The people of the many tribes living in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn.
See her character page here.
An insular tribe, isolated in the Sacred Land to the east of Meridian. They're a deeply religious people, with almost every aspect of their culture being related to the worship of the All-Mother. While the Nora are regarded as a primitive and backwards tribe by their neighbors, they are also renowned warriors and hunters.
- All Crimes Are Equal: For the Nora, making a person an outcast can be because of murder, stealing, trespassing into forbidden lands, or speaking to an outcast. Subverted in that it's made clear that being made an outcast generally comes with a set sentence that depends on the crime. It seems that children are rarely made outcast - Teersa mentions a case of a thirteen-year-old boy killing his mother and receiving this sentence as the one time besides Aloy in which there was an outcast child, so those rules must usually be more lax.
- Partly subverted: while being made Outcast is the only punishment the Nora have, being an Outcast usually isn't for life, and various crimes have different sentence periods.
- All Myths Are True: Much of what they believe about the All-Mother, the Metal Devil and those that believe Aloy is The Chosen One all have some truth to them to an extent. Much of the Nora faith seems to have been once factual events that were eventually mythologised over time through oral history.
- The All-Mother gave all life to the world. GAIA, a benevolent AI designed by the last humans, really did give all life to the planet, though only after it was destroyed the first time. However, the actual being they believe is the All-Mother isn't GAIA, but instead the rather simple A.I. that controls the blast door to one of the Old World facilities.
- The Metal Devil stood against the All-Mother. The Faro Swarms would in all likelihood have destroyed GAIA if they had the chance. One of the Horus units got uncomfortably close to the human creche facility that the Nora think is the "All-Mother", in fact. Thankfully, GAIA's subroutine MINERVA managed to hack the swarm's deactivation codes and shut them down, enabling her to get to work recreating the biosphere.
- Aloy is the goddess' chosen warrior. GAIA created Aloy for the specific purpose of accessing areas sealed with DNA scanning.
- Amazon Brigade: They aren't one, but they have a reputation for this among the other tribes due to their isolationism and matriarchy; the Carja commonly believe that the Nora only allow women to fight with male warriors being a rare exception.
- Angel Unaware: The Nora believe that they're on the wrong end of this trope. They're incorrect about the divine aspect of it (probably), but it is true that things would have been easier for them if they had acted morally. Years ago, a newborn baby was left in their sacred cavern. A few Nora thought she was a gift from the Goddess and wanted to raise her as one of the tribe, but the majority wanted to kill her (the tribe is intensely xenophobic). Eventually they compromised by exiling the baby permanently- something only done to the worst of criminals- and asking another outcast to raise her. Naturally, the child grew up to become an incredible warrior who turned everything she touched to gold. She still saved the Nora from the apocalypse, because she was that good a person, but she never loved them like she could have, and they knew it. To make things worse, she traveled so far and met so many people that soon there wasn't a tribe on the continent that didn't know the Nora were baby-killers.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Zigzagged. While the Nora's religion means the High Matriarchs are incredibly superstitious and distrustful of any of the Old Ones' technology, Teersa's faithful lens and willingness to listen allows her to correctly intuit how Aloy can overcome a core obstacle despite having no idea how it works.
- Blade on a Stick: The Nora's favored melee weapon is a short-shafted spear, putting it on the low end of the stick part.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Check, check and check, although due to the absence of deer in this world, the skins are probably taken from other animals. Still, they have the look down pat.
- Cargo Cult: The Nora worship a goddess called the All-Mother, the virtual intelligence that controls the massive blast door of an "Old Ones" bunker. Basically, they're worshiping an extremely advanced doorbell.
- Of course, as it is later revealed, that this door and doors like it birthed the ancestors of all living humans, they're actually closer to correct than they seem at first.
- The Chosen People: The Nora believe they hold the preeminent place in the eyes of the All-Mother, by virtue of never leaving the Embrace. Other tribes are compared to wayward children, who have forfeited her protection, and thus are not to be interacted with unless absolutely necessary.
- Cruel to Be Kind: The practice of Outcasting people is this, according to Teersa. Lacking the infrastructure to maintain a prison, the Nora remove the criminals in their society by banishing them, rather than killing them. Aloy disagrees with the claim, but since her "crime" was being born, she has something of a biased view on the practice.
- Dramatic Irony: For people who worship the earth, they haven't seen a lot of it. It takes Aloy to show them that if they really loved All-Mother, they would be more appreciative of Her creations, not less.
- The Dreaded: Nora Braves are feared among the other tribes due to having a highly territorial attitude born of their isolationism. While we see the Nora as a fairly balanced society of hunter-gatherers, the other tribes fear them as savages and brutal warriors who'll murder anyone who ventures too close to their territory.
- Elemental Motifs: Earth, like the mountain goddess they worship. At their worst, Nora are hidebound, secretive, and clannish. At their best, they are generous, resourceful, and uniting- see Aloy's example under Magnetic Hero.
- Exact Words: They hate people who rely on machines instead of doing any work, but honestly hunted machine parts are as valuable to the Nora as any other tribe. Taming machines with knowledge and stealth is also fine, if only because no one ever did it before.
- Facial Markings: The Nora use some kind of blue woad to mark their faces; family members (like Sona and Varl) have the same marks.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Their aesthetic and attunement to nature resembles Native Americans mixed up with some Pictish.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Most Nora face paint patterns are asymmetrical, as are almost all of their outfits.
- Formerly Friendly Family: They believe that all life, machines included, are children of All-Mother. But the machines grew greedy and tried to usurp Her authority, so the Nora don't respect them anymore. This estrangement is one of many things their Anointed fixed for them.
- Godzilla Threshold: They hate foreigners, the past, and all things technological, but on the few occasions the traditional ways do not work, they empower a "Seeker" with the authority to investigate all those things (and, supposedly, a magical blessing that protects them from the past's "taint") so they can find whatever is causing the crisis and stop it.
- Hidden Elf Village: Their determination and suicidal courage makes them a valuable asset in the battle against HADES...once they can be persuaded to actually care about the world they live in.
- Ironic Name: The Nora most likely took their name from crumbling NORAD outposts in the vicinity of the "Sacred Lands," with no idea what the moniker stood for.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Their insane xenophobia partly stems from the fact that a mere two years ago, the ruler of the Sundom liked to murder or enslave anyone his raiders could get their hands on. The other tribes also suffered, and the Carja are doing their best to atone, but there are still a few war criminals walking around free.
- Machine Worship: They worship a goddess they call the All-Mother, which is actually a simple, non-sentient computer that happens to have a female voice stashed away in what was once a cradle facility that birthed the first generation of humans that formed into their tribe.
- Matriarchy: Ruled by a council of High Matriarchs. Nora matriarchs are specifically grandmothers, and High Matriarchs are great-grandmothers, because Nora want their leaders to be able to speak for generations. Men and women without children aren't barred from positions of responsibility and respect, though, as temporary War-Chief Resh proves.
- Mundane Luxury: They are very proud of Mother's Heart, their main village. Not without reason, because (the) Heart is very elaborate and culturally unique, but compared to the Sundom's cities, it's just...small.
- Noble Savage: The Nora subvert this trope. Despite fitting the usual elements of being close to nature and a very religious people, they're sometimes shown in a negative light, as isolationist zealots who are hostile towards outsiders and outcasts. Their more sympathetic aspects aren't associated with the noble savage at all.
- Oddly Common Rarity: Justified. Aloy becoming a Seeker is treated as an exceptional, once in a generation thing, but near the end there are whole war parties of Seekers. As Aloy became their Anointed and she needed soldiers to fight against HADES, the Matriarchs made an exception and gave the honor to anyone willing to go.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: They're a matriarchal society that worships "The All-Mother", a monotheistic Goddess who created the world, in the form of a glowing light in a cave with a feminine voice. It turns out that their world was created by GAIA, a female A.I. modeled on the "Mother Nature as Goddess" trope. However, by all accounts the Nora religion didn't spring from knowledge of GAIA (GAIA explicitly states she's avoided making any form of contact with the Zero Dawn tribes). Rather, it stems from the cave being the entrance to a "Cradle", an underground facility containing the Uterine Replicators that produced the first generation of the tribe centuries earlier — and nineteen years earlier, produced Aloy — so it is in fact the "mother" of the entire tribe. Unfortunately, due to Ted Faro's sabotage of the APOLLO educational program, said first generation was only educated to kindergarten-level, leaving only an oral tradition of this. All of that plus said blast door is essentially a geometrized vulva controlled by a (simple, non-sentient) computer that happens to have a female voice and you get a Cargo Cult worshiping Siri.
- Rite of Passage: The Proving for young Nora warriors. Involves shooting down a machine, taking a trophy from the machine's carcass, then racing through the snow on rocky, precarious ledges to reach the altar. The first one there receives a boon, or whatever the winner wants. Aloy has been enduring Training from Hell for this since she was six years old, in order to get answers about her parents.
- Rule of Drama: Most of their exiling is done for genuinely ethical reasons, as even many exiles admit. Of course, the one time it wasn't is the time Aloy's story (and to a lesser degree, Rost's) reveolves around.
- Technophobia: The Nora reject all technology, due to their belief that technology is responsible for destroying the world and leads humans astray from the nature-oriented Goddess. Their Creation Myth even includes a SKYNET-like Satan figure known as the Metal Devil, whose giant corpse can be seen on the horizon. Because for the first few hours you spend all your time with the Nora, it's easy to take them at their word and assume the game is saying that Science Is Bad. However, the Nora's creation myth has serious flaws and inaccuracies, and ultimately their rejection of technology turns out be to the natural extension of Ted Faro's final beliefs (Faro being the man who destroyed the world and not someone to be emulated.)
- Unperson: Being an outcast among the Nora means this. Not only is an outcast thrown out of the tribe and forced to live on their own, it's forbidden to speak or associate with one, even if you're another outcast. With rare exceptions, outcasts are welcomed back after a set period of time, though.
Voiced by: Bryce Papenbrook (English)note
A boy who constantly attempted to bully Aloy as a child and is her primary rival in the Proving.
- Asshole Victim: Gets gunned down by an Eclipse Cultist. Downplayed, as he had just set aside his problems with Aloy to fight the attackers at the Proving, and dies trying to save the just-killed Vala.
- Big "NO!": Screams one after Vala is killed.
- The Bully: As a child and a young man, he's a contemptuous jackass to Aloy. Though he's not completely bad.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: He sabotages Aloy in the Proving, putting an arrow through her acquired trophy, forcing her to get another whilst the other competitors move on. He only gets away with this due to Resh ignoring his cheating. He's still pipped at the post by Aloy regardless.
- Establishing Character Moment: When they're both children, he throws a rock at Aloy's head for being an outcast.
- Everybody Has Standards: He immediately sets aside his beef with Aloy the moment the Eclipse cultists attack the village during the Proving, even stopping her from running out and getting shot at one point, and at least tried to save Vala, who is already dead by this point, for which he gets killed.
- Hypocrite: At the end of the Proving, he accuses Aloy of cheating when he himself clearly sabotaged her at the beginning by destroying her trophy.
- Jerkass: Very rude towards Aloy since they were kids and talks too much about himself.
- Kids Are Cruel: He's a reminder of the children who also shun Aloy and (in his case) are outwardly malevolent.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The girl he attacked and made life hard for as a child grows up and defeats him in the Proving.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He loves the sound of his own voice quite a bit.
- Underestimating Badassery: He shows Aloy zero respect in the Proving.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Gets very little characterization before he's gunned down by the Eclipse.
Voiced by: Steve Furst (English)note
A cranky trader and former outcast.
- Character Death: He dies when the Eclipse assaults the Nora's Sacred Lands late in the main story, which makes him the only merchant to disappear from the map past a certain point in the narrative.
- Deadpan Snarker: He doesn't take the Nora's rules about outcasts seriously and won't hesitate to mock them, as seen when Aloy shows up looking for a Tripcaster:Karst: (dryly) An outcast on my doorstep? My, my, All-Mother protect me.
- Friend in the Black Market: Except it's not so much that the wares he's selling are illegal, but rather that the act of selling them to Aloy and the other outcasts is an illegal act in itself.
- The Hermit: He lives by himself, but that doesn't mean he can't visit the nearby Nora village. That he's so paranoid that someone will see him speaking to Aloy certainly suggests that he's in frequent contact.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a bit rough around the edges but a decent person at heart, even more so because he's the only Nora merchant who's willing to trade with outcasts.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The reason he chose to live by himself in the wilderness is that once his sentence of being an outcast was up, he discovered that everyone he knew had moved on and there was nothing left for him to stay in his old home.
- Same Surname Means Related: A tribal variation. Karst wears the same face paint as Teb and the Nora Keeper, which among the Nora signifies a familial bond. The specifics are never revealed, though.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Upon meeting, he and Aloy snark at each other unrelentingly, but they seem to get along quite well.
Voiced by: Ako Mitchell (English)note
A Nora who was saved by Aloy after an accident and became a good friend and ally.
- Back for the Finale: Unlike the other Nora at Meridian, except for outcast Nakoa, he doesn't seem dramatically stressed at being in this strange location and has apparently had friendly conversations with several Carja, trying to explain Stitchers to them and being made an honorary quartermaster.
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: While presumably training for the Proving on the cliffside obstacle courses known as brave trails, Teb wasn't able to keep his grip and fell into the middle of a pack of angry Striders.
- Determinator: He never stopped speaking the truth about his savior, even though his father hit him for doing it. This is why Teersa knows about the situation even though she wasn't part of it.
- Distressed Dude: After his fall, he was badly injured and trapped, unable to move for fear of the Striders.
- Hero-Worshipper: He's been this for Aloy ever since she saved him. He gladly defies Tribe custom to speak to her and is the first (outside of Teersa) to believe that she's a divine blessing.
- I Owe You My Life: After Aloy saved Teb, he patiently waited for years to be able to thank her.
- Nice Guy: One of the few Nora who speaks to Aloy during her time as an outcast, since he feels the need to thank her for saving his life.
- Not the Fall That Kills You : Despite falling off a cliff, the more pressing danger to Teb is the angry machines searching for him.
- Non-Action Guy: His first scene has him failing while training to be a hunter-warrior, which seems to prove to Teb that he isn't cut out for front line combat. Instead he became a Stitcher.
- Passive Rescue: Aloy uses her Focus to guide Teb out of danger without alerting any machines.
- Rescue Introduction: Aloy meets Teb by saving his life from Watchers.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Averted. Teb works as a Stitcher, making armor for Braves to wear in combat.
Voiced by: Nicolette McKenzie (English)note
A reasonable and friendly High Matriarch.
- Cool Old Lady: She acts as Aloy's surrogate mother while at the same time defending her from Lansra.
- Dumbass Has a Point: She is entirely ignorant of the Metal World, but calmly reminds Aloy of what it really said when the panicky girl assumes it rejected her.
- In Mysterious Ways: She's not especially concerned with all the dogma that Aloy upends, because the broad points of her religion are still true, they just have more esoteric layers added on now.
- Motivational Lie: After the Proving disaster, Teersa tells Aloy to let her do the talking, and then proclaims that the goddess has tasked Aloy with healing Her corruption. Which isn't exactly wrong, but is a hell of a generous interpretation of what little was said.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Of the three matriarchs, Teersa is the nice one. She treats Aloy and Rost with respect despite them being outcasts, and believes that Aloy is a gift from the All-Mother who has a greater purpose.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She doesn't totally adhere to her tribe's strict customs and is welcoming to Aloy, and willing to deal with outsiders repentant over the Red Raids. She's also willing enough to break the tribe's customs by allowing her people to evacuate inside the Embrace, previously exclusive to the High Matriarchs, when the Eclipse intends on wiping them out.
- When Aloy presents her with information that conflicts with her lifelong held beliefs, she doesn't argue or deny Aloy's claims past a brief note that it "cannot be so" until Aloy confirms that she is telling the truth. Teersa instead admits that the situation has gone beyond her understanding and entrusts Aloy to learn the truth of it.
- While the other High Matriarchs' plans for dealing with large problems involve little more than praying to All-Mother and clinging to their beliefs, Teersa takes a significantly more open-minded and proactive approach. Her actions effectively set Aloy on the right path for the main plot of the game and later save the lives of dozens of Nora.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Teersa believes that Aloy is a gift from their goddess that will accomplish great things for their Nora. She's right but it's not quite that simple. Their "goddess" is an AI that self-destructed to give the world a fighting chance against one of its rogue subroutines and Aloy is a clone of said AI's creator and mentor, designed to access genetically locked areas and lead the fight against the rogue AI.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Her being a High Matriarch and top-level leader of the tribe helps in doing the following trope.Teersa: I'm a High Matriarch, Rost. I can bless whom I choose.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Teersa is the only High Matriarch who is willing to ignore the Nora's strict taboos from blessing the name of Aloy, an outcast, to allowing her tribesmen to flee from the Eclipse scorched-earth attack into the safety of All-Mother's temple, where only High Matriarchs may enter.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Aloy snarks that motherhood is a stupid reason for assigning leadership. Maybe a day later, Teersa's ability to calm down a sulky teenager is vital to saving the world.
Voiced by: Eve Karpf (English)note
A conservative High Matriarch who strictly adheres to the Nora's religious customs.
- Bitch Alert: Her Establishing Character Moment is treating the infant Aloy like an abomination and reprimanding Teersa for actually allowing Aloy's name to be blessed.
- HeelFace Turn: Of a sort. When Aloy exits the GAIA facility that the Nora's ancestors lived in until their food ran out, she immediately bows to the ground out of religious fervour, names her 'Anointed' and overall becomes more tolerant of her. Aloy is exasperated with her still, since she ultimately hasn't learned anything.
- The Fundamentalist: Really follows her custom to the point of refusing to let her tribesmen to flee inside All-Mother Mountain from the Eclipse. But no one really listens to her after the screaming and shouting. The only reason she ever begs Aloy's forgiveness isn't because of a personal revelation but because what she sees gives her the false impression that Aloy is the Anointed of the Goddess.
- Jerkass: Of the three High Matriarchs, Lansra is the most cold-hearted, treating Aloy with contempt at every turn, no matter how much she's proven herself, and even trying to stop her tribesmen from taking refuge in the mountain when the Eclipse attacks.
- Lawful Stupid: She'd rather let all Nora be destroyed than break Nora law by allowing people other than the Matriarchs to enter the Sacred Mountain for protection.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Lansra is the mean one. She despises Aloy, treating her not just as an outcast, but as an abomination of nature who will bring nothing but suffering to the tribe.
- Starter Villain: Of a sort. She isn't directly against Aloy, but she is the first force shown to be antagonistic toward her, barring Resh. By the end, Aloy realizes she has bigger problems than a fundamentalist who won't even leave the Sacred Lands.Aloy: If there's anything I've learned since the Proving, it's that there are bigger evils in this world than you.
Voiced by: Rachel Atkins (English)note
The third of the tribe's three High Matriarchs, Jezza seems to be the most pragmatic of the High Matriarchs, siding with the open-minded idealist Teersa or the harsh fundamentalist Lansra depending on situational benefit.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Jezza is the in-between. She's not exactly sure what to think of Aloy, and doesn't treat her with the same level of loving kindness as Teersa, nor the same level of scorn as Lansra. After Aloy is declared the Annointed she simply says of Aloy's original outcast status, "We were so unsure."
- Out of Focus: Of the three Matriarchs, she's the only one without any real characterization.
Voiced by: Adjoa Andoh (English)note
Nora War-Chief and the mother of Vala and Varl.
- Anti-Nepotism: Likely the reason she's a bit tougher on her son than her other subordinates. Also, because she's his mom, she feels more offended by his tendency to disregard authority.
- Cold Ham: Can get pretty bombastic in her speeches without ever raising her voice.
- Death of a Child: Her daughter Vala is one of the aspiring Braves killed in the Proving Massacre.
- Frontline General: She's in the thick of the fighting with her braves in the war against Eclipse.
- Four-Star Badass: As head of the braves, the warrior contingent amongst the Nora, she is essentially the commander-in-chief of (what passes as) the Nora's military.
- Hypocrite: She chastises Varl for leaving his post, but she abandoned her entire command to chase down the party of killers.
- Iron Lady: Stern, curt, no-nonsense, never smiles and always talks like she's moments away from biting your head off. In her defense, she's always encountered in situations where her tribe is teetering on the brink of extinction, so it's understandable that she isn't the most cheery person around.
- Lady of War: She's the War-Chief of the Nora and is usually calm and composed, if harsh.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Her daughter was killed by the Eclipse.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The first time Aloy encounters her, Sona is curt and cool with her, as you might expect given how recently she lost her daughter, but unlike Resh she places no blame on the former Outcast, and Aloy quickly gains her respect.
- Religious Bruiser: She's as devout as she is capable in a fight. The latter is a great asset in her questline. The former, not so much.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After the Proving massacre that killed Vala and the loss of most of her kinsmen, Sona is dead set on hunting down the Eclipse.
- Rousing Speech: Sona rallies the war party before the Battle of Devil's Grief, where reprisal upon Eclipse for the Proving Massacre is doled out.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: While she's bound by Nora custom, she breaks taboo to hunt the Eclipse who have taken shelter in the ruins. Later on, before the final battle, she's shown to be uncomfortable being in Meridian and away from the Sacred Land.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the finale, she hates being in 'tainted' lands surrounded by godless people and refuses an audience with the Sun-King, though she doesn't bar the people she led to Meridian from talking to all Carja. She still sees the need to be there.
- War Hawk: Averted. She believes that being this is a mark of a poor War-Chief, and war is a burden to be dealt with, not an opportunity for glory or fun. Even her vengeful rampage was meant to quickly and efficiently deal with a known threat.
Voiced by: Elena Saurel (English)note
Sona's daughter and a contestant in the Proving.
- Black Girl Dies First: She's the first named character to die in the game.
- Friendly Rivalry: She is the only Brave-in-training that is willing to tolerate Aloy and openly competitive with her fellow Braves during the Proving. By the end of the Proving she is really proud of Aloy becoming a Brave.
- Nice Girl: She speaks with Aloy despite her being an outcast, and outright tells Bast to stop picking on her.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Aside from the proctor at the Proving, she is the first character who gets killed by a machine gun-wielding Cultist.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She gets even less screen time than Bast, only having enough to establish herself as a Friendly Rival to Aloy and a courageous Nora before being killed by Eclipse during the Proving. This is acknowledged by Aloy herself when she talks to Varl, saying they could have been friends otherwise.
Voiced by: John Macmillan (English)note
Sona's son and a Brave.
- Amazon Chaser: He is one of several characters that shows an interest in Aloy, largely because of rather than in spite of her combat skills.
- God Before Dogma:
- He argues that the tribe won't be harmed for breaking taboo to pursue the Eclipse, because All-Mother would want them to get revenge.
- In the finale, he notices that everyone's kowtowing to Aloy is making her uncomfortable, and tells them to stop (the bowing, that is. He still insists they can call Aloy "the Anointed", because at that point religious awe is an understandable reaction to all the impossible deeds they've just seen her do).
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: He's one of the best Braves in the tribe and is not afraid to get himself involved in a fight.
- Hot-Blooded: Regardless of his calm demeanour, he is constantly making reckless decisions re: leaving the gate Sona ordered him to defend, suggesting they break Nora doctrine to pursue the Eclipse, and supporting the highly dangerous stealth mission that Aloy suggests.
- Religious Bruiser: He fights fearlessly to protect the All-Mother, yet he's reluctant to go in there when Aloy offers him the opportunity. It's implied he values his beliefs more than knowing everything (especially since Aloy is still visibly shaken from her discovery of what it holds).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Varl replaces his sister Vala, who was killed by the Eclipse, and befriends Aloy. He's humbler and less openly friendly than his sister, but less reserved, formal, and harsh than his mother.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Like Sona he's deeply uncomfortable in the finale being so far from everything he knows and around such foreign people, he's just less intense about it and can apply more perspective.
Voiced by: Harry Myers (English)note
One of the senior Braves.
- Hate Sink: Unlike the other Nora, who eventually come around to accepting the "motherless outcast" and more, there is absolutely nothing that can be said "positively" about Resh beyond his ability to keep his unwavering determination to hate Aloy.
- Jerkass: Has a deep seated hatred for Aloy for no particular reason other than she was an outcast. Even after Aloy is dubbed the Anointed of the Goddess by the rest of her tribe, Resh doesn't follow suit, treating her with just as much vitriol before, only this time disowning his tribe for accepting her.
- The Neidermeyer: He is vastly less competent than Sona, and the other Braves don't really think highly of him.
- No Place for Me There: A variation. When Aloy is given an overwhelmingly positive reception by the rest of the tribe upon being dubbed the Anointed of the Goddess, Resh decides that the tribe he knew is gone and he has no place there. Aloy agrees, and more or less tells him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Believes the attack on the Proving happened because it was cursed by the presence of a motherless Outcast in the competition. The attack indeed was caused by Aloy's participation in it, as the Cultists were there specifically to kill her, but she can hardly be faulted for not knowing that a group she'd never heard of that lived outside the valley she'd spent her entire life in wanted her dead for reasons beyond her control. If Aloy had been raised in the tribe instead of as an outcast, the Eclipse still would have attacked.
- You Are in Command Now: He is promoted to be the Nora tribe's War Chief after the previous War Chief, Sona, goes missing.
Voiced by: JB Blanc (English)note
Aloy's guardian and mentor.
- Action Dad: While nobody officially acknowledges it, Rost is all but an adopted one to Aloy. Was ostensibly one to his deceased biological daughter as well.
- Badass Beard: A long, braided one.
- Boomerang Bigot:
- A subdued example; Rost has a very low opinion of other Outcasts other than Aloy (and even of regular Nora that break the rules by treating Outcasts with some basic human decency), and often expresses his disapproval of her interacting with them. He does speak approvingly of Odd Greta, an Outcast who doesn't try to speak to other Outcasts, and likes it when Aloy helps her.
- It's eventually revealed that Rost is not a traditional Outcast, who are exiled due to committing some crime, and that he effectively became an Outcast on purpose and with the Matriarchs' blessing.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Most outcasts are only exiled from the tribe for a certain period of time. Rost, however, was sentenced to be an outcast for life, implying he had committed a particularly serious crime which he does not want to talk about. Subverted, though, as he willingly exiled himself once he finished his hunting down of a band of twelve Outlanders after pleading to the Matriarchs to become a Death-Seeker.
- Death Seeker: He requested that the Matriarchs literally name him a Death-Seeker, one whose soul remains in the Sacred Lands even as their body leaves it, never to return. He did so in order to kill the people who murdered his wife and child, and when he succeeded he was content with dying as close to the Sacred Lands as the law allowed. Instead another Nora tribeswoman found him, and brought him back into Nora territory. Even though this was forbidden, the Matriarchs compromised with him, allowing him to stay in Nora lands in exchange for being an outcast. In present day he no longer has this mentality and is just content with living in his cherished lands and raising Aloy as his daughter.
- Due to the Dead: The Matriarchs make a grave for him, and Aloy can even visit it and tell Rost all that's been happening in her life.
- Good Parents: He let Aloy keep heretical technology, climbed up a mountain to get her named properly, and didn't get angry when she let the stew burn. It's even possible that he was too soft on her.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He dies saving Aloy from being blown up by the Eclipse Cultists.
- Hero of Another Story: His adventures as a Death-Seeker sound like something out of a Horizon-flavored Assassin's Creed game.
- Honor Before Reason: He adheres to the laws of the Nora Tribe no matter what, even if it hurts him. He tells Aloy that after the Proving he'll move on because it's against the law for tribe members to speak to Outcasts like him, even though Aloy was raised as an outcast all her life. His death stops him from carrying out that plan, however.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Rost is built like a tank, whereas his adoptive daughter Aloy is a slender, not particularly tall young woman.
- Innocently Insensitive: He loves Aloy, but he flat out refuses to acknowledge that her treatment by the Nora has been far more abusive than his.
- Lack of Empathy: A sympathetic example. Rost has lived his life according to the Nora laws and customs as best he can and is generally satisfied with his lot in life. This leaves him poorly equipped to be all that sympathetic to Aloy, who got royally screwed over by said laws and customs. Not because he doesn't care for her, but because his entire worldview disagrees with her opinions, leading to him dismissing them.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: As to be expected of a mentor figure, he dies.
- Papa Wolf: He's incredibly protective of his adoptive daughter, Aloy. Despite saying he'll have to stay out of Aloy's life after she becomes a Nora, it turns out he was watching over her during the Proving, and puts up a hell of a fight to save her from Helis, sacrificing his own life in the process. This goes for his biological daughter, as well, whom he avenged by hunting down and murdering the twelve Outlanders who killed her, even though he believed it meant he'd never set foot in the Sacred Lands again.
- Parental Substitute: He's the closest thing Aloy has to a father.
- Parents as People: Rost and Aloy shared a loving father/daughter relationship and he trained Aloy so well, she became the best hunter and survivalist out of all the Nora. However, Rost's deep love and respect of the Nora, their laws, and religion left him unable to truly empathize with Aloy over her frustration and pain at being an outcast for no apparent reason. This is probably aggravated by Rost himself having welcomed being an outcast, so he doesn't see it as much of an issue personally. As a result, he was unable to help her emotionally adjust, leaving her with significant emotional turmoil over her position in life when she grew up.
- Real Men Wear Pink: A burly Viking-esque hunter whose compassion and patience is just as important to the narrative as his courage.Aloy: (while hunting) Rost always said, "patience".
- Religious Bruiser: A very devout Nora who will bend certain rules (acting as an infant's mother when it's time to name her, whistling to signal some tribesfolk but not openly talking to them, "Survive") but believes in them utterly. This puts him in some conflict with Aloy, who's hurt and frustrated by many of the things that he quietly accepts and supports.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He begged the Matriarchs to name him Death-Seeker, so that he could leave Nora lands and kill the men who'd murdered his wife and daughter.
- Tragic Keepsake: His lost daughter's necklace, which in turn becomes this to Aloy after he dies saving her from Eclipse.
- Secretly Selfish: He didn't consider that Aloy might one day want to join the Nora, because her doing such would leave him alone again.
- The Quiet One: He speaks as little as possible and doesn't explain himself until absolutely necessary, much to Aloy's frustration.
Voiced by: Caroline Amer (English)note
- Arch-Enemy: Considers Zaid to be hers, for good reason.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The other slaves look to Nakoa for guidance because her unwavering warrior's spirit gave them hope during their captivity. It's implied that the group stick together even after being freed because they don't want to be without her leadership.
- Back for the Finale: Happy to help, stating that Helis is much like Zaid and was nearly as feared during the Red Raids.
- Dehumanizing Insult: When she finally drives a spear into Zaid's gut, Aloy says that she could have drawn out his death. Nakoa responds that her father taught her to end an animal's suffering quickly when she hunts, implying that Zaid is an animal.
- Determinator: Absolutely nothing would stop this girl from getting revenge on Zaid, much to her family's dismay.
- Revenge: Her motivation for leaving the Sacred Lands.
- You Can't Go Home Again: After killing Zaid, she cannot go back to the Nora because she is considered exiled for leaving in the first place. She claims she doesn't mind and doesn't want to go back anyway, and focuses on helping victims from Zaid's slave trade. Apparently some of this was sour grapes and trying to make the best of her situation. In the endgame she's heard about the Nora opening up their borders somewhat and is excited and happy at the prospect of coming home and seeing her brother again.
- You Killed My Father: Witnessed her father being killed by Zaid during the Red Raids, instilling in her a desire for vengeance against her father's killer.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Their religion springs from concepts found hundreds of years ago in a long-gone textbook about the sun. Apart from the sun being utterly essential to life, everything they might have learned from it has become unrecognizably altered.
- Animal Motifs: The Carja dress sense tends to look very bird-like, with feather-like armor plates especially around their headpieces. Their ranks are also bird-themed (Hawk, Thrush, Kestrel). Might have something to do with birds being closer to the sun.
- Bare Your Midriff: A number of Carja clothing ensembles for women involve a bare midriff; most notably the Carja Blazon available for garb to Aloy. Some men's outfits also have a (partially) covered top and a bare belly, most notably Sun-King Avad.
- The Chosen People: Not unlike the Nora's own belief, Carja theology holds that the Carja occupy a special place under the Sun, as its anointed people. However, unlike the Nora, the Carja also believe that since the Sun shines on all tribes and peoples, the Carja are still obligated to help them when they can.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Traditional punishments and 'trials' always involve being staked out in the hot sun for days. Avad has instated a prison program that he hopes will rehabilitate criminals instead.
- Culture Chop Suey: While their buildings take from Babylonian and Mediterranian architecture, their outfits vary greatly according to the occupation and social status, ranging from Aztec, Roman, Middle Eastern and even Asian styles of clothing.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Their imperialism, reliance on maize as a staple crop, location in a tropical jungle, worship of a solar deity, and history of raiding their neighbors for slaves all draw from the Aztec Empire. Indeed, the Red Raids being due to the Mad Sun-King's belief that the Sun needs constant blood sacrifices draws directly from their religion. Some of their headdresses are even directly based on those worn by Aztec Jaguar Warriors.
- Further emphasized the story of the founding of the Sundom: the original Carja wandered into the valley where Araman, the first Sun King, spotted a Glinthawk roosting atop The Spire reflecting the light of the sun, and followed the shadow of the Spire to a mesa where he would found Meridian. Aztec legend recalls that the capital city of Tenochtitlan was built on a swamp near the site of a eagle eating a snake atop a cactus, fulfilling an ancient Mexica prophecy.
- Gladiator Games: The Carja under the reign of the Mad Sun-King have the Sun Ring where men are pitted against machines. The Shadow Carja and the Eclipse continue the tradition at the Citadel. After Aloy is captured by Helis, she is thrown into the Sun Ring.
- Guyliner: Both men and women usually have some kind of eye makeup, fancier in higher class characters.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The Carja are a very patriarchal society; they discourage women from fighting and prevent them from fighting in the army, and the handful we meet in game who are capable warriors are noted as being exceptions who've had to break through the ceiling. This helps explain why they think the matriarchal Nora are so strange. Sun-King Avad is trying to change things, starting with lifting certain laws and having a foreign woman be the head of his armed forces, but it's not as easy as that.
- Tautological Templar: You can never be wrong as long as your actions are blessed by the Sun. Or are at least claimed to be. On the other hand, if you're shown to be clearly and obviously wrong, you're clearly not being blessed by the Sun. This latter argument is used by Avad's supporters as proof that his father was no longer a true Sun-King, since the murder of a truly blessed Sun-King would plunge the world into darkness.
- Theme Naming: Generally speaking, men's names end in a consonant and womens' names end in a vowel or a vowel sound, but there are exceptions.
- The Theocracy: Downplayed, but present, with priests being one of the highest-ranking people and the premise of the ruler being "chosen of the Sun".
- The Sacred Darkness: While Sun-Carja much prefer sun to shadow, their scripture also prescribes a certain reverence for it. They see night and day as life and death, that the night of the Old Ones led to their dawn and that eventually their day will end as well. The Sun and Shadow are the two halves of nature and to deny one is to deny both.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Many of the men walk around with partially bare chests and bared backs. Considering they live in a desert, it's not unjustified.
Voiced by: Josh Keaton (English)note
The current and 14th Sun-King, with an agenda of progress, apology, and reconciliation in the wake of his father and predecessor's terrible reign.
- Amazon Chaser: Avad is quite attracted to strong, capable women. He admits that he fell in love with Ersa while she was helping him overthrow his father, and later on, he admits he has a crush on Aloy after she saves him from Dervahl. Aloy's pretty quick to set him straight.
- Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: His elite guards are of the Oseram tribe, as their alliance with him during his insurrection was the foundation of his liberation army. If he sends one of them as an escort for an envoy, it's of utmost importance to Avad.
- Cool Sword: His scimitar looks unlike any other melee weapon in the game. In fact, its sleek high-tech appearance wouldn't have been out of place in the Old World, if swords had still played a role in military doctrine back then.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Although he explains the Carja nobles wouldn't accept their king taking an Oseram woman for a wife, it's kept purposefully ambiguous what kind of relationship Avad and Ersa really had. It's brought up by enough characters to warrant the question, and depending on choices Aloy can bring this up to his face, at which point he backs down, greatly flustered. The Collector's Edition hardback states that they were intimate, but they apparently kept it hidden enough that Ersa's brother and coworker is uncertain Avad was even her type.
- Fantastic Honorifics: "Your Luminance"
- God-Emperor: The Carja worship the Sun God and view the Sun King as something of a living embodiment of the Sun's will; Avad personally downplays the trope as much as he can, not wanting to incite the same fanaticism that his father did.
- The Good King: Tries his best to rule as a wise and honorable king.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Pragmatic Oseram warrior Ersa and softspoken makeup-wearing gentleman Avad were close, with Word of God even confirming these qualities are pretty much what attracted them to one another.
- Nice Guy: Avad is a truly good and decent man, up to the point of commenting on What a Senseless Waste of Human Life Dervahl's inevitable and politically necessary death is since if he hadn't let himself be consumed by hate, he could have used his genius for good, despite the fact that Dervahl killed the woman he loved and very nearly killed him, as well. He comes off as genuine and sensitive enough that it's a little strange to think of him killing his father; it must have taken a lot of doing, and the official recount says that he did the deed "in anguish".
- The Collector's Edition guide states that this is also his biggest flaw. Avad can make hard choices but not ruthless ones, like wiping out the insurgent Shadow Carja.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Seeking to reform and redeem the Carja's atrocious role in the Red Raids. His first decree is outlawing slavery and reestablishing peaceful relations between the tribes. Much to the dismay of many, he's very adamant on giving people a second chance.
- Silk Hiding Steel: A rare male example. Avad is a softspoken diplomat who champions nothing but peaceful solutions, but he once led a successful rebellion and personally killed the previous king.
- The Kingslayer: His insurrection against his fanatical and despotic father succeeded. However, even captive, Jiran absolutely refused to abdicate. In anguish, Avad carried out the only option he had left to truly end his father's mad reign...
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: His status of a prince allowed him to go from speaking out against the former practices to successfully organizing a coup.
- Patricide: Had good reasons for killing his father after the whole "human sacrifices to placate the sun god" thing, and the fact that his father killed his older brother for calling for an end to the Red Raids and would absolutely have killed Avad had he had a chance.
- Replacement Goldfish: His only real moral failing in the game is when he tries to recruit Aloy into his court to stand-in for Ersa, something she'll call him out on and he'll later apologize for.
- Socially Awkward Hero: Usually he's pretty composed, but he fumbles his words and stammers a bit while asking Aloy to stay in the city. And then there's the relieved hug he gives a random soldier after the final battle.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Just like Nil, Avad's Carja armor/robe is rather revealing in the chest department.
- Warrior Prince: In game he's more of a Non-Action Guy, but he did directly participate in the assault on Meridian to overthrow his father. During the climax, he wields a sword and seems fully prepared to fight Helis himself before Aloy tells him to go rally the city guard and leave Helis to her.
The 13th Sun-King, father of Avad, and notoriously known as the Mad Sun King for committing the Red Raids.
- 13 Is Unlucky: Was the 13th Sun-King and infamous for being a bloodthirsty tyrant.
- A God Am I: Unlike Avad, he really took the idea of being the embodiment of the Sun God's will to heart.
- Archnemesis Dad: To Avad, before being killed by him.
- Asshole Victim: Was killed by his own son Avad. Though given the atrocities he committed, it's safe to say no one misses him.
- The Caligula: He enslaved other tribes, conducted Human Sacrifice, carried out gruesome executions on people in the Sun Ring — including his eldest son.
- Evil Overlord: Promoted Carja expansionism and slavery during his lifetime. Endorsed the belief that the strong looked down upon the weak. He later believed that human sacrifices would stop the recent rise of machine aggression.
- Offing the Offspring: He murdered his eldest son for standing up to him, and ordered Avad's death when he fled. Luckily, Avad was able to rebel and kill him first.
- Pet the Dog: According to one of Helis's logs, after the death of his wife and child in childbirth, Jiran granted them an honor normally only reserved for Carja heroes and kings, by burying them in the royal crypts. The gesture was enough to move Helis out of his self-pity (and pretty much any pity at all).
- Posthumous Character: Already dead by the time of the story. Not that anyone mourns his death anyway.
- Predecessor Villain: He's dead long before Aloy could ever meet him in present-day, but he once ruled the Carja, abducted, enslaved and sacrificed people from other tribes in his Red Raids, and overall spread terror throughout the land.
- Unperson: Jiran's name not included from the lines of Sun-Kings in Carja Priests' chants for good reasons.
- Villainous Legacy: Though dead by the present day, his influence hangs over the setting. The Red Raids he orchestrated caused much distrust between Carja and the neighboring tribes, and his fanatical, former champion, Helis, is still active, forming Eclipse and the Shadow Carja, and forging an alliance with HADES, all to continue his dead king's dogma.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The stated reason for all the Red Raids and Human Sacrifice was because he wanted to prevent the Derangement from producing more deadly and aggressive machines.
Voiced by: William Houston (English)note
King Avad's adviser, inherited from his father.
- Deadpan Snarker: One of the few people who can gently mock Aloy and get away with it.
- Dissonant Serenity: He speaks with a very calm and soothing voice, but he knows way too many secrets about Meridian, its citizens, and its enemies while still remaining calm the entire time.
- Evil Chancellor: Discussed and Subverted. He's a somewhat shady character who previously served as chancellor to Avad's deranged, tyrannical father Jiran, leading Aloy to suspect that he's one of these. Marad notes that this is a common perception among newcomers to the court, and Avad is quick to clarify that Marad spent the entirety of his service to Jiran undermining his authority and aiding the rebellion, hence his epithet of "Blameless"."I served Sun-King Jiran... to his enemies."
- Ironic Nickname: His epithet of "Blameless" comes from how he was able to consistently manipulate Jiran into never suspecting he was The Mole for Avad.
- Mentor Archetype: Downplayed example, but as Avad's currently highest advisor, he qualifies.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He served the old king, then served the same king to his enemies, and yet nothing could be traced to his actions, thus rendering him 'blameless'. The more you think about it, the more you realize that summary describes a very dangerous person.
- The Good Chancellor: He is always there for Avad to do whatever he can to help the Sundom.
- Non-Answer: He is quite slippery in replying without actually answering questions, much to Aloy's annoyance.Blameless Marad: I don't care for "sure" or "certain." I prefer "likely" or "probably." How many Oseram are clever enough for this ruse? Capable of building the weapon you described? Who hate Ersa so? More than one? Not likely. Dervahl? Quite probably.Aloy: Even if people think he's dead?
- Perpetual Smiler: He's rarely if ever seen unhappy. It may simply be his diplomatic training, but it might also be relief at getting to serve Avad rather than his bloodthirsty father.
- The Smart Guy: One of the cleverest people in the entire game, cleverer even than Aloy herself in many respects.
- The Spymaster: He describes himself as a "good listener" who listens to helpful voices in the Sundom and beyond. According to the collector's edition guide, he trained Vanasha.
- The Starscream: He's a heroic subversion; he hated Jiran, and happily played The Mole on behalf of his son during the rebellion. Now, he's a loyal adviser to Avad.
Voiced by: Alex Lanipekun (English)note
A wandering Carja warrior who loves to kill bandits.
- Big Damn Heroes: If you don't kill him, Nil will appear in Meridian to aid in the final battle. His behavior suggests that he's temporarily restrained his bloodlust to defend Aloy, or at least convinced himself that machine demons will be more interesting than normal machines.
- Blood Knight: He kills for the thrill. Killing random people causes outrage, killing animals when he doesn't need the meat causes complaint, and killing machines is just not fun at all. But killing bandits in a savage world? He's often praised. He's thus become something of a Vigilante Man.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: He thinks the term "war crimes" strange because he sees the logic that all wars are a crime to someone.
- Combat Sadomasochist: If told to not participate in one instance of wiping out a bandit camp, he will note that he repeatedly pricked his finger on an arrow as he watches Aloy clean house so he can feel as if he's part of the action.
- The Dreaded: He's apparently got a reputation among the Carja. If he comes to the final battle, you can find him beforehand with two Carja soldiers nearby loudly speculating on his identity. One will wonder if he fought in a particular battle, then the other will point out that that battle had no survivors.Nil: Well, I don't like to boast...
Carja Soldier: Sun keep the shadows from me!
- Duel to the Death: After clearing out all the bandit camps, Nil will ask Aloy to meet him alone. There he earnestly asks her if she wants to fight to the death. He doesn't attack if she refuses, he's just disappointed.
- Everyone Has Standards: Surprisingly enough, he thinks the rules of engagement are important.
- Face Death with Dignity: If you opt to fight him in a Duel to the Death, he's calm in his final moments, even as he admits he thought the match would've gone in his favor.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: His creepy remarks can be quite funny - precisely because of the creepiness. Even funnier is Aloy's reaction to them.
- I Call It "Vera": Calls his bow "The Voice of our Teeth". He seems somewhat surprised that Aloy hasn't named hers. He draws the line at naming his knife, though.
- In Love with Your Carnage: A more subdued example, but he genuinely admires Aloy for her skill in wiping out bandit camps.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Subverted. By all accounts, he probably enjoys violence in place of sex. Aloy even seems to rationalise his proposal for a Duel to the Death as his twisted version of a love confession, and may turn him down accordingly.
- Just Following Orders: "I don't make decisions. Let's say, the rules of engagement suited me. But rules are important. A structure...a cage. Otherwise... you know of those places — lonely places where people were, now just a hole cut in the world? Chances are, I was there before."
- Meaningful Name: "Nil", zero, or nothingness. Appropriate for a totally cold-blooded killer who leaves nothing in his wake. The warden at Sunstone Rock implies it's not his original name.
- Moral Sociopathy: He freely admits that he lives for the moment of ending human lives and expresses no regret or remorse if his companions die. However, he does evidence a fairly strong sense of rules-of-engagement based right and wrong, and focuses on killing bandits because no one "civilized" objects to eliminating those who "give honest killers a bad name".
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: He might assist Aloy, sort of, and even become something like a partner to her, also sort of, but Aloy makes no secret of finding him extremely creepy.
- Reformed Criminal: As punishment for his crimes, Nil spent two years of rehabilitation at Sunstone Rock. It seems to have done little to cull his bloodlust, but at least he has learned target discretion and only targets bandits and other such murderous outlaws.
- Serial-Killer Killer: He's a psychopath to be sure, but he found a useful outlet for his need to kill: bandit hunting.
- Smiting Evil Feels Good: He started killing bandits because they were all he could kill without being hunted himself. But after years of doing so, he's found an entirely new enjoyment in killing those who kill for no reason at all.
- Sociopathic Soldier: A former Carja soldier, Nil committed many crimes under the 13th Sun King, which he freely admitted to when Avad launched an investigation into the atrocities committed during the war.
- This Is the Part Where...: If you agree to duel and kill him, he'll say, "I should say, "I always knew it would end this way, since we first met." But if I'm honest... I thought I could take you."
- Walking Shirtless Scene: His "armor" takes the form of an open vest that shows off his chest and abdomen.
Voiced by: Ronan Summers (English)note
A disinherited nobleman's son.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: His pompous and selfish nature would fit in with the aristocratic character if not for the fact that his family is known for kindness and generosity that resulted in him being disowned.
- Black Sheep: He is the only member in his family that is not so kind and generous, the result being he was disowned by his father.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He gets killed by a machine that he had summoned to kill Aloy.
- Too Dumb to Live: First he sends a warrior out to clear the house from machines. Then he betrays said warrior and expects to kill her by calling for more machines. He does that while holding the device that summons the machines, machines he has no control over, which predictably gets him killed first.
Voiced by: Lewis Macleod (English)note
Captain Balahn's second-in-command and former participant of the Red Raids.
- Arc Villain: Of the Nakoa questline.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The first time Aloy meets him personally, he acts like a polite soldier suffering from a case of Mistaken Identity, not the terrifying war criminal stories are told of. Turns out, all the stories about him are true and he's even running a slavery ring on the side.
- Blatant Lies: He claims that his role in the Red Raids was wildly exaggerated; Nakoa doesn't believe it for a second and Aloy too doesn't completely buy the story, leading her to continue her investigation.
- Foil: He and Helis were both terrors in the Red Raids, killing people and capturing others to send to die in the Sun-Ring, but Zaid stayed with the Sun-Carja and Helis was loyal to Jiran and went to the Shadow. Zaid mutilated people, retains a keen interest in capturing them for his own ends, and is skilled at dissembling and misdirection, wheras Helis is more of a zealot thug.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Zaid gets killed by Nakoa for killing her father.
- Number Two: Balahn's second in command.
- Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The reveal that he's leading a slavery ring on the side is treated with a deserved amount of revulsion.
- You Killed My Father: He murdered — and apparently mutilated — Nakoa's father during the Red Raids while she hid and saw the whole thing. It takes years for her to get her revenge, but with Aloy's help she's finally able to avenge her father's death.
Voiced by: Laila Pyne (English)note
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: Janeva's voice actor is female and Aloy initially believes the Warden to be a woman, but Janeva cuts Aloy off when she asks about it, vehemently saying "No. I'm not one of your sisters. No woman can wear Carja armor". Janeva also mentions becoming a soldier and breaking the arms of soldiers who inquired too closely about their gender. The soldiers around the prison, Janeva included, wear much more concealing armor than most Carja. All of this implies that they're likely either a trans man or nonbinary.
- Back for the Finale: Avad offered any prisoners willing to fight for Meridian their freedom and they all accepted, so Janeva and all his guards took them there.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: A cheek scar pulls Janeva's mouth into a constant, sardonic-looking half smile.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: A morally inverted version. Avad saw that Janeva, a member of his honor guard, thought all criminals were the same once, so made his soldier the Warden of Sunstone Rock as an education. Janeva doesn't like treating criminals 'softly', but toes the line the Sun-King sets and is harsh-but-fair rather than abusive.
- Prisoner's Work: When Aloy goes to Sunstone Rock the prison is in lockdown just after a violent escape, but there are crop fields around it, and a prisoner wistfully asks when they'll be let out to work on the farms again. Before the final battle, Janeva also boasts that all their dawn drills have helped their pre-battle discipline.
- Wardens Are Evil: Prefers the 'old way' of punishing criminals, leaving them buried to the neck in the hot sun. Openly dubious about the concept of people being rehabilitated, asks Aloy to hunt down and kill some escapees instead of bringing them back because they'd already had their chance. However, as said above, Janeva is loyal to Avad, and is cautiously positive when Aloy brings up Nil and his stay in the prison.
The Carja in Shadow/The Eclipse
- Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with the Shadow Carja; the game makes clear that there are plenty of Shadow Carja citizens, even some Shadow Carja soldiers, who're good and decent people. They just happened to pick the wrong side or had the misfortune of already living in territory that the Shadow Carja would come to control.
- The Eclipse is basically all evil or conscripts, but then, it is a cult. You can tell the difference because if Aloy ventures into a Shadow Carja outpost the soldiers will say colder, ruder things to her than the generally indifferent Sun Carja in similar outposts. If she ventures into an Eclipse outpost they immediately start to shoot at her.
- Cargo Cult: The Eclipse worship HADES, whose status as an AI was known to Sylens when he founded Eclipse. Sylens and HADES conned them into thinking that this corrupt AI was the "Buried Shadow" of their religion, with HADES even going so far as to recite lines from their scripture to play the part.
- Dark Is Evil: Carja respect The Sacred Darkness, and after the revolution in Meridian Jiran's loyalists took that darkness and embraced it. Believing that the death of the Sun-King led to a spiritual night, nearly everything about them has a darkness motif. From their ranks comes the cult of the Eclipse, who definitely run this way. Shadow Carja wear black clothes and armor. The Eclipse, who take the color scheme further and wear different but still dark clothing, are the primary enemies of the game. They also control the pitch-black Corruptors and Deathbringers, as well as corrupted machines.
- "Darkness von Gothick" Name: Erend's Vanguard mocks their name "Eclipse" for too obviously trying to sound scary.
- Dying Town: Sunfall was once the Sun-King's summer palace, and its inside is still beautiful and well-built, but this is a desert, and its prosperity was dependent on imported food and supplies. The settlement is surrounded by a tent city of impoverished refugees and commoners who get to watch most of what resources the Shadow Carja have get taken by the wealthy. Opinions closer to Meridian are that Avad pities them too much and that's why there's an uneasy truce at the start of the game.
- Establishing Character Moment: Eclipse shows to everyone that they are not so friendly when they attacked the Proving and killing almost everyone (mostly kids in their teens) for being a witness.
- Hollywood Satanism: From the context of Carja's state religion, they are this; while the Carja worship the sun and see it as the Big Good, the Eclipse prefer to worship its diametric opposite (who they think is HADES) and seek to destroy the Sun Carja (and the rest of humanity along with them).
- Religion of Evil: The Eclipse is serving what they believe is the Buried Shadow, or as Helis calls it, the Sun-In-Shadow. They come to believe that HADES is the Buried Shadow, and are conned into thinking that helping him bring about the end times, will led to a spiritual renewal, i.e sometimes the shadow can do what the sun cannot, in this case retake holy Meridian from the Sun Carja.
- The Remnant: They are the leftovers of the Carja that followed the Mad Sun King after Avad's accession.
- Take Over the World: Their main goal.
Voiced by: Crispin Freeman (English)note
A former champion of the Mad Sun-King and leader of the Eclipse.
- Amazon Chaser: Implied to be this since Helis claimed that he loved his late-wife for her fortitude and strength.
- Arch-Enemy: To Aloy. He earns her burning hatred pretty quickly for killing Rost, and she eventually becomes the subject of his obsession after her repeated interference in Eclipse plans.
- Arrow Catch: In his introductory cutscene, he deflects an arrow using his bracer during his fight with Rost. He does the same thing in his boss fight at the end of the game, deflecting a number of the arrows you shoot at him.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's a legitimately deadly fighter (though Rost is able to match him blow-for-blow), and has a ton of health when you finally fight him (so much so that you'll probably need to grab a heavy machine gun and empty it into his skull to beat him).
- Ax-Crazy: Rationality and stability are not his strongest traits.
- Bare Your Midriff: His Carja armor, based on the Aztec Jaguar armor, shows a lot of skin.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He thinks himself the most important being in the world, and he props himself up as the true threat the rest of the tribes must answer to, but as the plot goes on it becomes increasingly clear that - though his armies are dangerous - he's a pawn whose ambitions are meaningless in the face of the much more important (and world-threatening) ancient forces which he stumbled upon. At one point, Aloy and Sylens basically ignore him in favor of pursing answers about Zero Dawn - and while he lays siege to the place they need to go, it's explicitly for reasons that are ignorant of its true significance.
- The Champion: He was literally known as the Mad Sun-King's Champion, and even after his master's death he continues to carry on his king's work.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: His pale blue-gray eyes seen from up close just add to how alarming his appearance is. Aloy describes them as "dead eyes".
- Damage-Sponge Boss: He can take a lot of damage when you finally fight him; he's not as tough as the bigger machines, but he's quite tough for a human.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: If you choose the empathetic option before killing him, he'll show outrage.
- The Dragon: Was formerly this to the Mad Sun-King, and even though he's now the leader of the Eclipse, he's still merely taking orders from HADES.
- The Dreaded: He is widely feared due to the Red Raids, especially by the Oseram. He is known as The Terror of the Sun and Stacker of Corpses.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He had a wife once. She died in childbirth, along with their child, prior to Avad overthrowing Jiran and Helis leading the Shadow Carja into exile. One of his few displays of sentimentality is keeping a recording where he reminisces about his wedding night - though since this is Helis, this reminiscence is still creepy and how loving they were is in doubt.
- Evil Mentor: Tries to be one to Itamen, the Mad Sun-King's youngest son, whom Helis sees as the true Sun-King instead of Avad. Luckily for the rest of the world, Itamen has no taste for the Shadow Carja's cruelty, and Aloy can even free Itamen and his mother from their Gilded Cage and return them to Avad's protection.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He's the main human antagonist and has the deepest human voice in the game.
- Face Death with Dignity: If you choose the empathetic option, he'll be outraged that Aloy pities him, but when she tells him to turn his face toward the sun, he'll do so calmly before she delivers the final blow. Not really the case with the other options.
- The Fatalist: He believes that he has a great destiny, and even though he failed to kill Aloy at first, that only happened because he wasn't destined to kill her at that time. Everything that followed was meant to be.
- The Fundamentalist: He is a fanatical believer of Carja faith, particularly the Mad Sun-King's version. Aloy calls him a murderer who just uses religion to justify his bloodlust.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: His introduction cutscene shows him deflecting incoming arrows with his bracers. He does the very same thing with Aloy's arrows if you attempt to shoot him during his Boss Battle. He can't do this with other projectiles, though, like Blast Sling bombs for instance...
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Helis is often shown simply punching his enemies to death with his armored but otherwise bare fists.
- The Heavy: While he does answer to HADES, as the leader of the Eclipse it is he who drives the plot in the story. Had he and his men never invaded the Proving and killed Rost, the Nora would have never made Aloy a Seeker, and she would never have gone on her groundbreaking journey.
- Idiot Ball: Pro tip, Helis: if you want to make a show of your buddies executing a defenseless person in your arena, don't put the that person's weapons and armor on a platform above said arena, and don't have her fight a Bullfight Boss when said platform's supports are inside said arena. He can be slightly excused since he didn't design the arena, but choosing a Behemoth as her method of execution, despite being a grand spectacle, just allows Aloy to use the machine's brute strength to her advantage.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After his boss fight, Aloy finishes him off by gutting him with her spear.
- Insane Troll Logic: His delusion is that sun and shadow being equally powerful, or equally real, means they're the same thing.
- Ironic Echo: He tells Aloy to turn her face towards the sun before attempting to execute her at the beginning of the game. At the end of the game Aloy echoes it back at him in his last moment. Depending on your dialogue choice she either does this out of pity and sincere respect for his faith - and even waits until he does turn his face to stab him - or as a angry taunt after stabbing him.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: If you choose the logical option, Aloy will tell him he'll die then HADES will be next. Helis will begin ranting that the Buried Shadow will save him right as Aloy runs him through with her spear.
- Knife Nut: If he doesn't feel like letting his fists do the talking, the only actual weapon he ever uses is his dagger.
- Large and in Charge: He's a big guy, noticeably larger and more muscular than pretty much anyone else in the game. He's so large that when Aloy finds his armor in his tent in the Eclipse main base, she immediately deduces that its size means it can only be his.
- Madness Mantra: He often insists on his main motivation as "Two halves joined to one cause: Shadow to Sun, Dark to Light, Night to Day." Another phrase he uses repeatedly is "In this, I have become an instrument of prophecy."
- Meaningful Name: Helis is only one letter short of Helios, the Ancient Greek god of the sun. Considering the origins of the Carja faith, chances are its equivalent to today's biblical names like Michael or Gabriel, which in turn might be one of the reasons Helis sees himself as The Chosen One.
- My Greatest Failure: Defied; he tells Aloy that for a long time he obsessed over his failure to kill her when they first met - he could have cut her throat deeper before Rost interfered - and as she disrupts Eclipse operations time and again, up to and including helping their Sun King escape and killing their high priest, he becomes fixated on why he didn't just kill her when he had the chance, before finally coming to the realization that he was meant to fail then so that she could cause those problems and he could capture her and sacrifice her as an example in the Sun Ring later. Recall, rationality isn't his strong suit.
- Neck Lift: Of Aloy, one-handed, during their first meeting.
- No-Sell: Aloy tries to shoulder tackle him when they first meet. Unfortunately, what works against skinny Mooks doesn't work against a 240-pound man of linebacker proportions, and she just bounces off him.
- This applies in the game as well, as he's able to shrug off arrows in the head, exploding barrels and Deathbringer gun bullets.
- Psycho Supporter: He is a psychopathic, bloodthirsty maniac, but he remains completely loyal to the Mad Sun-King and fully believes in his brutal ideology.
- Red Baron: During the Red Raids he was known as "The Terror of the Sun" among the Carja and as "The Stacker of Corpses" among the Oseram. These days most people just call him by his given name.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Deep voice aside, he's generally very calm and collected when speaking, only raising his voice when addressing the crowd at the Sun Ring and losing his composure when Aloy defeats him.
- This Cannot Be!: His reactions to his defeat by Aloy."Impossible. I am chosen. This was not meant to be!"
- Undying Loyalty: All his allegiance is with the Mad Sun-King, even long after the King's death. His logs reveal that this is likely due to Jiran granting his wife and child burial in the royal tomb, an honor usually reserved for royalty and great heroes.
- Unwitting Pawn: HADES tricks him into thinking that he's the Buried Shadow of the Carja religion, and he's completely duped by the ancient AI into unknowingly helping along the apocalypse just so the Shadow Carja can reclaim Meridian. In its way, it's almost pitiful how entirely Helis is taken in.Aloy: You've gone from serving an insane, homicidal Sun King to an insane, homicidal machine. You're moving down in the world, not up!
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In his twisted ideology, Helis believes himself to be the Chosen One and a hero, and HADES to be the shadow of the Sun he worships: a god who will bestow on him the destiny of taking over Meridian and controlling the Derangement of the Machines. He couldn't be more wrong - it's more or less a coincidence that his aims and HADES currently align, and he's ultimately a puppet for far wider-scoped threat that's actually part of the Derangement itself.
- Villainous Breakdown: Suffers a temporary one when Aloy survives her intended sacrifice in the Sun Ring, from felling the Behemoth through to her successful escape, going from the calm speaker to his progressively more anxious "Kill her!" commands to his bellow of "Traitor!" as Sylens effects his rescue of Aloy from the Sun Ring. He's recovered by the next time you see him, though.
Voiced by: Anthony Howell (English)note
The High Priest of the Shadow Carja, Bahavas also acts as the regent for the child king Itamen.
- Evil Chancellor: In reality, Bahavas uses Itamen as a puppet, and keeps him and Queen Nasadi imprisoned in all but name.
- Hate Sink: The smug figurehead of a Religion of Evil who holds a child king hostage and routinely has his own weak and elderly people killed just to weed out weakness. Bahavas has no redeeming features whatsoever and his end is both swift and satisfying to behold.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He falsely accuses Uthid of treason when he discovers Bahavas' secret cullings. However, his pursuit of Uthid is what ultimately leads to his own death.
- Minor Major Character: He's the de facto leader of the political faction causing most of the trouble in the main plot, but he's barely involved in Aloy's story, letting Helis run the Eclipse and do the legwork while he stays at Sunfall.
- Social Darwinist: He arranges for assassins to secretly murder old and sick citizens living under Shadow Carja rule, especially the ones in the refugee camp, in an effort to weed out the weak.
- The Unfought: You don't actually fight him himself, just the three guards he brings. When they're gone, he's killed without a struggle in a cutscene by Uthid.
Voiced by: Sam Lavignino (English)
The youngest son of the Mad Sun-King and a child puppet king set-up by the Shadow Carja.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Uthid explains that even though Itamen is a child, he's innocent and pure; not deranged like the old Sun-King or guilty of patricide like the new one, and that's why Uthid himself, a comparatively kind and honorable Carja, went to Sunfall. However, this make him easy to control by the true rulers of the Shadow Carja.
- Children Are Innocent: Even though raised by Helis to be like his father, Itamen shows no sign of his dad's madness and is terrified by the brutality of the Shadow Carja. Mainly all he wants is to be near his mother, like any child that age.
- Defector from Decadence: Ultimately decides to defect to the Carja in order to escape his imprisonment in all but name. Out the door with him goes his mother, the dowager queen, and the last spurious claim of legitimacy as the "true Carja" that the Carja in Shadow have.
- Gilded Cage: He's got a nice home as part of being king, but it's not like he's got any choice in the matter - much less any inkling of power or any idea of what to do with it.
- Puppet King: The Shadow Carja use Itamen as their idol to control their followers.
Voiced by: Nigel Barber (English)note
A decorated Shadow Carja soldier who found himself on the wrong side of the splinter faction's corrupt leadership.
- Awesome by Analysis: Upon meeting Aloy, he remarks that she looks like a hunter but gives orders like a soldier, which is a better assessment than the ones made by 95% of the people she encounters. He also notes that her persuasive style makes her sound like Blameless Marad, which is not only also very accurate, but also implies that Uthid has been smart enough to get close enough to Marad to observe him.
- Chest of Medals: He has a sash full of what appear to be medals.
- Defector from Decadence: Automatically became one after turning over a serial killer, who was instantly exonerated by High Priest Bahavas, who was actually the mastermind behind the killings and attempted to kill Uthid. Bahavas's people did kill Uthid's men, which grieves Uthid. After being given an offer of an advisory position to King Avad and having seen the corruption at the core of the Shadow Carja, he readily jumps ship.
- He Knows Too Much: When he found out that Bahavas was behind the culling he was investigating, Bahavas had his men killed and tried to kill him too, offering a bounty on his head after he escaped.
- Knight in Shining Armor: While he may wear dark-colored armor, he's a champion of the common people, a seeker of justice to the downtrodden, and his greatest flaw is being too loyal a soldier to his corrupt masters.
- The Last Dance: His quest has him luring every hunter after him in a chance to at least go out in a blaze of glory. Aloy instead makes him realize he'd do much better damage to the Shadow Carja living instead of dying. Not only do he and Aloy take down every bounty hunter sent after him, but he manages to kill High Priest Bahavas.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: He did not agree with the Red Raids in any capacity, but he and his men did as ordered in service to Sunfall. It's not until after "peacetime" comes and things are still no better that he finally realizes the depth of rot and corruption plaguing his homeland.
- Nice to the Waiter: Fed orphans out of his own rations and punished soldiers who abused the refugees.
- Samurai: Not only does his armor makes him look like one, so do his sense of honor and duty to his master (whether he agrees with their actions or not).
- Ship Tease: If you talk to him before the final assault on Meridian, he'll start to complain about Vanasha's incessant teasing, but then admits he's actually come to like it (implying he feels the same toward her, and they've been spending a lot of time together since Aloy last saw them).
Voiced by: Lara Rossi (English)note
- Action Girl: Is very eager to take on Shadow Carja agents that are trying to prevent her from saving Nasadi and Itamen.
- Amazonian Beauty: She gets at least one man to help her with her scheme by using her looks, and she shows up dressed for battle in a fanservice-y outfit very like the clothes male Carja wear, that shows off an impressive six-pack.
- Ambiguously Bi: She flirts with both Aloy and Uthid, though whether she has genuine interest in either of them or is just messing with them is vague.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her second outfit reveals that she has very impressive abs.
- Beware the Silly Ones: She's flirtatious and never seems to take anything seriously, but she did manage to infiltrate the Shadow Carja and orchestra several missions to safely escort Uthid, Itamen, and his mother safely to Meridian. Some remarks also imply she is absolutely capable of fighting off Shadow Carja agents by herself, and she shows up for the final battle.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Implied. When she talks with Aloy before the final fight with the Shadow Carja, she reveals her utter loathing of the Shadow Carja, and the remark of feeling "their whips on [her] back," hinting that she may have been one of their slaves.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Pretends to be outraged when Avad gives Aloy the credit for freeing Itamen after two years of undercover work, but she's obviously joking.
- Friend to All Children: She's shown handing out food to impoverished children on Queen Nasadi's behalf, and she's very fond and protective of Itamen.
- Hidden Depths: Beneath that jokey nature lies a woman who is genuinely willing to fight and die for her cause, and to kill the people who tortured her when she was young.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Looks like her voice actress, Lara Rossi.
- Lady-in-Waiting: She isn't of noble blood but she is the handmaiden for Queen Nasadi.
- The Mole: Vanasha is a spy for the Carja government and organizes Itamen's extraction. She says she's been working undercover for two years.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: After Aloy saves Uthid from the bounty hunters, Vanasha arrives and states that she helped by completely eliminating another band of bounty hunters on her own - Aloy met them, Nora outcasts who claim they'll kill Nora for free - to prevent them from joining the fight.
- OOC Is Serious Business: In the endgame, if she's there she briefly drops her usual teasing playful tone to tell Aloy that this enemy is the one behind turning Sunfall and the Sun Ring into torture-filled bloodbaths, and she hates them.
- The Tease: She has a lot of fun making vaguely flirtatious comments to Uthid to get under his skin. He acts annoyed towards her, but seems at peace with their "relationship." She is similarly flirty when interacting with Aloy, affectionately referring to her as "little huntress".
- You Have Failed Me: Played for laughs. When Huadiv (who got hurt trying to complete his mission, but admittedly failed in it) asks if he's still getting paid, Vanasha hisses that he'll be lucky if she lets him live.
- The Blacksmith: The Oseram are known for making the best armors and weapons.
- Busman's Vocabulary: A lot of their colloquialisms revolve around blacksmithing terms, like "By fire and spit," for example. Petra Forgewoman especially runs with it.
- BFG: They are famous for their weapons and canons which they used in the war against Jiran, where their canons broke through castle defenses. Those canons are reworked and improved upon by Petra and Aloy wields them against HADES and its mechanical force and it's the most powerful weapon in the game by far, capable of destroying multiple Deathbringers in short order.
- Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Avad's Vanguard led first by Ersa, and then Erend, is entirely comprised of Oseram, and they are loyal and sworn to Avad.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Apparently they specialize in this; aside from weapons, their tinkering goes into torture devices that they use to punish their most hated enemies with slow, agonizing deaths. We aren't given any specifics and don't see much of it beyond Dervahl using a sonic device that paralyzes and causes extreme pain to pin down Ersa for days before she dies of her injuries. It's alluded to that Dervahl's fate will be just as bad, if not worse, once he's returned to the Claim.
- Drop the Hammer: Oseram tend to favor using two-handed warhammers as their melee weapon of choice.
- Dumb Muscle: Downplayed. Their warriors tend to be blunt and ignorant of social cues or other cultures, but most of them are still expert blacksmiths, some of them even engineers who can develop machine-like weapons, so don't call them unintelligent.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They seem to be a blend of northern European cultures such as the Celts and Scandinavians. Also possibly a little Jewish, considering their dense bureaucracy, love of arguing, and certain Stay in the Kitchen tendencies.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Olin says that charging in head first through the doors arrows blazing is "Oseram style". Erend confirms this when the Vanguard say that their place is at the front of the line.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Oseram traditionalists are known for doing everything by the book, which includes lots of paperwork. Their official term for any important discussion is "argument", which says a lot about what they consider important. According to Erend, it takes weeks minimum for them to decide on anything at all. Oseram outside the Claim aren't like this, and we're given the impression that the reason many Oseram leave is to get away from this culture.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Although biologically human, the Oseram are basically dwarves in all but name. Their three defining hobbies are smithing, drinking and arguing, they're the best engineers and technicians in the known world, they pepper their speech with blacksmithing terms, their preferred weapons are warhammers and big-ass cannons, and their entire visual style looks exactly like what you'd expect from stereotypical dwarves in a work of fantasy.
- Secular Hero: Whereas the Nora, the Carja (especially the Shadow Carja), and the Banuk are all very spiritual tribes, we don't get much insight at all into the beliefs of the Oseram. We know they have some form of funeral rites for the dead, and we know that they hold the forge to be sacred to some extent, but not much beyond that.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Apparently the Oseram of the Claim (their homeland) have this attitude; "Women know their place in the Claim" is advice the tribal elders gave one Oseram man Aloy meets. Outside the Claim, this is apparently much less of an issue, as multiple women have left with leadership or just getting away from these expectations as part of their motivation and many of them take advantage of the Carja-Oseram alliance and the free trade it promotes, to settle in the Sundom.
- Stout Strength: Oseram as a racial phenotype are characterized by being rather stocky in build and are known for brawling, metalworking, and being proficient warriors.
Voiced by: John Hopkins (English)note
Second-in-command of Avad's Vanguard and Ersa's younger brother.
- The Alcoholic: He loves to drink. Later tried to drink into depression when he initially believed his sister was killed, but later drops the habit.
- Amazon Chaser: From their very first conversation he displays obvious interest in Aloy, all but outright saying that he could take her away from all this. Aloy is too focused on her own goals to respond much. Before the final battle Varl notes the looks he keeps giving her, and Erend's men make fun of him for it. Erend for his part admits that he's grateful that Aloy even allows him a minute of her time, clearly seeing her as way out of his league.
- Badass Mustache: He's no slouch in combat, and he's got an impressive handlebar mustache connected to his mutton chops to give him a suitable brawny appearance.
- Bash Brothers: With Aloy. She interprets crime scenes and provides cover fire; he smashes foes up-close, exposits on Sundom history, and kicks in doors.
- The Cavalry: He calls in Vanguard soldiers for help in some quest stages. Obviously, they're nothing compared to Aloy, but it's the thought that counts.
- Character Development: He comes to respect Aloy over the course of their encounters, freely admitting that he initially saw himself as a big shot but came to realise he was lucky to get a minute of her time. The investigations into his sister's death also help him get out from under her shadow, and better grow into a good successor to her as captain of Sun-King Avad's Vanguard.
- Cruel Mercy: A part of his Character Development and maturation is sparing Dervahl's life, as Avad requested, despite his desire for revenge. He is able to content himself with the knowledge that the Oseram will probably give him a far crueler punishment than he ever could.
- Defiant Captive: In Forbidden West, raiders enslave Erend and slaughter his subordinates. He remains vocally insistent that his friends will come for him (even as saltwater enters his wounds!) and mutters that his torturers wouldn't be so smug if they weren't the only ones with weapons.
- Drop the Hammer: Uses a large hammer during fights.
- Drowning My Sorrows: He succumbs to this after his sister's death, but drops it when he learns there is a way to find her killers.
- Empowered Badass Normal: The Forbidden West trailer indicates that he's obtained a Focus somehow since the first game.
- Establishing Character Moment: Erend comes to the defense of a Carja Sun Priest acting as an envoy to the Nora, assuaging the angry crowd of Nora tribesmen by giving a straight talk about how he sympathizes with their hatred of the Carja, but then asserting that the new Sun King is the diametric opposite of the previous mad king and that the envoy's outreach is genuine. He is a tough, straight-speaking warrior who believes in the cause for peace and has the qualities to become a leader in his own right.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Erend is consistently regarded as less competent than his sister, even by himself, and seems content to play second-banana to her and drink. When she dies, Ersa essentially tells him he'll have to shape up without her, and he takes it to heart.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: He is always comparing himself negatively to Ersa and Aloy, who are the premier champions of their respective countries. Feeling inferior to them is like a soldier feeling inferior to Achilles.
- The Lancer: As the most consistent and regular supporting character, and Aloy's direct link to Avad's Court, Erend easily falls into this, being a light-hearted and extroverted foil to Aloy's more aloof and no-nonsense hero.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Downplayed, considering the guy discussed having the hots for his sister is the current Sun-King and Erend really isn't in a position to object. He still claims that just thinking about it puts "very bad images in [his] head" and that Avad is "too skinny" for Ersa's tastes. Not so downplayed with regards to Dervahl; Erend considers the tinker's advances to have been "creeping" on his sister.
- Nice Guy: He's one of few characters who treat Aloy with respect from the moment they meet her, and always vouches for her odd behaviour, whether that involves crushing open a suspect citizen's basement door or trying to get into a city under lockdown.
- Noble Bigot: He instantly takes a liking to Aloy in their first meeting and advises her that she is better off without the Nora, whom he sees as backwater hicks. This sentiment is a mix of ignorance and righteous anger at their practice of casting out people they don't like- something that Aloy also agrees is inexcusable.
- Number Two: Initially to Ersa as part of Avad's Vanguard. Becomes Avad's after Ersa's death, alongside Blameless Marad.
- Praetorian Guard: A heroic example, as the Vanguard serve as this to Avad.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's willing to do a few favors for Aloy to help her investigate Olin even after Meridian closes itself off from outsiders (and while he's grieving for his sister).
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: To Dervahl before taking him away.Dervahl: It's just like you to get someone else to do your killing—
Erend: Shut up. You're at the Sun-King's mercy now. (knocks him out)
- Unexpected Successor: Ersa was a very beloved figure and seen as an incredibly competent badass. So when Erend is forced to take on her position as captain of Avad's Vanguard, he doesn't initially feel he's up to the challenge.
Voiced by: Freya Parker (English)note
The captain of Avad's Vanguard and Erend's older sister.
- Almost Dead Guy: She survives just long enough to divulge Dervahl's goal to destroy Meridian before dying in her brother's arms.
- Badass in Distress: Played straight when she falls into Dervahl's trap.
- The Captain: After the Red Raids, she became the Captain of the Oseram Vanguards and acting to maintain peace between her people and the Carja.
- Damsel out of Distress: She was captured during the Red Raids, but managed to escape being sacrificed and help overthrow the old Sun-King.
- Death Faked for You: Dervahl captures her alive and leaves another woman's corpse in her armor, disfigured beyond easy identification, all so he can keep her prisoner and slowly torture her to death.
- Didn't See That Coming: Dervahl had more wiles than she credited him for. While she knew perfectly well his "peace talk" was a trap, she didn't foresee him designing a machine that can paralyse any person not wearing special ear-plugs. She and her men didn't even get to lift their weapons.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Passes away in her brother's embrace.
- Go Out with a Smile: Dies like this to try to make sure Erend won't worry about her after she's gone.
- Informed Attribute: Other characters constantly mention how fierce she is of a fighter and how she's more capable at everything than her brother. All you ever actually see her do is die in her Erend's arms.
- Noodle Incident: Apparently the way she escaped capture by the Carja is an amazing story, but there's never an opportunity to tell it. It involved her befriending Avad while she was a slave in the Palace of the Sun, and that's about all the detail there is.
Voiced by: Joplin Sibtain (English)note
A mysterious scavenger who also possesses a Focus like Aloy.
- The Atoner: Is genuinely guilty about cooperating with the Eclipse, and if Aloy spares him, he swears to use his life to make up for his past misdeeds.
- Face Death with Dignity: If Aloy chooses to kill him, he'll face it calmly, saying he's ready to pay for the lives he's ruined. His only request is that Aloy not tell his family what he did.
- Go and Sin No More: If Aloy's merciful and spared his life, she can free his family and pretty much just tells him to do good with the life she's given him.
- I Have Your Wife: He only works for the Eclipse because they have his wife and son.
- The Mole: For the Eclipse, but against his will.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He inadvertently sets the plot into motion just by seeing and conversing with Aloy. Through his Focus, HADES is alerted to her very existence, which prompts the AI to order the Eclipse to kill her, leading to the massacre at the Proving, the attack on the Nora, and the beginning of Aloy's quest. That same action also gets Sylens' attention, leading him to start monitoring Aloy's progress.
- Trapped in Villainy: Olin is forced to work for the Eclipse because they are holding his family hostage.
Voiced by: Salli Saffioti (English)
A tough woman who runs an independent town built next to an old wrecking yard named Free Heap. She's building newer and more powerful cannons for Meridian.
- Back for the Finale: Though she's there even if Aloy never met her.
- Butch Lesbian: She's tough, blunt, doesn't care about her appearance, and openly flirts with Aloy. She also mentions her many past love affairs with wandering Nora girls who come through Free Heap.
- Expy: Imagine Rosie the Riveter as an actual character complete with the can-do attitude of propaganda legend, and you have her.
- Emperor Scientist: She's the de-facto mayor and leader of Free Heap, an independent settlement, and she's also the main scientist and inventor, tasking many citizens and residents to get her parts for the weapons she uses to defend the town.
- Older Than They Look: She looks roughly the same age as Aloy, but seeing as how she says she was living in Meridian before the previous Sun King went mad, she's probably close to twice Aloy's age. Her appearance is a bit odd considering that the game otherwise has no issues showing capable women of all ends of the age spectrum.
- Wrench Wench: One of the reasons she left the Claim — women aren't allowed to work the forge or hold positions of power there.
Voiced by: Anthony Howell (English)note
A Oseram warlord who seeks the destruction of the Carja.
- Arc Villain: His threat is completely unrelated to Helis and HADES, except in the roundabout way where what caused HADES to be a threat also caused the machines to become deranged and Jiran to become obsessed with ritual slaughter and kill Dervahl's family, but his plot to assassinate Avad and destroy Meridian still drives several missions in the main plot.
- Crazy-Prepared: Downplayed, but he's got a few layers to his plan, and brings a machine lure to summon Glinthawks to kill everyone just in case both his bomb was disabled and he was stopped from personally killing Avad, regardless of how unlikely that was.
- Cruel Mercy: His ultimate fate is to be extradited by order of the Sun King to the Oseram... who also consider him a dangerous public enemy. Many Oseram and those who know their customs know that the Oseram Eaoldermen will take their time with him...
- Cycle of Hurting: You may be unfortunate enough to get stuck in a stun lock if you're in the wrong place when he starts letting fly with his tearblaster in the final confrontation.
- Genius Bruiser: He knows how to tinker with sonic weapons and bombs.
- He Who Fights Monsters: His lust for vengeance against Jiran consumed him to the point where he wanted to murder all Carja. Even years after Jiran's death and the end of the Red Raids, he still wants to burn Meridian to the ground and completely wipe out the Carja, even though the people currently living in Meridian are innocent of Jiran's cruelty and the current Sun-King is working tirelessly to make amends with the tribes his father harmed. His hatred is so intense that he considers the Oseram that fought to liberate Meridian alongside (then) Prince Avad instead of burn it to the ground to be traitors to his cause, and thus has earned stark enmity among his own people.
- Lone Wolf Boss: He manages to become the greatest threat to Meridian other than Eclipse, even though he's completely unaffiliated with them or the game's main plot.
- Misplaced Retribution: He wanted to kill Jiran to get revenge for the deaths of his wife and daughter, but Ersa switched from Dervahl's side to Avad's, and helped the latter kill Jiran instead. Now Dervahl wants revenge against Avad and Ersa for denying him his original revenge against Jiran, and for good measure he wants to wipe out all Carja for the crimes of their mad king, regardless of whether they willingly followed him or not.
- Not Good with Rejection: One of his reasons for killing Ersa is that after his wife died, Dervahl fell in love with Ersa, but she rejected him.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He originally planned on razing Meridian and butchering its people during the Red Raids until his plans was foiled by Ersa and Erend.
- Start of Darkness: The Mad Sun-King murdering his wife and daughter in reprisal for his particularly effective military resistance caused him to become obsessed with gaining vengeance on Jiran and the Carja, to the point where he's become a genocidal madman.
- Sore Loser: You can actually go and talk to him in his dungeon cell in Meridian after defeating him. Suffice to say, Dervahl is extremely salty about it, and has plenty of insults and taunts to lob your way before he gets tired and simply starts ignoring you.
- Tragic Keepsake: He has in his possession a phonograph player he invented, which has a recording of his wife and daughter who were taken and killed in the Red Raids.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dervahl's wife and daughter were captured and sacrificed in the Red Raids and their deaths caused his absolute hatred towards the Carja. Including those who had no role in the Red Raids.
- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: Avad comments that it's a shameful waste that Dervahl's anger and grief has turned him into a monster, noting that his technical genius could have made him a great boon to society; the man figured out phonographs.
Voiced by: Donovan Patton (English)note
The Frozen Wilds DLC character, an Oseram delver that Aloy meets in the Greycatch Dam.
- Animal Motif: Their costume designs call to mind elk and deer, especially with the horn-like headdresses.
- The Beastmaster: The Banuk are able to tame and even "communicate" with machines; they refer to this communication as the "machine song". Banuk characters note that Aloy's ability to override machines is similar to, albeit much more advanced than, techniques Banuk shamans use to commune with the machines' "spirits".
- Challenge Seeker: One of their highest cultural values is overcoming challenges. Regardless of where you come from, if you strive to always improve yourself rather than sit in complacency, you'll earn their respect. It's one reason they live in such a hostile climate and hunt machines.
- Cool Helmet: Almost all of them wear headdresses made from machine armor. The higher the ranking, the more elaborate and bigger the headdress, and the shamans tend to have flowing cloths or wires in theirs.
- A Day in the Limelight: The first DLC, The Frozen Wilds, takes place in Banuk lands and focuses more on their tribe.
- Exposed to the Elements: Banuk shamans wear extremely elaborate headgear, but no shirts, in spite of the cold weather they live in. Notably, they have glowing blue cords (not unlike the ones that appear on machines Aloy has overridden) sewn through the skin of their torso and arms. The practice can apparently be traced back to the founder of their tribe, but the explanation for her doing so is shrouded in mysticism.
- Grim Up North: The Banuk live to the north of the Sacred Lands, where the altitude is high, the air is thin, and the weather is perpetually cold. Banuk-patterned outfits even give additional cold resistance. Their homeland of Ban-Ur is located in the remains of the US states of Montana and Idaho and extends south through a region known as the Cut, which was once Yellowstone National Park.
- Honor Before Reason: To an almost suicidal degree, The Banuk refuse any real help from anyone, in a strange overzealous sense of bravado, best exemplified in the side quest "The Survivor" where Aloy tasks herself to find two missing hunters taking part in an initiation to join the White Teeth, which involves going up to a icier-than-usual and desolate area and surviving for 4 days & nights with only a spear and no supplies, Aloy takes up this task because the Banuk will not send someone to find them, as "the task is theirs (the hunters) alone", when Aloy makes it to the two, one has a broken leg and keeps passing out due to a fever, but stubbornly refuses any help from the healthy hunter, despite the fact that she was almost certainly going to die without any medical treatment or food that the healthy hunter brings. What makes it worse is that when you and the healthy hunter get to where the injured one is, she is surrounded by machines, including the DLC exclusive Scorcher.
- Hufflepuff House: They're the least plot-relevant tribe in the game to have any prominence; while there is one major character who is a member, he is an individualist through and through, and appears to have absolutely no concern for his tribe's culture or people. The DLC The Frozen Wilds gives them more focus, though it also raises the question of whether that one major character is actually a Banuk.
- Savage Piercings: Banuk shamans frequently have blue machine tubing stitched into their skin.
Voiced by: Lance Reddick (English)note
A mysterious traveler and researcher who is obsessed with learning about the Old Ones.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Sylens' comes across as distinctly... different than the other tribal humans. His thirst for knowledge and his willingness to ignore problems caused by him but unable to provide him with more leads him very close to the Lack of Empathy trope - and it's only when Aloy's own emotions flare up beyond the norm that he realizes there's something to them. Considering Future Imperfect that is the setting, it's unlikely we'll ever have an explanation for what kind of disorder it is.
- Ancient Keeper: A far more adept Disaster Scavenger than Olin. Has workshops located in the ruins of the Old Ones and is by far the most technologically savvy and advanced human in the post-Zero Dawn world.
- The Atoner: Part of the reason why he helps Aloy is to help atone for the fact that he was the original founder of Eclipse before he learned HADES' true intentions. He's not remotely concerned about the harm he helped cause though, and when Aloy claims he is this he dismisses it.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Starts off as Unwanted Assistance to Aloy, then progressively becomes more relevant and prominent as he earns more screen time, and ostensibly takes the lead in their mutual quest to stop the Eclipse. His baldness is also an important key to his identity. He has the dress and body markings of a Banuk shaman, but doesn't wear a headdress, which all almost all Banuk do, and their shamans have some of the most elaborate ones.
- Big Damn Heroes: He shows up personally with a trio of hacked Ravagers to save Aloy from being executed in the Sun Ring by Helis and the Eclipse.
- Black and Nerdy: He may be the last person on the planet who understands physics and calculus, though only through his interactions with HADES.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Sylens only cares about one thing: Knowledge, and not even for power or advancement or educating the masses, he just wants to learn for himself. He does not care for feelings, human connection, trust, or lives, and his alliance with Aloy is partly because she is the only person who can literally access the truth of the Old World and thus grant him more knowledge, and partly because she can stop the Eclipse and HADES from destroying the world again, which would also serve the purpose of ending their threat on Sylens' life.
- Brutal Honesty: Part of his charm.Aloy: The point is, every time I take a step forward, the answers slip farther from my grasp. You just don't understand.
Sylens: It's not that I don't understand, Aloy. It's that I don't care.
- But Now I Must Go: After visiting the remains of GAIA, he'll arrive in person to speak with Aloy, tell her the truth about his former relationship with HADES, and say it's the last time he'll hear from her. When Aloy tries to communicate with Sylens on the night before the final battle, he doesn't respond.
- Byronic Hero: Ironically so, given his stoicism and empiricism. But in the game's final cutscene, as he confronts (the remnants of) HADES once more, you cannot help but wonder if he'll repeat the same mistakes he made before.
- Deal with the Devil: Sylens made one with HADES, forming the Eclipse for the corrupt AI and making the cult's Focus network in exchange for the knowledge HADES possessed. Once Sylens outlived his usefulness though, HADES put a kill order out on him. By the end of the game, Sylens has HADES' remains at his mercy, and is intent on getting the information he was originally promised — and to discover what made the AI go haywire in the first place.
- Deuteragonist: Due to him being the Mission Control and his involvement with the Eclipse and HADES, his role in the story is almost as important as Aloys role The last cutscene in the game even focuses solely on him and HADES.
- Establishing Character Moment: When Aloy tracks down Olin dealing with Eclipse Cultists, Sylens out of nowhere disables all of the Focuses nearby and starts giving lots of orders (and no explanations) immediately.
- Further when he finally shows his face to Aloy at Maker's End: He chastises Aloy for angsting over the search for her mother when she just discovered how the world ended, and again when Aloy asks his name instead of something grander. This tells you Sylens' basic character: sorely lacking in empathy, always thinks about the big picture and values knowledge above all else.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Self-preservation aside, this is a big part of the reason he helps Aloy to begin with. (That and he's learning so much from her, at a faster rate than he ever has before by himself).
- He finds Ted Faro an incredibly disgusting individual for condemning humanity to ignorance by destroying APOLLO and murdering the Alphas.
- Blue to Aloy's red. Both are rebellious and inquisitive outcasts of their own people, searching for truths in the Old World despite the superstition of their cultures forbidding them from doing so. But where intelligence and curiosity motivate and inspire Aloy, they harden and isolate Sylens. Aloy is willing to make room for emotion alongside her intellect; Sylens detests any form of sentimentality. Aloy is also a young girl, where Sylens is an older man.
- He's also one to Ted Faro. Both are arrogant geniuses who nearly doom the world through their carelessness, and Sylens' relationship with Aloy parallels Faro's relationship with Dr. Sobeck. But their stories end in nearly opposite ways; Faro goes over the Despair Event Horizon and deletes APOLLO to "save" humanity from being "corrupted" by knowledge, while Sylens is utterly disgusted by what Faro did and preserves HADES for the similar knowledge base it has even after he's seen what could happen if it gets loose again. Unlike Faro who is incapable of owning up and admitting to his actions, Sylens despite dissembling and giving half-truths to Aloy throughout the game, finally confesses his actions to her in person.
- For Science!: He is willing to do almost anything and everything for the sake of accumulating knowledge. Unsurprisingly, he's utterly furious when he learns that the ignorant state of the world is due to Ted Faro destroying all knowledge from the past just for his own pride.
- Hazy Feel Turn: Prior to the start of the game, he formed the Eclipse for HADES in exchange for more knowledge, and while he did have some moral reservations about what they were doing, he didn't abandon them until HADES betrayed and tried to kill him. He allies with Aloy to prevent the apocalypse, but his obsession still remains a priority for him. In The Stinger, he's captured HADES and is back to continuing his pursuit of ancient knowledge.
- Ignored Epiphany: When Aloy suggests tentatively that his actions to halt HADES are a form of atonement, Sylens throws back at her that he would do the same things again albeit put in more safeguards.
- Implied Death Threat: At the end of The Frozen Wilds if Aloy completes the optional conversations with Ourea and others about his past with the Banuk and his shady reputation there, Sylens sternly tells her not to inquire about his past. Aloy asks if he told the bounty hunters sent after him (and who never returned) the same warning, to which he responds that she's getting the warning he didn't give to them.
- Ink-Suit Actor: He greatly resembles Lance Reddick.
- Insufferable Genius: He is the man who knows the most about the world's secrets, and he's aware of it. His posturing tends to grate on Aloy's nerves, in addition to his casual rudeness. Aloy knows how to be one in kind right back at him.
- It's All About Me: There's no bones about it: he's a pretty selfish guy. He's not completely without morals or empathy, but they're secondary to his pursuit of the Old Ones' secrets.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Downplayed. Even though he's not particularly social and is Aloy's most mysterious and morally ambiguous ally, there are occasions where Sylens' conscience just shines through. He's slightly less abrasive in person. But his final conversation with Aloy before the two of them part ways has him reveal that he would do what he did all over again, despite the suffering and destruction his actions caused, showing that at the end of the day, he's just as arrogant as Eclipse when it comes to consorting with powers he cannot hope to control, as befitting its founder.Aloy: You're making it really hard to like you.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- While his presentation is extremely tactless, he does have a point that Aloy isn't paying attention to what caused the end of the world (which all things considered is a big deal and something that is coming up yet again in a different form) and focused on her own personal troubles.
- Even though he made sure to include a backdoor in his spear that allowed him to download and save HADES for undoubtedly selfish reasons, the first question he has for it is who exactly woke and corrupted the GAIA subfunction, which is a very important question, considering they almost caused the death of all life on Earth again.
- Karma Houdini: He's responsible for helping HADES create the Eclipse, and empowering them with a Focus network. Even his HeelFace Turn is prompted mainly by self-preservation. Yet he ends the game with HADES, his key to the details of the past he wanted all along, in his control.
- Lack of Empathy: He really doesn't have much concern for anyone else. Aloy actually has a chance to call him out on it at one point. He apologizes to her once for being cruelly honest about the fact that Aloy was born from a machine and says he hopes for her to actually find a human mother waiting for her instead, even though he pretty much knows that behind the vault's door no more humans can be alive. And even though when she actually finds her answers and is stricken, he mocks her anguish.
- Lust: He empowered HADES because he covets its knowledge of the old world, ultimately being the cause of the main conflict within the game. And as the ending shows, he doesn't appear to have learned his lesson.
- Manipulative Bastard: From what little that we can glean about his past, Sylens is very good at tricking people into helping him, having set up an elaborate scheme to con the Banuk shamans into granting him access to their sacred grounds where he could steal their artifacts, and then basically founding the Eclipse in order to gain more knowledge and cooperation from HADES. Aloy is the one person he has difficulty fooling because she is his intellectual equal and has fewer strings to pull, but even then he uses quite a bit of coersion and lying to get her to comply with him.
- Meaningful Name: Silence, duh, as Aloy lampshades. Only HADES, the Eclipse, the Banuk hierarchs, and Aloy know of his very existence.Ourea: When that name is spoken, secrets soon follow... or vanish, as the case may be.
- Mission Control: He occasionally acts as this for Aloy through her Focus. Aloy is not happy about him spying on her, and pointedly removes it when she talks to Rost at his grave.
- Mysterious Past:
- The only hint of which tribe Sylens may have belonged to is the body modifications on his head and arms; they imply he's Banuk, but he doesn't indicate any personal connection to them.
- Frozen Wilds sheds some light on his backstory but raises even more questions. Tellingly, if he's involved in the storyline when Aloy enters the Cut he'll badger her about "wasting time" looking into his origins, claiming she'll gain nothing useful. Supposedly he's a shaman from the far northern, most remote edges of Ban-Ur who came south and impressed himself to the Banuk conclave of shamans with his knowledge and talent of machines... before desecrating their most holy site and stealing their most valued artifacts. No one they sent after him ever returned, and all of the people who originally vouched for him ended up missing. The Banuk aren't sure if he was ever really part of their tribe, and the Conclave swore oaths of silence to cover up his crimes.
- After learning this information, Aloy gets a chance to needle Sylens about what she found out. He gets very perturbed at her prying. When he tells her to back off, Aloy asks if he said the same thing to the Banuk hunters. Sylens says that he didn't even give them the courtesy of a warning.
- Nominal Hero: Of the Mutual Interest sort.Aloy: I'm past trusting you with secrets.
Sylens: Good, that means you're wising up. Trust is for fools. It shifts and crumbles like sand — a poor foundation for any partnership. But mutual-self interest, now that is a solid bedrock upon which you and I might build a new science of understanding.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: He cares nothing about tribal politics of any group. His own Banuk, the Carja of Meridian, the Shadow Carja, the Nora, the Oseram. He wouldn't care if any of them fell if he could unearth knowledge and information.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: He repeatedly pulls off unseen feats of badassery that only Aloy was able to accomplish before, like taking down a Corruptor single-handedly to salvage its override module, recruit not one but three Ravagers for an assault on the Sun Ring (and he even managed to control them to some extent, something Aloy never learns to do), or setting up a workshop in the GAIA Prime ruins behind a punishing gauntlet of angry machines. In fact, his entire life story is littered with such moments, enough to make him a Nominal Hero of Another Story worthy of his own spin-off.
- Pet the Dog: Every now and then he will treat Aloy with some semblance of kindness. At one point he'll apologize for being overly cruel to her as she starts to find out the truth of her parentage, though when she actually finds out he's immediately cruel again. Later, he'll offer Aloy his condolences once they discover what happened to Elisabet, though this one takes some prompting from Aloy beforehand.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Sylens's ultimate allegiance is solely to knowledge, and he's willing to commit some seriously questionable acts pursuing this goal (including being the original founder of Eclipse. Even though he saw the murders in the Sun-Ring as abhorrent he was completely willing to work with and use the people who were behind it and continued the practice.). However, he's rational, unlike Helis, and fully recognizes that global genocide is no good for anybody and immediately acts to oppose it.
- Quit Your Whining: He has little sympathy and even less patience for any complaints from Aloy. When she finally learns the truth of her birth and begins to despair over not having a mother, he irritably tells her that, one, she has two mothers that basically make her The Chosen One, and two, the entire world is in peril, so she should stop angsting and get back to fixing things.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Aloy being the emotional, caring Red to Sylens' cold, pragmatic Blue. They're literally color-coded that way, Aloy with her red hair, and Sylens with his blue Banuk piercings.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Some of his conversations with Aloy have this tone, with Sylens espousing Enlightenment values while Aloy expresses Romantic arguments.
- Seeker Archetype: Incidentally, it's Aloy who bears the offical title of a Seeker, but Sylens is the better example of this trope.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Sylens' actions become essential to Aloy in discovering her true origins, yet he was barely shown in Guerrilla's marketing for the game. Justified, as he is a Walking Spoiler.
- Small Steps Hero: Inverted - Sylens is by all accounts a Big Steps Hero; he doesn't care what he has to do to increase his knowledge, and while his motives seems to be to rediscover what was lost so he can lift humanity out of their tribal dark ages, his immediate actions in that pursuit tends to cause immediate problems that he really doesn't care about solving.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: In the final interaction between him and Aloy, he grants her his personal weapon, Sylens' Lance, which is a major upgrade to her spear that can give shock damage when used with a heavy attack, just before the Final Battle. Aloy further upgrades it with the Master Override, which enables her to stop HADES.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While he and Aloy need each other to fight HADES, they spend most of their dialogue bickering. By the end of their time together, they've warmed up to each other a bit, though Aloy finds her suspicions and doubts about the truly shady stuff he's behind more than confirmed, and its clear that their alliance is based, as Sylens himself says, on "mutual self-interest" rather than true feelings.
- Tranquil Fury: When he learns the true reason why APOLLO and all of humanity's knowledge are nowhere to be found.
- Tragic Villain: On his own, he could never able to touch the knowledge that is his birthright as a human being, that he climbed mountains, explored everywhere, and experimented decades to unearth...because he wasn't born an Old One clone. Admittedly, he didn't need the knowledge and he would've used it to slaughter and manipulate living humans so he could amass even more knowledge, but it's not like his genes show that!
- Übermensch: Of the Unfettered variety. Sylens believes himself above the conventional morality of the post-human tribes, and considers himself superior to them. Indeed at one point telling Aloy not to let "primitive tribesmen" to stand in his way. This would be acceptable if he wasn't the guy who formed, created, empowered, and armed that specific primitive tribe he has contempt for. His unfettered nature and cynical view on interactions with others, where trust is "for fools", has led to him being a loner and prone to exploiting and betraying others.
- Virtue Is Weakness: He does not believe in trust, believing in mutual interest to be much more secure a foundation for interaction. As such, he ends up using other people frequently as if they are implements instead of people. Even Aloy is not out of such a reach, but Aloy being his intellectual peer makes it harder for him to use her and she coerces him right back. Deconstructed as well: In the process of cleaning up the mess caused by Sylens enabling HADES and creating the Eclipse cult, Aloy earns the trust of people throughout the region to stand against Eclipse, while Sylens is all alone with no true allies, just "mutual interest".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Despite his many crimes, ultimately he does want to lift humanity out of the dark ages. He seems happiest when he is explaining something technical to Aloy (one of the few people who can actually understand), and he is horrified at Ted Faro killing APOLLO. He's also quite upset to discover that the Nora were sitting on one of the richest caches of Old World treasure, but they had no way to access it.Sylens: I had to dredge the pits of the world for Focuses to repair. And here sat a trove, enriching no one.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He's the only character in the game with the confidence and gravitas to credibly call out Aloy on her moments of teen angst, such as her complaining about not being closer to finding the identity of her mother after she just found out the cause of the fall of civilization. In turn she calls him out for his Lack of Empathy and above-it-all attitude, and his total lack of remorse about birthing the Shadow Carja and the many atrocities it has caused.
- Wild Card: He's worked with HADES, Helis, and Aloy to further his goals, but his only true loyalty is to himself.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once he established the Eclipse and got their Focus network up and running, HADES contacted Helis and put a kill order out on Sylens. Sylens spied on HADES, so he was able to escape before the Eclipse could carry it out.
A legendary Banuk hunter who lived in exile from Ban-Ur for some time after being falsely accused of murdering the chieftain of his werak. He crafted the Banuk figures Aloy encounters on her journey, which he left as messages for his son Tektuk.
Voiced by: William Houston (English)note
- Addled Addict: His craving for machine fluids has long since crossed the line into self-destructiveness. It's clear from the outset that Brin's addiction has taken a serious toll on his mental and physical health, not to mention his social life, leaving him a wreck of a person that's bound to get himself killed rather sooner than later.
- Black Comedy: Brin is a very ill person who tells a lot of alarming things when recounting his visions, but his Large Ham delivery and Aloy's deadpan reaction to all his crazy make the whole encounter darkly funny.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Guy's clearly not running on all cylinders. Aloy is very much aware of it but indulges him anyway, mostly out of curiosity about what'll happen...
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: ... but also because his visions turn out to contain a disturbingly large kernel of truth.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: His behavior is very reminiscent of a hardcore junkie looking for his next fix, including the progression to harder substances when the last one no longer provides enough of a kick.
- Everyone Has Standards: The Banuk have all sorts of weird rituals involving machines, but drinking their "blood" is a line even they won't cross. Brin did, repeatedly, so they cast him out.
- The Faceless: The only parts of his face that aren't concealed by his enormous headdress during conversations are his chin and mouth, making it impossible to tell how he actually looks like unless you fiddle around with the free-aim camera, and even then there's not much more to see.
- Fetch Quest: Aloy's dealings with Brin revolve around bringing him fluids from increasingly dangerous machines, one after the other, and since these are quest items that don't drop before the quest is started, you'll find yourself leaving and returning to his hut a number of times.
- Foreshadowing: His sidequest can be started the moment Aloy enters Carja territory, which can result in Brin providing a lot of background information that the main story won't confirm until much later. Choice bits include facts like how the Derangement changed machine behavior, the origin and backstory of Corruptors and their ilk, and the Thunderjaw being a new design that was only recently conceived because the humans are hunting other machines.
- Junkie Prophet: The man gets his unaccountable insights though the post apocalyptic equivalent of drinking breaking fluid. One can only guess that they're alchohol based as an explanation for why he isn't already dead yet.
- Large Ham: As can be expected from a drug-addled shaman whose head is so high in the clouds it's a miracle the Glinthawks outside of his hut haven't smashed into it yet.
- Mad Oracle: His final vision puts him in this territory, much to Aloy's disconcertment.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: As ridiculous as gaining visions from drinking machine fluids sounds, all the things Brin sees are disturbingly accurate, especially since he has no way of knowing about them from other sources. It's ultimately left ambiguous if he just scored a series of lucky hits or if there's really something more complex going on.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Feeding on machine fluids doesn't provide Brin with sustenance, but gives him elaborate visions instead.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: His final vision scares him so much he refuses to tell Aloy what he saw, opting to make his way to the Forbidden West immediately instead and advising her to do the same. The few glimpses he reveals are indeed disconcerting and might even serve as a Sequel Hook of sorts.Brin: Ohhh. Yes. Jungle on fire. Machine-blue light dying out in the eddies of ashes. You, fallen, pale as snow-flash eyes staring open. The Metal World, but not the one I sought! The future is a frightful dream, huntress!
- Too Dumb to Live: When Aloy meets Brin he's recovering from some grievous wounds inflicted on him by a Sawtooth during an unsuccessful hunt. Turns out Brin's lust for the Sawtooth's fluids was so overwhelming that he lept from hiding and bit the damn thing. Needless to say that a Sawtooth is much better at biting humans than the other way around. Aloy wastes no time lampshading how monumentally stupid this stunt was.
- Vagueness Is Coming: Aloy can't make head or tail of the nebulous ramblings he spews forth after imbibing machine fluids. The player, however, will discover more than a few truths in them, although it still requires a bit of interpretation and decyphering to get to the core of his visions.
Voiced by: Richard Neil (English)
- An Ice Person: His trademark weapon is the Icerail, which sprays a cold mist that freezes machines.
- Back for the Finale: After the Into The Frozen Wilds is completed, Aratak shows up at Meridian to assist in the fight against Helis.
- Badass Baritone: His voice is deep and commanding, as befits a powerful tribal chieftain.
- Badass Beard: Has one.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Well, we never find out if he has a shiny pate because he never takes off that fancy headdress of his, but he sure checks the remaining two boxes.
- Big Brother Instinct: His refusal to let anyone near Thunder Drum is driven by his fierce protectiveness toward his sister, who suffered much during the Red Raids.
- The Big Guy: He is massive and towers over just about everyone in the Cut. He's also the only person who's strong enough to break down HEPHAESTUS' barriers in Thunder Drum.
- In one cutscene of The Frozen Wilds he manages to not only catch a falling Aloy one-handed, but throw her above his head. Dude is strong.
- Chainsaw Good: Subverted. The Icerail he's carrying looks like a pimped-out short spear with a chainsaw tip, but it's actually a ranged weapon meant to freeze enemies, not stab them.
- Fire-Forged Friends: He is initially distrustful of Aloy when she first arrives, and is understandably angry when she challenges him for his title of chieftain to get access to Thunder's Drum, but he comes to respect her over the course of the battle against HEPHAESTUS as they fight side by side, and the story ends with them being on much better terms than when they first met. He will even come to Meridian to help Aloy fight the Eclipse near the end of the main story line.
- Graceful Loser: Once the Hunting Challenge is completed, several of his supporters try to claim that the Frostclaw attack invalidated the results. He says that no, Aloy clearly won fair and square and he won't hear any talk saying otherwise.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has a rough exterior, but genuinely means well. After seeing his sister get kidnapped in the Red Raids, then nearly die in the assault on Thunder's Drum, he insists on keeping her, and indeed his entire tribe, away from the mountain, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter.
- Heartbroken Badass: The death of his beloved sister Ourea deals him a devastating blow. Afterwards he takes quite a while to recover some semblance of his previously unshakable demeanor.
- Honor Before Reason: After leading a disastrous attack on Thunder's Drum that lead to his tribe's best warriors getting massacred by the Daemon's machines, his response is to go back and gather up his tribe's second-best warriors to attack it again because the Banuk way is to push through adversity.
- Made of Iron: He is said to have sustained 23 wounds during the Red Raids without complaint, and Ourea remarks that he once carried an injured man to safety even after being shot by three arrows.
- Oh, Crap!: He loses his cool exactly once, briefly, during the escape from the exploding Firebreak facility.Aratak: Great Banukai... [braces for impact]
- Weapon of Choice: He's the only NPC to carry an Icerail, which actually comes up in a sidequest given by an Oseram smith who'd love to study it. You get one for Aloy after she wrests control of Aratak's werak from him.
Voiced by: Necar Zadegan (English)
- Ambiguous Disorder: Even before her capture, she felt disconnected from her tribe, as CYAN notes. Later she shows a level of social ineptness. While trying to thank Aloy she says something that she realizes sounds insulting, retracts it, and is grateful when Aloy gets to the point.
- Broken Bird: She was left deeply traumatized from her time as a prisoner of the Carja during Jiran's reign, who forced her to gather machines for the Sun-Ring, where innocents would be sacrificed en masse. She already struggled to connect with her fellow Banuk, but this didn't help.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When Aloy is overwhelmed trying to override HEPHAESTUS' control of Firebreak's core, Ourea picks up the spear and completes the override, but is electrocuted in the process.
- Pals with Jesus: She is the best and Only Friend to CYAN, of whom she is convinced is a spirit that traces its origins back to the Blue Light that the Banuk venerate.
- Shock and Awe: Her weapon of choice is the Stormslinger, a rifle of sorts that fires charged bolts of electricity.
- Weapon of Choice: Her aforementioned Stormslinger. She gives a copy to Aloy after the latter helps Ourea commune with CYAN.
Voiced by: Jennifer Hale (English)note
The Keeper of Snowchants Hunting Grounds.
- Action Girl: Back in her youth, she was part of a female only, powerful werak, the Thunder's Daughters. Although the werak disbanded in time, she's still badass enough to host hunting trials.
- Former Teen Rebel: The Thunder's Daughters were a rebellious bunch, and many of them either died a glorious death, or ended up in exile. Those that survived to grow old see it as a Fate Worse than Death.Lauvuk: To grow old. And find that all the rules and traditions you fought so hard against are still there. That's why I tell all the hunters I train to stay young.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Lauvuk bears a resemblance to Jennifer Hale.
- Arcadia: Plainsong
- Call to Agriculture: The only named tribe that doesn't have some sort of warrior tradition, instead living as peaceful farmers.
- Hufflepuff House: Even moreso than the Banuk, who at least get center stage during a side mission and have a presence in the final battle. The most we see of the Utaru are a single speaking NPC, a few non-speaking NPCs dotted around the background and an occasional mention in the lore.
- The Sacred Darkness: Agricultural to the extent of seeing life as coming from death.
- We Have Become Complacent: The tribe is so isolated from other tribes that they lack any sort of defense against outsiders, and when the Carja arrived all they could do was try and appease them with gifts. It didn't work.
- Ascended Extra: Play a larger role in Horizon Forbidden West where Aloy confronts a rebel Tenakth faction as shown in the gameplay trailer.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Tenakth are described as aggressive raiders who value strength above all else. They're notably the only named tribe not mentioned as a target of the Red Raids.
- Hufflepuff House: Much like the Utaru, only one named Tenakth NPC is present in the game and the tribe isn't mentioned often.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The other tribes believe the Tenakth practice cannibalism. This is never confirmed or denied, though they do have a custom of drinking the blood of their dead, believing it allows the deceased's stories to live on through the survivors.
- The Social Darwinist: In the words of the one member of this tribe with a speaking role: "The strong take from the weak and grow stronger through it". And they really take everything - the victim's possessions, their children, their blood...
The Hunter's Lodge
A Meridian-based hunting organization that test up-and-coming hunters and compete in taking down the mightiest machines. Before the reign of Sun King Avad, the Hunter's Lodge was only open to men of noble Carja blood. Now, however, anyone, regardless of status or gender, can become a member. Junior members of the Lodge are called Thrushes, and are mentored by a senior member of the Lodge, known as a Hawk. Out of the Hawks, there is the Sunhawk, who is the leader. A Hawk can become a Sunhawk if they kill the largest or most dangerous machines and bring their trophy back to the Lodge. A Thrush becomes a Hawk when their mentor Hawk is killed.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The only way to attain the rank of Sunhawk is unseating the current incumbent, and the only way to do that is slaying the most dangerous machine the world currently knows.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: The Lodge's special weapons look like some of their major components are forged from solid gold.
- Challenge Seeker: Being a member of the Lodge offers no tangible benefits aside from access to their special weapons if you're really good, so anyone who joins them is either in it for the challenge, or a Glory Hound. Or both. This is reflected in gameplay since the 15 Hunting Grounds trials are the closest thing to in-game challenges the game has.
- Classical Hunter: A whole organization of them. At least that's how they see themselves.
- Egomaniac Hunter: What most members really are. They don't hunt dangerous machines for resources or to protect anyone. They only do it for the thrill, the glory and their own ego.
- Gender Is No Object: It shouldn't be any longer, but it was until a few years before the events of the game. The fact that Avad forced the Lodge to accept women into their ranks, as well as everyone else who wants to join, is rubbing a lot of conservative elements in Meridian the wrong way. If you complete the Lodge quest line, Meridian citizen on the streets can often be heard expressing astonishment at the fact that a woman is now leading the Lodge, with various undertones implying either approval or disdain.
- Hired Guns: They will occasionally accept paid contract work if the target is a dangerous machine and there's glory to be gained in hunting it down.
- Klingon Promotion: The only way for a Thrush to become a Hawk is through the death of the Hawk that sponsored them. Although murdering your way to the top is not how it's supposed to be done, it's hinted that it isn't unheard of, either.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During the reign of the Sun King Jiran, members of the Hunter's Lodge spoke out against the Red Raids and sacrifices, and were thrown into the Sun Ring to fight against machines. From dawn til dusk, the members of the Lodge fought against the machines until Sun King Jiran sent two Behemoths into the Sun Ring. However, the Behemoths started to attack members of the audience, and the remaining members of the Hunter's Lodge sacrificed themselves to save as many people as they could. This event became known as the Massacre of the Sun Ring.
- Theme Naming: Their rank system consists entirely of bird names: rookies are Fledglings, apprentices are Thrushes, full members/veterans are Hawks, and the leader is the Sunhawk. Similarly, the three trial medals you can win are named after solar phases of sorts: Half Sun (bronze), Full Sun (silver) and Blazing Sun (gold).
- Timed Mission: All their Hunting Ground challenges are a race against the clock. Getting a Half Sun is no big deal (20 minutes), but a Full Sun already shaves this down to about a quarter of that, and a Blazing Sun medal requires beating the challenge in 1-3 minutes, depending on the specific task.
Voiced by: Freya Parker (English)note
The first female Hawk of the Hunter's Lodge. Both her father and brother were members of the Lodge, being of noble Carja blood. After the deaths of her father and brother at the Massacre of the Sun Ring, she strove to become a Sunhawk and let her family's sacrifice be known.
- Animal Nemesis: More of a machine nemesis; Redmaw, a legendary Thunderjaw, killed Talanah's mentor. Talanah wants to hunt down Redmaw not only to avenge her mentor's death, but also to unseat Ahsis from the Sunhawk's position.
- Ascended Extra: Is the protagonist of a series of comics that takes place shortly after the first game's final battle.
- Back for the Finale: She's the most prominent of the optionally recruited characters, and is one of three people who accompany Aloy when she finally fights Hades (the other two being Erend and Varl, who are not optional companions).
- Bare Your Midriff: Her outfit clearly flaunts her toned midriff and belly button.
- Commonality Connection: Talanah takes Aloy on as her Thrush because they're both female hunters who find Sunhawk Ahsis's reactionary misogyny and racism offensive and want to stick it to him.
- Determinator: Talanah won't let anything stop her; not being the first woman in a hunting fraternity, not a Jerkass club leader who insults her and attempts to cripple the competition, and definitely not the large variety of robot dinosaurs bristling with weapons.
- Due to the Dead: Part of her motivation to supplant Ahsis as Sunhawk is anger at his refusing to honor the memories of the Hawks who died in the Sun Ring, and the first thing she does after achieving her goals is to hold a long-overdue memorial to them.
- Had to Be Sharp: Being the first woman to break the glass ceiling of the Hunter's Lodge meant that when someone tells Talanah "No, you can't do that;" she'll say "Watch me."
- Magical Asian: Thankfully averted. Talanah is more of Aloy's hunting partner, though Talanah has more experience than Aloy in hunting some of the bigger machines, In fact, the only time Talanah mentors Aloy is to give her tips on machines Aloy can hunt for trophies (and experience) to gain prestige in the Hunter's Lodge.
- Lady of War: Zigzagged. Talanah was raised as a member of a noble Carja family, and so knows how to navigate the complex social spheres of both Meridian and the Hunter's Lodge. However, her forge-ahead attitude means that she spends much less of her time being "proper" and more time hunting down machines.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Has Aloy take down three Sawtooths, two Ravagers, a Stalker, and loads of Glinthawks before she even agrees to sponsor Aloy as her Thrush.
- True Companions: If Aloy becomes her Thrush she'll return the favour by assisting her in the final battle. "Hawk and Thrush, together" is all that needs to be said.
- You Killed My Father: To Ahsis; though it's more 'you-watched-my-father-die-and-used-his-death-to-benefit-yourself-and-now-you're-refusing-to-even-acknowledge-the-Massacre-at-the-Sun-Ring-and-I'm-gonna-take-you-down' than anything else.
Voiced by: Ako Mitchell (English)note
The current Sunhawk of the Hunter's Lodge.
- Glory Hound: He alone wants to obtain the glory of slaying Redmaw, to the point where he sends killers after Talanah so he can take the beast on single-handedly.
- Hate Sink: For the Hunter's Lodge quests. He's not an active antagonist until the final mission, but he's still a condescending elitist prick who treats Aloy and Talanah with nothing but contempt and refuses to acknowledge the sacrifices of Hunters in the Sun Ring.
- Ignored Epiphany: With his last words before he dies it looks like he might have had a moral breakthrough and realized his failings. Instead it turns out he realized he should've let Talanah fight Redmaw first to soften the beast up for him.
- It's All About Me: He only cares about his own glory and keeping his position as the Sunhawk. He refuses to acknowledge that hunters sacrificed their lives in the Sun Ring to save their fellows, since he only gained his position through their deaths while he sat and did nothing. He even tries to have Talanah killed to make sure he gets the glory of killing Redmaw, not her.
- Jerkass: He makes no secret that he hates Aloy and Talanah, and has to be threatened by Talanah into making Aloy a member of the Lodge even though she meets every requirement.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: One might think he's going to have a Redemption Equals Death moment, but nope. His only regret is that he wasn't more ruthless and cunning in his glory-seeking.
- Karmic Death: Sends assassins to kill Talanah and leaves his Thrush behind so he alone can have the glory of killing Redmaw. Instead, Redmaw kills him by using its tail to swat him like a fly.
- No Dead Body Poops: Hilariously, the Hunter's Lodge adds insult to injury at his death by mentioning in the official record of Redmaw's defeat how Ahsis's bowels failed after his death.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He's prejudiced against women, low-borns, and people from foreign tribes, yet Avad's edict means he's forced to accept them all into the Lodge. Since Aloy is all three, he's straightforward with his burning hatred for her.
- Defector from Decadence: He doesn't believe in the High Matriarchs' rules and that his people's isolation doesn't help considering how much he had seen on his travels.