Every once and a while, a game comes out that totally unties the often fractured and argumentative gaming community, placing them all in a state of happiness and satisfaction as they abandon Twitter for a few merciful days to fully encapsulate themselves in said game.
The last time I can remember this happening on a large scale was during the days following the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Not only did this game hit every mark and possible need of any true RPG fan, but it also provided countless hours of entertainment, becoming one of my favorite games in no time.
However, when discussing the title with friends, some of them, who may not be as RPG savvy as the rest of us, found the game slightly tricky at times. They constantly found themselves wandering through the open world without any real purpose. Their version of Geralt of Rivia was neither powerful enough to progress through the main questline nor clued up enough to realize that the world was utterly populated with side quests intended to help empower their player character while simultaneously helping to build the world around them.
For this reason, I feel it necessary to write this guide about one of the best side quests this game offers. A quest that is so good they even made sure to include it in the first season of The Witcher TV show adaptation. Yes, you guessed it, the tale of the Bloody Baron and Geralt’s return to Crookback Bog.
So, with all this in mind, why don’t we look at this quest in greater detail and see if I could help answer any questions you may have about this fascinating quest? What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
Possible Alterations to the Quest
As with any great RPG, the actions the player takes in The Witcher 3 directly affect the world around Geralt, resulting in constantly changing story lines and quest details that make the world feel alive and malleable. With this in mind, let’s look at how this quest can be changed before the player even learns of its existence.
To begin this tale, the player must first complete the Family Matters quest. This story segment, which takes up most of the screen time of the game’s first act, involves the player meeting with the Bloody Baron (Phillip Strenger) for the first time and aiding him in reversing the curse that has been placed on his so-called daughter. In this quest, Geralt can then help the creature that used to be the Baron’s child, or he can kill it; either way, the resolution of this quest will allow the player to proceed and begin the Return to Crookback Bog quest.
Outside of the family Matters quest, the player may also have to complete the Whispering Hillock quest to begin this next task. While the events of this quest do not particularly relate to The Return to Crookback Bog quest, the choices made during the last quest will affect the general atmosphere and situation revolving around our subject quest.
Possible Presentations of the Quest
As mentioned, the decisions the player makes throughout the rest of their game will affect several other quests down the road. Some of these effects will be minor and change a few throwaway dialogue options, while others can change the very landscape of the quest.
If the Spirit Dies
Should the player decide to kill the spirit in The Whispering Hillock quest, the starting village of Downwarren will remain safe and thus will be unharmed when the player makes it to the village to start the titular quest. This then results in the Crones being able to capture the orphans and take them away, most likely to serve as one of their meals.
Ultimately, these events will drive Anna mad by the end of our titular quest, resulting in Phillip taking her away from the bog to find her somewhere safe to heal, far away from the site of the events that addled her mind.
If the Spirit is Freed
Should the player free the spirit instead of killing it, the village of Downwarren will be attacked and, therefore, appear ravaged when the player returns there to begin this quest.
The spirit will also rescue the orphaned children and deliver them to Marabella in Novigrad. While this may seem to be a good result, it ends up working against Geralt in our quest as the crones who had initially planned to eat said orphans decide to punish Anna for losing the children, resulting in her being cursed and transformed into a water hag.
As a result of this curse, Geralt must effectively kill the hag by removing the curse, resulting in both the death of Anna and the grief-filled suicide of the Baron shortly after.
If the Spirit is Freed Before Consulting the Ealdorman
The game will respond rather oddly if the player completes the Whispering Hillock quest in the rather odd order of killing the spirit before consulting the ealdorman. Instead of either saving the village or killing Anna, this option sees the village of Downwarren attacked, but the vengeful Crones will not curse Anna.
However, this option’s end result for the orphans is unclear. The game does give a dialogue option during The Return to Crookback Bog, insinuating that they are safe; however, when the player later visits Novigrad, no mention of the children can be found.
- The situation the Witcher finds himself in at the beginning of this quest is determined by the results of multiple other prior quests. These quests include The Whispering Hillock, Family Matters, and Ladies of the Wood.
- This quest and the one proceeding it were heavily featured in the first series of the TV adaption of the Witcher.
- To begin this quest, the player must head to the village of Downwarren. This village will either be intact or completely decimated depending on the prior decisions of the Witcher.
The Quest Itself
As mentioned, the atmosphere and general presentation of this quest, as well as the ultimate ending of it, is determined by prior quests in the game; however, that does not mean that The Return To Crookback Bog quest is not one to get into and enjoy.
On The Hunt
To start, the player must head to the village of Downwarren. Here, the player will meet with the Bloody Baron and the Ealdorman of Downwarren. The village leader will tell the pair that a group of witch hunters has recently passed through his village and that some ‘lass was guiding them.
After the player and his lordly companion hear this information, they proceed immediately, with the Witcher following Phillip and his men towards the orphanage. This will begin with a short cutscene wherein the player follows the baron and his men. Afterward, the player must stay within a certain radius of the baron or risk failing the mission entirely. You should still be allowed to stray slightly from the lord to a max distance of 150 meters.
Once the player and his band proceed into the swamp land, they will soon be attacked by a group of monsters known as drowners. These creatures, often thought to be cursed men, will attack the player and attempt to drag them and any other living thing foolish enough to enter their waterlogged territory to the depths to drown them. To deal with these creatures effectively, I advise you to avoid using the Aard spell; instead, you should opt for Igni, as the creatures have a great weakness for this particular spell. Fire does rather well against water creatures; who knew?
Once these drowners are taken care of, the player and his group may proceed deeper into the swampland. Once again, however, the band will be attacked by another set of creatures during their march. These creatures will consist of drowners, rotfiends, and a water hag. This new set of enemies should prove challenging for the Witcher at this stage of their journey; however, with the help of Phillip and his men, the player will ultimately come out on top and continue to proceed towards the orphanage.
Continuing along the path will lead the player to the orphanage, where they will find the aforementioned group of witch hunters. Upon your arrival, the witch hunters will be under attack from another set of drowners, forcing the player to intervene and kill the creatures for the perilously underskilled witch hunters.
After the commotion has died down, the player will enter into a brief dialogue with the group’s leader, Tamara. The actual contents of this dialogue change based on whether or not the player managed to meet with Tamara or her father earlier in the game; however, the result of the conversation remains the same, with the entire force spreading out in search of the children and Anna.
During the group’s search of the building, the first key difference in this quest due to past actions rears its head. Should the player choose one option that saves Anna, you will eventually find her there, and however, her mind and sense will have escaped her. Alternatively, should Anna be turned into a water hag, the player must deal with the creature and kill the thing he journeyed to protect. Either way, Tamara will become distraught over Anna’s fate and ask, almost to herself, what can be done for the poor woman. Before a plan can be formulated, a scream can be heard from outside, forcing the player out to face whatever the Crones have sent to kill them.
A battle will then commence wherein the player must deal with a set of drowners, two water hags, and a fiend. Once these creatures are defeated, the player will earn 200 experience points and will be instructed to proceed in dealing with Anna and her condition, whatever that may be.
- Should the player have killed the spirit in The Whispering Hillock quest, Anna will have been driven mad by the loss of the orphanage’s children; this madness can only be cured, according to the baron, by a hermit living in the Blue Mountains.
- When the player finds the witch hunters at the orphanage, you will discover the band is led by Anna’s daughter, Tamara.
Dealing With Anna
Should Anna have gone mad due to losing the children to the Crones, the Bloody Baron, Anna’s husband, will decide that she must be transported to a mysterious man who resides in the Blue Mountains. In the baron’s mind, this man will be able to, somehow, help Anna and return her to her senses.
Soon after this announcement, Tamara insists on accompanying Anna and the baron on their journey; however, the witch hunters refuse this, stating that she now has obligations to the order in return for their help in recovering Anna. Tamara accepts this duty but first insists that her father accompany Anna and protect her on her journey, ensuring that she gets the help she needs. After this, the baron and Anna will leave the swamp together.
Alternatively, if Anna has been turned into a water hag by the Crones, Tamara will insist that the player find a cure for her mother instead of killing her like any other water hag. At this point, the Witcher will not know of any cure for Anna’s state but still promises Tamara to try his best to find one.
Johnny the Godling
After your first meeting with the Godling, the Witcher determines that he might know something about water hags and how one can cure them; therefore, Geralt must travel to Johnny’s Burrow and find the creature again.
Johnny’s Burrow can be easily found by following the quest marker; however, if you get lost, try and remain within Crookback Bog and head for the very center of the area. Once there, you should be able to find Johnny’s squalid home, appearing as little more than a hole in the side of a small overhang.
When the player reaches Johnny’s home, he will find him missing. Therefore, you must begin a search for the childlike creature, using your Witcher senses to ascertain just where the little fellow has run off to. Eventually, you will find the Godling sleeping at a random campsite in the middle of the Bog. a dialogue will soon begin wherein Johnny tells the player about how he saw the Crones punish Anna.
In the end, he will tell the player that the Crones took a piece of hair and then proceeded down into the basement of their home. Once inside, their actions forced Anna to scream in pain before she was turned into a water hag. Johnny goes on to say that he confronted the Crones soon after this and begged them to free Anna; however, they merely got angry with him and punished him for getting in their way by destroying his burrow. After Geralt has extracted all this information, he and Johnny travel back to the orphanage, knowing that whatever could cure Anna will probably be found in the Crone’s basement.
Entering the Basement
When the player enters the basement, they will be told by Graden about some old magic involving dolls and hair weaving into them to create certain curses or spells. Soon after, a series of dolls is discovered, and the game indicates that Geralt must choose one to save Anna.
These dolls are all different, each containing elements that could point the Witcher towards the correct doll holding Anna’s fate. The first doll carries a set of red beads, similar to a string that Anna currently wears on her person in the fashion of most women in Novigrad. The second doll has bird feathers attached; however, this has no relevance to Anna. The third doll has a violet and hollyhock bloom flower attached, the same flower that the Baron mentioned earlier as Anna’s favorite. Again, the last doll comes with a human ear attached with no relevance to Anna.
The Right Doll
The correct option here is to pick the third doll with a violet hollyhock flower attached. If the player chooses this option, Anna will be cured and transformed into a human again. However, the Crones knew this might happen, so they decided to ensure that Anna could never escape her fate. They did this by ensuring the original water hag curse left the victim dead upon any dismissal of the curse. So, with Anna dead, the quest ends with Tamara heading back to Oxenfurt and her father, the baron, leaving the Witcher and walking away in quiet grief. Sometime later, the player can find out that the baron took his own life shortly after these events, unable to cope with the grief of losing his wife in such a manner.
The Wrong Doll
Should the player be silly and not read this article before commencing the Crookback Bog quest, there is a chance that they pick the wrong doll entirely, ensuring that Anna dies in the worst way possible by bursting into flames and burning to death as a water hag.
However, the fate of Tamara and the baron is unchanged whether you pick the right or wrong doll.
After Anna has died or been taken away for treatment by the baron, the player is instructed to proceed to Crow’s Perch to pick up their payment, thus ending the quest entirely.
- The player has to pick one of four dolls to transform Anna back into a human. Each doll has a clue attached to it; however, only the doll with the violet hollyhock flower attached will revert the curse.
- Should Anna have been turned into a water hag, there is no way to save her.
- The player can find the baron at Crow’s Perch after the quest; however, he is already dead after committing suicide.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to the Return to Crookback Bog quest from The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Not only was this guide a delight to write due to the many branching scenarios and circumstances that can present themselves based on the player’s actions, but it was also an excuse for me to return to the world of The Witcher, something I have been dying to do for some time now.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and got something useful out of it. Perhaps you managed to save Anna in the end, or you made the tough decision to save the populated village instead. Either way, I’m sure you had fun while doing it. I hope to see you again soon, but until then, happy hunting!
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What doll should I pick in the Return to Crookback Bog quest?
Answer: The correct doll is the hollyhock bloom doll. This doll refers to Anna’s favorite flower, a fact mentioned by the baron earlier in the quest.
Question: How old is Geralt during The Witcher: 3?
Answer: According to the lore, Geralt is a year younger than Yennifer, born in 1173. Therefore, since this game took place in 1272, Geralt is either 98 or 99.
Question: How to kill a water hag in The Witcher?
Answer: As the water hag is a creature that resides in water, the best option is to use fire against it. Therefore, they have a great weakness to the Igni spell and Dragon’s Dream bombs.
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