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Writing the Charr: It's just plain fun to write for the bad guys

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Charr week kicked off yesterday with a look at the race's starting area in Guild Wars 2. Today ArenaNet delves much more deeply into the Charr race as writer Scott McGough delivers a treat for story and lore fanatics: a look at writing for the Charr.

This is an especially interesting read for longtime fans of Guild Wars because we've watched the Charr evolve over the years and learned more about their hierarchy, their values, their strengths, and their failings. The Charr began (in the eyes of the humans) as a formidable but lesser group of creatures to be removed from the human lands of Old Ascalon. Over time, we've learned much more about this fierce, intelligent, and strictly organized race -- even becoming allies with some of its members.

Follow along after the jump and let's take a look at the history of the Charr and how it's written into Guild Wars 2.

"Victory has always been a touchstone for everything the Charr do"

When the plot of Guild Wars 2 begins, the Charr will have almost completely regained Ascalon. That they fought so ferociously and for so long to regain this territory should come as no surprise -- they were there first and view it as their territory, but that's not all.

"Both as individuals and as a society, they still care far less about the means than they do the ends, especially when the end is winning," says McGough. There's a battle to be won, a battle they'll win at all costs, and that's the core of the best and the worst of the Charr. He goes on to describe them as "industrious, disciplined, and fearless" as well as "aggressive, bloodthirsty, and ruthless." This combination of traits may not be 100% admirable, but it gets the job done.

This assessment of the Charr isn't an unfamiliar one in the story leading up to Guild Wars 2. Readers of Edge of Destiny will recognize this single-mindedness in Rytlock's orders to his fellow Charr warriors to leave their armor behind as they set out to hunt down the humans who ambushed them. "'Take no needless thing. We have a long climb and a longer run and a battle afterward.' One by one, the kneeling warriors stood, their breastplates falling to the ground around them. They had given up their defenses. Now, they would fight to the death."

This ruthlessness is the backbone of the continued growth of the Charr race's strength.

A hard road

Things haven't been easy for the Charr -- they're tough in part because they have to be, and they've learned over time that valuing strength and discipline will get them what they want. Lore buffs will know that some of the biggest obstacles the Charr had to overcome were infighting and rivalry between the legions.

There are currently four recognized Charr legions: Flame, Iron, Ash, and Blood. The Flame legion, however, is "in disgrace" following a long series of events that occurred during Guild Wars 1 and Eye of the North. This legion has been broken and cast out from Charr society, and as a result of these events, the remaining three legions refuse to worship any sort of gods and have very little use for magic.

The Iron, Ash, and Blood legions are strongest when they're cooperating and working together: "Blood musters the fiercest warriors and dominates on the battlefield through sheer ferocity and strength of numbers; Ash practices subtlety and stealth, choosing its targets carefully and then eliminating them with deadly precision; Iron provides the ordinance and the strong leadership required to keep this potentially explosive alliance from tearing itself to pieces."

There is the potential for inner rivalries to break out at some point in the future, because the Throne of the Khan-Ur, the supreme commander of the Charr, is unclaimed. Each legion has an eye to claiming it, but no single legion has the Claw of the Khan-Ur, and therefore none can take the throne. The totem was retrieved at the end of Ghosts of Ascalon and is currently in the hands of Queen Jennah, creating the possibility for it to come back into play at some point. Charr imperator Smodur the Unflinching has been working with Queen Jennah toward an alliance, but factions on both sides are actively working against this.

For the time being, the Charr stand united under the Iron legion.

The other significant hurdle in Charr history rests on the shoulders of the human race. The human foothold in Ascalon may seem to have been nearly eradicated, but King Adelbern didn't go down without a fight. "The ruins of Ascalon lie just outside the Black Citadel's gates. This region is plagued by the ghosts of Ascalonian soldiers and citizens who died in King Adelbern's Foefire, and then were reborn as restless ghosts. These tragic spirits are locked into the fear and anger they felt at the moment of their deaths, doomed to hate the Charr and make war upon them for all eternity. The Iron Legion's top priority is to develop a weapon that will put these ghosts to rest permanently, for the legions cannot effectively expand into the new territory if their central base of operations is not secure."

Military training

The Charr learn their military mindset from a very young age. Their concept of family is very different from that of humans -- Charr cubs have very little contact with their birth parents. Instead, they join the fahrar, a military training camp, as soon as they're able to walk and hold a weapon. The other cubs in the fahrar are their family, bonding with one another for life.

It's a life that is much more complex than we ever would have dreamed six years ago, and one that we'll get to dive into firsthand -- when it's ready.

You can view the full entry on ArenaNet's blog.

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