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The School of Bear Build Guide

The Bear School of Witcher is a realtively new piece of Lore in the Witcher Universe. Originally, we're only familiar with a single school of Witcher, the Wolf School of Witcher, of Kaer Morhen. We can presume that much like the Cat, and the Griffin Schools of Witcher, they were hunted into extinction during the Peasant Revolts that thrashed Kaer Morhen and many of the Witcher strongholds in the Continent. From what we can gather, The Bear School of Witcher practiced many ideals in the vein of the Bear, and its very likely that some even went so far as to seek out the Curse of the Berserker willingly.

In the Witcher 3, we sadly encounter nothing that gives us any information to these Witchers, their wearabouts, their surviving members, or even their history; the Witcher who hunted down the Schematics before us was, like Geralt, a member of the Wolf School of Witcher. Sadly, we only have our imaginations to make use of.

The Playstyle


The Bear School one may be lead to believe, is to get into the middle of the fight and rein blow after blow down on your opponent. You'd be mistaken if you held this notion. Just like Cat, and Griffin, and Wolf Schools, A Witcher is a Witcher. You'll need to be light on your feet, be ready to use Sword, Potion, or Sign at a moment's notice, however it goes one step further. The Bear Style of Play Capitalizes on both Alchemy and Combat, lending to chugging potions and landing heavy attacks.

Unlike Light Attacks, Heavy Attacks have a decent wind up of half a second, meaning that your swing can be interrupted or easily dodged if you've been impatient, and can often lead to you getting obliterated by the right foe.

The Skills

The Skill Choices we make are fairly flexible in this build, as the majority of our focus is in Alchemy, primarily in Oils and Bombs. Our secondary set of skills can either come from Signs, or Combat, though I highly recommend Combat because of the raw damage output.

alchemy.png Alchemy

The Alchemy Tree is by and far your most important tree in this build. Around the Middle of the Game it can transform Death March from a slog to a cakewalk in a matter of a few skill points.

This build focuses mainly on Bombs, Max Toxicity, Refreshment, and Oils, though Alchemy has several different playstyles within it.

Acquired Tolerance is our primary Skill to pick up in the first row, the remaining 5 points can go anywhere, but Poisoned Blades can be extremely powerful early in the game as its damage is % based from the sword strike that applies it.

Refreshment and Protective Coating are requirements for this build, as they provide us with massive amounts of durability. The remaining 2 points can be spent as you see fit.

Efficiency is a godly skill to have, 9 bombs can be powerful, it can be even better when you combine it with Cluster Bombs, but considering the rest of the build, it's overkill. Synergy is a must if you come this deep into the Alchemy Tree. A Greater Red Mutagen that's fully evolved contributes 60% attack power by itself, and my current build uses 2 (if I could find enough red mutagen to even get 2 Greaters).

Killer Instict is the last Skill this build requires from the Alchemy Tree, and with a fully upgraded Malibor Forest, and Razor Focus, 3 Points of Adrenaline is easy to reach, which makes Killer Instinct nearly double your damage output.

battle_trance_icon.jpg Combat
The Combat portion of this Build is where the majority of the Damage comes into play. With just 13 points invested into this tree at level 22, I've seen crits getting as high as 3,000 damage per heavy attack, which is often about all it takes to nearly one shot a basic creature.

Resolve is the only thing we really need from the First Row. Arrow Deflection is a good place to dump the next 3 points, however Lightning Reflexes is just as good, these will only ever be slotted in the early levels of building in this tree.

Crushing Blows is where the majority of our damage comes from, 75% Critical damage, and 100% critical chance from the bugged Superior Thunderbolt, the only thing that's worth more damage is Cat Techniques and their Armor, but we're using Ursine. Fleet Footed will see some action when you're still getting used to the amount of dodging in this build, however if you feel confident you can dump those points into Undying and Cold Blood.

Razor Focus gives a load of Adrenaline quickly, alongside Malibor Forest, which lets us get Killer Instinct in full effect. Rend is a great ability, however it consumes both Stamina and Adrenaline -- Stamina being our rarer resource. You can use Rend by hold shift and the Left Mouse Button, Geralt will raise his blade like an executioner, charging up his attack and draining Stamina and Adrenaline as he goes back. He'll charge until he runs out of Stamina or you let go of the Left Mouse Button at which point he'll let loose the attack. If he misses, all he loses is the Stamina. Rend doesn't penetrate armor, it simply breaks an opponent's block -- which is more important in my opinion. You don't even have to fully charge the attack to get the block breaker, which makes Heavy Attacks a far more viable Playstyle.

Sunder Armor can be useful, but the only case I've ever fealt like I need this talent is when dealing with Earth Elementals, and Rend works wonders on them.

The Goals

  1. Get every variety of Oil, Potion, and Bomb. Upgrade them immediately as you find their upgrades.

    • The more of these you find, the more effective your Alchemy Skills become, and the less stats you have to worry about.
  2. Keep your Swords up to date. If there's a better weapon, slot it.

    • These are your primary and most times only source of damage. Keeping them upgraded and on level is very important.
  3. Heavy Armor

    • Not an important upgrade, but this helps tremendously with your survivability.
  4. Oil appropriately

    • Using the right Oil can make a VERY difficult fight a cake walk with this build. The right oil will give you 10/25/50% more damage, 20/40/6080/100% more critical damage, and 25% damage resistance against the foe the Oil is made for.
  5. Abuse Potions and Bombs.

    • When you reach level 20 and higher, you'll have 7-9 bombs for each category, and 4-5 doses for every potion. Do not be judicious with your potion use as it only takes 5 seconds out of combat to get them all back.
  6. Brew the ArchGriffin and Ekhidna Decoctions.

    • When combined, these two Decoctions allow you to essentially become invincible. As long as you can connect with a Heavy Attack, you will heal 20-25% of your Vitality. Only downside is you can forget about using Signs with this setup.

The Gear

Ursine. Armor. This can't be stressed enough. Our primary resource is Adrenaline, and the entire set of Mastercraft Ursine gear, gives us 72% additional Adrenaline gain at all times. With Maribor Forest, and Razor Focus, it only takes 6 Heavy Attacks to get to 3 points -- which we can burn with Rend, or keep for Killer Instinct. The weaponry from this set also comes with a 75% crit damage increase.

Glyphs. This is up to you, I've not found any non-sign buffing Glyphs in the game which is a disappointment. If in the DLC, we get Attack Power Glyphs, those are most definitely the ones to use.

Runestones. You will want use as many Critical Effects as you can. Dahzbog, Dervana, and Morana are what I currently use, and I'll see them all proc at least once per fight.

The Pros and Cons

  • Rough Start. This build is extremely underpowered in the early game, especially in White Orchard.
  • Unforgiving. Alchemy is not a a very forgiving build to pursue. Combine the wrong potions, decoctions, or use the wrong oil and you could find yourself struggling.
  • RNG Based Power Gain. Your power is directly tied to how good your potions, oils, and bombs are, all of which are only craftable from Diagrams, that drop randomly in the world until you pass a certain level, and have found the correct herbalist/apothecary/alchemist.
  • Strong Damage Output. The only build type that can out DPS you is a Pure Combat Build using Cat, and that is often by a short margin. 120% Attack Power from Mutagens, 275% Critical Damage, and an Unblockable Hit which always Crits, and deals up to 300% more damage.
  • Incredible Durability. At level 22, I went up against a level 36 Cockatrice in the Southwestern Velen Area. It couldn't harm me. I literally, took no damage from the beast over the coarse of a 5 minute fight despite getting hit several times.
  • Potions are Powerful. Dear Holy Eternal Fire are they powerful. 100% Critical Chance and 50% Attack Power, Unhindered Regeneration, Healing from Poison, will not expire if taken at Night and improved Stamina Regen, Gives a Free Point of Adrenaline and improves Adrenaline Point Gain, Signs always apply their Critical effect and 80% bonus Intensity, and Complete immunity to every Control-Hindering Critical effect in the game along with Black Blood and Cat's Eye. You can have all of these at the same time and still have toxicity to spare. White Raffird's Decoction can heal you 75% of your Vitality in one swig.
  • The Sexiest Armor in the Game. Undisputable, Ursine armor is the best looking gear in the entire game.

When you reach level 20 and higher, you'll have 7-9 bombs for each category, and 4-5 doses for every potion. Do not be judicious with your potion use as it only takes 5 seconds out of combat to get them all back.

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    • Anonymous

      17 Jul 2020 17:39  

      Even though it might have it's flaws, an Alchemy build like this will completely carry you through DM NG+. I had Grandmaster Ursine Armor from NG with enchants but I've not since upgraded or switched to another type of armor even on DM NG+. Yet the game is still and absolute breeze and there's no threat in the world whatsoever (unless you go into a MUCH higher level areas early). Even Oddball high level enemies you might meet in low level areas like Crookback Bog can be easily taken down with this build.

      • Anonymous

        20 Jan 2020 02:43  

        Afaik Hunter's Instinct is bugged in 1.31 and can't rise above 20%. Alchemy build without using side effects? Strange choice imo

        • Anonymous

          09 Apr 2019 09:15  

          I'm using this build on the New Game+ and it's very tanky. I have not been able to get my hands on any heavy armor just yet, but I am aiming to go searching for ursine gear once I reach Skellige.

          • Anonymous

            Poisoned Blades vs Crippling Strikes05 Jul 2016 15:37  

            Assuming your final load out is 1.Crushing Blows 2.Rend 3.Resolve 4.Razor Focus. 5.Fleet Footed/Undying 6.Poisoned Blades 7.Refreshment 8.Protective Coating 9.Acquired Tolerance 10.Effeciency 11. Synergy & 12.Hunter Instinct, - what would you to the strengths and weaknesses of swapping out Poisoned Blades for Crippling Strikes?

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