The charr race was forged in the merciless crucible of war. It is all they know. War defines them, and their quest for dominion drives them ever onward. The weakling and the fool have no place among the charr. Victory is all that matters, and it must be achieved by any means and at any cost.
— In-game description
The charr are a race of large, savage, feline creatures that occupy much of eastern Tyria. They have renounced all gods as false and instead view all of life, from magic to combat, with a hard, cynical eye. Their culture has developed into a military state where they are raised as warriors from birth.
Charr are one of the five playable races in Guild Wars 2.
- which legion they are a part of.
- who in their warband they are closest to.
- what sort of character their father was.
Charr racial skills reflect a war theme.
The charr are carnivorous feline-like humanoids. They stand on their hind legs and are taller than a human by half of an average human's height, but do not have the massive bulk of the norn. They prefer a hunched pose when standing, but will on occasion stand tall and straight. When they are moving, and their paws are vacant, the charr favor in running on all four limbs with a loping gait. While the males are described as being generally stronger and the females more lithe and quick, this lore difference between sexes is not as evident in the game.
They have a short fur from head to toe in a variety of colors and patterns, many of which are similar to those of lions, cheetahs and tigers. Their fur patterns are also like that of leopards, snow leopards, and even some fur types of common housecats. Many charr have a longer mane of fur between the shoulders and on the back of the head and neck. A male charr has less fur on the tail with longer fur only on the tip, while the female's tail has longer fur from top to bottom.
Their muzzle is elongated, and their mouths are filled with prominent sharp teeth suited for their carnivorous diet. Male charr have larger teeth on their bottom jaws, while females usually have considerably smaller teeth. Their heads have four horns; those from the top of the head are more prominent than those between the two sets of ears. The top pair of ears hears high frequencies or ultrasound such as a dog might, while the bottom pair hear low frequencies or infrasound similar to an elephant. However, they have difficulty hearing mid-frequency sounds such as those used in human speech, which can aggravate already tense charr-human relations. Like ordinary cats, charr have six flat mammary glands hidden underneath their fur.
They have a set of sharp claws, which can be used as knives for general tasks, but it appears they tend to rely more on weapons when fighting.
Charr cubs are born fully furred, with open eyes and functional limbs. Within a few days, cubs can follow their mothers over even the harshest terrain. They eat meat within a month of birth, and are fully independent several months later. The cubs mature at about the same rate as humans.
The charr are a military culture and their society, technology and relationships are very much focused on supporting war. Society is built around military units which charr become a part of from childhood. Non-military tasks, such as farming and trade, can be left to the young, retired, and injured. But no matter a charr's vocation they are always viewed as a soldier and view life like a soldier. Weakness and foolishness from individuals is viewed with particular contempt, some of such acts can result in a charr becoming a gladium, or in a worse case, the charr's name being stricken from the race's history.
Charr on occasion mate for life, but most relationships are more casual than that. Families are recognized but adult charr have very little contact with their parents or offspring, but sometimes keep tabs on each other for events which could reflect back on the family's reputation. As soon as a cub is weaned, around being a year old, they enter a fahrar of one of their parents' legion. The fahrar is the cubs' first warband and they are trained as a military unit under supervision of an adult and are considered an adult when the warband no longer needs supervision. The cubs are taught to unify and define their own social structure and the warband shares a root name which they incorporate into their surname. While ancestry is known and acknowledged, the parents have little to do with the raising of the cub, and as such warbands are viewed as a charr's family and the bonds of loyalty and kinship formed between them are stronger than those of other races' families. Though some charr leave, change, or lose their warbands, these strong bonds usually leave a deep impact on the charr; charr changing warband must change their name and fit in quickly if they are to survive. However, charr have been known to choose the fate of becoming a gladium rather than risk losing those bonds again.
When the oppression of the female charr by the Flame Legion ended, male and female charr were once again viewed as equals. Male and female charr do not differentiate themselves through wearing differently tailored or styled clothing.
The charr are highly industrious, their forging superior to even the dwarves, and are renowned and feared for their military technology – weapon development, war machines and mass production, having pioneered the creation of airships and submarines. Their rifles and pistols are particularly finely made. However, not all of their advancements involve weapons – they also make some of the finest clockwork and spring-driven devices in Tyria. Their development in technology eventually led to the printing press, which in turn propagated the widespread use of the New Krytan language. While the average charr is willing to embrace technology, many view the use of magic as a sign of weakness and will distrust magic-users as a whole.
Much of their land has been converted to ranches and fields for herding and growing of winter feed for the animals. Cattle, sheep, warthogs, dolyaks and devourers are their primary sources of food. "Meat festivals" (such as the Meatoberfest) are held as a type of cultural celebration.
Due to their history many charr shun religion. They do not accept any god's authority and quickly anger on topics of charr worship or manipulation by god-like beings. Charr acknowledge other races' gods as beings of power but do not see them as something worthy of worship. In the case of the Human Gods, the charr view the deities as beings to fight and strive to kill. At best, their reverence and respect is limited only to great heroes and their deeds in their history, such as Pyre Fierceshot and Kalla Scorchrazor.
Charr society is built around the military chain of command which every charr is brought up to respect. The true head of the chain of command is the Khan-Ur, considered the primus imperator. He ranks above the imperators of all four High Legions and coordinates all the armies of the charr. There is currently no Khan-Ur because no charr holds the leadership artifact, the Claw of the Khan-Ur.
The charr nation is therefore currently led by a kratocratic oligarchy, built around the four High Legions. Each legion has a primus warband which the legion is named after and is led by an imperator, a descendant of the original Khan-Ur. If an imperator can obtain the Claw and perform a great deed, that charr will become the next Khan-Ur.
All of the four legions are fiercely independent from the others, maintaining their own lands and city-state strongholds. Three of the primary legions – Ash, Blood, and Iron – are allied and work together to maintain their lands and push for military conquest of lands outside those already held by charr. The fourth legion, Flame, is outcast and at civil war with the other legions. No legion allows the other three to rule over them, but the Iron legion is stated as taking a leading role within the lands of Ascalon.
In times of emergency, the High Legions are known to hold defense quorums in which the highest-ranking members of the area meet to plan out a solution to whatever the emergency is – be it repelling enemies, or managing refugee movements.
The charr military has a multitude of ranks. Directly beneath each legion's imperator are the tribunes; there are rarely more than ten tribunes per legion (Iron currently has six), and this office oversees an entire theater of war or large swath of controlled territory. Centurions command a number of warbands (a "company") and coordinate maneuvers on a broad scale under a tribune's authority; on occasion, a centurion is promoted to a temporary rank of Primus Centurion when an operation includes multiple centurions. Legionnaires are leaders of individual warbands, who are assisted by lieutenants, their second-in-command. Under their command are the soldiers of each legion. Officers cannot officially order soldiers of other legions, unless given permission by an officer of said other legions.
The bottommost rank in the High Legions are the gladium, charr without a warband. They are the lowest grunts, given little respect or responsibility – regardless of their previous titles or rank. A charr away from their warband on assignment or on duty is not viewed as a gladium.
There are also other ranks and titles within the structure of the High Legions that do not contribute to the direct chain of command.
- Main chain of command ranks
- Specialized ranks
Charr first names often have names based on their culture (e.g., Pyre, Ember, Forge). Along with this male names are also sharp sounding with the consonants (e.g., using D, R, T, G, K, etc. used in names like Rytlock, Gron, Dinky) whereas female names are smoother (e.g., using C, L, S, Z, etc. such as names like Bathea, Kalla, Elexus); both genders often start with a sharp consonant though, but this is just generally and exceptions to this do exist. Some charr use Roman or Greek (inspired) names as well.
Charr surnames consist of two words put together, one of which (either suffix or prefix) denoting the warband of the individual (e.g., Rytlock Brimstone is of the Stone warband and Scylla Rustcloud of the Rust warband). Charr individuals generally get to pick variations of their surnames within the forming of their first warband which express their personality, ideals or history, though some limitations may apply. The second word often refers to occupation chosen by the charr such as Primus Gravepelt choosing "pelt" due to being a good trapper or Radarr Boommaker whose job is to create fireworks.
Members of the same warband can also have their warband name in different order than other members of their warband, though this is rare – some examples include Lightbringer Swordshatter and Legionnaire Bloodsword of the Sword warband, and Vitus Silverpick of the Pick warband (where all other warband members have Pick as the prefix of their surnames).
Khan-Urs and shaman castes
The charr were one of the modern races to spread out from their original homeland. Beginning somewhere east of the Blazeridge Mountains, the charr began as a disorganized group of warbands fighting among each other for dominance of territory. Eventually, one charr stood above the rest and claimed the title of Khan-Ur, uniting the race in the charr's first, and so far only, true golden age. Though still primitive, the charr spread into other territories, moving into the now-called Blood Legion Homelands and Ascalon, taking land from dwarf, grawl, and many other races. They would have spread further, but the Forgotten stood against them. This conflict did not last long, as the Forgotten were pulled back to the Crystal Sea for another duty. Still, though, the charr found a new barricade to their expansion: humanity.
The united charr stood a chance against the humans; however, when the Khan-Ur was assassinated without leaving any clear heir, the race fractured into the four High Legions, each led by a cub of the Khan-Ur. Several charr have since held the title of Khan-Ur; however, none have been able to unify the charr for longer than a few weeks, each being overthrown or dying in battle shortly after pressing their claim. In this time of strife, though even just one legion could suffice, the charr held back on expanding westward through the Far Shiverpeaks, resulting in skirmishes with the norn that grew to mutual respect of strength, and a strange pseudo-alliance that remains to this day.
In time, the charr began to blame the power of the Old Gods for the humans' victories. This led the charr to seek gods to call their own, and when the Flame Legion Burnt warband encountered the titans at the volcano Hrangmer, they had found them. The Shamans of the Flame Legion decided that they would accept the magic of the titans, and when the Flame Legion returned, so, too, did the Shamans of the other Legions. The Shamans, in particular those of the Flame Legion, became a ruling caste, and before long the charr were unified once more under their banners. One charr, however, spoke out against the titans - Bathea Havocbringer. She led an underground rebellion against the Shamans, but failed and became a sacrifice to the new gods. Her actions also led to the removal of female charr from the battlefield, and being consigned to domestic duties.
Once more united, the charr finally resumed the war against the humans in 1070 AE, in a war known to humans as the Charr Invasion. They struck without warning and with a devastating new power, granted to them by the titans. Using the Cauldron of Cataclysm, they brought forth the Searing, destroying the Great Northern Wall, and invaded the three human kingdoms: Ascalon, Kryta, and Orr. Ascalon was crushed, but the newly-formed White Mantle were able to prevent the charr from taking Kryta, and the Cataclysm brought the war in Orr to an end for humans and charr alike.
In 1072 AE, the titans were unleashed across Tyria due to the actions of Vizier Khilbron as part of the Flameseeker Prophecies, but were stopped and ultimately slain in front of the charr's own eyes by human heroes, King Adelbern among them. The proof that the titans were, in fact, mortal rocked charr society and caused chaos at the top of their hierarchy. Individuals and even entire warbands began breaking away from orthodoxy, and the religious establishment struggled to keep both the heretics and the humans at bay. When the Destroyers began flooding Tyria in 1078 AE, the desperate Hierophant Burntsoul attempted to put them forward as the charr's new gods, but was stopped by Pyre Fierceshot.
Despite the turmoil within the charr's own ranks, and the human Ebon Vanguard striking at them from within their own homelands, they were still able to conquer almost all of Ascalon within two decades. Without the Great Northern Wall for protection, only Ascalon City and the new stronghold of Ebonhawke far to the south remained under human control. In 1090 AE, the Flame Legion imperator of the time decided to end the war once and for all and besieged Ascalon City for days on end. Just as it looked like the charr might finally have their conquest and the Ascalonians' will would falter, King Adelbern unleashed the power of Magdaer, bringing forth the Foefire. All humans within range of the spell were killed and their spirits were bound to the land, rising up to fight the charr in spectral undeath. The ghosts persist to this day, and as long as they do, the charr will never truly hold Ascalon.
With the fall of the Flame Legion's 'gods' fresh in memory and the Foefire denying the charr any hope of victory against the humans, a rebellion against the Shamans began. Even in their weakened state the Flame Legion proved a match for the other legions, and it wasn't until Kalla Scorchrazor joined the battle with an army of female charr who had been training in secret for generations that the tides truly turned. After the Flame Legion surrendered on the Plains of Golghein, they were cast out of charr society and females regained their place alongside males. Now stronger than ever, the charr were able to turn their attention to the Ascalonian ghosts and the remaining humans.
A Fragile Peace
Since then there have been victories and reversals for both sides. The human nation is now gone from Ascalon, with the exception of the fortress city of Ebonhawke, which has been besieged for generations. By 1324 AE, a truce faction had grown among the charr. Ogres had begun to come down from the Blazeridge Mountains, seeking land for their herds, the Flame Legion stood against the three united Legions, and Ascalon was still haunted. The humans, too, had been driven back on numerous fronts, almost to the gates of Divinity's Reach itself by bandits and centaurs.
An agreement for a ceasefire and treaty negotiations was brokered by the Vigil between Divinity's Reach and the Black Citadel, the Iron Legion's capital city on the condition that the humans return the Claw of the Khan-Ur, an artifact whose ownership is a requisite to become Khan-Ur, but was lost in the Foefire. Dougal Keane was able to retrieve and return it, and now for the first time in the charr's long history it looks like peace with the humans may actually be a possibility.
- The charr have many similarities with two real-life ancient societies:
- The Mongols—they were once separate clans fighting amongst each other, and were united under a Khan. They also broke through an enormous wall of a southern kingdom: China in the case of the Mongols; Ascalon in that of the charr.
- The Roman Empire—many titles, words, and their modern military appears greatly inspired by the Roman Empire.
- The charr have a Steampunk-theme and use the most advanced steam-powered technology of all races.
- During development strengths and weaknesses were used to create stories for the race. The three virtues of the charr are industry, discipline, fearlessness. The three weaknesses are aggression, bloodthirst, and ruthlessness.
- The male charr player character was originally voiced by Ron Yuan. In July 2016, ArenaNet announced that Lex Lang would be the new voice of the male charr player character, since Ron Yuan was unable to continue in the role for scheduling reasons.
- The female charr player character was originally voiced by Kate Miller. In May 2019, ArenaNet announced that Mara Junot would be the new voice of the female charr player character, since Kate Miller was unable to continue in the role for scheduling reasons.
- The Movement of the World: Charr
- The Artistic Origin of the Charr
- The Ecology of the Charr
- The Legions of the Charr
- Gallery of charr appearances
- ^ [GW2]We're all waiting very, very patiently for class reveals. *twitch*, Penny Arcade forum post
- ^ Post by Martin Kernstein in "ArenaNet: The Artistic Origin of the Charr", GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
- ^ a b Ashenfold Cartel Interview with Jeff Grubb and Eric Flannum!, The Ashenfold Cartel
- ^ Post by Regina Buenaobra in "ArenaNet: The Artistic Origin of the Charr", GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
- ^ Scott McGough on Writing the Charr, Arena.Net (Archived)
- ^ Meet the New Voice of the Male Charr Player Character, GuildWars2.com
- ^ Guild Wars 2 (2012) at IMDb.com
- ^ Meet the New Voice of the Female Charr Player Character, GuildWars2.com