"May I call you... "mind slave?""
Strengths: Getting Paid, Shrewd Dealing, Knowing Things
Weaknesses: Bad Reputation, Underestimating Opponents, Acting Like A Bastard
First Appearance: TBFGK 42 (voiceover dialog only; no actual on-panel depiction to date)
Charlie is the Ruler of Charlescomm, a Side in Erfworld. Charlie is not Royal, so he is an Overlord. The following is known from the decrypted Archons: Charlescomm is the only city possessed by Charlies side and is level 5; Charlie pops only Archons, of which he had just over 600 at the time of TBfGK; the only other units who are permanently on his side are golems, of which there were about 700 at the time of TBfGK; Charlie often hires casters from the Magic Kingdom for specific jobs, though he does not pop them.
Other than these facts, nothing else is known about Charlie. He apparently never leaves the main tower of Charlescomm, where he lives with a personal guard of Archons who are rarely seen by any of Charlescomm's normal soldiers. All communication with Archons or clients is done through the Arkendish, where Charlie only manifests as a "calm male voice" sometimes accompanied with "a slowly changing pattern of soothing colors." Erf-b1.5-p041 All existing Charlescomm units have popped during Charlie's rule, and none of them know where Charlie came from beforehand or where he acquired the Arkendish from. Charlie does not permit questions about himself, from either his units or clients. Erf-b1.5-p046
- Two calculations on the strength of Gobwin Knob vs. hypothetical Archon attacks. These calculations were requested immediately after the deal was made.Erf-b1-p103
- One calculation on the odds of Gobwin Knob still standing after at the end of the current turn.Erf-b1-p105
- One calculation on the odds that forfeiting the eight remaining calculations would be a fair exchange for learning why the Archon units lost at Gobwin Knob now fight for Stanley. The calculation (a 4.14% chance of the exchange being worth it) led Charlie to refuse the deal. This calculation backfired: it taught Parson how to use his bracer to perform specific calculations on future events.Erf-b1.5-p039
The Archons in Charlie's employ have to follow a set of rules. They are somewhat reminiscent of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition though, given Rule #3, not quite as extreme. The comparison is loose, at best, and there has been no in comic comparison by Parson yet. The following rules are known:
- Charlie's Rule #3: We are in the business of solving problems for our clients. Corollary: Creating problems for our clients creates business.
- Charlie's Rule #15: Some things are more important than money. COROLLARY: Most things are not more important than money.
- Charlie's Rule #19: Charlie's rules need to be bent sometimes. (Presumed Corollary: Most of the time Charlie's rules do not need to be bent.)
The Magic Kingdom
Charlie maintains an excellent reputation as an employer in The Magic Kingdom.
Wanda may be the single greatest threat to Charlie's survival, because Wanda is trying to start an ideological war. As long as War is simply a matter of different sides competing for economic resources, then most Royals will not hesitate to hire a non-royal Mercenary like Charlie, if it seems profitable to do so. But by spreading the idea that there is an inherent ideological conflict between Royals and Units attuned to the Arkentools, Wanda is damaging Charlie's ability to persuade royals to hire him.
Charlie's primary objective at the Battle of Jetstone was to have Wanda croaked, in order to discredit Toolism. But Jillian's revelation that Wanda does not hate Charlie and would probably even be willing to work for him could dramatically change Charlie's relationship with Wanda.
The two initially seem to like each other, despite being adversarial. It is likely that the two enjoy having an intellectual equal. On Parson's side, Charlie is independent and one of the only characters who always seems to understand what Parson is saying, whether real world references or leetspeak is used. On Charlie's side, although Parson holds duty to Gobwin Knob, he is not bogged down by any of the prejudices Erfworlders generally have and has an out of the box method of thinking that Charlie can appreciate.
That said, however, considering the potential damage that Parson could do to him, having an intellectual equal is a "pleasure" which Charlie would forgo if he could. Charlie has informed Jillian that he's very concerned that his secrets have been compromised. The most damaging of the secrets about Charlie which Parson has learned so far would probably include:
1: One of Charlie's Rules instructs his Archons to make trouble for their own clients, in order to create new employment opportunities.
2: Charlie has no Warlords or Casters (or at least, none that the Archons know about).
3: Charlie never leaves the central tower of his city, which means potential assassins don't need to search the rest of the city to find him.
Fortunately for Charlie, Parson has yet to learn one of Charlie's most dangerous secrets; He is addicted to heroine buds and has been forced to use magical means to survive.
Charlie will certainly wonder how Parson could have survived the volcano. If he discovers that Parson entered the Magic Kingdom, he may suspect that Parson is a caster. Charlie appears to have discovered this by the time he briefs Tramennis in LIAB 43. He does not yet know Parson's discipline, suggesting to Tramennis that Parson is a Mathamancer, but he also confirmed to Parson himself that he can use scrolls.
By the Siege of Spacerock, it is revealed that Charlie is terrified of Parson. As the inventor of the very Summon Perfect Warlord Spell that summoned Parson in the first place, he is one of the few people capable of truly appreciating just how dangerous Parson actually is. There is a prophecy suggesting that Parson is Fated to defeat Charlie, and Charlie is thus determined to get Parson out of Erfworld by any means. Charlie arranges for Jojo to give Parson a scroll so that Parson can leave Erfworld peacefully but is ready to kill Parson if Parson refuses to leave. But as a last resort, he is willing to spend hundreds of millions of schmuckers and even to destroy his relationship with the Magic Kingdom if necessary to capture or croak him.
Charlie, initially, did not work against Parson directly, instead striking against Gobwin Knob's interests via proxies, such as Faq, Haggar, and Jetstone, likely to avoid the cataclysmic damage Parson could unleash if things escalate too much. He eventually reveals himself to Parson at the Siege of Spacerock, taunting him and telling Parson to "GTFO" (use the Dismiss Perfect Warlord scroll Jojo gave him to leave Erfworld) or "DIAF" (die in a fire--specifically, the inferno consuming Spacerock)
After this incident, Parson feels similarly about Charlie and has allied with the Great Minds with the explicit goal of killing him.
Charlie and Jillian are both mercenaries, and they both tend to honor the letter of their contracts, while breaking the spirit of said contracts when it is in their interest to do so. One of Charlie's Rules reminds his Archons that by making trouble for their clients, they also make more business for Charlie.
As a former mercenary, Jillian probably understands Charlie's mercenary mindset better than any other Royal, which may be why she doesn't assume that Charlie and Stanley would become allies based on a common anti-Royal ideology. As a former Barbarian, she is also much more willing to take calculated risks than most other Royals, and so is willing to risk dealing with Charlie. She's confident enough to believe she has a good chance of benefiting from the association.
Jillian has long resented Charlie as her greatest competitor for mercenary contracts. At one time, she regarded Charlie as evil, especially because he had been trying to tempt her into signing a contract with the heroine buds. Jillian eventually agreed to sign the contract in exchange for saving Wanda. Charlie then violated the spirit, though probably not the letter, of their contract by destroying the section of Jillian's personality that manifested itself as the Jester. Charlie also erased most of what Jillian knew about him, including the fact that he had altered her personality. If Jillian ever learns what Charlie did, it is likely that she will become his implacable enemy. Jillian may have fought against Archons on occasion, before the Battle of Gobwin Knob, and may have sometimes fought alongside them, if her clients ever hired both her and Charlie. Given their sides' extremely different approaches to mercenary work (Charlie is very well known and works hard to further his reputation; Faq had a history of being veiled and took steps to have no local reputation at all), it is unclear how often they competed for the same contracts or were hired by opposing clients. However, Jillian worked far afield when Faq was still standing (to protect the side's anonymity), and Charlie deals with sides both near and distant, so the two of them are probably the most "worldly" participants in the conflict with Gobwin Knob, at least among non-Casters.
After the destruction of the first Royal Crown Coalition and the recreation of Faq, Charlie contacted her and they agreed to a deal. While we don't know its exact wording, it seems that he agreed to aid Jillian in return for her help in dealing with the threat posed by Wanda. Because all of the other members of the Royal Crown Coalition II refused to deal with him, Charlie needed Jillian badly. He helped build up Faq's power, presumably so as to be able to influence the decisions of the RCC II and create a viable proxy to attack Gobwin Knob, since he doesn't dare move against Parson directly. Fortunately, Jillian is willing to try Charlie's unconventional ideas, such as persuading the Western Giants to switch their loyalties from Jitterati to Faq. Charlie probably knows that Faq obtained much of its income from doing mercenary work, and may be concerned that it could eventually become a competitor once again, but given the magnitude of the crisis he faces, that possibility is likely to be of comparatively small importance.
Jillian never came to trust Charlie, but did talk to him often enough to make taking his calls habitual.
Charlie expected Jillian to croak Wanda, but Jillian tried instead to persuade Wanda to break with Stanley and join her. While having Jillian and Wanda join forces would not have been what Charlie or Don King had in mind when they decided to help Jillian, Jillian could argue that recruiting Wanda would have made Wanda less of a threat to Charlie, and would have done a great deal to weaken Gobwin Knob, which were the main goals they had in mind when they decided to help her.
Since Wanda refused to change sides, Jillian had Vanna end Gobwin Knob's turn. Though unwilling to croak Wanda herself, Jillian believed that Wanda's doom had been sufficiently insured to in itself fulfill the terms of her agreement with Charlie and end the threat Wanda poses. At this point, she decided to perform acts that would strengthen Faq at Gobwin Knob's expense, such as capturing Ansom and sacking some of Gobwin Knob's cities, while avoiding those acts that would weaken Faq, such as launching a frontal attack against Wanda's superior forces.
Jillian's sudden decision to change their agreed upon plan at Jetstone and not attack Wanda placed some stress on Jillian's alliance with Charlie. Charlie did not think that Jillian had ended the threat posed by Wanda, because he, unlike Jillian, knows that Parson has the ability to find a way that Wanda can escape the trap Jillian placed her in. He pretended to consider Jillian's revelation that Wanda does not hate Charlie and would probably be willing to work for him, but in actuality, he tried to have Ansom croaked out of anger at her failure to croak Wanda personally. Alternatively he tried to croak Ansom so to remove Jillian's main goal of fixing her lover - in such situation that even angry at Charlie, Jillian would return to the battlefield to help her allies. Either way, as a result, Jillian wants nothing to do with a scheming manipulator like Charlie, while Charlie for his part has concluded that Jillian is too unreliable to work with. Charlie has told her to do as she likes, since she is now on her own.
Nevertheless, he will take any opportunities she offers to antagonize Gobwin Knob. He also considers it very important that she is kept out of Gobwin Knob's hands, which might have to do with her Fate.
The Arkendish gives him unmatched abilities in ThinkamancyErf-b1-p088, but the extent of these abilities is not described. It may explain his ability to hack into the supposedly secure Eyebooks.Erf-b1-p100 It may also explain his understanding of Parson's Real World leetspeak chat lingo in Eyebook messages, if its power extends to reading surface thoughts at long range, or through the Eyebook which already provides that function, though his largely unknown background from before his possession of the Arkendish might hold that explanation. If the Arkendish can intercept messages sent by other Thinkamancers, it would explain how he learned that Queen Jillian had rebuilt Faq.
It is possible that Charlie is actually from Parson's World. This would also explain his understanding of Parson's references. It would also explain his "playing style": a power-player with cheat codes (the Arkendish) creating an unbalanced side (Charlescomm, with no farms or mines or regular troops) and a highly-specialized unbalanced unit-class (the Archons).
Charlie is not a loyal person as the term is normally used, and is content to play just about all Sides so that he ends up maximizing his Side's gain during a negotiation; however, to protect Charlescomm's reputation, he does not break alliances outright, nor will he abandon an Alliance that has ended a contract. He has been known to make his services prohibitively expensive, in order to avoid the appearance that he is contracting with the Side opposing a previous employer in a conflict. This is inconsistent with normal mercenary behavior, and may help explain the confusion other Erfworlders have concerning his reliability.
Charlie provides his employees with significant freedom in providing their services to clients. Employees are permitted to provide freebies or not, at their own discretion.
Charlie seems to be pretty good at remembering his underlings' names, as opposed to Stanley, at least when remembering his archons' names.
After the Battle of Gobwin Knob, most of the members of the Royal Crown Coalition believe he is working with Stanley and refuse to deal with him. However, he has managed to form a tentative alliance with Queen Jillian.
Parson suspects that Charlie is directly behind the gobwins being missing from Gobwin Knob. This might be a form of psychological subterfuge to undermine Parson's role in GK's affairs, as Charlie and Parson are intellectual adversaries, while Ansom, the current chief warlord is more of a nuisance. Given Stanley the Tool's responses, this seems the most likely explanation.
If there are any male Archons in Charlie's service, then one of them may be named Bosley.
Though Charlie is universally referred to by male pronouns, it may be that "he" is in fact female. In Book 2 Text Update 18, the video Thinkagram shown to Prince Sammy flickers to a "ghostly female face" before settling on the city of Haggar. Since Charlie communicates directly via the Arkendish and not through a Thinkamancer unit, there should be no one else in the Thinkagram circuit, so it is plausible that this female face belonged to Charlie. (Hiding even gender, as a detail of personal identity, would be very much in character for Charlie.) Alternatively, it could have just been the Archon spying on Haggar's capital — Charlie called the Archon (causing her face to appear briefly for the outgoing thinkagram) and asked her to open a thinkagram to him so that he could relay what she was seeing to Prince Sammy "live". [This doesn't rule out Charlie being female of course but this particular piece of evidence is not very strong.]
Real World References
Charlie and Charlie's Archons are references to a television series Charlie's Angels featuring 3 young women working as private investigators for their boss, Charlie, whose face is never seen on screen. If this homage continues, we will never see Charlie's face, though we may catch sight of extremities or a silhouette.
When Parson first contacts Charlie via ThinkamancyErf-b1-p088, the mental picture in Parson's head (red jumpsuit, black background) is a duplicate of the "telepathy" used in the television series Mork & Mindy, when Mork is conversing with his superior, Orson.