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    Item/Equipment FAQ by blue_devil_99

    Version: 1.01 | Updated: 06/04/11 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Witcher 2
    Items and Equipment FAQ
    Version 1.01
    [0]  About this FAQ
    [1]  Chapter 1 Items
    [2]  Chapter 2 Items
    [3]  Chapter 3 Items
    [4]  Runes and Reinforcements (weapon and armor upgrades)
    [5]  Help with Crafting (and how to find ingredients, plus notes on alchemy)
    [6]  Quest and Item Help  (a guide to several endgame item quests)
    [7]  Farming Mutagens and Orens (and a brief explanation of mutagens)
    [D]  DLC Items 
    [A]  Acknowledgements 
    PLEASE NOTE:  Please do not post this FAQ without my permission.
    CONTACTING ME:  Please message blue_devil_99 through gamefaqs/gamespot.
    Errata or constructive comments are welcome but may not receive individual
    responses.  Updates to this FAQ will be sporadic.  Unfortunately (or
    fortunately, I can't decide which sometimes) I do have a real job. 
    Version 1.01 
    - Added Forgotten Vran Sword (Chapter 3 Item)
    - Corrected errors on Dragonscale and Thyssen's armors
    - Added DLC items (free with patch 1.2)
    Version 1.00 (from original, un-numbered version)
    - Cleaned up format, corrected various errors
    - Added alchemy to crafting section
    - Added some general notes on weapons, armor, consumables to beginning of guide
    This guide provides statistics and locations of weapons, armor, and other
    usable items in the Witcher 2.  This is not an exhaustive list of weapons and
    armor in the game; rather, the focus is on acquiring the strongest possible
    weapons as early as possible in each Chapter.  Except in special cases, I will
    not bother with gloves or boots as these items contribute so little to Geralt's
    This FAQ does NOT cover items imported from the first Witcher game (if you 
    choose to import a save).  Imported items, for the most part, are relevant only
    early in Chapter 1.  The exception is Aerondight, which some may use until
    Chapter 2 due to its 3 rune slots.
    Items are listed in outline form.  Somewhat oddly, item statistics vary
    slightly from game to game.  So please treat the item stats listed here as a 
    rough guide.  Note that this randomness seems to affect critical % chances for 
    weapons and resistances for armor, so the impact on gameplay is usually small.
    Certain items are also exempt from this (for example, the Operator's Staff
    always has 4% Stun, 10% Freeze, and 80% Incinerate).
    Also please note that the contents of many chests (particularly those in
    houses or tents) are randomly generated.  So, for example, the guide may
    mention that crafting ingredients such as silver ore or meteorite ore can be
    found by searching houses, but cannot tell you exactly where to search.
    Naturally, many of the best items are quest rewards.  To keep things as
    spoiler-free as possible the guide lists the name of the quest and, if the
    quest has multiple endings, a brief description of the conditions under which
    Geralt receives the item.  These descriptions are deliberately vague so as not
    to give away quest details, but you should know what to do when you get there.
    Detailed walkthroughs for these quests are NOT provided here.
    That said, some general spoilers, such as the fact that the storyline branches
    dramatically depending on who Geralt chooses as his allies, is unavoidable.  At
    the very least, Geralt's decisions will impact when certain items become
    available, and some items may not be attainable at all.  As in the game guide,
    this guide refers to two major NPCs by name and identifies <Name>'s path as the
    story when Geralt chooses to ally with that NPC early in the game.  If you
    really do not want to know these two names (they should be apparent pretty
    early on) please stop reading.
    Two other exceptions:  A couple of the most powerful end-game items involve
    completing quests and/or collecting appropriate items from earlier Chapters.
    Brief descriptions of how to get these hard-to-obtain items are provided at the
    end of the guide.  Also, at the beginning of each Chapter's section I provide a
    brief overview of what you will need to do to get the best equipment as quickly
    as possible.  Again, this is kept as spoiler-free as possible.
    [0.1]  General Notes on weapon and armor properties
    Armor and damage reduction in the Witcher 2 are one and the same.  If Geralt's
    armor rating is 15 and an enemy's attack hits for 25 points of damage, Geralt
    suffers 10 damage.  Attacks that inflict less damage than the victim's armor
    rating do minimal damage.  Potions or abilities that offer a percentage bonus
    to damage reduction simply increase Geralt's armor rating (and the damage
    reduction that offers) by that percentage.  Note that the Quen sign's damage
    reduction does NOT benefit from armor.
    Many weapons offer critical effects such as bleed, poison, incinerate, and stun
    in addition to base damage.  Stun is the best of these as a stunned enemy is
    helpless and will die automatically when hit.  Unfortunately the stun effect is
    rare and most weapons that have it have a very low base chance.   
    Incinerate is my next favorite.  Incinerated enemies take damage over time and
    will occasionally stop fighting and try to put themselves out.  For this reason
    I highly recommend fire runes (see Runes and Enhancements section).  Incinerate
    also benefits from the hidden Pyromaniac ability, which Geralt receives after
    being incinerated repeatedly (I'm not kidding:  drink a swallow potion and step
    into a campfire repeatedly without killing yourself).
    Some abilities and items offer bonuses to critical effects.  To benefit from
    these bonuses, Geralt must be using a weapon with a base chance to inflict the
    appropriate critical effect(s).
    Armor, on the other hand, offers bonuses to these same status effects as well
    as reduction of magic damage in addition to base damage reduction.  In most
    cases, these bonuses are of secondary importance.  Except in very specific
    cases (e.g. Dragonscale Armor vs. Armor of Loc Muine), damage reduction trumps
    everything else.
    [0.2]  Comment on Upgrades and Consumables
    In most RPGs, consumables such as potions are either quick fixes or resources
    to be hoarded.  They, as well as item upgrades, enchantment, and crafting, are
    often best saved for the late game, when the player has developed the proper
    skills and stockpiled enough ingredients.  
    The Witcher 2 is pretty much the opposite.  Pretty much every potion, oil,
    rune, and armor upgrade can be found in Chapter 1.  Many of them are craftable,
    and in most cases ingredients are actually fairly common.  
    [1]  CHAPTER 1 ITEMS
    The best items in Chapter 1 can be acquired immediately after arriving in
    Flotsam.  Go to the notice board and acquire all monster contacts.  Forge the
    basic Witcher's SilverSword and head to the woods outside Lobinden.  You may
    want to do the Indecent Proposal quest first to obtain some free starter armor
    (see below).  You can obtain arguably the best armor in Chapter 1 with minimal
    combat by following the Troll Trouble quest line.  Both of the best swords are
    obtained by killing Endregas in the forest.
    [1.1]  Jagged Blade (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  20-25
    Rune Slots:  2
    Effects:  Bleed +19%
    Acquired:  Craftable, buy Schematic from dwarf craftsman in Flotsam
    - Requires 15 endrega teeth; these can be farmed from the insect-like endrega
    that spawn in the forest outside Flotsam.
    - The two rune slots and early attainability make this sword a beast.  Add two
    fire runes ASAP and this will tear through human enemies through the early part
    of Chapter 2.  (See Runes section)
    [1.2] Witcher's Superb Silver Sword
    Damage:  17-25
    Rune Slots:  1
    12% Bleed
    +1 Adrenaline on hitting foes
    Acquired:  Craftable, schematic reward from endrega Contract quest 
    -  Conveniently, you can farm teeth for the jagged blade while doing the quest
    that gets you this sword.
    -  Quest hints:  buy the book on endregas from the bookstore (across from the
    dwarf craftsman in Flotsam).  If you're looking for where to obtain the award,
    simply open your journal and select this as the active quest.
    [1.3]  Robust Cutlass (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  15-21
    Rune Slots:  1
    22% Bleed, 22% Poison
    Acquired:  Ruined Asylum, Claws of Madness sidequest
    -  Found in lower level room after second wraith fight
    -  Decent alternative if you don't feel like farming Endrega teeth
    -  Wraiths can be a challenge at this level.  Come prepared and if possible
    bring the Superb Silver Sword.
    -  Note the destructible wall in the hallway immediately following this room-
    free fire rune!
    [1.4]  Superb Cutlass (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  16-23
    Rune Slots:  2
    16% Bleed, 22% Poison
    Acquired:  Chest in swamp hut
    -  The hut is located in the southeast corner of the swamp area past the 
    ruined Troll's bridge
    -  The hut is locked by default.  You obtain the key through the Troll Trouble
    -  You must choose to help the troll in order to obtain the key; loot it off
    the body of an NPC in the cemetery outside Lobinden
    -  Attaining this requires two fights against 4-5 human opponents.  Farming
    Endrega teeth seemed easier to me, but it's good to have choices, right?
    [1.5]  Astrogus's Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +7
    Rune Slots:  1
    +30 Vitality
    2% Magic damage reduced
    +14% Resistance to Bleed, Poison
    Acquired:  Commandant's manor storage, during Indecent Proposal Quest
    -  You get the Indecent Proposal quest automatically on arrival in Flotsam
    -  The armor is in a chest in a storage area behind the manor past the area
    where you sneak up to a window.  You miss it if caught by guards.
    -  It's listed here because it's free and you can get it very early with no
    combat.  You get a second chance to get it later on if you follow a certain
    story path, but you'll have better stuff by then.
    [1.6]  Hunter's Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +10
    Rune Slots:  3
    3% Magic damage Reduced
    30% Resistance to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    Acquired:  Craftable, schematic reward from bridge Troll
    -  Available shortly after arriving in Flotsam, with minimal combat required
    -  3 rune slots make this awesome.  Buy the schematic for Diamond Armor
    Reinforcements from the craftsman in Lobinden and plug in 3 for +16 armor. 
    This makes the rest of Chapter 1 a breeze.
    -  The Troll Trouble sidequest (free DLC) should be doable on arrival in
    Flotsam (check the notice board).  This is not formally part of the quest, but
    acquiring the quest will mark the troll's location on your map.
    -  After speaking with the troll, talk to Zoltan at the inn.  You need to win a
    certain item from the craftsman in Lobinden.
    -  To get the item you need to complete the Dice Poker quest for Flotsam. 
    First play the gamblers on the lower level of the inn, then the dwarf bookstore
    owner (door across from the dwarf craftsman), then the craftsman in Lobinden.
    -  When you win, choose 'I hear you make traps...', choose the item as a
    reward, and return it to the troll.
    [1.7]  Kayran Skin Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +9
    Rune Slots:  3
    +30 Vitality
    5% Magic damage reduced
    30% Resistance to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    Acquired:  Craftable, receive schematic and skin from Kayran Boss
    -  3 rune slots make this awesome.  Buy the schematic for Diamond Armor
    Reinforcements from the craftsman in Lobinden and plug in 3 for +15 armor. 
    This makes the rest of Chapter 1 a breeze.
    -  Unfortunately the recipe calls for Robust Cloth and Hardened leather, which
    can be annoying (see Crafting section)
    -  One of very few armors to have a hood.  Some may dislike or even choose to
    forego this armor due to the look; others may really like it.
    -  Unfortunately, this armor ends up outclassed by the Hunter Armor as it is
    available much later in the Chapter and is expensive to craft.  
    [2]  CHAPTER 2 ITEMS
    Arguably the second-best silver swords you can get here are craftable
    immediately on starting the chapter.  For Roche's path, a great steel sword,
    armor, and caster's gloves can be found with a little exploration almost
    immediately.  For Iorveth's path you can buy probably the best armor in the
    chapter right away; you will also eventually end up with a better steel sword,
    plus have access to almost all of the good items from the other path later on.
    Bomb- or Trap- reliant Alchemy characters may wish to follow Iorveth's path as
    two armors that boost bomb and trap damage are not available on Roche's path. 
    Mages may wish to follow Roche's path for access to +sign damage items.
    As an aside, let me save you some time:  don't bother with the Draug armor
    schematic.  The devs cruelly dangle this in front of you by putting it on
    merchants at the beginning of the chapter, but you won't be able to make it
    until Chapter 3 and better armors are available then.
    [2.1]  Robust Witcher's Meteorite Ore Sword (Silver Sword)
    Damage:  30-33
    Rune Slots:  2
    +7 to Sign Damage (blue)
    1% Instant Kill (red)
    +2 to Adrenaline generated on hit (yellow)
    Acquired:  Craftable, buy schematic from quartermaster (Roche's path) or 
    craftsman near Philipa's house (Iorveth's path)
    -  Comes in 3 colors (blue, yellow, red), requires 2 meteorite ore of the
    appropriate color
    -  Meteorite ore is scattered all over the place in houses/tents
    -  Requires 8 Silver Ore, you may want to stock up before leaving Chapter 1
    -  Obviously pick color based on your build
    -  Note Adrenaline generation bonus only works after you get Combat Acumen
    [2.2]  Arbitrator (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  29-33
    Rune Slots:  2
    13% Bleed, 4% Stun
    Acquired:  Found in a shallow pool near Visionary's hut, guarded by Arachas
    -  For Roche's path, you can get this sword as soon as you leave the army camp,
    almost the very beginning of the chapter.  It is in a location you'll visit
    eventually for a quest, but you can go there right away.
    -  To get to the sword, go out the front door of the army camp, make a hard
    left and follow the stake line all the way to the corner.  You should see a
    passage in the cliffs leading to an area with corpses and Rotfiends.  Take the
    right-hand path from this area and keep right until you reach a forested area
    with a bunch of endregas.  In the back right of this area you'll encounter an
    Arachas (similar to the endrega Queens of Chapter 1) guarding an area with two
    shallow pools.  The sword is in the far pool.
    -  For Iorveth's path, the sword can be found in the same location much later
    in the chapter
    [2.3]  Sword of the Dun Banner (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  26-33
    Rune Slots:  3
    20 Damage Reduced on Block
    10% Knockdown
    Acquired:  Dwarven Catacombs during Death Symbolized Quest
    -  I prefer this to Arbitrator due to the 3 rune slots, though the knockdown
    effect never worked for me.  3 Fire Runes on this sword is awesome, especially
    for a Critical Effects build character.
    -  To get the sword, you must fool a wraith by answering questions correctly
    about the battles of Brenna and Vergen.  You can get the answers by discussing
    the battles with NPCs who fought in them.  The first few answers are:  You got
    it wrong, Manno Coehorn, He died, Setkirk and Vandergrift.
    -  Talking to the wraith is a story quest; you'll do it eventually for sure - 
    Incorrect answers cause the wraith to attack, after which you can complete the
    quest but will not receive the sword
    -  For Iorveth's path, this quest is doable almost immediately after arriving
    at Vergen, might as well do it early on
    -  For Roche's path, you complete this quest much later in the chapter, so get
    Arbitrator first
    [2.4]  Gwyhyr (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  30-40
    Rune Slots:  3
    +20 Vitality, 30 Damage Reduced on Block
    19% Bleed, 9% Stun
    Acquired:  Baltimore's Nightmare Quest, must return notes to Vergen at end
    -  Iorveth's path only; quest available midway through the chapter after
    obtaining dream crystals
    -  Easily the best weapon period up to this point in the game.  Stun effect is
    an instant kill on enemies.
    -  See 'Baltimore's Nightmare Quest' section at the end of this guide 
    [2.5]  Blood Sword (Silver Sword)
    Damage:  32-36
    Rune Slots:  3
    53% Bleed
    Acquired:  Found in Chest in Dwarven mine tunnels
    -  Roche's path only; found late in the chapter when meeting a friend in
    tunnels below Vergen
    -  In the far lower right room on the map, guarded by Bullvore and Greater
    -  Marginal upgrade over the Meteorite sword you've probably been using all
    chapter, and you won't use it for long, but the 3rd rune slot is nice
    [2.6]  Negotiator (Silver Sword)
    Damage:  19-25
    Rune Slots:  2
    +30 Vitality
    20% Bleed, 20% Freeze
    Acquired:  On both paths, late in the chapter as a part of the story
    -  Cruddy damage, but notable due to the Freeze effect, which slows enemies and
    leaves them vulnerable to shatter (instant kill) on a strong attack
    -  Acquired at a similar point late in the Chapter on both paths
    -  For Iorveth's path this is a reward for a main story quest
    -  For Roche's path it is looted off an important NPC late in the chapter
    [2.7]  Armor of Ban Ard
    Damage Reduction:  +16
    Rune Slots:  2
    +40 Vitality, +2% Magic damage reduced
    +22% Resistance to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    Acquired:  Found in caves beneath army camp
    -  For Roche's path, you can go get this armor immediately after starting the
    chapter (and a pretty big upgrade from the Chapter 1 Armors)
    -  From the upper camp, turn right at the arena and go straight ahead to the
    door, exit the camp, the caves are right past where you find Oodrin 
    -  Turn left on entering the caves, fight past some Rotfiends, look for an iron
    grate on your right, jump over a gap
    -  The armor is on the ground in an area guarded by a Golem
    -  You pass through this area later on Iorveth's path but will probably have
    armor that's as good or better by then
    [2.8]  Dragonscale Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +17
    Rune Slots:  3
    +50 Vitality, +10% Reduced magic damage
    +40% Resistances to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    +50% Damage multiplier on traps
    Acquired:  Buy from craftsman/merchant in Vergen just inside outer gates
    -  Iorveth's path only; maybe the best armor in Act 2 and buyable at the start
    of the chapter from craftsman/merchant just inside Vergen outer gates
    -  Price is 2.8k orens with haggling skill.  Orens are easily farmed near
    Vergen; see the "Farming" section of this FAQ.
    [2.9]  Thyssen's Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +15
    Rune Slots:  2
    +2% Reduced magic damage
    +27% Resistances to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    +50% Bomb damage bonus
    Acquired:  With Flickering Heart Sidequest, must have done autopsy and sided 
    with 'female' NPC
    -  Iorveth's path only; obviously inferior to Dragonscale armor.
    -  Bomb damage bonus is quite powerful, however, especially in combination with
    the Alchemist ability.
    [2.10]  Zirael's Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +17
    Rune Slots:  3
    +30 Vitality, +15% Reduced magic damage
    +37% Resistances to Bleed, Incinerate, Poison
    +7 to Sign Damage
    Acquired:  Automatically as part of story quest
    -  Roche's path only; acquired midway through the chapter from and NPC as a
    part of the main story quest
    -  You get this immediately before crossing the mist for Vergen, it's easy to
    miss it in your inventory
    -  For non mages, not much better than Bad Ard armor, then again Diamond Armor
    Enhancements are pretty cheap
    [2.11]  Armor of Loc Muine
    Damage Reduction:  +18
    Rune Slots:  2
    +10% Reduced magic damage
    +22% Resistance to Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    +10% Vigor Regeneration in Combat
    Acquired:  Iorveth's path, looted off NPC foe late in chapter
    -  Iorveth's path only; Geralt is captured briefly by enemies in the army camp
    late in the chapter as a part of the story quest
    -  Immediately after fighting and killing his captors, an NPC will ask Geralt
    if he wants to go on, you need to tell this NPC to wait and search the bodies
    -  Compared to Dragonscale Armor, slightly better DR but less resistances and
    Vitality, and you get it so late it's hardly worth upgrading.  Still, mage
    characters following Iorveth's path might wear it for the Vigor Regen since
    they miss the +sign damage armor above.
    [2.12]  Mage's Gloves
    Damage Reduction:  +0
    +10% Reduced magic damage
    +5 to Sign Damage
    Acquired:  Found in hidden ravine outside army camp
    -  Can be found in the same place on both paths.  For Roche's path you can get
    it right at the beginning of the chapter.  For Iorveth's path you have to wait
    until you cross the mists later on in the chapter.
    -  From camp's front door, go straight and hang a left after crossing the small
    footbridge (brothel tents are on the right).  Pass by a downed wagon with two
    corpses guarded by 3 Rotfiends.  Follow the path straight and look carefully
    for a place to drop down into the ravine on your right.
    -  Geralt's medallion will vibrate; the gloves are guarded by an Arachas
    -  No DR, but notable for their bonus to sign damage, this is just a bit better
    than another Moon Rune.  Great for mages obviously.
    [3]  CHAPTER 3 ITEMS
    Chapter 3 has all sorts of endgame goodies.  Unlike Chapter 2, Geralt always
    starts Chapter 3 in the same location, though the path he takes from there
    differs.  A very nice silver sword is waiting for you right at the beginning,
    and another (that comes with a cool monologue from Geralt) is a quest reward
    attainable less than an hour in.  
    Three items (a silver sword, a steel sword, and a set of armor) get their own
    section at the end of the guide as they require completing quests and/or
    gathering items from previous chapters.  The only problem is, depending on how
    you've gotten here, your steel sword options can be rather limited.  I'll list
    a couple for the sake of completeness, but do yourself a favor and make sure
    you get Caerme (see Quest and Item Help section).  If you followed Roche's path
    and choose to help Roche during Chapter 3, you can obtain another steel sword
    that is arguably even better.
    [3.1]  Deithwen (Silver Sword)
    Damage:  44-48
    Rune Slots:  3
    +25% damage against large creatures
    +25% damage against gargoyles
    Acquired:  Found in valley opposite Order Camp at beginning of chapter
    -  The devs give us a nice break here.  Shortly after the chapter begins,
    Geralt has a conversation and ends up facing the Order camp.  Turn around 180
    degrees and walk down a narrow straight valley.  The sword is on a pile of
    bones in a clearing at the end of the valley.
    -  Unfortunately you get ambushed by 2 Arachas in the valley.
    -  While not the best statistically, this may be the best silver sword for
    Chapter 3 due to its damage bonuses
    [3.2]  Novigradan Sword (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  36-40
    Rune Slots:  2
    +50 Damage reduction on block
    +14% Vigor regeneration during combat
    Acquired:  Buyable (1.3k orens) from both weapons merchants in Loc Muine
    -  One of a few options for folks that miss Caerme ingredients
    -  Vigor regen on weapons is pretty rare and nice for mages
    -  Several other comparable swords available from merchants, Short Elven Sihil
    is slightly higher damage but lacks vigor regen
    [3.3]  Ceremonial Sword of Deithwen (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  36-45
    Rune Slots:  1
    26% Bleed
    Acquired:  Craftable, buy schematic from circus merchant in Amphitheatre area
    -  Ok, at least this is an upgrade from the Act 2 steel swords
    -  Requires an Archanas armor to craft.  Presumably you've killed several by
    now and they're a common drop, but it is possible you don't have one (and they
    weigh 2 pounds)
    -  Only one rune slot is a serious downside but at least this looks kinda cool
    [3.4]  Addan Deith (Silver Sword)
    Rune Slots:  3
    38% Bleed, 2% Instant Kill
    +4% Damage to Wraiths
    +2 Adrenaline Generated on Hit
    Acquired:  Found in chest during Gargoyle Contract sidequest
    -  Slightly better than Deithwen stat-wise
    -  However, Deithwen is possibly better in Chapter 3 due to its bonuses against
    certain enemy types
    -  Note that adrenaline generation bonus only applies after Combat Acumen
    -  Quest hint:  The four runes always represent Sky (square with slash), Animal
    (snake-like S symbol), Time (hourglass), and Art or Music (looks like a harp). 
    The order can be deduced from reading a note on a stand in the same room.  The
    rune identities are given in four books sold by the craftsman in Loc Muine.
    -  Geralt does a pretty cool monologue when you get this
    [3.5]  Caerme (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  50-58
    Rune Slots:  2
    +2 to Vitality Regeneration
    +4 to Blade Oil duration
    4% Instant Kill
    Acquired:  Craftable, schematic quest reward from Gargoyle Contract sidequest
    -  Requires missable items from Chapters 1 and 2, see 'Quest and Item Help'
    -  In a nutshell, you need a magical manuscript acquired during the Gargoyle
    Contract sidequest AND you must have brought Queen endrega Pheromones, Nekker
    Warrior Blood, Necrophage Skin, and one of a Harpy's Egg or Rotfiend Tongue
    with you.  The first two of these cannot be found in Chapter 3.
    -  Easily the best steel sword in the game (though see Operator's Staff) 
    [3.6]  Forgotten Vran Sword (Steel Sword)
    Damage:  50-55
    Rune Slots:  3
    20% Freeze
    +1 Vigor, +2 to Vitality Regeneration
    2% Instant Kill
    Acquired:  Locked Safe in a certain Gargamel-like sorceror's quarters in the
    Kaedwani camp
    -  Roche's path only; must choose to help Roche at a certain point in the plot.
    -  Best steel sword in the game.  Sacrifices a few points max damage compared
    to Caerme for the powerful Freeze effect, Vigor bonus, and an extra rune slot.
    -  With 3 Fire Runes, better damage than upgraded Caerme, and as good for
    Critical Effects builds as the Operator's Staff.  This is just awesome.
    [3.7]  Zerrikanterment (Silver Sword)
    Damage:  45-50
    Rune Slots:  3
    35% Bleed, 1% Instant Kill
    +4% Damage to Wraiths, Large Monsters, Gargoyles, Insectoids, Necrophages
    +10 to Sign Damage
    Acquired:  Craftable, schematic buyable from craftsman in Loc Muine, requires
    Dragon Scale
    Special Note:  If you're a mage and miss the dragon scale, the amphitheater
    merchant sells a Superb Blue Meteorite sword diagram, also with +10 Sign Damage
    -  Best silver sword for mage builds due to sign damage bonus and stats
    -  Depending on what path you follow, the Dragon Scale can be difficult to
    obtain.  See 'Quest and Item Help' section.
    -  In a nutshell, if you're following Roche's path, you need to have progressed
    far enough in the 'Little Sisters' quest in Act 2 to find a set of magical
    notes, activating the 'From a Bygone Era' quest.  You then need to complete
    this quest in Act 3 and kill the Operator at the end.
    -  For those following Iorveth's path there is a Dragon Scale in Philippa
    Eilhart's quarters, which you reach if you choose to help Iorveth at a certain
    point in the plot.
    -  Also requires 16x Silver Ore and 3x Yellow Meteorite Ore, so you may wish to
    stock up beforehand
    -  Just in case, diagram for Yellow Meteorite Ore sold by amphitheatre merchant
    [3.8]  Operator's Staff (Steel "Sword")
    Damage:  40-60
    Rune Slots:  NONE
    80% Incinerate, 10% Freeze, 4% Stun
    Acquired:  Looted from NPC at end of From a Bygone Era sidequest
    -  Possibly better than Caerme for +crit builds
    -  While using this weapon, quick attacks no longer 'home in' on enemies
    -  However the staff hits in a wide arc, making it quite effective with Whirl
    -  Unique and distinctive, arguably the one non-sword weapon worth using, mage
    builds may like this for its looks
    [3.9]  Armor of Ysgith
    Damage Reduction:  +26
    Rune Slots:  3
    50% Magic Damage reduced
    +60% Resistance to Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    +15% Vigor Regen in Combat
    +1 Vigor
    Acquired:  Buyable from mage merchant/crafsman in Loc Muine
    -  Best armor in the game for mage builds due to Vigor bonuses
    -  For that matter, very nearly as good as Varn Armor for everyone else, and
    trivial to acquire
    -  Features prominent spikes, some may really like the look while others won't
    [3.10]  Varn Armor
    Damage Reduction:  +30
    Rune Slots:  3
    70% Resistance to Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    Acquired:  Craftable, schematic in LOCKED chest in Loc Muine sewers
    -  Best armor in the game for non-mages
    -  Schematic is in a locked chest, key obtained through Mystic River quest in
    Chapters 1 and 2.  See 'Quest and Item Help' section.
    -  Crafting also requires Robust Cloth and Studded Leather, see 'Crafting'
    [13.11]  Elder Blood accessories (Gloves, Boots, Trousers)
    Acquired:  Craftable, get schematics during Gargoyle Contract sidequest
    -  I won't bother listing stats; they're an upgrade over what you've got to
    this point but still negligible compared to bonuses from chestpieces.
    Some swords and armor come with upgrade slots, represented on the inventory
    screen by small circles next to the item's name.  These circles start off open
    and fill in as upgrades are added.  These slots accommodate runes (swords) or
    armor reinforcements (armor) that add to damage, critical effects, damage
    reduction, and/or resistances.  Only swords and chestpieces have upgrade slots: 
    other weapons, gloves, boots, and trousers are not upgradeable.
    Activate a rune or armor reinforcement from your inventory to add it to a
    currently equipped sword or armor.  Once a rune or armor enhancement is added
    to an item, it is permanent.  You cannot replace it with a better version
    later, and you cannot remove and re-use it in a different weapon or piece of
    With one exception, the best runes and armor reinforcements are all available
    starting in Chapter 1.  I (and based on the forums, many other players) tended
    to hoard upgrades during my first playthrough.  Particularly with armor there
    is really no reason to do this:  Diamond Armor Reinforcements are pretty much
    the best in the game and can be crafted starting in Chapter 1 using readily
    available materials.  Runes are more scarce.  They require elemental stones to
    craft, which are in somewhat limited supply until Chapter 3, so it makes sense
    to plan ahead which weapons you want to upgrade.  They are still not that rare,
    with one exception...
    NOTE FOR ROCHE'S PATH:  If you want to side with Roche, it's a good idea to buy
    the schematic for at least one rune (pick your favorite) before the end of
    Chapter 1, or at least to look ahead to the Chapter 2 weapons and carry enough
    runes with you to upgrade the ones you plan to use.  To be safe, try to do this
    shortly after your nice little visit to the elven ruins with Triss.  
    [4.1]  Fire Rune
    +5% Damage, 10% Incinerate, +20% Resist Incinerate
    -  My favorite rune.  Incinerated opponents take damage over time and will
    sometimes stop attacking.
    -  You find two of these in the ruined insane asylum in Chapter 1 (one is
    hidden behind an Aard-able wall).  Great place to take your new Jagged Blade!
    -  Buyable from merchants, including the dwarf craftsman in Flotsam (Ch 1) and
    two dwarf merchants in Vergen (Ch 2, Iorveth's path).  Cost is about 500 orens
    each, so crafting is cost effective provided you have elemental stones.
    -  Schematic is also purchasable, usually from the same merchants.
    -  Crafting requires Elemental Stone, Essence of Water, and Endrega Saliva. 
    See crafting section.
    -  Essence of Water drops from Drowners and is sold by alchemist merchants.
    -  endrega Saliva is an uncommon drop from endregas in Flotsam forest.  They
    also spawn on the Kaedwani side of Chapter 2 near where you find Arbitrator.
    [4.2]  Ysgith Rune
    +7% Damage, +8% Bleed
    -  Gets a little better damage in exchange for lower percentage of bleed, which
    is not as good as incinerate.
    -  If you want these, you probably need to buy or craft them.
    -  Rune and its schematic purchasable from same merchants as fire runes.
    -  Requires same components, but uses Nekker Hearts in place of endrega Saliva. 
    You get a ton of hearts in Chapter 1 but they weigh 0.5 pounds each.
    [4.3]  Moon Rune
    +4 Sign Damage
    -  Great for dedicated mages, utterly useless otherwise
    -  Buy these and their schematic from same merchants as other runes
    -  Require Diamond Dust (8 per rune) in place of Saliva/Hearts.  This makes
    Moon Runes somewhat more rare/costly as Diamond Dust must be found or bought
    rather than farmed.
    [4.3]  Diamond Armor Reinforcements
    +2 Damage Reduction, +10 Vitality
    -  With one exception (below), the only armor upgrade I ever used
    -  Schematic available in Chapter 1 from the craftsman/merchant in Lobinden (in
    a house near where you meet Cedric)
    -  Crafting ingredients are easily available; most notable is 5 Diamond Dust
    per upgrade
    -  You will find or receive a few Dwarven Armor Enhancements, which have
    identical stats
    -  Plentiful/cheap enough that you should almost always upgrade new armor
    [4.4]  Magic Wrap
    +2 Damage Reduction, +3 Sign Damage
    -  This is the only other armor upgrade I used, for my mage character.
    -  Only available in Chapter 3.  Buyable from Loc Muine merchant.  Schematic
    can also be bought or won by completing Dice Poker quest.
    -  You also receive a unique +1 DR, +5 Sign Damage upgrade following Iorveth's
    path in Chapter 2.  Save it if you want absolutely the highest damage bonus
    [5.1]  Crafting
    Many of the best items must be crafted.  To do this, Geralt needs a schematic
    for the item, and must take the ingredients specified in the schematic to a
    craftsman NPC (pliers icon on the minimap).  The most common 'bottleneck' items
    are Silver Ore (for swords), Robust Cloth and Hardened Leather (armor),
    Elemental Stones (runes), and Diamond Dust.  ALL of these items can themselves
    be crafted.  The schematics are buyable from the merchant in Flotsam square and
    other merchants later in the game.
    Except Elemental stones, these items are buyable from merchants from very early
    in the game.  Keep in mind that merchants' stocks will regenerate with time
    (some claim meditating will do this, but they definitely regenerate when you're
    running around outside town).  NPC dwellings are also a bountiful source for
    crafting materials.  It is best to plan ahead, though, for example have some
    extra silver ore on hand at the end of Chapter 1 to forge a new sword at the
    beginning of Chapter 2.  Finally, these crafting ingredients are themselves
    craftable, though doing so is often not cost effective.
    Silver Ore:
    - Buyable from most smith/craftsman merchants, e.g. the dwarf craftsman in
    - Rare find in houses and containers in caves/mines (often with iron ore), also
    rare loot from human enemy corpses
    - Crafting silver ore is really not cost effective as it requires diamond dust
    (plus cost of schematic).  It's best to buy/hoard it.
    Diamond Dust:
    - Buyable from most alchemist or general merchants, e.g. the merchant in
    Flotsam's town square
    - Uncommon find in containers in houses and in the field (less rare than silver
    - However crafting is definitely NOT cost effective as it requires 2 silver ore
    Robust Cloth (NOTE:  The schematic for this item is mislabeled 'SOLID Cloth')
    - Buyable from some merchants, though more rare than the above
    - Rare find from containers in houses and rare loot from harpy corpses
    - Requires Diamond Dust to craft, but you may want to do this as it can be a
    pain to find and you need a lot of it for certain armors
    Hardened Leather
    - Buyable from most general merchants, though limited stock available at once
    - Uncommon find from containers in houses and in the field
    - Cost effective to craft as it requires only Leather and Oil, which you'll
    have plenty of
    Studded Leather
    - Same comments apply as for Hardened Leather, though rarer
    - Crafted from Hardened Leather, similar to how Hardened Leather is crafted
    from Regular Leather
    - You shouldn't really need this until Chapter 3
    Elemental Stones
    - Required for crafting runes
    - This is the one true bottleneck item early on
    - Crafting requires a Gargoyle heart, not available until the late game
    Endrega Saliva
    - Required for Fire Rune crafting (8 per rune)
    - Fairly common drop from endregas in forest outside Flotsam
    - endregas also spawn in Act 2 near where you find Arbitrator
    Nekker Heart
    - Required for Ygg. Rune crafting (8 per rune)
    - Common drop from Nekkers and Nekker Warriors throughout Chapter 1
    - Nekkers spawn in Act 2 outside Kaedwani camp (past wagon with 3 Rotfiends)
    and a horde of them in the forest outside Vergen, near the dwarven catacombs
    - You'll get a ton of these in Chapter 1 and they can easily weigh you down.
    Fortunately, these and Endrega venom can be used to make Grapeshot bombs.
    Which in turn lead to many more charred Nekker corpses (insert evil laugh).
    [5.2]  On Inventory Management
    There is a mod out there that reduces the weight of crafting items such as Iron
    Ore and Leather to 0.1 pounds each.  I highly recommend use of this mod to
    avoid having to constantly visit merchants to sell off items.  I like the
    realism in Witcher 2's inventory system; Geralt should not be able to walk
    around carrying 20 swords and 10 suits of armor.  You can argue he shouldn't be
    to carry around 100 Iron Ores either, but to me convenience outweighs realism
    in this case.  Obviously it's up to you!
    [5.3]  Notes on Alchemy
    Alchemy serves a very different role in the Witcher games.  In many RPGs,
    potions are either a quick fix, or a resource to be hoarded for difficult late
    game opponents.  The Witcher 2 is pretty much the opposite case.  Alchemy is
    arguably most powerful in the early game.  You can potentially have access to
    the vast majority of potions, oils, and bombs early in Chapter 1, and most
    ingredients are abundant.  Early in the game potions and oils offer substantial
    boosts to Geralt's abilities.  Later, while alchemy is still useful, these
    same bonuses are icing on the cake.  Equally important, many alchemy functions
    can only be performed outside of battle.  Above all, alchemy needs preparation.
    For veterans of the first game, the Witcher 2 makes several notable changes to
    the alchemy system.  Potions no longer require a 'base', just ingredients, and
    can be created anywhere Geralt can meditate.  However, Geralt can also no
    longer drink potions in the heat of battle- potions must be consumed from the
    meditation screen.  Potions also have limited duration, and their timers run
    when Geralt is in conversation.  There is also one major boss fight where
    Geralt absolutely cannot use potions, as no meditating is allowed beforehand.
    NOTE:  Consuming potions increases Geralt's toxicity level, shown as a semi-
    circular bar to the left of the health gauge.  This has NOTHING to do with
    poisoning, which can occur from enemy attacks in combat, or intoxication,
    which is just a screen blurring effect after Geralt drinks alcohol.  The
    later alchemy skills confer bonuses when Geralt has potions active, not
    when he is drunk or poisoned in combat.
    Grapeshot Bombs
    Schematic:  Purchasable from merchants, try Cedric
    If you're having trouble with Nekkers or grouped enemies, these are your best
    friend.  Seriously.  Best of all, these can be made from Nekker hearts and
    Endrega venom, both of which you probably have a ton of in your inventory.  If
    you are struggling with combat early on in the game, do yourself a favor and
    use these.
    +1 to Vitality regen
    Your basic 'health potion'.  Again the ingredients for this are rather common.
    No reason not to have one of these up and running anytime you walk into a dark
    cave or monster nest, or anywhere you expect to be fighting.
    +20% Armor
    +75% resistance to Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    -25% chance to inflict Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    Schematic:  Buyable from merchant in Flotsam Square
    By far the best part about this potion is the 20% armor bonus.  For those who
    don't know, armor equals damage reduction.  This is a great help for bosses,
    who can take down Quen quick and are mostly immune to critical effects anyway.
    +10% Sword damage
    Schematic:  Buyable from merchants in Flotsam and Lobinden
    It may not seem like much, but these damage bonuses from potions and oils add
    up.  Here again the ingredients are very common.  Ideal for group fights where
    you want to take down weak enemies as quickly as possible.
    +15% chance to inflict Bleed, Poison, Incinerate
    Schematic:  Buyable from merchants in Flotsam and Lobinden
    Note that for crit bonuses to kick in, Geralt needs to be using a weapon or
    sign that is capable of inflicting the effect.  This isn't a huge bonus, but
    once you've got those fire runes working this can be useful against groups.
    Also potentially good with AoE Igni.
    Tawny Owl
    +to Vigor regen, in and out of combat
    Schematic:  In Chapter 1, lootable in hidden cave reached during Incence
    Formula quest (possibly a quest reward if you side with the shady merchant)
    AKA Gatorade for mages.  Seriously, Vigor regen is your biggest issue as a sign
    user.  Also unique in that the formula takes some effort to obtain.  The quest
    referred to above begins by speaking to a shady merchant on a lower-level 
    walkway at Flotsam's Harbor.  You'll see it in merchant inventories later on,
    Petri's Philter
    +7 to Sign Damage
    Schematic:  Buyable from merchants, Chapter 1
    AKA Red Bull for mages.  The sign damage bonus is substantial, almost like two
    more moon runes.  Signs in this game do little damage at the start- mages need
    quite a bit of help from equipment and skills to match the damage output of a
    good sword user.  A must if you plan to rely on Aard or Igni for damage. 
    Falka's Blood, Hanged Man's Venom, Necrophage Oil, Specter Oil
    +10% melee damage (Falka's) OR
    +20% melee damage vs specific enemy type
    Schematic:  Buyable from merchants
    I'll mention all the oils at once.  Oils are shorter duration than potions but
    can be used directly from the inventory screen, including in battle.  Falka's
    Blood is available from the start while the formulas for the rest may be 
    purchased (try the herbalist in Lobinden).  The first two enemy specific oils
    are definitely worthwhile, as there are long sequences where you fight
    exclusively against human opponents (Hanged Man's Venom) or Nekkers and
    Rotfiends (both of which are necrophages).
    -10% melee damage
    Schematic:  Available from the beginning of the game
    Cat is situational and mentioned here for two reasons.  First, it has
    changed since the first game.  Cat in the Witcher 2 causes everything besides
    creatures to appear in bright greyscale.  Enemies are displayed in bright
    orange/red and can be seen through walls and other solid objects up to a
    certain distance.  Think detective vision in Batman: AA in grey instead of
    blue.  This potion is also useful at a certain point (or points) when Geralt
    needs to flow a blood trail as a part of the main story.
    -40% melee damage
    +2 to vitality regen in combat, +3 to vitality regen out of combat
    Schematic:  On merchants throughout the game
    If you follow Roche's path, you will eventually have to make this portion to
    complete part of the main story.  Fortunately, when you get to that point a
    merchant who sells the formula is sitting on a bench right outside the tent.
    Other than that, maybe good for mages who rely exclusively sign damage.
    This section gives more details on several hard-to-obtain items, including a
    few that require completion of quests or gathering of items over multiple
    chapters.  Note that, for sidequests that span multiple acts, you will often
    get a 'Quest Complete' notice in a given chapter even though the quest
    continues in the next chapter.  This is normal.  Usually it doesn't matter as
    long as you acquire the right item(s).
    [6.1]  Getting Caerm
    Caerm is the best steel sword in the game and is obtained in Chapter 3.  To get
    it, you must progress in the Gargoyle Contract sidequest in Chapter 3 as
    detailed below.  You also need to have several items that MUST be obtained in
    previous Chapters and brought with Geralt to Chapter 3.
    Getting the sword:
    -  You need to find a magical tome from a chest during the Gargoyle Contract
    sidequest (see below).  You CAN get the tome before starting the quest.
    -  The tome is in a room beneath a courtyard guarded by Gargoyles.  To reach
    the courtyard, start at the entrance to Loc Muine from the Order camp.  There
    are 3 doors that lead deeper into the city; take the left most door and you
    will eventually reach the courtyard.  If on Iorveth's path, you actually pass
    through this area shortly after entering Loc Muine with Iorveth.
    -  Take the tome to the mage merchant/craftsman in Loc Muine's marketplace.
    -  The mage will tell you he needs a Queen endrega's Pheromones, a Nekker
    Warrior's Blood, a Necrophage's Skin, and one of either a Harpy's Egg or
    Rotfiend's Tongue.  You only need one of each.
    -  The Queen endrega's Pheromones MUST be acquired during the endrega Contract
    sidequest during Chapter 1.  The pheromones are listed as a quest item.  BE
    CAREFUL:  the pheromones are also an alchemy ingredient (the red one) and can
    be used up in potion making if you are not careful.  To be safe, I recommend
    farming a few Essence of Death from the wraiths in Chapter 2; these seem to get
    priority by default when making potions involving this ingredient.  Endrega
    embryos also work for this purpose but are heavier.
    -  The Nekker Warrior's Blood must be obtained either in Chapters 1 or 2.  To
    my knowledge there are no Nekkers in Chapter 3.  The blood is labeled as a
    quest item and is NOT an alchemy ingredient, so just be sure not to sell it.
    -  The Necrophage's skin drops from Rotfiends and (I think) Drowners.  It MAY
    be attainable in Chapter 3 from Rotfiends in the Loc Muine Sewers, but it is
    best to keep one on you to be safe.
    -  The Harpy's Egg is an uncommon drop from harpies but can be farmed either
    outside the city or on a small upper area of Loc Muine where harpies spawn.
    -  Deliver the four items to the mage to receive the schematic for Caerm.
    -  Fortunately the ingredients you need to craft the Caerm are no problem.  You
    need four harpy feathers but again these are farmable in Chapter 3.
    [6.2]  The Gargoyle Contract (Caerm, Addan Deith, and Elder Blood Set)
    This is a sidequest in Chapter 3.  There are three courtyards in Loc Muine
    guarded by gargoyles.  Each courtyard has stairs leading down to an iron gate,
    beyond which is a room with four large glowing runes and a chest surrounded by
    a red magic field.  These chests contain or lead to some of the best items in
    the game.
    Each has four large glowing runes on the walls and floor which Geralt can
    interact with.  Touching the four runes in the correct order deactivates the
    field, allowing Geralt to open the chest.  Touching them in the wrong order
    damages Geralt (Quen can prevent this).
    About the Runes:
    -  The meaning of these runes is explained in four books sold by the mage
    merchant/craftsman in Loc Muine market.
    -  The same four runes occur in each room:
    Sky:  a diamond shape with a line through the center (like a pair of lips)
    Animal:  an S-shaped snake like symbol
    Art/beauty:  Looks like a harp, roughly triangular with a vertical line
    Time:  Looks like an hourglass
    -  In each room is a bookstand; interacting with it displays three lines of
    -  Each verse mentions something related to the sky (like a comet or
    lightning), an animal, something related to art or beauty (like a painting or
    the word beauty itself), and something related to time.
    -  Interact with the four runes in the same order in which they appear in the
    room's verse
    [6.3]  Mystic River (Varn Armor)
    This quest spans all three Chapters.  You need to pick up a key in Chapter 1,
    which you use to open three chests, one in each of the game's three chapters. 
    The final chest, in the Loc Muine sewers, contains the Varn Armor schematic.
    Getting the Key (Chapter 1):
    -  The key is located in a shipwreck at the back corner of the Kayran's lair. 
    You need to pick up the key off the ground and use it to open a chest on the
    ship a few steps away
    -  You receive the Mystic River sidequest upon picking up the key.  Upon
    searching the chest, you find a manuscript, which you are then prompted to
    return via the Royal Mail.  I am not sure if you actually need to return the
    manuscript to get the armor (in theory you should just need the key) but it's
    easy to do it just to be safe.
    -  The Royal Mail box is located in the same building where you received the
    rewards for the Nekker and endrega Contracts.  Talk to the same NPC who gave
    you these rewards and convince him (via Axii) to let you look in the chest.
    -  On Roche's path, there is another Royal Mailbox near the end of the act. 
    Searching it gives you a 'Quest Complete' message but is not necessary to
    continue the quest in Chapter 2
    Finding the Second Chest (Chapter 2):
    -  The second chest is also located in a shipwreck in the ravines on the Vergen
    side of the mist, near two trolls' lair. 
    -  On Iorveth's path, you have to find the trolls as a part of the main story
    fairly early in the Chapter.  To get to the shipwreck, take the path into the
    male Troll's lair (with the cauldron) from Vergen, follow the path to the left,
    then keep right through the gullies to reach the ship.
    -  On Roche's path, you pass through this area automatically as a part of the
    story very late in the chapter.
    Finding the Third Chest (Chapter 3):
    -  The entrance to the sewers is near Mighty Numa and the trap vendor at one
    end of the Loc Muine market.  Facing the trap vendor, turn 90 degrees left and
    walk:  you'll run straight into the door.
    -  Descend the stairs, go through a door, and find the Varn armor schematic in
    a chest at the end of a passageway to your right.  You can't miss it.
    [6.4]  From a Bygone Era (Zerrikaterment, Operator's Staff)
    This quest opens a portal in the Loc Muine sewers.  The portal leads to a
    secret area with an NPC, the Operator, who will reset Geralt's abilities if
    you wish.  You can also choose to fight the Controller, who drops a dragon
    scale (needed for crafting Zerri..) and the Operator's Staff.  Note that these
    options are mutually exclusive:  if you choose to reset Geralt's abilities you
    lose out on the scale and staff.
    To do this quest, Geralt must obtain a set of magical notes from the Hut on the
    Cliff in Chapter 2 and show them to the mage merchant/craftsman in Loc Muine
    market.  He must then use the notes to deduce a password that opens the portal.
    If you plan to fight the Operator, you can and absolutely should obtain the
    other endgame items (Caerme, Varn Armor, etc) first.  He's tough.
    NOTE:  Players following Iorveth's path can also obtain a Dragon's Scale in
    Philippa Eilhart's quarters.  To reach this location you must choose to help
    Iorveth at a certain point in the plot.
    Getting the Notes (Chapter 2):
    -  These notes are obtained during the Little Sister sidequest in Chapter 2,
    Roche's path.  You can also obtain these in Iorveth's path after crossing the
    mists to the Kaedwani side later in the chapter, though in this case there is
    no quest leading there.
    -  To reach the Hut on the Cliff, start from the Kaedwani Army Camp exit and
    head right.  Run down the small creek between the brothel tents and the Blue
    Stripes' camp.  Go straight until you hit the cliffs; a little to your right
    you will find a pass through the cliff.  Follow this path, turn right at the
    fork, and you will reach a beach area with a hut (surprise) on a cliff.
    -  On the far side of the hut is a cluster of barrels.  Approach these barrels
    and you will receive a prompt to cast the Aard sign.  You need to press the
    button shown onscreen to cast the sign (don't cast it like you would in
    combat).  Doing so scatters the barrels and reveals a trap door.
    -  Beneath the trap door is a room with three altars.  You need to light the
    candle atop each in the right order.  Facing the doorway you entered through, I
    think the correct order is middle, right, left.  If you get it wrong, a wraith
    will spawn, but you can try it again.
    -  Lighting the candles in the correct order opens a secret door.  The notes
    are in the room beyond, on a table.
    -  For Roche's path, you can show the notes to Dethmold.  He will feed you some
    BS and offer to buy them.  DO NOT SELL THEM.
    Finding and Entering the Portal:
    -  On reaching the Loc Muine market, show the notes to the mage merchant
    craftsman.  He will explain they contain a password which opens a secret
    portal.  Geralt must deduce the password from the notes.
    -  As noted above, the entrance to the Loc Muine sewers is near Mighty Numa and
    the trap vendor in the Loc Muine market.  Facing the trap vendor, turn 90
    degrees to your left and walk- you'll run right into the door.
    -  The next time you visit the Loc Muine sewers, a large portal opens just
    after you pass through the door at the bottom of the stairs.  You are prompted
    to give the portal guardian the correct password by choosing from a bunch of
    gibberish words in the correct sequence.
    -  I'll save you some time.  The password is:
    'Zi Uddu-Ya Ia Ia Gat Exa Nibbit Kanpa Gat Uddu-Zi'
    (NOTE:  'Ia Ia' is one word and should only be chosen ONCE)
    -  The portal leads to a room where you need to light a bunch of braziers to
    open the door.  I never bothered to figure this puzzle out, just light them
    randomly and the door will open soon enough.
    Dealing with the Operator:
    -  An NPC named the Operator is in the room beyond the door.  Dialog with him
    commences with him automatically when Geralt enters the room.
    -  Choosing the second dialog option, something like 'How does it work', and
    then 'Lets get started' will reset Geralt's abilities.  All skill points Geralt
    has spent are refunded, and you are taken to the character screen.  Afterward
    the controller disappears and you must leave via another portal.
    -  Choosing the first dialog option, 'I am no chosen one' causes the Operator
    to attack.  Note that this forfeits the option to reset Geralt's abilities.
    Fighting the Operator (OPTIONAL):
    -  This is, in my opinion, easily the toughest fight in the game.  He casts
    Igni 2 (the AE version), Quen, can teleport around the room, and worst of all
    summons Gargoyles two at a time.  On Hard, the Operator's Igni and the
    Gargoyles' attacks take down Quen 2 in 1-2 shots, and will usually kill Geralt
    in 2 more unless you've gone heavy into vitality/damage reduction.
    -  You start the fight alone with the Operator, annoyingly with Geralt's sword
    sheathed.  Immedialy move to avoid his first Igni, unsheathe your STEEL sword
    (the Operator is human apparently) and go to town on him.
    -  When he teleports, stand a short distance away, wait for him to begin Igni,
    and quick attack.  If you have your steel sword out and are too close when he
    appears, he will often just teleport away again (though this is exploitable if
    you're between Gargoyle summons and need time for Vitality to regen)
    -  There is a sound effect when the Gargoyles are summoned.  Remember to switch
    to your silver sword.
    -  This is where things get hairy.  The Operator will roast you with Igni while
    the Gargoyles pound you up close.  You need to either keep the Gargoyles
    between you and him to block the Igni, use the room's pillars to block the Igni
    (careful, you can still get tagged by the AoE), or be really good at rolling.
    -  If you get lucky, the Operator will teleport to a corner of the room and the
    pillar will block his Igni.
    -  You can also try to fight the Gargoyles in a corner where the pillar
    protects you from Igni.  Be VERY careful not to get cornered by the two
    -  If you've upgraded Aard or have +crit bonuses, Gargoyles seem vulnerable to
    stun.  Also, Geralt is invincible during his instant kill animations.
    -  Unfortunately I don't have an ironclad strategy for beating him.  Sorry.
    -  I will say the first time I beat him (on Normal), I didn't realize he was
    human and used the silver sword the entire fight.  He seemed to teleport a lot
    less and you can still keep him stunlocked between Quens.  Anyway, good luck!
    [6.5]  Baltimore's Nightmare (Gwyhyr, Chapter 2, Iorveth's path only)
    I'm including a short guide for this quest largely because it annoyed me. The
    bulk of the quest is following a very cryptic set of directions.  I spent about
    an hour running around in the wrong area, so I'll save you some time if you
    want (feel free to give it a try yourself though!).
    -  This quest begins in the Harpy Lair you reach during the main story. 
    Viewing one of the crystals starts this quest (just get all five crystals and
    watch them all).
    -  Return to Vergen and find Baltimore's shop door.  It is located right next
    to the alderman's house (I think).  The door is locked.
    -  Speak with Baltimore's apprentice, who runs the rune store just uphill from
    the shop.  He will give you a key to investigate the old workshop.
    -  Inside the shop is a breakable wall (use Aard) toward the back.  Behind the
    wall is a cryptic set of directions and a key.
    -  Here's where I'll save you a bunch of time.  Go to the Old Quarry.  Just to
    the right of the gate leading to the Harpies' Lair is a path leading up a small
    hill.  At the top of the path is a chest hidden in the grass.  Open it using
    the key you found in the workshop.
    -  Take this key to the shipwreck located in the gullies past the troll lair
    (same one from Mystic River).  Near the front of the boat is a door hidden
    behind some bushes.  At noon, the shadow of the boat's bough plank points
    directly toward the door (referred to in the poem).
    -  Open the door and retrieve Baltimore's notes.  You may need to deal with
    some unfriendly NPCs to obtain the notes, but make sure you get them.
    -  Return the notes to the alderman in Vergen to receive Gwyhyr.
    [7.1]  Farming
    By FAR the best farming location in the game is in Chapter 2, in the forests
    outside Vergen near the dwarves catacombs.  This location is reachable almost
    immediately on Iorveth's path.  For Roche's path you reach this location much
    later in the chapter.  
    In one corner of this forest there is a pool where a small army of Nekkers
    spawn.  If you're farming mutagens, these Nekkers can drop ALL mutagens in the
    game, including the ultra-rare Madness mutagen.  If you're farming orens, they
    drop Nekker teeth that sell for 4 orens each, along with hearts, eyes, and
    claws that sell for 2.  You'll get several hundred of each very quickly.  The
    key in both cases is that 20 or so spawn at once, so you have LOTS of chances,
    and you can kill them extremely quickly with Grapeshot bombs.
    The only tricky thing is how to reset the encounter.  This encounter will only
    happen once, possibly twice, unless you follow a very specific sequence:
    1)  Begin just after midnight.  If it's not, meditate until midnight and run
    around killing stuff for a minute or two.
    2)  Walk to the exact center of the path across the river (after entering the
    area, make right at the water; the path is just ahead on your left and leads
    to a glade where you encounter 4 harpies).
    3)  Meditate until midnight of the next day (almost the full 24 hours).
    4)  Save and reload the game.  Kill the Nekkers, loot, and go back to step 1.
    Repeat the process until you're overloaded, then go sell all those Nekker
    parts in Vergen.  If you're farming mutagens you can just drop all the Nekker
    parts and they will disappear when you reload.  There is really no reason
    to farm much more than the 10k orens you need for the Steam achievement.
    Unless you're on Roche's path and want to stock up on runes or rune diagrams,
    there's really not much point farming in Chapter 1.  If you really want to,
    it's probably possible to force the Nekkers in the caves in Chapter 1 to 
    respawn using a method similar to the one I describe above.
    [7.2]  Mutagens
    Briefly, mutagens can be used to modify certain skills.  When used, they
    provide a passive bonus to Geralt's statistics.  Note that this bonus has
    nothing to do with the skill; a mutagen provides the same bonus regardless of
    the skill to which it is attached.  The exception is the Impregnation skill in
    the Alchemy tree.  Impregnation 2, contrary to its description, actually
    doubles the effects of most mutagens.  Many of the best character builds
    revolve around getting this skill and as many mutagen slots as possible.
    Mutable Skills:
    Training:  Fortitude, Arrow Redirection
    Swords:  Invincible, Combat Acumen, Whirlwind
    Signs:  Enhanced Ydren, Magical Sense, Control Over the Power 
    Alchemy:  Metathesis, Condensation, Beserker, Mutant, Amplification
    IMPORTANT:  Once a mutagen is attached to a skill, it is PERMANENT.  In
    particular you cannot 'upgrade' from a Lesser to Greater version, even of the
    same mutagen.  As of this writing (patch 1.1) the bonus from Impregnation is
    NOT retroactive.  If you are going alchemy, wait until you reach Impreg 2
    before attaching any mutagens.
    All monsters that drop mutagens can drop the Greater/Epic version of the same
    mutagens; they are just much more rare.  So it is entirely possible to get all
    the best mutagens in Chapter 1.  However the best farming spots in Chapter 1
    are not (in my opinion) as good as the one above, and you probably won't get
    Impregnation until Chapter 2 anyway.
    Best Mutagens:
    Madness Mutagen*, +2 armor, +5 vitality, +1-3 dmg (+4/+15/+3-5 with Impreg 2)
    Greater Strength Mutagen, +2 armor, +1 vitality regen (+4 armor with Impreg 2)
    Greater Critical Effects Mutagen, +3% to all criticals (+6% with Impreg 2)
    Greater Power Mutagen, +1-3 melee damage (+3-6 with Impreg 2)
    Concentration Mutagen, +1 sign damage (+3 with Impreg 2)
    *About Madness Mutagens:  These are super, super rare; I didn't see a single
    one until my third playthrough.  The Nekkers mentioned above DO drop them, but
    expect to have to repeat the encounter fifteen or so times PER DROP.  Other
    than these Nekkers, I have gotten Madness mutagens from the Crazed Nekkers 
    outside the ruined asylum in Chapter 1 and as a drop from the Harpy Queen in
    Chapter 2, Iorveth's Path.  My belief is that all enemies that drop mutagens
    have a very, very small chance (below 1%) to drop a Madness mutagen, while the
    Crazed Nekkers and Harpy Queen MAY have a slightly better chance.  So while
    it's possible to obtain 7 or 8 madness mutagens for your uber-alchemy build,
    expect to spend a lot of time farming.  Note that the damage bonus is not
    listed in the item description but appears (and is reflected in Geralt's
    stats) when you attach the Madness mutagen.
    Otherwise, obviously which mutagen is 'best' depends on your build, which is a
    topic for another guide.  I will note that, after Madness, Greater Power and
    Greater Strength are the next rarest, followed by Concentration.  Greater
    Critical Effects are by far the most common of these.  For reference I got
    about 20 Greater Power and Greater Strength mutagens (each) in the time it
    took me to farm 5 Madness mutagens from Nekkers.  
    In a 'normal' playthrough with all sidequests completed but not that much
    farming, my mage had 4 Greater Strength and 2 Greater Power mutagens at the
    start of Chapter 3.  Just keep in mind that if you plan your character around
    maxing out a specific mutagen, you're going to need to farm.  Critical Effects
    builds are probably an exception; that mutagen is common enough that you'll
    probably get 7-8 of them in the course of completing all the quests.
    Completionists will note I haven't mentioned Enhancement, Range, or Vitality
    mutagens.  This is because I find them pretty useless.  Unless you're going
    with a very specific niche build, some combination of those listed above will
    be better.  
    [D]  DLC ITEMS
    As of patch 1.2 all DLC available as pre-order bonuses or packaged with
    different versions of the game should now be included.  Stats on these items
    are provided here for comparison.  I'm keeping this at the end of the FAQ for
    convenience in updating when future DLC becomes available.
    [D.1]  Blue Stripes Combat Jacket
    Damage Reduction:  +7
    Rune Slots:  3
    +10 Vitality
    +20% Resistance to Incineration
    +10% Resistance to Poison, Bleed
    +10 Damage reduction on block
    +10% Bleed
    [D.2]  Mage's trousers
    Damage Reduction: 1
    10% Magic damage reduced
    +20% Resistance to Bleed
    +10% Resistance to Incineration
    +5 Heliotrope Sign duration
    +5 Damage bonus on signs
    -  Arguably the best pants in the game for pure mages.  
    [D.3]  Herbalist's Gloves
    Damage Reduction:  1
    10% Magic damage reduced
    +20% duration for blade oils
    +1 additional alchemy ingredients
    First and foremost, thanks to CD Projekt Red for a brilliantly realized game.
    While not perfect, this game has earned a spot on my shelf next to Baldur's
    Gate 2, Morrowind, Fallout 3, VtM - Bloodlines, and Dragon Age:  Origins.  I
    look forward to great things from CDPR in the future.
    Thanks are also due to Crimson Phantom, Isaac_Redfield, Zack_3000, and others
    on the gamefaqs/gamespot forums who contributed to threads that became the
    buidling blocks of this guide.  Thanks to maurer for providing stats on the
    DLC items.  All remaining errors are mine.

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