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Charr are a playable race featured in the Guild Wars series. They 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.
Khan-Urs and Shaman Castes
When the humans first came to Tyria, the charr were already there. All its lands were their hunting grounds, all its creatures their prey. The humans drove the charr northward to found their kingdoms, and resisted them when they sought to regain their lands.
At the time, the charr were unified under their primus imperator, the Khan-Ur. A 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 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 sieged 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 others, and it wasn't until Kalla Scorchrazor joined the battle with an army of female charr who had been training in secret for generations until 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 artefact whose ownership is a requisite to become Khan-Ur, but was lost in the Foefire. Dougal Keane was able to retrieve it 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 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 unoccupied, the charr favor 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 evident.
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.
The charr muzzle is elongated and the mouth filled with prominent sharp teeth suited for their carnivorous diet. The teeth are larger on the males, particularly those on the bottom jaw which are usually considerably smaller on the female. The head has 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.
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 struck 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 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 become gladium rather than 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 theatre 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. Legionnaires lead their warbands on missions and guide them to victory. Under their command are the soldiers of each legion.
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.
Trivia & Notes
(To Be Added)