"With the roar of engines and the thunder of guns, we rip each day from life's teeth."
I like the image, but I feel that the text is a misrepresentation or the charr borne of a popular misconception. It’s not war that defines them, because they were never truly the aggressors of any of the wars they’ve been in, as in none of their times of strife have they struck the first blow. No, it’s survival which defines the charr.
Of course, I’m going to write my thoughts on this as a lore/opinion piece, both to inform and to share my knowledge. Anyone is free to agree or disagree with me as they wish. It’s one’s prerogative to do either!
There have been so many threats of genocide and threats to their way of life that they’ve become a very hard-nosed people, one with a strong inclination towards cultural order, which you need to be if you want to survive. I think that saying that the charr were defined by war would be like saying that their closest analogue, Rome, was defined by war. And there are many historians who’d argue that.
I mean, when the allied nations were forced into war with the third reich, did that mean that they were defined by war? The charr as a species don’t even have a concept of what a ‘warlord’ is, nor have they ever.
And they know so much more than war itself. They seek knowledge, for a start, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Durmand Priory outpost within the Black Citadel (the Durmand Scriptorium). They clearly have their own artistic leanings, and a strong interest in the physical sciences and scientific progression. The reason their race is militaristic in nature is because they realise the threats they face. As a species of pragmatists they value their ongoing survival and do what they can to ensure it.
As for those who’re weak and foolish…
Well, Dinky’s plenty foolish and his warband looks out for him because he’s their fool. So I’d combat that notion based upon that factor alone. But in general they do seem to look out for all of their people. If someone isn’t able to fight, they’re given other duties. Someone has to tend the fields for the grass to grow, and someone has to look after the herds of animals who graze upon that grass, since they provide food for the charr.
I mean, all charr do have a basic understanding of self-defence, but again, it’s the drive to survive that creates such a desire, not the desire for war. I mean, just outside the Black Citadel you have fishermen, and those fishermen are watched over by guards whose job is not only to keep them safe, but to ensure that they don’t overfish. In order to even have someone thinking about that, they have to have a good understanding of ecology.
And as we see in the Black Citadel and the surrounding area, charr fahrars aren’t just about learning combat techniques, but history too, and even other talents such as science, farming, and so on, there is likely a primus for every topic that a charr cub might desire to have knowledge in.
Every charr wants to survive, and if you try and kill them then they’re going to give as good as they get. What a charr in a combative role does is act as protector, to keep their legion safe, their people. Not every charr is going to be going into a combat situation, and not every charr is going to want that.
But the charr recognise that you have to be ready to fight because you never know which day might be your last, hence that ‘from life’s teeth’ bit.
I think The Vigil put it best: “Some must fight so that others may be free.”
So the charr are a layered, nuanced people who’re defined by their struggle for continued existence and their drive to survive. They’re not going to give you trouble, but if you try to do anything to threaten their continued existence, then you’ll have the anger of the greater legions to deal with. But they were never the aggressors.
If anything, they’re defined by what they’ve become because of war, rather than war itself. I mean, to use a Star Trek reference, I think of them as being closer to Bajorans than Klingons. They’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff, and collectively as a race they’ve put their clawed feet down and said never again.
But yes, it’s really important to keep in mind that the stereotype of the Blood Legion warrior doesn’t represent all charr, just a piece of a bigger picture.
I think there might even be a good deal of mobility between fahrars during the education of a young Charr, because the intensely practical and pragmatic Charr recognize the value of being well-educated in a wide range of subjects and being able to competently perform more than one task or job. So much so, in fact, that I propose that Charr cubs might be required to “minor” in at least one or two other fields of endeavor in addition to their chosen “major” career path. It’d be highly useful for an armorer, for instance, to be able to switch at need to tailoring or weaponsmithing. (This is actually lampshaded in-game where the player has to pick two crafting skills to specialize in!)
I also suggest that Charr who work in so-called “non-military” tasks as their chosen careers aren’t gladiums, either; they’re associated with warbands, as is every other Charr who isn’t a gladium, though those warbands, even though they have the name, aren’t primiarily military in nature. The fishermen who harvest the bounties of the lakes and rivers outside the Black Citadel, for instance, will all be part of their respective warbands, and much in the Swiss-militia mode, will be proficient in the basics of military skills and have their weapons close at hand at all times (in fact, Switzerland’s nation-as-army is a good model for the bulk of the Charr civilian population).
Tangent time: I wonder what will happen once the Charr get onto the oceans in a big way and establish a naval tradition. Up to the present, they’ve been a continental power, with the Army the pre-eminent (indeed, the only significant) service; but one day they’re going to have to give thought to the problems of what the old-time Soviets called “Seapower and the State”. This will require some adaptation and evolution of the basic Charr social/military model to answer the specific problems of naval operations, much as the Romans, who were a land-borne power to start with, had to contend with developing a navy and naval doctrine when they began to contend with other Mediterranean powers, particularly Carthage.
I hope GW2 keeps going long enough to have an expansion with seagoing Charr in it; the sheer awesomeness quotient would probably blow up a few computers. :D
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