In Guild Wars the warlike, feline Charr were one of the greatest threats the humans of Tyria had ever faced. In Guild Wars 2 they might be Tyria's greatest hope against the power of the Elder Dragons, when they aren't busy coughing up hairballs or desecrating innocent sandboxes.
The Charr haven't historically gotten along well with humanity. From being driven from the land of Ascalon by the arrival of humans to the area, to fighting back against the incursion so viciously that two human nations chose destruction rather than falling under Charr rule, it's safe to say that these are not your average house cats.
This great success came at a price. During the struggles against humanity the traditional Charr Legions (Iron, Blood, and Ash) were subverted under the Flame Legion, which used forbidden magics to achieve its goals, subverted female Charr that had once enjoyed equal status, and regularly sacrificed their own to dark gods in order to further their cause.
The Flame Legion was so successful that the king of Ascalon invoked the Foefire, turning the entire population of his city into ghosts, cursed to live out the final days of the invasion for all eternity.
The female Charr eventually rebelled against the Flame Legion, uniting the other legions in a successful effort to bring some order to the chaos. When the smoke cleared the Flame Legion was gone and the Iron Legion, the most technologically advanced, took control of Ascalon.
The Black Citadel is now the main fortress city of the Charr, built upon the ruins of the human city Rin. They have the power. They have the glory.
They also have a very large selection of enemies to contend with. The remnants of the Flame Legion are attempting to regain power. The ghosts of Ascalon continue to fight a never-ending war against their feline aggressors. The passage of the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik split Eastern Ascalon in two, seeding the area with the dragon's minions and plunging the Charr into another endless battle.
It's the threat of the Elder Dragons that forces the Charr to begin negotiating with the humans they once sought to conquer, banding together against a common enemy.
And that's the Charr. Check out the video tour of the Black Citadel above, flip through the latest art, and visit the Guild Wars 2 website for more on the Charr, Tyria's fluffy little kittens.
The Ash Legion, from the Charr opening cinematic.
The Blood Legion, a painted-over screenshot.
Concept art team lead Kekai Kotaki explains the process of designing the new Charr for Guild Wars 2. "My approach was simple: make the charr badass. And then make them even more badass."
Several different Charr designs.