Char was formerly one of the thirteen core worlds of the Confederacy, but it is now most notorious as the primary hive planet of the alien zerg. Despite its remote location, Char earned a place among the core worlds because it was one of the original planets settled by the Confederacy. Upon its discovery, Char was found to be an inhospitable volcanic planet with thick ash covering most of its surface and tainting its acrid atmosphere. The hazardous environment is further intensified by extremely high levels of cosmic radiation from Char’s volatile pairing of binary stars, a class VI F0 subdwarf orbiting an M8 irregular variable. Char’s elliptical orbit means whole regions of the planet’s sunward face can become molten seas during a close approach, with temporary islands forming in them due to rapid cooling as the planet swings away to the frozen outer reaches of the system.
In spite of these hellish conditions, Char was originally settled to exploit its fantastically rich reserves of heavy metals to fuel the rapidly growing Confederate economy. However, the planet became a source of friction between the Terran Confederacy and independent mining guilds operating out of Moria.
When these disputes escalated into open conflict, some of the most bitterly fought battles of the Guild Wars took place on Char as both sides attempted to secure the planet. In areas like Death Valley and Glass Flats, a combination of fiery volcanic activity and the unrestrained use of nuclear weapons created radiation levels that were lethal even for armored marines.
In the aftermath of the Guild Wars, the Confederacy’s presence on the devastated planet was limited to a few maintenance teams for automated mining sites. All personnel lived on a space platform, Char Aleph, which was built in near orbit over the planet. During the zerg invasion ten years later, Char was rapidly overrun by the Swarm and became the zerg’s primary hive planet in the Koprulu sector, to the extent that zerg tunnels are now estimated to stretch beneath more than 40% of the world’s surface. Char Aleph was also infested and began serving the zerg as an orbital nesting site and hatchery.
There has been a great deal of speculation over the zerg’s choice to occupy Char, given its harsh environment and total lack of any organic life-forms to exploit. Theorists are evenly split among several ideas: some say that Char forms a useful jumping-off point to the core worlds of terran and protoss space; others say that the planet’s inhospitable nature makes it easier for the zerg to defend it; and still others say that Char’s high radiation levels promote an increased rate of mutation in zerg organisms, enabling forced evolution of specialist strains.
Regardless of why the Swarm is there, Char has been the site of numerous battles ever since the zerg took control of the planet. Protoss and terran forces have attempted infiltration missions on Char with varying degrees of success. Huge and bloody battles have been fought there among the zerg themselves as the Queen of Blades overthrew the cerebrates controlling the Swarm. Four years ago three entire fleets met their demise when they confronted the Queen of Blades on the planet: Kerrigan emerged as the dominant power in the sector after an apocalyptic battle that destroyed a Terran Dominion fleet, a protoss armada, and finally the UED expeditionary force. Since then the zerg have remained curiously quiescent, apparently content to remain on the worlds they infested so rapidly during the initial invasion.