Witchers utilize one-handed magic spells in combat called signs to help ward off dangerous threats. These magic spells can be used for offensive and defensive purposes and can help turn the tide in battle. Whether it's by channelling dangerous flames, a protective shield, or by controlling the minds of his enemies, Geralt never has his back against the wall.
All signs have four tiers of upgrades that are un-lockable. The next tier can be unlocked after sufficient ability points have been applied to upgrades in the preceding tier. Upgrades may have 2-5 possible levels with varying affects. All sign upgrades add +0.5/sec stamina regeneration in combat.
For all of the SIgns, if you unlock and equip their Alternate mode it is activated by holding down the Sign key instead of just tapping it.
Delusion: The first Axii ability is one that players should seek to unlock first. It is used throughout the game to seek alternative solutions to problems via extra dialogue options. Spending three points here will guarantee the success of any alternate dialogue options that can be influenced by Axii.
Active Shield: This upgrade not only blocks all incoming damage as long as sufficient stamina exists, but it also gives Geralt the ability to heal rapidly in combat.
Melt Armor: This upgrade to Igni will weaken an enemy's armor up to 75% when fully upgraded allowing Geralt to improve his damage dealing potential in any fight. This is one of the easiest ways to increase damage dealing capacity.
Exploding Shield: In the early game, this ability allows the player to be more aggressive by damaging and knocking back any enemies that manage to break the shield. This gives the player additional time to recover should the fight be harder than initially thought.
Magic Trap: A important defensive alternate sign that will not only damage and slow enemies that enter the trap, but also destroys projectiles that fly through it. This is important when dealing with ranged attackers.
Aard Sweep: The alternate sign mode works well when dealing with large groups of attackers allowing Geralt to knock back whole groups at once.
Click on a sign or upgrade in the tree below to go to the description.
The Aard sign is a simple magical sign used by witchers. A directed blast of telekinetic energy that staggers opponents, leaving them open for a subsequent attack. "This sign casts a directed wave of telekinetic energy that can stagger or knock down opponents, leaving them open for attack. Aard can also blow out any existing fires, blast open poorly secured doors, or punch through cracked or damaged walls or floors.
Do not underestimate how useful this skill can be. Some enemies that are knocked over can even be finished off with an immediate execution technique. Flying enemies may also be blasted out of the sky and brought within reach of your blades. Aard's chances to knock enemies down and the amount of time they stay knocked down increase with higher sign intensity."
For the occasional time you encounter human enemies on horseback this sign is quite effective at knocking them off which frequently leaves them fully knocked down, allowing you to quickly rush up for an execution move. The Far-Reaching Aard upgrade is highly recommended to max out and equip; this will do nothing but help you in every combat situation you may consider using it, particularly in knocking down flying enemies and fast humans on horseback.
One particular interesting note; when facing a Foglet while it's in its fog-hiding form, Aard can knock it out of hiding.
Its Alternate mode, Aard Sweep, has Geralt fire the wave downward and it spreads out in every direction, and all other upgrades still affect it. This with Far-Reaching Aard is the ultimate move to get enemies surrounding you to back off.
Far-Reaching Aard - Tier 1
Increases Aard's range by 1 yard per level.
Aard Sweep - Tier 2
Alternate Sign Mode:
Aard strikes all opponents in a certain radius
Level 1: Knock-down chance is 21% lower
Level 2: Knock-down chance is 17% lower
Level 3: Knock-down chance is not reduced.
Aard Intensity - Tier 3
Increases Aard Sign intensity by 5% per level.
Shock Wave - Tier 4
Aard now deals 40 damage + 40 damage for each additional level.
Note: Sign Intensity does not affect this damage.
The Igni sign is a simple magical sign used by witchers. It is comprised of a pyrokinetic burst that can repel and ignite opponents, as well as start fires. "The fiery Igni Sign allows Geralt of Rivia to spread a wave of embers at his foes. It can also be used for something more subtle, such as lighting a torch or a campfire. Igni is incredibly effective against foes that are weak to fire. It can light enemies on fire and do damage over time. In some cases, this effect causes the enemy to panic. Additionally, any flammable gases in the air can be ignited to cause powerful explosions that can hurt and stun your enemies. Damage for Igni scales with Sign Intensity."
One less obvious use of this Sign is for hunting at the earliest stages of the game. If you see a rabbit or a herd of deer in the distance, it is entirely viable to sprint towards them and then fire off Igni when you're close, usually killing the animals in range in one shot and letting you harvest their meat and/or pelts. Geralt can eat raw meat for some light healing so this can be a good early source of healing items, and the pelts can be a source of either money or crafting ingredients. Another less obvious use that is somewhat related, Igni is the only sign that can neutralize a wild Beehive on a tree or wall. Everything else including sword strikes will have no effect and if you get close you'll get constantly stung and lose health, but hit a wild beehive with Igni and set it on fire to kill the bees and have it drop so you can harvest Honeycomb from it, also consumable for light healing.
The ability to ignite flammable gases also needs to be reiterated. There are several areas in the game, frequently in swamps and sometimes in narrow dungeon corridors, where green gases are seeping out of the ground. These are very poisonous to Geralt if he walks through them. An un-upgraded Igni has enough range to safely detonate the gases to clear a safe path for you to move, allowing you to slowly but surely get through the area unharmed. Be warned, however, that most areas with gas seeping out of the ground will restart seeping the gas after about 10 seconds, so make sure to keep moving until you're clear of the field.
Its Alternate mode, Firestream, has Geralt constantly releasing a narrow stream of fiery sparks from his fingers. It does damage over time though less than a regular Igni, and some enemies are known to push through the Burning that frequently afflicts them and keep attacking you, disrupting the effect, so it is usually best to put out a couple of sword hits first before staring the Firestream. Using the Firestream against opponents equipped with shields will, after a couple seconds, cause that shield to burn up and leave the opponent open to attack.
Melt Armor - Tier 1
Damage dealt by Igni also permanently weakens enemy Armor
Level 1: Effect scales with Sign intensity up to a maximum of 15% + 15% per additional level.
Firestream - Tier 2
Alternate Sign Mode:
Emits a continuous stream of fire that damages enemies.
Level 2 - stamina cost reduced 25%
Level 3 - stamina cost reduced 50%
Igni Intensity - Tier 3
Increases Igni Sign intensity by 5% per level.
Pyromaniac - Tier 4
Increases the chance to apply Burning by 20% per level.
The Yrden sign is a simple magical sign used by witchers. It forms a magical trap on the ground that triggers a limited number of times when traversed by a foe causing knock back, damage, and a chance of inflicting status ailments. "Cast this Sign and a circle of Yrden symbols appears around Geralt. Most foes that wander into that ring are significantly slowed, though some monsters are unaffected by it.
The circle is one of your best tools at your disposal to control multiple enemies in melee range. Yrden is invaluable against Noonwraith and Nightwraith. who remain incorporeal most of the time unless caught within a Yrden circle. Yrden ability to slow opponents increases with sign intensity"
Unfortunately this is the one and only Sign where one of Geralt's other tools significantly outperforms it, specifically in regards to fighting the incorporeal Wraiths like the aforementioned Noonwraith and Nightwraith. It has a rather small area of effect and these Wraiths become incorporeal again the very instant they step out of it. So not only do you have to wait for them to enter it (or drop it right at their feet), your own attacks will constantly knock the corporeal Wraith back out of the circle making it utterly impossible to put out a good sustained set of attacks on it and you'll have to lay down more Yrden circles every chance you get to widen the area (or restore a faded one). However, the Moon Dust can be used on the Wraith from long range and keeps it corporeal for the entire duration of the effect (starting at 20 seconds for the basic one and is actually PERMANENT for the Superior version!)...no matter where the Wraith goes. The Wraith's main defense is its phasing out to an incorporeal form; robbed of that it is almost completely incapable of handling a constant set of attacks other than splitting into mirror images, and when you quickly drop those the Bomb's effect will still be on the main one if the duration hasn't finished. And if you do rely on the Bomb to keep the Wraith corporeal this opens up the option for you to use all of your other Signs instead of having to stick to Yrden, unless the fight lasts so long that you run out of Moon Dust Bombs (which it shouldn't given how you can put incessant attacks on it). Once you unlock them it is highly recommended to permanently keep a Moon Dust Bomb in one of your two bomb slots.
However, when sufficiently upgraded, Yrden will be very effective as a crowd control measure (primary mode) and secondary damage source (alternate mode) for a Signs build. Once the player unlocks the Entanglement glyphword from the Runewright and, ideally, obtains the Grandmaster Griffin armour, upgraded Yrden with Entanglement will be able to significantly slow large enemy groups (e.g. bandits at Mont Crane Castle in Toussaint), making them easier to burn with Igni. Yrden's alternate mode will also auto-target incorporeal Wraiths and make them visible by placing a glyph under them every time it hits. In addition, Yrden's alternate mode can be used at lower levels to kite enemies that would otherwise kill Geralt on the spot, especially if they are resistant to fire (e.g. golems guarding high-level treasure). It can also defend from arrows and bolts, auto-targeting projectiles if no enemy is in range.
Sustained Glyphs - Tier 1
Increases Sign duration by 5 seconds per level.
Level 1: Number of alternate mode charges: 2 Number of standard mode traps: 1.
Level 2: Number of alternate mode charges: 4 Number of standard mode traps: 2.
Note: A charge is defined by how many times an alternate mode trap can zap an opponent. If all charges are used, even before the timer is over, the alternate mode trap will deplete.
Magic Trap - Tier 2
Alternative Sign Mode:
Damages and slows all enemies within a 10-yard radius + 2 yards for each additional level. Destroys projectiles passing through this area.
Level 2: Damage increased by 25%
Level 3: Damage increased by 50%.
Yrden Intensity - Tier 3
Increases Yrden Sign intensity by 5% per level.
Supercharged Glyphs - Tier 4
Enemies under the influence of Yrden lose 10 points per level of Vitality or essence per second.
The Quen sign is a simple magical sign used by witchers. When cast it forms a protective field around the casting witcher. "This sign can be the difference between life and death. Quen's basic ability is to cover Geralt in a basic shield that absorbs a limited amount of damage.
Usually this means a single hit against most equal level foes, but that doesn't mean Quen isn't useful. If you're using Light Armor, your Stamina regeneration can be so swift that you can cast Quen multiple times in a fight, keeping you safe from damage. Investing in Quen can make it capable of sustaining several hits before breaking. This scales with Sign Intensity."
This is your go-to Sign when facing one of the few tougher enemies that are highly resistant to all of your attack-based signs, even Axii, and have big, relatively slow attacks like Gargoyles and Earth Elementals. It's also a better choice against single strong enemies that are in fact vulnerable to Axii but you are surrounded by multiple NPC allies (likely as part of a quest) that will break the stun the moment any of them hit the enemy. At its initial level it can take one hit of unlimited strength and then break without having Geralt take any damage to his health, even against enemies so far above you their level shows as ?? and they would normally kill you in a single hit (though still don't bother taking them on, you'll do far too little damage). Furthermore, Geralt will not be staggered by the hit even if he's in the middle of an attack combo unless it is an ultra-strong move by one of the very powerful enemies, like the charging tackle of a Fiend. So to best use it turn on Quen out of range of the enemy, then charge right in with sword swinging through the first inbound hit and a bit beyond, then back off and wait for it to recharge.
The Alternate mode, Active Shield, creates a visible yellow domed forcefield around Geralt for as long as you hold the Sign key, run out of Stamina if you don't have it at level 3 or enemies break it. Note, you cannot attack in any way while Active Shield is up but you can still move at a slow walk. Enemy hits restore your own health quite drastically, so this is the ultimate ability when long endurance is needed.
Exploding Shield - Tier 1
Level 1: Quen shield pushes opponents back when it breaks.
Level 2: Quen shield pushes opponents back and deals damage when it breaks.
Level 3: Quen shield pushes opponents back and deals damage when it breaks, with a chance for knock-down.
Active Shield - Tier 2
Alternative Sign Mode:
Level 1: Creates an active shield. Maintaining it and blocking attacks drain stamina. Damage absorbed by the shield restores player vitality
Level 2: Maintaining an active shield now drains 50% less stamina. Stamina drain for blocked attacks unchanged. Damage absorbed by the shield restores player vitality
Level 3: Maintaining an active shield no longer drains stamina. Stamina drain for blocked attacks unchanged. Damage absorbed by the shield restores player vitality.
Quen Intensity - Tier 3
Increases Quen Sign intensity by 5% per level
Quen Discharge - Tier 4
Reflects 5% of absorbed damage back to the attacker + 5% for each additional level.
The Axii sign is a simple magical sign used by witchers. It is a mental wave that triggers a hex that causes an enemy to fight alongside the witcher. The effect can wear off over time or be broken via damage from the casting witcher. "This sign muddles the mind of an opponent, making it possible to take them out of the fight temporarily. It's the most effective against humans, but can also work on certain monsters. Target an enemy that looks especially troublesome, then cast Axii to keep them out of the fight until you're ready to deal with them.
Axii can also be used in conversations with other characters in some cases, though some people are strong willed and can resist it. Avoid this by investing Ability Points in the Delusion ability. This opens new options and possibly resolves a matter more peacefully, if not just making the ensuing fight easier with one threat temporarily removed.
Axii can even be used to calm your mounts or tame wild horses for transportation. Axii's ability to confuse enemies increase in power and duration with greater sign intensity."
This sign is an absolutely excellent choice in a fight against a single, very strong opponent. It can temporarily stun almost anything (with a couple of exceptions, see Quen above) other than Noonwraith and Nightwraith where you're forced to use Yrden, allowing you to get in a free quick attack combo and then back off while the Sign recovers. Using this in-and-out guerrilla style of combat can allow you to defeat strong enemies several levels higher than your own, provided their level isn't too high that your attacks do virtually no damage. This is known as Axii-stunning guerrilla warfare.
Delusion - Tier 1
Target does not move towards Geralt while he is casting Axii. Also increases the effectiveness of Axii in dialogues.
Puppet - Tier 2
Alternative Sign Mode:
Targeted enemy briefly becomes an ally and deals 20% more damage per level.
Axii Intensity - Tier 3
Increases Axii Sign intensity by 5% per level
Domination - Tier 4
Level 1: Two opponents can be influenced by Axii at the same time. The effect is 50% weaker.
Level 2: Two opponents can be influenced by Axii at the same time. The effect is 25% weaker.
Level 3: Two opponents can be influenced by Axii at the same time.