and respected company of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings title heroes, alongside Letho and his colleagues, Serrit and Auckes (Polish: Egan).

Blue Stripes: Commandos, Scouts and...

Temerian Spec Ops, a special unit created mainly for fighting Scoia'tael on their own ground, are some of the most talented swordsmen and arbalists (crossbowmen) throughout the Northern Realms. Certainly most ferocious and aweless.

They have no other love nor authority other than their commander and King Foltest. Each member has been personally selected by Vernon, and is an undisputed master in his own field. The Blue Stripes squad is made of light footed scouts, dauntless swordsmen and deadly shooters armed with crossbows. Yes, they are those annoying high–tempo guys that tend to pop out screaming “Bloody nonhumans!”.

...Ves!

Yes, that's the one with physics. Yes, we all love her. Ves was Vernon Roche's right hand, Blue Stripes' first officer, and the only woman under Roche's command. Ves had a tough past with Elves when her village was sacked by a Scoia'tael guerilla band, and was abducted by the commando's leader for her beauty. Yet she doesn't feel hatred against the nonhumans. She treats all criminals alike.

After being rescued by Roche and his Blue Stripes, Ves joined the unit and soon became a Second–in–command under Vernon. She was an expert sharpshooter and fencer.

For North! Temeria!

Vernon grown up in cruel and dreadful world. His family lived on the breadline and his childhood was tough and harsh. All of that made him strong and ruthless, and when he received help by Foltest, he became one of his most trusted, devoted and well-trained men.

His Blue Stripes were pure elite of Temerian forces, although one cannot say that they were the crème de la crème of Temeria's society. Overwhelming events that happened between King Foltest's assault on La Valette castle and events in Loc Muine certainly didn't help Roche in finding his serenity, but sometimes a sacrifice and suffering of one person are naught in comparison with the good of the state, and that's something Vernon knew very well.

 

I hope you liked the article! If you did, please let me know in the comments and feel free to suggest any cards you want to read about next!

About the author

Blue_Stripes_Commisar

Commisar comes from Wrocław, a city in Poland. When his parents opened their bookcases for him he fell in love with Witcher's universe since the very first pages of “The Last Wish”. When CDPR released their games, it was no wonder that he had been already standing in the queue at the nearest game store. After hours and days spent on reading Sapkowski's saga and playing The Witcher, CDPR finally answered his prayers and announced Gwent. At the very moment he is studying Law at Wrocław University..
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