And the books were based on the true story of a world-famous monster hunter.
When game developer CD Projekt decided to swoop in and make the books into a role-playing game, they cut a quick, one-time deal with Sapkowski. In return, the developer was allowed to use his world and characters and forge its own stories with them. "They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, 'No, there will be no profit at all -- give me all my money right now! The whole amount," says Sapkowski. That may sound utterly crazy now, but back in the early 2000s, when book-to-game adaptations had reached peak success with Bible Adventures, it made more sense for him to ask for money up front. That "reasonable share" probably didn't lessen the pain much when Sapkowski saw the sales figures from the Witcher sequels, which he made precisely zero dollars from.
Of course, a bag of money isn't the only thing Sapkowski got out of the successful franchise. The game series has helped his books reach a more international audience, but he feels it has nonetheless hurt his reputation more than it has helped. Already, people are starting to think of the fantasy veteran as the guy who adapted the games into books, and not the other way around. "In 20 years," he says, "somebody will ask, 'Witcher, the game -- and who's the author?" Nobody will know the answer, he fears. It would be like A Song Of Ice And Fire being adapted into a massively popular PlayStation franchise, but then George R.R. Martin not getting a penny every time someone pays to play around with Hodor's giant goddamned head.